Are You Prejudiced and the Chick-fil-A Controversy

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The “Chick-fil-A controversy” has caused many comments that have accused individuals of being biased/prejudiced.  The Christian Church is one of the primary targets.  How should we respond?  I believe it important to make statements that demonstrate a distinction between what we say about certain behavior as compared to what we say about the person who engages in that behavior.  For example we believe that stealing, killing, fraud, and lying are inappropriate and criminal behaviors.  However that does not mean we believe the person committing those acts are any less human that we are.  As a church we acknowledge that all of us are created in “the image of God”.  We also recognize that all of us have distorted that image in some way.  No one is perfect. 

So how do I think this applies to the controversy concerning “gay marriage”?  It means that we have the right to state what we disagree with, but it does not mean we believe the person engaging in the activity is any less “human” than any other person.   We do have a particular “bias” but it is not against the person but rather it is a bias against a particular activity.  I believe all of us have a “bias” or perspective that is the foundation of how we make conclusions on a variety of subjects.  Our culture, our education, and our experience will all gives us a particular perspective.    It will be the foundation of how we reason through issues.  I would suggest that is a “good thing”.  Differing perspectives on issues helps us grow as individuals and a community.

I believe that the church has not always made a distinction between people and issues.  I would suggest that as elders it would be wise to articulate what our perspective is on the “Chick-fil-A” for the benefit of those in our congregations.  I gave you mine, what is yours?

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I quite agree--much better, no doubt, to articulate some pastoral counsel on this than to keep silent. The homosexuality thing is such a polarizing hot button that people are afraid and confused, or they just glibly join one of the poles and batter away at the other side, it seems. Where's the gospel sweet spot in all this? Can't our respect for human dignity (yes, despite our fallenness) be heard as clearly as our perspective?

The most offensive part of this whole fiasco has been the promulgation of the idea that "if you're a 'good' Christian you will eat at Chick-Fil-A." The whole thing started as a socio-political statement, but because of the nature of the instigation, the 'Christian' machine started rolling. Though the event showed some Christians' appreciation for the restaurant it did little to promote the Christian message. In fact, the crowd I minister to, mostly saw it as a message of hate for homosexuals; using much more colorful metaphors than I would.

No one has addressed this fundamental ethical issue, or the inconsistency of this 'Christian' machine. They felt it necessary to defend CFA from the LGBTs, but where is the consistcy when Microsoft, Apple, Google, and so many other companies that are integral to our lives now, actively support the LGBT agenda? Where are the refusals to use those companies products in protest? Oh, wait a minute...you almost can't have any product anymore from any company that doesn't support something contrary to what you believe. So we make exceptions for them because, why? It's a necessary evil? I don't know, but I believe a consistent ethical system can be built that allows us to live by our standards and use products regardless of the social or ethical stance of the business.

This whole thing, to me, smacks of the meat (chicken?) sacrificed to idols. Paul didn't seem concerned that the meat had been sacrificed, nor that the money Christians spent on it went to support the Pagan temple. He was more concerned with offending the weak Christian, and by extension I think we could safely add the sinner. Jesus never went out of his way to offend the sinner, but he would confront them when necessary. There's a big difference.

We need to study how Christ loved the sinner and confronted the sin better, and perhaps we can be a more consistent ethical people.

Thank you, Brother Al, for reminding us where the "focus" is to be.

"  For example we believe that stealing, killing, fraud, and lying are inappropriate and criminal behaviors.  However that does not mean we believe the person committing those acts are any less human that we are. "

Actually, that's exactly what it means.  Jesus was the most fully human person who ever lived, precisely because He did not sin.  that is the target we should be striving for.  Of course, none of us will ever hit it, but those who strive to and come closer are more fully human than those who do not.

In other words, I believe Mother Thresa was more fully human than Hitler.  The fact that someone affiliated with the church would teach otherwise should be quite disturbing to all of us.

