Category Archives: Debate

Facebook Debate Review

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Over the weekend, a Facebook friend of mine, a Deacon, made the following post:

“I was saddened this morning to see how a young lady who went on mission trips with <our> parish and was confirmed, posted yesterday pictures of her supporting Planned Parenthood.    I know that she is unaware of the truths of abortion mill that they are running and how they are murdering children.   I am praying that she finds out the truth.”

As one might imagine, this was met with the full gamut of potential responses, from those in complete agreement with the sentiment, to those who felt he was shaming someone publicly, to those who thought they were being condemned for ever having gone to Planned Parenthood for any reason.

Every now and then I like to break down posts and comments.   Today, I’m going to do that.

My commentary:     This may be, broadly speaking, a sort of shaming.   No names were provided, but there were some details that could be identifying in nature.   There is an acknowledgment that the person may be ignorant of the truths about what Planned Parenthood engages in.    I don’t think the post is out of bounds, as it is right and appropriate to rebuke people engaging in sinful activity, as long as it is done with charity.   I do think, though, that the reference to the Parish should have been left off.   It immediately identifies the person as local.   Had he left it at just someone who he knew had been confirmed, and had gone on mission trips then in the minds of readers it could be just about anybody.

The first back and  forth was as follows:  

Responder 1:  I’m saddened that you would put it out on face book rather than talking to her personally.

Poster: I am more saddened that she would post a picture first without talking to me so that she was well informed.

Responder 1:  But you are the adult here.

Poster: She is an “adult” as well, and “adults” should know that planned parenthood’s main revenue is from abortions.   Period.   Too bad so many people are misinformed when it comes to that.

Responder 1: I guess I’m not OK with shaming on Facebook.   A private conversation with some give and take seems more logical.   As for the adult part, well I guess the older adult should set the example.

Poster:  No give and take on that subject – abortion is the murdering of a child – it only is a choice of life or death – and I do set the example of standing up for life.

My commentary:   I can actually see points on both sides here.   I actually agree that the preferred initial approach would at least have been to ask the person in question whether or not she was aware of Planned Parenthood’s activities.    Perhaps even ask outright if she supported abortion rights (in private) to see where she stands.    And as I mentioned, even if one chooses to use this as an example for public consumption, care should be taken to use it as a teaching example, while minimizing the risk of revealing who the “sinner” is.    Also, saying there can be “no give and take” on any subject I think is wrong-headed.   One can know with certainty that they stand for what is good and true and still have a give and take with respect to a discussion.    Give and take does not imply compromise – it can imply trying to have a reasonable discussion so you can gain trust and figure out exactly where they are.    To should someone down will do no good.   I don’t think “give and take” means what he thinks it means.

Having said that, it’s a ridiculous assertion that it is completely out of bounds to make a public statement about something that someone else willingly posted in a public manner, and it’s all the more ridiculous to say that you need to treat another adult with kid gloves just because you’re an older adult.

Responder 2: How is that shaming someone?   He stated facts without naming her.    And if she believes PP is such a great organization, why would she be ashamed at all?

My commentary:   Generally agree, with caveats as already stated.   Though, I will say that it would be possible for someone to still feel good about their own support of PP while feeling a little offended by being called out by a member of the clergy, essentially, as a supporter of murder.   It may be true, but there may have been a more charitable way to go about it.

The next responder’s comment will be necessarily broken up into multiple parts.

Responder 3: As a young adult, my mom took me to Planned Parenthood to receive regular health screenings.   Does this mean I am damned for life?

This doesn’t make any sense at all, which tells me it’s an entirely emotional response.   As for the source of the emotion (either guilt, or simply an inability to accept that just because an entity does some “good” it cannot erase the evil nature of it).   For one thing, nobody anywhere said anything about being damned.   And the phrase “damned for life” makes no sense at all.   You are not damned for life if you’re damned.   You are damned for all eternity.   Which means ALL of us should be doing everything we can do to make sure we’re right with God!   Eternity’s a long time.   Finally, just because you went to PP at some point to get assistance, depending on what it is you did there, there may be nothing morally wrong with it.   If you got some check-up or general health screening, especially if you were ignorant of the other things they do, then there’s not a problem.

