A Response to Perry Noble’s Eating Cookies or Killing Babies, Do I Have to Choose?
First and foremost, I completely concur with Perry’s initial disclosures:
- I am unapologetically pro-life.
- To my knowledge I have never voted for a pro-choice candidate (and would find it difficult to ever do so.)
- I believe human life absolutely begins at conception, to disagree in light of more and more scientific data proving this point is nothing more than intellectual dishonesty.
- Abortion breaks my heart.
While I am unable to really say that this is a personal issue to me, but I can say many of us know someone who was either adopted or someone who’s parents considered abortion whether we know it or not. And personally, my favorite are the Peanut Butter Cookies. There is no just eating one.
Perry’s post is passionate and controversial yet there are a few issues that I would like to point out. On the whole, I agree with a good portion of what Perry states, but I believe the resulting controversy within his church and those that follow him on Twitter and Facebook could have been avoided. What saddens me is that many nominal Christians or less informed Christians will wholeheartedly agree with Perry without considering the various and many issues that Perry fuses together. It saddens me deeply that someone with his platform would allow his emotions and his passion to over-run his logic and good biblical exegesis. I would much rather see this rant in a series of posts properly separating the issues expressing solid logic with unity, love, and restoration at its core. Instead, what I see is a (1.) massive mixing of issues, (2.) unsound logic or emotional logic, and (3.) the ensuing raging and divisive debate that it has spawn.
Foundation: The Relationship of Christ and Culture
Before diving into these three issues, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there is an underlying presupposition that probably should be exposed. From reading this article, it is my believe that Perry ascribes to the notion that a Christian can only reform the culture through spiritual means of sharing the gospel, and loving all peoples without any sort of judgment, condemnation, disagreement, or intolerance allowing Christ to change their hearts resulting in the impact. Yet, my question is this, even after they believe, they still need to be taught, discipled, pastored, and guided through the biblical suggestions.
In Christian studies, this topic first began with H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, recently brought back into discussion by D.A. Carson in Christ and Culture Revisted. In this book, Niebuhr discloses five different relationships:
- Christ Against Culture: the Christian opposes all cultural artifacts as “worldly”
- Christ of Culture: Christians find their religion to be fundamentally compatible with the culture around them
- Christ Above Culture: Fine _____ of culture but does not compare to the sublime beauty of Christ (Thomas Aquinas)
- Christ Transforming Culture: the Christian in a tension between Christ and culture (Martin Luther).
- Christ and Culture in Paradox: the Christian transforms, or assists in re-forming the culture (Augustine/Calvin)
Solely based on Perry’s post, I would imagine that he would fall into number 2 (Christ of Culture) or 3 (Christ above Culture). OR, there is a sixth option: (6.) Christ in Culture (or, Christ and no Culture): Christians are in the culture only to help people spiritually not culturally. Perry states, “Abortion is an issue that will NEVER be done away with through legislation; it will take a transformation of the heart that will only be brought about through the clear, hope filled proclamation of the Gospel.” Personally, I do not believe that abortion will be eradicated by the State via legislation (just like alcohol via Prohibition in the Twenties and early Thirties, 1920-1933). Yet, I do tend to believe that the Church can impact culture, even transform culture with a positive influence of providing healthy/healthier opportunities that promote a philosophy that is compliant to the Christian worldview regarding abortion and pro-choice that can reach across religious lines (Judeo-Christian, Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.).
Furthermore, Perry then states the following:
I feel like the enemy has been pretty crafty on this issue, if he can get people who call themselves “Christians” to become obsessed with issues other than the Gospel (which is “the good news”) then we will not focus on what Jesus focused on and will actually begin to hate and disdain the people Jesus actually died for.
Again, here Perry singularly focuses on the gospel ignoring the other activities of Jesus. Jesus fed the five thousand and the three thousand. Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, etc. At one level, Jesus acknowledge and addressed the social issues of his time while also maintaining the primacy and singularity of his purpose. Likewise, Christians, the Church, the para-church organizations can do the same. We are the body and we all function as different parts of the body focusing and serving the Kingdom of God in different fashions. Some forms/denominations of the church are better at helping those in need (e.g., the poor, etc.) than others. Some denominations are better at teaching the truth. Some denominations are more focused on winning hearts and minds for Christ, evangelizing the lost. Yet these strengths of these various denominations do not negate the beauty and strength of the other denominations.
