In the American justice system, all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. Defense attorneys do not have to prove their client’s innocence; they just have to find enough holes in the prosecution’s argument to establish that they have not been proven guilty. But in the debate over Biblical interpretation on homosexuality, the burden of proof falls entirely on the defendants to prove their innocence. What if my fellow Methodists who are anti-gay had to provide not only isolated proof-texts and speculative translations of obscure Greek words but a coherent Biblical ethical explanation of why chaste monogamous homosexual partnerships are “incompatible with Christian teaching”? I think that would be a much more just and legitimate burden of proof. Continue reading
What I learned from last night’s final presidential debate (which was the first one I watched) is that the way you “win” mostly has to do with how long you can talk without taking a breath or how willing you are to yell “Liar, liar, pants on fire” while the other guy is in the middle of what he’s saying. The fundamental thing Romney and Obama agreed on is the importance of projecting strength in US foreign policy. “Strength” seems to be defined as not apologizing for anything the US has done in the past and making sure that other nations understand that the US knows what’s best for them. I realize we live in a secular nation-state, but I am really bothered by how thoroughly un-Biblical that way of thinking is. Whether or not it’s effective foreign policy from a realpolitik perspective, the Bible calls us to integrity, not strength.
I don’t plan on watching any of the presidential debates because honestly the whole concept makes me sick. I am so weary of argument being the central trope upon which our society is built. How many people were either gleeful or bitter when they walked around work yesterday based on whether they were pulling for Mitt or Barack? Think about how ridiculous that is. A world built on arguments becomes a post-truth world in which there need not be any correspondence between an argument that a person makes and the reality on the ground as long as the argument is plausible and logically coherent. Every debate is won by the one with the best delivery, so that a confident liar can beat a stuttering, conflicted person of integrity. Nobody cares what the fact-checkers have to say. They’re like the refs who call fouls every 30 seconds and get beer thrown on them by fans who scream, “Just let them play ball!” I wonder if this is what it felt like in Athens when Plato was writing about the sophists. In any case, it made me think of the time when Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin after having all sorts of attacks made against him: “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent” (Matthew 26:62-63). So here’s my question: when are Christians supposed to argue and when are we supposed to be silent? Continue reading
Tonight from 9-10:30 pm EST, two men neither of whom are the anti-Christ and both of whom are sinners whom God has used to accomplish varying degrees of good in our world will get on TV and attack one another while millions of Americans watch. While this happens, hundreds and perhaps thousands of Christians will get on twitter and damage their witness to co-workers and friends of different races and political persuasions by writing snide commentaries that bash either of the two candidates. The reason I have made a fool out of myself trying to promote the #JesusIsMyCandidate campaign is to offer a different witness of Christ to people who have been alienated by loudmouth Christians who have not spoken with integrity or represented Christ well. If you have a twitter account, I have made it incredibly easy for you to participate tonight. You can cut and paste any number of the 60 sample tweets below anytime today into a tweet scheduler called twuffer.com (yes, the name is silly) so that you don’t have to post live during the debate. Continue reading