Unfortunately, this is why many turn from organized religion because we all judge versus support our own.

She may be right that we all tend to judge.   But the “thou shall not judge” thing is also misapplied.   The entire context of Scripture makes it clear that we should judge what people are doing from the perspective of discernment, correction, and aiding in another’s salvation.   It is not an act of love to allow one to persist in sin.  It is an act of love to correct it.   However, on the flip side, many people do not convey that correction in a charitable way.   And flipping around again, many will be corrected charitably and will see it as an act of hate because they feel they should just be “accepted.”    We “support our own” in the faith by trying to get them to heaven.    When we see error, it can be a tricky balancing act to try and figure out how to go about correcting that error, for that person’s own good.    It is not an error of organized religion that we sometimes fail to act in charity.   It is a failure of people, in general.   But those who persist in sin after receiving correction cannot be “supported” with respect to accommodating that sin.   Yes, we still need to love them, but that doesn’t mean what they think it means, often enough.

Knowing God does not judge, the message that is being forced onto us from our church leaders is disappointing.

Um…   God doesn’t judge?    Then who does?    Is there no hell?    This is the epitome of relativism.   Only are we not to judge anything anybody does as right or wrong, but God doesn’t even do it, apparently.   This is dangerous thinking.

I miss the days of feeling welcomed to church versus hearing how horrible we are because we may not attend every week, don’t dress appropriately or may support Planned Parenthood for many of their other services that help millions of people.

My commentary:   Oh, where to begin.   First, I would be curious to know exactly how this person was made to feel like she is a horrible person.   It is possible that an uncharitable approach occurred, in which case that is problematic.   But I have an inkling – maybe more – that this person heard a perfectly charitable reminder about the importance of weekly Mass attendance, the importance of modesty in dress, and felt personally offended because she was unwilling to look inward and consider what was said with humility.    Now, I don’t know her and can’t know that for certain, but what I do know is that there are many people out there who react that way even if she is not one of them.

The other irksome argument about the good the argument about pointing out the good things about Planned Parenthood is the willingness to just turn a blind eye towards the evil that they do for the sake of the good.   Not to mention, many people put contraceptive services in the “good” column.   They aren’t.

But more to the point, at the heart of all these protests in favor of Planned Parenthood is whether or not there should be federal funding for it.   So, if you feel that strongly about PP, then write them a check or use their services, or volunteer for them.   But don’t ask me to fund an organization that doers evil things.

 

Anyway, there’s actually more, and I could go on.   Maybe I’ll continue this with another post if I feel like there’s enough worth talking about.

 

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Relativism is Not New

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Someone I love dearly is a friend on Facebook, but I have to admit that I sometimes lose sleep and appetite over the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made, the agenda he proclaims, and what he posts.

In response to a post he made recently, which suggests that unconditional love means “accepting who he is” without question (which in his mind means celebrating his lifestyle, his choices, everything he believes, and so on) I responded accordingly:

“Unconditional love is some things and it is not other things.   By definition it means we are loved regardless of what we do, say, think, and believe.   It means we are loved whether we love God back or we neglect God and focus only on ourselves.   What it does not mean is that love is only love if we accept as true what another says, does, and believes.”

The response was frustrating, but unsurprising.   I’m going to dissect it piece by piece.

“My innate disagreement with your definition of unconditional love is that it is conditional.”

OK.  Got that?   This is why argument is futile.   Take something, turn it upside down, establish that as a premise, and all arguments flow from there.   The issue is that the premise here is poppycock.    It completely renders all subsequent arguments absurd.   And yet, this is his mindset.   How can unconditional love mean anything other than the fact that I (or God, or anyone) will love you no matter what.   You may be right, you may be wrong, you may be wonderful, you may be obnoxious…   but I love you anyway.

“…that stems from our idea of what the idea of “God” means.”

God is not an idea.   God is real.    It is true that we develop our own ideas of what the reality of God is.    So I kinda sorta maybe get what he’s saying here.   But I think he falls short of admitting the reality of an actual God, and I think he has succumbed to the idea of “God” actually being equivalent to “the idea of God.”

“In my eyes, as the very experience of God (which is love) in action, every single one of us are all true in what we say, do, and believe.”

This sounds wonderful.   It’s also nonsense.   It is pure relativism and it is amazing to me that anyone in his or her right mind can actually believe this.   The entire concept of all of us being all true in everything logically collapses on itself the moment I say I disagree with his statement.    If I disagree with him, then it means I don’t believe that we are all true in what we say, do, and believe.   Which either means I’m right about that or I’m wrong.   but according to him, I can’t be wrong, so I might be right.   But then that makes him wrong.   It’s an unwinnable position of paradox that is utterly simple to dismantle using lessons learned on Day One of logic class.

“That is what makes unconditional love – which really is a redundant term, if you break it down, because love cannot be conditional – so important.”

I’m not exactly sure what everyone being all true has to do with love being unconditional, but I will grant that real love is probably redundant with unconditional love.   I still think the term has explanatory merit.

“It allows all things to exist as they are.”

I really don’t get this line.   All things exist as they are regardless of whether I love you or hate you.   But whatever.

“It allows us to recognize the God essence of the perfection in what one another says, does, and believes, understanding that on the level of truth in which that being exists, it is perfect, it is “right,” and it is good.”

So, do you understand that?   Yeah…  me neither.    He does like to get all flowery with the language, and it is a Facebook response, so it probably was just a flowage of thought and words.   But, I think I can boil it down simply to the following:   Everyone has the essence of God, which makes us perfect, which makes us right in everything.   Which, of course, is utter nonsense.   But how do you go about convincing someone that they epitomize the perfection of God that they are wrong?   This is one problem with relativism – it defies all logic, but once embraced, there is no logical offense against it.

“Whether or not what another says, does, and believes rings true for another God essence makes no difference as to its “rightness,” because God does not evaluate itself based on the polarities of “right” and “wrong,” as love automatically transcends both polarities in the act of being expressed to a place where all beings’ choices are beautiful and perfect for them.”

Sigh.   It’s actually amazing to me, but in a sad way.   There is no acknowledgment here of an actual God.   Everything is an idea of God, a God essence.   The statement that “God does not evaluate itself” is actually true, but he is not talking about the being of God judging Himself.   He is talking about us all being God, which means we can’t judge each other, because we are all God and we can’t judge God.    I’ll be honest, this actually makes me a bit queasy when I really think about it.

“By loving unconditionally, we allow all perspectives to exist and evolve into their highest form.   Mandates of “right” and “wrong” pervert this allowance by judging what is good and bad, inducing guilt and fear, which is not God, which is not love.    Judgment, or condition, only indicates a lack of God in the being who is judging, not the one being judged.”

And here we go.   There is no right or wrong.    To judge anything at all induces guilt and fear.   And what does that mean?   It means that if you judge any thing at all – not a judgment of the soul or of a person’s salvation, but even anything they do or say – anything at all – then you are NOT God.

This is insane.

You may wonder how I responded.   I didn’t.   First of all, this person is family.   It’s a peacekeeping response by me to not respond.   Second of all, I know with certainty that he believes my view on things to be archaic.   He will not listen to me.   My job at this point is to pray that someone comes into his life that will help him realize this erroneous and dangerous path that he’s on.    He receives so much support from others when he posts that I am worried it won’t happen, but with God all things are possible.

Now, why did I mention that relativism is nothing new?

It’s because I am pretty sure he thinks that what he believes about God – or the God essence, or idea, or whatever the hell he believes – is a progressive idea.   It’s an evolution of thought.  It’s an evolution into self-divinity.

This is the oldest heresy.   It’s vanity and pride, and it’s the very first sin.   Satan tempted Adam and Eve by appealing to the very idea that by eating the fruit they will have the knowledge of God.   They bought into it and ate the apple, or apricot, or pear, or pomegranate or whatever that forbidden fruit happened to be.

So the flowery language and appearance of deep thought aside, relativism is more ancient and archaic than Catholicism is.

So,all you Relativists, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

My Debate Wish List

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I guess it would be too much to ask that either Trump or Clinton lead off the debate with a Rosary.   Or a salute to Our Lady of Guadalupe.   So, I guess I’ll need to keep my wish list to things more temporally satisfying.

Before I even start, I’ll tip my hand.   I cannot in any case ever, ever, ever see myself voting for Hillary Clinton.   Never ever.   Ever.   There is zero common ground I have with her on issues of morality, but then extending beyond that we have no common ground on any of the other temporal matters at hand, either.   I find her entirely and utterly despicable.   Or, to use her word, deplorable.   I won’t say she’s unredeemable (another of her words, which is not actually a word) because God can do anything, and in fact Christ redeemed us all if only we accept that redemption.    But she labeled a number of Americans with that word as well, which further speaks to her character.

Having tipped my hand, I suppose I need to do what everyone else feels compelled to do, and to make it clear that I don’t really like Trump either.    I find it somewhat fascinating that people always feel the need to be apologetic and squeamish about supporting a candidate.   I am neither apologetic, nor am I squeamish.  I have a choice to make here, and I’ll make it, and I won’t apologize for it.   If I am perturbed by anyone, it’s the other voters who ultimately gave me this choice.    I did not vote for Trump in the Primary, and he was never my favorite or even close to it.

But I can’t change that, so I can either throw a tantrum and not vote, under the delusion that he’s as bad as Hillary, or I can vote third party under the delusion that either of those nutjobs are any better (OK, I suppose that wasn’t charitable.   This is a Catholic blog and I suppose I should be more careful.   On the other hand, I’m not supposed to lie, so I’m in a conundrum.   So I’ll keep the comment and you can feel free to judge me.).  Or I can suck it up and be an adult and recognize that I have only one choice to make.   And since I’m forced to choose between these two, I choose one and will not apologize in any way for it.    It doesn’t mean I’ll defend him on everything, it means that I think he’s imperfect but still a lot better than the alternative.

And so, there it is.   Full disclosure on my feelings.

So, with that, here is my wish list:

  1. In Trump’s opening remarks, he paints the backdrop for the entire debate.   That while Clinton spent the last week resting and rehearsing every detail and every scenario, and turning herself into a robotic and programmed policy wonk who is incapable of authenticity, he spent the last week traveling around and meeting with every day Americans.    That he didn’t rehearse at all, except to talk about some things that might come up in the debate.   That he didn’t have stand-in Hillary practice.   So, in the next 90 minutes, the American people are going to hear my real, unrehearsed, authentic thoughts.   It may not be finely tuned and rehearsed, and he may not have decided to memorize and encyclopedia’s worth of details on every issue under the sun.   As President, he will have trusted advisers to provide all the details, while his job is to stay big picture and provide direction.     And so on.    Basically, he needs to set the entire debate up in his favor so that every time she throws out statistics and facts and policy, he can engage where comfortable but always have a default response of “you did a nice job of memorizing in the last week there.”    This will use her strength against her and sow doubt.    He doesn’t need to beat her on facts and figures if he can create a sense that whenever she goes there it’s just not authentic and not what the voters care about.     He may or may not win that argument with the high-brow intellectuals, but he will win it with typical Americans who have proven that they simply don’t care about all these details.   They are no watching the debate to find out who knows more about the issues.   They just aren’t.   That is a bit sad, but true.    It caused me angst during the Republican debates.    Trump clearly doesn’t know as much about policy as many others on stage.   And yet, he won the nomination.    Trump just needs to find a way to equalize that advantage so that he keeps people unimpressed by the know-how, and makes it about stature and personality.
  2. I want to see a 5-minute coughing fit from Hillary about 45 minutes in.    Maybe prompting Trump to offer her a glass of water.    I am not wishing for a major medical event, let me be clear.   I just want coughing.   It would provide entertainment value, it would be incredibly embarrassing for her, and quite frankly I think something as goofy as that with 100 million people watching would simply be her death knell.   Politically speaking.    I suppose this isn’t particularly charitable of me either.
  3. I want to see Trump wear a tie-pin that clearly says “Les Deplorables.”
  4. I want to hear Hillary Clinton say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.

