Taking a break from writing posts and venturing into other territory.
So how about that Pat Robertson.
I’m not going to repeat what he said about Haiti, because everyone knows it, and everyone was horrified by it, and there’s no point in my reiterating what tons of other people have already said. The most recent blog post I saw in reference to it expressed a typical sentiment: “No real Christian would say that sort of thing.”
Is that true?
Here’s my question. Who or what is a “real Christian?” Someone who is never stupid? Someone who never says something nasty? Someone who never sins?
Here’s the thing. The Church exists not because of saints, but because of sinners. If there were no sinners, there would be no need for the Church. In fact, the miracle is that the Church continues to exist and proclaim Christ not only despite the people in it, but through them.
Now note that I am NOT approving or whitewashing anything that Pat Robertson said. Of course it was wrong. It was disturbing. Equally disturbing, though perhaps less surprising, are the way people have jumped on him in a foaming rage, telling him to go to hell and so forth. Even those Christians who aren’t so vehement want to put him far, far away, to disown him as somehow not a “real Christian”–in anger, or in embarrassment.
Well, okay. I distance myself from him too, for many reasons. Have for a long time. So I am not particularly embarrassed, as a Christian, by what he said, since I do not identify with him.
But when it comes down to it, the man is not a moral leper, any more than you and I. Or at least, not for this particular statement. Or let me rephrase that: you and I are just as much moral lepers as he is.
It is much easier to be hard, damned harsh on a mostly good man (or one who tries to be good, who tries to stand for and spread the good) who has fallen than on one who isn’t trying to communicate any high moral expectations and thus isn’t measured up to much. We are very strict judges: we don’t permit anyone to fall.
Oh, we talk about falling and being forgiven and getting up again. But we don’t really think ourselves capable of something nasty, something truly gross and horrible. The Catholic Church distinguishes between venial and mortal sins, and it has a sacrament to deal with both of them–because people who see and acknowledge the truth, who should know better and live better, still commit both of them. They lie. They steal. They sleep with other people’s spouses. They rejoice in the misfortune of others and say they had it coming. (And I think you’d be hard pressed to say Robertson is glad about what happened in Haiti.)
But (thank God) it is not the lack of falling that makes someone a “real Christian.” It is getting up again.
And while Pat Robertson certainly ought to be held accountable for his words, it is better for ourselves if we don’t act in anger.