August 1, 2012

4 thoughts on Chick-Fil-A Day

by Jesse Johnson

eat more chickenToday is Chick-Fil-A appreciation day. Organized by Mike Huckabee (former Governor of Arkansas), the event is intended to show public support and appreciation for the restaurant chain’s founder, who has been vilified because of his support for the institution of marriage. On Facebook, nearly 4 million people have been invited to participate in this day, a small indication that the event has resonated with the Christian community [Edit: we have readers in over 200 countries, only one of which has Chick-Fil-A; if you want to figure out what this debate is all about, check out Al Mohler here].

The hullabaloo concerning chicken sandwiches is simply one manifestation of the larger culture war being waged over the redefinition of marriage. If marriage is a word, how is that word defined? By common usage, history, or popular vote? Using any of those three definitions, it would exclusively include heterosexual relationships, but many courts have ruled that none of those methods are valid. So what is an alternative way to define marriage? In a statement that says as much about capitalism as it does about culture, it seems to have come down to likes on a fast food chains’ Facebook page.

Should Christians care about Chick-Fil-A day? Why is this such a big deal? Here are four thoughts on how the world’s tastiest chicken matters:

1) This controversy has grown because, as Voddie Baucham wrote last week, gay is not the new Black. In the language of the debate about Proposition 8 in California, our President’s speech announcing his “evolving” view on marriage, and in many articles in the news, the angst over marriage is compared to the angst concerning integrated schools fifty years ago. Those who think that marriage is only for heterosexual couples are portrayed as if they were using the same arguments used against the desegregation of schools. This is a civil rights issue, we are told, and thus should not be subject to the democratic process. If you define marriage with a biblical standard, you are a bigot and your views are anathema to the current culture.

Yet the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha shows it is not homosexuals who are being discriminated against, but Christians. After voting on the definition of marriage (in California, for just one example), courts found that because the motivating factor behind the passing of Proposition 8 was religious, it was thus invalid. Christians (and Mormons, Catholics, et. al.) don’t get their votes counted. If you have a Christian view of marriage, and you own a business, then your business faces additional roadblocks when it wants to expand. Mayors in Boston and Chicago—hardly irrelevant cities, and hardly the discriminatory South—recently said that businesses owned by those with Christian values are not welcome in their jurisdictions. How should we respond to this? Well choosing a day to eat at Chick-Fil-A is one answer, but I can’t help but feel it is woefully inadequate.

2) Christians should expect to be persecuted. Jesus said that, and it also happens to be true. In our country, martyrdom is not the reality. Instead, we should expect to have our values mocked by the culture, and we should expect to have our commitment to those values tested. The bottom line is that the mayors of Chicago and Boston are correct: Christian values should not fit in. We should feel out-of-place in this world. If the thrust of that persecution is an extended zoning process to open up a restaurant run on moral principles, we should consider ourselves lucky.

Of course, the certainty of opposition and persecution does not mean that those who overtly oppose God’s holiness are justified. In this way, Chick-Fil-A day gets us back to Gospel 101: the world is filled with those who oppose the chicken sandwich because they oppose God. They will be judged by God. God has made a way of escape from that judgment. Our job is to identify those are who are living apart from God and in rejection to the gospel, and bring them the good news.

3) Being caught in a debate about waffle fries can be distracting to the task at hand. Obviously there is nothing wrong with supporting Christian-owned businesses, especially those that are being ostracized by the government for the faith of their owners. In that sense, Chick-Fil-A day is a great idea. Go for it. You need fuel for your body to get the strength to glorify God with your day, so why not Chick-Fil-A?

Chick-fil-A Sandwich.jpgBut the tendency with these kind of Christian culture wars is for Christians to completely lose the ability to differentiate between what is important and what is inconsequential. Time and energy can be spent advancing secondary and tertiary causes, and the net result is often unconnected to the advance of the kingdom. If a greater number of people eat at Chick-Fil-A today than kiss there on Friday, the gospel does not win. If more people protest on Friday than spend there today, the gospel does not lose. There are two ways the gospel suffers on Chick-Fil-A day: if people think that supporting Christian values is the same as evangelism, or if people think that protecting marriage is the same as advancing the gospel.

4) If restaurant franchises have become a proxy front in the broader culture war, Christians should not fall into the same trap. We should have thoughtful explanations for what marriage is and why it matters. We should be able to make careful and explicit connections from God’s created order to the gospel, and we should be ready to engage with non-believers thoughtfully and biblically concerning divine truths. This requires discipline and biblical literacy, and quite frankly eating chicken is simply easier.

Where does that leave us? Hey, we have to eat somewhere today, so it may as well be at a Chick-Fil-A. But let’s not fool ourselves. Each of us will probably have multiple conversations today that have the possibility to matter in someone’s life in a way that your lunchtime food choice simply doesn’t. So, invite your friends, eat chicken, and support Christian values. But don’t be fooled into thinking that what you say is less important than the restaurant in which you say it.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Msn

    Are you serious??

    • I take marriage more seriously than blogging, but blogging more seriously than chicken. Just barely though. I mean, have you had a chick-fil-a sandwich?

  • Austin Duncan

    I really like this sentence:
    “In this way, Chick-Fil-A day gets us back to Gospel 101: the world is filled with those who oppose the chicken sandwich because they oppose God.”
    I like all sandwiches regardless of their religious views. I think your article does a good job of balancing support but recognizing limitations. These kind of demonstrations are notoriously unclear to most observers and you have helped Christians see the inadequacy of consuming nuggets as compared to explaining the gospel to a lost world.

    Warm Regards,

  • diane

    Thank you for this post! Well said!!!  My thinking is that we should love those who are opposed to us and ask God for the courage and the grace to lovingly share the gospel!! Why are we trying to change a heart to think biblically that cannot think biblically apart from God’s intervention? They have to hear the Word, the gospel … Faith comes by hearing. Faith comes by hearing the gospel not our vocal support of traditional marriage and Dan Cathy. No one got saved because they support traditional marriage… but MANY get saved by hearing the gospel and receiving salvation! 

