Friday, August 3, 2012

Chick-fil-A: Random Ramblings From a Christian Thinker

Wow. Wow. Wow. The Chick-fil-A controversy is a very interesting phenomenon indeed. How did this start? Why is it such a big deal? Who made it the controversy it turned out to be? The weapon of choice in postmodern American culture is obviously, polarization. When you think about it, it really isn’t far removed from the honor-shame culture of Greco-Roman times and the Mediterranean world today. What is new for American Christianity is the attempt of American culture at large to threaten its very existence. You see, the Christian group, the real Christian group holds to a very specific set of values. If the group abandons these values, it ceases to exist as the Christian group. The reason the Christian group cannot tamper with its values is due to the nature of the values themselves. The values are derived from the holy character of God. Since the holy character of God does not and cannot change, the Christian’s values are permanent, eternally fixed. This is why changing or redefining Christianity is an exercise in futility. I realize that a great number of people, to include theologians and scholars have attempted to redefine Christianity’s values. Unfortunately, the result of such a project is that the scholars and theologians who have tried it have placed themselves outside the group in actuality even if they have not done so visibly. They may appear to be in the group, but according to Jesus and His apostles, they are not. That being said let us move on to the subject of this blog.

“We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that." This is what stirred all the controversy. It led Chicago mayor Rahm Immanuel to say that Chick-fil-A does not represent Chicago values. It is fascinating to hear politicians say such foolish things without realizing they do not speak for all their representatives. There are thousands of Christians in Chicago, all of whom disagree with the mayor’s statement.

Can Dan Cathy be for the biblical definition of marriage without being against gay marriage? Logically speaking, he cannot. This means that, at a minimum, the gay and liberal outrage over Cathy’s statement indicates they understand what the biblical definition of marriage is, and that is a good thing. Now, here is the 64 thousand dollar question: Can a Christian be against gay marriage, and oppose gay sex and not hate gay people? What the gay community refuses to do is prove the truthfulness of their argument. It is as if our culture has completely forgotten how to examine a proposition. Let’s frame it up in the form of a debate.

1) To oppose or disapprove of a behavior is hateful; 2) I oppose or disapprove of gay sex; 3) Therefore, I hate gay people. What is wrong with this argument? The argument may be logically valid but that does not mean it is true. To be valid, all that is required is that the conclusion follow from the major and minor premises. However, in order to be true, the conclusion must flow from true premises. Premise 2 is true. Is premise 1 true? If we really want to examine the claims of an argument or proposition, we must examine the assumptions that underlie the basic premises of the argument itself. It is foolish and naïve to skip this step. Can we hate a certain behavior without hating the person who committed it? Let’s say your child got a DUI. Let’s say your dad was an abusive alcoholic. Let’s say you hate drinking in any form. You despise it. Let’s say you hate the idea that your son consumes alcohol. Let’s say your son got in trouble for driving while intoxicated. Is it true that you hate your son because he drank (a behavior you hate), and drove while impaired (another behavior you hate)? I would suggest that no reasonable person would accuse you of hating your son on the basis that you hate his behavior of drinking or even of driving while impaired. This begs the question, why do we let the gay community or the liberal community as far as that goes, get away with such a flimsy argument without calling them out. What the gay community cannot establish is this idea that to disapprove of gay marriage or the gay lifestyle is ipso facto hateful and bigotry. I am not a bigot when I refuse to hire someone to drive a company vehicle after discovering they have a DUI on their record. I am a prudent business man when I do that. In other words, intolerance in and of itself does not make someone a bigot. If that were the case, then we are all bigots on some front and to some degree. Welcome to the club.

