5/13/2010 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Bob R --
Since I came out of Evangelicalism a few years ago, a certain truism has been drilled into me through my interactions with persons of this religious persuasion: Whatever it is that you accuse the "other" of doing is the very thing that you are most guilty of yourself. Take any one of the Religious Right's pet peeves, and scratch beneath the surface, and you'll find that whatever they hate, they are. Let me say this again, though if you've ever read my blog or spoken to me about any issue you'll have heard me say it before: They hate what they are. In fact, I believe this goes beyond application to the religious bigots of the world and applies to you and me and everyone in between. We hate what we are. To bring the point close to home and to prove that I'm not being hypocritical, I'll apply it to myself--I get so bent out of shape by religious zealots because I used to be one. Maybe I still am one, I just no longer have a religion to hang my hat on, so I spend my time looking critically at the camp that I used to want to lead, back when I was still able to convince myself that what I believed in made sense. In fact, one of the primary forces that drove me, kicking and screaming, from the ranks of the Christian Soldiers was the fact that I found myself surrounded by the nauseating contradiction that is Evangelicalism. Every sermon, every conference, every "Day of _____", every movement, was just another instance of the foundational fact that we hate what we are. Take the major bugaboos of American Evangelicalism and apply this principle and what will you find?
Given the inordinate amount of attention that Evangelicals pay to the issue of abortion (which, so far as I can tell, nobody actually enjoys), you would think that the Church would, for the most part, be free from the practice of actually aborting fetuses. Right? Well, not if you apply the axiom I stated above. In fact, Protestants and Evangelicals account for roughly 40% of all abortions in the United States. But I thought that they stood against the so-called "culture of death" that the evil atheists want to be free to practice? Not so. Protestant abortions outnumber those of persons with no religious affiliation almost two to one, even though persons with no religion, so we are told, have no reason for not having abortions. So, why is it that Evangelicals are so obsessed with the issue of abortion? I submit that it's because so many of them are getting abortions, and so many feel guilty about the abortions that they have had or are having or will have that they project their guilt on to others and turn self-loathing into anger at "the world" (i.e. the out group or "other"). If the Church stopped getting abortions, there would be a 40% reduction in the number of fetuses that die each year. Think about that--what other political or ideological movement could solve nearly half of the problem that they oppose if only their own members would practice what they preach? To cut abortions by almost half, all the church has to do is stop getting abortions. Of course, that's easier said than done. Because, while Evangelical "ethics" demand that they stand up for the rights of the "unborn", at the same time, no other group in society has the suffocating stigma attached to a child born out of wedlock. So, it's a classic catch-22, and one that, more often than not, results in the choice to abort rather than suffer the shame of bearing a child before God has matched you up with the one he's chosen for you. So, what are you to do as an Evangelical? Why, of course, you hate what you are, and you take to the streets to condemn the world for what you are most guilty of yourself.
Chances are, if you listen closely enough to the pastor or preacher or parachurch leader who is speaking most passionately against the homosexual lifestyle, you'll notice something peculiar. They have a lisp. Or should I say, lithp. OK, so not all of them, but if you listen, you'll notice that many of them do. But, even if you don't consider that rather juvenile and unsophisticated criteria to be valid, think about this: Evangelical masculine culture is enamored with effeminate expressions of emotion. It always has been. I'm thinking of course about the Gospel of John and how John, the disciple whom Jesus "loved", used to recline on Jesus' breast. There was even a tradition in which Jesus was apparently gay, or at least had what appeared to be a romantic relationship with the mysterious boy who ran off naked from the Garden of Gethsemanae at Jesus' arrest. See Clement of Alexandria's letter to Theodore on the subject. Of course, that tradition, which even the venerable Apostolic Father Clement did not disparage, nevertheless did not make its way into the orthodox tradition. Still, the effeminate and the homoerotic abound in Evangelical culture. Crying, hugging, hand-holding, and the like are the stuff of the men's retreat, and the Christian life is considered a "Sacred Romance". A huge portion of the Evangelical devotional culture is little more than a Christianization of a harlequin romance novel in which Jesus is the Fabio-like stud and you (the man) are "the bride of Christ" waiting to be swept off your feet into his rapturous embrace.
Time to Gloat:
So, now for my long-awaited, grand pronouncement of "I told you so." I have, on many occasions, tried to reason with the members of the Family Research Council regarding my "you hate what you are" axiom. My approach was usually cordial (though I was always insulted and even occasionally threatened by the followers of gentle Jesus). Most often, the approach I would take would be to recommend that the Evangelicals simply follow their own Scriptures. While I never uttered a curse word, nor engaged in the abusive language that either was directed at me and my family by members of the FRC, nor did I make crude or inappropriate comments as many other belligerents were making on the FRC's Facebook wall, I was eventually blocked from offering my comments. And for what? Because I said things like this:
Jesus was a friend of sinners. He spent time with the prostitutes, loved the Tax Collectors (I'm looking at you Tea Party), and never tried to shame people into obedience. In fact, he focused all of his criticism on "the Church" of his day (the Pharisees) and the believers or chosen people, who allegedly were supposed to know better. He didn't go after the government or the secular culture of his day--the only time he became violent was when he threw the moneychangers out of the Temple (or times, since he apparently either did it twice or John's account contradicts the Synoptics, but I digress).
