I've been a loyal customer for many years. My first Chick-fil-A sandwich and waffle fries came from a mall somewhere in the Atlanta metro area. It was long enough ago that I'm not sure of which mall or exactly what year it was, but I think it was probably in 1988.
In the years that followed, I became a frequent patron. Through elementary, middle and high school, I regularly ate at what I understand is the oldest free-standing Chick-fil-A in existence in my hometown of Snellville, Ga. There weren't any Chick-fil-A restaurants close to the colleges that I went to, but when I returned home to Snellville, Chick-fil-A became a fairly regular part of my diet again. For the past seven years, I have swung through one of several Chick-fil-A drive-thrus on my way to work every morning. For the last two of those years, I ate Chick-fil-A on my lunch break as well.
I was a loyal customer because I enjoyed being served by your courteous employees and I enjoyed eating your relatively (when compared to other fast food chains) healthy food. My love for the Chick-fil-A sandwich, the waffle fries, the Chick-fil-A biscuit and Polynesian sauce seemed limitless.
But all of that has changed.
I always knew that Chick-fil-A, owned by the Cathy family, operated under certain evangelical (fundamentalist) Christian ideals. That is, after all, why I had to learn to suppress my cravings for your wonderful food on Sundays. But I had fooled myself into thinking that these ideals didn't extend to the darker, more intolerant corners of the evangelical belief structure.
I ignored the signsthe confirmation that WinShape (the charity operated by Chick-fil-A) has donated to anti-gay groups and the explicit statement that the WinShape Retreat Center won't allow gay couples to book roomsfor as long as I could. But Dan Cathy's statements that he is for "traditional marriage" and "the biblical definition of the family unit" have shattered my delusions.
I find Mr. Cathy's words disturbing, not only because they are ultimately discriminatory, but because they show a true ignorance of what the "traditional" and "biblical definition" of marriage is.
To say that we, as modern Americans, currently live by the "traditional" definition of marriage is to ignore history. Up until a few hundred years ago, marriage was not based entirely on the romantic love of one man and one woman. Over the past 6,000 years of recorded history, the institution of marriage has been used to unite nations, end wars, and build and gather wealth. Such arrangements span all continents and cultures. In fact, if you really want to see examples of a "traditional" marriage, you should be looking to India, where many of the wealthier families still arrange marriages for their children.
But I guess I should assume that, in his profound ignorance, Mr. Cathy was using the word "traditional" as a synonym for "biblical." Well, if this is the case, then Mr. Cathy is obviously as ignorant of the Bible as he is the history of the institution of marriage. The sanctity of marriage, as described by the Bible, has been corrupted for hundreds of years now. Based on the stories and the laws recorded in The Bible, there are 12 basic and explicit rules regarding marriage:
Marriage consists of one man and one or more than one woman (Gen 4:19, 4:23, 26:34, 28:9, 29:26-30, 30:26, 31:17, 32:22, 36:2, 36:10, 37:2, Ex. 21:10, Judges 8:30, 1 Sam 1:2, 25:43, 27:3, 30:5, 30:18, 2 Sam 2:2, 3:2-5, 1 Chron 3:1-3, 4:5, 8:8, 14:3, 2 Chron 11:21, 13:21, 24:3).
Nothing prevents a man from taking on concubines or sexual slaves in addition to the wife or wives he may already have (Gen 25:6, Judges 8:31, 2 Sam 5:13, 1 Kings 11:3, 1 Chron 3:9, 2 Chron 11:21, Dan 5:2-3).
A man might choose any woman he wants for his wife (Gen 6:2, Deut 21:11), provided only that she is not already another man's wife (Lev 18:14-16, Deut. 22:30) or a relative (Lev 18:11, 20:17, Lev 20:14, Lev 18:18). The concept of a woman giving her consent to being married is not in the Bible.
If a woman cannot be proven to be a virgin at the time of marriage, she shall be stoned to death (Deut 22:13-21).
A rapist must marry his victim (Ex. 22:16, Deut. 22:28-29), unless she was already a fiancé, in which case he should be put to death if he raped her in the country, but both of them killed if he raped her in town (Deut. 22:23-27).
If a man dies childless, his brother must marry the widow (Gen 38:6-10, Deut 25:5-10, Mark 12:19, Luke 20:28).
Women must marry the man of their father's choosing (Gen. 24:4, Josh.15:16-17, Judges 1:12-13, 12:9, 21:1, 1 Sam 17:25, 18:19, 1 Kings 2:21, 1 Chron 2:35, Jer 29:6, Dan 11:17).
Women are the property of their fathers until married and the property of their husbands thereafter (Ex. 20:17, 22:17, Deut. 22:24, Mat 22:25).
The value of a woman might be approximately seven years' work (Gen 29:14-30).
Interfaith marriages are prohibited (Gen 24:3, 28:1, 28:6, Num 25:1-9, Ezra 9:12, Neh 10:30, 2 Cor 6:14).
Divorce is forbidden (Deut 22:19, Matt 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:9-12, Luke 16:18, Rom 7:2, 1 Cor 7:10-11, 7:39).
It is better to not get married at allalthough marriage is not a sin (Matt 19:10, I Cor 7:1, 7:27-28, 7:32-34, 7:38).
Many of these biblical traditions and laws are considered barbaric (and even criminal) now, yet this is how the Bible defines marriage in its text.
But perhaps Mr. Cathy uses the word "biblical" to describe the Bible's few passages that seem to outlaw homosexual relations, of which the most often quoted are in Leviticus. This too shows his profound ignorance and hypocrisy, as Leviticus is rife with "laws" that he and so many others ignore. Does Mr. Cathy advocate that no one be allowed to sow their fields with two different types of grain or wear clothing of made of two different types of thread (Lev. 19:19)? Does Mr. Cathy believe that people with disabilities are unfit to worship God (Lev. 21:17-18)? Does Mr. Cathy abhor men who round their hair at the temples or mar the edges of their beards (Lev. 19:27)?
Moreover, why does Chick-fil-A sponsor a Bowl game every year, despite the Bible's warnings against touching the carcass of a pig (Lev. 11:8) and the presence of cheerleaders for men to lust after (a violation of the Tenth Commandment)? For that matter, why does Chick-fil-A serve sausage and bacon, which is also considered unclean (Lev. 11:8)? The answer is simple: the "laws" in Leviticus are not Commandments handed down by God, but the words of men, created to preserve andprotect the fledgling Jewish tribes. Mr. Cathy and others cherry-pick from the Bible to justify their fear of and hatred for homosexuals, just as others once did to justify slavery.
So in the end, I am left knowing that Mr. Cathy and Chick-fil-A don't support the "traditional," "biblical" institution of marriage, but instead, they support institutionalized hate. Moreover, in giving money to organizations that advocate against same-sex marriage, Mr. Cathy and Chick-fil-A support the suspending the 14th Amendment Rights of homosexuals. I understand that Chick-fil-A stated in a press release that it does not discriminate against homosexual patrons or employees, but that is only because it is illegal to openly do so. Mr. Cathy's words have betrayed his true feelingshe is a bigotand no amount of tasty food will change that fact.
I have friends and family members who are homosexualsthese are people that I love and respect. They want nothing but the freedom to love those that they wish to love and live their lives in peace. Yet Mr. Cathy wishes to prevent this. I cannot in good conscience continue to eat at Chick-fil-A knowing that the profits from each meal will, in part, go to funding the bigotry that Mr. Cathy, Chick-fil-A and WinShape support. For those reasons, I will no longer support Chick-fil-A with my patronage.
Bradley J. Hartman