Preaching & practice

Carlin, David R. Jr.

342: OF SEVERAL HIM PS David R. Carlin, Jr. PREACHING & PRACTICE JUDGING BY STANDARDS NO LONGER PROFESSED Since I have written before in this space that one can not understand America ...

...I blame my children for this ignorance on my part...
...Televangelism is not exactly my spiritual cup of tea, but from time to time of a Sunday morning I'll flip the TV dial in an attempt to find out what's happening...
...But this is mere convention...
...Because of a character flaw which makes me even more unfit than Gary Hart to be president of the U.S...
...But it seems to be unreasonable to hold presidential candidates to Victorian standards while allowing everyone else the right to live by Playboy standards...
...it is to argue in a circle...
...He pretended to be a good family man...
...He was guilty of not practicing what he preached...
...And because it was an offense against purity, it was an especially serious form of infidelity...
...Well, adultery isn't really the'issue in Gary Hart's case," itissaid...
...But Americans a century later have no such feelings about sexual morality...
...Gary Hart, on the other hand, despite starting life as a member of the Church of the Nazarene, does not make his living as a religious traditionalist...
...This is not to say that I endorse America's prevailing sexual morality, for in fact I do not...
...To condone Parnell's adultery seemed to many equivalent to condoning an attack on the very nation he was attempting to redeem...
...But he was an Assemblies of God minister...
...The process has now evolved to the point of absolute lunacy...
...It was an offense against purity and an offense against fidelity...
...Hart's adultery is a big matter because the press chose to make it a big matter which leaves unproven the assertion that it should have been a big matter...
...PREACHING & PRACTICE JUDGING BY STANDARDS NO LONGER PROFESSED Since I have written before in this space that one cannot understand America unless one understands American religion, above all American Protestantism in all its parti-coloredness, I am ashamed to admit that I had never even heard of Jim Bakker and his wife, Tammy prior to the moment the news of Jim's adultery broke on page one...
...This badly damaged Parnell's political position, split the nationalist movement, and probably delayed Irish home rule for many years...
...He does not preach a strict sexual ethic...
...A strict sexual ethic was a cardinal element in their religion, and it was that religion that had held their community together and given it such dignity as it had through centuries of oppression...
...Off goes the TV set...
...For us, sex, like religion, is a private matter...
...But nowadays it is an offense against fidelity only, and not a terribly serious offense at that, since the subject matter of the infidelity, namely sexual impurity, is no longer considered intrinsically offensive...
...We are living on the other side of the sexual revolution...
...For a politician to be photographed with his lovely wife and beautiful children is not tantamount to an affidavit that neither he nor she fools around or that the kids aren't doing drugs...
...This is to be guilty of the petitio principii fallacy...
...That was Jim Bakker's problem, too...
...Because he is just as much a hypocrite as Jim Bakker...
...We, on the other hand, seem to believe that candidates for emperor ought to show themselves worthy of Vestal status...
...It reminds me of the later Romans, who, in a period of sexual decadence, kept up their fine old custom of burying alive unchaste Vestal Virgins...
...We tolerate premarital sex, postmarital sex, homosexual sex...
...Candidates for the most important office in the most important nation in the world are now being screened out on the basis of a sexual ethic a sexual ethic, worse still that nobody publicly professes anymore...
...But those are small matters...
...I can sympathize with the violent reaction many of the Irish, especially Irish Catholics, had in the Parnell affair...
...he belonged to a religious subculture that insists on a very strict sexual ethic...
...My kids have apparently developed a healthy R.C, prejudice against the more exotic forms of Protestantism...
...his adultery is a big matter...
...of this, more later), I am unable to withstand their complaints for more than a minute or two...
...Thereal issue is his poor judgment...
...and we even tolerate relative promiscuity in these three areas...
...So whenever one of the evangelists shows up on the screen, my kids send up howls of protest...
...After all, this was the height of the Victorian era, and in sexual matters the Irish Catholics were more Victorian than the Victorians...
...Even prior to the Gary Hart business, we had developed a bizarre process of choosing presidents...
...With regard to knowledge of American religion, then, I am guilty of not practicing what I preach...
...it make him a hypocrite as well...
...His adultery, then, made him more than an adulterer...
...Almost one hundred years before Gary Hart's downfall, Charles Stewart Parnell, the great Irish nationalist, was charged, accurately enough, with having committed adultery with Kitty O'Shea...
...343...
...So why did we stone him to death when he was possibly taken in adultery...
...This is not to say that we live this way ourselves, or even that we think it advisable for others to live this way...
...But we no longer feel free to be publicly censorious of those who elect to use their sexual freedom in ways that offend our taste or judgment...
...At least the Romans were sensible enough not to confuse the Vestal Virgins with the emperor...
...Had he been affiliated with a denomination which had a relaxed and non-traditional sexual ethic, which taught, for instance, that adultery in certain circumstances is perfectly OK, then his adultery would have been no big deal...
...Back in the old days, in the days before the sexual revolution, adultery was a double sin...
...If Hart had shown poor judgment in buying an automobile or choosing a vacation spot, nobody would give a rat's nether quarters...
...We no more have a public sexual ethic than we have a public religion...

Vol. 114 • June 1987 • No. 11


 
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