Archive for March, 2013

Suffering Disdain For Defending Slavery: Wilson Says It’s All For God’s Glory

Monday, March 18th, 2013

I don’t like to write when I’m angry, and so I don’t generally.  I’ve found that while Godly anger may motivate me to write, the anger that comes out often doesn’t look terribly Godly.  That disconnect — feeling Godly anger and yet writing that reveals more of the flesh than the soul — is enough to make me wait until the anger feels more like a steady rain than a raging thunderstorm.

But there’s an element of timeliness when it comes to blog writing, and sometimes things can’t wait.  This isn’t a free pass to write recklessly; it is a preamble that announces extra effort put forth to trim the flesh from what I write.

Doug Wilson has recently begun a dialogue with another theologian regarding Wilson’s execrable defense of Antebellum slavery, which he elaborates on in the mid-nineties “Southern Slavery As It Was,” now out of print, and fine-tuned — to no less ill effect — in Canon Press’ “Black and Tan,” released a few years later.  I’m glad that accusations of racism trouble Wilson enough that he’s dealing, and dealing respectfully, with a critic who takes him to task for defending on Biblical terms the owning of kidnapped human beings, solely on the basis of race, in the American South.  It’s important to note here that part-and-parcel of Wilson’s apologetic is his condemnation of the Christian abolitionists who worked to eliminate the slave trade and slave economy of the South, as well as his assertion that the Civil War had little to do with slavery and much to do with Northern aggression against the Godly Anglo-Celt slaveholders.  Part-and-parcel of my profound dismay regarding Wilson’s take on slavery is that it’s historically stupid, Biblically indefensible, and evangelistically disastrous.  Just so you know.

But like the playground bully who falls off the jungle gym and bellows to the laughing crowd that he absolutely meant to do that, Wilson today, on Blog and Mablog, gives us an idea of why he would wade into print regarding the topic of slavery.  It turns out that his spectacularly clumsy belly-flop into the deep waters of poisonous hermeneutics and jaw-droppingly insensitive practical application was DESIGNED to be hermeneutically poisonous and jaw-droppingly insensitive — so that if God prospered his ministry, it would clearly be God’s work, not a result of Wilson’s “marketability” or the ease with which he could be “shrink-wrapped and packaged” by a crass culture of evangelical marketing.  After all, if the bitchslap of defending slavery poisoned the hearts out of non-believers and broke the hearts of believers, then clearly the success of his ministry in Moscow and beyond would be not about Doug and all about God.  He planned to be seen as an ass and a racist so that his ministry would prosper not because of, but in spite of, his odious beliefs and actions.

Here’s what he says:

“I remember telling Nancy once early on that I wanted to change the world. I did, and still do. But I didn’t want to make a difference by shinning up the designated ambition pole. And so I pulled a stinker. I believed it was necessary for me to become genuinely unmarketable. I did it by maintaining something that was (as I knew at the time) the historigraphic equivalent of blacking out a couple of my front teeth. If the altar ever burned, it would be a wet altar that burned.”  (Blog and Mablog, March 18, 2013)

In other words, he meant to do that.

Unfortunately, the rot he injected into the witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ didn’t just reflect poorly on himself.  How I wish that had been the case — the Gospel of Doug Wilson is of no interest to me, and while I prayed then and pray now that that Gospel someday comports with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it doesn’t much affect how people view Jesus Christ if a mixed-up guy in North Idaho says something dumb about slavery.

But the mixed-up guy in North Idaho who said something dumb about slavery was a Christian pastor who based his views on the Bible — and who’s the kingpin of a ministry empire that extends far beyond his K-12 school, seminary, denominational headquarters, classical Christian college, two congregations and publishing house in Moscow.  His fall off the jungle gym of Biblical sanity occurred in front of a huge audience multiplied by the objective amorality of the printing press and the Internet, and when people outside of the tightly-knit, protective cluster of CREC churches discovered it, the resulting damage to the Gospel was catastrophic.  That Gospel speaks of Christ, not Wilson, but the foul stench he blew into it lingers on the message, not the messenger.

Wilson’s ability to self-aggrandize even when claiming debasement is stunning.  He would have us believe that in defending the indefensible, he was gladly being a fool for Christ.  He wasn’t.  Those who are fools for Christ are truth-speakers who suffer the contempt of an unbelieving, heart-hardened world. Their faith brings God glory; they decrease that Christ may increase.

