Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mr. Cathy Thinks Small

My biggest argument against the Christian Church is while professing to worship a BIG God, they think small. Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with Mr. Cathy's statements of his stance against gay marriage the most telling (and tragic) thing about the entire controversy is that Christians exchange the big-ness that is openly available to them for something small. Mr. Cathy has demonstrated this perfectly.

Another current news story pits the Pope against some of his followers, nuns who refuse to spread the anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion stances of the Roman Catholic Church, to the poor people they serve. The nun, in an interview on the Jon Stewart show said that the social message of gay marriage and abortion is not their mission. Their mission is to help the poor. In this case, as in the case of Chik-Fil-A and Mr.Cathy, there is a much larger mission, a much larger purpose to follow. The nuns think big. Mr. Cathy thinks small.

Mr. Cathy is openly Christian. His business is openly Christian. We all know that. Eat at a Chik-Fil-A and you can't miss it. Christian music is played over the speakers. They are closed on Sunday so, as the notice states, their associates can rest and worship. Even with this openly Christian, faith based philosophy, Chik-Fil-A is a major force in business.

Mr. Cathy had a good thing going. The influence his business played in the market place demonstrates an axiom Christ himself established.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 and 12: " Learn to be quiet, mind your business, work hard with your hands, that you may be perceived as being honest towards them that are outside the faith, and that you may lack for nothing."

The influence Mr. Cathy has had on his customers, his peers in business, and his employees has been immeasurable. Honesty in business, closing Sundays to invest in his staff, being profitable in spite of operating with one less sales day per week, the culture that is evident in each of his franchises - happy employees; polite employees; consistently quality products (I've never had a bad meal at a Chik-Fil-A and I've never been insulted, and the employees there have always treated me with respect). All of this has a much larger impact on society that, since Mr. Cathy's comments, has diminished.

From a business perspective, Mr. Cathy's comments were stupid. Any business that relies on the public purchasing your product can not afford to alienate a portion of its clientele. While I applaud Mr. Cathy's courage in not wavering from his convictions during this firestorm, in my opinion, he would have been able to courageously stand up for his convictions and not diminished his impact on society by keeping his infantile, Christian, mouth shut.

A gay couple walks into a Chik-Fil-A to eat lunch. Unless they are oblivious, they know Mr. Cathy is a Christian; he runs his business according to a Christian ethic. What has the greatest Christian message and impact?

A) Excellent service, excellent product, polite, happy employees where they and the customer are treated as they would want to be treated.


B) Standing up for your convicitions and judging the gay couple for their choices (or their innate design  - I am still unclear if homosexuality is a choice or not).

Mr. Cathy chose B and reduced the influence he has in society. He traded the large-ness of a Christian witness of honesty, love, respect, and dignity for the small-ness of one social agenda that angers and alienates the very people he should be trying to influence.

That same gay couple, tomorrow or years later, comes to a crisis in their life. They've come to the point where they are not only trying to find the answer to their purpose; they are being forced by God to make the decision. If Mr. Cathy had chosen option A, wouldn't that gay couple seriously consider this thing called Christianity? Mr. Cathy had chosen option B, the short sighted social commentary. I guarantee you, souls have been lost through this. People who  could have been influenced by a Christian business now perceive Chik-Fil-A to be bigoted.

Now, I must move on to the impact this statement is having on another segment of Mr. Cathy's business - his employees.

I do not assume for a minute that everyone working for Mr. Cathy truly believes what he believes. I am sure there are plenty who are just starting out in life and have been drawn to the culture of Chik-Fil-A. They don't get tied up in the message, they just like the work environment, they like the pay check. Perhaps they are there for the excellent college tuition assistance the company has. The impact Mr. Cathy's business philosophy has had on his employees has to be immense. Every Sunday off! Good Pay! Excellent reputation! I am treated fairly at work! Mr. Cathy had an infinite potential to not only influence the public he had an even greater impact on his staff.  He had an opportunity to teach his employees the gospel according to Christ in the way he manages his business and in the way he treats his servants. Since his comments, he has lost this influence. His employees are now subject to taunts from the protesters. His employees are required to remove anti-Chik-Fil-A signs from there drive through menus. They are subject to comments from the Jesus Freaks and the Gay Love sides and all they want to do is complete their shift and live their lives. Chik-Fil-A employees should be disappointed in Mr. Cathy's actions. In a matter of seconds he has diminished his influence with the buying public and the impact he could have had, indeed, the impact he was having on his employees.

I have just heard that pro-Gay organizations in Louisville KY are attempting to organize a Gay Kiss In protest at a local Chik-Fil-A in response to a Christian Rally for the local Chik-Fil-A. Thank you Mr. Cathy. The world needs another protest. Is it me, or is something lost in this whole situation? Humanity. One can debate one's right to free speech. Indeed, I believe Mr. Cathy had the right to say what he said. I believe he has the right to donate dollars to the organizations he wants. I also believe that the pro-gay marriage crowd has a right to  not buy chicken from their local Chik-Fil-A. However, I do not believe either side has the right discriminate against the other.

Mr. Cathy chose to think small. He traded in the large-ness of his impact on the social mores of our world - a place and position given to him by his God - for the small-ness of human convention. Some call him courageous. Some call him a bigot. I call him stupid.

Another teaching of Christ: The ungodly use unrighteous mammon to profit himself in this life. How much more should a follower of Christ use ungodly mammon to profit the Kingdom of Christ in this world and in the world to come.