Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Gospel According to Hannity

Yesterday, I was listening to a Sean Hannity show from last week in which a caller from Jacksonville, Florida, posed a question for all the people who are criticizing Trump’s travel ban and his “America First” philosophy.

“Do they feed their neighbor’s children before they feed their own?" the caller asked. "Or do they pay their neighbor’s bills before paying their own? And if they do not, does that make them racist for not doing so?”

Hannity loved the question. He agreed that many critics of the travel ban are hypocrites and then -- after going off on a passionate tangent about how Ashton Kutcher married a much older woman -- offered his caller a relevant lesson from the Bible.  

“It’s utter hypocrisy. You take care of your family first. You take care of your own life," Hannity agreed. 

"For example, I’ll give you a Biblical example," he went on. "You know, how do you notice the faults of your brother when you’ve got your own problems? And the answer was, well, take out, get rid of your own problems or whatever it is in your eye and this way you’ll be clearer to see other people and help them better.”

In other words, before helping others, help yourself. 

Kind of like the precaution on airliners that, in case of an emergency, you should put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

Hannity's personal interpretation of that Bible lesson pricked my ears. The lesson he was referring to is, of course, from Matthew, chapter 7:

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

I remember this passage very well from my days in Sunday School at Liberty Baptist Church in North Georgia. However, the lesson we learned back then was different from the one Hannity apparently came away with, which I would sum up as: “Be generous and charitable only after you have fulfilled your own needs”.

As I was taught, the lesson is instead: “You shouldn’t judge others for their small faults until you recognize, and correct, your own larger faults”. It’s all about not judging others.

In fact, that message is encapsulated in the very first verse of the chapter, for Christ’s sake: “Judge not, that ye be not judged”.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in the Age of Trump even lessons from the Bible are not what they used to be. Alternative Bible lessons, perhaps?

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