Ok, brief recap of the situation. CEO of Chick-fil-A, a blatantly Christian company, made some remarks regarding his personal views on gay marriage and affirmed that his company is a traditional company that supports traditional marriage. Those who support gay marriage rights freaked out and accused Chick-fil-A of discrimination and began to organize boycotts and other demonstrations. Those who are opposed to gay marriage rights, led by Mike Huckabee, organized a support day for Chick-fil-A in which supporters would dine at the restaurant. The support day was a huge success, with millions showing up to support the chain's traditional stances.
Disclaimer: I have no problem with the support day, in fact I think it was a great idea.

However, I have noticed a concerning trend in the commentary on the issue by Christians. They claim that this is about the Gospel, and that dining at Chick-fil-A is a means of standing strong for the cause of Christ. This is a fundamentally flawed perspective for two reasons.

A) It isn't effective. While it did demonstrate that there are many who support the chain in their right to free speech and may serve as a response to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities who have spoken on behalf of their constituency in saying that the restaurant is no longer welcome in their cities, it did little to even approach the Gospel or convince anyone of anything. Right now, the battle lines are drawn exactly where they were, and my suspicion is that rather than convince people to "change sides," it has only polarized the debate more. As a method of encouraging Cathy and the others in leadership at Chick-fil-A it was probably effective, but it did little more than that.

B) The Gospel has nothing to do with civil rights or legally blocking gay marriage. Jesus did not die to provide for us a right to free speech, a right to the free exercise of religion, or to prevent gay people from joining in a mockery of the institution of marriage. He did not die so we can eat wicked good chicken sandwiches or anything like that. Jesus died so that we might be reconciled to God and to each other, for the glory of our Creator and for the ultimate restoration of a creation that has been tainted and oppressed by sin.

Here is where I think the confusion comes in. Christians in America are Christians first, and Americans second. However, that does not mean that the cease to be American.

As Americans they are granted certain rights and privileges by the government. Among these freedoms are the freedom to exercise our religion, freedom of speech (provided that speech does not cause harm or incite others to cause harm), and the freedom to not be discriminated because of our religious or political views. Those freedoms are what this debate is about. The mayors of the aforementioned cities are vastly overstepping their bounds with what they have said, and if they seek to legally block the chain from their cities they will face law suits. It is not wrong for American citizens to fight to preserve these rights, nor is it wrong for American Christians to fight to preserve these rights. However, they need to recognize that they are fighting to preserve American ideals, not the Gospel.

When they confuse American civil rights with the Gospel, they mix categories. As I said before, the Gospel is not that Jesus died to give us freedom of speech, freedom to exercise our religion, or to block gay marriage. I'm not saying that those are not good things, but they are not the Gospel.

Is it okay for Christians to fight for civil rights? The Bible is unclear on the matter, so I will leave that in the category of adiaphora (things that are determined by an individual's conscience). I would never participate in this kind of activity (mostly because of the category confusion that is prominent), but it is not my place to tell others not to. However, this activity should be kept subordinate to our Christian commitment to preach the Gospel by speaking the love in truth.



 


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