The Latest Controversy

I have been reading a lot of comments (mostly on Facebook) in support and in opposition of Chick-fil-A's recent affirmation of biblical marriage. Although I've received invitations, I haven't reposted anything because I think this issue is so complex and I can't reduce my thoughts or convictions to a Facebook statement. Clicking to share Appreciation Day of Chick-fil-A feels to me more like picking a political side (one group against another) than being true to my beliefs. I try to ask myself if what I'm doing really glorifies God or is simply jumping on a bandwagon.

I ask myself: Am I loving or condemning? Jesus said He didn't come to condemn the world but to save the world (John 12:47/John 3:17). I realize there will ultimately be a day of judgment. But I won't be anyone's judge on that day. And until that day comes, my strongest conviction is the call to love as Jesus loved when He was here.

I believe in biblical marriage. And I respect Chick-fil-A's owners for standing true to their convictions even at the risk of losing money and popularity. That takes integrity. But I'm not convinced that Jesus' response would be to herald them and flock to their restaurant in solidarity as a reward for their stand. If that is their reward, then that is their reward. I think the Bible addresses that clearly. The Bible tells us that it will cost us something to truly follow Christ. And how much do I really know about the owners of Chick-fil-A anyway? Other than that they are closed on Sundays and embrace biblical marriage, do I have any idea how they actually live their lives in other areas personally? No, I don't and I can't. I've been disappointed and let down by way too many people who make gigantic public statements while committing crimes of violation in the privacy of their own homes. It's a big mistake to lift people up in the name of Jesus. It's a mistake for us and it's a mistake for them. I'm not going to lift Chick-fil-A as heroes of the faith because they took this stand.

I will eat at Chick-fil-A no more and no less than I ever have. I eat there when I get a craving for their food, not because I want to make a political or religious statement. I have never chosen a restaurant based on the religious or political views of the proprietors. My assumption is that I eat at many places where I wouldn't be in perfect harmony with the views of the owners on any given day. And I'm sure you do too. I don't feel called to make a public statement about where I will and will not eat. If I want to support Chick-fil-A with my business, I'll just go there. I don't feel compelled to rally others to patronize them. Chick-fil-A is doing just fine. I don't think this is going to put them out of business. But if it did, would that be anything compared with people all over this world whose professed faith puts their very lives at daily risk?

Another question to ask myself: How much time am I spending praying for those people as opposed to posting status updates on Facebook in support of Chick-fil-A?

Sometimes it seems to me like we trivialize Jesus with Facebook proclamations. And I don't think following Jesus is something we do well through social media. I'm speaking from experience because I've made a lot of mistakes with my own comments on controversial subjects in the past. Even the recent past.

I have family members and close friends who are gay. I love each of them with all my heart. I have no desire to take a stand against them. I know God loves them as much as He loves me. I've had conversations with more than one of these loved ones on the subject of homosexuality. And my position has always been that my love for them has nothing to do with their sexuality. I couldn't love them any more if they were straight. I don't love them any less because they are gay. And my hope would be that they could love me just as much and no less in spite of my being true to my spiritual convictions on biblical marriage. Tolerance isn't agreeing on who is right. Tolerance is accepting disagreement while valuing the person.

People who don't accept biblical authority and boundaries in their lives often mock those who do with dripping sarcasm and contempt, all the while advocating and professing tolerance. It's hypocrisy on a grand scale. But the reality is, if I respond back with contempt, I'm a hypocrite too. Please don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting any of my Christian friends who are openly supporting Chick-fil-A are hypocrites. I don't intend this blog post to condemn anyone, including open supporters of Chick-fil-A. I'm just sharing my own convictions. For me, there is a lot of spiritual tension in this controversy. And maybe I want to provoke you to deeper thought. It's so easy to click "share" without thinking deeply.

I think the boycott of Chick-fil-A for having the integrity to publicly embrace their religious convictions makes a mockery of the outcry for tolerance. Those calling for boycotts are saying that whomever disagrees with them about marriage is a bigot and should not be tolerated. It's the height of hypocrisy. We are all supposed to enjoy freedom of faith and freedom of expression in this country. And it seems to me like the only people it is perfectly acceptable to be INtolerant of are Christians. But at the same time, I accept this as a given because the Bible also tells us that we are in the world but not of this world. The goal is to be different. However, I've never believed that it is my calling to control or police the world or other people's choices. Jesus didn't do it. Why should I think I'm supposed to do it? I don't see anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus fought for rights; not even His own. He laid His life down for His enemies. Do I take that as seriously as I take some of my other stands? This is the lens I try to keep in front of my eyes.

As far as taking a stand against sin, I try to make my own sin the greatest sin I need to deal with. Since I need a Savior to save me from my sin, I don't feel the moral superiority to condemn anyone else for theirs. It makes me sad that so many Christians choose homosexuality as the sin of all sins and are so quick to condemn. If you believe the Bible, sin is sin and we are all born into it. David was a man after God's own heart and yet he was an adulteror and a murderer. I fall short of God's holiness every day of my life. We are hypocrites, in my opinion, when we spend more time focused on other people's sins than our own.

I once received an email from a friend urging me to boycott ABC/Disney because of their support of the gay lifestyle. This friend was having sex with her boyfriend. She never stopped to think about her hypocrisy. She was violating biblical boundaries for marriage every bit as much as those she urged me to boycott. But she felt no inner conflict or humility in her stand against others. I can't go there. My need of a Savior humbles me.

