Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard about Chick-Fil-A’s statement regarding their belief that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, only. Apparently in certain areas of the country this is big news. “How intolerant?” “How ridiculous?” “How un-American?”
In other areas…like the Bible-belt… the questions are more: “How inspiring?!” or “How refreshing for them to take such a stand?!” The restaurant’s stand caused people to flock to their favorite chicken chain in droves. Their store here in Jonesboro, AR has lines like I have never seen. I expect to see people wearing stickers today that say “I went to Chick-Fil-A today! Did you?”
Yet, in all this hustle and bustle I find myself asking a different question:
How effective is this?
Don’t get me wrong: if you went today I am not judging you at all. I love CFA. I appreciate their company culture; plus, I love their food! And their service is great too! It makes me smile when they ask if they can “refresh my beverage” and tell me it’s “their pleasure” to serve me and others.
But I can’t help but wonder if the mass hysteria at CFAs all over the country is sending the wrong message. Let’s be honest here: if droves of people are lined up to the point their lines are wrapping out and around the restaurant or their cars are lining up out of the drive-thru and into the streets, then a message is definitely being sent to the public at large and to the gay population specifically. It seems to say: “We don’t approve of you, your lifestyle and your choice. That’s right, I said choice. We. Do. Not. Approve.” I think that’s the wrong message to send.
In fact, I am even more alarmed because I think people realize that is the message they are sending and they believe it is helpful and effective. I disagree.
I won’t beat around the proverbial bush. I don’t believe gay marriage is right in the eyes of God. I don’t believe it’s good for society at large. And I do believe that homosexual unions dishonor God. But JUST AS MUCH, I believe that God is dishonored by my behaviors, thoughts and actions sometimes too. And I am a heterosexual that is a happily married monogamist.
So here are few things we can learn about ourselves and our culture from today’s response to CFA Appreciation Day.
#1. Many Christians like being known for what they are against.
People are proudly flaunting how busy their local CFA is. They are posting pictures on social media and calling liberals to take notice of the support as if there are actually voting machines at the register to vote against Obama. I understand that some, if not a lot of this support stems from wanting to defend their beloved local CFA franchise and employees. I get that. But we must understand that we are sending a message to an unbelieving and more secular world around us that we heterosexuals will not tolerate such ridiculous and sinful behavior. If only we fought our own sinful desires as hard as we fight theirs.
This is a struggle for me as well, but we Christians must desire that people know Jesus more than they know what we stand for. Knowing him will lead to knowing the rest. We need to stand for what we believe is holy and good but we do so in grace and truth. I always remind myself: it was the humble sinners who loved Jesus. Those that loved evil and those that were religious couldn’t stand him.
#2. We show ourselves to be self-righteous.
I say “we” because both sides of this argument are acting self-righteous. You don’t even have to speak to be self-righteous. It’s a heart condition. It is one that each and every human defaults to. Whether a person is standing in line for an hour for a chicken sandwich or someone has been boycotting CFA since the news of the marriage statement, we are showing our deep desire that the other side see how wrong they are and repent. We are more concerned with changing people’s minds on the other side than we are changing their hearts.
#3. Many Christians have forgotten the cure to ALL human rebellion.
As I mentioned earlier, even as a heterosexual I dishonor God more than I care to admit. I hate it when I do! But it doesn’t change the fact that my heart, at times, still wants to rebel against the boundaries God has ordained for our protection and our joy. When I sense that I want to engage in behavior, actions or thoughts that dishonor God it’s not a boycott, a lobbyist group or beloved corporation taking a stand that will turn my heart back to God. No, in that moment I need a reminder that I am now God’s adopted, prodigal son. I must remember this is only possible through my faith in Jesus who took my place on the cross, dying the death I should have died for my rebellion against God and for worshiping created things instead of the creator. His subsequent resurrection offers me life and joy all by his grace and not by my works. That news causes a course-correction in the heart of a Christian and life-course-correction in the heart of someone who is still rebelling against his or her creator.
We must spread the good news of Jesus’ offer of salvation to everyone: gay and straight. People of both sexual preferences equally need it and Jesus loves both so we should love both as well.
I believe this approach would be effective in showing that both gay and straight people have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, it would also be effective in showing that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. That message would be effective. Just look at it’s 2,000 year-old track record.
Intersection: Have you ever felt it easier to fight other’s sinfulness more than your own? How could the gospel of Jesus help you with that?