Archive for July, 2011

A Blast — A Powerful One — From My Past

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I was looking for something in one of my many email files and came across something I wrote in December 2007 on Moscow’s online discussion forum, Vision 2020. In it, I respond in agreement to a friend’s contention that there is a fundamental dissonance with “Christian” and “Libertarian.”

It’s long, but if you never read another word I write, please read this. It represents not only the core of my Christian conviction, but is as much a window into my heart and soul as I’m likely to offer. Thank you.

(From Vision 2020, Dec. 2007)– This is good, Nick, and points out many of the philosophical inconsistencies of conservative Christians who claim to be political libertarians. I might add one point — the observation in the Book of Acts that the believers shared all things in common is a fact of history, even though it pertained only to the assembled (gathered, called out) community of Jesus’ first century disciples. The peculiarity of communal living in the early Christian church is why “Christian” libertarians defend their abhorrence of “socialist” government programs and their unfettered embrace of the free market — what happened with the church then, and what could happen within the church today, in no way obligates the government or believers to co-mingle income through tax-supported programs to benefit the poor. That was them, and that was then, these free-market worshipers say; secular government is the enemy now, and largesse to the poor is an example of robbing the saints of Peter to pay Pablo.

This is, of course, a convenient argument that manages to appear vaguely noble in its trumpeting of both Christian dominion and the “responsibility” to not afflict the poor with government charity. In reality, it is a filthy and moth-eaten cover for hard hearts and blind eyes. I find it beyond ironic that those who salivate with eagerness at their coming “hour of dominion” over formerly secular institutions such as banks, courts, schools and law enforcement, and who seek to live out those dreams for now amongst themselves in their own homogenized huddles, profess dismay that government’s attempts to seek dominion over poverty might whittle down their Sabbath-feasting funds. These dominion-fed men — and they are almost always men, perhaps because it’s deemed more “manly” to argue economics and social policy in the face of hungry children — would like nothing more than to impose their views on an unwilling, secular society right now; further, they mock government and culture when it flounders in trying to aid poor people, without lamenting the loss and shouldering a fair share to remedy it. The testimony of Scripture is clear: Believers are to aid the poor among them and beyond them, and to give sacrificially as a lifestyle of devotion to Christ. It would be wonderful if the Church did what it’s supposed to do and government was freed from its burdensome social spending so it could focus on building schools, roads, prisons, etc. But the Church isn’t doing what it ought to be doing because too many Christians are, by and large, not only hostile to the poor but convinced, on some wallet-closing level, that they either don’t exist, or, if they do, should be blamed for their situation.

An item on Doug Wilson’s blog caught my attention yesterday. In it Wilson decries the poverty of cardboard shacks, a lack of daily food and clothing, and the miserable conditions we associate with those far away — far away and under the thumb of secular governments he and his followers would dismiss as anti-God. Wilson, unable to leave a tender moment alone, then goes on to assure his readers that they are in no way to be bothered by the “relative poverty” of someone who, say, only has 20 gigs on his iPod. Extreme poverty is legitimately the Church’s concern, he says, describing conditions that no one in his congregation will likely ever see and certainly won’t experience.

The mockery of what he calls “relative poverty,” though, is unbecoming a Christian leader, although quite in character for Wilson. But he knows that “relative poverty” isn’t about iPods and the shiftless, bored teens who covet them. What Wilson dismisses as not the concern of his congregants is the poverty that lurks all around him. It’s the wrenching material poverty of abused, single mothers who are exhausted from trying to stretch a a 50-yard paycheck over the 100-yard field of their childrens’ basic needs — before one of the kids drops out of school to lend his support. It’s the migrant workers living in tents along the Wenatchee River, hoping the weather cooperates and the fruit holds out before they pack up and move again, and no one can righteously claim that it’s “relative” when poor children die of easily cured diseases right here at home because they can’t afford to go to the doctor or the dentist. “Relative” implies a standard; in this case, a standard of absolute squalor and a standard of the comfortable, secure enjoyment of having enough and a little more. Whatever danger, whatever evil, whatever lack, whatever hopelessness — four walls, jeans, and a reasonable hope of a full belly a couple of times a week remove the poor from the sphere of Wilson’s concern. And it’s a good thing, he imagines; too many of those “relatively” poor people live around him, and it would be a real downer to have to cater to them. Wilson is fortunate, then, to have his cake and eat it, too, because he’s devised a belief system that excuses him from caring and at the same time allows him to criticize the anti-God secularists in government who extend a hand to those Wilson would rather sweep away. With power like that, Wilson’s got it made, at least ’til Judgment Day.