Problem #1: The Mix of Issues
First, there are several issues that Perry brings up in the post without separating them properly possibly arousing confusion to its readers and its reactions. So, this is my attempt to separate the issues. As I see them, they are (in no particular order):
- The sole reason for the “Cookie Cott 2014” (ChristianPost Article) is the relationship between Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) & Planned Parenthood (or GSUSA’s support of abortion/pro-choice).
- The methodology of boycotting is equivalent to condemnation.
- The effectiveness (or perceived ineffectiveness) of past boycotts & the vain result of a “successful” boycott are not good reasons to not support a boycott.
- Ignor-ance for the Whole Counsel of God
1. Reasons for Boycotting Girl Scout Cookies
There are a plethora of reasons for boycotting Girl Scout Cookies. CookieCott.com gives the following reasons:
- GSUSA, with over 2 million girl members, maintains relationships with many pro-abortion advocacy groups.
- Girl Scouts’ curriculum for girls, sold and promoted by every local Girl Scout council, recommends pro-abortion role models/organizations such as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Amnesty International, Population Council, ACLU, National Organization For Women (NOW) and others.
- GSUSA and local Girl Scout councils connect girls to resources promoting abortion rights and inappropriate sexual content via official Girl Scout social media accounts.
- Across the country, local Girl Scout councils honor and promote abortion rights advocates and pro-abortion politicians; suggest girls work with organizations that fight for abortion on demand; and invite girls to attend events related to abortion rights advocacy and other controversial issues.
- GSUSA is the largest member organization of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), making up one-third of its 10 million members worldwide and paying approximately 1.5 million dollars annually to WAGGGS based on the number of registered GSUSA members.
- WAGGGS, which states that “anyone who is a Girl Guide or Girl Scout is automatically a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts,” aggressively promotes youth reproductive/abortion and sexual rights, specifically on behalf of its 10 million members.
That’s Cookie Cott’s reasons. I cannot speak to the legitimacy of these arguments as these are merely copied from the site that produced them. Yet, there are plenty of Christians who give other reasons different from these.
2. Girl Scouts of USA and Planned Parenthood
The singular issue that Perry addresses, via scoffing really, is that he believes it to be “ludicrous” that someone boycotts the Girl Scouts because they “supposedly” give money to Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group. No where in the post does Perry debate or argue against the truthfulness of this statement except to link to Planned Parenthood’s FAQs, question #2 with any substance as if that is the one and only statement that matters regarding the agenda of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Q: Did GSUSA distribute a Planned Parenthood brochure at a United Nations event?
A: No, we did not. In 2010, GSUSA took part in the 54th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. Our participation in that conference was the subject of numerous internet stories and blogs that were factually inaccurate and troubling. Girl Scouts had no knowledge of the brochure in question and played no role in distributing it.
GSUSA does an excellent job at being very diplomatic in answering the FAQ questions. Yet, it does not address the question behind the question: is there a relationship of any kind between GSUSA and Planned Parenthood or any other pro-choice organization?
Take a look at this video (March 5th, 2004) of former Girl Scout CEO, Kathy Cloninger, admitting on national TV that GSUSA partners with Planned Parenthood to bring sexual information to girls:
Girls Scouts is the largest voice for and advocate for girls across the country. Know that girls grow up with very complex issues facing them, and so we do, across the country, tackle the issues of human sexuality, and body image, and all of the things that girls are facing. We partner with many organizations. We have relationships with our church communities, with YWCAs, and with lanned Parenthood organizations across the country to bring information-based sex education programs to girls.
On the GSUSA FAQs page, there is this question: “Does GSUSA have a relationship with Planned Parenthood?” where they answer, “No, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.”
