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Which is Worse?

By June 26, 2012 No Comments

If you are an exceptionally astute reader of “The 12” blog, you may recall that in one of my first blog posts last year I mentioned my having become a “mall walker.”  Most every morning I hoof it around our local Woodland Mall—four laps equals about four miles.   On a recent circuit around this retail emporium I took note of some clothing on display in a window of a store that is known for hawking products that trend toward the outré.   In this case there were several outfits in the display window that were clearly meant for children of a very young age.   One pink outfit that looked like it would fit on a little girl of about 12-18 months had some writing on it.  As I cruised by, I was able to read the words emblazoned on the shirt:  “I Am Going to Out-Cute All You Bitches.”

As I told my wife about this later in the day, I marveled at the level of ignorance that would be required to dress up an innocent child in such an outfit.  I’m not sure what kind of group it would be that would hoot and roar with laughter when parents showed up at a picnic or something with their child being a billboard for such an ugly sentiment but I’m pretty sure I would not want to be in their company.  It’s always dangerous to be as judgmental as such things tempt me to be but something about this strikes me as being very near the sump level of semi-civilized existence.

But then a couple of weeks later in an unrelated conversation with my wife she mentioned visiting with someone in connection with her job.   This person kept her T.V. on in the background while my wife talked with her.   At one point during a lull in the conversation my wife realized the T.V. was tuned to a religious cable show that was showing a video from a church service in Indiana.  In the clip a little boy—a very little boy of perhaps three-years of age—was singing a song that brought the house down.   Some of the words were hard to hear but not the refrain as the wee lad crooned out the sentiment, “Ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.”   At this the congregation stood and cheered, hooting with laughter and clapping in approbation.

Years ago after writing his classic novel of the 1980s, The Bonfire of the Vanities, author Tom Wolfe said that in researching his novel, what impressed him the most about New York City was that both high-end New York and low-end New York had striking similarities.  Both in the oak-paneled boardrooms of Wall Street executives and in the alleyways where pimps and drug kingpins ruled, people were obsessed with money and making lots of it (and in any way that worked, legal or not).  Wall Street execs drove Mercedes Benz cars as status symbols, drug kingpins stole the hood ornaments off such cars and wore them like a pendant as a status symbol.   And in both high New York and low New York the language was equally vile, equally foul, equally studded with coarse profanities of all kinds.

Christian folks often like to think there is a huge gulf between themselves and the so-called “secular” types—you know, the people who would think it is funny to plaster an offensive epithet onto a fifteen-month old.   But any parent who would teach his or her child to sing a damning song against gays is not so very different at all, in my humble opinion.

One big difference, however, is that I might be able to excuse under the heading of depravity and the ignorance of sin those people outside the Body of Christ who might use their children as billboards of the profane.   But those inside the church—those who allegedly have had the image of God renewed in them by the Holy Spirit—have no such excuse.  

So I wonder: which of the two spectacles mentioned in this blog is worse?


Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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