Further Thoughts On Chick-Fil-A Flap

Further Thoughts On Chick-Fil-A Flap August 7, 2012

I hadn’t planned to write further on the Chick-Fil-A flap (er, bad pun sort of intended). But professorpook left a comment on my Saturday open thread trying to argue the case that Barnabas Piper made good points in the article to which I linked so negatively. So I decided to take a leaf from Thomas Aquinas by laying out this post in the form of “objections” and “responses.” We’ll go systematically through professorpook’s comment and answer each objection he raises. Maybe this will be of some use to somebody by organizing the issues at stake here in a clear, easy-to-follow format. I also encourage readers to check out this Moody Radio program where Chris Fabry took calls from Christians on both sides of this issue, including a segment with Barnabas Piper himself. It’s a great one-stop place to hear both perspectives get a full hearing. I think the young lady who called in around minute 35 nailed it.

Objection #1: “We are not in competition with the world. We know how it ends. We win. There is no contest. Our purpose here is to communicate the gospel. Jesus said they will know us by our love.”
Response: Reader Lydia has already given her thoughts in reply to this, and I concur. While it is technically true that Jesus is going to come back and bring the world to an end, souls are hanging in the balance in the meantime. We shouldn’t be so eager to show “love” to unregenerate, aggressively hostile sinners that we neglect the people they are impacting for evil. I glanced at a Facebook thread where these people were talking about Friday’s “kiss-in” in relation to children, and they were essentially chortling over the young souls they had already corrupted to the point where they would be comfortable with seeing two men or two women kiss each other. “Yeah, my 5-year-old wouldn’t bat an eye, because she totally ‘gets it.’ ” Now if we don’t take a vocal stand against this corruption, who will? Just because Jesus will ultimately overcome the forces of darkness in the end doesn’t mean that they are not working VERY hard to take as many souls with them as they can. And the devil knows his time is short even if they don’t, so he is mobilizing them like an army to do as much damage as possible as quickly as possible. Jesus has some pretty harsh words for people like this. Which brings us to…
Objection #2: “Go through the Gospels, and you will see that Jesus was gentle and fellowshipped with those outside the church, and frequently got angry with those in the church.”
Response: First of all, the Jewish establishment at the time of Jesus does not equal “the church” of today, so the parallel is poor and anachronistic. Different issues, different power structure, different culture, different everything. I think (and this is a particular affliction of pastors looking for sermon fodder), that Christians can sometimes be over-eager to find “applications” for everything they find in the scriptures. The problem is that this doesn’t always work very well.
Secondly, this one-sided focus on the gentleness of Jesus with regard to sinners overlooks something important: Jesus was an INCREDIBLY powerful personality. Turning over the tables of the money-changers is one obvious example that comes to mind (and that, by the way, wasn’t against “the religious people” — in fact, it was an example of Jesus being rather “religious” himself). But even if we look elsewhere, the Bible gives us a picture of somebody who had a tremendous amount of coiled-up force and energy behind every word he spoke. It was almost magnetic. Sinners who saw him were moved to repent because they felt about as big as a pea in his presence. They were humbled by him. When he called to Zacchaeus with a gleam in his eye to come down from the sycamore, Zacchaeus wasted no time obeying and amending his ways.
I think we should be willing to admit that there is some fear going on in stories like this—the kind of holy, awe-filled fear that we are supposed to have for God. Jesus, as God incarnate on earth, inspired that kind of fear. Nevertheless, it was fear mixed with love. It was both at the same time. But regardless, we need to dispense with this fantasy of “Jesus hanging out with completely unrepentant sinners so he could love on them and listen to their stories.” It was more like “Jesus confronting unrepentant sinners with their sin in such a powerful, direct way that they were almost invariably moved to repent.”
