Chick-Fil-A, A Rights-Based Culture, and Jesus

So, the Chick-Fil-A controversy. Yeah, that. What do we Christians do with that?

Many of my friends flocked to Chick-Fil-A yesterday in support of their CEO taking a stand for traditional marriage. Many of my friends didn’t. Don’t think the first sentence was about my Christian friends and the latter was about my non-Christian friends. Because that’s not true. It’s not that simple.

There are so many issues going on here, but I think the entire situation is tainted by American culture. We live in a rights-based culture. In the past hundred years, look at all the groups that have fought and gained rights: Women (to vote, to have equal pay), Native Americans (to vote), African-Americans (to vote, to go to the same schools, share the same public spaces, and to be treated with the kindness, equality, acceptance, and respect that every human deserves, to not be discriminated against), Immigrant students (to be able to go to school regardless of legal status; to have access to comprehensible instruction in the English language and in content areas), Workers (to get minimum wage, to get breaks, to have safe conditions at work)

This is not an exhaustive list, of course. But in thinking about this Chick-Fil-A thing, I feel like all sides are pulling for one right or another.

I have the right to believe what I want. 

I have the right to openly speak about what I believe. 

I have the right to disagree with someone else’s opinion. 

I have the right to be treated with respect. 

I have the right to marry whomever I want. 

I have the right to run my business based on certain values. 

I have the right to define marriage. 

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in rights. I don’t think Jesus was thinking about rights when he reached out to the marginalized of society. Like when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, and when he let the sinful woman anoint his feet and and when he picked a greedy tax collector as his disciple and when he brought the lame and the blind into the temple and healed them. Jesus made a life of going against social (and even religious) rules. Jesus made a life of loving the unloved.

I can’t claim to know what Jesus would do with this Chick-Fil-A thing. But I know he said this:

When you give a dinner, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. (Luke 14:12-12, OSB)

and this:

For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me: I was sick and you visited me: I was in prison and you came to me. (Matthew 25:35-36, OSB)

I read these, and I am humbled. I am ashamed that I have spent virtually no time loving the unloved. I don’t volunteer at homeless shelters or donate food to food banks. I don’t visit people who I know are sick, or sad, or bedridden. I don’t do a lot of things for others without thinking that they owe me one. I don’t even call my Grandma often enough! I pay attention to my own little life and my family’s needs and that’s all. I think Jesus cares more about how well I love the unloved than if I buy a sandwich at Chick-Fil-A.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook: “So, I keep hearing about how all these Chick Fil As have been super busy and backing up traffic all over. I’ve never heard of a homeless shelter, help center, safe home, teen pregnancy center, etc. having cars lined up with people wanting to volunteer time or give donations. Am I missing something? Just sayin’!! :)”

No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have gone to Chick-Fil-A yesterday. And I’m not saying you should have. I’m saying that American Christians have been warped by a rights-focused culture and to add to that, by a consumer-focused culture. We are encouraged to buy more, more, more for ourselves, but not to give to those who really need help. We are encouraged to stand up for our rights, but not to care about those who seem to have none.

That Jesus, he’s really getting to me tonight. He’s whispering something important to me that has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with love. And I want to listen.

25 comments

  1. Karla says:

    Amen Amen Amen! I know that I am more liberal than most of my Christian friends, but that is not what is bothering me. It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of conservative Americans who are still anti homosexuality. What has been hurting my heart, though, is the lack of love on both sides. I think ego has been much more involved than heart on both sides. We will show those liberals….let’s all go wait 4 hrs to eat there tomorrow. Ha take that. And on the other side, let’s pull all our weight and get celebrities to speak against those people. Etc. etc. etc. it’s all just sad. None of it has anything to do with being Christian or with being accepted anymore. It seems more like a giant pissing contest.

