Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Love

Warning:  somewhat long-winded and rambling post ahead.

This post has languished for many weeks as a draft while I figured out how best to express myself.  Please know that it got its start during the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha.  Now, let me say that I'd prefer not to write on the Chick-Fil-A argument.*  Also, I'm sure that not many people want to hear yet another voice added to the cacophony of voices about Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage.**

Unfortunately, this topic seems not to want to go away.  And it shouldn't.  As Christians, we are called to love one another, and too often love is forgotten in the midst of getting ahead, being right, or whatever.  As it happens, I have friends on both sides of the issue that enveloped Chick-Fil-A in July/August, and while I would probably identify more with one side than with the other, I can see both sides of it.

And I'm sick of this.

I'm sick of hearing about some people who applaud Chick-Fil-A for standing up for Christian beliefs while calling gays who want to marry things they would never call anyone to his face.  I don't like seeing people assuming that all gays are automatically pedophiles, or whatever.  (Yes, some say that, apparently.)  Though I am thankful that pretty much every supporter of Chick-Fil-A of whom I know hasn't said that.

I'm also sick of hearing about some people who support gay marriage and who have decided to accuse anyone who believes that gay marriage is wrong of being a bigot, a homophobe, etc.  (Those accusations really aren't hard to find.)  I don't like seeing tweets from liberals, some well-known, others not so much, expressing not just a passing thought but a hope, a fervent desire, if you will, for anyone supporting Chick-Fil-A to die of heart disease soon.  Though I am thankful that pretty much every supporter of gay marriage of whom I know isn't saying these sorts of things.  But some are.

The two questions I see in this issue are the following.  And they both have the same answers.

1.  Are gays going to stop being gay just because some people think they're sinners, going to hell, unnatural, etc.?
2.  Are Christians opposed to gay marriage (obvious disclaimer:  not all are) going to give up their beliefs because some people think they're bigots, haters, etc.?

The answers:

A.  Almost certainly not.
B.  But they are going to get pretty ticked off, and recent history shows that they'll probably do something to antagonize the other side of the argument.  For those in favor of gay marriage, that was to organize the boycott in the first place.  For those in favor of Chick-Fil-A, their response was to sign on with the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day (which came and went while I slowly wrote this thing).
C.  In response to the actions mentioned in B, the other side ramps up whatever they're doing, and so on and so forth.

In preparing for this post, I've read/watched many perspectives on the matter, including those from a somewhat prominent Christian blogger, a somewhat well-known gay activist, a gay Christian, a former Alaska governor, and the daughter of a former presidential candidate and increasingly moderate "Republican".  Some were in favor of the appreciation day, some were in favor of gay marriage, some (I think) were in favor of both, and some were in favor of neither.

So, you will see that by now I have heard all the arguments.  "It's about free speech."  "It's about our rights."  "They favored legislation to kill gays in Africa."  (That one's not true, by the way.)  "They have the right to do whatever with their money."  "Municipalities have no right to deny building permits just because they disagree politically with them."

It's been hashed out enough, I think.

When I originally started writing this post (seven weeks ago***),  I had intended to write about understanding each others' concerns.  There were concerns that believing gay marriage to be wrong might eventually become a thought crime (as it has apparently become in other countries), or that churches would be forced (yes, forced) to marry gays whether or not they agreed with the idea of gay marriage (as has happened in at least one other country).

But I don't think that's the real point anymore.  Not for me, as a Christian, at least.

A friend, in the middle of a long discussion about this, said that the real issue here is perception.  Christians can be as civil as possible in expressing their opinions, but thanks to how others have used their bully pulpits in the past, this is how a lot of gay people will see them:

Tolerance in action.  Or not.  Image courtesy CBC under "Fair Use" clause.)

We are called as Christians to love.  When we are sitting behind a computer screen, or in a group of like-minded people at a restaurant, it is easy to forget that we are to love not just our friends but our enemies.

But Snowed, I don't look at anyone as my enemy!  Good.  How are you treating people with whom you have fundamental disagreements?  Have you ever even had a discussion with someone with whom you have a fundamental disagreement?  It's simpler to avoid that, to be sure.  But avoiding confrontation is not what we are called to do.

We are called to love others.  To do that, we have to get to know others.  And that includes others who have been hurt by the actions and/or words of Christians (possibly even our own).  I mean, just look at that picture again.  To many, this is what Christianity means.  We have to show these people (as well as those who treat others in this way) the true love of Jesus.  It's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be quick.  No, we have years (centuries, in some cases) to overcome.  And yes, as in the case of gay marriage, we won't agree on what all the solutions are. But we have to be willing to have that dialogue, to engage with those who do not look/act/think like we do.  Because He did.

* Anyone who follows my blog knows that I haven't really wanted to write about much of anything for a while.

** "Gee, I wonder what 'Snowed In' has to say about this?" - said by no one, ever.

*** I do have a life that doesn't involve the internet, y'know.