Let’s say my daughter is gay. She engages in sexual relations with another woman. Knowing that I am a Christian, she knows I do not approve of her behavior. However, she also knows that I love her and would do anything in the world for her except compromise my commitment to divine truth, the values of the Christian group. If I did that, I would betray God and the Christian group and demonstrate that my loyalty lies somewhere else. It is either/or. This is why Jesus said you cannot love God and mammon at the same time (even if Americans say that you can). You embrace either the values of the Christian group or values that are outside the Christian group. Whether you are in the Christian group or not will depend on which set of values you embrace without waxing too theological here. (I am not espousing Christian moralism for those who might fear that I am). Of course I am not attempting to wax theological on soteriology here.

The gay contention that opposition of gay behavior is bigotry or hateful does not hold water. Even though men and women have sexual attraction to one another, it is forbidden that we engage in sex outside of marriage regardless of those natural desires. Sexual urges are within the control of the individual. Married people are sometimes tempted to engage in sex with someone other than their spouse. They are expected to restrain that urge because such behavior is wrong. That urge is natural. However, we are fully expected to manage it appropriately. The same is true with gay sex. It is no different. We are expected to manage our sexual appetites, not give them free reign.  That being said, homosexuals are not an ethnic group or a religious group, or any such thing. Therefore, it is impossible to categorize opponents of homosexuality as bigots without at the same time categorizing everyone who insists we accept homosexuality as bigots also. The etymology of the word bigot is wrought with problems. There seems to be an association with religious hypocrite bound up in the word. It is a word that has its origin in the French language. The modern definition means a narrow-minded person intolerant of beliefs other than his own. Well, this definition begs a definition of intolerant. Intolerance is the unwillingness to endure a differing opinion. There is no question but that the Christian group must be tolerant of outside views. The Christian group must recognize that outsiders are outsiders precisely because their opinions and lifestyles do not reflect those of the Christian group. Otherwise, they would be in the Christian group. What the Christian group will not, and cannot tolerate, indeed, must not tolerate, is Christians who wish to hold opinions contrary to the values of the Christian group while remaining in the group. Such tolerance betrays loyalty to God in preference for what is popular in the culture or with some other group.

In the end, it really is quite simple. Christians oppose gay sex and gay marriage because, well, they are Christians. As such, they have a duty to hold to a very specific set of values. They cannot abandon these views and remain Christian. Defection from Christian values is defection from Christianity. Americans do not think this way, but then again, Americans are not always right in how they think. The gay response to Christian opposition should be, “well, they are Christians and we would expect them to oppose gay behavior. That is what a Christian would naturally do. We disagree with them.” Moreover, Christians should not expect homosexuals to adopt Christian values. It is not the duty of Christianity to force its values and morals on others through political activism. It is the duty of Christians to publish the gospel and make disciples of all nations. That is the mission of the Christian group. It is not the outward transformation of society that leaves the internal unchanged.

This being the case, Christians are not bigots. We do tolerate differing opinions and we must. However, tolerating those opinions is not the same thing as agreement. Disagreement is necessary in order for tolerance to exist. What Christians cannot tolerate is anyone in their group abandoning the group’s values while attempting to remain visibly in the group. It is true that many in the gay community want to force the Christian group and Christian organizations to accept the gay lifestyle as God-approved. They want admission into the Christian group and acknowledgement by the group that they can abandon Christian values and still be defined as Christian. The Christian group would cease to exist if that were to happen. As I said in the beginning, the values of Christianity are permanently and eternally established due to the fact that they are derivative of the divine nature of God Himself.

I say to the gay person that I love you the same as any other person outside the Christian group. I will not treat you any differently than I do any other person outside the group. However, I will not, indeed, I cannot abandon the values of Christianity in order to approve of your lifestyle. I do not have the authority to do such a thing even if I wanted. I will serve you like I would any other person. You do not have to adopt my values in order for me to treat you with dignity and respect. However, if you insist that I have to accept your behavior as morally acceptable in order to be respectful toward you, I must disagree. The Christian group, and hence God Himself, defines for me what respect really is. Those values I cannot and will not relinquish. If we can be friends with this understanding in mind, I am perfectly fine with that. If you decide that friendship is impossible under such an arrangement, that is a decision that you and you alone must make.

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