Seth Udinski, FISM News
In a heartbreaking development in Washington State, a 77-year-old Christian florist retired from her longtime business this past week after a brutal lawsuit involving a former close friend who wanted her to arrange flowers for his marriage to another man.
The story began ten years ago, when florist Barronelle Stutzman had a thriving flower business. She was asked by a close friend if she could do the flower arrangements for her friend’s wedding. Ordinarily, she would have jumped at the chance, but not this time. This friend was a homosexual man, and he was marrying another man. This would have caused Stutzman to deny her religious beliefs.
Here is Stuztman’s account in her own words released on Thursday, the same day she announced retirement from the industry:
It’s hard to believe that so many years have passed since my dear friend Rob came into my flower shop and asked me to do something I’d done many times before: design a unique, personalized arrangement of flowers to celebrate a special event in his life…But this time, the special event he was celebrating was his marriage to another man. And that was a line I could not cross, even for friendship. I am a Christian, and I believe the Bible to be the Word of God. That Word… teaches that God designed marriage to be only the union of one man and one woman. I could not take the artistic talents God Himself gave me and use them to contradict and dishonor His Word. So, as gently as I could, I recommended some other floral artists whom I knew would do a great job for Rob….We hugged and he left and I thought we remained friends who kindly disagreed on an issue deeply important to both of us. But, as most of you know, that was not the end of it. What followed were lawsuits filed against me and a concerted effort to either force me to change my religious beliefs or pay a devastating price for believing them including being threatened with the loss of my home, my business, and my life savings.
This faithful woman went through a difficult lawsuit and a betrayal at the hands of a former friend. Finally, this past week she paid a $5,000 settlement to end the ordeal.
Stutzman’s story is tragic, but her faithfulness is a great example to Christians today. Additionally, she showed extraordinary love for a man who was once a friend but proved to be an enemy in the end. She showed Christlike love in dealing with the whole difficult situation, echoing the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 –
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.