Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15:17
My town didn’t have Chick-fil-A, so naturally, we ate at the chain for every field trip, church trip, track meet and speech meet. I assumed it to be another mediocrity Christians felt the duty to drastically overhype, like TobyMac songs or Tim Tebow’s NFL career, but I now see that regardless of religion people enjoy this well-crafted pickle-soaked chicken. However, I had tired of the taste long before I rejected the baked-in homophobia.
But this isn’t really about Chick-fil-A.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Proverbs 25:2
God comes in a still, small voice, his wonders hidden in science, his message revealed in scripture. He conceals our passions and identities within our hearts for us to uncover as we discover him. There is still much to find in regard to my sexuality, spirituality and identity, but this I know: I am saved by grace through faith, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am made in the image of God, created with wavy hair, a pretty voice and little to no attraction to men.
“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19
A recent column asked that we not “punish Chick-fil-A for Christian values.” You should read it, keeping in mind that 1) Private foundations can donate how they wish, and private institutions and consumers may withdraw support based on those donations, 2) Trans rights are LGBTQ+ rights (hence the “T”) and further, human rights, and 3) Websites can lie.
Finally, without debating that great ministry is done through The Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I reject that their homophobia — however “small” — should be excused as a “Christian value.”
“Jesus replied, ‘And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?’” Matthew 15:3
Let’s get one thing straight — no pun intended — homophobia is a Christian value, as Franklin Graham recently reminded us, but has nothing to do with the values of Christ.
Most Christian values serve to protect societal norms, to establish and solidify power and oppression — despite the radical gospel freeing the oppressed and empowering the powerless. Imperial colonization and the Blood Libel were both done in the name of a Jew who suffered and was executed under an oppressive imperial rule. Christian values are the core of white supremacy, despite the non-whiteness of Christ.
When we willfully ignore these truths, we ignore Jesus as well, rejecting him in favor of the god we made in our image. I support and respect all Christians and non-Christians’ freedom in finding God, even as their practices, religions and doctrinal beliefs differ from mine, but I will always stand opposed to the name of Christ being used in the abuse of fellow Christians or in the persecution of any person.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'” Matthew 19:14
Homophobia is not a victimless doctrine.
In the church, those it hurts most are Christians, who are unfairly faced with an impossible and painful conundrum of either losing the fellowship that feeds their souls or refusing the reality God has written on their hearts. Or worse, suffering the abuse of so-called conversion therapy.
Queer kids don’t stop going to church because we have rejected Jesus. We stop going because the church has said that Jesus rejected us in the fullness of who we are.
“We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'” Acts 26:14
Christians and Christianity must turn from this sin, but I know this will not happen. Instead, the same few verses will be quoted, cherry-picked interpretations that allow our prejudices to remain unchecked. It is difficult to fight against established norms, to look within our institutions and ideals, but God confronts us.
I feel the spirit telling me that I cannot hide from my own evolving identity and I cannot run from confronting the hatred within the places I call home. Yet internalized homophobia lingers in my heart like the aftertaste of Chick-fil-A lemonade.
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’” Acts 26:15
Injustice and sin permeate much of what Evangelicals permit — and even promote. And preserving homophobia has become the hill on which Evangelicals are determined to die.
But homophobia is not the hill on which my Savior died.
It is one of many evils from which he lives to free us.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 149:13