A Chicken Controversy
No I didn’t go to Chick-Fil-A yesterday, but I was in Cancun. And I probably won’t go today — though today might be more dramatic — I’m still in Cancun. But I responded often enough on facebook that I decided to collect a few of my thoughts.
1. If you know me, you know that I’m not a big believer in Christian boycotts or protests. When Ben and Jerry’s renamed one of their flavors to support same-sex marriage (from Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby) I kept eating. When Target started selling gay-pride T-Shirts to support a MN group opposed to the ban on same-sex marriage, I kept shopping. When the Southern Baptists called for a Disney ban because they had a day where they catered to homosexuals, I disneyed on. When Altoona congregations came to protest a same-sex couple affirmation in our borough, I specifically told Calvary we would not join the protest.
I don’t think protests or boycotts are very effective at changing culture or changing hearts.
But at the same time, this feels a little bit different. Honestly doesn’t it to you? Let me bring it down to a smaller scale. Let’s say that my children start a business. They go into business together to start a landscaping company. It’s a great company. They decide that they want their company to be in alignment with their values. So they talk through their values and they pick out the ones that are most important to them and they begin to shape their company accordingly, even putting parameters on what they will do with their profits. One of those values happens to be a value on marriage. So one day a newspaper asks them about their company, and the interview heads into the realm of their values…and in the midst of talking about marriage, it comes out that these four business people believe in a traditional view of marriage. They actually put some of their profits into organizations that support local marriages. When news comes out about this, the local mayor goes on a campaign against them to close down their business. So my question simply is this: If those were my kids would I want my church to love my kids by supporting them in some way? In that case what does it mean to say that the world will know we are followers of Jesus by the love we have for each other. Honestly I’m not sure what the correct answer is…but I think it would be helpful to think through the question.
2) I don’t believe that politics will ever change the world. Politics is a little kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the BIG KINGDOM. Only the Big Kingdom can change the world and it typically happens one heart at a time. Having said that, Christ calls us to be salt and light in every area of culture and society. In other words Christ calls us to bring the Big Kingdom into every little kingdom we inhabit. So by all means get involved in politics, but do it with a Big Kingdom heart. Make no mistake this week eating at Chick-Fil-A was all about politics. In fairness to Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A, they DID NOT try to make this political. I believe they have a Big Kingdom heart. But the mayor’s responses followed by Mike Huckabee’s response followed by the people who ate yesterday and today…all made it political. There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in politics as long as they bring a Big Kingdom mentality and heart.
3) I’m not an alarmist, an extremist, or a doomsday guy, but let’s be honest, there is a possibility that one day, in our country, preaching an evangelical interpretation of the biblical view of homosexuality will be deemed hate speech, worthy of prosecution. If that day comes we will have an even greater opportunity to be Big Kingdom minded.
4) One of my concerns for our community and our country (and this is not original with me) is that we have come to a place where we struggle to have meaningful dialogue with those who disagree with us. Words like tolerance are used when partisanship is really the name of the game. But it runs deeper than politics. Christians need to lead the way by going beyond tolerance to having a deep, deep love for those who not only disagree with us, but who would choose to demean us. Someone once said that the true mark of a servant is seen by how we respond when we are actually treated like one.
5) Last thing… last week I got an email message from someone in Myanmar, a country filled with poverty and greater religious persecution than I have ever experienced. It’s helpful once in a while to set a context for our issues that goes beyond our community and our nation.
I love your response! I too am not into boycotts, because if we are honest with ourselves we should really boycott everyone for one reason or another and I just think that gets silly and ridiculous. This one was different. I think we do need to be smart about what we do with our money as responsible stewards, but I would rather fight global slavery and child labor by being smart about clothing brands that I buy rather than boycotting Starbucks over their views on gay rights and marriage. That’s just my humble opinion. I did support ChickFilA, because I felt that everything was taken out of context and they weren’t trying to rile feathers anyway. I just hope that in this and any of the coming culture clash issues, Christians are acting in love above all else. I just stinks that we can’t agree to disagree and just move on. Why does disagreeing equal hate and intolerance??