To be perfectly honest, I think we’re just living in sad times where, as a friend of mine said, this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.    I think I’m well past the point of hopefulness that the process, at least this year, actually is redeemable.

So, I can choose to stew in bitter disgust, or I can at least try to enjoy it.   Admittedly, it’s kind of like enjoying the view of the ocean while on the deck of the Titanic.

 

Quick Note

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This doesn’t really have to do with anything, really.   Just wanted to say that anyone at all who believes Donald Trump was openly advocating for the assassination of Hillary Clinton is an unhinged, unthinking idiot.

Even if some morons took it that way, or his point that the voting block of gun owners can lead the way to defeating Clinton in November was made clumsily, to make that extrapolation just means you have no wits about you.

Period.

That is all.

Tattoo or not Tattoo

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jesus-tattoo-by-dennis-wehler-728x868Let me lay all my biases out from the beginning:   This opinion comes from both a Catholic/Faith perspective, but also deeply on my own opinion of tattoos.   And I have yet to hear any argument that has convinced me that getting a tattoo – especially one of visual prominence – makes any sense whatever.   I think they are stupid, pure and simple.   I know that rankles people, but I have a right to my opinion.   So, I’m going to be evaluating the question from the perspective of someone coming from a good, Catholic, family who is debating the relative merits of getting a tattoo, but wanted to make clear my initial bias in this question.   I admit I will not be able to refuse my opinion of it from my personal bias, and actually I am not even going to try all that hard to do so, because quite honestly I think the reason I already feel that way (and always have) is because I did the more balance, honest evaluation of their merits years and years ago.

So, anyway, my wife has these occasional get-togethers with other homeschooling Catholic moms.   The families range in various sizes and in various stages of where they are in life.    Some have large families (8+ kids) with some kids already graduated and in adulthood, and it goes all the way down to those with a couple young kids just getting rolling.

Without exception, every family takes their faith life seriously, and it is important to them to pass on their Catholic faith to their children.   Of course, we all have our own approaches and styles, and one could debate the strategy of trying to make this happen all day long.  Ultimately, all this really tells me is that none of us our perfect and it shows the importance of relying on God all the more in our journey as parents.   One of my favorite little prayers to utter is “God, please help these kids turn out OK despite my own stupidity and laziness.”

One of the moms is struggling a bit because her 2nd oldest son has a couple tattoos.   And now the third one has a sizeable tattoo on his forearm and wants to get one on his other forearm.    She has tried to argue for why this isn’t a good idea, and as is typical of young men, they think they know better than their mom.    Now, these young men, to my knowledge, have not strayed in their Catholic faith, still find it important, and still practice it.   They do not see any conflict with the faith and getting a tattoo.

And this is where my opinion comes in.

First, let me be clear.    I do not think, nor will I suggest, that there is anything intrinsically evil or sinful with tattoos.   Like many things, the real question is a matter of what is driving someone to do something.   But I do think that someone really needs to be honest with themselves in evaluating why they want a tattoo if they are indeed considering one.   This shouldn’t be problematic – we really should do this with everything we do.  Why do a I want ten million dollars?   Because I want to give it away to the poor or because I want to have an easy life with little or no responsibility?   Most of us would fall somewhere in between those two extremes, and while most of us aren’t going to get ten million dollars it’s still a worthy mental exercise to go through an honest evaluation and promise yourself and God what it is you would plan to do with it if it ever happened.\

Here are my opinions and responses to some of the clever (or not so clever) arguments on the matter.

