The former atheist Christopher Hitchens (I say former because there are no atheists in the afterlife) received a fan letter from a soft-headed liberal shortly before he died.
This gal wanted to make sure Hitchens knew how “tolerant” she was by claiming to be a Christian while proceeding to reject all of Christianity’s fundamental truths. She clearly thought she was going to get hosannas from him for her faux open-mindedness.
She thought wrong.
Hitchens replied: “Madame, if you reject the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth, and the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ, then despite what you may otherwise claim you’re not really much of a Christian at all.”
To paraphrase Billy Joel, Hitchens proved that it’s better to critically think with the sinners than vapidly emote with the saints.
In one pithy but potent reply, the great skeptic had dispensed more moral clarity than what comes from the majority of Western Civilization’s pulpits on any given Sunday. We may have lost Hitchens’ biting wit, but now God in his infinite grace has blessedly saw fit to raise up another wickedly smart pagan to take his place.
As most of the West’s churches chases after crowds rather than course correct a dying culture, all the while conjuring up new and more insipid ways to emasculate the masses, thankfully we now have Matthew Paris’ prophetic voice to call us back to the Bible. A self-described “gay atheist” wouldn’t be the obvious choice to fill Jeremiah’s or St. Paul’s shoes, but beggars can’t be choosers. After all, the Lord does move in mysterious ways, which the great reformer Martin Luther once pointed out when he noted, “God once spoke through the mouth of an ass.”
Mr. Paris’ recent piece in the United Kingdom’s Spectator, responding to Ireland becoming the first nation on Earth to vote to bestow the sacrament of marriage upon homosexual relationships, was titled “as a gay atheist I want to see the church oppose same-sex marriage.” Contrary to what you’d probably expect, this column is no exercise in trolling. Mr. Paris is a serious thinker, and he’s serious about expressing his disappointment that the salt of the Earth has lost its savor.
Mr. Paris brutally pans the Archbishop of Dublin’s moral retreat in response to the vote, with a “revised” telling of Moses rebuking the Israelites for constructing a golden calf to worship in Exodus 32:
“And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the Irish referendum’s huge majority for gay marriage, and the dancing: and Moses’ alarm was palpable. ‘And he took a copy of the Pink Paper and, flourishing it, said, ‘We have to stop and have a reality check, not move into denial of the realities. I appreciate how these naked revelers feel on this day. That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution. We need to find a new language to connect with a whole generation of young people,’ the prophet concluded; then, casting off his garments, Moses said, ‘Hey, lead me to the coolest gay bar in the camp.’
“Don’t laugh. With a couple of adjustments for updated circumstances, I am quoting the Archbishop of Dublin almost verbatim.”
Mr. Paris was just getting started.
“Even as a gay atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change? Time was — even in my time — when there were quiet, understated, sometimes quite severe men of the cloth, who could show us moral relativists a decent fight in that eternal debate. Now there’s only the emotional witness of the ranting evangelicals, most of them pretty dim.
“So, wearily and with a reluctance born of not even supporting the argument’s conclusion, let me restate the conservatives’ only proper response to news such as that from Dublin last weekend. It is that 62 percent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin. Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic? Can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtues and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to (demon)-worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?”
It has come to this for the Western church. We have become so shallow, so weak, and so utterly ineffective that our opponents have evolved from taunting us to pitying us. Except Mr. Paris soon runs out of pity and cuts right to the quick.
“It must surely be implicit in the claim of any of the world’s great religions that on questions of morality, a majority may be wrong; but this should be vividly evident to Christians in particular: they need only consider the fate of their Messiah, and the persecution of adherents to the Early Church. ‘Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you,’ says Paul. What does the Archbishop of Dublin now have to say to the 743,300 people who voted to uphold what their priests taught them was God’s will? These, and not the gays, are now the reviled ones. Popular revulsion cannot make them wrong.”
Finally, Mr. Paris finishes with why he’s even angrier at the church for abandoning its timeless values than he was when they stood up for them in the first place.
“But maybe I’m the fool, the one who’s missing something? Have some of us, in short, made the mistake of taking the church at its word? Was it always, anyway, about going with the flow? Was it always secretly about imposing the morals of the majority on the minority — so all that is necessary is to discover which way the preponderance falls?”
Mr. Paris tragically concludes that by surrendering the moral high ground on the marriage debate, the church turns out to be exactly what critics like him claimed all this time. By moving from solid rock to shifting sand, the church did not draw closer to the likes of Mr. Paris but drove him further away.
It’s clear Mr. Paris is not happy to have his most sinister suspicions confirmed and that he wanted to believe the church really believed as well. Thus, instead of celebrating the church’s capitulation to his craven desires and welcoming the church to “the right side of history,” Mr. Paris rightly rebukes us. He admits he has no respect for an institution so needy of his ilk’s approval that we would readily betray the blood shed at the cross on our behalf by Christ himself.
And just like that, a “gay atheist” living in open rebellion to God showed more reverence for his word than the horde of prosperity-peddling heretics on so-called Christian television – not to mention all the “seeker-sensitive” pansies that perpetually pleat their own khakis while Western Civilization burns.
Mr. Paris may not realize it, but he is closer to God’s heart than Joel Osteen – the man who presides over America’s largest “church.” There’s more truth and conviction in this column from Mr. Paris than you’d find in the full body of that charlatan’s work.
That’s not a good thing, by the way. For whenever God needs to use voices outside his grace to reach his people, that usually means his people are about to learn “the Lord chastens those whom He loves.”
Steve Deace is a nationally syndicated talk show host and also the author of the book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Click to Read More and View Comments
Click to Hide
Please read our comment policy before commenting.