This is my last post on the whole Chick-Fil-A fiasco, I promise. After all of the coverage this story has received online, I felt like adding my voice one more time to hopefully clarify where I stand. This post probably won’t get the same sort of coverage as my last two (here and here), but having this honest and open discussion can really be helpful in our pursuit of truth.
Let me clarify that the title of this post is sarcastic. I don’t presume to think that I will cover everything concerning homosexuality. This post is not exhaustive in any regards. It simply is a platform for me to present my thoughts, and hopefully clarify my position.
Before we can go any further, we have to come to an agreement that the event on August 1 was really about a stance on homosexuality. At least, that is what everyone is making it about now. The few that spoke up on the issue of freedom of Speech pale in comparison to the shout that was heard around the world dividing the line between conservative Christians and gay rights activists. So while I would prefer to talk about freedom of speech, for the sake of this article, the issue at hand is homosexuality.
I have realized in this whole discussion that the real problem on how Christians are looking at the issue of gay marriage is really a matter of perspective and presumption. I will admit that I took a position without fully explaining myself and made it seem that I was light on the sin of homosexuality, but I can assure you I am not. Others agreed with my statements because they felt that other Christians have taken this issue too far. What it has come down to is that Christians on both sides of the issue have throw insults toward the others. Few have done a decent enough job at really exposing the issues that were at stake with the whole Chick-Fil-A appreciation day. I took a stance on free speech, which covered the concerns of anyone who might have been on my left, but it didn’t provide a satisfying explanation of my ideas for those who are on my right.
Now that the preliminary introduction is out of the way, I can address these major concerns.
How Those On My Right See This Issue
I have seen several responses to those who would consider my views to be too lenient on the topic of homosexuality. Some jeer with a clear and undeniable spirit of hostility toward homosexuals in their jubilation that August 1 was a victory for the church. This sort of response is nothing but sinful and only shows a Pharisaical simple-mindedness that has no place among the Body of Christ. This post is not to address them, but those who have serious concerns with making sure our statements are consistent with Scripture when addressing the sin of homosexuality.
Wayne Grudem, in his book Politics according to the Bible, points out that the sacred union between a man and a woman is defined by God. He further suggest that government should protect this union because marriage is an essential fiber which holds our society together. He quotes Aristotle when he notes that homosexuality is destructive to the well being of any society. The problem with this statement is that Aristotle was a totalitarian, not someone concerned with liberty where all men are created equal. Let’s face it, Christians consider homosexuality as one of the worst sins ever, somewhere right under pedophilia and rape. But I’m not so sure they are deserving of that level of disdain. American Christians have a very negative bias toward homosexuals that is both unhealthy and contrary to the love of Christ. Don’t believe me? Would you invite your homosexual neighbors over for dinner with you family? When posed with this question, the average Christian has formidably answered, “No way!” Yet, these same Christians have conceded that they would invite their unmarried heterosexual neighbors.
The other argument I hear is that marriage is a picture of the gospel, as Paul uses it as a metaphor for our relationship with Christ. This makes the attack on the biblical institution of marriage really an attack on the gospel. I find this hard to believe because the real issue with this analogy is the union between two individuals which no man can separate — “Till death do us part.” This would make divorce the greatest threat against this analogy, but Christians are not attacking that policy in government. Divorce is a very complicated subject and I don’t mean to make a blanket statement on the issue, but clearly, if divorce is this complex, shouldn’t we consider that gay rights are a little more complex than we might initially think? How has the sin of the world ever been anything but an attack on the gospel? Homosexuality doesn’t stand alone as the greatest threat to Christianity. Prejudice is far more destructive.
The other response I get is that this was a chance to show our support of a biblical view on marriage. The gay rights activists threw down the gauntlet and we had to respond to make sure that they knew we do not approve of their sin. I can understand this. I really can. But whenever the Apostle Paul made a statement that got him in hot water and later in prison, the churches didn’t line up at Paul’s local tent shop to support his industry, they met in each other’s houses and they prayed fervently. They didn’t pull off a V for Vendetta moment where they all gathered on the politicians lawn to show their support or numbers. They humbly went before God and prayed for an opportunity for the gospel. Furthermore, Paul didn’t get on the defensive and make this about who was right and who was wrong. He saw every opportunity as a means to share the gospel. He disarmed rulers, judges, guards, and detractors with his meek boldness in presenting the good news about Jesus Christ. Paul never took up stones to throw back at those who attacked him. He simply praised God that he could join in Christ’s suffering (Romans 5:3). This is the guarantee to anyone who wants to live a godly life: You will suffer persecution (2 Timothey 3:12). Don’t act surprised when it happens.
The next response I already addressed in my last post, but I wanted to make sure that I covered it fully as it has a lot to do with dividing believers. Ruth Graham’s comment, ”If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” seems to be where many Americans are today. But as I stated last week, we have to be careful how we handle how God dealt with cities in the Old Testament and how he is working through the Church today. I don’t see any biblical precedence that God is going to judge America before Christ’s return. So be careful when you pray like Elijah for God to bring down fire when God hasn’t given us any reason to expect that sort of behavior. Furthermore, we have to stop thinking that the grossness of homosexuality is exclusively bad to our day. During Christ’s time on earth, pedophilia and homosexuality were a natural part of Greek society. Yet Christ didn’t organize a campaign to reform the Hellenistic culture, he came to offer a completely different worldview that would subtly yet profoundly change the world.