When the spokesperson of Girl Scouts was asked directly about Girl Scouts relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood, Michelle Tompkins states,
The answer there is ‘No we don’t.’ The national organization of Girl Scouts of the USA has not, does not, and has no plans to have any partnership with Planned Parenthood. However, our local councils are free to partner with any community groups that they see fit, especially when it comes to areas, when it comes to sexual education, and ? education for girls. If a troop chooses to do some activity along those lines, it requires parental consent for each set of sessions and it has to come about through the family of the girls…
She was speaking on behalf of the movement, not on behalf of the organization. It is a semantical problem, but the answer is that Girl Scouts does not partner with Planned Parenthood. I cannot put words in our CEO’s mouth, but the answer for the entire organization is that we have not and do not partner on a national level with Planned Parenthood…the national organization does not have these partnerships…
I cannot say why she said it. It isn’t a fact within the Girl Scouting movement that we have these relationships. It is really never been a fact that we have had a partnership with Planned Parenthood. Ever. So, I can’t speak for Cathy, but I can say that within the organization that was not an accurate statement because the organization doesn’t. But again, there has to be clarification that local councils are free to partner with whomever they choose…we are not aware of any who do partner but it’s possible that they can partner. At the local level, they are free to, but we haven’t heard of any who are.
Personally, I find the spokewoman’s statements, which were littered with pauses and filler words (ah, ummms), interesting and conflicting. She said she is not aware of any local councils that partner with Planned Parenthood yet she then says that the CEO may be trying to help a local troop with their relationship with Planned Parenthood. When STOPP did its survey in 2004, “Nearly 80 percent of the nation’s Girl Scout councils will not say whether they have affiliations with Planned Parenthood, an anti-abortion group announced Monday.” 249 of the 315 councils did not answer, of the remaining 66, 17 (or 25.8% of those who responded) reported ties and 49 said they do not.
In reality, semantically there may not be a direct and official relationship or partnership between the national GSUSA, yet there is a relationship between the GSUSA and Planned Parenthood as it pertains to the autonomous local councils. (Here are some other links: GSUSA Speaker & Planned Parenthood Advocate: Dana Agamalian, Girl Scouts Partnerships per Council, Catholic Online: Are the Girl Scouts Right for Catholic Girls?, Catholic News Agency: Ideology at work: Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez, Girl Scouts Why Not?).
3. The Methodology of Boycotting Girl Scout Cookies Is Equivalent to Condemnation
Theologically I agree that abortion is wrong, and ideologically I wish we lived in a world where it was not rampant; however, our methodology in approaching this issue HAS to be conversation, NOT condemnation.
Personally, I am not sure how boycotting anything is equivalent to condemnation. Perry seems to be assuming that boycotting is pro-active, loud protesting. Can boycotting be a form of condemnation? Yes. But does that mean that everyone who boycotts something is condemning that which is being boycotted? Condemning? No. Disagreeing and taking a stand? Yes. Boycotting simply means to abstain or not participate so as not to condone, or to abstain in disagreement.
By definition, a boycott is “to refuse to buy, use, or participate in (something) as a way of protesting” or “to stop using the goods or services of (a company, country, etc.) until changes are made” (link). To protest is “a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something,” which is what some people are doing as part of the conversation.
Are Girl Scout cookies good in and of themselves? Absolutely. Yummy! However, they are from an organization that promotes a progressive agenda.
Even to this point Perry goes too far when he says:
And so when “Christians” enter the arena with these wounded people, shouting words of condemnation and with attitudes of hate and disdain, the people who so desperately need the healing of Jesus are actually pushed away from Him because the people who are supposed to be His hands and feet are slapping them, not accepting them.
It really is sad when Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts are actually acting more Christ like (sic) than many of the people who are taking aim at them through this boycott!
It is here that Perry is completely mistaken. First, he places “quotations” around Christians implying that Christians who boycott who shout words of condemnation and with attitudes of hate and disdain are not Christians really. While I seriously doubt that Perry would call their Christianity or their salvation into question, he is calling their actions into question. He is challenging the Christ-likeness of their boycott. In other words, he implies that one cannot boycott something and be Christ-like. Dis-guarding the holiness of God, Perry heightens the importance of the love, acceptance, and tolerance of God.
Even surrounding the subsequent debate, even within his own church, that has spawned from his post has demonstrated the exclusive, close-mindedness of tolerance by those supporting Perry (not necessarily by Perry on this point) towards those who take a stand or who are “intolerant”. Please don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly agree that anyone who “shouting words of condemnation and with attitudes of hate and disdain” is doing more harm than good and are not acting Christ-like in any manner.
