The matter comes up again because I feel a less than irenic blog post welling up in me, and I'm hoping to talk myself out of it. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to post something about Liz or something like the last two posts, featuring marvelous and exemplary people. And nothing leaves me less satisfied than when I put up a grumpier sort of post, addressing some issue that is inevitably part of the culture wars and almost as inevitably complicated by personal friendships with those who hold positions quite at odds with my own. So, as I say, I hope to talk myself out of it. My examination of conscience on the matter has come to rest on this passage in 2 Timothy:
Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.Which are the "stupid and senseless controversies" and which are the substantive ones that should not go without a vigorous response? And, in responding, what might Paul (or whoever wrote 2 Timothy) have had in mind when speaking of correcting with "gentleness"? When Christ "corrected opponents," it wasn't always with what most of us today would call gentleness, and the author of 2 Timothy, especially as he was either Paul or someone who saw Paul as an exemplary model, probably had something in mind a little more serious than a group hug. Moreover, Jesus seems to have been at his least gentle when confronting religious leaders who used either their office or the prestige that came with it in ways that betrayed the responsibilities that also came with it. (And therein lies the matter that has caused this less than irenic blog post to rise up in me.)
Well ... we'll see. I'll sleep on it and pray on it.
If the next blog post to appear here is irenic in the extreme, you will know how the wrestling match turned out. If it is only marginally irenic, you'll also know.