Jesus never talked about homosexuality as an issue or a sin or anything else. He did however talk about the sanctiity of marriage. It seems to me that keeping people from marriage, regardless of their orientation, would be the sin that Jesus would highlight, not who it was who wanted to marry. We want people to be celibate outside of marriage and then we want to turn around and deny a whole segment of society that right.

I can understand how the debate raging around gay marriage and the Chick fil A controversy can stir passions on both sides.  But what is hard for me to understand is the "If Jesus didnt talk about it he must be ok with it" arguement. Jesus did not talk about homosexuality...I grant you that. But then to take the arguement to the conclusion that since He did not talk about it He then must  be for it or at least not against it is absurd. Jesus never came out against the Roman occupation of Isreal. So he must think that one country invading another is a good thing?  He never talked about beating your spouse so therefore he must be for it? He never talked about infanticide so therefore we cant possibly have a Christian response to abortion? Debra mentions Jesus talking about marriage, yes, but it was in the context of In the begining and Male and female.

Richard, it would seem to me that supporting someone who might be villified for his christian belief, is different than persecuting someone who is not a christian. 

Ryan, is our humanity dependant on our perfection?  Would you be willing to abort an imperfect baby because they are less human?  It is in our humanity that we sin as human beings.  It is in our humanity that Christ restores us to Himself. 

Debra, Jesus talked about a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife(not a man cleaving to a man).  Paul mentioned the sin of homosex, Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:9–10 .  The fact that there is no record of Jesus discussing it in detail proves nothing.   It was so obviously wrong that it did not need to be discussed.  No one is denying anyone the right to be celibate. 

Paul was not our savior, merely one more flawed human being. He went about with the thorn in his side and had anger issues and problems with women. We do not worship Paul, we worship Jesus. And Jesus, being the perfect person, would have told us about what to do with homosexuality, just as he told us about adultery if it was of any consequence. What Jesus did talk about was to love our neighbor and our enemy, not to persecute them. He did not tell us to hate anyone, but to love everyone. To take the log out of our own eye before we worry about the splinter in others.

Debra, yes Paul was a flawed human being.  But then, so are you.  If being flawed means your view should be disregarded, then I guess your view should be disregarded.  Paul was showing us how to worship Jesus, how to serve his Lord and our Lord.   Paul as an apostle chosen by Christ, presented the scriptural and Godly perspective on homosex, drunkeness, slandering, swindlers,sexually immoral, greed, etc.      Loving everyone does not mean loving everything that they do.  There are many things that Jesus did not speak about directly but that scripture still gives us guidance on, and  the apostles were able to write about that. 

I didn't say our humanity is dependent on our perfection. Like I said, no man can ever be perfect. But I do firmly believe that when we repeatedly choose the evil over the good, we harden our hearts and forsake a bit of our humanity. It is the folks like the murderers in Aurora and Oak Creek who we rightly call "monsters". The habit of evil corrodes the human heart.

Man has an animalistic nature and a Godly nature. Again, we cannot be perfect, but we can choose whether or not to completely reject any attempt at living a holy life. If we make that unfortunate choice, we become more selfish and narcissistic and less empathetic and kind-hearted.... in other words, less fully human.

Ryan, perhaps you ought to define what you mean by human.   If we have rejected God, are we then not living by our "animalistic" nature, as you term it?  If we reject God, then we depend on ourselves, create our own gods, make ourself into a god... is this not animalistic?   Does it matter then if we choose a violent or coercive pathway, or a  politically pleasing persuasive pathway while we still serve only ourself?    Does it matter then if we achieve the approval of men or not, if we have rejected God?  

How does your definition of "human" fit with the potential to be redeemed?   Is the mere act of repentance a transition from less human to more human?   Did the man on the cross next to Jesus  become more human without any other act than acknowledging his own guilt?   Or was he still inhuman or less human because of what he had done? 

Is it our own actions, or the grace of God that redeems us? 

"Ryan, perhaps you ought to define what you mean by human."  

