Love the Chicken, Hate the Sin

I recently shared this article by Barnabas Piper that criticizes today’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”.

I got a mixed response to the article and was asked what I thought. I’m not sure whether my thoughts add anything, as I largely agree with Piper, but here they are anyway…

I think we Christians tend to conflate issues sometimes. In the OT, God communicates his law for Israel to Israel. He said “here are my commands for you“, not “here are the dictates you should impose on your neighbors.” Likewise, in the NT Jesus differentiated between believers and unbelievers. “When a brother sins against you”, dozens of “one another” verses, etc. I don’t think we should be surprised when we see non-Christians act as though they don’t believe. Here’s my take on it in a nutshell…

  • Christian living: Christians ought to follow the guidelines God has laid out to us.
  • Judging non-Christians: Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus told us to judge. But his instructions were always in the context of judging each other. They were an effort to encourage us to keep each other in check. He didn’t say to extend that judgment to the world. Christians ought not impose their views on non-Christians. We’ve chosen this club – they haven’t. Once someone shows allegiance to Christ, the process of discipleship involves passing on these principles. Don’t get me wrong – God will hold them to the same standard. Romans 1 applies to all.  But according to that passage, God has revealed himself to all, they already bring judgment on themselves. God does not need us to impose it on them. (We love to cite John 3:16, but have you read vs 17 and 18?)
  • Voting: Christians ought to vote their conscience just like everyone else. In this case though, we’re not imposing the bible’s morality on people – we’re merely expressing our opinion the same way everyone else does. They have particular motivations just like we do.
  • Debate: When debating these issues (and this is my preference here) I never bring up the bible. Why on earth would a skeptic care what my special book says about homosexuality? How does my book trump their book? My preference is to always argue from natural theology, logic, science, history, ethics, etc. and when appropriate eventually bring the bible in that way. There are many who like to start with the bible, but I’ve never seen that work myself.

On this specific issue, I have always debated on grounds of natural law, biology, rights of children, statistics and the like. These all confirm the biblical position. I’ve been charged by some Christians with compromise, but I don’t think this is compromise. All truth is God’s truth. If I state a true statistic, I believe it honors God. Plus, if I am pursuing truth with a skeptic, I believe we are on a trajectory that points toward God. I don’t see that as a loss.

I think boycotting CFA was ridiculous and baseless. It was an emotional and unsubstantial response. I tend to agree with this author’s assessment of the “Eat CFA Day”. Now, if I were near a CFA and I were hungry for chicken, I’d have no problem stopping in. However, eating there as a political statement is unhelpful. I’ve already debated this topic with a number of opponents in the past week. We’ve had principled discussions about it. I have a hard time believing that ordering up a giant basket of nuggets is going to be more persuasive to them than what I’ve already said. I also don’t feel like I need to support CFA more than I already am. (I’ve argued in their defense and eat there when I want to.) Given all this, going to CFA today seems more an “us vs. them” statement as the author described. I think it’s just as emotional as the boycott, and a pointed disapproval of a bunch of people who already feel like Christians despise them. I don’t think a long line at the drive-thru changes any minds.

For the past century, Christianity has been largely an emotional religion. I don’t think emotion is bad, but I think that we need to bring thinking back into it. The people I talk to reject Christianity on intellectual or ethical grounds. A response like Huckabee has called for will reinforce their beliefs that Christians are ignorant lemmings who don’t care about those on the outside. That strikes me as the opposite message we ought to send. My vote would be to enjoy CFA the same way you did this time last year. Don’t make it a statement. Stop with the emotional responses, stop the in-your-face reactions. But be on the lookout for people who disagree. Ask them a question: “What do you feel was offensive about what Dan Cathy said?” … “Why?” … “Have you ever considered X?” In other words have a calm conversation. This way you have absolutely nothing to lose, but potentially have everything to gain. I don’t see how this is a response that dishonors God.

What do you think?