Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Why I'm Joining the Gay Community at Chick fil A this Friday

This Friday night, the homosexual community is planning sit-in protests at Chick fil A restaurants all over the country.  And this Friday, I'll also be at my local Chick fil A, hopefully making some new friends!

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month, you are already aware of how much cultural bru-ha-ha can be stirred up over something as basic as a chicken sandwich.  Today, Christians from all over the country rallied in support of the Chick fil A chain of restaurants by packing parking lots and dining rooms to the tune of hours-long waits at some locations.  "Chick fil A Appreciation Day" was, by any commercial standard, a roaring success.

This Christian, however, stayed away.

It isn't that I didn't try.  Spending a few hours with my 6-year-old son this evening, he asked for their nuggets (and their indoor playground!)  But I'll be honest.  Once I saw the line wrapped around the building...twice, I decided otherwise.  Besides, I wasn't going to "show my support."  I was going because I wanted my kid to have a white meat alternative to that nasty stuff at McDonalds!

This is not to say that I don't support the company.  I do!  Aside from making great chicken sandwiches and a reputation for stellar customer service, many positive things about Chick fil A have been overshadowed by the current culture-war back and forth, including the large amounts of money they give back to local communities, and generous scholarship programs for employees.  And for the record, I'm thankful for strong, ethical companies run by Christian business leaders.

Additionally, I've been personally blessed by the Cathy family.  It was Dan's father Truett--who founded the company decades ago--who was present at Southern Seminary the day my wife and I presented our first-born infant son to the seminary community in chapel.  At the close of the service, Mr. Cathy told us "a young couple who has just had a baby needs to get out now and again," while pressing into my hand enough coupons to allow us to eat on his company's dime for at least a week!  A servant's heart and the spirit of generosity have always been present in the Chick fil A chain, because that same heart is possessed by its owners.

But in times like these, when the "culture war" reaches a fever pitch, I have to step back, take a breath, and ask my Lord what I should do.  I respect those who turned out in masses today to support a company that has come under media and local government fire around the country, and I also agree with their position on the family.  But ultimately, such shows of support do little to advance the Gospel.  When you pack the room with people already going to heaven, it tends to discourage non-Christians from showing up!

By contrast, when I read about Jesus' words and actions in Scripture, I see a Savior who aggressively pursues relationships with people who are far from God, and who simultaneously displays a strong reticence toward fighting over the control of temporary kingdoms.  His mission was, and is, much larger!

Jesus was, in fact, once asked about his views of marriage by the Sadducees--the 1st century's equivalent to modern political liberalism.  The context of the question was, of course, different from today's debate, as was their goal of forcing their denial of the resurrection.  But the scenario was the same; a group of people bent on forcing a theological and political point of view.  Jesus' answer pointed to something higher and better. (Matthew 22:23-33)

And just prior to that conversation, the "1st century conservatives" also confronted the Lord with a sticky political issue; that of income taxes!  Here again is a special interest group seeking to entangle the Lord in a lesser battle over lesser, temporary things.  Jesus' response is quite comical.  He had someone present a coin and simply asked whose picture was on it. I can almost see Him tossing the coin back to its owner in disdainful fashion, in a way saying "if Caesar wants these little coins, give them to him.  Just remember to give God what is His!" (Matthew 22:15-22)

As an evangelical conservative, I sympathize with those who showed solidarity and support today for Chick fil A.  I agree with their position on this issue.   But the gay community is not my enemy.  And even if my views bring them to view me as an enemy, I am compelled by the undeserved love I've received from Jesus to love them back. (MAtthew 5:43-48)

Like all other kingdoms that came before it, the one you and I live in now is also temporary.  Its that other Kingdom.. .the one Jesus mentions more than 80 times in the Gospels...the one He is obsessed with, that I care about extending.

This Friday night, a group of people He wants to be part of that Kingdom have announced where they will be.  What else can I do but show up?  No, I won't be making protest signs or standing in solidarity out front.  I'll be inside, inconspicuously consuming waffle fries that will most likely shorten my time here on this earth.  Come to think of it, someone might identify me as "one of them!" But that's OK.  I may not share their attraction for the same sex, but at heart we really aren't all that different.  Ultimately, these are people just like you and me.  They are broken with sin, just like you and me, and I want to get to know them, if they will let me.  I want to hear their stories.  I want to identify with their struggles, at least as much as a heterosexual man is able.  And I want to offer the Kingdom and its King.  I might even buy them a great chicken sandwich while we talk!

