Today, Alliance Defending Freedom will present oral arguments before the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf of local florist Barronelle Stutzman.
Barronelle provided all kinds of floral arrangements for a longtime client and friend, Rob, for many years. She knew Rob was involved in a same-sex relationship, but that didn’t stop her from serving him. When Rob came into the store and asked Barronelle to create the floral arrangements for his wedding day, she had to refer him to another floral shop in the area.
You see, Barronelle believes what the Bible teaches about marriage – that it is between a man and a woman. She could not, in good conscience, use her artistic talents to promote an event that violates her faith. And for that, she was sued by the State of Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
As her three-year legal battle continues, we asked Barronelle about the challenges she’s faced personally and professionally, the unexpected rewards, and what she’s learned about herself and the power of God.
ADF: What made you want to take a stand and engage in this lawsuit?
Barronelle: I just came to the realization that Christ stood up for me. Do I think so much less of Him that I wouldn't stand up for Him? It's a blessing and an opportunity to stand for Christ, and I consider it a privilege.
Why not just settle?
My freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important that what this lawsuit is threatening to take away from me. I can’t sell that precious freedom. That would be like asking me to follow in the footsteps of Judas, who sold something that was priceless for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I just will not do.
Has it ever been too much to handle?
You know, I never think of it that way. What I pray is that whatever God has for me that He'll prepare me for it. And so far that's been the case. There has never been a moment when I thought the price was too high. There has been a moment when I thought, “Why am I here?” But never to the point where I've said, “God, why did you do this to me?” That has never, never been an issue.
What has this cost you and your family?
It’s not about what it has cost us, it's about what it's going to cost us if we lose our freedom to be able to run the business with Godly principles and to not have our freedom. It's me today, but it's going to be you tomorrow. It's a reality. It's here.
Have you had to close down your business?
No, I haven’t. Every day has been a miracle with things that have happened and things that should have happened but haven't – the trouble we could be in or the destruction of our shop or the threats in our life that haven't materialized. God has put a protection around us with His promises. My crew at work has stepped up, and they're very protective. It’s been an experience for them, and they're very involved and supportive, and that encourages me more.
Don’t you get a lot of hate mail or threats?
At first we did get some of that, but then it gave way to cards and letters and phone calls of support from all over the world. It's just mindboggling that this has gone so far. People are becoming concerned about it and starting to realize that our freedoms are being threatened. It's not only very encouraging, but it just fills me with joy and hope.
What have you learned through this experience?
I've learned that God is very faithful. And that my trust and obedience has to be in Him. I have also learned that I'm a lot stronger and a lot more stubborn than I thought I'd be. I've learned to trust a lot more in Christ, and it's been an awesome adventure. I've been totally, totally blessed by this.
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Alliance Defending Freedom is working on behalf of people like Barronelle who are targeted for their beliefs about marriage. Your gift will help us continue to defend her and other clients free of charge.
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