Whaddya make of Rick Warren’s recent Larry King Live interview? I won’t retell the whole thing here, but he made some remarks about his comments from before the election on Proposition 8.
I disagree with Warren on some things, but I respect the man a lot. He is a genuine golden fella, and he’s trying to do a whole lotta good in this world. No doubt he has taken much flack from both the left and the right. The left skewered him for his prop 8 remarks; the right pounded him for doing the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. While I don’t think his decision to do the invocation was wise, seems to me like some of the heat he received was overkill.
I really cheered when he gave the Lord’s prayer during the invocation. There’s something else he caught fire for. He knew people would come after him for that, and he did it without blinking. Regardless of whether or not he’s being timid now, that did take guts, and we dare not forget that.
I have a pretty limited perspective, so I’m not gonna pretend that I know it all regarding all the controversy surrounding Warren. Also, I’m not taking any heat, therefore I tread lightly in criticizing this man who has had brick after brick after brick thrown at him, many from within the gates.
If you look at the Larry King interview (link above), it looks like he’s straight out recanting. After reading his comments in a Hugh Hewitt interview this week, though, I don’t think that’s what’s going on. He clears things up some with Hewitt (gotta scroll down a ways to get to the relevant part).
I’m trying to be charitable to him; were I in his position, I would want the same.
That being said, though, no matter how charitable you look at it, he is backtracking. He might have the facts 100% right, but the tone of the interview is unmistakable. Warren is no stranger to the camera, and he is experienced with the media. If he was just trying to clear the air regarding some slanderous things said about him, he could have said it much differently, in a way that cleared the air but maintained the strong stance he took on same-sex marriage before the election.
Is he compromising as a result of the pressure he’s received? Don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised. I definitely don’t envy him, and I pray that, should I experience some of the same vitriol, I can demonstrate half the grace and calm he has demonstrated and maintain a strong, unapologetic moral stance at the same time.
For starters, what is he hoping to gain from this? Just looking at it from a purely pragmatic perspective, both sides will be throwing feces at the man. The left will view it as disingenuous. The right will view it as the fear of man and will argue that he’s being unfaithful to both the God he represents and the flock he pastors (I somewhat sympathize with these latter folk.). He has to know this.
Secondly, what precedent is this setting for those who hold to conservative values and views? Warren’s backtracking continues a disturbing pattern among the faithful when it comes to public life: retreat. There is intense pressure to hedge our words, and often we cave into it. I’ve done so before, so I’m no stranger to this fear.
This will only embolden the attacks of secular activists who desire to shut us up. This could also discourage conservatives from taking a strong, necessary stand on moral issues.
Folks, whatever forces were and are at work with Warren will only get stronger. This is only going to get worse in the coming months and years. Stiffen your backbone; gird your loins.
I don’t want to uneccessarily foster a “they-are-our-evil-enemies; they-must-be-stopped-at-all-costs” mentality. This is not a cultural UFC. However, we (I’m talking to Christians and those who hold conservative values) are ambassadors in both the public and private spheres whether we choose to or not…and ambassadors stand strong. Continuing the pattern Warren adheres to would be to go the way of the lemming. We might be shooting for popularity, but all we will get is irrelevance in the end. We must continue to engage the culture, without apology, without hedging our words, especially where the shots are the most intense. It is there where our true loyalty will show.
Our views are unpopular. Extremely so. This does not make them false or bad. We must recognize this and press on undaunted.
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