I've decided to write some thoughts and share them regarding the recent and ongoing "scandal" involving Chick-Fil-A, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and what I consider to be a gross over-exaggeration of a simple situation.
First, I would like to qualify all my remarks by saying that this post isn't likely to be cleverly written or particularly witty. I've read a bunch of cool stuff (from both sides of the argument) floating around Facebook and blog-world. Most of it is really witty and clever with lots of punch lines and hooks. Some of it has bounced from one extreme to the other and lacked balance in my view. SO....this post is not about that. I'm not going to expend that much effort to make you go "wow", and I certainly don't expect this to go viral. :) I really just want to remind anyone who cares to read/listen about some basic, simple truths that seem to be lost in this fabricated debate.
I'd like to begin with the reminder that this whole issue doesn't even have to be "fought" on religious grounds. Of course Christian people are going to feel the pull to support Christian philosophy. Something would be wrong with us if we didn't!! However, in this situation, folks who aren't particularly religious or concerned with biblical worldviews were also inclined to agree that something was amiss here. Namely: TRADITIONAL American values. When we break it down, we have a business owner in the USA asked a question about his views on marriage, to the which he strongly articulated his Christian (and concurrently traditional) view on the matter. Nothing wrong with that. People who disagreed with the statement said "phooey on you", and "what a terrible view." Nothing wrong with that either, being this whole thing is taking place in America. Then, Christian folks started saying "hey, we support Mr. Cathy's statements and we appreciate his stance. And anywho we love Chick-Fil-A!" Still....nothing wrong. It's the First Amendment playing out the way it should and does. THEN...drumroll. Enter at least 2 U.S. city mayors who make public statements about banning the company from their cities, and "because you don't share the values of our city (HUH?????) then you are unwelcome to do commerce here." Ding ding ding!!!! We have a winner: THIS IS WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG.Notice it was the entrance of government in the discussion. They always muck it up. All Americans who value our system and our freedoms should rightly have been very concerned about that. We should never sit idly by and be unconcerned during such an assault on American freedom. (religious or otherwise).
I found all of the preceding chain of events to be pretty clear and easy to understand. It was the stuff that started to come out afterwards....mostly Christian people who shouldn't have been on opposite "sides" at all....that started concerning me. I got that really uncomfortable and uneasy feeling that this situation was being used to fight other fights instead of the one we were actually facing. The more I saw it happening, the more sad I became and so for the most part, I stayed out of much of it. (a few comments here and there; hey! I'm human and I'm ME! :))
Mostly, what I saw and read was this idea that to agree with Chic Fil A, and to go buy a sandwich there on Wednesday, meant that you were ignoring the plight of the world, and that you were jumping on a bandwagon in ignorance, you were unenlightened, maybe even a person of hate and bigotry. That you were being unChristlike because Jesus didn't defend himself, so why should we defend ourselves or others in His name. And on. And on. And on it went. My head was spinning.
In "arguments" like these there are always some threads of truth. And a person who isn't defensive and somehow clinging to their rights, may actually stop and say "you know, I'm gonna go have my Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries, but I'm also gonna do some soul-searching and see if I need to step up my efforts to support biblical and/or traditional values in other ways." Because let's face it, what happened on Wednesday was cool...it was something fun to be a part of. But if we're honest, we HAVE to admit that it required no sacrifice, and didn't do anything to further the Kingdom of God. Most people I know made a great day of it. Went with friends, hung out, took pics, had a great time, spent a little money, and in the end they got yummy food, and the chance to say I Stood for something!!! And PLEASE don't misunderstand me: there is NOTHING wrong with that!! It's just another reminder of how incredibly blessed we are to live in this land where we are free to do that, with no fear of physical harm or imprisonment. We are a blessed people!
Now the pessimistic news: I know it's not always going to be that way. The day is coming...it really is....when Christian values and traditional values are going to be the minority. When there will be no ground-swell of support for them. Gay marriage will become the norm. All manner of immorality will be even more before the eyes of our children than it already is. The closer we get to the return of Jesus, whenever that is, things are going to get progressively worse. Yes, even in this beautiful land with so much promise. What I'd like to point out, and seem to be struggling to do, is that just because we know it's coming, doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything within our power to stem the tide!! Doesn't mean we should just roll over and let it happen before its time. We have a God-given responsibility to be salt and light, and we have a citizen-duty to stand for what's best for our country. And we need to do that. If we hold it off 5 yrs., 10 yrs., or 6 months, doesn't matter. It's that much longer to know that we gave our kids a chance at life with traditional moral values as the seed of our culture.
Another thread of truth running through the criticisms of Wednesdays efforts were the concerns about the other horrible things happening in the world, going unnoticed by the Christian community. The first and most important thing I can say about this criticism is that it does NOT have to be an either/or situation. No reason at all why we can't band together in a grand way to make a statement of support not only for biblical marriage, but also for free commerce and limited government. Like we did on Wednesday. No reason at all why we can't do that AND practice "true religion, undefiled: caring for orphans and widows", etc. like Scripture teaches us. I urge my brothers and sisters in the Lord to not draw these lines in the sand and begin fighting one another over things that are so easy for us all to agree on!! All of God's children should want to obey the WHOLE of Scripture, and be His hands and feet.
I can't overstate how strongly I believe that when we pull our heads out of the sand, and when we venture out of our comfortable little bubbles, we will be stricken with the truth of the lostness and broken-ness, and poverty, and despair, and hunger, and homelessness, and just the daily struggle to survive that lies just outside that bubble. I mean it...not far from YOUR front door. Just down the block or under the bridge. At the community park. Where you live. In your town. In my town. People are hurting and hopeless. Sex trafficking is a real threat all over this country. Children go to bed with their tummies growling. In your town. In my town.
In light of that knowledge, one can't HELP but wonder!! What if we harnessed that amazing energy and enthusiasm, that gutteral urge for justice....and what if we took ONE DAY to determine to make a difference in these areas?? Chill bumps break out all over my arms as I type this, because I can taste it. I know what it would mean. If Chick Fil A set a world record in one day because of the sheer force of the people's desire to see right prevail...then it only stands to reason that that same force could accomplish powerful results in our communities. I made a (almost) tongue in cheek comment to a fb friend about what would happen if everyone in this country who has knowledge about child abuse (think the Sandusky disgrace) would decide to stop protecting and covering, to emerge from their cowardice and do the right thing. What if on one day all those people grew a spine and reported what they know? How many children would be spared the horror, the soul-killing trauma of sexual abuse. I know that sounds like dramatic hyperbole, but wow. I can't help it. This is just one example of what harnessing the desire for justice and putting it to good use can do. Why stop with National Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day? Seriously? Why stop there? We have an army already in place....why not let the Word of God be our Commanding Officer and take our next marching orders from Him.
We could do it if we wanted to. We could do it Jesus' name. And you know what? I'm pretty sure that a Jesus-honoring company like Chick-Fil-A would be one of the first to ask, "what can we do to help?"