For a lot of my fellow Christians tomorrow, August 1st, has become a moment of defiance. By now everyone has heard the comments of Dan Cathy concerning marriage. Those comments in support of “traditional marriage” have led to a public debate about freedom, responsibility, and social justice. Many people have said they are going to boycott Chick-Fil-A for taking such a stand, not unlike many people on the other side of this debate declaring they were going to boycott J.C. Penny when they published a picture of two men in an advertisement a month or so ago. From politicians to people in the pews, this firestorm has mobilized people on both sides to become vocal and active in their communities.
Thus, I have received many invitations to “dine in” at Chick-Fil-A tomorrow with other people on a particular side of this debate. There are multiple reasons for this “dine-in.” For some it is merely to show support for a company that many feel has been unfairly attacked for participating in free speech. For others it is to push back in some cultural battle for the soul of America. Likewise, there are those who just believe that marriage should solely be between a man and woman and want to show their support for Dan Cathy’s affirmation. And we cannot ignore those who in general are bitter towards people of the opposite side of the political spectrum (this is on the Left and Right) and will say and do anything to cause them angst. However, for whatever reason people have for eating at Chick-Fil-A tomorrow, and inviting me to do so, I will have to graciously decline.
There are multiple reasons as to why I will not be at Chick-Fil-A tomorrow and all of them center on my orthodox Christian faith. It is true that I believe in the sacrament of marriage; and it is also true that the sacrament of marriage is not the same thing as Western heterosexual marriage. (The difference between the two will have taken up in a different piece.) So I don’t believe that what is taking place tomorrow has a 1:1 correspondence to my Christian faith as some would like to argue. And even if it did, I am still perplexed as to why Christians would think that the best thing they could do would be to spend money. I am not against money, nor am I against eating at Chick-Fil-A, but I am very worried that the supposed “Christian” response to what is viewed as a cultural crisis has been reduced once again to simply buying something. Even if I were to presuppose the assumptions of my well intended Christian friends, how does consumerism lend itself to transforming a society which has been corrupted by consumerism?
Herein lays the crux of the problem for me then, if it were true that Christians in America were in a “war for the soul of America,” and that war consisted in making America more Christian, how does participating in consumerism help that? I venture to say that in reality many of my Christian friends are caught up in trying to preserve a culture that is less than Christian. I am not saying that because of their values in this particular case, but because of their response. The response is wrong. Participating in American’s system of consumerism, that carries in itself a lot of blame for the destruction of family and society, does not make America more Christian.
There is only one sure way for America to become holy, and it can only be found in the path least traveled. Saint Francis summed it up when he said, “sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” Christians in America need to realize that the hard work of making America Christian begins in every individual Christian life. It is easy to buy a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and “stick it to liberals;” it is much harder to be men and women of prayer, to fast, to give alms, and to learn to love our enemies. But that is where the battle has to be fought. There is a war, but it is one which should be waged within us to root out our own sin. This world will become holy only through individual men and women becoming holy, and that has to begin with us. Therefore, tomorrow I will not be at Chick-Fil-A, but I will say a prayer, read Scripture, attempt patience, forgive those that wrong me, practice silence, ask for forgiveness; and through cooperating with the Grace of God in the Presence of Holy Spirit maybe a small insignificant part of America will be sanctified tomorrow in that with God’s help I myself might be made holier than I am today.