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Pete Buttigieg Is Right That Christians Need To Be Rebuked

Pete Buttigieg

Imagine that you’ve developed a bit of a drinking problem, so your friends decide to confront you about it. In typical intervention style, they sit you down and tell you all the ways you’ve hurt them through your love of whiskey and rye.

The problem, however, is that these particular friends are all worse addicts than you are. They’ve done far worse things because of their addiction than you ever have. They’ve hospitalized people after driving drunk. They’ve robbed their parents and been far more embarrassing in public. They’ve mocked and belittled you every time you’ve talked to them about trying to get sober. So if that were the group lecturing you about your problems with booze, how well might you receive their rebuke?

Probably about as well as conservative Christians responded when Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg rebuked them in a recent primary debate. Here’s what the candidate had to say:

The Republican Party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion. Now, our party doesn’t talk about that as much, largely for a very good reason, which is that we’re very committed to the separation of church and state, and we stand for people of any religion and no religion. But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it. And for a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is ok, to suggest that God would smile at the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to every use religious language again.

Why does this rebuke sound so laughable to conservative Christians? The first reason is that, in the eyes of many Christians who fall somewhere on the “not abominable heretics” end of the spectrum, Democrats don’t seem terribly committed to the separation of church and state. As Joe Biden’s recent reversal on the Hyde Amendment proves, you can no longer be a Democrat in good standing if you want to preserve any space for Christians to live in public according to their confession of faith.

Are you morally opposed to legalized abortion? Too bad. Democrats will make you subsidize it. Do you want the state to recognize your right to conduct your business according to your religious principles? Too bad. The Democrats will make you bake the cake. Do you want to want to keep your Christian beliefs about what it means to be male and female and keep your job? Too bad. The Democrats will make you choose.

Contrary to Buttigieg’s claim, the reason Democrats don’t talk about God isn’t because they love the separation of church and state. It’s because they favor the persecution of the church by the state. So why would you take Buttigieg seriously when he criticizes you for failing to live according to your faith when that’s precisely what his party has been trying to stop you from doing?

The second reason Buttigieg’s words ring so hollow for conservative Christians is because he supports legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. “How dare you ignore our Lord’s words about caring for vulnerable children,” says the man who ignores our Lord’s words about not killing vulnerable children. “How could you be so unchristian and support separating children from their parents,” says the man who supports separating unborn children’s limbs from their bodies.

In summary, Buttigieg’s rebuke is hard to take seriously because he’s one of those far-worse addicts at the intervention taking a break from hindering his friend’s sobriety to lecture him for being a drunk.

Should Christians Still Be Rebuked?

However, just because Buttigieg isn’t in a position to rebuke conservative Christians for their faithlessness doesn’t mean conservative Christians never need to be rebuked. They most certainly do. Like their liberal brothers and fellow descendants of Adam, conservatives Christians are sinners. They have a fallen nature that inclines them towards bigotry, selfishness, and arrogance. They do not always love God with their whole heart or love their neighbors as themselves. Like left-leaning sinners, conservative Christians will retrofit their politics to preserve their preferred transgressions.

It is, of course, entirely possible for those who support the conservative agenda to do so with a Christian heart—a heart that firmly believes the best way to love and support their neighbors is to oppose well-intentioned, but ultimately counterproductive, policies like welfare programs and open borders. But often, those who oppose government-mandated acts reveal that these talking points are less sincerely held convictions and more cheap excuses to manifest the hateful desires of their hearts.

“Private giving is a better way to help those in need,” many say, then sneer in condescension about lazy welfare recipients with too many kids instead of supporting charities meant to help them. “I’m not opposed to immigration, I’m opposed to illegal immigration” say many folks who then grumble about legal Hispanic immigrants who had the audacity to come to this country without perfect mastery of English—like virtually every other immigrant group in American history.

“It would be better for these people to fix their own countries than to try to make a new life here,” say some of the same people who immediately fled into the suburbs the second minorities moved into their old neighborhoods. In other words, sometimes people are conservatives because they embrace conservative political ideology. But other times, people are conservatives because they hate those who don’t share their skin color or their culture.

When this is the case, such hate-consumed conservative Christians need to have their fellow believers help them break free from their sin. They need to have people they trust help them turn from their transgressions and seek forgiveness in the arms of Christ. But Democrats like Buttigieg will never be able to carry out this task as long as they insist on being enemies of the faithful.

In Matthew 7, Jesus teaches Christians how they are to judge each other. He says:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

When Jesus gives these words to us, he’s not giving us a universal prohibition against Christian judging each other, as biblically illiterate buffoons with bad consciences are constantly claiming. Rather, he’s warning us against judging people self-righteously. He’s warning us not to become so obsessed with the sins of our neighbor that we pay no attention to our own (often far greater) transgressions.

But that’s not all Christ is doing here. He’s also teaching us that, when our neighbors need correction, we need to worry about our own sins first because they won’t take our call to repentance seriously if we’re twice the children of hell they are.

Removing the Logs In Our Own Eyes

On account of this, if left-leaning Christians want right-leaning Christians to follow Christ more faithfully and to quit using their politics as a cover for hatred, that’s a noble thing. But they need to remove the logs from their own eyes first before they can expect anyone to hear their rebuke.

Perhaps Buttigieg and his fellow Democrats are correct that the treatment of children at the border is unchristian and that those who support it need to turn from their hatred and hardness of heart. If they are right, however, the precise people who need to hear their words won’t listen, because the leading voices on the left are devoted to the slaughter of the unborn and the persecution of faithful Christians who refuse to compromise their beliefs about human sexuality and more. And that will remain the case until left-leaning Christians can convince the Democratic National Committee to end its love affair with anti-Christian secularism and make room for orthodox Christians in its tent once again.

Until then, no matter how eloquently Buttigieg blusters, he won’t convince a single person to examine his or her heart. Rather, he’ll only convince conservative Christians corrupted by hate that they don’t need to listen to a single word uttered by that hypocritical baby-faced mayor who’s living in outright defiance of God’s teachings on human sexuality and the dignity of life. Conservatives lost in sin deserve a far better rebuke.