Sometimes we have to choose between waffle fries and loving our neighbor

3 August 2012 — 30 Comments

I told myself I wasn’t going to do a Chick-fil-A post.

But then one of my friends shared this, and it made me think:

We Christians have this line that makes us feel both righteous and yet socially compassionate. It’s “hate the sin, love the sinner…” And I imagine that a lot of people who lined up yesterday to grab their waffle fries felt that they were doing just that. But for me, who is not only a Christian, but also gay, well, this organized lunch my fellow Christians partook of felt nothing like love.

I don’t think we fully appreciate how our gay and lesbian neighbors were hurt by this week’s demonstration.

(I say “we” because even though I didn’t participate in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, I am nevertheless part of the church. Many of those who did participate are my brothers and sisters in Christ, as are many who looked on from the other side.)

Most participants saw this as a statement about free speech, not an unloving gesture toward gays. But given the politically charged environment, there’s no way something like this wouldn’t come across as a statement to our gay and lesbian neighbors. And that matters, because we’re not the final judge of how loving or unloving our actions are. The real indicator is how they affect others.

Keeping in mind that love demands more than just tolerance or the absence of hate,  we must ask: did our gay and lesbian neighbors feel loved by the church this week?

Again, many will say this was about free speech and a perceived threat to it. But Jesus never told us to stand up for free speech. He told us to love our neighbor. He told us it was the second greatest command and that it was like the first, “love the Lord your God.”

In other words, we love God by loving our neighbor. We cannot claim the former without practicing the latter.

Just who is our neighbor? According to Jesus, it’s whoever we find it most difficult to love. For first-century Jews, that was Samaritans. For many Christians today, it’s the LGBT community. That’s why it’s not good enough to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s time we purged this cliché from our lexicon.

When the time comes to give an account of our lives, we won’t get many bonus points for loving those who look and think like we do. We may not even get that much extra credit for loving all those adorable, hungry children in Africa. Let’s face it: both are relatively easy for us to do.

What might really count in the end is how well we loved our gay and lesbian neighbors.

Regardless of our intentions, we didn’t do a great job this week. “Love does no harm to a neighbor,” wrote the apostle Paul. Yet intentionally or not, our actions this week caused harm.

May we all do better next week.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. —Romans 13:9-11 (NIV)

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30 responses to Sometimes we have to choose between waffle fries and loving our neighbor

  1. 

    I’ve heard a few people use the argument that the Chick-fil-A event this week wasn’t about hating gays, it was about free speech (as you mentioned above) or freedom of religion. The struggle I have is that as Christians are expressing their freedom they are more or less in favor of repressing the freedom of gays.

  2. 

    “But here’s the thing. Jesus never told us to stand up for free speech. He told us to love our neighbor.” Profound. Thank you.

  3. 

    This reminds me a lot of RH Evans post a while back about how we need to be washing feet and not fighting the culture war… and I think my response is the same, “that’s a false dichotomy”. Because one of the ways we love people is to fight for systems in which they can flourish. (In fact, fighting for a good system often does a lot more good than trying to help people individually – you see this especially well in economics.) Thus, defending free speech is an action of love.

    The way I see this issue is – religious liberty was threatened by several mayors, and people stood up and said “we aren’t going to let you bully us”. What the media framed as “Christians v. homosexuals” should have been seen as “people who care for religious freedom v. politicians who don’t.” I wish more gay Americans would have been on the side of those defending Chick-fil-a, as a small number were: http://youtu.be/jku_4IVJ5ik . (I read at least two, I think, politically conservative homosexual bloggers that stood behind Chick-fil-a. They were as ticked off at the mayor of Boston as we were.)

    • 

      I’ll take the comparison to Rachel Held Evans as a compliment. :)

      Let me clarify that I disagreed with those mayors who threatened to keep Chick-fil-A out of their cities. I believe tolerance is a two-way street, and the owners of Chick-fil-A are constitutionally entitled to their views.

