Strawman Argument: “You’re Creating a False Dichotomy” – No, I’m Not (Re: Coulter editorial and US Christians aiding foreigners)
This is a follow-up to my previous post,
(Link): Ann Coulter’s Very Accurate Ebola Post Being Criticized As Being Insensitive – But It’s Not; It’s Accurate
Some judgmental Christian douche canoe on Twitter – who doesn’t even know me, and I got the impression he has not even read through my blog at all – accused me of being “heartless” when I tweeted a polite comment to him disagreeing with his criticism of Coulter’s opinions.
And he referred to me as ‘heartless’ because he assumes I believe that American Christians should not help Africans at all, never ever – but I never said that.
Let me tell you what is heartless: American Christians who feel it’s acceptable, loving, Christ-like, or “godly” to place foreigners and Non-Christians above, or in place of, hurting American Christians.
That you support U.S. Christians doing things such as digging water wells for orphaned children in India does not magically make up for your lack of support or effort in helping sick or impoverished American children (or adults) – and we do have them here in America, you know.
One other comment I have personally received in response to repeating my views in that blog post in other venues – on Twitter from blogger Throckmorton (hope I spelled his name right; apologies if not, but it’s not an easy last name like “Smith” or “Jones,” and I’m going on memory), and that I’ve seen hurled at people with a similar view to mine on yet even other sites by other people – is that we are creating a false dilemma.
That is, these people are arguing that people such as myself or Ann Coulter are insisting that an American Christian must help either
1. Americans in need
2. foreigners in need.
They are saying we have claimed, “Christians can, or must, help only group 1 or group 2, not both.”
I never said any such thing, and neither did Ann Coulter, or many other people who share Coulter’s views.
As a matter of fact, I said the opposite in previous posts that I directed some of these dissenters to, such as:
- –I’ve nothing against American Christians helping foreign Non-Christians or American ones, but American Christians are so annoyingly lop-sized on this issue to the point they are neglecting their fellow suffering American Christians, and this is in direct conflict to what the Bible teaches. (source)
-Note that I am not saying it is wrong for Christians to help strippers, orphans, and so on, only that I condemning them for being very selective in when, where, and to whom they offer help and compassion. (source)
-Of course, human trafficking (sometimes referred to as the sex slave industry) is reprehensible and disgusting, and yes, it’s good that people, including Christians, are trying to halt it. (source)
-The Scriptures actually tell Christians that while they should try to help all people, that their PRIMARY duty is to help other hurting, suffering Christians in their own group first and foremost (see Galatians chapter 6, verse 10, also 1 Timothy 5: 8), not to place a priority on helping pagan, atheistic, starving, impoverished, suffering heathens outside of their own nation. (source)
I went out of my way to add qualifiers such as those in previous posts to make clear I was not saying it is always wrong or bad to help foreigners, atheists, or pagans.
My point is more to do with priorities – and hypocrisy.
Americans live in a culture that believes in “rugged individualism” and a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality.
American Christians fall prey to this hyper “self reliant” type thinking too. Americans think it’s wrong or weak to seek help from others in times of need or pain. So, if you go seeking help in a time of need, you will be told to bugger off and toughen up and rely on yourself.
I’m sorry to be a broken record about this, but as these people have not read my previous posts or aren’t getting it, I will try again.
It’s all fine and dandy if American Christians want to send rice to Haitian earthquake victims or dig water wells for African orphans. I am not opposing it in toto.
However. The Bible teaches that Christians are to care for Christians first (yes, it certainly does), and at that, Christians in the local body of believers (yes, is sure does), as well as their immediate family members (see (Link): Galatians 6:10 and (Link): 1 Timothy 5:8).
Throckmorton was trying to tell me that those Bible verses don’t apply, but oh yes, they do.
Here they are again:
Galatians 6:10 (emphasis added by me):
- Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers
Yes. Note it tells Christians that they are to direct their good works and charity “especially” to other Christians, “those who belong to the family of believers.”
That’s right, it does not read, “to especially help those who are non-Christian, or people you do not know in far-off lands.”
Now, it’s not wrong or sinful for a Christian to direct some energy and effort in helping Non-Christians, but that should not be their first concern.
