Mark, one of the many average citizens to comment on the Chick-fil-A controversy, described the situation as “a total humanity fail.” I think he was right. Both groups acted rashly, escalating the culture war and perpetuating perceptions of fear and hatred on both sides. Moving forward, this is what I hope the Church will understand:
On Chick-fil-A appreciation day, many Christians entered into a culture war without counting the cost. Yes, there was a legitimate reason to be upset (the potential violation of Dan Cathy’s First Amendment rights by Thomas Menino’s intent to ban the company from Boston). However, the way in which many Christians chose to respond in this situation caused a great deal of hurt and further alienated the LGBT community from the Church.
In the foreword to Love is an Orientation, Brian McLaren provides insight into the role of the Church in terms of its engagement in culture wars. He says, “Whatever your opinion on same-sex orientation, you have to admit that Jesus didn’t say, ‘They’ll know you are my disciples by your firm stance on divisive social issues’” (p. 13). In other words, McLaren is calling for the Church to refocus on the core of Christianity – love – and act accordingly. The Church’s goal should not be to make the culture more Christian; the goal should be to love others well as Christ’s ambassadors.
So, to quote McLaren again, instead of shouting past each other, let’s do our best to “encounter people as human beings, not as a battle, [and] not as a culture war” (video). Having honest, meaningful, and productive conversations is a good way to start. Let’s move from the battlefield to the coffee shop.