Millennials on Marriage and Sex: Recreational or Conjugal?

When the church fails to disciple the nation, the nation will disciple the church.

As we have argued elsewhere, culture is simply a reflection of worship. Western civilization was created by the worship of the God who created the universe and is our Father. The worship of man, i.e. in Darwinian thought, created the “modern world.” The worship of nature is creating the postmodern, neo-pagan world. We become like the God or gods we worship.

If the church is not consciously Trinitarian and intentionally biblical in her thought and practice she will not be in a position to disciple the nation. Rather, the nation will disciple the church.

In two recent posts we discussed the impact of postmodern culture in the return of ancient pagan sexual practices. We are now seeing the impact of postmodern sexuality coming into the church in thought, attitude and behavior. We have discussed this here.

So what has been the postmodern culture’s impact on the church, particularly on young evangelicals?

Abigail Rine writes about millennials' view of marriageDr. Abigail Rine, Assistant Professor of English at George Fox University, has written a very thoughtful piece, “What is Marriage to Evangelical Millennials?” in First Things (self described as “America’s most influential journal of religion and public life”). She relates her experience of reflecting with the young evangelicals she teaches. Dr. Rine was facilitating an open discussion on another article titled, “What is Marriage?”

I realized, as I listened to the discussion, that the idea of “redefining” marriage was nonsensical to them, because they had never encountered the philosophy behind the conjugal view of marriage. To them, the Christian argument against same-sex marriage is an appeal to the authority of a few disparate Bible verses, and therefore compelling only to those with a literalist hermeneutic. What the article names as a “revisionist” idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem “new” to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.

Wow! Let’s unpack and comment on Dr. Rine’s observations.

These young evangelicals grew up in Christian homes and evangelical churches but had no grasp of the purpose of marriage and human sexuality, i.e. for forming families. They apparently had not been taught a theology of marriage, sex, and family, the beautiful, positive case for what some call “traditional” or “conjugal” marriage, i.e. as purposed by God at creation.

The traditional concept of marriage has several critical elements. It is between a man and a woman, in a covenantal relationship (faithful “until death do us part”). It is a comprehensive relationship including friendship, companionship, intimacy, eros, mutual respect, working and worshiping together,  and stewarding creation together. And it is first and foremost about forming families, conceiving, nourishing and raising children for the health of the community and the future of the nation.

What these young evangelicals may have heard was some negative preaching against fornication, adultery and homosexuality, using a few pointed scriptural references.

What these young people were exposed to in society, and perhaps in the home and the church, was what might be called the “revisionist view” of marriage (the equivalent of the revisionist view of sexuality), i.e. sex and marriage is for the personal fulfillment and pleasure of the couple.

This view of marriage follows the cultural view that the priority of marriage is romantic love and sexual pleasure. Having children is optional. Christian singles are waiting later to marry and begin their families. Many are embracing the postmodern practice of not having children at all, or perhaps having one “token” child to enable them to say, “Yes, we’re parents. This is our child.”

“[T]he idea of ‘redefining’ marriage was nonsensical to them” because they already have a revisionist view of sexuality and marriage as promoted by modern and postmodern culture. Any discussion about the sanctity of marriage, whether in society in general or the church in particular, is not worth having. The only valuable discussion is “How do we want to define marriage and human sexuality from the many choices?” To fight for the traditional view of marriage as the only view is narrow, bigoted, and intolerant.

(Go to Discussing Marriage to read more about distinguishing between the revisionist and the traditional views of marriage.)

Dr. Rine continues:

While I listened to my students lambast the article, it struck me that, on one level, they were right: marriage isn’t in danger of being redefined; the redefinition began decades ago, in the wake of the sexual revolution. Once the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination, marriage morphed into an exclusive romantic bond that has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction. It is this redefinition, arguably, that has given rise to the same-sex marriage movement, rather than the other way around, and as the broader culture has shifted on this issue, so have many young evangelicals.

What we are witnessing today is not an attempt to redefine marriage. What we are witnessing is the logical outcome of a set of ideas that have been accepted by the elites of society and propagated into common culture through the arts, media, and academic institutions. Rine links this back to the sexual revolution.

But the sexual revolution came about through a shift in worldview. In the last two hundred years we have abandoned the Judeo-Christian worldview that gave us Western Civilization. This worldview gave way to the atheistic-materialist worldview of Darwin and ushered in the modern world. At the beginning of the 21st century we are witnessing the slow death of the Darwinian framework and modern culture, and the return of the animistic, neo-pagan worldview which is producing the postmodern world.

This worldview shift has given rise to a shift in understanding of human sexuality and marriage.

Dr. Rine is correct: the sexual revolution of the 60’s had a part to play in this process. In fact, the sexual revolution was itself a product of a culture shift which ultimately reflected a shift in worldview.

It was the revisionist view of marriage and sexuality that eliminated the connection between sex, marriage, and procreation. In the new view, sex stands outside of marriage. Its relationship to procreation is incidental, not substantial.

Sex has little or nothing to do with marriage and procreation. It’s all about pleasure and personal happiness. It becomes a form of recreation, like jogging or hiking, or of entertainment, like a good meal out or a good movie – good sex.

With the postmodern concept of “reality” being socially constructed and having nothing to do with objective reality, both marriage and sexuality can be redefined at will.

Because the church has failed in its task to disciple the nation, the nation is discipling the church. This spirit of the postmodern age is permeating the church and is having a profound impact on the attitudes and behavior of evangelical millennials.

Dr. Rine continues:

To my students, the authors of “What is Marriage?” are making a troubling move, reducing the purpose of marital sex to its reproductive function. What they seemed less able to recognize is that they have inherited the inverse: a view of sex with little meaningful connection to procreation. And once such a view of sexuality is embraced, there is not much foothold, aside from appeals to biblical authority, to support the conjugal understanding of marriage.

Millennial evangelicals are concerned that for their parents’ and grandparents’ generation, the only purpose for marital sex is procreation. In some cases this may be true. But, as we have said above, the traditional view of the family and sexual relations is robust and comprehensive. The view of intimacy and sexuality promoted in the Song of Solomon is an indication of the full-orbed nature of sexuality as God designed it.

The millennial evangelicals are often too close to postmodern culture to see its influence on their lives. (The same is true for anyone until they seek to be consciously Christian and bring every thought captive to Christ, a captivity that includes our understanding of the beauty and robustness of the biblical concept of marriage, sex, and family.)

Many millennial evangelicals have succumbed to postmodern culture. In their attitudes and behavior they have separated sex and marriage from procreation. This becomes a watershed for young evangelicals and for the churches they will lead. The moral and metaphysical testimony of scripture have no sway. There is little to hold back the tide of so-called “marriage equality,” little to resist the view of human sexuality and concepts of family as a social construction.

May the church, her young and old, awake to see the impact culture has made on our own lives and the lives of our institutions. May we, with heartfelt motivation, seek to bring every thought regarding sexuality and marriage captive to Christ.

  • Darrow Miller

 

  
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Just Breaking: Motherhood Is a Cultural Invention!

motherhood a cultural invention says one college president“Motherhood is a cultural invention. It reflects a belief adopted by society that is passed down from one generation to the next.”

So writes Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, in “Time To Rethink Our Social Construct of Motherhood.” McCartney’s article appeared on the May 6, 2015 opinion page of the Boston Globe.

The idea that something as basic as motherhood could be deemed a cultural invention is nothing more than postmodern drivel, the abandonment of reason. It is non-sense.

The whale is worth saving, but motherhood is not?

Both modern and postmodern culture are obsessed with preserving and protecting all manner of animal life in its natural state. The trend is toward the idea that human beings are merely animals like all other creatures. Then comes an irrational twist—while we protect and preserve all animals’ natural lives, we are bent toward everything not normal and natural in human life: abortifacients and abortions, homosexuality, gender surgery, feminizing boys, all manner of hormonal manipulation, so-called same-sex “marriage” and parenting, test-tube babies. The list is long. What an absurdity! What could be more natural than motherhood? Some seem to be saying the whale is worth saving, but motherhood is not.

Recently we have examined the postmodern culture’s warping our understanding of the nature of human sexuality. Dr. McCartney’s piece calls for some examination of her claim. She writes:

Motherhood is a cultural invention. It reflects a belief adopted by society that is passed down from one generation to the next. In US culture, we hold to the idea that young children are better off when cared for exclusively by their mothers. Mothers are bombarded by this message in the media, especially in programming directed to them. [all bolded text represents added emphasis]

For McCartney, motherhood is a belief, just as “I believe in the tooth fairy” is a belief. “You believe this, I believe that.” There is no reference to an objective reality. Truth is relative. “You have your truth, I have my truth.”

Why do women pursue motherhood? Not because they are designed and wired to be mothers, but because they have been bombarded with a cultural message! McCartney seems to be arguing that “the idea that young children are better off when cared for exclusively by their mother” is just so much cultural baggage to be jettisoned.

Motherhood is deemed a barrier to contributing in the marketplace

What about the biological necessity of motherhood for the survival and propagation of the human race? Without motherhood, the human race would not exist. If all women ceased to have babies, in 100 years or less human life would disappear from the planet.

What about the biological necessity of the child to have nourishment and care from a mother?  A human child is other-reliant for several years (in contrast to other living creatures whose inferior level of development allows for a much shorter childhood).  And what about the soulish need of the child for a mother’s love, a mother’s touch, the face-to-face, soul-to-soul bonding that only a mother can provide?

Why does McCartney advocate such non-sense? Perhaps she means to support the postmodern agenda to rid the world of the “human cancer” that is “destroying the planet.” Perhaps she believes one’s value is only found in the marketplace and thus wants to discourage motherhood because it is a barrier to the marketplace and thus to a life of significance.

McCartney continues:

Our cultural construction of motherhood is rooted in a particularly strong American bias toward personal responsibility, reflected across our social policies. This is why, in the United States, my daughter’s three-month paid leave is considered generous. In Sweden, where new mothers are guaranteed 16 months paid leave, it would be laughable. The United States ranks last among 38 developed nations in paid parental leave benefits: we guarantee none.

So this cultural construction is an American issue. What about mothers in every other country in the world? What about mothers in every other generation of history? Is this only a social construction in the USA? Haven’t cultures throughout all time understood motherhood as a social construction?  Is this not just so much non-sense?

Note to Dr. McCartney: Since the beginning of human history, there have been mothers. This is a biological reality based on a woman’s design and function. It is also a transcendent necessity to propagate the human story and purpose. Without biological motherhood, there would not be a next generation of humans. Without the transcendent nature revealed in the design and function of females, human life would have no teleological purpose.

Adam named his wife Eve “because she would become the mother of all the living.” That act marked reality, the root of all that is sensible. McCarthy’s proclamation that motherhood is a social construct is utter non-sense, a grand illusion of postmodern thought. It is anti-science.

We do not live in a world of illusion (Maya, as the Hindus call it). It may be fashionable to pretend that reality is a social construct, but we still have to live in the real world, the reality made by God. No matter what people might say, on 9/11/2001, real planes flew into real towers of the World Trade Center bringing them down and killing over 2,000 people. This is the real world. Motherhood, on the other end of the scale, is another established fact of human existence.

Writer and editor John Podhoretz reviewed McCartney’s piece in his May 12, 2015 article, “The latest lunatic postmodern target: Motherhood.”

Motherhood is the opposite of a social construct. Like gravity, its existence makes possible our existence. One might say, in fact, that everything besides motherhood that involves the raising of children is a “social construct.”’

McCartney continues:

Mother’s Day is a good day to double down on the work required to reconstruct our conception of motherhood. An essential step is to make the invisible visible, helping young mothers and their partners realize that social constructions of motherhood are just that — constructions. By doing that, we can build the political will necessary for change.

Deconstruct motherhood would be more honest than reconstruct motherhood. Motherhood cannot be reconstructed, only deconstructed and that is what she and other postmoderns are doing. She is seeking to replace the bold—even radical—biological and transcendent nature of motherhood with a pathetic illusion of a world without mothers, children, or families.

Yes, she deconstructs the family, too. She speaks of “helping young mothers and their partners.” Not mothers and fathers, the combination needed to build a family, but mothers and “partners.” The term “partner” is gender neutral and commitment neutral. Whatever she means by “partner” we can be sure she does not mean a husband/father in a covenantal marriage with a wife/mother.

The postmodern mind reduces reality to a social construct. Such illusion flies in the face of reality.

It’s time to say Enough is enough. It’s time to boldly declare the truth: Motherhood is a sacred task, absolutely significant for the health and well-being of children, and the health and continuance of the individual, the family, the nation, and indeed, the human race.

  • Darrow Miller

 

 

 

 

  
Posted in Culture, Family, Imago Dei, Language, Science | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Want to Help the Poor? Ask the Right Question

640px-Poor_woman_in_Parambikkulam,_India

“Poor woman in Parambikkulam, India” by Augustus Binu

For several generations the “social service” model defined the nature of helping the poor in the Global South and elsewhere. In this model the development industry provides relief and development “services” to aid the poor. Development workers go into poor communities and ask, “What do you need?” Then they provide resources and services to meet the need. Often the unintentional but tragic result is dependency.

Today a move is afoot to change the terms of the debate, or rather, to ask different questions. One reality driving this change is the failure of typical development programs, including programs that spend vast amounts of money. People are looking for other models.

The leading contender for replacing the social service development model is the entrepreneurial model. In this version, the poor are not seen as mouths to be fed, but image bearers of God. They may be living in economic poverty, but they are not poor. No, they have internal and external resources which, when properly stewarded, can move them to a place of human flourishing.

“What do you need?” is the wrong question. The better query is  “What do you have?” That is, what do you have that can be used to improve your own life and the life of your family and community?

We have unpacked the concept of resources in the little (downloadable) book, Forest in the Seed.

The people most likely to change the terms of the debate are the folks at the Acton Institute’s Poverty Cure initiative. Their hard-hitting video  illustrates how they are changing the discussion.

Poverty Cure is issuing a clarion call to reconsider the big-picture questions we ask about development. Instead of the typical question, “What causes poverty?” we need to ask the question, “What creates wealth?” At the heart of their message is the need to train “job makers” not “job seekers.”

Similiarly, Chifuniro Kandaya, a businessman from Malawi, writes of the need to train entrepreneurs:

 … lack of entrepreneurial business training has led to loss of Malawian labor force to other countries. For instance, in 2013, Malawi government offered 100,000 unskilled laborers aged between 19 to 40 to work in farms and factories in South Korea, Dubai and Kuwait. The initiative aimed at reducing unemployment. However, if the same people were equipped with entrepreneurial skills, they could have created jobs and contribute to the private sector growth.

Because of the lack of jobs in Malawi, the government was sending its people to other countries to find work. Kandaya calls instead for a program to equip young Malawians to start businesses that will create jobs.

Kandaya writes in a new online magazine called GEO. Their tagline is Investing in Entrepreneurs Globally. The magazine was co-founded by a good friend of mine, Norm Brinkley, the CEO of Global Entrepreneurs Organization.

Don Fredricks, the founder of Communities of Hope and a business startup trainer for GEO, writes in the inaugural edition of this flagship magazine about fighting poverty from the inside up:

One of our initiatives is to assist entrepreneurs to flourish thereby bringing creative solutions to their community. Through our campaign “Fighting Poverty From The Inside Up!” we are conducting 4-day training events called: “What Is In Your Hand?” Using sound business principles and foundational biblical truth we seek to empower entrepreneurs to launch or expand existing small businesses.

Well-meaning people have spent billions of dollars on international aid, yet the return on investment has been dismal. It’s time for all who would help the poor to reflect on our programs and their results. Thank goodness for organizations like The Acton Institute and GEO, people who are willing to shift paradigms and programs to take more seriously the creative potential of people who are poor. We need to ask honest questions. We need to change the terms of the debate. We need to encourage the practice of principles that will actually release people to flourish.

  • Darrow Miller

 

  
Posted in Development, Economic Development, Poverty, Resources | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Whatever Happened to the Pursuit of Truth?

Christians are largely unprepared to deal with reality. The pursuit of truth has seriously eroded.

Nancy Pearcey writes about the pursuit of truthIn a recent interview in the online magazine, The Christian Post, our friend Nancy Pearcey—an author, Christian philosopher, and apologist—clearly captured the dilemma faced by Christian young people today:

Youth groups rarely encourage young people to grapple with tough questions. Instead the goal seems to be to engineer events that ratchet up emotional commitment. But emotional intensity is not enough to block out questions. If anything, it leads teens to redefine Christianity in purely emotional terms — which leaves them vulnerable when they finally do face their questions.

I have witnessed the same thing as I journey around the globe speaking to pastors and young people. For years I have heard pastors and Christian leaders say, “Stop asking questions and just believe!” It seems that objective faith has been replaced with a faith based almost exclusively on emotions. We do not ask, Is it trueDoes it match reality? Instead, we ask, Does it workDoes it feel good? On a recent trip I visited a megachurch where the youth service seemed designed to achieve nothing more than an emotional high. The youth were so disengaged mentally their behavior appeared to me to verge on the demonic.

It seems that, with a few brave exceptions, pastors are afraid of thinking. Unlike the Bereans (see Acts 17:11), they care little for truth and are more concerned to keep their churches full. Each year it seems to me that the worship service becomes more about reaching a new emotional high than about calling people to stand in awe of God and the truth (seen in the twin revelations of His creation and His word).

Life should be a pursuit of truth

Our children’s faith too often fails them when they meet the “real world,” e.g. the onslaught of Darwinian ideology at the university. Repeated exposure to an emotional high does not prepare students to withstand the tough questions of their professors and peers. The church has not taught their children to think independently, to reason, and to seek answers to tough questions. Pearcey reports the biggest reason young Christians leave the faith: “They could not get answers to their doubts and questions.” Feelings were seldom the problem. The problem was a truth vacuum.

Life should be a pursuit of truth, not merely following one’s feelings.

I just read a very sad and troubling letter from the head of Friends School of Baltimore, Matt Micciche, to the students and alumni of the school. Like any school, they liked to publish the achievements of their alumni. They posted an article in the Washington Post about alumnus Ryan Anderson. But some alumni who identified with the LGBT community protested. Mr. Anderson is a leading spokesman for covenantal  marriage between a man and a woman.  The “offended” alumni created such a firestorm that Mr. Micciche felt obliged to remove the post and apologize to the stakeholders of the school. In his letter of apology, Mr. Micciche wrote of the personal conflict he experienced in removing the post:

I found myself torn between two seemingly opposed aspects of our School Philosophy. We believe, as we say in that document, that “Quaker education is a pilgrimage–a continual seeking after Truth. The search for truth requires a willingness to listen openly to the ideas of others, even in fields of controversy.” I take very seriously our responsibility as a school to encourage the free and open exchange of all ideas, from across the political spectrum. I firmly believe that we must support, foster, and celebrate divergent thinking to the greatest possible extent. There can be no “party line” in a truly great educational institution, no sense that there is only one acceptable view on any complex topic.

Here is a school founded on the pursuit of truth. The pursuit of truth establishes a level playing field of inquiry, a forum for people of differing opinions to present their best arguments. Such pursuit creates the framework for free and open societies. The pursuit of truth should be in the mission statement of every church and every Christian school worthy of the name.

Yet, Micciche goes on to say:

We also affirm in our Philosophy that “Friends School seeks to live the conviction that there is that of God in each person. At Friends, we work together to build and sustain a community that is inclusive, respectful, and supportive of all people; we value diversity and cherish differences.” With this ideal in mind, the celebration of divergent viewpoints is not, and cannot be, without boundaries. When the views that a person espouses call into question the full humanity or the full access to human rights of others, based on their very identity, the active harm that the espousal of these views causes outweighs the opposing value of freedom of expression.

I can’t affirm everything there—especially if my suspicions about his meaning are correct—but yes, it is good to value diversity and cherish differences and to create communities that do the same. But notice where he goes from there: someone’s feelings are allowed to trump the pursuit of truth.

My feelings have often been hurt. I’m sure I have hurt others’ feelings. Since when do feelings take precedence over truth?

Micciche makes his priority clear:

My decision, in other words, places a priority on the very real and human sentiments of the actual members of our community (as expressed to me in the wake of our posting of this article) over the more purely philosophical commitment to the free flow of ideas.

Truth, according to Micciche, is merely abstract. The imago Dei nature of human beings is irrelevant. The sanctity of human life is negotiable, based on human feelings. The dignity of women matters only if people feel good about it. What a travesty.

In her new book Finding Truth, Nancy Pearcey unpacks the apostle Paul’s principles of apologetics in Romans 1. The book provides tools to equip young Christians and the church to confront today’s world. The idols of any society are found on half-truths. To challenge the modern and post-modern minds you must:

  1. Identify the idol.
  2. Identify the idol’s reductionism.
  3. Test the idol: Does it contradict what we know about the world?
  4. Test the idol: Does it contradict itself?
  5. Replace the idol: Make the case for Christianity.

Go here to read the Pearcey interview in its entirety.

As the church, let us out think, out love, and out serve our rivals.

