As most of you know, Hooters has moved into the neighborhood - and with it the requisite hootin'-n-hollerin'. The local newspaper carried editoral after editorial from local pastors and citizens bemoaning the fact that Statesville was heading to hell in a handbasket because of this restaurant and its short-shorts wearing waitresses.
For all the ink spilt on this issue, I think we have missed the point. When will the church learn that we are fighting the wrong battle in attempting to get a lost unregenerate society to behave in a biblically moral fashion? Even if we succeed, all we've done is produce a generation of moral individuals who will spend eternity in hell!
Russell Moore, the Dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an article for the Carl F.H. Henry Institute and raised a issue we must consider:
How much is a Hooters waitress worth?
This was the sad question at the heart of a lawsuit between the owl-themed restaurant chain and its chief competitor, Winghouse. According to Harper’s Magazine, Hooters charged Winghouse with mimicking its concept of “an all female wait staff featuring beautiful young girls in tight shorts and tank tops.” Thus, the wrangling is not over “atmosphere” but over the sale of a product—namely the displayed body parts of human women.
The court agreed. Harper’s reproduced the legal decision, which decreed that Hooters Girls “might well be considered a product” since their “primary function is to provide ‘vicarious sexual recreation’” for customers. The court reasons, after all, that most Hooters customers go to the establishment for reasons other than culinary.
Did you understand that? The women who believe they are "liberated" and therefore have won the "right" to work in this establishment have swallowed the hook, along with the line and the sinker. Let's break this down:
According to the food chain's website, the females hired are "the surfer girl next door" and "college students, working parents, models and other women who enjoy making money while having fun. . . . they're the All-American girl, and they're famous." The website tries to head off controversy (or maybe invites it) by including the following on their website:
Claims that Hooters exploits attractive women are as ridiculous as saying the NFL exploits men who are big and fast. Hooters Girls have the same right to use their natural female sex appeal to earn a living as do super models Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. To Hooters, the women's rights movement is important because it guarantees women have the right to choose their own careers, be it a Supreme Court Justice or Hooters Girl.Susan B. Anthony would be so proud. Yes, you've come a long way, baby!
However, despite the company's claims and according to the court's decision, these women are nothing more than a "product" being sold by Hooters with its 375 restaurants in 46 states and eleven countries.
That's right! These women - created in the image of God - are just above a plate of greasy chicken wings in the Hooter's economy.
Yes, we have missed the point. Instead of boycotting this restaurant and writing ill-conceived letters to the editor as the Marching Moral Majority demanding that a fallen world act more "Christianly," we should be, as Moore writes, "broken-hearted evangelists."
Of course we should be upset with the Hooters philosophy because it is degrading to women and sets them up as objects to be gawked at by lecherous men (almost 70% of Hooters' business is men between the ages of 25-50). But there is more to this issue than having our sensitive conscience pricked yet again as the world continues to act like the world!
What can Western Avenue do? Besides boycotting, I'll let Moore have the last word:
What would it mean if our churches stopped encouraging our own teenage and preteen daughters to dress like Hooters Girls? What would it mean if we insisted that our young girls insist on being treated with the dignity with which they were created? What if fathers and brothers and uncles took seriously the command to guard such dignity, even to the point of turning away from buying someone else’s daughter as a “product” on the cover of a sports magazine or a fashion catalog? What would it mean if our senior adult ladies took time to share the gospel and a cup of coffee with the young woman who thinks all she has to offer is a tight T-shirt and a miniskirt?
This would mean that we would be following the example of Jesus of Nazareth—who refused to allow a Samaritan woman to continue defining herself by her sexual availability to men (John 4:17). It would mean that we would signal what Jesus has already shown us, that the way of sexual “freedom” really enslaves. It would mean that we would follow Jesus in heralding a kingdom made up of redeemed tax collectors, prostitutes, and, yes, maybe a Hooters Girl or two.