As you may have heard, Mike Huckabee has declared today “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.” He has called for Christians to inundate the fast-food chicken chain with their business as a sign of their support. In case you haven’t heard, the chain has come under scrutiny, even losing the support of the Muppets because company president Dan Cathy supported the traditional view of marriage in recent interviews. Furious over what they view as hate-speech and discrimination, many have called for a boycott of the famous chicken peddlers. Upset about having the boycott game turned on them, Christians have decided to eat lots of chicken, claiming this as a first amendment right and have equally thrown out the clarion call of “DISCRIMINATION!”
Barnabas Piper recently stepped in to the fray saying why he believes “Chicken Day” as I have come to affectionately call it, a “Bold Mistake.” Piper summarizes his position by saying that:
the message the homosexual community and its supporters see is “us versus you.” The event also sends a message of separatism and territorialism in the “reclaiming” of those restaurants that are being boycotted, a collective action easily seen as a shaking of the fist or a wagging of the finger.
The separation of believers and unbelievers, when it happens, must be a last resort or an unavoidable result. Actions to the contrary, those that clearly promote an “us versus them” mentality, are most often unhelpful.
I think that Piper has raised a serious issue which Christians must consider. By binging on “Chicken Day,” what are we really communicating? We love to sing “Jesus, Friend of Sinners,” (Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34) but do we like to live it? Now, before you say that I’m condoning sin, think about this. Something about Jesus attracted the sinners and repelled the religious people. Our cultural approach seems to be exactly the opposite. We want to dig our heels into the ground and force the divide between us and “them.” What could have been a beautiful opportunity for dialogue has now turned into another battle in the “Culture War.”
And think about what’s been done to Chick-Fil-A in the process. Instead of creating an environment in which everyone feels welcomed, they have been put in the position of playing the role of cultural beacon for Christendom. I wish Chick-Fil-A had closed today and said: “Our president expressed his views, Huckabee et al, we appreciate the idea but we’re just chicken sellers. Please leave us alone.” But now they’re the “Christian Chicken Sellers!” If you like the “secular” KFC, try the “Christian Alternative Chick-Fil-A! While many believe this is a great thing, I think it will ultimately hurt Chick-Fil-A in the longrun, even if Huckabee and others think “Chicken Day” is an important statement. It might be, I just worry it’s sending the wrong message.
There is a way to humbly but confidently share life with “sinners” (and please let’s remember that sinners are sinners are sinners and we’re all sinners – there is no “us vs. them” it’s become “I’ve been forgiven of my sin and I think your sin is the worst of all!) while speaking the truth in love, while pointing to the truth. Jesus did it every day. The very fact that he ate and drank with “the tax collectors and the sinners” prompted the Pharisees and the Scribes to grumble and complain, leading in to perhaps Jesus’ most famous parable (Luke 15).
I worry that “Chicken Day” is taking us in the exact opposite direction. I understand that Huckabee’s Chicken Crew believes that they are standing up for biblical convictions but I just worry that they are creating the “Pharisee Meal With A Side of Separatism” in the process. Do we really want to separate ourselves from the very people Jesus made such efforts to hang out with? What biblical conviction does that speak advance? What if our posture was one of humble, confident, loving dialogue and service to those with whom we disagree rather than heels-in-the-ground division? Maybe we need to see the cultural chiropractor?
I know I’ll hear from you on this one and I look forward to your respectful dialogue.