In the Wake of Rob Bell Coming Out for Marriage Equality, I Found Wisdom and Encouragement in the Story of Dan Cathy

Margaret —  March 21, 2013 — 35 Comments

Finding Wisdom and Encouragement from Dan Cathy

A few weeks ago, I was sitting next to my sweet friend, Angela Thomas, at an Extraordinary Women event. She tugged on my sleeve. “Have you heard the story of Dan Cathy and Shane Windemeyer?”

“Um, no,” I said.

“Google it--you’ve got to read it, that’s the story that isn’t getting out.”In the blur of speaking and hugging what felt like a thousand women, I soon forgot about the article.

Early this week, I read the news of Rob Bell speaking at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and openly endorsing marriage equality.

I read a few of the top headlines, and winced. I couldn’t stomach reading any more. What can I say? I’m allergic to Haterade.

That afternoon an unexpected email arrived from my friend Angela with a link to the article about Dan Cathy. You may have read it months ago. But for me, at the perfect time, the story left me wonderstruck.

Shane L. Windemeyer, a nationally recognized LGBT leader, tells how he was befriended by Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A. In the wake of a national campaign against Chick-fil-A for millions donated to organizations that are considered anti-LGBT, this was no small feat.

You can read the article here.

What’s interesting is that if Shane hadn’t broken the story, we’d probably never know.

It made me wonder how many other Christian leaders are working behind the scenes to navigate this issue that has so many political, religious, legal, moral, personal, familial, financial complexities.

The story of Dan Cathy reaching out to Shane Windmeyer reminded me that this issue isn’t easy to navigate. And if you ever see someone try to sum it up in a cliché or bumper sticker, run.

This issue will continue to bring the church to our knees. In prayer. In humility. In our ability to love God and love others—in word, deed, and action.

May we learn and be inspired from Dan Cathy along the way. As Christians we can choose to show respect, kindness, and love to others—yes, even when we mightily disagree—and engage in civil dialogue even on difficult issues all the while reflecting Christ.

You are welcome to comment on this blog, but know that haterade will not be tolerated.

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35 responses to In the Wake of Rob Bell Coming Out for Marriage Equality, I Found Wisdom and Encouragement in the Story of Dan Cathy

  1. This is an issue I have such a hard time with. I recognize the importance of the family the way God designed it, but a tiny part of me says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Let people have civil unions and equality in front of the law, since that’s really what they’re seeking. But I’m so torn! I wish there was a clear and easy answer to this. I feel like it’s tearing society apart right now, and people on the “wrong” side of the fence are ostracized.

    • (@LazyChristian) Rachel, I couldn’t agree more. As a Christian woman, I am so torn. As a believer in the power of God to change a human heart, I am torn. Isn’t there something in the middle – some common ground that leaves everyone satisfied?

      A friend of mine who is gay asked the question, “what is the state doing involved in marriage anyway?” Good question. Why not separate the contract side of what society calls marriage (community property, filing taxes jointly, making medical decisions for partners, etc.) from the covenant that we (who believe) make in front of God? Let’s not redefine marriage, but instead define a new kind of contract that provides the legal rights (and responsibilities) of marriage. Then leave the covenant between people for whom God is a central part of their lives.

      ~We are hoping to adopt. To learn more about us please visit http://www.tomandkjadopt.com.

      • Rachel and KJ, I couldn’t help but notice both of you using the word “torn”. I recently read a book by that title written by Justin Lee … a Christian who is gay. It was helpful to learn about his struggles, as I don’t personally know anyone who is gay. I would recommend the book. If you just want a synopsis, I wrote one on my blog here: http://www.nicoleawebb.com/2013/02/re-building-bridge-between-christians.html

        I love that Margaret is bringing this article to light again! I read it a while back and it brought a big smile to my face. I love the message … it just doesn’t matter whether we agree or disagree theologically, we are still called to love each other as Christ would.

      • Jeffery Foster April 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        Excuse a guy for nosing in but I really appreciate Sister Margaret. KJ I’ll be praying for your adoption and thank you for expression what I seem to lack the words to communicate. While I believe and teach that Believers need to set the standard and are called by God to do so, politically we need to know when to withdraw as say render unto Caesar.

        The more important discussion needs to happen between churches who at one point spoke as one voice. We need to dialogue or make the difficult decision to treat some as outsiders. (bind and loose, Matt. 18) The real battle is within the church and Satan is using wolves in sheep’s clothing to cause confusion.

        Bless you this good day.

  2. marie haggarty March 21, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Really good. Thank you – I needed to read this today..

  3. I have read that story, and I think that it is an awesome example of how we can still stand for Christ yet reach out to the others and love them as we have been told to do. i believe that although we are in this world, we do have to be of the world to bring people closer to Christ. I think that is what I am getting from your post too, right?

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this uplifting example of love and respect in the midst of disagreement. We need to hear more stories like this especially around this issue.