  • Larry

    Jesse, you’re a sensible guy. Much of what you post resonates with me. As Christians, just what are we trying to prove? Why do we get all disheveled when the “world” labels us: intolerant, narrow-minded, antiquated, bigoted, hate-mongers, etc? My gosh! do we want the New Testament alternative of being boiled in oil, or being severed at the torso? Logic brings me to Corinth. Would it seem possible that 1st century Christians engaged the Roman government/society, relative to homosexuality, pedophilia, beastiality, incest, pornography, drunkenness, temple prostitution and orgies? Chicken sandwiches?

  • Larry

    Jesse, you’re a sensible guy. Much of what you post resonates with me.
    As Christians, just what are we trying to prove? Why do we get all
    disheveled when the “world” labels us: intolerant, narrow-minded,
    antiquated, bigoted, hate-mongers, etc? My gosh! do we want the New
    Testament alternative of being boiled in oil, or being severed at the
    torso? Logic brings me to Corinth. Would it seem possible that 1st
    century Christians engaged the Roman government/society, relative to
    homosexuality, pedophilia, beastiality, incest, pornography,
    drunkenness, temple prostitution and orgies? Chicken sandwiches?  Do we “sorta” “kinda” think we are more effective endorsing fried chicken than endorsing the power of the Gospel?

    One more thought..Why do we say things like “God’s idea of marriage is between a man and a woman” Although true, it’s getting lame and sounds like a “canned” response.

    Why not bring Jesus Christ to bear on the situation?

    • AStev

       I prefer to say it this way: “In Matthew 19 and Mark 10, Jesus himself asserted that marriage between a man and a woman has been God’s design from the beginning.”  This also heads off the false notion that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality”

  • Chik Fil A makes a tasty (albeit salty) sandwhich, and honestly, this entire controversy is totally bizarre to me.  The one thing that seems to be missing here is the the fact of HOW these city leaders can prevent a business for operating simply based on the personal views of the company president.  Isn’t that violating the civil liberties of a business owner to believe what he wants to believe?  Where are the civil liberty groups to stand up and defend the views of the CFA president, btw?

    Oh, and there are two d’s in “Voddie”.

    God bless.

    • Thanks for pointing out the propper spelling of Voddie. 

      Cities have the right to withhold business permits or zoning access to companies that have “adverse secondary affects” and there is almost no legal threshold for what those affects are. This is the same principle that allows cities to refuse zoning permits to night clubs or more seedy establishments. So if cities wanted to pursue this course, they simply would have to say that the business has adverse secondary affects to its presence, which is exactly what is happening in Chicago. They had an alderman say that C-fil-a is not welcome because of the owners faith, so they would refuse zoning over “secondary traffic flow affects.”

  • Dan

    Very minor correction:  “Voddie” Baucham. You can remove my comment, just pointing that out.
    And I wasn’t sure where the number 4 million on Facebook came from. I could be wrong but the Facebook event page currently says 590K people are listed as “going,” so I assumed that’s the number in support, with 3.1 million having not yet responded.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  • Larry

    Wow! I JUST received a text reading, “Good morning all please keep Chick-Fil-A in your prayers. We don’t fight against flesh and blood.”

    (I feel like a chicken with its head cut off!  uuugggghh….)

  • Overall this is a very thoughtful and interesting article, but I imagine that all that most people will see of it is this quote:  “the world is
    filled with those who oppose the chicken sandwich because they oppose
    God. They will be judged by God.”  Shortcuts like this may have a nice poetic ring but they just undercut the seriousness of your argument.

  • I agree with Austin. The article calls for clearer thinking on the matter and focus on the main issue…taking a co-worker to lunch today in order to talk with them about Jesus over a hot basket of waffle fries.

  • allen teklitz

    Hey, I was just wondering if you could explain the phrase
    “If a greater number of people eat at Chick-Fil-A today than kiss there on Friday, the gospel does not win”
    I might just be from the wrong part of the country or grew up under a rock; both likely…

    • The LGBT community is planning a kiss-in protest on Friday, where they encourage same-sex couples to go to C-Fil-a and kiss there as a form of counter protest to the C-Fil-A day today. 

    • Victoria

      There is supposed to be a kissing sit-in for homosexual couples opposing Chic-fil-A’s views to bombard the restaurant chains.

    • I read an interesting article by a gay man who though he is against Chick-fil-a, is against the plan on friday for homosexuals to kiss in local Chick-fil-a’s.  His concern was that such a demonstration only furthers our culture’s association of homosexuality with promiscuity, sexual behavior, and indecency. He makes a great point which is revealing about the nature of the homosexual lifestyle and how they are going about their friday protest. Great article Jesse, it’s all about the gospel. It is very interesting how much more energy many American’s spend towards political change for a “Christian nation” yet aren’t sharing the gospel.

  • Danielle Jeffcoat

    This whole Chic fil A day thing seems very “in your face” to me.  Like “ha, we’re Christians, and we’re gonna eat there anyway, IN YOUR FACE.”  Doesn’t seem very loving to me. I’m all for standing up for beliefs, but I don’t necessarily like the way this portrays our attitude as lovers of Christ.  I might eat there today, I might not, but my eating there would be simply because I’m craving the chicken and fries and it’s convenient to my house.  It just so happens to be on the day everyone else eats there too. 

    •  Exactly. It’s the “in your face” aspect of this that troubles me. I’m all for being separated from the world. I don’t think we were ever called to give the world the finger.

      • diane

         Bingo, James!

