Jul 31, 2012

The Chick-Fiasco: One Follower's Perspective

I've been involved in a couple good discussions about this whole Chick-Fil-A thing the last few days and saw some similar thoughts crop up. I thought I would take a moment and share some of them here.

Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy raised the ire of LGBT organizations by his public statement of his belief in the definition of marriage, by God, as between one man and one woman. He said:
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.” 
—Dan Cathy, CEO Chick-Fil-A 
This statement alone, is perfectly fine in my opinion. I mean, I don't agree with it, but it's fine if other people feel that way. What I don't like, and why I wouldn't eat at Chick-Fil-A if there was one here in Portland, is that the company funds anti-gay organizations with it's profits. I don't want my money going toward funding hate and discrimination. That's strong language, but I don't know what a law against certain people being married is. It's certainly not love. 

For similar reasons, I don't do business with GoDaddy.com. I've moved all of my sites off their servers because of their CEO's hobby of shooting elephants in Africa. CEO Bob Parsons says he is helping local farmers but I think there is another answer and I think the locals make a lot of money off killing the animals. You may feel that Parson's extracurricular activities shouldn't mean you have to pay more for a URL, but I do.

A couple of friends who are athiests/agnostics asked for my perspective as a "Christian". In order to understand the issue from a Biblical perspective, I did some research. I found a lot of elements that contribute to the rhetoric that is coming from the conservative side of the conversation. The one that seemed to point directly to the set of values, captured by Dan Cathy, is Leviticus 20. This is God's Law given to Moses for the people of Israel. 
The LORD said to Moses, “Give the people of Israel these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living in Israel. —Leviticus 20:1-2
The following list of laws is pretty straight-forward stuff. Most of it is really easy to follow and that is a good thing because most of it is punishable by death. There aren't any ifs, ands, or buts. Do these things and be put to death. 

Included in the list in verse 13, is homosexuality:
“If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense." 
—Leviticus 20:13
It also covers beastiality, adultery, incest, communing with spirits, and divorce. Oh, and eating unclean animals and birds (not exactly sure if the last one is punishable by death). 

In the end, that list of Moses's is pretty long and if we were to follow it, a lot of us would be going to the gallows. The whole idea of earned forgiveness is not what Christianity is founded on. This all or nothing view of faith is just the same sort of dogma that fuels Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other fanatical groups around the world. 

There are many people in this world, including Christians and heterosexual people, who would fail to abide by God's law for Moses. Should we put them to death? In light of Jesus's commandments, should we put these people to death? I mean, why mess around with banning gay marriage? Why not ban divorce? Is that far enough? Where do we stop?

I know that nobody is saying we should put gay people to death (well, I guess some people might be). But what should we do with them? The Bible says homosexuality, among other things, requires the penalty of death. If you're going to base laws off the Bible, not the Torah or the Quran mind you, then you can't go half way. Dan Cathy, and others like him, are saying that we are asking for the WRATH of GOD if we allow gay marriage (!). Don't half-ass that one, guys.

Is it open to interpretation? If it is, what else is?

How do we, as followers of Christ, reconcile these laws with the worldly views of today. We can't ignore them, right? It's the Bible... with a capital B. Written by the hand of God and all that. 

Thankfully, there other parts of scripture that give us a stronger directive. This little gem is one of my favorites that is somehow absent in the rhetoric of anti-gay organizations:

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
—Matthew 22:37-39

Even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is between one man and one woman, as Dan Cathy does, it is not right for you to cast judgment on these people:

God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? 
—James 4:12
Which commandment should I follow? I guess, since I am a follower of Christ, I'll go with His commandments. This doesn't mean I won't follow the other ones. It just means that I'm not going to pass laws against any people for their beliefs. I'm not going to support the death penalty. And I'm not going to support organizations or businesses that do. Not because I am protesting them or I want you to believe the same way I do. I don't want them banned (which isn't technically possible) and I'm not saying anything derogatory about Dan Cathy or his family or about you if you feel the same.

Just don't pretend it is because you are a Christian. You're kind of ruining it for the rest of us (remember, we're trying to convert these people!).

"Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we
judge the wounded 
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and love like
You did" 
—Casting Crowns, Jesus, Friend of Sinners
This verse was quoted in one Facebook conversation (a really good and rare religious/political discussion on Facebook, BTW) and it captures the real issue I see with this. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I am for gay marriage. Moreover, I have been commanded by God to love Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered people. Not to mention, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, sinners, and the whole lot of you. I even love Dan Cathy. 

It's how God loves me and He says to love you the same. Can I get an Amen?

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