E.J. Dionne is the Washington Post’s gift that keeps on giving. Take a gander at his op-ed column in today’s WaPo.
See, Mr. Dionne believes conservative Christians could learn a thing or two about Jesus from being more like — you guessed it — liberal Christians. There’s so much wrong with Mr. Dionne’s logic that it’s difficult to know where to begins, so we’ll just start at the beginning.
1. In the first several paragraphs, Mr. Dionne relates his respect for Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), who recently resigned after being caught stepping out on his wife with a (thankfully) female staffer. Mr. Dionne liked Rep. Souder, even though Rep. Souder ultimately revealed himself to be a hypocrite, so long as Rep. Souder agreed with Mr. Dionne’s liberal understanding of Christianity. Souder partnered with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) in pouring more money into inner-city education and hanging out with former governor Mario Cuomo (D-NY) in a feel-good, hopey-changey, faith-is-important-to-me conference. To Mr. Dionne, a good conservative Christian is one who agrees with the obviously correct liberal interpretation of Christianity.
2. Mr. Dionne segues seamlessly from “a good conservative Christian is really a liberal Christian” schtick into his “conservative Christians are divisive haters” schtick. ‘Puter got intellectual whiplash from Mr. Dionne’s unintelligible (thought not unexpected) transition into conservative bashing. To Mr. Dionne, anyone who opposes gay marriage is self-righteous and against family values. Did it never occur to Mr. Dionne that conservative Christians may simply be engaging in the age-old tradition of fraternal correction? Did it never occur to Mr. Dionne that one can be a sinner, even a hypocritical sinner, and still be correct on the merits of the argument? Mr. Dionne seems to be arguing backwards from a conclusion he has already reached: anyone who disagrees with a liberal Christian (mis)understanding of the Gospel is prima facie wrong. Evidence to the contrary be darned.
3. Mr. Dionne throughout conflates being against gay marriage with “holding in contempt our homosexual relatives, neighbors and friends.” That simply does not follow. One can think gay marriage is a bad idea for any number of reasons, and still support gay relatives, neighbors and friends’ quest for equality. Mr. Dionne cheats the argument that marriage, as has been defined in Western tradition for thousands of years has been the union of one man and one woman. If Mr. Dionne would like to change that definition, the burden is on him, and he has not met it. It is facially insufficient to claim we should abandon a bedrock tenet of Western civilization because some people’s feelings are hurt.
4. Mr. Dionne only quotes Bible passages he likes, such as: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7). This catchall admonition is presented without reference to numerous other, more applicable, Biblical passages. Mr. Dionne conveniently leaves out: “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matt. 5:30). Or how about “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10). Maybe: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinth. 6:9-10). ‘Puter can play this game all day. Mr. Dionne’s protestations notwithstanding, the Christian perspective on homosexuality and marriage is not nearly so clear cut as he would have you believe.
Mr. Dionne blathers on for an entire column without recognizing the self-parody inherent: his baseless and unsupported accusations have made him every bit as self-righteous and hypocritical as the caricatures of conservative Christians he has bravely vanquished.