Christians are further instructed:
1 Timothy 5:8
- Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
No, I don’t see any mention there of Christians needing to place foreigners and/or Non-Christians on their list of priorities.
If you are an Average Joe Christian American, and say,
– you had a horrible auto accident three months ago,
– you are partially paralzyed,
– your right arm was torn off in the accident,
– and your boss fired you as a result of missing all this work because you were hospitalized, do you know what the typical reaction would be if Average Joe were to ask a fellow American Christian for emotional, practical, or financial support?
He would told things by Christians such as, “Suck it up, count your blessings, it could have been worse, and remember, you don’t have life nearly as bad as starving African orphans.”
Even though the Bible does not tell Christians to judge suffering in this manner, that is, the Bible does not tell you that
- “because Joe is not suffering as much, in your opinion, as “Starving African Lou,” do not help Joe out.
Just give Joe some criticism and religious sounding-platitudes, and tell him to ‘buck up’.
But don’t offer to pay Joe’s hospital bills for him, don’t mow his lawn while he is sick, and don’t try to get him another job.
Shame Joe for asking for help. And compare his plight to ebola-stricken Africans to make him feel as though he is a whiny, ungrateful cry baby.”
But many American Christians act as though the Bible does instruct them to behave in that manner.
That is actually the sort of behavior, mindset, and advice God condemned “Job’s counselors” for giving Job when Job was suffering.
But I have personally witnessed this sort of thing time and again, and with other Christians. Other Christians have experienced this same sort of callousness from fellow American Christians in times of sorrow and suffering.
After my mother died, and I went to Baptist and evangelical Christians for help, hope, love, and encouragement, I was criticized, judged, given platitudes, brushed off, shamed for having emotional pain…
And yes, I was told heartless garbage (by American Christians) like,
- “Remember your pain is nothing; there are poor, starving African children who don’t have indoor plumbing like you do. So see, even though your loved one is dead, you are so fortunate.”
If you are an American Christian who wants to help starving or sick adults or children in third world nations, be my guest.
However – if you are in the meantime, ignoring or putting down hurting or suffering Americans who live right next door to you, or who attend your very church, you can get bent and go choke on your hypocrisy.
Don’t tell me you are compassionate – and point to your good deeds in Africa – if you are neglecting the hurting people God has put in your path in your local community.
And believe you me, these attitudes by American Christians towards hurting or suffering Americans is pretty damn common in America.
Go lurk at spiritual abuse blogs or blogs and forums for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or who are dealing with cancer or clinical depression, and you will see stacks upon stacks of testimonies by ex-Christians, disillusioned Christians, or wounded Christians, who say in their greatest time of pain, sorrow, or need, other Christians did not help them.
In my own experience, the Christians I went to for comfort or help not only did not help me – they judged and criticized – but some of these same two-faced, hypocritical jerks would mail rice to orphans in India.
They are complete insensitive assholes to the guy or lady who sits next to them in the church every week, but they feel so godly and charitable because they write a check to UNICEF once a year, went on a missionary trip to Africa 23 years ago, or Tweeted “#BringBackOurGirls” for two weeks straight on Twitter a few months ago.
They think possessing a river of sympathy for sick Africans or orphans in Thailand absolves them of action, charity, compassion, or responsibility to fellow Christians in the good old U.S. of A.
If you cry rivers of tears for African orphans you don’t know or never met, yet sit there ignoring or blowing off the person who lives right next door to you – and I can assure you this is indeed very common – don’t lecture me that it’s selfish to re-examine American Christian habits, their knee-jerk tendency, to want to help only certain classes of people first, such as ebola stricken Africans.
Like there are no adults or kids in American hospitals dying of cancer or AIDS you cannot visit and spread some cheer to, or help them pay off their medical bills, if you have the money to spare, or you can’t bring free meals to their family members?
Sometimes, American Christians can weep puddles of tears over hurting Americans, but only very narrow groups, such as homeless crack addicts, or women who work as strippers.
This is another odd situation I’ve seen among Baptists, evangelicals and other U.S. Christians.