The way to follow Christ in my opinion is by trusting and honoring Him with my life, not by trying to control the lives of others. I know many Christians will vehemently disagree with me, but I don't feel a political call in my Christianity. And I do not believe there is a "godly" political party. To quote Derek Webb, "You'll Never Find a Savior on Capitol Hill."

I will choose a church based on my religious convictions. I will eat where I like the food.
And I will try to the best of my ability to show love to all.


Anonymous said…
Amen and did I say it loud enough? AMEN!!! I couldn't agree with every word of this post more. I love this, "I don't see anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus fought for rights; not even His own. He laid His life down for His enemies. Do I take that as seriously as I take some of my other stands? This is the lens I try to keep in front of my eyes.

As far as taking a stand against sin, I try to make my own sin the greatest sin I need to deal with. Since I need a Savior to save me from my sin, I don't feel the moral superiority to condemn anyone else for theirs. It makes me sad that so many Christians choose homosexuality as the sin of all sins and are so quick to condemn. If you believe the Bible, sin is sin and we are all born into it." Yay Shari!
Love, DeeDee
John Wagner said…
Excellent! Once more you have eloquently stated many of the same thoughts that have been rumbling around in my own head on this issue.
Oh my goodness, Shari. You totally hit the nail on the head. :) I have been so torn on the whole "issue" as there really is no right side. I have a cousin who is in a different type of relationship, one I can't quite understand. And, it is okay. I have even spoken to her about this issue. She isn't even boycotting them, so what really is the point?

Something that hit me when Chic-Fil-A made such a public stance was that God's love wasn't being shown clearly in this. Yes, I know the lifestyle goes against what the Bible believes. However, Christ did not condemn those who were doing bad things. He didn't call them out publicly, but instead showed them grace, mercy and love, that through his actions and love they would see their own wrongs.

I did something yesterday that I never thought I would do. I wrote to their corporate offices. I told them how much I appreciated the fact that following Biblical standards was so important, but that they failed to show the biggest standard of all - love. Al I know, is that none of this is going to change where I eat, especially when it is someplace I really enjoy. :)
Shari said…
I'm glad I'm not the only one having these thoughts on the subject. It's been interesting to examine my own responses to additional comments I've read since writing this. I was happy when I saw a picture of a KFC and a McDonald's expressing their support of ChickfilA's right to express their Christian views. I was happy when I saw on the news that ChickfilA's sales were up. I laughed in agreement when I read a joke on FB about asking a Christian company their views on marriage and then being shocked and offended when they give an honest answer. But I still see this as another polarizing political divide turning one group of people against another group of people.

Lots of spiritual tension in this controversy.

I keep thinking about how the Jews missed recognizing Jesus as Messiah because they misunderstood what He was coming to do. He didn't come as a national hero to liberate them from Roman rule.

When I see what the media and some in government are trying to do to ChickfilA and anyone else who dares to publicly stand by their biblical convictions, it looks like prophesy being fulfilled to me.
Anonymous said…
Well Shari, how long do you have? :>)
I agree with your post. A few years ago, I struggled with the whole “judge not lest you be judged” while at the same time the Bible seemed to be saying pretty clearly that one was to weed out and clean up the world around them. My walk of faith has made great use of my 45 minute commute each way to work. One day as I pondered this very issue, I managed to finally stop my part of the mental conversation and just listen to God.
The image of a yardstick came to mind and I was lead to understand that when I judged another by whatever “yardstick” I felt justified in using, that I had better be prepared to have a similar yardstick applied to my walk as well. Could I measure up to the standards I demanded of others? Of course not. It became pretty clear to me that I needed to tend my own life first. Being diligent in eliminating sin from my life became more important than looking for sin in others lives. I was not called to wield a yardstick; I was called to carry an overflowing basket of love. Somehow that basket was so much more important than the yardstick. Those measures I had been using allowed me to consider others as “those people” and I soon came to understand that, as a sinner, I WAS “those people” too. It’s pretty humbling when this is pointed out to you.
As for the Chick Fil A thing, I think both sides are manipulating the media in this. Gay Rights activists can couch the conversation about “intolerance” while being intolerant themselves. Christians can beat the drum that they are being “persecuted”. Over chicken sandwiches? I think not. I have a friend who is a pastor in Nepal. His churches have been burned, his family’s lives threatened and his parishioners have had to flee their homes. That is what persecution looks like. Someone disagreeing with your point of view is not. However, squawking about it does allow a person to trumpet their “Christianity” while not actually getting your hands dirty doing, oh say, feeding the sick, visiting the shut-ins and taking care of the destitute.
I am dismayed that Chick Fil A is taking a less than honest spin on the situation. It’s probably business in a cutthroat world to spin your disagreement, but to couch the toys as possibly “dangerous” is disingenuous. Those who do not read the statement carefully will come away with the idea that Chick is protecting children from these toys which is not exactly true. I was raised to tell the truth, not shades of the truth. This sounds like corporate shading to me. And it strikes me as just plain shady.
Keep writing!
Love you~ Alice
Shari said…
Thanks for weighing in on this, Alice! As usual, I love reading your thoughts. You always give me more to think about. I love you too! And I will! :)

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