Moreover, Perry wrongly states that Planned Parenthood is acting more Christlike. It is my opinion that nothing Planned Parenthood does is Christlike. Their agenda is solely pro-choice. Planned Parenthood is a biased, non-Christian sexual healthcare provider educating women with extreme prejudice and bent towards women’s rights over life (“a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning”) delivering reproductive healthcare (i.e., abortions), sex education (i.e., safe sex), and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide. Furthermore, no organization, no business can be Christian. They can have Christian principles and practices. But they are not Christian. They are not the Church. Instead, there are Christians who run those organizations. Now, could there be Christians within Planned Parenthood? Yes. Could there be Christians within GSUSA? Absolutely. Yet, the leadership of both are acting contrary to the principles found in the Bible, especially those regarding pro-life. So, there is no way that non-Christians at the helm of a non-Christian or a-Christian can do anything that is pleasing to God (see Romans 1-3, especially chapter 3).
4. Ignor-ance for the Whole Counsel of God
Personally, I don’t believe Perry is ignorant on the whole counsel of God by any stretch of the imagination. There are many things he writes and says that I like. There are probably much more that we agree with one another (not that I am anyone that matters for him to agree or disagree). Instead, I believe Perry simply ignores the other verses to make his point. In other words, Perry exclusively focuses on a singular intention of God and purpose of sending Jesus into the world: to save, not to condemn (John 3:17*). Perry also alludes to the Sermon on the Mount regarding his passionate argumentation against the condemnation of others (c.f. Matt 7:1-5) and one being more concerned about another’s sin than one’s own sin.
* While debate can rage about the definition of the world here, since Perry is Southern Baptist, let’s assume that world here means the entire world including the elect and non-elect (which is the way I understand this verse anyways). For you theological astute, we are assuming an Unlimited Atonement interpretation of this version for the sake of argument.
Yet, Perry ignores other texts in the Bible regarding God’s holiness whereby God cannot condone sin. He stands wholly apart from sin as He is absolutely morally pure (c.f., Numbers 20; 27:12-14; Isa 6:3). In Jesus, we see the God-Man live life in utter holiness (cf. Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35; Acts 2:27) and sinlessness (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 9:14). Yet we also see Jesus flipping tables in the temple (Matt 21:12) and calling out the Pharisees/hypocrites (Matt 12:34). Because Jesus is holy, anything He touches or touches him becomes holy or healed or restored (e.g., Mark 5:21-43). God is the one who sanctifies (Lev 22:14-16).
More important to me, Perry ignores the Pauline text about meats being sacrificed to idols, which has great implications and impact on this discussion. He could have easily taken this text and expounded on it over a few posts making some of these same points in a more biblical manner.
Brief Look at 1 Corinthians 8
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul deals with the cultural issue of meats being sacrificed to idols. First and foremost, Paul highlights that while knowledge is important, love is more important. It is a clear fact that there is only one God, but Paul recognizes that this is not shared by all.
He also clearly states that one is no worse for eating or no better for abstaining (1 Cor 8:8). Likewise, we are no worse for eating Girl Scout cookies and no better for abstaining or boycotting. Yet, Paul is more concerned about the conscience of the weaker brother. If my eating Girl Scout cookies or my public proclamation of supporting and eating Girl Scout cookies causes another brother to stumble or be “built up” or “strengthened” to commit what he regards as sin, I should abstain (1 Cor 8:13) so as not to become a hindrance (1 Cor 8:8-11). While I am now not abstaining (or boycotting) for the said reasons by Cookie Cott, I am abstaining out of love for my brother or sister and their conscience. If I sin against my brother or sister in wounding their conscience, I sin against Christ (1 Cor 8:12).
Here are some basic observations.
- Knowledge empowers. Paul and the stronger brother knows that there is only one God and the idols are nothing.
- Knowledge limits. Yet, if I know that I may be observed by my weaker brothers doing something that would hurt their conscience, then I should abstain voluntarily and freely knowing that though I am free to partake I sacrifice my wants/desires for the sake of my brother/sister.
