Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Love Versus the Law (Advisory: Some Chick-Fil-A content)

So, in the spirit of the last post, I purposefully waited a while to post anything about Chicken-Gate so I could have a clear head about what I wanted to say to all three of you.

I'm still not totally sure about this, but here goes.

I have one honest question for those who would participate in and be vocal about supporting Chick-Fil-A as an expression of their Christian faith:

How does this particular action serve to bring those you've labelled as sinners (somehow worse than the rest of us, mind you) into loving relationship with Christ? 

As Christians, our singular purpose should be to love God, love others, and bring the two together into relationship.  How do actions like these serve those purposes, when the end result is division within the church and hardened hearts outside it?  If you honestly believe that being a homosexual is this great affront to the Almighty that will result in a person's eternal damnation, then shouldn't you be bending over backwards to show them the Love, Grace and Acceptance that Christ embodied in his life and teachings? 

Christians should support Christian companies.

That's fine, whatever, but when you make it a litmus test of sorts, and bill it as an expression of faith, I'm forced to ask, are we still to do so at the expense of pushing people away from the love of Christ?  Is throwing your support behind (and being vocal about said support) a company that aligns with your particular political values more important than seeing more people potentially move into a fuller life and relationship with God?

It's about free speech. I should be able to voice my Christian views without fear of reprisal.

So making a political point is more important than being a conduit for God's grace?  Is your political philosophy more important than someone else's life?

It's wrong, and I'm standing up for what's right.

More or less wrong than how you and I fail to hit the mark every single day?  When we start picking and choosing which "sins" are acceptable to continue in while we work out our salvation and which ones aren't, we're putting ourselves in the seat of the righteous judge where Christ should rightfully be. We exalt legalism above love and justify our idolatry by appealing to notions of what is and isn't "Biblical." 

We're choosing the Law over Love.  We're denying the power of Christ's radically inclusive love to draw men and women into relationship with the Creator, and denying the power of the Holy Spirit to continue her Her work in pursuit, redemption, and transformation.

We're settling for a lower standard.

Christ said that the world would know we were his disciples by our love.  So the simple question remains, do actions like these serve to express Christ's love to the world, or are they intended for something different, something less ideal? 

The irony in all of this is that it just doesn't matter what we individually believe to be a "Biblical" view of sexuality or marriage or holiness or whatever it is we're fighting about this week.  The Bible is a love story, not a rule book, so no matter what the question is, the answer is always the same:



  1. Good post. Kate and I were discussing this quite a bit this weekend. The question that keeps coming up is what do you say when someone asks what you think about homosexuality or asked what do you think God thinks about it? I know you will bend over backward to show love, so I'm curious, how do you handle that?

    1. Sorry Skip, I tried to reply last night, but none of my stoopid Apple products would let me for some odd reason.

      Bottom line, for me, is that what I think doesn't matter, and what God thinks, I couldn't possibly know. I can tell you what men thought God thought in the Bronze Age, but that's not really helpful in this situation. :)

      But seriously, if someone was pressing me as to what I think, I'd probably try to lovingly steer the conversation toward why they cared so much about what I thought. Gun to my head, I've poured over the scriptures (probably more on this topic than any other single issue, thanks to the extremely homophobic pastor from my youth that seemed to be able to work a ding at the homaseckshuals into any sermon)and the conclusions I've come to are:

      1. There is not a consistent, historical, "Biblical" view of marriage. The definition of marriage changed over time.
      2. There was absolutely no conceptual framework for describing a committed, monogamous homosexual relationship in Bronze Age culture (and certainly no accounting for concepts like sexual identity/orientation.
      3. The common "clobber passages" used to excoriate a homosexual lifestyle break down under even the most cursory contextual exegesis.

      Long story short, I don't think there's inherently wrong or sinful about "being" a homosexual. Subsequently, I'm inclined to think there's nothing inherently wrong with LGBTQ living in committed, monogamous relationships with one another.

      I realize that puts me well outside the mainstream of Evangelical Christianity, but let's be honest, it's not a place I'm unfamiliar with. :)

    2. The Bible continually and consistently exhorts adherents to live righteous lives and avoid sin (you cannot ever be sin free - we all fall short of the Glory of God). All sin is rebellion against God. Some sins are more egregious than others (denial of God, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit etc) and some sin reserves special condemnation. All sins are covered by the blood of Christ to cleanse us but we should work at stopping our sinful behaviors. Living in a homosexual relationship is not showing a desire to live a holy, sanctified life. Paul in ICor 6:9 lists many sins shown to be 'wicked' and that those who remain in them will not inherit the kingdom of GOD. Homosexual offenders fall in this group BUT Paul says many of the Corinthians were (past tense) guilty of these sins but were washed (cleaned spiritually) and sanctified and thus cleansed from these sins. The implication is very clear that those who continually remained in their sins (listed by Paul) reject what God offers and that is the sad part of someone being in a committed homosexual or lesbian relationship- they turn their backs on what God commands and wants for his children and they reject the saving Grace offered them by rejecting Gods standard. This is true of those who have affairs, steal, etc etc not just homosexuals or lesbians. Too often it is easy to point out obvious sins (gays living together as an example) and ignore lust, affairs, theft of business supplies from your job etc. These are all sins and are all indicators of a life that is turned away from God and towards self. That is the ultimate issue with ALL of this issue, that man wants God to stay in His corner and only come out when man wants or needs him. God does not accept that philosophy and rejects sin.

    3. We could debate the problems with translating "arsenokoitais" in I Corinthians and I Timothy and how that presents problems for blanket condemnations of homosexuality, but that ground has been covered elsewhere, and I don't think this comment box is the place to have that discussion.

      What is interesting to me is that faced with an argument that essential says "even if you are right, your actions aren't expressing the Love of God," you still choose to focus on proving that you're right, instead of focusing on how the actions that result from this kind of moral/theological certitude can be construed as particularly unloving.

  2. Nothing like hitting the nail squarely on the head, here, Luke. I appreciate your articulate prose so very much and your response to this unfortunate action is one of the very best I've read anywhere. I followed you here from that group over there I've been invited into this week and I'm so glad to find you. Man alive, this is great stuff, even if I don't completely know whether I am in agreement with your exegesis, I welcome your call to the primacy of love over that incessant need to be 'right.' Ugh. I have fallen into that kind of thinking way too many years of my life, something I repent of every day. So thanks for this. (Because I created my blog with a very old email address and can't seem to get blogger to accept a change, I cannot receive any further comments in this thread. My email address is dtrautwein at gmail dot com. if you wish to respond in any way. NO pressure to do so...)


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