I’ve always wanted to write a book called How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. But nobody reads autobiographies anymore. So I’ll tell you how to be unpopular, instead.
Being unpopular is pretty easy. And it’s hard, too. It’s easy because there’s only one rule, which we’ll get to in a moment. It’s hard for two reasons: beforehand, it’s scary to think about following the rule. Afterwards, it’s lonely and painful to have followed the rule. Because following the rule will make you unpopular.
And strangest of all, we can’t follow the rule. Or we won’t, most of the time. Most of the time, we follow the rule only when it’s really convenient. When it doesn’t seem scary. Or when we don’t think about it a lot beforehand.
You probably want to know what the rule is, so I’ll tell you. Get ready. You might want to write it down.
How to Be Unpopular, Rule One: tell the truth.
Tell the truth.
Your results may vary, but telling the truth is very hard for me. It scares me.
Telling the truth scares me because I’m really good at … telling not the truth. (I don’t want to say I’m good at lying, but that’s probably because the truth is I’m good at lying, and saying I’m good at lying is the truth, therefore, it’s scary to me.) You logic majors can rip that apart, but it makes sense to someone who’s trying to say that telling the truth is hard without telling the truth.
The only way I can tell the truth is by the grace of God. If I get out of the way and just cooperate with God, I tell the truth. If I try to make myself comfortable, I tend to lie. I tend to tell people what they want to hear. (That’s why I told everyone Mitt Romney might win in 2012.)
Maybe an example would help.
There’s this Catholic theology and philosophy guy named Tim Gordon, and he tells the truth. Unvarnished and without apology, Tim tells the truth. And telling the truth makes him very unpopular. He’s so unpopular for telling the truth that people can’t stop talking about him on Twitter.
(I know that sounds like a contradiction. How can someone be talked about, retweeted, and replied to and, at the same time, be unpopular? Because many of those references, retweets, and replies are very nasty. Nasty like, “you’re stupid, and we don’t like you, and we’ll never invite you to our parties.”)
Lately, Tim has made himself exceedingly unpopular by telling the truth. A very unpopular truth.
The truth Tim has been telling involves the Bible and Catholic teaching.
Tim, it seems, along with brother, Dave, has co-written a book about feminism. This book about feminism, which I haven’t read, apparently contains a lot of truths that we’re not supposed to tell people about.
Not that the Church wants us to keep these truths to ourselves. It doesn’t. The Church requires Catholics to speak the truth, even unto death.
No, it’s not the Church that wants to hide the truth about feminism. It’s Church leaders. Cardinals and bishops and priests. (At least some, maybe most, cardinals, bishops, and priests want Catholics to shut up about this truth.)
Catholic cardinals, bishops, and priests don’t mind Catholics talking about some of the truth. They like us to talk about the Beatitudes and all the times Jesus mentions love and mercy. But cardinals, bishops, and priests (at least most of them) don’t want us talking about the other half of truth: justice.
Justice is to mercy what exercise is to eating. If you eat a lot and never exercise, you get fat, get sick, and die early after being an obnoxious burden to your loved ones and society. That’s a truth.
If you go around being infinitely merciful and never dispense any justice, you encourage people to do things that lead them to hell. And, maybe, to a life of crime or neglect or poverty before they get to hell.
Either way, being merciful without being just is bad for people in the long run. It’s not love. It’s selfishness.
Mercy without justice is the same as justice without mercy, only it takes longer for the victim to find out. Mercy without justice is buying a 12-year-old cigarettes and whiskey. It’s helping a drunk find his car keys. It’s giving an army to someone who believe’s he’s Napoleon. Mercy without justice is recklessness.
Justice without mercy is beating your kid for failing a math test. Justice without mercy is divorcing your wife because she burned your steak. Justice without mercy is making fun of your husband’s erectile dysfunction on Facebook. Justice without mercy is cruelty.
The thesaurus doesn’t agree with me. That’s okay. Someone once said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. The thesaurus doesn’t agree with whomever said that, either.
