Purple and Uncivil Prose: Attacking Religious Speech

Eric Metaxas | Author | Updated: Jul 29, 2013

Purple and Uncivil Prose: Attacking Religious Speech

A few years ago, Lanny Davis, former strategist for Bill Clinton, called on members of Congress to sign a civility pledge. “I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior,” the pledge read. “I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. I will stand against incivility when I see it.”

Well, I have to wonder whether Davis signed the pledge himself, because just a few days ago he wrote some deeply uncivil things in his column, titled “Purple Nation,” about people who don't share his opinion about same-sex “marriage.”

Davis was responding to a letter by N. Michael Nunn, a member of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Nunn wrote that for the Temple to officiate over unions of homosexual couples and call such relationships “sanctified” is “unacceptable to a sound mind.” Homosexuality, Nunn added, “is explicitly condemned in Scripture.” It “has been categorically and passionately rejected by all classical Jewish legal and ethical thinkers as a cardinal vice in the same category as incest, murder and idolatry.”

Nunn addressed this letter to fellow Jews who oppose allowing same-sex “marriage” ceremonies to take place in their Temple.

Well, in his column, Davis called these comments “shameful” and “obscene.” He even compared Nunn's words to the writings of the fanatic Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini! That in itself is out of bounds, because Nunn and many of his fellow congregants are Persian Jews, some of whom may have been persecuted by the Khomeini regime.

It's worth noting Davis did not respond to Nunn's assertion that Scripture condemns homosexuality — because the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, DOES condemn homosexual behavior, along with a host of other sexual behaviors. And Davis surely knows this.

Finally, Davis says he can “respect those whose religious convictions won't allow them to accept lawful gay marriage. But “I cannot respect imposing those irrational views on others.”

Whoa! How are members of temples and churches “imposing their views” simply by speaking out for biblical truth?

Now, I actually met Lanny Davis at Chuck Colson's memorial service, and I've had pleasant email exchanges with him, and I really like the guy. So it’s kind of frightening that someone of his reputation and stature would liken the expression of one's religious beliefs about same-sex marriage to “hate speech.”

In effect, Davis is saying to billions of Christians, Jews and Muslims around the globe, “If you don't agree with me, you're a hater and a bigot — and you ought to shut up.”

That’s pretty uncivil. And pretty un-American, I might add.

But ominously, this attitude is spreading. Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation recently wrote an article titled “Civility, Bullying, and Same-Sex Marriage.” In it, he observes that those who want to redefine marriage “don't tend to say what many opponents have said, that this is a difficult question on which reasonable people of good will can disagree.”

Instead, Anderson writes, “they've said anyone who disagrees with them is the equivalent of a racist. They've sent a clear message: If you stand up for marriage, we will, with the help of our friends in the media, demonize and marginalize you.”

Anderson referred to this approach as “grotesque incivility,” the kind that is “toxic for any democratic community.”

And I could not agree more. You and I have to call “foul” when people engage in this toxic approach, and make sure we don't engage in it ourselves. As St. Paul put it, “In your teaching, show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 7-8).

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: July 29, 2013

Purple and Uncivil Prose: Attacking Religious Speech