There are so many firestorms on the Internet right now, it’s hard to know which ones to comment on and which ones are better to let burn themselves out. I thought of the Chick-Fil-A controversy yesterday when I came across what the Jews in Rome said to Paul: “We want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere” (Acts 28:22).
I found that strangely encouraging, and wrote an Our Daily Journey entry on it. As always, I welcome any comments that catch loose ends or faulty reasoning–better to catch it now before it goes public (he wrote on his blog).
Chick-Fil-A is a popular fast food chain in America whose president, Dan Cathy, also happens to be a Christian. Biblical values permeate its 1,600 restaurants, which besides providing exceptional food and service, often display a verse for the day and are always closed on Sunday. Chick-Fil-A also started the WinShape Foundation, which provides college scholarships, foster care programs, and marriage enrichment ministries.
And that is a problem, for Cathy only supports traditional, heterosexual marriages. When Cathy’s position became public, many Americans accused him of homophobia. They vowed to boycott his restaurants that serve chicken “with a side of bigotry.” The mayor of Boston announced he will not allow a Chick-Fil-A to open in his city, and even the Muppets said they will stop making toys for the chain.
It’s not surprising that supporters of gay marriage think Dan Cathy is guilty of hatred and intolerance, for that label was hung on Christians from our beginning. Most people think Jesus was meek and mild, but the religious leaders of his day told Pilate that “he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!” (Luke 23:5). The Apostle Paul was chased and stoned by Jews, for they assumed his message threatened the dominance of their religion and its role in society.
When Paul finally made it to Rome, he invited its Jewish leaders to meet and learn about Jesus. They replied that while they had not heard anything bad about Paul, they knew that the movement he led was “denounced everywhere.” Paul didn’t give up, but he “explained and testified about the Kingdom of God…from morning until evening. Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe” (Acts 28:23-24).
It hurts to be misunderstood, but we must never stop loving people, especially when they’re sure we don’t.