G.K. Chesterton said it best 100 years ago in his indispensable book Orthodoxy:
The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.
Mercy without justice. Justice without mercy. Either way, you have a virtue wandering alone and doing more terrible damage than a vice ever could.
I’m going to be unpopular for this, but the Catholic Church’s hierarchy is the most obvious example of Chesterton’s assertion. The pope and his bishops want us to preach only what people want to hear. (Unless “the people” are traditional Catholics, then the pope and the bishops are happy to tell us things that a) are not true, and b) we don’t want to hear.) And there are truths the pope and the bishops absolutely don’t want us to mention. One of those truths is what Tim Gordon keeps mentioning to the great consternation of the unjust mercy merchants: Ephesians.
“Bloody Ephesians,” the bishops hiss. “Can you trads please forget Ephesians? Why the hell haven’t we removed it from the lectionary?”
The problem is, if 1 Corinthians is truth, then so is Ephesians. And if Ephesians is false or unnecessary, then so is 1 Corinthians. And Romans. And Thessalonians.
The Bible’s faith and morals teachings are either the unerring Word of God, or they’re is not. If any faith or morals teaching of the canon is false, all of it may be false. Either we can trust every word in the Bible regarding faith and morals, or we must suspect all of it.
The Church teaches, and most Christians agree, that, on faith and morals, the Bible is the error-free, inspired Word of God. (Biblical authors may have erred on matters of history and science, but not on matters of faith and morals.)
Now, Ephesians. Ephesians 5:22-28:
. Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord. Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the savior of his body.
. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things.
And that will make me unpopular, just for repeating it. So, I might as well double down.
Notice that the Apostle doesn’t say, “Let women be subject to men.” Rather, he says, “Let women be subject to their husbands.”
I know, that’s still unpopular. But I didn’t say it. St. Paul did.
Before we go on, remember that the Church allows for the possibility of errors in the Bible on matters of history and science, but not on matters of faith and morals.
Is Paul talking about history or science? Maybe someone could make the argument that he is, but I can’t. This sounds like faith and morals to me.
So, what does Paul, in the reveled truth, say about men’s duties to their wives?
Arguably, a lot more:
. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it.
. That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of father in the word of life.
. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.
. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself.
How did Christ love His Church? He allowed himself to be tortured, mocked, ridiculed, scourged, crowned with thorns, marched through the streets of Jerusalem carrying the instrument of His final torture, nailed to a cross, and hung up to die for His Church. Without complaining. Without even speaking in His own defense.
That’s what Paul says men are to do for their wives. If duty calls.
If you’re keeping score, Paul is saying that marriage means giving yourself totally to your spouse. Women treat defer to their husbands; husbands labor and die for their wives. That’s a big ask of both parties, and it’s why people don’t go lightly into marriage. (I am a terrible example of this, by the way, so listen to St. Paul, not to me.)
Tim and Dave Gordon are unpopular because they want people to know the unerring truth written in the Bible regarding faith and morals of husbands’ and wives’ duties to each other.
That truth is based, not only on Biblically revealed truth, but on history and science.
There is no doubt that men’s and women’s bodies are different, as are their psychological makeups. There is no doubt that these differences gave human beings an evolutionary advantage that brought humanity to its present, advanced state. There is no doubt that these physical and psychological differences result in different abilities to work and nurture. Without these difference, the human race would not have survived the cruelties of nature.
(Yes, there are exceptions. There are men who are smaller and weaker and more nurturing than the average woman, and vice versa. Small numbers. Take a 1,000 men and women at random, and you know the result.)
But stating the obvious is, today, a secular sin. A sin Tim and Dave Gordon have the guts to say, anyway. As Tim said recently on Twitter:
WHAT IS GOOD/TRUE/BEAUTIFUL ISNT POPULAR; WHAT IS POPULAR ISNT GOOD/TRUE/BEAUTIFUL!!— Timothy Gordon (@timotheeology) August 17, 2019
For that, I salute them.
Check out TnT on YouTube for more truth and wisdom from Tim Gordon and Dr. Taylor Marshall.