  • Darrow Miller

See these related posts:

VERITAS – The Puritan Pursuit of Truth

The POWER OF TRUTH in a World of Illusion

The Mind is the Battlefield of Truth vs. Lies

  
Posted in Culture, Current events, Theology | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Atheists and Liberal Christians: Partners Against Human Dignity

slavery, like abortion, denies human dignityThe fight for human dignity in the 21st century is similar to the fight for the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in the 19th century. As is true for the pro-abortion movement today, the pro-slavery advocates were largely atheists collaborating with mainline church leaders. By the same token, pro-life leaders echo the abolitionists, largely evangelical and orthodox Christians.

Eric Metaxas, in his book Amazing Grace, the biography of William Wilberforce, speaks of the roots of the British abolitionist movement. Metaxas identifies three distinct groups who were involved in the issue of slavery: 1) The atheists, who were largely proponents of slavery, 2) The Church of England, whose leaders mostly collaborated with the atheists,  and 3) The dissenters, parallel to today’s evangelicals. Metaxas writes:

The acutely Christian character of the British abolitionist movement is undeniable, for its leaders were all consciously acting out of the principles of their deeply held faith. For the pronounced enemies of abolition, however, the notion of human equality had no objective basis and was mere tautology, a snake swallowing its tail.[1]

In both the pro-life movement and the abolitionist movement, it was orthodox Christians who understood that human beings are made imago Dei—in the image of God—and thus all human life is sacred. The life of an enslaved black man or woman has dignity, and thus their freedom must be restored. One blood courses through the veins of all human beings, including blacks and whites.

Imago Dei also means that the unborn child is a human being. The baby in utero is both human and alive. The DNA of the person at conception is the same DNA present 80 years later at the person’s death. It is both this scientific and biblical understanding that principled the fight for emancipation of slaves and the dignity of the unborn child.

Atheists consider imago Dei, and thus human dignity, a myth

Atheists lack a moral and metaphysical foundation for the sacredness and dignity of all human life, thus they have no basis for fighting these evils. In fact, they consider human dignity a myth fomented by the Bible’s doctrine of imago Dei. No God means no image of God in man.

Ultimately their arguments and goals are pragmatic and utilitarian. It’s about the money. In England, atheists and their collaborators wanted to save an economy built on the tortured backs of slaves. Emancipation threatened economic interests.

Likewise in the modern world, human value is tied to the market place. Women have value in today’s society if they have a job and make money. Pregnancy hinders employment. The solution? Being un-pregnant. Thus the support for abortion on demand.

So in both issues—slavery and abortion—the atheist largely supports these moral evils, because the only important thing is money.

Metaxas continues:

Though many who fought abolition were outspoken atheistic, many others were nominally Christian. For this the leaders of the Church of England, not merely the people in the pew, were to blame. The Church of England at the time had a great deal of money invested in West Indian plantations and did not make any connection between the tenets of Christian faith and abolition.

Note that the nominal Christians and leaders of the Church of England sided with the pro-slavery movement out of economic concerns and because they did not consciously think theologically. They failed to see the connection between their faith and the dignity of all human beings, a dignity which necessitates the emancipation of slaves. Likewise today, it is the liberal establishment churches who largely align themselves with the pro-abortion movement. They do so by consciously or unconsciously functioning from the atheistic convictions of our culture.

Metaxas concludes:

Making that connection fell to outsiders – to Methodists and other so-called Dissenters, such as the Quakers and Moravians. It’s hard to avoid the harsh conclusion that the Church of England at the time was little more than a pseudo-Christian purveyor of government-sponsored, institutionalized hypocrisy.

Just as the Church of England was aligned with the majority culture and the power of the state in the support of slavery, so today the liberal wing of the Western church often identifies with the modern culture and its statism. Political correctness requires the liberal wing of the church to embrace abortion on demand, so-called “marriage equality,” the bending of gender, etc.

It is up to those who subscribe to orthodoxy—evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Orthodox or Jews—to stand as their forefathers did in Britain. They have the opportunity to bring biblical principles and science to bear on the fight for human dignity, the sacredness of all people. They must fight for this as our forefathers fought for the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire.

Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect were the countercultural forces of their day. They understood the relationship between their faith and their life, between what they professed and how they lived and spoke into their world. They were, in fact, the prophetic voice that challenged the status quo, producing a culture of freedom for all human beings.

While atheists may be the leaders of the current pro-abortion status quo, the church has the opportunity to create a pro-life, pro-family, pro-covenantal-marriage counterculture. While the battles may ebb and flow, the truth and moral clarity will, in the end, win out.

  • Darrow Miller

 

 

[1] Metaxas pg 98

  
Posted in Church, Culture, Ethics, Imago Dei | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Same-Sex Marriage and Christianity in the US: Which Way the Future?

Our readers are no doubt aware of the pending Supreme Court case regarding same-sex “marriage.” Because of the timeliness and significance of the issue, we are publishing a series of daily posts this week only, from Scott Allen, the president of Disciple Nations Alliance. 

same-sex marriage and the future of Christianity in AmericaIn his final installment in the series “Can Gays and Christians Co-Exist in America,” Dan McLaughlin looks at the historical roots of religious liberty, and ends by asking the question, “What now?” What can we do to contribute to peaceful co-existence and the preservation of religious liberty?

… we do not live in a live-and-let-live society; we live, increasingly, in one in which organized pressure campaigns and administrative and legal proceedings are brought to bear on people who take a traditional religious approach to same-sex relationships … the root cause of that conflict is the insistence on modeling the ‘gay rights’ battles after the litigation strategy used against Jim Crow. You could cite examples all day of how this leads to aggressive efforts to force religious believers to renounce their own consciences …

This is to say nothing of more radical efforts on the Left to seek more fundamental changes to the institution of marriage, by severing its link to children and redefining its rules about monogamy, or viewing marriage itself as a form of inequality that privileges the married over the unmarried.

Outside the United States … the situation is even grimmer, ranging from a U.K. lawsuit to force churches to perform same-sex weddings to a Canadian ‘hate speech’ case against a Christian pamphleteer, which ended with the Supreme Court of Canada ruling against the pamphleteer … But while powerful forces already in motion lead us further into conflict, it does not need to be our inevitable and permanent condition.

At this point, it is useful to step back and review the historical roots of the Western ideas of Christian liberty and religious tolerance …

Jesus, unlike the earthly founders of some other world religions, never sought civil or military authority, and was ultimately put to death by the government. He insisted at all times that his kingdom was of heaven, and not of this world. He essentially invented the concept of separation of church and state by the injunction … that his followers pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. His only direct teachings on government were against corruption and abuse of power by tax collectors and soldiers who used their positions to extort money from subjects under their thumb.

Following the Protestant Reformation in the early sixteenth century, Europe erupted in religious wars … Christians, by then ensconced in civil authority and accustomed to civil power … sought by the sword to stamp out what Catholics regarded as heresy and Protestants regarded as fundamental corruption within the Catholic Church. The carnage reached its apogee in the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-48.