Objection #3: “I think Barnabas Piper is concerned that we communicate the gospel truthfully but without *needlessly* dividing people. As he says and as the Bible makes clear, division is going to happen anyway. The Word of God is a double-edged sword. We do not need to add salt to the sword – simply to be willing to use it – the sword of the Word – not the sword of activism (however mild that activism might be).”
Response: Again, Lydia addressed this objection quite well and referred to another blogger who’s written up his own response to Piper. I have little that’s new to add to their responses. As they’ve pointed out, at no point has Chick-Fil-A been the aggressor in this fight. Cathy, like many conservatives, had the question pressed upon him, and he simply answered according to his convictions. It was then that the homosexuals decided to make a fight out of this.  Conservatives responded by simply showing up to extend their support. (And again, I must reiterate the unintentional humor of all this. “We just finally had enough, and in fact we got so fed up that we… went out and bought a chicken sandwich!” We’re not seriously having a debate about this, are we?)
Here’s my question to those who would take Piper’s position: What do you expect would have happened had the mass response NOT taken place on August 1st? Do you really think it would have made a huge difference to the gay community’s approach? Do you think they would have suddenly had a change of heart and thought to themselves, “Huh, looks like they’re not showing up in force to support Chick-Fil-A. How restrained of them. You know, maybe we ought to rethink this aggressive agenda of ours and start backing off, just like they’re doing.” I kind of doubt it. Fact: When you give in to a bully, he doesn’t go away. He makes more demands. He gains more ground. When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense to simply… not give in. Suppose you had a gay friend who asked you on Wednesday “So, are you going to Chick-Fil-A today?” and you, having decided that it was an obnoxious “activist” move even though you agree with Cathy in principle, said “Nah.” What’s your friend’s reaction going to be? Naturally, he’s going to feel a little bit smug and hope that maybe he’s influencing you to move in his direction. He’ll be all the more encouraged in all the wrong ways.
I want to say something else, which kind of expands on something Mary said. She was saying that she appreciated the feeling of solidarity with her fellow Christians that she felt on Wednesday, and that it was akin to being in a battle and seeing reinforcements arriving over the hill. I entirely understand and agree with where she is coming from. Soul-winning is not the only worthwhile thing Christians can do. There are many worthwhile things we do as Christians that don’t happen to have the winning of souls as their goal. If we made that our only goal, what would be the point of hymn sings, or Bible Bowls, or any sort of activity that involves nothing more than sharing fellowship with other Christians? The Bible instructs us to be always building each other up. We can’t allow our timidity in the face of bullying perverts to rob us of our joy or our impulse to encourage a brother in Christ.
Moreover, if that happens to offend some acquaintance of ours who is living in sin (which I saw one blogger cite as a reason why he felt torn regarding how he should react on August 1st), there’s a place for bluntly saying “Too bad.” As one caller pointed out on the Moody talk show, the bitter pill that the gospel presents to the proudly unregenerate is one that must be swallowed sooner or later. Well-intentioned Christians who take Piper’s stance would obviously never say that they intended to witness to their gay acquaintances under false pretenses, but once we begin talking about how this gesture might “burn bridges” or “be seen as adversarial,” we have to discuss what exactly that means when it’s all parsed out.
Whether knowingly or not, young Barnabas Piper and his ilk are sapping the strength of God’s foot-soldiers on earth. And while I have yet to see Piper Sr. say something quite this radical, I do think there’s a connection to what he said in his sermon as a reproach to churches and pastors who are “too politically active.” How did that affect pastors who had hoped for Piper’s encouragement? It made them feel abandoned. The last thing that we need right now is for a sub-group of Christians to be frowning and nagging and wagging their fingers at the rest of us like a bad nanny the moment we dare to demonstrate a little push-back in the face of relentless persecution. We need encouragement, not discouragement. The discouragement of our friends will only advance the cause of our enemies.

