Tag Archives: chick fil a

Chick-fil-A and marriage equality-a civic, not religious, issue

So just yesterday, Chick-fil-A made a statement that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” This, just a month after their chain was the center of one of the biggest culture wars recently, when the owner revealed that his restaurant supported ‘the biblical definition of the family unit,’ and regularly donated to organizations like Focus on the Family, which does not support marriage equality.

In the week following that announcement, all hell broke loose on Facebook. I saw posts from some of my Christian friends expressing anger at the owner of Chick-fil-A for making such a broad statement about Christianity. These friends cited that Christianity should be based on love, and not hatred and bigotry, and how can this one man define their belief system for them? Then I read other posts by Christians who stated that the government shouldn’t enforce its views on their moral beliefs, and that the definition of bigotry is relative, and that this guy was just practicing freedom of speech. I appreciate these different views, and I think that anyone who knows me would know that I agree with the former view of Christianity, but to that end, I find debates about what the Bible says to be fruitless. Everyone has their own definitions of Christianity, and there are some who look at the Bible as a book that emphasizes love and compassion, and others who take it in a more fundamentalist way. And that’s that – we can’t enforce our religious interpretations on other people, and I wouldn’t want to try.

So what I would like to do in this post is make the argument that the issue at hand is not entirely a religious one, it is a civic one. I want to address the supposed conflict with gay rights and Christianity, and I’m going to do so by digging up any knowledge I have left of Christianity from the eight years of Catholic school I attended. 😉 I also want to make it clear that I am framing this argument within a Christian framework, even though I personally do not consider homosexuality a sin. So please, bear with me. 🙂

I recently read on someone’s wall that the bible considers both theft and homosexuality to be sins, and why should he support something that is punishable by law because it is a sin? So I thought it was important to make a distinction here. While both theft and homosexuality are defined as a sin by the Bible, the issue at hand is not entirely a religious one. It is also a civic matter, and history has shown that some things that are explicitly applauded by the Bible and based in Biblical principles (for example, the practice of slavery), are not always the best principles for civic life.

If a man steals from you, he has committed a sin, and trespassed upon one of your civic freedoms (the right to own property). When that man is arrested and taken to prison, this does not happen because we live in a Christian country, but because we live in a country where the right to own property is upheld as a basic human freedom (which is not always the case in every part of the world).

Basically, there is a difference, legally and civilly speaking, between a sin and a crime. We as a nation punish and/or prohibit crime, but we do not always punish and/or prohibit ‘sin,’ as defined by many Christians.

I mean seriously, thank God (literally-oh dat’s cold!) for that, because if we treat sin and crime as the same thing, then wouldn’t we all be placed in jail, because … didn’t God say that everyone has sinned?

Let’s say that a Christian believes that the forgiveness of Christ is the only remedy for sin. And let’s say that a Christian thinks that homosexuality is a sin (again, not representin’ here, just trying to make an argument within this framework). Well if Christians believe that evil or lustful thoughts, or jealousy, or stubbornness can all be considered sins, can the ‘sin’ of homosexuality honestly be one that can be cured by the government? It is not like murder or theft, which deprive others of their rights to life and property.

I think that it is dangerous to deny anyone their civil rights based on a sin that, according to some religious fundamentalists, is largely of the mind.

I think that our Christian culture has become so enamored with the idea that a “Christian” law can somehow remove a sin from our country that it has lost all perspective. It seems to me that Christians have come to believe that they can somehow control sin through culture, if simply pressed down hard enough. And then, people won’t actually need the redemption of God to save them. If the laws of our land perfectly match the Bible, then we need only be “good Americans” rather than actual followers of Christ. Then the flag can replace our Bibles and the pledge of allegiance can replace the Lord’s Prayer, because they’ll be one and the same, right?

And, if you really believe in the power of God’s forgiveness, then doesn’t that reveal an insecurity with your faith if you have to rely on the government to eliminate what is considered internal sin? Isn’t that God’s role? Doesn’t She (oh no I didn’t!) do that for you individually?

Does it really line up with Christianity to force others to die to themselves so Christians can feel more comfortable and more righteous?

Ultimately, whether you consider homosexuality a sin or not, in my opinion our laws do not support the merging of religious and civic life, and legislating morality. You may believe that being gay and stealing is the same sin in the bible, but in civic life, it doesn’t really work that way. Stealing deprives others of their property and even their life, being gay does not. I have no problem with people having private religious beliefs that are kept in their homes and churches, but see a larger problem when these personal religious beliefs affect civic life-like denying a certain group their rights to life, liberty and happiness.

I’ll end with this. Courage of convictions is laudable, awesome, and necessary, but can and is historically capable of being applied incorrectly, in spite of the beliefs and faith of those holding those convictions at the time. People need to be cautious of confusing sin with crime and vice versa, and of mixing civil and religious motives.  As the recent statement released by Chick-fil-A reveals, having faith doesn’t mean never changing your mind. 

Thoughts?

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Let’s get started! Why I started this blog …

So I actually started this blog a year ago, and after writing a couple of posts on American Idol (which were basically copied and pasted from a listserve email I was on) I gave up. I was, to keep it real, completely intimidated by the narrow focus of many of the brilliant blogs that I loved. With my varied interests and passions (fashion and sustainability, the intersection of culture and labor, gender/queer issues, identity politics, the corporatization of society) and the unfortunate circumstance of being a Libra AND the oldest child (indecisive, but also a perfectionist!), I basically decided to ‘gather my things and bid my farewell,’ as my BFF tells me whenever we’ve determined that a new job, boyfriend, or that retro-80s hot orange and pink dress I’ve tried on is probably not going to work out.

Two factors encouraged me to pick up my blogging again:

  1. First, my current research on sustainability, specifically focusing on the fashion industry, has invigorated me and made me want to share my research without the inaccessible jargon that has unfortunately become a fixture in cultural studies.
  2. And the second reason why I decided to start a critical culture blog? Chicken. No, the smell of my neighbor’s barbeque didn’t distract me. I am being totally serious.

OK, so here’s the thing. As someone who has taught critical media studies for the past few years, I was pretty aware of how seriously divided our country has become over politics and culture. The media only allows for the voices of a few partisan elites to control our dialogue, and I seriously think this has damaged the ability of many of us to nuance discussions about complex issues. But the Chick Fill A protests in August over the owner’s stance on marriage equality (please don’t call it ‘gay marriage,’ but I’ll get to that in another post), reiterated the fractured nature of our society. I mean here I was on Facebook, a social media network that has been touted for its supposedly democratic, inclusive, and even revolutionary potential, watching people defriend each other over different Biblical interpretations that determined whether or not they were going to eat poultry that day. I have to admit that I was one of those peeps engaged heatedly in debates with other people, and I was disappointed to see some of my Facebook friends supporting this franchise that I had admittedly frequented quite often.

And then I realized, that while I accused others of judging gay people, I was also judging by demanding a certain interpretation of the Bible. That’s not fair, and more importantly, it was beside the point! The protests over Chick-fil-A, and the larger issue of marriage equality, is not a religious one, it’s a civic one. And no one was really talking about that! Politicians weren’t, and the media was far more interested in getting pictures of a few gay men kissing in front of the store than having any kind of intelligent dialogue. And I found myself thinking, if we can’t even trust the media, an institution that was established to inform and engage its citizens, then where does that leave us as a country? How are we supposed to move forward?

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Filed under Why I created this blog