So there I am driving along, minding my own business, when I see a Chik-fil-A, surrounded by cars, every entrance stuffed to the gills, people swarming over the store like hungry ants. I was oblivious to the news of past weeks, I guess, but I was hungry and pulled in.
The fast-food company has apparently received a lot of media attention in the past few weeks, overwhelmingly disparaging. Chicago and Boston politicians would very, very much like to prevent the business from operating in those cities. Politician Poco Moreno is trying to find a way to prevent Chik-fil-A from setting up shop in Boston. Loco as it may sound, Mr. Moreno objects to the presence of Chik-fil-A, as that would ruin the neighborhood, corrupt the morals of Boston youth, even possibly drive business away from shops he approves of like ‘A+ College Escorts’ operating next to Boston Commons.
In a similar vein Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.” I rather hope not, if Chicago values are correctly characterized in the piece by Daily Show comedian Jon Stewart,
“We are Chicago. A city built on gambling, corruption, murder and ballot stuffing. Not intolerance!”
How about child friendly family values? Surely Chik-fil-A is not trying to poison the minds of our children…with chicken sandwiches? Well maybe. . . even Elmo refuses to appear near the spicy chicken.
But all this raises some disquieting questions. Should politicians be able to block restaurant businesses from opening or expanding due to disagreement with the political (or religious) views of the business owner? Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel evidently believes he should have this power.
So what is is it that Chik-fil-A has (or has not) done to deserve such approbium? The reason for the venom aimed at the company relates to the principles upon which the Chik-fil-A business owner seeks to build. The owner, one Mr. Dan Cathy, when asked about his views on marriage, said that he is fully supportive of marriage and family. So far so good, no? Surely Elmo is not against marriage? Dan Cathy must have done something naughty, something very b-a-d.
In a recent interview Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.
- Dan Cathy
For thousands of years virtually every human society has recognized marriage as a permanent union, sexual and and social, between a man and a woman. Why should that let out the dogs of war?
Sure, there have been some exceptions, such as the Mormon religion which has in the past redefined marriage to be between a man, and a woman, and a woman, and a woman…. But even Mormons, many of them, are embarrassed by that history. Surely the exceptions, being so rare, prove the rule.
Laws of Men, and….
When asked if he supports the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions Mr. Cathy demurs. As a Christian, he believes that the Bible provides the source of morality and ethics to which he is bound. He believes, he says, “in the biblical definition of the family unit.”
For over two millennia, without exception, Christians have believed – because that is the clear teaching of Scripture – that marriage is a moral institution ordained of God since the very beginning. Genesis 2:20-24 is one of a multitude of passages which explains this,
“But for Adam no suitable helper was found.So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
How dare Mr. Cathy believe this!!? Does he not realize that there was no Adam and Eve? Not only that, he also believes in the obligation to obey the rest of Ten Commandments, which God provided Moses on Mount Sinai, as recorded, for instance, in Exodus 20,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Now I begin to see the point. These commandments are not Chicago or Boston values. The big mayo of Chicago finds them offensive and opposed to his own morality. Dan Cathy is married to his wife, closes shop on the Christian Sabbath, and provides funding for supporters of marriage. The gall of that man!He is not helped by the President of the United States who recently encouraged a redefinition of marriage.
It seems the politicians and activists who fanned the flames of this furor are against Christian values. They want very, very much to discriminate against Mr. Cathy and his business because he refuses to fund their programs to redefine marriage. They seek any opportunity to blame the Christians, like persecutors of the past sought opportunity to blame the Jews, or blame the Armenians. In a world abounding in wickedness and injustice there is plenty of blame to go around. But it is important that it be placed correctly.
Dignity for All
Mr. Cathy has done nothing but good for the communities in which his businesses operate. “We don’t claim to be a Christian business,” Cathy told the Biblical Recorder. He believes there is no such thing as a Christian business, because Christ never died for a corporation. He died for sinners. “In that spirit,” he adds, “…. [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are.”
He seeks to treat his employees and customers with dignity, for this too is a Christian value. As Salon columnist Mary Williams notes, “There’s no record of refusing service to gay patrons, or unfair hiring practices, or a hostile work environment.”
But this is not enough for hostile activists who wish to redefine marriage. Rather than start a culture war, it is Mr. Cathy who finds himself on the receiving end of anti-marriage culture warriors. Activists want him to cease tithing to a church which believes in the Ten Commandments, which follows the Christ who said (John 14:15), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
- Jesus to disciples
They want him to support their morals. And if he won’t they will call him names, not eat any chicken he sells, bully his employees, and try to prevent anyone else from eating more chicken.
Don’t Like It? Too bad!
The cultural attack on Christian morality is exceedingly heavy handed, and increasingly common. Consider abortion, an issue on the cutting edge of the revolution. Abortion is, with some variations on the theme, the slicing up of an unborn child and suctioning of its torn body parts out of its mother’s womb. Twelve years ago the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said that choosing to have an abortion is a “heart-wrenching decision toward the end of a pregnancy. Of course it’s a horrible procedure. No one would argue with that. But if your life is at stake, if your health is at stake, if the potential for having any more children is at stake, this must be a woman’s choice.” (SENATE DEBATE IN MANHATTAN OCT 8, 2000)
But is it right to force those who disapprove of one’s heart wrenching decision to pay for the execution of that decision? The totalitarian answer, backed by the threat of penalties and possible violence, is always a resounding Yes. Consider another story in recent headlines – President Obama’s healthcare mandate.
Of this Jennifer Hartline writes,
“Forget all the promises Obama made about not subsidizing abortion; about people not having to pay for abortions if they didn’t want to. Forget all the speeches in which pro-lifers were ridiculed and hollered at for “lying” that Obamacare would fund abortions. Forget the Executive Order. The latest rule to be finalized regarding Obamacare mandates $1 abortions. Don’t want to pay it? Too bad.”
Sexual activists seem oblivious to the vapidity (and wickedness) of forcing a man to fund that which his religious convictions find morally offensive. States can and do force citizens to do so, but is this wise, or just? If citizens object, should politicians threaten them?
All the sturm and drang over Dan Cathy rings a little hollow. It would be like a second century Roman politician being offended by Christians doing good in the community, tithing to the church, but refusing to condone or fund the Epicureans, or the sacred temple prostitutes, homo- and heterosexual. The Christians lived among them, did acts of kindness to them, and dared call the Epicureans and prostitutes to repent. We have been here before.
Now, let me say right up front that I believe in equal rights for homosexuals. We ought ought to love those who struggle with same sex attraction, offering Jesus Christ as the hope for all mankind. I have several colleagues and friends who are, or were, struggling with homosexual attraction. I remember the heart rending struggle of David, my beloved Christian friend, who came to me for help and comfort. We discussed, we prayed, we cried, over his struggle with homosexual attraction.
What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman
- Barack Obama, 2004
All kinds of different sexual arrangements proliferate but few seek to call their preferred arrangement a marriage, as defined not only in the Bible but in civil society. Certainly the institution of marriage has been harmed terribly by the immorality of our society, men and women (including professing Christians) divorcing at the drop of a hat, to maintain their peace of mind. Yet this sadness does not not justify changing the ideal of marriage. Until the civil law changes marriage remains, and even then. Those who wish to redefine marriage ought not be surprised that most people - really, I mean even Bill O’Reilly sees what is going on – prefer not to try extravagant experiments with an institution critical to the success of society.
Rev. Frank Smith had an interesting piece on his blog discussing what he calls calls “Equal Rights,” explaining that the sexual egalitarian movement is really a revolt against thousands of years of morality. His explanation helps me understand how no one is denying rights to homosexuals. Those with homosexual inclinations already have equal rights, being equal before the law. But sexual activists, and political opportunists, are not honest enough to allow that they seek to redefine marriage, creating new rights, and special interest groups, out of thin air. Marriage, by definition, is between two persons of opposite sex. Not only for thousands of years of human history, but also in the Garden of Eden, it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. This is the way that God Almighty designed marriage to be. Create new laws, if you must, but be honest enough to call a spade a spade.
Modern sexual activists deliberately blur the distinctions between men and women. They act as if any differences between men and women are merely superficial. In this were true it really does not matter who one chooses as a sexual partner – male, female, whatever.
But it does matter. We are not animals, simply satisfying an urge. We are distinct from the other creatures, since we are the image of God.
Not only that, but men and women are themselves distinct in so many wonderful ways. Acknowledging and embracing this genuine social, sexual, and very human diversity is healthy. Smearing these distinctions, behaving as if differences are superficial and unimportant is neither safe nor good.
It is more than silly to rail against the Christian morality of Dan Cathy, against his delight in marriage to his wife, in his belief that marriage is good for society. It is a direct and deliberate attack on the Creator in whose image man is made. Christians are to care for ALL their neighbors, and one way is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Dan Cathy has certainly done so.
And now, how about that chicken sandwich?