Thoughts Re: Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day: Warnings
In addition to the encouragement I think Christians should see from Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day earlier this week, I think there are some words of warning that we must consider.
First, we must avoid Pharisaism. The Pharisees were, to a large degree, theologically correct (this is why Paul could continue to refer to himself as Pharisee under certain circumstances: Acts 23:6), but-- as a group-- they lacked mercy (Matthew 9:13).
Christians should consider what it means to act in a merciful manner to those who perceive our positions and actions as hateful. I would suggest that we should not allow our actions to be determined by the [misguided] feelings of others, but neither should we entirely disregard these feelings. On a few websites, I saw comments from people who self-identified as "gay" saying that they felt hated by the Christians participating in Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Now, I've seen no report of anyone acting in a rude way toward "homosexuals" during the event on Wednesday, and it seems that some would feel "hated" by any disagreement regarding the definition of marriage or any action springing from such a disagreement, so such feelings of being "hated" cannot determine what we do as Christians, but I do think that the Christian commitment to giving an account for our hope "with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15) must determine how we conduct ourselves. We must NOT use abusive language toward those who already think we hate them, nor should we just tell them to 'get over' their feelings. Instead, we should be willing to listen while never compromising our beliefs and while looking for opportunities to tell every person of the hope for forgiveness and life-change that we have in Christ; we must remember, it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Every Christian must also realize that eating Chick-Fil-A does not make you godly. Eating at a specific restaurant on a specific day is not among the "acts of righteousness" mentioned by Jesus (Matthew 6; of course, even if it were, "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" was a public event, and so it would not have been eligible for a heavenly reward according to our Lord). Eating at a specific restaurant on a specific day is not among the spiritual disciplines mentioned in the Bible. (Conversely, the decision not to eat at Chick-Fil-A last Wednesday cannot be viewed as any kind of sin; you may disagree with-- for example-- Barnabas Piper's evaluation that Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day was a "bold mistake," but remember: if going to a specific restaurant on a specific day is no act of righteousness nor spiritual discipline, then a disagreement about attending an event like Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day is NOT even a fourth level doctrinal issue; Christians should be able to respectfully disagree on many political/economic decisions while maintaining warm fellowship). I am concerned that many people who went to Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day may think that this 'stand for biblical marriage' (as it was so conceived) amounts to some kind of spiritual triumph. To this, I can only echo the thoughts of Stephen Lee Cavness, who-- contrasting the mood at Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day with the normal mood on Lord's Day morning at many of our churches-- wrote:
when we gather with our churches, will there be a sense of purpose and excitement? a sense of“what we are doing matters!!”? will there be that same resolve, that it is worth any (so called) sacrifice to be there? will we understand the weight and gravity of gathering as god’s people to worship him in spirit and truth, to celebrate who he is and what he has done, is doing and has promised to do – to glory in our lord and redeemer?