keep your culture wars off my two pickle slices

So I wasn’t going to get into the Chick-fil-a thing because, well, it’s stupid. Let me count the ways it’s not worth anyone’s time:

1) The gay marriage thing is not, in fact, a big deal compared with the economy and wars and stuff.
2) Rich people are always going around stating their opinions like it’s important. I am baffled that this particular person is being singled out.
3) Massive numbers of people are actively participating in the opposing movements to buy/not buy Chick-fil-a food. As if there is an anti-gay chemical in the chicken itself. “My son used to wear pink and cry sometimes. Then I fed him these chicken nuggets. Now he watches UFC and the Future of the American Family is safe!”
4) Don’t these city government people have, like, governing to do? Why are they writing letters to Dan Cathy? Again, I’m not following the proof for (not-waffle-fries = protection of civil liberties)?
5) Judging from my facebook feed, Dan Cathy’s comments only served to light a fire under the gay rights crowd, meaning the best thing he could’ve done to prevent gay marriage would have been to sit down and shut up. To recap: The right did not in any way need Dan Cathy’s endorsement. The left, however, has seized the opportunity for outrage. Obama wins, Mr. Cathy.
6) The Cathy family and Chick-fil-a do a lot of things we can all agree are very cool, such as funding organizations for adoption and foster care, giving scholarships to their employees, encouraging community involvement in general, and giving me a free chicken sandwich when I graduated from high school, which was definitely the incentive I needed. The money given to so-called anti-gay organizations is a fraction of all that.

If you can’t tell, I’m highly annoyed with both sides for this major distraction of a non-argument. [I feel compelled to address my UK readers for one moment. You are probably still wondering why any of this is a big deal, and I can’t give you any answers, except that you can’t quite comprehend the American perspective here for one reason: you’ve probably never eaten at Chick-fi-a. Chick-fil-a is delicious. When a chicken sandwich of this magnitude is at stake, emotions are bound to run high.]

So the reason I’m mad and blogging about this whole fiasco is because four days later it’s still happening. My facebook feed is still a highly emotional whirl of gay rights and chicken, which is a phrase that should only be used to describe one of those dreams from which you wake up and question your own sanity [“I dreamed I was playing air hockey with a bush baby in Guadalajara.” “Don’t repeat that to anyone ever”].  The fact that city mayors are writing to uninvite Chick-fil-a (thereby depriving their citizens of fantastic lemonade and, oh yeah, jobs and stuff), the fact that Dan Cathy’s opinion matters at all in the first place, and the fact that ANYBODY CARES what all of these idiots are saying – all add up to one conclusion: the culture wars are out of control.

Look here, left side. I understand that the gay marriage issue is a big deal. I see how this is offensive. I don’t see how you could make this into the crime of the century rather than doing what we all do when someone says something offensive, namely, walk away and make a mental note to stop respecting that person. The man is not a politician; he has no actual power over anything except next year’s drive-thru visor style. Also, there are more important things to boycott, like stuff made with slave labor and Burger King because, can we all agree that it is nasty? And one more thing, please stop acting like only the world’s biggest idiot of a hater (which is what  “homophobe” implies) could ever hesitate to redefine a sacred institution of their religion.

But, right side. “Christian” side. Dan Cathy – you are digging your own grave. Actually, you’re hurting all of us when you say that yours – name-calling and religion-legislating – is the Christian response to gay marriage advocates. People are leaving in droves, stampeding out the door of the church, and your main response seems to be to continue calling them names on their way out. Yes, yes, yes, there are truths and standards that Christian people in the church need to hear and be held accountable to. No, No, NO those standards shouldn’t be enforced on other people. [And no, I’m not entirely certain what *exactly* they are yet, I mean we can get into the whole “shellfish and headcoverings” thing later if you want.]

You say you fear for the Future of the American Family. I think you fear for your own power. You feel that America won’t be the Christian country it once was, that the pulpit won’t set agendas anymore, that a certain set of conservative ideals won’t define the norm any longer. Please understand – this has already happened. And no one else is upset about it, including a great many of your brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re not trying to oppose you or the Bible; it’s just that we are completely uninterested in fighting the culture war. We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual powers of this dark world, powers like fear and hate. We don’t fear for The American Family because we don’t operate out of fear, period. We feel a deep call to love our neighbors, not to legislate at them.

More than anything in this whole gay marriage thing, we just want to be done with it, because we are so. weary. of Us vs. Them. Jesus didn’t come to establish an earthly, political kingdom, so why are his followers still trying? Dan Cathy warned against “pride and arrogance“, but isn’t that what this is? Whether you intend it or not, this insistence on denying others a political right on religious grounds only sends a message of condemnation. Maybe your own position is more nuanced than that, but the message is not getting through.  None of this is communicating grace to anyone. None. It is, however, making people feel marginalized and unwelcome in the church.

Christ met me where I was; even though there were things I needed to change, he didn’t hand me a list of them when he adopted me. He is still coming to meet me, gently revealing those things one at a time. And meanwhile, he stands between me and the stone-throwers, grace always the only thing that truly frees me from sin. Who am I to condemn others? Who am I to place a heavy yoke on someone else?

I know Dan Cathy isn’t reading my dumb blog. But I don’t know how to communicate this to the people who claim to speak for Christians. If Rachel Held Evans’ most popular post isn’t getting the message out, my most-underwhelming blog won’t either. But that’s my piece anyway. Just… count me out of the war. I’ll be trying feebly to bind up wounds.

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6 Comments

  1. Yes! Agree! I’ve been out searching for like minded people on this issue. You know, those Southern Baptist roots and all leave me feeling a little lonely these days 🙂 ~Trish

    Reply
    • Yes, yes, I do know! Though I’m not sure my upcoming move to The North will find me any less a theological outsider. The good news is, you never have to be lonely on the internet! (does that sound weird?)

      Reply
  2. You stated this better than I could. All I could think over the last few weeks is that “I’m not in the condemnation business”. And you know, if I WAS, I’m probably not doing the whole Christ follower thing very well. I hurt for those that feel marginalized, that face bigotry, whatever the cause. I don’t have the answer. But I’m not in the debate. I just don’t want to marginalize or hate anyone, ever – on the surface of what they are or what they are not.

    Reply
    • “the Christ follower thing,” yes. I just read a great post by Jonathan Martin about how Jesus seems to be missing from this whole episode.

      Reply
  3. Laura Johnson

     /  August 9, 2012

    Ahem… are you sure you haven’t been throwing stones yourself? There’s quite a pile there, looks like your name on them. Here are just two of them;
    1) Mr Cathy’s comments were in response to a question during an interview for a Baptist magazine. So, you’re condemning him for responding honestly and truthfully to a Christian publication? Hmmm.
    2) You accuse him of “calling them names”. However, to read his comments in full would be to recognize that accusation as false. He is simply expressing himself via the Biblical concept of “hating the sin, but loving the sinner”. Which is exactly how Jesus lived.

    Reply
    • Well, I wasn’t hoping to condemn him as much as plead with him to let this go. My comments to the “left side” were meant to communicate my agreement with you that it’s silly to make such a big deal out of something someone said in a religious publication. But calling gay marriage advocates “proud and arrogant” is, I think, a little too antagonistic to be helpful to the cause of Christ.

      Reply

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