Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I am not Eating at Chick-fil-A Today

Today, many have decided to eat at Chick-fil-A to show their support for the recent sentiments expressed by Dan Cathy, the president and COO.  I am not participating for two reasons.  The first reason is that I am too poor to eat out.  The second reason is that I do not entirely agree with what Cathy said.

At the heart of the controversy is this statement which he made on a radio program:  “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.’”

I have two problems with this statement:

1)  I see no Scriptural support for the implicit assertion that God is currently dealing out judgment on individual political states.  God certainly dealt out such judgment in the Old Testament, but this seems to be because, under the Old Covenant, God was carrying out his redemptive work on the national level (through a “kingdom of priest” in whom “all the nations of the earth” would be blessed). In the New Testament, however, there is certainly much talk of impending judgment, but aside from the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the eschatological destruction of “Babylon” predicted in the Apocalypse, the judgment anticipated in the New Testament is a judgment which will fall on individuals, not nations.  

2)  More importantly, I see no Scriptural reason to identify the legalization of same-sex marriage as the one act which would incur such a national judgment.  Out of all of the flagrant sins which our nation has committed, why should this particular one be selected?  Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, America has sacrificed around 50,000,000 defenseless children on the altar of “personal peace and affluence” (to quote Francis Schaeffer).  If God is indeed weighing America’s sins in the balance, I hardly think that legalizing same-sex marriage will register much on a scale already so burdened.   

Perhaps I am being unnecessarily critical of Cathy's statement, but I fear his words are symptomatic of two troubling attitudes which I have detected in some corners of American Christianity: 

1)  A greater emphasis on the welfare of our nation than on the welfare of our neighbors.
2)  An unscriptural elevation of homosexual sin above other sins.

As Christians, our primary goal should not be to save America; our primary goal should be to save people!  This can only be done by sharing the love of Christ, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thes. 1:10).  Of course, because we maintain that homosexual acts are sinful, we will be falsely accused of hating homosexuals.  However, if we arbitrarily hold forth practicing homosexuals as the chief sinners upon whom God’s judgment will fall the swiftest, that accusation will carry a ring of truth.   

Like it or not, homosexuality is one of the defining issues of our day, and the world is fixated on the Church's response.  The reputation of the gospel is at stake, and we need to choose our words carefully, especially when we are on the radio.  We also need to examine ourselves closely and ask God to purge us of any genuine hatred lurking behind our righteous indignation.  

22 comments:

MichaelaRae said...

Murray, thank you for your wise words! I especially appreciate your concluding paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Homosexuality in and of itself may not bring judgement, but the fact that it is being considered "normal" by society and an abomination in God's eyes, then yes, it may bring judgement on America, along with all the other sins she is committing that people are "normalizing".

jodi said...

Loved this so much. I agree with Michaela, I loved the concluding paragraph especially.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with all of you! Wake up and realize that being gay is normal for some people and not taboo at all. It's like the saying goes "you can't help who you love." and if you try to deny your true self, you will be unhappy for the rest of your life. People always tell you to be yourself, but how are the gays supposed to be themselves when they are shunned upon? God does not look at your sexual preferences in my opinion, he looks at the actions of your life and how good of a person you are! Same-sex marriage, in my opinion, is not something we should be denying someone, because they deserve to get married and be happy and live free of discrimination!

Murray Vasser said...

Anonymous, what if I love another man's wife? After all, "you can't help who you love." What does God want me to do then?

Anonymous said...

I may not completely agree with what anonymous said above but comparing that to loving another man's wife is pretty ridiculous.

It is one thing to fall in love with someone that you are told you can't have and a whole different story to have a deep rooted attraction to an overall gender that you are told you can't have.

Anyway, overall I really liked the article especially the last line about searching and praying if there is really hatred behind the actions of standing up for what many Christian's believe the bible says. The high importance a lot of Christian's place on homosexuality as a sin makes it pretty clear that there is a hatred and prejudice behind it. And I think most churches do a VERY poor job of addressing the issue with love.

DeanaMarie said...

I love your understanding of the New Covenant. I am a gay Christian - Biola grad, and this is the wisest post I've read on this subject.

Jesus never pointed out sin unless it was religious people misrepresenting Him. I'd venture to say that many of us are guilty of this misrepresentation today.

Murray Vasser said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! It would be helpful if you could sign a name so I can respond to you without confusion. It does not have to be your real name, if you wish to be anonymous.

Murray Vasser said...

Anonymous #3,

Before we move further, let me make sure I understand you.

Do you affirm that the man who loves a married woman should deny his own natural desires in order to obey God's commands? Are you affirming that to be virtuous is a better state than to be happy?

I just want to clear up these points before we move on to the question of homosexuality.

Murray Vasser said...

Hi DeanaMarie,

Thanks for your comment, and for your openness.

