Friday, April 3, 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
So earlier I discussed the Virtue of Charity- and specifically what is required to see a resurgence in its practice. Now I would like to turn to the idiocy among a certain segment of our population as it relates to the Indiana RFRA.
I am not going to explain what an RFRA really is- go over to the Ace of Spades HQ, we’ll probably be talking about it there if you’re really interested. Or [search engine of choice] Bill Clinton’s 1993 Federal RFRA.
I’m going to discuss Charity as it relates to the RFRA.
First- that there has to be an RFRA at all shows a failure of charity. Whether or not I agree with same sex marriage, my business is mine to conduct. If I do not wish to do business with you, that may be bad. In some cases it may be a failure of charity on my part (it normally is not, however). However, it is *certainly* a failure of charity, and a much worse one, to impoverish me and have the Government force me at the point of a gun to do business with you. Had everyone been charitable, then no RFRA would be necessary- wedding cake designers would not be having to make cakes for ceremonies they believe to be sinful, but would be as helpful as possible outside those bounds (in most cases, they are already fulfilling that second part). The government would not be seizing sacred objects from Indian tribes, and Indian tribes would not be bothering others with their sacred items.
Second- The RFRA is not a license for Christians to be uncharitable, and I have heard of no particular case where they have been. It is not uncharitable to say, “No, I do not wish to do business with you.” It might be uncharitable if my objection to doing business with you was something you could not control (your ethnicity, or gender)- but it wouldn’t necessarily be. It is certainly not uncharitable when my objection is to an action you are going to take because it violates my own moral code.
The Gay Lobby is either ignorant (or, more likely, does not care) of the fact that to Christians and Jews homosexuality is morally reprehensible. Considering that the wedding ceremony is specifically a Religious one, homosexual weddings are not just immoral; they are making a mockery of Christianity. And while that is not, no its own, a reason to make them illegal or even prevent them from having legitimacy in the eyes of the State, that is ample reason for a Christian to elect not to support one with his labor.
Do you want charity to rule in this case? I agree with you. So let’s all agree to be charitable. But at this point, there’s only one side that isn’t living up to that bargain.
In Mere Christianity CS Lewis points out that the “Christian” virtue of “Charity” is not simply “giving to the poor.” Rather, it is a classic term for love, or as he says, “Love, in the Christian sense.” Giving to the poor is part of it, certainly, but not even the greatest part.
The virtue of Charity (I believe it is not unique to Christianity, though Christianity broadens its scope) is about treating people nicely. It is kindness and gentleness. It is patience. Even pagan religions taught charity to one extent or another. “Love your neighbor as yourself” was an Old Testament teaching. Other groups at the time had similar directives. The uniquely Christian spin on the virtue was not that it was wholly new, but that Christ defined “your neighbor” as “your hated enemy.”
What does that have to do with today? Does anyone say we should not be charitable?
In reverse order: no, no one says we should not be charitable. Nevertheless people are not charitable. And their directives to be charitable are usually self-serving. *YOU* are supposed to be charitable to *me.*
So, in a very real sense, much of our society has abandoned charity.
What does that have to do with today? Well, it has direct consequences on just about everything. Are you moaning about how uncivilized our “public discourse” has become? Then it’s time to start calling for charity. Are you complaining about judgmental attitudes? Then it is time to start calling for charity.
But here’s the rub. If you are going to call for charity, you must practice it yourself. Otherwise it is simply self-serving sophistry (at best) and self-righteous hypocrisy at worst.