  • Argument: Getting a tattoo today is like getting your ear pierced years ago.   It has become much more accepted, and is not looked at as a big deal.    Full disclosure – I got my ear pierced in my college days.   I was in a rock band, admittedly liked the looks of it, and I did it.   I don’t even regret it.   I thought it looked cool.   There was no more motivation behind it than that.   But I am not being a hypocrite here, in my opinion, with that comparison.   Because even back then, I considered the questions, and even then there were people getting tattoos and doing all sorts of other things.    I knew and considered that at any time this was reversible.   I knew that at some point in my life, I may well consider the wearing of an earring silly or immature.    I knew I could take it out at any time if the situation called for it without needing to mask it.    It may or may not have been a dumb thing to do, and I may or may not have had other opinions of me diminished because of it, but the impact was minimal.    Also, I could switch it up for the right occasion – a simple stud for normal wear or something gaudier for a show, or nothing at all for a trip to the parents who I knew didn’t love it.    So, I get the comparison, and the social attitude may be comparable, but the reality of what you are doing is not comparable.
  • Argument: But <insert morally upright individual> has one, and if he has one, it can’t be all that bad!     In Catholic circles, the argument du jour is Father Stan Fortuna , who is a Catholic Priest with tattoos.    OK, this is always a stupid argument for many reasons, and I’ll address why.   Before I do, let me go on record as not intending in any way to disparage Father Stan Fortuna.   I honestly have no qualms about him doing what he does or having a tattoo – again, he knows why he does.    But whenever someone points to “a” person as the example among a sea of counterexamples, it is in no way an honest argument.   If you are truly going to make your life decisions based on the example of others, then you don’t look for exceptions to justify your own behavior.   You look for what the majority of people are doing that you admire and respect.   Exceptions are just that – exceptions.   And there’s a reason why they are exceptions.   Now, lest you think I am making an argument about just following the crowd, that’s misreading what I am saying.   Being a devout Catholic in and of itself is already not following the crowd.   But once you commit yourself, then you do want to follow the examples of other devout Catholics.    Most importantly, Venerables, Blesseds, Saints, and the other holy men and women we meet in our life should be very important role models, emulators, and mentors for us.   We should follow this crowd whenever the question is something that has a moral or spiritual component to it.    And in this case, the vast majority of examples in this group have not littered their body with tattoos.   Exceptions exist, of course.   But you have to acknowledge the predominant behavior and consider why that is the case.   And it is  a much stronger case.
  • Permanence Matters: My opinion.   But while young people don’t like to consider getting older or meeting other people or needing to be a good example for future children and all that, time moves quickly.   I’m 48 and I can still very clearly remember my high school and college days.   I remember how I thought about things, felt about things…   young people today have a difficult time thinking we can relate but I can tell you those youthful memories are very clear – we do get it.    I may think it’s stupid to color your hair pink, or pierce your nose, or wear some of the clothes you wear.   And I may argue why those things are stupid, and you may ignore me because I’m older and I don’t get it (even though I generally thought the same thing when I was young).    But ten years from now you won’t have that hair color any more, you probably won’t have the nose piercing, and you won’t be wearing those same clothes.   Because you’ll grow and mature and change the way you think, and for your own reasons decide that it’s time to move on from that experimentation.    But you ink a huge Eagle – or even a Cross – on your forearm or your back and it’s there forever unless you go through the agonizing and expensive experience of having it removed.    To not even rationally consider this element of getting a tattoo shows a lack of maturity and foresight, in my opinion.
  • Desecration of the Temple matters: OK, I want to reiterate that the heart is what matters.   And someone may really think and believe that they have a good reason for doing what they are doing.   And they may even think God likes them getting a religious tattoo.   But God still made you the way you are – without them.    Relating this to permanence, you are purposely changing yourself.    Others may disagree with me, but this smacks of someone thinking that they can improve upon what God has made you.    This isn’t trying to keep you healthy or fix a medical condition.   It’s fundamentally changing the intended design of who you are and how you were made.   Sure, it may be cosmetic in nature, but it’s also readily apparent for all to see.
  • Size matters: I am against all tattooing, but like all other things of questionable nature there is scale as well to consider.   If I see someone with a pierced nose, I may think it unnecessary and a bit silly, and I don’t really get the draw, but it’s not an overwhelming shock.    If I see someone with a nose, lip, eyebrow, and cheek pierced I am going to form an unfavorable opinion of that person in some way.   I try not to be judgmental, and I am not supposed to judge the heart, and I try my best not to.   But this person is also bringing a bit of this upon themselves by publicly mutilating their body.    My judgment isn’t really one about the salvation of the person.  It is more a general feeling that something is really missing in this person’s life that they are trying desperately to fill.    Others may go to other unfavorable thoughts of what that person might be like it.   And you can lecture as much as you want about that being wrong, but it is also human nature, and quite frankly it’s not 100% wrong.   We are given the discernment to separate out right from wrong and right things from wrong things.   Without even judging the heart of a person, I am not going to apologize for knowing that there is something wrong or problematic about the actual act and display of getting multiple piercings.   I will just try not to jump to conclusions about the person – though it can be very hard to separate the two.      Likewise, I could probably live with a small tattoo that may have some unknown personal meaning, but the more there are and the bigger they are is going to directly impact my first impression of you.   And as to the argument that it’s my problem and not yours, that’s dead to me.   Sure, any judgment may be my problem to an extent, but it’s also yours.   Whether endearing yourself to future in-laws, applying for work, making new friends, etc.  these things are all your problem.   And unless you never judge anyone for anything, you can’t expect others to act any differently.   And if nobody ever judges anything, then God help us all.

