Disclaimer: So important is this disclaimer that I believe it is important to convey it up front. The article below references a situation in Yakima, WA involving former NFL Running Back Dr. Dan Doornink. The Doornink family is part of our group of friends, but the article is not to commend or condemn Dr. Doornink’s actions or words, but rather to draw attention to the greater issue at hand. Furthermore, I have not asked their permission to write this article and therefore I do not speak on their behalf. Instead, the information and response are the result of my own data gathering and thought processes and constitute opinions of my own accord. Anything I say then, cannot and should not be attributed to them or used in any way against them.
Washington State is on the verge of making a name for itself as either the most intolerant state in the United States or the most tolerant state, depending on your view. For years news outlets have followed the story of a florist who determined she could not provide flowers for a gay wedding (read my article on that here). That story reached a climactic point a few weeks ago with a Washington Supreme Court Decision and is now making its way through the national Supreme Court system. This week, it’s the little known attack upon former Seattle Seahawk Dan Doornink, in which a minority is in the process of running over the former running back.
The issue began when the local newspaper, The Yakima Herald-Republic, ran a front-page story in honor of Valentine’s Day celebrating the marriage of two men. Dan Doornink, who is now a doctor in the community, shared his personal convictions in a letter to the editor (1). As en evangelical Christian he understands that Scripture clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin, and it is from this viewpoint that his concerns were being shared. The result was a backlash of letters, online comments, and even meetings with the director of his organization for his disagreement with this lifestyle.
The truth is, as Christians we have come to expect this constant backlash against our views. The standard operation of those who disagree with Christian views is to attempt to control us by bullying us into submission and in the process they chant “Stop the intolerance by not tolerating those who disagree!” The irony of that statement is seldom understood, seemingly lost with all rules of logic. Instead of employing the most basic rules of respect (the same respect they demand), principles of logic, and characteristics of humility, our society now resorts to irrational statements that continuously conflict and name calling (somehow that has become an acceptable form of logic in our society and is supposed to act as proof of a person’s supposed unreasonableness). Yet, as always, the response in this case shows the dire status of our society.
Reading the various letters to the editor, comments on the Yakima Herald’s website, this week’s story about the topic, and a memo sent out by administrators at Virginia Mason Memorial in response to Dr. Dan Doornink’s comments, we see three aspects that now define our culture:
We are a society that now lives on assumptions rather than verifiable facts. The reaction that has occurred is the result of someone assuming that his disagreement with homosexuality impacts the quality of care he gives. Even the paper’s very own headlines turned the argument into something it wasn’t by asserting this is a civil rights issue. First off the statements were made in his capacity as a person, not as a doctor. Second, he does not make the assertion that he denies care or gives a lower quality of care to those with whom he disagrees (in fact, he refutes that charge). Instead the entire reaction is based on assumptions of a a few people . . . even worse they are assumptions by people who are not patients of Dr. Dan Doornink. If there were issues with the care, certainly his own patients would know. However, we are a society who denies the information that is placed before, fails to search out the truth, and simply accepts assumptions as truth. With little regard to how those assumptions impact others, we base our truth off of them and move forward as such. Perhaps it should be noted that as a Christian, theoretically the quality of care Dr. Dan Doornink provides should be at a higher level than others because his motivation is not about himself, but his motivation is a love of God and a love of people. Thus he desires the highest quality for their good.
The reality is that people with opposing viewpoints exist. There is no way to get around that. We can’t expect every person to agree with every view that we have. There is this continuous call to be different and celebrate diversity, but when it comes down to actually practicing it, we get upset because people are different. If we can’t live with those of differing views, than we have greater problems than the issue presented to us. While we are talking about the relationship between doctor and patient, we can apply this to a variety of circumstances (waiters and customers; accountants and customers, etc.). In each of those cases we are bound to find people who disagree with this. If we are going to suggest that a doctor cannot equally treat his patients because of this expressed view, then we can extend that to the cashier who serves us at the grocery store or our orthodontist taking care of our teeth. If we cannot operate in a culture where different opinions exist, we cease to operate at all. The reality is we need people of different skills and assets in order to function (which is a biblical concept by the way, found in Romans and 1 Corinthians).
Finally, the whole situation demonstrates how our society has lost its integrity as humans. I recognize that those of whom I am addressing represent a small portion of the population, but it’s a portion who has been given a voice and is applauded for that. Now what do I mean by losing its integrity? I mean that we can no longer trust people to be truthful, to be respectful, or to be considerate. We have evolved into a culture that now considers it a virtue to attack and devour those who oppose us, even if it comes at the cost of skewing truth and information and hurting others. We are truly becoming an individualistic culture because nobody can trust others and therefore must rely on only one’s self.
First off, let me say that in my relationship with Dr. Dan Doornink and his family I have found an example of people who genuinely care about others and operate with a genuine humility and hospitality towards them. While I have never had him as a doctor, I suspect that compassion comes out in his care for his patients and for the community in which he lives.
Second, let me say I am saddened to look upon these circumstances and see such a devolution of society. While we’re talking about one small circumstance in one small town, it is reflective of what is taking place across the United States and the world. We have created a world that has no place for truth, integrity or diversity, despite the constant call to be a people who are diverse, genuine, and operate on legitimacy.
(1) Unfortunately, I am not able to access a direct link to that letter to the editor today. I can find it and click on the title online, but am unable to view it. I am assured by other contacts that the quote in the original story “You’ve got to be kidding me” is the letter in its entirety.
To read some of the stories referenced in this article, please click the following links: