January 28th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Company tax proposal just made for Trump

EDITORIAL Trump installed but the left refuses to accept it

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens' footprints all over travel claims

U.S. POLITICS Team Trump to implement new President's agenda

INTELLIGENCE Lame report on Russian interference in U.S. poll

ENVIRONMENT The scientific myth within the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

EUTHANASIA Case for assisted suicide "not made": Daniel Mulino

OPINION Submission is the fit word, Tim, not humility

OBITUARY WA loses NCC founding member, Frank Malone

GENDER POLITICS Safe Schools Coalition versus child safe schools

RURAL LIFE Sandalwood a balm for forgotten farmers

MUSIC Swing low and deep: it don't mean a thing if it don't have that

BOOK REVIEW The tyranny of the offended

BOOK REVIEW Not quite perfect but worth a revisit

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Submission is the fit word, Tim, not humility

by Robin Speed

News Weekly, January 28, 2017

Tim Wilson, in an opinion piece in the November 15, 2016, edition of Eternity, the national news magazine of the Bible Society Australia, tells religious leaders and communities that they should be “humble” in the same-sex marriage debate. He says that, with “humility”, we will win religious freedom.

But what does he mean by “humility”, and how will it win religious freedom?

By way of introduction, Tim tells us that there is no one better than he to resolve the same-sex marriage debate as he is gay and agnostic and, one might add, a strong advocate for same-sex marriage. But then “humility” in the lecturer is not a prerequisite to lecturing others on their being humble.

Tim Wilson lecures
religious leaders on
the virtue of humility.

Tim goes on to tell religious leaders and communities that they need to be “humble” when thinking about, speaking about and negotiating religious freedom and same-sex marriage. In this humble state they then will accept the change of the definition of marriage.

What, then, is this “humility”?

The word is derived from the old French word, (h)umble, from Latin humilis (low, slight).

The Macquarie Dictionary defines “humility” as the quality of being humble; modest, since of one’s own; and humble as being modest without pride, and courteously respectful.

Tim corrupts the word to mean that religious leaders and religious community must humbly accept the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage. There is no basis for this abuse of the English language, save in the Alice in Wonderland sense of making words mean what you say they mean. “Humility” is about the person, not about his convictions.

Christians are particularly sensitive about being accused of lack of humility.

As C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity: “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly anyone, except Christians, imagine that they are guilty themselves. … There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. … The vice I am talking about is Pride or Self conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.”

No Christian wishes to be guilty of this sin and the mere accusation of it can see the most bold Christians withdrawing from the field. For humility is “anchored in the character and behaviour of the Lord Jesus himself” (“The old humility and the new”, Mark Thompson).

But Tim’s “humility” is something quite different. It is not about being humble in respect of oneself. Rather, the word “humility” is used to describe the wilful act of forgetting your own convictions and accepting others that you know are wrong.

And as G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy about this corruption of the word “humility”: “Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. … For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether. …

“We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced. The meek do inherit the earth; but the modern sceptics are too meek even to claim their inheritance.”

When Tim tells our religious leaders and religious communities that they should be humble, he is telling them that they should be submissive and accept the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage, no matter that they consider the arguments wrongly based. This is not “humility”, but hogwash.

Accepting same-sex marriage has nothing to do with “humility” and everything to do with giving in to emotional blackmail.

Tim does not suggest that the state of “humility” should exist in those who advocate same-sex marriage; only those who oppose it.

He further assumes that the only forces in play against same-sex marriage are Christians and other religious communities; and further that they have only religious reasons to oppose same-sex marriage. This is not so. There are non-religious people with non-religious reasons for opposing the change.

Tim goes on to state that religious freedom does not trump the rights and freedoms of others and that it is something to be accommodated in the rights and freedoms of all; and he forgets to state that same-sex marriage will trump the rights and freedoms of others.

Then after all this Tim fails to say how humility will win religious freedom. Rather he says that, having supported the change to the law in favour of same-sex marriage, the religious community can “negotiate any necessary protections to allay their fears about being legally pursued for expressing their views”. Not that there will be protections, but merely they can try and negotiate for them.

He also refers to the failed attempt to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage. The Senate’s refusal to proceed with a plebiscite was a refusal to let all Australians have their say. The real reason for the refusal is obvious. It was because of the fear that the public would vote against same-sex marriage. The suggestion that it was to save the public from the pain of a prolonged debate fools no one.

The accusation of lack of “humility” in our religious leaders and communities is intended to stun them into submission, like being hit by a Taser. But the accusation is deflected by Christ’s shield of the true meaning of “humility”.

Robin Speed is president of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia and a member of Warrawee Anglican Church.

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