Speaking of... Life, Hope & Truth

Chick-fil-A and the Civil War

We in the United States are at war, the worst possible war. It is a war far more threatening to our survival than any military conflict because it is a civil war, a conflict among its own citizens. Some call it the Culture War because it revolves around core values, with adversaries on both sides deeply driven by strong convictions and beliefs that make them committed to winning, not compromise.

The latest battle flared up a couple of weeks ago when Dan Cathy, president of the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, publicly stated his support for “the biblical definition of the family unit.” 

Opponents immediately, and vigorously, attacked Cathy as being anti-gay, intolerant, discriminatory, even guilty of hate speech. The mayors of Boston, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco were outraged, some rashly declaring they’d ban Chick-fil-A in their cities. Lawyers quickly made them retract such illegal threats, but they did not back down from assailing Mr. Cathy and anyone who supported him as bigots and hatemongers.

Cathy’s backers counterattacked, though, swamping Chick-fil-As nationwide on Aug. 1 in a coordinated “eat-in” to show their support. That, in turn, prompted pro-gay forces to organize “kiss-ins” to protest the protests.

And so it went—speeches, editorials, commentaries from all perspectives defending and attacking. Truth itself often became a victim amid the emotion and anger.

Chick-fil-A has now fallen off the page-one news, but the issue hasn’t gone away. This skirmish resolved nothing but to undeniably illustrate this fact: We are a seriously, profoundly divided country, separated over numerous issues of fundamental values.

Americans are split roughly 50-50 over gay marriage, polls tell us, and that generally holds true for other hot-button issues, such as abortion, censorship, separation of church and state, recreational drug use and government control. 

Such core cultural, moral, philosophical and ethical matters shape and define societies. That’s why feelings are running deep, and both sides are fighting for what they correctly believe will determine the future of our country.

Resisting the temptation to comment here on any or all of these matters, I want instead to take a longer look at a larger picture—where this civil war is taking us.

A hundred and fifty years ago, as 700,000 Americans were dying in the War Between the States, Abraham Lincoln warned the nation that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Lincoln was actually lifting a quote from someone he admired—Jesus Christ. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation,” Jesus said, “and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” He is the One who also inspired the proverb, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Lincoln also once said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” If a unity with God is not the basis for our human unity, our house will not stand.

This cultural, moral and philosophical conflict is a different type of civil war. You don’t have to fill graveyards to die as a nation—division and disunity over foundational principles of righteousness can kill a people and destroy a nation in other ways too. Remember our motto—“United we stand, divided we fall”? No one can forecast how long it will take or exactly how the decline and fall will take shape, but it will happen. What Jesus said is simply a law of life.

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough.