I don’t tend to follow current events very closely. I’m of the mind that most of what is reported in the news is either none of my business or is not worth my time. I couldn’t care less for celebrity gossip and for the media machine of sensational journalism. Nevertheless, I can’t stay away from the big stories due to the Internet and thus I have come across Chick-Fil-A and their stance on gay marriage. I would probably not comment on this, but it’s really struck a nerve on something for me and I’m finally ready to chime in. I am fed up with this whole debate, and by that I mean I’m frustrated with both sides. I’m not going to rehash the whole story here. You can find it for yourself on the web.
I am going to respond, however, to something I saw in a Huffington Post article covering Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook Response. On July 19, Chick-Fil-A posted
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
I thought this was a very well stated response. I thought it really hit at a core distinction between personal beliefs and practices and how you treat others as a basis of those beliefs. I’m happy to see a Christian organization take this stance, because frankly I’m quite dismayed at a lot of what I see from people who claim the name of Christ. There are so many examples of conservatives who express hatred and over the top anger toward homosexuals. It’s as though they have forgotten that homosexuals are people too and that everyone (including the judgy conservative) is a sinner and stand before God on the same terms. In doing so, I do not believe they honor God. I believe they dishonor him and are themselves committing sins.
I believe the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin. But nowhere does this give me the right to be a jerk to others on the topic – or on any other topic for that matter! I sum up my stance on morality this way: “I believe there is a God who created us and gave us his law. I believe that following God and keeping his law is the best way to honor him and live at peace in this life. However, I recognize that there are those who do not believe in this God or who have varying interpretations of his law. I cannot force them to agree with me, neither should I try. Even though I believe that one day He will judge everyone, including me, for what they have done in this life, I am not God so I will not judge you. I stand no better than anyone else in that judgment, for all have sinned. I will strive to show everyone the same love and courtesy regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, gender or any other factor.”
For some reason many conservatives seem to have forgotten that there is nothing about homosexuality that elevates it above other sins. God is displeased with all of man’s sin including homosexuality, sexual impurity, divorce, adultery, rebellion, fraud, violence, greed, lust, malice, anger, hate and self-righteousness. If we were to go around hating law breakers, we would go around hating everyone. This is not the message of the gospel! “The Son of Man did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” A self-righteous and hateful attitude toward sinners of any kind is not God honoring. It is sin.
But here’s the twist. I read Dan Cathy’s original statements and he did not come across as hate filled to me in any way. Sure he expressed an opinion of what he believes to be Biblical, but the most inflammatory remarks were when he said:
I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.
In this statement, he simply states his belief that doing things that do not honor God bring his judgment. If you don’t believe in God, or you don’t agree with Cathy’s interpretation of God’s law, this should not give you any pause whatsoever. He says that our generation is prideful, arrogant and audacious. I don’t think we can argue against that. Pride, arrogance and audacity are cornerstone to man’s rebellion against God. Again, if you don’t agree with Cathy’s presuppositions, then you simply don’t accept that what we’re doing is rebellious and so there’s no reason to feel hated here. In fact, not only does he not express hatred, he prays for God’s mercy. Unlike blaming sinners for certain problems or calling for God to send his judgment, Cathy simply expresses his belief that God judges sinners and when people rebel against God, they put themselves in danger of that judgment, which would all be true from his presupposition and anyone with his presuppositions would perceive this not as hateful in nature, but as cautionary.
Now contrast this with some examples of real hate speech on various moral issues including homosexuality.
Falwell’s comments here are extremely bigoted and do not reflect any kind of sympathy or love for anyone involved. This is self-righteousness on display. Later in 2007, Falwell said the following:
Someone must not be afraid to say, ‘moral perversion is wrong.’ If we do not act now, homosexuals will ‘own’ America! If you and I do not speak up now, this homosexual steamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way … and our nation will pay a terrible price! (source)
Or consider the members of the Westboro Baptist Church who picket with signs saying “God hates fags” and call everyone “Fag enablers.” That’s hatred! (example)
Cathy, on the other hand, is simply living according to his beliefs, which include his company’s commitment to not discriminating against homosexuals in their business dealings, and donating to organizations who happen to be against gay marriage. Mr. Cathy has the right to support whoever he wants to support in keeping with his beliefs. Chick-Fil-A has the right to support whoever their board of directors and shareholders want them to support. As long as they are not taking these beliefs and unfairly dealing with customers or other businesses because of them, then there is nothing wrong with them believing or supporting anyone. Or have we forgotten that this is the United States of America.