5. The Effectiveness (or Ineffectiveness) of Boycotts & the Vain Result of a “Successful” Boycott
As an aside, Perry argues that the Baptist’s Disney boycott had a non-impact or even adverse impact whereby Disney has grown and the Baptists have shrunk implying that the size of attendees of the Convention is the measure of success for the Southern Baptist Convention (who is obsessive about numbers). The Baptist’s boycott of Disney spanned from 1997 to 2005 and the former CEO of Disney Corporation cursed Blake saying, “That blankety-blank Wiley Drake cost me $10 million off my bonus this year.” So while Disney may doing well at this moment is not a reflection of a poor or unsuccessful boycott, but rather a successful change of direction and better business practices.
One more thought in regards to this issue: What happens if these organizations win this battle with the Girl Scouts? What if this boycott is so effective that the Girl Scouts cease to exist due to lack of funding and Planned Parenthood has major financial setbacks as a result?
The boycott groups would sit back and yell, “we win!”
My question then would be, “what did you win?” You succeeded in making a point, but you still have not made a difference. (emphasis mine)
Here I strongly believe that Perry is extremely short-sighted. He wrongly assumes that it is about winning and losing, and for some, it may be. However, for many Christians it is about impact for the Kingdom of God. Instead of kids spending time learning from an organization that is a-Christian or even anti-Christian, they would be spending their time from a Christian scout like American Heritage Girls, Young Life, or their youth groups. How would that not make a difference?
Problem #2: Emotional Logic & the Non-pastoral Tone
In the first problem I have, I tried to distill the various issues that were brought up in the post. My second issue is related to the first but is more along the lines of my expectations of pastors and good leadership. From my perspective, I believe there are three issues.
- The emotional logic and inconsistencies of the post pervade.
- The tone of the blog as a whole feels aggressive and even condemning itself.
- Personal emotion and experience with “Christians”
- The Heartfelt Apology
To me, it is terribly sad to see such a great leader, someone who has made such an impact for the Kingdom of God, write such a rant that I feel so obliged to write a response like this one.
1. Emotional Logic
First, I am a huge advocate for passionate speaking. Some of the more prolific speakers that I like are passionate, charismatic, and phenomenal speakers, such as John Piper, Louie Giglio, Andy Stanely, Ed Young Jr, and Stephen Furtick. Perry is no stranger to these individuals. Yet passionate writing is different from emotional responses. Passionate leadership is dictated and directed by knowledge, patience, and timing. In this post, Perry has excellence timing, but I wonder about the knowledge and patience. It feels as though Perry didn’t take the time to investigate the issue from a biblical perspective (lack of his including discussion of 1 Corinthians 8) and the actual social issue at hand.
In his post, Perry states the following:
Some are actually arguing (as mentioned in the title) that if I buy a box of Girl Scout cookies then I am basically murdering unborn babies…because the Girl Scouts supposedly give money to Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group.
The insanity of that argument is unreal!
Because…if that argument is carried out to its logical conclusion then everyone who calls themselves a Christian needs to go to their pantry and make sure all of the food they have was produced and packaged by Christian companies who fully support a conservative agenda. (Because, if not then it would be hypocritical to be involved in this movement!)
We also need to consider the cars that we drive; after all, the automakers are probably highly involved politically in some causes with which we do not agree.
We then should consider the furniture in our homes, who it was made by…and the people who made our televisions, computers and cell phones.
If this is the stance we are going to take on these issues then the safest thing to do is take all of our money out of the banks, withdraw to a cave, raise our children in the version of Utopia we create and beg Jesus to come back ASAP. (emphasis mine)
This could be Perry making hyperbole (use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech), but it is certainly not taking the previous, founding argument to its logical conclusion for it assumes that the person went out and researched GSUSA, their agenda, and their relationship with Planned Parenthood. It also assumes that everyone associated with boycotting GSUSA are Christians.
Analysis of the Proponents’ Argument: Supporting Girl Scouts Means I Murder Babies
Some do in fact argue that buying Girl Scout cookies is murdering unborn babies because the Girl Scouts supposedly give money to Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group. When faced with this proposition (that GSUSA supports Planned Parenthood), a person needs to think through the logic, and there are at least two things that should be researched:
- Financial Relationship of Monies Raised from Cookies to the Local Troop to the GSUSA Organization as a whole.
