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5 Things I Don’t Understand about the Chick-fil-A Discussion

I can’t get away from Chick-fil-A—no matter how hard I try. I never thought I would say this, but I have to stand on the side of the ambivalent with this one. Every time I hear someone articulate their opinion about this issue, I get more confused.

Here are a couple of things I don’t understand:

1. Why Is Anyone Surprised by Chick-fil-A’s Opinions?

Chick-fil-A has been a pretty in-your-face Christian business for a while. I mean, good luck trying to get some waffle fries on Sunday. You shouldn’t have to work too hard to imagine their stance on gay marriage (senior vice-president Donald Cathy is known by everyone as “Bubba” for Pete’s sake). They have been a supporter of Focus on the Family and the WinShape Foundation both of whom stand firmly against homosexual marriage. Gay activists have been calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants since 2011.

So when CEO Dan T. Cathy comes out (no pun intended) last month and says, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about,” why is there this surprised outcry?

2. Is This the Kind of Culture We Want to Foster?

I am skeptical (and a little horrified) by any political, religious, or activist movement that would want to shut a business down or force it to capitulate because an owner of the business disagrees on an issue. Obviously we have the right to eat where we want, but organized, focused hatred seems beyond the pale to me. And I feel this way about any organized boycott whether it’s this situation or the Southern Baptists trying to close down Disney.

We either honor diversity or we do not. To demand a homogenized diversity which dictates the kinds of opinions you are allowed to have to run a profitable business seems dangerous—no matter who is defining acceptable public opinion.

I completely support the rights for homosexuals to marry, but I have a lot of close friends who I love and respect who feel differently. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would organize a movement against them to either close their businesses or force them to change their opinions. And I would oppose their attempts to do the same to a business that supported same-sex marriage.

3. Why Do Intelligent People Allow Themselves to Be Co-Opted?

This situation is a good example of how good, intelligent people allow the political machine to commandeer issues we are passionate about. Same-sex marriage is a hot button, polarizing issue to be sure—and partisan forces know it.

We are still talking about Chick-fil-A because it has been co-opted. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino jumped on this opportunity to vow that the fast food chicken joint will not put another restaurant in his city, while talking heads like Mike Huckabee helped to get the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day underway. These moves have helped to solidify their bases, fire up passions, and increase polarity . . . but have not really contributed anything for or against the issue at hand.

This sort of political involvement only seems to increase the hate speech from people on both sides. Why do we continue to fall for this nonsense?

4. What Happened to Civility?

When we allow the political machine to fire us up, we feel justified in saying terrible things. Just take a look at your Facebook news feed. I have yet to see an internet meme or snarky comment contribute to real dialogue. We have accepted a political mindset where victory means crushing my enemies (or at least making them look foolish) instead of making enemies my friends.

I am always more surprised at the stuff Christians post because they’re supposed to know better. Sometimes I am surprised that these people claim to have Jesus as an example.

5. Who Thought Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Was a Good Idea?

In a perfect example of political and religious polarity, we had Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day August 1. This was a day for everyone who supported Chick-fil-A’s stance (or at least their ability to have it) to go support them by buying fast food. By all accounts, Chick-fil-A had their busiest day ever—but at what cost?

This was an extremely combative move. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day came off more as a political stance against homosexual marriage rather than in support of Chick-fil-A. I saw a guy interviewed on the news who was talking around mouthfuls of chicken, “I am here to support Chick-fil-A and the movement.” THE MOVEMENT!? There is nothing in this statement that doesn’t seem polarizing. And the response will always involve some sort of escalation (like the upcoming Chick-fil-A “kiss in”). I can’t imagine that Jesus would encourage his followers to handle things this way.

I think when it comes to the tenor of this discussion—I am a conscientious objector.

Jayson Bradley

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. PN #

    Thanks for your take, Jayson. I think that we have to understand the depth of the “movement” (yes, it is one) in our culture which demands that homosexulity not only be “tolerated” but be completely endorsed, validated and accepted without any scintilla of disagreement. For Dan Cathy to say what he said represents an audacity that must be shouted down, shamed away, rejected as hate speech. Why? Because it goes against the prevailing current of postmodernism, the “how dare you question anything I do!” mentality. “Leaders” of the left such as the mayors, aldermen and members of Congress who have made over-the-top statements (i.e. Chick-Fil-A is not welcome in our city and will have trouble getting a business license — really?! Is this the Krakow ghetto?) were not simply taking advantage of the situation; they really believe that! Yes, there are idiots on both sides of this discussion, no question. But make no mistake: the purveyors of anything-goes America are not interested in civility or “tolerance” (as much as they crow about it); their aim is to shut up anyone who expresses or holds another view — especially Christians (how many protests/boycotts againsts the Muslims who believe homosexuals should be sonted have you heard about lately?) — First Amendment or no First Amendment.

