What is really behind the boycott of Chick-fil-A

by Trevin Wax

If you’re like me, you’re weary of the excessive politicization of nearly everything in American culture.

Can’t we just enjoy Oreo cookies without making a statement about gay rights? Or savor a chicken sandwich without fear of being labeled a hater or homophobe?

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite.

Christophobia? Isn’t that a strong word? Yes, it is. So let’s define our terms.

First, let’s define homophobia. According to the Anti-Defamation League, homophobia is “the hatred or fear of homosexuals – that is, lesbians and gay men – sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility.”

Consider the comments made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy that triggered this escapade:

“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 know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

That’s it. Cathy said, basically, “We believe in the traditional family.” In context, it appears he was speaking primarily about divorce. (What’s next? A sit-in protest led by divorcees?) But this was enough to bring down the wrath of gay-rights advocates upon Cathy and the company.

Though Chick-fil-A hires homosexuals and serves homosexuals (“with pleasure,” no doubt), the company and its president were suddenly labeled “homophobic” and “anti-gay” for articulating the traditional vision for marriage that has been the norm for thousands of years. If the word homophobic has any meaning, then we should reserve it for egregious offenses against homosexuals – not throw the label on anyone who has a conviction about what marriage is.

Now let’s define Christophobia. It is “anti-Christian sentiment expressed as opposition to Christians, the Christian religion, or the practice of Christianity.” When the mayors of prominent U.S. cities in the north and west told Chick-fil-A they would not be welcome there, they were making a statement that goes beyond one’s position on gay rights. These remarks were an example of social ostracism – not just toward those who hold to traditional views on marriage but especially Christians who hold these views and seek to practice their religion accordingly.

Why do I think they were singling out Christians? Why would this be an example of Christophobia?

Consider a different scenario. What if Dan Cathy were a Muslim? What if he had been a Muslim speaking to an Islamic news organization when he said something about marriage and family? Would there have been an outcry against his organization? It’s doubtful. I can’t imagine Rahm Emanuel taking on a prominent, well-respected Muslim businessman, no matter what he would say about marriage and sexuality. (Perhaps that’s why Emanuel has no problem partnering with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan – an outspoken critic of gay marriage – in a crime-reducing initiative.)

And therein lies the discrimination. Do you see the double standard? Those who are problematic, those who must be shut down and made to feel unwelcome, are not really the people who believe in traditional marriage but conservative Christians who seek to practice the tenets of their faith in the public sphere.

What we are seeing today is a massive cultural shift that permits leaders to label Christians as intolerant and bigoted simply for expressing their views about how society should function. But strangely enough, the same social ostracism and cultural condescension are not extended to Muslims and faithful adherents to other religions. No, the prejudice appears to be directed toward Christians who dare to speak publicly about their deeply held religious convictions.

That’s why, at the end of the day, this conversation isn’t really about marriage, gay rights, or restaurant permits. It’s not about the cultural divide between north and south, liberal and conservative.

It’s about Jesus. It’s about the radical sexual ethic He put forth in His teaching – a moral zealousness that hits our current culture’s sexual permissiveness head-on. And it’s about His forgiveness offered to all sexual sinners, so long as we agree with Jesus about our sin and embrace Him instead.

As weary as we may be of the culture wars, the Chick-fil-A controversy is a harbinger of further ostracism to come. In the United States, the words of Jesus are coming to pass for those who hold tightly to His vision of sexuality: You will be hated because of Me. 

So how should we respond? We’ve got to go beyond boycotts and political statements and feigned offense at perceived persecution. We’re called to love those who ostracize us, not boycott back. So let’s trumpet the message that Jesus is for all kinds of sinners, from the self-righteous deacon to the promiscuous transsexual, no matter what kind of vitriol comes our way.

The world tells homosexuals, “It gets better.” The church tells homosexuals, “Jesus is better.”

And that is why this boycott is really about Him.”

