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The Christian Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

In a Newsweek essay, Andrew Sullivan argues that modern Christianity is in crisis because of clerics and politicians who “obsess about others’ sex lives, about who is entitled to civil marriage, and about who pays for birth control in health insurance.” He adds, “The issues that Christianity obsesses over today simply do not appear in either Jefferson’s or the original New Testament. Jesus never spoke of homosexuality or abortion, and his only remarks on marriage were a condemnation of divorce (now commonplace among American Christians) and forgiveness for adultery.”

Rod Dreher isn’t buying it:

Of course, there is no more modish claim than that Jesus didn’t care what we did with our sex lives. Jesus’s teachings weren’t as explicit as St. Paul’s, but then again, if you cut Paul off, you don’t have Christianity. Nevertheless, Jesus did say, in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel:

27 ”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e]28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

31 ”It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f]32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Any Christian who claims that Jesus was indifferent to sexual purity had better cut this passage out of their New Testament and consign it to the trash bin. Jesus condemns lust. What is lust? How would Andrew Sullivan define lust? Jesus believes that “sexual immorality” is so serious that it’s the only legitimate reason for divorce. What could Jesus have meant by “sexual immorality”? Clearly, unambiguously, Jesus believes in a right way of sexual conduct, and a wrong way — and condemns the wrong way in serious terms. It is completely untenable to say that Jesus was indifferent to sexual conduct. If we want to know more explicitly what kind of sexual conduct Jesus found to be trayf,we should consult his tradition’s teachings, found in the Hebrew Bible. Or you could trust the rabbi Paul, who was a contemporary of Jesus’s.

If you really don’t want to know, because to know is to be responsible, and to be responsible is to have to change your life and die to yourself in ways you prefer not to, well, then you are fooling yourself. It’s as if the Rich Young Rulerwent away from Jesus sorrowful, and then wrote an essay later saying that if we really knew Jesus, we would know that he really didn’t mean that one would have to sell all one’s possessions if one wants to have eternal life.

Sullivan retorts:

This is a remarkably radical passage – requiring us, if we take it literally, to dismember our bodies because they constantly present a temptation to forget God. My interpretation is that Jesus is warning against believing that because you obey certain religious rules, you are somehow holy. Inside you are probably not. Lust, greed, racism, fear, and tribalism – to take a few aspects of fallen human nature – are innate; and his call is for a total, deep renunication of all of them, not just obeying formal rules like a “certificate of divorce.” This is of a piece with Jesus’ insistence on interior, personal transformation – not just obedience to religious law.

But in so far as this passage is about sex, it is a total impossibility. Not to feel involuntary sexual attraction is not to be human. The standard is impossible. I mean: try it. Try to have no sexual desires, feelings or moments of attraction. Not try to resist acting on them; but resist even thinking them. That’s Jesus’ standard. We all fail that standard. We are all therefore adulterers to different degrees. Any man who has ever had a chubby for someone not his wife is an adulterer. Every celibate priest is an adulterer. The Pope is an adulterer. Every Christian who has ever lived is an adulterer.

In terms of the internecine Christian debate, Sullivan gets the better of it. Yes, sodomy is a sin specifically condemned by the lead character of the Bible. But sin is so ubiquitous and unavoidable that we’re literally all sinners and, in the reboot of the series that gives Christianity its name, can only obtain salvation through belief in the third part of a Holy Trinity. Depending on what sub-sect one adheres to, some combination of water, wine, and cookies may also be required. Possibly also good works. Or being born into a pre-chosen Elect. Or being dead but saved through the good graces of a live Mormon. Or . . . well, you catch the drift.

But Dreher’s not wrong, either. Even if homosexual lust–or even its consummation–is no more sinful than its unmarried, unprocreative heterosexual variant, there is the small matter of another counsel that Sullivan quotes: “Go sin no more.” Clearly, Sullivan hasn’t the slightest intention of complying with that command.

Nor, of course, would I counsel him to do so. Then again, I base my morality on Protagorus’ dictum “Man is the measure of all things” rather than the Holy Bible or the teachings of a church that teaches that its rotating figurehead is infallible on matters of doctrine.

Sullivan is putting his considerable intellect and training in the art of logic to great strain attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. He’s a member of an institution that has spent a great deal of the last two millennia condemning the likes of him and his husband for being who they can’t help but be.  While the logical choice, telling the institution to bugger off, is easier said than done, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than pretending that it’s hatred of you is some newfangled development.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Vast Variety says:

    The problem with religion is the it’s organization into a church. Faith is supposed to be a personal covenant between yourself and God (or Gods as the case may be.) Throw in some robed men, a book edited and translated more times than a high school cafeteria rumor, money, and the power to control that it brings, and you end up with something that is the exact opposite of faith, but rather a corrupt institution that is more interested in dictating and controlling people to protect it’s fragile perch, while it protects from prosecution priests who abuse, and in the case of the Dutch Church, mutilate, children.

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  2. Burn Baby Burn says:

    Modern Christianity is doomed, because it has become a feelings-based ideology rather than an ideas-and-action based ideology. The baby boomer generation watered down the Church to suit their bacchanalian “me generation” ways. The Church is catering towards people looking for a love-fest where Jesus is a hunky New Age husband, and pushing away people looking to be inspired to greatness.

    The divorce rate among Evangelicals is nearly as high as the rest of society. Men looking to score with easy women will tell you one of the BEST pickup spots is Sunday morning. But they SURE can beat the pulpit about their wedge issues, can’t they? Hypocrisy.

    As a result, young people are leaving in droves. Not because it is too strict, but because it’s not strict enough. If Church fails to push its adherents to uphold certain standards, it has no meaning. If I want a sappy happy feel-good message, I can get that from a million different sources in our culture. If I want truth, discipline, and accountability, I sure won’t find it in the Church.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

  3. Tano says:

    @Burn Baby Burn:

    The baby boomer generation watered down the Church to suit their bacchanalian “me generation” ways.

    You seem to be pretty confused. The “baby boomers” were those born in the 18 years following WWII, and who came of age in the sixties with all of the altruistic, communal and liberal values that are associated with that time.

    The “me generation” were those born in the seventies, and who came of age in that flowering of selfishness known as the Age of Reagan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

  4. Mark says:

    It seems to me that both Dreher and Sullivan are guilty of the same thing: trying to apply the difficult words of the Sermon on the Mount to the other person without acknowledging where they, themselves, stand within it.

