With the Olympic games nearing an end, and the announcement of the Republican choice for Vice-President headlining the news, much of the furor of "Chick-fil-A Day" is over. There may be a few reverberations and after-shocks, but for the most part, the nation is looking ahead to the election. Looking back to August 1st may be a little premature, but let's give it a shot.
On that day, I went to my local Chick-fil-A to support a man who simply stood up for what he believed. His words were not critical or full of hate. He stated his own position clearly without resorting to name-calling or cursing at anyone who disagreed with him. Yet, still there was an outcry. Cities threatened to boycott a business because of the expressions of one man. To show support, on August 1st, I went to Chick-fil-A where I saw many other Christian friends working their way through the line. As I did, a thought began to nag at the back of my mind in question form. How did we get to this point?
What I mean is, how is it that whenever a Christian says he is for the traditional definition of marriage he is labeled not only anti-gay, but his words are labeled hate speech?
I think it has a lot to do with the duality of perspective with Christians in general. I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, but if we are going to speak truth, let's let that door swing both ways. When it comes to what Christians are willing to call sin, we can be very selective when we want to. For some reason, homosexuality has become the whipping boy of what's wrong with this country, while other immoral acts are hardly addressed. To use a phrase I've been hearing a lot lately, let's drill down on this and see what happens.
How many homosexuals are there in your church? Just asking the question and thinking about it can leave many squirming. I have a feeling the honest response would be something like, "We don't know. We don't want to know. Hopefully none." Can you sense the walls going up in your heart already? There is a lopsided sense that homosexual individuals are not like us, and that sets us up for a divide of the heart. Where we are in error is that such a divide of the heart cannot coexist peacefully with a heart that is supposed to reflect the love of Christ to all men. Inside, we know we should be more like Christ in our outward love of others, but inwardly we war within ourselves over how to express that love to someone "not like us" at all! So what are we supposed to do? Just throw our hands up and do nothing?
Well, let's take a look at a couple of other questions. How many couples are there in your church that are living together but not married? How many couples in your church are married, but one or both of them have been divorced in the past? How many individuals in your church have had premarital sex? Think about the answers to those questions for a few minutes, and then ask yourself this next question. How do I feel about all of them?
Chances are, you see some part of yourself or someone you know and love in them, and so dealing with them in the right way becomes easier. Maybe you see your own life in theirs, and you understand the yearning for the grace, love, and forgiveness of God and other Christians. There is no wall there because you do not see yourself all that different from them, and even if you have never been in their place, you have an innate understanding that it could happen to you. If it did, you know how you would want to be treated.
Last questions. Why can't we treat the sin of homosexuality the same way we treat other sexual sin? Do we throw out divorced couples who have remarried as adulterers from our churches? If someone we know has had sex outside of marriage, are they unwelcome to sit next to us in a pew? If your son or daughter cheated on their spouse in adultery, how would you want them treated?
I am convinced that the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin against God - against God, not me. The last thing I am going to do is treat the homosexual any different from anyone else I have ever known who was guilty of any of the other sexual sins. If I am willing to allow everyone else who has committed sexual sins in my church, then I should be just as willing to allow homosexuals to sit in the pew next to me. All the self-righteousness has to stop if we are ever going to reach out to this world. Christ sat and ate with sinners, and he was ridiculed by the religious elite. Where would you be in that moment? Sitting next to Christ? Wagging your finger from the sidelines? Somewhere in the middle?
We have to remember we are all broken and in need of mending. That is what we all have in common with everyone else, regardless of what sins we have committed. Yes, I went and ate a sandwich at Chick-fil-A on August 1st, but I was also perfectly willing to eat one that Friday. Why? Because I believe that if Christians are truly a part of the family of God, then it's time we started showing some family resemblance. That means understanding that if you lived in the time of Christ, He would be asking to sit next to you to eat. In this day we live in, that may mean getting ridiculed by the religious elite, and if so, at least you know you'll be in good company.