My Brother's Keeper

Back in the olden days of blogging, I had some stuff to say to and about Derek Webb because frankly he was shooting his mouth off calling the kettle black from inside his pot.

Of course, he ignored me because back then I was just a blogger, and of course I am still just a blogger; sadly, he is still shooting his mouth off. You can see how over at youTube. I'd embed the video, but it would be 3 minutes of your life that you'll never get back. Here are, instead, the lyrics to that song:
You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a s---
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?
Because of course: cursing at people -- especially traditionally-religious people -- is how to get them to listen to you.

Now obviously: this is a song about the socially-conservative approach to the matter of homosexuality in the world, and especially in the US. And it's supposed to be about how we deny the Gospel by hating people who are homosexuals. We are, of course, very bad people -- because we argue when someone says something we disagree with.

But the underlying problem for Derek Webb's point is that it is factually bunk. Let's keep in mind as I spell this out that I'm the guy who wrote this post regarding our approach to the question of homosexuality.

As I read Webb's lyrics, here's what I think he's saying: we are more worried about winning an argument about some theological point than we are about saving the lives of 50,000 people every day. Fair enough: I have said something like this recently myself.

Well, just from the place of finding a fact to agree on, about 6800 people die in the US every day (about 19 per hour); about 146,000 die globally every day (about 17 per hour). Relative to the AIDS pandemic, the UN says about 5500 people die every day of AIDs globally.

And I say that not to win an argument -- and therefore fall into the "like ministry" trap Webb has laid out for his listener (you know: you have better things to do than think about my complaint, like ministry -- which I will therefore define for you) -- but in fact to point out that Webb has a history of playing it fast and loose with what is actually happening in the world -- especially the Christian world, and the English-speaking Christian sub-culture. It cuts into his credibility as a critic when he can't actually frame up his fusses with something that looks like what is actually happening.

But that said, it's more than a little cheeky to blame Christians for people dying since it is a well-documented fact that we do more for the world than any other sociological group in terms of charitable giving and service (check the links about in my old comments about Webb; the links to stats are there). And it is way more than cheeky to say that the reason gay people die of AIDS is that Christians hate them.

But these two things are completely related: they assume that Christians are the problem. Now, I'll be the first to affirm that we are our own worst enemy, and that amateur apologists do more to hard the cause of Christ than help it. I've said it myself that 80% of Christian apologetics needs to take a permanent holiday. But when someone like Derek Webb wants to hammer the Church for somehow not caring about people who are dying, he's simply wrong -- he's simply blathering slander against his own brothers and sisters.

BTW, I enjoyed the tweet today from someone who said, "I know nothing re: @derekwebb or @phil_johnson_ I DO know God would rather you cuss than be a prick". Let me suggest to that person that when you cuss to make a slanderous point for the sake of allegedly convicting someone of sin, you have become the prick you think you hate.

And this does actually relate to the question of bad art and bad songs. It is, however, an excursus. I’ll try to get back to the real thing tomorrow.