Friendship Heals Chick-fil-A / LGBT Divide
Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, models a Christian response to gay activism.

Last summer controversy erupted when Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, gave an interview expressing his opposition to same sex marriage based on biblical teachings. Gay rights activists also reacted to the fast food company's financial support for organizations that sought to block SSM.

In the weeks that followed, supporters of Chick-fil-A and traditional marriage showed their solidarity by lining up at the restaurants for a fried chicken sandwich, and members of the GLBT community rallied protests to block the restaurants from entering some cities. The entire episode highlighted the widening divide between conservative Christians and the gay community, and few had hope that reconciliation was possible.

What we did not know was that Dan Cathy, rather than fighting this battle in the media, chose to pursue a more Christ-honoring way. He reached out to Shane Windmeyer, the leader of Campus Pride–the pro-LGBT organization that was leading the fight against Chick-fil-A. Cathy developed a friendship with Shane and his husband, and a foundation of mutual respect was created.

Earlier this week Windmeyer "came out" about his friendship with Cathy in a column for Huffington Post. He writes:

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.

Windmeyer continued:

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 – and that love extends to my husband....
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. He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life even while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He defined this to me as "the blessing of growth." He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did, as well.

In Cathy and Windmeyer we have a model of a Christian response to the tensions between the church and LGBT community. Rather than fighting battles in the courts, legislatures, and public square, we ought to begin by loving our neighbors and establishing genuine friendships.

For more on this story, here's an interview with Shane Windmeyer from Headline News:

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January 30, 2013

Displaying 1–9 of 9 comments

Shyanne

March 07, 2013  1:16am

I have the utmost respect for the way that Dan Cathy handled this situation. There is a way that love and respect can be shown to someone even if you do not necessarily agree with the lifestyle that someone is living. Personally, I have someone that I am close with who professed to be gay and I realized that judging him for his sin would only strain our relationship. He knows where I stand and that I do not agree with his life choice but he also knows that I love him deeply. By showing him this love I only hope that he sees Christ through that. I have no right to judge him. By judging this dear friend of mine it would only say I am more righteous than God which is entirely and utterly untrue.

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Derek C

February 19, 2013  2:47pm

@ounbbl, perhaps you can share with us how your approach works with your acquaintances who are gay. What do they say when you tell them about gay copulation?

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ounbbl

February 14, 2013  10:26pm

We don't mean that someone speaks out from the point of Scriptural view should condescend to the pressure group, political group, ideology group? What kind of 'genuine relationship' we are talking about, I wonder. Gay marriage is a false name for gay copulation. Bible has nothing to do with falsehood.

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bil_

February 06, 2013  4:13pm

Wow. I did not expect that Dan Cathy was part of the "healed relationship" touted in the headline. Hearing both Dan and Shane share their views on this is encouraging. I hope others can manage to overcome all the "rhetoric and hate" and begin to have respectful conversations and even relationships with one another while continuing to stand on our faith in Christ and His Word as a standard for our lives. What an unexpectedly encouraging article! Thanks Url!!

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youngjapan

February 06, 2013  2:59pm

Many churches are pushing homosexuals away. We cannot ignore that homosexuality is a sin, but that should not stop us from loving them. We should reach out to them all the more because of that, and show them the love of Christ and pray that one day they can come to accept Christ. This is similar to the story of Rosaria Butterfield. She was a lesbian. A local pastor reached out to her and began inviting her over to his house and having dinner with his family. After a year of this, Rosaria invited the pastor to her house and he spent time with her and her homosexual friends. Eventually, Rosaria began asking questions about the Bible and the pastor's faith and she came to know Christ. She is now a pastor's wife. Perhaps this pastor and Dan Cathy were uncomfortable at first. They might have thought about how the members of their church would view them after finding out about their homosexual friends. But they were able to get past that. The were not worried about what society thought of them. They humbled themselves. They reached out and showed homosexuals God's love for them. We should all be doing this.

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Amy

February 03, 2013  4:23pm

I appreciate the honest and Christ-centered way that Cathy chose to reach out in this situation. This was definitely a wise choice, and will prove to be a benefit in the future, whether that is through more connections, or simply a better understanding of Christ's love for everyone. I so respect the way he has led Chick-fil-a through this conflict and has quietly worked to heal any wounds that may have been caused.

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Mark Mixter

January 31, 2013  8:02am

Seems like Shane is living out the charge to love one another - in word and deed, rather than wasting cycles on media bombast May his tribe increase!!!!!

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Mike Radney

January 31, 2013  1:20am

The Bible says in the book of Amos, "How can two walk together unless they be in agreement"? I've found through the years that this "agreement" is a very deep level of relationship few find with others, however, forgiveness and acceptance is easily attainable IF WE REALLY LOVE ONE ANOTHER. And frankly, these levels (for the real thing Christian) ISN'T optional. My hats is off to both Cathy and Windmeyer.

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Nate

January 30, 2013  11:39am

We should credit Shane Windmeyer as well as Dan Cathy for listening to the Spirit and choosing peace and love rather than hate and fear. It's not going to be any help if we take this story and use it to browbeat every non-Christian about how wrong they were about Christians.

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