      • Ernie Peacock

        I think you are missing the greater point of the “day”. Jesus said the Kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Now we know this is not meant to mean that Christians are to become physically violent, however, there are times that prophetic acts need to be demonstrated. This is one of those times! 
        Commemorating the day to recognize someone who has been persecuted for standing up for biblical principles in not as one responder to your comment put it, “giving the world the finger.” It does however, show solidarity by a group of people who do love Jesus, and are taking a “violent” stand in the spirit by demonstrating with their wallets. 

        St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times, and sometimes use words.” James wrote, “Faith w/o works is dead.” I see faithful people supporting a franchise that has been under fire by the mainstream devil media. Scripture admonishes believer to encourage one another. Sometimes, encouragement comes in the form of giving a hug and keeping silent. Consider patronizing Chick-fil-a today, or any other day, as though you are giving them a big hug. 

        During a time where more and more corporate sponsors are shoveling big $$ toward gay/lesbian causes, the church should be willing to put our money where our mouth is by supporting corporate sponsors that are willing to battle in the public area for goodly standards. 

        Now go out and buy a chicken sandwich, and say a prayer for Dan Cathy while you ask God to bless your value meal! 

        •  Emily, I didn’t miss the point at all. I do believe that many of those at CFA today are there for the right reasons (to encourage CFA). But my assertion is that many are not. Many do have the mentality of sticking it to the liberals. 
          By the way, I think that St Francis quote is a terrible one. We should use words.

        •  Actually, Francis didn’t say that, and whoever did was dead wrong about the nature of the Gospel. Preaching the Gospel will always require the use of words.

          • AStev

            I was gonna link to this same thing, glad you did.  🙂   Someday, this false quote will be put to rest.    Someday.

    • Bill in Spokane

      Just exactly how should Christians “stand up for their beliefs”, by taking people out to lunch and sharing Jesus, but never openly in the marketplace?  Why not both?  My second question is this.  What is “loving” about NOT confronting sin or subjecting our little children to a godless gay is normal, natural and healthy, curriculum that is now mandatory in all California public schools?  What is “loving” about helping to foster sexual perversion among any persons, that Jesus died for, who are having sex outside of marriage?  What is loving about being “tolerant” towards a group of people (male homosexuals who are having sex with other males) who are contracting HIV 44 times more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts, even though they make up less than 3% of the total population?  If there was a nationwide “suicide club” among young teenagers, would you as a christian not try to be vocal (like in every way possible) to turn them from that destructive path to Jesus?  You see the problem here?  The church has allowed the world to redefine Christian “love” and reduce to being “tolerant”.  Jesus wasn’t tolerant of sin and death, He courageously opposed it.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus LOVED righteousness and HATED iniquity.  He doesn’t hate homosexuals or any other sinner for that matter, but He message had teeth in it nonetheless. 

      • Name Withheld

        So how does eating at Chick-fil-A today change any of that? It doesn’t. Appreciating Chick-fil-A is not about tolerance, it is about defiance, and THAT is not the gospel. The gay community DESPERATELY needs the gospel, and buying a chicken sandwich today will do NOTHING to further that end.

        • Standard

          So what you are saying is don’t stand up for anything Godly? You don’t lower God’s standard to be more appealing to the sinners. You keep God’s truth and express it through love, service. But you never let go of God’s standard! I would consider rethinking your point. 

      • Tim B

        The truth without love is a clanging gong.  Far too often, we shout how the world is wrong and it comes across to those who are lost as condescending… and honestly, many times it is.  It has an air of “Look how much better I am than you.  You should live as me.”  Can you say Pharisee?  And then we wonder why they don’t want to have anything to do with God.  Maybe if we spent more time sharing our testimony instead of trying to win an argument, we’d see people be more receptive to our point of view.

        I fear that too many times, many in Christianity have been clanging gongs as opposed to resounding hope.  There has been very little understanding from Christians regarding this specific issue.  Has anyone stopped to think that most of what this specific group has heard from the church is “God hates fags” and “turn or burn?”  Then we wonder why they have such a strong reaction over this statement.  (Granted, these statements come from radical churches and groups that somehow garner all the attention, but how is the LBGT supposed to know that?)  Instead of displaying understanding, we have little rallies like this that basically say “we will come against the evil homosexuals and invalidate them?”  This, of course, only makes matters worse and solidifies the stronghold of “God hates us.”  My question is why was this appreciation day even necessary?  What good was it going to accomplish?  In the grand scheme of things, how was this going to address the actual issue?  The truth is, it doesn’t.  In reality, we are called to be willing to lay down our rights and be wronged, and to display forgiveness toward those who wrong us.  That is what makes us different from the world.  We failed to do that in this situation.  Instead, we waged a needless theological war with people who already don’t understand our beliefs.  Am I saying we condone the lifestyle?  No.  But that doesn’t mean we have to disrespect them.

  •  I agree with everything you wrote here…thank you!
    This is my post for last week (not nearly as eloquent 🙂

  • When we say that Christians are called to “take a stand”, I agree, but often,  what one person thinks is taking a stand, another person sees as simply sticking it to unbelievers. When Peter got thrown in jail in Acts, his fellow believers didn’t make a public protest; they gathered in a house, away from everyone else, and prayed.
    “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” Acts 12:5

  • Jen

    being a christian, i have quite a few concerns about this article. 

