What is perhaps most galling about the recent reaction in the media to Chick-fil-A Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy’s remarks on a radio talk show regarding the issue of gay marriage is that the press and the Left are reacting as though Cathy’s views are in any way surprising. Both Truitt Cathy-the founder of Chick-fil-A-and Dan Cathy are devout believing Christians who happen to be members of one of the most socially conservative Protestant denominations in America (it also happens to be the largest Protestant ecclesial community in the country as well). Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that in giving an interview to a religious publication in which he was asked about his religious and moral views and those of his family, Dan Cathy made it clear that he tries to conduct business from a pro-family perspective-and he means that in the biblical sense:
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
A great many people in the media and in various internet sources are now expressing “shock” at Dan Cathy’s remarks (one Facebook comment that this writer read had the author declaring that they would no longer buy “nuggets of hate”) despite the fact that the Cathy family’s conservative social views are well-known to anyone who knows anything about Chick-fil-A. Note that it is conservative values that get put through the ringer-but more than what we might call political or even social conservatism-it is a more orthodox Christian point of view.
Despite the ever-increasing secularization of our society, America remains one of the most religious countries in the Western world, at least nominally. Yet when a public figure such as a leader in the business or political communities takes a public stand in favor of a more traditional view of marriage or the family, they are held up to media scorn as a bigot or a neanderthal. We’ll leave aside the theological arguments in favor of Cathy’s position for today (I will deal with similar issues in a future column), but we can say that even Christ said that expressing a point of view that is in line with his will almost certainly mean persecution, and that those who are persecuted for Christ’s sake are “blessed” (cf. Matthew 5:10-12, 2 Timothy 3:12), so Mr. Cathy may be thinking that what is happening to him now goes with the territory.
Even so, we must ask the question: Even if many in the media and in secular society today disagree with the Cathy family’s public moral standards, how can some in that same society express such negative surprise that a person in the most theistic country on Earth would express a more traditional Christian attitude about marriage and family? It may be because even though around 90% of Americans believe in God, they don’t want to own up to the consequences and the life required of that belief. The hard truth is that Americans believe in God, but they know that God has standards, and while God himself understands that humanity often falls short of the Divine Law (we all do) he still expects those who believe in him to use that Law as the pillar and guidepost of their lives, and to live holy lives in the world (cf. James 2:11-26). People in today’s culture want God to be their friend, but they ignore the reality that by the standards of all of the great monotheistic faiths, the One God is a God of justice and righteousness as well as a God of love. Rather than believing in the God of law and of justice, our society would rather believe in a comfortable God of our own making whose standards we create for ourselves in order to justify our own sins and shortcomings and make excuses for why our wrongs are right. People like Truitt and Dan Cathy make us collectively uncomfortable because we see that there are a few folks left who believe that God’s standards are not their own, and they are willing to publicly proclaim the laws of God as they best understand them even at the risk of their own reputation and livelihood.
Complete theological agreement with the Cathy family on all points isn’t required to see that the real reason so many people seem to be up in arms about what Mr. Cathy said is because in Cathy’s words they are again reminded that they are not only falling short of the standards of the God so many of them profess to believe in-again, as we all do-but that so many people choose to deliberately ignore those standards and pretend that all can be well in society.