Eet Mor Chiken and the Gratest Komandmint

Chick Fil A Chicken Sandwich

Photo by J. Reed, Creative Commons

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?

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4 comments on “Eet Mor Chiken and the Gratest Komandmint

  1. Ron Goetz says:

    In the struggle for equality there are many levels of engagement. One level is legislative. This is the most combative and adversarial, and creaes the most heat. Those outrageous “put all the homos in concentration camps” comments tend to come out during election season.

    Equally combative but less public are the internet debates that we see (and participate in) on various websites. These are relatively futile for numerous reasons.

    But really understanding why people believe, act, and parrot what they do–that’s a tougher nut to crack. I tried it recently with a woman.

    http://biblethumpingliberal.com/2012/08/06/about-christians-bigotry-and-homosexual-marriage-dear-sherree/

    • Tim Dedeaux says:

      You’re right. It’s a really tough nut to crack. Most of my loved ones are on the opposite side of the issue. But I know they aren’t hateful people. I know this from experience, from their actions. But I also know, with all my heart, that they’re wrong.

      And I know the policies they vote for hurt people.

      And it tears me up to be separated from them on this issue. I think if they knew more gay people, they’d get over this like they got over the racial prejudices that reigned during their childhood (most of the people I’m thinking of grew up in segregated Mississippi, but have overcome that racial prejudice to a great degree). The problem is, gay people don’t want to advertise that they’re gay around here, because too many people really do hate them, and really will treat them like trash.

      It’s not just Mississippi, but it does get ugly here. The young people are divided between those of us who try to support gay people and those who are even more reactionary than their parents. It infuriates me to see my peers, people I know had no problem having sex before marriage (chasing every piece of tail they could) suddenly become champions of sexual morality as soon as homosexuality gets mentioned.

      I’m sorry. I’m letting my frustration take the wheel. Anyway, thank you for your comment, and for linking to that post. You handled it with such grace and rationality, certainly better than I could.

  2. Nathan Webb says:

    I just started reading your blog today. I’ve started to undergo a massive transformation wherein I have begun to separate some old pain from past bad experiences from the current arguments they don’t have any bearing on. In other words, I’m separating out some old past family experiences with church from whatever doctrinal disagreements I might have today. Whatever pain I might have had from those experiences, they don’t bear on today’s discussions. It’s making my life easier to be able to say that. (I’m also making it sound more important than it really is–we’re not talking traumas here, just more like general disappointments and frustrations.)
    anyway, The thing with Chik Fil A came about right before I started to make that change, and I approached those discussions awkwardly, but to the best of my ability. If I were to wish for a tone I could have taken, it would have been the tone you struck here in this post. I was still talking from a position of anger that really didn’t have any bearing on the discussion.
    Do I still feel a duty to those of my friends who are gay, bi, trans, and whatever? Absolutely. Do I still resent how they are treated? Absolutely. Am I going to slack off on defending them when it is needed? Not in the least. External reality does not change. Am I trying to improve my own approach to the situation? Yes. Am I succeeding? Only time will tell.

    • Tim Dedeaux says:

      I’m really glad to hear that. I’d actually love to talk to you about how you did that, because it’s not an easy task. I honestly think most people don’t even try. I have faith that if anyone I know can do it, you can.

      And don’t underestimate the importance of your own pain. Trauma causes an instant, intense, long-lasting disruption, but frustrations and disappointments can build up to intolerable levels, given time (I don’t need to tell you this, obviously). As the old parable goes, the little foxes kill the grapevine.

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