One of my friends posted a Rick Warren quote on her Facebook wall yesterday:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to.”
And for what it’s worth — I agree with this statement, as far as it goes. My dear friend Stephanie is a libertarian, and we disagree on all kinds of things — healthcare! gun control! free market capitalism! — but I neither fear nor hate her. I love her, but I don’t believe everything she believes. We are able to have deep, robust, and almost entirely civil conversations about these things, and we’re each dedicated to understanding the things the other believes, and we do this because we love each other. I value her perspective, precisely because it is so different from mine.
What I don’t do is try to impose my liberalism onto her. I don’t tell her that if she doesn’t agree with me, she is not valuable. And while I give money to political campaigns that reflect my own beliefs, I do NOT support groups that are dedicated to eliminating libertarianism from our country, or equating libertarians with pedophiles and terrorists, or preventing libertarians from enjoying the same rights that I have unless they burn their copies of Atlas Shrugged and vote for Obama.
Because that crosses from disagreeing with her, to oppressing her. Even if I think Stephanie and all her libertarian friends are completely wrong — even if I can find things in the Bible to show that libertarians are wrong — it’s still not okay to make her feel less than valuable, less than worthy, less than fully a child of God because of the libertarian lifestyle she’s chosen.
So many of my friends — my Christian friends, my church friends — have been proudly supporting Chick-fil-A this week. Posting photos of their waffle fries, status updates that they bought nuggets to go for their kids’ baseball teams. Most of them are there because they agree with Dan Cathy and want to show their allegiance to someone who has publicly spoken out against sin. Some of them were there to protest the statements made by the mayors of Boston and Chicago that because of Cathy’s statement, Chick-fil-A is not welcome in their cities.
I’m sure many of those who support Cathy’s values don’t realize exactly what the impact of their support is. For them, visible solidarity is what’s important; they don’t realize, or care, that the money they spend on lemonade and ice dream cones is donated to anti-gay groups — groups that spread false witness about LGBT people, who equate them with pedophiles and terrorists, who say they should be “exported” from our country, who push harmful “pray away the gay” therapies. Hate groups. Groups that reinforce a culture in which gay people are bullied, beaten, fearful, suicidal.
Many of my Christian friends disagree with the “gay lifestyle.” And that’s their right. They are allowed to disagree with whomever they like. They can even think its sinful. But we must remember that Jesus never encouraged his followers to identify the sinfulness of others. Whenever He encountered religious teachers who were confronting a sinner, He chastised the teachers and showed grace to the sinner. He exhorted his followers to look to the log in their own eye, not the speck in someone else’s. And when the religious teachers asked Him which law was most important — for His doctrinal statement — He replied that there was no law, no doctrine, as important as love.
When our belief in God’s laws leads us to congregate at a fast-food joint like it’s an altar call, when we give our money to a business in Christian solidarity even at the expense of the well-being of the people whose lifestyles we disagree with, when we eat the chicken sandwich of hatred and lies and oppression — we are valuing doctrine over love.
When showing solidarity to a CEO becomes more important than showing grace to sinners, we have failed our calling to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.