Archive for June, 2013

Striking Down DOMA

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA — with the irony of Clarence Thomas’ dissent duly noted — is a major step forward in equality. Don’t let those on the Right, or in the pulpit, tell you that God will now take away God’s blessing from the U.S., or that your marriage and children are now threatened, or that taking a conservative, traditionalist stand on the issue of the Bible and homosexuality will now land you in jail, or that the slippery slope leading to polygamy has now been climbed. Instead, thank God that enshrined civil discrimination against gay couples has been struck down, and if you’re suddenly terrified about the state of marriage and morality in the United States, do what I do — work on your own, and don’t contribute to the enshrinement of discrimination against other people.
 

"Completely Different"? Why, It Certainly Was, Doug

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Do you smell something?  I sure do.

From Blog and Mablog, June 18, 2013:

 ” … There was a massive ideological shift at this time, but it was seen in the demand for universal education, on a democratic foundation, for a burgeoning population. I used the qualifying phrase ‘on a democratic foundation’ to distinguish it from earlier efforts that sought to provide widespread literacy as an aspect of Christian discipleship. Luther in Germany and Knox in Scotland were examples of this. What we had going on in America at the time was completely different…”

In this rumination on the origins of age-segregated education  — one of the burning issues of our day — Palouse Pedant Doug Wilson opines that 18th and 19th century efforts to promote “widespread literacy” in Christian-led communities were, as it was in Europe, a necessary feature of Christian discipleship. 

Almost as an aside, however, he mentions that things were, as the Scots would say, a wee bit different in America.  Indeed. And the irony should penetrtate even the hard heart of the blissfully blundering blowhard from the Boys’ Club that is Wilson, Inc.

See, in the slaveholding “Christian” states in the Antebellum South, from which was later amassed what Wilson blithely insists was the most Godly fighting force in history, slaveowning legislators passed laws forbidding anyone to teach slaves to read or write.  The Confederacy that Wilson so nakedly admires,  birthed in and nourished by chattel slavery, depended on the illiteracy of the slaves it held.  A literate slave was a dangerous slave, both to Satan and to the slaveholder working to suit his purposes.  These devout Christian patriarchs for whom Wilson feels such affinity weren’t concerned with “widespread literacy as an aspect of discipleship,” although that’s hardly surprising, as their attention was devoted to near-constant violence, abuse, degradation, rape, and maltreatment of their potential disciples.  Rather, they “discipled” their slaves in the decidedly not-Christian discipline of gross inhumanity toward other human beings.  Yes, things were different in America — but his defense of that difference doesn’t suit him in the argument he attempts to make.

It would seem that once you  use the Bible to defend the kidnap-fed chattel slavery of the American South, evidence of your grotesque pastoral ineptitude threatens to pop up in the oddest places.  Like dog shit on his wingtips, Wilson’s defense of an indefensible institution stinks even after he thinks it’s faded.  The cleansing effect of heartfelt repentance is the only remedy; sadly, this sad little man hasn’t chosen to pursue it.  Until he does, everything he writes is likely to smell to a high Heaven grieved at the filth in his heart

A Momentous And Grace-Filled Turning Point In The Church

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Today is a day that will be remembered in Christian history for decades.

Exodus International, the umbrella group for Christian “ex-gay” ministries, through its president Alan Chambers, has announced that it is disbanding.  That in itself is astonishing; the influence of the Religious Right in the national discussion about gay marriage has resulted in cruel, unscientific, oppressive, and terribly ill-informed name-calling and scapegoating.  It’s entirely possible, of course, to hold to a conservative view that insists that Scripture condemns all homosexual activity.  As I’ve said before, that in and of itself doesn’t make someone a homophobe with whom I’d be unable to enjoy fellowship.  But holding to the traditional position carries with it a particular burden; the conservative exegete has to embrace the entirety of Scripture, including the Gospel insistence that we treat the marginalized with compassion and not bear false witness against others.  That involves holding to their convictions while not participating in, and, indeed, actively condemning, the spewing hatred of the Right.

We see that here in Moscow, where the insufferably pompous Doug Wilson has called for acts of “sodomy” — eventually, he says, when white male Reformed patriarchs finally take over — to be punishable by law.  This is a man who hides behind his keyboard while calling homosexual men not just “sodomites,” which in itself is in error (Ezekiel 16:49), but also catamites and poofters — but is too cowardly to say so to a gay male debate partner onstage with him, even in front of hundreds of his toadie fans.  He defends, on Biblical grounds, jokes about gays, and he mocks those of us who embrace our LGBT friends.  His mockery of me is an indication that I’m on solid ground, spiritually and otherwise, but his vituperative vomit stains the witness of the Gospel on the Palouse — and is almost completely unchallenged.

But this persistent challenger dismisses Wilson, et al, as a crank and a posturer and prays that he repents of his bigotry.  And when I, the persistent challenger who waits for the brave, male, ordained and “terribly concerned” Evangelical pastors of Moscow to awaken from their slumber and straighten their feeble arms, read this, I wept with profound joy.  May God bless Chambers, his family, and all who have been harmed by ex-gay, reparative therapy.  Here is his apology.  Wilson would do well to consider what true Christian humility and wisdom looks like:

 I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.
 