[Following the Thirty Years’ war] … The Christian nation-states of Europe … agreed amongst themselves to accept different religious doctrines and to cease going to war in order to change them. Issues of sectarian tolerance would be localized to within states, rather than being the main driving force in cross-border wars among them.

It would take time for that principle to trickle down to pluralism within a nation’s population. The next few decades would see nations like England and France turn the screws on their religious minorities … But the core principle—we are willing to live with the reality that some of our neighbors do not share our view of the deepest truths—led in the fullness of time to a better, more stable accommodation of sectarian differences …

Eventually, the idea of religious freedom … would find its greatest flowering in our own country, which was originally colonized by people far more urgently concerned with religious liberty than with, say, democracy, free speech, or free markets … The Pilgrims … came to America mainly so they could establish their own community with their own religion as its organizing principle. At the time the First Amendment was written, several states still had their own established state churches, and the Establishment Clause [of the U.S. Constitution] was written as much as anything to protect them from being supplanted by a federal established church.

But [the principle of religious freedom], as refined by American practice, always demanded that every religious group accept … the existence of the others. Vibrant religious communities could exist in a pluralistic society so long as they did not see one another’s insistence on practicing their own faith as an affront to themselves.

We are in danger of losing [this principle] in America today, as illustrated … by the rhetoric deployed in fights over religious liberty in the LGBT-rights context, to the point where the liberal and progressive writers rarely mention religious liberty without scare quotes …

Given the tendency in some corners to regard the existence of traditional, orthodox Christianity as an affront that must be stamped out via boycotts and public and legal pressure … [the principle of religious freedom] is more endangered now than it has ever been. The activists who relish the prospect of this conflict are certain they can win, but as the Thirty Years War illustrated, such conflicts often produce no winners … Where does it all stop?

It is, by now, inevitable that same-sex marriage will be the law of most if not all states in the United States, and recognized nationally by the federal government. The political opposition to same-sex marriage has been collapsing in the past three to five years, and is now sustained primarily by fear that Christian opponents have not been offered any way in which to protect their own competing interests …

McClaughlin points out, as others have, the concern about where the current trajectory will likely take us, i.e. to further erosion of the freedom of conscience.

… today’s concession of the legal legitimacy of same-sex marriage will be taken as an invitation for tomorrow’s invasion of any remaining preserve of conscience in which people can reserve their own dissent. The florid rage of … liberal-progressives over the Supreme Court’s comparatively modest and narrow Hobby Lobby decision just drives home how emboldened the opposition has become to any safe haven for Christian conscience in any walk of life. It also reminds us how little regard [the proponents of same-sex marriage have for] the notion that Christian beliefs are worthy of being treated by the government and society as legitimate and real, as opposed to superstitious [and] backwards …

 … weariness with this topic is everywhere among Christians … One of the iron laws of political gravity is that, if you’re not on offense, you will just keep losing ground until you have nothing remaining to lose … Defenders of religious liberty have allowed themselves to be divided, isolated, and defeated in detail by smaller but more cohesive, angrier adversaries who have consistently dictated the time and terms of engagement …

 … the end goal must be [the preservation religious liberty]. If there is a way forward, if it is possible for Christians to be tolerated in twenty-first-century America rather than treated like bitter-ender opponents of desegregation, it will only be found if supporters of same-sex marriage decide at some point that things have gone far enough, should not go much further, and that the time for conciliation and compromise has come.

The impetus for this will never come from the zealots, but it is possible that it will emerge from the broader mass of [people] who have followed them in recent years … The fact that the outcome is mostly out of Christian hands does not mean there is nothing we can do. An affirmative agenda for compromise means demanding respect and protection for religious liberty, but it also requires offering something in return.

What would that something look like? One element, of course, is for Christians … to demonstrate a greater personal ease with gay Americans, as people. As frustrated as we may get with the flagrantly one-sided nature of the public, media debate, we need to [keep] our calm and our cool and showing with deeds, not just words, that our disagreements on matters of deep principle do not prevent us from treating others with the love and respect that the Gospel demands of us.

… there are many situations in which gay people, especially refugees and gay youths, are in need of charitable assistance … Christians have long experience with interfaith relief efforts … and can be creative … in meeting immediate needs for shelter and a welcome embrace.

I would add much to this last point, and in the weeks ahead, Darrow Miller and Friends will reflect further on ways that Christians can respond to this present situation biblically and proactively. One of the most important ways we must respond is by seeking out those who have been broken as a result of the further deterioration of marriage and family, and by taking the initiative to demonstrate Christ-like compassion.

Whenever marriage has been redefined from its biblical ideal there is a tragic harvest of human pain and suffering, particularly among children. We can expect this to be largely ignored by the media, making the painful isolation and loneliness even more acute. Think of the countless children profoundly wounded in the wake of the passage of no-fault divorce laws. We can expect an even greater harvest of suffering as marriage and family are further deconstructed. Yet this provides an opportunity for Christians to shine the light of Christ in the midst of the darkness. We must proactively bring the hope and light of the Gospel, and a demonstration of Christ-like love to those left in the wake of this cultural revolution.

The biggest-ticket question of all—marriage—is a horse that may have left the barn by the end of this month. The goal for Christians and other faithful now must be to drain the momentum of the activists by picking more defensible terrain [without conceding the moral ground on marriage, I would add] and winning over their less-committed allies—a time-tested defensive strategy…

[We can also seek issues where we can stand together on common ground.] Working together … is [vital for the two sides in this debate], humanizing each other and [learning] the habits of compromise. But [if there is to be genuine] armistice and coexistence, [Christians need to engage] … the institutions that have been engaged in LGBT causes: Hollywood, the universities, media and entertainment companies like Disney/ESPN, and other big corporations. So long as those various entities are run and staffed by people who see Christians only in caricature and see LGBT causes through the prism of Jim Crow, conflict will never end.

It will be hard for Christians working in big companies to speak up in favor of religious liberty and against one-sided cultural and ideological activism; one of the leading lights of my profession [the legal profession] was essentially driven out of his firm for representing the House of Representatives in defense of a federal law on this topic. That will take courage, but at some point, the Long March of progressive culture warriors can’t simply be conceded if we are ever to have a stable peace and broader cultural respect for the values of free expression and independent conscience.

Another obstacle is [political activists who use this issue to enflame the] … culture war as a tool for motivating … voters …  [This], too, is an obstacle not easily removed, but … it will last only so long as it is seen as electorally successful.

Many Christians today would doubtless rather live in less turbulent and trying times for the faith. For the moment, the number of young American atheists and agnostics is growing, and they are aggressive with the zeal of the new convert in preaching their creed and seeking to establish it in the law and the culture. It is unsurprising, though still deeply sad, that gay people disproportionately belong to their ranks, exacerbating our cultural divide in ways that even America’s epic battles over race never had to bridge. This is particularly difficult for gay Christians (especially those who choose a celibate life), who may find themselves doubly isolated.

But Christians have faced, and continue to face to this day around the world, far worse fates for their faith than yet exist in America. If we are to keep this country that way for our children, we can best do so by standing openly and forthrightly for our faith; by treating all our neighbors with individual love and respect; by seeking common ground; and by having hope, even in the face of rational counsels of despair. We can only do our best to see to it that the lights of faith, hope, charity, reason, family, and liberty will endure.