Those who are simply behaving foolishly, and who then suffer contempt because of it, don’t get to, almost twenty years later, insist that their obnoxiousness was for the glory of God.  The level of reckless stupidity Wilson displayed increased his presence, even in rank disdain, not his Lord’s.  It harmed the message of Christ Jesus; its defense harms it to this day.  The only glory God received from Southern Slavery As It Was came from those Christians who stood against Wilson.  I’m privileged that I got to be one of them.

More Rhetorical Gymnastics With Nary A Loincloth To Cover Him

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The controversy surrounding Doug Wilson’s “Black and Tan,” his polished-up, more-nuanced reworking of “Southern Slavery As It Was,” in which he defended Antebellum American slavery — and opined that the result was a “mutually harmonious” society the likes of which the world has never seen — continues as numerous bloggers and theologians continue to slam his views on race, which he appears to find as surprising as it is vexing.

One of them, as quoted on Blog and Mablog last week, says that “the hammer ought to be dropped hard on any defense of slavery.”  And Wilson says he agrees. The perniciously pedantic, parsing purveyor of all that’s profound continues, bearded patrician head nodding vigorously in agreement:

“The problem with that is that I don’t want to defend slavery. This whole thing has to do with what the most scriptural way of resisting slavery would have been, not whether slavery ought to have been resisted.”

Go ahead.  Ask why such a harmonious, mutually affectionate, Biblical system ought to be resisted at all.  I’ve waited years for the answer.  You can, too.

Discussing the Biblically-appropriate ways that slaves, slaveholders, and the Church in the Confederate States could have “resisted” — overturned, abolished, condemned — chattel slavery would have been, I suppose, a less disgusting, disturbing argument than the one he actually made.  Certainly Wilson’s Black and Tan commendation of William Wilberforce’s efforts in Great Britain to defeat the institution of slavery is laudable, as is his assurance that he’s personally glad there is no slavery in the U.S. anymore.  After all, his vicious condemnation of Christian abolitionists would give the discerning reader pause as they attempt to understand what it is about “Christian abolitionist” that he found so objectionable, particularly when compared to the Christian slave-kidnapping, slave-beating, and slave-raping patriarchs he insists were noble men merely misunderstood by a sexually confused, baby-killing 21st-century culture.

Of course, these “how best to resist slavery?” points were buried among his insistence that a true Christian man could, in the Antebellum South, buy human beings, including toddlers, who were kidnapped and sold to him entirely on the basis of their race and his.  “Resistance” was hardly prominent in his defense of the secessionist Confederates and the economy they profited from by their abuse and exploitation of the Black women and men they owned.  In fact, his insistence now that what he really focused on was how to best analyze the institution whose existence, flourishing, and continuance he defended was a bit murky in his writings.

And it’s probably not just me.

But that’s the fun of reading Wilson; he gilds a rotting lily with excrement, takes issue with the observer for noticing the stench, and then professes his profound love for and expertise in gardening.  My expectations of Wilson are regrettably low, but in those two points — Wilberforce then good, slavery today bad — he cleared the bar.  It’s 2013, and the Gospel has been spread throughout the world.  I suppose, therefore, that my heart is gladdened that a minister thereof would be OK with the contemporary cessation of human ownership of other humans, no matter how “harmonious” he believes its former incarnation to have been. 

But the amateur paleo-Confederate historian, who accused the liberal, “professional historian” world of rank revisionism in its condemning analysis of chattel slavery, has dived into and is flailing about in the murky depths of revisionism of his own.  Decency and respectability, as well as a minimal degree of self-preservation, require that Wilson insist that his defense of slavery wasn’t, actually, a defense of slavery, no matter how clearly he stated it and no matter how clearly you read it.  That works with the fan base, who would believe Black and Tan and SSAIW to be treatises on medieval footwear if he told them it was.

It’s not going to work with independent, discerning thinkers who, having sailed past a fourth-grade reading level, know exactly what Wilson said and expect him to acknowledge it.  Unfortunately, Wilson is a master of wriggling rhetoric, a man whose reputation is built on his contention that your ideas have consequences, while his own words have shape-shifting characteristics just shiny and novel enough to dazzle you in your post-modern, liberal, sentimentalist haze.

I pray that his online correspondents are wise to him.   


