Monday, December 23, 2013

You Can Only Push So Far


I'm sure A&E was caught by surprise by the huge backlash involving Phil Robertson and his comments on homosexuality.  They assumed people would agree with them in condemning his comments as "homophobic." Instead, they found that not only were a large portion of the viewing public not offended by his statements, they were in fact offended by the A&E suspension.

Those who were caught by surprise shouldn't be. While the case was an unexpected rallying point, the treatment of Christian moral teaching by political, cultural and media elites has been so hostile that it was only a matter of time before American Christians got so fed up that they would revolt.

What This Article Is Not

I don't intend this article to be a defense of Mr. Robertson. Nor do I intend it to be an apologia for the Christian position on homosexuality.  I don't intend to defend all forms of Christianity. Because I recognize Catholicism as the Church established by Christ, the positions I choose to defend come from Catholicism. When other denominations diverge from Catholicism, I feel no need to justify that position.

What this is article is about is the distorted way Christian moral teaching is portrayed.

The Hypocrisy Problem

One problem is that in America, the political, cultural and media elites have contempt for the Christian moral teaching that they run afoul of. They're perfectly happy to point out when conservative thought runs afoul Christianity... or when they think it runs afoul of Christianity. However, when the teaching of Christianity turns to things the elites practice or support, suddenly they are hostile and Christianity is "forcing" itself on others.

This is a case of hypocrisy of course. One can be consistent either by accepting the teaching of Christianity in all areas of life or one can say it has no say in any area. But if a person only permits Christianity in areas one agrees with and denied it the right to speak on position one disagrees with, it makes that person hypocritical. This is because the person only recognizes authority when it benefits them and ignores it when it does not.

The case of Pope Francis demonstrates this.  He has spoken about upholding Catholic moral and social teaching. But the elites only cite passages when it seems to agree with them... regardless of how out of context they have to take his statements.

The Honestly Problem

Another problem is the portrayal of Christian teaching.  Basically the Christian is represented as being ignorant, dishonest or holding malice because they hold to their moral beliefs which say some acts are never good. If a Christian thinks homosexual acts are sinful, it must mean the Christian hates homosexuals.

The problem is, the charge is false. The concern for another on the grounds that he or she is living in a way that leads to damnation is not an act of hatred or contempt. If we hated the sinner (and remember Christians know they themselves are sinners as well), we'd just ignore them satisfied with the thought they'd go to hell.

The Reaction

Christians get annoyed like other people of course. In this case we are annoyed because the Christians are being slandered. Our teachings are selectively cited, misrepresented and we are falsely accused of malice for our motives.

So when this attack on Robertson happened, when Christian teaching is portrayed as something it is not, Christians justly get angry.  It's not that Phil Robertson is a person of great significance.  It's that he said what was true and he was reviled for saying it.

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