Playing Chicken with God

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“The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.” – Capt. Bart Mancuso, The Hunt for Red October

“Chicken” is a game of irresistible forces lunging headlong toward immoveable objects.  Feigning death before dishonor, both force and object, praying that the other flinches first.

And so it is in religious “values” conversations these days. Talk about God and generalities; you might get away with it. Talk about God and specific human behaviors; you better buckle up and hang on. For example…

On Wednesday July 4, Hobby Lobby (an overtly Christian company and retailer) ran full-page advertisements headlined, “In God We Trust,” in hundreds of American newspapers. The ad displayed quotes from American history’s greatest thinkers on the absolute necessity of faith, religion, and Christianity in American democracy and freedom (see “Holiday Messages” at hobbylobby.com).

The July 4 ad was on point, wise, patriotic, devout, appreciated – and despite its daring, straight-up God and Country theme, it caused no hue and cry.

By late July, America had nearly come apart at the seams over Chik-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s evenly paced remarks on American same-sex marriage, and God’s judgment, on a mid-July Saturday afternoon radio talk show.

A Saturday afternoon radio talk show. Does that scream “obscure” to anyone but me? The show’s host is Dan Coleman, but it was only due to the Washington Post’s biting, agenda-driven, culture war follow-up coverage that everybody in America actually heard about it.

I am shocked (sarcasm) to find out that a Christian CEO of an overtly Christian-values company appearing on a traditional values talk show said that he supports Christian family values and has a faithful concern about God’s judgment. That’s what I’d expect a guy like that to say. The ensuing “story” isn’t so much real “news” as a media-fueled purpose pitch. Real news is what’s not supposed to happen. The endless anti-Christian squawk from the marry-whomever crowd?  That was predictable. The record sales for Chik-Fil-A? That’s people voting with their wallets.

My deep-down read on this chicken “controversy” is that we mustn’t confine the issue to divine judgment and same-sex marriage. In the larger view, God commands us to love Him and each other. Oddly enough, God gives us the freedom to rebel against Him and each other in order that we may identify true love. God doesn’t coerce us, and we hate it when people try to coerce us. But when it comes down to people or God, don’t miss this plucky, cosmic life lesson:

Only a sucker plays chicken with God, because God never flinches.

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