I love Chick fil A, and agree with what they stand for.  But I love the Savior I know Dan Cathy serves more, and I long for His Kingdom to be realized in the hearts of my friends in the gay community.

Chick fil A has taken some heavy shots over the past couple of weeks because Dan Cathy took a strong, but compassionate stand.  Showing support for that company is a great thing, but let's ensure that our support accomplishes more than simply "return fire" in a war over a temporary culture.  This Friday, I'll do my best to use this moment to be kind to people created in God's own image and likeness, work hard at demonstrating the values of God's eternal Kingdom with my actions, and invite people into that Kingdom!

Who knows?  Maybe the lines will be just as long Friday night.  And while I won't stand in line for an hour over a "culture war" issue, I'll stand there all night for the opportunity to extend God's Kingdom on earth!

Its a tough thing to do.  After all, if you want to get yourself into trouble quickly with the hyper-conservative, "culture war" evangelicals, just start spending time with members of the homosexual community.  But ultimately, I'm not interested in following the 21st century equivalent of the Pharisees or the Sadducees.  I want to be where Jesus was.  And I think Chick fil A on a Friday night among a hoard of homosexuals is exactly where He would be!  In fact, its exactly where He WILL be!

So let's do something unconventional...something thoroughly Biblical this Friday night.  Support a great company and invite some new friends into the Kingdom!  That's a win-win!


Daniel said...

I was encouraged to hear that chic fil a stores across the country plan to take tea out to protestors on Friday when they protest out in the heat. Hopefully showing some grace and kindness will build bridges and lead some to the live of Christ...

Angela said...

My mom and I have already discussed this and we will be there Friday too. Let's rally around fellow sinners and share the love of the gospel.

- Maria said...

I thought about this long and hard... It was like a slap in the face when all of the sudden those who call themselves true Christians, the ministers, the biblical families all rushed in a wave to support yesterda, yet they forgot about the big picture: reaching out and cultivating that LOVE that Jesus Died for! I found the IRONY to be so hard because we preach, we teach, we are suppossed to be delivering the message to everyone, not judgementally select those whom we want to acompany us to that promised kingdom...not sure this makes sense, reason why I left the church I was in, because the LOVE was selective, outsiders were not welcome. So I find that LOVING my GOD and learning about HIS ways alone is by far better than to be given selective love. I do not support neither view, however, YOU my friend hit the nail in the head and sometimes people need to come down their high horse to really touch someone's life. My two cent's worth....

Anonymous said...

"And while I won't stand in line for an hour over a "culture war" issue, I'll stand there all night for the opportunity to extend God's Kingdom on earth!" Thanks for this! I am really encouraged by this response.

Sarah S said...

I will first say that in my mind, Wednesday was more about supporting the ideas of free speech and biblical principles than about thumbing a collective nose at the homosexual community. I think that's what media and some over-zealous people may have made it, but to me, that wasn't the initial intent. That said, this was the first time I had heard about Friday. Not sure if we'll make it out, and if we do, not sure how the 2-year-old will do in large crowds, with possible waiting (my husband got drive thru Wednesday). But the whose time I was reading this, I was thinking how exciting it will be to see Chick-fil-A live up to the company it strives to be: serving graciously even those who disagree with them! Then I read in the comments, that's just what they plan to do! Even if my family is not able to be present, our prayers for this night of
potential ministry will be there!

Anonymous said...

Please let us know how this goes. My only experience with witnessing to to a gay man went horribly. When I made the statement that we are all sinners in need of a savior....the conversation was over it was decided by him that I was judgmental and I was shown the door.
I wish you well and will pray your message will be received in the same spirit you are offering it.

Rachel said...

Thank you so much for this post. A friend posted a link on Facebook and I am so thankful she did. You eloquently expressed what I have had in my heart to say.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous... I once had a conversation with my lesbian cousin that ended much like you described above. Only she grew up in a Christian family, and had even attended and graduated from a respected Christian university. In my ignorance, I was surprised that she didn't view her sexual preference as a sin. Then I started asking all of my gay and lesbian friends, at what point they realized that they were attracted to the opposite sex, and they all responded that it was during their youth, as children. Several of them went on to be involved in heterosexual relationships that were unsuccessful and that felt UNNATURAL for them. They gays and lesbians that I polled did not CHOOSE to be this way, and I believe them. Who would choose a life of condemnation, not only from their local community but in many cases, their own families? Our goal as Christians should not be to try to make gay people straight, but to love a ALL people the way Christ did. The truth IS that we all have a sin nature, but we need to look no farther than the mirror if we are looking for someone to "fix." I don't like to pick and choose verses to quote, however "While they were yet sinners, Christ died for them..." applies to us all, not just the LGBT community. I sometimes think that the LGBT community is the favorite punching bag for the conservative church, because it is such an easy target for those of us who are straight... We can't fathom being attracted to the same sex. It would feel perverse. But from their perspective, they can't fathom being attracted to the opposite sex... For them, that is perversion. Think about that for a minute. I'm not a scientist, I've never really researched the topic, but in my own family, on my dad's side, their are 5 female first cousins. My sister and I are straight, and the other three cousins are lesbian. All three had different fathers, none of them grew up together, in fact they grew up in different cities, and have only met each other a handful of times in their lives. If there is a genetic mutation that causes attraction to the opposite sex, then I missed it by a very narrow margin. One thing I do know, is that love is a choice, and I will choose to love, because Jesus first loved me. If there is a miracle to happen to make gay people straight, it won't be my hands that perform it, but rather the nail scarred hands of Christ.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your attitude and motivation. However, I have never known a protester of any cause to be swayed or won over during a staged protest. The key to me is in daily living & relationships. We need to be salt & light in our walk, not just sounding brass at an organized event. Your willingness to go at that time shows respect for those who in attendance, but I doubt one soul or mindset will be changed.

Jenni said...

Excellent perspective. I appreciate your thoughts on this matter. I have had several lesbian neighbors, and they have been sweet, kind people. They were amazed at my family's kindness to them when they found out we were Christians, because they had only had hateful encounters with Christians in the past. Because we were friendly and invited them to dinner on several occasions, they were willing to hear us share the gospel and even attend church with us twice. A little kindness and love goes a long way!

Anonymous said...

I believe that gays were born that way. With all my heart I do! I was born proud and selfish. It feels unnatural to me to humble myself and to share and there are a great number of other sins I could list here. That doesn't mean it isn't sin. I want to love my gay neighbors too, but not at the expense of the gospel. And I could be wrong here, but any attempt to approach a protester today will probably nkt be pretty unless it is prefaced by an acceptance of the sin they choose to embrace. In my day to day I will love any gays I meet as I have done previously, but I won't go silently eat chick fil a chicken in front of them while they are protesting that would indeed be shoving it in their face! And I won't gain an audience by verbally affirming their lifestyle. But I don't want to stir up more animosity, so I'll be staying away.

Mike said...

My thoughts like many others is that this whole issue is not about one's position on homosexuality, but on free speech and freedom of beliefs. The LGBT community, with the help of the media, have taken the issue and turned it into a hate campaign against them. CFA's business practices speak for themselves as to their love for all people they serve and employ. I would not mingle with the LGBT community in the venue tonight because I wouldn't want the media to have my face in there as support for the LGBT agenda, and that is what would happen. I have a better suggestion about reaching these (and others folks as well) with the love of the gospel by doing what Jesus did. He went to their homes and dined with them, and participated in everyday life activities with sinners. My family was at a CFA on 8-1, and I would do it again, not because I "hate" a particular segment of our society, but because I admire believers who take the opportunity to express their God given (and supposedly consitutional right) to speak their beliefs.

Sterling Silver said...

