What Came First, the Chicken or Chick-Fil-A?

I normally wouldn’t have gone to Chick-Fil-A today. Nothing against them, just don’t do a lot of fries and sweet tea. But if you’re gonna provoke a dishonest assault against freedom of expression and free enterprise, then it’s time for me to get some nuggets.

As a pastor, I haven’t campaigned against gay marriage. Instead, I have bit my tongue in an attempt to prove wrong all those who say that Christians hate homosexuals and discriminate against them. What I have said from the platform, repeatedly, is that our church is open to everybody regardless of who or what they claim to be. I happen to know for a fact that there are gays and lesbians who attend our church, and I have always treated them with love and respect, just like everyone else.

But then one day you realize that silence just isn’t going to work. The proponents of same-sex marriage are not merely content to express their opinions, but are rabidly and radically committed to extinguishing yours. Well, that’s not going to happen.

So let’s ask, what did Dan Cathy actually say? Did he say, “I hate homosexuals?” Did he say, “Homosexuals aren’t welcome at Chick-Fil-A?” Did he say, “I am absolutely against the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for same-sex couples?”

Nope. Here’s the article, from the Baptist Press. Read it for yourself. The quote that got him in trouble? Here you go: “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Wow. What a hateful guy. But what also got him in trouble was a statement he apparently made on the radio, according to an L.A. Times article: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” It was that statement which prompted the article’s author to label his  to an “outburst,” and later, “retrograde social prejudice.”

An outburst? Retrograde social prejudice? You see, I’ve learned something from having children: when you have no real argument, you inject emotion, throw around accusations, and manipulate language. My kids know how to take what I say and concoct incendiary conclusions to otherwise very lucid, normal statements. The strategy is this: when you can’t fight fair, raise the temperature and twist the truth.

That is how the supporters of same-sex marriage argue, much like my children. Here’s an example: I say, “I support traditional marriage.” They reply, “You hate homosexuals.” But I don’t hate homosexuals. Come to think of it, how dare you accuse me of such a thing. Who are you to judge my character without any knowledge of my heart or my behavior?

I say, “Marriage should be between one man and one woman.” You say, “You’re an angry, narrow-minded, backward, bigot because you don’t see it my way.” That’s the same type of hysterical reaction my 8-year old has when she’s out of rational arguments and just flat-out mad.

Take another example from The Huffington Post. The author accuses Chick-Fil-A of giving $5 million to, among other things, a “certified hate group.” A what? Who “certified” them as such? What criteria was used to “certify” their “hateful” status? Are we supposed to just accept the judgement of some unknown group upon another? But this counts as fair game for journalism.

So if we’re gonna have a fight, let’s have a fair fight. I have reasons why I believe marriage should always be recognized as one man and one woman. Here they are:

1) For the record, the traditional definition of marriage is not discriminatory against anyone. For example, neither heterosexuals nor homosexuals can marry a person of the same sex, or two people, an animal, or a close relative. As a homosexual, you have no more or less rights than a heterosexual.

2) If you alter the definition of marriage, you destroy the concept completely. If it is not between a man and a woman, then its between anyone and anyone. This is because the very logic for altering it to include homosexuals can be used to include any other arrangement. Thus, it becomes nothing and it means nothing. That is an undesirable outcome for society.

3) To alter the definition of marriage creates a horrible scenario for children. Every child should have a father and a mother. Two of me would be bad news for my kids, and quite frankly so would two of my wife. Men and women bring separate elements to the table. If you deny that then we’ve lost the ability to communicate. It is as obvious as the air we breathe. Two men or two women is not the same as a man and a woman when it comes to parenting. The counterpoint, then, is: But what about all the divorces, abusive and absent parents, and single parent households? Isn’t it better to have two healthy, loving people in the home, regardless of their gender? 

Of course there are deep problems in the execution of the traditional family model. People do selfish and evil things as parents which affect their children in a variety of ways. But problems existing in the execution of the ideal does not mean the ideal should be altered to be made more inclusive. If children don’t grow up with a mother and a father, they have missed something very important, regardless of the situation. The traditional definition of marriage affirms this ideal.