      That said, I don’t see a false dichotomy here, because even if those who lined up outside Chick-fil-As were just fighting for a system in which everyone can flourish, and even if they’re on the right side of the “gay issue,” there is still the matter of how you go about trying to create such an environment. And Jesus is not neutral on this point, in my opinion. Waging a political war – particularly at the bidding of pundits and politicians – is not the way of Jesus. It is not the way of the church. It is neither prophetic nor transcendent. When Christians engage in such tactics, they become pawns of a political system, thus sacrificing their ability to be agents of transformation.

      • 

        Well, I have some sympathy for the “this isn’t the right way Christians should go about defending free speech” idea, but I wonder what alternative you would propose. In our democratic republic, these sort of mass-outpourings of people are probably the most effective way to make your point, more effective even than voting.

        And you know – just about any way you come up with is going to offend somebody. (Defending what I believe is the Christian position on homosexuality offends people, but God is love!) I don’t think you can say “love does no harm, and any attempt I make to prevent the decay of my culture is going to offend somebody, so I better just not bother.”

      • 

        Perhaps the whole idea of what it means to say that “love causes no harm” needs to be elaborated upon. There are plenty of examples of loving actions that in some sense cause harm – a parent disciplining a child, or a doctor administering chemotherapy, come to mind.

      • 

        One other example: http://dailycaller.com/2012/08/04/antoine-dodson-the-gay-community-we-have-went-from-being-bullied-to-becoming-bullies/

        “Last week, so-called YouTube sensation Antoine Dodson made it public that, unlike most in the gay community, he supports Chick-fil-A in the wake of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s radio interview remarks condemning gay marriage.”

        “We have the freedom to put our money wherever we want to. That’s what America stands on. So how can we just go after this group, you know — go after this company so viciously because they don’t believe they have the same rights as us. I don’t think it’s fair and I’d don’t think it’s American.”

      • 

        I didn’t agree with the counter-protest either – no more so than the original Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Both seem like a poor substitute for open, respectful dialogue. If you’re not familiar with Justin Lee (a gay Christian blogger & head of the Gay Christian Network), I’d encourage you to read his response to the Chick-fil-A flap:

        http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/post/28262896051/the-chick-fil-a-controversy

        Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, I think you’ll find he gives balanced, thoughtful approach to the issue.

        As for what I’d suggest as an alternative to more protests, why don’t we we sit down with our LGBT neighbors and start a dialogue? Maybe just listen for a change? Because let’s be honest, we haven’t been very good at that. I get your point that if you believe homosexuality is a sin, then there’s no way to say so without offending someone. But here’s the thing. Gay people don’t need you to tell them. They’re well aware of what most evangelicals think. They’ve heard all the arguments.

        Re. “love does no harm”… Paul’s statement in Romans 13 could also be translated “love does no evil to a neighbor.” So to your point, disciplining a child or treating a sick patient, while it may not be pleasant for the recipient at the time, doesn’t necessarily constitute “harm.”

        At some point it comes down to the question of whether being gay is a “problem” to be fixed or not. Even if you think it is, I would argue that the church hasn’t earned the right to speak into the lives of LGBT persons yet.

    • 

      I fail to see how anyone’s religious freedom was threatened…. that’s very far-reaching. Somed politicians, on both sides, used the opportunity as a soapbox, and people fell for it. The “it’s about free speech” camp only ever saw one angle. They didn’t look at the root cause of the whole thing in the FIRST place – WHY the politicians said what they did.

      No one was threatening Mr. Cathy’s freedom of religion… ever.

      Truth be told, it was mostly about the contributions made, from Chik-Fil-A’s profits, to groups that are actively working to fight the rights of gays, including gay marriage. A reporter questioned Mr Cathy, and he confirmed his stand, as is his right, and he has also said some pretty harsh stuff about our nation receiving the wrath of God, if gay marriage is allowed, as is also his right.

      With that, it came to light to more people in the gay community, and many of us simply decided we didn’t want any of our money working against us, so we stopped being customers. (Many already had before this incident). Why would I want any of my hard-earned money to go to causes that are working against me? It is, of course, my right to NOT patronize CFA, so this 20+ year customer is a customer no more.

