I know I haven’t written in a while… but I figured that since it was the start of a new month and I have settled into this new leg of my ministry journey, today was as good as any to pick up the old pen (metaphorically speaking, of course). And lo!, today just happens to be a day I have been dreading for a while now: Mike Huckabee’s Support Chick-Fil-A Day.
I supposed I should be honest. I don’t like Chick-Fil-A anyway. I’ve always felt like their sandwiches taste like the chicken fillets you keep in your freezer and pop in a toaster oven when you’re too lazy to actually cook a meal. And the waffle fries… they’re just waffle fries. Nothing special. So I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have eaten at a Chick-Fil-A in my entire lifetime. So, it’s safe to say I’m not really boycotting because I wouldn’t be eating there anyway.
And I should be honest about my political and theological leanings in regards to homosexuality. I’m a liberal. And over the past few years, for reasons too numerous to get into here, I have drifted (and sometimes been pushed) further to the left.
My goal in this posting is not to take a stance on the issues of homosexuality. There is a time and a place for that discourse, and it should be happening in our public and private lives… regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us feel. The very fact that it’s a hard subject and does make us so uncomfortable is probably evidence that we need to deal with it. But not here.
Here, in this space, I want to address the total lack of Christian love and charity that I am seeing in the Support Chick-Fil-A Day.
Some are claiming it’s a matter of protecting “free speech.” But it’s not. Everyone is speaking freely and no one is being barred from speaking. If anything, the fact that this conversation is so public and so big is a reflection of how our rights (all of our rights, regardless of what side of the line we are on) works. We speak with words, both spoken and written. We speak through consumerism. We speak with our money. We speak with our presence, with our bodies, and with our actions. America… and it seems like everyone in America, is speaking about Chick-Fil-A.
Some are claiming it’s a matter of taking a stand for Christian morals. Nope. That’s not it, either. Maybe conservative Christian morals are coming into play here… but the people standing in line at Chick-Fil-A do not speak for all Christians. The fact that every mainline denomination is struggling with homosexuality is an indication that Christians themselves are divided.
Today is about drawing a line in the sand, not in defense of marriage, but as a way of trying to prove who is “bigger”. And as time goes on, we will hear a great deal of debating about who is bigger and who won. Sure, some of those lines are impressive… but overall, Chick-Fil-A’s ratings have plummeted since Dan Cathy’s public statement. Sure, those protests are loud, but a lot of people are still going to Chick-Fil-A on a regular basis.
But Jesus never cared one lick about who was bigger. He cared about love. When a woman caught in adultery huddled before him, fearful she was about to be stoned, Jesus defended her by pointing out that no one is so perfect that they have the right to cast that first stone. I wonder what he would see in the people in those lines standing outside those stores today… I like to see the good in people every chance I get, so I believe from the bottom of my heart that some of those people are good, saintly, righteous people who live true lives adhering to their beliefs. But I find it hard to believe that all those people are in that boat because… well… how many of us truly are? Sure, we try to live like that… but how often do we fail?
As they lined up to “take a stand for marriage”, are all of them truly defending this so-called biblical definition of marriage in their lives? How many are divorced? How many are adulterers? Fornicators (meaning they have had sex outside of wedlock at all)? How many have failed to cherish one another? How many have neglected their responsibilities to their families?
Now, I’m not going to condemn any of those people… only Jesus can judge them. But the stones they are trying to throw today happens to look like Chick-Fil-A sandwiches… and I wonder how many of them actually have the right to throw those stones? It seems that in their defense of marriage against homosexuals, they have neglected to notice that the biggest assault on marriage over the years has not been homosexuality, but the blatant disrespect for the marriage covenant and the lack of spirituality in which heterosexuals bring to that bond.
So where is the love? Going back to that same adulterous woman, Jesus responded with nothing but love and compassion. He didn’t say, “When you give up your lifestyle, I’ll come to your rescue.” He didn’t say, “If I help you, will you quit sinning and live the way I tell you to?” And he certainly did not say, “Until you abandon your sinful life I’ll be standing in line over here at the poultry shop that speaks out against adultery… join me when you’re ready to see it my way.” Nope. Jesus just put himself between this woman and her persecutors. He drew in the sand that day… but not a line. We don’t know what he drew, but whatever it was, it caused stones to fall to the ground as a blood-thirsty mob realized they weren’t acting on God’s behalf with their actions. Jesus showed love because in that moment he saw a sinner and he did not condemn her. He did not attack her. He did not hold her salvation hostage. He simply saved her. He saw her and he loved her, regardless of what stains were on her soul.
At what point does queuing up in a line show love? If you really do believe homosexuality is a sin, how is this showing them love? From where I stand, I only see this chasing people away as they try to escape the flurry of waffle fries pelting down upon them as people screech, “Sinner, sinner!”
As Christians, we believe that only Jesus can judge…and that only Jesus can save. So we shouldn’t be judging them so quickly… we should only be showing people Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, we should pay attention to his teachings and take a good hard look at ourselves before we start picking up our stones.
I freely admit that when it comes to this current issue, I tend to find myself on the left-side of the line. I have studied and studied scripture and theology and I, after a long and difficult struggle, have come to understand sexual immorality to be something that could never be defined in terms as black-and-white as “straight” and “gay”. Are some homosexuals sexually immoral? Sure. But so are some heterosexuals. Are all homosexuals immoral? Certainly not, just as not all heterosexuals are immoral.
So, since I’m not eating at Chick-Fil-A today, I must be protesting them, right?
Wrong. For the same reasons I have listed above, I can’t justify standing outside a restaurant with a sign hurling stones at them. A few years ago, I was in Dan Cathy’s shoes. Ten years ago, I probably would have jumped in line even though I can’t stand the taste of Chick-Fil-A. But through a long, hard, emotional journey over the past decade, and thanks to the loving discourse that has occurred between friends, colleagues, mentors, and me, I have found myself shifting on this issue. The people who were quick to slap a label on me and write me off as a lost cause had no effect on me. It was the patient, the loving, the understanding, the compassionate few who gave me a safe place to voice a different opinion, who loved me even when they didn’t love my opinions, and who strove every step along the way (the same as I was) to do what Jesus would do that impacted my understanding.
Maybe, just maybe, if we all… regardless of which position we support… are constantly striving to follow Jesus, maybe we’ll find him standing amongst us, drawing revelations in the sand and saving us all from the stones we are poised and ready to hurl at one another.