Are we an interest group or a kingdom of disciples and evangelists?

I get that we live in a morally complex world, but I want us to do better. The Chick-Fil-A drama has been a series of disappointments for me on all sides. I’m disappointed at progressives for uncritically circulating misinformation about what Chick-Fil-A’s Don and Dan Cathy actually said and who their foundation actually supports (only several thousand of the alleged $3 million in donations can truly be said to go to “anti-gay” activist groups). I’m disappointed at the mayors of Boston and Chicago for inappropriately responding to something that shouldn’t have merited their attention in a clumsy gesture to a segment of their donor base that turned this into a “free speech” issue for culture warriors to rally around. I’m disappointed at my fellow evangelical Christians for letting themselves get baited into reinforcing the stereotype that all Christians care about is policing the sexuality of other people. I’ve already spoken to several other aspects of this issue. Here’s the question I want to ask my fellow Christians: are we an interest group or a kingdom of disciples and evangelists?

As my brother Jonathan Martin at Renovatus Church said way more eloquently than I could, Jesus doesn’t need us to stand up for Him. He didn’t stand up for Himself. He let Himself get crucified, so that He could stand up for sinners like you and me who don’t deserve to be stood up for. Being a disciple of the Crucified One doesn’t mean becoming a sports-fan of the Jesus team, buying up all the right paraphernalia, and jeering the fans of the other sports teams. When we think that the way to be a Christian is to get a bumper sticker or buy a chicken sandwich on a certain day, we are contributing to the redefinition of Christianity as a cultural tribe rather than a kingdom of disciples and evangelists.

One of the rawest blog sites out there is called “Stuff Christian Culture Likes.” Formed as a parody of Jon Acuff’s “Stuff Christians Like,” it goes through a humorous but often uncomfortably true list of all the fads of contemporary evangelical Christian culture with its soul patches, “frosted tip” blonde highlight hair, pipes (but not cigarettes), “relevant” skinny man-pastor jeans, etc. When “Christian” turns into just another sub-genre of pop culture, then it’s no different than all the other manufactured “identities” that capitalism sells us like jock, prep, skater, or goth.

Christian discipleship doesn’t have anything to do with whether you eat chicken sandwiches or not. When you make Christianity about eating chicken sandwiches and doing other superficial things to demonstrate tribal loyalty, you’re making it not about discipleship. Discipleship is about following a savior who ate and drank with sinners, stood up for them to the religious authorities, and got crucified as a result. The purpose of the spiritual disciplines we undergo as part of our discipleship like prayer, fasting, Bible study, etc, is to forge us into people who deny themselves and exist for the sake of others just like Jesus did. It is to make us a disciplined body that doesn’t easily get baited into stupid arguments by the drama manufacturers in our worldly media.

True disciples of Jesus Christ do not whine about the so-called “persecution” that occurs in the circus world of the culture wars. True disciples welcome persecution, if it really happens, as a means of their spiritual refinement. They “rejoice [whenever they are] counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41). As Peter writes, “Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:13-14).

The more you have been refined into a selfless disciple completely devoted to the advancement of God’s kingdom, the more that every concern you have about your public appearance is shaped by the goal of evangelism. Political gurus talk about the importance of “staying on message.” How spectacularly have evangelicals failed in this regard over the past thirty years in which we sacrificed the focus of our message in order to gain status as a powerful special interest lobby? The message we’re forgetting to mention is that God loves everyone and offers a means through Jesus’ cross for all of us to be made clean and enter into an authentic community that’s unlike all that fake superficial tribal crap that the world has to offer. The best way to “take a stand against sin” is not through publicity stunts that “send a message” to a world of strangers we aren’t interested in knowing or loving, but in the context of our own struggle with discipleship and the journey we share with fellow disciples.

So please stop redefining Christianity as a superficial cultural tribe that self-identifies through its particular tastes in facial hair, “relevant” fashion, political stances, and the culture war loyalty test of the week (despite what it says in the picture your friend shared with you on facebook, you really won’t burn in hell if you don’t share it with 10 other people). Instead of all the superficial tribalism, be disciples who take a stand against your own sin. Be evangelists who are acutely attentive to navigating around other peoples’ stumbling blocks and loving them into the truth. Be witnesses of the beauty you have seen in Jesus Christ. Don’t let anyone trick you into being any less.

46 thoughts on “Are we an interest group or a kingdom of disciples and evangelists?

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  6. Out of curiosity, d, are you one of those people who gets offended when people wish you “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? Personally, I’m getting a little weary of people who think they have a mandate from God to deliberately offend people who don’t believe everything they do but who squall like toddlers whenever anyone else displays anything but abject subservience to their beliefs. It is unthinkable to some of you that anyone would want to boycott Chick-Fil-A over its opposition to gay rights, but how many of you support the boycott of J.C. Penney merely because it selected as its spokesperson Ellen Degeneres, who, in addition to being a proudly out lesbian, is also merely one of the most popular and beloved daytime personalities on TV at the moment? For that matter, how many of you still refuse to take your kids to Disneyland because Disney won’t do anything about all those gays holding hands and occasionally pecking one another on the cheek?

    • So even thought the media hype and inaccurate reporting stirred up a hornets nest of HATRED for Chick-Fil-A officers and even employees, they had it coming because they weren’t careful not to offend the gay community when giving some of their own money to unapproved organizations. Well maybe its the fault of the gay community for not including in their extensive lobbying efforts a push for the formation of a Congressional Committee for Registry of Objectionable Activities. You could have Barney Frank in the Chair and maybe in time see it become the basis for a whole new court system to prosecute all action, speech and thought that gays can’t smile at. Hey, you did it in Canada.

      • One of these “unapproved organizations” (Family Research Council) used its money to push for capital punishment against gay people in Uganda. That’s a bit more than just being “offensive.” If you read all the other stuff I’ve written, I took the progressives to task also for media hype and inaccurate reporting. I realize you’re not responding to me here, but there are multiple layers to this issue. It’s not just an either/or yea or nay.

        • Morton, If The Family Research Council is the organization I’m thinking of headed up by Gary Bauer, I find it impossible to believe they want gays put to death for being gay. There has to be some kind of opportunistic condemnation here driven by disdain of all things conservative. Funding may have gone in a suspicious direction but what was the actual target of the funds. Maybe they were funding work in Uganda within the system of the current administration to encourage more moderate policies. What is FRC’s response to this accusation?

          • They had representatives at a meeting with Ugandan legislators who were drafting the death penalty legislation. When they were caught, they said something like it was a mistake to be at that meeting (or at least to get caught there). FRC is not just conservative; they’re scary. General Boykin, their VP, is one of the chief architects of the rumor that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama Administration.

      • You really can’t imagine any middle ground, can you? Nor any way to live as a Christian except under the threat of wholly imagined persecution, it seems. If you and other Christians don’t have the guaranteed right to bully gays, to shame and shun them to your heart’s content, to make them feel inferior and second class, to deny them any possibility of a legally sanctioned relationship with someone they love, and possibly even hound them to suicide, then YOU are the ones who are being persecuted, just as surely as any Christian was ever thrown to the lions. I swear, sometimes I have more respect for the Fred Phelps crowd. I’d rather deal with someone waving a “God Hates Fags” sign than someone who says “I don’t HATE gays, I just think it would be better for everyone if they all died alone and miserable rather than my having to reconsider any of the ideas that I learned in Sunday School when I was 9.” I least the Westboro crowd doesn’t whine about how “intolerant” their enemies are of their beliefs.

    • Wesley defended his movement against the Calvinists, the Moravians, and the latitudinarians of the Church of England. He was pretty nasty and ad hominem in how he argued in his pamphlet wars, and I don’t think this is a trait we ought to emulate. Still, again, it was not about making sure that a subgroup of population knew that they were unwelcome and an abomination. It was about restoring holiness to the church and pushing back against the ugly caricatures of God presented by the Calvinists.

      • We are very carefull not to offend today….maybe to the extreme and at the cost of not relating the truth in a manner all can understand.
        Rereading some of the Early Church fathers and the great apolgists of the faith will paint a very different picture. They did not mince words.

        The simple, indeed, (I will not call them unwise and unlearned,) who always constitute the majority of believers, ……….Against Praxeas

        “I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.”
        Martin Luther(1483-1546)

        “If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a while.” –John MacArthur, Found: God’s Will, p. 52.

