Well, I suppose I can't say it is completely new. Kevin Johnson went after Catholic apologists en masse in the same way, a while back. So he was the pioneer of this new tactic. Steve "Whopper" Hays (never much of an innovator) merely made it more personal and comes after me with his latest sordid charge (his blog post of 4-25-09), in an attempt to get the spotlight off of real sexual offenders. Anti-Catholic "argumentation" in its finest hour . . .
My words were cited:
Steve Hays is saying today that the very accusation ruins someone's life. Not in Christianity. We are forgivers because that is God's nature. I could just as well argue that King David's reputation was forever ruined because he committed adultery and murder.From this, Hays -- obviously a man of great intelligence, if not wisdom or ethical profundity, somehow or other deduces the following:
This is a very revealing statement. It helps to explain the mentality which permits Armstrong to remain a Catholic. . . . As long as a predatory priest confesses his sin, then he receives absolution, and he can continue to work with young people. . . .It doesn't need to be refuted, of course, so outrageous and patently ridiculous is this charge (and I debated in my mind whether I should respond at all to this filth), but needless to say, Hays can't prove that I have ever advocated such a scenario; can't prove it, because it doesn't exist, so (failing that) he draws the illogical and unfounded conclusion from the data he presents and hopes no one will notice his shameless twisting and lying. And this was the man who was lecturing all of us about -- of all things -- the nature of legal evidence (!!!) some two weeks ago, when a certain sad case was being discussed.
If a man has a strong sexual attraction to teenage boys, then he shouldn’t be ministering to teenage boys. What could be more obvious? If a man’s a compulsive gambler, would you first forgive him and then put him right back in the casino?
But you can tell from Armstrong’s attitude that if he were the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, he’d do exactly what Bernard Law was doing. And that’s because he shares the same twisted mindset. As long as a predatory priest fesses up in the privacy of the confessional, then it’s time to forgive and forget. At most we reassign him to another parish. He may be a repeat offender, but he’s been forgiven.
For those who haven't yet perceived the huge logical lapse that occurred here, it involves either not comprehending (or deliberately mispresenting, which is an ethical rather than a logical matter) the distinction between the following two scenarios:
1. X commits habitual, addictive sex crime Y that entailed victim Z.My position is, of course (and always has been, and never has not been), set of propositions / ethical position [1b-2b-3b]. Hays is caricaturing and torturing my position to make out that it is set of propositions / ethical position [1-2-3].
2. X can and should be forgiven if he repents.
3. Having repented, X ought to be allowed free private access to the class of people from which Z was drawn [in this instance, young girls: the victim being his own daughter], since he won't commit crime Y again, having repented of it.* * *1b. X commits habitual, addictive sex crime Y that entailed victim Z.
2b. X can and should be forgiven if he repents.
3b. Even if X truly repents, however, X should never be allowed free private access at all to the class of people from which Z was drawn [in this instance, young girls: the victim being his own daughter], since he will likely commit crime Y again, despite having repented of it; because it is well-known that sexually addictive crimes are extremely difficult to extirpate from the consciousness and behavior of the sex offender.
More specifically, the inexcusable logical error is to assume that 1 and 2 (granting biblical teaching) entail 3, rather than 1 and 2 entailing 3b. He merely assumed that in my head 3 followed from 1 and 2, but it does not at all. It doesn't follow logically and it doesn't morally, incorporating the information that we have learned about such cases of addictive sexual sin. Then he makes an equation between my supposed beliefs and the actions of Cardinal Law in the sexual scandals. Thirdly, he makes out (as did Kevin Johnson) that it is intrinsic to authentic Catholic morality (not just abuses of same) that such an outrage would be sanctioned according to the principles of same. This is slander (with the accompanying slimy anti-Catholicism) of the highest order.