They are only willing to extend help or effort to help very limited sets of people facing very narrow, extreme problems, such as crack addiction, homelessness…
If you are simply an “Average Jane” or “Average Joe” American going through cancer treatment, you were laid off from your job, you may face foreclosure on your home, maybe you’re a parent and your teen kid is into serious rebelling (staying out nights per week, dabbling in drugs, etc), maybe your husband of 15 years just dumped you for a younger women – if you face problems such as these, most American Christians do not give a rat’s ass. They say they do, but they don’t.
You can find many sad, heartbreaking stories of Christian parents, Christian wives, Christian people, who were laid off from work, their kid died from a brain tumor, they went through a heartbreaking divorce, but when they went to Christian friends, Christian churches, Christian family for compassion or practical assistance, they were turned way or treated harshly.
I sure as hell do not expect African Christians to hop on planes and fly on up to the United States to try to fix all our issues here. They have their own set of struggles to deal with.
American Christians think that sending money, or personally visiting, foreign nations to dole out bowls of oatmeal, or to dig water wells, is more sexy and glamorous than, say…
Bringing a bowl of chicken soup over to their lonely, widowed 74 year old neighbor.
American Christians think that sending money, or personally visiting, foreign nations to dole out bowls of oatmeal or to dig water wells is more sexy and glamorous than, say…
Acting as a non judgmental, supportive sounding board, two or more hours a month, for several months in a row, for a heartbroken 45 year old who underwent a painful divorce.
Goodness knows these types of “do-gooder” Christians love those shots of themselves handing out bowls of soup to foreign kids. It makes for nifty photo ops that they plaster all over Facebook, or their ministry periodicals, if they are preachers.
It’s not quite as picturesque to take a photo of yourself visiting an American, 83 year old widower in a local nursing home, now is it? No, that’s not as exciting and glam as getting in a plane to say you’re assisting a bunch of Ebola-inflicted Africans. It doesn’t sound as heroic, Gospel-y, or Jesus Christ-y.
I’m not the one creating a false dilemma – those who support Americans investing much time and money, and the safety of the American people via sending American Christians off to assist people in foreign lands are. You guys are the ones who place Non Christians and foreigners above hurting and needy American citizens. You ignore your own to go play hero to natives of other lands.
These do-gooders seldom help both sets of people. Christian seem unusually drawn to go serve either foreigners, or only very extreme cases within the USA, such as homeless alcoholics.
American Christians think it’s glamorous to help people in third world nations, so they tend to ignore people who need their help who are under their very noses.
I never said Christians can or should only pick one group of people to help, but that Christians usually only do choose one group, and it’s almost never their own; American Christians choose only to help people such as:
- SET 1a.
-Ebola infected Africans,
-sex trafficked kids in Thailand,
-impoverished kids in India
-strippers in bars
-domestic abused women in shelters
I am saying if you are going to help those sorts of guys, don’t forget to help, and to place a priority on helping, the following:
- SET 2.
1. American Widowed Christian woman Susie Jones who is lonely, cannot drive anymore and needs a lift once a week to the grocery store and another to her doctor’s appointment
2. American impoverished Christian Janey Brown whose dad died when she was four, and her mom cannot afford to buy her school supplies or new shoes
And after you’ve helped Set 2, help this Non Christian guy:
- 1. American Atheist guy Frank Smith whose four year old daughter just died from being hit by a car
American Christians fail, fail, fail at help people in category Set 2.
American Christians usually direct most of their time, energy, money, and bleeding hearts to folks in Set 1, which is hypocritical, unbiblical, and a disgrace. Almost all sympathy goes to starving orphaned kids, about zero to suffering Americans (unless they are homeless or strippers).
So nope, I never presented a “false dichotomy.” That would be the “OMG, those poor ebola-infected Africans, that big meanie Ann Coulter columnist!!111!!” type of Christians.
American Christians pretty much suck rocks at helping other suffering American Christians. I have witnessed it too many times.
By the way, in decades and centuries prior, with no television news and with no internet, it would take months and months, or maybe even a year or more, for news of something like an ebola outbreak in some other nation to reach the United States.
By the time the news reached our nation, most of the disease would probably have run its course already.
I’m not sure that being made aware of every single world calamity the instant it occurs necessarily means that Americans absolutely must respond to each and every one that occurs. Food for thought.
Related (touches on the Ann Coulter post):
(Link): The Marginalization of the Average Joe and Practice of Selective Compassion by Christian and Secular Americans
Related posts this blog: