You can’t win.
You can’t. But that’s nothing new. Jesus and John faced the same problem:
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates,
‘We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon’; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Mt 11:16-18)
If you don’t drink, you’re strange. You have a demon. If you drink, you’re a drunkard and friend of sinners. Don’t we encounter this today?
If a heterosexual man opposes same-sex marriage, then he’s bigoted or secretly has same-sex attractions. If that man has same-sex attraction, then he must oppose it because he’s self-hating.
If a woman who promotes chastity has a large family, she’s a hypocrite who can’t stop having sex. (Don’t you know what causes that?) If she has no children, she wants everyone else to be as miserable as she is.
When I was in my 20’s, I would “know better” when I’m older. Now that I’m approaching 40, I’m out-of-touch and need to wake up to “new ideas”.
Why does this happen? It’s simple: if you can’t win, then the opposition has nothing to fear. They don’t have to address how you’re living or what you’re saying in a real way. They don’t have to change.
People have always found reasons to ignore or misrepresent the Gospel, even in the Gospels themselves. He wants me to give up all my money. He doesn’t follow the letter of the law as well as we do. His people picked grain on the Sabbath. His teaching is too hard. He doesn’t act enough like a king. He acts too much like a king.
Jesus never compromised his message to answer their excuses. When the rich young man walked away from Him, Jesus let him go. (Mt 19:22) When the crowd left after His Eucharistic discourse, Jesus let them go. (John 6:66)
He never compromised, but he did condescend. He walked among them. He lived and acted in the world, as a man. He showed them with his actions who He is, and He allowed those who turned away to turn away. He conquered the doubts and excuses by His death and resurrection, when even a solider had to admit “this was the Son of God”.
He is among us now in the Eucharist. He lives and acts in the world. He shows us through His body, the Church, and through His Holy Spirit who He is, and He still allows those who knowingly turn away to turn away.
Today, he conquers doubts and excuses. His Holy Spirit overcomes what we can’t. He conquered death when we earned it. He conquers where we cannot. And that is our answer to the excuses. That’s the only answer, because you can’t win. No argument will overcome, because there’s always an answer, always another excuse.
You can’t win.
But God can.
Copyright 2015, Joe Wetterling