The Common Good

The Bible Lessons Rush Limbaugh Must Have Missed

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Sandra Fluke at a hearing before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee, 2/23/12.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Controversial radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has apologized for his awful comments against Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who spoke to Congress in support of a health-care mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. Fluke came to national attention when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee refused to allow her to speak at a hearing on the issue.

The refusal led Democratic women on the committee to ask: “Where are the women?”

Later, Fluke testified at a non-official forum organized by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. At this forum, Fluke spoke about the importance of hormonal contraception medication in treating other conditions that affect women’s reproductive health.  Not all birth control pills are used for contraception. There was nothing about her testimony that comes anywhere close to the portrayal advanced by Limbaugh.

I have written about the clash of rights between religious liberty and equal protection under the law for women elsewhere, so I will not labor the point here.

No matter the reasons for Limbaugh’s objection to the mandate, clearly he has failed to learn one of the principle moral lessons that Jesus taught: “Judge not, so that you may not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) 

I have said and say again that whenever we make a judgment, we reveal more about ourselves than about the person against whom we are passing judgment. 

This is because not everything cannot be perceived all at once. The eye cannot focus on foreground and background at the same time. We choose where we will look, and upon which aspect of any thing or any situation we will focus our attention. These decisions are self revelatory.

Biblical wisdom teaches: “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15)

When Limbaugh did not (or perhaps even could not) accurately represent Fluke’s position and chose instead to focus attention on the connection between frequency of sexual activity, contraception, and health insurance mandates, he gave us no information about Sandra Fluke.

He did give us information about himself. Prostitution is what was on HIS mind. 

The day after Limbaugh made his offensive remarks, he went even further by saying that Fluke ought to post videos of her sexual activity on-line so we all can watch.

Again, Limbaugh gave us no information about Fluke, rather he revealed his own voyeuristic and prurient proclivities. He did not address her position with reasoned argumentation, but rather with verbal abuse.

In his on-line apology, Limbaugh said in part: “For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not men a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."

That may be, but Jesus also teaches us that what comes out of our mouth has been germinating in our hearts. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure.”  (Matthew 12: 33-34) 

Limbaugh used the words that were in his heart. He revealed the core of his soul. We all do whenever we speak. This is why it is wise to not even think about anything that we do not want to say out loud.

And, none of us — even Limbaugh — can escape the unbreakable link between act and consequence.

Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.


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