I could actually go on.   Believe it or not, there are still additional points I could make.   But I’ll leave it to this last thing:

  • Find older people in your Church who you know to be faithful people, who also have predominant tattoos. Get to know them and then ask them if they are glad they have them.     I have done this on a few occasions, and in most cases there is regret.   In some cases there is acceptance that they did what they did and it doesn’t bother them.    In no cases yet have I heard anyone thrilled to death about how great their tattoo is, and they’d do the same thing all over again, and only regret that they don’t have more.

 

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

How Did We Reach a Point Where Disagreement = Judgment and Hate?

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“Love won today!”

I saw this statement and claim made shortly after the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage.

A couple days later, my wife posted a video on Facebook.   The purpose of the video was to once again lay out the case for the traditional definition of marriage.   It was not in any way presented hatefully, but it was not apologetic, either.   It simply presented the facts about what marriage has been considered forever, why it was considered that way, and why same-sex marriage doesn’t properly fulfill the requirements to be considered marriage.

Responses to her sharing this were that it made someone “sad that you feel that way.”   In a followup response, once again the idea that “well, I just choose to love people” came up.

Whether intended or not, these responses and reactions have as a premise that if the Supreme Court did not rule as they did, then love would have lost.   Or that thinking about this issue in the traditional sense must mean you don’t love people – at the very least, you don’t love them as much as someone who supports redefinition of marriage.   They’ll say “oh, that’s not waht I mean, or what I’m implying.”   That’s a shallow retort.   You can’t make a statement about love winning and then backtrack and say that you don’t mean that others are haters, or at least not as loving as you.   It’s a logical impossibility.

This, of course, is poppycock.

It has long been a tactic of those engaged in policy, social, and moral debate to appeal to emotion and the impugning of character in order to advance an opinion or agenda.   And while neither side of any issue is immune to that temptation, I do think there is a definite difference in applicability of that approach.   In general, the more “conservative” position on an issue is an argument based on the logical or rational merits of an idea.  This may be to a fault in many cases, where the human side of things may not be fully considered, and it’s something that conservatives need to guard against.    That is not to say the right cannot get emotional and accuse others of this thing or that, but I would venture to say that the underlying view of an issue has more of a logical train of thought to it.   The more “progressive” elements try to paint their side much more as on the side of compassion and tolerance.   This is a very emotional plea – one of inclusiveness and love (except for those who disagree, anyway).   I am not saying there is never anything deeper to have formed their opinions, but the overriding element is feelings.

