St. Thomas More’s career does not reveal a nice man, or so YouTube Atheists have revealed many times. Were this true, I could not be more surprised if they said St. Augustine had been licentious. (Arguments focusing on the bad behavior of Christians typically miss the point on several levels.)
Putting aside ad hominem, for that is thankfully not quite universal among the anti-Christian and sadly not exclusive to them, I find two major objections:
- Bad behavior is not forgotten evidence, but the first evidence, datum numero uno, Exhibit A.
- Behavior at-large ignores the question of admiration, i.e.: Which Christians admire which Christians and why?
Our first objection is somewhat rote, however solidly true, so let’s focus on the second: Just as admiration for St. Thomas More is not from More’s jerkishness but his martyrdom and the events which led to it, St. Thomas Aquinas is not admired for his grand size but for his grander synthesis, and G.K. Chesterton is not admired for his pre-Hitler opinions on the Jews but for the joy and common sense which infused everything else he wrote, including his post-Hitler opinions on the Jews.
To wit, which Christians admire the Westboro Baptists? I suppose Westboro Baptists do, but who else? Can we really say that they, if admired by any other Christians, are admired from Christian principles?
Now, let it not be said that I argue ad populum. Christian principles are not matters put to a vote; I say only that even centuries after the Northern Schism, and centuries into the North’s Great Fragmentation, nearly all Christians yet share some vague sense that Christians like the Westboro Baptists are missing something. Surely it is clear to Christians that our consensus comes not from the traditions of men but ultimately from Christ, (though let us not forget what we know and most cherish about Christ comes by way of the First Christian Church some erringly call Roman.)
For Christians do not, as Christians, cheer un-Christian Christians. Rather, when needing a wry wit, we may look to Fr. Benedict Groschel and Simcha Fisher. When needing a pastoral touch, we may look to John XXIII and John Paul II. When needing backbone, we may look to myriad martyrs, ancient and modern. More accurately, we may look at Christ — through the living, the blesseds, the saints, admired for the points for which they most imitated Christ.