There were an extensive series of similarly themed posts cluttering Twitter and Facebook feeds on August 1, 2012, each one seemingly bolder than the last. Most fell on one of two polar opposite ends of public opinion.
Some proudly posted their pictures of chicken tenders with giant exclamations, “I SUPPORT CHICK-FIL-A!” or “MARRIAGE = ONE MAN + ONE WOMAN!” Others included quips about hating chicken or vowing to never give Chick-fil-A a dime of their money again.
Poultry—the most controversial white meat.
Back and forth it went like a modern-day West Side Story. Jets and Sharks, Bloods and Crips, Hatfields and McCoys with each post a little more loud and proud than the last on each side. I’m sure you remember.
Many of us felt compelled to chime in, to make sure we were associated with one tribe or the other.
We ate the chicken and we wanted everyone to know!
I too was as all in as I was tired of being called a “bigot” and tired of people misinterpreting my adherence to conviction for judgment or hate.
I proudly waded through the sea of people, picked up a greasy, satisfying bag of tenders and waffle fries, and plopped them down ten minutes later on my office desk, a nice backdrop for an Instagram to the masses. It was important to me that every person on every social media network available was aware of which side I was throwing my weight behind in this tug-o-war.
It was my only choice. I had to.
Nine months have passed and I’m left wondering what has truly changed since then. Did we accomplish anything? Did we spark a movement to affect the course of mankind?
More importantly, did our words or actions compel anyone to come to Christ or to know His love?
Personally, I don’t think so. For the most part, the only change that truly occurred was the fact even more people felt rejected, hated, or disconnected from the Church afterwards.
I’m reminded of one of the first passages I memorized as a child:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Even if our message is rooted in truth, do we actually do any good unless its entire purpose is love—especially as we deal with hot button issues? When the true root isn’t love, then it becomes a giant statement of, “I’m right. You’re wrong. Deal with it.”
How do you think that reflects on Christ? The mantra is often, “Hate the sin, not the sinner!” with a verse and chapter not found.
Here’s an idea: What if we just simply focused our efforts around, “Love the sinner…period”?
Before you call me a heretic and start preparing paragraphs of comments challenging my theology, I want you to take a breath, re-read, and consider my point.
There will come times in your life you will be asked if you take an unpopular position of righteousness or choose to stand for worldly ideas in the name of love and progress. Should that happen, I implore you to make sure no one mistakes you or your views for anything that is sinful.
However, is that what happened here? I don’t believe anybody came up to me and said, “Brandon, we’re mandating that everyone broadcast his or her stance on marriage or we’ll cancel your Facebook account and you’ll never eat a delicious, spicy chicken sandwich again!”
There are so many who don’t know Christ clamoring for proof that Christianity is about condemning sinfulness rather than God’s redemption of imperfection. They don’t need our help making their point, even if it is a misguided one.
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). We often use this to condemn where people shouldn’t be seen or who they shouldn’t be seen with in case Brother Bob from Sunday School finds out.
I think it’s bigger than that. I think Paul wanted to make the point that as representatives of Christ we are responsible for the message our actions send to unbelievers, both for His sake and for theirs. Let your political convictions be reflected on your ballot, and let His love be reflected in your words and actions.
I will continue to support Dan Cathy and his tender morsels of fried white meat as well as a man I respect, Mike Huckabee, who organized the event. However, I now realize if I endeavor to be a fisher of men, it means knowing when not to eat the chicken.
I don’t want to sacrifice love for the sake of being right.
Photo credit: viewminder