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Friday, August 3, 2012

War with the World

No time for being lazy
No sleeping until noon
The world is cruh-cruh-crazy
Don't you get the news?
Get up, put on your armor
Yeah, we're at war with the world
- from "War With The World" by DeGarmo & Key (listen: Spotify -
Years ago there was a great deal of controversy over what was known in Christian circles as the "spiritual warfare movement." Christian rock bands with lyrics like this one (a different band called Petra even released an entire album called This Means War!) raised eyebrows with their use of combative language. War is a violent thing... should Christians be talking as though we are in some kind of battle? Isn't that what happened in the Crusades? Isn't that what we object to in radical Islam even today?

In the past couple of weeks, angry Christians have eaten thousands of chicken sandwiches in protest of people who protest at the Chick-fil-A founder's statements about marriage. Some say the controversy is about free speech (even though nobody restricted Dan Cathy's speech). Others say the controversy is about gay marriage rights (even though Dan Cathy denied nobody's rights to get married) or gay rights in general (although I have yet to hear any good solid evidence that Chick-fil-A has discriminated against anyone because of their sexual orientation). Others see the statements as a symptom of a corporate policy with which they disagree (the company has made charitable donations to religious organizations which seek to help homosexuals leave that lifestyle if they so choose, and the methods of some of these organizations have been questioned). In the Christian circles I frequent, I have seen a lot of defiance, some of it bordering on anger. Christians are frustrated, because they feel that homosexuals are trying to legalize something which they believe threatens their religious beliefs. Apparently, if homosexuals are allowed to call themselves "married" under the civil laws of the United States, it will be the first step in the crumbling of Christianity to dust.

But wait... is the Church really that fragile? Is Christ really not able to preserve his people if homosexuals quit eating at a fast food chicken place? Even if that place doesn't open on Sunday because of the owners' religious convictions? And, more importantly, are political ideas, even ones that are very important to us in America such as the right to freedom of speech, really a part of Christianity?

Are we at "war with the world?"

I think we've gotten our idea of what "the world" that we should be "at war with" mixed up. The second part of the song I quoted above is a little more specific:
The enemy's a liar
He wants to take your heart
The lure is the desire
That tears the heart apart
So don't go for the glitter
Yeah, we're at war with the world
- from "War With The World" by DeGarmo & Key
"The enemy" that the song talks about is personified under the name Satan, but really "the world" that we are to oppose is the sinfulness that surrounds us, not everybody in the whole world who is not a Christian. In fact, in the Gospels Jesus never attacked the people around him who were considered "unclean" and "sinners" (in first-century Jewish thought, homosexuals would surely fall into this category, if any of them happened to show up). The people that Jesus most vehemently attacked were the self-righteous religious people who thought they knew all the rules and wanted to force everyone else to follow them.

Sound familiar?

The problem with this whole Chick-fil-A thing... in fact, with the whole "gay rights" thing and the response of Christians to it... is that it serves to create a division between Christians and the very people we should be seeking to reach with the message of Jesus' love. When you post that pro-Chick-fil-A image on your Facebook profile, think about this: is your lunch really worth the soul of a gay person who might see your profile and become hardened against the message of the Gospel because of it? What about your right to free speech? Is that worth the price of a human soul? What if a gay person wants to become "married" in the eyes of the State, but does not want to try to force a church to call them married as well. Is your opposition to that person's actions worth alienating someone from Jesus?

I'm not saying we should "wink at sin" and say that it's OK. Homosexuality is not OK. Neither are any of the other sins that most of us commit every day. If you break one part of the law, one rule, one sin - you've sinned just as thoroughly as the homosexual. There are no sins worse than others: every sin is a capitol offense without Jesus. But what I am saying is that we should pick our battles wisely. Even Chick-fil-A immediately tried to separate themselves from the controversy over gay marriage; maybe Christians en masse ought to take a cue from that and do the same. Free speech and chicken sandwiches are not worth anyone going to Hell over.


Claus Hofmann said...

Good argument. I would add however that many on the other side of the divide are vehemently opposed to a Christian's right to believe and take a stance against gay marriage. I made a comment on FaceBook indicating that while I opposed the redefinition of the word marriage to include a gay union, I was not opposed to civil unions before the law for gay couples. For this I was unfriended by one of my high school classmates, who proceeded to compare me to the Nazis who refused to acknowledge the Jews as people, and after a reasoned response and an appeal to him via private email to allow us to "agree to disagree" and remain friends, he labeled me a bigot and compared me to those in the south who prevented Rosa Parks from sitting in the front of the bus, due to her skin color. It is distressing to me that those who spout on and on about tolerance cannot bear to tolerate any view but their own.

TlalocW said...