Would someone please explain to me how inordinate and unnatural affection and function explained clearly in Romans 1:24-28 mean natural and normal, and something that you are born with and intended to be? How can indent acts and a depraved mind be considered decent? Can we please be logical and honest. God loves those peoole and so should we, but we must not justify their depraved lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

These are the very words of God Almighty on the position He takes on the sin of sodomy (for those who don't know, that is the gay and lesbian crowd. Romans 1:24- 2:2 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. Romans 5:8 states what He will do for any person that is gay, lesbian or anybody who does not know Christ as savior: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And in 2 Peter 3:19 this same love is demonstrated again: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Friends, it dont matter who we are....if we dont know Christ as savior....we will be eternally dammed!

Susan said...

What a great idea! I'm praying for you now and through the night that you make a connection and open some minds. What you're doing is both loving and brave.

Susan said...

I am looking forward to hearing how this went.

It would take a lot of gumption for me to do this, but I wish there was a church or group that could help me to know how.

Some have expressed skepticism, I think we've got to reach out and not worry about the outcome. If we go in love and peace, God will take care of the rest.

. said...

Thanks to all for the comments. A couple of responses are in order.

First to Mike: I agree with you that the issue in play is over free speech. The problem is that "free speech" has two sides to it, and if the homosexual community wants to boycott a company they have every right to do so. Protecting the right of someone to speak something you would spend your entire life opposing is admittedly difficult, but its precisely that sort of "advanced citizenship" that has made us who we are. That said, if you are referring to the Mayors of certain cities issuing threats to block a company simply because of what a CEO believes, then its actually much MORE than a free speech issue. Such indicates the presence of insipid fascism in our country, which is sad.

However, as a follower of Jesus my first allegiance is to God, not country, which means that as much as I might believe in free speech, I have to consider how exercising that right may be perceived by those who watch me. My field is missiology, and in this field we often speak of "receptor-oriented communication." What I say is important, but if I want to communicate my message with clarity and accuracy, it is just as important that what I'm saying be well-understood.

Hence, our dilemma on Wednesday. You say Wednesday was about free speech. I believe you, and agree with you. However, those on the other side perceived the day to be about "hate." I don't believe it was, but if I'm going to reach out and have any meaningful conversation with my homosexual friends, I have to consider their perception. And as a follower of Jesus, if giving them the right perception means I have to give up my "rights," I think such is exactly why the Sermon on the Mount was preached.

. said...

Sterling Silver, you ask a great question.

Paul's description of homosexual activity as "unnatural" is more accurately translated "unuseful." Therefore, what he is communicating in Romans 1 is less about "biological urges" (how you and I would most likely define "unnatural" in the 21st century) and more about something being contrary to the created order itself. In short, the unnatural state he describes is more external than internal.

Both the "mechanics" and outcome of a sex act between two people of the same gender are "contrary to nature" in the sense that they require actions that are contrary to the way God designed the human body, and produce no procreative outcome. Based on his use of the Greek language, this is what I believe Paul had in mind when using these descriptors of homosexual behavior.

This does not deny that someone may feel a strong biological attraction for someone of the same gender. It simply suggests that acting on that attraction is sinful. It is "natural" for me, as a heterosexual male, to be attracted to women, but sinful for me to act out on that attraction with anyone except my wife. Such means that the attraction itself is not sinful, unless I allow it to lead to lust and/or infidelity. I would contend that the same is true for those who have same-sex attractions. If everyone gave in to their biological urges simply because "we were born this way," civilization as we know it would come apart.

So to answer your question, homosexual attraction may be very "natural" in the sense that we understand that term in the 21st century, while simultaneously remaining "unnatural" in the sense that Paul intended in the 1st. I hope this is helpful.

. said...

To all, I want to reiterate that the Christian message as expressed in the Scriptures are crystal clear regarding the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. Some have responded to this post as though we were arguing over that point. We are not. However, how you and I interact with the world is important. Simply telling the homosexual community "you need to repent" isn't enough, and we know it isn't enough because it wasn't enough for us either. I didn't come to Christ because someone protested my behavior, or because someone screamed "repent" at me, or looked down on me. I came to Jesus because someone entered into my life, lived, laughed and suffered with me, and in that context lovingly shared their own story of faith and the hope of the Gospel. We absolutely must better understand how to do what our Savior did; incarnate ourselves among those who need to know God, and in doing so live "sent" as He has called us to do. (John 20:21)