Hear No Evil – The Problem of Openness

A fundamental assumption of our modern discourse is that dialogue, openness, and a free exchange of ideas are intrinsic goods, without limit or qualification.

Closed-mindedness is one of the chief sins in this milieu, and any hint requires swift correction from the appropriate gatekeepers. You even find this same basic assumption in Christian higher learning and among writers who aspire to be viewed as–or at least like to consider themselves–“enlightened.”

You find this principle undergirding, for example, the call for Christians to “re-evaluate” the nature of homosexual relationships, wherein the principle of “listen[ing] to one another’s stories” takes center stage, and replaces listening to God.

You also find it in the call from some quarters for Orthodox Christians to maintain an ecumenical posture of interminable “openness” — despite St. Paul stating rather emphatically that “after admonishing [a heretic] once or twice, have nothing more to do with him; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:11). Helen Andrews recently encountered (and deftly countered) it in her engagement with anti-censorship absolutists.

As I’ve already suggested, this principle can’t withstand the slightest scrutiny from a Christian perspective.

The prophet Isaiah tells us that “he who walks righteously and speaks uprightly” is also he who “stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil” (Is. 33:15-16). In the Wisdom of Sirach we are told to “hedge in thy ears with thorns, hear not a wicked tongue” (Sir. 28:24). Advancing to the New Testament, St. Paul warns: “Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor. 15:33). When addressing the church at Thessalonika he exhorts to “keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). In his epistle to the Galatians he invites us to treat as accursed (ανάθεμα) anyone preaching a gospel contrary to that of the apostles (Gal. 1:8). Needless to say, this is someone whose openness to foreign or wicked ideas and conversation has definite, hard limitations. . . .

<< Click here to read the rest of this excellent article. >>


About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
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