Tossing Them Not Just A Bone, But The Whole Steak

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

I will buy an Applebee’s steak dinner for anyone who, agreeing with Doug Wilson, can tell me why he thinks that the idea of a God-given right to own a gun for self defense is Biblical — that, in fact, gun ownership is a Scriptural imperative. 

You don’t have to convince me.  I doubt that you can; the idea is wretched, and wretchedly un-Biblical, given Jesus’ command that ye not resist the one who wishes to do you evil, that you turn the other cheek, love your enemies, and hold with a loose and open hand your possessions and your life.  But I’m genuinely interested in how a Christian can defend a Biblical “right” to defend himself and his property with a firearm.  I’m not a rich woman, so it’d have to be Applebee’s, but the first person to email me at to set it up gets it. 

Give me your best argument; I’ll give you mine — but the Scriptures will be our source.  And if you aren’t comfortable with me using your name, I won’t, but I will, of course, write about our exchange and obscure any identifying details. 

Who’s up for the challenge?  I’ll consider this a cultural exchange, because this one simply is as foreign to me as foreign gets.  But I’m ready and willing to listen — if I can find anyone brave enough to talk with what the Kirk seems to find terribly odd and not a little sinister:  A middle-aged homemaker with a 30-year-old BA in the liberal arts, a reverence for the Bible, and a mouth that asks the tough questions, with ears that genuinely want to hear the answers.

Come.  Let us reason together, and do it on my dime.

Yeah. To His Face.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

If you’ve read the previous post, you’ve noticed that I use some pretty harsh language in addressing Doug Wilson’s silly contention that — slavery defense and paleo-Confederate sympathies aside — he’s surprised and offended that people have accused him of being a racist.  People say that about him, but he’s quick to assure us that they’re wrong, flat wrong, and utterly off base.  It’s a pomo (post-modern), liberal, culturally-accommodating bit o’ stupidity that would make anyone think that.  I’m paraphrasing, but you recognize the vocabulary.

Thus my comments — because he knows that assertion, all-dressed-up as it is, to be ridiculous.

But perhaps you wonder how it is that I can say these things about Wilson when I’ve accused him, during the Andrew Sullivan debate-that-wasn’t, of writing things he’s unwilling to say to another person’s face.  I accused him of lacking integrity by writing malicious and puerile — or just pointed — things about people and then acting shocked (say it with me now:  SHOCKED!) that I would expect him to say those same maliciously puerile things to a real, live member of the demographic he belittles from the comfort and safety of his keyboard.

Indeed, it would be grossly hypocritical for me to say the things about Wilson that I did in this most recent post if I’ve never, or would never, say them to his face.  I would be guilty of what I’ve accused him of; I would be even more guilty, because I would then have done the same AND been a hypocrite.  It would be inexcusable, and I would expect to be called out on it.

So let me ease your mind:  Everything in here is stuff I’ve said to Wilson either over the phone, in person, or in correspondence.  Everything, including the “acting like an ass” part.  I’ve engaged with him for the 11 years I’ve been here; there’s been plenty of opportunity.  Rest assured that if I said it on Prevailing Winds, I’ve said it to him first.

My cursor doesn’t go where my mouth isn’t willing to follow.  It seems a reasonable, even minimal, standard for any writer and the only standard of integrity for a Christian.  It doesn’t make me brave, it doesn’t make me noble, it doesn’t make me reckless, and it doesn’t make me just itchin’ for a fight.

It would just be wrong NOT to, and so it’s a promise I make to you:  If I write it about him, I’ve said it to him.

Moving right along . . . 

Well, That Sort Of Thing Is Likely To Happen, Doug

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

For as long as I’ve been familiar with Doug Wilson, he has fought to defend himself against charges that he’s a racist.  He simply mocks, as you would expect, any charge that he’s racially insensitive, but he appears to genuinely disturbed that those familiar with his work and ministry conclude that he’s a racist.

Of course, when you write the hermeneutically egregious, and largely plagiarized, “Southern Slavery As It Was,” in which you pollute Scripture by using it to defend the chattel slavery of the American South, it does raise questions.  When you insist that, because you will NEVER be embarrassed by any verse in the Bible, you will doggedly defend the right of white, Anglo-Celt “Sothrens” to buy human beings, split up families, beat the men, rape the women, and trade away children with less severity than your grandchildren trade their Pokemon cards, it does raise questions — of which your being a racist is only one.

People who truly revere the Word of God will read your works and immediately wonder how it is that you, a pastor, ministry kingpin, and leader in the Classical Christian education movement, would defend a practice that bears as little resemblance to the slavery of the Old and New Testaments as a gaudy, lust-driven Hollywood marriage does to the Levirate marriage of the Old Testament.  Thinking people who aren’t indebted to or controlled by Wilson, Inc., will know that the Bible explicitly condemns race-based slavery, kidnapping to obtain slaves, and the demolition of families, so they’ll wonder if, in your valiant defense of Scripture, you’ve simply embarrassed yourself in your refusal to not be embarrassed by it.

And if your co-author in that hideous endeavor, Southern Slavery As It Was, was a proud member of the racist League of the South, which works to secure a secessionist, separate State that recognizes the “Anglo-Celt” — read “white” — Christian homeland established by slaveholders, and which assures us that it would be willing, in establishing this Anglo-Celt homeland, to work with “minorities” who don’t get all victim-class whiny and such, you might find that people scratch their heads and wonder if maybe you might harbor some racist sentiments.  You don’t condemn that sort of thing; if you’re Wilson, you just parse the hoary racist hairshirt by insisting that you’re a paleo-confederate, not, you know, a neo-confederate like the League of the South folks, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

You’re offered a chance to repudiate the asinine notion of an Anglo-Celt homeland only a century and a half away from building an economy on the battered backs of kidnapped children of the Creator you say you worship, and only a lifetime away from this racist “Christian” Jim Crow abomination that further humiliated them, but you don’t.  You don’t.

You just remind people that you’re not a neo-Confederate, just a paleo, as if you were somehow distancing yourself from what other slavery apologists do and say.  Ahhh, you say — it’s all about the history; there IS a difference.  But your grasp of history is lamentable, to say the least.  You call the Bible-revering abolitionists who risked their lives to proclaim the Gospel that would eliminate slavery and, perhaps, bring the South to repentance “godless, Bible-hating” Northern aggressors. You ignore clear Biblical teaching that condemns the slavery of the Antebellum South and scurry down hermeneutical rabbit trails that lead you to deny what’s clear and in keeping with the Gospel while you pluck from obscurity and an utterly different context to defend what your Bible and mine explicitly condemns:  The “right” of “Christian patriarchs” to buy kidnapped persons, enslave them solely because of their race, and commit acts so egregious that your claim that the slave-holding South was a bastion of Christian virtue shames — or ought to — any thinking person with a beating heart. 

Beating hearts, at least, that are not indebted to you for their livelihoods.  Of course, you surround yourself with beholden toadies who dare not object, even as they’re unable to formulate a cogent defense of the indefensible things you say.  That any try, in the privacy of their own hearts, is only because the reign of the Holy Spirit has not yet completely left their minds.  The hearts seem strangely, sinfully, given over to you. 

But you know that.

You lambast racism in strong terms — and then you bait, mock, humiliate and manipulate those who are aggrieved not only by your polluted and perverse handling of the Word of God, but who have, in their own lives, suffered from racism’s toxic effects.  Witty one that you are, you wave your serrated edge to score cheap points against your accusers and adversaries — and remember, you believe a sinful world to “run” on these sorts of things, regardless of how close to home or how accurate those accusations are.  Perhaps it’s because some accusations and attacks hit home for you.  It could be.  But your careless handling of your serrated cutlass will, in the end, result in your own evisceration.  A prudent man knows that the rhetorical sword ought not be energized solely by the rapier wit of its handler.

You and your hideous co-author caught hell for Southern Slavery As It Was, and not just for its plagiarism and shoddy scholarship.  So you took it down from the shelf, tucked it away, and you cranked out the slickly-printed but equally odious Black and Tan.  You tidied up your “editing problems” and restated some of your worst arguments, but you insisted, as you did before, that Southern Black slaves were “better off” in what you shamefully argued was the most “harmonious” multi-racial society the world has ever seen.  But better cover graphics and editing aren’t enough.  You told the Church of the Lord Jesus that its Black brothers and sisters — my Black brothers and sisters — were better off, all things considered, when people like you, and people like me, bought and sold them like cattle. 

I don’t believe I’ve ever called you a racist.  I don’t know that you are.  But I have argued that whether you are a racist or not, you are, indeed, something far worse, and I will repeat it again:  You are a blight on the Church of our Lord, a troublemaking merry factionalist with nary a humble or discerning bone in your body, and are unworthy of the title of Pastor.  There are other things as egregious as racism; the fruit from the tree of your ministerial entrepreneurship is rotten, and you are the life-sap that poisons it.

