What is a "Christian" Business?
Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A
The flap over Chick-fil-A's position on marriage raises huge and confusing questions over the interface between the Christian faith and the public square. Religious tolerance has become "I accept your right to believe whatever you want as long as it doesn't affect me." So religion is conceived as a private and personal matter. Yes, it is personal but not private. Anyone who claims to have a religion that is private, has no religion. Which is itself a religion. Even no religion can't be kept private.
The dictionary definition of religion reads, "a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance." This is usually, but not always, associated with belief in a supreme being. It is impossible to keep something you regard as of supreme importance private. The most secular atheist regards it of paramount importance to avoid worship. Can he keep his absence from worship a private matter?
When Mr.Cathy makes a statement about his convictions on marriage he does no more nor less than what the rest of us do with our own core convictions.
What makes a business Christian?
A Christian is an ordinary sinner who embraces Jesus Christ as his Savior from sin and its eternal consequences. Out of gratitude to the Savior, he conducts himself, albeit, imperfectly, in a manner that honors his Lord.
Dan Cathy is a Christian. His values and commitments are shaped by what God reveals in his Word. It is to be expected that, as a businessman, he will do his best to shape his business accordingly. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, has a stellar reputation for quality food and ambiance and treats both employees and customers honorably. Does that make Chick-fil-A a Christian business? I don't think so. Jesus didn't die to save corporations. He died to save and to transform sinners who in turn will influence for good the world around them: schools, businesses, politics, you name it.
No righteousness card
Christians are called to live under the Lordship of Jesus. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:31) A Christian businessman will seek to run his business to the glory of God? Does that mean he demands a righteousness card from his vendors, employees and customers? Of course not. He will, however, implement policies that reflect godly values and will resist practices that contradict them. Anyone is free to associate with Chick-fil-A or not to. The precise company structure will vary. That Chick-fil-A closes down on Sundays doesn't mean that every company run by Christians should do so.
While Chick-fil-A has a reputation for upholding Christian values I've never seen an ad that touts Chick-fil-A as a Christian business. That's as it should be. In fact to do so would be off-putting. It implies that one should frequent the chain because it's Christian. That would be cultic, not Christian. If there are better chicken sandwiches to be found in a restaurant run by atheists Christians have no problem sampling that fare. I'd take the same approach in choosing a surgeon, auto-mechanic or home-improvement store.
Some object that Chick-fil-A supports Christian causes with its reputation and money. So while an homosexual will be treated with the same care as any other customer, the money earned off his lunch is used to promote pro-family causes. That's life. Conversely, a Christian who buys a hammer at Home Depot will indirectly contribute to the gay agenda. Jesus left us to live in the world without being of it. One cannot escape indirect association with causes that are wrong and destructive. Jesus did not intend that we do so. We are only responsible for what we can directly influence.
Next to Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby will be of interest as a successful business run by Christians who respect godly moral principles.