For the love of homosexuals, chicken sandwiches and free speech

The other day my dear friend wrote this on facebook:

“Confession: I love Kermit the Frog, chicken sandwiches, and all my gay friends. And I’m not giving up any of them to make a statement about another one.”

This echos my sentiments exactly. I wish more people felt this way.

I also wish more people recognized the situation for what it is.

When the controversy first broke about the Henson Foundation and their behavior toward Chick-fil-A, I was upset. When the mayor of Boston declared the restaurant would never cross his city limits, I wrote some thoughts (on my personal facebook, not my writer page). I wrote (and still believe) that it’s not really about marriage or gay rights at all. I asserted that the controversy is really about a business owner being bullied for his personal beliefs. It’s about freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the freedom citizens should have to allocate their money how they choose.

If you don’t want to give your money to Chick-fil-A or the Muppets or Planned Parenthood or Focus on the Family, that is your choice! But don’t tell the owners and leaders of these organizations that they can’t do the same, simply because their views differ from yours. Think it through. Do we really want to eliminate or stifle these rights?

In the week since, the storm has become an all-out war between Christian conservatives supporting Chick-fil-A and G.L.A.A.D. defending alternative lifestyles. August 1st has been named “Support Chick-fil-A Day” while August 3rd has been declared “Same Sex Kiss Day.” I even saw something today that used the Chick-fil-A cows to advertise the privately-held company as a haven for “Christian hate organizations.” C’mon, people.

Yes, the owner made a statement about his personal beliefs in regard to marriage and God’s design for it. His statement was given in response to direct questioning from a specific religious publication. It was not a press release intent on attacking homosexuals. If he wanted to do that, he could have gone to CNN instead of responding to Baptist Press.

Part of me wants to spell out my personal views on homosexuality and gay marriage. Part of me wants to discuss the definition and variances of sin and how some have woefully warped God’s grace. But I don’t see any of that as the point.

When did it become hate speech to disagree?

Recently a friend invited me to an event that contradicted a standard my husband and I have set. It involved a clash of culture and our children and a way in which we shelter them. I admit, we’re extremely conservative with our kids. This friend, however, took our decision as a personal attack against her parenting methods. I’ve seen the same thing happen with books I choose not to read, movies I choose not to see or political opinions I voice. People too often take it personally against themselves if I’m different or if we simply disagree. I was not judging my friend, simply standing firm in our choice.

I find this current controversy to be similar. Being conservative and pro-Bible is not the same as being anti-gay. And yet many people seem to view it that way. I admit I understand why. When you’ve had to fight so hard for rights, you tend to get a bit jumpy. In that situation, we all get defensive.

If you’re reading this blog and you are a homosexual, please allow me to publicly apologize for the way the church has treated you. The Christian community has been judgmental, prejudiced, arrogant and cruel. I’m sorry. I am sorry that you have not been loved and welcomed. You are precious. God loves you the same way He loves me and the Pharisee down the street.

In The Prodigal God author Timothy Keller contrasts the people the Pharisees attracted and those that Jesus attracted. He then asserts that …

“If [what we preach and practice] does not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.”

I believe we’ve mishandled the Gospel. Badly.

Yes, the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, and, yes, I believe that is true. But the Bible also puts pride, gossip, slander and disobeying your parents (among others) in the same lists of sins. How many of us can honestly say we never lie? We never talk about others behind their backs? We have always obeyed our parents? And we do all of that perfectly without ever thinking of ourselves as better than others?

The message of the Bible is not about what we should or should not do. It’s not about who we are, whom we love or where we eat. It is simply this: God’s grace is sufficient. It cannot be matched by any human choice, past, present or future.

And so I will continue taking my kids to Chick-fil-A. I will continue to reach out to homosexual friends and neighbors who, just like the rest of us, need to be loved and accepted. I will continue to defend free speech regardless of whether I agree with the one speaking or not. I will continue to offer others the freedom to have their own opinions and make their own choices without loving them any less.

Rod Arters wrote a great post last week about this controversy. Hop over there to read it.

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