As you’ve said, words and ideas have consequences.  You are even now reaping the consequences of the divisive, ignorant, contemptible and contemptuous things you’ve said.  Manliness is important to you; would that Godliness were as well.  Nonetheless, stop whining — or rejoicing — that “they” call you a racist.  You seek to offend, and you rarely fail yourself.  You are not the misunderstood product of the fruitless babbling of a pomosexual, modernist, godless culture, Doug.  You are the product of your own fruitless babbling.

All the evidence points to your utter lack of wisdom and sincerity in dealing with race.  Just once, would you take some manly responsibility and focus your energies not on why people say these awful and untrue things about you, but on why you persist in behaving boorishly and recklessly and then have the gall to wear your dishonor as a badge of pride?

I pray for your repentance.  But your crocodile tears and foot-stamping over being called a racist are somewhat less than manly and considerably less than prudent.  You are not a prudent man.  You could be, of course.  It’s less lucrative, it’s less likely to rally the troops, and it’s less in accord with your nature, but it would keep you from looking a bit less like an ass when you defend the owning of Black people and then whine about being called a racist.

Man up.  You are what you say.  That people draw conclusions from your words might, perhaps, someday, cause you to weigh the effect of those words.  Until then, you made your bed, complete with your white sheets.  It’s time to lie in it.  May you do so without further embarrassing yourself and, moreover, without further embarrassing the Church from whom your harshest rebukes come.

A Dedication On International Women’s Day

Friday, March 8th, 2013

I wish you could know her.  Or, at least, somehow be in her presence.  I wish that for you because being with her is a grace, an inspiration, and a gift. 

She is my daughter-in-heart, the one I didn’t give birth to but the woman, now in her early 30s, who occupies a place in my heart that only a daughter could.  I’ve known her now for more than half of her life, through the birth of children and the death of one, through reunions and funerals and joys and tragedies, through times of physical strength and through illness that could have taken her from us, and through moments of victory and triumph and pride that occur too infrequently, I think, in the life of someone whose strength and courage puts me to shame by comparison, but honors me as its witness.

She is the strongest woman I know, and the most beautiful.  She’s Proverbs 31-strong, Dear-God-How-Can-She-Take-Anymore-strong, physically slight but spiritually composed of steel.  Her heart has been shattered, her back has been bent, and her eyes have seen more than any one woman ought to.  But she knows she is Christ’s, and she remains strong, courageous and single-minded in her resolve to be a rock of faith as she betters her childrens’ lives. 

I am not half the woman she is.

Maricela, you are the kind of woman I long to be, and on this Women’s Day and every day, I treasure you.  Hija, eres una de las luzes mas brillantes en mi vida.  Siempre.

Why We Wear The Cross

Friday, March 1st, 2013

I remember, years ago, when a Jehovah’s Witness asked me why in the world so many of us — those outside of the Watchtower — wear crosses when it was a cross on which the Lord Jesus was crucified.  If He were shot, she asked, would I wear a small pistol or rifle on my neck?

Such a question betrays a proper understanding of the Cross of Christ.  

The Cross secured the salvation of the world, and it proclaims victory to the forces of evil.  By the grace of the Risen Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit, I won’t be intimidated into participating with it, enabling it, or staying silent in its face.  The only hope I or anyone else has is through the death on this cross and his resurrection three days later of Jesus Christ.

I’m not worthy of His death and I’m not worthy to be called His. But it was the Cross that extended the love of God to me.  When I wear it, I wear it in defiance of the Evil One, and I wear it in worship of the Holy One who graciously calls me His own.

Again: Why I Support Gay Marriage

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Yesterday, the Obama Administration filed a court brief stating unequivocally that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was a clear case of discrimination not permitted by the Constitution.

A Constitutional scholar and leader of the Free World will no doubt be thrilled that a middle-aged homemaker in north Idaho agrees with him.  But I do, and Andrew Sullivan began his debate with Doug Wilson with a point I’ve been struggling to make, and one that explains why I believe in granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.

For most of human history — sociologically speaking, up until the last couple of hundred years or so — there was thought to be no such thing as “a homosexual.”  Men who engaged in sexual relations with men were simply thought of as straight people on a debauchery binge, not as people who were acting out of their deepest inborn sense of identity and desire.  Lesbians were thought of even less, and often not thought of at all.  Everyone knew of a maiden aunt who shared her life with another spinster, but no one had any idea what they did, or if, in fact, they “did” anything at all.