- Financial Relationship of GSUSA and pro-choice organizations, not limited to Planned Parenthood.
So for example, if I buy GSUSA cookies, then do any of those monies go to support GSUSA as a whole or do the monies just go to the local troop? Based on the assertions of the national group, there is no official relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood. However, the local councils can partner with Planned Parenthood or other pro-choice organizations. So, the onus resides on each one of us to know what our local Girl Scout troops support, if we want to do something about it.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some monies (regardless of percentage, say 5%) goes to the GSUSA Organization. So if I spend $20 on Girl Scout cookies, then $1.00 goes to GSUSA. And for the sake of argument, let’s assume that our local council does not support Planned Parenthood or any other pro-choice organization. Then the argument dies there.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that our local Girl Scouts council does support the agenda of Planned Parenthood (pro-choice & abortions). For the sake of argument, let’s say that 5% of GSUSA monies are given to Planned Parenthood. So of my $20.00 that goes to the local council, a dollar ($1.00) goes to support Planned Parenthood and their pro-choice agenda. So, then I am financing abortions, no matter how minimally. Once I know this, now I am obligated to do something (or in this case, not do something). If, on the other hand, I do not know, then I am not culpable directly. It is not that ignorance determines innocence because if I am speeding 15 mph over the speed limit, the police officer doesn’t care whether I knew or not if the sign was posted. Instead it was my denial, carelessness, or lack of attention that caused my ignorance. In the matter at hand, however, since I do know I must not do something, at least according to my conscience.
On a national scale, does GSUSA use their platform to support Planned Parenthood? If GSUSA is using their platform, then a person who purchases Girl Scout cookies is not funding the agenda of Planned Parenthood directly. At the most, they are only helping GSUSA to expand their platform. And really, am I responsible for what they do with that platform? Instead, I could easily argue that my involvement at this point is purely evangelistic.
If one can draw a financial correlation between (1.) the local troop and GSUSA as a whole and (2.) GSUSA and Planned Parenthood (or other pro-choice organization), then one can determine that there is financial support. However, it appears that GSUSA has protected and made every effort to ensure that there is no official, documented relationship between GSUSA and Planned Parenthood. However, that does not negate the obvious notion of GSUSA’s progressive, pro-choice agenda.
One may also argue that if no financial correlation can be drawn between GSUSA and Planned Parenthood, it is obvious that the leadership of GSUSA financially supports Planned Parenthood as personal choices, and the leadership of GSUSA is paid out of the proceeds and fundraising (no matter how minimally) of the Girl Scout cookies. However, I am sure that most people will concur with me that I am not responsible for what a person does with their own monies. They are solely responsible.
Now, if a person asked me for money and told me, “I plan to use this money for an abortion,” I cannot with a clear conscience give them that money as I disagree with abortion. And I am certain that Perry would concur!
Logical Consistencies & Argument from Absurdity
Perry notes that to be consistent, we must seek out, research and know the agendas of all the organizations of items within our cupboards. This is an argument of absurdity. Personally, I believe intentional living does a healthy amount of research and understanding of what I am doing, who/what I am supporting when purchasing, etc.
In fact, there are many movements that move towards just that; for instance, with coffee and chocolate with child labor. The point is that once we do know a product or company supports something it is, then our responsibility to make a decision before the Lord according to our conscience (cf. 1 Cor 8). If some by conviction feel led to boycott Girl Scouts because of their connection with Planned Parenthood, then that is between them and the Lord.
Regardless of how it may look to others. We are not called to do things to make others love us. It is possible to not support something and not hate the people involved. It is a matter of money. It is a matter of impact, not even a degree of impact. There are so many believers in the United States that if more took stands like this, regardless of whether we agree or not, we could influence the culture around us more, which goes to my foundational point, what is Perry’s understanding of the relationship between Christ and Culture. It does not make sense to go through every product, although I would applaud someone who did, but once we do know something is used to support a company, like Planned Parenthood, with whom we disagree, then it is our responsibility to take a stand.
2. The Non-Pastoral Tone
Throughout the post, Perry comes across as extremely aggressive, degrading, even condemning to any Christian who disagrees with him.
