I did not eat at Chick-fil-A on August 1st.
I’ve got a good excuse: they don’t have Chick-fil-A’s in Michigan, and Toledo is forty miles away. But honestly, I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway, because I don’t like fast food chicken (my refined fast food palate favors pink slime instead) and I don’t like eating where it’s crowded. In short, I’ve just covered three of the top factors I usually consider before I take my wife out to eat: good location, good food, and good atmosphere.
I make many similar decisions in life based on factors that, at face value, are non-religious in nature. I buy Kroger gas because it is cheap and the station is conveniently located. I go to a doctor who knows his trade and graduated at the top of his class at medical school. I wear Wrangler jeans because they make Real. Comfortable. Jeans. It’s not that these are religiously neutral decisions, per se, but they are predicated on my stewardship of common grace, not special grace. IOW, I don’t make my decisions based on whether a doctor, gas station owner, restaurateur, or clothes manufacturer is a Christian.
And that is as it should be. Why? Because the Bible calls us to be neither (1) Culture-Transformationists nor (2) Architects of Christian Sub-Cultures. He calls us to be, simultaneously, good citizens and ambassadors for Christ. Participating in a “Chick-fil-A eat-in” may be a good cause, but it is not a Christian cause. It is not a Gospel cause. And if that’s what we imagine it to have been, then we’ve got mass confusion on our hands. Why? If for no other reason, because many of those who participated in and even organized this cause weren’t even Christians: they included, among others, Mormons and Romanists who borrow selectively from the Christian worldview in order to satisfy their own false gods.
Now if this is strictly a civic issue, I’ve got a great deal of sympathy for Chick-fil-A, because I (like many Romanists and Mormons) embrace the idea of the first amendment. I’m likewise a member of the NRA because I embrace the idea of the second amendment. As my wife reminded me, I still avoid the major restaurant chain that first granted full benefits to gay “families,” and I’ve even crossed menacing public union picket lines for no reason other than that I think that public unions are a bad idea. In keeping with this pattern, I feel a good bit of civic sympathy for Chick-fil-A.
What bothers me, though, is that in much of the Neo-Kuyperian/Neo-Calvinist blog furor over this issue there is little distinction made between Christian obligation and Civic obligation. The two are instead conflated as one. And it seems to me that this conflation has very serious potential consequences for both causes: (1) Some erroneously imagine that civic structures must be peopled by Christians, and thus fragment the conservative political cause. (2) Others, far worse, think that civil conservatism renders one Christian, and thus jeopardize the Gospel.
And as I ponder Chick-fil-A, together with the upcoming election, I cannot help but wonder whether some who are promoting “Gospel-everythingism” may unwittingly be scuttling the very Gospel they wish to promote. We need to distinguish better the things that are Caesar’s and the things that are God’s.