I’ll close with an example of “relative poverty” that, a decade or more later, still warms my heart. My friends Abel, Cristina, and their children Macario, Rogelio, and Liliana, lived at the dairy farm in Western Washington where Abel worked. As was too often the case, he was offered “housing” in lieu of wages; this allowed dairy farmers to cram entire families into dilapidated travel trailers while paying them half wages from daily split shifts — two milkings a day, seven days a week. The Valencia family lived in one of the nicer trailer homes I was accustomed to, a 17-foot trailer with a working toilet, although the children urinated outside so as to not tax the trailer’s waste system. Cristina cooked with water from a hose dragged through the field and wedged into the window of the trailer. She and Abel slept on one fold-out bed; Liliana had a bunk and the boys slept upright on one of the couches. Cristina helped Abel milk the cows, unpaid; the herd got larger and the milkings got longer and were too much for one man to finish, so she wrestled with the milking hoses and waded through the muck to help her man.

One day, Abel slipped on the milking parlor floor. A cow stepped on him, crushing some ribs and injuring his shoulder. His employer had been deducting workman’s compensation from his $1,000-a-month checks, but as it turned out, the boss hadn’t been applying them to the State fund, and Abel had no coverage. His shifts were covered by his wife and eldest son until Abel could limp out to the paror and attach the apparatus to the milk cows. And the entire time, Abel and Cristina burst with gratitude and astonishment at the kindness of the boss — because he didn’t fire Abel like he could have, and they didn’t lose their home. I ate dinner with the Valencias every Wednesday; Cristina would fix pollo en mole and I would visit for an hour or so before I taught my classes. Their children were grateful for my classes — they could read, unlike their parents — and Abel and Cristina were grateful that they were all together, the children in school and Abel regularly employed. Sometimes the kids at school would make fun of Rogelio, because he smelled funny; sometimes Liliana would beg to stay home so she could help Papi; and sometimes Macario would talk about how he was going to drop out when he turned 15 and buy a car and work at the pallet factory and make $6 an hour.

There will never be a Sabbath feast anywhere on the Palouse more beautiful, more sacrificial, and more full of the presence of Christ than my Wednesdays with the Valencias, and there will never be a time when I can accept, as a Christian and a mother, that their poverty wasn’t my concern. I miss them. Macario did drop out, Liliana has a couple of kids, and I don’t know where Rogelio is. Abel and Cristina, after a few years in the trailer, got an apartment. Someone else lives in the trailer now, I guess. Maybe over Christmas I’ll go check it out. Maybe not. There are scores of examples like that; I can’t get to everyone. But I praise God for a government that at least tries, and I hope for someone to be the hands and feet of God to care for those around them whose suffering is “relative” only to those of cracked and blistered consciences and rocky, cold hearts.

The GOP And Its Inability To Grasp The Concept

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Well, there’s a wide-open subject . . . but let’s narrow it, shall we, to
what the GOP doesn’t seem to understand about the financial efficacy, not to mention the moral necessity (something they seem not to consider) of providing health care to underserved women.

The following information comes from the current issue of Ms. Magazine, which I hadn’t read for probably 25 years. But I picked it up yesterday and found that virtually every article resonated with me — the cover story on the current, all-too-narrow legal definition of rape to the mass murders of poor women outside of Albuquerque, the role of women in the “Arab Spring” rebellions, to an interview with bell hooks (she doesn’t capitalize), a feminist scholar and poet who roundly and rightly condemns the rampant societal pornography represented by, say, Lady Gaga. I immediately bought a subscription, and no, I’m not worried that it’ll, like, “infect” me. I’m much more afraid the Religious Right will.

The House Republicans’ H.R. 1, its attempt in February to keep funding the government through the October fiscal year budget impasse, thankfully has no chance, at least not this side of Armageddon, of passing. It’s telling, though, in what it would accomplish. Or demolish.

It would defund Title X, which offers comprehensive contraceptive and preventive health-care services to low income women. It would gut more than 4,000 clinics serving women with birth control, HIV screens, Pap smears, and other women’s care; estimates indicate that every buck spent on providing contraception SAVES the country $4 in eventual expenses. The GOP insisted that Planned Parenthood, which operates fewer than one-sixth of those clinics, provides abortion as only 3 percent of its activity, and already currently cannot receive federal funds for abortions it provides, lose all federal funding — even though the services it provides, including for the Medicare-receiving elderly, save millions of dollars and many thousands of lives.

