Chick-fil-a_picFor some reason I crave Chick-fil-a chicken on Sundays more than any other day of the week.  Probably because they are closed on Sundays.

Although I can respect Chick-fil-a’s desire to incorporate their religious values into their business practices, I’m not sure what fried chicken, closing our doors on Sundays, or opposing gay marriage has to do with inviting others into the love of God.

Homosexuality colliding with Christian culture in this most recent public spectacle provides an incredible opportunity for us to experience and explore the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

Because tolerance puts you on the waiting list for God’s love while acceptance welcomes you right in.

Tolerance has a way of drawing a line in the sand to let everyone know who is in and who is out- a process that secures a belonging status for those on the right side of the line and further alienates those on the wrong side.

I see a lot of really uncomfortable Christians right now who are severely distracted from turning the interrogation lamp inward and are patrolling the border of God’s love in effort to keep the unlovable out.

There seems to be a lot of confusion between what it means to unconditionally love and accept others in the name of God and Jesus and what it means to draw boundaries of preservation and protection by and for institutions of Christian community that claim God’s name but not His nature.

If the Good News amounts to marginalizing the already marginalized in our world, then I’m afraid there may be no Good News at all.

I could be way off base here.  I’ve been wrong before and I can admit that I have a tendency to get upset when I feel others are shorted or discounted in the name of a loving God.

But I would rather crash and burn in a blaze of glory as I imperfectly try to unconditionally love and accept others rather than to be grounded in a self-righteous stand for better behavior that spits in the face of everything I know and have experienced about the preposterous love of God.

Because I don’t buy into a Jesus that wants to cast the first stone.

And I don’t buy into a Jesus who is unwilling to associate with the outcast and marginalized of our day.
And I don’t buy into a Jesus that gives a crap if I work on Sunday more than whether or not I can love my neighbor and love myself.

I’m not really sure what those in the pro-Chick-fil-a, anti-gay marriage camp are taking a stand for, but it seems like a version of the Gospel that better serves a self-righteous approach to earning the love of God instead of simply receiving it.

Is it possible that the gift of Jesus shows us that God’s love is greater than His anger, wrath, and ego?  And if so, do we really want to take a stand for the righteousness and holiness of this God instead of His love?

Oh the irony of taking a stand for morality, holiness, and righteousness on behalf of a God that through Jesus has chosen to no longer take that stand for Himself!

To take a stand for the unapproachable righteousness and unattainable holiness of God seems to miss (if not make a complete mockery) of the Good News of Jesus and the Cross.

If we compete for God’s love on grounds of morality and righteousness, we will quickly find ourselves disqualified and on the sidelines.  But if we can choose to live a life of grace, taking a stand for God’s radical love, we just might find ourselves whole and connected to He who informs us of whom and Whose we are.

I don’t think God needs us (nor is He calling us) to be the preservers and protectors of morality and righteousness.  I believe He is calling us to radically love each other and ourselves just as He has loved and loves us.  This love is impossibly impractical and unpopular, especially amongst the religious status quo.

It is a love that doesn’t need, expect, or require anything in return.

And I’m discovering that I don’t really know how to offer this kind of love to others or myself.  I don’t even know how to offer it to the people in my life that mean the most to me.

So to the gays in this world, I say that I accept you.  I honestly don’t know if you were born this way or if you choose it.  It is for you that I take a stand for the love of God- a love that pursues us right were we are, just as we are.  I trust that the log of self-righteousness in my own eye needs urgent attention before I can address or assess whether or not there is a spec in yours.

And to my fellow Christian I ask for you to consider that by taking a stand for the righteousness of God instead of His love expressed in Jesus, you are merely showing a watching world that you know not how to love, nor how to be loved by God. You are weak and you are scared and you don’t know who you are.

You’re an impostor and a tourist on this landscape of faith- just like me.

This isn’t about gays.

Or delicious Chick-fil-a fried chicken.

It’s about distracting ourselves from what really matters by taking a self-righteous posture against the marginalized in our world and calling it an act of faith.  And it’s about securing our in-status by reenforcing the out-status of others.

God does not need us to help Him reach others in His mission to love the world because we are the mission.  We are the world He wants to let Him love.  And when we point our finger in the direction of those we find unacceptable and unlovable, we will only come to find ourselves unacceptable and unlovable as well.

May those of us that have experienced the unsettling, ambushing Love of God turn our accusing, ignorant fingers inward to allow a love-stoned God wreck us and our crazy theologies in front of a watching world.

Preservation and protection are but tools of the trade used to perpetuate things dead, dying, or in danger of being forgotten.  If Christianity is a fragile, deteriorating tradition that needs to be protected and preserved, then I would say we need to rally together and get very serious about legislating morality and policing the behavior and beliefs of others.

But what if our faith is based not on a dead man but a resurrected God whose Spirit is very much alive and working on this earth?  If sin, death, and hell have really been defeated, then what exactly are we preserving or protecting?

Maybe God does not need us to speak up for Him or on His behalf.  Perhaps His love speaks loudly to and through us as we surrender to His love in our own lives.

As for me, I will continue to eat Chick-fil-a chicken.  And not because I support the Chick-fil-a agenda, free speech, free markets, or delicious Chick-fil-a fried chicken in my belly.

I’ll continue because I don’t want to distract myself with self-righteous endeavors such as Chick-fil-a appreciation days (or boycotts for that matter) that allow me to avoid taking a long, hard look in the mirror to remind myself that I am what’s wrong with the world.

Perhaps talking about God, marginalizing the marginalized, and closing our doors on Sunday is getting in the way of what the Good News is really about.  I hate to burst the bubble of pious religiosity but I think there is room for gays in the Kingdom of God.

And luckily for the arrogant, self-centered, know-it-all Christians- there is room for us, too.


Update 01/28/2013 : Check out this inspiring article about the friendship between Chick-fil-a CEO Dan Cathy and LGBT activist Shane L. Windmeyer.

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