Regarding Chick-Fil-A and Gay Marriage

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:

Conservatives:

  • 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.

Liberals

  • 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
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6 thoughts on “Regarding Chick-Fil-A and Gay Marriage

  1. This article is just as insulting as the rest of the rhetoric out there. It’s merely better written. Kudos for that.

    I don’t agree with Christianity, but I wouldn’t support organizations that want to end Christianity in this country. THAT’S what the president of CFA is doing. It isn’t that these companies have a belief against gay people or that they just “happen” to be against gay rights. In other words, it’s an either-or proposition for them. One side has to “win” and we must all abide by ONE SET of beliefs therefore eliminating our choice.

    CFA gives MILLIONS of dollars to these organizations in order to PREVENT gay marriage and roll back the clock on some of the other rights and protections we already do have. CFA has been LESS THAN HONEST about this point. You article has too.

    I don’t have to AGREE with your BELIEFS in order to fight for your RIGHT to have them. And this liberal person does just that! It works BOTH ways. Both Christiand and the LGBT community deserve equal rights in this country. There’s just no rational dialog to be had with a person who believes that granting others equal rights will somehow bring about fire from the heavens. That is just about as hateful and ridiculous as equating gay people the sin of a pedophile. That’s exactly what you did in this lengthy article it did no more to clear up the debate than those you have condemned. I must admit to finding that little gem incredibly insulting. I’m not likening you to Muslim extremists or faith-based terrorists so could we dial-back the rhetoric?

    Henson’s Support = Gay + Christian + All Religions, Races & Beliefs = Everybody
    CFA Support = Christians (not non-Christians or other religions) = Only the like-minded

    It’s clear you turn a blind eye when it comes to your beliefs so I’ve probably wasted my morning reading and responding to this. It doesn’t even mention the dishonesty of CFA’s “recall” of the Henson toys for an ambiguous “safety” issue. That does not demonstrate the integrity that you have portrayed in this article. If this site is about reality, then what about that reality?

    I just believe this country is big enough for us ALL to live and thrive, to marry and worship under our own beliefs.

    1. James,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my article. I appreciate feedback of all kinds. It will take me some time to formulate an adequate response to what you have written. Please stand by. I appreciate your patience.

      1. Thanks. I both appreciate and take issue with some of your bullet points too…

        Henson breaking with CFA is a lot different than people boycotting Oreo due to their publicity photo of a rainbow cookie. Nabisco is merely being inclusive. They are not funding initiatives to prevent Christians from worshiping or thriving under their beliefs. CFA is doing the opposite. You spent paragraphs rationalizing CFA’s statements yet conveniently forgot to mention the money being funneled through CFA to deny equal rights to others. Their recent statements inspired Henson and others to explore the deeds behind this rhetoric. It is clear that you have rose-colored glasses when it comes to such issues.

        For example, I think Bill Maher is hilariously funny most of the time, but I object when he demonizes Christians or calls to remove it from the fabric of our country because I believe we ALL belong here. CFA-minded people fight so that gays and lesbians are forced to live half-lives unless they accept Christianity. That’s bigotry. If you truly believe that it’s “unconstitutional for laws to be based on religious beliefs” then why would you support CFA? They spend millions of dollars to do just that.

        Most of the LGBT community doesn’t care if conservatives “accept” our way of life. We just want the chance to live it on our terms and not the arbitrary rules of a religion we don’t agree with. Also, it’s best to stay away the “lifestyle” buzzword if a meaningful dialog is your goal.” It implies that our daily lives are somehow different or inferior to yours or that we all are on some sort of groupthink mailing list together. I assure you that our spectrum or people can be just as different as people of faith. In fact, some of us are people of faith.

        Also, equating all sin as equal sin or approaching the subject of gay people using that term in the first place does nothing to further their understanding of the issue. If your purpose is to have a meaningful dialog then please know that sort of language doesn’t really work with those who don’t already agree with you.

        This issue has never been about free speech or a difference of opinion. It’s about a group of people forcing others to live under their chosen beliefs. My having a gay marriage would not prevent your Christianity. So, why are some Christians trying to deny my rights while retaining theirs? Why should what they believe eclipse what I believe? It’s unnecessary and that’s the point that keeps getting missed in this and other articles about the topic.

  2. I read the article and it is a great article.

    Let me comment, not in a confrontational way at all, but in an effort toward clarity and understanding:

    I think the only point I have to contend with is this one. . . “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.”

    First off, I am not a liberal. I’m an independent, but on this particular issue I guess I swing more toward the liberal side of things.

    Secondly, NONE of my like-minded friends think our conservative Christian counter-parts hate gays. That’s simply false. In fact, I’m surrounded by conservative Christians most of the time and I can absolutely vouch that none of them hate gays. That’s a silly presumption and I find it insulting that people think we, “liberals” can’t grasp the difference between recognizing a sin and hating the person. That’s ridiculous. We get it. We do. You don’t hate gays. You really, really, really don’t and we really, really, really get it. Truly.

    The word “hate” comes into play because this guy, Cathy, gives money to causes that fight to deny homosexuals the same rights as everyone else. This guy gives money to causes that promote “ex-gay therapy” as a fix for homosexuality. This guy gives money to a group that has been defined as a hate group by the SPLC which, among other things, claims pedophilia is a “homosexual problem”.

    This is where we “liberals” start throwing around the word “hate”. Not because Right-Wing Christians hate gays. We know that’s not true. We use the word “hate” because discrimination IS hateful. Keeping any people from attaining the same rights everyone else has IS hateful. We use the word “hate” because prejudice against a group of people IS hateful.

    Prejudice and discrimination are the very definition of what this man, Cathy, supports (although, not in his store, we’ll give him that, that would be bad for business and likely land him in jail). He harbors prejudice against homosexuals and actively promotes discrimination against them through his charities that marginalize, vilify and seek to confirm that two loving adults of the same sex can never marry.

    These anti-gay causes do another thing, though. They all help make it okay to treat gays differently. They all contribute to the marginalization of gay folks in our society, they “normalize” it. This leads to bullying. This leads to violence. This leads to depression and fear and high suicide rates among gay kids. I mean how would you feel, as a 15 year old kid knowing there are billion-dollar organizations out there fighting to deny you your rights? Telling folks you’re likely to be a pedophile? Singling you out for being a “sinner” even though you’ve never even come close to sex (the actual, biblical, sin)?

    It’s part of a big machine that perpetuates hate. Many people don’t think about how all these little shows of support by well-meaning right-wing Christians contribute to the marginalization of a whole group of our brothers and sisters are part of a HUGE process that really, really, really, hurts so many people. THAT is what’s hateful. Groups like the ones Cathy donates to don’t just fight against gay marriage, they perpetuate a dangerous and hate-full climate that homosexuals face every single day.

    So, does Cathy hate gays? Probably not. Does he act in hateful ways toward gays, as a group? Absolutely. As does every single person who financially (or otherwise) supports anti-gay causes. It’s adding a drop to a BIG bucket and it doesn’t seem like much. But when millions of folks do it, it turns into an ocean. I think too many folks can’t see the “big picture” of how much real damage and violence and fear and self-loathing and, yes, hatred, these groups (mostly unintentionally) perpetuate.

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