In the next chapter, Boyd's tendency to hydroplane on various evangelical cliches catches up with him. His central argument is that evangelical Christians have the beam in their eye, and hence are in no position to be "moral guardians" for the rest of the country. There's a lot to that argument, actually, but the problem is that we should be discussing the right thing to do, and not be discussing whether or not we are qualified to do it. There have been various times in history when the believers found themselves running the place long before they were ready for prime time -- under Constantine and Cromwell, to cite two examples. But the fact that such opportunities were mismanaged does not mean that they had an obligation to refuse so that the officials could continue with the previous policy of throwing Christians to the lions.
Boyd's hydroplaning problems in this chapter can be categorized in several ways. The first is that he slides right past a biblical approach to public ethics, if his language on homosexual marriage and abortion are any indication. As Dylan put it, you don't need to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing.
"When does the fetus become a full person? When does it acquire a soul and take on the image of God? . . . The unique kingdom approach to abortion isn't dependent on convincing ourselves and others that we have 'God's knowledge' about highly ambiguous questions. It's based on our call to love as Jesus loved. There's a scared woman; there's a growing life inside her, which, however it got there and whatever speculations one holds about its metaphysical status, is a miraculous creation of God. And the only relevant question need to answer is, Are we willing to bleed for both" (pp. 142-143)?
In other words, I am not sure if you are a person or not, but I have to be willing to bleed for you. The ambiguities that Boyd cites are not ambiguities at all and yet, if they were, they destroy motivation to sacrifice in a truly biblical way. By abstract speculations about "metaphysical status" Boyd means the question of whether or not an unborn child bears the image of God. To try to fob us off with "miraculous creation of God," while leaving room for kingdom-living pro-choicers, which he does in this chapter, is simply intellectual dishonesty. A guppy is a miraculous creation of God, as are all my house plants.
On homosex and related activities, Boyd says this:
"How can we sacrifice for and serve the gay, lesbian, and transgender community in a way that communicates to them their unsurpassable worth" (p. 146)?
This is more screwed up than I have time for, but the main problem is that he is allowing rebels to name themselves. I happen to believe that Christians should sacrifice for and serve those trapped in the sin of sodomy. Jesus did associate with despised prostitutes. But He did not associate with unionized sex workers and porn starlets, the kind of women who in Proverbs would wipe their mouth and say they had done no wrong (Prov. 30:20). There is a difference between refugees from the world and apostles of the world.
The second way his evangelical cliches catch up with him is this. Boyd is all about reaching out in love, accepting people as they are, and doing so as a kingdom community of love. In order for this to work, a radical selflessness among all the members of the church is assumed, a selflessness that is not censorious or legalistic, and that reaches out to despised sorts like prostitutes and tax-collectors (and maybe centurions, although he can't bring himself to mention them). This is a kingdom community that bleeds for others, and is unwilling to try to control the behavior of others. But whenever this starts to happen, one of the first results is that all kinds of people are attracted to the church, and they start to come as they are. And when they come as they are, they track things in. But Boyd does not seem to be aware of this, and so he set up an incoherent system of judgmental non-judgmentalism.
"When prostitutes, tax collectors, and others judged to be 'the worst' in society followed him around, he made himself available for friendship, no questions asked -- and with no concern for his own reputation" (p. 130).
But then, look at this, in a section a few pages later called "An Ugly Reputation":
"Indeed, a recent survey demonstrated that, when asked to rank people groups in terms of their respectability, 'evangelical Christians' were ranked one notch above the bottom, just above prostitutes" (p. 134).
He says this here like its bad, but four pages before not caring about reputation was good, not to mention being grouped together with prostitutes being good. And then, on the very next page . . .
"If we lived in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, we would in time possibly find tax collectors and prostitutes hanging out with us, just as they did Jesus" (p. 135).
And then, one more time, on the very next page, Boyd says . . .
"To illustrate, more than a few have noticed the comic irony in the fact that the group most vocal about 'the sanctity of marriage,' namely evangelical Christians, happens to be the group with the highest number of divorces in the United States, which itself has the highest divorce rate in the world!" (p. 136).
So what's it going to be? Should we let losers into the church or not? Boyd can't make up his mind. He wants the church to be dominated by mega-saints who are holy enough to not care whether or not the people they are giving to, sacrificing for, and loving ever get their act together (p. 132), the kind of mega-saints who don't care if they get tarred with the brush of a poor reputation. And then he turns around and slams the evangelical church for doing exactly this. Having divorced people in the church is tacky. Or maybe when people are divorced in kingdom-churches it is a sign of radical love, but in conservative-churches it is a sign of radical hypocrisy. This kind of social analysis is nice work if you can get it.
By the way, his divorce info appears to be relying on that famous Barna study (p. 215), which is highly problematic. But whether that information is accurate or not, Boyd thinks it is, and he uses it in such a way as to illustrate that he cares a lot more about reputation than he ought to, at least if his hectoring of us is any indication.
Last point, one that illustrates how his paradigmatic blinders are keeping him from recognizing the existence of certain texts.
"Our grading of sins has nothing to do with Scripture, of course, for Scripture not only has no such graded list of sins; it specifically teaches against such a notion" (p. 136).
But, but, but . . .
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone" (Matt. 23:23).
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Cor. 13:13).
"And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment" (Mark 12:28-30).
Anyhow. There we are.