Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unchurchmanly Behavior

My wife is a good woman, a fine wife, and is also somewhat opinionated and near-famously gifted with what some Lutherans call "gab."  Gifts can be used properly, and they can be an occasion for impropriety.  If on occasion she steps over the line, especially if that involves, say, engaging in arguments in public, then her husband speaks with her about it, and deals with it.  That's simply life, in an obstinately unenlightened and decidedly unegalitarian marriage. 

Far worse than such behavior on the part of an opinionated woman, in my view, is when a man chooses to engage in an argument with a woman, and on top of that, actually goes on the attack.  This is not the way a man behaves.  You are not a man, much less a Christian man, when you behave this way.   Moreover, you pastors of the church are called not merely to be men, which is a high and challenging calling in itself, but churchmen, men of the church.  And some of you dare attack a woman, another mans wife?  What exactly is the problem with you?  If you see a woman say something with which you profoundly disagree, on politics, the culture, or whatever, and you even find yourself downright irritated, you could simply be the man, be the one with the inner strength to be the gentleman.  Have the strength to resist your urges.  Some men need to do what the character George Costanza on Seinfeld once did, and resolve to do the exact opposite of whatever you would normally do.

I am not merely referring to Matt Lorfeld's behavior on facebook, which can only be described as childish (or at best it is seminary behavior, where there ought not be women anyway).  I am referring to it, but not merely to it.  For it is a type.  It takes a certain type of minister of the church to publicly call a woman "ignorant."  So let us review some basics.  The ministry of the church is by its nature a public matter.  It is also by its nature a servanthood.  And what exactly is it to which one is in service when he is called to the church's ministry (ministerio ecclesiastico)?  He is called to the high art of theology.  Theology is his life, not simply one of the things he does.  It permeates his life and being; it defines his role in this world.  Far from being a mere career the theologian has chosen for himself, it is a habitus practicus Ѳεοσδοτον.  One wonders, by their behavior, if some churchmen even know what that means.

To add an even finer point to this, when a man is called to be a servant of theology, it means, ipso facto, that his life is now in the service of people, people whom some pastors have no problems fighting over the headlines of the day.  Please.  Wake up and renew your spirit of churchmanship.  And if you won't, then at least refrain from engaging in this type of behavior with any lady in my family.

Now that I have expounded a bit on the topic of unchurchmanly behavior, let me now briefly address what I would call an example of improper use of the law of God, or put another way, a badly mistaken view of the Ten Commandments.  For quite apart from the issue of his method of interaction on the topic, I am struck by Pastor Lorfeld's claim that the Seventh Commandment is involved in the possibility of the public teachers' unions losing a portion of what they have enjoyed in recent times.  It is one thing for a theologian to have a political opinion, though I tend to think the churchman ought to speak of political issues only when they touch moral problems.  It is quite another for him to express his opinion in such a way as to bring morality into the topic in a completely improper and false manner.  The teacher of the church -that is what the preacher is (ministerium docendi)- who says such things is allowing the flesh to speak, and is stifling the spirit.  When this happens, as Luther says, we are deceived into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice.  The churchman is not given many things by which to fulfill his role in this life, and to which he much be faithful, but they are things of the utmost importance.  Truth be told, they are the most powerful and dangerous things in life, things like the holy mysteries of God, and the Word of God, which includes the Ten Commandments.  Let us be careful how we handle such things, and learn anew to speak in the public square in a manner befitting the Gospel and the Church.

7 comments:

mlorfeld said...

Hello Pot, meet kettle.

Latif, this is in extraordinarily bad taste. To say that I am upset with your own childish behavior is an understatement.

Now to the question at hand. Are pastors not also citizens? Are they not to speak out against evil? Have you read the Large Catechism on the 7th commandment? I would recommend reading it once again.

Furthermore, why did you not even bother contacting me?

Let me say this, I stand by what I have said, and if you want a more in depth clarification as to my position, further than my own private facebook comments, which do not constitute a theological treatise. I will be happy to defend my position on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

"Meet kettle." That's cute. And it would seem more appropriate if I attacked any lady in your family, or even parish.

The position of this blog post is twofold. The first part takes up probably two thirds of my words. Try addressing that part if you want to be taken seriously, you who bragged to me that you were one of the smartest men in your class at seminary.

Now as to the second part, regarding the seventh commandment, really, give us all a break. But indeed, I call upon you now, if you feel facebook didn't afford enough space, to now explain how exactly it is proper for you to say that Gov. Walker is guilty of literally stealing from the public teacher unions. Theft, that is, committing the sin of the seventh commandment, does indeed come into play when the state spends more than the people can afford. So there is indeed a place for morality in a political discussion. You simply seem incapable of knowing how to utilize it.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

It is naive to think of what one says on facebook as being "private." I add this point not as an attack, but because I think this is something, even in the larger sense of Internet discussion generaly, that we should all consider and of which we should remind each other.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

And seriously, how does Luther in the Large Catechism deal with the teachers' unions' rights which have been enjoyed for about two generations? Despite how some might read me, I am being dispassionate here, and would be open to a conversation on the matter.

mlorfeld said...

Latif,
First I will offer this. I have sinned, in my passion for speaking in defense of my family members and close friends who are being called without cause lazy and greedy, I have let my anger get the better of me. In doing so, I was short with my words to you and your wife, specifically in pointing out what is apparently (from my perspective) a lack of knowing the full story. Again, I repent of this and ask your forgiveness.

To the issue, however, we confess that breaking 7th commandment is not merely the illegal taking of our neighbor's money or possessions, but also failing to help him protect his property and business.

To illustrate the matter, say I entered into a contract with you. You would, over the course of a year, do some work for me. About 3/4 of the way through the year, if I were to decide to buy my friend a car, not because he needed it, but just because he was my friend, and then told you, "well I'm going to have to cut back what I have already agreed to pay you to the tune of $4000," I would be breaking the 7th commandment as well as the 8th. This is what the governor of Wisconsin has effectively done.

As to the next budget, well, taxes haven't been collected and money has not been spent, nor have contracts been signed. I would also caution against calling taxation, especially that of corporations, "theft"... especially at the levels we see in America. There can be debate about macro-economic schools of thought here, and that's fine (and for the record I think all three of the prevailing economic schools of thought - Chicago, Keynesian, and Austrian - are deeply flawed... but that's neither here nor there).

I still do not think this is the appropriate forum for this dispute, nor do I think it appropriate to continue to leave this post up. If you wish to continue this discussion, I ask that we continue it outside of the public sphere by phone or email.

Lastly, I do respect your office as husband, and I do commend you for striving to faithfully live out that office.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Dear Matt:

I forgive you, and will consider your arguments as I have time today.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

First, Matt, I never said that taxation itself is theft. Running the state into a multibillion dollar hole with its out of control spending, is theft.

Second, You have given an analogy in defense of your accusation that Gov. Walker is guilty of theft, but why don't you forget analogies, and just state plainly what he is doing that is theft? Do you even know what is in the budget repair bill?