However, the left seems to have forgotten this. Despite the fact that Cathy was simply expressing a personal opinion and did not appear to be speaking in hatred at all, they imagine hatred. The Huffington Post article I mentioned quoted their Religion blogger, a Baptist Minister named Dr. Melissa Browning who said:
As a kid, I not only loved Chick-fil-A’s nuggets, but I also loved that Christian values shaped their business. But hate is not a Christian value. Jesus, who never married, did not come to marginalize people but to proclaim justice.
Hate certainly is not a Christian value, but liberals don’t seem to understand that just because someone believes that something is a sin before God does not mean that they hate those who do it. I have a strong suspicion that this ultimately stems from the Secular ethic in which holds hatred and intolerance to be the supreme sins and that nothing else is sinful unless they are worthy of hatred and intolerance. We can hate pedophiles. We can hate mass murderers. But we can’t hate homosexuals. In this, secular morality is more bigoted than Christian morality. Christian morality never grants license to hate anyone. Christians are called to love pedophiles, mass murderers and homosexuals. Sure there are Christians who hate, but they are sinning in doing so, and are no better than the sinners they are hating. Because of this, whenever a Christian says, “I believe homosexuality is a sin,” all the world hears is “I hate homosexuals.” I think this is the very reason why John Piper chose not to make a statement on the issue. It is nearly impossible to stand firm on the Word of God without hatred being perceived.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not concerned with being hated or persecuted. I expect that. I am, however, concerned that my presentation of the love of Christ actually feels like love. I am concerned that when I am being hated or persecuted it is because I am living righteously and not because I am sinning against my neighbor in self-righteous hatred. I am concerned that if there is a stumbling block that it is Christ and the Gospel and not me. Am I really becoming all things to all men so that I might save some? Is insisting on keeping gay marriage illegal advancing the cause of Christ in any way? Will legalizing gay marriage have any harmful impact on the church? You mean the church that Jesus promised to build and against which the gates of hell would not prevail? That church?
I’m frustrated with both sides, but I think I’m more frustrated with the conservative side because we have the power to stop this us versus them mentality in this debate. Continuing to engage in an antagonistic fashion will only prolong the problem. Instead, we need to react with love. I think back to last year when Egypt was having their uprising. I remember seeing a picture of the demonstrators gathered in some street or something. There were two groups there on the same “side”: Christians and Muslims. It was prayer time for the Muslims, so they all rolled out their mats and started praying, but there was some concern that in that vulnerable position, they were exposing themselves to the police who might come in and brutalize them. So the Christians came in and surrounded the Muslims and formed a circle around them, joining hands and facing outward to act as a protective barrier against the threat of violence from the outside. There did not appear to be any judgment of this “false religion” or any hatred of any kind. It was an act of love, pure and simple. I think many Christians have forgotten that we can behave this way without compromising our commitment to God’s truth. But in the process we have compromised that very word. It is in this same spirit that I favor legalizing gay marriage. I cannot force anyone to live according to the Word of God. God will be the judge, not me. I can warn of the coming judgment, but I should do it while sharing the love of Christ and displaying the grace he has shown me. I do not expect churches who are faithful to the word of God to cease preaching that it is sin, but I do expect that they will not focus on this issue and single it out. Preach the whole counsel of God.
Some truths neither side of this debate seems to be willing to acknowledge:
- Keeping Gay Marriage illegal will not make homosexuality go away
- Divorce and Heterosexual adultery are doing more to damage marriage and the family than homosexuality
- Legalizing Gay Marriage will not destroy the social fabric of this country.
- It is unconstitutional for laws to be based on religious beliefs.
- Gays marrying does nothing to change the morality of their relationship. The moral status of homosexuality is the same whether in a marriage relationship or out.
- Not everyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin hates homosexuals. Believing it is a sin before God and hating those who commit it are not the same thing. You can do one without the other.
Jim Henson breaking business ties with Chick-Fil-A is no less bigoted than Christians boycotting Oreo. Chick-Fil-A seems to be the only ones who essentially said they would not make that a factor in how they conduct their business. I stand with them.Jim Henson has the same right to do whatever they want with their money as Chick-Fil-A does. My problem with this is not the behavior of Jim Henson, but the way the LGBT community is heralding it as some sort of blow for the cause of justice.
- Christians have the right to their opinions just as much as non-Christians, and when Dan Cathy is speaking to a Christian publication, you should not be surprised when his words reflect a Christian world view.
- Legalizing gay marriage will not suddenly make conservatives accept your lifestyle. Bigotry starts in heart. Moral beliefs are stronger than simple legal code. Just as conservatives cannot change your hearts through legislation and make you no longer want to be gay, you cannot change conservatives’ hearts through legislation and make them accept your lifestyle