The West Wing Obsolescence (Applying Hebrews Today)


There is a famous scene from the drama The West Wing in which President Bartlett rips into Dr. Jenna Jacobs, a conservative talk show host. The dialogue is based on an actual letter that was originally addressed to Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

At a press conference, the President accuses Dr. Jacobs (and by proxy all Christians) of cherry picking the Scriptures they accept and being inconsistent in how they apply them. Specifically, the scene makes it clear that Christians are acting hypocritical for holding to some parts of the Mosaic Law (ie regarding homosexuality as a sin) and not others.

Here is one example:

… we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean – Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football?

Unfortunately, this scene was cut from that episode. A young journalist steps forward.

Journalist: Mr. President. Mr. President. You seem to have a rather fair grasp of the Mosaic Law. And you have asked some rather challenging and thought provoking questions regarding the application of the Scriptures.  Now with all due respect sir, would you mind if I clarified a few points. I was wondering how well you knew the New Testament.

President Barnett: I think I know all of the Bible fairly well.

Journalist: Then you know that the Mosaic Law was set aside because of its weakness and uselessness – Hebrews 7:18. And the Law is also called obsolete and ready to vanish- Hebrews 8:13. So you might want to call the Redskins and let them know it is safe to play their next game with or without gloves. They would probably be happy to hear from you since they are not likely to be visiting the White House any time soon.

President Barnett: Then we can also assume that the idea of homosexuals being labeled as sinners is obsolete as well?

Journalist: Actually sir, we cannot. All people, straight or otherwise, are sinners – Romans 3:10 and 23.

President Barnett: Don’t dodge the question. If the Mosaic Law is obsolete and the Redskins can play football without gloves then we should stop labeling homosexuality a sin?

Journalist: The Mosaic Law was replaced by a new and better covenant. It was to give us a better hope and better promises so that …

President Barnett: Sounds like a campaign speech. Christians are supposed to be known by their “love” for others. Is carrying a sign letting everyone know God hates homosexuals how you define “love”.

Journalist: You entered the room addressing us on the social debate our nation is having. Now, it is true that with so many people participating in the social debate there are bound to be outliers on both sides. There are certainly some haters who give Christians a bad name. Take for example Westboro Baptist. The media likes to make it look like all Christians are like that. But their actions make the rest of us look bad and obscure the fact that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost

President Barnett: Don’t start preaching to me. And stop avoiding my question.

Journalist: Mr. President, are we talking about people or the activity? If you are interested in whether the act of homosexuality is considered a sin in the New Testament then what do you think Paul means when he describes – in the book of Romans – men abandoning women to commit indecent acts with other men? And when he calls it degrading and impure do you take that as an endorsement of such activity?

Mr. President, you use Scripture from time to time to garner support for bills you support? So tell me. If murder is wrong – Matthew 5:21 – then why is ok to kill an infant in the womb but not outside of it?

As the chief enforcer of the laws and our Constitution don’t you think the debate should focus on how best to protect the liberties of all citizens – both those who agree with you and those who don’t – in a pluralistic society?

And Mr. President, one more question for you, if you don’t mind. When you say ‘that is how you beat ’em‘, are you referring to your use of inflamed rhetoric over facts or your use of straw-man arguments?

What do you think?

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