Ari is an Orthodox Jewish blogger who writes at Jennifer Roback Morse’s Ruth Blog. Ari and Dr. J often write in defense of traditional marriage. As a result of that, they often get a number of pro-same-sex-marriage commenters who claim that mere disagreement with same-sex marriage is basically a hate crime. Well, Ari doesn’t think that pro-SSM people should freak out at him for believing in traditional marriage, and he doesn’t think that he is committing a hate crime. In fact, he would really like it if the pro-SSM people took his disagreement with same-sex marriage as… disagreement with same-sex marriage – instead of calling him names and attacking his character.
Now, let me ask you a question. If you were Ari, and you wanted to explain why disagreement is NOT hateful, and why disagreement with people is NOT dangerous and DOES NOT lead to violence, what would you do?
Well, Ari knows very well that conservative evangelicals like me disagree with him on whether Jesus is the only way, and that we think that having correct beliefs about who Jesus was and what his death accomplished are required in order for a person to be found worthy to be raised to eternal life with God in the general resurrection at the end of the age. So what he decided to do, in a fairly respectful way, is to explain how he feels about the evangelical Christians who 1) disagree with him on theology, 2) think that he should change his mind, and 3) try to persuade him that he should accept their view.
Here is an excerpt, but you WILL read the whole thing. (I have removed the name of the person he links to as an example of Protestant views)
How does it make me feel? Honestly, my most notable reaction is amusement. Am I offended? Maybe a little. But if I am at all offended, not very much. I could see how a soul more sensitive than I am would be deeply offended. (I would tell such a soul to get over it).
As for me, I understand my own point of view. I’m secure in that point of view, and if [the Protestant] cares to disagree, there is neither anything I can do about it nor anything I would want to do about it. Were I cornered into a debate with [the Protestant], I know how to advance my point of view and the logical underpinnings of that view… I can say similarly if, instead of [the Protestant], I would be forced into a debate with notable atheist pseudo-rationalists Ricky Dawkins, Danny Dennet or Sammy Harris.
How does he respond to disagreements with Protestants or atheists? He debates them. He doesn’t call them names. He doesn’t claim they are inciting violence. He doesn’t pass laws to silence them. He doesn’t force them to pay fines. He doesn’t put them in jail. He doesn’t seize their children. He doesn’t enact laws to force his views on other people in the schools. He doesn’t pass laws to force private companies to do sensitivity training of all employees. He doesn’t award grants and scholarships on the basis of agreement with him. Etc. He debates people who disagree with him. And if they don’t agree with him, he leaves them alone.
As you can see, although [the Protestant] has said, in absolutely no uncertain terms, that I am going to hell, I do not see any role for the government to shut him up. Indeed I would be horrified if the government believed my precious self-esteem to be so important that it would take it upon itself to shut [the Protestant] up for me.
How would Dr. J feel if similarly confronted by [the Protestant]’s cartoon wrath? I don’t have a clue, but I would be extremely surprised if her reaction was vastly different than my own. Does [the Protestant] have similar feelings about Dr. J’s Catholic faith? Why, yes. Yes, he does.
I trust that Dr. J. can defend her point of view to her own satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of those who share her faith. That I would likely disagree with her defense of her faith (which I don’t share) is irrelevant. The world’s a big place. I understand that it contains many people with many other points of view. I don’t expect others always to agree with me. Indeed I would be foolish to believe that. I would be a tyrant if I insisted that force be used to make others agree.
Now, do I think [the Protestant] is a hateful man? I have no idea. I have never met him. But, from reading a bit of his work, it seems to me that [the Protestant] has the best of intentions. He truly thinks I’m going to go to hell. He wants to save me from that fate. I would have to say that this fate, as he describes it, sounds more than a bit unpleasant. I commend him for his good intentions. However, I do think he’s wrong.
Should I condemn [the Protestant] for bothering me with his point of view? No.
Rodney Stark discusses the admirable aspects of the missionizing impulse as follows:
Imagine a society’s discovering a vaccine against a deadly disease that has been ravaging its people and continues to ravage people in neighboring societies, where the cause of the disease is incorrectly attributed to improper diet. What would be the judgment on the society if it withheld its vaccine on the grounds that it would be ethnocentric to try to instruct members of another culture that their medical ideas are incorrect, and to induce them to adopt the effective treatment? If one accepts that one has the good fortune to be in possession of the true religion and thereby has access to the most valuable possible rewards, is one not similarly obligated to spread this blessing to those less fortunate? I see no flaw in the parallel– other than the objection that the religious claims my not be true, which objection misses the phenomenology of obligation. (One True G-d, Page 35).
So, stop all the whining about “hate.” Maybe the people who disagree with you don’t really hate you. Maybe they just disagree.
I could not agree more. I wish I could shout this from the roof-tops! I wish we could all disagree respectfully – clarity, not agreement.
You need to read Ari’s post. It will be on the test. So get your butt over there and read it right now. And leave a comment telling Ari that he is brilliant!
By the way, Ari is my friend on Facebook, and so is Dr. J. I don’t entirely agree with either of them on theology. I think they are both mistaken at least in part. But I also think that they are both excellent morally, and highly effective on issues like marriage and abortion – issues where we are allies. In fact, I would not even put myself on the same scale as either of them if I were considering morality and effectiveness. They are heroes, and I am nobody. (Although you can follow my blog – that would make me somebody). It’s enough for me that they know that I have a different view than theirs, and that I have reasons for believing my view is better than their view. I do not insist that they celebrate all of my views, and I am thankful that they do not use the law to force me to celebrate all of their views. That’s tolerance.
Furthermore, let me say one thing about Hell. Protestants do not believe that the degree of punishment is the same for everyone who chooses to separate themselves from God by rejecting Jesus Christ. The duration is the same (eternity), but the degree of punishment is based on your actual sins. There is no moral equivalence been morally good non-Christians and people like Stalin, and they are not going to be treated equally in the afterlife.