Last week, thousands of people turned out to show their support for Chick-Fil-A. Comments made by Dan Cathy, the Chief Operations Officer, sparked a media firestorm when he confirmed that he and his company support traditional families that include a husband and a wife. When Cathy made this statement, almost a month ago, there was no question about his Christian faith and there was no doubt that Chick-Fil-A is operated on Christian principles. In fact, the only reason his comments stirred the public into a frenzy is because the media itself chose to introduce an element of hate into the public dialogue.
By suggesting that hate may be the sole motive for those who support the biblical definition of marriage, the media tried to spin the message into something it was not. They tried to portray everyone who supported Cathy’s statements as anti-gay and filled with hate. While some people turned out to show support for his freedoms of speech and religion, many also turned out to show their support for the company’s Christian values and their stance supporting the biblical definition of marriage. Across the country there were no reports of violence and there was no anger, but if you listen to reports from the mainstream media you might believe that the entire event was nothing more than a giant, nationwide hate-fest.
In light of these recent events, a gay friend of mine asked me to read an article about the evils of Chick-Fil-A “with an open mind” and by doing so I might “have a bit more understanding”. Of course, that statement by itself implied that I have a closed mind and that I might not understand the importance of this issue within the gay community. Ironically, I had already read the article in question with an open mind, and I fully understand the significance of Chick-Fil-A’s charitable contributions and the affect those contributions may have on my gay friends. While I do not condone some of the actions and statements by representatives of the charities in question, I still support Chick-Fil-A and the fact they operate under Christian principles and values.
On August 1st, I showed my support for Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A. I did so because I support our right to express our own views, I support our right to exercise our own religious beliefs, and yes, I support the biblical definition of marriage. I possess no anger for people unlike me, I do not hold grudges, and I harbor no hatred for gay people. I am no bigot, and I would like to see everyone treated equally, but with that said, marriage is much more than some shiny object that can be passed around and divided equally among us. I believe that man and woman were made for each other, that God created them to be a communion of persons, who share in the act of Creation and transmit human life to their descendants (CCC 372). I support God’s plan for the sacrament of Marriage. I support the biblical definition of marriage, but that does not make me close-minded, it makes me Catholic.
If my mind was closed, I would not have spent more than five years and thousands of dollars operating one of the first AIDS/HIV Information bulletin board systems in the nation. If my mind was closed, I would not spend countless hours donating my time to the poor, the needy, the oppressed, the neglected, and the abused. If my mind was closed, I would not have African-American friends, Chinese friends, tall friends, short friends, fat friends, skinny friends, non-Christian friends, and yes, even gay friends. If my mind was closed, I would not be Catholic. If I have learned anything since my conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, it is that I need an open mind to fully understand Christ, his passion, his suffering, and the many gifts of grace we receive from Him simply because we believe.
Marriage is clearly defined in the bible. From Genesis through Revelation, in every chapter and verse that refers to marriage, man and woman are referenced together. At this point I could list dozens of biblical references to marriage and its definition, but that would be redundant for the purposes of this article because the bible cannot be taken out of context with random verses tossed in just to support my argument. Doing so might lead others to believe they can refute God’s plan by tossing out their own non-related references and what would that solve?
As a Catholic, I trust in the Holy Spirit to guide the Church especially in areas where our own opinions and desires may cloud our judgment. With that said, I believe the institution of marriage is ordered to the procreation of offspring (CCC 1652), and God himself is the author of marriage (CCC 1603). I also believe that no matter what we, as human beings, want to think, “marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes” (CCC 1603). If God himself is the author of marriage, who are we to redefine or modify it? Just as the definitions of adultery, murder and gossip cannot be changed, neither can the God authored, biblical definition of marriage.
If we take a step back and look at the issue at hand, it really is about tolerance, but not tolerance for “gay rights” as much as tolerance for accepting each other, and the true definition of who we are as human beings. Nothing about the biblical definition of marriage makes someone a “full member of society”, and nothing about being gay makes someone a “second-class citizen” simply because they can or cannot marry, either. This week, some people have referenced divorced Christians, remarried Christians, and drug addict Christians in their argument in support of gay marriage, but since when does pointing out the flaws of others make you a better person? By focusing on the flaws, rather than the gifts we each bring to the table, we are doomed to intolerance aren’t we? As we get lost in the semantics of this argument, where is the tolerance for God? Where is the tolerance for following God’s law? Where is the tolerance for responsibility of our own acts? If you believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, then you know that this tolerance comes from God.
In the end, this controversy was no controversy at all. The media tried to run with a message of hate when in fact the true message was love all along. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but he never told us to ignore the laws of God or to turn our back on the Sacrament of Marriage. No matter how we look at it, God is the author of marriage and His definition of marriage will never change. This is not an equal rights issue or a human rights issue, it’s an obedience issue. When all is said and done, the bottom line remains that we can make up thousands of excuses for not obeying God, but a life of faithfulness and surrender requires us to possess a heart full of obedience to our one true loving God.