If anyone has ever watched professional wrestling, then the name ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin has probably been heard more than on one occasion. Steve Williams, who later legally changed his name to his stage-name Steve Austin, has launched a podcast called the Stone Cold Steve Austin Show-Unleashed! Austin made waves recently when he expressed his opinion on same-sex marriage. Austin is reported as saying,
“I’m for same-sex marriage. I believe that any human being in America, any human being in the world, that wants to be married…if it’s the same-sex, more power to them…What also chaps my ***, some of these churches, have the high horse that they get on and say ‘we as a church do not believe in that.’ Which one of these ************* talked to God and God said that same-sex marriage was a no can do? Can you verify? Can you give me some background on that 411?” (Ranter X 2014, RantSports.com)
Austin goes on to say that he disagreed with the idea of Christian forgiveness. He said that he did not see how someone could do something horrible, say a prayer, and all be counted good with God. Despite his vulgarities, Austin actually brings to light some common misunderstandings that individuals hold concerning the Christian faith. This article will not discuss the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Lord knows that there is plenty of information out there on both sides concerning the topic. This article will, however, handle the three deep problems that Austin possesses in his worldview and argumentation outside the scope of the more controversial same-sex issue. The first problem will address a flaw in Austin’s argument. The second two problems will deal with misunderstandings that Austin holds with the Christian worldview. So to keep with the pro-wrestling theme, let’s lay the theological and philosophical smackdown!!! Are you ready to rumble?
Problem of Self-Refutation
When one enters the philosophical “squared-circle” (yes I know that a squared-circle is an impossibility), a person should evaluate any claim by its’ own standards. For instance, if a person says, “I can’t speak a word of English,” one can know that the statement is false as the person is speaking in English. Or if one says, “WordPress does not allow Pastor Brian Chilton to post articles,” one could easily know that such a statement is false as the reader is reading this article by Pastor Brian on WordPress. Austin claims that he is “chapped” over churches being on their “high horse” and claiming that “we as a church do not believe in that.” But, hold on! Isn’t Austin doing the same thing? Isn’t he saying that individuals can do a particular thing which he deems appropriate? What does it mean to be on one’s “high horse” anyway? Well, the phrase is normally used of someone who possesses “a haughty attitude or temper; a contemptuous manner” (Dictionary.com). “Haughty” means that one is “arrogant” or “proud” (Dictionary.com). Well now wait a minute! Isn’t Austin acting somewhat haughty in his approach to the traditional Christian? So, in a sense, isn’t Austin acting like he is on his own proverbial “high horse”? As the old saying goes, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” So Austin’s claim concerning Christians actually backfires as he is guilty of the same thing! So while this backfire does not disprove his claim, it weakens the claim quite a bit. It could be that some churches get on their “high horse.” Quite frankly, some of them do (e.g. Westboro Baptist Church). But, the problem is that Austin’s claims are employing the same tactic, so philosophically speaking, it doesn’t appear that the accuser would have as much a problem as was presented.
Austin is also guilty of employing an “ad hominem” attack. An “ad hominem” attack is when one uses personal assaults in order to argue for a particular point. It may be good in its entertainment value, but does very little in regard to the presentation of the facts on a particular issue. Everyone needs to get to the point where we stop yelling and accusing one another and start discussing the issues at hand. Austin’s comment shows just how heated certain issues become in the arena of ideas. Regardless of where one stands on an issue, there needs to be a level of decency. But, decency is a lost art in a culture full of hate and bitterness.
Problem of Revelation
Austin asks for some “411” on how Christians know that God gave particular “dos” and “don’ts”. Well, as Jesus would say, “ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 7:7). How do Christians know that God gave a set of standards? We know because of particular events throughout history when God made Himself known. This is what is termed revelation. There are two forms of revelation: general and special. General revelation is described by Norman Geisler as,
“God’s revelation in nature as opposed to his revelation in Scripture…More specifically, general revelation is manifest in physical nature, human nature, and history. In each case God has disclosed something specific about himself and his relation to his creation. General revelation is important to Christian apologetics, since it is the data with which the theist constructs arguments from the existence of God…Without it there would be no basis for apologetics (Geisler 1999, 670).
In other words, everyone has insight to God’s existence. No one would accept that something can come from absolute nothingness except when it comes to the most complex system ever known…the universe and everything in it. Whether individuals realize it or not, every person can know that God exists if they use a little common sense. But at the center of the problem is a heart of rebellion over an intellectual issue when it comes to knowing God. But, another form of revelation exists known as special revelation. Geisler describes special revelation as,
God’s revelation in his Word (Scripture), as opposed to God’s revelation in his world…Special revelation may have originally been given orally or some other way (cf. Heb. 1:1) but has subsequently been written down and is now found only in God’s written Word, the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
God’s special revelation has been confirmed by miracles…This is how the canon of Scripture was determined (Geisler 1999, 674).