        • Again, you’re conflating the issue. Nothing you have quoted speaks to what we’re talking about. Every week that I preach, I try to be faithful to the truth even when it’s controversial and hard for people to hear. That is appropriate to the context of discipleship, which is the context in which every New Testament epistle from which we get the majority of our theology was written. As Paul says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Cor 5:12). If you’re reading the renowned culture warrior John MacArthur, that explains to me why you think the way you do.

          Here is what Peter says about how we are to respond to the world’s persecution.

          “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:12-17

          “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
          1 Peter 3:15-17

  7. “Jesus doesn’t need us to stand up for Him. He didn’t stand up for Himself. He let Himself get crucified, so that He could stand up for sinners like you and me who don’t deserve to be stood up for.”

    The comment is in no way related to the events of Chick-Fil-A

    Christ came for the expressed purpose to give his life as a sacrifice and there was one person that did stand up for Christ..Peter. Peter who cut off a mans ear in defcccense of Christ but that was not the plan. It was not Christ’s destiny to be saved from harm.

    From the book of Acts forward the apologist emerge clearly in defense of the faith.
    Stephen stones to death before angry crowds. Paul under arrest and saved from an angry crowd. Scripture is loaded with do’s, go’s,, teach, defend the faith.
    Was this done in private or in the open air?
    The Bible instructs us to preach the gospel ,contend for the faith. Jude 3, Acts 7 and Acts 17.

    Early Apologists petitioned and argued against immoralities of paganism and the myths of its divinities. They defended publicly false accusations against the Christian Community.

    Edgar J. Goodspeed says, “It was natural that intelligent Christians should undertake to repel these attacks (against Christianity) and defend themselves against the hostility of the empire. A beginning in this direction was made in Egypt, very early in the second century, in the Preaching of Petecr. But a more formal appeal to the emperor himself was soon after written by a Greek named Quadratus and presented to the emperor Hadrian perhaps at Athens when Hadrian visited that city in 125 A.D or later in 129 A.D.”

    Today the defenders of the faith ate chicken at Chick-Fil-A

    • Sorry friend, but evangelism is completely different from culture war. Mike Huckabee is not about building the kingdom of God; he’s about building his own personal political platform. Apologetics involves making a reasonable argument to people based upon appeals to their intelligence like Paul did in Acts 17. Justin Martyr was an apologist. What Stephen preached to the Jews about Jesus being messiah has no comparison to making a public statement that a group of people should be second-class citizens because their existence is an abomination according to your religion. Nice try, but no cigar.

  8. They’re worried about the world that their kids are going to grow up in.

    Personally, I think most of them are worried that their kids will grow up in a world where straight, white Christian males don’t automatically get to run everything. It’s not a coincidence that the people who are pigging out on hate-chicken largely appear to be the same people who insist that Barack Obama is a closeted Muslim/Marxist/Kenyan and who want to see every undocumented worker in the state of Arizona herded into an internment center in the Mojave desert.

    Why not try to understand the motives of people you passionately disagree with as a starting point?

    What is left to understand at this point? “God hates fags” is pretty clear and to the point, I think.

    If you dehumanize others for dehumanizing you, that doesn’t make any progress.

    What is your alternative other than to tolerate those who would dehumanize me and my friends and even become complicit in my own dehumanization? Answer me this: if my worst fears are realized — Romney becomes president and replaces Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a reactionary, homophobic fascist in “the Scalia mold,” and then the Mississippi legislature immediately criminalizes gay sex and starts rounding up all the GLAAD members at Ole Miss — will you take a stand in support of gays? Or will you just shrug and say “well, these things happen in a democracy.”

    • Everything you’re saying is a broad-sweeping stereotype. You don’t know any of the people you’re talking about personally. You’re doing the same thing that Glenn Beck does on the opposite side of the debate. Be blessed. You get the last word. I’m going to have to disengage from this.

    • If your preference is to NOT tolerate them is it then your intention to see anyone jailed or killed for speaking, writing, or thinking in unsupportive ways regarding homosexuality? I vaguely remember seeing a news photo of an anti-gay mob and a sign reading “God hates fags” or something close to that. Certainly such people are out there. But for you it seems anyone who wouldn’t happily walk you down the isle to marry your same-sex partner is a de facto kindred spirit of such people and may as well carry that sign themselves. In the flow of media-hyped misrepresentations about Chick-Fil-A, “God hates fags” wasn’t quoted. No one there said that. So how is it you refer to that with assurance you understand all motives of everyone you hate for not supporting your lifestyle.

