On Chick-Fil-A and “Standing up for God”
Perhaps the loudest battle cry of my teen-aged Christian generation was, “Stand up for God!”
It meant a lot of things to us - not conforming to the typical teenage behavior, praying at football games in a huge huddle when we were no longer allowed to do it over the PA system, going to church events instead of wild parties, sitting with the unpopular kids. It meant wearing Christian T-shirts and WWJD bracelets, and when we could finally drive, Christian bumper stickers. We were desperate to be different, to be that fish swimming upstream among thousands of other fish swimming downstream (who else had that shirt?).
Sometimes the fervor was good, but mostly it was loud, meant to attract attention and get everyone to be like us. We wanted to be “Jesus Freaks” and we didn’t care about what people thought of us (there ain’t no disguisin’ the truth, after all). There was a hint of martyrdom to the whole thing, that by living out our faith while banging on pots and pans, we were going to be labeled and scoffed at and scorned.
So I remember my WWJD bracelet and wonder, “Would Jesus boycott Chick-Fil-A? Would He show up for the Appreciation Day and buy a sandwich to support them?”
There’s so much noise here, so much yelling – on both sides. One side yells out, “Bigots! Haters!” and the other cries out, “Freedom of Speech! We’re being persecuted for our beliefs!”
And I imagine Jesus, ignoring the yelling match, drawing in the dirt and waiting for the stones to drop and all to walk away. I imagine Him washing the feet a young lesbian who has heard her entire life that she is going to hell, that she is worthless, that God hates her.
We are not called to monitor the legislation of this country. We have the freedom to participate, so please do if you feel strongly about the issues. But the shape of a Jesus-centered life does not take the form of a Chick-Fil-A bag waved in the faces of the LGBT community, or of a chicken sandwich avoided. The shape of a Jesus-centered life is cruciform, and a life submitted to the Cross does not seek to gain power over others. We forget that our goal is not to make people act righteous on the outside, but to usher them to Jesus, who washes the inner tombs and gives real Life.
We must “love our enemies” until we realize that “our enemies are not flesh and blood.” We must never forget that this isn’t just about legislation or the definition of marriage, but people, with real feelings. They aren’t “shaking their fists at God” in defiance, they are struggling with real attractions and emotions that bring bullying and hatred into their lives.
I cannot get around the biblical teachings that homosexual practices are sinful. I’ve studied the passages for myself, and I don’t think I can handle the text responsibly and say that it’s okay. But the LGBT community should not look at Christians and think, “They are against gay marriage.” They, like everyone else, should think, “Look how they love! Look how I have been loved by them!”
And Church, I think there are very few of them who can say this. We are failing to love because we are not submitting our lives to this crucified Jesus. We are too busy claiming persecution for our beliefs – a pretty good slap in the face to Christians worldwide who are facing real persecution.
So, buy your chicken sandwich or avoid the chicken sandwich. But realize that your stance on Chick-Fil-A does not give you permission to avoid the LGBT community, because they are not people that Jesus forgets. It’s not about “standing up for God” as much as it is serving as the Son of Man served us, loving as He loved us, and showing this resurrected Jesus to everyone so that they may come to Him and have Life.