My wife and I traveled to New York to West Point for the plebe-parent weekend this last Thursday to Monday. While we were on the grounds of the U. S. Military Academy on Friday, I met and talked to another parent whose son and my son were acquaintance. I'm being purposefully ambiguous as to his identity and some of the details, like his bio and career. Anyway, after awhile I told him I was a Baptist pastor in California. He is in Alabama, where Baptists abound and is Bible-belt territory, unlike where my church is. I found he was a former Episcopalian, married Catholic. I asked him to give me his totally honest opinion, and I wouldn't be offended one bit, whether he thought that all the Baptists down there have made Alabama a better state, a better place to live. He said something pretty close to this: "They help preserve the morality and the family, which is good. However, the daughter of the Southern Baptist pastor and my daughter both play on the volleyball team, and his daughter told my daughter that because she worshiped Mary, she was going to hell."
Now I don't know if that's what this Baptist pastor's daughter said exactly to this man's daughter. However, if his daughter didn't receive Jesus Christ alone for salvation, she was going to Hell. We spent a little time after that talking about pluralism, taking different points of view, and how that things had changed in the way of toleration and speech. He seemed to enjoy the conversation. What the pastor's daughter said to his daughter, many would call inflammatory. And yet it was true. It was something like what I think Jesus would say. It was bold.
Saturday night we attended a banquet there in the cadet mess hall, a gigantic stone block structure in the middle of a mammoth barracks that the cadets lived in. You really would need to see it to get a sense of the immensity and the impressiveness of the place. Everyone was in full dress, we ate a banquet meal, and the president of Rwanda spoke. We were seated with another plebe and his family, filling out a ten person table. In the midst of the meal, the mother of the other plebe asked whether we were hoping for one of our daughters to attend West Point. My wife and I both said, "No." I told them that we did not believe that women should be at West Point. We did not believe that the roles of women should be egalitarian, but complementary. They all nodded quietly. No comment. I think many would call my comment inflammatory.
Let's shift back to something I wrote at the end of my last post about women wearing men's clothes. I said at the end of that essay that the particular young ladies whom I had described were an abomination to God for having worn pants. One commenter said to another commenter that what I wrote was inflammatory. I based my statement on Deuteronomy 22:5, which says that the person who does such a thing was an abomination to God. I applied that verse to them.
Is inflammatory good or bad? I think the connotation is that it is bad. You've done a bad thing if you've been inflammatory, I believe, based on a modern understanding of the term. I think that many won't say the truth because they don't want to be "inflammatory," as if avoiding that has risen to a higher moral plane than the truth itself. So you abstain safely from being inflammatory, but in so doing leave the truth unsaid.
Speak the truth. It's loving to do so.