OpinionThis isn’t really about Chick-fil-A

Homophobia is a Christian value, but does not align with the values of Christ
Elise HesterMay 2, 2019115413 min
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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

Elise Hester

11 comments

  • anon

    May 2, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Gay does NOT equal Trans.

    To say otherwise is ridiculous. Transgenderism has only become medically possible in the last 50 years, and only trendy in the last five. Homosexuality has been around for millennia.

    Transgenderism is an incredibly expensive lifestyle choice and a mental illness. It should not be compared to homosexuality.

    We’ve always had transvestites and people who’s feelings don’t line up with their biology, as well as intersex people with atypical genitals. Those people are human and deserve respect. But lumping that tiny fraction of people in with homosexuals is deceptive. “LGBT” is a term designed to confuse the general public about the true aims of the movement.

    How much do all the surgery and hormones cost? Look it up. Some pharmaceutical company is making at least five figures for every “trans kid” who’s parents are willing to pay for the transition.

    I have no hate for any person. I have pity for those who would listen to the media when it tells them to mutilate their bodies because they feel confused.

    Reply

    • Calliope Izquierdo

      May 2, 2019 at 6:56 pm

      Oh fuck!! I can’t believe I missed the secret trans meeting where we singlehandedly decided how expensive and inaccessible medical transitioning is. I should’ve known when i had to turn in my lesbian card when i came out as a trans woman. But now you’re tellin me I can’t even be trans if I haven’t had bottom surgery?? Uh oh!!!!

      Reply

    • Steven Drake

      May 2, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      There are so many things that are wrong and ugly about your comment that I really don’t even know where to begin. First off, being transgender is not something that is “trendy” nor is it a “lifestyle choice.” To say so completely debases the lived experiences of trans folx who have suffered much from the hate that is in this world. And the reason as to why you say transgenderism is becoming more “trendy” is because the medicine and procedures weren’t out there in the first place and–most importantly and most unfortunately–it has only been recently that much of society has come to openly accept transgender people (yet they still fear for their lives and the rights that they have/don’t have, daily). You also say that homosexuality has been around for millennia while transgender people are basically a new fad that has developed in the past half-century–one of the most woefully ignorant and fallacious statements I think I’ve ever read. The human condition is a complex one, yet by and large, relatively constant. If things like homosexuality have been around for millennia (which they certainly have been) then transgender people have existed equally as long.

      You say you “have no hate for any person” and yet it seems blatantly obvious that you can’t even bring yourself to respect transgender people because you referred to transvestites and intersex folx as “human and deserving respect,” purposefully excluding transgender people…my point on this shouldn’t have to go any further.

      You act like it’s a shame that the LGBTQIA+ community accepts transgender people in our community. I’m not certain if you belong to the queer community–you certainly wouldn’t be accepted by me if you were after all this vitriolic hate that I’ve read–but I know I belong to it and it really should have to go without me saying that I embrace all of the folx in the LGBTQIA+ community. You or others might come back at me for saying this because I just denounced your place, from my perspective, in the community–that is if you identify as LGBTQIA+–but I should clarify and say that I accept everyone in our community along with their varying opinions; your words DO NOT form an opinion, they breed and manifest hate and I cannot bring myself to accept that.

      Transgender people are not mentally ill. They are beautiful people who need love and support; they certainly don’t need your fucked up sense of “pity” that would ultimately harm them.

      Also, no one was saying trans=gay…let’s learn to critically read next time. If you’re a student here at Trinity, of which the chance is high, at least pretend like you attend an institution of higher education. Furthermore, get off anon. Your words loose so much meaning and become cowardly when you hide like this.

      I additionally appreciate the fact that I am most likely talking to a brick wall and saying anything further would just be exhausting and a waste..but lord I had to say something.

      Reply

      • Sarah Jo'on Yeoung

        May 12, 2019 at 11:45 am

        Shouldn’t you be studying for finals? Save the essays for the test!

        Reply

    • boo

      May 2, 2019 at 11:57 pm

      how is “transgenderism” simultaneously a lifestyle choice and a mental illness lol the two concepts seem kind of mutually exclusive

      Reply

    • are you serious

      May 3, 2019 at 12:29 am

      This article is truly disgusting fear-mongering. Portraying trans people as some powerful force pushing their agenda upon defenseless people is both factually incorrect and a propaganda tool as old as time. I would really urge you to read this report: https://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NTDS_Report.pdf to get an idea of how vulnerable the trans population in the U.S. is. Additionally, here are some testimonials from trans people — turns out they are just people, not a homogeneous militant force seeking to overthrow civilization 🙂 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/opinion/transgender-today
      Some key stats:
      -Trans people are four times more likely to live in poverty.
      • Trans people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population,
      with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.
      • 90% of trans people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination
      on the job.
      • 53% of transgender people report being harassed or disrespected in a place of public
      accommodation, for example, a bathroom.
      • 22% of respondents who have interacted with police reported harassment by police,
      with much higher rates reported by people of color.

      Reply

      • Sarah Jo'on Yeoung

        May 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

        One thing you neglect to mention ’bout all those stats is that trans people make up a fraction of a percent of the population. Since most of them have mental issues, it’s no surprise that they fall to the fringes of society.

        Reply

  • Monique

    May 2, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    As a catholic I agree with all of this. Being a homophobic moron isn’t Christ-like (or even encouraged in the Bible. Go reread an annotated version of the sodom Gomorrah story, it was because the citizens were shit hosts, a big part of Jewish law at the time, that they got barbecued) but it’s certainly a value Christians love to say “don’t you dare judge me for following my faith”. Folks like the detractors in the comment section love religious freedom as long as it benefits them but propose putting a statue of Baphomet up next to the Ten Commandments and they’ll probably start doing vigils more irritating than the ones at women’s clinics. If a catholic finds you irritating you’re doing it wrong you nondenominational cop outs.

    Reply

  • Steven Drake

    May 2, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    This was a lovely article Elise! Thank you for writing this!

    Reply

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