      That’s when politicians jumped in the fray. Yes, I know that certain mayors said things like CFA didn’t deserve to be in their cities, etc… hey, they’ve got a right to free speech, too. But the truth is that they can do very little, legally, to block new CFAs in their cities. A mayor is not a King. A couple of them even backtracked, because they realized they couldn’t interfere in the legal permitting process and city council approvals, etc. (I work for a City government myself). I can understand why they had strong feelings, but I think they shot off their mouths without thinking enough about it first. But Huckabee did was also wrong, because there never really was a true threat to CFA or Mr Cathy’s religious freedom. He proclaimed the “appreciation day”, and a lot of people lined up in support, for why again?

      The last few days, I got tired of reading “it was not about gay people”, when the whole thing was indeed actually based on gay people and the reactions to Mr Cathy’s actions and words in regards to their rights. To try to remove that factor is another slap to gays, a way of making them not matter.

      So, thousands of people went to defend Mr Cathy’s rights (would any of them rally for gay rights, I wonder?), and people all over were spouting words about freedom of speech. Hey, if it had REALLY been about freedom of speech, I’d be the first in line! I, along with most gays, are in full support of freedom of speech! But all one had to do was look at the comments at the end of any online newspaper article about the day to see that many, many people took it as a license to jump on the “hate gays” bandwagon. I saw some of the ugliest stuff, some of it written by people who call themselves “Christian”, in those comments, in blogs all over, and even in news interviews. What were gay people, like me, supposed to think? All WE were feeling was ANTI-GAY, not “pro free speech”, or even “support of Mr Cathy”. I, as a gay Christian, certainly didn’t feel any love or support. Thankfully, there was support on the internet, which is why I ended up here.

      • 

        And Cat – there WAS a threat to free speech. You seem to think that because the mayors would not have been able to make good on their threats, there was really no threat at all. I hope that’s true, but I don’t know if we can really be certain that it’s true – I’ve been unhappily surprised before. If someone threatens your freedom, and several mayors truly did, then it makes sense to respond.

      • 

        It’s worth noting that the threat consisted mainly of three mayors (Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco) suggesting that Chick-fil-A wasn’t welcome in their cities. I happen to believe they were wrong to make such intimations. Tolerance and free speech run both ways. But it should also be noted that some of the strongest criticism of these three mayors came from fellow liberals who happen to support gay marriage. The ACLU, for example, made clear that they would stand with Chick-fil-A if it came to it. At this point, such a fight seems unlikely. I don’t know about Rahm Emmanuel, but the mayor of Boston has already backed off his original statement.

      • 

        Longerthoughts… that’s interesting, but why do people pick and choose what “free speech threats” they want to fight? What if, for instance, it was a gay-owned company that was taking heat from politicians. Would you line up to support them, too? I think those politicians were wrong in the things they said, but I don’t think free speech was ever threatened. Mr Cathy was free to say what he said, and people were free to express their thoughts as well.

    • 

      Ben, I will read Justin’s post, but have not yet. As to your comments – certainly more conversation is always good, more person-to-person care and affection is always good. I do think that to the extent that “they already know what we think”, “we already know what they think” too. But disagreements in person certainly tend to be kinder and more fruitful then disagreements-at-large. I won’t knock that idea. And I think real community is often what draws people into faith, not philosophical disputations. (As I said, I do think this particular protest was about religious freedom, not really about homosexuality, so in that sense I disagree with your prescription, but that’s a tiny point.)

      “At some point it comes down to the question of whether being gay is a ‘problem’ to be fixed or not. Even if you think it is, I would argue that the church hasn’t earned the right to speak into the lives of LGBT persons yet.”

      Indeed. I’m not really sure the Church ever needs to “earn the right to speak” though. Coming from outsiders, sometimes I think that’s just code for “please stop speaking!” or, if we tell it to ourselves, an excuse so we don’t have to speak. We have God’s word, it should be proclaimed. Certainly if we’re more active in community X, then community X will be more likely to listen to us – but lack of activity is no reason to wait, I think. But maybe the devil-is-in-the-details as regards to just how that proclamation should proceed.

