In mid-July, Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ took a very bold step forward. We offered our first public educational event, “Face to Faith: God and Gays.” I am so proud of my church. We did it, we pulled it off. We had a great turn out of people from all walks of life. We engaged in conversation with people of different faith traditions and people of no faith tradition. It was a blessed event.
By all accounts, “Face to Faith: God and Gays” was a success. It proved to me that dialogue can happen. It was so weird to watch all this conversation with people I had never seen before. It was awesome and inspiring! I closed the chapter on that weekend thinking we could now move on to new and exciting chapters in the book of faith.
All this joy, you may be asking, why the title? Well, here it is… Chik-Fil-A.
After “Face to Faith: God and Gays”, I thought Bridges of Grace had established itself as Open and Affirming. We have in many ways publicly announced our stance on the issue. I was hoping we could move on.
I had heard people say that Bridges of Grace is that gay church. I have said for many years that I do not want to pastor a “gay church.” And I believe, with all my heart, I am not leading a gay church. We are an Open and Affirming church. We are open to all, and all goes beyond gay, straight. I truly believe, no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome at Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ.
Thus, I was hoping we could move on to other issues. We are more than a one issue church. So many denominations and churches are stuck on this issue, I do not want Bridges of Grace to be another church caught in the web.
But damn it all to hell, (yes I cussed!) why are people so adamant about hurting people who are different then they are? Why is it so hard to accept different?
This whole Chik-Fil-A thing has caught me by surprise. When I looked at the above-the-fold headline in the Huntington newspaper, I just wanted to cry! The line was 50+ cars long with people wanting to support Mr. Cathy and his stance on traditional marriage and being married to his first wife. I was just shocked when I saw the newspaper. I was actually at Starbucks when I saw the newspaper; I had to take a few minutes to regain my composure. I honestly did not think this little “act of appreciation” would affect me, let alone make me want to cry.
I know for most people who showed their support for Chik-Fil-A, it was not about hate. But I for one have never felt so unloved, and unwelcome in my life. My heart just aches. Symbolically, August 1st was more than a bunch of people eating chicken. It did little more than give Mr. Cathy more money, and show the world how petty Americans can be. It also showed how little we care for our neighbor.
One of the few things Jesus told us to do, “love your neighbor as yourself,” and we cannot even do that. I do not believe the people waiting in line for their chicken sandwich were showing their love for me.
Then, that afternoon when I got home, one of my young FB friends had posted how proud he was to support this movement on religious grounds. That moment was when it hit me. I will never be done with this issue until equality is achieved. Why can’t we Christians see that this as a part of the commandment to love your neighbor? Your relationship with the person you choose to be your life partner is between you and God, no human can judge it. Your ability to commit to that relationship and stay in that relationship is between you and God. Trust me, I am here if you want to talk about it, but I will not judge you for your choices.
We are all sinners. We can’t get into this battle of which sin is bigger, or which is worse. Let it go! Let God be the one and only judge. Let’s move on to trying to love each other instead of picking sides, alienating and judging one another.