This post is by Dr. William R. Bouknight, associate director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.
His comments below about homosexual activists and Chick-fil-A first appeared in a slightly different form in the August 2012 Confessing Movement newsletter.
Bill Bouknight is the author of The Authoritative Word: Preaching Trust in a Skeptical Age (Abingdon, 2001) and If Disciples Grew Like Kudzu (Bristol House, 2007).
Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.
Chick-fil-A was started in 1967 by a prominent Baptist layman S. Truett Cathy. The restaurant chain is now led by his like-minded son, Dan Cathy. Most of the company’s 1,600 restaurants are located in the Bible Belt, with headquarters near Atlanta.
Recently, Dan Cathy told the Biblical Recorder (the newspaper of the North Carolina Baptist Convention) that he was “guilty as charged” for backing the “biblical definition of the family unit.”
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business,” he said. “We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.”
From the UM
What could be more traditional or non-sensational than that? The United Methodist Church has a much stronger position on sexuality and marriage than Mr. Cathy expressed. (Language from the UMC’s Book of Discipline is excerpted at right; the full text of ¶161B is here; ¶161F is here.)
But the homosexual lobby exploded in outrage, and some politicians joined in.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino accused Chick-fil-A of practicing discrimination, though the restaurant chain has no apparent record of practicing any kind of discrimination.
What if the mayors of Chicago and Boston get hold of a United Methodist Book of Discipline? They might declare that no new UM churches are welcome in their cities!
What is at the heart of this controversy? The homosexual lobby is trying to intimidate Christians into silence.
If activist homosexuals can persuade clergy (especially) that speaking out on biblical values related to sexuality and marriage is “political” —rather than moral and spiritual — and therefore should be avoided lest it give offense, the homosexual lobby will have won a major battle.
Against the grain
The outrage over Dan Cathy’s comments is a stark reminder that biblical values will always be in conflict with those of the secular culture. If we dare take biblical positions on controversial issues, sparks will fly.
But we must take courage. It is for this difficult hour that we have been called.
God’s plan for marriage as a lifetime covenant between one man and one woman must be declared and defended publicly, without demonizing those who disagree.
In this world where an estimated 270 Christians are martyred every single day because of their stand for Christ, our only risk in America is that we might be criticized!
Is there a single United Methodist bishop who will follow Billy Graham’s courageous example and publicly defend Dan Cathy and the biblical definition of marriage? Is there one who will publicly stand by our United Methodist teaching on marriage and human sexuality?
If bishops are silent when an important moral/spiritual standard is under attack, surely that sends a message to all preachers to do likewise.