Sunday, August 05, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 166d: Setting the Chick-fil-A smear in context -- understanding what is at stake in the attempt to brand Bible-believing Christians as hate-driven menaces to liberty

All too tellingly, on the eve of a homosexualist public kiss-in -- itself quite sadly revealing as a "reply" to a known moral point of concern, i.e, a willfully defiant and offensive sexualised protest event pushed in the face of families and children -- to try to counter the Appreciation day, the following graffiti turned up at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Torrance, CA:

(Notice, the squad car at the entrance. This was plainly an act of threat. The turnabout projection of hostile attitude is all too plain. So is the agenda of jamming out and demonising those who dare to question the radical agenda now being pushed. [BTW, it looks like the homosexual kiss-in at Chick-fil-A largely fizzled for want of numbers of the brazen.])

Now, before we go further, let us make a point very clear. The explicit teaching of the Scriptures is that we are all made in God's image. That means that to hate one's fellow human being whom we see is to blaspheme the invisible God who made man in his image. 

Indeed, 1 Jn 4 is therefore quite blunt in exposing the absurdity of claiming to love God while hating our fellow human being:
1 Jn 4: 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot1  love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. [ESV]
 That is the context for the principle of loving one caught in the meshes of sin and deception enough to confront the wrong and call to penitence for the sake of his or her soul. 

If the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25 - 37) does not suffice to show that the core biblical command to love one's neighbour as oneself -- the golden rule of Jesus, Paul and Moshe -- extends to enemies, then perhaps we should heed this, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' most famous Sermon:

 Matt 5: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 

39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,  let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 

 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,8  what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 

48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [ESV]
These are indeed challenging teachings, but they are at the core of the Judaeo-Christian, scriptural pattern of ethics.

If we struggle with living up to such -- as we must -- and with applying the whole counsel of scripture to the context of government and the necessity of the civil authority bearing the sword to protect the civil peace of justice (also taught in Rom 13, vv. 1 - 7, indeed this is the context in which the civil authority is viewed as God's servant to do us good who bears the sword for that purpose, and so has a just power of taxation) that is because the tension is necessary for our individual and collective good. We must have a long hard struggle in the state to resort to the sword, lest we become callous over the taking of life.

So, plainly, the scriptures simply do not teach us hate, but just the opposite.

If Christians (as do other people) struggle with anger -- "in your anger do not sin!" -- in the face of the brazenness, deceitfulness and destructiveness of evil (let us beware, so that we do not imagine ourselves to have light when we have only darkness . . . [on this matter cf. here for key texts, here for a recovery model, and here for background]), that too is a necessary struggle. We must be sure we are not acting out of mere pique or pride when we must act in prophetic, corrective judgement, or as agents of justice to arrest or punish evil. We must seek and strike a balance of truth, love, purity and spiritual power.

In the classic case-study of the woman caught up in adultery, Jesus challenged those who would use her case to push him into either rebelling against Rome or contradicting the scriptures, thus blasphemy. The intent was to pose a deadly dilemma: yes, stone and you are a rebel against Rome. No, do not, and you are a blasphemous rebel against the Law of Moses.  Either way, Jesus was being entrapped in a classic gotcha in public.

He seized the dilemma by the horns, and challenged her accusers, let him who is without sin cast the first stone at her. Convicted of their own sin, they slunk away. 

But that was not all. He turned to the guilty woman: where are your accusers? There are none, Lord

Nor, do I condemn you, go -- leave your life of sin.

Yes, we must not give in to the wrong of hate and playing dirty rhetorical games to trap, demonise or smear those we oppose.

But equally, we must never condone sin, and sinful lifestyles.

Instead, we must call to repentance and reformation of life.

Regardless of how politically correct or popular such sins are in any given day.

Yes, we love sinners, and yes, for the sake of their souls and our own, we dare not but call for repentance and associated reformation of societies. 

Nor should we fall into the trap warned against in Isa 5:

        Isa 5: 20 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who call evil good
        and good evil,
        who put darkness for light
        and light for darkness,
        who put bitter for sweet
        and sweet for bitter!
      21 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
        and shrewd in their own sight!  [ESV]

Then also, this very weekend, we learn how, on the UK front:
Evangelical Christians have been labelled extremist, and likened to “totalitarian Muslims” by a senior government advisor.