  5. Simply put….Beautiful!!!
    Showing CHRIST LOVE to the multitudes!! This needs to be shared all over, this is relevant in all areas of life.

    CHRIST shines most when we die to our selves and embrace without judgement!!

    We don’t have to like the sin, we do have to love the the sinner!

    I applaud Dan Cathy….what he did took courage, strength and most importantly he showed the LOVE of CHRIST in a way that will impact for time to come!!

    Thanks for sharing, blessings,
    Tina

  6. I am writing a book this very moment on this topic: how the church has MISSED it in sharing Christ with the world. [I already know I'm going to lose friends ("friends") when it comes out.] We are given ONE job: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS. That’s what Dan Cathy did here and we’re shocked by it. Love is how the world is supposed to connect us to Christ, but instead it sees our judgment. Deep sigh. Deep, deep sigh.

  7. Margaret, I, too, am allergic to “Haterade.” There is, however, an obligation to stand on the truth of scripture when it comes to this subject. I wish it weren’t so, but that is the truth. We need to ask God how to love people and yet not “affirm” the sin in their lives. I think we have more affirmation in the church these days than a high regard for scripture.

    • What you say is so true. We do “need to stand on the truth of scripture when it comes to this subject” and asking “God how to love people and yet not ‘affirm’ the sin in their lives” is so important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Christy Campbell March 21, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I was inspired by Shane’s article a few days ago, so much so that I posted it on Facebook with my comment of “a great example of how mature adults handle conflict”. I have over 200 hundred friends on Facebook, only one person liked the article. I thought maybe no one saw it, so I re-posted the article. As of yet, not one person has acknowledged the article. I know that doesn’t mean they didn’t read it but I have some very vocal friends who have done what Shane referred to “as using Chic-fi-la” to advance their message. People get so focused on the issue that they forget that real people created by God are involved. The issues become idols that take our focus off of Jesus and His desire for relationships. Its in relationships that people can experience God’s love, grace, and mercy. Relationships are risky. Shane and Dan chose to take a risk and a relationship was grown that the Lord will use to impact others. Blessings!

  9. Yes! That article made its way through my facebook friends a few months back. I’m very proud to call Dan Cathy a brother in Christ. Also love the term, “haterade”. I wish news organizations would hire someone just to moderate the comments on their online articles.

  10. Hi Margaret! I’m so thankful that you brought this article to light. I am a master level social work student and this has been an issue that I have struggled and wrestled with off and on since going back to school. I have met a transgender person and a gay man who came out on the campus of a Christian college. The thing is they are real people with real feelings and in some ways are more genuine and authentic than some Christians I know. When you sit and listen to their stories and truly understand the journey they have been on, I’m not sure how anyone can respond in hate. Do we ridicule and demonize people who lie, commit adultery, gossip? We are all flawed people. We all sin whether people admit it or not. Not one of us are perfect. Jesus is the only one who is perfect. I admire what Dan Cathy has done and I admire it even more that he did it privately. We are to show the love of Christ to the world. Build relationships, lead by example. When has it ever been effective to thump someone over the head with the Bible? I still haven’t figured out how I will deal with this issue professionally, but I do know that I refuse to ridicule, demonize, and condemn someone who is just as broken as me. Doing so would be hypocritical and self righteous because while I don’t struggle with homosexuality, I have my own sinful issues that I struggle with.

  11. This article gives me so much hope. In the middle of the Chick-fil-a blowup, I remember wondering if anything good could come of it, for anyone. I didn’t see any way for redemption to happen. Isn’t that just like God, though? He steps in and does the beautifully unimaginable! Thank you for sharing this, Margaret. Dan Cathy is a wonderful example for us all in loving others rightly.

  12. Very good story. Very good.

    I think we get all bottled up in big sin v. little sin. Something like lying is accepted and quite prevalent in our culture. “little sin”

    Homosexuality is still not accepted by a large segment of our society, many of whom battle the “scourge” in abhorrent ways.

    Yet, most of us have no problem sitting at a table with a liar, but would shun the homosexual. That makes US wrong.

    While we shouldn’t be screaming out each person’s sin to point it out to others, we should be loving them just like Jesus did. Mr. Cathy has a faith so strong that he could sit down and discuss a very difficult subject with a person who characterized the subject being discussed and he did it without villainizing this man!

    THAT is what I want to have. That kind of faith in that kind of Savior.

  13. Dan Cathy’s story was so beautiful….it reminds me of Paul’s words…imitate me as I imitate Christ….I shared this with many of my friends..thanks for sharing it here.

  14. Well said, Margaret. Until we are willing to really listen to the stories of people in the gay & lesbian community, we will not understand how to love them as Jesus does.

  15. I was privileged to read this article a while back, but am so thankful you posted it again. I feel it’s one of the most inspiring article I’ve read in a long time. I believe this is a Christ-centered approach to love – we don’t all have to agree on everything in order to open our hearts and show Jesus to someone. I admire both Dan and Shane’s willingness to look beyond their differences and into the heart of the other person, while continuing to stand by their own beliefs. Thank you, again, Margaret.

