Well, support-Chick-fil-A-day has come and gone. It is being reported as a huge success. I view it as a huge missed opportunity.
We talk so much about sacrificial love in the church, but when the biggest moments come to do it — the ones that would make the biggest impact and go the furthest towards healing the wounds between the Christian and LGBT communities — we lose the love talk and lapse into political cliches about free speech. This reminds me so much of what I wrote in my last post about how men and women are constantly missing opportunities to love each other, and then complaining that their spouse does not really love them. The whole post is here, but the point is that both say they want to be loved, but actually only want to be loved when it’s convenient for them. When the man is up late at night on the computer and she asks, “Are you coming to bed?” it’s very easy for him say, “Nah — I’m doing this thing right now.” She invited him to bed, and he missed the invitation — the opportunity to love her and be loved by her. She does the same thing, ignoring him in favor of cleaning or laundry or whatever else she has going on.
At Chick-fil-A this week, millions of Christians had a chance to love the LGBT community in a way that mattered hugely to them, and instead many of us said, “No thanks — I’m doing this other thing right now.” It’s a shame. The biggest shame is how many keep saying, “It’s not about love, it’s about free speech.” That’s true, it definitely wasn’t about love. It was about a huge missed opportunity to love, and to surprise a very oppressed and hurting and alienated group of people with unusual grace and compassion. Instead, as the church collective, we drove our stakes further into the ground, and our lines deeper into the sand.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father has all kinds of legitimate complaints. He could have said, “Son, I love you, but this is about your status on this farm. You can’t just waltz in here thinking it’s going to be the way it was.” He could have said, “I love you son, but what will your brother think?” He could have said, “This isn’t a love issue, son, this is about you stepping all over my rights as your father.” He didn’t. In Jesus we see a God who lays down all his “rights” to the Godhead. According to Christian theology, that’s the only reason he’ll have anything to do with the likes of us.
To the man on his computer or the woman folding clothes, those tasks seem important, even urgent, and must be attended to. There may even be some legitimacy in those feelings. What is unmistakable and inarguable, is that both failed to respond to an opportunity to love. Whatever merit there may be in the “free speech’ arguments, and in all the invective I have heard from Christians toward the LGBT (and liberal) communities the last few days, it simply cannot be denied that in this hour we had an opportunity to love, but we chose to do something else. Every response to this line of reasoning that I have heard comes off as little more than a shallow “Yes, but…” and finger-pointing of the worst kind. I am not angry, though I was a day or two ago. Now I am just sad, once more, that the Christian community as a whole, is still content to be one that finds excuses, even reasons, NOT to love. The world has a right to expect more from us. After all, we’re the ones claiming to serve, and to know, the God who IS love. No wonder the love of God has not yet changed the world. It has barely begun to make its way into the church.