"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"Look, Mommy, a Sinner!"

So Mike Jones, the gay male prostitute and drug dealer who has accused Reverend Ted Haggard of serial sexual liaisons in a Denver hotel room, has only the best of motives for coming forward:
You know, I want to tell him that I'm really sorry that he's in the position that he's in. You know, what this proves is we're all human. We all are sinners, but when you are in a position of authority and a role model for millions of people, you really need to practice what you preach.
To your humble and obedient servant, a trial attorney for 30 years, Jones' accusations, and Haggard's progression from denial, to elaborate hyper-specific denial, to partial admission, and so on, suggests that the prostitute is telling something very close to the truth. It is very sad for Haggard's family and his congregation.

But the interesting question is why this is so fascinating to the media. The New York Times has a teaser on its front page, urging you inside for the details. ("This way to the dog-faced boy!") It's on page 2 of the more discrete Washington Post.

The answer, as clearly understood by Mr. Jones, is hypocrisy. Mr. Jones certainly doesn't think that there's anything wrong with gay sex, or even pay-to-play gay sex. Neither does the Washington Post. And, in all likelihood, the editorial board of the New York Times thinks gay sex is superior to that other kind, and paying for it ever so much more honest than the degrading exploitation that transpires daily in the bourgeois institution of marriage. So none of these players is interested in pointing a finger and saying, "Gay sex is wrong, and Reverend Haggard's actions are wrong. He is to be condemned."

The charge of hypocrisy is the last refuge of the modern morality-free busybody. Even those who themselves believe nothing can engage in the sport of criticizing those who do when the latter fail to live up to their own principles. It is an odd and weak complaint: "We don't think you did anything wrong, but you think you did, so we're outraged."

It's the moral equivalent of the special prosecutor, frustrated in his attempt to turn up evidence of the crimes he was charged to investigate and prosecute, who consoles himself and his political supporters by indicting someone for obstruction of justice. Everyone feels much better.

But the real source of energy and interest is yet one more step removed. At base is a claim that there must be something wrong with all these Christians -- no, there must be something wrong with Christianity itself -- if even its most energetic and public supporters, promoters, and believers can't live up to the moral code they fling at the rest of us.

This may work with those already both morally bankrupt and indignantly ignorant of what Christians actually believe. But it strikes no known chord with Christians themselves: We already know all about this. While few of us are so prominently on public view or so florid in our daily sins as Reverend Haggard, every one of us fails every day to live up to the standard that has been set for us.

Every Christian. Every day. This is really old.

We were warned twenty centuries ago, when Paul wrote:
For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice.
And then:
Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?
Give me a call when you get to that question, because I've got Good News for you.

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