    • Anonymous says:

      The vast majority of conservative Americans are not anti-homosexuality. Like me, they are against kowtowing to a very small minority of citizens to the point of losing freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And in every country where hate crimes laws and same sex marriage have been condoned, these two freedoms are what suffer first and most extensively. Jesus did say love your neighbor as yourself and he showed love to the most unloveable of his society and calls us to do the same. However, he never condoned sin. Homosexuality is a sin according to God’s word and Jesus said, “I did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it…”. This sin is no worse than any other, but no sin should be exalted and celebrated as gays are basically asking America to do. Marriage was designed by God so he can set the rules and Jesus said, “from the beginning, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” So no one really has the right to marry whom they choose if they are choosing against God’s design. As for the other suggestions in this article; our family has delivered Meals on Wheels to the elderly for 7+ years, sponsoring our 10th child through compassion intl, and our homeschooled teens work at the soup kitchen once a month. I’m not trying to brag. And yes, I believe we should throw out a challenge to everyone standing in line at CFA on Wednesday to not stop there, but to get out and help others. Daily. I would say from the M on Wheels programs and soup kitchens we’ve been at, the vast majority of people we’ve seen helping at these places with us look pretty much like the crowds at CFA on Wed. I will post on my FB acct right now a challenge. Also, it would be very helpful if the government would get out of the way of charity and stop discouraging it by their welfare and entitlement programs and let the churches take this job back.

      • kksorrell says:

        I am glad to see that you and your family are spreading God’s kingdom through helping the poor, hungry, and needy. (You’re doing better than I am for sure!)

        While I know the Chick Fil A controversy is over comments about traditional marriage, I did not address that or homosexuality in this post. I was addressing the issue of rights. I find it misplaced that you appear to attack me and preach at me when you have no idea what my opinions on those issues are.

        I agree that Jesus never condoned sin. But he also said, “He who has no sin, throw the first stone.” We need to consider that the act of judging others is perhaps a sinful act in itself. All of us are sinners, saved only by the grace and love of God.

        Thank you for commenting.

  2. Roselyn Crewse says:

    Very well stated. I believe we have lost sight of rights and responsibility going hand in hand. As the mother of a gay person, I have done a lot of observing and researching. Homosexuality is found in all of nature, plants, animals and birds. Why would we be so arrogant as to think that man is so different when we now know how many things we share with other species. I believe this is natural not an affliction. I personally do not know why our sexual preferences should be the subject of discussion by anyone. Do you see heterosexuals running down the street with signs saying they are heterosexuals? No because it is not relevant. It is relevant for homosexuals because they are discriminated against, suffer from all kinds of indignities, etc. My daughter has accepted herself and I am proud of her. It was a real struggle for her as I know it has been for many of her friends. Some of them were disowned by their families. It is a breath of fresh air to read your posting. I have never been to Chick-fil-a and have no intentions of going simply I don’t think the food is very healthy. The owners have every right to their beliefs but they should have kept to themselves. They created the firestorm. There may come a day when we can accept all the differences in people, but not in my lifetime.

    • kksorrell says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I am so sorry if your daughter has been a victim of discrimination. I think you are correct in saying that having rights comes with responsibility.

  3. Anonymous2 says:

    This is beyond selfish individuals fighting for their rights. This is about civil discourse in this country and being able to disagree, no matter what side of the fence you fall on this issue. When a business owner’s license is under threat of being denied simply for stating his personal beliefs that is fascism. It is time to act! And that is why people showed up at chick fil a this week! Besides, Christ says “the poor you shall have with you always” and the two issues are not mutually exclusive. Also, the end of your argument is a red herring.

    • kksorrell says:

      I did not say and was not insinuating that Christians who showed up at Chick-Fil-A were selfish. (If anything, I was saying that I personally am selfish!) Like I said, some of my own friends went there in support of traditional marriage and I understand why. But if we want to act, as you suggest, which type of action will do more good in the world? If I buy a sandwich to say I believe in traditional marriage, I am offending and rejecting individuals who are homosexual. I am creating a greater wedge between myself and homosexuals. If I go serve food at a shelter or go hang out at a nursing home or provide for someone in need, who is hurt in that situation? No one. We Christians have the capability of loving the world in a way that’s not going to criminalize people. Unfortunately, as I said above, living in a culture saturated with a rights-based mindset has deeply affected American Christianity to the point that loving like Jesus taught us to is equivalent to standing up for our rights.