He over-simplifies the issue and over-exaggerates his own knowledge. For example, he states:
I know that the proclamation of the Gospel with a right attitude will do far more to influence this movement than hate-filled political movements that make the news but never make a long term difference. (emphasis mine)
Perry knows that the preaching of the Gospel will have more influence on this movement in particular. How? Does he have an eternal insight that the rest of us do not? He doesn’t really know, and if pressed, he would acquiesce. Yet, he believes it wholeheartedly and that I honor and respect. Yet, he does not know; only God knows (cf., 1 Cor 8:1-2).
Then he again over-states and exclaims that the boycotting of the GSUSA is just “hate-filled political movements that make the news but never make a long term difference.” Again, this is just a rash, over-generalization based on what he believes, not actual truth; his mere opinion on the matter. And as a pastor of the 5th, maybe 4th, largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, one would think that Perry would be a bit more balanced, less condemning and judgmental himself. These statements only re-direct the blame finger at himself, reveals the log in his own eye, if you will. I would have much preferred a blog series on this issue or even the relationship of his church and his community/culture.
3. Experience with “Christians”
To me, Perry comes across rather strong here. I actually agree with him, for the most part, “abortion” is nothing more than a “sin category”. It was even for me in college and even into graduate school where most of my relationships were rather superficial and lacked any real depth. It was only after being forced to deal with my own issues that I began to develop deeper relationships, hearing the hurt in people’s voices, seeing it in their lives (even though they could not see it themselves sometimes), and actually listening to people around me with the gift of discernment. Perry also rightly identifies people’s obsession “with the sins of others way more than their own faults and failures” as even Jesus (Matt 7:1-5). Yet, I believe Perry falls victim to the same accusation that he hurls at others. While he is not obsessed and this is probably more of a rant or soapbox, he does direct his comments to other “Christians” instead of himself in a rather condemning and divisive fashion.
Yet, in his reference of John 13:34-35, Perry misses the weight of that verse, in my opinion. John 13 is specifically addressing Christian’s love for one another (a Christian’s love for another Christian), not a Christian’s love for the non-Christian. It is my opinion that this verse in particular is further clarified in John 15:12, 17 and 17:20-23 as illustrated in 13:1-20.
Furthermore, Perry writes, “Having an abortion is an issue of the heart…” Personally, I don’t believe this to be the entire issue. Abortion is a heart issue, an emotional issue, a financial issue, a mental issue, a physical issue, and a spiritual issue. It is not just an issue of the heart. It is an issue of the whole person.
4. The Heartfelt Apology
This statement would be a beautiful statement apart from the rest of the post:
Before you go, if you have ever had an abortion and have been hurt and/or wounded by those who call themselves Christians I would plead with you for your forgiveness. Christians are imperfect people (even though some pretend they are not.) I hope you know God loves you, Jesus gave His life for you and that even though there is nothing you can do about your past but putting your hope in Jesus will give you an amazing future.
However, in this statement, Perry still comes across as judgmental and condemning. This statement combined with the previous comments (e.g., “people who call themselves “Christians” to become obsessed with issues other than the Gospel”) essentially states that those who boycott are people who call themselves “Christians” and thus, aren’t really Christians. This plea also exalts Perry as being more spiritual than these “Christians.” Instead, it would have been awesome to see a more humble Perry, whereby he takes ownership like Nehemiah (cf. Neh 1). So something like this:
Before you go, if you have ever had an abortion, if you have been hurt and/or wounded by a Christian, I plead with you for your forgiveness. We are imperfect people (even though we sometimes pretend we are not). I hope you know that God loves you, that Jesus gave His life for you and that even though there is nothing you can do about your past, putting your hope in Jesus will give you an amazing future (Jer 29:11).
5. Divisive Debate & Descension in the Church
As a result of this post, Perry posted this four different times within his Facebook page even though there was obvious divisive debate and descension among his followers and within his own church. If Perry posted every post four times to his Facebook, that is one thing; however, it seems to me that he did this numerous times because he liked the fodder and debate, which I personally like as well. However, as a public figure, is this helpful? Is this profitable as Paul would ask? There were even Facebook comments to this end on his Facebook page as well. Whether it was his intention or not he was causing descension and division.