Guests in the House

Joe Biden congratulates Barack Obama after the latter threw a guest out of a reception for LGBT activists

Joe Biden congratulates Barack Obama after the latter threw a guest out of a reception for LGBT activists

Luke 7:40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

A few days ago at this time of writing, Barack Obama had just held a reception (on 24th June) at the White House honouring LGBT Pride Month. (Yes, that was new to me too.)

During an address to his appreciative audience, an accented voice rang out from the crowd protesting against the deportation of transgender migrants from the US. The heckler went on and on. Obama was not amused.

“Shame on you,” he told his heckler, who was protesting about deportations under his administration. Obama continued, “Listen you’re in my house … it’s not respectful.”

The interruption persisted, however, and Obama asked for the heckler to be removed from the East Room.

Transgender heckler

President Obama’s transgender heckler

“As a general rule I am just fine with a few hecklers. But not when I’m up here in the house,” he said, as Vice President Joe Biden clapped him on the back.

Obama went on: “if you’re eating the hors d’oeuvres and drinking the booze, you’re expected to listen respectfully”.

There were shouts and laughs of approval from the crowd, who began to chant the president’s name.

Was the president right? I don’t think so. In the Gospel of Luke we see a number of times when the Lord Jesus was invited to dinner. Often those inviting him were Pharisees. Simon was one of them. When Christ accepted the woman sinner’s gift of ointment and her tears, Simon was put out, and thought that the Lord should know what sort of a woman she was ‘if he were a prophet’. It was a criticism. The Lord gently reproved Simon.

A few chapters on in Luke 11, Jesus was again invited by a group of Pharisees from Bet Shammai.  This was a rival school of Pharisees to Bet Hillel, to which Simon belonged.  Shammai were concerned with ritual purity to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.  Their criticism of Jesus was over the matter of ritual washing, which he had omitted and which this group were very keen on. I suggest it was precisely because they had criticised a guest that they received such a furious response from the Lord: ‘Woe to you …’

Interestingly, neither Simon nor the Shammai Pharisees said, ‘Hey, let’s have a bit of respect in the house.’

They just took it. One of the ancient principles of hospitality is that when you invite a guest, you invite him just as he is. If he is critical of you in your house, or if his behaviour doesn’t match up to what you expect, you don’t snap back at him, you take it. The responsibility is yours. You invited him. Maybe you just don’t ask him again.

So it is down to Barack Obama if he wants to invite a boorish homosexual or transgender person who just doesn’t know how to behave. You invited them, Mr President. Just take the criticism. Ask the person to come to the front and promise a chat later. But throw a critical guest out?

Simon the Pharisee would be horrified.


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