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  • John Situmbeko

    Great post! A bit lengthy but great!
    I sometimes laugh out loud when gay rights activists “back fire” outrageously. The so called “kiss-in” unintentionally made me laugh. But the intentional laughter came when their protest was defeated by the holy reaction of the good folks. When will these people learn that when God’s people match around the walls, the walls are sure to fall? They are fighting a losing battle against the all time, undisputed, undefeated Champion of love.
    One thing the homosexual community should know is that while they are about their business, crying for their rights, they must not violate the rights of others. Cathy’s right of free speech were not respected by the homosexual. Or maybe they are the only ones allowed to voice out their beliefs which no one must oppose or be accused of hate crimes?
    Another thought of mine is; is death a right? No, life is. The homosexual couples want to adopt kids. How dare they even think of it! They are against human reproduction and yet they yearn for little ones. What if the whole world went homosexual, wouldn’t we as a race become extinct? For this I view the gay right to marriage as a death right.
    My final thought.
    If we as Christians back down at every opposition to our beliefs, it would be correct to call us fools. Quite alright love softens the Christian’s heart, but it also gives him boldness to stand for what is right, to speak his mind (which is Christ’s mind). In the name of love many have lost their children to the devil. A rebellious teen’s obedience may not be won back by a parent by submitting to every demand of his. Let a parent’s yes be yes and no, no. We(Christians) are our brothers’ keepers. Be it far from us that we should shrink back in cowardly terror(in the name of love) at the slightest raise of the voice by our (homosexual) brothers.

  • Amen! Something I have always appreciated about you and other African brothers in the faith is that you’ve never been afflicted with the quietist timidity that’s creeping into the circles of American believers.

  • John Situmbeko

    Thanks! I also do appreciate your standing out and not allowing the quietist timidity to creep into you.
    One thing that I’m thankful for is that Zambia is not a heaven for homosexuals. Just last year two young men got arrested after being caught in the very act. Our laws are so strict that no one dares to come out of the closet. But with the country men and women being greatly influenced by western culture, moral decay is on the increase, specifically homosexuality. Heated debates over this issue(which never occurred some five years ago) have sparkled national interest in homosexuality.

  • That’s interesting. What exactly is the penalty for homosexual behavior in Zambia? I think America also has laws regarding public indecent behavior (as in outright sexual activity beyond the “kiss-in” we saw on Friday). I’m not sure I would go so far as to arrest anyone who showed other signs of being homosexual. I would be content with laws that simply restricted homosexuals from infringing on the rights of others. As in, “What you do or don’t do in the bedroom is your business, just don’t come demanding the right to be ‘married,’ to adopt, to bully businesses, etc.”

  • To elaborate a little more on my thinking, here in America before “coming out” became such a big, celebrated thing, there were people of that orientation who simply did professional work in their chosen field and kept their private lives, well, private. Imagine that! Privacy is a joke nowadays. But I think that if every gay person simply kept his orientation to himself and quietly went about his business, we could have a pretty civilized society, not unlike the way it was many decades ago. In that context, I wouldn’t have a problem with leaving them alone to do their thing, as long as it wasn’t pedophiliac in nature of course.

  • John Situmbeko

    In Zambia, it is against the law to have any form of sexual activity with a person of the same sex. Breaking this offence can attract a maximum of 14 years jail sentence. Its the sexual activity that is punishable, not the homosexual orientation. Just like any other crime, it is done in secret. But if caught, you face jail. Thats why I said the laws are strict here. Never will you find a gay pride parade here and no gay rights activists. No wonder I marvel at the freedom of the homosexuals in the USA. And to think they are not satisfied with the freedom they have!
    The laws on homosexuality are rarely brocken because not many homosexuals are bold enough to confess love to each other, lest they be persecuted. Yes they are harsh, but we inheritted them from our British colonial masters. No one has been brave(stupid) enough to change the laws. Thats the way it is.

  • Very interesting. I just looked this up on Wikipedia too. Just as you said, these laws were simply carried over from the days of British colonialism.
    On not being satisfied with the freedom they have, one is inclined to quote the rhyme “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk to go with it.”
    Out of curiosity, is adultery also illegal in Zambia?

  • John Situmbeko

    Ha! Funny rhyme!
    Yes, adultery is illegal. A large fine is usually the punishment for the guilty, a surprisingly lighter punishment compared to the 14 years.