And because all bad things come in threes, the GOP also decided to cut off any federal funding for the international agency that performs NO abortions but offers reproductive health care to women in developing nations. Not even its irrational fear of “other” babies — Muslim, brown, etc. — could trump its even more irrational desire to demonstrate the proverb “penny-wise, pound-foolish” over the corpses of poor women.

Emboldened by testosterone, they continued, with H.R. 1, to try to stanch (stop! it’s “stanch,” not “staunch”!) federal funding for “Obamacare,” putting women at risk for non-coverage for doubtful “pre-existing” conditions. It set its sight on WIC, which even the Reagan administration approved, and cut $747 million from 2010 levels — this, from a program that enables poor women to obtain nutritional food for themselves and their children under the age of 5. Providing milk, vegetables, fruit, and healthy cereals for poor women and their kids is not nearly as affirming of “family values,” I realize, as killing Afghan and Iraqi women and children, but it seems as though it would be a tad easier to defend.

But I’m probably just ovulating and getting all hysterical because of it.

The reality that H.R. 1 is un-passable offers no comfort, because the GOP’s 2011 budget is hardly better. The Guttmacher Institute, which, admittedly, probably doesn’t have any CREC or Baptists on its board, estimates that the Republicans’ budget plan would result in the loss of contraceptive services — not abortion — to roughly one-quarter of women now receiving federally-funded birth control services. In the event that these women fail to continually keep an aspirin between their knees, particularly in patriarchal relationships or rape when they might have no say against a man’s desire to have sex, the Institute estimates that some 973,000 more unplanned pregnancies, ending in just over 400,000 more elective abortions and 433,000 unplanned births, totaling $3.4 BILLION in tax dollars spent on medical care for the women and their babies.

Isn’t birth control more fiscally prudent? Aren’t children who are planned more likely to be raised in a way that ultimately costs society less? Does our patriarchal natalism require that we discard the children of Women Not Like Us?

Hatred of abortion, not unlike hatred of communism in decades past, isn’t a bad thing. But reality has a way of intruding on ideology, and ideology too often responds with hysterical, mean-spirited, short-sighted and ultimately dangerous “solutions” that either perpetuate the original problem, or make the so-called solution infinitely worse than the initial problem. In the name of anti-Communism, men like Joe McCarthy ruined the lives of countless innocent men and women, degraded the Constitution, and, it turns out, did nothing to actually end Communism. Now, in the name of anti-abortion or “pro-life” activism, lawmakers and the churches that frolic with them demonize poor women, place their lives at risk, harm their children, and assume their deaths to be little more than collateral damage in the battle — or maybe just what they deserved for being poor, which, as some teach, is a moral condition caused by failure to observe Proverbs and its condemnation of laziness.

Poverty IS a moral condition, to be sure, and abortion IS a horror. The morality of poverty is far more defensibly placed on a sinful world and economic climate and the Christians who defend it and prosper from it. And a little perspective, please. No woman I know who’s had an abortion did so cavalierly, and many women had one that saved their lives. It is right to privilege the life of an adult woman — a wife, a mother, a daughter — over the life of a fetus. Likewise, no feminist I know wants an increase in abortions. They accept, as do I, that abortions will happen, and that it’s better to reduce the number and make them less necessary and more safe. And it’s definitely not good to enact legislation against first-trimester abortions illegal, making spontaneous miscarriage a potential crime requiring police investigation, or to have lawmakers or any other human being interfere in a doctor’s treatment of her or his patient. If we push women out of clinics that help them to prevent pregnancy, we bear a responsibility for helping them raise the children that result. If we push them out of safe or life-saving abortions, we lead them into a back alley and to the very likely loss of not just the unborn, but the desperate and already-born woman.

Of course, I’m mindful that that just might be the point the GOP is trying to make — women are expendable if they don’t follow the rules. The tricky thing here is that if we insist that “the rules” are the commands of Scripture, we need to figure out how to reconcile “the rules” from the Savior whose person and message is the entire reason we have them to follow.

Again, I want to acknowledge the Spring 2011 edition of Ms. Magazine for the information it provided.

A Tip Of The Hat To A Local Boy In The Big Time

Friday, July 15th, 2011

During my blog-break, Jeff and I saw “Super 8,” the biggest movie of the summer, I guess, and while I never really understood the plotline, I enjoyed it.