-Trevin Wax,  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/08/01/why-the-chick-fil-a-boycott-is-really-about-jesus/

True Faith Requires Compassion

“We ought to feel compassion when we think of the wretched state of unconverted souls, and the misery of all men and women who live and die without Christ. No poverty like this poverty! No disease like this disease! No slavery like this slavery! No death like this: death in idolatry, false religion, and sin!

Ask ourselves this: Where is the mind of Christ, if we do not feel for the lost? I lay it down boldly, as a great principle, that the Christianity which does not make a person feel for the state of unconverted people is not the Christianity which came down from heaven hundreds of years ago, and is embalmed in the New Testament. It is a mere empty name.”

-J.C. Ryle, Tract: Athens; http://jcrylequotes.com/2012/03/05/possessing-compassion-for-the-unconverted/ Read the full tract here: http://www.reformedsermonarchives.com/ryle39.htm

The Christian & Controversy

Complements of Nathan W. Bingham via Ligonier Ministries:  http://www.ligonier.org/blog/oncontroversy/

A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton replied as follows:

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded.

To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the Word of God.

I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method’s sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself.

1. Consider Your Opponent

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.”

The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.

But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! “He knows not what he does.”

But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.

Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy: but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose.

“If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

2. Consider the Public

By printing, you will appeal to the public; where your readers may be ranged under three divisions: First, such as differ from you in principle. Concerning these I may refer you to what I have already said. Though you have your eye upon one person chiefly, there are many like-minded with him; and the same reasoning will hold, whether as to one or to a million.

There will be likewise many who pay too little regard to religion, to have any settled system of their own, and yet are preengaged in favor of those sentiments which are at least repugnant to the good opinion men naturally have of themselves. These are very incompetent judges of doctrine; but they can form a tolerable judgment of a writer’s spirit. They know that meekness, humility, and love are the characteristics of a Christian temper; and though they affect to treat the doctrines of grace as mere notions and speculations, which, supposing they adopted them, would have no salutary influence upon their conduct; yet from us, who profess these principles, they always expect such dispositions as correspond with the precepts of the gospel. They are quick-sighted to discern when we deviate from such a spirit, and avail themselves of it to justify their contempt of our arguments.

The scriptural maxim, that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” is verified by daily observation. If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit.

The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.

You will have a third class of readers, who, being of your own sentiments, will readily approve of what you advance, and may be further established and confirmed in their views of the Scripture doctrines, by a clear and masterly elucidation of your subject. You may be instrumental to their edification if the law of kindness as well as of truth regulates your pen, otherwise you may do them harm. There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.

I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from and are nourished by the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse were always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind. I think I have known some Arminians, that is, persons who for want of a clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace, who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.

And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility, that they are willing in words to debase the creature and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of. Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.

Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments. Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress his wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify. I hope your performance will savor of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

3. Consider Yourself

This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defenses were seasonable and expedient they appear to be so in our own day, when errors abound on all sides and every truth of the gospel is either directly denied or grossly misrepresented.

And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which are at most but of a secondary value. This shows, that if the service is honorable, it is dangerous.

What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made?

Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you; he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defense of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, “not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.” The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors.

If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands.

Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.

-John Newton, Excerpt from The Works of John Newton, Letter XIX “On Controversy.”

Tebow and the Point of Christianity

“So how would Tim Tebow, the person, respond to a question that clearly highlighted one of the main theological misconceptions surrounding Tim Tebow, the cultural phenomenon?

I thought the Denver quarterback’s response was excellent and worth noting. He said this:

Well, something I pray before games, during games, and after games is regardless whether I win, whether I lose, whether I’m the hero or the goat — it doesn’t matter — that I still honor the Lord and give Him the glory because He’s deserving of it. And just like my effort shouldn’t change, neither should that. So that’s how I try to approach it. Sometimes even in a loss you can honor Him more. And so, for me I just pray that my character and who I am doesn’t change. Even though you can be dejected, you can still feel hurt, you can be disappointed; but you can still honor the Lord with how you handle things.

