Why I didn’t eat at Chick-Fil-A

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.

Toilet (Seat) Humor

I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy.

I did extremely well in school. I can solve problems relatively well. I can come up with creative solutions. But one seemingly simple group of tasks has always gotten the best of me: home and auto repair and upkeep. I don’t know what my problem is, but chances are if I have a hammer or a screwdriver in my hand, I’m going to mess up whatever chore is in front of me. I have had my foot pinned under a car while changing a tire. I’ve put a hole in a ceiling while installing surround sound. I’ve caused a leak in my roof by installing an antenna. (UPDATE: I’ve also locked myself IN a bedroom while changing a doorknob. Forgot about that one.) But my chance at redemption came this weekend, a shot at getting a home improvement project right.

Somehow, while babysitting for Avery, my sister broke the master bathroom toilet seat. I have no idea how this is possible, but it happened. (I should probably ask her about that sometime.) So it was off to Home Depot, where I learned something surprising. Toilet seats come in two sizes: round and elongated. I thought about all the times I had stood over that toilet, and came to the conclusion that I needed an elongated seat. When I got home, I held the still-wrapped seat over the broken one, and it matched up well. Or so I thought.

The installation was amazingly satisfying. I removed the existing seat, then used a series of “washers” and “braces” to install the new seat (I don’t know what these things are). It took about ten minutes, and when it was done, it looked fantastic.

The seat lined up perfectly! The outside edge of the seat aligned with the bowl. The bolts were snug, and the seat didn’t slide one way or the other at all. It was my most successful home improvement job ever, and the feeling I got standing over my freshly-installed toilet seat was one of victory.

Then I moved from standing over the seat to standing in the middle of the bathroom.

Of course, you fans of literature and movies will see the technique I employed in the post known as “foreshadowing”, and knew this was coming. And those of you who are adept at these types of projects are no doubt rolling your eyes at me now (don’t worry, my wife did the same thing). Of course, my toilet bowl is round, not elongated, resulting in a drastic overhang of the toilet seat.

So now I’m at a loss for what to do. Obviously I can’t return it (I mean, surely Home Depot wouldn’t take back an opened toilet seat. Surely.). I could remove it and go get the right size, but then there’s $30 right down the…well, you know. So at the moment, it stays. A testament to my prowess at handyman tasks. A reminder for all that the tools I use best are a typewriter and a chef’s knife, and not a hammer or a drill. A humorous conversation-starter, if you will.

At least, that’s how I’m pitching it to my wife.