Over the last three months, stories about Chick-fil-A, transgenderism, and LGBTQ rights have flooded my Google and Facebook feeds. I ignore 90% of the articles, but 1 out of 10 times, I’ll press my thumb down to click on a well placed headline. The latest headline I chose to link up with sent me down a rabbit hole. “Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations.”
The Rabbit Hole
Like Alice in the famed novel, I was not prepared for this Wonderland of controversy. Apparently, Chick-fil-A decided to stop giving any cash to The Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes because both organizations were accused of being anti-LGBTQ. Some writers believe Chick-fil-A’s execs were pressured by LGBTQ groups and recent international LGBTQ protests of Chick-fil-A. Others defended them, including some conservative Christian voices.
With an overflow of personalities drowning the story in opposing opinions, I bunny hopped from article to article trying to make sense of the move. Chick-fil-A’s leadership remained strangely vague. The Salvation Army voiced its disappointment over Chick-fil-A’s decision and its commitment to serve everybody regardless of sexual orientation.
And after an hour of time wasted on Google, I closed my laptop. Chick-fil-A‘s decision not to fund the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes made me sad, but I didn’t know why. After all, they still carry my favorite Spicy Chicken Deluxe sandwich with a large waffle fry and a medium unsweet iced tea.
Last weekend, after I drove home from work, completed some yard work in silence, and inserted my feelings into conversations with friends, I figured it out. I know why I’m sad. The use of the word “anti-LGBTQ” made me sad. I read this word literally hundreds of times as I scoured through articles about Chick-fil-A’s defunding of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Salvation Army.
Regardless of your opinion, on the surface, “anti-LGBTQ” seems like an appropriate label to the casual news junkie. After all, both FCA and The Salvation Army uphold a traditional “one man/one woman” view of marriage. But as I examined more closely what each organization believes, “anti-any type of person” is definitely a shallow description of both organizations.
“Anti-” & “Phobic”
Saying The Salvation Army is “anti-LGBTQ” implies everyone who believes in a traditional Christian view of marriage must be anti-other people. Back in 2012 Chick-fil-A was accused of the same thing when its CEO Dan Cathy affirmed he believed in a Biblical view of marriage. Some called him a homophobe, anti-gay, and even implied Chick-fil-A hates gay people.
This idea was recently verbalized on an episode of The Good Place when Kristen Bell’s character says, “Like there’s this chicken sandwich, that if you eat it, it means you hate gay people. And it’s delicious!”
I’ve heard the same line of reasoning being used to call Christian denominations like the United Methodist Church or The Presbyterian Church of America “homophobic” or “anti-gay” for disagreeing with same-sex marriage. But the use of these two words doesn’t make sense. The logic simply doesn’t hold up. Just because I disagree with a neighbor’s core philosophies on human sexuality doesn’t mean I hate or fear them. In fact, I can still love them.
Amin & Me
For example, I love Muslims. When I lived in Michigan, I formed a friendship with Amin, a Muslim from Dearborn. We lifted weights together, played basketball together, and I attended his mosque with him once. The leader in charge of his mosque’s educational program even tried to convert me.
I disagreed with Amin on almost everything he believed. For example, his wife was not allowed to meet me. At the time, he was considering marrying a second wife from Yemen. And the Quran’s message didn’t line up in any way with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Did I disagree with Amin on almost everything? Yes. Was I anti-Muslim? No. Was I Islamaphobic? No. In fact, I really enjoyed my time in Dearborn, MI. Amin and I played basketball with his friends, ate huge portions of my favorite Middle Eastern food, and chatted about our differences in lifestyle and religion. I genuinely enjoyed Amin, and if I didn’t live 9 hours away from Dearborn now, I’d still hang out with him.
Was he anti-Christian? No. As far as I could tell, he loved hanging out with me too. We both asked a lot of questions and listened to each other’s answers.
Have I always been so loving and accepting? No. I’m not perfect, and I’m not interested in using this story to uphold myself as a model of relational infallibility. Trust me. I fail a lot.
But here’s the point: Amin and I didn’t see eye to eye on religion, sexuality, or marriage, but we didn’t hate each other. We weren’t even afraid of each other. Did we have some awkward moments and conversations where our values created an uncomfortable rub? Sure! But we also played basketball and snacked on hummus together. Rather than accusing each other of being “anti-Muslim” or “Christophobic” for holding opposing views, we embraced each other’s friendship.
Question Behind the Question
I’ve seen anti, phobic, and hate used with such frequency in the last year, all of those words barely mean anything to me anymore. Now I read them and translate them automatically in my mind as “somebody who disagrees with somebody else.” But last week, for some reason, when I read “anti-LGBTQ,” my mind didn’t gloss over the true meaning.
Sadness swept over me because I realized some people think any organization or person who doesn’t agree with their views on sexuality hates them. Some people think the God I believe in hates them. Some people think I hate them.
I’ve started to notice whenever I’m asked about my views on homosexuality, there’s a question behind the question. Most of the time the real underlying ask is, “Do you hate gay people?” I’ve also seen this when interviewers ask famous Christian the same question. I could try to make some half-baked guesses as to why they might be wondering if Christians hate the LGBTQ community, but I won’t.
Within the last year, I watched a video where Tim Keller was asked about his views on homosexuality. He gave a very thoughtful response.
“The Bible says, ‘Homosexuality is not God’s original design for sexuality.’..” He continued, “The Bible also says, ‘Love your neighbor….’ What Jesus is trying to say is, ‘Everyone is your neighbor. Gay people are your neighbors. People who are of other faiths are your neighbors. People of other races are your neighbors. And it’s the job of a Christian to do what Jesus did on the cross, which was to give Himself for people who were opposing Him and people who didn’t believe in Him even. What a Christian is supposed to say is, ‘I serve the needs and interests of all my neighbors in the city, whether gay or straight, whether they’re Hindu or Muslim….’ I’m supposed to love my neighbors.”
Within his statement, the most impactful line was, “And it’s the job of a Christian to do what Jesus did on the cross, which was to give Himself for people who were opposing Him.”
Jesus Empowers us
Think about it. Jesus suffered and gave His life for Peter, who denied Him. For his disciples, who abandoned Him. For the soldiers, who crucified Him. And for me, who for a long time lived like I didn’t need Him.
Jesus doesn’t just disagree with the sin in all of us, He hates it. But He’s not “anti-us” or “humanityphobic.” He also didn’t talk at us over a television screen about how wrong we were. He walked among prostitutes, thieves, hustlers, drunks, workaholics, __________. You fill in the blank. He sacrificed everything for humanity whether we believe in Him or not.
As a follower of Jesus, I may disagree with your core philosophies on sexuality, religion, and education, but I’m not “anti-you” or even afraid of you. And I’m not called to hate you. I’m called to love you. I love you because Jesus first loved me. I’m called to give my life for you.
I’m sorry for the times I or another Christian may not have loved you like Jesus loves you. My actions are not always a perfect reflection of Jesus. Many times He disagrees with my pride, how I argue, and the way I naturally tend to exclude people.
Even though He disagrees with how I still live sometimes, I thank God He still loves me and has sacrificed everything to save me from myself. Even if we disagree on everything, I hope I can give you a small taste of His type of self-sacrificing love no matter how you choose to respond to it.
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