Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?


“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ~ Jesus, Luke 14:12-14

I have to be honest. The whole “Appreciate Chick-fil-a Day” that’s planned for this coming Wednesday isn’t sitting well with me. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why I have a problem with it, but I think it may be a collection of things.

For starters, anyone who has ever been to a Chick-fil-a at lunch knows that they are not lacking appreciation. Lines are typically out the door to Dine-In and around the building to Drive-thru. We love Chick-fil-a, and they know it.

The fervor with which most are supporting the event gives away that their heart is more speaking out against homosexuality than it is speaking for our First Amendment rights to free speech. Whether it is the intent or not, the whole thing just feels like an “us vs. them” spectacle.

I haven’t said much of anything about the Chick-fil-a kerfuffle. I just haven’t been able to put words to my heart.

But tonight I heard Tony Merida bring a message from the Word about meals and hospitality, and it impressed upon me an urgent need to ask people to consider carefully your decision on Wednesday.

In the Gospels, the method of ministry Jesus used was breaking bread with people. Tony said that you can trace Jesus’ path through Luke, and He is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or leaving a meal. He met people at the dinner table, and we should, too.

In the verses above, Jesus tells his host that the next time he has a party, he needs to invite the marginalized of his society. Those that Jesus describes, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, are those that the Pharisees had declared unclean, unfit to worship with them. They are on the outskirts, they are the marginalized. They are “those people.” Jesus ate with both the Pharisees and with “those people.”

He ate with the Pharisees to call out their sin.

He ate with sinners to call them out of their sin.

The Pharisees rejected Him, but the sinners loved Him.

One thing I’m sure Jesus would never have done was go to a meal specifically held to remind “those people” just how marginalized they are. Jesus invited the marginalized to dine with Him. The lost around you are going to expect you to be one of “those Christians” on Wednesday. They will expect you to exclude them and go with all the other Christians to Eat More Chikn together.

Perhaps a better way of showing Christ to a watching world will be to do the exact opposite of what “everyone else” will be doing on Wednesday. Instead of taking a conservative/Republican/evangelical stance about the Great Chicken Debate, stoop in humble service and meet a marginalized person where they are.

On Wednesday, take Jesus to those who are not invited to Chick-fil-a.

Invite an unbelieving co-worker to join you for lunch. Let them pick the place and you pick up the check. Ask them questions and be genuinely interested in their life.

Take lunch to a shut-in member of your church. Heck, go buy Chick-fil-a for you both and then spend some time in fellowship with someone who knows what it means to be lonely.

Prove to your gay co-worker you’re not one of “those Christians.” Eat lunch with him or her and don’t attempt to convert them to heterosexuality.

Hang out with some homeless people. Spend time at cancer treatment unit. Or an AIDS support center.

If you really want to support the good work Chick-fil-a does with their camps and college scholarships and marriage retreats, take the money you would have spent on your meal and donate it directly to the Winshape Foundation.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2

Instead of counting yourself in the number of good First Amendment-supporting Christians, just consider counting yourself in the company of Jesus. Receive sinners and eat with them. It will speak volumes to those who already know what the church thinks of them. Show them instead what Jesus thinks of them. I think He may care more about who we eat with than where we eat.

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25 thoughts on “Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?

  1. I had my first Chick-Fil-A yesterday. Loved it!

    Gays are welcome in our church. Always have been. We had a gay man on our church council. He read the Scriptures during worship service from time to time.

    All was well until he wanted to make an issue of his gayness. He wanted the church to suddenly affirm and advocate his sin.

    Nope. We’re all sinners and have things in our lives we are ashamed of and that we need to repent of. And that’s how it should (will) stay, until our Lord takes us home.

    Thanks.

  2. Good post! I wrote something very similar, though with less scripture, the other day on facebook. I got a mix of responses. Many appreciated it, many lambasted me for it. For what it’s worth, here’s what I said there:

    (1)Actually, the more I think about it, I believe the Aug 1 Chickfila day promotion by Mike Huckabee is guilty of the same politicization of private business that they accuse those of boycotting the company. No one should either go or not go to Chickfila based on this issue. I feel that the reactive “day of support” will do and has done nothing more than alienate the gay community. I happened to be watching the Huckabee show where he interviewed the elder S. Truett Cathy, and Cathy squirmed in his seat when the announcement was made for the day of support. He doesn’t want you coming on just one day to support a political cause. Furthermore, I think the cause itself is a divisive political move. Don’t eat a Chickfila because of its supposed political views. Since this day is nothing more than drawing a line in the sand, I refuse to go to Chickfila on August 1. I urge you to do the same. In fact, go on one of the days that some have scheduled gay sit ins and talk to some gay people. Get to know them and understand them.

    (2) I eat at Chickfila often and will continue to eat there for a variety of reasons, mainly that I appreciate their food and service. But I won’t eat there on Aug 1. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to alienate my gay friends and relatives, and I don’t want to be a political pawn, nor do I want to communicate something about the gospel that isn’t true, even if unintentionally, viz. that Christianity is only about morality (and American conservative morality at that) or about supporting “Christian” companies. Even the owners of Chickfila argue that there is no such thing as a “Christian” company. Find a way to show love to somebody next week. Speak to a stranger. Befriend them. Buy them lunch. Don’t be a political pawn! Never forget that God directs all human government, even bad human government, according to his purposes. This is not defeatist, this is not a call to abandon government, but a call for Christian wisdom and faith.

    • Great thoughts, Wesley! I’m glad to know that there are believers who are asking people to consider this issue from a perspective other than the one that simply sees this as a chance to support religious liberty and our First Amendment rights to free speech. I love my country and love the rights and blessings we have here, but defending those rights should never occur at the cost of the Gospel. This issue has become so political and bitter that I just don’t see how participating in it will advance the Gospel.

  3. This post was posted on my wall through FB. I frankly laugh at how incorrect you are. Chic fil a workers were there after the tornados giving out FREE sandwich excedra….. Pretty sure they didn’t ask sexual preference religion etc…… Don’t think any of the fast food chains were there…. Could be wrong…. The out pouring of support comes after the CEO is being attacked for taking the same stand on marriage as Oboma had only months ago. To infer that those that will support the chain hates homosexuals is truly as ignorant as it is incorrect….. Hopefully those pulling wwjd card would do a lil research before casting stones

    • Mark,
      I have done quite a bit of research on the matter, and you are correct, Chick-fil-a is normally one of the few restaurants committed to showing up to feed volunteers during natural disasters.

      My issue is not with Chick-fil-a; I’m a huge fan of both their food and their community service. I am well aware that the company does not discriminate in either service or employment. There was no intent to infer that all people who support Chick-fil-a tomorrow hate homosexuals. If that is what my post presents, I apologize and will clarify.

      There are those, however, who are using this situation to jump on a bandwagon crying for First Amendment rights or religious liberty or to speak out against same sex marriage… the entire issue has become clouded chaos.

      My big question is this: If we see that loudly defending our First Amendment right to free speech is simultaneously damaging the advance of the Gospel, would we sacrifice our chance to support that right for the opportunity to show the Gospel to someone who needs to see it?

      In our eagerness to support the cause of free speech, I’m concerned we’re drawing deeper lines of division that ultimately damage the cause of Christ. At the end of the day, how does eating at Chick-fil-a do anything to either benefit the kingdom of Christ or advance the cause of religious liberty?

      The whole thing is an example of our society’s love for soundbytes and quick flashes of protest while leaving the underlying problems to fester.

  4. While I agree with much of what you have to say, I think there is more to this conversation. There is an us vs. them feel to this whole Chick-fil-a thing, which is thoroughly unfortunate. Because the simple truth is, not matter what we do, whether we eat at Chick-fil-a or not, whether we go to church or not, whether we pray in public, or in private, whether we vote Republican or Democrat or not at all, people are going to be offended with us. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a Christian and not offend.

    Jesus was a master at creating bridges. He was an expert at loving people who were considered unlovable. He was compassionate to those in need, even to those who persecuted Him. He was generous, loving, and accepting of everyone. His sole cause was to do His Father’s will. In all these things, I yearn to be like Jesus. This same Jesus infuriated people everywhere he went, refused to change His behavior in order to accommodate the skeptics, publicly challenged political correctness, did and said things IN THE FACES of those whom HE KNEW that He would provoke and deeply offend.

    Jesus did not seek to offend people, but he DID NOT BEND OVER BACKWARDS to avoid it either. It was unavoidable. Because while Jesus desired the friendship, comfort and happiness of those around Him, the friendship, comfort and happiness of those around Him were a distant second to His ultimate priority; He considered these expendable. Jesus’ first concern was not, “Might this offend someone?”, but “Will this please the Father?” If I am going to be like Jesus, that means that I am going to cultivate a heart of building bridges, of loving those who are not like me, of caring for those who do not like me. It also means that I am going to offend many people, that I am going to publicly take a stand for truth and righteousness. If I am going to be like Jesus, then I am probably going to make enemies.

