Nonsense Makes Things Difficult
I was watching a conversation unfold on Facebook about religion, dating, and traditional values in marriages — brought on by some reality tv star entering into some sort of courtship relationship. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that a return to these “old ways” was obviously good, but one participant was concerned about the age difference between the young man and the young woman:
it’s problematic to have a 20-year-old girl with an 18-year-old boy. I’d advise against it. In our increasingly feminized society, men need some age advantage to lead when young, I think.
Pretty much none of this made any sense to me and, when I intruded on the conversation to ask what in the world this all meant, I received no reply.
But a friend of mine directed me to the “Core Beliefs" of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which contains these points (among many others):
We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:
- The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;
- the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;
- the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;
- the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;
- the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality….
So that’s what’s going on here.
It’s all about the virtues of inequality between men and women, and about the damage done to society by — let’s see — feminism, homosexuality, pornography, egalitarianism, and probably a whole bunch of other things too.
Having thought about it for just a few minutes, I have to say that what bothers me so much about this sort of thing isn’t just all the nonsense about inequality or sexuality. It’s also that it makes it so much more difficult to be a person of faith today because you constantly have to deal with the perception that you have a connection to or relationship with this kind of nonsense.
Last week, former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was speaking at a Christian high school in Michigan and was asked about the possibility of sharing a locker room with an openly gay teammate.
So from a football standpoint, if the guy can help us win, come help us win. Now, there are a lot of teammates in my locker room right now who may not have a homosexual lifestyle, but they have sins, too. They’re not perfect. So I don’t say they can’t help us win. Nobody’s perfect.
To that degree, we’d welcome him into our locker room and say come help us win, and hopefully I can love him like Jesus and hopefully show him what it means to follow Jesus.
A lot of sports websites and blogs jumped on Cousins’ comments to highlight what seems to be obvious intolerance both within the NFL and from Christians.
But I wonder if there isn’t at least a little bit more going on here.
It’s well-known that Cousins is a football player who is outspoken about his Christianity, someone likely to want to proselytize at any opportunity. He’s speaking here to young men at a Christian high school.
The best thing he could say is that everyone is equal in his eyes and, if you can play, you’re welcome on the team. The worst thing he could say is that homosexuality is an abomination and he would never have anything to do with someone who is gay.
What he said, instead, was pretty much exactly what I’d expect: A little bit of the best possible thing he could say, something that sounds close to the worst thing he could say. Taken all together, it amounts to exactly what Cousins has heard thousands of times in the churches he frequents: "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
While this is certainly not what I think of as progressive, my guess is that many people in the crowds Cousins addresses would see it that way. He can do a whole lot better, clearly, but there’s a possibility for real improvement already contained in his statement. Rather than worrying quite so much about teaching his imperfect teammates about Jesus, he might work on his own imperfections and blind spots so that he’s actually living a more loving and less judgmental life himself.
The guy’s not going to stop being outspoken about his Christianity, but that doesn’t mean he’s always going to believe what he believes today about homosexuality being an “imperfection” like, say, adultery or cursing your parents. It might be that, rather than condemning Cousins for where he is today, we could find ways to work with him so as to speed him along toward the place we’d like for him to reach.
HT: Marcus Sanborn.
Well, this has occasioned a whole lot more discussion than I’d anticipated (especially given how little anyone said about yesterday’s post on the very same topic) …
But, seriously, we all know the whole religious freedom argument is just an attempt at an end run around all manner of anti-discrimination laws and court cases, right?
NFL Executives Say The League Isn’t Ready For Michael Sam:
[W]hile initial reaction from players has been almost universally welcoming, the executives who will actually make decisions on drafting Sam have been disappointingly retrograde. Sports Illustrated has two separate articles speaking with 12 different NFL GMs, coaches, and scouts, and to a man, they say that being gay will either hurt Sam’s draft stock, or cause him to not be drafted at all.
Also to a man, they refuse to put their names behind their comments.
So, although there’s a lot of support for Michael Sam today, there’s still a whole lot to watch at this story unfolds. In particular, it’s an open question as to whether the anonymous NFL executives quoted in the above story are being realistic or retrograde.
After all, it’s (relatively) easy for players and analysts to applaud Michael Sam’s decision right now and then to ignore or stay away from him as draft day gets closer. That way, they don’t get hammered for bigotry and they don’t have to actually work with or stand up for Sam.
The players, coaches, and executives of the NFL ought to be welcoming to Michael Sam given his considerable talent. But, like a pretty large subset of America, that doesn’t mean they will be.
