Last Wednesday my Facebook feed–like yours–was filled with images of ecstatic faces jammed in long lines at Chick-fil-A stores. “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” was a resounding success judging by the repeated cheers of record profits and stores that literally ran out of chicken.
It should be easy to brush off as yet another silly charade in the merry-go-round culture wars. One side boycotting chicken sandwiches and the other side gobbling them up. I’ve been a babbling part of those culture wars for a few years now, and I generally don’t take any of it too personally. But I must confess–those grinning faces waiting in line last week stung a bit. Perhaps it was because I saw comments and photos about it from a wide range of folks I considered genuine pals…high school friends, college friends, family members.
They were damn-near giddy to be sending a symbolic message that they were not on my side. That’s what really hit home–the excitement to be lined up against people like me. The happiness at joining the ranks and letting us know that we were wrong and they were right.
Since then I’ve been thinking deeply about what motivated those who supported the Appreciation Day. What would motivate someone to drive dozens of miles and wait hours for a chicken sandwich? Or to forward messages of support to the Boys Scouts for excluding a certain group of people that they don’t like?
All I could think of was Christianity. The majority of those folks were motivated in various ways by their faith and how it informs their opinion of issues of sexuality. All the political fights are just a proxy of that basic issue.
I am not a biblical scholar, but I’ve read the Bible cover to cover. I am not a historian, but I’ve trudged through Diarmaid MacCullough’s celebrated 1,000 page tome, Christianity: The First Thousand Years. I’ve attended various services in many Christian denominations. And I’ve had many conversations about the Christian faith. After all of that I can say unequivocally that I am not a Christian.
But I was still thinking I could use the Bible itself to discourage this sort of conduct, referencing something like this…
“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself.” – Romans 2:1-2
But then again, they could just come back and spit out any number of alternatives, like…
“And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations.” – Ezekiel 22:2 (ESV)
Plucking out verses is no help. All I can say is that the conduct of so-many professed Christians on these issues makes me so very sad. I am not sad because I disagree with them. I am sad because their conduct is incredibly harmful to some of the most vulnerable people. Let me be clear: smiling at “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” and cheering on the Boy Scouts for banning gay people hurts others deeply.
Who is hurt? Not me so much. I was lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive and loving family. And I’ve found a partner (and second family) equally as loving and welcoming.
There is a false perception of the gay community. Those eating chicken on Wednesday likely think all gay people attend parades and political rallies. They may assume that all gay people are loud, vocal advocates filled with pride and without fear. That is not true. Those at rallies and parades are the exception.
Hundreds of thousands of gay individuals, many teens, are living in hiding, filled with self-loathing, and without hope that their own future can ever be normal. The suicide rate among this group is scandalous. What do you think these mass public displays of animosity toward the gay community does to those teens teetering on the edge?
Last week there were thousands, literally thousands, of tweets like this…
There are teens living every day around people who make these comments. They would never dream of saying a word to anyone about their inborn sexual orientation. They live in constant fear and often have little hope for the future. And then they see a line out the door at their local Chick-fil-A, a forceful reminder of the contingent in their community that thinks they are disordered or sinful or disgusting or abnormal.
Those who showed pride in eating at Chik-fil-A last week should know that very vulnerable people saw it, felt it, and were stabbed by it.
I’m not sure whose lives were made better by Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day, but I know many lives that were made a bit worse.