Friday, March 29, 2013

Let Christ Speak Louder than Limbaugh

How come I don't feel good saying this?

"I told you so."

Ever since I started this blog, I've been ranting about how evangelicals have been too enamored by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his fellow right-wing media wonks.  I've been perturbed that people who claim to be followers of Christ are following people who don't display any signs of being Christ-followers themselves.

Of course, I didn't really expect to turn the tide from focusing on Rush to focusing on Christ all by myself.  But it never ceased to amaze me how loyal evangelicals insisted on being to these peddlers of rancid Republicanism and fierce free enterprise.

True Colors Shine From Gay Marriage Debate

Not that conservative political values and capitalism are bad things, in and of themselves.  But the rhetoric espoused by Limbaugh and his ilk distinctly lacked the "love thy neighbor" credo with which Christ expects us to conduct ourselves.

Nor am I the only evangelical who's ever noticed the disconnect between Christians and our media's right-wing talkers.  For years, some Christ-followers have suspected that the Republican party simply wants to string us along, throwing us dribs and drabs of policy acknowledgements that delude us into assuming populist economic conservatives are as personally moral as we like to think we are.  It's been a handy two-way street:  Christians get to belittle the poor and love money, and unsaved conservatives get our votes and public support.

Except now, with the whole question of gay marriage, things are beginning to unravel in this tight-knit and dangerously symbiotic relationship.  Several Republican politicians have abandoned tradition and come out in support of gay marriage.  Then on Tuesday, FOX talking head Bill O'Reilly blamed the demise of straight marriage support on the fact that right-wingers haven't "been able to do anything but thump the Bible."


Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh very nearly conceded the same thing.  Of course, almost immediately, after liberal media wonks started airing what sounded like every bit of a concession, Limbaugh tried to reel it back in.  But still, saying "This issue is lost" is pretty straightforward, isn't it?

To be fair, Limbaugh went on to clarify that "I don't care what the Supreme Court does, [gay marriage] is now inevitable - and it's inevitable because we lost the language on this. ... [W]e lost the issue when we started allowing the word "marriage" to be bastardized and redefined by simply adding words to it ..."

Which may or may not be true.  I think conservatives lost the gay marriage debate because of a host of other factors, including the divorce rate to which Limbaugh himself has liberally contributed.  And reading the transcripts of his comments on the subject don't really clarify his "language" clarification.  What exactly it is about calling the marriage of gays "gay marriage" that shows conservative losing any language wars?  I oppose gay marriage, but I don't oppose calling the marriage of gays "gay marriage," because that's what it would be.  If Limbaugh is saying that conservatives should have consistently advocated for gay unions instead, doesn't he know there's a difference between the two concepts?

Limbaugh's exasperation - both in his concession of the straight marriage concept and his attempts at denying what he'd said the day before - simply prove he's nobody whose opinions evangelicals should be basing their worldview upon.  At least, to his credit, Limbaugh never directly threw Christianity under the bus like O'Reilly did.  Instead, Limbaugh lumped Judaism and Islam alongside of us, two other world faiths with considerable streaks of social conservatism.  But it was all too little, too late.

He may not have blasphemed the name of Christ, but Limbaugh has proven that he's no moral conservative.  But will evangelicals still give him a pass on that?

Abandon Ship, or Self?

Old habits die hard.  For years, many evangelicals have been drinking the far-right-wing kool aid of "my way or the highway" which, ironically, is totally opposite the cherished liberties we say American stands for. We've also flirted with our culture so much, we've lost our credibility when the rubber hits the road.  Have evangelicals acclimated to Limbaughsian rhetoric to the point where even Limbaugh - and to a lesser degree, O'Reilly - can get away with complaining that morality is a burden on the conservative cause?

Because that's what Limbaugh and O'Reilly are doing.  It's almost like we're the dead weight on the Good Ship GOP that the crew wants to cast overboard during a storm to stay afloat.  Remember Jonah?  He got on a ship heading the opposite direction of where God told him to go, and when a fierce storm slammed the craft, he realized that the crew was throwing overboard everything else except the real peril to their survival:  Jonah himself.  So he told them to throw him overboard, and when they did, the storm ceased.

I'm not saying that as soon as evangelicals wise up and stop parroting conservative media wonks, that America is suddenly going to be transformed into a moral paradise.  That may happen, if God ordains it, but apparently, He's also ordained that in the wake of our failed testimony to our society, things like gay marriage - and even gay unions, which I would cautiously support - are increasingly the "will of the people." 

Although, as we've seen this week, our system of laws poses significant impediments to legalizing these types of social changes, gay marriage at least appears inevitable.  I'm not complaining that Limbaugh and O'Reilly are wrong about that, I'm merely pointing out that, since they obviously don't have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, they don't have access to our Heavenly Father, and the opportunity to petition Him for grace, healing, and a reinvestment in holy matrimony in our country.

Meanwhile, do we concede to the inevitable, or do we fight it with even more severe rhetoric and advocacy bordering on bigotry?  Or, do we die to self, and the misguided belief regarding America's "Godly" heritage we've allowed right-wingers to manipulate to their benefit instead of His?  Whatever happened to serving Christ as salt and light, regardless of the cost?  Might serving as salt and light to our society actually help turn back what we see as the inevitable?

"For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."  Galatians 2:19–21

As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, forget Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and what they want you think.  And instead, consider adopting one key aspect of Christ's love:  dying to self.

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