Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chick-fil-A, Jon Stewart, and Jesus

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I’m pretty passionate about food.  In other words, I’m not one of those people who “eats to live,” but who will make scheduling-altering decisions to eat something tasty and healthy. I find great joy in planning, preparing, and eating meals. It’s fun! And beyond that, in the last few years I’ve come to see a deep connection between my relationship with food and my relationship with God.

That could be a post— or a series of posts— in itself, which may happen in the future. But for now, I’ll try to explain what I mean by that in just a few words. A lot of times we in the West want to separate the “spiritual” from the “physical;” we want to draw a distinction between the soul and the body, for example, saying one is “eternal” and therefore “more important” than the other.  However, both are created by an Eternal God who commands us to value both! From the beginning, humans were charged with the care of their own bodies, and all the physical things around them, as an act of “spiritual” worship of their Creator! 

So, learning to care for my own body by respecting both its function (ie. spinach makes it run, grease make it stop running) and its limits (even too much spinach can be abusive) and to care for the physical things around me by stewarding my consumption of those things in a way that shows respect and care for the Creator, is a very spiritual thing. I can show disrespect for my body by not caring what happens to it—by starving it or filling it with trash, for example. But I can also show disrespect for the rest of God’s creation by not caring what happens to it; by supporting, for example, an industry that genetically alters a chicken to such extreme proportions that it can’t even hold itself up so it has to sit in its own waste.

Today when walking through the airport, we passed a little girl who screamed, “but I want ice cream NOW!” Honestly, I can relate. A lot of times my passion for food supersedes my passion for its Creator, and I don’t care how the chicken gets on my plate. I don’t care if it’s unethical or if it means I’m sacrificing obedience for the sake of convenience and a few minutes of pleasure. I just want the chicken NOW. Oh, and cheap. Let’s be honest.  I’ve passed organic chicken more than once in the grocery store after seeing the sale price on the genetically enhanced, factory grown stuff. A few minutes or dollars spared often seems more attractive to me than obedience to a God who calls me to care for created things that are precious to Him and reveal His character.

So, if all that rambling was my introduction, what’s the point of this post? I’ve not closely followed the Chick-fil-A debacle. But Michael had The Daily Show on the other night and I overheard Jon Stewart mocking Truett Cathy. I was disturbed by Stewart’s attitude and language for the most part, but perked up when he pointed out the seeming hypocrisy in a company that would stand against “redefining marriage” and yet be comfortable with “redefining the chicken” into something genetically modified and treated like an object in order to be 95% breast meat, cheap, and en masse. 

As a follower of Jesus, I am saddened that my community of faith has upheld certain Creation mandates—and often in negative and divisive ways— to the exclusion of others. Jon Stewart didn’t actually use the word hypocrisy, but I think it fits in this case. I’m not writing to applaud or rebuke Chick-fil-A; but I am thankful that the Lord used the heated discussions concerning this particular business, and the Christian controversy surrounding it, to convict me about a larger problem in the church. 

The church claims to submit to the Lordship of the Creator. There wouldn’t be a case for “sexuality according to God” otherwise. He created us as sexual beings, and He created sex as the activity of intimacy. As Christians, we should want to take seriously our call to steward sexuality in a way that brings Him glory and us joy, even when it means inconvenience, sacrifice, and struggle— not because “we just should” or “it’s the right thing to do”— but because we love and honor the Creator.  I’ve blogged about what this looks like in my own experience as a heterosexual woman, and about the holistic transformation I’ve experienced as I’ve grown in my submission to One who Created my sexuality. But if that’s the case with sexuality, why shouldn’t it be the case with all created things?

I’ve confessed to my lack of follow through on areas of clear conviction regarding created things because “I want ice cream now.” I may be able to stand strong against “wrongs” that I’m not attracted to in the first place, such as violence against women or the slave trade, but I don’t as consistently stand against wrongs that give me a sense of comfort, pleasure, and security, like cheap and available fried chicken. I feel that my community of faith at large might at times be guilty of the same.

Why am I writing this post? I guess to ask a question. If you’re a Christian, would you pray for me, that I’ll be able to honor God as Creator more consistently with my spending and eating choices? And would you pray with me that the church would be awakened to our call to honor God in all of creation, not just in a few hot button issues?

If you’re not a Christian, would you forgive me for imaging and speaking about God in a hypocritical and inconsistent way, saying one thing and then doing another? And would you forgive the church for highlighting certain issues over against other important ones, often times in divisive and hateful ways?

Lastly, whoever you are, would you consider looking beyond a political or economic battle to see Jesus, who invites you to come to Him whether you are gay, straight, obese, anorexic, chicken-abusing or earth-worshiping? He doesn’t highlight certain issues over against others. He says we are all in need of His healing and forgiveness, and that we are all invited. 

1 comment:

Cameron Shaffer said...

I'm a little confused. Are you saying modifying a chicken for a sandwich is morally tantamount to embracing a nonbiblical definition of marriage? It seems like you're saying that Chick-fil-A (and other food companies) are violating the creation mandate in the way they prepare and serve their food.