My Christian Perspective on the Chik-Fil-A debacle

Ah, America. Your panties are in a bunch again. As are mine, to be fair. But, I have had time to pray, think, read, sleep on it, cry, laugh, cry some more, and now, maybe, put it to bed. This post is my catharsis before I, also, go to bed.

First, a quick primer for the non-US readers out there. What happened with Chik-Fil-A this week? Well… Chik-Fil-A are a Southern-US originating fast food chain. I understand that they make delicious fried chicken. This is apparently not up for dispute. Their stance, and more importantly, practices towards homosexuals has been up for debate for years: when my ex-officemate first arrived in my office she asked me not to judge her for giving in to a random craving and having some chicken fingers from Chik-Fil-A.

Anyway, in the last week the CEO came out and reaffirmed his stance he absolutely defended “the biblical definition of the family unit”. Trust me that the CEO’s implication that he does not support, and will seek to prevent, any other versions of marriage: including post-divorce marriage (or divorce at all) and gay-marriage. Plus, much of Chik-Fil-A’s profits (and I purposely use the ambiguous term ‘much’ because the exact % depends on your source) goes to the WinShape foundation, which among other (sometimes positive) activities fights gay rights.

So, with the CEO recently reaffirming his stance, it all came to a head and it was said that if you support gay rights (i.e. equality for gay people), you should not eat at Chik-fil-A. Which, to me, seemed fair enough. The backlash came when Mike Huckabee said “Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles [and] the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often… if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant…. Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principle [and eat at Chik-Fil-A on Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day] [Read more].

In effect, Mike is saying “make a stance that you oppose equality for homosexuals”. I am sure many Brits may find that hard to believe, as in general, Britain does not have such vociferous calls against equality. But. Trust me. In the US, and the South particularly, the voice is all too strong.

Here are my last remaining thoughts on the matter:

1. Brits (and some Americans): To understand why this is such a contentious issue, you do need to understand how extreme the inequality between homo- and hetero- sexuals can be.

2. Americans (and some Brits): Make no mistake, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with defending the first amendment (freedom of speech).

3. As a Christian I feel absolutely no compunction to ‘oppress’ or ‘prevent’ gay marriage. But,

4. As a Christian I feel absolutely compelled to extend equality of rights to all.

5. Americans: You do know that your laws are NOT supposed to be based on religion: right?

OK, in a little more detail:

1. Brits (and some Americans): To understand why this is such a contentious issue, you do need to understand how extreme the inequality between homo- and hetero- sexuals can be.

I think I will only need to say 2 things here to really knock the wind out of my fellow Anglos (and probably upset them quite a bit):

A. In 28 States it is legal to fire someone just for being gay. I am serious. And people oppose overturning that legislation. Let me just repeat that because it may be so shocking that it does not sink in: In 28 States it is legal to fire someone just for being gay.

B. Healthcare is (famously) not universal and expensive beyond belief. As healthcare is often employer-sponsored, employers in at least 28 states have the right to deny the legal partners / spouses of gay employees healthcare. That is, in over 1/2 of American states, if you are a man (or woman) who does not work (or is self employed, or is a carer or provides daycare for your children) but is married to someone of the same gender who does – you can be denied basic healthcare that a heterosexual person would get. Healthcare. HEALTHCARE, people. No healthcare for being gay.

These things blow my mind away. I hope they do yours too.

So. It this whole debacle is not a trivial thing. Point 2:

2. Americans (and some Brits): Make no mistake, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with defending the first amendment (freedom of speech).

Perhaps embarrassed by the real reason people want to take a stance against Chik-Fil-A some have started to bleat “But I am defending free speech”. YOU. ARE. NOT. I doubt any rational opposer to Chik-Fil-A is actually saying “Gee, I wish the CEO of Chik-Fil-A hadn’t been allowed to say that, so that I could eat my burger in peace and not worry that my money was being funneled to anti gay groups. Gee, I really wish I could support business who are totally against my beliefs and values, just without knowing it”.

Get real.

What opposers to Chik-Fil-A are actually doing is DEFENDING the First Amendment, because the whole damn reason the free speech can work in a civilized (ha!) society is that people can then vote with their feet, or their mouths, or their chicken. It works because people have the freedom to say “hey, this company is totally out of line with my values. I ain’t putting my money there”. I suspect, more Chik-Fil-A opposers would like more companies to openly declare their policies so they could decide where to frequent. i.e More Free Speech. So. Shut up about your first amendment.*

OK, so onto the actual issue: should Christians be making efforts to oppose gay marriage? This is trickier one, and clearly above is fact, and below will be my perspective:

3. As a Christian I feel absolutely no compunction to ‘oppress’ or ‘prevent’ gay marriage.

I will openly admit, with apologies to anyone I offend, that I do not know if God opposes / does not recognize / is hurt by homosexuality / gay marriage. I am fairly sure I can axe all of Leviticus in terms of an ‘instruction manual for living life after the resurrection of Christ’. In fact, the whole Old Testament. It is a useful historical lesson, but let’s face it: a whole bunch is, seemly at random, chucked out (anyone now being forced to marry their dead husband’s brother? Anyone now being stoned for cussing?)? And let’s also face that the God-man relationship was not exactly rockstar at this point. He didn’t send down his only Son and then sacrifice him for funzies. He sent Him down because we (man) were a mess. And let’s note, that he didn’t send down someone to radically enforce the Old Testament laws. He send someone down who scrapped a lot of them: circumcision, food regulations and whatnot. So, I am not convinced you can live by this. The New Testament is less clear, and notably: Jesus was silent on the matter.

