Chick-fil-A | Reposted from the Gospel Coalition.


Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus

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.

Followup on Doug Wilson at Bloomington | A repost from the Gospel Coalition


Exchanging Fisticuffs for Gentleness: Doug Wilson on Bloomington

Earlier this year Doug Wilson traveled from Moscow, Idaho, to the Bloomington campus of Indiana University to deliver a series of lectures on sexuality. In the weeks leading up to the event, articles in the student paper accused Wilson of being sexist and a homophobic racist. At the event, Wilson stood before a crammed lecture hall facing nearly 400 people, many of whom were angry protestors.

Wilson gave two lectures and a two-hour Q&A afterwards. The event was continually interrupted by planned protests, angry outbursts, and hateful slurs. One student was arrested and more than 20 were asked to leave. Nevertheless, Wilson displayed an unusual gentleness throughout.

I asked Wilson a few questions about the event and how to engage in apologetics in such a difficult climate. We talked about the use of satire and gentleness, why the issue of homosexuality is such a challenge to the legitimacy of Christianity today, and what he would’ve done differently.

You were warned about this event. But were you still surprised by the level of animosity?

I was not completely surprised, but I have to say I was somewhat surprised. I know that there are folks out there like that, and I have seen this kind of thing before. But what was surprising was the level of energy in opposing just a couple of talks scheduled for a classroom—their response was way out of proportion to what was going to happen, and so I suppose we should thank them for helping to make it such a roaring success. Seriously . . . couldn’t have done it without them.

You began your first talk saying that you hoped that the listeners would be surprised at what they heard. What about your talk did you hope they would be surprised by, and do you think they were?

The agitprop circulating about me beforehand was that I was a racist hate-slinger, so I wanted those present who had believed their own propaganda about me to run headlong into a major existential contradiction. I wanted to present the gospel in a way that seemed like a good news gospel, and I wanted it to hit them that way.

In these tense situations, satire, gentleness, and respect can all be used in response. You are sometimes known for satire, but surrounded by rudeness and antagonism, your manner stayed fairly gentle. What made you use one tactic over the other?

One of the principles of war is surprise. Satire should always be used as a tool or a weapon, and not as a relief valve for a personality disorder. When nonbelievers are expecting an effeminate and (to them) suitably soft articulation of biblical truth, the use of public satire can often come as a complete surprise, and can be very effective. When they are expecting a hate-filled thug, conjured up in their own imagination, surprising them the other way is also effective.

In addition, I should add that in face-to-face, person-to-person situations like this one, the apostle Paul requires us to speak this way.

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

In situations like this where repentance is much needed, gentleness is much called-for. I don’t believe this passage is a “one-size-fits-all” verse, but it is a size that fits the kind of situation Paul was talking about. And I think Paul was talking about just this kind of event.

I heard a popular apologist say recently that if he had to write his apologetics book over again today, he’d begin with his first chapter on homosexuality. Why do you think homosexuality is such a challenge to the legitimacy of Christianity in society today?

I believe it is the perfect cultural expression of postmodern relativism, so much so that I call it pomosexuality. If culture is religion externalized, as Henry Van Til observed, homosexuality (and other forms of deviance) are the perfect manifestation of an evolutionary, re-invent yourself kind of paganism, which is the religious worldview our nation is in the process of adopting. It is no accident, no coincidence, in other words. Gay pride is not the basic problem; the basic problem is plain old pride—refusing to honor the Creator, and refusing to give him thanks. Paul lays the whole thing out in Romans 1. This disease progresses just the way the physician told us it would.

If you had to do the whole experience over again, what would you do differently? And what bit of advice would you give to pastors who minister in similar social climates?

I would try to answer some of the questions better, try to think more nimbly. If you imagine me with a metaphorical tennis racket, not as many of the answers were in the sweet spot as I would have liked. And of course, where I was happy with my answers, I would want to guard against being happy about that in a wrong way. C. S. Lewis has a great poem about that problem called “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer.” I keep a copy of that poem in my Bible.

As far as advice goes, a little bit of calm goes a long way. A crowd like that is wanting me to change my mind about homosexuality (obviously), but they are also wanting me to change my heart, my equilibrium. But why should I change anything in response to their demands? Too many Christians agree to change their hearts while stubbornly refusing to change their minds. But that is just as compromising. It is just another way to give in to them, another way of surrendering. If I don’t want to put them in charge of my doctrine, why would I put them in charge of my joy?

I have felt for years that the besetting sin of conservatives in our cultural engagements is that of being shrill, and I have devoted a great deal of attention in learning how to avoid that problem. I believe this kind of event shows the great need for that kind of approach.

John Starke is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and lead pastor of All Souls Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You can follow him on Twitter.