Rahm Emanuel: High Priest of Chicago

Chicago voters who elected Rahm Emanuel the city's mayor might not have realized they were also electing a high priest for the city.

The mayor donned priestly regalia – in spirit if not physically – when he declared his outrage over the support for traditional marriage voiced by Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy. The establishment media choir howled as usual in the same key that Cathy's position is "anti-gay," and the Chicago mayor-high priest rose to the pulpit.

He would work to block Chick-fil-A expansion in Chicago, said Emanuel. "Chick-Fil-A's values are not Chicago values," the mayor said, as quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times. "They're not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you're gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values."

It took a chicken chain to bring Emanuel's priesthood into focus. There was once another named Emanuel, or "God with us." Maybe the Chicago mayor is confused about which Emanuel he is.

Welcome to what I have termed elsewhere the Globequake Age, in which the tectonic plates of whole cultures are shifting so fast the whole world is topsy-turvy. That means among other things that the mayors of great cities can start defining what the values of the city are and what they are not.

German businesses owned by Jews who did not fit into the values of the nation's governing powers were infamously assaulted on Kristalnacht – the "night of broken glass" from shattered shop windows – on November 9-10, 1938. Now that Emanuel has issued the dictum that Chick-Fil-A has strayed from the propaganda line of the cultural elites and the politicians they heft into power, will there be a purge of all non-conforming companies, starting with Chick-fil-A?

I was recently in Chicago and spent the good part of a day at Moody Bible Institute. This great school in the heart of downtown, just off Chicago Avenue, was founded in 1886. It is a primary center for teaching the values Emanuel says are not part of Chicago's values. Will the mayor-high priest shut down Moody, deny its expansion permits, conduct background checks for political correctness of its faculty members, and run the rebels out of town?

Will the constituents of Chicagoland institutions like Wheaton College, Christianity Today magazine, Willow Creek Church, Total Living TV Network, Youth For Christ International, the Slavic Gospel Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Trinity Seminary, The Salvation Army Training Center, Emmaus Bible Institute, and many others now have to go through an internal control point where their alignment with the mayor's "Chicago values" must be confirmed before they are permitted into the city itself?

Are all the citizens of Chicago who agree with the Bible's view of marriage and Dan Cathy's support of it, and, therefore, disagree with the mayor's declaration of "Chicago's values," now non-Chicagoans?

The mayor and his supporters rightly decry discrimination. But they go too far in attempting the equivalency maneuver in which they try to compare opposition to same-sex marriage to the repugnant discrimination of black people in pre-civil rights places like Alabama.

I grew up in Birmingham, and later was a reporter for The Birmingham News covering much of the civil rights revolution there. As a boy in the late 1940s and 1950s, I saw the "Whites Only" signs, deacons at white churches standing guard to prevent black people from attending, and those Neanderthal banners noting that Negroes would not be served in certain business establishments.

Dan Cathy's restaurants have no such signs banning homosexuals, or anyone who disagrees with his position on marriage. To the contrary, Chick-Fil-A has a declared policy of serving anyone and everyone, and that extends to hiring as well.

Ages ago Zechariah saw the vision of two olive trees separated by a lampstand. Ultimately he understood that the lampstand in the center symbolized the presence and authority of God, and the olive trees the jurisdictional powers in culture, the "two anointed ones." Both the high priest and the civil ruler were empowered of God to serve and lead in the jurisdictions to which He appointed them – a truth affirmed in Romans 13 and other New Testament passages.

However, the high priest was not to step over into the role of the civil ruler, nor was the civil ruler to usurp the position of the high priest. The state was not to be the church, and the church was not to be the state – which is why a theocracy is inappropriate for governance of civil society. King Saul tried to take over Samuel's role at one point, and Saul lost his kingdom.

If anyone has the right of choosing values, it is the individual. People can do so only in an economic environment where there is a diversity of values. There are joints in my community that most definitely do not reflect my values. But their very presence means I have the freedom to choose by not patronizing them. Give the people the right to choose to buy chicken wings at a gay bar or Chick-fil-A, or both. God, after all, put two trees in the Garden.

Chicago is a great city – one of my favorites – but it's not a church, and doesn't need a high priest for mayor.

Wallace Henley, a former Birmingham News staff writer, was an aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional chief of staff. He is a teaching pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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