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  10. Chris, for the record, your statement about anti-discrimination laws is completely wrong. The Matthew Sheperd Act makes anti-gay hate crimes a federal crime, but it is 100% legal in most states for employers to fire gay employees, for apartment managers to evict gays just for being gay, and for hospitals to bar gays from seeing their loved ones in the hospital. The GOP has consistently filibustered legislation that might help prevent discrimination in those areas.

    And that doesn’t even get into the fact that some of the groups Chick-Fil-A supports advocate for the outright criminalization of homosexuality in foreign countries. (And BTW, also for the record, if President Romney appoints a replacement for either Ginsburg or Kennedy, there will likely be 5 votes for the criminalization of homosexuality in this country.) That includes the FRC’s support for homosexuality carrying the death penalty in countries like Uganda, but I’m sure the gays executed in such countries are happy to know that Chick-Fil-A only gave those groups “a few thousand.”

    I swear, after my parents are dead, I don’t expect to ever set foot in a church ever again, except MAYBE for a wedding or a funeral. I just don’t see any value to it. Nothing but hateful bigots and their hand-wringing apologists who moan “but we’re not ALL evil!”

    • Alan, I understand that you’re upset, and I know that my privileged vantage point means I can’t understand it fully. But when you say, “Nothing but hateful bigots and their hand-wringing apologists who moan ‘but we’re not ALL evil!'” you’re making a categorically damning statement that doesn’t have a chance of changing anyone’s heart on the opposite side of this issue. I wasn’t arguing that it was right for Chick-Fil-A to give even two dollars to the Family Research Council, but it still wasn’t right for Equality Matters to inflate the “anti-gay” donation figures to $3 million by throwing in a bunch of donor recipients who officially espouse conservative evangelical theology but aren’t actively campaigning against gay people. By doing that, Equality Matters lost their credibility with me.

      The tragedy about this conversation is that nobody is approaching it with any sense of responsibility about trying to open the eyes of the other side. It’s simply about trying to rally a larger crowd to outshout the other large crowd. I personally think there should be a complete separation of church and state when it comes to marriage. Everyone gay or straight should be able to apply for a civil union license with complete due process under the law. Churches should be able to decide who they can marry under their religious understanding of what marriage is. Period. I imagine you see this differently, but if we end up with a situation where churches can get sued or lose their non-profit status for deciding not to marry anyone, that would be religious persecution, no differently than if a Muslim wanted to sue for the right to pray to Mecca in the middle of a Christian worship service. A lot of where people are coming from in the conservative evangelical world is that they don’t trust the government not to come in and force churches to do things that go against their beliefs. Same thing with the contraception debate.

      I hope that you meet some Christians who change your stereotypes. You might be surprised to find that we aren’t as united a front as it might seem. Many of us have been rescued from destructive lifestyles and we’re just trying to figure out how to live faithfully in our new life with Christ. We’ve got an ancient book that we believe God inspired people to write that we’ve learned amazing things from. We don’t understand everything in it, but when we follow what it says, it seems to help us grow closer to God. There are things that are legitimately frightening about the unraveling of social fabric in the world around us, particularly for those of us who were in a very bad place before we became Christians. Holding tightly to our ancient book is a sort of firewall against going back to living the way that we were. There are certainly people within our ranks who are in fact hateful bigots, but the majority are people who have been trained on so many other issues not to go with your gut but with God’s word because there are things God tells us that we can’t understand. That’s what makes this a complicated conversation.

      • Is there actually anyone in this country who is arguing that churches should be forced to perform marriages contrary to a church’s own teachings? No one that I’ve heard of. I think that 99.9% or more of gay marriage advocates would be perfectly happy with civil partnerships for everybody that covered the legal aspects of marriage, followed by an optional church service solemnizing the event in a manner consistent with the beliefs (if any) of the partners. That INCLUDES religiously observant gays who would be able to get married in their gay-tolerant churches RIGHT NOW except for the fact that this nation openly favors the beliefs of conservative fundamentalist Christians over those of liberal progressive Christians.