  • Lydia

    Let me add, too, that adding sexual activity and “marital status” (the latter was added longer ago) to non-discrimination laws around the country in America has been a huge problem. It *absolutely* should be a right of a property owner to refuse to rent to a homosexual couple, just as it should be a similar right to refuse to rent to an unmarried heterosexual couple. Society’s morals in America have been undermined in a huge way by the notion that “thou shalt not discriminate” on moral grounds. In this way we no longer control our personal associations, and society loses an important purely informal way of penalizing bad behavior and even _pride_ in bad behavior. Businesses have to hire open homosexuals, openly homosexual couples have to have property rented to them, photographers have to take pictures of their displays of affection at their ceremonies, even unofficial ceremonies. All of this happens even before even homosexual “marriage” comes in. New Mexico doesn’t even recognize civil unions, yet just under the non-discrimination laws, which included “sexual orientation,” a photographer was fined for not photographing a lesbian ceremony.

  • True, that’s one unfortunate thing I’ve noticed about reactions to Chick-Fil-A. “Hey, calm down guys, he just has an opinion. Don’t worry, they don’t discriminate or anything.” It’s too bad that we even have to be on the defensive where discrimination is concerned.

  • Lydia

    Part of the difficulty in talking about this is that we have come down through so many layers of society. For example, there’s a limit to how private a person can keep his sexual affairs, especially if he’s living with someone–whether a girlfriend or a male partner. Certainly it’s _better_ for someone not to be smirking and bragging about it all over the place and putting it in people’s faces, but it’s not at all implausible that it would get to be known at work even if the person weren’t doing that. It could be a good thing for the morals of society if there were employers who actually would fire you for “living in sin”–either as a homosexual or a heterosexual. And it certainly should be _legal_ for them to do so.
    There are definitely also situations where it’s entirely appropriate to ask and to refuse to accept/admit people with homosexual orientation, even if they were previously keeping it to themselves and even if they aren’t acting on it. The military is one such. Any situation involving live-in arrangements, such as dormitories, travel, roommates, swimming, showering, etc. There are even mentorship situations for young men, even if they don’t involve swimming or dorm-sharing, where you want truly manly men to be in those positions. Pastors should not be of homosexual orientation. Priests shouldn’t. So there should be periods of discernment and observation in which homosexuals–yes, even in orientation–are discovered and sent away before being ordained.
    So even just “keeping it quiet and to themselves” is not going to solve all the issues. In a sane and just society, there are going to be a lot of things that homosexuals are excluded from, a lot of things *they* will view as “persecution.” All the more so if they are acting out their feelings, but sometimes even if they aren’t.

  • Yeah, those are all good points. And for a society to proceed peacefully under those circumstances would require homosexuals to view their orientation as, essentially, a kind of disability. Like that’ll ever happen.

  • Lydia

    Actually, there are so few homosexuals in the grand scheme that it wouldn’t matter what _they_ thought so long as the surrounding society viewed it as abnormal. Which it used to. It was classified as a mental disorder for a long time and was taken off that list by the Philosophical Association only after highly politicized pressure. The legislatures, courts, etc., have to force the normal people in society not to engage in these normal forms of disengagement and discrimination. As they have been all too willing to do but didn’t used to be willing to do. Homosexuals really have never had any way of *forcing* society to accept their orientation, much less their behaviors, as normal. That’s why they were in the closet for so many years–centuries, even. It is only because our current Western society has so entirely lost its moral nerve and even ranged itself on the side of anything that is different, depraved,or “marginalized” that they have had as much success as they have. And even so, most normal people would rather not think about the issue, which the homosexual activists use to their own advantage as well. It’s been in many ways a brilliantly orchestrated propaganda campaign. But it is one that could never have succeeded without the eager and committed cooperation of many, many sexually normal but ideologically liberal/leftist helpers.

  • I know, people try to pretend that homosexuals don’t form a small minority of the American public, but one need only compare the turnouts on Wednesday and Friday last week to see that that’s laughable.
    A mental disorder? That’s an interesting category for the impulse. Do you think it’s accurate?

  • Lydia

    Yes, I do. Definitely.

  • Lydia

    Especially since we are not actually just talking about a single passing impulse but about a genuine confusion of the person’s sexual faculty.

  • That’s interesting. Perhaps the reason why I was thinking twice about the label is because I was thinking about the many highly intelligent, even brilliant people down through the ages who have been homosexual. But that’s really beside the point, because intelligence is just one among many mental attributes.

