I recently saw a letter to the editor in a local newspaper in which the author said he was tired of hearing about Chick-Fil-A. He wanted us all to shut up about it because America has bigger problems than some fast food guy. I sent a letter back replying that for homosexual men and women, civil rights, bullying, and marriage equality are hardly yesterday’s news.
I don’t think it’s time to stop the conversation. I think it’s time to keep talking. I hope I can say this with grace, and without any rancor or sarcasm.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus called us to love God with everything we have and love our neighbors as ourselves [Matthew 22:36-40]. Can we love somebody without every trying to see things from their perspective? Can we love somebody without taking the time to understand their struggles and what’s important to them?
Samaritans were seen much like homosexuals are today: outside of the faith, less valuable, different, other. Samaritans were half-breed descendants of Jews who’d married pagans. They worshipped on a mountain, not in the temple, living a lifestyle that defied God’s holy law every Sabbath. They were enemies of the faith, unnatural half-breeds, scum. But when asked “who is my neighbor,” Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. [Luke 10:25-37] When traveling, Jesus took a detour into Samaria and preached to the woman at the well [John Chapter 4], even though she was living in lifestyle sexual sin with a man she wasn’t married to (while most likely still being legally married to one of her five previous husbands).
So if we love our gay neighbors as we love ourselves, shouldn’t we think about how our actions will affect them? Shouldn’t we consider that our massive Chick-Fil-A rally will look less like “support for free speech” and more like a raised fist to them?
If you lived in a nation where Christianity was a small minority, denounced and scorned by the majority, how would you feel about a huge demonstration of support for a rich man who vocally condemns Christians and financially supports organizations that oppose Christianity?
I’d feel terrible, myself. I’d feel bullied and persecuted. I’d feel like, indeed, my own neighbors had turned against me. Not welcome, not loved.
How do you think the average gay person felt when he or she saw long lines wrapped around Chick-Fil-A all day, people lining up to support a business that gives money to anti-gay groups?
But it’s different, we say. Homosexuality is a sin, we say. Jesus didn’t say love our sinless neighbors as ourselves. He said love our neighbors as ourselves. Believing that homosexuality is a sin (even if you’re right) doesn’t give us an excuse to ignore Jesus’s commands on how to treat his gay children, our gay neighbors. Being right never excuses unloving, graceless, judgmental behavior. Nor does it excuse thoughtless behavior that is hurtful to an already vulnerable population.
I hadn’t really written anything about this, but seeing that letter in the editor lit a fire under me. Sometimes we are so concerned about being right that we fail to follow our Divine Master’s greatest commandments. And I’m as guilty of that as anyone, but I’m trying to work on it.
What do you think? In our zeal to critique our secular culture, do we sometimes lose sight of God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves? Can a critique that is begun out of love become something unloving through escalation, or perhaps through failure to see things from another perspective?