You claim, "Jesus never pointed out sin unless it was religious people misrepresenting Him," but I actually don't believe this is true. Jesus pointed out the sin of the woman at the well, the paralyzed man at the pool, and the paralytic who came through the roof, just to name a few. Jesus loves people, and that is why he confronts their sin. To love someone is to desire the best for them. Because sin destroys people, true love will never overlook sin. Sin has to be recognized and dealt with. This is why God's love involves a cross.

Anon #3 said...

All I meant is that I don't think it's fair to compare a heterosexual restraining from pursuing a married man's wife to a homosexual restraining from pursuing any romantic relationship at all. Rejection and accepting that there are individuals that we can't have exists for both heterosexuals and homosexuals in the relationship scene...just a fact of life.

Which is a situation that both a heterosexual and homosexual would just need to accept they can't pursue and move on. It may be heartbreaking, but I don't think anyone has exclusive attraction to one individual their whole life. But it is quite different for a homosexual just to "move on" from any romantic relationship all together. It is not as simple. If you have exclusive attraction to the same gender then what are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to feel?

Sure, you can pray all you want, go to all the therapy you want, but there are many struggling gays that have never "changed" to straight and maybe never will. Restraining from any romantic relationship at all in the name of virtue and holding true to how many Christians interpret the bible is a very intimidating thought. I don't think a lot of heterosexuals that preach this fully understand that implication, cause it is hard for them to relate and easy for them to say "too bad, that's what you have to do to please God...we all have different struggles and this is yours etc etc"

All in all I don't have much of a point and I'm just rambling now, but basically I think many Christians need to be more open minded about the issue as a whole. Not so quick to say "sorry you're screwed - you can be gay, but you just can't have a relationship" or the alternative guilt trip of "you just aren't trying hard enough to change!" I wish more would accept people as they are and realize that maybe us humans don't know as much as we think we do.

I think there is a foggy line, but a big difference, between using God's grace as an excuse to sin and realizing we are all sinners who will always fall short but are forgiven. God knows everyone's hearts and intentions.

Murray Vasser said...

Anon #3,

Heterosexual Christians may never fully know the pain that homosexual Christians endure, but that does not give them licence to commit violence against their brothers and sisters by lying to them about sin. Sin destroys people; that is why God hates it so much. Homosexual actions are sin. The Bible is explicitly clear.

Gordon Dominick said...

Hey Murray,

I always appreciate a clearly worded point of view! I want to make sure I understand your argument.

You are asserting:

1) All things being equal, abortion is worse than homosexuality.

2) Our nation has sinned through abortion sufficiently to damage the righteousness of our nation.

3) Therefore, homosexuality at worst would overdetermine the moral state of our nation.

4) And, therefore, if God still judges nations, then Cathy's statement is extreme, and if God does not still judge nations, then Cathy's statement is false.

Is that right?

-David

Debbie said...

Personally, I was heartened to hear someone with the courage to call something sin that God says is sin. (See Romans 1 among others.) I think it is a bit unfair to come to the conclusion that Mr. Cathy is saying that homosexual behavior is the only sin in which the people of our nation are indulging. I'm sure he also considers the horrendous murder of the unborn as something else that will bring God's judgment on our people. However, homosexual insistence on changing the definition of marriage is prominent in today's culture. I have compassion for many homosexuals, for I feel there may sometimes be a history of abuse in their past. If not that, I know for a fact that the young people are raised today in a sex-saturated society that cannot be healthy for any child, teen, or adult for that matter. Children are encouraged to be sexual in dress, attitude, and speech from the youngest ages, and the moral sewer that pours out of our TV's, theaters, videos, and games has to have ungodly effects on children, teens, and adults. Immorality of all types is rampant and accepted. However, God standards of righteousness are unchanging. Godly role models are few and far between, which brings me back to my beginning comments. As I understand it, Mr. Cathy has been exemplary in his conduct throughout his career. I think he is expressing frustration that people indulging in homosexual behavior are insisting that the rest of society call their behavior moral. They are also insisting that society change the definition of marriage to suit their own wishes--wanting everyone to carelessly toss aside the definition that is biblical and universally historical. I Peter 3:10-12 certainly admonishes us to pursue righteousness in every area. We need to get back to the Word of God to see Who He really is, and what He considers righteous and unrighteous behavior.

Brendan said...

Seems like this back-and-forth has gone into tangents. When Cathy said "I think", he was expressing his own opinion, which seems to be that God should judge america, specifically homosexuals. Isn't there something contradictory here? Isn't he speaking on behalf of God with judgment toward a group that he is blaming for telling God what they think is right? Why does he feel the responsibility for judging American homosexuals in general?
How are our statements leaving room for love? Are we speaking in a way that would actually bring judgment upon ourselves for judging others? What is in our hearts regarding homosexuals, even homosexual Christians?
Anonymous #1, you said God looks at how good of a person you are and that you should be yourself. Is that really the truth? How did you come to that conclusion?
Anonymous #3, there are two issues that are being mashed together so it's hard to respond. First is the stance of Christians saying that it is a sin to be in a romantic relationship with a person of the same sex. Second is whether USA will legalize gay marriage. First, it is a sin to be in a homosexual relationship as a Christian. But this is something that Christian homosexuals struggle with and it is a journey of love, accountability and non-judgment. Second, the legalization of gay marriage in the united states is trivial in my opinion. As Christians we believe marriage is a sacrament, not a law, so my belief is that the changing of a law regarding marriage does little to influence the sacrament of marriage.

