Rev. Evan Dolive: The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate
It has been all over the news; talking heads from both sides of the aisle have taken to airwaves to voice their opinion. Arguments have started between friends, feelings have been hurt, names have been called. Hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook posts and Tweets have flown through the internet regarding a particular chicken sandwich company – Chick-Fil-A.
Recently, as you may recall, the owner of the national restaurant chain stated on an Atlanta radio show that his company was “guilty as charged” amid reports that he did not support same-sex marriage. He further explained that he is running his company on Biblical principles and that society has no business trying to refine “traditional” marriage.
Reports have come out that support this; Chick-Fil-A has given millions to organizations who actively oppose same-sex marriages. With all of these things combined, a firestorm broke out. Some people are now boycotting the restaurant because they do not want their money to go to causes that discriminate against a certain group of people. Others however are actually eating there more believing that the more they eat there, the larger the profit, which then in turn will cause Chic-Fil-A to give more money to anti same-sex marriage organizations.
Jim Henson has pulled their toys from kid’s meals at the restaurant. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have spoken publicly about this issue. Former Governor Mike Huckabee has even started a “National Chick-Fil-A Day” to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to run their company how they want. All of this is a gigantic mess.
The problem with the Chick-Fil-A debate is that it is just that, a debate. People once again are choosing sides and are drawing metaphoric lines in the sand and people are hurling their “points of view” back and forth and back and forth. No one is actually speaking to one another. The anonymity of the internet and social media is one of the greatest tools that people have in this or any debate. Someone can post something online with no regard to another person. It is much easier to speak your mind when there is a monitor between you and the one you are speaking about. Since no one is speaking to one another, how then will a decent, intelligent conversation ever be had regarding the multitude of issues in this particular story? The answer – it will not happen.
The hot button issue obviously here is same sex marriage. This is something that people have been debating for years and still each side is getting angrier and angrier. Where are the civic leaders calling for a forum? Where are the church leaders calling for a discussion on this topic? The answer lies deep within our own hearts, minds and souls. The answer is most people do not want to hear the other side. This side believes they are correct while this side believes they are correct.
Some churches recently have taken up the task of have faithful discussion about homosexuality and same sex marriage. I applaud them for at least having the discussion. Many more churches and Christians need to have this same discussion. Too often when people tell me their view about this issue the answer generally is “well I am against it because it is wrong.” No explanation, no interjection of scripture, no nothing. It is just “their personal belief.” Well it is time to have the conversation. I call on all Christians from all walks of life and backgrounds to have faithful conversations about this issue that is dividing the church.
By faithful I mean being open minded, wanting to be challenged, wanting to learn more, wanting to grow. Not just espousing what you have been taught or what you think the Bible is directing Christians to do and become. Christians today need to stop telling people what the Bible “says” and focus more on what Bible is calling the followers of Christ to become; let’s stop, as Brian McLaren says, going to the Bible to support what we already know about God.
The reason why people are not doing this is because to have this conversation means that one has to be vulnerable and accept the fact that what you might have been taught or always believed could be incorrect. Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts Comics, once drew a comic that speaks to this notion. Snoopy informs Charlie Brown that he is writing a book of theology; Charlie Brown asks Snoopy what the book will be titled and Snoopy replies, “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?” For many people this thought of being “wrong” has never crossed their mind.
In this Chick-Fil-A debate the key here is discussion. Not rhetoric, not partisan politics, not conservative Christians against liberal Christians. It is time the church stop placing people on the periphery, speaking about them like they are outcast in society or that they have a mental illness. Let’s talk about it. Let’s actually have a discussion on why homosexuality is or is not a big deal in the church today. Let’s talk about a loving God creating people and then turning around and hating them. Let’s throw away the things that we were taught as children and come to an understanding of the love of God in a new and exciting way.
So let’s put down the chicken sandwich, stop the protesting and debating and come together. You might be surprised what will happen.
Rev. Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He currently serves as Associate Minister at First Christian Church (DOC) in Orange. Rev. Dolive can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at evandolive com.