I hadn’t written anything about the controvery created by a piece of reporting at Grantland earlier this week, but then I heard this take on it from the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis and decided I needed to write something.
Bill Simmons, Grantland’s editor, published a long piece a few days ago that explained and apologized for what happened with an investigative piece that ended up outing its subject as transgender (to one of her investors while she was still alive and then, when the piece was published, to the whole world after she had killed herself).
Lewis, in this short video clip, takes issue with Simmons’ apology because he feels that the backlash against the Grantland piece was PC thuggery and damages people’s ability to do good investigative reporting.
What’s interesting — and terrible — about Lewis’ commentary is that he absolutely fails to consider the depth of Simmons’ mea culpa, lampooning what I take to be the most important point that Simmons makes.
But that speaks to our collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece ….
Whether you believe we were right or wrong, let’s at least agree that we made an indefensible mistake not to solicit input from ANYONE in the trans community.
What Simmons recognizes — albeit so very, very late — is that no one on his staff stopped for even a moment to think about things from the perspective of a member of a community that is radically misunderstood, marginalized, and persecuted.
Lewis bemoans and ridicules the notion that a reporter or an editorial staff ought to consider things from the perspective of the Other, making clear that he completely missed the central lesson of the whole Grantland controversy.
Can you do investigative journalism and follow a story’s unexpected twists and turns? You bet. Is it possible to also take into account how your reporting might impact people who are unlike you in some important respect? I would certainly hope so.
Madonna published a photo of her son on Instagram and used the n-word in the description of the photo.
This might not offend you, as a young white guy in the UK, and it might not even offend the black friends you mention. But it clearly offended a whole lot of people and they made it clear to her that they were offended, which is why she first angrily told people “#getoff of my d–k haters!” and then later chose to apologize for the offense (albeit poorly).
But let me say one more thing: I don’t think it’s ever appropriate for white people to make a decision about when to use a term that has historically been used to marginalize and dehumanize; I feel the same way with regard to straight people and slurs about homosexuality, or Christians and slurs about Judaism, or men and slurs about women … and so on.
That you feel comfortable using these slurs and that you think they’ve simply “become commonplace today in society” is emblematic of a problem I think we would do well to address: Words have power. They might not feel particularly powerful to you, but stepping outside the bubble of your own privilege to consider how others might experience your usage of slurs will matter a great deal in the long run for you and for the pluralistic society in which you live.
A lot of people have asked me why I care so much about this “Duck Dynasty” nonsense. This video clip is a good explanation.
In it, Matt Lewis explains his concern that ganging up on someone who expresses an unpopular opinion, especially one based on his religious belief, will lead to a chilling effect on speech.
Clearly, I could just as easily claim that being told not to criticize someone whose speech offends me could also lead to a chilling effect. But I think there’s a larger point to be made here.
A long time ago, some Christians used religious belief to defend the notion that blacks were inferior to whites. Much more recently, some Christians believed that Jews were Christ-killers and/or that they were doomed to the fires of Hell. While very few still believe the former, a fair number likely still believe the latter. But they generally don’t say it to interviewers for major national publications.
Is that because something changed in their belief system or because of a chilling effect based on liberal indignation? I tend to think it’s a combination of those things. Some Christians might still believe that Jews are going to Hell, and they might talk about this belief with their friends and family, but they generally don’t say it publicly because it’s simply not acceptable to do so.
Make no mistake: This isn’t an infringement on belief or on speech; people are still free to believe what they want to believe about Jews. It’s just no longer acceptable to make hurtful or hateful statements about Jews in public. Over time, I like to think people will just stop believing these things about Jews just as they stopped believing that racial inequality was religiously sanctioned.
Is something lost when people stop believing these things? Lewis seems to think so, since he casts himself as a staunch and unapologetic defender of unpopular speech based on religious belief. So what is it that’s lost? For my perspective, what we’re losing is mostly just the sort of other-ing that leads to intolerance, hatred, conflict, and violence. Can one still be a good Christian without believing that Jews are going to Hell or that homosexuals ”are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil”? I suspect one can, given how many Christians don’t believe this sort of thing.
When I criticize people who launch attacks against gays and lesbians using religious language, I’m very mindful of the chilling effect my criticism might have. I’m actually hoping that, by discouraging the public expression of hurtful, other-ing language, we’ll be able to make progress toward become more accepting of those who look differently, act differently, or hold different beliefs from our own.