So: I don’t know. Luckily for me, I don’t need to know, because I was (am) in love with a man, and got to spend the rest of my life with him. As for others: not really my business. I have way too many (way too many) sins of my own to start worrying about the potential sins of others. Especially those sins that I don’t know for sure are sins. I mean, were I perfect: maybe I could turn outward a little more. But, my the definition of the fall of man I am not. By that definition: I am sinful. So, I really don’t have the right or impulse to judge others, who are the same as me. Let he without sin cast the first stone and all of that.

I have zero idea what Judgement Day will look like. But, I am pretty sure I will be too busy answering questions about why I couldn’t forgive and love all my fellow man? Why I did have sex before marriage (although I gave that up…)? Why I didn’t honor my parents at all times? Maybe: why do I have lustful thoughts for other women (and Channing Tatum. And John Stewart)? And suchlike. Really: by definition of the fall of man I’ll be having a whole load of repenting of my own to do: it is going to get out of control if I also have to repent for the sins of others.

I would ask other Christians to consider the same: and if you think ‘homosexuality’ is a ‘special’ sin because people don’t repent and continue to live in sin. I ask you this: are you divorced? Are you remarried? Do you hold on to jealousy or hatred? Maybe you too should be fired from your job at will. Or maybe, you should recognise that IF you think homosexuality is a sin (and I am not sure I do) that you are just as much a sinner, yet you get all sorts of wonderful legal rights, and God’s forgiveness.

So, then as I don’t feel compelled to be arrogant enough to decide I know God’s will, and prevent ‘sin’ in others, so also:

4. As a Christian I feel absolutely compelled to extend equality of rights to all.

Little bit of love people. Little bit of love. Let’s not deny healthcare and employment rights to people who are in sin as much as us. We all sin. We are all fallen. We are all trying to figure it out. I don’t recall Jesus denying food or healing to anyone… so let’s not do the same ourselves – K?

Of course, all this is slightly irrelevant (just random ramblings on my own version of Christianity) when you realize:

5. Americans: You do know that your laws are NOT supposed to be based on religion: right?

Think about that for a while.

And a bit more.

Think again.

So – legal rights should be outside of your religious views / opinion / beliefs. You know that a lot of straight people in the US are married in an a-religious ceremony, with no involvement or invocation of God, are atheist and get all the rights afforded to those who have a marriage based on Christianity? Equally, you know many people are married in a church NOT fitting the Bible’s definition of marriage? And those who the church won’t marry (say : you’re on your 6th marriage) still do get married and have all the rights of all married people? BECAUSE YOU SHOULDN’T DENY PEOPLE RIGHTS BASED ON THE BIBLE, AND NOT LAW.

Or, as this more accurately comes down to:

You should not SELECTIVELY deny groups of people WHOSE SIN YOU PERSONALLY DON’T LIKE, right, based on YOUR INTERPRETATION of the Bible, and not the laws of your land.

Really.

Think about this one.

And you will realise that Chik-Fil-A are assholes, and probably quite poor Christians. And if you make an effort to support them… well.. you can figure out the rest…

But, do enjoy your burger.

*Yes, several mayors then tried to impinge on the first amendment by ‘banning’ Chik-Fil-A from their cities. If you ever thought this could seriously happen, or be considered legal, then you need help. It also had nothing to do with Mike Huckabee’s original call.

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6 thoughts on “My Christian Perspective on the Chik-Fil-A debacle

  1. Peaches

    loved it. Not personally a Christian, but I get tired of the more….right wing branch of that faith trying to hijack the countries legal system. Very tired.

    Like

  2. Mike Miller

    That was a very nice essay. I agree with you. When I lived in Missouri, there was a vote on whether to extend anti-discrimination legislation to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It did not pass. That meant that the Missouri state senate had considered the question and decided that people ought to be allowed to discriminate in employment, etc., against people merely because of their homosexuality. As you said, Missouri is not alone. Many more states are worse than that and wouldn’t even bring it to a vote. Interracial marriage was illegal in, I believe, 23 states when the US Supreme Court overturned all of those state laws with Loving v. Virginia in 1967. Individual states did ultimately remove their anti-miscegenation laws from their books, but slowly. The last to do so was Alabama in 2001. Women got the right to vote when the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution passed in 1920, but the last state to ratify the Amendment was Mississippi in 1984. Worse, the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have given women legal rights equal to those of men, was first proposed in 1923. By 1972 it had passed the Congress but required state ratification by 1979. It didn’t get it. They tried extending the deadline to 1982. Again, it failed. So there is nothing at the federal level to prevent states from writing laws that discriminate against women (except in some narrow domains, e.g., their right to vote is protected).

    Like

  3. Lekki Frazier-Wood

    Yeah Mike, it is terrible. I am actually drafting a post on ‘How America made me an activist’ and the answer is basically: the terrible treatment of women (who should be chaste or preggo it would seem…). Seriously, I was so, so shocked to see the lack of equality efforts here.

    Like

  4. Andrea Blackert

    Lekki, it seems that you don’t have baby-brains at all!!! Thanks for your point on thoughts; I needed some ammo with which to argue! 😉

    Like

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