Totalitarians have been playing the language game for a long time; it was already a hoary tradition sixty-six years ago when George Orwell published 1984. Those who want to deconstruct our most important social institutions so that they can rebuild our society according to their own likes know that if they control the language they’ve just about won the battle. And we somehow never seem to catch on.
I’m thinking in particular about a couple of pieces I read recently dealing with the whole “gay wedding cake scenario”, that is, the various issues represented by the case in Denver (only one of many such cases) wherein a bakery owned by Christians was sued for refusing to provide a cake for a homosexual wedding ceremony. The first post was by Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress [link], the other by Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator [link]. Both commentators are relatively conservative and calm-headed, but both fall right into the linguistic trap that the Left has built around this issue. Both seem to take for granted that the question is business owners denying service to homosexual persons. That’s the trap. Once you accept that version of events, the game is already lost, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to cast you in the role of hater, at which point you are no longer entitled to an opinion. The fact is, however, that the cake shop in Denver, as well as the various photographers and other businesses subject to similar lawsuits, are all perfectly willing to do business with individuals who present themselves as gay. What they object to is being forced by the state to participate, at the risk of losing their livelihood, in a public event (a homosexual wedding) that they consider immoral. If George III ever did anything quite so tyrannical, I’m not aware of it.
Scalia doesn’t help matters when she suggests in a subsequent post that some of her correspondents are telling her that “because Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple, all enraged non-God-men are justified in being cruel and ugly to their also-redeemed fellow humans”. Now, it’s possible that she is indeed hearing that, but I myself haven’t heard or read any Catholic commentator making any such suggestion. Nonetheless, I do think the incident with the moneylenders is important here, and not because I favor making whips out of cords and driving the gay wedding parties out of the Knights of Columbus halls. It brings some clarity to a line of argument to the effect that we should bake the wedding cake for the gay weddings so we can “meet them where they are” in order to evangelize them. After all, what would Jesus do?
Well, we know what Jesus would do, because the Gospels tell us. And the meet-them-and- evangelize-then people do have a point . . . to a point. In Luke’s Gospel 19:1-10 we see how Jesus encounters the tax collector Zacchaeus on the street (or in a tree, rather), invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house and, by showing Zacchaeus that he loves and accepts him as a person, leads him to foreswear his evil ways (which Jesus, apparently, does not love and accept). I submit that the various cakesellers are acting similarly when they treat their homosexual customers with kindness and dignity in the regular course of business. It’s a different story when Jesus encounters men of similar ilk in the Temple courts, as recounted in all four Gospels (Matt: 21, Mark: 11, Luke: 19, John 2). Notice that he does not sit down with them at their money-tables to win them over with a friendly chat. Again, I’m not suggesting we emulate Jesus’ violent actions (Scalia is correct that, as God-Made-Manifest, he is not subject to the same standards that we are), but rather the distinction he makes between accepting persons, such as Zacchaeus, while condemning their sinful actions. "Love the sinner, hate the sin." The whole strategy of the cultural left stands on the denial of that principle.
Despite the attempts to trivialize this matter as nothing more than a kerfuffle about wedding cakes, we are dealing with some very serious issues. If we don’t insist on truth even in the words we use, how can we hope to arrive at The Truth?