For evangelicals, one’s “stance” determines one’s standing. What does it mean that a stance is the all-important determinant of one’s status and legitimacy in the community?
Part of what it shows, I think, is the way that stance trumps sub-stance. This is a reflection of the underlying theology, in which faith trumps works, words trump deeds, and intellectual assent to propositions trumps what the Bible calls “bearing fruit.”
Every stance will, inevitably, produce some form of action, but when stance is paramount, those actions are an afterthought. In the stance-obsessed evangelical culture, such actions tend to be of a rather passive variety — demonstrations of verbal, financial or political support for a particular stance. (Or verbal and financial support for political action in accordance with that stance.) But when one’s stance is what matters most, the consequences of such actions are viewed as inconsequential.
Thus if this offering of political support results in political acts that harm others, such consequent harm is not accounted against those who supported it because, to them, such harm was incidental and collateral to the primary intent of their action — which was to demonstrate the propriety and firmness of their stance. Any resultant harm should not matter in this view, because nothing outweighs the greater good — the greatest good — of maintaining the correct stance.
One result of all this is a mutual bafflement between stance-obsessed members of the evangelical tribe and outsiders who do not share this tribal preoccupation. Unlike the evangelicals, those outsiders are still laboring under the assumption that harmful consequences count for something.
Fred Clark goes on to look at the Chick-Fil-A stance, comments by the CEO on the ”biblical definition of the family unit,” and how a recent Christianity Today article chose to downplay the backlash as “controversy.”
Dan Cathy and Chik-fil-A are exerting power against other people. They are using their financial power to leverage political power in order to deny others their rights.
Chik-fil-A’s critics aren’t concerned about Cathy’s opinions, but about his actions — his actions against them.
For Christianity Today, opinions are what matters most. For them, the important thing is Cathy’s “stance” and not the substance of his actions against others. They thus can’t begin to hear, let alone to understand, the substance of those others’ complaint against the fast-food giant. Evangelicals are obsessed with stances and words and opinions, so they assume this must all have something to do with stances and words and opinions.