Alan Judd, an advisor to the Secretary of State for Education, was commenting on recent free school applications by Evangelical Christians . . . .
To ban believers from setting up free schools would be to exclude a large number of able, well-meaning and experienced people who can do much to raise levels generally”.

“The trouble is, as always, when it’s taken to extremes, whether it’s evangelical Christians, totalitarian Muslims or segregationist Jews.
“Such applications need careful vetting, not because there shouldn’t be far-out religious and ideological beliefs, but because the taxpayer shouldn’t pay to propagate them – and because children should be able to participate in a wider society without having their horizons narrowed by fundamentalism.”
In reply to this equating of Bible-believing Christians with IslamIST terrorists and their supporters, Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, remarked:
It is wrong and worrying that a senior government advisor brands evangelical Christians as extremist. 

There are approximately 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, the fastest growing part of the church worldwide. They take their faith seriously, but that does not make them extremist.
The Christan Institute goes on:
Commenting on the news, the ConservativeHome blog highlighted that evangelical Christians were also often misrepresented by the media and portrayed as horrendous bigots or murdering lunatics.
The article notes as well, on how this has been going on for a long time now:
In 2004 the Home Secretary at the time, David Blunkett, drew criticism when he equated evangelical Christians with Islamic terrorists.
Mr Blunkett was controversially proposing to create a new criminal offence of inciting religious hatred.
He argued society needed protection from “…those who would take our lives because they reject our faith, and it applies equally from far right evangelical Christians, to extremists in the Islamic faith.”
Of course, the giveaway word is "fundamentalism."

100 years ago, when modernist theology was beginning to chip away at historic foundational Christian views as are embedded in the Bible and the classic creeds based on it, the Christians who stood up to resist in North America, published The Fundamentals, and were eventually dubbed Fundamentalists. After a century of broad-brush use of this term as a smear (and much fun being had headlining the failings and foibles of especially poorly educated or all too flawed Bible-believing Christians, too often joined to the sort of smears that led me to fruitlessly protest to the BBC all the way up to the Trust), the word has become a sneer in most usages, not a legitimate term. That's why AP's rulebook on Journalistic standards counsels against its use. 

Not that the BBC listened or cared. 

Most recently it has been taken broad-brush  to denote IslamIST terrorists and their fellow travellers, and by some twisted notion of balanced and equal wrong, this kidnapped word is being used to smear Christians who take the scriptures seriously as being the moral equivalent of murderous terrorists.

That is shameful, or rather, shameless.

And it is the exact context in which if someone stands up to say, wait a minute, marriage is not just a convenient legal institution that we can reshape as we will, like the tax code or which side of the street we drive on, s/he can now so easily be labelled as a purveyor of hate and enemy of "equality."

Let's put that sort of misbehaviour in one word: slander

There is an issue, that needs to be soberly addressed, and so if slander is substituted like that, that is utterly telling.

Indeed, the Mayor of Los Angeles -- the city where the defacing just happened -- has just joined the list of politicians who have said some very troubling things on the current controversy; providing a sadly apt case in point:
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has also weighed in on the Chick-fil-A debate, noting that Los Angeles has a "vibrant" LGBT community.

"I'm proud to support them as we call on Chick-fil-A's leadership to reconsider their position and join the growing majority of Americans who support marriage equality," Villaraigosa said. "In Los Angeles and in America, love and liberty will always triumph."
Something is very wrong here.

First, we cannot equate marriage between man and woman that has been established time immemorial in light of the naturally evident creation order of reproduction and child nurture, with a recent radical innovation being pushed by the confusion of license [cf. sense 2 here] for liberty, and without serious examination of consequences. 

In elaboration, I find it helpful to again clip an earlier post:
what is at stake today is the destruction or survival of marriage, the foundational institution of stable families and communities alike. As Girgit, George and Anderson observe in the just linked Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy paper:
 [T]he current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential fea‐tures to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law 10 and replace it with the revisionist [--> i.e. homosexualised] conception . . .