    The whole point of the sermon is that human standards of morality aren’t particularly close to God’s standards. It’s not only where Jesus talks about inward adultery and self-mutilation, but also where Jesus says we’re in danger of hell if we call each other fools, where Jesus tells us we shouldn’t pray in public, shouldn’t store up wealth, shouldn’t pass judgement on each other’s souls, and shouldn’t think the fact that we can do great things in his name means we’re saved. Anybody who measures himself or herself against Jesus’ standard will inevitably find multiple ways in which he or she comes up short and, as a seminary professor of mine put it, “The closer you get to the light, the more dirt you see.”

    Thing is, you’re supposed to see that dirt in yourself, not other people. Each of us who call ourselves Christian will find more than enough to work on within ourselves. It’s not that our neighbor is above moral criticism but wow, we’d better be careful about it. A lot careful more than either Dreher or Sullivan are being, in my opinion.

    But hey, what do I know? I’ve only been a parish pastor for a decade and a half, after all.

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  5. Delmar says:

    @Burn Baby Burn: This is exactly the problem with the Christian church today, especially the mainline denominations that have given in to the politically correct, offend no one, please everyone, cheap grace theology that started in the seminaries and has spread to churches. Just look at the Vanderbilt University debacle. Churches have become social clubs. There are some churches and Christian groups that are growing. They preach and teach the Gospel without apology or compromise.

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  6. Burn Baby Burn says:

    Tano:

    I am specifically referring to the Baby Boomer Generation that Thomas Friedman called a “plague of locusts.” After the Acid Test, they discovered cocaine and disco and transformed into the “me generation.” They selectively doubled-down on the 60’s “Live For Today” message while conveniently forgetting the empathy and the anti-materialism. The generation you’re referring to got aborted in vast numbers by the “plague of locusts” generation. The ones who survived would be called Generation X.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  7. Heather Noggle says:

    The Bible is not palatable to people who pride themselves in breaking its laws. You can’t repent of your sins unless you recognize them as such, and it’s very “unpopular” to point out that anything is “wrong” in postmodern society. And the media LOVES the extremism of churches like Westboro Baptist who preach only hate. That becomes the Everychurch to the non-believer. It’s disgusting.

    Extending that, it’s really hard to take a stand about anything in 2012 and calling it wrong without being labelled a bigot or close-minded or stupid. It doesn’t matter if you can defend your view with examples and sound argument. The precept of objective morality is dying, and we suffer as a people. The real debate is much larger than merely about how to keep the church relevant; instead, the debate is simply whether we believe in right and wrong anymore or if we’re doomed to a soupy gray.

    Addressing sexual sins only (for I will call them as such): lust can lead to adultery. Adultrey can lead to broken homes. Broken homes can lead to messes for people who did not cause the broken homes (and those who did). Lust can also lead to sex outside of marriage. Sex outside of marriage can lead to unplanned pregnancies. Unplanned pregnancies can lead to abortions. I read something today that said if we found a SINGLE cell on another planet, we would proudly proclaim it to be life. Here – dividing cells with a full human genome – that’s just tissue. Homosexual sex may seem to be the least of these societally (except all of the side issues – broken homes when other relationships are involved, disease, dare I say “unnaturalness” – not as God intended). My point here is that these statements are not arbitrary God playing “Simon says.”

    Secular society soon will find no place for the church but in jokes.

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  8. The issue seems particularly weird on Sullivan’s side given that most of his issues could be resolved by just switching to some denomination that recognizes the individual relationship between God and oneself as the ultimate authority interpretting the scriptures. However he stubbornly insists on clinging to a faith whose primary basis is that interpretation is up to a centralized hierarchy, but then wants to complain that this central hierarchy is getting it wrong.

    I suspect that like many lifelong Catholics, he looks down on Protestantism and thus isn’t prepared to consider the posibility that he’s really one of them.

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  9. Doubter4444 says:

    @Burn Baby Burn:
    To actually think that the downturn in Church attendance and, (essentially) morality, started with and is caused by the Baby boomers is beyond ridiculous – it’s a joke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. During my M.Div. studies at the very liberal Vanderbilt Divinity Schools, which many years ago formally endorsed homosexual rights and gay marriage, Sullivan’s argument was specifically refuted by my professors even long before he made it.

    My Jewish professor of New Testament, A-J Levine, is a world-renowned NT scholar who is committed “to eliminating anti-Jewish, sexist, and homophobic theologies.”

    In one of my classes, a student made exactly the same point that Sullivan makes, that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. A-J explained that arguments from silence have no force in biblical exgesis. As she said then, there are all manner of issues that concern us today that Jesus did not address. In the particular case of homosexuality, she said that the most logical and internally-consistent reason Jesus didn’t bring it up was that it was not an issue on which Jesus and the Jews of the day disagreed. There is no question that under the Law, homosexuality was definitely proscribed and Jesus saw no reason to address it for that reason. He was a faithful Jew.

    In more recent times, A-J has argued forcefully against doing exactly what Sullivan does – making Jesus the poster-god for whatever cause one wants to legitimize. See here.

    This is not the first time Sullivan has tried to argue from silence, seeming to think that since Jesus didn’t argue specifically and exactly against what Sullivan likes, then Jesus must agree with him. That this is a basic logical fallacy seems hardly necessary to point out.

    Other rebuttals of Sullivan:

    Andrew Sullivan, Wannabe Buddhist

    Christianity and Power

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Exactly. He could very easily find a spiritual home inside one of the Episcopal churches within his local environs that would not only feel familiar but much more welcoming of him and his husband. However, I have a feeling that for a multitude of cultural reasons related to his upbringing, he would never be able to bring himself to join the Anglican Communion.

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  12. garretc says:

    @Heather Noggle:

    The precept of objective morality is dying, and we suffer as a people.

    I hate to pierce your pristine bubble of nostalgia, but I’m pretty sure the human race has been suffering since before objective morality even became a concept, continued to suffer during this time in which objective morality was, apparently, alive, and will continue suffering whether or not Christianity survives or falls in the future.

    When was this time in human history in which Judeo-Christian morality was curing all the ills of humanity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    The old testament was written by a tribal society that was almost constantly at war. Anything that didn’t encourage replenishment of the tribe was discouraged. Leviticus actually spends a great deal more time talking about the evils of clothing made of more than one fabric, and the evils of eating pork or shellfish than it does about homosexuality. Most of Leviticus is ignored today but it’s cheery picked to feed phobias.

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  14. Heather Noggle says:

    @garretc:

    I’m not really a bubble kinda gal, but I don’t disagree with you – there’s certainly suffering. I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, by the way.

    My point is merely that we can (but choose not to) reduce our own suffering in how we live and the Bible has reason in prescribing the lifestyle it does.