Whatever it is that you accuse the "other" of doing is the very thing that you are most guilty of yourself.My sour grapes about not being able to gloat on the FRC's Facebook wall aside, it should come at no surprise, and actually ought to be expected that, this week, one of the founders of the Family Research Council, Dr. George Rekers, and one of the leading voices against homosexuality coming from the Evangelical camp has been exposed after hiring a male sex slave from rentboy.com to accompany him on a great gaycation to Europe. In fact, if my axiom were a mathematical formula, and you worked the whole thing out, the solution would read something like this: "Therefore, the founder of the FRC must, of necessity, be gay himself, and will someday be exposed as a closeted homosexual, and a perverted one at that." This is how the formula works when applied to Jimmy Swaggart, to Ted Haggard, and to so many "Family Values" politicians that it's not even fun to count any more, and this is obviously how it will work, nay must work for any and every Evangelical who condemns a certain lifestyle or culture. You hate what you are. You obsess about abortion? Must be because you've had one. You obsess about pornography? Must be because you're addicted to it. You accuse "liberals" of hating America? You must secretly fantasize about treason and sedition. Last, but by no means least, you obsess about the "homosexual agenda"? Why you must have an agenda yourself, and one that includes purchasing the services of a man whore from rentboy.com for your European gaycation. You hate what you are.
This is what's known in Evangelical circles as a "testimony", though in the real world it's know as "hypocrisy". On any given Sunday, you will here the following testimony from a teary-eyed convert: I know that abortions are evil because I have had one. I know that pornography is from the devil, because my wife left me because I was addicted to it. I know the homosexual agenda is evil, because I used to be gay. It never even occurs to such persons that what they consider to be divine certainty is little more than an allergic reaction to their own conscience. It never even crosses their collective minds that this is the definition of relativism, not the antidote to it.
Now, to apply the axiom to the entire system of Evangelicalism globally, which fancies itself as some kind of superior ethic and a last bastion of resistance against the encroaching relativism that threatens us all, I'd like to offer up this little gem, which comes from the FRCs statement in response to the Rekers rentboy.com scandal:
"While we are extremely disappointed when any Christian leader engages in the very activities that they 'preach' against, it is not surprising. The Scriptures clearly teach the fallen nature of all people. We each have a choice to act upon that nature or accept the forgiveness offered by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and do our best to ensure our actions, both public and private, match our professed positions."
Image by Will Lion via FlickrAllow me to translate what the FRC is trying to say here. In essence, they're saying "What did you expect?" Now, they're saying this because they think that this failure just confirms the wisdom of the Biblical worldview in which "no one is righteous. No, not one", and that all are saved by the glory of God. Well, isn't that just the essence of convenience, especially if you're the kind of "sinner saved by grace" who likes to purchase man whores on occasion and to somehow use your abject dismissal of your own principles as a way to further your own credibility, rather than destroying it. At its "wild" heart, Evangelicalism is a supremely relativistic philosophy, and one in which accountability and responsibility are, of necessity, excluded from the outset. It has been carefully crafted over the millenia by men and women (mostly men...and some men who like to behave like women) to achieve two contradictory purposes: to both convince its adherents that they are supremely righteous and therefore superior to all other groups, while simultaneously excusing its adherents from even the grossest and most perversely unjust actions. The priest is chaste and celibate. The priest also likes to rape little children, particularly little boys. The pastor is a man of God, a moral bulwark in the culture war. The pastor also sexually harassed the secretary which led to the church learning about his sexual encounters with several women who met with him for prayer. "What did you expect? He's just a sinner saved by grace. His actions only prove that God is wise and the Bible is true." Evangelicalism is like a moral black hole, where responsibility collapses in on itself due to the inescapable gravitational pull of hypocrisy. It will ever and always continue to do this, because this is what it was designed to do. This is how our minds work--we hate what we are, and we project this hatred on to others. We also know what we are, and we know what we've done, and so we need a way to convince ourselves that we're not as bad as our actions and memories might tell us we are. We also know what we want to do, so we need to find a way to have our moral cake and eat a little beefcake on the side, too.
Let me conclude by channeling the Apostle Paul for a moment. There is no one righteous, not even one. But, thanks be to God that we have been called to condemn the other for being unrighteous and to present ourselves as gloriously obedient to a higher moral standard. Thanks be to God that we that, through Christ, can both condemn the sin that we see in others, while furtively enjoying gobs and gobs of it ourselves. What shall we say then? If the founder of the FRC condemns the homosexual agenda in others, yet rents a sex slave for a European gaycation himself, is he to blame? May it never be! For, if the one who boasts about his own righteousness shall be found to be gay himself, is he to blame? Never. For we know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so what do you expect? And yet, conveniently, through Christ, brethren, ye are perfect, as He is perfect. There is no one accountable. Not even one.