F/N 10: Throughout history, no society’s laws have explicitly forbidden gay mar‐riage. They have not explicitly forbidden it because, until recently, it has not been thought possible . . . [T]raditional marriage laws  were not devised to oppress those with same‐sex attractions. The comparison [to racist anti-miscegenation laws that forbade inter-racial marriages]  is offensive, and puzzling to many—not least to the nearly two‐thirds of black vot‐ers who voted to uphold conjugal marriage under California Proposition Eight. See Cara Mia DiMassa & Jessica Garrison, Why Gays, Blacks are Divided on Prop. 8, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 8, 2008, at A1.
 [Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson, "What is Marriage?" Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, p. 250 of 245 - 287.]
Already, the force of the homosexualist civilisational divide is at work, driving people on opposite sides of the issue farther and farther apart, and creating the perception that those who stand up in defence of marriage as it has historically been established are little better than hateful, racist bigots.
We need to pause, stop the radicals in their tracks -- already a bad sign, and ask them to answer to our concerns with a modicum of respect and good broughtupcy; starting from the grounding of OUGHT, and of rights. If they refuse to do so, on the whole, that is a strong sign that we are dealing with a destructive agenda that is bent on power-games to push a divide and dominate agenda, not genuine reformation. For sure, the time has long since passed where we should be intimidated by shouts of "you are a theocratic, hateful, Bible-thumping bigot," especially when these come from the mouths of angry, patently hostile radicals.

Of course the claim that a majority of Americans supports homosexualisation of marriage, is dubious given that there has been a manipulative propaganda campaign pivoting on willful corruption of language and the equally willful and -- for those who do know or should know better -- deceitful confusion of key concept such as liberty, equality and rights; so that, many who support such probably do not understand the consequences of what they are supporting. Also, we should pause, given that of it seems 32 times that this has come up for a state-level vote of the public, it has been defeated without exception.

As to the  claim that love and liberty will triumph, that brings up a point highlighted in an earlier KF discussion, in response to Mrs Barbara Bush on the same matter, revealing that there is more than love and liberty at stake here (citing from here):

Alan Keyes, in responding to former US First Lady Barbara Bush, remarks:
. . . isn’t love the foundation of marriage? Why should some loving couples enjoy legal recognition and privileges that are denied to others?
But the plausible conviction that loving homosexual couples “ought to have…the same sort of rights that everyone has” immediately runs afoul of the simple fact that homosexuals are not the only loving couples without the legal right to marry. Parents and their children don’t have it. Siblings don’t have it. Children not yet of legal age don’t have it; and so on. In principle, all such people are capable of forming loving, committed relationships. By the logic Mrs. Bush relies on, “they ought to have… the same sort of rights that everyone has.”
In short, once we see obvious exceptions to a suggested "rule" like that, something is fundamentally wrong with the rule. What is it? Keyes continues:
Why are parents and their children forbidden to marry one another? Cut to the chase and the answer is simple. The right to marry includes legal recognition (legitimization) of the married couple’s right to have sexual relations with one another. But it is wrong for parents to have sexual relations with their children. It’s wrong for siblings to have sexual relations with each other. It’s wrong for adults to have sexual relations with underage children. Obviously, unless Mrs. Bush means to argue that these restrictions are unjustified, a committed loving relationship is not enough to establish that people “ought to have” the right to marry.
He then digs in further, addressing the pivotal term, "ought":
Mrs. Bush’s use of the word “ought” deserves further attention. The difference between what people do and what people ought to do is a matter of moral judgment. The word “ought” implies the application of a moral standard, a rule or principle that distinguishes right from wrong. People ought to do what is right. They ought not to do what is wrong. When people do what is right, they have the right to act (i.e., have right on their side as they act.) But can the same be said of those who do what is wrong?
He then points to a key breakdown triggered by the modern confusion of liberty and license -- the abuse of freedom:
In everyday parlance these days, we use the term “right” as though it is synonymous with the freedom to act as we choose. But if the choice is wrong, it makes no sense to assert that the chooser has the right  to act on it  (i.e., has right on his side as he does so.) What someone can do (has the physical capacity or opportunity to do) differs from what they ought to do. This is in fact the rationale for all criminal laws. It’s what allows us to recognize that simply having the opportunity and power to take someone’s life or goods does not grant the right to do so, does not make it right.
In short, until the moral legitimacy of homosexual conduct is solidly grounded (and until the harmlessness of such a legislative -- or, these days, often, a judicial -- act is sufficiently shown), we have a perfect right to question the notion that our civilisation's states should take the step of legitimising homosexual relationships as marriages under the law. Which of course is a very big question indeed, and one on which all serious voices have a right to be heard. Including, those who look to the truly great religious teachers of mankind, as proved moral instructors.
In short, some very serious issues lurk under the surface.

Far too serious to allow smear-rhetoric to shut down discussion. Whether in declarations of Mayors or National Education advisers, or in graffiti that carries a telling, twist-about smear.  END