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  15. Herb says:

    But sin is so ubiquitous and unavoidable that we’re literally all sinners

    When I read the Romans passage everyone quotes in full, this does appear to be the underlying message of the passage. But then again, as a non-believer, I read the Bible as literature and it’s easy to make a literary argument.

    But once we start talking about sin as a thing and redemption through faith (or whatever), then I have to take a step back. It’s almost like stumbling into a conversation of fantasy nerds and having to say, “Um, you know there’s no such thing as Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, right?”

    Not sure why Sullivan isn’t yet willing to take that step, though that seems to be the direction he’s heading.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  16. sam says:

    @Dreher

    Of course, there is no more modish claim than that Jesus didn’t care what we did with our sex lives. Jesus’s teachings weren’t as explicit as St. Paul’s, but then again, if you cut Paul off, you don’t have Christianity.

    Hmmm. Well, yes. But if you have Pauline Christianity, do you have Christ? Big argument, there, you know. Is it Deus dixit or Paulus dixit?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @Heather Noggle: Not that everything was so great in those picture-perfect smile-at-the-neighbors-everybody 1950s family lifestyle that you have such great nostalgia for.

    Remember: it’s the kids that were brought up in those smiling havens that became the rebels of the 1960s.

    It’s a pretty weak Philosophy on How to Live if it can’t even stand up through one generation.

    And I’ve seen enough of that “objective morality” that you think was so great. Remember the Inquisition? The burning of the Cathars? The sack of Jerusalem? The wars of religions in Europe? What happened to the Jews regularly? All carried out by people who were certain that they knew the Mind of God and What He Wanted.

    Me, I’d rather live in the midst of people who have a little more humility about Revealed Truth.

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  18. Heather Noggle says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I re-read what I said. I don’t make any claims about nostalgia for the 50s or anything of the sort. The problem’s not with the Bible; it’s with the people. The Jews continulously rebel against God as is chronicled in the Old Testament, and they suffer for their mistakes just as we do (natural consequences of actions – just like I stated in my small example – a rather long list of natural potential consequences for irresponsible actions). We have lost any notion of noble behavior or as man as a higher speices than animal when we fail to recognize that there are consequences for our actions and that the sexual sins are very good illustrations of exactly that. Instead, in today’s political realm, there’s a rallying cry of late to “stay out of my bedroom” (but pay to support the results of my activities in it).

    So for that, I’ll leave you with the death of personal responsibility. I’ve given you a few paragraphs on how I think postmodern thinking contribues to that.

    I have dinner to cook. Peace to you all.

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  19. sam says:

    @Heather Noggle:

    “The Jews continulously rebel against God as is chronicled in the Old Testament, and they suffer for their mistakes just as we do (natural consequences of actions – just like I stated in my small example – a rather long list of natural potential consequences for irresponsible actions). ”

    Anybody else feeling a bit queasy with that? I hope it’s just clumsy, but I fear not.

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  20. An Interested Party says:

    @Stormy Dragon: He’s also mentioned how much he loves all the pomp and circumstance and tradition and history of the Catholic Church…none of that really seems worth it to be told that you are “disordered” simply for being who you are…

    To actually think that the downturn in Church attendance and, (essentially) morality…

    Of course, one doesn’t have to be religious to be moral…

    Most of Leviticus is ignored today but it’s cheery picked to feed phobias.

    That could be said about the entire Bible…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  21. wr says:

    @Burn Baby Burn: “As a result, young people are leaving in droves. Not because it is too strict, but because it’s not strict enough. If Church fails to push its adherents to uphold certain standards, it has no meaning. If I want a sappy happy feel-good message, I can get that from a million different sources in our culture. If I want truth, discipline, and accountability, I sure won’t find it in the Church. ”

    Perhaps you should convert to fundamentalist Islam. They seem to hold the spiritual rigor for which you long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  22. wr says:

    @Delmar: Yes, until the Catholic church starts torturing and killing infidels again, it’s really not worth belonging to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  23. Robert in SF says:

    I read Andrew’s blog and have read this post and comments.

    I interpret Andrew’s point to be that the christianists focus far too much on pet issues than on the majority of the teachings of Jesus and the majority of God’s commandments in the Bible (money, charity, taking care of the poor/sick, etc.). And I agree.

    @Heather Noggle: stated:

    Extending that, it’s really hard to take a stand about anything in 2012 and calling it wrong without being labelled a bigot or close-minded or stupid.

    Lady, if the mainstream, media-saturating, christianists were taking a stand on lying, failing to care for the poor or sick, loving your enemies, walking 2 miles when asked for 1, giving cloaks as well when coats were asked for, etc., then I don’t think anyone is gonna call your bigoted, or close-minded, or stupid.

    But when christianists focus on one small part of the population (who for the most part only want to have close, personal, intimate relationships with others who share those feelings, and have those relationships share the same legal protections and priveleges as the majority) to the neglect, minimization…nay, absolute blind-eyed view of other “sinful” acts that the vast majority, if not entire humanity, perform…then that is bigoted, close-minded, and stupid.

    It’s putting your personal “ewwwww” feelings ahead of God’s commandments and focus. If you want to cover all the bases of focusing on each and every of aspect of what you believe God says is sinful, then of course you can focus on being gay being a problem…but don’t think that gets you off the hook of addressing all the other sinful (and more directly called out) aspects of a sinful nature.

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  24. wr says:

    @Heather Noggle: “Homosexual sex may seem to be the least of these societally (except all of the side issues – broken homes when other relationships are involved, disease, dare I say “unnaturalness” – not as God intended).”

    Really? God spoke to you and told you what he intended? Have you mentioned this to anyohne? Because it seems kind of like a big deal to me.

    Unless you’re just another bigot who believes that whatever she dislikes, God dislikes because you and the big guy are so connected. Then, nevermind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  25. wr says:

    @Heather Noggle: “So for that, I’ll leave you with the death of personal responsibility. I’ve given you a few paragraphs on how I think postmodern thinking contribues to that.”

    Let me guess — it was post-modernism that made an extremely conservative Pope lead a global conspiracy to cover up the mass molestation of children by Catholic priests.

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  26. Bleev K says:

    Thou shall keep your religion to thyself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  27. Gromitt Gunn says:

    “Idistrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
    Susan B. Anthony

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  28. Heather Noggle says:

    James, your fan base LOVES me. I’m not sure what I did to inspire such invective. I’ll be done now.

    (And that’ll get 10 likes).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  29. matt says:

    @Heather Noggle: You haven’t even remotely been exposed to abusive or insulting language. Questioning your beliefs does not equal insulting your. Nor is pointing out hypocrisies or holes in your belief a personal attack.

