Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hate Speech

With all the anti-Christian Bullying by anti-bullying folks, I was thinking this morning about "hate speech". The claim of the bullies is that it is hate speech to tell someone they are going to hell. I'm almost inclined to agree (although I think the term "hate speech" is not helpful). In fact, it is un-Catholic to tell someone they are going to hell. More on this later.

Let's consider some things. The over-used phrase "Judge not, lest ye be judged" from Matthew 7 is often thrown in the face of Christians as a cautionary tale against speaking out against sin. But of course, only against the sin that the particular sinner doesn't and spoken out against. Let's look at the whole verse, not just the phrase:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
and in Luke 6:
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” And he told them a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.
and from John 8:
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”
and in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes:
It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.
So, what can we take away from these passages? They are pretty clear:
  • Don't judge others.
  • Jesus is the judge of all.
  • Repent and turn away from sin.
So clearly, telling someone they are going to hell is judging them, and usurping the power that rightly belongs to God alone. So, on that basis, is the eponymous Dan Savage correct in his "hate speech"? Furthermore, how do we square this with the seven spiritual works of mercy, one of which is "admonish the sinner"? Let's see what the trusty Catechism has to say. Under the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit we find the Theological Virtues (for the scriptural references, follow the link and read the footnotes):
1813 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment. By loving his own "to the end," he makes manifest the Father's love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." And again: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."
1829 The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.
See the pattern? Sin can separate us from God. It is our duty, commanded by Christ, to point this out to those who are in error. In the story of the adulteress Jesus doesn't say "adultery is OK". even though he forgives her he confirms that she has sinned and says "Go and sin no more." In fact, even atheist Penn Jillette agrees that we should admonish the sinner. In this video he says:
"If you believe there's a heaven and hell and you think that someone might be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean if I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn't believe that that truck was bearing down on you, there's a certain point where I tackle you."
So, is it OK to tell people they're going to hell? No. Although the Church recognizes the existence of hell, and we are told by Christ that many people go there, it is not our place to judge, but Christ's alone (as I think was made abundantly clear by the Bible passages above). The Church does not teach that any particular person is in hell, even Hitler, even Judas. It is not our place to judge.

So what does the catechism say about homosexuality?
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Sound like "hate speech" to you? The problem comes when people insist that saying that sin is a sin is "hate speech", and that's one reason why I have a problem with the term - it doesn't mean anything, and therefore means anything the speaker wants it to mean. It is merely a tool for bashing people who have beliefs you don't like.


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