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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The U.S. Of Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-a's President, Dan Cathy, started another episode of Stereotypes Gone Wild with his comments on gay marriage. By decrying the national acceptance of gay marriage as both rejecting God and inviting judgment, and then by proudly describing himself and his partners as still being married to their first wives as well as supporting the traditional definition of marriage, Cathy did more than just call homosexuality a sin. He both invited the nation to scapegoat gays and he prayed a version of the Pharisees' prayer saying, "I thank God that I am not like those sinners over there." In doing all of this, Dan Cathy did more than meet the minimum requirements for what gays have sadly come to expect from their Christian opponents.

The response of who were offended also did more than enough to reinforce what many Conservative Christians' have come to expect from gays and their supporters. The response showed the typical recalcitrant sinner who is rejecting the message. Such Christians are happily oblivious to the fact that the messenger has deliberately become more offensive than the actual Biblical message.

The result is that these stereotypes continue to live happily ever after as co-dependents. That is each stereotype needs the other to be brought back to life.

To my fellow Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin, we must ask if Cathy's original statement shows more concern for gays or for himself. Note that within Cathy's statement is a concern that he might be a victim of God's collective punishment on the nation. In addition, there is Cathy's boasting of his marital accomplishments as well as that of his associates.

But not only that, there is Cathy's unawareness of his country's sins.  Cathy's statement shows an assumption that our nation's current state of blessedness is deserved and that our past actions such as the ethnic cleansing of American Indians from the land, slavery, the days of Jim Crow I & II, our military and economic empire, and whatever other sufferings we have caused were, at the most, tolerable sins that did not merit God's judgment. And here is the heart of Christian Fundamentalism's failure in preaching the Gospel; it shows gross selectivity in determining which sins to rebuke. Killing, maiming, and oppressing others, especially when done by those in uniform, get a free pass from the righteous indignation of the Conservative Christian but the sexual sin does not.

So what the above shows is a cold-heartedness by Conservative Christians. For they seem unconcerned by the suffering gays might experience if they are held responsible for future tragedies by their fellow citizens and unfazed by the destruction caused by violence Conservative Christians support. This cold-heartedness could be because the ultimate concern of Conservative Christians is their own individual selves. We might call their theology a Meology. And here, Cathy is concerned about paying for the sins of others, especially when he is doing what is right, than he is about the sinners he singles out.

Thus, what gays sense when they hear people like Cathy speak is more than just a call to repentance; it is antagonism. He uses the language of intolerance to preach repentance.  So when gays and others point this out, Christians like Cathy chalk it up to sin and rebellion. At the same time, Cathy, and others like him, are unable to see their own faults. They are too busy showing off their own righteousness to feel good about themselves.

Certainly, not all Christians who preach repentance to gays follow Cathy's example. But it does seem that all who have a public forum do. And it is wrong. We need more dialog than paternalistic finger pointing.

On the other hand, not all reactions against Cathy's remarks are do solely to the speaker. None of us, Christian or nonChristian, like to be told that we are sinning. So some of the reaction is simply because people are rebelling against God's Word. But this does not let Cathy off the hook. When he did not identify with gays as a sinner, not as a gay, then Cathy is telling gays that rebelling against God is their problem only, not his. Such a message is a lie and is just as sinful, if not more, as being gay.

In the end, Cathy is to gays what the U.S. has become to the world. Both Cathy and the U.S. are forever pointing out the faults of others in ways that indicate they are above reproach. Both Cathy and the U.S. blame others for rejecting accepted an authority that brings judgment. And both are oblivious to their own sins, even if their sins are far worse. While Cathy wants laws to control the behavior of those who, because they merit God's judgment, threaten him, the U.S uses force to control the behaviors of those countries that do not benefit it. In a sense, Cathy's hyperbolizing of sin and his intolerance of others is a microcosm of America's relationships with other countries. For neither one wants to relate to others as equals. Rather, they think that they deserve to call the shots.


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