So, the Chick-Fil-A controversy. Yeah, that. What do we Christians do with that?
Many of my friends flocked to Chick-Fil-A yesterday in support of their CEO taking a stand for traditional marriage. Many of my friends didn’t. Don’t think the first sentence was about my Christian friends and the latter was about my non-Christian friends. Because that’s not true. It’s not that simple.
There are so many issues going on here, but I think the entire situation is tainted by American culture. We live in a rights-based culture. In the past hundred years, look at all the groups that have fought and gained rights: Women (to vote, to have equal pay), Native Americans (to vote), African-Americans (to vote, to go to the same schools, share the same public spaces, and to be treated with the kindness, equality, acceptance, and respect that every human deserves, to not be discriminated against), Immigrant students (to be able to go to school regardless of legal status; to have access to comprehensible instruction in the English language and in content areas), Workers (to get minimum wage, to get breaks, to have safe conditions at work)
This is not an exhaustive list, of course. But in thinking about this Chick-Fil-A thing, I feel like all sides are pulling for one right or another.
I have the right to believe what I want.
I have the right to openly speak about what I believe.
I have the right to disagree with someone else’s opinion.
I have the right to be treated with respect.
I have the right to marry whomever I want.
I have the right to run my business based on certain values.
I have the right to define marriage.
Sometimes I think we get too caught up in rights. I don’t think Jesus was thinking about rights when he reached out to the marginalized of society. Like when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, and when he let the sinful woman anoint his feet and and when he picked a greedy tax collector as his disciple and when he brought the lame and the blind into the temple and healed them. Jesus made a life of going against social (and even religious) rules. Jesus made a life of loving the unloved.
I can’t claim to know what Jesus would do with this Chick-Fil-A thing. But I know he said this:
When you give a dinner, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. (Luke 14:12-12, OSB)
For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me: I was sick and you visited me: I was in prison and you came to me. (Matthew 25:35-36, OSB)
I read these, and I am humbled. I am ashamed that I have spent virtually no time loving the unloved. I don’t volunteer at homeless shelters or donate food to food banks. I don’t visit people who I know are sick, or sad, or bedridden. I don’t do a lot of things for others without thinking that they owe me one. I don’t even call my Grandma often enough! I pay attention to my own little life and my family’s needs and that’s all. I think Jesus cares more about how well I love the unloved than if I buy a sandwich at Chick-Fil-A.
Yesterday, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook: “So, I keep hearing about how all these Chick Fil As have been super busy and backing up traffic all over. I’ve never heard of a homeless shelter, help center, safe home, teen pregnancy center, etc. having cars lined up with people wanting to volunteer time or give donations. Am I missing something? Just sayin’!! ”
No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have gone to Chick-Fil-A yesterday. And I’m not saying you should have. I’m saying that American Christians have been warped by a rights-focused culture and to add to that, by a consumer-focused culture. We are encouraged to buy more, more, more for ourselves, but not to give to those who really need help. We are encouraged to stand up for our rights, but not to care about those who seem to have none.
That Jesus, he’s really getting to me tonight. He’s whispering something important to me that has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with love. And I want to listen.