      On a general note – are progressive Christians bothered by their stance on sexuality? What I mean is, I’ve heard it said that the Christian sexual ethic was the *only* new ethic introduced by Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, “love one another” is a superb idea, but when Jesus said it, the world didn’t say “whoa, we’ve never heard anyone say we should love each other before!”. But the Christian sexual ethic really was new and a huge shock to the culture of that day. And today, progressive Christians who, in my experience, tend to be accepting of just about any consensual sexual behavior (not just homosexuality), literally want to return to a pre-Christian sexual ethic. In the name of progress, they wish this.

      • 

        My wife pointed out, though, that this conversation is confused because “discussions” normally happen between individuals, not groups. Certainly I don’t make a habit of accosting random individuals on the sidewalk, asking them about their lifestyle, and letting them know what God thinks about it! Personally we do sort of earn the right to speak. But as far as public pronouncements go, I’d affirm my comments.

      • 

        It’s a fair point. And I’m glad you don’t accost random individuals on the sidewalk! :) But I still think the church as a whole needs to exercise discretion in knowing when to speak and when to be silent. And I think we should only speak once we’ve proven we know how to love well those we’re speaking with.

      • 

        David, I’m not sure we do already know what they think. I’m not sure we’ve really listened to what they have to say. That’s why I think it’s important to listen to stories like Cat’s and to hear how people like Justin Lee have reconciled their sexuality with their Christian faith. We might learn something.

        Speaking of Justin…his organization, the Gay Christian Network, represents Christians on both sides of the issue. I think they provide a good model of how Christians of different perspectives can work through some of these questions together.

        Anyway… as someone who would probably be labeled a “progressive Christian,” my views on sexuality don’t fit your description — namely that we “tend to be accepting of just about any consensual sexual behavior.” That’s not my view at all. Nor is it that of most other progressive Christians I know. Mutual consent and equality are crucial elements of a healthy, legitimate sexual relationship… which is why I don’t buy into the “slippery slope” argument that acceptance of homosexuality leads to pedophilia, polygamy, or bestiality.

        But consent is not the only factor. As a Christian, I believe sex forges a covenant between two people. (It’s interesting that in some biblical contexts, consummation was all it took for one to be considered “married.” In other words, it was the act more than any wedding ceremony that brought the covenant into force.) That covenant was not made to be broken. That’s why Jesus tells the religious leaders that divorce was only ever a concession to the hardness of their hearts (i.e. their refusal to honor covenants made with each other… or with God, for that matter).

        Sex is a sacred act, binding people together in a way that nothing else can. So I and many of my progressive friends are just as troubled as you are by our society’s cheapening of sex and the false assumption that there’s no real downside to having multiple sexual partners.

        As a husband and a father (one who might be tempted to trade in his pacifist tendencies for a gun collection when his daughter reaches dating age), I am all for monogamy and fidelity.

        On a related note, I’m not sure I agree that the Christian sexual ethic was the only new ethic introduced by Christianity. For one thing, the Christian sexual ethic as we understand it today wasn’t fully developed by the close of the Scriptural canon. The Bible never got around to condemning polygamy, for example. (Even in the New Testament, monogamy was only explicitly required of church elders.) I do think some of Paul’s teaching on marriage (e.g. 1 Cor 7:1-7) was quite revolutionary though.

        As for “love your neighbor,” it wasn’t the fact that Jesus said it that was so revolutionary. It was how he positioned it in relation to the rest of the Torah. Not every Jewish religious authority would have said it was the second greatest command. Even more radical still was Jesus’ suggestion that it was “like” the #1 greatest command. Jesus connected “love God” and “love neighbor” in a profoundly radical way.

  4. 

    We miss a great point if you leave justice out of Love particularly because love is not a feeling but the willing the good of another regardless of the other’s will. In other words if you love your neighbor you must will the good for them regardless. Supporting Chick-fil-a by peacefully ordering a sandwich and standing in solidarity under the withering criticism, outright hate and persecution shown towards C-f-a and its owner and his very Christian belief of marriage is an act of love and courage.