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  30. An Interested Party says:

    I’m not sure what I did to inspire such invective.

    Sanctimonious, self-righteous blather telling other people how to live their lives as well as passing judgment on such people hardly inspires praise…I seem to recall something that Jesus was supposed to have said about large and small wood products…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  31. Delmar says:

    @Robert in SF: You might be interested in the “Simple Church” movement.
    simplechurch.com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Robert in SF says:

    @Delmar: Thanks for the link Delmar. I am going to research this some and see what’s up.

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  33. Jib says:

    @sam: What makes you queasy? There is a lot of the old testament that is some prophet running around telling every one they are not right with God and if they dont change soon, hell is coming. Then, inevitably (because this is the middle east) some big a$$ empire sweeps in and kicks the s$%t out of the Israelis and said prophet gets to say “see, I told you so”.

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  34. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Bleev K: How about this instead:

    “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Those of us who claim the mantle of Christian are not doing a good job right now. I think it is because we have forgotten

    “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world. If any [person] loves the world, the love of the Father is not in [that person] (redactions for gender inclusion purposes).”

    In any event, Bobby Dylan said it well:

    “…you’re still gonna have to serve somebody…” Who you serve is your own choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  35. dennis says:

    @sam:

    The problem with all that, sam, is that those like Heather Noggle want to have it both ways, a common characteristic of idealogues. On the one hand, we suffer God’s punishment as a natural consequence of our sins. On the other hand, those same idealogues claim that God allows suffering as a vehicle to bring us closer to him. Either way, it makes God a quite petty being, if you ask me, which, of course, no one did.

    As I posited in a post a couple weeks ago, what will we do when Jesus doesn’t return, Armageddon doesn’t occur, or we don’t blow up our world? Until we have evidence of such things, I suggest we continue to evolve and make our lot on this planet and in this universe better. And we can start with equal protection under the laws as is described in our Constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  36. Boyd says:

    The big mouth gets all the attention, but as usual, it’s usually not representative of the entire class.

    The Bible tells me that homosexuality is a sin, so my son and step-daughter are sinners. But the Bible also tells me that my selfishness, pride and laziness are also sins. So guess what? I’m a sinner, too.

    So why do some folks believe that my children’s sins are worse than mine? Dunno, and it’s not my place to figure it all out for them. I have a hard enough time figuring it all out for myself.

    Bottom line for me: why do so many folks focus on the sin of homosexuality and by contrast seem to ignore every other class of sin? I can’t answer that, because I’m just not smart enough. Plus, the same text that tells me that homosexuality is a sin also tells me that it’s not my place to judge others.

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  37. The problem of Sullivan´s argument is that there is not an “uniform” Catholic Church. There are several branches of the Church that are relatively tolerant to homosexuals, in fact, most people in the Church simply do not care about that. Abortion is another story.

    And Catholics do not follow literally the Bible. That´s what Evangelicals do, not Catholics.

    Besides that, if you want to be a Catholic and if you want the Church do what you want to do then it´s better to choose another religion.

    P.S: Tina Brown transformed Newsweek in a poor digest of amenities and opinion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. An Interested Party says:

    There are several branches of the Church that are relatively tolerant to homosexuals, in fact, most people in the Church simply do not care about that.

    And which branches are those? As for most people not caring about it, obviously that doesn’t apply to people in the Vatican, unless the thinking is that homosexuals aren’t so bad as long as they are celibate….

    Besides that, if you want to be a Catholic and if you want the Church do what you want to do then it´s better to choose another religion.

    Ahh, but what if you are a Catholic and you don’t do what the Church wants you to do…

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  39. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    So for that, I’ll leave you with the death of personal responsibility. I’ve given you a few paragraphs on how I think postmodern thinking contribues to that.

    As an aside I really love the way in which apparently the death of individual responsibility is society’s fault, not the individuals. Because, you know, it teaches that problems may be caused by trends that go beyond the individual. Those bastards.

    It’s really hard to escape modern (or is that already post-modern) thinking, even if you hate it …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  40. G.A says:

    Then again, I base my morality on Protagorus’ dictum “Man is the measure of all things” rather than the Holy Bible or the teachings of a church that teaches that its rotating figurehead is infallible on matters of doctrine.

    sigh….

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  41. G.A says:

    Oh and when God speaks to men in the old testament, thats Jesus.We are all sinners and if you are to look for a sin that is greater then others you should look to blasphemy by way of false teaching. My opinion from what I have learned.

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  42. DRS says:

    I stopped reading Dreher a few months ago. He’s always had a bee in his bonnet about gays and especially gay marriage but since he moved to The American Conservative I really think he’s turned into a real crank – one that happens to have access to a blog. So I wish Sullivan were debating someone more capable of interpretation and nuance.

    The Catholic faith consists of more than the Vatican and its hierarchy of priests. A bunch of Catholics in different countries worked that out in the 16th century and kicked off the Reformation. The Vatican/official Church has been fighting a rearguard action ever since. Sometimes they did it with good propaganda – some really great Baroque paintings and music – and sometimes they just got stupid – “infallibillity of the pope”, a 19th century doctrine that would not have impressed Julius II or Gregory the Great, both of whom didn’t have that high an opinion of their fellow pontiffs. And sometimes they just fall back on “Do as we tell you!”

    When I look at the constant nit-picking and pointing out of other’s sins, I think the Pharisees have won. And they were the guys Jesus held up as classic unclear-on-the-concept types.

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  43. sam says:

    @Jib:

    What makes you queasy?

    What makes me queasy is that she was replying to this from Gumpy Realist:

    And I’ve seen enough of that “objective morality” that you think was so great. Remember the Inquisition? The burning of the Cathars? The sack of Jerusalem? The wars of religions in Europe? What happened to the Jews regularly? All carried out by people who were certain that they knew the Mind of God and What He Wanted.

    To which she said this:

    “The Jews continulously rebel against God as is chronicled in the Old Testament, and they suffer for their mistakes just as we do (natural consequences of actions – just like I stated in my small example – a rather long list of natural potential consequences for irresponsible actions). ”

    It is possible, as I allowed, that she was just clumsy in her expression. But if you don’t see in that the justification of the persecution of the Jews throughout western history, then you ignorant of that history.

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  44. sam says:

    @Boyd:

    why do so many folks focus on the sin of homosexuality and by contrast seem to ignore every other class of sin?

    Because, sooner or later, no matter what the issue, it all comes down to sex for those folks. And that should be instructive.

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  45. DRS says:

    And it’s always other people’s sex, too. The whole “it offends my religious sensibilities if YOU use contraceptives” is a classic example of over-reach.

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  46. Rob in CT says:

    I have no dog in this hunt, as I’m not Catholic. As a non-believer, I look at all this and see the same old sh*t that’s been going on for thousands of years. It’s about Control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  47. Franklin says:

    Yes, sodomy is a sin specifically condemned by the lead character of the Bible.

    I think this is actually debatable. Even the story of Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t specifically about homosexuality. In fact in some interpretations, it’s more about their lack of compassion and hospitality. They don’t like strangers, and Lot gives shelter to strangers.

    But this is just what I’ve read, since this issue always comes up. Like Rob in CT, I don’t really have a dog in this hunt.

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  48. Ron Beasley says:

    @Rob in CT: Precisely ; mythology that would be silly if it weren’t so damaging and harmful.

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  49. al-Ameda says:

    The alternative is to believe what you choose to believe, and not listen what to the ministers, pastors, priests, cardinals and bishops have to say on the matter.

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  50. rodney dill says:

    @al-Ameda: Or even Imams

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  51. Bleev K says:

    “Yes, sodomy is a sin specifically condemned by the lead character of the Bible. ”

    That’s because he didn’t like it the first time.

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  52. @DRS:

    The Catholic faith consists of more than the Vatican and its hierarchy of priests.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t. This is pretty much what distinguishes the Catholic Church from all the various Protestant denominations: in the Catholic Church, what the pope says goes.

    I generally believe that words should mean things. If all “Catholic” means is “any person who thinks they are Catholic”, then it’s a meaningless term; there must be more to it than that, criteria by which we can say “yes, this person is Catholic” or “no, that person is not Catholic”. And one of the criteria is obedience to the theological authority of the pontifical hierarchy. Once you reject that principle, you’re no longer really a Catholic, whatever it is you claim to be.

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  53. Curtis says:

    As I see it, Andrew Sullivan wrote a lengthy, passionate defense of his vision of the church of which sexuality was a small matter. I don’t think he was either denying the church’s position or his own sinfulness with respect to the standard Jesus taught. His point, as I understood it, was that compared to the Kingdom, compared to the radical surrender of self represented by the life and death of Jesus, sex was a small part of Jesus’s teaching, and that it has been blown entirely out of proportion, especially in the last fifty years.

    Dreher responded by then making Sullivan’s point for him, blowing sex entirely out of proportion and ignoring the beam in his own eye.

    To me, this one wasn’t even especially close. Sullivan never argues that the church should marry gays; his only argument is that the church shouldn’t be particularly concerned with civil marriage. This is but one example of seeking authority in this world which is the opposite of what Jesus did before being tempted by the devil, and again before Pilate. Sullivan has never, to the best of my knowledge, argued for churches to be forced to marry same sex couples – quie the opposite, in fact.

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  54. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Burn Baby Burn:

    Yup, definitely young people, like myself, are leaving because of the lack of strictness.

    That’s the exact reason why I stopped attending a true Christian denomination and started practicing as a Universalist. Because of the strictness. That young people crave.

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  55. James Joyner says:

    @Curtis: I agree with Sully that modern religious leaders over-emphasize sexuality. I merely note that basing ones morality on millennia-old teachings with which one fundamentally disagrees is odd.

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  56. DRS says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t. This is pretty much what distinguishes the Catholic Church from all the various Protestant denominations: in the Catholic Church, what the pope says goes.

    As I posted in a previous thread, this is how Protestants view the Pope and his relationship with the faithful. Before Martin Luther got the Reformation underway and took all the fun out of religion in Europe, the Catholic faith had a pretty active intramural debate going on about a number of issues, including reform of the Vatican. Catholics have always challenged, disagreed with and refuted the pope almost since the start of the Christian era. And the policy of papal infallibility was by no means popular when it was first formulated, even with high-ranking Churchmen who you would think would have been first in line to approve.

    The Catholic Church is much more diverse than the popes would like; otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much time promulgating and issuing orders to everyone.

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  57. An Interested Party says:

    Or even Imams

    Oh absolutely…Catholicism certainly hasn’t cornered the market on trying to control people and what they do…that is a problem with organized religions in general…

    This is but one example of seeking authority in this world which is the opposite of what Jesus did before being tempted by the devil, and again before Pilate.

    It seems like a lot of people who claim to be speaking in the name of Jesus have a problem squaring what they preach with what Jesus preached…

    The Catholic Church is much more diverse than the popes would like; otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much time promulgating and issuing orders to everyone.

    In other words, there are plenty of Cafeteria Catholics…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  58. grumpy realist says:

    @DRS: Precisely. There’s always been tensions in the Church; it’s just that before The Big Split there was a lot of open discussion about quite a few topics. Read up on the Benedictine property movement (which historians such as Brian Tierney say provided the impetus behind the development of human rights in general.) There were always scholars dissenting from The Approved Doctrine, and even more fights going on about what The Approved Doctrine was. I can’t think of a noted medieval philosopher who wasn’t accused of heresy at one point during his lifetime.

    Heck, we wouldn’t have had St. Thomas Acquinas if the naysayers of his day had had their way. Pretty radical figure!

    Unfortunately, the Catholic Church’s progress and participation in concepts of Western Thought seem to have come to a screeching halt after Luther. Ever since then, they’ve been hunkering down more and more in a reactionary mode, trying to hang on to privileges. Female sexual emancipation and homosexuality (not to mention modern medicine) seem to have blown their tiny little minds entirely.

    It’s too bad. They could have revitalized themselves with Liberation Theology and a real return to the basic idea of supporting the disenfranchised and the poor, but everyone seems to have been more worried about upsetting the authorities.

    Jesus was a rabble-rouser. The Catholic Church is not.

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  59. G.A says:

    That’s the exact reason why I stopped attending a true Christian denomination and started practicing as a Universalist. .

    Whats a true Christian denomination ?

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  60. An Interested Party says:

    Whats a true Christian denomination ?

    Oh, why don’t you tell us…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  61. DRS says:

    @An Interested Party:

    In other words, there are plenty of Cafeteria Catholics…

    Seriously? Millions of people around the world are Catholic just so that when the Pope says “Jump!” they can all say “How high?” Really? Not how it works.

    If we’re going to talk in bumper sticker slogans, then every Catholic – including Benedict XVI – is a cafeteria Catholic.

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  62. rodney dill says:

    @G.A:

    Whats a true Christian denomination ?

    I find they prefer $100’s when donations are requested.

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  63. An Interested Party says:

    Millions of people around the world are Catholic just so that when the Pope says “Jump!” they can all say “How high?”