While I like the gist of your post for the most part (disagreeing at a few spots), and I applaud the sentiment behind wanting to be fair to both sides, let's not let that sentiment blind us to the truth:

When you say Dan Cathy has not denied anybody's right to get married, that may be true in a technical sense as he doesn't have that kind of power to take away rights in general, but he has worked and donated money to others who have worked to deny people the right to get married. Worse, he has donated money to organizations who have used it to help prop up the "Kill the Homos" bill Uganda passed a few years ago, including lobbying congress to not to condemn them for it.

If you strip this story to its bare essence, you're left with a guy who uses his money to deny other people rights and to help protect a country in selective genocide. I think that's a person worth fighting against. I would hope most other people would agree. I would also help even when the gay was added back in, most other people would agree.

And Claus, at the end of the day, Dan Cathy, you, and I have the right to love who we want; give them power of attorney over our affairs; let them have spousal rights for visitation in hospitals. We're full citizens of this country. A group of people who pay the same taxes, feel the same pride in the country, and would fight for you if your rights were encroached on are denied an equal place. If there is a non-religious reason to deny them these rights, I'd love to hear it because denying rights based on a set of religious beliefs is the opposite of what this country was founded on.

Dena Chenault Foss said...

I always knew you were a smart guy. Although I don't share all of your beliefs, I think you made an excellent point. Jesus always chose love over hate. In fact that is the premise to most religions. Someone is more likely to hear your arguement if it comes from a place of love. They may not agree, but at least it opens the door to discussion.

Shannon said...

I highly recommend everyone read The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian. The first chapter is all about the "gay rights" agenda. They are trying to salve their conscience, or outright sear it, and will react that we are hating them if we don't agree with them. We must show love, but even sometimes when we do show love, they will perceive it as hate. But perception is not truth.

TulsaMJ said...

Claus, I think you just proved my point! Actually, you've illustrated how divisive hot-button political issues can be, even separating you from a longtime friend. The problem is not being involved in political issues; Christians have ever right to do that. The problem is linking political issues to Christ. It's one thing for a cause to separate two people because their opinions differ; it's another thing for someone to reject God because of the political opinions of someone who connects those opinions to Jesus, creating a barrier between the sinner and Christ that need not be there. Christ accepts us as we are, sin and all.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering what you are suggesting we should have done--instead of supporting Chick Fil A? 5 Ways the Church Failed (Matthew Paul Turner) said that we weren't showing love. And you are saying that by going to CFA we increased division. How should it have been handled differently, once the media attacked Cathy?

I'm a bit confused, because as I see it, by not supporting CFA, and not posting anything on FB, we are just being apathetic Christians, and that is why our country is in the mess that it is in. I was so proud Wednesday to see people rise up out of their apathy--I just hope the polls indicate the same in November.

I have a brother, cousin, and high school friend that live the "gay" lifestyle. I was very conscious of them whenever I posted on FB. I didn't post anything nasty or hateful, but rather posted that I love homosexuals, as does God. But as I see it, this was not a time to sit back and do nothing.

I was also proud that CFA showed Christian love and gave drinks to their protesters.

Am very interested to hear your thoughts.

TulsaMJ said...

Allthingshealth... I am saying that by making a super-big deal out of it, we ABSOLUTELY did "increase division." I personally think that by taking action in the way that Christians did, we made 100% sure that homosexuals know that we feel they have no right to speak up against something they see as an injustice. Talk about threatening someone's freedom of speech! The cause of Christ was damaged because gays now have yet another reason to believe (fairly or unfairly) that Christians do not accept them. The homosexuals lost out, too, if they become more alienated from the only God Who can help them.

Ironically, the only group that won out was poor little Chick-fil-A, so mistreated, who made money hand-over-fist last Wednesday. And in fact, we were doing some back-to-school shopping at the mall Saturday, and the food court line at CFA was ENORMOUS. I don't think people are done yet reverse-picketing them yet. I suspect that the powers-that-be at Chick-fil-A are seeing this controversy as the best thing that ever happened to them. More free mentions of their name in the news media in one week than they've ever had before in their history. A record-breaking sales day on Wednesday. Christians everywhere now treating them like martyrs. I don't think the company planned the whole thing, of course, but it certainly has worked to their IMMENSE advantage. But not to the advantage of anyone else. Not gays, and not the church. (Well, it was also good for Mike Huckabee's image among religious conservatives, I suppose.)

What should we Christians have done? Dropped it, that's what. Because in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't important. After all, that's what Chick-fil-A immediately tried to do: "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena." Why didn't we take a cue from them and leave it alone?

Christians did no good in this situation. Christians only did harm.

TulsaMJ said...

Folks - I apologize that some of the comments sat in queue a few days. Last week was a busy one, and for some reason I did not get the normal email notification on some of the comments, and I didn't think to check. Sorry about that! I just kind of did a "post all" so now everyone has had their say.

I will reiterate that my blog post was not primarily about whether or not the gay rights agenda is true or just or whether anyone's rights were violated, but about the Christian response to the whole thing, which I think was misguided. In fact, this morning an idea occurred to me that was positively shocking... and embarrassing. See the next blog post for details.