    August 4, 2012
  2. PN #

    Sorry, the word near the end of that comment should be “stoned”, not sonted. I have no idea what sonting is.

    August 4, 2012
  3. You wrote a pretty good artical Jayson. Gays don’t get it, It is not a Hate thing. Christians
    love the Gay people. God does not honor Gay marriage. Thier acts is sin. A proficy says from the Bible man will turn against his own nature. Also that the world would become very sinful. Every time that happned in the past, God poored out his wrath.

    August 4, 2012
    • I appreciate that Douglas. But we don’t live in a theocracy.

      August 4, 2012
  4. Phil,

    I appreciate your comments and you’re right . . . there probably is a movement. My main concern is that Christians allow themselves to get co-opted for a movement. From my perspective, when we allow ourselves to think about this as a movement (no matter how anyone else thinks about it) we allow ourselves the luxury of not considering individuals anymore and get to focus on “them.” When we focus on “them,” we don’t seem to think we should have to love, joy, peace, patience, and the rest of the spiritual fruit we are supposed to be demonstrating.

    It is interesting to me that the Roman culture Christianity was birthed into didn’t value marriage or human life. Not only were Christian values mocked, Christians were under duress if they spoke out. Neither Jesus, Paul . . . or any other New Testament writer laid upon us to go into the culture and fight it. In fact, we are told to expect persecution. And having people think differently about marriage isn’t persecution—we just think it is.

    I feel we have a movement too, and that movement is to love people as individuals and lead them to the cross. The cross will do everything that out bickering, fighting, and chicken sandwich buying is unable to.

    August 4, 2012
  5. PN #

    Right on, Jayson. It’s all-too-easy to forget our mission and get caught up in us-vs.-them. My only quibble would be that Christ followers don’t just face people thinking differently about marriage today (as you put it); we face fierce, unrelenting, sometimes violent efforts to silence our perspective. We are labeled by outfits such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (which gets WAY to much credibility) as “hate groups” if we hold to a biblical perspective on issues such as marriage and the sanctity of life. Is it “hateful” to express what we see as God’s best plan for life? We are threatened and bullied and marginalized. I’ve experienced this in the workplace; taking a stand on an issue led to efforts by a number of employees to have me fired; I survived but emerged with a clearer awareness of the cost of speaking up. Is any of this persecution? NO, not in the sense of torture, murder, imprisonment, being crucified upside down, etc. But there are some similarities with what Jesus/Paul et al promised we would face. The prevailing culture didn’t “get” Jesus, so they killed him (yes, I know it was prophecy); they then tried to lock up, silence and/or exterminate his followers. Perhaps we should embrace this (as you suggest) as part of the expected treatment for seeking after Jesus. And you’re right: we are called and commanded to love our individual “enemies” and to pray for those who seek our destruction. Still, I don’t think doing that is mutually exclusive from standing in support of a biblical worldview and the American First Amendment right to do so, as many of us did symbolically last week. Thanks for the chance to dialogue.

    August 4, 2012
    • I have gone back and forth on whether i should respond to people because I am not sure I want to get into a never-ending back and forth.

      But I just have to say that this isn’t a first amendment issue. There is no law against the Cathy’s statements. You have the right to say whatever you want, and people have a right to demonstrate and boycott. If Proctor and Gamble said that they were pro-choice and were going to funnel money into Planned Parenthood, Christians would do the same thing. Having people not appreciate you point-of-view (biblical or not) is not a negation of your freedom to speak.

      There is nothing wrong with supporting your interpretation of a biblical world view (I know your interpretation sounds liberal, but face it, every church, denomination, and individual emphasizes different things. I would hope that your biblical worldview is not the same as Westboro Baptist’s biblical worldview.). But the world is going to rebel against it. It just is. It is too bad that the world knows more about what we are against rather than what we are for.

      I appreciate your dialogue too.

      August 4, 2012
      • PN #

        Jayson, threats by elected/civic “leaders” proclaiming that an individual or a business is not welcome in their community because of his/their principles (in this case Cathy/C-f-A’s) — and that said “leaders” would take steps to limit its ability to operate freely in said community — most certainly raises a Constitutional freedom-of-expression (not to mention commerce) issue. There are laws on the books (i.e. “hate-speech/crime” laws) and others under consideration that curtail a private business/organization from expressing certain views and/or choosing not to hire people who don’t line up with its values. According to many on the political/cultural left, no, I do NOT have the right to say what I want…not without repercussions, legal and otherwise. One can put one’s head in the sand about this if one prefers, but one should not then be surprised to wake up and find a certain faith/worldview completely suppressed. (And for the record, I abhor the approach of Westboro. Not sure what prompts you to even suggest such an association. They truly have earned the label of “hate group”, and they serve to undermine the cause of those of who who wish to support and affirm biblical standards in a calm, reasoned, rational, respectul manner.)

