A Hailstorm of Cotton Balls

I would start by encouraging you to take a look at this video Q&A with Russell Moore. If time’s winged chariot is at your back, you can jump to the fifteen minute mark, which is what I will be writing about.

I do think that Moore does a good job in his qualifications. He says, as he should, that he doesn’t want to urge anyone to go against their conscience. He says also that he is “it seems to me” mode, and not in “thus saith the Lord” mode, and that is all to the good.

On top of that, the questions he fields are admittedly thorny. But I would want to say the difficulty involved with the questions is an emotional difficulty, not an intellectual one. Unfortunately, we live in a time when any emotional difficulty translates automatically into an intellectual difficulty. That’s just how we evangelicals roll.

Moore says rightly that Christians ought not to attend same sex ceremonies, and he says this for the right reasons. Everybody would understand our attendance as approval, and since we don’t approve, we cannot attend. But he then says that we could attend the reception, or the shower, and so on. I honestly cannot make any sense of this. The reception is the celebration of what just transpired. If what just transpired was an abomination, how can we celebrate it?

A related question had to do with how to handle it when a lesbian aunt wants to visit for the holidays, and you have a spare room. She wants to bring her girlfriend. Now what? It is quite true that refusal will be characterized as “mean,” but what matters is whether our behavior is actually loving. We should care less about whether it is represented as loving.

The entire sexuality battle is about approval, not participation. We are being maneuvered into the place where we start using ethical air quotes. “Well, I do ‘disapprove’ of this behavior, and yet, will do absolutely nothing to express that disapproval in a way that might be taken as disapproving.” I do not agree with your sin, but I am willing to raise a toast to it.

Evangelicals are nice, there is no getting around it. It is our besetting sin. That means about the worst thing you can tell us is that we are being mean to somebody. Maybe that meanness is turning someone away from Jesus. Our niceness is the steering wheel that we always want to put our critics behind. Not surprisingly, they always steer us straight into compromise.

But actually one of the biggest stumbling blocks that we really do manufacture is this great idol of Nice. When someone is turned away from Christ because some Christian was mean, everybody notices it. But when we have turned the whole world off because we are nicer than a hailstorm of cotton balls, nobody notices that problem at all.

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stanmccullars
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stanmccullars

A new book idea: “How Shall We Then Not Offend”

Mike Earl
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Mike Earl

Thanks for sharing this with us, Pastor Wilson. I noticed that on at least two of the specific questions related to homosexuality, Dr. Moore did not provide an answer: 1) [19:50 mark] Would you allow a lesbian couple to sleep together in your home? — he seemed to indicate that yes, he would allow them to sleep together in his home, though he was vague in his response. 2) [29:35 mark] Should a youth pastor refer to a young man as a woman during Bible study, since that is the desire of said student. Again, no answer from Dr. Moore.… Read more »

timothy
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timothy

Evangelicals are nice, there is no getting around it.

grrrrrrrr

Alex
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Alex

Thanks for this, Pastor Wilson. I know many Southern Baptists who are increasingly vexed by Russell Moore’s equivocation on various Christian moral issues. From calling Jesus an “illegal immigrant” while arguing for amnesty to attacking Christian talk radio to preaching a pullback from the culture wars (and then retracting that sentiment) to stating that laws prohibiting homosexuality are unjust and an affront to the image of God, Russell Moore is quite concerning. These latest statements about attending the wedding reception of a homosexual couple (but not the wedding itself, mind you!) are disappointing and, frankly, astoundingly unbiblical. I think William… Read more »

Laurie Higgins
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Pastor Wilson,

Thanks so much for weighing in on the troubling responses Dr. Moore gave to these questions. Because of his much-admired scholarship and leadership, his non-sensical responses to these questions are sowing confusion among Christians.

“Hailstorm of cotton balls” is both picturesque, evocative, and hilarious. Someone should write a children’s picture book with that title.

Barnabas
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Barnabas

Christians have been going along and actively enforcing the “nice” but wrong agenda for a very long time. Suddenly with gay marriage some objections arise. Lets hope that this is a sign of things to come and that Christians stop seeking the approval of the Marxists and start applying some critical thought in other areas of life.

eMatters
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The “nice” crowd reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office.

“Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not this compulsive need to be liked, like my need to be praised.”

When we put our need to be liked above the word of God then bad things happen.

Michael Coughlin
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If niceness is a steering wheel then maybe that was the wheel Carrie Underwood wants Jesus to take?

On another note, I don’t necessarily fault a Christian who has a desire to be an onlooker at a ceremony. I have a friend who said he’d probably attend a gay wedding if invited, and use the opportunity to be a Christian witness in the circumstance. He, of course, agreed that the couple would be clear on his viewpoint.

Matt
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Matt

When it’s hard to imagine anything worse than a world where Christians disapprove of something and yet don’t indicate so, you’re dealing with real privilege. The issue is that if you want people to care about something that they have no reason to outside of ideology, like whether someone else is gay or not, then you have to exact swift and severe punishments for not doing so. Moore doesn’t want to be inhumane, but still wants the norms to be there. Rod Dreher has the same problem. All the stuff about “real” vs “appearing-to-be” love is just rationalization. If you… Read more »

Barnabas
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Barnabas

Michael – What would being a Christian witness look like in such a circumstance?

Matt – My beliefs are an ideology, yours are “being humane”. Mine must be enforced through punishment, you just want justice. That being said, you are absolutely right about how social norms are enforced, just not very self-aware regarding your own ideology.

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

Just as a point of curiosity, how do you think Christians should treat gay people? Does it matter if the gay people are professing Christians? Should they be shunned, or welcomed into your homes and churches, or something in between?

John W
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Eric the Red- I think Paul answered all of your questions in a single passage; 1 Cor 5:9-13

RFB
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RFB

Imagine the reaction if someone said something like: “American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It .is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always… Read more »

RFB
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RFB

Please forgive the numb thumbs.