      And I will agree that when I go into consumerism, I’m getting off-topic.

  4. Jill Baker says:

    Thank you Karissa. I’m glad we ran into each other today. This is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Peace and love.

  5. Anonymous2 says:

    You have missed the whole point about what happened at chick fil a…it was about a businessman not being able to state his opinion without fear of loosing his ability to do business in some cities. This is about freedom of speech not homosexual rights.
    Using the logic you stated in your response to me, when I choose to do something, I am automatically “offending and rejecting” anyone who disagrees with what I’m doing. So if I eat a hamburger, I’m “offending and rejecting” vegetarians. Really? So Christians shouldn’t state an opinion because it might offend someone? Tell that to the three men in the fiery furnance! They stood for the truth, even when it “offended and rejected” people.

  6. Felicia says:

    It seems to me you are exercising your right to blog about your own opinions and draw conclusions about large groups of people. Maybe someone should take your “right” to blog away.

    • Anonymous2 says:

      But if someone did think her blogs were “offensive and rejecting” of these large groups of people and shut down her blog because of it, she would be fine with that. Because she doesn’t believe anyone should be “offensive and rejecting” according to her own words, because that would not be Christian.

  7. Felicia says:

    Yes, those people where using chick fil a as a platform to speak out in solidarity against an injustice they saw happening. Some people use their public blog to do the same thing 😉 For example here where other people’s faults are pointed out. Apparently, it is okay to speak out on the Internet but not by going to chick fil a. Of course, those people at chick fil a probably don’t have the benefit of Jesus whispering to them as does the author of this blog.

  8. VC says:

    “from the beginning, God made them male and female”

    Um, no he didn’t.

    1 of every 2000 people are actually born partially male and partially female – designed by God. And approximately 1 of every 400 mammals share this same trait.

    Look up “intersex” and you’ll find out why every major University in the world has an entire department dedicated to gender studies – and how we now realize that there isn’t a person alive today that is 100% female and 100% male. Just ask the Olympic committee.

    The bible also says that Israelites can’t marry foreigners, and that daughters can be sold into slavery. But we know these rules were stated during a time of ignorance, and we don’t condone those laws anymore.

    “The Bible is complicated enough, ancient enough, and flexible enough to support an almost endless set of interpretive agendas.”

    • Charity says:

      VC, this is not your blog. You’re off topic. In the meantime, if you or your friends can’t figure out what gender you are I suggest you visit one of the universities you mentioned.

  9. Charity says:

    By the way, I noticed that kksorrell is now requiring an email address to post on her blog. That made me feel “rejected” as if she didn’t like what I had to say and so now she may want to censor me in some way. I wonder if she will soon make her blog private? You see, as much as she talks about love, peace, and tolerance it probably only goes so far. We will see…maybe I’m wrong.

    • kksorrell says:

      Charity, most blogs require commenters to provide an (unpublished) email address both for security and as way to contact commenters the blogger might want to follow up with. (In fact, some bloggers opt to approve comments before they are posted.) I thought I was requiring people’s emails already; a friend pointed out to me that I wasn’t. Don’t worry; I won’t email you. :) You are always welcome to read and join in the conversation.

  10. Hope says:

    VC – I don’t know how you made the rabbit trail from Chick Fil A to Gender Studies but in some strange universe, like the one we are living in, you did. You are right about one thing though many people are out to make the Bible out to fit with their “agenda” these days and then they can keep on sinning any way they want to and call it “diversity” or being whom they are made to be. And agendas are exactly what the Universities are selling, not Truth. They have sold a whole generation down the river of “if i feel something to be true, despite 2,000 years of history, then it must be true.” I have been wondering when their ‘agenda’ would filter down to the non-academics and so it has. People don’t want Truth, they want self-justification to live whatever “lifestyle” they feel themselves desiring at the moment. And for people to lie to you and say that’s okay – well that’s not love and it won’t bring you any peace – instead it will destroy your very soil.

