April 07, 2008

Stand By Your Man

Or, I Take the Bait

While browsing Google News, I discovered an article in the Washington Post concerning the Obama/Rev. Wright issue. Apparently, it still hasn't vanished from the news cycle. Older, white voters are concerned about Obama's patriotism, as he simply sat in church and listened to his pastor's diatribes without leaving. Some voters apparently have been appeased by his speech, but some are still concerned. Many, including Hilary, have called for Obama to fully renounce and reject his association with Rev. Wright.

Why, I ask? Shouldn't we as Christians, as humans at the very least, be proud and respectful of a man who refuses to reject a brother? We are called upon to respectfully correct an errant brother, but I don't think we're called upon to reject them. Jesus might have said, "Get thee behind me, Satan," to Peter, but he still saved him and washed his feet. Obama is simply saying (to me) that while he strongly disagrees with Wright's comments, and has told him so, he also doesn't need to reject him.

My other quibble with this "issue" is the belief in free speech. In recent times, it has seemed that free speech and patriotism do not walk hand in hand. I believe America was founded upon the idea that we can disagree. Many of us may pray that God will bless America, but we should also understand that we do not deserve to be blessed, and that many people might have a real reason to hope that America will be damned.

My pastor has been an incredible gift to my spiritual life, and he is an inspiring speaker. He has encouraged and challenged me. I would not abandon him for a bit of anti-patriotism, and I am glad to see that Obama has not abandoned Rev. Wright. I am frustrated that this is even an issue.


mark said...

Quite right my love! I may not agree with his politics or theology, but as a follower of Christ I must love the person regardless of their rhetoric.

As an American, a patriotic American no less, I am well within my right to decry what he says, but I should also be willing to fight to the death to defend the right for another to say the things I hate.

There's an oft quoted quote to that effect that escapes me now, but just because I can't give you chapter and verse doesn't mean it is any less true...

Matty said...

As much as it pains me, I must respectfully disagree with you both. The issue with the Obama/Wright story is not that they associate, that they are friends or that Obama attends Wright's church. The problem lies in Obama holding Wright up as his spiritual advisor, mentor and personal character reference. As such, he has opened himself up to the same scrutiny as the candidate himself. We have a right as voters to know a bit about some who is proclaimed to be the confidant and advisor to a perspective presidential candidate.

Wright and Obama put themselves in this position, arrogantly believing that no one would bother to analyze the lunacy that Wright regularly spews.

Further, I have not seen many responsible pundits calling Obama to reject or cease contact with Wright as a person. Only to either defend his mentor's rhetoric or condemn it. Obama's done neither and it's his fence-sitting that drags this story on. Since we cannot really know his heart, it through clues such as his choice of associates (that includes pseudo-mafia Chicago business partners) that we can try to determine what kind of man he is.

As to Wright's right (hahaha) to say what he says...absolutely he has the right! Just as I have the right to express myself by not voting for him partially due to his less-than-stellar judgment in choosing his mentor.

Amanda said...

Perhaps he can neither defend or condemn it--perhaps, like me, he agrees a bit. I'm not planning to vote for Obama either, but as a student of presidential history, associates are often a bit off, and arrogance is a necessity for a presidential candidate.

Maybe I'm just tired of all this scrutiny of candidates--I long for the good old days where they didn't have YouTube videos of Jefferson's spiritual advisor discussing how Jesus's miracles and resurrection aren't true.

mark said...

Matt, your comments are acknowledge, and have some validity. However, you can't judge a man by .0000076% of his statements made behind the pulpit. Wright's limited actions, although severely inflamitory, represent only a small portion of his actions and leadership.

If we were to judge one's associates so harshly on a few negative actions counting as the whole, where would that leave, Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Paul, Peter, and other spiritual greats. They are adulterers, murderers, doubters, sinners.

If I were to claim them as a spiritual mentor, should I to be condemn that I fail to reject outright their council on other spiritual matters? I can condemn David's adultery and murder specifically - as Obama has specifically rejected Wright's statements - but need I reject all the spiritual wisdom, guidance, and leadership that he may hold?

I can't judge a man's heart, as you said, so shouldn't I judge a man's character by his actions. The fact that Obama hasn't reject Wright speaks well of him. You and I have known men in the church of our childhood who have led us, taught us, and counciled us on spiritual issues who had sin and human failing (adultery, pedophilea, sex additions). I reject the action, the sin, but not the men who had such positive spiritual influence on my life.

Its a slipperly slope we slide when we judge a man by soundbite proxy. Well, off the soapbox...

The Coach said...

Mark -

You're right that we can't judge a man by his worst behavior, but we can judge a man's worst behavior, especially if he refuses to acknowledge that it is indeed bad behavior.

If the Rev. Wright does not acknowledge that they his pronouncements were mistakes, then he continues to stand by them, and we see that his character is not admirable.

It's more than just a soundbite. Soundbites can be misinterpreted, and easily, but when a man goes to great lengths to defend his soundbite by explaining that what he meant is exactly what he's been accused of, that's a problem.

Matty said...

Thank you Coach for making nearly the identical point that I made in a long and compelling comment which I only now realized never got posted.