    it was stated that the founder has “been vilified because of his support for the institution of marriage.” that is not the reason. no one is surprised they are for “traditional” marriage (i put that in quotations because how is that traditional when the bible discusses multiple types of marriage?) i recognize that anyone and everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs.  however, i chose not to support a company that supports discrimination. chickfila has donated to organizations that deny homosexuals the right to serve in the military, make it acceptable to fire homosexuals only because of who they love, deny homosexuals the right to adopt children, and creating an overall hate for those who are different. 
    the bible says that we are to look out for the interests of others (philippians 2:4), that “you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (john 13:34-35).”  “love” is mentioned over 500 times in the niv, and over 280 times in the kjv.  homosexual acts are only mentioned 12 times. 2 of those times refer to rape, and 6 refer to prostitution.  from what i’ve read, jesus spent most of his time with the sinners – not with the religious leaders of the time.  he was their friend, their supporter, their comforter.  he did not try to make their lives harder, or embarrass them for their choices. the bible also discuses many other rules and guidelines that are commonly ignored.  i do not know very many (or any) christians that refuse to wear a garment made of two different materials, or refuse to eat shellfish or pork, or that believe it is acceptable to rape a woman as long as you pay her father and marry her after.  there are multiple types of marriages discussed in the bible, the most common being a polygamous marriage. polygamy is illegal in the united states. adultery, divorce, and remarrying are also “threatening the sanctity of marriage.”  why are there no major protests for those ‘sins’?  those things have become acceptable in our society.  i personally believe an individual cheating on their partner is worse than two individuals committing to each other out of love.  there is so much hate in the world, why would we want to propagate hate? i’ve loved chickfila for years.  i appreciated the “my pleasures” and the bones given to my dog in the drive thru, and respected the fact they chose to be closed on sunday.  i enjoyed eating there, and my experiences have typically always been positive.  unfortunately, the profits from chickfila have not been going to organizations that i feel are positive.overall, my point is that i believe everyone is allowed to their opinions. but i am also allowed to chose to spend my money other places. places were my money will not be spent on hate, but rather to show christ’s love. children are starving, people cannot afford to go to the doctor, and some do not know where they will sleep tonight. i would much rather have my money go to help those people (gay, straight, christian, jewish, whatever) than to create laws to hurt others. 

    • Anna

      Yep. Pretty much exactly what she said. ^

    •  Jen, I hate to be so blunt, but your comment has rehearsed just about every single bad and already-refuted argument for trying to harmonize homosexuality and homosexual marriage with biblical Christianity.

      I’d love to demonstrate how each of your points fails on biblical and/or logical grounds, because I think it would serve you in your thinking (if you have an open mind and are committed to understanding how the Bible actually addresses each of your objections) as well as others who agree with you in whole or in part. And I may do just that in an upcoming post or two (or three).

      But until then, could I ask you to read the post that’s linked in Jesse’s #4? Click on the words “what marriage is and why it matters.” There, I try to explain why Christians should care about the definition of marriage, and why it goes deeper than many people — even many people who claim to be Christians — think.

      Thanks Jen.

    • Dan

       It is about the entirety of what the Gospel teaches. Christians do not “create hate” because of their Faith in the Gospel. Christians do not hate the sinner, for we are all sinners. But its is the sin Christians hate as God hates sin. Whether it is a life lived in sexual immorality or lying. Sin is sin in Gods eyes.  As a Christain you have a desire to live your life in a sin, its not easy, that is one reason Chirst lives within you.

      Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, “that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

      • Billy Woods

        The problem with the “Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner” argument is that people find identity in what they do. I’m not disagreeing with the statement, but if someone was to say to me “I love you, but I hate you playing guitar” then I wouldn’t want to be around them, since guitar is a big part of who I am. If people tell gay people that they “love them, but hate them being gay” then they aren’t going to feel loved since you’re hating a big part of who they are. It’s not cool.

        If they haven’t experienced God then they don’t give a crap what he thinks.

    • S_O_T_A

      “shellfish or pork”?

      Why do people keep bringing up these bogus arguments? Are they going to tell us that condemning bestiality and incest (also in the moral code of the law) is also wrong?

      There are 3 parts to the mosaic law, Jen. Respectfully, that knowledge alone scotches about four fifths of what you wrote. You need to make a better effort not to misrepresent your opponent’s position.

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  • Thanks for reminding us to keep things in perspective. By far the best quote in this article: “the tendency with these kind of Christian culture wars is for Christians to completely lose the ability to differentiate between what is important and what is inconsequential. Time and energy can be spent advancing secondary and tertiary causes, and the net result is often unconnected to the advance of the kingdom.”

  • Futurismus

    “Christians (and Mormons, Catholics, et. al.)”
    Are you implying that Catholics are not Christians? I mean, Mormons are polytheists and all, but Catholics got the whole Christianity thing started. Is this a typo?

    • Catholics got the whole Christianity thing started.

      Thanks for the chuckle, Futurismus. But no, actually Jesus and His Apostles got the whole Christianity thing started, and they taught that a man is declared righteous by God not on the basis of their own works, but by faith alone (cf. Luke 18:9-14; Rom 3:28; etc.). And actually, for the first 500 years of church history, a consistent stream of early church fathers seemed to agree with them (see this post).

      For more on how Catholicism differs and departs from biblical Christianity, see the comment thread on this post. And, for good measure, check out this post, which documents why the Protestant Reformation is still not over.

      • Futurismus

        Oh, wow. Just, wow. The fact that you people believe this sort of misinformation *about your own religion* is deeply troubling.

        As far as we can tell – and you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take that extra stuff tacked onto the end of the Bible to be in any way historically accurate or binding – Jesus had no intention of starting what people centuries after the fact called “Christianity”. His apostles, considering the record of previous and subsequent sectarian behavior, were probably more keen on starting a new religion. 

        Let me review some of your history.

        Christianity went through three stages. It began and died shortly thereafter with Jesus – a teacher (of sorts) likely associated with the Essenes. After the murder of the Jesus-based faith by Paul, there were a few centuries of incoherent, inchoate persecutions, blatherings, and other deeply uninteresting misunderstandings of Jewish culture and scripture. Around (and certainly after) the Council of Nicaea, the religion everyone would later recognize as Christianity took its initial (and final) form.

        If you want to go back to what Jesus actually did and said, go for it, but get rid of everything ascribed to him by Paul. He was a liar and a fool who perverted a likely decent man’s words to fit his own bizarre (though psychoanalytically amusing) agenda. You’ll probably want to adopt Jewish dietary standards, rest on the Sabbath and build yourselves a temple.

