Shame On You, Dale

Local blogger and Christ Church Elder Dale Courtney, on his Right-Mind site Tuesday, had this gem regarding the announced separation of Al and Tipper Gore after 40 years of marriage:

“The Gorey Details

One of my readers writes:

Just one more reason why Gore can’t be trusted. “The Transformation of the American Family” has as much credibility as the Transformation of the Climate. New edition title: “Al Gore: A Disjointed Head and Heart”

And now Gore has increased his carbon footprint by doubling the number of households.” (Right-Mind, June 2, 2010)

Shame on the person who contributed the initial comment. Shame on Dale for adding it to his blog, and then continuing with a snarky reference to the Gores’ famous kiss at the 2000 Democratic Convention. He thought it might have been staged for effect, a remarkably foul instance of hypocrisy for a man who’s used the Gores’ marital problems to score points both political and puerile from the perpetual adolescents at Anselm House.

Dale appears to have a spectacularly underdeveloped sense of decency, for which my rebuke will no doubt offer only humor, not reflection. But since his pastor evidently finds Dale’s repeatedly nasty musings appropriate for vertebrate life forms over the age of 12 as well as for Christian church elders, Dale’s not likely to receive any other. Still, it needs to be said; mocking the devastation of another couple’s marriage is out of bounds, and particularly when the couple professes the same faith as the one doing the mocking. There’s been no hint of adultery, abuse, or other bad behaviors in the Gores’ marriage, and after an extended season of Religious Right and conservative GOP sex scandals, it’s more than a little hypocritical, not to mention just ugly, to treat the Gores’ separation as fodder for the kind of targeted, stinking vitriol for which Kirk men are notorious.

Divorce is a tragedy. I speak from experience; my own parents divorced a couple of years after their 30th anniversary, and my in-laws split after 50. Most of my dearest friends have suffered through broken marriages, and not one of them experienced that pain lightly. My own 25-year marriage has had its challenges, just like every other marriage, and while I’m sure Dale drooled with delight over a prominent liberal’s personal difficulties, he once again demonstrates in his slobbering a rotten fruit that reeks of all things not from the Spirit. I don’t say this lightly. I say it out of concern for Dale — the Gores will be fine even with him sneering on the sidelines, but he won’t be. An ugliness of heart rarely is contained within, and I pray for his repentance, as well as for a pastoral response from the media mogul under whom he serves.

And for those of you who’ll email me condemnation for not following Matthew 18, let me remind you of two things:

One, Dale only recently acknowledged me in public; the other people at my table would have made it difficult for him to pretend he doesn’t know me, or that he’s not Dale Courtney. He also won’t take my calls, answer my emails, or let me post to his blog. Two, public sin deserves public rebuke. He posted this to his blog, whose readership is huge — bigger than mine, yes — and who he figured would eat it up. The sin is his. It is not mine for pointing it out and pleading for him to reconsider this and every other instance of verbal vomit he’s spewed in the past.

There’s been too much of it, some directed at me personally, and my concern for Dale himself and my concern for the witness of the Gospel compels me to do what his brave, bearded patriarch of a pastor seemingly won’t: Hold one of his elders and his brother in Christ to some reasonable form of public behavior that comports with the conduct Scripture demands from an elder and not the conduct code held by ten-year-olds farting and belching in a tree house.

4 Responses to “Shame On You, Dale”

  1. Ashwin says:

    Something awful is going on in your neighbourhood. A severe polarization. I have encountered other excoriations of Douglas Wilson and his group on the internet – all of them every bit as shrill as yours. From where I am I cannot make out what exactly invites these condemnations – other than the fact that Douglas Wilson’s worldview is anathema to the modern Left, and the Left has begun the process of burning him at the stake.

    Do you have an alternative explanation?

  2. “Do (you) have an alternative explanation,” Ashwin asks, for why there are so many examples of excoriations against Wilson and his ilk on the Internet. Yes, I do, and I will reproduce Ashwin’s question as my next blog post, along with my answer.

    Hint: It’s not because the Left finds Wilson’s worldview anathema and is thus burning him at the stake.

    For now, I’d just like to ask Ashwin if it’s OK for a Christian Church elder to behave as recklessly and as snottily as Dale Courtney has here and elsewhere.


  3. Ashwin says:

    What would have been your reaction if the said elder had written similarly about George Bush rather than Al Gore?

    I do not see you jumping into the fray with anywhere near the same sort of passion you have managed to rustle up for this article.

    And to answer your question, it is Al Gore and his wife who are divorcing. Whatever be the reason for the divorce, it cannot be denied that they made much political capital out of the strength of their marriage. Now that the marriage is gone, the political capital should go too.

    Al Gore’s political persona drew great authority from his strong marriage. And he used that authority to play politics – supporting policies the elder opposes.

    So the elder is not rejoicing at the demise of a man’s marriage. He is rejoicing at the unmasking of a political icon.

    And I think THAT is also the reason you take exception to his words.

    The advantage of being many miles away and of another culture is that it improves the perspective wonderfully.

  4. I’ll address the “polarization” Ashwin refers to in another post, as I promised. But his second comment about my reaction to the Gores’ marital problems is full of suggestions that I’m only offended when “liberals” are attacked by Christian elders.

    For the record, the end of any marriage, even if its end is by far the best thing to have happen, is sad. So of course I would feel bad for the Bushes, to use the example Ashwin provides, if they were to divorce. But Ashwin insists that Al and Tipper used their marriage for “political capital,” and I think that’s a cynical, unfounded, fatuous thing to say.

    Why? Because he doesn’t know — can’t know — about some things and neither can I. The kiss, for example, at the convention: Only two people felt that kiss, and only they are qualified to diagnose its sincerity on the affection/love/lust scale Dale seems to use in suggesting it was a sham. What I DO know is that he was wrong to do so; I rebuke only what I know, and that one is clear to me.

    The Religious Right/GOP has had a nasty season of sex scandals recently, whereas the Gores have come to this point with nary a hint of scandalous behavior. Does that make them off-limits for criticism? No. But it does make the marriage and the divorce that is expected to follow off-limits, because there’s no stench of moralistic hypocrisy, a la Ted Haggard, in the name of Jesus, simply a sad story of two people who seem to have just drifted apart.

    As for the Haggards, that was a tragedy, too, and I’m sorry for both of them. But Ted preached virulently against the very things he practiced, and in doing so he sinned against God, he violated his wife, and he harmed the Church. I pray for his true restoration, which I suspect won’t be as easy as some have lead us to believe. Nonetheless, show me an example of pre-separation, public, moralizing in the name of Jesus, with subsequent hypocritical violation of the very same thing, from the Gores, and I’ll still suggest, and suggest with vehemence, that my or Dale’s or anyone else’s snarky comments about it would be wrong.

    And, if you need a primer, here’s an example: “Ted Haggard is a hypocrite and a tormented, pathetic man for whom prayer, treatment, and mercy are much needed. He fouled the witness of the Gospel, which is one of many reasons both he and I need a Savior who can forgive that sort of thing.” (True, non-hateful analysis).

    Now, insert some kind of “fag joke” here, or, like noted pastor Mark Driscoll, remark that “pastor’s wives” often “let themselves go,” provoking adultery. That’s the kind of thing Dale did. That’s snarky, and that’s wrong, and that’s the sort of behavior I’ve called him out on.
    If that’s not clear to you, then I would suggest that the problem is now my rebuke, but your disinclination to see the objects of it with clarity and honesty.

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