I told myself I wasn’t going to do a Chick-fil-A post.
But then one of my friends shared this, and it made me think:
We Christians have this line that makes us feel both righteous and yet socially compassionate. It’s “hate the sin, love the sinner…” And I imagine that a lot of people who lined up yesterday to grab their waffle fries felt that they were doing just that. But for me, who is not only a Christian, but also gay, well, this organized lunch my fellow Christians partook of felt nothing like love.
I don’t think we fully appreciate how our gay and lesbian neighbors were hurt by this week’s demonstration.
(I say “we” because even though I didn’t participate in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, I am nevertheless part of the church. Many of those who did participate are my brothers and sisters in Christ, as are many who looked on from the other side.)
Most participants saw this as a statement about free speech, not an unloving gesture toward gays. But given the politically charged environment, there’s no way something like this wouldn’t come across as a statement to our gay and lesbian neighbors. And that matters, because we’re not the final judge of how loving or unloving our actions are. The real indicator is how they affect others.
Keeping in mind that love demands more than just tolerance or the absence of hate, we must ask: did our gay and lesbian neighbors feel loved by the church this week?
Again, many will say this was about free speech and a perceived threat to it. But Jesus never told us to stand up for free speech. He told us to love our neighbor. He told us it was the second greatest command and that it was like the first, “love the Lord your God.”
In other words, we love God by loving our neighbor. We cannot claim the former without practicing the latter.
Just who is our neighbor? According to Jesus, it’s whoever we find it most difficult to love. For first-century Jews, that was Samaritans. For many Christians today, it’s the LGBT community. That’s why it’s not good enough to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s time we purged this cliché from our lexicon.
When the time comes to give an account of our lives, we won’t get many bonus points for loving those who look and think like we do. We may not even get that much extra credit for loving all those adorable, hungry children in Africa. Let’s face it: both are relatively easy for us to do.
What might really count in the end is how well we loved our gay and lesbian neighbors.
Regardless of our intentions, we didn’t do a great job this week. “Love does no harm to a neighbor,” wrote the apostle Paul. Yet intentionally or not, our actions this week caused harm.
May we all do better next week.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. —Romans 13:9-11 (NIV)
- 5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday by Matthew Paul Turner
- The Chick-fil-A Controversy by Justin Lee
- Some Words for Christians on Both Sides of the Chick-fil-A War by Rachel Held Evans