Do you remember the controversy last year that began when a Chicago Alderman did not want Chick-fil-A in his neighborhood because of what he perceived as “anti-gay” sentiments of its president Dan Cathy, a committed Christian? Well this week there was a very interesting article in The Huffington Post written by Shane Windmeyer, a national leader in the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender) movement.
Windmeyer wrote, “Like most LGBT people, I was provoked by Dan’s public opposition to marriage equality and his company’s problematic giving history. I had the background and history on him, so I thought, 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… On Aug. 10, 2012, in the heat of the controversy, I got a surprise call from Dan Cathy. He had gotten my cell phone number from a mutual business contact serving campus groups. I took the call with great caution… The first call lasted over an hour, and the private conversation led to more calls the next week and the week after…”
“His questions and a series of deeper conversations ultimately led to a number of in-person meetings with Dan and representatives from Chick-fil-A… Through all this, Dan and I shared respectful, enduring communication and built trust. His demeanor has always been one of kindness and openness… Dan embraced the opportunity to have dialogue and hear my perspective… Throughout the conversations Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level. He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’ Dan expressed regret and genuine sadness when he heard of people being treated unkindly in the name of Chick-fil-A — but he offered no apologies for his genuine beliefs about marriage.”
“In many ways, getting to know Dan better has reminded me of my relationship with my uncle, who is a pastor at a Pentecostal church. When I came out as openly gay in college, I was aware that his religious views were not supportive of homosexuality. But my personal relationship with my uncle reassured me of his love for me… His beliefs prevented him from fully reconciling what he understood as the immorality of homosexuality with the morality of loving and supporting me and my life. It was, and remains, an unsolvable riddle for him, hating the sin and loving the sinner.”
“My relationship with Dan is the same, though he is not my family. 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…. In the end, it is not about eating (or eating a certain chicken sandwich). It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue. Dan would probably call this act the biblical definition of hospitality. I would call it human decency. So long as we are all at the same table and talking, does it matter what we call it or what we eat?”
I am so impressed with Dan Cathy’s initiative to build a relationship with Shane Windmeyer. It really reflects the love of the Lord Jesus. How can the gospel spread in a culture where it’s us vs. them? Where would Christianity be today if Peter had refused to sit down and eat with Cornelius (Acts 10)? May God give us the wisdom and boldness to love others in such a way.