The only real Christian is a loud and angry Christian?
History is written by the victors.

-- Churchill

And so is morality.

In another reminder of the principle I touched on in the last post (that moral debates are won by those who yell the loudest), Jeff Jarvis links to a very tedious "Culture War" skirmish between the American Family Association and NBC. The AFA has decided that a television program ("The Book of Daniel") -- featuring a minister with a substance abuse problem -- is an attack on Christianity and Christians.

Why would that necessarily be the case? Didn't Jesus go out of his way and endure great criticism to befriend and hang out with disreputable people like drunks, tax collectors, and sinners of various stripes? Wasn't Jesus the guy who Christianity was named for? I haven't seen the series (it hasn't aired yet), but in theory, why can't a guy with a substance abuse problem be one of his ministers as long as he beliefs are sincere (which according to the website they apparently are)?

Can't they at least watch the show before jumping to the conclusion that it's against Christianity?

A major reason the AFA gives for opposing the show is that it's written by a "practicing homosexual." I'm assuming their argument is that this is bad on it's face, because no Christian could possibly be a homosexual, because homosexuality is condemned as a sin in the Bible. But isn't there someplace else where it says all Christians are sinners? Aren't there also adulterous Christians, lying Christians, covetous Christians, and Christians who don't always strictly obey the Sabbath? Is the AFA arguing that Jesus would want a background check run on all writers to see whether they're free from sin? Furthermore, where do they get the idea that homosexuality was one of Jesus Christ's primary concerns?

Is the AFA free from sin? If not, then who put them in charge?

One thing is sure: they'll try to yell louder than anyone else.

That's because they hope that their yelling will be seen as the only "Christian" voice. Loud, cacophonous, and unreasonable. Isn't that how the godless secular atheist heathens want to portray all Christians?

Back to Jeff Jarvis, who raises an interesting point about fairness.

Change the channel. Go watch the 700 Club, which offends me, though Iím not trying to keep you from watching it.
Jeff's point about changing the channel, of course, is lost on people who are not content with merely not watching something they don't like; as he says, their goal is to stop other people from watching what they don't like.

Again, assuming there is some right to not be offended, isn't it possible that some Christians might find the 700 Club just as offensive as other Christians might find "The Book of Daniel"? Don't they have just as much right to complain that the 700 Club presents Christianity in an unfavorable light, and does great damage to the cause of Jesus Christ? Legally speaking, they do, but they're just not as loud in presenting their moral argument.

Whether it be a left wing or right wing variety, it's because morality is often confused with volume that the loudest voices win.

posted by Eric on 12.28.05 at 09:10 AM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The only real Christian is a loud and angry Christian?:

» Even Daniel Got A Trial Before Being Condemned to the Lion’s Den from One Stack Mind
Am I the only one who hears that the AFA opposes, sight unseen, NBC’s The Book of Daniel (partly) on grounds that a writer is a “practicing homosexual” and wants to ask for the scripture that says, “Let he who is without sin wr... [Read More]
Tracked on December 29, 2005 7:51 PM


Without touching on the stupidity of the AFA or this protest, I feel I must defend (from a theological standpoint, and as an atheist, by which I mean, defend its internal coherence) the idea that one can condemn a Christian for being a practicing homosexual. (While repeating that I do not myself see any problem with homosexuality, but I comprehend the claims of those who consider its practice as incompatible with Christian belief.)

Christians are, of course, all sinners. But they're supposed to hate sin, and try their best to not sin.

The problem, from that perspective, with a "practicing homosexual" is the same as one with a "practicing murderer" or "practicing thief"; he is quite evidently not trying to stop committing that sin, but is (in the case of the homosexual and sometimes the thief, though rarely the murderer) trying to say it's okay to commit it.

Otherwise, he would be celibate, or only break down and engage in homosexual activity at rare intervals (and repenting of it afterwards, as is required for forgiveness of any sin), just as a thief would have an honest living (if we assume one is available, which it is to most thieves in the modern, Western world), if he really believed theft was Wrong.

Jesus would not (from my reading of Scripture) suggest that someone must be free from sin, but that they must endeavour to not commit sins if they have any power to, and repent of them sincerely when they commit them ("Go,and sin no more"). This does not, in my experience, describe any "practicing homosexual". Rather such persons tend, quite naturally, to hold the belief that they are not sinning at all. (Whether they are right or not, as a matter of theology, is beyond my competence.)

So, no, I don't really see that that argument against the AFA holds, though the rest looks quite correct.

Sigivald   ·  December 28, 2005 4:13 PM

I see the point, but I doubt a similar objection would have been raised against a writer "living in sin" with a woman he hadn't married.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 28, 2005 4:45 PM

Sigivald: if you have no problem with homosexuality, then why do you waste ANY time defending a form of bigotry against a harmless activity that Jesus and the Ten Commandments never explicitly even mentioned? And why do you so easily accept the equation of "practicing homosexuals" with "practicing murderers?" Do you really consider those two groups similar in any meaningful way? Is this equation not a form of "false witness?"

Anti-gay bigotry is NOT central to Christian doctrine. It is based -- loosely -- on peripheral references in the Bible that some people have cherry-picked and chosen to interpret in a spirit contradictory to the words and spirit of Jesus himself.

Raging Bee   ·  December 29, 2005 8:51 AM

-- "Aren't there also adulterous Christians, lying Christians, covetous Christians, and Christians who don't always strictly obey the Sabbath?" --

Not to mention "Christians" who judge others and who are anything but meek.

Raging Bee - Quit raging and take a chill pill. Only someone who tries very hard to see the worst in everything could possibly interpret Sigivald's post as "defending" anti-gay bigotry. He was trying to explain a point of view - a useful thing to do since it's more difficult to fight what you don't understand.

Lynn S   ·  December 29, 2005 9:37 AM

Yes, I'm quite aware of that, and I'm contributing my understanding that all that theological discourse is nothing more than a thin disguise for the sort of mindless hatred that will tiwst (or ignore) even the holiest of words to its own purposes. It's the emotion that must be understood, not the rationalizations.

Raging Bee   ·  December 29, 2005 10:45 AM

Jesus washed the feet of a prostitute. Therefore he is a pimp.

anonymous   ·  December 29, 2005 10:59 PM

We shouldn't worry about what people like those at the AFA have to say. Just wind 'em up and let 'em chatter their fool heads off. I personally still hold out enough hope for the common sense of most Americans to believe that the more these Right-Wing nitwits sound off, the more obvious their idiocy becomes.

So Pat Robertson thinks "homosexual behavior" is a sin? Ahhhahahahahahahaha! This stern moral admonition, from a man who goes on national TV to recommend the assassination of a major political leader.

Robertson, the AFA, and the rest of those self-important blowholes couldn't be more obvious clowns unless they wore big red noses, ruffly collars, squirting carnations and floppy shoes.

Again, I still have faith that sanity will prevail.

Lori Heine   ·  January 2, 2006 8:00 PM

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