(This is not unusual. I almost never understand what’s going on, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, whatever, in action/sci fi/adventure movies, and even with Super 8, I was much more fascinated by the relationships between the adolescent guys than with why the monster-thing needed metal).

But I would be remiss, or accused of being churlish, if I didn’t acknowledge that the star of the film is the son of a Christ Church nemesis of mine, Dale Courtney. I have a bit of, ummmmm, rancorous history with Courtney senior, but his now-14-year-old son, Joel, is one terrific young actor — engaging, believable, adorable, and entirely comfortable in front of the camera. He’ll go places, and the Courtney family has every reason to be proud of him.

Now, Which One Is He?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

I sometimes highlight comments that are particularly insightful or, as is the case here, puzzling. Referring to my comment four or five posts ago that Douglas Wilson and his pals are like “a passle of puerile 12-year-olds” in their mocking of Anthony Weiner, faithful reader “Rob” has this to say:

(Quoting me) “I’m pretty sure that God takes no delight in Wilson’s serrated edge…”

(Rob says . . . ) Derision is clearly biblical: “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.” Psalm 2:4

A reading of the whole Psalm 2 is instructive

To which I’ve replied:

Ummm, Rob, did you notice that it is the LORD Almighty who laughs and who holds sinners in derision? That’s not the province of sinful humankind, no matter how prolific one’s vanity press or manly his beard.

Really? Is it that easy for you to read “Douglas Wilson” into Bible verses that speak of the prerogative of Yahweh?

You might find reflecting on that . . . instructive.

Gays and Lesbians and the Church

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I freely confess that I don’t know how best to understand the Bible’s prohibition of “homosexuality,” and, like most of us, I would love to know that I’ve got it nailed — that the intent of the Holiness Codes and Paul’s writings in Romans and First Corinthians is now completely within my infallible understanding. Of course, like any of us who approach Scripture that way, I’d be guilty of gross arrogance and an attitude of judgment most unbecoming the Christian. Still, I like certainty.

But the truth is, I don’t know with utter certainty what Paul meant. And to be honest, neither do you.

The reason, as I alluded to in my previous post, is that what Christians condemn as “homosexuality” and “homosexuals” did not exist until centuries later. In Old and New Testament times, same-sex physical/erotic behavior simply was not found in the context of stable, mutual, adult, and monogamous relationships, the relationships at the center of the gay marriage and virtually all other “gay rights” issues evangelicals decry. The men who engaged in the debauchery of cultic, pagan worship were not “homosexuals.” Neither were the Greeks who “trained” young boys in the erotic arts, and neither were the eunuchs.

Biblical scholars enormously more knowledgeable than I see a difference between what Moses and Paul and their contemporaries viewed as “homosexual behavior” and what we see now. I wish I knew more — I wish I knew more about everything in Scripture — but I’m not certain that Paul’s sexual ethic, properly understood today, would condemn what he simply couldn’t have known: stable, consensual, mutual homosexual relationships. So I have to fall back on what I DO know. And what I am certain of is the ethic of love that Jesus taught, an ethic that requires the disciple, even if she or he concludes that same-sex erotic behavior is sinful, to exercise profound charity and humility toward its practitioners, knowing that all of us are in the grip of sin until redeemed by Christ.

While I’m hesitant to equate homosexuality as we understand it today with a disease/pathology analogy, I think it’s worthwhile to explore how our understanding of “what the Bible says” about a lot of things has changed. We now realize
that when people have seizures, they have epilepsy; we wouldn’t rush someone to the doctor with the news that the patient is possessed by an evil spirit.

Likewise, when some Christians talk about “Biblical marriage,” I have to ask what they mean. Levirate marriage, where the widow must sleep with successive of her dead husband’s brothers to produce an heir? Polygamy, as practiced by David, who took Bathsheba as his wife, not just as his concubine/playmate? Do we condemn interracial marriage between believers, or do we cling to literal prohibitions against marrying “foreigners,” even as we understand that the Old Testament context actually just prohibits Yahweh’s people from marrying those who worship foreign gods? (Of course, I live in Moscow, Idaho, where neo-Confederates rock, roll, and rule, and it’s uncertain if those angling for an Anglo-Celtic homeland in the South have, in fact, adjusted their interpretation of the “marrying foreigners” verses). And one thing I know for certain is that virtually no conservative Christian that I know of practices, or expects anyone else to practice, matrilocal marriage — commanded clearly in Genesis 2:24, where a man is to leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife. Does that mean that the marriage is “un-Biblical” if the woman leaves her family in Idaho and, say, moves with her new husband to Louisiana, where his family lives?

