Here’s what happened: Some guy who sells chicken sandwiches offers his religious beliefs and how those beliefs color his opinion of other people.
Those other people disagree with him passionately and vow to never eat his sandwiches. We’re all good right?
That’s the state of the world: I am right. You are wrong. The problem with the current Chick Fil-A controversy over the chairman’s comments on Gay Marriage is this; we are missing a wonderful opportunity for dialogue and education, both sides could learn something about each other here.
After all, it would seem that people interested in the word of God and people willing to fight for the ones they love might have more in common than they realize.
The Chick Fil-a chairman, Dan Cathay, is a passionate Christian, a man who believes in his Bible, he believes in it so strongly that he keeps his national chain of stores closed on Sundays and, under most circumstances, it would be hard to think of such a man as “evil” (or any of the other things that he is being called in the current controversy.) Like religious conservatives all over the world, he believes in a distinct line between right and wrong, tries to live his faith and offers support to others who agree with his view of the world. He uses his family founded and owned business to spread his faith and would claim that he loves all people, including Gays, but he believes their “lifestyle” goes against his interpretation of the word of God.
The fact that he is not in favor of same sex marriage should not be a surprise to anyone. He offered an honest answer to a question he was asked, he didn’t say his stores would decline service to anyone, including Gays. (Unlike the Mississippi Pastor who refused to marry a black couple in his church! No wonder Christians have a reputation!)
To understand the opposing point of view, Christians only need to think of this: suppose you and your spouse were forbidden by law to marry, discouraged from showing affection in public and kept away from each other in times of medical emergency? How would you feel about the participants in a religion who judge your very existence as an abomination? It is not unreasonable to wonder which Biblical view of marriage Cathay favors, the one where you have multiple wives? The one where you marry your brother’s widow? The one where you work for your future Father in Law for seven years only to be tricked into marrying the ugly sister? You could wonder why Chick Fil A serves bacon and sausage despite Biblical pronouncements (Leviticus) against eating pork products. One might ask why the company is lying about the safety of child toys pulled by the Jim Henson company in response to the controversy.
It’s that simple, one side is taking up for their interpretation of God and tradition, the other is declaring their freedom, independence and right to live as they believe God created them. The fight isn’t over chicken: Trenches are being dug over love, whether it is the love of God or love of a partner. The people of God, in this case, have attacked some of God’s people and those people are fighting back.
The trouble with a trench is this: it doesn’t have a front door, there is no place to meet and try to understand one another. That’s why our entire political system has ground to a halt, trenches have been dug over every issue, trenches offer no opportunity to advance.
Dan Cathay is not the Pope, not a Bishop, not even a theologian. He is a private citizen who sells trans-fat laced, factory manufactured chicken for profit. Most businessmen would not put their business in harms way by insulting a large segment of the population, but most businessmen wouldn’t close their stores for the Sabbath. My guess is, he has no gay friends or acquaintances and probably won’t get any now. And that’s too bad, because both sides should find other things to talk about, they should get to know one another, they should come out of their trenches.