No time for being lazyYears 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?
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 - ChristianBook.com)
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"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.
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 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.