I highly recommend this article – “As Christians—conservative and progressive, gay and straight, activists and slacktivists—we must direct our efforts instead toward bridging this divide, which is going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of disappointment, a lot of tears, a lot of compromise, a lot of honesty, a lot of mistakes, a lot of apologies, a lot of listening, a lot of forgiveness, a lot of meal sharing, a lot of gospel.”
I really appreciate the obvious HEART in this post–I stand with you on the biggest issue, which is that politics is not going to change the world: the Kingdom is.
That being said, I think you’ve neglected to think of things from a different perspective. You ask us to imagine if one of your children owned a big company and stood up for a traditional view of marriage, wouldn’t you want people to rally around them?
That answer is pretty obvious. Nothing trumps the love of a parent for a child–except the love of God for us.
But you don’t ask us to imagine this: your child is gay (or as most evangelical Christians would only be comfortable with stating–your child THINKS he/she is gay.) Regardless of what you believe the Bible says about homosexuality–and I’m sure you’ve read everything there is to read–how would your child have felt yesterday? Millions of people waiting in line at a chicken chain to support the head of a corporation who has supported organizations that hate them. (A closer examination of what Chick Fil-A’s finances support is in order here as well. It’s not just “supporting traditional marriage,” unfortunately.) This appreciation day deliberately built a wall…and I use that word deliberately here because Calvary, of all places, is the advocate for a Church without those things…
The first amendment is about freedom to speak our beliefs. But there’s another amendment that says religion–Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, what have you–has no place in our lawmaking. And I’m thankful for that freedom because I’m able to love God without oppression, which cannot be said for so many other places in the world. Your mention of Myanmar is truly the heart of what my disappointment is about: this wasn’t a big issue. And some people made it a big issue. And as far as the record-breaking profits Chick Fil A brought in, without a doubt, that money could be used to meet REAL needs…not imagined or perceived ones. God asks us to be his hands and his feet, but we cannot know his mind (how can we fathom it?) and as far as his heart? I think maybe that’s the place a lot of Christians are most in the dark about.
I have always thought that if anyone was close to God’s heart, it was you. Thanks for being willing to have meaningful discussions.
I grew up with the definition of marriage as a husband, wife, and they make a family. Marriage to me is not just a legal state, it is a sacramental state. Part of my faith holds my marriage in a place of honor and reminds me of that day I took those vows before God. I have gay friends — even had a gay roomate in the past. I have absolutely nothing against gay committment. I believe that gays are born that way and that it is perfectly fine if men love men and women love women. Love comes from God and it’s to be celebrated. I have no problem with gays having every legal right that married people have. What I wish, what I truly wish…is that they had picked another name for their union. If they have evolved in our culture as they themselves have claimed to, then why would we not pick an ‘evolved’ name for their union (civil union…whatever you want to call it ?) Why do I have to change my definition of marriage…the one I’ve had all my life? Why couldn’t they respect me enough to name their union something different? We check different boxes for white, african american, asian, single, etc. why must ‘married’ now mean 2 men, 2 women, or whatever else it may evolve into being? I am not angry about it, I just think it would have been considerate to pick another word to define their own union. We had ours. Now it’s changed and rewritten. I dare not EVER bring this up with others besides my immediate family in private. I have a business and I would LOSE customers because people would say I was a gay basher. I’m not. I have friends that I love who are gay. Some of the angry, resentful sentiment out there for gay rights is troublesome. I think they would do a whole lot better if they’d lighten up and try to understand both sides of this issue and why some people might feel differently from them. Alas, I remain quiet and private. I dare not make a single comment against gay marriage. I would be pounced upon by many of my own friends. I’m not angry, just perhaps sad. Gay marriage will happen. It will be legal in most states in 10 years. Our children will look back and say ‘ha..remember when marriage was between a man and a woman only ??’ Isn’t that funny?’ I guess I’ll just be one of those old ladies in a nursing home thinking..’yes, I remember and I am proud to have been a part of that generation’ We had our own definition for centuries until it was rewritten.’