        Let me be blunt. At this point, I believe that the majority of all those people who were out Wednesday eating their hate-chicken for the glory of Jesus Christ would be perfectly fine with seeing homosexual conduct criminalized and seeing openly gay men and women hauled off to jail. I believe that a substantial percentage of those people would support the death penalty for homosexuality. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the Taliban. And the Supreme Court is one vote away from holding that the Constitution agrees with their views. Now would you kindly explain to me what I can say to “open the eyes” of someone who believes such things.

        Oh, and I’m sorry, but this —

        ” I wasn’t arguing that it was right for Chick-Fil-A to give even two dollars to the Family Research Council, but it still wasn’t right for Equality Matters to inflate the “anti-gay” donation figures to $3 million by throwing in a bunch of donor recipients who officially espouse conservative evangelical theology but aren’t actively campaigning against gay people. By doing that, Equality Matters lost their credibility with me.”

        — is what I meant by “hand-wringing apologists.” If Equality Matters had accurately stated to the penny how much money Chick-Fil-A had given to hate groups, would you have said, “well, I guess EM is totally right on this and CFA is totally in the wrong”? Or would you have found some other source of false equivalence that would let you avoid taking a stand against the hatemongers who are ruining the name of your religion?

        • Alan, I don’t want to disrespect the anger that you feel. But I’m not a hand-wringing apologist. How can you possibly describe me in that way after reading a piece that I wrote to fellow evangelical Christians calling us to reflect on the message that we send when we allow ourselves to be co-opted by the culture war industrial complex? I appreciate your sharing the real and legitimate fears that you have. Based on what I know about my own community, I don’t think they want gay people in jail and definitely not killed. What’s more accurate is to say that they mistakenly assume that homosexuality and other “non-traditional” expressions of sexuality are part of why our culture is completely overrun by libido, people are sleeping around on their spouses and getting divorced, teenagers are getting pregnant, etc. I see capitalism as the cause of our out of control libido because of its ubiquitous use of sex in advertising.

          Can you agree that sex is off the chain in our culture? I don’t think we have to be prudish Victorians about it, but clearly sex is a very powerful force in nature and our entertainment/fashion/advertising industries have been stoking a raging fire that results in violence and broken families. That’s where the socially conservative suburbanite chicken-sandwich-eaters are coming from. They’re worried about the world that their kids are going to grow up in. This in no way means that I endorse the scapegoating of homosexuality as the root of the problem. That part is horrible. But I can sympathize with the fear that is underneath the scapegoating. It doesn’t result in any positive change to just yell out “HATEMONGER!” and leave it at that. Why not try to understand the motives of people you passionately disagree with as a starting point? If you dehumanize others for dehumanizing you, that doesn’t make any progress. When Jesus says to bless those who curse you, it’s not just a pious thing to do but a strategy for winning others to the truth.

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  12. To all who commented, and especially Morgan –

    I appreciate your thoughts on the issue, I appreciate all of the commentators view points on the issue at hand, I have no intention of dissuading you from your belief system.

    Thank you, also for acknowledging that you don’t understand the plight of the American homosexual; something I think is often forgotten amongst those Christians we most often see rallying against civil rights. As a gay man I am blessed with the opportunity to work in a Christian organization that does not persecute against me for my ‘lifestyle’ and it has afforded me the chance to meet Christians who aren’t the screaming anti-gay hate group the media often depicts the Christian-right as being. However you are forgetting a crucial crux to the problem at hand; People are voting against my rights as a human being in America because of my sexual orientation that is viewed as a lifestyle. Let me get one thing perfectly clear, sexuality is a complex and fluid human experience that no one can determine, but I would have never chosen a life that would lead to my rights being withheld from me because of the belief system of the minority. We aren’t morally corrupted individuals living out our daddy issues for all the world to see, and when the President of CFA says he is praying for my sin it is grossly offensive; I’m not sinning, I’m being honest. People are crying out against individuals with such grossly over stated opinions, like Cathy, because we have been screamed at for so many years. As a country we are watching the tides turn to a more accepting America and I couldn’t be happier. Of course, this issue of Christian conservative close mindedness doesn’t stop at the Homosexual issue. How can one explain the issue in Louisiana, passing a bill to provide federal funding for religious school and then the revoked support of Conservative officials who didn’t realize the money would also fund non-Christian religious schools? What a better example of narrow-minded hate?