All I said was that a pedophile and perpetrator of incest could be forgiven. If even victims of this outrage are willing and able to do so by God's grace, everyone else should be willing also. I was trying to find some semblance of a positive kernel in this whole sordid affair. That was the context of my remark (4-14-09 on my blog):
"Deb": [Name] has some wonderful articles on her blog about dealing with the scars of sexual abuse. You don't have to be Catholic or even a Christian to find her blog helpful for victims of sexual abuse.I didn't say a word about some horrific scenario of allowing a pedophile to be with young girls again merely because he had repented. Hays assumed that what I said entailed that, but it doesn't at all. I was talking strictly about forgiveness, not about the temporal penalties of sin or the clear, understood restrictions that ought to be put on pedophiles. I assumed that was so obvious that no one would imagine in their wildest dreams that I thought otherwise. But I didn't count on the extreme anti-Catholic irrationality and hostility to Catholics that Hays infamously exemplifies. I should have known "Whopper" Hays was capable of doing just that and shameless enough to actually do it, so as to concentrate the focus on exactly all the wrong things and not where the spotlight should be. And so here we are.
I agree. I think her series is extraordinary, which is why I linked to it months ago (without incident at the time). [Name]'s approach is the biblical, Christian one: all can be healed and there can be reconciliation. But the rest of her family wants none of that. They want to keep the rift going and to blame her.
Steve Hays is saying today that the very accusation ruins someone's life. Not in Christianity. We are forgivers because that is God's nature. I could just as well argue that King David's reputation was forever ruined because he committed adultery and murder.
That's not how God saw it. He decided to include that episode in the Bible precisely to demonstrate His extraordinary mercy. David was forgiven, because he profoundly repented. The covenant with him was not revoked.
If [Name]'s father would simply repent and acknowledge his sin I for one would admire him. If we truly understand the depths of man's sin (as [Name] always emphasizes, being a Calvinist), then this shouldn't be so unspeakable. We're all potentially capable of these sins. It's all around us. Sexual sin is endemic. The thing is to repent of it and move on.
If [Name] can forgive her father, all of us ought to as well. I would be happy to have the whole family over for dinner were this to be resolved.
Hays (who, note also, wants to keep this ugly controversy going, publicly, not I, by writing this latest ridiculous post of his; whereas I haven't even named any names or made links in this post, save one to the unrelated Kevin Johnson potshot) had cited my same words (yanked from their context, of course) in a combox comment of 4-14-09) and replied as follows:
Of course that's hardly the point. Indeed, that's the polar opposite of the point I was making. If a man is guilty as charged (of incest or child molestation), then the charge ought to ruin his reputation. It would be disappointing if a crime like that didn't ruin his reputation.My point was quite relevant because if some sin can utterly ruin a man's reputation, then why is it that God didn't revoke the covenant with David: the adulterer and murderer, and why did He use St. Paul (mass murderer of Christians) so wonderfully? Hays isn't even distantly biblical on this score. He vastly underestimates God's grace and mercy and ability to reconcile sinners with each other, as well as with Him. My point was not to put the pedophile back with more of his potential victims (heaven forbid) , but to forgive even the despised, detested pedophile if he would just repent. That's how deep mercy runs.
We're talking about the soul of the perpetrator as well as that of the victim. That is Christianity (love it or hate it). Hays may want every pedophile and child molester to go to hell and rot and be tormented forever. I do not and I don't think God does, either. He wants them to repent of their sin and stop doing it, and to accept His amazing grace and be saved. [Victim Name]'s message is ultimately positive: healing and reconciliation and the necessary acknowledgment of sin that leads to same.
Hays continued in the same comment:
But that's the point–the real point. It's because the charge is so damaging that you should never accuse someone of incest of child molestation unless you know what you're talking about. Especially in the very public medium of the blogosphere.Exactly. I think if someone was there and thus (not to be crude) was an eyewitness, for ten years, then they indeed "know what [they're] talking about." But Hays will have none of the victim's report. He wants to play games instead and cavalierly dismiss the victim and use the tragedy as a pretext for lying about me, as if I want to see children be sexually abused because my Catholic theology supposedly encourages such evil.