Now we understand, or most of us do, that about four percent of the population is born with an affectional, sexual, emotional attraction to those of their biological sex — that there are, actually, people who are as homosexual as I am heterosexual, as homosexual as you are Scottish, as homosexual as you are left-handed.  They were created by a God who loves them, and in pursuing a lifelong, monogamous, companionable sexual relationship with someone, they will choose others of the same sex, just as the majority chooses someone of the opposite sex, because that is, in the language of the King James Version, “meet” for them — right, appropriate, and suitable.

They won’t seek to find love with other men or other women because they hate God, or hate straight people, or hate you.  Those homosexual people who seek a life-partner — a spouse — from members of the same sex do so to fulfill the same longing for intimacy and security, companionship and love, that you and I did in marrying our own spouses.  We act in a manner congruent with our nature.  So do gay people.  And while there are cads and players and sluts to be found in both populations, their behavior generally isn’t considered laudable — or even prevalent.  We speak of a “sin nature” when describing acts of promiscuity and debauchery; we speak of an inbred, non-theological “nature” when describing the inborn inclination a minority of people have that makes opposite-sex partners “not meet” — not right, not appropriate, and not suitable — for them.

So if marriage, decades removed from its procreative purpose and centuries removed from its kingship-alliance and transfer-of-property roots, is expected to be the one socially and Biblically-sanctioned area where two people express themselves sexually, why are we loath to grasp that the only “redefinition” of marriage in play here is a wider, greater understanding that there are gay people, and for gay people — who desire the spiritual, emotional, sexual and legal benefits of marriage just as heterosexuals do — the means to achieving that is not to be found with someone of the opposite sex.  That would be a lie.
That would be against nature.  That would be . . . unnatural.

And that, I think, ought to make us dig deeper into the only real authority we have as Christians — the Word of God.

Because we now know that some people are born with a marked, unchangeable desire for intimacy of all types with members of their own sex, we must wrestle, then, with the Old and New Testament prohibitions against homosexual relations.  The Levitical passages appear among lists of pagan ceremonial, temple abominations. Were homosexual men (there appears to be no thought of lesbianism in the Old Testament) the focus, or other men — what we now would call “straight” men — who were engaging in ritualistic frenzies or rape that had as its focus not intimacy, but debauchery or violence?  That would be abominable.  Can we be absolutely certain, so certain that we would deny civil justice to homosexuals?

The most relevant New Testament against homosexual behavior is Romans, which casts same-sex relations for both men and women as the consequence of God “giving them over” to the consequences of their sins — idolatry, primarily expressed as the refusal to think rightly about the God clearly revealed in creation.  Romans 1:24-25 says,

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!”

The question here is once again whether or not the “giving over” of people to sinful sexual behavior necessarily means that all similar sexual expression — in this case, among those people today who don’t worship the creation but are devout worshipers of the Creator God — is inherently sinful.  Verse 26 tells us that men and women exchanged “the natural” for degraded passions with members of their own sex.  Does that tell us that those women and men who have sexual relations in loving, consensual, and monogamous relationships, especially those who are in the Body of Christ, are the focus as well?

In other words, could the Apostle Paul have been writing about the behavior of a group of people, a demographic, he never knew even existed — that is, homosexuals, for whom the “unnatural” would involve being given over to “degrading passions” with those of the opposite sex?  Verses 28-32 offer a list of sinful behaviors against the Holy One, seen to be, according to the text, the result of this “giving over” by God for their spiritual adultery against him.  The text says that those who engage in these “degrading passions” inevitably fall into a further “giving over” that leads to further debasement and outrage against God.  It’s a list of sins that most of us have committed at some point in our lives; their horror isn’t diluted by their commonality.

But think of the committed gay couples you know.  Are their characters marked with insolence, murder, slander, rebellion, ruthlessness and heartlessness?  Is the full compliment of the sins listed a result of God’s “giving them over” because of their inborn homosexual nature, or because idolatry and creature-worship and willful ignorance of God inevitably leads to all manner of sins?  Can we say for certain that all homosexual people engage in homosexual activity, regardless of context, because they are haters of God and suppressors of the truth about Him?