    You don’t seem to be a person filled with hate. However, you don’t see that supporting people like Cathy appears to the gay community at large a helping hand in his hateful backhanded attempts at explaining his opinions. Any money to hate groups warrants a response from the public, and cities like Boston and Chicago should be applauded for having a strong opinion and sticking to it, much like Cathy. He cannot spew ignorance without a consequence.

    I would be very interested in some correspondence with you, to better understand your stance on the issue. If you would be willing we should work something out.

    I am an agnostic, understanding that I don’t have the same experiences and life struggles you have I would like to bridge that gap amongst our respective communities.


  13. Morgan, this is one of the very best pieces I’ve read in years. I hope very much to share this message through my actions and attitude. Thank you for the unexpected blessing on a Thursday morning!

  14. Morgan, thanks for this blog. It stung when I read it because I was really angry at the attack, of several people I know, Against the Traditional Family and what I believe that the Bible clearly teaches. Due to this anger, I got sucked into the tribalism that you mentioned. The gay community is so harsh in its description of orthodox Christianity that it is difficult to “love” them even though the scripture is very clear on this. Yes, I do believe that Jesus Christ loves everyone…however…to me that does not mean that everyone gets a pass into heaven. He loves each us enough to die for us…but He cannot and will not tolerate unrepentant sin.

    • I understand the anger. When I read about Don Cathy and his passion for the healthy marriages of his employees, it was very hurtful to me to hear the whole of his personhood being reduced to bigotry. Most of my youth group worked at Chick-Fil-A growing up. Two of the kids I grew up with own franchises now. The enemy is being very crafty in these culture wars. He wants to drown out the still, small voice of God’s mercy with an angry shouting match that will never convict anyone of any sin because it only feeds the spiritual pride and defensiveness of all parties involved. I realize that we face a complicated situation. We have to be exceedingly wise and soaked in God’s mercy.

    • The Gay community is harsh on Cathy because he is assuming we need his prayers and good wishes to be better people. For the record most gay people are reacting to injustices they suffer because of the steady wheel of progression. One day this too shall pass, and trust me when I say there will be no LGBT ‘group’ in the work place, or in Universities because the LGBT community will be a healthy and happy piece of the greater society, accepted by most and appreciated. I attack your definition of a traditional family because that implies there is a monotony between all healthy normal families. I grew up in a christian household and we are in no way traditional; We’re diverse and interesting, skilled, successful, loving individuals too unique to be corned in your idea of how the family should be. We are harsh because we have been bullied, beaten, bruised, and mistreated. The civil rights movement was not quiet, at least this war on civility is being fought with words and not tyrannical fists.

      P.S. Look into this Abraham guy. Father of 3 religions all different from, some even adamantly opposing the other. “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, this day let it be known that thou art God and that I am thy servant”. Lest we not forget the Christian belief is Judaic in origin and in the modern Jewish culture they seem to be perfectly fine with homosexuality.

  15. I realize you are directing your comments more at conservative evangelicals than at more liberal Christians who do not believe gay people sin if they love who they love, or that gay marriage is wrong. But that is who I am, and as I understand my own mind, this is not an “interest” for me,–it is akin to being on one side or another regarding slavery, apartheid, and civil rights for African Americans. I can hear the collective eye rolling of conservative Christians who say, “no, its not that bad for gay people!”

    They fail to understand that gay people’s primary relationships are not given the same recogniztion in our country as their own, with many consequences. Gay men and women have to watch as the culture debates whether to allow them to adopt children, though it may be their hearts’ desire, or receive social security or disability if their long-time partners die or are seriously injured. They watch while others debate if laws should be passed to guarantee that they cannot be fired merely for their sexuality. (There is no national law, a bill languishes in Congress, while about half of states have protection laws, and half do not.) Gay people and their allies are also paying attention to the role evangelical Christians and their large organizations are playing in Uganda, where the debate rages about whether homosexuality should be a capital crime. I believe that Cathy has supported FRC, one of those groups that has been active in Uganda as well as here.

