Today I find myself confused. And disappointed. And not really sure if I want to jump into the pool of hostility that has been raging in the public arena these past few days. Like many, my facebook account and news feeds have been flooded with posts or comments on articles dealing with the Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day. Here is just a taste of a few from my brothers and sisters in Christ:
-“I’m sure Chick-fil-a is just so lost as to what they will do with all the lack of support from the liberal contingency after today!”
-“I’m happily married and love fried chicken… Today seems like a win win in my opinion!!”
-“Right after you eat your Chick-fil-a remember to register to vote #religiousliberty”
-“Doing my part! #chick-fil-a”
My response to all the above statements: Doing your part to accomplish what exactly? Protecting freedom of speech?
Standing up for religious freedoms?
Good for you.
And I don’t mean that as sarcasm. These are important things. Foundational things even, that help make this country such a wonderful place to live. A place where we can all voice our opinion and not be imprisoned, tortured or killed for our individual or collective beliefs.
But what I have seen from my Christian brothers and sisters goes far beyond religious freedom or defending freedom of speech. And even if that is all we are attempting to accomplish, at what cost are they willing to achieve it?
For most, freedom of religion and speech has little to do with what is going on. As many Christian articles, pastors and conservative news outlets have stated, “This is about so much more than a chicken sandwich or freedom! This is about making a point! This is about Jesus!”
Which, for Christians, that is what it should be about. Always. Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. For our goal is to know him and make him known, is it not?
My concern is that somewhere between one private business owner voicing his own opinion (that again, as an American he is entitled to) and all the finger wagging, point making, statements about biblical marriage, statements about homosexuals and eating a bunch of chickens (today was not a good day for PETA) we lost sight of what is really important here: Jesus.
Which has led me to ask a question.
At what point did we decide living for Jesus and bringing about the Kingdom of God was actually a battle for the soul of America? A country permeated on every level by a culture that worships the almighty dollar above all else? A culture who values traditional marriage so much that its divorce rate is above fifty percent (for non-christians and Christians alike). A culture that will eventually pass away and someday mean nothing.
Friends, we lost that battle for our culture long ago when we started caring about our individual “rights” more than we cared for the broken and hurting people in this world.
Forgive me, but I feel the support of Chick-fil-a today from many Christians has come from a somewhat selfish and misguided place. We have held aloft the sentiment “It’s my right to say what I want and believe what I want and I’ll be damned if anyone tells me I can’t.” Those sentiments are true. When you live in America you do have that right. But is fighting for that right worth ostracizing the souls of thousands, homosexual or not?
When I see the many posts and discussions concerning the biblical view of marriage laced with arrogance and a collective middle-finger-raised “We sure showed you!” I fail to see the heart of Jesus in any of it. I honestly don’t think Jesus cares if Chick-fil-a loses customers for supporting what Jesus says about marriage and homosexuality. I honestly think Jesus could care less if Chick-fil-a is banned from the United States of America altogether for their owner’s religious beliefs. What difference does that make in the scope of eternity?
We may have made a point today as Christians that we love fried chicken and strongly don’t want gay people to be allowed to marry (and that may even be a victory in the so called cultural war) but I can’t help thinking we created a vast divide between ourselves and our fellow fallen brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. We had a chance to open discussion and engage people with the love of Jesus Christ and send a message of hope and redemption. Instead we chose to protect our own rights and defend our own point of view.
Buying yourself a chicken sandwich in an effort to say “I believe what the Bible says about marriage!” is easy. Engaging in honest discussion, building relationships and sharing Christ is hard. And messy.
I’m sorry if I do not join the voices of dissent against gay marriage by eating a chicken sandwich. (Side-note: what does it say about our conviction of belief if the strongest message we can send to let people know where we stand is eating fast food? I wonder how many hungry children could have been fed with the money spent today on ourselves.) If you did eat at Chick-fil-a today, I’m not attempting to condemn you. I just wish we thought through things better collectively and weren’t so easily distracted by all the noise. It may have been a perceived victory in some culture war, but I can’t help but wonder if we lost something much deeper today.
I think looking back, we may all regret what happened on Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day. I think there may have been other ways to send the message of God’s love to people who need it just as badly as we do. I can’t help but wonder if we showed the world our own depravity through our pride, arrogance, and judgement for a community we should be attempting to bridge the gap with, not alienate.
Hopefully they’ll be more forgiving of our sins than we are of theirs.