Liberal Grace

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Did gays or conservatives cause 911?

Gays and feminists will remember Falwell for blaming 911 on them. Let's look at the scripture.

No doubt, many people will remember Jerry Falwell for this statement:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
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It wasn't just what he said... it's when he said it.

Just two days after 911, when we were shocked and grieving as nation, Falwell was already using 911 to divide our nation.

As a biblicist, myself, I have to concede that Falwell's position has a basis in the bible. Consider this quote:
Leviticus 26

1 You shall make for yourselves no idols and erect no carved images or pillars, and you shall not place figured stones in your land, to worship at them; for I am the LORD your God. 2 You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

3 If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, 4 I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land.

6 And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid.
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Falwell and other conservatives think that homosexuality, liberated women and civil rights are the worst sins possible. So, naturally, they make the connection between verse 2 and verse 6.

Much sin = attack from enemies.

But we liberal Christians, may accept a moral principle from this passage but we think of different sins.

But, first, let's step back and look at the larger issue:

This is an Old Testament relationship with God.

Jesus and the New Testament radically transformed who and what the Kingdom of God is.
Luke 17:21

20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among* you.’

So, my first response to Jerry Falwell would be... "I'm a New Testament Christian."

That's enough.

You don't need to be a biblical scholar to believe that God deals differently with humanity in the age of grace.

Jerry Falwell believed in God's "veil of protection" which he removes when a nation breaches some threshold of sinfulness. As a New Testament Christian, I just don't believe that God deals with nations that way.

Such a theology leads to crazy moralizing: Bhutan, for example, has avoided wars since the 1800s. America has been in practically non-stop wars during that time. Does that mean God is more happy with Buddhist Bhutan than Christian America?

However, I belief the Old Testament can be morally enlightening even for us living under the New Covenant.

We are bound to the Old Testament, legally, (Ref Gal 2:16 external link) but we can learn from those laws and instructions.

In the case of Leviticus 26, the "New Covenant" principle I would take from this is: morality encourages peace; and immorality encourages conflict.

American idolatry and lack of peace:

My mind goes immediately to verse 1. What are the idols of modern America?

Wealth is probably #1. Militancy is probably #2.

Conservatives hate it when we liberals try to understand the motives of the terrorists but the 911 attackers did have a motivation and Americans obsession with wealth and militancy were central to it.

Specifically, America has used it's military to extract wealth (in the form of oil) from the Middle East and millions of Arabs and Muslims have suffered for it.

So, Falwell and I have some overlap in our theology... we both believe that Old Testament versus like Leviticus 26 and be relevant today. Falwell blames the gays and uppity women. I blame America's immoral foreign policy.

Which makes more sense to you? That America's militant-backed thirst for oil motivated the 911 attackers? Or that gays and women's libbers deprived us of God's protection?

PS: I also somewhat agree with Falwell on another point. In his apology, he said
"I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."external link
Like Falwell, I put full blame on bin Laden and the radicals -- America's misdeeds in the Middle East don't justify terrorism. But, unlike most conservatives, I understand that radicalism does not come out of nowhere.

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