I’m a bit of a critic. At times I’ve felt guilty for failing to be more positive. After reading Oman this morning, I feel a little less so.
A half and half morality always means a hopeless view of humanity; whereas a view of man as involved in a widely organised and radical corruption, always means a high estimate of his possibilities and a universal sense of the moral significance of life. –Grace and Personality
The gospel teaches that we live in a world infested with evil which permeates the hearts of every person. We were made to reflect the very glory of God, but have chosen instead to make our own destiny to our own destruction. These truths hardly call us to “accentuate the positive.”
That last phrase reminds me of a story which Bani, my friend from Albania, told me about living under the totalitarian regime of Enver Hoxha. Bani said that under communism the least mention of a fault in their society could get a person incarcerated. He spoke of a man who went to the store for potatoes to discover that they had run out. Later, that man met a friend for coffee and mentioned that there had been no potatoes at the store. An informant at the next table reported the man and he was thrown into prison. Apparently, the correct response to the question, “Why didn’t you get potatoes?” was, “I changed my mind.”
There is an optimism which hides corruption and a pessimism which reveals glory.
Most pessimistic of all is the teaching of Jesus. The highest morality turns out to be mere respectability, the purest religion mere formalism, and the insincerity is such that the Prince of this world is the Father of Lies. Nowhere, nevertheless, is the Kingdom so real or so near.
Jesus came to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and a judgement to come. He passed that call on to us (John 16:1-11).
I cannot endorse homosexual marriage. Sometimes I wish I could. I don’t want to come across as bigoted or intolerant. I don’t want to erect unnecessary hurdles to people coming to faith in Christ. I don’t believe that anyone woke up one morning and thought, “I think I’ll be sexually attracted to someone of the same gender today.” That being said, I cannot endorse homosexual marriage because the Bible universally and unequivocally denounces homosexual activity.
For me, the choice is to either denounce homosexuality as one sin among many or deny my faith in the message of the Bible. I will not choose that latter. So does that make me a Pharisee or a bigot? I’m sure there are many who would say, “Yes.” Because they say it does not make it so no matter how many say it or how loud they say it. No one’s words can change the truth of who I am or what I believe. For that reason, I give anyone full permission to disagree with me or to say whatever they like about me. I would appreciate the courtesy to be allowed to share my convictions, though.
By now, everyone as heard about Dan Cathy’s comments and their repercussions. I think, though, that most people are missing the lesson to be learned here. The main issue which the last two weeks have brought to the fore is free speech, or for that matter, free thought. Mr. Cathy is a private individual who can believe and say whatever he would like to say. He can spend his money or his company’s money in ways that he deems are worthwhile. Should his stance be incorrect, those who oppose him have nothing to fear.
I believe in free speech for everyone. When opinions are stifled no matter how egregious they may seem to our sensibilities, everyone loses. When we muzzle one person or fail to tolerate dissenting opinions, we narrow our vision as a society and eventually become blind.
I didn’t go to Chick fil A yesterday. I don’t like crowds and don’t prefer their food. I do however like Starbuck’s coffee. So I’ll be there tomorrow morning supporting their CEO’s right to his opinion and my caffeine addiction.
I’ll close with this landmark quote from Martin Luther which I believe applies to the current debate:
Unless I am convicted of error by the testimony of Scripture or by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God’s word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.
On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.