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.

Love God, Love PeopleWhen 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.


12 thoughts on “Kerfuffle

  1. Hi, this is my first time stumbling across your blog but I really like your point of view on this issue. I have had some disagreements in my family when politics come up since I have drifted more liberal over the years and they are die-hard conservatives. The reason we get along though is because we respect and love each other and sometimes agree to disagree. I feel like the conversation is worth it if it allows each other to see the other side a little more clearly. I have also been on a rocky relationship with my Christian religion and dislike the hatred towards those considered “living in sin.” I appreciate your bold text statements because I always find solace in the importance Jesus placed in LOVE! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kate! Yeah, it’s hard when we start drifting away from the ideologies that the rest of our families hold; I’m glad you and your family are able to treat each other respectfully despite your differences — that’s a gift! And you’re right on with “I feel the conversation is worth it if it allows each other to see the other side a little more clearly” — not only is it good for us in a broadening-our-minds sense to understand others’ perspectives, it’s also our best shot at evangelism, in that we can’t expect others to listen to our perspective if we’re not willing to do the same for them. Going on the offensive will never give us the chance to show God’s love.

      1. Hey! I’m new to your blog, but I like what you’re writing. There aren’t enough Christians writing about HAES. I’m going to have to start talking about that on my blog. I don’t know that I have much of value to say, but it will be one more voice at least getting the idea out there that HAES exists.

        Now, on-topic 🙂

        WRT feeling politically at odds with family, I’m really getting there myself. It’s strange, but for a long time I had a lot in common with my parents “politically” (including social issues that have a lot to do with Christianity). But it feels like they’ve gone to the right and I’ve gone to the left in the last few years.

        Maybe it’s just my perception. As I’ve become more interested in questions than answers, more willing to accept the concept of positive rights (the right TO something, like health care or food) as opposed to only negative rights (oppressive things the gov’t isn’t allowed to do, like ban religion or censor the press), more empathetic, maybe I perceive people who haven’t moved as moving away from me,even if they haven’t changed. Perception’s a beast, isn’t it?

        I think as I became dissatisfied with the right (GOP, SBC, etc), I still felt closer to my conservative friends and family, because nobody’s really happy Mitt Romney (or G.W. Bush) won the nomination, and everybody cringes a little bit when Al Mohler goes on the attack.

        The sunny side of this street is that they will remind me to react more lovingly to (non-family) who disagree with me, to not think of political opposites as “enemies.”.

  2. In re-reading this post, I realize that I used the word “sin” a lot, and I think I should clarify what I believe about homosexuality. I support gay marriage as a civil right, although I’m conflicted as to whether physical intimacy between a couple of the same sex is a sin — I think there are some solid arguments that can be made that its not, but I’m still working that out. (I do think that promiscuity and infidelity are sinful, but I’m talking about sex within a committed marital relationship. And none of the above are, frankly, any of my business.) However, I don’t think our government is wise to legislate behaviors between consenting, non-coerced adults based on a religious interpretation; our founding principles specifically forbid the govt from elevating one religious system above another, and denying couples rights based solely on biblical moral values violates that.

  3. Thanks for this post, Abi. It says a lot of what’s up in my head that I can’t get organized into verbal or written words!

  4. I love this so much. Too often people decide to forgo respect and caring under the guise of religion and then peacock their wolf skin of “love and tolerance” as if it makes them a good person. I not only agree with this entirely, but I wish more Christians were like you. It’s so sad to see how many people are either ignorant or fundamentalists.

    1. Thanks, Christopher. I agree that it’s tragic when we allow our religious beliefs to be something that barricades us against others instead of helping us to empathize with them. I do think there’s a large number of Christians (fundamentalists included!) who do truly seek to understand others’ experiences — but they don’t get nearly as much air time as the Dan Cathys and the Family Research Councils.

  5. I enjoyed reading this post, Abi. It reflects a lot of what I have been feeling. As for eating the chicken sandwich of hatred – I find myself regretting that I have eaten the waffle fries of knowledge of good and evil. I don’t want to have a conversation with every vendor about his values or to whom she gives money before making a purchase. Sometimes a doughnut is just a doughnut. But now that I do know where Mr. Cathy sends his excess dough – I don’t think I could enjoy peace of chicken at his joint.

    1. You’re the best.

      And I do wonder if there’s any way to be a truly ethical consumer — I have my doubts anyone could pull it off. In CfA’s case, I think, it’s as much about not being part of a visible show of support for something I disagree with; but when it comes down to where I spend my money, well, I just hope that when I inadvertently support injustice, it’s enough that I can balance it out with the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream of equality.

  6. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and letting me peek into your beautiful mind! Uncle Robert

  7. “[W]hen we eat the chicken sandwich of hatred and lies and oppression — we are valuing doctrine over love.” YES. In fact, the whole last 2 paragraphs are just solid gold. (I mean, it’s all good…you know what I mean. 🙂 Great job.

  8. Great post! I was thinking and talking about a lot of these same things on Facebook and my blog last week. The whole Chick-fil-A appreciation day just made me sad because regardless of what people’s intentions were when they went there to eat the message they sent was that they didn’t care about LGBT people or about whether or not CFA supports hate groups…just another wedge between groups instead of building bridges of love.

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