An odd temptation of blogging is to hold forth in righteous indignation against evils that you cannot impact and nobody suspected you supported.
It is a big world and lots of people someplace are doing something wretched about which I can work myself into a fit of moral indignation, but my rule has been before launching jeremiads to have the love for the rebuked that Jeremiah had for Judah. Otherwise the rebuke can become moral posturing: “Thank thee Lord that I am not like the slaveowners of the antebellum South . . . ”
Yet sometimes there is taint by association if a man is not clear about his views. Greece, with a fading Orthodox majority, is embracing the evil of the fascist “Golden Dawn.” As an Orthodox Christian, it seems worth my time to say: “No harm done by bad governments justifies even remote support for a Nazi.”
This is no courage on my part, because nobody I know tolerates Naziism, but is prudent. I don’t want the Golden Dawn to become the face of “conservative” Orthodoxy, because it is neither conservative or Orthodox. As a philhellene, I find it particularly loathsome as a betrayal of the best of the Byzantine and classical Greek traditions. And yet, in a free nation such as Greece, such parties must be allowed their voice, just as good Greeks can counter-demonstrate.
The Golden Dawn has a right to speak, but not a right to be heard! If decent Greeks were louder in shouting for liberty than the scum and dupes are in shouting for tyranny, then a good man can rejoice. They can speak, but we can refuse to listen! Imagine a counter-protest to the Golden Dawn with beautiful icons, holy chants, and expressions of love, even for enemies. How much better, more holy, would that be?
But more relevant to my life was a riot, and there is no kinder word for the vile behavior, that took place in the nation of Georgia.
No peaceful protest merits the violence that video of the event reveals. The balance of liberty and law that is the fruit of centuries of Christian political thought demands that free expression of views can find a place in the public square, especially views one finds wicked. It is particularly loathsome that men wearing clerical garb were involved. Stone throwing for clergy was condemned by a very high authority inside the Church.
Just as the Greek government should not silence the Golden Dawn, so the Georgian public must tolerate dissent on sexual ethics, even if they decide not to tolerate the behavior. They might counter-demonstrate peacefully, but loudly. What a Christian nation must not tolerate is a refusal to allow public speech or to use violence, especially mob violence, to silence speech.
This is simply wrong, but it is also dangerous. There exists a rule, a golden rule, for Christians that says we should do to others as we would have them to do to us. Where Christians are a majority, we have not always exercised power prudently and in every case we have reason to regret it. It harms our witness and makes us unable to love all humankind: a command that includes our enemies.
Mob violence to peaceful protest is pride. It assumes that sinners are not found on both sides of a protest. It betrays the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”