In other words, special revelation occurs when God Himself DOES appear to humanity and gives them the 411 on how they should live. Ultimately, the greatest form of special revelation came through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus performed miracles in the first-century and still does today. In fact, Jesus has healed many people through the two millennium of Christendom by simply calling upon His name. Lazarus is a good example in the first-century. Lazarus had died, but Jesus raised him back to life (John 11). Today, there are instances where individuals have been healed by the name of Jesus. Now, I am not referring to fake healers, but true miracles. I witnessed a miracle many years ago while in Bible college. A woman was playing in her yard with her kids. She reached down to pick up a baseball when she snagged her eye on a stick. The stick went deep into her eye. The doctors said that it had ripped her optic nerve and that she would never be able to see again. I joined many others who began to pray for this woman. Her husband was in chapel a few days after the event. He said with tears in his eyes,
“Everyone. My wife was not able to see after the accident. The doctors said that she would never see again. However the other night, she called me and said, ‘I am beginning to see black and white images.’ Yesterday, she began to see things in color out of her eye. We went back to the doctor and he said that somehow her eye had been completely restored. I am here to tell you that she can see better now than she did before the accident.” (Student at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, circa 1997).
The fact that miracles still take place in Jesus’ name demonstrates the power of God. It also demonstrates the fact that God has made Himself known. Many may find characteristics of love and kindness as weak. But, meekness is NOT weakness. In fact, it takes more strength and courage to love one’s enemies than it does to speak spitefully about them. Hopefully, this article does not come across as spiteful. If so, I would be counted out. This brings us to our final problem with Austin’s statements…problems with reconciliation.
Problem of Reconciliation
Austin later indicates that he has issues with forgiveness. Does any person deserve forgiveness? No, the person does not. But here is the problem, when one evaluates God’s standards that person will find that NO ONE would ever be able to live up to that standards that are required for one to get to heaven. Not only does a God exist who gives “dos” and “don’ts,” a God exists whose standards are so high that it would be impossible for anyone to earn a status in heaven. That is why God devised a plan to demonstrate mercy. This mercy is undeserved but given because of God’s love. The Apostle Paul writes “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). He goes on to say that “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant” (Romans 5:20). The great hope is found in that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). But unfortunately, “not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, ‘LORD, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:16-17).
This does not indicate that someone can be forgiven and continue to live a life of sin. In such a case, no repentance has occurred. One who is transformed by the power of Christ has repented of their sins (turned from their old life) and trusted in Christ who brings forth a new life. As Paul says to the one who has been transformed by Christ, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). So, in this case, one will find themselves pinned as no one is worthy of God’s grace and mercy.
Austin probably came to his conclusions by the political jargon of the day. As mentioned earlier, this article is not intended to defend or attack same-sex marriage; for there is something larger than the issue of same-sex marriage going on in our culture. The greatest problematic issue, in this writer’s opinion, is the assault upon religious freedoms. One might say, “Well Austin simply was presenting his opinions.” Yes, he was. However, ideas have consequences. If all of society begins turning on a particular group of individuals for their beliefs, history demonstrates that bad things eventually occur. Look at the ideology of Hitler who saw the beliefs and ancestry of Judeans as a thing to be cast aside. Or look at Pol Pot who had no use for those who disagreed with his agenda. Do we need to mention the Stalins or Mussolines? Wherever one finds themselves on the issues, let us not lower ourselves to ad hominem assaults and group-hating. Let us explore the issues with intellect and compassion. And yes…this goes for the Christian as much, if not more, than those who are opposed to our cause. In fact, many Christians have been guilty of standing upon their high-horses without concerning themselves for others. We may not agree with others, but let us not see anyone regardless of their religion, gender, race, or sexuality as an enemy. We may not agree with that person on the issues (let it be known that this writer accepts the Bible’s standards for morality), but remember that Paul indicates that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Stand for the truth! But, let us remember the words of our Lord, “love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44)! May we all pray that Austin’s eyes, and all those who hold an anti-Christian view, will be open to the truths of the Gospel message. For “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
With all due respect to Mr. Austin…that’s the bottom line….because Jesus said so!!!
All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New Living Translation, 3rd Edition. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2007.
Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/. (Accessed June 1, 2014).
Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.
Ranter X. “Steve Austin Supports Gay Marriage and That’s the Bottom Line.” RantSports.com. (August 23, 2014). http://www.rantsports.com/pro-wrestling/2014/04/23/steve-austin-supports-gay-marriage-and-thats-the-bottom-line/#C7HXBFHa0DC8YBXf.99 (Accessed May 28, 2014).
Austin’s podcast can be heard at http://podcastone.com/Steve-Austin-Show. Be warned: it is explicit in nature.