Anonymous said...

Jesus is a joke. I'd drive the thorns into his head myself, given the opportunity.

Murray Vasser said...

He would still love you.

Dustin said...

Murray, thanks for the thoughtful post. I see you've responded to many people, but if you don't mind, I'd appreciate a response to my concern.

It seems to me that you agree with Cathy that same-sex marriage contradicts scripture. Further, I don't think you have any good reason to conclude that Cathy holds any genuine hatred in his heart for homosexuals. Concluding as much from the (contentious) point that Cathy wrongly views same-sex marriage as worse than other sins is an enormous leap. This is clear, since we could easily imagine someone who loves homosexuals but thinks same-sex marriage is a particularly damnable offense (as does, e.g., M. Brusuelas). If you're willing to grant to those Christians the ability to love homosexuals but hold such a view, why not grant the possibility to Cathy? And if you do, then on what grounds do you publicly rebuke him?

So what are you left with? Where do you disagree? Simply with the precision of his theology, no (whether God judges nations, whether sins are equally vicious)?

Now consider: Cathy is a Christian brother being villified by non-Christians for exercising his first amendment right in standing against an act that you also stand against in a time where standing against that act can cost you dearly!!

And your response is to quibble with a minor part of his theology.

I think theological hair-splitting has diverted you from the main, and most important, contours of this debate. Yours would have been a worthy admonishment for all Christians during these times, but fails as a pointed critique of Cathy, since as I've said, I don't think you have any grounds for accusing him of hatred, and thus no good grounds for your boycott.

Perhaps you thought the risk that some would view you as hate-filled not worth it. Fair enough, but I didn't glean that from your post; I read a pointed critique.

But I do enjoy your posts. I share them on Twitter at philo_religion sometimes, and I think you a good writer with a good mind.

God bless.

Dustin said...

P.S.

Read "admonishment" as "warning," not "reproof" or "scolding."

Murray Vasser said...

Hi Dustin,

Thanks for your comments, and for sharing my posts! I do not "conclude that Cathy holds any genuine hatred in his heart for homosexuals." I am just saying that we all need to examine ourselves closely, since the line between proper disgust with sin and revulsion towards the sinner can sometimes be rather thin. However, I have no doubt that, as a godly Christian, Cathy has great love in his heart for the lost, including homosexuals. My post was not meant to accuse him of any personal sin, but to admonish Christians in general to be a little more careful in how we speak. Theological precision matters greatly, especially in such an emotionally charged, high-profile discussion.

Also, I did not mean in any way to imply that I was boycotting Chick-fil-A. My post was simply an explanation of why I chose not to take part in the "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" hosted by Mike Huckabee, but I am sure I will eat many more of Cathy's chickens during my lifetime. :)

Dustin said...

Murray,

Ok buddy, I fully grant that you might be correct, and that I might be completely off, but here's my response:

I suppose I granted to you a concern that such words and unbalanced theology often betray a wrong heart towards homosexuals, and this constituted your reasoning for withholding your support for the appreciation day, since, if you're not concerned about Cathy's hidden feelings, your Chick-fil-a abstinence makes even less sense to me.

Before I explain, I note: your post was not an "admonishment to Christians to be careful how they speak," but rather your reasons for not supporting Cathy. That's pretty clear. And I'm saying that, especially absent hidden hatred, your analysis of Cathy's statements, even if true, are poor reasons for not supporting him.

Let me try to summarize where we stand. Others may have disputed your premises--saying that God does punish nations, that homosexuality is a worse sin, or that Cathy didn't mean these things when he said his statement--but I'm willing to grant that you're right. Given we agree about his love for homosexuals, we simply have wildly different intuitions about the rationality of your conclusion that such premises warrant your refusal to support Cathy.

You see it as a necessary stand given the nature of the same-sex debate. I see it as a man, doing his best to represent Christian principles, and perhaps erring, not in calling sin sin, but in understanding the details of how that sin is punished and how it is viewed by God compared with other sins. I see a Christian villified by the mass media for a statement so tame that I can't imagine doing it more gracefully, and so I can't imagine not encountering more oppression myself if God calls on me to speak publicly on the same issue. If I am attacked, I'd appreciate fellow Christians "having my back," since we'd be in agreement on the essentials, and I'd be bewildered and disappointed if they abandoned me because of such quibbles with my theology.

You're passionate about the abortion issue, and it's hard for me to imagine you penning a similar post if a businessman called abortion murder, but wrongly thought that abortion was a worse sin than others or that America would be punished for telling God when life begins.

But if I'm wrong I welcome correction.

Darcy said...

Amen to that!