Over at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson, one of the avatars of conservatism’s epic anti-charism of discernment, noted for disastrous promotion of a disastrous war that two popes and all the world’s bishops warned would be a disaster, is now instructing us that the very survival of Western Civilization depends on the unfettered right to disseminate religious pornography without consequences.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis makes the observation that respect for religion should limit freedom of expression. Hair on fire and running in circles screaming ensues. Not only is he a damn librul, he is siding with the terrorists!
Yeah, cuz who would ever imagine that the Pope, of all people, would think blasphemy is wrong, or counsel, “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one.” (Col 4:5–6).
Note that the pope says nothing about legal speech codes, just common sense. In this, he imitates St. Paul, who likewise did not think that everything not forbidden should be compulsory.
The Corinthians, who seem to have had a relationship with Paul something like that of a surly teenager with a dad striving to be patient, wrote Paul and said “Everything is lawful for me”. They were misquoting Paul’s own words back to him in order to try to say that they could stay up all night, skip school, and take the T Bird out for a spin down to the porn palace, cuz the Holy Spirit was cool with Freedom ‘n stuff.
Paul’s reply was “Not everything is beneficial”. The freedom of Christ is freedom to pursue virtue, not freedom to make yourself a slave to sin. If you want to use your freedom stupidly you can. But in a world of consequences where grownups live, you don’t have the option to use your freedom stupidly forever. There will be consequences. Francis gets this. It is not altogether clear that Hanson does.
Me: I prefer common sense. Therefore, I reject the proposition that the survival of the West depends on blasphemy, just as I reject the proposition that the survival of the West depends on murder (which is, by the way, what unjust war, as well as terrorism, is). Am I calling for anti-blasphemy laws? No. There are some things which, if you have to legislate against them, you’ve already lost the battle. Rather, I am, like Francis, calling for a heart of virtue that knows, without having to be threatened with legal punishment, that civilized people do not behave toward God and neighbor this way. Or as Paul said:
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. (Ga 5:13–15).