    Many of us are also keenly aware that 25 percent of homeless teens are gay, and have been thrown out of their homes, or run away because they fear the reaction of their families and communities. Tell me how those lines at Chik Fil A would feel to you, a 15 year old gay person? Tell me how Cathy’s comments, that he “prays God’s mercy” on the “prideful, arrogant” marriage equality advocates who have the “audacity” to “invite God’s judgment on our nation” by shaking their fists at him.

    I appreciate that people like yourself do not wish to stoke hatred. But unless you are willing to stand for justice and fairness, you are much like those wishy-washy Christians Martin Luther King called out in his letter from a Birmingham Jail. You are effectively calling for “peace, peace, -when there is no peace.” Discrimination and hatred, even violence, are real worries for gay people, and until evangelicals raise their voices to loudly denounce those things, their claims to “love” others will ring hollow. I suspect that many people live in ghettos where out gay people are few and far between. Find some, talk to them. I stand on the soccer field with other parents of kids on my daughter’s soccer team. Some of them are same-sex couples. I’ve heard their fears and their frustrations, and I know what they believe about Christians. That if not openly hostile, they wish that gay people and their families would just go away.

    So here’s my proposal: if gay marriage is something you can’t countenance, fine. But start a big, loud movement to guarantee protection for gay people in employment; call out bigotry wherever and whenever you see it, and make it known that you support all the same protections for gay couples that are extended, by American law, to heterosexual married couples whether they are Christians or atheists– those protections are not a matter of faith claims.

    • You give us a lot to think about and I hope that others would read what you say here with humility and charity. I realize I am in a position of privilege with this issue as it is not something I have had to wrestle through in my personal life. Thanks for giving us something to reflect on and be challenged by.

    • Same sex marriage is against the law in 30 State Constitutions in the United States today and in another 9 States it is against the law based on State Statutes. 39 States – a significant majority. Unless the Federal Government overrides all of these States (very unlikely), it is ridiculous to believe that someone is going to receive a State benefit for doing something that is illegal in those States. If you want that benefit, then work to get the law changed (changing a Constitution is not meant to be an easy thing), or move to another State that provides that benefit. Congress is made up State representatives, so it’s also very unlikely that Federal benefits are going to change faster than the States change.

      At the same time it is against the law to discriminate against persons based on their sexual preference. Laws and punishments are getting much better about upholding those rights and penalizing those that violate them and there are plenty of organizations and lawyers that help those that are discriminated against. American people agree that discrimination is wrong, understand that, and will fight for it — myself included.

      The problem is that there is somehow a desire to blur the clear difference between law and discrimination. There is a real desire to say that upholding the law is actually discrimination — when it is not. Upholding the law (or our beliefs) is separate from concern for people and we need to make sure to keep those discussions separate from one another.

      Christians really do need to be really careful to keep this clear. That our right to our beliefs is a freedom as important as anyone elses rights. If someone isn’t as willing to allow us to have our beliefs as they are their own, then they have the problem – not us. Our beliefs and our support of laws don’t make us haters, bigots, wishy-washy or all of the other names we are called. Standing up for our right to our beliefs makes us Americans. Standing up for others is part of what makes us Christians too and it is very possible to be both.

      • I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I have a hard time following your logic.

        Once upon a time it was against the law to marry someone of a different race. That was overturned, state by state. And finally, by national law (though the state of Alabama had on its books, until 2000, and unenforcible law against interracial marriage.) You can read the whole sordid history here. Of course congress could change faster than the states — it is majority rule there, and eventually, more states may move to a moral liberal stance. Or, as in the case of the miscegenation laws, a Supreme Court decision might override the states. (See Loving vs. Virginia.) That is what happened on Finally, it was not congress or the states — it was the Supreme Court who threw out the last of the state laws.

        Also, I know that many Christians don’t know this or believe it, but it IS NOT (really, IS NOT) against the law to discriminate against persons for their sexual preference. Let me explain. Right now there is a law languishing in Congress that has been there for two decades that would protect LGBT persons in employment matters. So there is no federal law protecting LGBT people in employment. It hasn’t been passed yet., and there doesn’t seem to be a stampede to make it happen. Some individual states have such laws, but not all. See here, for state by state information.–does your state protect lgbt persons in employment? . As I said above, a federal law that would protect lgbt person has languished in Congress for more than 2 decades. We could stand to have more good hearted people, willing to fight for that legislation. Call your congressman tomorrow!

