The Church and the Gay Community: My Two Cents

In case you didn’t know, Chick-fil-a has been involved in a controversy. Something about Dan Cathy being vocally opposed to gay marriage and Chick-fil-a donating money to Christian family organizations that happen to be against gay marriage. I work for Chick-fil-a, and all of this makes me tired.  I was partly happy about all the support for Chick-fil-a on Wednesday because they pay me.

To be honest, I think boycotts are silly. I know Christians who won’t eat at Ben and Jerry’s and now other people who will not eat at Chick-fil-a. I think this is silly because boycotters on both sides don’t think about the fact that Ben and Jerry’s employs conservative Christians and Chick-fil-a employs gays and liberals. Anytime I buy anything anywhere, my money is going to the employees, and I am sure they don’t all spend it in ways that I think are acceptable. People will profit off the poor by buying cheap foreign-made products but then abstain from a cup of ice cream or a sandwich because so-and-so donated money to this-or-that political organization. It’s all kind of silly. With that being said, I will continue to buy Ben and Jerry’s and Chick-fil-a and be thankful that I live in a country where the people (or most of them) fiercely care about protecting free speech.

With all of that being said, that isn’t the heart of what I want to write about. I really want to write about the issue of homosexuality. My fear is that most Christians went to Chick-fil-a on Wednesday, Aug 1 to simply show their stance on homosexuality. I completely support you if you went to Chick-fil-a to support freedom of speech (in light of mayors attempting to ban Chick-fil-a from their cities) and the employees. But I think Christians showing up in droves to Chick-fil-a simply to show their stances on homosexuality is a little too “us versus them”, and I don’t think that is the type of attitude Christians should foster.

Christians are relatively silent on the issue until something political happens. We had a marriage amendment passed here in NC not too long ago, and I wanted to write something like this, but I never got around to it. I simply didn’t vote. I wasn’t against the marriage amendment, but I didn’t have enough concern to go out and vote for it. Maybe I’m a bad Christian. But here is what I didn’t (and still don’t) like about all of this: the politics always seems to precede the love. The only interaction the majority of Christians have with the gay community is political followed by a “I have gay friends” or an exhortation to interact with and love the gay community. As much as I love my church and the pastor of my church, my church encouraged us to go out and vote for the amendment. It was after the amendment passed that my pastor put out a blog about loving our neighbors (gay or straight).

I’m not trying to be a grump. I loved and agreed with my pastor’s blog posts on this issue!

And before I get into this paragraph, you need to know that I know that we shouldn’t simply allow emotion to make all of our decisions, but I do think our hearts need to be engaged when people are involved. Let’s say you have a boy who is a young teenager, and he then realizes he is attracted to men. He spends years terrified and lonely trying to keep this huge secret wondering who he can talk to. He struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts because he feels there is no way out. His family and church are silent about it except for that time they voted against gay marriage. Finally, one day, after spending months gathering courage, he comes out to his family. All of his relationships are strained, and even though his family doesn’t ostracize him, there is a lot of added stress and pain because they don’t like his decision. He finds the friendships and support within the gay community that he’s been looking for all along, and he finally feels like he belongs somewhere. And how does the church respond? They vote in a way that bars him from marriage. Years of struggle, followed by gradual ostracism from the church, followed by loving acceptance by the gay community, followed by the church voting against the very community in which he has found love and acceptance. Then the church wonders why the gay community doesn’t feel the love.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe men having sex with men is morally right; so, obviously, I will not go out and march for gay marriage. I’m not sharing a sad story to get you to change your mind on the morality of the issue. What does concern me, however, is if your only interaction with the gay community is political. Christians feel they are doing their Christian duty by voting against gay marriage and then feel like they are sharing in the sufferings of Christ and being persecuted when they are accused of hate. While I do think the word “hate” is thrown around way to much (so I’m not going to accuse anyone of hatred), I do not think Christians are exactly “loving” toward the gay community. “Extreme neglect” or “nearly absolute carelessness” would probably be a better word or phrase than “hate”. Very little time is invested in relationships with the gay community, and there is very little concern for the stories and lives of gay people from Christians.

That’s my two cents.