Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Outcast, Rejected, And Scorned

In the Chick-fil-A brouhaha, I am running across a fair number of Christians, and Christian sites, which put forth the idea that because gay people are outcast, downtrodden, and rejected that they thereby should attract support and sympathy from Christians.

The idea that Jesus's ministry is formed around some vast anti-bullying campaign is amazingly silly, yet common. That the scriptures teach that some reasons for ostracism are invalid and an offense to God I fully grant. That the righteous are sometimes, even often, rejected and scorned I likewise acknowledge.  It does not follow from those truths that all ostracised people are objects of God's special concern, nor that Christians have special obligations to them.

I note this with no especial reference to homosexuality.  The wooly-headed Christians have picked them as an example, not I.  I merely note that their reasoning is poor.  To claim that Chick-fil-A management should not, as Christians, be going out of its way to hurt a people who are already oppressed reveals a fairly thorough misunderstanding of the Gospel.  From Genesis through Malachi, the Old Testament is very big on ostracism, even emphasising it in places.  Paul is quite clear in the Epistles that certain behaviors deserve ostracism from the church, and others give us a deservedly bad name among the unbelievers if we tolerate them.

And Jesus was pretty damned clear who he was not associating with now, and who he would not be in the future.  Having been rejected is no guarantee of specialness, and is sometimes considered entirely meet in the Bible.

By the way, I encourage Christians who think this way to trace back over the last decades to see where this idea that because Jesus was not afraid to associate with the downtrodden, that the downtrodden are therefore always his faves - actually comes from.  It has overlap with some Christian ideas, but is essentially quite secular.

The giveaway that these Gospel of Niceness people really do understand the principle is their immediate willingness to ostracise Cathy and others they disagree with.  He's being scorned and rejected by some, but no sympathy for him, because those are the right people kicking him. And besides, he has other people (bad people) who support him, so he's not really, really outcast, not like...

Not like who, then?  Who are these other outcasts that fuzzy Christians do support, who have no one else on their side? 

Who is favored and who is not is entirely predictable along entirely nonreligious lines.


Sam L. said...

Often the plays are morality plays, and often there are fools on stage and off. Proportions vary.

Texan99 said...

Indeed, otherwise everyone would be as likely to line up in support of the Chick-Fil-A executives, who are coming in for their full measure of ostracism. If I felt they'd done something wrong, I might ostracize them too, or at least boycott their product.

Being almost completely unconcerned personally about gay marriage, I often try to figure out where it ought to fit in my views on morality. I try to test my views by imagining how I'd feel about a congregation that would expel anyone who was in a second marriage, for instance. For that matter, my husband and I were not married in a church; he does not attend church at all, so should I be expelled? I'm childless. Is my marital lifestyle invalid?

We get confused, it seems to me, between forgiving and condoning. It's possibly that married gays are completely in the wrong, in the same way it's possible that everyone in voluntarily childless marriages is wrong, or everyone co-habitating outside marriage, or everyone who divorces. Somehow we manage to continue associating with most of those categories, however, without troubling ourselves that we're condoning evil. We mostly find ourselves saying that people can be in error without being too evil to associate with, or to offer communion to.

But I am afraid I have very lax views on sexual morality, and in many ways am simply part of the problem. As long as children are properly taken care of and the adults treat each with fidelity and respect, I have almost no problem with any type of household that people choose to make for themselves. I suspect I may be blind to the long-term social consequences of my libertine views.

Anonymous said...

Yes, if you want to understand how most of the world works, just think of it as being in high school.

Mattf said...

If Jesus favors the outcast, then I am doing them a great disservice by welcoming them. When I welcome them they are no longer outcasts and are thus rejected by Jesus. Thus the most Christlike thing I can do is reject them and so ensure their divine favor. So to be more like Jesus I must be less like Jesus?

I think in the contradiction their error is made clear.