One of the biggest differences between humans and animals is that we know good and evil and can strive towards good.  The more we do this, the more human we are.

 

"If we have rejected God, are we then not living by our "animalistic" nature, as you term it?"

Well there are morally confused Christians and moral atheists, but certainly on the whole, I think the person who knows there is a God who loves us and cares about how we behave in this world is more likely to strive towards the good.

 

"Does it matter then if we choose a violent or coercive pathway, or a  politically pleasing persuasive pathway while we still serve only ourself?"

Yes, it does.  For example, I'm pretty sure that there's about 6 million Jews (not to mention their families) who wish that Hitler would have chosen a non-violent politically pleasing pathway rather than the violent one he in fact chose.

 

"Does it matter then if we achieve the approval of men or not, if we have rejected God?"

It is not about achieving the approval of men.  It is about loving our neighbor as ourselves, striving to follow God's commands to the best of our abilities, and all the other things a good and obedient Christian is called to do.

 

"How does your definition of "human" fit with the potential to be redeemed?   Is the mere act of repentance a transition from less human to more human?"

Certainly.  There are few things on the earth more likely to drive men towards living in a way God wants us to live than genuine repentence.

 

"Did the man on the cross next to Jesus  become more human without any other act than acknowledging his own guilt?"

Yes, I think so.  But I'd be a little wary about concluding too  much from that.  Complete changes of heart moments before death are possible, but rare.  Usually there is a lot of life to be lived between repentance and the end of our lives.  And in that window of time, if we don't live out our faith in deed, one has to question the sincerity of the original conversion.

"Or was he still inhuman or less human because of what he had done?"

Through his evil act of murder, he certainly created havoc and misery on this earth.  In scripture, it seems that God has forgiven him for this evil he has done.  That's great, but again, the question is what we ought to conclude based on this.  If we conclude that God thinks murder is okay so long as you say some magic words before you die, I think that's a very tough conclusion to reconcile with the whole of scripture.  Remember, we are talking about a God who wants men to live together in harmony.  A God who flooded the world solely because all but a few people treated each other miserably.  Disobediance to God stains our souls and is not something we should take lightly. 

"Is it our own actions, or the grace of God that redeems us?"

The grace of God can redeem any of us at any time, obviously.  He is God and we are not.  But I believe (and the Bible argues strongly in favor of this notion) that if we use this fact as an excuse or a crutch to excuse evil or (worse still) to argue that God doesn't care about evil and that it doesn't have any ultimate impact, we are on very shaky ground indeed.

Ryan, I agree with most of your answers, especially in terms of our responsibiilty and response to God.   Only I have difficulty with your definition of human.  You said, "One of the biggest differences between humans and animals is that we know good and evil and can strive towards good.  The more we do this, the more human we are."  

I agree that humans can know good and evil and take responsibility for it, while animals are driven merely by instinct.   But I do not agree that humans can be more human or less human.   You see, the problem with saying that men could be less human, such as Hitler for example, is that if he is nothing more than an animal, how could he be held eternally responsible for his actions as a human being?   How can an animal know good and evil?   How could an animal repent from his actions?   Why would we expect anything else from an animal or a less-than-human? 

You see, he is fully human, although he had perverted his humanity and his relationship with God.  He is fully accountable to God as a human.  It is in our full humanity that we are sinners;  we cannot use the excuse of our instincts or our supposed animal instincts to excuse our disobedience.   Jesus became fully human, and in his humanity did not sin, and because of that, was able to be a substitute for us as humans.   Jesus did not become partially animal in order to redeem our animal nature.   It is disobedience and obedience that is at stake, not a reversion or change to some animal nature.  Although we might sometimes use the terms "monster" or "animal" to describe a particularly heinous situation, we should realize it is ultimately a figure of speech. 

John . " 

Thanks for the incredibly thoughtful reply. I'll have to mull that over a bit.... but my initial reaction is that what you say makes sense

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