Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mor Luv, Less Pikin' and Choosin'

There really isn't a lot to say that hasn't already been said about the new Christian hot-button that is Chick-fil-A and their executive Dan Cathy's "guilty as charged" perspective on opposing same-sex equality.

Except that, if I'm honest, there are two things weighing pretty heavily on me right now:

First: Yes, lots of pro-equality folks have done a bang-up job at pointing out how Biblical law concerning marriage includes provisions for marrying war captives, slaves, rape victims, and multiple wives.  But you can pin the spirit of that charge to me as well, because I, like just about every Christian I know, am guilty of picking and choosing within Scripture.

However, that does not change the fact that the Bible doesn't actually ban or condemn same-sex marriage.

Scripture does condemn same-sex intercourse (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27).  But not same-sex marriage.

And the thing a pastor who has performed three weddings this year, and will be performing a fourth in a couple of months, I do not, do not, DO NOT see what I do in officiating weddings as endorsing the sexual relations between the two spouses.  To me, that is a reductive view of what can (and should be) a wonderful, amazing institution.  What I do in officiating a wedding is not an endorsement of sex, but an endorsement of love.

Traditionally, there are parts of a wedding ceremony that have had a lot to do with sex--the bride wearing white to symbolize sexual purity, the first kiss as foreshadowing the consummation of the marriage, and the lifting of the veil as the first step in the groom undressing the bride.

But currently, when most couples who get married have taken each other for a test drive, so to speak, much of that symbolism--which revolves around the nature of it being the FIRST sexual encounter, rather than A sexual encounter--isn't as translatable in contemporary spiritual vocabulary.  It would be like holding the entire ceremony in Beowulf-style Middle English.  Many symbols of weddings speak the language of tradition, not modernity.

Which is perfectly, completely fine--I love officiating weddings in part because of the joy that surrounds those rituals.

But the idea of a wedding as a foreshadowing of first sex is...well, obsolete.

The idea of a wedding as a celebration of love, though...that is as strong as ever.

And, as (I would hope) any Christian pastor would tell you, there is a mighty difference between sex and love.

Second: I honestly, truly, do not care if Dan Cathy (who I am sure is a great fellow personally--I'm not saying he or anybody else on the other side of me on this is a bad person), or any Chick-fil-A employee for that matter, donates his own private time and money to campaigns opposed to same-sex marriage.  That is his right as an American citizen, and the only way to ensure that you or I can say and do what we want is to ensure that people who disagree with us can say and do what they want as well.

But if a company--rather than the individuals running it--donates to a campaign you disagree with, then by all means, don't be their customer.  Put a different way: just because Dan Cathy opposes same-sex marriage as a private citizen doesn't mean I personally would boycott Chick-fil-A.  I would be appalled to find that people hold, say, how I vote as a private citizen against me, so I think it is the Christian thing to do to extend that same courtesy to all others.  Boycotting a company because it employs people you disagree with feels rather petty to me.

But when Chick-fil-A itself does make donations totaling in the millions of dollars to those efforts, then I think a boycott remains a legitimate tool.

After all--it was a coalition of mainline churches (including the Disciples of Christ) through our flagship organization, the National Council of Churches, that joined the successful boycott of Taco Bell in 2005 as an effort to improve the compensation and working conditions for Taco Bell's tomato farmers.

And Jesus also instructed people to vote with their wallets--He drove out the moneychangers (an occupation that was rather lucrative due to rules regarding the unacceptability of Roman currency in the temple cult) from the Jerusalem temple, telling people that there were other ways to worship God without turning over their money to a particular industry.

I have no idea how this new skirmish in the culture wars over marriage will end, but I will humbly and gently say this: when it comes to determining what marriage is, remember that it, like just about everything else that is glorious and God-given, is organic and living and dynamic.  Which is as it should be, because with more love (sorry, 'mor luv') comes less pikin', less choosin', and more acceptin'.

Yours in Christ,

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