August 5, 2012
A recent post by blogger Matthew Paul Turner argued that Christians who participated in supporting the Chick-fil-A (CFA) restaurants failed miserably to do the right thing as Christians. While the article is well-intentioned, it is very confused.
Yesterday’s campaign, while I don’t think it should be considered or called “hate,” neither can it be called love. Christians all over America ignored the second greatest commandment: to love our neighbors. Call yesterday what you want, freedom of speech, a rally behind “family values,” a sincere fascination with CFA’s brand of fried poultry…but it cannot be called love. It was not love.
Here Matthew confuses standing against an issue with loving the people who engage in the issue. We should stand against abortion, but still love people who get them. We should stand against opponents of free speech and advocates of gay marriage, but also love individual homosexuals. So he confuses a macro-issue (the issue of marriage and free speech) with a micro-issue. Moreover, he also seems to think that love cannot be tough. Sometimes the best thing you can do to love someone is to confront strongly their harmful, immoral behavior. So even in with regard to the micro-issue (involving a specific person) it is the right thing, given an adequate relational context, to say that their homosexual behavior is deeply immoral, their desire for marriage to be re-defined is contrary to Scripture and the natural law, and it will harm society significantly, and their desire to have political censorship brought against CFA is egregious.
People felt hate and we ignored that. At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not your Christian understanding of scripture harbors hate or not, a large group of people felt hated. Again, we can debate this point all day long, but that does not change the fact that people felt hatred because of what happened yesterday. Whether or not hate actually existed is not the point, people felt hated. And rather than acknowledging those feelings or trying to understand or engage them in any way, Christians everywhere marched off to their local CFA like it was a cross to bear, a necessity, a battle cry of some sort, the waffle fry’s last stand.
Regarding his point about people feeling hate, this is the other side's issue, not ours, and to be quite honest, they may need to search more deeply within themselves if they, in fact, felt hated. Very few went to CFA with hate; they were angry about the other side's hate, but they were not hateful. Matthew confused hate with the hard virtues of confrontation of moral evil and standing for what is right, and he confuses real hate with the feeling of hate. The feeling of hate was not the protester's fault; it was a projection of the other side onto the protesters and probably reveals a need to be more discerning about those who disagree with you and not to react emotionally. Such an emotional reaction is often narcissistic (I and my feelings of acceptance are all that matter; the issue, and people’s right to disagree with me are not the issue).
By rallying behind CFA, Christians put an issue above people. And it’s impossible to follow Jesus when issues trump people. Jesus never said “love God, love causes.” That is not the message that gets preached in churches all over America on Sunday mornings. I’ve heard a hundred different explanations from patrons of yesterday’s rally and nearly every one of them gives precedence to “the cause”. We can’t embrace love, mercy, hope, and peace when our causes (or a place of business) trumps people.
Regarding the point of putting an issue above people, this is hopelessly misguided. How can you even know, love and care for people without truth and knowing “issues (alleged truths) about people and how they think? One of the most loving things one can do to someone is to stand up against their harmful behavior.
Also, how about loving the CFA people and all those on their side? Don't they need love, mercy and support? Yes they do, and people chose to express that love and respect
Wednesday. That was a very Christian thing to do.
Once again, the mass actions of Christians built another wall of distrust between the Church and the GLBTQ communities. Nobody was surprised that the CEO of CFA is against gay marriage. Nobody was surprised that Mike Huckabee made the decision to rally support behind CFA. And nobody was surprised that Christians took Huckabee’s words as marching orders, leading the charge with more passion, delight, and Instagram pictures than what we express for so many more important issues facing this country. If Mike Huckabee had declared yesterday “Homeless Appreciation Day,” would the response have been even half as large and loud? Yes, I know; that’s an unfair question. But we’re Christians, so we’re very familiar with the use of unfair questions to make a point.