        So, in sum, it is correct to say that Catholicism differs and departs from “Biblical Christianity” – something I’m assuming you would like to mean the “Christianity of Jesus”, though that’s absurd for hopefully obvious reasons. It’s also completely irrelevant in light of the cursory history lesson I just gave you.

        •  I suppose it all comes back to the matter of authority. If you had any, your “history lesson” might actually carry some weight.

          But the authority for commenting on history falls ultimately to God Himself, who has spoken in history and on history — and who has, in fact, invaded history in the person of Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-3). I trust Him.

          • Futurismus would like you all to know that he believes my last comment (appealing to the Bible to substantiate the authority of the Bible) begs the question, but he couldn’t quite do it in a respectful manner.

            Yet it’s important for us to note the difference between begging the question and reasoning according to one’s ultimate presuppositions — something everyone must do, or be inconsistent. (So, the rationalist gives reasons, the naturalist cites observable facts of nature, etc. They turn to their “Bible.”).

            Put simply, if I believe that God’s Word is the most ultimate authority possible, what would I communicate if I went outside the Word of God to substantiate that claim? I would communicate that I believe that that external authority is really the ultimate authority.

            Christians interested in apologetics should take note. Don’t unsay with your methodology what you say in your bibliology.

        • lol thanks for the laugh

  • Herrbreedlove


  • Bill in Spokane

    Jesse, I agree with your excellent thoughts on points one and two.  On points three and four I think you are minimizing the connection between the “culture war” and “evangelism”.  The reason our culture has been systematically undermined over the last fifty years is because Christians in mass were misled on two fronts: 1. First that Christians should not be involved in politics, which of course left a huge vacuum that the cultural marxists, progressives, atheists and so forth were more than happy to fill. 2. Many church leaders also reasoned that because God is sovereign (which He is) things like voting and being on the forefront of the cutlure war really didn’t matter thus conceding our Judeo/Christian heritage by default.  Consequently there are scores of believers in Christ today who don’t even realize America ever had a distinct Christian heritage, and tens of millions of them who are voting age, don’t bother to vote.  Many Christians were told to withdraw from these worldly engagements and focus solely on evangelization. That’s seems off to me.  I always thought being the salt of the earth, and by extension, evangelizing the world was all about allowing our Christian witness to be seen and heard in every aspect of our socio/political life.  John the Baptist certainly engaged the political leaders of his day.  So did Jesus and His apostles.  But then again, they turned the world “upside down” rather than shrinking back from the harsh realities of living under Roman rule.

  • Phil

    I am a Christian. However, this is not
    about Christianity. This is about one person attempting to put their
    views on people who don’t believe the same way. Very simple.

    Anybody can believe any way they wish
    (as long as it is not contrary to the laws of the land), but that
    does not mean that they have the right to force their views on other
    citizens of the State, on the Land. Give this some serious thoughts,
    friends. You may not want what you are asking for… That being
    that ‘protecting the sanctity of marriage..” Let’s look at that:
    Say ‘marriage is the sole ‘property’ of Church and Religion.. Okay.
    So, let’s do that. Let’s make sure that only the Church can allow
    ‘marriage’. So, that would mean that, since Homosexuality is an
    abomination, then same sex marriage would never be allowed. Okay.

    But, then that would also mean that
    only Christians could get married, since it could only be in the
    ‘Church’.. So, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, etc., could never
    get ‘married’. Also, because Divorce is a ‘no, no’, marriage can
    only occur one time. If you get divorced, then no more marriages for
    you… You’re in the same boat as those abominable Gays.

    Oh, and if you are a widow, you better
    hope that your spouse’s brother is still unmarried. (Or, even hope
    that your spouse even had a brother!)

    And, since Marriage is a Christian
    Institution, let’s do the right thing and remove all those secular
    add-ons attached to it. You know, like tax breaks, community
    property laws, etc. Yeah. We really should live by the Give unto
    Caesar thingee, you know?

    So, the bottom line is if you really
    think that two men (or two women) living together and loving each other enough to
    make a contract to stay together until one of them dies is a threat
    to your marriage, then perhaps it is time for you to circle the
    wagons and make sure that ‘Marriage’ is a Man/Woman only union,
    Christian only Sacrament, unfettered by Secular temptations, and go
    back to living like they did 2000 years ago. In the meantime, the
    rest of us will continue to grow and follow Jesus’ teachings to love
    one another.


    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Phil. I don’t know of anyone who is arguing that the only marriages that should be valid are Christian ones. What people are arguing for is the ability to define marriage. Most people define it based on the usage of the word in history and biblically. After all, marriage was not simply invented out of the blue for the IRS tax code. It was a religious institution that goes back to our created order. What the government does for tax reasons is entirely up to them. Christians will always render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. 
      So how do you define marriage? And should your business be prohibited from expanding if you answer that question based upon your religious convictions? That is the point here. 

      • Phil

        Jesse: re: How do I define marriage?
        I’m not sure that it is important how I would define marriage. It
        would, perhaps, be more important how a particular society defines

        From that, then, one must look at the
        reasoning for the definition of marriage. Many people, today, simply
        live together, have children, raise them, and if they should, at some
        point, separate, society will assign parental responsibilities, no
        matter that a marriage license was never received. However, there
        are still societal punishments. Peer pressure from other children,
        other adults, and institutions (see Chick-Fil-A) all create pressure
        on the parents to get ‘married’.

        The Church (as the Catholic church
        calls itself) thinks of marriage as a Sacrament, no different from
        Confession, Communion, and others. They, at least, will not allow
        someone who has been divorced to be married in the Church.

        Protestants, on the other hand, treat
        marriage as a sort of watered down version of a Sacrament. And, as
        such, I am surprised that you are not taking that particular road.
        That is to say that marriage is defined by the Bible as a Sacrament
        between a Man and a Woman, one that cannot be changed by Men (or
        Women). But, of course, that would have to lead to saying that only
        Christians can be married, because unbelievers could never partake of
        the marriage Sacrament.