Having discharged his anti-Catholic duty to lie shamelessly, utilizing no logic at all and not a shred of factual documentation for this ludicrous accusation, Hays at least provides an ironically precious example of absurd humor, by lecturing me about the Catholic doctrine of the temporal consequences of sin:
Finally, the comparison with King David is a very ill-considered example to illustrate Armstrong’s point. It’s not as though God simply forgave David and wiped the slate clean, like nothing ever happened. To the contrary, God made David suffer punitive consequences for his sin:I guess that's why I utilized the same passage in my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, completed in 1996 (on p. 157: anyone can look this up on Amazon Reader), with the comment:
“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.'…Because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die” (2 Sam 12:10-12,14).
Again, the sinner David was forgiven, but the temporal punishment was not obliterated (his child was to die; particular sins often harm the innocent who have nothing to do with them), as in Catholic teaching.Thanks for the belly laughs, Steve . . .
In all seriousness, though (I thought we all needed a little comic relief by now), is this not a sickening and revolting scenario? Having argued at the greatest length, with thorough vigor (if not sense) that one victim of relentless incest for years can't be believed because that is all "hearsay," Hays then thinks he is taking the moral high ground by lecturing me (with no reason whatever to think that I think in this hideous fashion) for allegedly not caring about victims of sexual abuse. I'm the one who doesn't care, yet he will wink at and take no stand at all about this one particular case, . . .
I didn't make the charge; I simply believe what the alleged victim is saying (publicly). And what is more like the tragic Catholic pedophile scandal (and many similar Protestant clergy sexual scandals) than turning your head, disbelieving victims' firsthand reports, attacking victims as delusional and unstable, pretending as if nothing has happened, and becoming enablers? That could cause further grave harm to more potential victims and lead to the ruination of the soul of the perpetrator as well. No one helps the alcoholic by putting their head in the sand or under a pillow or doing the "see no evil, hear no evil" monkey routine and pretending there is no problem. Real love will confront the sinner who is himself a victim, because love and Christian compassion wants to see the sin gone and the person liberated from bondage to that sin, through the power that is available in our Lord and Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, to transform lives and turn sinners into new creatures.
And again (I have to make this disclaimer for obvious reasons), in saying that, I am not advocating allowing known sex offenders to be alone with the sorts of persons they have been known to exploit and use and abuse in the past. Absolutely not. Keep them away, for the good of all.
* * * * *
This guy is flat-out amazing and extraordinarily dense: even by the rock-bottom standards of anti-Catholic mentality. Here is how he "responded" on 4-27-09:
Not only was King David forgiven, but he kept his job. He continued to exercise his royal duties. So, by analogy with sexually abusive Catholic clergy–and, remember, this is Armstrong’s own analogy–a Catholic priest who seduces minors should be allowed to keep him job as long as he’s penitent about his crimes.!!!! Is it possible for a thinking, conscious human being to be this obtuse and noncomprehending? Has his personal derision towards me truly made his brain stop functioning to this astonishing degree? With Hays I often wonder if he is playing and pretending to be an idiot rather than actually being one, in how he "reasons." This sad specimen of "reasoning" won't solve that because it is so utterly ludicrous that one almost has to conclude in charity for Hays' sake that he is playing games: that he couldn't possibly be so dense and clueless.
It’s not my fault if Armstrong’s circuitry is too crisscrossed to think straight. But that’s the clear implication of his argument from analogy. . . .
If, according to Armstrong, confession and absolution is sufficient to rehabilitate the reputation of a child molester, then why not return him to active duty? It’s not as if he has a reputation for pedophilia. For, according to Armstrong, confession and absolution rehabilitate his tarnished image in the eyes of God. So, then, why wouldn’t you allow a pedophile to minister to kids if his reputation is intact?
King David kept being a king, therefore child molesters should be in close proximity to children . . . wow. I don't think Hays' anti-Catholic cronies will be able to top (er, "bottom") this new low. The bar has been set (um, well, buried), and this record will stand the test of time and defeat all efforts to be dumber!