  11. VC says:

    Oh, I see what you are saying, Hope. So all those children who were born with both genders, we are just supposed to “ignore”them, or maybe persecute them –all because they were not born like us? I see. Shame on Johns Hopkins Medical Center for trying to help them. We need to tell the parents and doctors that those children are just hoaxes.

    And if someone shows you the visible proof of this, overt your eyes.

    Isn’t that what you are saying?

    What about all those cattlemen? Do you have a solution for how we can erase this from their minds? http://www.thecattlesite.com/articles/975/what-is-a-freemartin

    Val

  12. VC says:

    *That should have been “avert your eyes”.

    But for anyone who still has the mental ability to learn new things, who wants to find more about the variances between male and female among our human population (completely fact based) here’s a website that details the many ways that our creator makes our bodies all different ways:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex

  13. Hope says:

    VC – I think you are guilty of using the Straw Man fallacy against me here. I wasn’t addressing the small percentage percentage of people born with both female and male sexual organs. But was instead addressing those that are born one gender but then decide later that they do not “feel” that gender. This is what the majority of gender studies scholarship is about. In fact, their mantra is ‘you are NOT your biology’. I know because I wrote my thesis in English through the women’s and gender studies departments. Furthermore, by your argument you are in fact saying that you ARE your biology, which is the exact opposite of what gender studies departments argue. As to those that are born with both male and female sexual organs – well that is a much more legitimate quandary and those people have my deepest sympathies. There are no easy answers to that and I would not try to put forth any. And let me be clear – I never purpose persecuting anyone. Standing up for God’s mandates for traditional sexuality is NOT hate speech or persecution. And that is an insult to all of those who have been legitimately persecuted throughout history.

  14. Well your comments on Chick-Fil-A seem to have struck some sensitive chords!

    For sure, behind everyone of these issues, there are deeper spiritual matters that are not being addressed. For example, the Pharisees and Saducees debated about whether there was a resurrection in the future or not. But their real need was to be resurrected in their spirits right now. This was the issue, or the “nakedness” that was being covered by the “fig-leaf” discussions.

    I think you pointed to this a bit by considering the question, “what are we doing to show mercy to those in need?” This needs to be thought of in a much wider context. The World Health Organization estimates 1 billion people on our planet do not have enough to eat and are therefore malnourished. These are our brothers and sisters. Who is my neighbor? The one who has a need.

    What can we do to show mercy to them? It’s not practical to send them our food, but we can exercise restraint in the area of food. Much inequality in the world is caused by the wealthier countries living far too extravagantly, and consuming a giant share of the world’s resources. We live in such a country. The work of fighting against this common sin needs to start in our lives. How can avoid participationg in the guilt of our nation? By making choices now to live very simply.

    Personally, I don’t even go to restaurants anymore. And I don’t eat animals anymore, because it takes much more land to grow an animal than to raise crops. If all this land that was used to grow animals would grow crops instead, there would be less starvation and malnutrition (not to mention less damage to the environment and climate).

    I may not be able to change the whole world this way, but at least I learn to be more sensitive to the needs of my brothers and sisters dying in the poorer parts of the world, and to deny the clamors of an unsanctified appetite that is not only contributing to the distress of the world, but ruining the health of a large part of our nation.

    These are some of the simple things we can do to show mercy, right around us, in front of us, every day.

  15. kksorrell says:

    Frank, thank you for your meaningful comments. I appreciate your concern and compassion for the world’s needy. I love what you said about an “unsanctified appetite!”

  16. Nina says:

    Really excellent piece. I can’t remember if you ever read my “schnorrer” piece (if not let me know I’ll email you link.) TOTALLY different issue, but same essence–too much focus on rights over what we can give, do, contribute.

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