    The Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, no? The policies he and his hierarchy formulate mean nothing? If one is going to pick and choose what one believes, what’s so offensive about the term “Cafeteria Catholic”…

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  64. “Millions of people around the world are Catholic just so that when the Pope says “Jump!” they can all say “How high?” ”

    Not really. In fact, the Pope does not run the Church by himself. That´s a pretty tough job because you have to find common ground between all kinds of people inside the Church. Just among the Cardinals there are enormous differences, both in terms of Politics and Religion. For instance, Jorge Bergoglio(The Archbishop of Buenos Aires) and Donald Wuerl(Of Washington DC) are pretty conservative politically speaking while Bernard Law of Boston and Dom Evaristo Arns of São Paulo are pretty liberal, to the left of Bernie Sanders in many issues.

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  65. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    All that said, it’s a pity that most stout conservatives seem to vanish from the face of the earth once they receive more than smidgen of critique. I would really like more sane conservative positions in the comments to broaden my understanding. But they just don’t seem to last.

    It’s imho an unfortunate development for this blog… :-(

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  66. Boyd says:

    @Ebenezer Arvigenius: I think this is mostly due to the shift of the commenters here to the liberal side of the spectrum, which seems to me to be based, in part, on James’s shift to less conservative positions. Not all of his positions, but some, and they’re noticeable.

    The decline in conservative voices (and here, I think, “non-liberal” or “non-progressive” would be more accurate terms) feeds on itself, to the point where there are almost no conservative voices left here from “back in the day.” It becomes an even more hostile environment for conservatives when those several liberals whose stock in trade is the ad hominem attack and insults get all revved up.

    And very often, the valid, incisive non-liberal point is just ignored, so the conservatives often don’t get engaged in any actual discussion of the matter at hand.

    So, it’s just the way of the Internet. Things aren’t the same today as they were yesterday. Civil debate by all sides of an issue has mostly left the OTB comment section, and I’m sorry to see it go, but that’s just the nature of things.

    P.S. The comment that I’m an idiot and this all just proves the correctness of the liberal position will be along shortly.

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  67. Rob in CT says:

    P.S. The comment that I’m an idiot and this all just proves the correctness of the liberal position will be along shortly.

    No, but the comment that you are exaggerating (significantly) the degree to which
    the “liberals” resort to insult as argument will be. There are insults, sure. Plenty on both sides, as far as I can see.

    I think you were right when you mentioned that the commentor balance-of-numbers has shifted. Non-conservative (here I claim the center, as you do) posters do indeed greatly outnumber conservative posters here now. The result can be a dogpile, even if it’s civil.

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  68. Franklin says:

    I probably haven’t been around as long as you guys, but even I have noticed the shift (it’s actually pretty clear with the helpful/unhelpful votes, which people constantly misunderstand as agree/disagree votes).

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  69. Boyd says:

    @Rob in CT:

    No, but the comment that you are exaggerating (significantly) the degree to which the “liberals” resort to insult as argument will be.

    It seems odd to me that you find the term “several” to be an exaggeration. But I stand by that evaluation, nonetheless.

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  70. mattb says:

    @Boyd:
    Like @Ebenezer Arvigenius I’m sad to see the decline of *rational* (or perhaps *grounded*) conservative (or rather “non-liberal” or “non-progressive”) commentors here. I’m always glad to read your thoughts (along with PD’s and a few others).

    To your comment:

    The decline in conservative voices (and here, I think, “non-liberal” or “non-progressive” would be more accurate terms) feeds on itself, to the point where there are almost no conservative voices left here from “back in the day.” It becomes an even more hostile environment for conservatives when those several liberals whose stock in trade is the ad hominem attack and insults get all revved up.

    I think you are, to some degree, correct about the rise in ad hominem attacks. What I’d disagree with, in general is the cause. The problem right now is that many of the regular of “conservative” commentors at OTB fall into two categories: either trolls playing a character (see Tzar Nick) or folks like Bit, Septimus, and Jenos who are reactionary partisans. None of these folks are interested in a conversation.

    You can retort that there are regular liberal commentors who are not interested in a conversation either. I agree with that assessment, but right now I think they are currently in the minority.

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  71. mattb says:

    @Boyd:

    The Bible tells me that homosexuality is a sin, so my son and step-daughter are sinners. But the Bible also tells me that my selfishness, pride and laziness are also sins. So guess what? I’m a sinner, too.

    So why do some folks believe that my children’s sins are worse than mine?

    To play devil’s (or is it conservative Christian’s) advocate for a moment, the problem is the issue of trying to avoid sin versus actively participating in it.

    The argument is that continuing in an active gay relationship is ultimately the same as continuing to steal, committing adultery, worshiping false idols, eating shellfish, etc. If you are of the opinion (fyi I’m not) that Homosexuality is a sin, then the only responsible line of action is celibacy. That’s why the phrase that gets constantly used by conservative religious types is “embracing the homosexual lifestyle.” These folks would have a similar problem (in theory) with embracing a prideful lifestyle or a hedonistic lifestyle.

    Again, it isn’t a view of Christianity that I subscribe to.

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  72. Boyd says:

    @mattb: Thanks for the kind words, Matt, but now I’m going to have to talk to one of my teenagers to reduce any head-swelling.

    And just to clarify, I don’t really think there’s more of the insults and ad hominem attacks, just that the liberal ones have become a larger percentage by virtue of the overall advantage of numbers, I believe. That’s exacerbated by the paucity of non-liberal commenters who might chime in to support their comrade.

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  73. Boyd says:

    @mattb: And my response to that is, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” and “First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you’ll see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    Not you of course, matt, but your “advocatee.”

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  74. Franklin says:

    @mattb:

    If you are of the opinion (fyi I’m not) that Homosexuality is a sin, then the only responsible line of action is celibacy.

    Beyond that, there’s some who think the only responsible line of action is to get help for your “disease” and “convert” “back” to heterosexuality. (Geez, it’s hard to write a sentence clearly that explains their “reasoning”.)

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  75. @Boyd:

    I think this is mostly due to the shift of the commenters here to the liberal side of the spectrum, which seems to me to be based, in part, on James’s shift to less conservative positions. Not all of his positions, but some, and they’re noticeable.

    I don’t think James (or I for that matter), have become any more liberal. More that our conservatism was always primarily based on philosophical considerations rather than partisan loyalties. Over that past decade, the right in the country has increasingly become about indentity politics, and in particular an identity that is openly hostile to that style of conservatism.

    So while our views haven’t really changed, we’re not sufficiently loyal members of the tribe, getting us branded as Goldsteins.

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  76. Boyd says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Sorry, SD, but by James’s own words, he’s less conservative now than he was when he started OTB.

