The last few days, I have run into post after post either supporting or taking a shot at Chick-Fil-A. This is in response to the comments of Chick-Fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy. In a July 16th Baptist Press article, when asked about his view of supporting a “traditional family”, he responded by saying he was “guilty as charged”. In addition, he 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.” Cathy’s comments have angered many who support same-sex marriage. Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel have spoken out against Dan Cathy. They have stated that they will block Chick-Fil-A from opening stores in their respective cities. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has asked Cathy supporters to go to Chick-Fil-A on August 1st. Franklin Graham weighed in supporting Chick-Fil-A. Roseanna Barr voiced an angry opinion against those who patronize Chick-Fil-A and the story now has a life of its own. Like most issues in our society, this one is very polarizing. The more I read these responses from both sides, the more unsettled I become.
On one hand, I understand and support Cathy’s right to share his beliefs. I love how Chick-Fil-A conducts their business, that they’re closed on Sunday, how they support marriages and take care of their employees. As I read the Baptist Press article, I learned that Dan Cathy was not expressing Chick-Fil-A’s policy against same-sex marriage, but he was merely giving a statement of his beliefs. He has that right and I completely understand why Christians have rallied to support his right to express his beliefs.
On the other hand, as a Christian, I am called to follow Jesus Christ. His commands tell me to love God, to love others and even to love my enemies. His example is that he gave up His rights and laid down His life to give us right standing with His Father. He gave up His rights for us.
“Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT)
I think we, the American church, may be missing our call on this point. We are outraged when anyone attacks our beliefs or is intolerant of our right to free speech. But Jesus told us that the world would hate us because they hated Him. It seems that our desire to defend our rights has blinded our call to follow Jesus, laying down our rights and very lives for others like He did for us.
When I read angry responses to a man supporting a biblical view of marriage, I wonder if they have any idea who Jesus is. Have political battles, differing opinions on rights and marriage caused them to hear that Christians are judging them? Can they even hear that Jesus loves them or does the very mention of the name of Christ close their mind? Is that their fault or do we share any fault in why they feel the way they do about Christ and Christians? He died for them, for all of us, even those who oppose Him. It’s hard to remember this, but the Apostle Paul originally opposed Jesus. While I support sharing beliefs, values and convictions, I cannot help but feel that the One who gave up all of His rights might be calling us to more than defending our way of life.