At this point, homosexuals are a minority group that it’s still acceptable for conservatives to target under the guise of religious belief and Jews are not. When I criticize this language of exclusion, I do it because I’m looking forward to a time when religious belief no longer justifies the poor treatment of any minority group.
zeubersaw asked: What's your opinion on Mike Huckabee and his craze of duck dynasty he's having right now?
Like most of the people I know, I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to Mike Huckabee ever since he suspended his presidential campaign back in 2008.
So, when I got this question, I did a quick Google search for “Huckabee” and “Duck Dynasty” … and here’s what I came up with:
It looks like things are going pretty well for the guy.
I wonder if his position on free speech and traditional values and the way “militants” have ruined everything that’s good about A&E and America has anything at all to do with his possible run for the presidency in 2016.
Nah, probably no relation between those things.
I Don’t Get It
Right near the top of the list of all the things I’ll never understand is why some people think it’s so desperately important to be able to say horrible things in public without anyone complaining.
If you believe homosexuality, just like bestiality, is an illogical sin or that black people sure seemed much happier in the Jim Crow South before they got entitlements and started hating white people — or whatever other disturbing and offensive nonsense — why do you need a public forum for those beliefs free from any constraints?
I’m not saying keep your horrible opinions to yourself (though that would be my personal preference); I’m just saying that if you offend me, I’m going to tell you that I find your comments offensive.
The other day, someone on Twitter made either a straightforwardly racist joke about AIDS or a bad joke about AIDS with pretty clear racist overtones. She was made the butt of jokes for hours and, if memory serves me, she lost her job … all while she was offline on an international flight.
Then people — the same people who routinely defend offensive things said by racists, sexists, homophobes, and anti-Semites as not so offensive or as free speech — rushed to defend this poor woman and to complain about the horribly intolerant liberals who are constantly policing what we’re allowed to say and do.
So here’s the thing:
Let’s say I am a liberal language policeman (though in both of the above cases I actually wasn’t). Why shouldn’t I be? What’s the value in sitting quietly while someone expresses what I take to be an odious opinion that we, collectively, ought to be smart enough to move past? [And don’t say free speech, because these aren’t free speech issues.]
Why do people expect me to listen to someone’s hatefulness or stupidity without mentioning that I find it hateful or stupid?
There’s a persistent, pernicious sentiment from certain Christian conservatives that they’re being persecuted or oppressed for their religious beliefs.
It’s gotten louder over the years and it ranges from things that sound silly — “There’s a War on Christmas because I’m asked to say ‘Happy Holidays’ in December — to things that sound serious: “I’m being compelled by the government to do something that violates the tenets of Christianity.”
This latter claim has started cropping up a lot; it’s part of conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Christian employers shouldn’t be mandated to provide birth control coverage) and it’s part of conservative opposition to same-sex marriage (Christian-owned businesses shouldn’t be compelled to participate).
These objections are often couched in the most hysterical sort of rhetoric, namely that atheists and liberals are persecuting Christians and that the very fabric of our republic is being pulled asunder if the freedom of religion can be so obviously undermined in this way.
But here’s the thing:
Freedom of religion isn’t being threatened and Christians aren’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, actually, is a particular form of intolerance that dresses itself in religious rhetoric.
There are millions and millions of Christians in America who aren’t intolerant of gays and lesbians and who don’t oppose the right of women — like men — to make decisions pertaining to reproductive health for themselves. In this sense, Christianity isn’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, instead, is a particular form of belief that centers around not simply the Christian Bible, but around intolerance of others to make life choices for themselves if those life choices don’t line up with a particular interpretation of the Bible.
Are we so intolerant of the intolerant in America? Not usually. And, in fact, we’re not being all that intolerant now. Christian conservatives can still oppose same-sex marriage or birth control or whatever else in their private lives. The government isn’t compelling them to attend these marriages or to use birth control. The government isn’t challenging their beliefs or compelling them to change their minds.
American Christians — and everyone else too — can believe anything they want to believe, but they cannot use their beliefs as a cudgel; belief — even sincerely held belief — isn’t an excuse to discriminate against others or to curtail their rights.
There is, incidentally, no shortage of articles online to which one might turn for a reminder about what actual persecution of Christians looks like; Christians do face persecution in many parts of the world … but America isn’t really one.
Facebook Friends and a Weird Coincidence
There’s a surprisingly strong correlation between 20-something white guys who occasionally post borderline sexist, homophobic, racist, or anti-Semitic stuff on their Facebook Timelines (which they then can’t believe anyone could possibly find sexist, homophobic, racist, or anti-Semitic) and 20-something white guys who quote Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek on their Facebook Timelines.
Not causation, mind you, just correlation.