  16. This is such a beautiful story of reconciliation. I have mostly only experienced tolerance being said as “changing your view” This seems to a step of peace by both sides of this delicate conversation. Living in the Bay Area I have a heart for all to know that God loves each of us…the same. It’s very difficult to share that when Christians are known as being so “hateful, and homophobic” Pray for us here to show love.

  17. Thanks for sharing Margaret! Beautiful story & great example of truly living as followers of Christ!!

  18. Jennifer Carnes March 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    This is an incredibly volatile subject. It saddens me that so many Christians handle this with either hateful vitriol OR acquiescing to the pressure of culture by accepting this lifestyle as “normal”. The church would do well to read 2 Timothy 3. We, the church, should handle all sin with truth AND love. The story of Sy Rogers is one of many examples of people being delivered through Biblical love and truth.

    Also, being opposed to the normalizing of homosexuality does not make one “intolerant” as many seem to think. We are all sinful. We are all in need of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. “For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.”.

  19. A couple of comments, Margaret.

    First, I read this story about Windemeyer and Cathy a few weeks ago. It is a great illustration of people trying to learn from each other. Seeing each other as human beings and not some fear-mongered stereotypes strikes me as the first step toward grace in each other’s company.

    Second, God’s grace always seems lightyears ahead of our judgment. I think about that a lot in this issue.

    Finally, “Haterade”, that’s just a great way to describe nasty comments. I’m going to quote you on that.

    Thank you for the great work you do!

    Be well,

    Darrell

  20. What brings this whole topic home is having one in your family who has chosen this lifestyle. I say chosen under advisement, because there are those who feel that they are born gay/lesbian. But it is all part of our fallen nature. When we are born, we have not yet found the truth of Jesus Christ who paid for our redemption with his very life. As unredeemed humans, we experience in some measure the brokenness of sin. We don’t even know that we are sinning, until we are found by Christ and experience his love and begin to gain our freedom from the darkness. So how can someone not feel that they are “born this way.” Of course they are; they have never known any other way!

    Having said all this, it still doesn’t make it easy to be a believer and to love this fallen generation!

  21. Thank you Margaret for your respectful insight!! This is a sensitive topic for me as I have many gay/lesbian friends who I dearly love. I don’t think of them as my gay/lesbian friends, they’re just friends. Aside from marriage they enjoy the same civil rights as me & my husband. In our state inmates, including those serving life sentences without possibility of parole, have the right to marry. It deeply troubles me they enjoy a right my gay/lesbian friends do not. My sins are far easier to hide & don’t make me an easy target for attack/criticism. I think sometimes we Christians forget what we have been saved from & that we too need a Savior. In that regard we are no different from our gay/lesbian loved ones.

  22. To anyone who is “torn” on this issue, I would kindly advise you to read the Bible. The Bible is in no way, shape, or form, “torn” on this issue. There is no gray area. Thank the Lord that He is so clear! Thank you Margaret for letting us know about this article! We are NEVER called to hate, to discriminate, or for that matter to tolerate. What we are called to do is spread the good news of the Gospel. Show people God’s love first. And always keep in mind before you start in on telling people what they are doing wrong, that God loved us and died for us while we were STILL in our sin! Praise God for that, because if we had to clean up our act before we could come to Him, none of us would ever make it.

  23. Jeffery Foster April 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Excuse a guy for nosing in but I really appreciate you sister Margaret. Thank you for expressing what I seem to lack the words to communicate. While I believe and teach that Believers need to set the standard and are called by God to do so, politically we need to know when to withdraw as say render unto Caesar.

    The more important discussion needs to happen between churches who at one point spoke as one voice. We need to dialogue or make the difficult decision to treat some as outsiders. (bind and loose, Matt. 18) The real battle is within the church and Satan is using wolves in sheep’s clothing to cause confusion.

    Bless you this good day.

  24. Well said, Thanks for all your incite on this.

  25. No offense intended, but…I’m not sure where the confusion on this issue comes in. We know that the Bible is a product of two cultures thousands of years ago, and that we don’t live in those cultures, right? That isn’t up for debate, right? So why are other people’s marriages up for debate?

    I live in Minnesota, where gay marriage was just passed into law. Churches will not be (nor have they ever been) required by law to perform any marriage that doesn’t fit in with its beliefs. God loves all and made 10% of the population gay. That 10% deserves to have loving, familial relationships. They are under no obligation to abide by any book ever written, including the Bible. I think as Christians, we would do well to accept people as they are and love them as Jesus would.

    Two dear friends of mine have been married for five years and have a son together. Thank GOD their adorable son doesn’t have to grow up thinking there is something “wrong” with his moms! You may not think their marriage is legitimate, but they want exactly what you want: to be happy, and to raise their son to be happy and healthy. Their marriage affects your life in no way whatsoever. Degrading their marriage, however, WOULD affect all of us: When we all do better, we all do better.

    Amen!

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