f The Wittenberg Door: Tolerant of Intolerance

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Tolerant of Intolerance

From The Wittenberg Door archives . . .

Chris Broussard of ESPN recently had the audacity and gall to assert that homosexuality is clearly denounced as sin in the Scriptures. As expected, he was vilified as a homophobic, bigoted, hateful, intolerant Christian. It seems like you can only be labeled tolerant if you agree with whatever popular society purports as acceptable. To have the brazenness to uphold historical, orthodox Christian views with regard to sexuality is to be automatically dismissed as dated and close-minded. Here is a transcript of his original comments made on ESPN:

"I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality. I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We've gone out, had lunch together, we've had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don't criticize him, he doesn't criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.

"In talking to some people around the league, there's a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don't want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That's what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.

"... Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin. If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."

Mr. Broussard defended his Christian convictions here in this hostile (and crude) interview:

--The Deacon



Blogger K IRA said...

The problem is that the religion itself is fundamentally prejudiced.
There are a great many nice, kind people in it, but there is so much intolerance and cruelty in the bible that any person who wants to be a good person must not take it literally or hold themselves to many of its laws.Most of them cannot read the bible in it's entirety, as a remarkably large number who do then become atheists as a direct consequence.

4:51 PM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

@K IRA - Thank you for taking the time to read the blog. I would love to discourse with you, but I don't want to misunderstand any of your assertions. So I'll ask you to give some detail for your comments. Would you like to elaborate on any of the following...?

1. "Religion itself is fundamentally prejudiced" Can you be more specific and relate your explanation to the topic at hand?
2. "...there is so much intolerance and cruelty in the Bible..." To what would you be referring (just one or two examples).
3. "...any person who wants to be a good person..." by what standard do you judge "goodness"?

Lamentably, I agree that many people who profess to be Christians do not take the Bible seriously or hold themselves to a pattern of lifestyle modeled after God's Law. I would assert that this is more of a reflection on the sinfulness of a fallen mankind rather than a defect in the Scriptures. A moral law ought not be based on our ability to keep it; rather it ought to be based on right and wrong; and objectively measured by eternal, absolute truth. Lastly, as for those who reject Christianity, I would again contend that this, of itself, does no injustice to the truth-claims of the Bible; rather, it affirms them (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23 and 1 John 2:19).

--The Deacon

6:49 AM  
Blogger K IRA said...

1. As all religions claim to be the one truth of the universe, by their nature they must exclude all of the others and denounce them as lies, or at least mistaken. This is understandable, but to truly believe the religion you must be diametrically opposed to all of the others and this opposition often manifests in violence, or it did before such behaviour was frowned upon for being bad for international relationships.
2. The genocide of all other tribes and people, babies being cut form their mothers wombs and dashed upon the rocks, stoning somebody to death for gathering sticks on the sabbath and then in the next few verses discussing what type of trimming should go on your clothes, repeated genocide because of Gods own mistakes. There is a very long list.
1 Timothy 2:12, in which the saint says: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent."
1 Samuel 15:3: "This is what the Lord Almighty says ... 'Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'
Psalm 137, which celebrates this terrible revenge: "Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us / He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."
Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord"; and similar advice for slaves in 1 Peter 2:18: "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel."
“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)
3. Basically, having female teachers and professors goes against the bible. There is also the other things people like to forget, such as the eating of shellfish, tattoos, wearing clothes of mixed fibres, shaving your beards and other things christians do a lot of that the bible condemns as an abomination, although those things don't make them bad people, they are just ignored as inconvenient and old-fashioned.
I judge goodness by how much happiness or pain it brings people. Hurting other people is bad because I would not want it done to me. Treating others how you wish to be treated does not require any gods to be true.
I think the majority of people who profess to be christians don't take the bible literally in its every instruction. In fact, I would be surprised if there are any of them.

12:48 PM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

K IRA – Thank you again for reading the blog and your willingness to engage in civil discussion. Also, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to address each of my questions. I think a little more clarity related to one of your final statements could serve as a framework for parsing through each of the sub-topics.

You say you base your moral judgments on the degree of happiness or pain or brings others. Why ought this be accepted as a universal moral authority?

8:57 AM  
Blogger K IRA said...

Because happiness and pain are universal to all living things, or at least those with a nervous system advanced enough to feel them. This includes most animals, not just humans.
Did you know that elephants grieve for the dead and even try to bury them, even those they aren't related to?

I meant that there are so many things that the bible forbids (trimming your hair, eating any animal that chews cud e.g. sheep, goats, rabbits etc) that people do all the time, even the young Earth creationists.
Does Ray Comfort look like he never trims his beard? Does Ken Ham's hair look like it has never been cut?

11:32 AM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

Thanks again for your explanation. What I'm attempting to understand is your basis for moral judgments.

