Mike Huckabee’s comments that “Jesus wept” in response to the SCOTUS decision has set off a firestorm in the media. I can understand. For one thoughtful response, I suggest you check out Peter Wehner’s post here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2013/06/27/mike-huckabees-crass-misuse-of-jesus. Other responses are pouring in, here’s another here.
All I can say is that Rick Hogaboam cringed upon reading Huckabee’s brief commentary and fundraising pitch, not that it really matters.
“Jesus wept” happens to comprise the shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35), where Jesus weeps upon hearing of the death of Lazarus. Jesus also weeps when contemplating the rejection of Israel (Luke 19:41-44):
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that Jesus is indifferent to the matters of the world, after all, it is his, and I’m not minimizing the importance of the SCOTUS decision, but I don’t think invoking Jesus’ response to the death of a friend and/or his response to the rejection of the very covenant people who should have rejoiced to see the day of the Messiah is all that wise in application to a highly nuanced decision from the high court of the land. I can even understand Huckabee’s extreme disappointment when he said:
Five people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of California and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all.
There is certainly some merit to the point being made, namely that the SCOTUS majority opinion rather flippantly dismissed a constitutional referendum and legislation that was passed during Clinton’s presidency. I digress here for a minute, apologies. For more, read Justice Scalia’s thoughts here: (here). You can obviously see my cards – I share some of the same opinions that Huckabee does, but I would never have thought of bringing a weeping Jesus into the picture. One can reaffirm what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, but even that doesn’t resolve the issue as far as our Constitution and laws are concerned. We would never dare suggest that Evangelical SCOTUS Justices (oddly, there are none) should consult with Jesus and make rulings by quoting nothing more than Scripture. We have a Constitution – and it doesn’t discuss marriage. One can argue that some form of Federalism should win the day (which seemed to be Justice Alito’s rationale), or that the already existing legislation of DOMA should have stood until the legislative process changed it; point being, lots of opinions and arguments being made. The majority opinion in both cases actually compromised of interesting coalitions, philosophically speaking. I think Huckabee’s main contention is with what seems to be a stripping away of seeking consensus on this issue through the legislative process, that all referendums and legislation through Congress is meaningless and void before the court. There was a lack of judicial restraint on DOMA and Huckabee is accusing them of acting as gods. One would need to clarify whether Huckabee’s reference was mainly because of the topic of gay marriage or the judicial philosophy of the majority opinion – or both – that prompted Huckabee to say that Jesus wept. It certainly appears that the same-sex marriage issue is what prompted the tweet.
Here are a few lessons we can take away as Evangelicals:
1. Don’t conflate America with Israel. Yes, Jesus is concerned about all nations, but linking the weeping Jesus over Israel’s rejection and a SCOTUS decision in America isn’t helpful.
2. Be careful when saying Jesus happens to feel any particular way about some event in America. Whether it was Pat Robertson’s pronouncement that 9/11 was God’s judgment on homosexuality or Jeremiah Wright’s perception that it was America’s chickens coming home to roost because of our foreign policy, we get the point…I think.
3. Jesus’ concerns are likely a lot more comprehensive than ours. Of course we shouldn’t qualify any specific pronouncements by stating how it doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t care about x, y, and z, or else it would be impossible to be specific about anything. People need to consume communication based on the intent. Huckabee is known as a social conservative, therefore, will be prone to apply Jesus to social matters. I wouldn’t charge Huckabee has being cold-hearted to the plight of innocent children who perish or are severely injured as a result of American drone strikes, but he certainly isn’t known for being critical of such a policy or saying that Jesus weeps over it. One only has so much leverage and capital to spend when invoking the name of Jesus – let me explain: if one is always bringing up Jesus about sexual sin, then our hearers may get the impression that Jesus is only pretty much concerned about sexual sin and/or we’re only preoccupied with sexual sin. When you conflate your convictions with Jesus in this sort of specific way, continually, then we’re doing more harm than good. Jesus cares about a lot of things – as in, a lot of things. Our priorities should align with his priorities, rather than branding ourselves and Jesus as only caring about specific issues. The nature of activism is that you pick a cause, I get it, but let’s not shrink the concerns of Jesus to our particular cause, even if he would approve of our activity, whether it be in a soup kitchen, crisis pregnancy center, or African orphanage.
© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.