(First of all: Aren’t you thrilled that we’ve given Disqus the heave-ho? Man, I hated that thing, especially the nested comments format. It makes sense on paper, but as you saw, it made it real difficult to follow a thread.)
In an obnoxious essay today on the First Things site, William Doino says I’m a big ol’ quitter for saying that we cultural and religious conservatives aren’t going to win the gay marriage fight. The headline implies that I’m a bad Christian, too. Excerpt:
The other striking aspect about the new Christian pessimists is how little faith they appear to have in the power of prayer and the promises of Christ. All throughout the Gospel, Christ exhorts us to have faith in Him, and trust we will be secure. He tells us not to worry, that every hair on our head is counted. He declares that if we have enough faith, we can move mountains. But you’d never know that listening to today’s counselors of despair. All they need do is read one survey or one article about the weakening of the Judeo-Christian vision, and they immediately become despondent. They act as if a Pew Research poll is more powerful than the Holy Spirit.
The new pessimism goes hand in hand with—thought is not to be conflated with—some recent Christian thinking on cultural issues, even among believers of doubtless good will. Recently, the American Conservative’s Rod Dreher mentioned his “despair on the gay marriage question,” while two paragraphs later, assured readers: “If I thought there was nothing to be done but surrender, I wouldn’t even bring this stuff up. My sense is that we Christians and other traditionalists had better plan for resistance in the long run.” Which is it?
Why is this hard to understand? My analysis is that the traditional Christian position on same-sex marriage is probably not going to hold, given the huge majority among under-35 voters in favor of same-sex marriage, and (more to the point) given how SSM is entirely consistent with what very many Americans already believe about the nature of marriage. My argument is that traditionalists should be preparing for the inevitable, and thinking of ways to protect our religious liberties and religious practices in this new world.
To be sure, I will continue to support political efforts to maintain traditional marriage, and I will factor this — especially the religious liberty issue — into my voting. But I don’t see how anybody who seriously looks at the direction of this culture can be confident in the status quo prevailing in 30 years. I could be wrong about this, and if so, then why not show me where I err? Christianity requires one to be hopeful; it doesn’t require one to be an optimist, and it certainly doesn’t require me to be a dope.
I mean, look: Doino’s logic runs as follows:
1. God can do anything.
2. God could even stop gay marriage.
3. If we don’t believe God can and will stop gay marriage, we are men and women of little faith and even less virtue.
This is exactly the kind of emoting that one often finds substituting for reasoning among conservatives. To question the prospects of success for something the Right believes in is not simply to be wrong, it’s also to reveal oneself to be a Bad Person.
Think this war planned for Iraq is not going to end well for the US? What are you, unpatriotic? Don’t you have faith in America? America is not a country for quitters!
Critical of Wall Street’s practices, and its capture of the US government? Where is your faith in capitalism, mister? Capitalism is not an economic system for quitters!
You see where I’m going with this. Yes, God can do anything, and He might well. Christian hope is the confidence that God’s hand is in all things, and even when bad things happen, they are mysteriously in accord with His purposes — which, in the long run, will lead to the redemption of Creation. My guess is that Doino doesn’t understand the difference between hope and optimism, and I’m certain that he doesn’t get that moralistic hectoring and boosterish god-talk is no substitute for serious analysis.
Again: if I’m wrong about the direction of our culture and the likelihood of same-sex marriage being widely accepted — and I would dearly love to be wrong — then show me my mistakes. This pious, knotted-knicker bloviating about a failure of faith and moral courage is pathetic.