Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Is It Just Chikin?

As I've watched the streams of vitriol and defiance cruise by on twitter and facebook today, I've been thinking about how this whole Chik-fil-a thing is playing out.

A comment on my last post about the issue got me thinking. KaylaKaze wrote

No one (well, now one worth listening to) is up in arms about Cathy's opinion. What they're upset about is they financially support hate groups. They're free to have whatever opinions they want, even if they think the KKK is great and Hitler was misunderstood. When they start ACTING on those beliefs and giving money to actively hurt people is when it becomes an issue.
What she's talking about is that the Southern Poverty Law Center has declared the Family Research Council a hate group (like the KKK or the Aryan Nation) because they have repeatedly (in print and on their website) tried to link homosexuality with terrorism and pedophilia. The charitable foundation funded by Chik-fil-a once gave the Family Research Council $1,000.

First of all, I don't think Kayla and I travel in the same circles. There's a lot of people I know and love who are upset about Cathy's opinion - but most importantly I realized that people I know on both "sides" of this issue are completely talking past one another.

Those people I know and love who are swamping Chik-fil-a restaurants around the country and proudly posting their waffle fry pictures are purportedly doing so to defend "href="">religious freedom" and freedom of speech and, I guess, taking a public stand on how they think the country should define marriage. They're not focused on hate speech or hate groups and likely haven't even heard the argument behind Kayla's comment.

As I said before, they're defending a brand - their brand of political ideology currently represented by Chik-fil-a. Most of the Chik-fil-a supporters I know would never intentional flaunt something as serious as hate speech or hate groups in the face of anyone, no matter their opinion on homosexuals or gay marriage. They're not insidious villains.

At the same time, I know a lot of people who would never accept the characterization of the Family Research Council as a hate group, would never consider the Southern Poverty Law Center as an authority to name a ham sandwich, and would at least not directly challenge connections between homosexuals and pedophiles. Basically, none of the rationale expressed would even be considered by most of the intended audience. The only solution is making friends and allowing people to make up their own mind through experience.

This doesn't really change my initial argument - people are substituting chicken sandwiches for relationships. People don't trust each other because they're defining themselves and everyone else by what they buy, use, wear, eat, consume. Only your own actions represent you, not your consumption. Eating or not eating at Chik-fil-a doesn't represent your beliefs on gay marriage. As much as you want it to, it just doesn't.

Here's the deal:

LGBT friends - those at Chik-fil-a today don't care about your life or your relationships. Yes, maybe in some existential/salvific sense - they don't really want you to end up in hell (which is at least well meaning). But they don't care who you're with or what you do, not really. What they believe, for some reason, is that the government should be an arbiter or Christian morality. Granted, they generally want this only as it applies to homosexuals and fetuses and less so as it applies to war, life, death, taxes, interdependence, generosity, the environment and national identity, but it's not really about you. It's about power and control and how terribly frightened we are when things seem to be changing and we find ourselves on the "losing" end.

Conservative Christian friends - those people attacking your beloved Chikin restaurant, they don't care about you or your religion. Sure, everyone would like to be accepted and no one really enjoys people disapproving of something so central to one's identity. But they're not out to destroy religion or make your church, or its doctrines, illegal. What they want is to be accepted by society. Remember, these are people who spent large portions of life being told they were broken or deficient or somehow lesser human beings than the rest of us. You have to ask yourself, who are you protecting and at what cost? Marriage, in the government's eyes, is essentially a contract between two consenting adults to share property, receive benefits, and file joint tax returns. We've had "no fault" divorce for more than 50 years. What's in any way Christian about marriage in our society?

If it was up to me, the government would just get out of the marriage business altogether. Call it a Civil Union, call it a legal partnership, call it a Taco Grande - just don't call it marriage.

Marriages would be reserved for religious institutions, who they could discriminate in any way their conscious demands or allows (presuming they stick to legal requirements for age and consent). As a Christian minister, I'd welcome the added ability to understand marriage in light of Christ without having a watered down civil definition clouding people's judgment.

While we're at it, if it were up to me, Chik-fil-a would serve only naturally fed, free range, hormone free chicken (as God intended) and it would cost five cents per sandwich.

In short: listen more, talk less, prioritize relationships, freely give the benefit of the doubt, and don't leave your political statements to fast food chains. Also, if someone tells you to be scared of something, don't listen - they are only tryingto manipulate you.

1 comment:

Alison said...

I feel the same way about marriage - Rob & I thought we were probably the only ones who did. Why not preserve the "sanctity of marriage" by returning to treating it as a sacrament, not a legal contract. Make the two entirely separate, because really, they are.