        So, I would have to ask you how do you,
        Jesse, define marriage? For, say, the man and woman living in India
        who has no interest in Christianity. Or, how about the Mormon who
        lives in Utah and has three wives, all of whom are comfortable with
        each other?

        And, what is really the most important
        question: How does two women, who love each other, threaten your


        • I would say that marriage is defined in by the created order. As Jesus said in Matt 19:5, marriage is the act when a husband and wife are joined together. Obviously this is true for those in India–it is true for everyone descended from Adam and Eve. But behind your question: this is a debate about the definition of marriage, not taxes or standing. In California for example there are same sex unions. The only thing Prop 8 was about was the term “marriage.” Who defines it? I have yet to hear a cogent response to this question. Simply mocking the way others define it does not count as playing this game. Finally, it is not about my marriage being threatened. It is not that polygamy, incest, or any other sinful act “threatens” my marriage. It is simply that as a pastor I preach that marriage is designed by God to be between a man and a woman, and that people in my congregation that believe what I say are being told that their votes don’t count (California) and that they can’t open up businesses because of their beliefs. All of that is happening apart from anyone saying what a better way of defining marriage is!

          • Phil

            I live in Florida. Because I am a
            notary, I am allowed to marry people. If Florida allowed same-sex
            marriage, I could, and would, marry anyone who had a valid marriage

            Notice, that the key is a valid, legal,
            marriage license. That is a legal term. Not a Religious, or
            Christian, term. If two people want to be married in your church,
            (and check me if I am wrong on this) they have to get a marriage
            license. Now, you, as the pastor in your church can decline to let
            them get married, however, you can’t override Rome. Am I correct?
            Therefore, it matters not what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about
            who can or cannot be married. It ONLY matters what the law of the
            land is, and, the law of the land, at least in many states, has
            declared that Gays have a right to get married.

            And that is what this is all about.
            The right of two people to have a legally sanctioned recognition of
            their union.

            Using the Bible to say it should not
            happened is as out-of-date as Haircuts, eating pork, owning slaves,
            and wearing clothes.

            Back when I was a child, two women
            could live together and no one cared. Two men could live together
            and no one cared. Now, everybody seems to really be interested in
            what everyone does in the privacy of their bedroom. Why is that?

            Now, I’ve read from many conservative
            Christians that Gays threaten us physically because they are immoral,
            etc., etc., etc., and yet, all of the divorces, and adultery, to
            date, have been caused by heterosexual people – people who are
            enjoying a man/woman church-sanctioned marriage. It would appear
            that it would take a long time for gays to ‘catch’ up with the ‘sins’
            of non-Gays…

            Anyway. I know that you, as a pastor,
            have your hands proverbially tied. But… Let me ask you..

            If a person, male or female, came to
            your church, wanting to attend your services, would you refuse them

            If you were on the side of the road,
            with a flat tire, and no jack, and someone stopped to help you, and
            you knew they were Gay, would you refuse their help?

            If a child was hungry, and you knew
            that their biological parent was Gay, would you refuse them food?

            If you met a Gay in the voting booth,
            would you try to get their voting privileges rejected?

            If your answers to all these questions
            is “No, Phil. They have jest as much of a right as I do.” then
            why do you think that they do not have the same right to have a
            society sanctioned right to live, in peace, without judgment, as you


          • I still think you’re missing Jesse’s point, Phil. And given all he’s written — in the original post as well as personal follow-up comments to you specifically — I’m starting to wonder whether that’s intentional.

            If Florida allowed same-sex marriage, I could, and would, marry anyone who had a valid marriage license.

            The point is, no you couldn’t. You could perform the ceremony, you could grant legal status, and you could call it marriage. But it wouldn’t be marriage. Because marriage, by the definition that God, through Scripture, has given to man, is between one man and one woman.

            Marriage is not a state-invented institution, but a divinely ordained institution that is mercifully granted to the state (and all mankind, believing or unbelieving) as a gift of God’s common grace. Nobody but He has the right to alter that definition, and anyone who attempts to do so will indeed incur either His Fatherly chastening and loss of blessing (if they are a sincerely misguided believer) or His righteous wrath (if they are self-deceived and actually unbelieving).

          • Phil

            Mike: re: “I still think you’re
            missing Jesse’s point, Phil. And given all he’s written – the
            original post as well as personal follow-up comments to you
            specifically – I’m starting to wonder whether that’s intentional.”

            Everything I say, Mike, is intentional.
            I don’t do un-intentional. If I believe something, I say it – I
            don’t call in my attorney and get them to get a ruling as to the
            letter of the law. You are missing the point. You can say that
            marriage is something only given by God (even believing and
            unbelieving – and where does it say that little gem in the Bible?)

            One thing that you, or Jesse, or I,
            cannot do is perform ANY marriage ceremony, if the persons involve do
            not have a CIVIL marriage license..

            So, marriage is a state-invented

            You may not believe it, but it is so.


          • Now you’re just being obtuse. Did God need a civil marriage license in Genesis 2?

            Even if the state must regulate or sanction marriage, as it is an institution given by God to all people, God still performed the first marriage (Gen 2:21-25). And He did so in order to picture the covenant-keeping relationship between Christ and His Church (Eph 5:22-33).

            If we can’t agree that Scripture clearly teaches such things, there’s little point in continuing discussion, as we’re simply not submitting to the same authority.

          • Phil,
            Your argument does not work biblically. God did not need a marriage licence in Gen. 2. But it also oesn’t work practically either. Fine, say that marriage is entirely civil (which I’m granting only for the sake of your argument). How do those civil laws come about? Why not the democratic process? Why should a Christian not be able to open a business in Chicago because he thinks that the state law on marriage is better than the mayor’s personal view? Finally, would you, as a notary, do a wedding (if it were legal) if the marriage would be incestuous, polygamous, or involve a child? Do you have any moral standard apart from the law? What is your standard?

