Last summer there was an uproar involving the popular (and delicious) restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. The restaurant’s financial support of organizations labeled as anti-gay by the LGBT community became public and it’s COO, Dan Cathy, made some comments about his beliefs that probably could have been phrased better.
This launched a firestorm of controversy around Chick-fil-A including boycotts and public demonstrations on both sides. The hubbub has mostly blown over, but Shane Windmeyer, the founder of an organization for LGBT students called Campus Pride, posted an article recently that should reopen the conversation and (dare I say) even teach us a few things.
Shane was a primary voice from the LGBT perspective last summer. He has been leading boycotts and demonstrations against Chick-fil-A for years, long before things erupted in the media. As the controversy was reaching a frenzy last summer, Shane received a call from Dan Cathy. That call lasted over an hour and led to further conversations and an ongoing relationship. Below are a few quotes from Windmeyer’s post.
“How could I dare think to have a relationship with a man and a company that have advocated against who I am; who would take apart my family in the name of “traditional marriage”; whose voice and views represented exactly the opposite of those of the students for whom I advocate every day? Dan is the problem, and Chick-fil-A is the enemy, right?”
“Like most LGBT people, I was provoked by Dan’s public opposition to marriage equality… and had my own preconceived notions about who he was. I knew this character. No way did he know me. That was my view. But it was flawed.”
“Dan, in his heart, is driven by his desire to minister to others and had to choose to continue our relationship throughout this controversy. He had to both hold to his beliefs and welcome me into them. He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life even while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He defined this to me as “the blessing of growth.” He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did, as well.”
I have had two friends in my life, people who I love dearly, who were willing to share their struggle with homosexuality. I was honored that both of these men were willing to let me in on their journey. I only include those sentences to demonstrate I can say with some authority that knowing and caring for someone with this struggle will change the way you engage these conversations. It may not change your beliefs (and when it comes to Biblical truth it should not), but it will change your heart.
What if we decided to follow the courageous lead of Shane Windmeyer and Dan Cathy and stop seeing people we disagree with as enemies? What if we, as Windmeyer wrote, started seeing others as “people with opposing views, not as opposing people?” What if we stopped treating people like caricatures and got to know them for who they really are? What if we started to engage people in the LGBT community as people created in the image of God? Because whether our sin is homosexual behavior, lust, greed, or gluttony, that is exactly what we all are, people created in the image of God.