  • But come to think of it, we would look at somebody who had inclinations to, say, bestiality and say “This person isn’t right in the head.” Maybe it’s precisely because there have been so many seemingly sane, intelligent, charming homosexuals in history that society has been deceived into not handling it like we would handle any warping of right sexual inclinations.

  • John Situmbeko

    Is it possible to create a state for homosexuals? Or to simply allocate one of the states to them so that they could enjoy liberty at its highest. I do really feel sorry for homosexuals because no one ever chooses to be attracted to members of the same sex. If sexual attraction was by choice, I’m sure were there are a thousand gays today, there would be one. A homosexual can choose not to act on his feelings, but most choose what appears to them as the easy way, to give in. Soon they will realise that the easy way is costly. It isn’t the worst thing ever to stay without sexual inter-course all your life. Sex is not life(if it were, each nun and priest would go get a life). Yes it is easier said than done, but it can be done, but it can be done. Christ looks upon the homosexual not with dry eyes. It hurts Him to see His children created in His image, marred by sin.
    I like Lydia’s comment above. Thought provoking.

  • No, quite impossible I’m afraid. The country’s all carved up already. We can’t force people to move out and make room. Nobody would cooperate, on either side.
    Actually, I think that while many homosexuals indeed can’t help their inclinations, more and more people (particularly young people) are being moved to experiment sexually because they’re told that it’s cool to be gay. I have heard stories about young people like this who literally just one day woke up and decided they were going to go try this out. Now that is sinful, but equally sinful are the people filling their minds with this evil.
    I am sorry for the homosexual who recognizes that he is broken. But it becomes harder to control my anger when I see those who are using their sin to steal, kill and destroy all that is good, right, and innocent.

  • John Situmbeko

    Oh how sad. To move young people to experiment with homosexuality. I too cant feel sorry for such people who do that.
    But can experimenting really change ones sexual orientation, for ever?

  • Some people go back and forth. We call them bi-sexual.

  • There’s a whole other angle to this which is the transgender angle—sometimes, children will decide on a whim that they would like to change their gender, and parents will actually go along with it. There are many sad, well-documented cases of families literally going through with hormone blocking, surgery, etc. I watched one video about a boy who decided to “be” a girl, and now he is planning to “marry a boy” when he grows up.

  • John Situmbeko

    I’ve heard of that kind, the bi-sexuals. I think they are even more dangerous than the homosexuals, they can hide under the cloak of heterosexuality and deceive the vulnerable. We are not safe, at all.

  • John Situmbeko

    I also remember seeing a transgender on Oprah(yes I loved that show). I’ve also seen a pregnant husband. His wife got him pregnant. What is the world coming to? Madness, chaos.

  • Lydia

    Besides, to the extent that there are “gay cities” or “gay neighborhoods” already (and there are in America) they are…just awful. For the people involved and certainly for anyone who has to pass through. They just encourage the homosexuals there to act out their worst impulses to promiscuity and depravity, spread disease and death. Truly, Sodom and Gomorrah. Which we shouldn’t be looking to have more of. And not loving for the people involved.

  • Lydia

    Which is actually biologically impossible and hasn’t even yet been engineered by our most depraved technology. Depend upon it, when you see or hear someone saying, “This is a pregnant man,” someone’s trying to deceive. What those cases really are, are cases of a biological woman who has retained her uterus but for a while was taking large doses of drugs to alter her other sexual characteristics and make her appear masculine (e.g., to make her grow facial hair, deepen her voice, and so forth). Then she decides she wants to have a baby. So she stops taking the drugs temporarily or cuts back on them, gets hold of the relevant, er, male materials somewhere (usually via a sperm bank), and uses that to get pregnant. Then everyone blah-blahs about a pregnant man. Which is not the case.

  • Right, and that was my thinking as well. Do we really want to give them a “sandbox” as it were and say “Here you go! Have fun!” I don’t think so.

  • I was going to say that but didn’t want to get off on too much of a tangent…

  • j-mo

    Linking below a good read on the chick-fil-a saga from Christian artist Shaun Groves that puts my thoughts on the issue into words better than I can do. I hope you’ll all take the time to read it. I believe you’ll find it thought-proking even if you disagree.

