There's No Sin at This Inauguration

There's No Sin at This Inauguration

By Ben Domenech - January 13, 2013

Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s New York Times piece on Rev. Louie Giglio has since been scrubbed, but here’s the original language: "An official with Mr. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee, which operates separately from the White House, vetted Mr. Giglio. People familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn." You can see that text here. But now, the story eliminates any indication of White House pressure on Giglio – it’s just gone, as if it never happened.

Kirsten Powers responds. “Hey McCarthyite left: Are you going to object to Muslims who oppose homosexuality too? Didn't seem to be problem with 'ground zero mosque'… For the record, I don't agree with a lot of what Giglio said, but his sermon was basic orthodox Christianity. Who is banned next? The pope?” Here’s Al Mohler saying the same thing, but at greater length. 

Giglio, a mild and inoffensive modern church leader from Georgia best known for his work combatting slavery around the globe (here and here), was found to have described homosexuality – something deemed in modern American culture not just as morally acceptable but something that must be morally affirmed upon every opportunity – as sinful in a twenty year old sermon. He expressed a belief held by the vast majority of orthodox Christians in accordance with teachings of sexual morality and sin in the Old and New Testament for centuries. Indeed, even the mildest members of the Christian world, the Joel Osteens and the like, still hold to this view – yes, even the pastor who Obama's staff chose for the inauguration prayer four years ago, Rick Warren, held those views at the time (he too was slammed as anti-gay, and has since tried to soft-pedal the issue when challenged by the left).

Perhaps Giglio’s presence would’ve clashed with the selected inauguration poet, gay Cuban Richard Blanco, who has built a career on his ethnic and sexual identity since he couldn't on his terrible prose (“I’m a boy who hates being a boy who loves cats and paint-by-number sets” is about the best of his work). But if all values are relative, and we ought to respect and tolerate other cultures as much as possible, shouldn't Giglio's arcane opinion be tolerated as well, being as it is only an expression of his deeply held religious beliefs? Is the problem that a sexual behavior is defined as sin at all – sin which requires redemption in the eternal sense? Or is it that healthy religious pluralism, which allows enormous disagreements about very deep and meaningful issues of sin and death, morality and the human soul, simply no longer exists?

This is an era when sin cannot be named as sin, no matter what the tendency or the pursuit. Russell Moore:

“In fact, by the standards of this controversy, no Muslim imam or Orthodox Jewish rabbi alive can pray at a presidential inauguration. When it is now impossible for one who holds to the catholic Christian view of marriage and the gospel to pray at a public event, we now have a de facto established state church. Just as the pre-constitutional Anglican and congregational churches required a license to preach in order to exclude Baptists, the new state church requires a “license” of embracing sexual liberation in all its forms."

Note, this now doesn’t simply exclude harsh and intemperate statements or even activism. Simply holding the view held by every Roman pontiff and by every congregation and synagogue in the world until very recent days is enough to make one “radioactive” in public.” On this count, the recent pushback against the effort to reclassify pedophilia as normal healthy guiltless behavior is particularly jarring. I expect the enlightened day will eventually arrive when such intolerance will no longer be tolerated, and an opinion, even an unpopular opinion, morphs into “hate speech.” “What is freedom of expression?” Salman Rushdie asked, “Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”

One last point: it is interesting how exercised some factions of non-belief or mild belief become when sin is defined considering that within their own moral universe sin is just an agreed upon cultural bias. Why should they be offended by such beliefs if sin is just a human-created construct, an expression of rude irritation with no ramifications in the eternal sense? And isn't it odd how the people most outraged at the sins of bigotry, racism, and sexism are also those who typically think it's bigotry to believe such a thing as sin exists? I suppose it's a good thing it doesn't exist, after all, because it might make a lot of people quite unhappy. 

Benjamin Domenech is editor of The Transom. Click here to subscribe.

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