Cooperation without Conformity


I’ve had a lot of people in the last couple of days ask me why I have such a problem with the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. As an isolated, political event, I don’t really have a problem with it. Yesterday showed that an interestingly diverse group of people can rally around a common ideal (free speech) and draw attention to social ills in a peaceful manner.

But yesterday wasn’t a single, isolated event. In fact, there’s no such thing as a single, isolated event. All events have a cause and an effect, and my concern lies within the big picture of which the CFA Appreciation Day is a part.

Using our political freedoms to exercise our faith can be a tangled, complicated mess. It’s a mess worth making, but we must be careful not to confuse faith and politics. CFA Day was a political statement, and the support was shown, by Christians, for a brother in Christ. For many, it was both a political AND a faith statement. And that’s ok.

But here’s the thing to recognize: Organized boycotts and support events tend to accelerate and polarize. The cycle becomes a cold war of revenge, and that’s an attitude and action of the world, not of Christ.

Let’s just look at the CFA Day as an example:

1. Dan Cathy makes a statement about his support of biblical marriage.

A Christian using his American right of free speech.

2. Gay activists take offense and decide to boycott Chick-fil-a.

A political/social rights group using their American right of free speech.

3. A couple of politicians declare that Chick-Fil-A will not receive any more building permits in their cities.

Politicians abusing their political power in an attempt to legislate their personal opinions.

4. Even the most liberal of newspapers and political commentators denounce the decisions of politicians and lawsuits are filed claiming the blocks on permits are illegal.

The American systems of free speech and the courts work! Freedom and democracy survive to live another day.

It could have stopped there. But instead of decelerating the situation, backing away, watching and seeing how things worked out, an Appreciation Day was announced. The situation is instead accelerated. Here’s where the problem begins.
Yesterday could have been a great day of unity and support and fun, and from what I understand, that’s exactly what it was for most people.

But for some, that’s not enough, and their political idolatry bent has been exposed. Yesterday wasn’t just about supporting a brother in Christ; it was about one upping the “enemy.” This morning, Mike Huckabee didn’t post a “Thanks for Supporting Free Speech and Dan Cathy” post on his Facebook page.

He posted this:

Talk about loving support of a brother in Christ. Looks more like an arrogant “We win, you lose” baiting of an enemy on the playground. Might as well have stuck his tongue out at the political left.

This is political gamesmanship, not Christian humility and brotherly support. Do not confuse the two.

Before I go further, let me be clear that this is not a personal attack on Mike Huckabee, nor is it a political attack from a ticked off liberal. I’m a card-carrying Republican, supporter of small government and personal responsibility. And in this case, personal responsibility means engaging others in a responsible and Christ-honoring manner.

Back to the post:
Since a politician made a political move, no one should be surprised that the left has responded in kind.

There’s a Same Sex Kiss In planned at Chick-fil-a restaurants on Friday.

Where does it stop?

Apparently not here.

Because now, instead of Christians participating in a worldly system in a Christianly manner, some Christians are adopting worldly systems to express moral displeasure with businesses.

And when it comes to boycotts, we don’t fare well. In fact, it usually just brings mockery to the name of Christ. Remember the Disney boycott declared by the SBC? Million Moms against JC Penny’s when they named Ellen as their spokesperson? Some are now threatening to boycott AMAZON.

When we play the the world’s game, the world doesn’t back down, graciously accept defeat and walk away. The world reacts and further accelerates the situation. As believers, will we continue to play the game, further polarizing people, trying to only do business only with those who believe just like us?

As believers we should use the systems put in place by God for our benefit and for us to benefit others without falling into the ugly and broken portions of the system. Government is ordained by God for our good and can be used for the good of all. Political gamesmanship is a negative use of government and Christians should have no part of it.

When Israel was in captivity in a foreign land, God gave them strict instructions to be active participants in the culture in which they lived. He told them to build houses, plant gardens, do business.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:4-7

And they were to do this, cooperate with the people of Babylon to build a mutually beneficial culture, without conforming to the behavior and beliefs of the Babylonians. They were to be in the world, but not of the world.

As believers in the political realm, we should do the same. We can cooperate without conforming.

Think that is an impossible goal?

There’s a tiny island off the coast of Tunisia that proves you wrong. I used to show this short video to my geography classes as a conversation starter to discuss the ways that government and culture enable us to peacefully cooperate with those who disagree with us without conforming to their religious or cultural beliefs.

We could all learn a lesson from Djerba Island.

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Chick-fil-a Gate, Or why the rest of the world no longer takes us seriously


I have spent my life loving and studying world history. The passing of time shows the growth and decline of incredible societies, and it is always amazing to me that humanity is able to overcome and thrive in spite of the horrific actions we take against one another.

My love of all things historical and political has made this political season a particularly interesting and painful one to watch. The issues of free speech and religious liberty are at the forefront of debate, and it is painfully apparent that America has lost its ability to debate and protest well.

To gain a better global and historical perspective of the battles for free speech and religious liberty, please consider the following:

How People Have Historically Demonstrated for Free Speech:


The Federalist Papers, America, 1788.


Tiananmen Square, China, 1989


Arab Spring, North Africa, 2010.

How Americans Demonstrate for Free Speech:


Mike Huckabee’s Facebook Page, 2012.


http://www.someecards.com, 2012.

