Mike Huckabee, the conservative former governor of Arkansas and one-time presidential candidate, started a group on Facebook recently to declare Aug. 1 "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." It is an effort to support the popular but currently beleaguered fast food chain in the face of the vitriolic criticism after public statements by Dan Cathy, the company's president, regarding same-sex marriage. So far more than 452,000 people have committed to attend. (Some have called this a movement in support of free speech, but that isn't what Huckabee writes on his own page.)
I agree whole-heartedly with Dan Cathy's comments (see here and here). I believe in the biblical definition of marriage. I think Christians in prominent positions speaking in a reasonable and level-headed way about their convictions is a good thing. On top of that I am a borderline addict of Chick-fil-A's sandwiches, waffle fries, and sweet tea. But I will not be attending "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on Wednesday. Here's why.
Homosexuality is one of the most defining, contentious, and complex issues facing this generation of the church. We cannot sacrifice our biblical convictions but neither can we sacrifice the church's ability to serve people of opposing viewpoints and lifestyles. The 452,000 people supporting Chick-fil-A are delivering more than one message, and the message the homosexual community and its supporters see is "us versus you." The event also sends a message of separatism and territorialism in the "reclaiming" of those restaurants that are being boycotted, a collective action easily seen as a shaking of the fist or a wagging of the finger.
Convictions, especially biblical ones, will divide people. That is inevitable, but not desirable. The separation of believers and unbelievers, when it happens, must be a last resort or an unavoidable result. Actions to the contrary, those that clearly promote an "us versus them" mentality, are most often unhelpful. There is a time for Christians to engage in boycotting, such as when a business deals in obviously immoral areas or is clearly unethical in its methods. But for a mass of Christians to descend upon Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country tomorrow to support the leadership's view on this issue is, I believe, a bold mistake.
So I stand with Dan Cathy in his biblical affirmation of family but I cannot stand with those making a movement out of his beliefs. I do not question the motives of Mike Huckabee or those thousands joining him, but what about the wider effects? How is the Kingdom of God served by this? Is Jesus represented well to the gay community and the politicians pandering to them? Marching on Chick-fil-A tomorrow like an army will produce nothing more than defined battle lines, and the result will be greater contention and fewer softened hearts. On both sides.