I’m a person of faith and yet I celebrate Chick-fil-A’s change in policy. Here’s why.
A generation ago I held most of the conservative Christian beliefs: I believed the Bible opposed homosexuality and abortion and I did not object to the church speaking out against both. But these intervening years have dramatically changed my perspective. The church I thought I knew–the one I grew up in–was not marked by what we opposed, but rather by the way in which we were the living vessels of God’s love to a hurting world. I always believed the church to be a haven for sinners, a refuge for the needy, a place of welcome for all. It’s hard for me to interpret the story of the good Samaritan any other way.
Somewhere along the way, the church I loved got into bed with a stern, exclusive, reactionary, conservative ideology that built an impenetrable wall between us and the rest of the world: the very hurting people that Christ came to save with His message of redeeming love. Instead of being a safe harbor, the church became a battlefield: us against them. As we embraced the moral majority, tried to tear down the Founder’s wall of separation between church and state, and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party and Fox News, we obviously alienated the very people who needed God the most.
I believe that had Jesus intended 21st century Christians to spend all of our political and social capital opposing abortion and marriage equality, He’d have gotten around to mentioning them during his years on earth. Have we every really truly asked ourselves why Jesus gave us no guidance on these hot button issues? Why He instead focused His message entirely on social justice and how we should treat the poor and downtrodden?
I no longer believe find it in my theology to oppose either marriage equality nor abortion. I know that many of my family and friends will immediately add me to their “Going Straight to Hell” list. There are no circumstances under which my wife and I would have aborted our own children, but I’m not a woman and have never faced the deep pain and anguish of an unwanted pregnancy. There are also no circumstances under which my faith should be able to dictate whether someone else can marry the person they love.
I want to live in a world where we celebrate love; where every child is wanted, where immigrants are welcomed to our land of plenty; where ALL people feel welcomed in God’s house. I want to live in a world where we build longer tables rather than higher walls; I want to live in a world where we care as much about a Mexican child in a cage as we do about a five week-old fetus. I want to live in a world where neither our government nor our fast-food emporiums try to tell us who we can and should love and marry. I want to live in a world where Matthew Shepard is still alive. Think of all of the time and energy we waste on opposing one another. Couldn’t we save it and create a kinder, gentler world of love and acceptance? If you are still vehemently convinced homosexuality and abortion are wrong, why not just let God sort it out? Let’s make the church a place of love and acceptance?
(I don’t actually eat at Chick-fil-A anyway because I also want animals to live in a kinder, gentler world. But that’s my own belief structure – I’m not going to try to impose it on you. However, the next time I’m in Erie I think I’ll enjoy peppermint chocolate-chip milkshake.)