Vote With Your Money - A Christian Idea?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels." - II Timothy 2:23
I struggle with how much I should delve into politics publicly.  A lot of that is practical.  I get beaten down by some of my Facebook friends who always have their nose in the latest hot button issue, and I don't want to be That Guy.  I'm also looking for a job, and it's probably not in my best interest to seem like the outspoken politico - The Bullhorn Guy, to borrow an image.  

Mostly, though, it's about how down and dirty I'm willing to get for what I believe.  I've always been very interested in politics.  My political opinions are ever evolving, and I love to discuss them with people who are willing to think critically about the issues.  Those sort of conversations seem to be few and far between - most of the time when I read political discussion, people are yelling past each other, indignant that anybody could possibly take the other side.  It's a microcosm of the public part of elections that we've always known.  The Republican primary for the US Senate seat in Texas got particularly ugly this year.  I saw an ad yesterday that attacked the other guy for how many attack ads he'd run.  I wish I were making that up.  I have friends who have washed their hands of the political process, and it's easy to see why, but I (perhaps naively) want to believe that there's something to be redeemed from the free exchange of ideas on policy.

It's difficult to hold on to that faith when we start arguing about fast food restaurants.

I realize that Chick-fil-a is just a symbol for a larger issue that's currently at the forefront of our "culture wars," so I'll grant that characterizing it as a fight over fried chicken is a bit reductive.  Still, it's pretty clear to me that we've collectively lost the plot.  Are we ready to start pledging allegiance to certain corporate entities because of the belief systems of their chief executives? (There's a Supreme Court decision in here that I'm tempted to speak out about, but that will wait.)  I'm reminded of an email that circulated in the days before Facebook, where recipients (presumably Christians; I've always wondered if agnostics circulated similar messages. "If you don't believe there's a God, pass this on or you'll make him cry.") were urged to boycott all Procter & Gamble products, as the CEO had publicly stated that he donates a portion of the huge company's products to the Church of Satan.  Like 98% of these emails, it was patently false, and I don't know a single person that actually abstained from using any P&G merchandise.  The message was clear, though: This person (company) is capital-W Wrong, and we are voting with our money.  The reverse is happening now.  The Other Side (This bothers me more than anything - somehow this has turned into a Christian vs. non-Christian battle, as if all Christians are in agreement on this issue) calls for a boycott, so today is "Support Chick-fil-a Day."  Vote with your money.

This misses the point, in my opinion.  My faith tradition is very much into going back to the roots of the early church, or so we say.  As it happens, the early church had the deck stacked against them.  Yes, they believed in changing the world, but it was a grassroots movement, lived out on the margin of society.  It was a radical reimagining of living community as an expression of God's love for his people.  The idea that we have to grab as much power as we can so we can force the unbeliever to live like us is distinctly American, and I don't think there's much, if any, Biblical support for it.  

I don't believe it's my Christian duty to coerce anybody into faithless orthopraxy.  I believe it's my Christian duty to share Christ's love with the world.  I believe it's my Christian duty to love black and white and brown, sinner and saint, rich and poor, divorced and happily married, alien and stranger and native, male and female, gay and straight.  Not once in any of the debates I've witnessed over the last few days have I seen anybody from either side question how our response to the Chick-fil-a issue shows love to homosexual people, and that's why I don't believe it matters whether or not you're eating there.  Boycott it or don't.  Vote with your money or don't.  But please let's not pretend that any of it has anything to do with our noble intentions or our willingness to Contend for the Faith.  All I can think about when it comes to Chick-fil-a is that I have failed to love all of God's people.  I have used hurtful language, sometimes directly to gay people.  I have argued that certain people shouldn't have certain rights based on their sexuality.  I have failed to speak on this issue in a graceful manner, and I have wrongly justified myself for doing so based on my faith.  I don't want to fail in these departments any longer, and this Chick-fil-a business has little, if anything, to do with that.  I have to believe that following Jesus is a little harder - and more meaningful - than making a politically charged lunchtime decision.

I don't mean to tell any Christians that they can't support or boycott Chick-fil-a.  If that's how you imagine your faith or your political beliefs being lived out in the world, then go for it.  However, consider doing this: whenever you think about whether or not you're going to enjoy some delicious fried chicken in the near future, take a moment to also think about what actions you're going to take to love a gay person that day.

Happiness For Blessing. 2008 One Winged Angel.Bloggerized by : GosuBlogger