You know, it might seem like a small thing, but the lighting of the White House the evening of the homosexual marriage decision with the colors of the LGBT movement told me something about the people running it—and to a large extent, running our country. Throughout history when military victories were won, the victor was magnanimous. Generally (there are exceptions) the victor, especially in modern times, gave grace to the vanquished, praise to their brave soldiers, and in most cases, attempted to set the vanquished back on the path to recovery with dignity. Take the Civil War’s ending at Appomatox. General Grant, when he heard his soldiers after the surrender ceremony begin to shout and taunt the defeated Southern army, immediately ordered that they cease. He was magnanimous. After World War Two, the United States actually aided Germany and Japan to regain some semblance of normality. This practice, when it occurs, does have practical benefits (Germany and Japan have been fast allies and made enormous economic contributions). We see the results also when it does not occur, for example, after World War One, when the extremely harsh terms against Germany by the vindictive French helped a great deal to create the conditions for the next world war. But in addition, magnanimity is a value that has moral dimensions. It reduces hubris, and it indicates a willingness to go forward even in disagreement in a spirit of cooperation wherever possible and with grace.
What about the Obama administration? It is as if he was saying “I won, and you need to know that and ‘shut up.’” The rainbow colors seemed to be a kind of slap in the face to people with sincere religious objections. It certainly was not a unifying act. Why not rather bathe the White House in red, white and blue, a much better symbol of unity. My suspicions about the president and his advisors has apparently been verified. He is a man of extreme pride and a degree of vindictiveness. And I expect most of his advisors are of the same ilk. This is sad, and it may well have unintended consequences with respect to the settling of the issue.
This is also a lesson for Christians. When we “win” our victories in the public sphere, we need to bear in mind the critical importance of humility and magnanimity. They are not only practical values but they are moral values. Do we show mercy in victory, even where our cause is patently right and opposes the patently wrong? Here at the White House, I witnessed (though my readers may not have) a clear sign of the hubris we ought to avoid. It was a sad sight for me and for our nation.