How Christians Have Historically Responded to Religious Oppression:


William Tyndale, 1536.


Puritans, 17th Century


The Middle East, 2010.

How American Christians Have Responded to Religious Oppression:


Mike Huckabee’s Facebook Page


Pat Dollard’s blog, captioned “Happy Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day: Stand Up To Anti-Christian, Anti-Chicken, Heterophobic Bigots”

Freedom of Speech and Religious Liberty are worth fighting for. People should absolutely do what they can, where they are to show their support for both. It is commendable that people have shown up to encourage a brother in Christ and to support his right as an American to state his religious beliefs without negative political backlash.

But do not be fooled into thinking anything beyond encouragement and support has been accomplished.

Keep in mind that we are “fighting” for free speech and religious liberty.

At a fast food restaurant.

Some people stood in line two hours today to show their support of free speech and religious liberty by eating chicken. According to starvation.net, 3,600 people worldwide died of starvation in those two hours.

Surely we (as in Americans, ALL Americans) can keep this in a right global and historical perspective.

So where do we go from here? Do we mistake the support or boycott of Chick-fil-a for activism and change, or do use this as a launchpad to actually address the concerns raised?

The One Where I Defend Heretics


Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

You read that title right. I am defending heretics. In fact, I’ll take it a step further; I like heretics.

At least I like our modern day heretics.

See, 1,700 years ago, a heretic was a person who taught things that were contrary to Scripture. We burned them at the stake.

Today, the title of heretic is given to pretty much anyone who doesn’t agree with the person who is handing out the title. We burn them on the Internet.

Why do I like heretics?

Heretics challenge us. Spend too much time talking with people who agree with you and soon you’ll start thinking everyone agrees with you. One of the best (and worst) things about the Internet is that conversations are now open forums. You say something in an unclear way, without context or without thinking, and someone is going to call you on it. Fast.

Heretics make us continually check our thinking and, in turn, the way in which we communicate. When I have spent too much time with people I assume agree with me, I find myself saying things like, “You know what I mean,” or “Surely SHE knows I’m not talking about THAT.” Or, when people do disagree, I immediately discount their opinion, thinking, “If she knew where I was coming from, she’d understand.”

When you’ve spent so much time with the same people, it’s easy to take for granted that you know each other, and it’s really hard to recognize the expected changes and growth in one another. One thing I have learned the last few years is that even with the people who agree with you the most, there is eventually going to come a time when you will disagree.

And when you disagree with the people who have “always been around” sometimes you find out that you’ve been assuming much more than you’ve been communicating. You’ve not been sharpening one another like iron, you’ve most likely been taking one another and your assumed agreement for granted. And when assumptions and expectations are challenged, a lot of pain can occur.

This is why I like heretics.

Those who vocally disagree with you do more for your sharpening than anyone who simply exists in your sphere of influence but never actually influences you.

We have developed this image of mentoring and Christian relationships that is soft and fluffy and emotional unity, and that’s not the completely biblical picture of Christian living.

Have you ever actually seen iron sharpen iron? It’s loud and violent and hot.

We’re told in Hebrews to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Spur. Like you spur a horse. Agitate those around you to break out of their routine and assumptions and consider just how apathetic they may have become.

To edify is more than writing a pretty note to a friend telling her you’re praying for her. Edify is a construction term. Construction is dirty and sweaty. It’s hard work.

Heretics sharpen us. They sharpen our thoughts and our communication. They force us to cling tightly to Christ while we learn to hold our labels and our heroes very loosely. I’ve learned in the last few months that I’m not nearly as “conservative” as I once was. And I am ok with that. The term has changed and I have changed, but if I had not been engaged in hard conversations with people I assumed I disagreed with, both theologically and politically, I would have kept sharp lines of separation drawn, and I would have missed out learning a lot about myself, about God, and about those who see the world differently from me.

So if heretics are the people who disagree with me, then I love heretics.

I love that they challenge me to put away my stereotypes and sweeping generalizations and force me to get to know individuals, appreciating our points of agreement while respectfully examining the points at which we disagree.

I love that their sweeping generalizations, the ones that cause me to say, “I hold to that label, but I do NOT hold to that belief!” cause me to pause and consider my own heart and my own convictions.

I love that heretics allow the complex nature of Christ to shine before a watching world. When others see us engage in civil discourse concerning issues about which we passionately disagree and we walk away from the conversation edified, the world marvels, “How is that possible?” And we have an opportunity to share with a watching world the hope that is within us.

Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that unifies. Not our political beliefs or our theological platforms. Within orthodox Christianity, there is plenty of room to disagree, and even in our disagreements we have room to display the unity of Christ.

Do I have those people in my life who encourage me and love on me and wipe my tears and cheer me on? Absolutely, as everyone should. But I have also begun to develop an equally precious group of friends with whom I agree on very little theologically or politically. But what we do agree on is the fact that we have room to learn from one another. None of us has the monopoly on all truth, but the best part is that we are all more interested in being loving and holy than in being right.

So I would encourage you: find yourself a heretic. Invite someone into your life who doesn’t agree with you on everything and enter into a sharpening relationship. Challenge one another with the intention of building and growing. You just might find out that you love heretics, too.