        August 4, 2012
  6. This is why these discussions in a format like this are fruitless. I wasn’t suggesting an association between you and Westboro. I was simply saying that when you have a discussion with a member of the Phelps clan, you are discussing their interpretation of Scripture even though they think they are discussing the orthodox view of Scripture. (The association you presumed was me saying that I assumed you didn’t agree with them. But the ability to misinterpret my words in a completely contrary fashion is what makes discussions like this fraught with danger.)

    Maybe you are right, and I am part of the teeming masses with our “head in the sand.” That said, I don’t fear the Christian faith/worldview being suppressed, nor would I be surprised. I think historically and geographically speaking (and, I believe, with the full testimony of the New Testament behind me) the Church is at its strongest and most vibrant when it is an unwelcome minority.

    Thanks again for the discussion. I realize we aren’t going to change each other’s minds, but I appreciate your thoughts.

    August 5, 2012
  7. Michelle D #

    I wonder if anyone else can wrap their minds around the fact that being Gay is in a “Christian Biblical view” a sin, similar to all other sins we commit daily. It’s not something more or less. But as previously mentioned we don’t live in a Theocracy, God isn’t our President, and He isn’t going to pour His wrath on the US because Gays live here. A Christian view of sin does not make this life choice of someone else wrong in their perspective. It’s their life and their choice. This is the world we live in. I support Gay unions, I wish they could just go to a court house and get a certificate and have a civil union that gave them all the rights, note I said Gay Unions. I do believe Marriage is from God, His idea, but similar to other countries, the state/federal government can give union licenses to couples that grants them their rights under the law. I wish we would separate the State and Marriage, similar to Church and State.

    August 5, 2012
    • With the churched divorcing at the same, if not higher rate, than those outside the church (full disclosure : I am divorced). I think unbelievers devaluing marriage is the least of our concerns.

      August 5, 2012
  8. Sampson #

    Can we please just get along? Important things like Kristen Stewart cheating on Robert Pattinson are happening and here we are discussing this rubbish. Smiley emoticon.

    August 5, 2012
  9. Dave Warnock #

    Sampson showed this to me and being the opinionated SOB that I am, thought I would weigh in. I don’t believe Jesus ever intended to foster a movement. He sought to minister to individuals, all the while, others in his camp attempted to turn it into a movement. They still do. And he still just wants to minister to individuals. I marvel at how so many Christians think that somehow if Bob marries Mike, it will make my family weaker. Huh? What business is it of mine what Bob and Mike do? (fictitious characters…I don’t know a gay couple names Bob and Mike) And who am I to tell them what to do? I also marvel that Evangelical Christians can still utter the phrase “Biblical definition of…” (fill in the blank). Biblical definition depending on who’s interpretation- and depending on the cultural context within your understanding of said Biblical definition… There was a time in our nation that God-fearing Christiians thought it their “Biblical mandate” to own slaves…and to burn witches…and to have women sit on a separate side of the church…and on and on. When will we stop insisting that my group (any group) has the correct understanding and interpretation of a complicated and mysterious book- or collection of books, more accurately. And when will we quit insisting that others agree and live by my standards- and getting offended when they don’t. I never saw Jesus attempt to mandate anything to the leaders of the society in which he lived- nor Paul. As has been said, the early church flourished under an anti-Christian rule. And yet I have watched Christians for my whole life try to mandate and dictate what the whole of America should think and how they should act. Do we really think if everyone thought the same we would have a better- some might think, Utopian, society? gag…I shudder. God bless diversity, individuality, and uniqueness…we all are better because of it. May it stretch us all.

    August 9, 2012
  10. Thank you, Jayson, for having the courage to speak up for Jesus as our lover who just maybe honors diversity (especially since the Father made us all)! I am saddened that the title “Christian” has almost become synonymous with conservative, Republican, and against social justice. I am a Christian who doesn’t fall into those categories; therefore, I am becoming more reluctant to use the title. But what should I be called?

    August 29, 2012
    • What should I be called? That’s a great question Joyce—and maybe one that needs to to be addressed. When we have so sullied the name Christian so that people hear the word and interpret it as “patriarchal, nationalistic, right-wing, moralists who are more into communicating what they’re against rather than what they support” what do we do? I am with you Joyce… the moniker “Christian” doesn’t sit as well with me as it used to.

      August 29, 2012
  11. well-stated…especially point #5! I couldn’t agree more on all accounts.

    August 31, 2012

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