I can understand why this view on homosexuality would be the default evangelical position in America today. We want to be sure that the world knows that we think homosexuality is a sin. God is a holy and righteous God and he cannot tolerate any imperfection. But God is also a God of love, and while we were called to bare witness to the truth, we must also do so in a loving manner. We should never present our views on homosexuality, whether by word or by action, to only suggest that God hates sin without equally expressing that God loves the sinner. To do so is unbalanced and an ineffective presentation of the good news of salvation.
But this does not preclude the importance of speaking the truth. (I find it ironic, that people to my right are always the ones who misuse this passage to suggest that they can say anything, as long as it is true, and not worry about offending anyone because the gospel is offensive.)
How Those On My Left See This Issue
It’s not enough to simply say that God loves them either. It is essential that we bare witness to the whole truth, and that means shedding light on the bad news as well: God hates sin. There are a lot of people who will suggest that love is the most important principle in how to handle this issue, and while love is greater than faith and hope, we have to remember that love does not compromise the other two.
I want to offer my appreciate to everyone who liked and shared my posts from last week, but this does not mean that you, and myself included, do not require a good helping of critique as well.
Anyone who is ashamed or embarrassed to openly state that homosexuality is a sin and therefore contrary to the biblical definition of marriage, is either ignorant or a coward. The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin. You don’t have to wear it on your sleeve wherever you go, but you shouldn’t back down if anyone asks you the question that they asked Dan Cathy. But there is a way to make your position known without sounding like a jerk. My suggestion is that you avoid saying, “It’s not natural.” “Aids is God’s response to Gays.” or “God hates fags.” You can still speak the truth with love by stating it a little bit differently.
“I believe the Bible to be true that God is the creator of everything. The creator has made the rules on how we ought to live. Mankind has always disagreed with God and desired to take control of their own lives and redefine what is good. We are all sinners and therefore we are all equally guilty of disobeying God — which includes going against the design God has for marriage. Homosexuality is a sin because it is defiance against God and His Word. But there is forgiveness found in Jesus Christ who showed the greatest love of all by giving up his life for those very sinners. If God can love them, I can love them. Though I disagree with their lifestyle, that doesn’t mean that I hate them.”
That’s not going to get you a warm welcome on The View, but at least it doesn’t condemn the sinner without showing the love of Christ. Those who suggest that we don’t need tact in approaching this sensitive issue are equally as ignorant and cowardly as those who would say nothing.
One person told me that since Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, he felt he was in the clear to not have to preach about it from the pulpit. This is not only silly, but it’s stupid as well. The red letter Bible may give some people a misconception that the only words that really matter were what Jesus actually said. But, since Jesus was God, every word in the Bible ought to be written in red. They are all God’s Words. To neglect the clear teaching of the whole countenance of Scripture is dangerous and foolish.
This leads me to my other concern with those who are on my left. We need to be careful that we don’t underplay the political ramifications on this matter. While I am not for legislation that would limit the free speech of homosexuals, I am worried that we will quickly lose our rights to preach out against sin. There are several bills that would severely limit the free speech of Christians and effectively label my quote above ‘Hate Speech.’ This would make it illegal to preach on homosexuality from the pulpit or Christian radio and TV. We should not be so passive to not speak out against the problem that we are gradually losing our rights to defend our beliefs in the public circle.
Another popular response to the event on August 1 was to point out that though thousands of Christians showed up at a Chick-Fil-A to support free speech and traditional marriage, they would not show up at a food kitchen to feed the poor. We have to be really careful here that we are not generalizing those who are a little to our right. Just because someone went to a Chick-Fil-A doesn’t mean that they aren’t also working in a vital ministry that is reaching people who are hurting and in need. Furthermore, making a statement on free speech and homosexuality is not a bad thing, so don’t divert your frustration with what they are saying by attacking their character. Then you are only taking part in joining those who saw the event as a means to express their hatred. Show a little grace and consideration to those who think differently from yourself as well.
I understand why some Christians would see an association with Chick-Fil-A as a negative image for the Church, but Christians should not shy away from saying what the Bible says. We don’t have to do it forcibly, but we ought not to be ashamed of who we are as Christians either.
While my philosophical views could be labeled as unconventional, in regards to the default evangelical position, I do hope that everyone understands that I am doing my best to build my worldview based on the Word of God. This is a challenge in today’s Christian culture because we are often bullied and badgered to move to one side of the spectrum or the other. I think it would be much more appropriate on both sides if we would put down the stones and have a healthy discussion so that we can continue to sharpen each other as iron upon iron.
Finally, we really need to think about how our comments are perceived. Part of the problem with spreading hate is that we don’t dress our words with grace and mercy. Many of those on my right can’t talk about homosexuality without it sounding like they’re shewing on a cow pie. Others on my left feel like they have to apologize for those on their left, and end up throwing their brothers in the mud while praising the sinner. It is essential that we learn how to communicate the truths of the Word of God without watering them down, or making them condescending.