Pictures of friends engorging themselves on Chick-fil-A unsurprisingly crowded Facebook yesterday. Having graduated from a conservative Catholic university, my response to their displays in decades old ‘culture wars’ is far past bewilderment or anger by now. Over four years, I’ve noted the cognitive dissonance one must undergo to claim both orthodoxy in Catholicism and orthodoxy in American conservatism is almost impressive.
Today, I will not refute those who supported Chick-fil-A nor seek to defend the mayors who oppose it. For my Catholic peers, I offer a challenge in the wake of your chicken sandwich.
A week ago, an openly gay man in Oklahoma City awoke to a crowd vandalizing his car with homophobic slurs before igniting the car and running off, leaving the victim with severe burns.
Days ago, three men broke into the home of a Nebraska womanand proceeded to tie her up, beat her, and carve anti-lesbian slurs into her skin before attempting arson on her home.
Now, a Missouri woman suffered a vicious beatingnear her home at the hands of teenage children that left her bruised with medical complications in an outbreak of physical violence following months of harassment by the teenagers against the lesbian couple.
Such incidents of hate only serve as recent examples for the epidemic levels of harassment and violence the LGBTQ community suffers in our nation and the world. Nowhere in Scripture, nor in the Tradition of the Catholic Church is hate, discrimination, or violence of this type justified – in fact, Christ’s foundational teachings on justice, peace, and reconciliation contradict hate of any nature at its core.
The Christian vocation consists fundamentally of speaking up for and standing in solidarity with the marginalized, the abused, the neglected, the oppressed, the segregated, and the violated. Our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in this present age exist in a place of hope for the future, but also are mired in the sinful violence of the present.
Though I encourage those who oppose LGBTQ rights and equality to reflect and rethink, ensuring the safety and well-being of all peoples need not entail the debate over marriage equality or even the morality of sexuality and sexual acts.
In the face of contemptible violence – verbal, emotional, physical, and spiritual – against our brothers and sisters in Christ, where are the Catholics?
Where are the Catholics? Where are those who vigorously defend the unborn under the title of “pro-life,” yet tacitly support the anti-life, anti-LGBTQ violence by perpetuating lies about homosexuality that the Catholic Church long ago rejected?
Where are the Catholics? Where are those who spend so much time defending ‘family’ and ‘traditional marriage’ through condemnation, yet refuse to address the crisis of LGBTQ youth who find rejection from their families and too often turn to homelessness, addiction, self-injury, and suicide as cures?
Where are the Catholics? Where are those who chow down a chicken sandwich for ‘free speech,’ but fail to stand up firmly as a voice for justice while arson, skin-carving, and brutal beatings are routinely committed against fellow human beings.
Our God mandates we defend every life from violence and harm without hesitation or exception. Our Christ dictates that we always intervene when the marginalized and oppressed suffer, without judgment or condemnation. Our Spirit moves us to build up the Kingdom through positive acts and reconciliation.
Our faith calls us to more than ‘culture wars’ or divisive partisanship. It calls us to more than liberal and conservative positioning. It calls us to transcend temporal politics so dialogue can exist. It calls us to radical Christian love.
So for all those Catholics who acted either in opposing or in defending Chick-fil-A yesterday, my only real question is: How are you really going to defend life and dignity in helping the LGBTQ community?