Yesterday marked the first year anniversary of Senator Edward Kennedy’s death, which seems to warrant another re-post:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
–St. Peter (1 Peter 2: 13-17)
The life of Senator Kennedy, lived very much in public view, was a life that was badly lived.
Long, brief, ham-fistedly uncouth or silver-tongued, relevant-Christianity-with-a-conservative-bent blogdom is filled with postings like Wilson’s (unfortunately, the page is now defunct, but to my knowledge the utterance hasn’t been retracted).
It is very hard to grasp just what sort of outlook must inform the latter statement by Doug Wilson, nor how one imagines it aligns with the former from 1 Peter 2. What is it that drives those commanded to seek the peace and be humble servants of the city to speak so deridingly and to undermine instead of honor kings? It is quite beyond me how those who utter such obnoxious things seem to be so absent any sense of shame. And while I am not particularly given to it as a general rule, I do wonder where the moral outrage might be when professing Christians mutter such dishonorable tripe.
But when one takes into account the context of such statements it really seems to be yet another function of how western religionists have confused, quite badly, things political with things moral. Many lament the mixing of politics and religion, but fewer seem to realize that the politicizing of religion tends very often to go hand-in-hand with the moralizing of politics. Both are cause for concern. Whatever else this sort of wrong-headed disposition yields, it certainly does exactly nothing to fulfill Peter’s command to show proper respect to everyone. Peter goes on to suggest that it is no credit to a slave to endure a beating for bad behavior, rather it is to his merit that he endure being kicked in the teeth for doing good. If the ham-fisted railings of certain professing Christians is any measure, do we really imagine that they would be anything but three-sheets-to-the-wind should that sort of adversity come their way?
It is one thing to disagree politically with a king, it is another to suggest a moral degeneracy and a “life badly lived” because of it. And lest anyone think some particularly political axe is being ground here, it isn’t unusual to hear the same malignant speech on the lips of those religionists opposed to shock and awe, which isn’t any less troublesome. One is reminded of the theological row revivalists had with confessionalists over the questions surrounding of revivalism (and one that, to greater or lesser degrees, prevails yet today between their respective heirs). Not seeing eye-to-eye, the revivalists went toe-to-toe with the confessionalists and, kicking them in the shins, played the same theological card Wilson ideologically plays here. They charged their confessionalist interlocutors with being unregenerate. As some have rightly asked, how exactly does one argue against such a suggestion? It is as enormously frustrating and maddening as when one might be told he is a mere contrarian for dissenting or seeing something from another angle. It is the verbal equivalent of being roundly kicked in the groin by a rather desperate opponent. But if Peter has anything to say about it, it would seem our public comportment is held to a vastly higher standard than the likes of Wilson exhibit. True, living up to high standards is just plain tough and really isn’t a thing for the faint of heart. But, like mama always said, that’s no good excuse not to.