“If while evangelizing we abandon the sociopolitical realm to its own devices, we shall fortify the misimpression that the public order falls wholly outside the command and will of God, that Christianity deals with private concerns only; and we shall conceal the fact that government exists by God’s will as His servant for the sake of justice and order.” ~Carl F. H. Henry
Indeed, I do not believe that a simple blog provide a writer the space to provide a well-articulated explanation of the church’s relationship with worldly affairs (which you seem to think fits neatly within a box entitled “politics”). But permit me to suggest that you risk “fortifying the misimpression” that Christianity is limited to actions pertaining to personal good deeds, showing “love.” But as Michael Bauman once said, “Sloppy language makes sloppy thought possible,” and sentiments like “Christians need to lead the way by going beyond tolerance to having a deep, deep love” suggests readers might avoid their civic responsibility as Christians to enter, enlighten, and engage in public debate. Nevertheless, Christians in the public square have historically been called by God to provide a righteous defense, proliferate wisdom, and present Truth. In the end, Truth is a double edged sword of both love and judgement, because the righteousness of God is in beautiful paradox with His great compassion. And we ought to mirror that, exhibiting the whole counsel of God, lest the world misunderstand their need for repentance and redemption- without which, there is no healing of hurtful hatred.
Hope you’re having a blessed time in Cancun! :)
I appreciate the thoughts sent from Cancun! How did you ever tear yourself away from that gorgeous setting to write this?
I especially enjoyed reading thought #4. Genuine love, and meaningful discussion, with those who don’t hold Christian values is becoming increasingly harder. This isn’t always true, but I think sometimes protests/political action can stir up the seeds of hatred toward the opposing party. How do we, as Christians, support the values we believe in, and at the same time love those with whom we disagree? I love your complex answer to that: engage as a thoughtful Christian, but prioritize the call to love others, especially those with whom we are at odds.
“In fairness to Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A, they DID NOT try to make this political.”
this unfortunately is not true. Through his donations to anti-lgbt organizations, Mr. Cathy has put himself squarely in the political arena. Furthermore, it is not just a matter of differing opinions. He and his business have actively set out to deny people rights and fund politicians who have the same agenda. Where’s the love in that?. The LGBT community is not trying to take away any of Mr. Cathy’s rights or preventing him from having his own beliefs and opinions.
I am always thankful when God brings sense to the craziness that surrounds me. His words..through you, Dan, put it all into perspective……
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His Glory and Grace”
Thanks for your “thots”
Let me just begin by saying “I am Gay”. I also agree that this came down to politics in the end. Not politics started by Mr. Cathy. I commend him for standing for what he believes. Chick-Fil-A has always said they were a Christian business(the reason they are not open on Sunday). It doesn’t surprise me that he would take a stand where he does on the marriage issue. It also does not bother me that he takes his stand where he does. He is standing right where he believes he should be standing. Secondly “I am a US Navy veteran”. I fought for my country so that all individuals could be free to live their lives happy. I think the one thing our world has forgotten is that God told us that love is the greatest thing and we are to love one another. We need more people to get back to that basic belief and we I would hope not see as must hate in this world.
I was saddened by the whole spectacle. I think it was perceived by the world, and certainly by those in the LGBT community, as christians flexing their collective muscle and declaring “we have more economic sway than you”. I don’t think it was humble, I don’t think it was loving. The “free speech” aspect was a bit of a charade, in my opinion. The mayors who made the silly unconstitutional comments had to back-peddle pretty rapidly; the day turned into a show of power and I believe it shamed the cross.