4) Then there is the theological argument. Among other things, one reason the Bible says that a man should marry a woman is because both of them bear the image of God in a unique way. When two people come together in marriage, the design is that they would each complement one another in a way that provides the complete picture of God’s masculine and feminine qualities, and do so as “one flesh.” When this works as it should, there is unspeakable beauty in it that cannot be replicated any other way. You may agree with that, you may not. But to call the position “hateful” is disingenuous and, once again, adding invective to a lucid and logical argument.

It’s not hard to be “for traditional marriage” and treat the homosexual with dignity, respect, and understanding. However, what’s good for society does not always fit the desires of the individual.

For many of the proponents of same-sex marriage, especially those who brought about what may be the best day in Chick-fil-A history, there is no real attempt to win the argument, because the argument can’t be won. They can only ultimately win the battle by name-calling, intimidating, and vilifying in an attempt to silence anyone and everyone who disagrees.

It’s easy to remain neutral and say, “There are problems on both sides.” It’s hard to take a position and say, “No, I think we can see clearly on this one.” Most people don’t have the time to voice their objection to the unjust threats to freedom of speech and free enterprise lobbed at Dan Cathy. But they gotta eat, which is why the lines are out the door at every Chick-fil-A around.

The Shelf of Hats

Right now Ryan and I are in the bay area chipping away at our plan of hitting all the baseball parks in the MLB. This particular trip started as a result of the expenditure of some of the $1,000 travel credit we earned on Southwest a few weeks ago for our willingness to get bumped off an oversold flight. A thousand bucks worth of flights to arrive at 5:30 rather than 2:30? Yeah, I’ll take that.

We figured that if we flew into Oakland we could hit the A’s and the Giants back to back. Judi, who was very supportive of this idea, hooked us up with her cousin and his family who live in Dublin, CA. So, free flight, free lodging (and some awesome cooking I might add!), and great company. Not too shabby.

Of course when we got to the Hertz renal car counter I turned on the upgrade negotiating skills. Our original reservation was for a Yugo or equivalent, but there was an orange Challenger with a Hemi out front. Eight of them, actually. After some back and forth, it was clear the Hemi wasn’t going to happen, so we opted for the fire engine red Mustang.

My theory on rental car upgrades is this: both our cars are paid off, they’ve got 135,00 miles respectively, and we’re saving up in the hopes to pay cash for our cars from now on, thanks to the influence of this guy.

So I pay a few extra bucks to scratch the new car itch, keep up on the latest features (they come with USB ports now!), and enjoy the admiration from strangers who have no idea it’s a rental. So there.

I had never been to the Coliseum before. It’s gritty. Even the womenfolk looked tough. We sat out in the bleachers and I wore jeans. The only thing missing was a rotisserie and some seasoning. Ryan wore shorts, which meant that our first stop after the game was to CVS to get aloe vera gel.

The A’s played the Yankees. Actually, the A’s swept the Yankees (people brought brooms in hopeful anticipation). I’ve got to hand it to the Oakland fans, especially the ones in the bleachers, who just wouldn’t accept defeat. One guy, who established himself as our yell leader, kept the whole section energized until the bitter end, long after his voice started to sound like Nick Nolte chewing on sandpaper. Another had a giant sombrero and a vuvuzela. They kept the spirit alive. I was sure they A’s were done for, but sure enough, they pulled it off in the bottom of the 12th.

Ryan was elated. He doesn’t much care for the Yankees, and it was fun to be surrounded by a bunch of crazies, who, through creative (but hardly profane) slurs and mocking references to the New Yorker’s accent, loved to watch them go down.

We got him the official A’s hat (well, the road hat, since they were out of the home hat in every head size except “Egg” or larger).  The tradition is to get a hat at every stadium we visit. We attached a shelf to a wall in his room where each hat is placed. After tonight the grand total will be eight.

Each hat represents a story. Each hat reminds us both of moments that can never be taken from us. A few rain-delayed games, a few extra innings, a few like yesterday baking in the sun. Conversations about life, sports, the uniqueness of cities and ballparks. A little childhood wonder, a little adult nostalgia along the way. Hopefully its all forming the substance of a lifelong relationship.

So the Shelf of Hats continues to grow. As I see it, it’s evidence that there’s a boy who is important to his father. It’s a testimony to the fact that in this crazy life of ours we’re trying to put the “big rocks” in the jar, throwing off the urgent for the important, and enjoying the journey of being father and son.