Cape jeweller clarifies refusal to make engagement ring for gay couple

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The Christian owners of a Cape Town jewellery business which has been attacked on social media and received hate mail after they recently refused to make an engagement ring for a gay couple have posted a statement on their website explaining their position.

In their statement, the owners of Craig Marks Custom Made Fine jewellery say they will gladly design and manufacture jewellery for homosexual customers except  — because of their conscience before God — for the purpose of marriage which has a specific definition and meaning according to the Bible.

Responding to media reports stating that they were engaging in illegal discrimination, the jewellers say they have been advised that while the Constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of conscience, religion and belief (s 9), it also guarantees freedom of conscience, religion and belief as a fundamental human right (s 15) — and that no South Africa court has found, after hearing evidence and argument, that a conscience decision such as theirs amounts to unfair discrimination or is illegal.

The jeweller’s refusal to make the ring for the same-sex couple went public after a 30-year-old Cape Town woman who had asked the jeweller to make the ring reported the incident to Daily Maverick last week.

The full statement on the jeweller’s website reads:

Earlier this month, a potential client contacted our company to design and manufacture an engagement ring for her same-sex partner. We responded that we are unable to assist with the request based on our belief that homosexual marriage is not accepted in God’s sight, and that we could therefore not partake in making rings for such a union.
The client went to the media with this. We have since received a backlash from the LGBT community in the form of harassment on our company Facebook page, and various forms of hate messages and mail.

The company’s position:

We, the owners of Craig Marks Custom Made Fine Jewellery are Christians who seek to honour and obey God in everything we do, including the way in which we operate our business. We have never operated out of hate, malice or prejudice towards any person, but we do have strong personal convictions and beliefs in God and we cannot in good conscience towards God go against His Word.

As Christians,our Biblical conviction is that the only form of full sexual expression which is consistent with Biblical teaching (and therefore acceptable to God) is that between a man and a woman within marriage. This is a deeply held belief (not only for us, but for the vast majority of Christians around the world for over 2000 years) and is a foundational part of our faith as Christians. (See, for example, Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-5; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Corinthians 6:9).This belief in turn guides the orders for custom made jewellery that we are able to accept and fulfil.

While we gladly serve any client (regardless of sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic), our religious convictions prohibit us from taking on every order. In other words, while we will gladly accept an order from a homosexual customer to design and manufacture any other form of jewellery, our conscience before God prohibits us from designing and manufacturing rings for the purpose of marriage which, according to the Bible, has a very specific definition and meaning.

For us, to design and manufacture covenant rings for (and thereby participate in, or celebrate) a same-sex “marriage”, would be to dishonour and disobey God – potentially with eternal consequences. This is too great a cost and if forced to compromise on our faith, we would have to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

We stand with God when He calls all people to repent and turn to Him and forsake their sin. Our love as Christians is firstly for God and then for others. Showing them what God says in His Word which gives all people an opportunity to get right with God no matter the sin or their past. Acts 17:30, “God has now called all men everywhere to repent and turn to Him and forsake their sin.”
1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor homosexuals.”

We have taken legal advice and been advised that the Constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of conscience, religion and belief (s 9) – and specifically also guarantees freedom of conscience, religion and belief as a fundamental human right (s 15). As such, it is not correct that our decision (based upon our religious convictions and beliefs) to only make engagement and wedding rings for heterosexual marriages automatically amounts to unfair discrimination or is illegal. Contrary to reports on the LGBT website Mamba online and elsewhere, to date no South African court has found – after hearing evidence and argument on the matter – that this is the case.

In this regard also, we have been advised that the UK Supreme Court recently (in the Ashers Baking Company case)decided that it was not unfair discrimination for the owners of a Christian bakery to refuse – on grounds of their Biblical conviction that marriage is the holy union between a man and a woman – to design and make a custom cake celebrating same-sex marriage.

In relation to the malicious public attack on our company’s Facebook page and the hate mail received, we have been advised to consider laying charges of crimen injuria with the SAPS and to lodge a complaint regarding the abuse of our right to dignity and the exercise of our freedom of religion. We sincerely hope that this will not be necessary, and trust that this statement will clarify our position. However, should we continue to suffer threats, harassment or hate speech, we may have no alternative but to follow our legal representatives’ advice and take the necessary legal action, which could include an application for a protection order.

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