    This does not mean that I seek to make enemies, any more than Jesus sought to make enemies. But that is my point: Jesus didn’t have to seek to make enemies, people CHOSE to be His enemies, just as people are CHOOSING to be offended if I eat at Chick-fil-a. No matter what we do, it will always be us vs. them. No matter what we do, darkness will always shun the light, darkness will ALWAYS ask us to dim our bulbs so that we offend them less. And like Jesus, while I do not want it to be this way, I will not waste too much time in trying to overcome their offense, because their offense and their resistance to us is unavoidable. While I desire to be friends with everyone, friendship with everyone is neither possible, nor even a priority. James 4:4: “I say again, anyone who wants to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.”

    • Great thoughts; you are absolutely right that there is much more to this conversation than a blog post can contain. I hope that a conversation can possibly begin concerning the best ways for believers to speak into political matters when political matters involve issues of morality.

      The Gospel is offensive enough on its own without it being mixed with political platforms. I am by no means making any statement about the positive or negative qualities of eating at any restaurant. For those who see this as a purely free speech/religious liberty issue, then pick a side, boycott or attend, but be careful to keep it about politics.

      For those who want to want to speak into this issue in a manner beyond the political realm, there are ways to do so. I want to challenge believers to look beyond the generalized, faceless political platforms and remember that, on the other side of the “us vs. them” debate are people, individual souls who are not ultimately our political enemies, but are deceived by our spiritual enemy.

      I don’t want to overcome the offense of those who are looking for reasons to be offended. People choose to be offended by the most absurd things today. At the same time, I don’t want to add to the offense of the Gospel in the lives of those with whom I interact.

      Hopefully the “Great Chicken Debate” will create a conversation concerning Christians in the public square, and will sharpen all of us concerning how we can best interact with others while still allowing the light of Christ to shine as brightly as possible in those situations.

      Thanks for your observations!

  5. I think you are missing the point…I think all Christians can agree we appreciate chick fil a by not walking in the world standards, standing up for the word of God no matter the consequences, Christians are still sinners and everyone is still invited to eat there… More Christians need to stand up for the word of God and if they do that doesn’t automatically mean we hate everyone else. Jesus spoke the truth tells us to tell others and He also clearly states who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

    • Hey Brandi,

      Thanks for your comments. You said, “I think you are missing the point…” and that’s part of the point I am hoping to talk about. People are jumping on the “Appreciate Chick-fil-a” bandwagon for so many different reasons that the original “point” of Mr. Cathy’s statements have been completely lost. What began as one Christian businessman expressing his personal support of traditional marriage led to a social boycott of his company which led to a political threat to ban his business from certain cities which led to Christians rallying to support Mr. Cathy’s right to express his beliefs without facing political persecution for them.

      I recognize that, for many, the point of tomorrow is simply to show thanks and appreciation to a company that does an outstanding job of standing strong in personal beliefs while still performing at a high level in their profession. For all of those things, I am very thankful to both the Cathys and to Chick-fil-a for the positive contributions they make in communities across the country.

      But for those who aren’t into political activism or do not agree with the “boycott or support” paradigm, there is a way to get past the political rhetoric and get into the work of ministry. Tomorrow provides a platform for believers who aren’t at Chick-fil-a to speak the Gospel into the lives of the individuals who are a part of their lives on a daily basis.

  6. I so agree we should eat with people we disagree with! Yes! Christ did eat with all the sinners (and we should too!), but He was also willing to call out sin because HE LOVES SINNERS! He does not leave them in their sin. My interpretation of tomorrow is Christians simply taking a stand on a Biblical issue. Dan Cathy took a stand. His restaurant does serve meals, but he is not sitting down with anyone to eat. He simply shared his convictions about truth.

    • Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who takes a stand at Chick-fil-a tomorrow would invite an unbelieving friend to go to lunch with them and use it as an intentional opportunity to share Christ?

      Or maybe not tomorrow; it’ll be a little crowded. 🙂 Maybe Friday.

      What if, from this meal of appreciation, we made a commitment to share a meal of outreach? This whole thing has just really started me thinking about ways to constructively reach out and speak about what we are for as much as we speak out on the things we are against.

      You’re right; Jesus both ate with sinners and called them out of their sin. We do a great job with the latter; I hope we can all do better with the former.

  7. Thank you. I’m a gay person who found his way here through a friends page, and I needed to read what you wrote. I have many christian friends, who I know probably don’t “agree” with my life, but they care and love me just the same. The people who are just relishing today are not conveying any type of christian love I’ve ever known. Frankly it just seems mean-spirited and almost bullying. And it will definitely turn more people off of christianity than it will attract them to it. I like your idea much better.

    • Nick,
      Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing your perspective. I am thankful for those who care and love on a personal level; they remind me that behind the “platforms” are real people who live and love and do life together.

      Blessings,

      Bekah

  8. Pingback: Reflections on breakfast at Chick-fil-A | Church4EveryChild

  9. Bekah, thank you very much. You said this well, and now I know I’m not alone. The divide that this manufactured issue is creating is purely evil. I’m weeping over the demand for “taking sides”.
    Our side is with Jesus, and our appreciation should be for His Grace and Mercy..

  10. I am a gay person. I feel that I am united through God with my partner in which I am truly grateful for. I love God and all His children and I am grateful for my time on earth and all His blessings. I believe God loves me and my partner just as he loves all his children. I strive every day to do God’s work despite what or who it envolves. I pray that things continue on til my work is complete. In Jesus Name. Amen

  11. I don’t see how the appreciation day was us vs. them. There are homosexuals who ate Chick-fil-a yesterday in support of them.. so it wasn’t saying they were not allowed to go. I went and had breakfast in support of a company that stands for what i believe in.. It has nothing to do with hating the gays or trying to get at them.. rather standing up with my fellow Christian brothers and sisters to show they can not run a company out of a place because they believe in God’s Word.

  12. I agree us Christian need to think more of others and a lot of your suggestions were well stated, but you and others missed the really reason we when to Chick fil a. It was to support what the Bible say about marriage. It is between a man and a woman. That’s why we enjoyed chicken on Wednesday.

    • The point that supporters were making yesterday was very well explained, so I know what the intentions were of most of the people who were at Chick-fil-a. While most were there to either support biblical marriage or to support free speech rights, the fact that the marriage debate was reduced to whether or not one eats at a specific restaurant was, frankly, quite demeaning. Demonstrate for free speech, sure. To a watching world, it was offensive to see. My point was that I hoped people would pause and consider a perspective other than their own desire to show support of a political or moral cause. While I agree that we should do whatever we can to support biblical truth, doing something like eating at a fast food restaurant appears to just cheapen the whole idea.

      Most people I’ve talked to have asked me to please see your intention and perspective. I’m just asking that we all do that for one another. Regardless of your reason, I ask that people please just recognize the perception of many who did not participate.

  13. Adding to your excellently stated point, as I recall from my Sunday school days, an example from Scripture of exactly how He would react to a group of humans (all guilty of sinning, as we ALL are) attacking someone or judging the sins of another’s sin. Remember when the men were all berating the prostitute and yelling to stone her for her transgressions against the law? Jesus responded not by applauding the men for their defending the law and applying the prescribed punishment of stoning to the prostitute. No, instead Jesus responded that anyone of the men present who were without sin or flaw should be the one to cast the first stone. Of course, since no one is without sin, they all dropped their stones and dispersed. Jesus then (I think) told the prostitute to look around and see that she had no one accusing her of anything now. He sent her off by saying your sins are forgiven. Go on now and don’t sin any more. So that story leads me to feel as though he’d prefer that Christians save their desire to apply righteous judgement on another and instead worry much more about tending to their own sins, and leave the enforcing the judgement to Him, and still he chose not to judge her with the law’s prescription, but with the grace He is able to apply as the New Covenent which can cleanse any sin, and after forgiving the prostitute of her sins, he reminds her to use this as an opportunity and not sin anymore. I like Jesus’s example a lot better than the men w/ stones in their hand or the gluttons stuffing their face with Chik Fil A yesterday.

  14. I loved this idea for an Appreciation Day. It was completely opposite the usual “boycott this company because they support gay rights” approach. It was FOR something and not against anything (except the loss of liberty) and that is why it worked.

    Because some of the people who participated did so with the wrong motives does not negate the original purpose of the event nor does it taint the motives of the majority. Most who ate at Chick-fil-A yesterday did so because our right to free speech was under assault and there was finally a way the average person could stand up and say “no more.”

    It is okay to stand up for what one believes. Saying “I don’t agree with this lifestyle” is not equal to hate and Mr. Cathy, and the thousands who support him, know and understand this. THAT is what yesterday was about.

  15. Wow … there is so much involved in this issue and this blog post … none would expect a clean resolution for any side. On this issue, regardless of religion, denomination, education, beliefs about kinship systems, or ‘gender orientation’, people nowadays really truly will believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest. And it is certainly not at all just about Chick-fil-A and Mr. Cathy’s comments. As for the post, I think there is too much argument from silence and selective and opinionated reasoning, but one simple black and white thing that stands out to me as thoroughly erroneous is Bekah’s viewpoint of the source of the whole predicament, and is easily amended. She says, “What began as one Christian businessman expressing his personal support of traditional marriage led to a social boycott of his company which led to a political threat to ban his business from certain cities which led to Christians rallying to support Mr. Cathy’s right to express his beliefs without facing political persecution for them.” The stance against, boycott, and attacks with intent to destroy Chick-fil-A did not begin with Mr. Cathy’s recent interviews. ‘They’ have been after him/CFA for a long time and simply seized a moment. As one example posted in its entirety below, Change.org posted this back in January of 2011. Honestly, it is belittling to the determination, hard work, and savvy of the LGBT Rights community for years to believe that this particular action began with Mr. Cathy. ‘They’ have been strenuously and strategically laboring for decades to rid the world of what ‘they’ consider hatred and opposition from the church and its sacred book of hate speech (millenia really, ie Psalm 2). I would also suggest that the term “political persecution” is a bit of a euphemism for viewpoint discrimination. That’s all I’m saying…except that I love the blogger’s suggestions to love and befriend (genuinely) members of the gay community in hospitable environments and ways as God leads you. Eat with all (friends, enemies, rich, poor, righteous, pagan), love all (ibid), and speak the truth in words and actions to all (ibid) as the Holy Spirit guides you.

    Chick-fil-A Partners With Rabid Anti-Gay Group
    by Michael Jones · January 04, 2011

    You might like the tasty pickles that they put on their chicken sandwiches, but if you’re eating at Chick-fil-A, you’re also eating at an establishment that partners with some of the most ferocious anti-gay groups around. Take a look at an event scheduled for February 2011, co-sponsored by Chick-fil-A and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, the leading anti-gay group in the Keystone State and a group that has worked hard to try and pass a constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania banning same-sex marriage.

    The February event co-sponsored by Chick-fil-A is called “The Art of Marriage,” and it’s intended to be a launching point for Pennsylvania to return to “the biblical definition of marriage.” Given the work of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, it’s hard not to see where this event is going to go — straight for the jugular of anyone who supports marriage equality for same-sex couples. The Pennsylvania Family Institute has been a leading opponent of marriage equality, and has condemned the expansion of civil rights for same-sex couples. Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the group’s president, Michael Geer, said that gay marriage is not moral, and should be put up for a vote rather than decided by courts or legislatures.

    “The only way that we can get the people to decide this issue is through the ballot box,” Geer said. “Marriage as defined as between a man and a woman has proven to be the best for the health, education and welfare of children.” And that’s a mild statement coming from Geer. As more and more states have moved to legalize same-sex marriage, Geer has stated that unless Pennsylvania adopts a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, it could be forced to accept same-sex couples as equals.

    “Newspapers across the commonwealth editorialized — and many legislators said — we don’t need an amendment, we already have a law [banning gay marriage]. This [ruling] makes clear that the law is insufficient,” Geer said, after California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2008. (That ruling was eventually overturned by the passage of Proposition 8.)

    The Pennsylvania Family Institute has blasted gay marriage in a number of other ways, too. They’ve argued that calling committed same-sex couples married is like calling the tail of a dog a leg. They’ve said that when Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional, that human civilization took a direct hit. They’ve suggested that discriminating against same-sex couples is perfectly acceptable, because same-sex couples weren’t biologically meant to be together. And they’ve said that same-sex marriage threatens children, hurts families, and punishes all of society by caving in to components of a radical sexual revolution. And if you’re spending money on Chick-fil-A sandwiches, you’re helping the Pennsylvania Family Institute deliver this message.

    It’s not the first time Chick-fil-A has been connected to some anti-gay actors. In February 2009, an Auburn student documented that Chick-fil-A had given money to Focus on the Family, the anti-gay Colorado group founded by the Rev. James Dobson. Focus on the Family, for their part, has a lengthy record of anti-gay extremism, from calling same-sex couples a danger to the planet, to suggesting that legalizing same-sex marriage would be a worse disaster than Pearl Harbor.

    Fool me once, Chick-fil-A, shame on you. But fool me twice? Shame on me. That’s why it’s time to get Chick-fil-A to respond, and figure out whether they’re interested in being a fast food restaurant, or they’re interesting in being a business that partners and caters to some radical anti-gay elements in our country. Send the restaurant chain a message asking them why they’re sponsoring an event in Pennsylvania with a leading anti-gay organization. And let the restaurant know that if they value all of their customers, including their LGBT customers and straight allies, they’ll pull their official sponsorship from this event and stop making chicken sandwiches that support extremely homophobic agendas.

    Michael Jones is a Change.org Editor. He has worked in the field of human rights communications for a decade, most recently for Harvard Law School.

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