Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Absolute relativism

History was made Sunday when the first openly gay football player (to say he is who he is and he’s not going to change and you shouldn’t care) was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Bill Rhoden and Jonathan Capehart appeared on MSNBC Monday to discuss the seventh-round draft pick. It wasn’t a talk between a conservative and a liberal. It was a talk between a liberal and a totalitarian. You have to air both sides, you know.

Rhoden takes the relativistic, secular view that homosexuality is innocuous and cultural mores will take time to change. Capehart, who is proudly gay, is more absolutist regarding relativism. He’s ready to outlaw dissent and have the knuckle draggers “made to understand.”

Capehart: “So what you’re saying is Michael Sam has to put up with people disrespecting who he is, that Michael Sam has to put up with people who don’t like who he is, and he just has to put up with it and take it?”

Rhoden: “As opposed to what? As opposed to what? This is the real world.”

Capehart: “What you’re saying is he’s supposed to be silent, that he’s supposed to stand silently by and let people disrespect him.”

Rhoden: “No, no, what I said is there has to be a national back-and-forth discourse. It can’t just be a one-way thing that if anybody expressed discomfort, then their cast as a homophobe.”


Capehart: “Hatred is not new. Bigotry is not new. Ignorance isn’t new. And so when someone denigrates somebody else for who they are... I understand you’re saying that it has to be a two-way conversation. But tolerance should not be a two-way street. It’s a one-way street. You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, you know, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be forced—not ‘forced’ but—not be made to understand that what you’re saying and what you’re doing is wrong.”

Rhoden: “You’re question I think is an important question, is, ‘Does he have to take it?’ All I’m saying is, when you are a pioneer, whether you’re Jackie Robinson—when you’re a pioneer, there’s a certain responsibiltity that’s going to come with being a pioneer. There’s a certain weight that you gotta carry.”

Capehart: “That I get, but then the person who has the hate in their heart, or the bigotry in their heart, or the homophobia in their heart has to be made to see that the way they think and feel is wrong.”

When Capehart looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a sinner. He doesn’t see a person created in God’s image, whom God loved so much that He sent His only begotten Son to redeem him. I would say Capehart sees a perfect, holy, inviolable individual, but most of us understand perfection as an absolute, moral term, external to us owing to our varied and imperfect natures.

He does see the individual as perfect in this sense: Capehart believes indivuality itself confers perfection on the individual. According to him, sin isn’t falling short of a standard external to the individual, it’s holding individuals to said external standard.

I’d tell Capehart to get over himself, but it wouldn’t compute. In his thinking, the self isn’t an obstacle to greater things. The self is the greatest thing.

Notice he leaves no room for people with hatred. He judges them by the only standard he has: that there is no standard. Since there is no standard for the individual to follow, there is no evil the individual commits, and thus there is no evil to hate. Without evil that merits hatred, hatred itself becomes evil.

The only question Capehart leaves open is the mechanism of reeducation. With respect to that, self-imposed economic sanction is doing just fine.

Tuesday Capehart ran to his blog at the Washington Post website to clarify his totalitarian stance:

The notion that “tolerance can’t just work one way” was off-putting. While I agree that “there has to be back and forth” in discussing issues in which there are different points of view and beliefs and that pioneers have “a certain weight” they have to carry, I reject the notion that the pioneer or the person making others feel “discomfort” is the one who has to compromise himself or herself any further to make others feel better.

A dialogue suggests a fair and open debate, an outcome that is in doubt, a potential for hatred of sin to continue to be tolerated. That’s unacceptable, as the title of his blog post suggests: “No tolerance for ‘discomfort.’”

The ring for the bout over men’s souls is set. In one corner is the doctrine of the incorruptible self. Man has an absolute right to his autonomous individuality and absolute will, enforceable on others by centralized power brokers, whether they be the government, media, or business. To borrow from C. S. Lewis on pride, it “always means enmity—it is enmity.”

In the other corner is the bare, naked fact of man’s fallenness and the opportunity to be reconciled to God and become one with others in the body of Christ.



  1. Hi,
    I really enjoy your blog after coming to it initially near the beginning of the Sterling fiasco. I think how your view is a bit off here. One will never win any victory or space for one's position if one is not able to argue that their position is morally right but can only ask for toleration. Never in human history have as anyone allowed people the right/space to do evil. What must be done is that those who oppose homosexuality (as I do) is argue that it is morally evil and not simply something that is neutral. Here is an blog post from several years ago, that seems quite appropriate -

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, ChristianTrader. I didn't mean to sound like I was asking for tolerance of sin. I thought the way I put it specifically knocked down the idol of self that seems to be all the rage.