To be honest, the most “fundamentalist” of Bible interpreters picks and chooses the verses he chooses to stand on. Paul’s laborious and clear marriage commandments in First Corinthians, wherein he makes numerous “as the husband, so the wife; as the wife, so the husband” arguments for marital mutuality and not hierarchy, is significantly different from the patriarchal Christian view of marriage, drawn from Ephesians 5 with blithe indifference to the mutual submission/mutual love/mutual respect verses that begin the Apostle’s narrative. You either have a patriarchal marriage or a Christian marriage. According to Paul, who writes much more about marriage than about what he knew of same-sex erotic behavior, a patriarchal marriage isn’t a Christian marriage.

Biblical marriage, anyone? Let’s define our terms first.

My point is this: There is no single definition of “marriage” in the Bible, and I would argue that, as with epilepsy-as-demon-possession, we might consider that our definition of “homosexuality” and its condemnation might warrant re-consideration. But what cannot change, either through the wonders of science or a more knowledgeable hermeneutic, is our allegiance to the ethic of sacrifice, submission, humility, reconciliation, truth and love taught and modeled by Jesus — no matter what other Reformed churches are teaching. That “Jesus ethic” prohibits me from despising other sinners, and it prohibits “Christian” homophobes and bigots from despising gays, lesbians, the transgendered, and others whose sexual identities differ from our own. No one needs Jesus because they’re gay, and no one is “safer” in him because they’re not.

Until the Church understands that there are many thousands of GLBT women and men in this world who love the Lord Jesus Christ and worship him as Savior, we’re not going to get far, and our sisters and brothers will suffer. Doug Wilson and others may choose to believe that “gay” is synonymous with “hates Jesus,” but, God be praised, it’s the Holy Spirit and not the Bishop of Moscow who knows the hearts of all women and men who seek him.

"It Gets Better" For GLBTQ Kids, With No Thanks To Our Local Bully-In-Chief

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

It surprises me none at all, not even just a wee Scottish bit, that Doug Wilson would come out against “It Gets Better,” a program that exists to encourage young people who identify on the LGBTQ continuum to not give in to despair — to not end it all by overdose, to not hang themselves in the closet of an abusive parent — and to believe that in time, with support and love, their lives will become less wretched, the hate and violence against them less overwhelming.

After all, Wilson, who once encouraged a Blog and Mablog mini-competition to come up with cool words for homos, doesn’t much like gays and lesbians. Like the majority of (but not all) evangelical Christians, he reads the Bible conservatively when it comes to both Old and New Testament condemnations of “homosexuality,” which, to others of us, might not be what the Holiness Codes or the Apostle Paul were referring to in their denunciation of same-sex relations. Like many who revere the Bible as God’s Word, I still wonder if Paul was condemning something that simply didn’t exist in the First Century, nor in centuries before it — non-cultic/pagan, mutual, loving, and monogamous same-sex relationships. What I don’t doubt is that an attitude of sincere love and humility is commanded of Christ’s disciples, for whom being righteous is of infinitely greater value than being simply “right.”

Nonetheless, even those who choose the first, seemingly clearest reading of the relevant passages — just four or five verses — and believe they cannot support gay friends and family members generally decry teen suicide with equal fervor. Certainly they ought to. They aren’t bigots and homophobes because they read the Scriptures more literally and less questioningly than I do. That simply makes them conservative, albeit with a burden to examine carefully the behavior stemming from their hermeneutic. Bigots and homophobes, however, aren’t interested in honestly wrestling with Scripture; they’re grateful for their reading of Scripture because it justifies, to them, their hateful speech, imprecatory prayers, and kick-the-faggot attitudes. There is a difference here, and it’s easy to see where Wilson falls, or gleefully leaps into, the debate.

I’ll start with his knee-slapping treatment of the “It Gets Better” campaign, taken unedited from BM:

“Like What Regular People Does PDF Print E-mail
Culture and Politics – Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, July 06, 2011 6:52 am

Yesterday I was asked about the “It Gets Better Project,” where LGBT teens are being encouraged to hang in there with their lifestyle sandwich choices. LGBT stands for Lettuce, Guacamole, Bacon, and Tomato, in stark contrast to the more normative BLT, like what regular people does.