          • Phil

            Jesse: Thank you, again, for your
            thoughtful response. I sincerely apologize if any of my posts have
            come across as confrontational. I don’t mean them to be –
            sometimes I get on my high horse, thereby falling..

            Let me first respond to your question
            “Do you have any moral standard apart from the law?” Good
            question. Yes, I do. Right now, I could not, legally, perform a
            ceremony which would cause incest, nor could I, knowingly, marry
            anyone who is legally married to someone else. (Although the laws in
            Utah are being challenged even as we speak.) I assume when you
            mention a child, you are referring to someone marrying a child. Laws
            are pretty clear today as to the age of reason. (Although this was
            not always the case here in our favored land.) It used to be that
            girls could get married as young as 12 years of age. In fact, my
            mother had her first child at the age of 15. So, the definition of
            ‘child’ would seem to be a moving target.

            All of this requires a very important
            part, so as to qualify as a moral question, and that is a victim.
            Incest. Polygamy. Child brides. All victims.

            Now… you mention the democratic
            process and how laws come about. Let’s discuss that. I assume
            (Yeah, I know what ‘assuming’ does…) that you are okay with out
            democratic process, so, consider that the whole democratic process is
            controlled by our Constitution. Yep. That’s right. Legislative.
            Judicial. Executive. Just as you cannot be a Christian without the
            Father, Son & Holy Spirit, You can’t jest say that because the
            majority voted for something makes it so. It must pass the Judicial
            and Executive test, also. Not necessarily popular, but that’s the
            way it works. So you don’t like that Prop 8 was over-turned? Then
            it must not have passed the litmus test.

            As far as a Christian (or anyone, for
            that matter) opening a store in Chicago (although I must admit, I
            cannot, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to open
            anything in Chicago – unless it’s an envelope containing a one-way
            ticket to anywhere not being Chicago) because of the state law.
            O—kay. Does anyone have a problem with that? I would have no
            problem with any of that. It would not even bleep on my radar.

            My final thought (I promise!): re: my
            argument not working biblically. Possibly that is correct. Mike
            stated, as regards to my stating that I could marry anyone who had a
            valid marriage license, “The point is, no you couldn’t. You could
            perform the ceremony, you could grant legal status, and you could
            call it marriage. But it wouldn’t be marriage…” And the fact is
            that to many Gays, that is all thaat they are looking for: “legal
            status” – recognition from the legal authority. They (Gays) would
            leave it up to the individuals and God as far as His acceptance.

            This time, today, this Century, is
            indeed a tough time to struggle with what are the important tenets of
            Christianity. I do not envy your task. I do pray for you.


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  • Connorpwright

    People boycotting Chik Fil A is not new. People have been boycotting them for a long time because of the organizations they donate to. Also I would refute the idea that heterosexual marriages have been the only accepted form of marriage through history. The Romans had many many homosexual marriages.

    • My point was simply “how do you define the word?” Based on how the English word is used in history? Certainly not based on how it was used in Rome. Do you let people vote on how you define it? Been there, done that. So what is left? Simply making up a definition? I mean, what process do you use to decide what the word means, much less what the institution means?

    • Futurismus

      Indeed, but the relevant response to that is, “do we really want to look to the Romans for ethical guidelines?”

  • Thanks, Jesse, great perspective that I hope more Christians grasp. Difficult at times in capitol of CA, with so many politically-engaged people, they do not see sharing God’s Word as “doing something.” Recent incident – a lady came up to me one Sunday after I taught to request permission to distribute some fliers at the front door. I tried to gently decline, which obviously infuriated her. Among other things, she fumed, “So you don’t want to actually do something about this?!” I tried to explain that I just did do something by teaching the Word of God to the best of my abilities and plan to continue. Don’t t think she got it… stormed out never to return.

    Of course, I’m still getting a chicken sandwich today. Thanks, man.

  • Karen Wynott

    Jesse, well I agree with you regarding not being fooled about eating a chicken sandwich and the gospel…persecution. I think another question becomes are we living lives that we can be persecuted for? if we don’t stand for those who are being pure persecuted now, what about when it comes to your door? I am supportive of good see theology and sound doctrine. but because I want to go support Chick Fill A doesn’t mean I lack good theology or sound doctrine. Oh, and by the way where does luck fit into this as a Christian? This is about free speech not chicken. no free speech no freedom. will continue to follow your blog and listen to you when on worldview weekend.

  • Karl Heitman

    Jesse, look what you started… Thanks for this! 🙂

  • Styles

    Seriously? Gay marriage is NOT a form of persecution towards Christians. Joe & Liam’s marriage does not affect you. Kathy & Jennifer’s family does not hurt you. To compare this to the Christians who are MURDERED for simply believing in God is highly offensive and makes light of their deaths. Christian does not equal anti-gay. Even Christians have a number of different viewpoints. To say that an anti-gay vote is a “Christian” vote is a gross generalization. To say the LGBT community “winning” means that the “gospel does not win” is as ignorant as it is hurtful.

    • Styles, 
      I think you are radically misreading the post above. I say that if the LGBT has more people, that has absolutely ZERO bearing on if the gospel wins. So in that respect we are saying the same thing. Nor did I compare same sex marriage to persecution. I said not counting Christians votes, or not allowing Christian businesses to open IS persecution. Do you agree? 

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  • bob

    Dear Jessie,
    Catholicism is a Christian denomination….seeing as it was the original. It does not need to be in the “and” catergory. Some people do not seem to realize the fallacy here. Just an FYI

  • Jjohnson520

    There are more things out there to fuss over than Chick-fil-A restaurants. Do not judge a person for who they care for it left up to God on that day.

    • Hey J Johnson, nice name!
      Are you saying it is right to prohibit Christian owned businesses from opening in a city, or are you saying it is wrong because God will judge them? I couldn’t tell.