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  77. @Boyd:

    I see that post as making essentially the same point as me: he’s tired of politics being dividing up into two teams and having to cheer on whatever is in your team’s best interests today, regardless of the logical contortions you have to go through to reconcile today’s line with yesterday’s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  78. Boyd says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You can interpret James’s words any way you choose, SD. I choose to let the man speak for himself. Since he says he’s less conservative now, I’ll take him at his word, especially since his writings over the past near-decade appear to me to be less socially conservative, as well.

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  79. @Boyd:

    Point in fact, he doesn’t say he’s less conservative, he says he’s less doctrinaire. The fact you have trouble accepting the idea of a form of conservatism that isn’t based on doctrinal alleigance doesn’t mean people described as such are now left wing. Likewise, while he does say he’s less socially conservative, his phrasing there is “even less” suggesting he never considered himself particularly socially conservative to begin with.

    Let me put it this way: name the political principles that Joyner holds now, which he did not hold 10 years ago, that can be characterized as left wing.

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  80. mattb says:

    @Boyd & @Stormy Dragon:
    It’s probably most accurate to say that James has written things in the past that support each of your arguments.

    As per Stormy, James has made it very clear that he believe that popular conservatism, not to mention movement Republicans, have moved the goal posts further to the right over the last decade.

    But I ultimately think Boyd is right. I’ve read James as saying that regardless of where the movement has gone, his viewpoints have shifted in such a way that he’s now to the “left” of where he used to be.

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  81. @mattb:

    I’ve read James as saying that regardless of where the movement has gone, his viewpoints have shifted in such a way that he’s now to the “left” of where he used to be.

    Oh, I agree that Joyner’s views have shifted. If your views HAVEN’T changed at all over the last 10 years, something is wrong with you. But there’s two issues I have:
    1. I’m not sure the change is one that can be described as either shifting right or shifting left.
    2. How much of the change is because his core principles have actually changed, and how much are that the same principles are being applied to a different set of information?

    As an example. 10 years ago, I was a big proponent of a Nordquist style “starve the beast” approach to reducing the size of government. Now I’m generally of the opinion that tax rates should set at whatever level is necessary to meet current spending and the focus should be entirely on reducing spending.

    Now this isn’t because I’m now a fan of big government, it’s just that the example of the Bush administration leads me to now believe that deficit spending makes it harder to reduce spending, not easier, because the taxpayers are now insulted from the immediate cost of demanding more outlays.

    Now a doctrinaire conservative merely sees I’m more open to tax hikes and concludes that I’ve shifted to the left. In fact I’m in the exact same spot in terms of principles; there’s merely a strategic disagreement over the best way to pursue those principles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  82. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Fair point… I see where you are coming from. Totally agree that trying to plot views between two diametrically opposed poles is rarely a satisfactory exercise.

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  83. Anonne says:

    @sam:

    It is possible, as I allowed, that she was just clumsy in her expression. But if you don’t see in that the justification of the persecution of the Jews throughout western history, then you ignorant of that history.

    I think it depends on what you mean by justification.

    It’s a simple principle that God uses war, etc. to render judgment upon people. It may not seem just, from a human point of view. But you see it all over the Old Testament: if you do not comply with the terms of X conditional promise, then Y calamity will fall upon you. And then some people deem it unjust that God follows through???

    God permits bad things to happen to people. Remember, he didn’t spare his own son, as part of a greater plan than we can see at any given time. Does that make persecution of the Jews morally acceptable, from an earthly standpoint? No, it doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop God from using the immoral acts of others for his purposes.

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  84. @Anonne:

    But you see it all over the Old Testament: if you do not comply with the terms of X conditional promise, then Y calamity will fall upon you. And then some people deem it unjust that God follows through???

    Yes, for the same reason that if a mugger says “your wallet or you life”, and I refuse to comply, people deem it unjust that he follows through.

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  85. Boyd says:

    None are so blind as those who will not see. Proof once again that obnoxious knuckleheads who are more interested in arguing than discussion are not the sole province of the left.

    Sheesh.

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  86. @Boyd:

    obnoxious knuckleheads

    And someone was lamenting the increase in the use of personal attacks in the comment section?

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  87. G.A says:

    Oh, why don’t you tell us…

    I don’t believe there is one.If we make it to Heaven our sects will have nothing to do with it.

    If you want to follow a name and a doctrine, hmm, I would look up the Bereans in the New Testament.

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  88. G.A says:

    @Boyd:

    obnoxious knuckleheads

    And someone was lamenting the increase in the use of personal attacks in the comment section?

    lol, thats a factual description not a personal attack.

    If you was to call me an obnoxious knucklehead, I would agree with you based the evidence.

    Yes, for the same reason that if a mugger says “your wallet or you life”, and I refuse to comply, people deem it unjust that he follows through.

    There is a difference between a mugger and God, you do understand this?

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  89. @G.A:

    Yes, but there’s no difference between evil and evil. When people claim God is behaving in a way that’s evil (such as deliberately causing suffering as punishment for people refusing to submit to his will), it does not cease to be evil merely because God is the actor responsible.

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  90. Anonne says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes, but there’s no difference between evil and evil. When people claim God is behaving in a way that’s evil (such as deliberately causing suffering as punishment for people refusing to submit to his will), it does not cease to be evil merely because God is the actor responsible.

    The thing is, you are basically asking for God to not render justice unto people who deserve it. God is not behaving in a way that is evil when he renders judgment for violation of his rules. It’s not akin to a mugging.

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  91. @Anonne:

    The thing is, you are basically asking for God to not render justice unto people who deserve it.

    And this is precisely the problem. You’re arguing that every bad thing that happens in the world happens because the person it happened to “deserved it”. Those four Jews that died in France? God was punishing them for not accepting Christ. Dr. Joyner’s wife dies unexpectedly? That’s what he gets for being an atheist. 16 thousand Japanese die in a tsunami? Well that’s what the get for being… something.

    There was no justice in any of these things, and if that’s how your God operates, than your God is an evil sadist that all moral beings should oppose.

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  92. Anonne says:

    No, I’m not arguing that every bad thing that happens in the world happens because so and so deserved it.

    I am not going to presume why, in modern times, any such thing happens. In the Old Testament, it was written why certain things would happen. But in the absence of a specific reason, I do not take the Pat Robertson route and assign blame for any specific thing as the cause of any specific disaster, natural or otherwise.

    Hurricanes and earthquakes happen. People who live in hurricane or earthquake zones are not necessarily more sinful than people who don’t live in hurricane zones. That’s a ridiculous argument, and I’m not making it.

    Unexpected deaths happen to Christian households as well as non-Christian households. Death and suffering come to all of us. It is part of life. God is not a happiness kiosk where you send up a prayer and get whatever you want. You don’t see justice. Sometimes it is hard to see but no, we are not always going to know what the meaning behind any given event is.

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  93. G.A. says:

    And this is precisely the problem. You’re arguing that every bad thing that happens in the world happens because the person it happened to “deserved it”. Those four Jews that died in France? God was punishing them for not accepting Christ. Dr. Joyner’s wife dies unexpectedly? That’s what he gets for being an atheist. 16 thousand Japanese die in a tsunami? Well that’s what the get for being… something.

    There was no justice in any of these things, and if that’s how your God operates, than your God is an evil sadist that all moral beings should oppose.

    that is a very powerful straw man but it is not how it works.

    The whole universe is under judgment because of us yet we have the free will to make this life of no concern. We all also have the free will to ignore our fault and to blame others.

    tell you what, if I was God and some of my creations murdered just one of my defenceless little baby creations before it even had a chance to use its free will let alone around a billion of them and tossed them into the garbage I would do more the hit you with a tsunami or send a crazed Muslim after some more children. I would come down hear myself and rip the perpetrators apart cell by cell! Not to even mention all the other horrifying crap we humans get up to and what would personally do about that.But I am not God I am just another foolish sinner who thinks he might understand something.

    Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

    That gives me some hope from time to time if you understsnd, Stormy.

    We can not understand God be using the thoughts and equivalencies that we get from this world. There be but one way to do it.

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  94. Anon@Anonne:

    No, I’m not arguing that every bad thing that happens in the world happens because so and so deserved it.

    Except you are:

    It’s a simple principle that God uses war, etc. to render judgment upon people.

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  95. @G.A.:

    We can not understand God be using the thoughts and equivalencies that we get from this world.

    And this is bullshit. Is there any other person whom you would accept “well, I know what I’m doing right now looks heinous, but really, you just don’t understand me well enough to understand why this is good. And I’m not going to explain it, you just have to trust me.” Why do you keep saying abortion doctors are evil? You just don’t understand how aborting millions of babies is really just a part of their noble plan. Why do you oppose Islamic militantism? Al Qeda just works in mysterious ways that are just beyond the understanding of a simple Dhimmi such as yourself.

    You are promoting a version of God that is evil, and God cannot make evil good or good evil anymore than he can make 2 + 2 equal 5. Indeed, by his very own rules, he would have to send himself to hell for his actions.

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  96. Anonne says:

    I am not saying that every disaster is a judgment. I acknowledge that some calamities have been used in the past as a judgment, but without God explicitly saying that any calamity now is a judgment for x reason, I will not presume to say that it is. The world has been made in such a way that earthquakes, etc. happen periodically in certain places. A tsunami as a result of an earthquake is not necessarily a judgment upon people simply because they lived near somewhere that it could happen.

    God, as the sovereign entity, permits bad things to happen for reasons you or I do not know. God does not perform evil himself, but allows evil actions of others to happen for a greater good that you may not see. People make their choices, and God allows them to do it. Everything has consequences. The individual evil act does not become morally acceptable just because it is ultimately used for a different purpose by God. It is still evil.

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  97. dennis says:

    @Anonne:

    If you could see the hoops you’re jumping through, you’d stop. Seriously.

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  98. G.A. says:

    You are promoting a version of God that is evil, and God cannot make evil good or good evil anymore than he can make 2 + 2 equal 5. Indeed, by his very own rules, he would have to send himself to hell for his actions

    I was promoting that we can’t judge God for the actions of our free will and the free will that other use upon us and that natural disasters are an effect of the curse.

    And that the wages of sin are death.

    And that people will make any excuse and cast blame to avoid these facts.

    Also that many of us don’t have a good Idea of what a Holy God is and why he does what he does with his creation with our worldly understandings.

    And that he tells us some of that wisdom in His Word and that there is only one way to understand it, and it is not by trying to figure it out our selves or taking the word of men.

    And I am sorry to tell you that I can take myself back to when I was an atheist(militant atheist) and try to rationalize Abortion with my old worldly worldview with many new things I have learned none of them having to do with faith but rather science and I come to the new conclusion that Abortion is evil in an worldly view deduction.Naw I will give glory and praise to God and thank Him for the Holy Spirit and his Word that has opened my eyes.

    If you could see the hoops you’re jumping through, you’d stop. Seriously.

    Yes we are more then likely doing more harm then good not giving true biblically based answers along with the supporting hermeneutical Scripture.

    But that gets mocked something fierce and personal attacked around here and I would prefer not to get some folks in more trouble then they are already in.

    So I try to use humor , the very very common tongue(and spelling:) and grammar:) ) and Alinsky rules so that they might understand where I am coming from.( this is a worldly excuse for keeping my ability to argue and act a fool two worldly things that I still hold on to)

    Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    It is strange that some will use our own book against us and do it so perfectly and twisted backwards and I hope not even know that they do it.

    And I am not judging anyone just telling how I see it, it is the thing i mostly do when not making stupid jokes, picking back on libs, and acting a fool or writing fiction while practicing my spelling and grammar and cognitive skills and making up new words:)

    Well whatever happy Resurrection/Forgiveness/Salvation/get out of hellfire free day or just week end day to those who are offended….with love and understanding G. A.

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  99. @G.A.:

    It is strange that some will use our own book against us and do it so perfectly and twisted backwards and I hope not even know that they do it.

    Maybe they’re former Christians that still value the Bible for it’s literary and artistic value even if they think it’s purely the word of man.

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  100. G.A. says:

    Maybe they’re former Christians that still value the Bible for it’s literary and artistic value even if they think it’s purely the word of man.

    And maybe they was false converts? I question myself about this daily.

    Like I say I am still learning. but I can truly see things and understand things that I could not before.I am a bad example of a Christian, I backslide like a “****** ****** trying to ice skate up hill..lol see…I have been wanting to use that Blade Quote for ever…

    I have no doubt about God being real and being the God of the Bible and I do in all honesty have or have had many of the same questions that you present to me as your doubts and reasons. The thing is when I look for an answer the right way I find it. The hard thing for me is doing it the right way. Even that I have been perhaps a true believer for going on 20 some years I Know I still live with more then a foot in the world.

    And if you want to beat me up for it I more then deserve it:)

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  101. Dean says:

    @Franklin:

    …I have noticed the shift (it’s actually pretty clear with the helpful/unhelpful votes, which people constantly misunderstand as agree/disagree votes).

    And this is a very unfortunate trend on OTB.

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