As you no doubt have heard by now, numerous media outlets are reporting that Chick-fil-A has cucked and reversed course on the charitable giving that has so enraged the rainbow mafia. In a recent statement, they announced that they were restructuring their philanthropy in various ways–focusing on education, homelessness, & hunger as well as moving towards annual grants rather than multi-year partnerships. In the midst of those changes, they’ve ended their relationships with the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes–the two remaining connections which drew so much ire for not toeing the Spirit of the Age’s line on issues of sexual deviancy.
So is this really a capitulation? I’ve heard a lot of conservatives dispute that. After all, Chick-fil-A says it isn’t surrendering–that dropping both of their most controversial associations was just an entirely coincidental side effect of their restructuring. Of course, trusting that would be the first time I’ve ever whole-heartedly embraced a corporate statement intended to save face with an incredibly loyal customer base that suddenly feels very betrayed. Their president’s interview with Bisnow certainly doesn’t help their case either. There’s a whole lot of talk about how much “clarity” this restructuring provides and how that clarity improves their ability to expand into new markets. It’s really hard to interpret that in any way that doesn’t imply laying down arms in the culture wars. On the contrary, the most natural reading is to see it as an attempt to rewrite history and imply that it was actually their historical associations with “anti-LGBT” organizations that were the real coincidences. So while it’s possible that Chick-fil-A pulled the corporate equivalent of accidentally throwing out grandma’s ashes while they were cleaning, I think it’s more likely that they just didn’t want them taking up space in their home anymore, and the “accident” was more of an excuse.
But alongside the conservatives who simply do not believe they were betrayed, exist a more insidious variety. These too-cool-for-school conservatives instead take the line that the capitulation simply doesn’t matter. It doesn’t bother them one little bit because such mundane concerns are beneath them. “Don’t put your trust in chicken sandwiches!” “Waffle fries aren’t sacraments!” “Chick-fil-A isn’t the Church and fast food isn’t the Gospel!” The rhetorical point of these pious ejaculations is to suggest that Christians who feel angry, betrayed, or disappointed were foolishly projecting spiritual relevance onto matters that were entirely mundane.
Back in 2012, some big-city mayors loudly declared “Not in my town!” to Chick-fil-A because they had supported charities run by Christians who believe what 99% of people who ever lived on planet Earth believed about homosexuality until about 5 minutes ago. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was organized in response. It was a huge outpouring of support from Christians who let the company know that (contrary to what the bullies wanted the company to believe) they didn’t stand alone–that they could succeed without caving. Progressive critics who are used to having a monopoly on activism quickly poo-pooed the situation. “All you did was eat a sandwich!” they fitfully shrieked. “It doesn’t matter!”
It’s strange that 7 years later, I’m hearing exactly the same argument being made by conservatives. It’s a fundamentally Gnostic way of looking at the situation. After all, the implication is that there is no relevance to day-to-day life. It doesn’t matter if you stand up to bullies. It doesn’t matter if you remain loyal to friends. It doesn’t matter if you refuse to back down for telling the truth. At the end of the day, it’s all just chicken and fries.
But it mattered in 2012, and it matters now. It matters because our life on this Earth and the vocations we’ve been given to do here matter. It is precisely in this physical world in which we are enfleshed that we participate in higher struggles. Paul makes this abundantly clear in Ephesians 6 where he writes “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” He tells us this with a “finally” at the end of a long stretch in which he discusses… (drumroll) how Christian wives & husbands, children & parents, and slaves & masters properly relate to one another. In other words, it’s in the context of everyday mundane relationships. Before that, Paul provided instruction not to walk as unbelievers do. He told us to avoid simple everyday sins like callousness, sensuality, greed, or corrupting talk, and encouraged simple everyday virtues like telling the truth, working with your hands, and sharing with those in need. Its precisely in the midst of this daily grind that we most often meet Satan in battle.
The condition for defeat in that battle is also very simple. For all his worldly powers and authorities, there is only one way the Devil can actually hurt us when all is said and done: He can convince us to believe his word instead of God’s. Even when that deception comes in the form of temptations to sin, it’s not simply a matter of getting us to sin. After all, we fall into sin daily, but Christ also forgives us those sins daily. No, our falls only permanently injure us when we refuse to get back up–when we decide that we like it just fine laying in the dirt. The Devil gets his hooks into us the moment we decide to believe something he says about our sins instead of what God says about them. It’s ultimately our choice to let him defeat us.
This deceit can take any number of forms. He can convince you that your sin is who you are–that it’s your identity rather than a corruption thereof. He can convince you that your sin isn’t really sin. He can convince you that what God says about sin is either unimportant or sinful itself. He can convince you that sin is permanent and inevitable–that you might as well make peace with it now because it will always be this way. His worldly power is used solely to make options like these seem appealing to us.
