Writer’s note: I don’t blog nearly enough. I had to submit examples of my writing for a job application, and in going through this blog, I realized how much I missed writing in a creative setting. I solemnly swear I will be a better blogger.
On August 1, 2012, a host of hungry patrons descended on Chick-Fil-A locations across the country. While Chick-Fil-A is a fast-food restaurant that is used to business, this day was different. Several locations had so much business, they actually ran out of food. Roads and highways across the country backed up, as cars waited up to half an hour to enter the parking lot area. It was certainly the most financially successful single day in the Atlanta-based company’s history.
Of course, you already know that this was not a case of sudden mass cravings for waffle fries. August 1 was a day to show your support for Chick-Fil-A, whose owner, Dan Cathy, had come under fire for his comments supporting traditional marriage. While he didn’t specifically attack gay marriage, there’s no doubt Mr. Cathy believes marriage is only for one man and one woman. What followed was a surprisingly strong backlash from media outlets, the gay community and moderate-to-liberal voters. In response, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee called for those against gay marriage to come out and support Chick-Fil-A on August 1.
And come out they did. The two locations I happened to drive past were slammed. Cars wrapped around the building and spilling out into the street. Lines out the door, with 20-30 minute waits being the norm. The vast majority of the patrons – conservative Christians, who genuinely believe that God looks on homosexual acts as sinful. Many of these, I call my dearest friends. Probably because I am also a Christian, who also believes that God looks on homosexual acts as sinful.
And yet, I deliberately, purposefully stayed away.
To many, this will make no sense. Many will wonder why, if I believe in the Bible, I didn’t show my support for a company that is making its stand for Biblical principles. Not only that, many will wonder why I am putting out my intentional absence on my blog for everybody to see.
My answer has nothing to do with the way I see the world, my beliefs or my experiences in life. It has everything to do with people.
Many people, straight and gay, believe that a stance against gay marriage necessarily equates to bigotry. While I don’t agree with their opinion, I can see where they are coming from. Gay couples in most states do not and cannot share in the rights and privileges that straight couples can. There’s no tax deduction. There’s no automatic inheritance. There’s no provision to be at their partner’s side in the hospital during an emergency. That’s something that is reserved for married couples, whose state recognizes their marriage. There are other benefits the state gives to married couples that gay couples cannot access. The only way to have those rights is marriage.
This is why, to gay couples and others, a stance against gay marriage is a stance for bigotry. I’m not agreeing with their position, merely outlining it. So since this is the way they feel, what would my presence at Chick-Fil-A on August 1 tell them? It would tell them that I think they should remain second-class citizens. It would tell them that I look down on them, that I somehow think I am better than they are. This is not what it would mean to me, but what it would mean to them.
Most importantly (and I came to this point after a lot of thinking), my going to Chick-Fil-A on August 1 could potentially cost me a chance to connect with and witness to my gay friends.
After coming to that point, I couldn’t make an argument good enough for actually going. What else in this world could possibly matter more? Did Chick-Fil-A miss my presence? No. Would my presence have made a huge difference for Chick-Fil-A or my faith? No. But would it have damaged my relationships with those I would love to see at my church? Very likely. It is a simple risk-reward analysis, and I felt the risk far outweighed the reward.
So I ate my homemade pimiento cheese for dinner instead of delicious nuggets or strips. I will be eating at Chick-Fil-A again. Probably in the near future. But on this one day, it was not worth risking the chance I have to be an example of Christ to the world around me. Do I believe in the Bible? Absolutely. I believe it is the word of God, and that I should strive to live my life according to its standards. But I also believe Jesus’ example in Mark 2:13 is far more important than my respect for Romans 1:26-27.