I did not eat a Chick-fil-A sandwich on Aug. 1 in a Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Why? Is the nearest Chick-fil-A two hours away from me? Yes. Am I supporting gay marriage by boycotting Chick-fil-A? No.
The comments from Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy supporting traditional marriage has set off an ugly firestorm. “Guilty as charged,” was his smug response in a Baptist Press interview on the corporation’s support of the traditional view of biblical marriage: “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.” Then mayors, governors, politicians, religious leaders and radio personalities blasted Cathy. In return, even more mayors, politicians, and religious leaders responded to critics of Cathy. Then, the pro-gay marriage folks call for a boycott of Chick-fil-A. In return, pro-traditional marriage people created “Support Chick-fil-A day” and I’m not going.
I’ve never been a fan of business boycotts that involve entertainment or eating. Years ago, many conservative Christians boycotted anything Disney related because of Disney’s pro-gay employee practices. I went to see Disney movies.
Both pro-Chick-fil-A and anti-Chick-fil-A people have really upset me. One group supports Chick-fil-A and says, “Look at our support and piety!” The other side yells, “That company is made up of bigots! If you buy their stuff it makes you one, too!” Both reactions are Pharisaic.
Jesus had a lot of words for Pharisees who had a habit of reacting to Jesus’ words. In Luke 15, he tells the Pharisees a story because they disapprove of his dinner guests: sinners and tax collectors. The story is about a father who had two sons. The younger son asked for his inheritance early, blew it all away, and came back with a plan to beg to become one of the father’s workers. Amazingly, the father forgives the younger son, often called “The Prodigal Son”, and throws a huge party. But, this angers the older son. He has labored, done everything the father asked, and never brought shame to the family. Now, the younger gets a big party and forgiveness? He boycotts the party for his sinful brother.
Author Tim Keller says the Prodigal story is Jesus’ way of teaching that the path of moral conformity and self-discovery are both wrong, but for different reasons. The moral conformist (the older brother) believes they are the good people and the world’s problems are because of the sinful self-discovery secularists — and the moral conformity way solves problems. The self-discovery people (younger brother) believe that judgmental bigots are the problem and the open minded post-modernity is the answer to the world’s problems.
They are both wrong. Jesus was neither. He sat and ate with sinners and Pharisees. Self-discoverers and moral conformists. He loved and taught both sinner and Pharisee. Younger and elder brothers. Both were attracted to him. Jesus he died for both moral conformist and self-discoverer.
Eating at or boycotting Chick-fil-A does nothing to advance the Kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t boycott the local market because it was run by a moral conformist. And, Jesus didn’t boycott an eatery because it was run by a sinner. Jesus didn’t legislate his beliefs or boycott a business in order to share the Gospel.
Yes, I will eat at Chick-fil-A with the moral conformists, but not on Aug. 1. In the end, it is not about chicken, traditional marriage, or gay rights. It is about being able to sit at the table together. I just want to eat chicken — with both kinds of people — and I want them both to eat together.