    Happy are the persecuted for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Justice demands you live the Truth. Witness to the Truth. Loving your neighbor does not mean enabling your neighbor. Not standing for Truth is an act of omission. As you said Jesus never said don’t offend your neighbor but love them. If the Truth offends your neighbor are you going to deny the Truth?
    Also we are the judges of our actions precisely because we have free will and only God and yourself know why you are doing what you are doing and what your will has chosen. A quick example, when a child is disciplined by his parent, child could feel hurt and even think and BELIEVE the parent is not being loving or caring, yet what the parent is doing is done out love and likely beyond the understanding of the child (teen is suspected of doing drugs parents make him/her take a surprised urine test).

    You cannot equate supporting Marriage as an offense against homosexuals if you do then you have to accuse and judge all those who lived before you straight down to Adam and Eve of being offensive.

    That being said we cannot imagine the cross they bear. We are to love and respect them for everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. Every person, from conception to natural death, is precious because they are loved by God and made in His image. We are to love everyone even those who persecute you. Just as the early martyrs offended Caesar and yet they did not bow and worship him, no they gave their life so that they may gain Life. Peace be with you.

    • 

      Sorry but “persecution” is not an appropriate characterization. Nobody is being persecuted. In fact, Chick-fil-A came out quite well for all the controversy.

      I don’t think your child/parent analogy works, not unless we’re prepared to see ourselves as the “parents” of the entire nation. And I would argue that’s just not our job.

      Finally, if you mean what I think you do by “supporting Marriage,” then you will have to accuse those who came before you, particularly in the Bible. Abraham didn’t have a “traditional marriage.” Nor did David, the man after God’s own heart. Nor did many others in the Bible.

      • 

        No Persecution? Do you know the definition? I really think you need to see what Rahm said. What the mainstream media sad, what the mayor in Boston said. The whole reason this support of C-f-a came about was because everyone was so…. happy and glad and supportive or because they were being persecuted? Now, thanks be to God, that he can bring about a greater good from evil acts. Just because the persecution backfired does not erase the persecution.

        Of course the parent/child analogy works because you are called to love your neighbor in the same way. So you have a duty to support the Truth. You very conveniently did not answer my question. If the Truth offends your neighbor are you going to deny the Truth? Loving your neighbor as you love yourself does not make you parents of all. Now our government is trying to become parents of us all but that is another blog.

        So the best you can pull out is the “traditional” marriage of Abraham and David? Ah they were married to what goats? No; cows? No; they were married to… drum roll please… WOMEN. Notice I said marriage and not traditional marriage. But our Dear Lord made it clear a man leaves his mother to marry…?

        I think you should take time to reflect, meditate and contemplate on Christ and His Bride. Genesis 2:24 and Mat 19:5 and Eph 5:31 then Eph 5:24 and Rev 19: 7-9

        Peace be with you

      • 

        Mauricio, I did read Emmanuel’s comments. It should also be noted (as I mentioned in a comment elsewhere) that the ACLU was among those who spoke out against Emmanuel for his statement. Just because a couple of people threaten petty tactics in retaliation, that doesn’t equate to persecution in my book. Probably not in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs either.

        So does polygamy fit within your definition of marriage, just as long as it’s heterosexual in nature?

      • 

        Don’t forget Jonathan ….. David said he loved him more than women. There’s a legitimate debate over whether or not David and Jonathan were more than friends, especially in regards to the meaning of some of the original text words.

    • 

      You said “Supporting Chick-fil-a by peacefully ordering a sandwich and standing in solidarity under the withering criticism, outright hate and persecution shown towards C-f-a and its owner and his very Christian belief of marriage is an act of love and courage.”

      Really? Try being a GLBT person… THEN you’ll know what “outright hate and persecution” REALLY is. I do not hate Chik-Fil-A (everyone keeps spelling it wrong), or Mr Cathy, nor was I in any way “persecuting” him. There was criticism, true, but that is to be expected when one states their opinons – and contributes to groups that are against the rights of others.

