We want everyone to feel good. There is no room in Obamatopia for anyone to suffer deprivation, be it physical, emotional, or social. That is unless you believe in limited government or unalienable rights. Then it's a one-way ticket out of the land of milk and tolerance into a railcar bound for Camp Re-education; but as long as you toe the thin pink line, things are gravy. Any discomfort which might crop up will get imperially quashed in order to avoid harshing your Soma™ buzz. Not satisfied with your minimum wage job? Let's craft federal regulation so you make as much as your boss. Tired of living in another country which doesn't hand out free stuff? Come on down to the ol' US of A and we'll make you a full-fledged citizen, just for cutting in line. Are those pesky Christians making you feel uncomfortable with their onerous moralizing? We'll penalize those Bible-thumpers until they can't afford to leave the house they leveraged to fight the civil suits we brought!
Welcome to 2014, where comfort is king and discomfort is a four-letter word. It's only natural that community groups in San Francisco are asking the city to hand out crack pipes in order to stem the spread of HIV. Officially, city administrators are distancing themselves from the suggestion and denying its credibility, but they had the same reaction when someone first suggested free needles for heroin users. The city now has more than a dozen needle exchanges. They'll come around…
Examining the proposal itself, it seems odd. At least with needles, it's clear how the virus might be spread from user to user. But how could HIV be spread via crack pipes? Wouldn't heating a glass pipe potentially kill the virus instead of helping it spread?
According to Laura Thomas, a member of the HIV Prevention Planning Committee, the primary objective is not to prevent the spread of HIV via crack pipes after all. "Once you can bring people into your program, make them feel respected, taken care of, then they're more likely to come back and get on HIV meds and want to be engaged and taking care of their health," says Thomas. There seems to be a hidden agenda here. So we're not trying to prevent the spread of HIV via crack pipe, we're trying to spread respect for junkies via free crack pipes. Color me intolerant, but I don't respect crack heads. I have a lot of respect for ex-crack heads, but absolutely none for junkies who are currently using. Ms. Thomas is asking for the community of San Francisco to offer respect before it's been earned and comfort before the wound has begun to heal.
When examined in the abstract, aren't many American churches taking the same misguided tack as Ms. Thomas? They too have a hidden agenda: the gospel. They hide this agenda by putting it on the back burner so as not to cause any social discomfort. They openly tolerate sin in their midst in the name of "showing respect" to those who are lost and losing. By avoiding the hard truth which accompanies the gospel, that we must die to ourselves and this world in order to rise again reborn in Christ, they weaken the importance of sin which in turn weakens the preeminence of The One Who gave His blood to cleanse us of this sin. But not only that, by implying that the walk of the believer is compatible with the lusts of the flesh, they pave the road ahead with broken glass for the newly-initiated. How is a new believer, freshly-welcomed into the bosom of the Lord and His church, supposed to combat the power of sin in his life when his church laughingly ignores it in the name of "love"?
It's called "tough love" because it is tough to give and tough to receive and it's called love because no one willingly chooses to give it, doing it out of devotion and duty to a loved one. Christians are called to be salt and light in this world. Salt has many uses. The reason why Roman soldiers were paid in salt was because it was valuable and versatile. It could season your meal or preserve your meat. It could also serve as a disinfectant when poured into a wound. As a church body in America, we have lost this use of salt in our engagement with the world. Not because there aren't any wounds which need cleansing, but because we want to spare our wounded the pain which precedes the healing. We offer comfort instead of healing, preferring to serve as the salt around the rim of the margarita glass, rather than the life-giving disinfectant which could burn and cleanse the septic wounds of the dead and dying which surround us.