Keeping the Sabbath Holy is a Jewish tradition, dating back to the Ten Commandments. Jews rest on Saturday. Why don’t Christians?
This week fried chicken giant Chick-fil-A announced that starting next year it would no longer be donating monies through its foundation to organizations that have anti-LGBTQ positions.
Ironic, coming from a restaurant chain whose CEO publicly opposed gay marriage in 2012.
“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy said on a radio show in 2012 as the nation was gearing up to legalize same-sex marriage.
The company’s Christian conservative stance didn’t seem to damage the brand too badly. Since that controversial statement, the Atlanta-based company has seen itself become the third biggest U.S. restaurant chain — behind McDonald’s and Starbucks.
But recently its anti-LGBTQ reputation has become a stumbling block as it seeks to continue to grow into new markets. Several U.S. airports this year announced that they wouldn’t be renewing leases with Chick-fil-A. And just last month the first of its restaurants to open in the U.K. lost its lease after 8 days into its pilot run due to its practice to donate to organizations hostile to marriage equality.
That’s a lot to swallow when you’re losing a Chicken Sandwich War with Popeyes.
So on Monday the company said it would begin a “more focused giving approach” and it would no longer support organizations like the Salvation Army or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes due to their views on marriage.
Chik-fil-A is best known for two things: their fried chicken sandwiches and the fact that they are closed on Sundays due to religious reasons.
“Closing our business on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is our way of honoring God and showing our loyalty to Him,” Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy (Dan’s father), wrote in his book “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People.” On Monday, a spokesperson from the chain told the Christian Post that although who they give money to may be readjusted, “Chick-fil-A will not be opening on Sundays.”
The tradition of keeping the Sabbath holy is a Jewish one dating back to Moses and the Ten Commandments. Jews consider Saturday the holy day, so why don’t Christians like the billionaire family behind the chicken chain?
Who better to ask than Arik Greenberg, PhD who was raised in a household of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother and is also a biblical scholar and lecturer at Los Angeles’ Loyola Marymount University, and other universities, where he specializes in the New Testament and world religions.
“For thousands of years Jews believe that the Sabbath is on what we call Saturday,” he says. “Christians, most of whom come from a Gentile audience. The swelling ranks of Christians in the first one-to-two centuries A.D. were not from ethnic Jews, they were from ethnic Greeks and Romans and people from elsewhere in the empire, so they had no reason to claim to the fact that Sabbath was on Saturday. ‘That’s a Jewish thing. We’re Christians.”
Greenberg says the early Christians decided that the most important day of the week was the day Jesus rose from the dead, Easter Sunday.
But did they write “Sunday” in the New Testament?
“Well, they said ‘very early on the first day of the week…” Greenberg confirmed referencing Mark 16. And to this day, the first day of the week on any calendar is a Sunday.
“Sunday is more of an Anglo-Saxon term,” Greenberg says, “Our days of the week come from Germatic languages. Tuesday comes from the god Tīw. Thursday comes from the god Thor. So it’s pagan gods giving their names for our days of the week.”
But wait, if Jesus died on Good Friday and he rose early on Sunday, why does the Bible say he rose on the “third” day?
“They are using the Roman method of Inclusive Counting,” Greenberg explains. “Today if we say the third day, we mean the third day after. But the Roman’s count today as one of the days. It’s sort of like the Abbot & Costello Banana Sketch.”
Chick-fil-A leaves about $1 billion in sales on the table every year that they stay closed on Sunday. No matter how you count it, that’s a lot of bananas.