Thursday, August 2, 2012

50 Shades of Chick-Fil-A and True Love

Coffee Talkers!

How kind of you to join me again after another respite from blogging. Thus far, I have remained completely silent in the internet world as to the recent happenings surrounding Chick-Fil-A and the controversy surrounding the company president's statements regarding marriage. (I'm sure you could Google it if you don't know what's up.) Let me tell you up front that I am not here to endorse or boycott Chick-Fil-A or anything else (sorry to disappoint). Anyway, I read an interesting post in regard to this business -- it had some good points, but then I felt disturbed by the philosophical underpinnings of others -- and I decided to hold my little Facebook tongue in regard to any of it. But now I've seen quite a lot of people posting that same article (I'm not going to link to it, because that's really not the point I'm wanting to make here) and I finally am fed up with the whole drama enough to do the one hopefully more constructive thing on the internet than spouting off strangely isolated, vitriolic, or polarizing comments -- and that's to blog!

The thing I really liked about the article that I see all y'all posting is that the author mentioned something really important -- that people are being unfairly categorized and judged as to where they stand on the issue of Chick-Fil-A (and in turn, of same-sex marriage) as if there was no other issue, or quality of the person, that mattered. The author reminds readers that it is quite possible for a person to be for same-sex marriage but still to be a 'homophobe' (although I question what was meant by that particular term), or for a person to be 'gay' but to stand in opposition to same-sex marriage. I truly applaud the author for making this point, because I think it leads to what is essentially missing from, and to what is fueling such extreme polarization, in this debate. I see a lot of people posting things that point to a really black-and-white Chick-Fil-A mentality here: If you do not boycott Chick-Fil-A, you are a homophobic hater who wants all gay people to be jailed, and possibly killed; If you are boycotting Chick-Fil-A, you are supporting a subversive subculture that is calling down judgment upon our nation. (Nota bene: I DO NOT hold either of these views -- hopefully obvious?!)

The thing I really did not like about the article was that it went on to suggest that, while people do not have to agree with gay people on everything, all people should repudiate Chick-Fil-A (including 'unliking' them on Facebook) and that, if you cannot do that, that you should consider whether or not any person is really your friend. Because, the author insists (among other things, of course), "If things were reversed, I'd stand up for you."

Alright. A few things. (Oh, who am I kidding? A half dozen things!)

1. When I made a personal choice to no longer support a certain girls' organization because of their open partnership with a certain abortion provider, despite the fact that it was at the pain of loss in regard to a certain kind of rather delicious cookies, people jumped all over me like white on rice and insisted that I was attacking the girls themselves. I can assure you that quite the opposite is true, but it seems that a rather large number of people engaged in the current boycott have taken to verbally harassing and bullying those who participated in the day of support, yelling things at the customers about eating 'hate sandwiches' and 'bigot chicken.' Sound a leetle bit like hate speech or bullying to anyone? Can we all agree that this is wrong?

2. If things were reversed, you would not stand up for me. You know that little thing called the HHS Mandate, which really affects my ability to get health care as a mother of two young children who works for the Catholic Church? Not only that, but it may put me, as a practicing Catholic and church employee, at the risk of fines, imprisonment, and possibly death (hey, it seems as likely as what this author suggested when he said that Dan Cathy wants him to be killed) for civil disobedience against the mandate. Sorry, but I actually didn't see a single LGBT rights organization standing up for me or the Catholic Church, and I have enough LGBT friends that I think I would have heard the news. Strangely, the main non-Catholic groups I saw supporting us were fundamentalist Evangelical Christians, who generally consider us Catholics hell-bound but I guess decided to back us up this one time. Hey, help is hard to find these days, so I'll take it in whatever form it comes. Still, I question the 'If things were reversed, I'd stand up for you' line.

3. The author does not want to be judged on one particular aspect of his life, but he vows to judge others on whether or not they have 'liked' Chick-Fil-A on Facebook. I have seen many other people making similar promises to 'unfriend' on the same basis. Interesting.

4. The term 'homophobe,' to me, points to a fundamental misunderstanding prevalent in our American culture -- that if you do not agree with some aspect of a person's life, that you are either afraid of them, or that you hate them. This is simply not true. I am not denying that there are people who are fearful of those with same-sex attractions, but I think this term is often applied (these days, especially) to anyone who does not stand in full legal support of same-sex marriage throughout the United States. I'm sure that many of you reading may disagree with some aspect of my life as a Catholic, or perhaps with what you mistakenly believe about Catholicism. I do not equate that with you fearing or hating me. Similarly, many of us have a family member or friend who we have serious concerns about certain life choices they have made, but we don't feel afraid or hateful. You get the picture.

5. Our society is obsessed with sex, and people are much more than their sexual attractions or orientations. Seriously, can we all get over our American hang up with sex? When I meet a person and develop a friendship with them, I am not primarily interested in their sexual orientation, and if you are, I'm more than a little concerned. Really. Every person is a unique and complicated individual who deserves to be treated with respect regardless of their sexual attractions or whether they live a celibate life. From gay dance clubs to the convent, I have had friends from all backgrounds and belief systems, and I think it's worthy of mention that some of  the people who seemed to lead the happiest and most fulfilling lives are the ones who have chosen to live out their 'sexual identity' in voluntary celibacy. (I think I hear Sigmund Freud rolling in his grave now, just under the sound of your gasp.)

6. This whole debate is lacking in love, and love involves personal interactions between people who respect one another. I heard someone say the other day that they learned at church that the opposite of love is fear, and so everyone should stop being so afraid of gay people and start boycotting Chick-Fil-A. (Alright, I just threw in that last part, but it was clearly in regard to the Chick-Fil-A debate that they said this.) The Scriptures do say that perfect love casts out all fear, but the opposite of loving a person is not actually fearing them or hating them. Do you know what the opposite of loving a person is? Using. Utilitarianism is the opponent of the personalistic norm, or for us simple folks: stop using people and start respecting them and loving them for who they are and not for how useful they might be to you. So if a person is nothing more to you than a 'like' or 'unlike' click of the Facebook page for Chick-Fil-A, I think that might call us to examine our level of personal care and respect for that person. Sure, the virtual world allows us to 'keep in touch' with others all over the world, but at what risk? I think the best way to engage in dialogue about Chick-Fil-A, or any other matter, is to actually talk with another living person. If you can't meet with them face-to-face, why not give that person a call? And don't let it be just to debate them or to win them over to your way of thinking -- to me, that's slipping into using, and what we need here is loving, that on which true mutual respect and friendship must be built and earned.

If you got this far, perhaps you are a friend of mine, and in any case I thank you for stopping by. As always, be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,