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Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy supports traditional Bible family values, and because he does many have condemned him and his company as being anti-homosexual and anti-marriage equality. And because many think this way Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has suggested that Chick-fil-A be banned in Boston. We have come a long way in America. I’m just not sure which way that is.
Let me put my cards on the table: First, I’m a vegetarian, and while I suspect the lives of the chickens whose corpses end up being served at Chick-fil-A are unhappy ones, I am not one to ban restaurants simply because the food served there is the result of brutal abuse.
Second I am against Boston banning things. The reason for this is more historical than political. I’m from Springfield, MA, and the first book to be banned in Boston was a 1651 criticism of Puritanism written by William Pynchon, the founder of my fair city. Mr. Pynchon fled back to England to avoid the pressure coming his way from Boston, and his doing so almost caused Springfield to align itself with nearby Connecticut, which would have led to my being born in Connecticut, which is something I find appalling, although for no apparent reason.
Third, I respect and do my best to live by Bronze Age biblical food values. I don’t eat pig, lobster, shrimp, or any of the other abominations God created for us not to eat. So I am not anti-Bible by any means. In fact I’m pro biblical family values as well.
The Bible is clearly in favor of unwed couples living together and even having children. The Hebrew Bible never says Adam and Eve were married, nor—cowardly English translations aside—does the Hebrew ever call them husband and wife. Polygamy too is fine: Abraham had two wives, Jacob had two wives and two concubines, and King Solomon had 700 wives. So let Utah be Utah! Nor does the Bible condemn Eve for giving birth to her own grandchildren via her sons (there were no other women back then), or Lot’s daughters having kids by their father because they were too lazy to walk to the next town and find some guys hanging out around a well. And then there is Lot himself offering his daughters to be gang raped by the men of Sodom, Abraham twice pimping his first wife to Pharaoh, and the option to “marry” women carried away as war booty. None of this is counter to the Bible’s family values, so, hey, what’s not to like?
If we are going to complain about people violating biblical values let’s start with St. Paul who condemns lesbians when the Bible (his Bible!) only condemns gay men. Which brings me back to Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A.
If you are going to live your life by the mores of Bronze Age literature, Mr. Cathy, you can’t do much better than the Bible. All I ask is that you abide by the actual values themselves, and not your own inventions.
And please, Mayor Menino, don’t ban Chick-fil-A. You just might cause a mass emigration to Connecticut.


Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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