I tripped across a site on the internet that had the following blurb before an article:

“The Rev. Jim Rigby is pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX, and a long time activist in movements concerned with gender, racial, and economic justice. Translation: he is an apostate and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Anyone promoting the homosexual agenda in the name of Christ is deceived and a deceiver big time.” Bill Muehlenberg, Culture Watch, June 17, 2012

From time to time I get called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and so I decided to think about that metaphor a bit today. My qualifications for the title, according to this author, are apparently that I am concerned about gender, racial and economic justice issues. Obviously, no real Christian man would challenge his own privilege in this culture. The obvious implication of my advocacy of gay rights is that I’m secretly gay. And let’s be honest. My advocacy of women’s issues proves I’m probably secretly a woman, too. When I march for immigrate rights, you can be sure that I myself was probably born in Kenya next to President You Know Who.

These articles usually pose as rational responses to my emotionally driven self-delusion. But their arguments are peppered with words like “stupid” and “apostate” as if such insults were seamless parts of an Aristotelian syllogism. I am always genuinely amazed that such attacks never seem to directly confront my real arguments, but, instead dismiss whatever I say as an example of my sinister motives. “Mr. Rigby says “x” but he really means “y.” But these self-appointed defenders of the faith really have no real choice. If one has set up for oneself the task of rationally defending an irrational prejudice, the one thing one cannot do is remain rational for long.

The metaphor of a wolf in sheep’s clothing seems particularly unfortunate for the point they are trying to make. A sheep is a symbol of gentleness. A wolf is a symbol of cruelty. So a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” would be someone who pretends to be kind and gentle, but is actually abusive. If my crime consists in reducing Christ’s message to one of gentleness when, in fact, he actually wants us to sit in righteous judgment over sinners, then wouldn’t I really be a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

Why must these “gentle” ministers bare their fangs so pitilessly against any who say that Jesus taught us not to judge one another? Because, when Christ’s message of grace has been replaced by one of vindictive moralistic cruelty, then the actual teachings of Jesus are the ultimate heresy.