Monday, July 30, 2012

Chick-fil-A and the Christian's paradox

What a week. At first blush, you'd think that the Apocalypse is upon us, and all over fast food.

Unless you've been vacationing on Uranus for the last several days, you are well aware of the firestorm over CFA's Dan Cathy's comments in favor of traditional Christian marriage. (And I'd encourage you to read them in their original context as found on Baptist Press, and not some truncated version from another source.)

While you're at it, note, too, the responses from elected officials. Wow. It has come to this: "Not only do we disagree with you, we want to silence you."

As a Christian, I'm trying to glean from all this something redemptive, while at the same time acknowledging a paradox (and thanks to John Piper who helped me sort all this out.)

We Christians are commanded to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed. On  the other hand, we are shown that we are to "become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." See, we live in the middle of a fallen, failing American culture. We aren't to conform to that. But - we are not to give offense, try to please, and become all things to all people so as to save some.

Here are the facts for believers: This country is not our home. We are out of synch, out of step with the  culture. The world recognizes that, and that brings on scorn. We are the ultimate outsiders and pilgrims. On the other hand, we are called on to take on some of the traits of the culture ...if we don't conform at all, then we are the salt trapped in the shaker.

The challenge is to describe homosexuality as sinful while at the same time be willing to lay down our lives in love for homsexual persons. That is what Christ did. To take this thought into even more radical realms, we MUST believe that homosexual behavior is sin in order to love homosexual people. According to First Corinthians, "Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth." If you deny the truth that homosexuality is a sin and instead approve or rejoice in it, what you bring to a homosexual person will not be love, no matter how affirming, kind, or tolerant.

The whole issue, it seems, has found its nexus in the relationship between homosexuality and marriage. Jesus confirmed God's will in creation in Matthew 19:4-6.

The argument which must be considered, if we're to be intellectually honest, is when someone asks, "Why do you impose your religious beliefs on American culture?" Well, all laws impose convictions on culture. All convictions come from worldviews - they don't come out of nowhere. People argue for laws on a basis of a particular view of the world. It follows that Christians should be involved in the business of lawmaking. We should pray and work to shape our culture so that it reflects the revealed will of God, even if that reflection is dim and external. Goodness knows others will be attempting the same thing. So we pray and work that marriage would be understood and treated in our land and government as a lifelong union between a man and woman.

But believers, we do this knowing that we do this with brokenhearted joy. Joy because God is God, sovereign over all, and He will establish justice in His own time in this fallen world. But we are brokenhearted because we will experience pain and misery because of the pain that sin has brought into the world. That should not make us cynical. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons, and where it can't, it weeps.

Look. We can't get all bent when evil triumphs for a season. We don't whine when we don't get our way. We shouldn't be hardened with anger. What's happening isn't new. The early Christians were terribly out of step with their cuture. Jesus Himself said, "You will be hated for my name's sake ... Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you."

We don't own culture, and we don't rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy.