As much as this grieves me…
As much as this grieves me…
Thursday, Rod Dreher wrote a blog piece “Queers vs. Conservative Christians.” It is a personal tale, ending in an open question. Dreher reflects on the extremely wide rhetorical gap between the groups and wonders how to bridge it. His reflections are entirely reminiscent of countless conversations I have had not just with LGBT friends and acquaintances, but with other Christians as we discussed how to best approach the situation.
It is tempting to dive right in and lay out points I have made in other contexts, but it occurs to me that to do so this morning would be mostly to enjoy the sound of my own voice. I have made the points often enough to know that people either agree with them or they don’t and saying them is more of a measuring stick than an argument.
Dreher concedes the differences are irreconcilable and seeks to know how to appreciate the humanity of the opponent in such circumstances. My initial response is that if you are on the Christian side and that does not come naturally then you need to reexamine your faith – carefully. My concern is a bit different, my concern is for the soul of the opponent. I’m not just talking about eternal damnation here – I listen to their arguments and I look at their lives and I hurt for them. A gay friend once told me he was just trying “to do his best with the hand he had been dealt.” He was, I think, trying to justify his life. It was a mournful statement to my ears – speaking of concession, not victory.
I do not think there is a rhetorical solution to the debate that is front of us at this moment. I don’t know what the future holds on this issue. I think the answer for the Christian is faithfulness. Faithfulness in both our understanding of the consequences of our sinful nature in our lives and in our reflection of the love of God – a love so massive and complete that God died and was resurrected in expression of it. That seems an impossibility, but as Isaiah tells us God says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
KJL: You write that “we need a culture of virtue, and our leaders have a vital role to play in that regard.” Is it really the role of our political leaders to model virtue?
ERIC METAXAS: Generally speaking, yes. How they behave affects how citizens think of the whole government and the whole nation. When one has a Washington in leadership, or a Lincoln, one knows that one can generally trust one’s government to do the right thing, even when it is very, very difficult to do the right thing. Virtuous leaders inspire virtue in the citizenry. They help us believe that the system is not rigged, but that it’s generally something that works and that needs our attention as citizens, that invites our attention.
KJL: Does that automatically suggest one cannot vote for one Donald J. Trump?
METAXAS: Not only can we vote for Trump, we must vote for Trump, because with all of his foibles, peccadilloes, and metaphorical warts, he is nonetheless the last best hope of keeping America from sliding into oblivion, the tank, the abyss, the dustbin of history, if you will. If you want to know how bad things are in America, and how far we have gone, read the previous sentence aloud over and over.
I read that yesterday, and I do not know if Metaxas meant to do this or not, but those two short answers may be the most massive condemnation of Barak Obama’s presidency yet undertaken. Consider, in the first answer he makes case that the tone of the nation is set by the presidency – in this case the Obama presidency. In the second answer his phrase, “how bad things are in America, and how far we have gone” makes plain that the Obama presidency has lead us nowhere good. You want to explain Trump’s ascendancy, look no further than Obama’s presidency. Continue Reading
Yesterday I wrote in the Washington Post that because there is no Speaker Ryan-Leader McConnell led effort to replace Donald Trump as the GOP nominee, it isn’t going to happen and that voters have to support him regardless of their disagreements with his styles or policies.
This morning we discussed the choice ahead of every voter: Clinton v. Trump:
HH: I bring you Bret Stephens, the deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal. He is the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. His piece today should not be missed, President Cnut. In Orlando, it begins in the spring of 2013. Barack Obama delivered the defining speech of his presidency on the subject of terrorism. Its premise was wrong, as was its thesis, as were its predictions and recommendations. We are now paying the price for this cascade of folly. The last paragraph, Bret, if you will indulge me, I want to read it to people. “It would require more humility than Mr. Obama is capable of mustering to admit that what has happened in Orlando is a consequence of his decisions of allowing Iraq and Syria to descend into chaos, and pretending that we could call off the war on terrorism, because fighting it didn’t fit a political narrative, of failing to defeat ISIS swiftly and utterly, of refusing to recognize the religious roots of terror, of treating the massacre in San Bernardino as an opportunity to lecture Americans about Islamophobia, and Orland as another argument for gun control. This is the President’s record. His successor will have to do better to avoid future Orlando’s. Will she? Bret Stephens, welcome. First question, short version of this, President Obama’s legacy is ISIS?
BS: It’s going to be one of his central legacies along with the terrible economic growth we’ve had during his record. This was a president who gave the centerpiece of his administration at the National Defense University effectively saying that it was time to declare victory in the war against terrorism, and go home, to quote George Akin, you know, about Vietnam all those years ago. And the result was America let its guard down. We withdrew prematurely from the Middle East. We created the power vacuums in which groups like ISIS thrive. And then we were amazed to discover that what happens in the Middle East doesn’t stay in the Middle East, that what happens in Mosul or Raqqa can affect what goes on in Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino and now, tragically, in Orlando. Continue Reading