      • 

        Dear Cat,

        I have quite a few gay friends and my hairstylist has been cutting my hair for the last 20+ years is super gay. Further, I worked the South Beach club scene in the early 90′s both as a promoter, security, and had my own night at various clubs. I have been exposed the gay lifestyle up close and persona. I know the persecution they go through and it is wrong. I cannot even comprehend the cross they bear. We are all precious because we are made in the Image and Likeness of God. Everyone, there isn’t one person that is not precious.

        But supporting marriage is not; hateful, bigoted or discriminatory towards gays. Why, the purpose of marriage is to bring forth new life, to create children and then to raise them within that marriage. Everything else is secondary to marriage. Now, you might say oh but now that is not the case. No, it will always be the case. Consider all the problems we as a society face and you can trace the root to what? The disintegration of dollar? No; the chemicals in food? No; the disintegration of the family? YUP. It all started when we were no longer obligated to hold our vows. Yes, there will always be bad marriages and unfaithful people but that is not marriage fault. It is the people who chose to break their vows, be unfaithful, and whatever else can make a marriage bad. All that said the one thing a gay union can never do is to bring forth children. That is just a hard Darwinian fact. So we as a nation as a people need to strengthen the family not dissolve it. Think of all those unwed mothers, single moms, to me victims of the “sexual revolution” that they are free to be me. Yet, that “freedom” bears a heavy price therefore it really isn’t free.

        Now you will say well what about that gay couple that spends 20 years together why can’t they have protection under the law! They can have it and they do. It is not different than the heterosexual couple that is together for 20 years and never marries. There are wills, durable powers of attorney, medical surrogate, and joint tenants with the right of survivorship ext. I am not saying they cannot be with whom they want. Every person deserves to be respect and every Christian has a duty to love their neighbor but that duty also comes with a responsibility and that responsibility is to uphold the Truth. Marriage is between a man and a woman to form one flesh, a baby. It is the fabric of society so much so that it predates society. There is so much more that can be said. I understand why gays feel they need to press this fight; the feeling of being out of society, of being considered less than, the feeling of oppression that somehow they are not tolerated. Do you know what the next logical step is after gay marriage? No marriage; the complete elimination of the sacred institution. Think about that and the ramifications.
        Peace be with you.

      • 

        To Mauricio (I’m having problems posting a direct reply)….

        Ah, it’s the old “I know gay people” defense… I’ve certainly heard that one before. Respectfully, you really know nothing about it until you’ve walked in our shoes, or truly tried to empathize. Maybe you can start by asking your hairstylist’s opinion was of the event… or times he or she has experienced hate for being gay. Also, there is no such thing as a “gay lifestyle”. Really. They don’t give us a handbook or anything when we come out, no gay “rules” to follow, and no “agenda” that we have to conform to. Is there something that can be defined as a “straight lifestyle?” Gays come in all shapes and sizes and from different paths of life, and we don’t all go to gay bars or march in parades or whatever else it is in your mind that makes up a “gay lifestyle”.

        Mr Cathy received CRITICISM, but I’d hardly call that “persecution”. It’s not the same thing at all. When government starts closing CFA restaurants down, THEN maybe they can claim persecution, but even Mayor Emmanuel can’t do that. Even he knows he can’t.

        You seem to be saying that the ONLY reason marriage exists is to have children. I think that may be a surprise to many straight people. That’s an awfully narrow view, and inaccurate in regards to the numerous historic reasons for marriage. Are you saying that if two straight people cannot, for whatever reason, produce children, they shouldn’t be married? That’s really unfair, isn’t it? When one applies for a marriage license, are they asked whether or not they plan to have children? If they say, “no” or “I don’t know”, are they then denied a license? My brother and his wife could not conceive on their own, so they finally resorted to in vitro, and I’ve got a wonderful nephew as a result. Would it surprise you to know that many gay couples also use this method to have children? We also adopt or foster children, or have our own in the old-fashioned way… because many gay people try traditional marriage before they realize it’s futile to deny their orientation and end up with children that they then raise or co-raise. It’s very common to see a gay couple raising children. If they live in a state in which same sex marriage is not legal, only one of them can be listed as the legal guardian. In my own state, there is a family led by two gay men where all the children were foster children assigned to them at first. The men, who were both raised in large families, took these kids in and gave them a secure and loving home, then adopted them. Social workers and teachers said they wished there were more like these two men, because there are so many foster children who lack stability. Raising children isn’t for everybody, whether or not straight or gay.

