Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kirk Cameron, Piers Morgan, and Wise Apologetics, pt. 4

Wise Witnesses # 2: Sound Doctrine Not Sound Bites.

When it comes to being more wise, Cameron might have refused to hand deliver what were sure to be offensive sound bites. Much of the discussion revolved around sexuality with Morgan trying to get Cameron to say something, anything, to rouse the masses into madness. Morgan was almost salivating as he asked, twice, "Is it... a SIN?" 

After the discussion about sexuality, he engaged Cameron (a well known pro-life advocate) on abortion, the other highly flammable moral issue of our time. He did so by questioning what Cameron would do if his own daughter were raped and became pregnant. Wouldn't he then approve of an abortion? Doesn't he have a heart?

You gotta admit, Morgan is gooood. His questions, and this one in particular, were calculated to make Cameron look like a bad guy: the overall stratagem (well achieved by the end) was to toss Cameron gut-wrenching complex questions, and pressure him into short offensive answers. 

Actually, on television, almost any answer Cameron gave would be offensive; these interviews are replayed only for sound bites in media outlets. Few will watch the whole interview. Not to mention, on a 30 minute show, there's not much time for thoughtful interchange.

So, how might Cameron have responded more wisely? He might have pointed out that time would not allow discussion of issues  which were too important and sensitive to give short shrift. 

He might have questioned Morgan's tactic -- unhelpful in itself -- of posing dismaying, the-sky-is-falling, scenarios as tests of morality. Such an approach to ethics sets us adrift in murky waters. "If your daughter was raped?" -- I've got a worse, even gloomier, scenario. What if an comet struck earth tomorrow and destroyed all human life? What would you do then? All this kind of questioning tends to abstract ethics from the here and now, and into some dark future -- a future which will likely never be. Jesus said don't fret about tomorrow; each day has plenty trouble to keep us busy.

Many years ago, I had a job interview. The interviewer was an older lady, and didn't know much about genuine Christianity. Yet, she was curious when I mentioned my work as a preacher in the PCA. Then, a light bulb went off, and she said, "Hey! That's the denomination that doesn't ordain women!" Clearly, the very thought offended her. Next, with marked annoyance, she asked, "Why won't you ordain women (i.e., what is wrong with you bigots)?" You could feel the heat rising in the room as she awaited my answer. She was waiting, just waiting, to cast scourges on whatever I said next. 

All this happened near the end of the interview. Due to time constraints, we had, at most, 5 minutes to continue talking. I knew that, at best, we'd engage in a short and heated debate wherein I might get a few major points across. So, I said, "That's a great question, and an important one. There is a good answer. I'd love to talk to you more about it when we have time to really sit down and address the matter." The room cooled, and we parted on friendly terms. The job didn't work out, and I never got a chance to sit down with the lady, but I'm convinced I did some good. If nothing else, I let her know that sound doctrine cannot be reduced to sound bites. Truth has thick layers, deep texture, and it requires careful explanation. 

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