A lot’s been said about this, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on anything that has happened in the last few days. I don’t have a great deal of theological training, though I have had more than some. I don’t know everything about Chick-fil-A, and I haven’t received any special revelation from God about how to put all of the complicated pieces of the homosexual issues surrounding Chick-fil-A with a comprehensive view of the gospel of Christ.
What I do have is (hopefully) a generous portion of common sense and a love for my friends and family (straight and homosexual alike), the church, and yes, those that I don’t know within the LGBT community. While my first instinct was to join the throngs of people at Chick-fil-A yesterday (and get a delicious chicken sandwich and sweet tea), after some thought, I decided I did not want to be a part of that scene.
First, the facts. Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, when asked if he supported a biblical definition of marriage that he was, “guilty as charged.” All right. Fine. But, this sparked controversy in the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) and its supporters. One difficulty lies in the fact that Chick-fil-A as a corporation has given money to the Family Research Council (FRC) and organizations that try to promote a Christian approach to “curing” homosexuality.
The FRC is viewed by one group as promoting hate speech because of the false claims they’ve made, such as saying that homosexual men are very likely to be pedophiles, that life expectancy is decades lower among homosexuals, and other claims that have no factual basis.
But even the idea that corporate funds go to promoting a one man, one woman definition of marriage comes at a bad time. A couple weeks ago, astronaut Sally Ride died of pancreatic cancer, leaving her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy without the benefits that would be given to the husband of an astronaut. This already had people upset and many have seen Cathy’s comments as being emblematic of the mindset that prevents the O’Shaughnessy from being treated the way a heterosexual partner would be. While there is not an actual connection, that is one of the things that has become tied up in the Chick-fil-A controversy. As so often happens, it is not just a simple matter.
Aside from the specific issues, it must be understood that coming out still causes children and adults to be mocked, bullied, and discriminated against as if they were less of a human being because of their sexuality. I believe that my Christian faith calls me to turn against that kind of treatment. If my words or actions contribute to one person’s self-hatred, or causes their lives to be worse in some way, then I am not showing them Christ’s love. The people at Chick-fil-A yesterday believed they were standing up for the 1st Amendment rights of the Cathy family or standing against political support for gay marriage, but many people on the outside heard, “Homosexuals are lesser humans than heterosexual humans.” This isn’t what was meant (I hope), but it was heard that way because neither side seemed to take the time to truly understand what was being said.
But I do not believe that homosexuals are less than any other people. So, because of those factors, and because of the issues with Chick-fil-A, I decided I could not in good conscience join in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. It came down to this for me; what was more important, supporting a growing, multi-billion dollar business because they are run by Christians and possibly hurting my witness and hurting the feelings of my friends in the LGBT community, or avoid it and find a way to calmly discuss my views? I admit I failed yesterday at being calm while explaining my thoughts to my dad. I’ve apologized, but it still happened. Hopefully though, this is a better explanation that more people can read.
In summary, I believe that the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, while carried out with good intentions, was actually provoking a battle unnecessarily. This is a hot-button issue, and it causes people to turn away from Christians and our message anyway, but getting excited by supporting a business that isn’t struggling because they happen to agree with Christian culture doesn’t seem like a very loving attitude to me. Maybe I’m wrong, but like everyone else, I can only do my best when making decisions like this.
My message to Christians: don’t forget that gay marriage isn’t an abstract political and moral thought experiment. It’s an issue that affects millions every day. And while it may seem that our rights to disagree with modern culture are disappearing, we need to be careful not to cling to those rights more than we ought. If that goes away, it’ll be sad for America and for us, but remember, “if God is for us, who can be against us?”