The gay marriage argument is really a very easy case study on this, and I’m sure people will disagree with me on it.   Well, it’s OK to be wrong, because this is about as simple as it gets.    The main argument that the progressives have on this is “we just want people to be happy and have a companion, and be recognized for it so they are not viewed differently and they can get the same benefits other people get.   Because we LOOOOVVVVVEEEEE them SOOOOOOOOO much!”   It really is that simple.   I have yet to hear any gay marriage supporters really even attempt to suggest there’s more to it than that.   “We want what you have” is pretty much what it was all about.

Those on the other side of the argument seldom thought all that much about the individuals enough to say that we love, like, dislike, or outright hate any given person or group.   The simple fact is, this has never been about emotional and personal feelings as much as it just simply doesn’t make one friggin’ bit of sense to us at any rational and reasonable and intellectual level.    It’s about a series of facts and observations:  (1) who do we think we are to redefine an institution that’s thousands of years old into something new? (2) Men’s parts are made for women’s parts by natural design or order or however you’d prefer to characterize it; (3) the sexual relationship is pretty much designed for one purpose – procreation.    Yes, it feels great, and we’ve turned its purpose into a self-serving thing of pleasure, but most people recognize that the entire reason there are men’s parts and women’s parts is so that there end up being more people.

Of course, morality and religion come into play, and it’s somewhat ironic that this generates protests from the progressives who claim that there should be no place in the debate for religion, when their entire platform is not actually based on anything of substance on any level.

Attempts to bridge this chasm usually do not go all that well.  Let’s focus on the Christians who have both purely rational reasons for believing what they believe, and also the affirmation of the good book to boot that really solidifies their position.  One of the problems that will occur on the one side of the debate is that, even though the root of the belief is based on sound judgment and logic, the emotional element does kick in for an entirely different reason than the progressive side.    It could be a few different reasons, but it’s generally something in this universe:   I love God so much and want others to love God, and this is so wrong that my head’s going to explode, and I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW OTHERS CAN’t SEE IT!; or there are numerous reasons and examples already that create a fear/anxiety that my own religious liberty will soon be at risk; or it just flat out makes so much sense that anyone who can’t see it is completely rationalizing in their opinion for some purpose or another (likely to appease the conscience of a loved one, or they can’t bear to believe that someone they know or love may be sinning), or just flat-out stupid.    So, because we Christians are not impervious to sin, these emotions do move us past the “hate the sin, love the sinner” frame of mind and we become uncharitable.   And this causes all sorts of issues that make us sound like haters.

But before the progressives get all puffy, you’re at fault too.    Because you simply cannot tolerate dissent, or anything other than complete complicity in both thought and action, you are unable to have a reasoned and rational debate.    A Christian can be utterly loving and charitable, but let’s face it…   if we believe something is sinful, there really isn’t a way to say that, even in the most loving way, that isn’t a little bit harsh.   And a Christian can present this without talking directly about “you” and recognize that God alone ultimately judges, and can throw all the caveats under the sun in there, but once the word “sin” is mentioned, every other word that has been said is forgotten.   All the love, compassion, delicate weaving of the argument or opinion…  gone.    After all, we dare not use the word “sin” these days.    YOU THINK I’M SINNING?!!!!   (even though I never said “you are sinning”)   YOU HATEFUL BIGOTED CHRISTIAN LOOOOSSSERRRR!!!    JUDGER!   JUDGER!

Don’t get me started on the perversion of the “Though shalt not judge” scriptural reference, which has been transformed into such a meaning that it eviscerates Paul’s requirement that we admonish the sinner.    But that’s a digression I won’t get into right now.

Sigh.

As a Diatriber, I guess I’m a judger.

All we can do as Christians is continue to strive for our balance point.   We must love, yet admonish.   But we must admonish with utmost charity.    But we cannot judge, especially without looking at the log in our own eye.    We must not capitulate our beliefs and participate in something that is wrong, but we cannot discriminate against people unfairly in our day-to-day lives, nor should we withhold our assistance and generosity to them either.   We must stand firm, publicly if necessary, in favor of what is good and right, while not being unnecessarily confrontation and mean-spirited in the way we make our stand.

That is a tough balancing act, and most of us will stumble around – possibly our entire lives – trying to figure out how to get it right.