  • I read it and didn’t find it thought-provoking. I thought it was tired and shallow. But I don’t have time to write a detailed critique. Maybe someone else can do that. But really, every argument he makes, explicitly or implicitly, has been addressed quite thoroughly in my posts and in some reader comments.

  • I’ll just touch on one point. Shaun said: “No magistrate, legislation, picket sign can bring change faster.” I wonder, is he really trying to say that it’s a waste of time to picket outside an abortion clinic? Because pointing women to the crisis pregnancy center across the street doesn’t change lives or save souls? Because that kind of stuff is “temporal” and not “eternal”? I swear, people don’t think before they write.

  • j-mo

    Not only to disagree, but to actually believe there are no points worthy of at least provoking a thought is quite ridiculous and exposes the fact that your thoughts were unwilling to be provoked by any differing point of view in the first pace.
    You started out as someone I laughed at, grew into someone who annoyed me, and have now graduated to being someone I sincerely pity. There are none so blind as those who choose not to see.

  • The problem is that it doesn’t say anything I haven’t seen other people hash and re-hash over, and over, and over again. So any thoughts I may have had to spend on them were spent a long time ago.
    Per your second paragraph, I am big. It’s the pictures that got small. Okay, you get the idea. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I haven’t “grown” or “graduated” into anyone significantly different from the person I was when you first noticed my presence on the interwebs. Meanwhile, I don’t recall ever having it as my goal to earn your good opinion in the first place. You’re just some guy, and I have a life.

  • I have had a couple of sobering experiences in the last couple months. One, really, but the other was a situation that just got me to thinking (and dreading). The truly revolting one was just last night.
    I have been a fan of instrumental band music all my life, from high school marching band to the competition associated with what is called “Drum Corps International” (DCI). Drum and Bugle Corps are essentially community-sponsored bands made up of 14-21 year olds; they audition and join for a summer competition season that ends tomorrow night with the Finals. It is really a blast; the talent that these kids show is truly phenomenal.
    Normally the programs that each corps puts on are entertaining; some are more classical in nature (classical music), but others incorporate other popular styles and do marching drills and play. You gotta see it to really grasp the level of musical, athletic and dramatic talent that is involved.
    I attended a nation-wide live broadcast of a semifinals last night at a local theater. One of the corps – the first one – was a telling indication of what is to come in this growing perversion of society. Their program was based on Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”.
    Their program was titled “Left of Spring”, and I immediately began to dread what was to come. The show was a blatant celebration of homosexuality. There was nothing actually graphic – it was done artistically and, from a purely artistic standpoint, well, but the message was clear. Even the commentators, who knew what to expect, were pretty obviously taken aback by it. Thankfully the remainder of the evening was more than worth the $18 ticket, but that was a disappointing beginning.
    The other experience was more of a what-if (or more likely when-if). Back in June my family and I traveled to Georgia for a week to attend a relative’s wedding. While there, my son and I visited the Coke Museum in Atlanta. We had been multiple times before (before my son was born) but it had been many years. The Museum is overpriced; neat but not worth the money. One of the attractions is an animated movie that lasts maybe ten minutes. It went off without anything disturbing, but something about it triggered a thought that bothered me for the rest of the showing.
    I think it will not be long before what I saw last night is very much the norm, and in more and more unavoidable contexts. We certainly have plenty of examples already today; the new series they are advertising for Fall called “The New Normal” looks to hit a new low. I am just wondering when the Disney channel, and a large percentage of our commercials, and “run of the mill” advertising and other media, like what you would “innocently” view at an attraction like the Coke Museum or Six Flags or Disney World, will incorporate the concept of same-sex attraction.
    I have gone on too long with this post, but this has been heavy on my mind. Sodom and Gomorrah are soon to be as normal as sliced bread, and I think we may soon also see persecution of biblical Christians in the U.S. more akin to what we hear about in countries with a state religion or government-mandated absence of religion.

  • Actually, I think Disney may be way ahead of you there—in fact, I believe some Christians began to boycott Disney World when they established a special “gay pride” day. This of course has spawned jokes from snarky Christians who like to make fun of “those fundies’ ” propensity to boycott things.