The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘I’m Reluctant to Comment on Another Person’s Sexuality, But …’

Posted on | April 4, 2019 | Comments Off on ‘I’m Reluctant to Comment on Another Person’s Sexuality, But …’


That headline from the Washington Times reports a remarkable interview that Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave Kirsten Power, in which the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said:

“I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God. . . . I just don’t understand how you can be as worshipful of your own self as he is and be prepared to humble yourself before God. I’ve never seen him humble himself before anyone. And the exaltation of yourself, especially a self that’s about wealth and power, could not be more at odds with at least my understanding of the teachings of the Christian faith.”

Ann Althouse calls this “an interesting look at his idea of reluctance,” and indeed, such a comment contains many layers of irony. As true as it is that an egotistical celebration of “wealth and power” contradicts “the teachings of the Christian faith,” that faith has other teachings toward which the South Bend mayor has been rather less observant.

Turn with me, brothers and sisters, to the first chapter of the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, beginning with verse 18:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.”

Paul goes on to describe the sins of pagan Rome under the reign of the Emperor Nero, saying that “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (verse 28) an ungodly attitude which manifested itself in “vile affections” (verse 26).

This text describes how the idolatrous Romans “became vain in their imaginations” (verse 21) and with what consequences: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (verse 22).

Now, it is not my purpose here to defend President Trump from his critics, for certainly he is capable of defending himself. Rather, I ask whether Mayor Buttigieg exemplifies that willingness “to humble yourself before God,” a failure for which he condemns the president.

Having often contemplated the text of Romans 1:18-32, and having studied also the biography of the Emperor Nero, it has often seemed to me that the Apostle Paul — who wrote that epistle while at Corinth, and thus almost certainly had no knowledge of the wickedness transpiring in the imperial court — must have written in the spirit of prophecy.

Of Nero’s hideous decadence, the historian Cassius Dio says: “He came to believe that anything that it was in his power to do was right, and gave heed to those whose words were inspired by fear or flattery, as if they were utterly sincere in what they said.” Among his many other depraved cruelties, Nero ordered his own mother murdered, divorced his first wife, Octavia, and then ordered her execution, and kicked to death his second wife while she was pregnant. After that, Nero became infatuated with a teenage boy named Sporus, had him castrated, and “used him in every way like a wife.” Anyone familiar with Romans 1:18-32 must see that the Apostle Paul’s catalog of “unrighteousness” manifested as “vile affections” could be read as a condemnation of Nero, and some have speculated that this may have inspired Paul’s subsequent execution.

How this is relevant to Buttigieg’s criticism of Trump, atheists are as free as any Christian to form their own opinion. It seems to me, at least, quite shocking that Buttigieg should claim authority to lecture others about “the teachings of the Christian faith,” and I think that most other Christians will share my astonishment at this. Furthermore, it is interesting that Kirsten Powers should be the amanuensis through which Buttigieg’s theological sermon is delivered. As Betsy Rothstein of the Daily Caller points out, Powers once dated Anthony Weiner and so her judgment about men and morality is rather suspect. Powers seems impressed with Buttigieg’s $7 million first-quarter fundraising total, but in fact Buttigieg and the other 2020 Democrat hopefuls are not doing very well by historic standards. At this point in 2008, the three top Democrats — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards — had raised a combined $66 million, whereas the top four Democrats in this cycle — Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Buttigieg — have raised a combined total of less than $47 million.



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