Why ought the universality of common experiences of happiness or pain necessitate particular behavior, specifically moral or ethical behavior? For example, what brings my wife pain or happiness, often elicits the exact opposite for me; traversing the county for a pair of black heels ALL AFTERNOON is not my idea of happiness! While watching USC football for three hours on a Saturday (while I still haven't folded the laundry she asked me to do yesterday) brings her immense pain. More extreme examples can be made: what made Hitler happy was murdering Jews, what makes a pedophile happy is molesting children, what makes a thief happy is robbing banks, etc. What makes people happy or sad can vary wildly from person to person. Considering this, why ought that be the rule of thumb? And whose happiness and/or pain is primary, to which all others must subjugate their own happiness and/or sadness, and why?

7:54 AM  
Blogger K IRA said...

These feelings are universal, but are slightly different and specifically unique to each individual, so there will always be arguments about it. This is why the laws keep getting revised.
If moral laws were absolute, or these things were felt identically in everyone, then we would have arrived at a perfect system of laws thousands of years ago. Yet we haven't.
While things may be boring or unpleasant, it doesn't mean they should be illegal for everyone because some people don't enjoy them, but when they actively harm others beyond a tolerable boundary (defined in a case by case basis) then they are quickly declared illegal. Most of these, such as murder, rape and paedophilia, are pretty much universal to everyone (notable exceptions being murderers, rapists and paedophiles).

2:26 AM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

Thank you for your continuing engagement and conversation. Your original comment stated that religion contains fundamental prejudices which pose problems for persons wanting to be “good” .It seems that you hold to a concept of goodness, however, that can vary from person to person, based on what each individual deems to be tolerable. It becomes difficult to argue for happiness as a universal motivation for a morality which is declared simultaneously subjective, and thus not universal. The paradoxical juxtaposition of these two ideas is a serious problem to be navigated for the utilitarian. How do you resolve this issue?

11:17 AM  
Blogger K IRA said...

Happiness is a universal concept, but what makes people happy or unhappy varies from person to person.
Happiness itself is universal, but how we get there is subjective.
This which make people extremely unhappy, like murder, rape and theft, are illegal. Although some things people don't like *cough* taxes *cough* are necessary for the running of the societies we live in.
Sending people to prison makes them unhappy, but if they are there because they have hurt others then it is both for the protection of the majority and as a punishment of the guilty (which is necessary to ensure the less moral people behave).
As I said, it is decided on a case by case basis.

11:50 PM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

I think I understand your argument; but what I am having a hard time comprehending is your ultimate standard. It seems as though you have a concept of morality, but it changes with each case and over time. In addition, happiness as "a universal concept" varies from place to place, time to time, one ideology/philosophy to another, etc.

For example, in Karl Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, marriage was deemed part of capitalism and actually described as “private prostitution.” Formal familial structure was minimized and laws for a code of conduct for families were declared. Francis Schaeffer, in his book How Should We Then Live, points out that these laws were “arbitrary absolute(s)” and derived from purely utilitarian premises; as such, they could be reversed at any time. He further explains that no basis exists for right or wrong in this type of ideology. In Christianity, however, God is the absolute standard from which absolute morality exudes. The Christian has an objective and eternal standard from which to draw his or her standard; whereas, the Utilitarian standard varies wildly.

So the point is this, all worldviews and philosophies have presuppositions at their core which result in thoughts, words, and actions. The objective standard of Scripture opposes the cruelty and intolerance you referenced in your original comment; however, utilitarianism cannot honestly comment on matters of injustice, morality, cruelty, etc. with any logical consistency because the standards vary from person to person, regime to regime, era to era, etc.

4:10 PM  
Blogger K IRA said...

There is no ultimate standard for morality. It does change with each case and over time, as the person in question changes, and as society itself changes.
That's why we are constantly updating and revising our laws.
It's interesting that you should mention The Communist Manifesto, as I got that for my kindle yesterday. I probably won't read it for a long time (I got the complete works of Shakespeare and Jack London for less than NZ$2 each), as I also got a load of other books as well, but I definitely hope to get round to it.
Morality is what helps us as a species, not as individuals.

5:29 PM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

To say 'there is no ultimate standard for morality' is to make a moral statement. On your view, what difference does it make if the species is exterminated? Why should the rapist care what makes his victims happy? Why should the murderer care about those he kills? And when you're victimized, why are you outraged if no actual wrong was committed?

12:38 PM  
Blogger K IRA said...

Sorry, I should have said "I do not think there is any ultimate standard to morality". I could be wrong.
I think we all have to do the best we can and hopefully make the world a better place.
As a member of our species, I personally would not like it if we went extinct. I don't think most other humans would either. Suicidal people might, or maybe militant nihilists.
Obviously the murderers and rapists don't care, otherwise they wouldn't do what they do. Up to 4% of the population is thought to be psychopaths, to greater or lesser degrees. I am sure they wouldn't like to be murdered or raped, and so they put their desires ahead of the good of society as a whole, hence we call them immoral. A lot of morality can be explained logically.
What do you mean by no actual wrong committed?

5:10 PM  

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