  • Scott Allen
  
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Same-Sex vs. Opposite-Sex: Different for the Children

Our readers are no doubt aware of the pending Supreme Court case regarding same-sex marriage. Because of the timeliness and significance of the issue, we will be publishing a series of daily posts this week only, from Scott Allen, the president of Disciple Nations Alliance.

In Part 4 of his series, “Can Gays and Christians Co-Exist in America,” Dan McLaughlin shows how the legal arguments over same-sex marriage require the law to devalue marriage, ignore reality, and insult Christians and other religious believers.

He begins by looking at how proponents of same sex marriage have opted to bypass the political process and use the courts to advance their agenda.

The decision to seek a decisive nationwide resolution in the courts on equality-based grounds has encouraged the most divisive possible method of implementing same-sex marriage, doing so not by demonstrating the benefits … but by 1) delegitimizing all the aspects of marriage that are seen as obstacles to equalizing same-sex marriage with opposite-sex marriage and 2) demonizing anyone who opposes this process as the equivalent of Bull Connor …

But even if we assume for the sake of argument that the Equal Protection Clause [of the U.S. Constitution] means, not what [its authors] put in the Constitution but rather what modern judicial gloss has revised it to mean, the Constitution has always been read to permit the government to treat different things differently, so long as there was some rational basis for the distinction in the first place.

… there very obviously are real differences between opposite-sex and same-sex marriage, and the courts therefore can [rule the constitution requires same-sex marriage] only by declaring that all such distinctions are inadmissible in a judicial proceeding … Undoubtedly, the courts have the raw power to do this, but it is a thin reed on which to hang the moral legitimacy of such a sea change in American law and culture

… why is marriage the government’s business at all? Because marriage is an expression of love? You have never needed a government license to love someone, and let us all pray we never will.

same-sex marriage not affirming to childrenAny way you slice it, the vast apparatus of marriage law and family law makes sense as a public enterprise of concern to the government and the law only if you consider the role of marriage as an institution for having and raising children … you simply cannot make same-sex marriage and traditional opposite-sex marriage the same thing once you admit that children … are the primary public purpose of the institution.

There are four basic reasons … why it is completely rational to consider opposite-sex couples different from same-sex couples for purposes of the public aspects of marriage.

First, opposite-sex married couples, for obvious biological reasons, are vastly more likely to have children …

Second, the state has a much greater interest in encouraging marriage among opposite-sex than same-sex couples because opposite-sex couples are … apt to have children outside marriage, at rates that have reached crisis levels for our society in recent decades. The state has nothing resembling a similarly urgent interest in whether same-sex couples get or stay married or not … there is an enormous public interest in encouraging and maintaining opposite-sex marriage, and no comparable interest exists encouraging same-sex marriage.

Third, there is nothing irrational about the state treating both mothers and fathers as having something of value to add to a child’s life, and therefore maintaining that it is preferable for children … to be raised in a home with both a mother and a father … We … have an enormous bulk of social-science data … on the specific problems that fatherless or motherless children face.

Fourth, it is … an open question—given the fragmentary and often unfavorable data we have from countries and states with a decade or two of experience with legally sanctioned same-sex unions—whether same-sex unions as a group can or will sustain rates of family stability or monogamy that are at all comparable to those traditionally observed … in opposite-sex marriages.

Reliance on the Equal Protection rationale also has a number of potential legal consequences, including some fairly immediate and specific risks for church and church-affiliated institutions … [which] could lose their tax exemption … if they treat same-sex marriage as different from opposite-sex marriage … Is this a fanciful possibility? None other than the Obama administration’s chief lawyer admitted to the Supreme Court in the same-sex marriage argument that ‘it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that.’ Anyone remotely familiar with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice should regard that as a not-even-barely-concealed threat. Indeed, stripping churches and religiously-affiliated schools, hospitals and charities of tax benefits and participation in public programs is already a popular cause among Progressive activists, and will doubtless be seized upon as a further reason to use administrative agencies and courts to impose legal mandates.

The Equal Protection argument is not about whether the case for same-sex marriage is better policy than the case against it; the argument in court is that there can never be any rational basis at all to oppose same-sex marriage. Thus, the courts … rule in favor of same-sex marriage only by issuing public declarations that the law considers everyone opposed to same-sex marriage to be an irrational bigot driven by an insensible animus … This is a scorched-earth strategy of total delegitimization. It is emblemized by the promiscuous deployment of the term ‘homophobic,’ which literally seeks to diagnose anyone disagreeing with this legal and policy agenda, or holding scripturally-based religious views, as suffering from a mental illness.

[Imagine what would happen ] if Christians started insisting on giving their sons bar mitzvahs, but substituting Christian readings and professions of Christian faith, while insisting on retaining the term bar mitzvah and then deploying the machinery of the law to target anyone who took issue with this? I have to believe that many Jews, for perfectly valid reasons, would at a minimum regard this not only as an appropriation of their cultural heritage, but as something of a crude parody of it, would want nothing to do with it, and would be appalled at being hauled into court for refusing to participate in one. So it is, for many Christians, when the name and status of a ceremony that is sacred and sacramental in our own church and central to the practice of our own lives is appropriated to have a completely different meaning—then told that law and society disapproves of us even mentioning the distinction.

… when the law declares that two things are the same when they are not, and commands us to affirm and help celebrate a thing that is not so, its logic will inevitably compel us to conform our actions to that fiction … This puts Christians to the test of their duty to avoid scandal. And when the law derides any request for respect for individual conscience as an invidious form of irrational bigotry, as many judicial opinions have done and as critics of religious-liberty bills have done, the stage is set for an existential struggle.

– Scott Allen

  
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Same-Sex Marriage Demands Christians Celebrate Sin

Our readers are no doubt aware of the pending Supreme Court case regarding same-sex “marriage.” Because of the timeliness and significance of the issue, we will be publishing a series of daily posts this week only, from Scott Allen, the president of Disciple Nations Alliance. 

In part three of his series, “Can Gays and Christians Co-Exist in America,” Dan McLaughlin examines why the legalization of same-sex marriage has become such an explosive confrontation, and one that both sides view as an existential struggle. He begins by drawing a helpful distinction between sin and “scandal.”

Christians who are otherwise inclined to ‘live and let live’ are increasingly faced with demands that they provide positive celebration and endorsement for sin.

To sin, to break God’s moral commands, is human. It is central to all Christian thinking, to the very purpose of the incarnation and the crucifixion, to recognize that every one of us is a sinner. No Christian can refuse to associate with sinners. Jesus made a point of doing so, and when the Pharisees questioned him for hanging out with prostitutes and tax collectors, he responded (at Mark 2:17): ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.’

Jesus never minimized sinChrist calls us to mercy towards sinners, in recognition that we are all sinners. Our calling to love the sinner while hating the sin, however, must clearly be distinguished from minimizing sin, calling what is evil good, or encouraging other people to sin. This, according to Dan McLaughlin, is what the Catholic Church historically refers to as “scandal.”