Does that fit with the character of the gay Christians you know?  Or is hatred of God and the suppression of truth about Him tragically the provenance of everyone alienated from Him by their sin?  At best, the understanding we have now of innate homosexual desire leads us to conclude, in much the same way we conclude that people who have seizures are more likely to suffer from epilepsy than from Satanic possession, that a context-free, literal reading of the Scriptures in this case might not be the most accurate reading, two millennia hence, of the passages that condemn this sort of homosexual activity.  In other words, is Paul condemning idolatry and making the point that it leads to all manner of sin, or is he writing about the intimacy between two committed partners?

And, because there is no legislation before us that would compel those who hold to a conservative view of the Scriptures regarding homosexuality to in any way participate in gay marriages, can we take one — granted, the most common — interpretation of a handful of Biblical passages about same-sex relations to deny civil rights to LGBT citizens?  If, because of our religious views, they are not permitted to marry, would be then be honest and clamor for the denial of marriage benefits to a Christian and a non-Christian couple?  The “unequal yoking” of a believer to a non-believer is un-Biblical; should we have that standard reflected in civil marriage law?  How about the Bible’s condemnation of divorce?  Should we agitate for the taking away of marriage rights for those whose divorces don’t meet the Biblical standard?  Indeed, if we insist that Biblical standards be reflected in all civil laws, why are we not? 

Is it because “normal” people get divorces, and “typical” people, even in our churches, marry outside of the faith?  Do we see ourselves in them, but refuse to acknowledge our commonality as heterosexual sinners with those sinners who are, incidentally, homosexual?
Even those who cling to the Scriptures to justify their opposition of same-sex marriage must wrestle with the conundrum of just how far Biblical testimony on marriage should inform civil law in a pluralistic society.

I prefer to cling to the notion that I don’t know everything; in this case, that I don’t know, and even doubt, that Paul was writing about what he couldn’t possibly have recognized.  Because I understand the justice aspect of denying equal protection under the law to gay citizens, then, I choose not to permit my lack of full understanding — and yours, by the way — to be an impediment to their civil rights.  Indeed, most of the gay people I know are Christians; their love for and trust in Jesus puts me to shame at times.  I owe them that.  And as I acknowledge that there’s a gap in my understanding that only the Holy Spirit can resolve, I owe them and the Lord Jesus a level of profound humility when approaching the issue.  These are people for whom Christ died — not because they’re more sinful than “the rest of us,” but because they live and move and draw their breath in a world soaked in sin, sin directed against them even as they, like us, participate willingly in it.

There are homosexuals and heterosexuals, epileptics and a few demon-possessed; left-handed and right-handed, Scottish and Nigerian, men and women, welders and physicians, murderers and pastors, children and veterans and homemakers and dancers and boxers and lettuce pickers, all at the foot of the Cross, all tainted by sin, all guilty of it not because they’re Nigerian, dancers, or homosexuals, but because they’re human beings — and human beings, precious souls, for whom Christ died, if you’re not a Calvinist.  (If you are a Calvinist, you can’t actually say that, and no amount of prevarication on your part will change that).  The God who desires the salvation of all is the God who superintended the birth of every one of us, and in God’s providence, some of us were born straight, Irish, and female, and others gay, Peruvian, and male.  All of us have a sinful nature.  Most of us have a heterosexual nature.  And a small percentage have a homosexual nature.

Because recently-understood scientific truths about human sexuality offer a glimpse into a different understanding of Scripture’s testimony regarding it, the Body of Christ, those who profess to love the truth and who because of it worship Jesus Christ, cannot in good conscience continue to equate heterosexual nature as a grace the majority shares and homosexuality part of the sinful nature all of us do.  May the Spirit grant us greater understanding, and may our understanding be widened for the Glory of our Almighty God. 

‘Tis Rather A Novel Thing To Embrace Pomposity, But Hitchens Does

Friday, March 1st, 2013

I wondered, after writing yesterday, if I should feel at least a little bit bad that I referred to Peter Hitchens, the moderator of the Wilson-Sullivan debate, as “insufferably pompous.” 

Turns out that Hitchens rather enjoys being labeled “pompous,” and further reading of his blog demonstrates that, intentionally or not, he truly is “insufferable.” 

The embrace of pomposity amongst those so afflicted is a curious thing.  But while I’m not in the business of confirming offensive peoples’ offenses for them, I’m happy that, in my own small way, I was able to join the Amen corner this time.