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Family owned Chick-fil-A must affirm its commitment to God's design for marriage

A franchise sign is seen above a Chick-fil-A freestanding restaurant after its grand opening in Midtown, New York, October 3, 2015. |

Chick-fil-A has a wonderful Christian heritage as a result of Truett Cathy's leadership, and the company is blessed today to have Truett's son, Dan, serving as chairman and CEO.

Dan Cathy loves Jesus and he has been willing to stand up for truth even in the face of intense criticism at times. For example, Dan boldly and lovingly stated in 2012 that gay marriage is "inviting God's judgment." Dan is a compassionate and faithful Christian who demonstrates tremendous wisdom, incredible tolerance and godly leadership.

While Chick-fil-A is a family-owned business, the company also has a board of directors. The board reports to Dan Cathy and the Cathy family, and this family unapologetically reports to God. Earlier this year, it was announced that these eight members serve on the board of directors:

"CEO and chairman Dan Cathy and his brother, Bubba Cathy; Michael Duke, retired president and CEO of Walmart Inc.; Chick-fil-A operator Brent Fielder; Crawford Loritts, a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia; and Steven Reinemund, retired dean of Wake Forest University School of Business." In addition, Cheryl Bachelder and Dale Jones were appointed to the board of directors in April.

The Cathy family has assembled a superb team of people to serve on this board. Dan Cathy and Bubba Cathy are carrying the torch for Christ that was first carried by their father. 

The board is also richly blessed to have Dr. Crawford Loritts serving on it. Dr. Loritts "is a nationally known speaker, author and senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. He helped establish churches in Texas and Mississippi and served as associate director of Campus Crusade for Christ. Crawford was selected to serve on Chick-fil-A's first Board of Directors in 2015."

Board member Brent Fielder "served more than a decade with the WinShape Foundation," and "serves on the board of directors for Vapor Ministries." These dynamic Christian ministries share God's love with those in need and serve as a catalyst for transformation. 

And board member Cheryl Bachelder wrote the book "Dare to Serve," which provides an excellent understanding of her approach to leadership and her passion to serve others.

Board member Michael Duke is the retired president and chief executive officer of Walmart. The Chick-fil-A website indicates that "Mike has long been a champion for diversity and was especially engaged in the advancement of women, both inside and outside the company." 

Like Michael Duke, board member Steven Reinemund is also listed as a leader who has spent much time "championing diversity." 

Most Christians would certainly celebrate the idea of women serving on the Chick-fil-A Board of Directors. After all, there are plenty of amazing female leaders in many companies today. 

Unfortunately, the word "diversity" is used by some people today to promote a revisionist sexual ethic and a revisionist definition of "marriage." I suppose it really boils down to what type of "diversity" each individual board member hopes to champion. 

When defined biblically, diversity is a very good thing. God champions diversity everyday by continuing to create males and females, as well as people of various races. It is important, however, for any Christian company these days to clarify exactly what type of diversity they are promoting. 

The Chick-fil-A board can only walk together in unity with Dan and Bubba Cathy if every other member of the board is equally committed to the original Christ-centered vision that Truett Cathy cast for the company. Thankfully, there is no reason to assume that anyone serving on the Chick-fil-A Board of Directors does not wholeheartedly share this godly vision. 

In the past, the Cathy family made it clear that their company champions the biblical commands concerning marriage and sexuality. Christians are called to love all people, regardless of their views or practices. At the same time, a family-owned company certainly has the right to uphold its own set of values and convictions.

The new donation strategy Chick-fil-A recently announced ended up sending a mixed message to the world. In the face of much criticism over the past week, the board of directors would be wise to speak up and offer some assurance concerning the company's path forward. It could include a short statement reassuring Christians that Chick-fil-A remains committed to God's plan for marriage between a man and a woman.

Last week, I suggested a statement Chick-fil-A could make regarding their donation strategy. And here is the first thing the board of directors might like to announce because it goes to the core of their existence as a company:

"Chick-fil-A remains committed to being closed on Sunday, and committed to God's design for marriage between a man and a woman, and committed to treating everyone who walks through our doors with dignity and respect."

This simple statement would reaffirm several of Chick-fil-A's foundational principles. Just imagine what a loving and faithful witness this would provide to millions of young people all across America, many of whom are in desperate need of learning about God's beautiful design for human sexuality and marriage. 

The spiritual, physical and emotional welfare of children and teens hangs in the balance in a culture gone mad with revisionist propaganda related to marriage and gender. (You might want to check out my Thanksgiving article, "Be Thankful for Holy Matrimony and Gender Distinctions.") 

While Chick-fil-A's donation decisions ultimately need to flow out of their core beliefs, the board must first revisit their Christian heritage and reaffirm the biblical foundation of their company. Dan Cathy and the board can help to calm the current storm by taking the initiative and making a clear public statement. 

This is nothing new for Dan or his family. They have been serving faithfully on the front line for years, even when the temperature has been turned up on their business. And they are fully aware that God has given them this unique platform from which to declare the Lord's loving boundaries and Christ's amazing grace.

So which came first: The chicken, or the company's commitment to Christ and to the Bible? In the case of Chick-fil-A and the Cathy family, it has always been first and foremost about their commitment to serve the Savior who gave His life on the cross for our salvation. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of good reasons to pray and believe Chick-fil-A will remain on this straight path going forward, even if they find themselves losing their balance every now and then. After all, show me even one individual believer or one Christian company that doesn't need to make some adjustments at times when things a little out of whack. I guess if you and I handled things perfectly every time, we wouldn't need a Savior, right?

When operating a multi-billion dollar business, there are always going to be a lot of moving parts. The Cathy family has done a fantastic job over the years in sticking to their biblical convictions in the midst of phenomenal growth. And there is no good reason to change course now, especially after everything the Lord has done for them and through them as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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