        You think the decline of civilization is due to the deterioration of the family, and I suppose, you think gay people have something to do with that? But Mauricio, why then do we so badly want to be able to marry, and are continously denied to do so? That makes no sense. First, I disagree that civilization is declining… in my opinion, it’s always progressing or morphing. People in general live longer than we used to, have more wealth and security, more stable governments, etc. I’m not really sure what it is you are trying to say there.

        It is not as cut and dried as you think about the legalities in gay relationships. We can leave wills, for instance, but our employers don’t have to provide benefits to our partners, pre or post-death. If there are children, it can get complicated, too – especially if the legal guardian is the one that died. In many states, it is still not legal for a same-sex partner to make medical decisions if their partner is incapacitated, even if there are legal documents in place. We can spend a lot of money trying to cover our bases legally, when straight people don’t have to do the same because their marriage covers it. And then, if our partner ends up in the hospital, we can face a lot of problems… especially if the partner has siblings or parents that may not agree. There’s a lot of anecdotes I could give you, but I fear your mind may already be set.

        On the other hand, if we were allowed to get a marriage license and marry like straight people, most of these obstacles would disappear for us. All we want is the same opportunity to be married as any other two consenting adults. It would not take away at all the importance of traditional marriage and families… and it certainly wouldn’t bring on the dire “no marriage” scenerio you suggest. Why do you even think that would happen? There are many reasons we gay people want to get married, but by far the most prevalent one is that we simply love someone and want to marry them. No one would hold a gun to your head and make you attend a gay wedding, and no gay couple would want to force any church to marry them that doesn’t want to. Those are misconceptions.

        At the end of my life, I suspect that my natural sexual orientation will count very little compared to how I loved and treated people while here on earth. I’ll take my own chances before God.

        Peace to you, too…

      • 

        Mauricio, I forgot to say… in states where gay people have had the right to marry for years, there has not been a decline in society, or traditional marriages. There’s been no general chaos or the raining down of hellfire and damnation. The states exist as an example of how it can work successfully.

  5. 

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s one thing to support what you agree with. It’s another to make a group of people feel “hated” and then claim to be a Christian. That was never Jesus’ intent. That is not at all what He was teaching as He was ministering to ALL types of PEOPLE, and we need to remember that EVERY human being deserves to be treated with respect and shown the love of God. If we are to be HIS hands and feet, then we need to be them. Who are we to pick and choose who we show the love of God to? That is complete hypocrisy, and THIS Christian doesn’t agree with it one.bit. does that mean that I am saying that I support “gay” marriage? No, I do not. Do I love “gay” people? Yes I do. At the end of the day, what other people do and who they love has absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s between that individual and God. And as far as the whole “freedom of speech” thing – well, that means freedom of speech for EVERYONE – not just those that agree with “you”. And if a person is going to cry their rights to the amendments, then they should definitely make themselves knowledgeable on what each amendment states. Because “freedom of speech” can back fire with “separation of church and state”. Facts are facts. If a person is going to quote scripture, then back it up. My biggest problem with what happened on August 1st was exactly what this article states. And “Christians” need to realize it.

    • 

      beautyinthechaos, thank you for sharing this comment. Loved your reminder that we don’t get to pick and choose who we show God’s love to. And when we fall for an “us vs. them” mentality (as we inevitably do when we get caught up in political protests like this one), we are picking and choosing, whether we intend to or not. Again, thanks for sharing.

  6. 

    Thank you, Mr Irwin! I’ve read the replies here and agree that a real dialogue between Christians and the LGBT community is a great idea. There’s a lot of misconceptions on both sides. My heart grieves every time I see hateful comments from either side, as I am BOTH a lesbian and a Christian. I know there are many who don’t think that’s possible, but it is. If people heard my story, and the stories of other gays, they might be less judgmental, and through discussion, I believe many gay people will see that not all Christians are against them. I also believe that if there was a better communication, there would be fewer of our youth killing themselves, and less bullying.