Jesus says, at Matthew 18:6-7: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!’ (see also Luke 17:1) … As the Catholic Catechism puts it, elaborating on these passages from Matthew and Luke:

“Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense … Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion. Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to ‘social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.’”

Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.

It is not hypocritical for sinners to profess virtue and denounce sin; it is precisely what the Gospel demands of us, sinners though we are. What Jesus denounces as hypocritical and cowardly is the opposite—pridefully refusing to admit sin and portraying sin as virtue, which causes others to be led astray when they emulate its example.

… We all are called to confession and repentance. Every sin, no matter how bad, can be forgiven … [However] to hold up sin in public as if it were virtue is scandal … This is the doctrine at the core of Christian resistance to any sort of public celebration of same-sex relationships. The problem is not that homosexuals are sinning, for all of us sin … The problem is not associating with sinners, which is not just permitted but commanded to Christians. The problem is celebrating sin as if it were virtue.

McLaughlin explains that while why many devout Christian bakers, florists, pastors, and photographers don’t have any problem associating with homosexuals, even befriending them, and providing them with services, they draw a line when it comes to participating in a same-sex commitment ceremonies.

… it crosses the line from tolerance and mercy towards our fellow sinners to the perpetuation of the idea that a sin is not sin, but a thing to be celebrated. It crosses from forgiveness of sin, which Jesus’ example commands us to offer, to justification of sin, which he condemns in the strongest language he uses anywhere in the Gospels.

You have the right in a free society to call your relationship whatever you want, but when you demand that I call it what you want, that is the point where your rights end, and mine begin. A Christian who surrenders to government or social pressure to celebrate sin has committed the grave sin of scandal.

This brings us to why this is such an explosive confrontation, and one that both sides view as an existential struggle … The same-sex marriage fight … has been framed, not as a battle over conduct, but as a battle over identity … [in] which differences of opinion are impossible. The ideology behind the same-sex marriage movement and other ‘LGBT issues’ as they are commonly presented derives from the premises that 1) sexual orientation is integral to personal identity, 2) sexual relationships are inseparable from sexual orientation, and 3) any criticism of homosexual relationships is therefore a criticism of the person’s identity itself—an expression of bigotry equivalent …  to racism because it casts moral disapproval on an immutable characteristic.

But … this is not at all how [orthodox] Christians view these questions. Christians … view heterosexual marriage and heterosexual sex as behaviors subject to moral principles. To the Christian mind, the idea that homosexual sex and homosexual relationships are exempt from these same moral principles on grounds of being an “identity” is … in a theological sense, scandalous.

At the same time, Christians … view our status as Christ-followers, created in the image and likeness of God, as central to our own identities …[Therefore] to treat a legitimate Christian teaching as bigotry that must be stamped out, rather than merely subjected to external disagreement … is, ultimately, to treat the Christians themselves as people whose identity must be stamped out by society.

The common LGBT activist view that sexual relationships are inseparable from individual identity is not going away, and Christians—while we may find that worldview wrong … [we] must find a way to coexist with it. But coexistence is possible only if the distinct Christian view of identity is also treated as legitimate. If it is not, then the continued presence of Christians in society cannot and eventually will not be tolerated.

For people coming of age after the Sexual Revolution and trying to stay faithful to Christ’s teachings, it is commonplace to encounter unmarried heterosexual peers in one’s teens and early twenties who are sexually active. It quickly becomes apparent, even if spending your time around mostly churchgoing Christians, that a great many of your friends will be people who have no problem with unmarried sex, and engage in it without much visible guilt. Can you coexist with unmarried people having sex? Of course you can, and you’ll have a lot fewer friends if you can’t.

Most modern young people face this reality. Some fall victim to scandal—being surrounded by [and in many cases participating in sexually immoral practices] … they lose the ability to judge it wrong.

Those who do maintain their principles learn to balance that with coexistence, not grudgingly but joyfully. The same principle extends to how Christians coexist with Jews, atheists, and Christians of other denominations … Likewise, it is no contradiction for a Christian to take the same approach to gay friends, gay co-workers, gay political allies … We do not demand … that they give up their sexual relationships, and they should not expect to demand … that we give up our faith or our principles.

But from the very outset of the same-sex marriage debate, LGBT activists chose to pursue a maximalist litigation strategy deliberately modeled on the civil rights movement’s drive to destroy Jim Crow. This strategy by its nature de-emphasized … tolerance in favor of a winner-take-all battle for control of the law.

Adoption of this model necessarily required suppressing any distinction between identity and behavior …  The ‘Jim Crow’ strategy focused on litigation far more than persuasion, with activists using equal-protection arguments to gain judicial recognition of same-sex marriages.

… even today, LGBT political activists strenuously oppose having the question settled by the voters or in a legislative compromise of any kind rather than in a winner-take-all court battle, belying their confident assertions of overwhelming popular support … The result has been an angry stalemate that waits almost entirely on the decision of one 78-year-old judge, Anthony Kennedy.

  • Scott Allen
  
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Supporters of Traditional Marriage Are Not the New Jim Crows

marriageOur readers are no doubt aware of the pending Supreme Court case regarding same-sex “marriage.” Because of the timeliness and significance of the issue, we will be publishing a series of daily posts this week only, from Scott Allen, the president of Disciple Nations Alliance. 

In part two of his series “Can Gays and Christians Co-Exist in America,” Dan McLaughlin addresses one of the major ways that supporters of same-sex marriage “frame” the issue in the mind of the public. They equate support for traditional marriage to support for the institution of slavery and overt racism.

It is far too common to hear supporters of same-sex marriage claim that there is widespread “discrimination” against homosexuals. They insinuate that they are commonly refused service from Christian business owners, can’t find hotel rooms, can’t get tables at restaurants, etc. And they do this, despite the fact that almost nothing like this actually happens. They do this because it is a very powerful, albeit dishonest, way of framing the issue. It stigmatizes and delegitimizes the proponents of traditional marriage as the moral equivalent of racists, and casts the supporters of homosexual marriage as the oppressed victims.

Watch this video put out last November by TwoCare Center Against Religious Extremism.

It is hard to see this as anything other than a harmful slander against Christians, and a completely dishonest way of framing the issue. Tragically, this propaganda and false-narrative creation has largely been successful. In the minds of a growing number of Americans, holding traditional beliefs on marriage and sexuality is the moral equivalent of holding racist beliefs.

Here’s another example. The graphic below was used as a social media framing device when, in 2014, the legislature of Arizona tried (and failed) to pass a law protecting the rights of Christian business owners from being forced to participate in same-sex commitment ceremonies—the same basic “religious freedom and restoration act” (RFRA) law that led to the firestorm in Indiana earlier this year.

Dear Arizona Republicans

Here is how Dan McLaughlin responds to this in his post today:

[A] major avenue of attack on Christian teachings on same-sex marriage and homosexual sex …is to compare … Christians who defend the New Testament’s teachings on marriage and sex to the defenders of Jim Crow and American slavery.

The … most obvious problem with this line of reasoning is that defenders of Jim Crow and slavery mounted Biblical arguments in their defense because they were contending with powerful religiously-based Christian critiques. The abolitionist movement in the United States was predominantly a Christian movement.

The civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was likewise headed by outspokenly Christian figures, many of them (like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) ordained Christian ministers …

The debate over same-sex marriage, by contrast, is overwhelmingly a debate between Christians and non-believers in Christianity … The arguments in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage and same-sex sexual relationships, whether raised by Christians or not, almost all begin with the premise that the Bible … and 2,000 years of unbroken Christian tradition are wrong, should be discarded, and perhaps should be suppressed.

Christianity survived the demise of slavery and segregation without the slightest harm to any doctrine, teaching, or passage of scripture of any significance. Indeed, the end of those unjust institutions freed Christians from the temptation to construct embarrassingly flimsy scriptural defenses of them. By contrast, from a Christian theological perspective, the consistent and longstanding teaching on marriage and homosexual sex … could hardly stand in starker contrast …

…if there is one area of moral teaching in which Jesus is more rather than less strict than the Mosaic Law, it is in the area of sexuality and, in particular, marriage—the abolition of permissive divorce, the insistence on elevating lust to the level of adultery.

Down through the unbroken chain of centuries of Christian teaching and practice …marriage has always had a central place in Christian moral teaching and Christian community life.

To Catholics [marriage] is one of the seven sacraments, along with baptism, communion, confession/reconciliation, confirmation, holy orders (i.e., joining the priesthood or other religious orders) and anointing of the sick; it is the equal of any of those in the solemnity of the vows made before God and before the community and Christian witnesses. Society at large can no more properly punish Catholics for their view of the definition of marriage than for their view of the definition of baptism or communion. Comparing such a central cornerstone of the faith—handed down directly from the mouth of Jesus and preserved unchanged for 2,000 years—to Jim Crow or American slavery is an ignorant obscenity.

Here’s how John Stonestreet puts this matter in a recent post at BreakPoint:

This silly analogy [equating racism to opposition to homosexual marriage] has gone on too long. First of all, marriage literally dates from time immemorial. But legally-mandated segregation, or “Jim Crow,” didn’t last a century, and it only lasted that long because the Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, gave the noxious idea of “separate-but-equal” its imprimatur. While marriage is the most ancient and venerable institution known to man, segregation was a modern idea born of modern ideas about race. Similarly, while heterosexual marriage is a universal norm, Jim Crow and Apartheid were local aberrations. Comparing the two isn’t apples and oranges, it’s apples and bricks.

– Scott Allen

 

  
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Christians and Homosexuals: Upheaval on the Way

Our readers are no doubt aware of the pending Supreme Court case regarding same-sex “marriage.” Because of the timeliness and significance of the issue, we will be publishing a series of daily posts this week only, from Scott Allen, the president of Disciple Nations Alliance. 

The current conflict involving Christians and homosexuals portends big upheaval.

Dan McLaughlin, a Catholic attorney and writer from New York, wrote a series of articles last week at The Federalist, “Can Gays and Christians Co-Exist in America.” The posts are important, powerful, and deeply biblical in their theological orientation.

Christians and homosexuals waiting for Supreme Court decisionLike Dan, I’ve come to see the seriousness of this issue, and have concluded that we in West are in the midst of a major cultural and moral upheaval, one of the most significant and consequential in our history. As followers of Christ, we must gird ourselves, our families and churches to respond this gathering storm with truth, and in love.

Here are some highlights from Dan’s first installment.

Without a vigorous defense, believing Christians in this country face a genuine existential threat: that our culture and legal systems will declare the adherence to core Christian doctrines—unchanged for millennia, directly derived from the words of Jesus and the letters of St. Paul … to be outside the bounds of civilized society in the way that the Ku Klux Klan is today.

Should faithful followers [Jesus Christ], be run out of public life? Should those of us who still believe in the words of Jesus of Nazareth be afraid or ashamed to say so in public? Make no mistake: these are the stakes, and trying to quietly keep our heads down and stay out of trouble will not long put off the day of reckoning.

A series of judicial decisions have held that nobody who takes the traditional side of this argument could possibly be rational, reasonable, or motivated by anything but bigotry, and the Supreme Court may be on the cusp within the next few weeks of doing the same.

The stakes are embedded in the language of debate itself, in which any response to arguments about the equivalence of same-sex relationships to traditional marriage is deemed “homophobia”—literally, a diagnosis that any person professing traditional Christian teachings … suffers from a phobia, a form of mental illness … These are not the terms of debate used against reasonable people who can disagree in good faith; they are the terms of delegitimization, designed to brand the opposing argument as unfit to be heard in civil society, and its proponents as people deserving of being driven from full participation in that society.

[We have witnessed a] shift in social and cultural sentiment, starting among our social elites—lawyers, academics, entertainers, social scientists—that filters down to young people eager to accept what these authority figures tell them.

… ultimately, whether peaceful coexistence is possible is not ours to decide. We can only wait and see whether the proponents of same-sex marriage—flush with political power, brimming with unquestioning and judgmental certainty, and in some cases seething with long-nursed grievances—are willing or able to find any stopping point that does not force believing Christians into a choice between renouncing the central truth claims of their faith or being driven from decent society as if they were Klansmen. It is more likely that this will happen if we lack the courage to explain and defend our own beliefs. If we act as if those beliefs are an embarrassment, we only abet their suppression. 

… to derive a principle that endorses homosexual sex from the fact that some people have an inherent and possibly inborn desire for it is the classic appeal-to-nature fallacy that assumes that whatever is natural must be moral … The foundations of Judeo-Christian morality from the Garden of Eden forward are built on the idea that our natural desires lead us to sin, for which salvation from outside nature is required … In fact, more broadly, the entire project of human morals and ethics assumes that what separates us from animals is our ability to say ‘no’ to our instinctive desires.

… the issue of treating sexual orientation as an identity, and denying any distinction between identity and behavior, is a recurring theme in the divide between the LGBT and Christian worldviews. But as a matter of Christian theology, while biology certainly informs our understanding of the world, it does not eliminate the idea of moral limits on human behavior. To be a Christian is to recognize that human beings are called to be more than the sum of our biological impulses. To demand that those impulses be given the central place in our identity is to deem Christianity a dead letter, and set in place the human body itself as our idol.

Christians and homosexuals work from different worldviews

Note the underlying Darwinian worldview that animates the legitimacy of homosexual behavior, with its emphasis on instinct and desire, not choice and will. The former are traits of the animal kingdom. If Darwinism is true, humans are in no way different from the rest of the animal kingdom. The Christian worldview sees humans as special creations, image bearers of God. While we share much in common with the animal kingdom as we, too, are created by God, part of what separates us as image-bearers of God is the fact that we have volition, the ability to choose. We live in a moral universe. God exists, and He is altogether holy and righteous. Human flourishing requires that we choose to live in accordance with what is true, good and right. Because our fallen nature makes this impossible, God sent His Son to live the life of perfect righteousness that we could not, and to pay the penalty demanded by our sinful disobedience. Our standing now is that of being forgiven and justified though faith in Christ. If that were not enough, He gave us the gift of His Holy Spirit, to empower us to live holy lives.

The source of our present conflict runs very deep. It is a conflict of worldviews and first principles on matters of ultimate reality and human nature.

– Scott Allen

  
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