Is it Not Kicking the Dog or is it Rising Above Them?

This blog was written years ago just after the Covid dust began to settle. Now, 2024, I’m reading King Cholera, a 1966 “biography” of the disease that consumed England beginning in the early 1830s and lasted to the 1860s. O how I wish I had read this prior to Covid. The exact same sides, arguments, accusations, conspiracies, and vilifying of positions was done then, and I now suspect is done in every pandemic, plague, or epidemic.

Conservative Christians are at a crossroads. We are being divided over whether the 2020 election was rigged, whether Covid was an engineered crisis, whether to get a vaccine or not. As always with middle things, it is the person, from either side, insisting a middle thing is a “thus says the Lord” who is wrong. [i]

There are poles here, but not where those on either side who are frothing at the mouth think they are. They don’t occupy poles they occupy extremes. It is helpful to see the poles; it’s deadly to hold to extremes. (Actually, look up the Latin phrase in extremis to see where they really are.)

In all the issues – masks, vaccines, meeting numbers – what seems to divide is the extent and/or legitimacy of the government’s roll. Some think it’s legit others think it’s intrusive or worse. Below are the poles.

First, Professor Marquart would tell the tale of some relatives of his in Nazi-occupied Lithuania. I believe they were both pastors. One was complaining about how oppressive the Nazis were to his ministry. The other said that was nonsense. He’s had no trouble at all. The oppressed one said that’s because the other was letting the demonic dog of Hitlerism sleep beneath his table, feeding him with scraps, leaving him undisturbed. Just give him a kick and see what happens.

I live in one of the most liberal cities in America with a thoroughly liberal, Woke government. During Covid, I had occasion to interact with them on several occasions. They were understanding, empathic, and helpful. Is that because I lacked the courage to kick the demon-dog?

Earl is the other pole.  I was called on the carpet by black families for daring to say that black women had an abortion rate 4 times that of whites. I pointed out that if it were true the other way, people would be up in arms. But because it was black lives they didn’t matter. There were 3 or 4 black people at the meeting, one white Elder from the church where I had committed the offense, and Earl, an Elder of mine who was black.

The meeting was brutal. They talked about me, never to me. Only Earl defended me. After the meeting while driving home, he said, “Pastor, I’ve never experienced racism in all my life.” I replied, “Earl, you’re  liar.” Earl was 70 years old in 1998. He was born in 1928 in the Deep South and grew up in the Jim Crow South. I reminded him of all these facts. He said, “I’m just telling you I personally never experienced it.” Earl rose above the dogs of racism. He by God’s grace didn’t feel or even remember the slings and arrows.

In ‘treating” with Woke government, going along with their mask and meeting mandates or even getting their vaccine (I didn’t but I didn’t speak against getting one.), am I willfully not kicking a dog that ought to be kicked if I’m faithful? Or, am living at peace with the Powers that Be while rising above the dogs that are sniffing about my Christian conscience and/or freedom?

I can tell you this: the ‘dialogs’ between the poles I witnessed were really spleen venting by those occupying the extremes. In this scenario, dogs are neither being placated, kicked, or risen above. No, people’s own dogs are being loosed, to the great delight of their owners.

Conservative Christians lack a Christian Ethic by which to process these things, so we entrench our position behind the dogs of war.

[i] The person doing so will usually cite Formula Concord, Article X, Church Usuages, Called Adiaphora or Indifferent Things, and go on to refer to this part of the Article: “4. We believe, teach, and confess that in time of persecution, when a plain [and steadfast] confession is required of us, we should not yield to the enemies in regard to such adiaphora” (Source: ). This means if you do not agree with them about the point at issue you are yielding to enemies of the Gospel. That’s a serious charge and it basically ends discussion. Here is a relatively in-depth Elder Study I wrote in January 2017. It will show you the poles in the Formula of when you can and can’t yield. FC-SD-X-1-25

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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