For a professional athlete who just lost the biggest game of his pro-football career in a landslide defeat on a national stage, that was an admirable response. He didn’t cry, as though football were more important than it really is. He didn’t blame his teammates or his coaches. He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t fault God or say something silly about not having enough faith. Instead, he gave an answer that was theologically sound and inherently God-honoring. In essence, Tim was telling the media that they were missing the point:Christianity is not about winning football games; it’s about honoring the Lord in every situation, even when you lose the football game.”

-Nathan Busenitz, Full Article Here: http://thecripplegate.com/tebow-part-2-how-to-lose-a-game-without-losing-your-testimony/

Playing Football for God’s Glory

“I don’t know enough about the technicalities of playing quarterback in the NFL to discuss whether Tebow can make it. And I’m not interested enough to learn. But he is a brother in Christ who seems to “get it” on two important fronts: 1) his relationship to Jesus is more important than football at any level; and 2) how to be humble in public.In a hilariously tongue-in-cheek columnabout how Tebow is a colossal failure because “all he can do is win football games,” we catch this profile of the man that every Christian should aspire to be:

You can see why Elway’s unconvinced. Tim Tebow can’t do it the normal way. Tim Tebow can’t get through an interview without mentioning his faith. Or giving credit to his teammates. Tim Tebow never sounds full of Tim Tebow.

He doesn’t even get mad when people say nasty things about him. When people say Tim Tebow needs to improve, Tim Tebow says he needs to improve. Who does that?

Nothing seems to rattle him. He smiles and doesn’t sulk. When Tim Tebow is bummed, he doesn’t pull down the blinds, blast the Fleetwood Mac and drink red wine out of a Mason jar, like everybody else does. He’s a total weirdo.

Whether he makes it in the NFL or not, Tebow has thus far shown a grace-filled balance of having a good reputation with unbelievers and yet being stubbornly different for the sake of Christ. And this at the same time that other young men his age—yes, even Christian young men—seem to have no higher goal than reaching the next level of CoD.”

-Andy Snider, http://theologyislife.com/2011/12/06/the-important-thing-about-tebow/

The Dome of the Rock’s location is God’s Will

“On the ancient temple mount in Jerusalem there stands a mosque.

Observant Jews see a profaning of their most holy place and plead with YHWH to remove their disgrace. Observant Muslims see Allah’s favor, a sign that the true religion sits in ascendency.

The world sees a centuries-old religious/political drama being played out on the edge of a knife, with diplomats delicately working like a bomb squad to avoid an explosion.

But most miss the real significance of the mosque on the mount.

When the temple stood there it was the very heart of Judaism. It was the place where the presence of God dwelt among his people and sacrifices were offered to atone for sin.

But the Presence remained inside the temple, in the holy of holies, cut off from sinful humans. And no one was allowed to enter there except the high priest, “and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offer[ed] for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people” (Hebrews 9:7).

But that all changed when Messiah appeared, as God had promised in the Law and Prophets.

Messiah “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Having accomplished that, he “entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself. . . to appear in the presence of God” on behalf of all who would believe in him (Hebrews 9:24).

Jesus became the one final sacrifice and the one final undying high priest (Hebrews 7:24). He opened a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:19-20) into the most holy place in heaven for “all who would draw near to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25). He became the mediator of the new covenant God had promised (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

At this point the presence of God moved out of the temple’s holy place into his people, whom Messiah had made holy. And he began to move his people to take the gospel of the new covenant to all the peoples of the world. The Presence was moving to the peoples.

The age of the temple was over. The “copy and shadow” (Hebrews 8:5) was obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Therefore Jesus prophesied: “Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). This was fulfilled in AD 70.

For the past 13 centuries a mosque has occupied the temple’s former site. It is not a sign of God’s endorsement on Islam. Rather, it is an unwitting guardian of the new covenant reality. God wants the temple gone, not because Judaism is destroyed, but because in Jesus it is fulfilled.

So when you see the Al Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock, pray for both Jews and Muslims, that they will hear and believe the new covenant. For “the hour [has come] when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will [they] worship the Father” (John 4:21).”

-John Bloom, http://desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-mosque-on-the-mount/