Once in a while, our culture needs to be surprised by how much we love people–all people. Once in a while, our culture needs to be overwhelmed with joy that we are involved in the greater story. Once in a while, our culture needs to see us being a part of the solution and not the problem. But yesterday? There were no surprises. And no surprises only builds more distrust, not peace, not grace, not hope, and not love.
Regarding the fourth point (e.g., that we need to march for homeless appreciation day) is irrelevant to the issue. Yes, we need to be better at a whole host of things in the church, e.g., showing love to the poor and so forth, but it does not follow from that, that we should not stand up against abortion, human trafficking, violations of free speech and political coercion against CFA, the attempt to change the definition of marriage. Just because we need to be better at issue A does not imply we should not stand up against issue B. This was a really bad argument.
Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people. Oh I know that most Christians will say, “I don’t hate gay people!!” But did supporting CFA Appreciation Day prove that?
Trust me, I understand that most people who ate chicken sandwiches at CFA yesterday did not do that as an act of hate. I get that. And that’s cool and all, but did the act of going out of your way to CFA prove that to be true? Do you think that the GLBTQ communities believe you? Would you, if you were gay, believe you?
Now before you answer that, remember that yesterday’s CFA Love Day was just one action in a long line of many. Because let’s face it: Christians go WAY out of their way to “hate the sin”–i.e., by voting against gay marriage, voting against civil unions, voicing their angst about gay people adopting children (just to list a few). Is it possible that Christians lose the ability to truly “love the sinner” because they’re so busy “hating the sin”? Do Christians put anywhere near the energy into “loving the sinner” as they do “hating the sin”?
All I know is that the GLBTQ communities are becoming quite used to feeling unloved by Christians. And with good reason.
How many times do we hear Christians say something like, “I don’t hate gay people. I may not agree with their lifestyle. But I don’t hate them… “If you were gay, would you believe that? Think about it. Would you feel loved by somebody if they included rules, context, and/or explanations about your lifestyle every time they spoke about how much they don’t hate you? Only when talking about gay people do Christians feel the need to preface their “love” or “non-hate” with some variation of “I don’t agree with your lifestyle, but…” Christians don’t talk about any other group of people like that–only gay people.
So, I want to believe Christians when they say “I don’t hate gay people.” But sometimes proof of that is necessary. And yesterday did not prove that. Honestly, yesterday proved little more than how shallow Christians can be sometimes.
Not only did supporting CFA Appreciation Day declare that Christians believe that an issue is more important than people, that declaration was made by the mass consumption of junk food. That fact doesn’t need a punch line. It is a punch line.
Yes, on some level, yesterday was successful. I’m sure that today CFA feels really loved. And I’m sure Mike Huckabee feels loved, too. And I’m sure lots of people, many Christians included, feel great pride for supporting the cause. But there’s also a large group of people, good people, people you might disagree with, that today, feel really unloved.
If it’s true that Christians don’t hate gay people, today would be a really good day to prove it.
In response to his fifth point, our protest was not about proving we don't hate gay people--we do that by warmly inviting them to attend church, to receive love and healing and so forth--rather, the point was to stand up against a cultural evil (the attempt to silence free speech, use political coercion to accomplish this) and to stand for the views expressed by the owner of CFA. You can't accomplish everything in a single action and the focus of the protest was appropriately limited. What's wrong with that?
The underlying problem the author has is that he seems to think that loving people is a sentimental feeling of empty acceptance that does not also include admonition to change. He also confuses standing up against a macro-issue (e.g., abortion) with showing grace and forgiveness to individuals who have had an abortion.
Try this: Run his 5 arguments against having a pro-life day where Christians march for the unborn. Wouldn't that make people who have had an abortion feel unloved, etc. etc.? Yet is he really arguing that Christians should not march for life? His is a sentimentalism that does not express the true nature of love. Jesus Himself stood against public evil, e.g., Pharisaic purity laws. If we followed his misguided advise, it would silence the church’s protestation of evil, which homosexuality and the redefinition of marriage truly is.
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