At present, one of the most popular tactics towards to which that power is applied is convincing Christians that they are being forever left behind by an inevitable march towards progress. He wants us to believe that sin is the inevitable future rather than a past which has been defeated by Christ. This is ultimately why we have all the codes of conduct, the hate-crime laws, the various -ist/-phobe labels, and the “no place in society of people like you” attitudes of the devil’s SJW’s. It is all about pressuring Christians into abandoning something they know to be true so that they can embrace something they know to be a lie.
The irony is that the pressure utilized by SJW’s is nothing more than what society cedes to them. It operates only when we ourselves decide to isolate or punish those who bear the labels they fling about like so much feces. What does it matter when the rainbow mafia labels you “anti-LGBT”–the very same label they give to Holy Scripture!–except when some chucklehead CEO or judge actually treats it like a legitimate indictment? That is the only power they wield, and Chick-fil-A just granted more of it to them.
Christians aren’t upset because a food vendor doesn’t share their values. That’s just business as usual. We’re upset because we just watched an organization which had been an ally fail in our common struggle against the devil by lending aid and comfort to the other side. What makes it worse is that it was an unforced error. They didn’t change their tune because their business was failing and desperately needed to keep the lights on. On the contrary, they’ve been enormously successful. Sure, they drew their fair share of hatred from the world, but they also continued to endear themselves to a growing customer base. We just watched them surrender on the field of victory because of mere words. It is meet, right, and salutary that we should mourn when an ally falls and believes the Lie–what kind of callous and indifferent boor wouldn’t feel anything?
It’s fair enough that those who genuinely believe Chick-fil-A’s official statement don’t feel that way. After all, they simply don’t perceive the defeat. I think they’re incorrect–time will tell one way or another–but we can disagree on such things without embracing the Lie.
The too-cool-for-school conservatives, on the other hand, are a different story. They feel nothing because they actually have embraced the Lie–just in a different way. Satan has managed to convince them to leave the battlefield behind by telling them that it would be beneath them to fight on it. After all, it’s just chicken sandwiches and waffle fries–the deeper values that other people see are just hallucinations which they’re too clever to fall for. They’ve convinced themselves that they will fight when it truly matters–they just haven’t found a battle that truly matters yet. They want to slay dragons, but look down on the day-to-day tasks which comprise the vast majority of soldiering on. Consequently, they pose no actual threat to dragons.
As for Chick-fil-A, they will realize very quickly that their new master is rather unforgiving. The rainbow mafia has already made it clear that their act of capitulation is insufficient. Nothing short of throwing their most loyal customers under the bus will do–something no business is going to recover from. Jesus warned us that that it profits a man nothing to gain the world but lose his soul. And yet, even worldly success is absent from this new path on which Chick-fil-A has planted its feet. How much more embarrassing must it be to trade away your soul for nothing at all?
Matthew, you hit this one out of the park! Spot on. Great post. Thank you for your writing.
“It is meet, right , and salutary that we should mourn when an ally falls and believes the Lie…” I carry a sense of grief due to family members falling prey to the lie that living together outside of marriage is just fine and speaking out against the sin of homosexuality is ‘hateful’. My frustration lies in the question, “what should I do or say?” These are people who have been baptized, catechized, and confirmed in the LCMS. They have seemingly caved with respect to issues of marriage and human sexuality. Our struggle is, indeed, with forces of evil.
Great question, Paul; without getting into details, I do carry exactly that same sense of grief. I don’t think there’s a single right answer to “what should I do or say.”
For my part, I stay pretty hands off–trying to mind my own business. But it ended up coming up anyway because they read something on this blog. One way or another, it’s always going to come up eventually. These times are both trials and opportunities. And however else we handle them, the “right answer” is always going to involve holding fast–unapologetically letting them know that you’re not going to accept the labels they give you or give them the kind of affirmation they’re looking for. Assert the truth and refute the falsehoods as best you can, and trust that God will redeem it all.
Excellent post as always, Matt.
Alas, I know some of these too-cool-for-school types; one prominent in my own church, who has attacked the idea of supporting / boycotting businesses based on culture war considerations – says we oughta be above such things – and who no doubt feels smugly vindicated at recent events.
While I agree with ‘put not your trust in princes’, whether political or corporate, I do believe we have a duty to fight against those who would silence us because we speak truth. We must strive to ensure that God’s name is honoured, and His truth upheld. This can mean standing with those who have stood for what we stand for – unless and until they capitulate, that is.
Thanks, Will; well said.
You’re right: there’s a difference between trusting princes and fulfilling our earthly vocations. God gives us work in this life that matters–as parents, as neighbors, as citizens, and more. The Christian life isn’t one in which we’re above it all, but in which God brings us *through* it all.