        You make a distinction between “upholding the law” and discrimination which is truly lost on me. I’d say the laws in Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa, which, while legal, were discriminatory. I’d say the same about our marriage laws here. Your freedom means you do not to have to marry someone of the same sex. Other people’s freedom . . . should allow them to marry a person of the same gender. You don’t have to like it, your pastor doesn’t have to officiate at the ceremony, but I fail to see how you can limit another’s freedom in that way.

        I think you’re more than likely a nice guy. But if you are telling other people that they cannot marry, they will not understand that as “nice.” It sounds hateful, it sounds bigoted. Whether they are other Christians, or Jews, atheists or whatever — they will recognize that you are defining marriage by your own lights, and they will believe that they should have the right to do the same. They will stand up for the right, and we will keep having this argument, as they are unlikely to back down. Only time will tell if and when Christian conservatives are outnumbered or outmaneuvered in this country. But other nations can and already have gotten there first.

      • Comparing the lack of getting benefits being sought for same sex marriages to Nazis or Apartheid makes it pretty clear that you’re not trying to have a legitimate discussion, so I’m not too surprised you didn’t follow my logic. Threatening or calling me names isn’t likely to cause me to change my beliefs either. In America, religious beliefs is a freedom as important as anyone elses rights or freedoms. Support of laws, or religious beliefs, don’t make people haters, bigots, wishy-washy or all of the other names we are called. Standing up for our right to our beliefs makes us Americans.

        I’m fully aware of the changes that have taken place in marriages based on race. I’m open to change in the law, or my beliefs, but it is those that desire the change that have to justify their argument. There seems to be a lot more attempts to ‘outmanuever’ and manipulate the truth that there is any valid arguments to justify a change to law. If discrimination is occurring, then prove it and fight that legally.

        And, It is absolutely against the law to discriminate against persons for their sexual preference. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act became law on October 28, 2009 Under this law, the FBI can step in if it determines states or localities are unwilling or unable to prosecute alleged hate crimes, including violence directed at the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. See:

      • Chris, first, I didn’t intend to compare marriage laws to apartheid or German laws of the ’30’s. I intended to make a statement about how laws can be immoral. That “legal” and “moral” are two different things. I’m sorry if you thought I meant something else, or was accusing you of an identical moral failure. Those were the examples that came to mind, and I thought I was being clear.

        Second, hate crimes legislation (Matthew Shepard Law) does not cover discrimination in housing and employment. I know it seems like it should, but it doesn’t. If you read one thing in my response, please read this: But you can also get information here: As I said, I think this is a place where most Christians could come together —to enact non-discrimination laws. Let’s do it!

        However, since as noted here:,_Jr._Hate_Crimes_Prevention_Act public leaders like James Dobson and Jeff Sessions opposed even the Matthew Shepard legislation, this will likely provoke an argument.

        You have asked me to prove that discrimination occurs. Personally, I know a lesbian woman who was fired from her job, but received a court settlement. That is because my state has laws that protect lgbt persons in employment. Not all states do, see this map. There is no federal employment or housing protection.

        There are all kinds of places to find stories of discrimination in housing and employment. But once again, if you read only one thing from my response, please read this., from JANUARY 2012. Scroll down to read 3 different stories.

      • Chris, to get back to your original post that I didn’t get to comment on before others did, I agree with what you’re saying: “Our beliefs and our support of laws don’t make us haters, bigots, wishy-washy or all of the other names we are called. Standing up for our right to our beliefs makes us Americans. Standing up for others is part of what makes us Christians too and it is very possible to be both.”

        I think the only thing I’m trying to say is that we have a super-high standard for how we present ourselves to the public that we can’t just blame the media for distorting if we’re viewed unfavorably. The goal is to reach the world with the gospel; whatever creates a stumbling block for that goal is a problem even if it’s within our rights to do it. I have tried to be sympathetic to such a wide range of viewpoints on this whole topic, it’s made me really dizzy. I hope that somehow the benefit of all this happening is that Christians on all sides will reflect and rise to a higher standard knowing that we are ambassadors of Christ first and worldly citizens second.

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