Of course, the Ls and Bs and Gs (and soon to be added Ps and Qs) actually stand for various forms of sexual dyslexia, and I actually can’t believe that the Ps and Qs have been left out in the cold this long. Why aren’t they minding their Ps and Qs? Where is the UN on this? Wherefore all the hate? Of course, a dyslexic often muddles up his Ps and Qs, to such an extent that he sometimes finds himself in bed with a girl. Everything is so hard to keep track of sometimes.

The point of the “It Gets Better” campaign is ostensibly to encourage kids who are victims of bullying. But in order to eliminate this kind of bullying, our culture thinks it necessary to identify evangelical Christians, who believe what Scripture teaches about human sexuality, as contributors to the “climate of hate” in which such bullying can occur. This identification is, of course, a form of bullying. Natch.

But here is the difference. This project for LGBTs is a sentimentalist one, which means it is filled to the brim with various forms of guilt and resentment. It is not just a function of being picked on. If it were just simply that, there would be a way of handling it. Christians have had their own “It Gets Better” program in place for a couple thousand years. When a believing teen is tagged as a Jesus freak and ostracized by others for his faith, he has a long history behind him of honored saints and martyrs. He is truly honored by a real community for doing something right, which is a genuine encouragement. It is an honor to be dishonored for the faith; it is a grace to be disgraced (Acts 5:41). You cannot get the same results by having a fake community try to praise and encourage you for doing something you are deeply ashamed of. So a word to conflicted teens — whenever you believe lies, it never gets better. It only gets deeper and darker.” (Doug Wilson)

Now, Wilson is free to hate whomever he chooses to, and he’s even free to believe that God hates most of the same people he does as well. In fact, as a Calvinist, he is required to believe that God, for his own “good pleasure,” has shown his hatred of certain people by creating them solely for damnation. Staunch Reformer that he is, Wilson has to draw lines between “them” and “us,” and the “us” are, astoundingly, remarkably like him. So he may mock homosexuals with flip acronymical wordplay, dismiss their abuse, condemn their self-identification, and, no matter how absurd the contention, paint a scenario in this culture wherein Christian teens are the ones really picked on; battered and tormented young lesbians and gay youth who don’t know real persecution when it nearly kills them.

Nothing puts a vicious beating into perspective like your tormentor’s Bible club being prohibited from using the cafeteria after school hours.

It is, of course, ridiculous to suggest that Christian kids suffer much at all for their faith, not only because the coolest kids on most campuses are at least “Christian-ish,” but also because the evidence simply doesn’t bear it out. Earlier this winter, there was a grievous spate of suicides by gay-identified kids, half a dozen or so in one month reported nationally and many others undoubtedly not reported. I don’t recall ever hearing of any youth specifically subject to violence because they lived out their faith in a sincere, humble, discipled manner, with the possible exception of the Columbine massacre years ago. That’s a generous stretch.

Christians in China, throughout much of Latin America, and parts of Africa know persecution. Frankly, I’d love if the Church in the United States proclaimed such a steadfast message of love and reconciliation that it suffered consequences of it from a venomous, hateful culture. The Lord Jesus would rejoice, and we would, too, if we spoke and lived out a hatred of sin and injustice, incurring the wrath of evildoers and despots, instead of picking and choosing from the former and benefiting starkly from the latter. The world would take notice if we humbly, relationally put ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder next to and in the trenches with all who suffer. But as it is now, the most base and calloused among us vilify young people struggling with understanding their sexual and other identities — identities they likely were born with, not rebellions they blithely chose one back-to-school morning — and mocking those battles while unleashing their cultural pit bulls for even more vicious ones.

I suspect Wilson knows this, but any argument that minimizes the suffering of “the other” or convinces a maligned group that it deserves its maltreatment just comes so easily for him. In the same way that he has used the most inflammatory of rhetoric to describe the “tyranny” of life under an Obama Presidency without once admonishing his readers to eschew any violence against him, Wilson now mocks gay youth and their sufferings in the context of commenting on a program designed to keep them alive during adolescent torment and abuse — without once reminding us that violence and abuse against even those he considers sinful is wrong.

Of course, if Wilson’s worship of God compels him to pray harm on his enemies, mock the sufferings of the marginalized, and blister his cultural opponents, it’s more than likely that any harm resulting from his words could be called just a real, glaring bitch of “hard Providence.” Let’s hope he recognizes God’s judgment against him as something a bit more significant.