Christians, especially famous Christian leaders, seem to think that they have the divine right to give their opinions on anything and everything. Many try to stay as current as possible. A while back, a friend describes this phenomenon as “chasing ambulance.” The term originally describes lawyers chasing ambulance to get to the victim first so that they can be the first on the case to sue for money. In cyberspace, there’re many ambulances to chase. There’re many cases in society that demand the Christian response. A while back, some Christians commented on how ISIS’s terrorism actually created unique opportunity for evangelism. In a separate blog, I explained that such logic is “let’s bring forth evil so that good can come about”. May it never be. Dating 2004, popular preacher John Piper linked the issue of tsunami and God’s sovereignty in some tricky theological gymnastics that sends chills down many of our spines. Most progressive Christians find this kind of craziness extremely annoying. After all, this kind of unhelpful pontification is bad for the public stance of the gospel.
This week, the news brings us the case of the daughter of Hong Kong’s chief executive CY Leung, Chai Yan Leung. She claims that her mother attacked her and called her a “stupid c…t” etc. and she has left her home. Before she left, she also posted pictures of her heavily bruised legs that look like someone had practiced Muay Thai on them. As a Christian father, this news breaks my heart, and I’ve been in prayer for her and her family ever since. For those of my English readers who don’t know who CY Leung is. He’s the chief executive of HK (equivalent to a prime minister position) who executed China’s policies in violating the civil rights of the HK people. It was his governorship that had sparked some of the widespread protests in recent HK history. Those who know me also know that I’m not at all fond of Mr. Leung. His disdain for human rights and religion certainly doesn’t sit well with me.
What I saw from responses to the demise of his daughter disturb me. Here’re several possible response. First, the psychological response. With CY Leung being such a psychopath (and there’re many indicators that he is) and his abusive nature along with his wife’s fascist pro-China stance, it’s little wonder that the poor daughter is abused. This is a good guess. If the man runs his family the way he runs HK, the young lady doesn’t have many options other than rebellion. Second, the allegorical response, “We are Chai Yan”. Some have said that CY’s daughter is like HK. She’s abused and the people are rebelling. She wanted to leave, but she couldn’t, much like the HK people. I’m unsure what to say about this because she isn’t exactly like HK. She’s a person. HK is a group of people. It’s hard to bring the metaphor together, though there’re connection points. You’re not Chai Yan. Third, the theological response. God must be punishing CY. All I have to say is, You can’t read God’s mind. Who knows?
I want to now compare these three responses to tsunami or terrorist response. We’re very appalled by the tsunami and terrorist response precisely because our pontification makes our faith look like a moralizing mess. Many of us want to think that these issues are part of the mystery to that question “where is God?” We hesitate to assign cause and effect or make them metaphors of some other profound morality. I think we need to apply the same criteria even when we apply our responses to CY Leung, someone we can really hate. But can we apply it to his daughter? If so, is it too soon?
As the daughter of a public figure, life must be so hard for her. Many see the glamorous side from her Facebook or Instagram where she hangs out with the likes of Paris Hilton, but do many see the real her? Behind social media is this scared little girl. She has nothing to do with HK politics directly. She’s just someone’s daughter possibly coming from an abusive background, and she simply can’t choose who her parents are; she’s born into this family. It’s unfair to pontificate on her misfortune, I think. She isn’t our rhetorical channel.
Am I saying that we as Christians, especially as leaders and preachers, shouldn’t talk about relevant reflections on contemporary issues? By no means! Theology and faith ought to be relevant. What’s the difference between relevance and chasing ambulances? The difference is in context and timing. When there’s no direct correlation between our reflection and the event, we’re reading reality out of context. We’re using the wrong channel to broadcast our rhetoric. The issue here is family that goes beyond political differences. That’s as bad as reading a text out of context. It’s just hijacking an event to push our agenda. Domestic abuse happens on both sides of the political aisle. If we want to talk about how the government intrudes on the family, perhaps just directly dealing with education is better. We aren’t ideologues. Our political lens shouldn’t color everything we read. We should be truth speakers, not sophists. One friend pointed out to me that people are looking for answers. Sometimes, we’re too eager to give answers. Sometimes, the best answer is to remain silent. Answers don’t have to come in words. Answers can also come in an exemplary life of wisdom.
What about timing? Just like when the ambulance’s job is to deliver the patient to get treatment, chasing it to get business may not be the best tact. Timing is everything, but the quickest knee-jerk response isn’t. I think in this age of cyberspace, most of us can use more time to reflect. Our knees can take a bit of rest from jerking, and a bit more praying. Being late to the party isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Entering the through the wrong door certainly is.
Above all, pray for Chai Yan!