  • I understand protecting our rights and not being shut down because our beliefs offend others..but I just realy wish this chick fil let day even was handled differently..Like with compassion.
    I’m a christian and having my own brother who was my pastor come out and say hes gay has shown me that being gay isn’t a result of someone who has been brought up in sin and perverted..” straight” christians are find homosexuality sickening, throw the bible at people without any compassion or understanding, unlike what Jesus would do..I have family who belieive in shunning my brother because they think its biblical..yet they wont shun someone who has has a baby outside of marriage which just shows it isn’t about what God says at all, but your own discust for homosexuality and not the love of God….Christians, yes we can speak what we believe, but just be careful when you do, its with compassion and understanding of others cause I feel like this whole thing is like back in the 60s when black people couldn’t eat with whites..No black people…and Now it feels lik NO Gay people allowed because of the lack of compassion…No one has said anything to show any kind of compassion for them, Just ” Its time we speak out! we wont be silent” blah blah blah..come on people
    …There are thousands of hurting homosexuals who desire to be with God, but Christians tell them no..they need to try to have extreme faith to be healed or just be alone there whole life and watch straight couples be in love…There are also thousands of people who say that the number one reason why they wont believe in Christanity is because they have a gay friend who has suffered so and told by the christians they can’t be saved…This chick fil et day is so hurtful to gay people..its stings right to the heart, the same as it stings a black person who sees the KKK protesting their beliefs!! and ” taking a stand”..theres such a selfish additude I feel about only wanting to show what you believe!! and not caring of how hungry gay people are for God, and yet you just tell them, We don’t believe in your gay marriage!..Theres no compassion and it does NOT make the world want our Jesus

    • Joy,
      You make some great points. There is a real tension here. There is the desire to stand with a Christian man whose company was just told it may get kicked out of major cities for no other reason than him expressing a view that the Bible defines what marriage is. The desire to stand with him is a good and godly desire. On the other hand, a tool that is far better than eating at a restaurant on a particular day is the evangelizing of sinners, and seeing the church grow. So do we do both? Eat there on Wed, evangelize there on Fri? There really isn’t an easy answer to those two competing view points. They are both true, and both in tension.  

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  • Corinnetu

    This is a good article. Thanks Pastor Jesse!

    “There are two ways the gospel suffers on Chick-Fil-A day: if people think that supporting Christian values is the same as evangelism, or if people think that protecting marriage is the same as advancing the gospel.”

  • I worry about the excessive use of phrases like “secondary issues” and “open handed issues” in the Christian dialogue. Luther taught that the most important issue today is the issue currently under attack by the enemy. Today that is homosexuality. Religious freedom on the other hand is not a “secondary issue” it is a non-issue to Christians as it is entirely political and has no basis in scripture.

    Since Romans is generally accepted as the primary doctrinal epistle on the Gospel, and we can’t get past chapter one without it laying out homosexual behavior as a prime indicator of the sinful state of humanity (not just homosexuals themselves but the culture that applauds them)…this can never become a secondary issue. Secondary issues are dictated by those who hold certain theological formulas in common while holding a wide variety of views on other issues.
    This should be an indicator that they are not of a same spirit. Instead because they find common philosophical ground on their acceptance of man made jargon, they put aside that they differ on things the Bible plainly says and are easily discerned by all born-again and spirit filled believers…like the fact that God created the earth in six days, or that the nation of Israel and the Church are distinct entities…as were their respective covenants, or that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, yet called to repent of sin and obey God lest we perish in hell. The Bible is a whole. There are no parts that are nor part of its intended message nor are their discrepancies in meaning, just varied levels of maturity among those who read it.
    Perhaps a better solution would be to obey the Bibles teaching and “be not many teachers”. Perhaps a long history of Spiritually immature and young men, more wise in the ways of this world than after God, have brought in all the inane inconsequential, and unbiblcal issues which Christians debate, and these should instead repent and shut it. Instead, they bear no shortage of opinion and have now come to dictate to us which issues are secondary and tertiary.

    Its just another man made formula meant to fix the mess created by the last thousand. Perhaps we’d do better to follow after the early Christians who gathered to READ the scriptures so as to grow accordingly. Shortcuts to knowledge tend to throw wisdom under the bus.

  • cathy ann warner weatherford

    Hey Sammy! If the world was created to make famous the name of the G-d of The Bible and his love for mankind as their creator,savior and judge we welcome the oppertunity to keep speaking of those things we know to be true of our G-d, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac,and Jacob and the father who sent his only son into the world that whosoever believeth in him shall shall not perish but have ever lasting life. Yeshua ha Messiah Amen!

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  • A Humanist.

    Another reason why the word “teacher” is subjective. Remember, it was the advent of reading that diminished the church’s role in pre-Revolution America. Without the need to be told what scripture said and instead able to read it for themselves, citizens began to question the traditional interpretation of “God’s” word. One day we may find that folks in Springfield no longer need you to “teach” them the truth. Ah, Glory days!

    Feel free to belittle and disregard this post because I disagree with your opinion and use logic.

    • Biblically, “teacher” is not as subjective as you make it sound. It is an office in the church, entered into by ordination and is for those who meet the qualifications of 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1. I’m also confused by the comment that the “advent of reading” diminished the church’s role in 1700’s Americas. Many of the people who came here (esp. to New England) were ejected from England/Europe for religious reasons. Literacy was the norm, even in the 1600’s. Harvard, Yale, and even Princeton were all founded as religious schools during this time. That doesn’t really line up with the image of reading being discovered and undercutting a church’s authority. Any decent biography of almost any colonial leader (Edwards, Mather, Stoddard, etc.) or pastor will show you the incredibly high educational standards in the colonies then.

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  • Remember it is in part the left leaning media that co-ops this normal activity into a platform of political speech which is a worldview speech. Christians may enter.

  • This comment thread has pretty well run its course. Thanks everyone.

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