I love free speech. Especially so as a writer. And as a Christian, this right enables me to live out my faith without fear.
I don’t enjoy fear-mongering. As a child and teen, I recall the terror of listening to older people discuss current events and share their prophecies of the future (in those times, we were fearful of communism). Hearing sermons on the Second Coming caused many fitful nights and worrisome thoughts. Now, I am not suggesting that we do need admonitions from the pulpit about the future and Christ’s return, etc. Certainly, to keep eternity firmly in view is to our benefit and will help us live better today. I am saying that it is possible to become too focused on the negative, forgetting that God gives grace and hope whatever the surroundings we’re in. So, I have tried not to dwell on the fears of the future, preferring to leave my tomorrows in His hand and obey minute by minute.
But, the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A is disturbing to me and I have to put in my “two cents’ worth.”
Being a history buff, there are several eras/events that fascinate me – one of those is WW II. Doing some recent research on that whole period, I’ve seen again the horrific results of the masses being convinced that a sector of the populace is to blame for the social and national ills. For the German people, the enemy was the Jews. It was more than an issue of racial purity; the Nazis were convinced that the Jews were behind the problems their society faced. And the history books record what happened.The Jews of that time could not believe that such atrocities could take place in a civilized, progressive culture like theirs. But public opinion swayed to violent fervor is a formiable foe.
The most disturbing thing about the Chick-fil-A deal is the relevance to free speech. A business owner simply has the right to his own beliefs, and he has the right to express them. And, yes, in America, others have the right to disagree with him and express that opinon. But no one has the right to try to shut down a business because of the personal beliefs of the owner – as long as those beliefs don’t endanger the public or break the law. That’s exactly what happened on Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass in 1938. Jewish shopkeepers in Berlin had their stores vandalized, and in some cases destroyed, simply because they had a certain religion which they privately practiced. And it didn’t end there. The road led Germany down a path that is almost unfathomable today.
Does that mean we should break out the gas masks and build bomb shelters? No. It does mean that we must keep our heads informed about the law, the culture and our rights as citizens, and that we must keep our hearts firmly planted in Christ so that His unshakeable peace may rule in us.
We may win some of the cultural and political wars – and I sincerely hope we do. There is nothing better than having traditional, Christian values upheld in the marketplace. But we must reconize the free speech rights of others who hold different positions – as followers of Christ, we are surely opposed to their agenda, but as Americans, we must allow them the same freedoms we desire to enjoy. This is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of authentic Christianity in tandem with citizenship.
To believers, these areas of conflict are not mere traditions; they are principles for living given to us by the Creator. And we understand the blessing and/or curse that will follow personal and national choices. We can see the Enemy’s handiwork in the ideology and political strategy of present culture. We want to fight for all we’re worth, not just for justice and freedom, but for our King. And when we sense a champion, like Limbaugh or Hannity or O’Reilly, we hone in on their philosophies and tips and verbiage – we hope to score a win for biblical Christianity on the back of their fiscal and social conservatism. And oh, I like to win!
But the danger is in putting all the emphasis on this world. God’s Word tells us that this earth is passing away, and only those who do the will of the Father will last forever. Does that mean this 21st century world is inconsequential, that we should not care? No, it is, after all, our area of stewardship for the present time. How we conduct ourselves in this skirmish indicates where our true allegiance lies. So, we talk, we discuss, we support, we vote and we care – but never to the point that we fail to follow the other commands Christ gave – love others, seek first His kingdom, fear not.
I’m not “downing” talk shows; I love a good debate (ask my family:) And there is value in free and open discussion. And personally, I agree with many of the views held by these guys and love to listen to them take on the naysayers. But, in the long run, believers are pushing the battle forward on 2 fronts – the present culture and the eternal realm. Both matter.
Bottom line? I’m glad for a Christian CEO with courage to go along with his delicious recipes. I will suppport his rights to free speech, and I will eat at Chick-fil-A as often as my budget and appetite will allow. I won’t stick my head in the sand about the possible threats to biblical faith that could arise in the coming years. But I won’t forget to keep a picture of Heaven firmly fixed in my mind and keep commitment to Christ as my guide in all things – political, social and eternal.