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Home/Rod Dreher/Does Your Conscience Bother You? Tell The Truth

Does Your Conscience Bother You? Tell The Truth

Franklin Evans:

Unless a rational, civil debate is possible, nothing will be resolved. If any criticism is a smear, then GLSEN becomes its own worst enemy, a tyrannical organization with no checks, no accountability and no credibility.

Our constitutional rights and obligations start with the individual. The moment you permit a group, any group, the power to stomp on them, you open the door to every group with the means and opportunity to grab that power.

That’s exactly what I mean by the taking of revenge. It’s wrong on every level.

Yes. This.

In my high school, the bullies were the jocks and the social elite, as well as the working-class kids who wanted to join the social elite. One of the worst of the bullies was a gay kid; what made him so good at bullying was his unerring ability to zero in on the insecurities of the group’s targets, and make fun of them. It was the same ability that enabled him to discern the aspects of the personalities of the queen bees and their boyfriends, and ingratiate himself with them. Looking back on it, this was probably his instinct for avoiding becoming their target. He didn’t care how many others who were weaker that he had to sacrifice. He seemed to find it fun.

The point is, this idea that gay kids are always and everywhere the victims in high school and not the victimizer is not true. Many are victims, but many are also victimizers. Same is true of Christian kids. Same is true of black kids. Same is true of everybody, because that’s how human nature is. The moment we cease to identify ourselves as individuals, and lay claim to identity as part of a group that is oppressed, or used to be oppressed, is the moment we cease to hold our thoughts and our behavior to account. We make excuses for ourself.

The gay housemate I once had who cheated me out of hundreds of dollars, and left me hanging on by my fingernails when he ran out on our lease — this was a guy who had been friends with me for years, but who decided that since I was a Christian and therefore a member of the oppressor class, anything he did to cheat me was justified. He wasn’t a bad guy because he was gay. His full-on embrace of a gay identity enabled him to express the worst aspects of his personality without the common decency that held it in check. When he was just our friend, he saw himself as a person like all the rest of us. But then he became Gay, and he changed. This was a middle-class white guy who, to my knowledge, had never before been victimized. He was popular. And yet, for some reason, after he came out, he changed, and not for the better. Suddenly, he had an identity, with a prefabricated set of opinions that told him whom to hate and why hating them was a sign of virtue.

Again: it’s the human condition. We are all susceptible to it. One of the greatest things about the Christian faith is that it insists that we are all guilty, we are all in need of repentance. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all failed to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and failed to love our neighbors as ourselves. You don’t get a pass, and neither do I. In fact, Jesus tightens the screws on us, telling us that we should even love our enemies. This is hard. Believe me, I know this from experience. Every damn day. But this is reality. Your gayness, my Christianity, his blackness, her screwed-up family background, their poverty — none of it excuses us from individual responsibility. If you go down that path, you will end up in hell, and make life hell for those around you.

Does your conscience bother you? If it doesn’t, something’s wrong with you, and you had better look into it.

UPDATE: You will have noticed that if you’ve posted a response to this that says, in effect, “No, you’re the real bully, Christianist bigot!” or “You’re the one going to hell,” or anything like that, I haven’t approved it. I don’t really care what you think of me, but I very much care about maintaining a reasonable dialogue on this point. Some of you are incapable of seeing yourselves as guilty of anything, or if you are guilty, you’re not as bad as the white heterosexual Christianists, so shut up, already. Boring, pointless.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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