    I have thought of doing a blog myself… maybe I will soon – I have to decide how to prioritize my time – but I realize I’m in a somewhat unique position and could help with concerns and questions.

    I’ll put a few things here to start:

    First, you all should know that the phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner” grates on our nerves, because we don’t think that being homosexual is a sin. Think about that for a minute… how many times have you said that to a heterosexual person?

    I believe I was born gay. Some Christians love to tell me that I’m wrong, that I made a choice, or there was some influence on me, or society “seduced” me, or whatever. But they do not really know me, or my experience. I was raised in a conservative Christian family and attended non-denominational churches. I read the Bible through twice before I even graduated from high school. I was a child when I accept Jesus as my Savior and was baptized. I felt very loved as a child, but I also knew there was something different about me. For as long as I could remember, I was attracted to the same sex. One incident that stands out is when I tried to hold the hand of a friend of mine on the playground. She was disgusted and called me a word that I didn’t even know. It was confusing to me, and as I grew older, I learned to hide that side of me. Sometime in my teens, I began praying that God would remove this “thing” from me. One who hasn’t experienced it cannot understand the intensity of what I was feeling – how much I did NOT want to be gay, and the pain I put myself through. But it did not go away. I had feelings for girls in high school and college. I tried to force things, to prove to myself that I could be straight if I wanted, by sleeping with a man in college. It did not help… it only made me feel worse. I entertained thoughts of suicide.

    In my twenties, though I realized it probably wouldn’t change things, I continued to pray, and also asked that God help me find an appropriate husband. It was the 80s and anti-gay sentiment seemed to be the norm. People were saying God was judging gays with AIDS, even though lesbians were in the lowest risk groups… go figure. I finally decided that it was just better for me to be alone, and in my 30s. chose to ignore that side of me completely, while still praying that God would “fix” me. All throughout this time, I attended church, and at various times, taught Sunday School and was a camp counselor for a week every summer at a Christian camp.

    In my 40s, my mother was diagnosed with ALS. It’s a fatal disease. For over 4 years, we cared for her as she physically deteriorated, and a group of her friends and coworkers helped, too. One of them was a lesbian that my mother had preached to on several occasions, but she was there every week to give my mother a massage anyway, and they would talk and laugh and cry together. J (the lesbian) was showing my mother unconditional love. Mom even told me, “I don’t understand why J is so good to me, I’ve said so many bad things to her”. That was when I started to understand that maybe it wasn’t good to run away from who I was any more.

    It soon became apparent to me that praying to cured of my natural sexual orientation was as futile as praying to be taller. God hadn’t “fixed” me, because there was nothing to fix. I realized that I was as he made me, just like heterosexuals…. just like people who are left-handed, etc. It has made all the difference in the world to accept myself as God made me.

    I know there are many who will disagree with me and that’s fine, but I do have a problem when Christians also try to throw us out of churches or try to limit our rights, or try to force us square pegs into a round hole. You need to know that I can no more separate my homosexuality from myself than you can separate your heterosexuality from you. But many Christians think we have to stop being gay in order to be a Christian. Think about how that sounds to a gay person who may have been in a loving union for many years.

    As I said at Matthew Turner’s blog, I am very glad that it is NOT my job to judge others… it’s God’s job, not mine. If you don’t know what to think about gay people, the best thing to do is just let God do the judging, and just love. Get to know a gay person and their family, take them out for a meal, play a board game, whatever… just do it without telling them how wrong you think they are. Believe me, they’ve heard it all before.

    • 

      Cat, thank you for sharing your story. For what it’s worth, think it would be great if you started a blog to share more of it. The church needs to hear from more voices like you. I’m also wondering if you’d let me share your comment in a future blog post. I think others would benefit from hearing from someone who’s a Christian and a member of the LGBT community.

      • 

        Sure Ben, that’s absolutely okay with me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share some of my story. I look forward to your future blogs!

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