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

A Quick Shot Before My Opening Salvo: Wilson As The Bride At Every Wedding

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Over the last week or so, while I’ve been preparing for my son’s move to Bellingham and subsequently making my seventh trip to Western Washington since April 1, our resident Righteousness Czar, Doug Wilson, has been manfully pounding the keyboard to announce that all homosexual activities should be prosecuted by law, as “sodomy” is in itself a political act worthy of the concern of the State.

It goes without saying that I continue to think that Wilson is wrong, dead wrong, and a bully besides, ignoring as he does the harder target — that is, the domestic violence, rape, and abuse of women  present in his community and wrought by those masculinist ideals of his — and shooting for the easy one, the civil rights of homosexuals.  These are people he dislikes anyway, finding what he imagines their conduct to be distasteful and yucky anyway, and relieves him of the pastoral obligation to care for the women oppressed and disenfranchised, abused and belittled, by the erstwhile Heads of Households under his hairy, calloused thumb.  I’ll have much more to say when I return mid-week (it’s hard to blog at the in-laws’), but here’s a preview of my thoughts regarding the Fatuous One’s argument of the inherent political act that “sodomy” represents:

Is it barely possible, even in the terribly skewed world of Douglas Wilson, that any two people of the same sex, when making love, are not making love with thoughts of how their passion inflames a podunk pastor in North Idaho? 

From My Beloved Friend, The Rev. Domnic Misolo of Bondo, Kenya

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

I am so privileged of God to have this brother in my life . . .

(From Anglican Rev. Domnic Misolo, Archdiocese of Bondo, Kenya)

Complementary or Christlike?

“I tell her what she can and cannot do, and she submits to my authority.”

“At church, I teach the word of God; she can’t, because she’s a woman. Instead, she learns, in silence.”

“I’m the bread-winner; she’s the home-maker.”

“She cooks the food; I eat it.”

“I mess up the bathroom; she cleans it.”

Some would say that these statements reflect the “complementary” roles that God intended for men and women at church and in the home.

Others, myself included, would say that they sound an awful lot like slavery on the basis of gender. One group leads, the other follows. One group holds all the authority, the other submits and obeys. One group enjoys positions of prestige, the other does the dirty work. The roles may “complement” one another, but this does not change the fact that the relationship is fundamentally unjust.

Is this really a reflection of the roles God intended for men and women?

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” (Philipians 2:5-8, NIV)

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV).

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, NIV).

God did not make a class of rulers and call them men; nor did he make a class of submissive followers and call them women. God is not the author of injustice. He is not affiliated with human prejudice. In Christ there is neither male nor female, slave nor free. We are all one. We are all called to love and serve one another, in humility, as Jesus himself loved and served us.

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love” (Psalm 33:5, NIV).

The Infinite Reach Of God’s Grace: The Night Stalker

Saturday, June 8th, 2013
The death of Night Stalker serial killer and avowed Satanist Richard Ramirez prompts me to say this: It’s hard to imagine a
 more evil human being and impossible to imagine the horror, pain, and grief he caused during his spree killings. But if, 
even at the moment just before his death, he truly repented and turned to the Holy One for forgiveness, he is at peace now 
in the everlasting arms of the Savior. Because if the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was only sufficient for MY sins, 
or YOUR sins, or the sins of other nice people — and even some pretty awful ones — how can we Christians ever truly
understand mercy, truly receive grace, or truly worship a God of infinite love? Perhaps its our belief that the Ramirezes of 
the world are beyond the reach of grace that makes it easy for us to move ever nearer the “bar” of just who it is Jesus 
really loves . . .

Feminism As A "Heresy" Worthy Of Church Discipline?

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

There are heights of arrogance not easily scaled.

Of course, anyone can write anything.  Even the most astoundingly grandiose words can find themselves flying from a keyboard as easily as “Jesus loves me, this I know.”   But there’s something in the healthy human heart that conceals those things that, if spoken, would reveal the speaker/writer’s delusions of grandeur.  They may inflame the deluded, but they don’t embarrass him by finding their way into the public.  I may think I’m the best mom in the world, or that my take on immigration policy demonstrates a depth of understanding few can reach, but general good mental health and a desire to not look like an ass keep me from self-promotion or from making pronouncements of  certainty greater than my actual qualifications deserve. 

Then again, I’m not Douglas Wilson, who last week announced that feminism, rather than an understanding of culture and society that many feminists, not incidentally, glean from the Scriptures, is, rather, a heresy whose severity ought to result in the unrepentant feminist’s being placed under church discipline and thus denied a place at the Lord’s Table.  Cue the Masculinist Amen Corner:  It’s the fault of a sentimentalist Church gone soft and girly-like that’s resultde in a Church generally unwilling to exercise discipline in accordance with Matthew 18. And so feminism is, all in its lonesome, both the precipitating cause and the direct subject of the issue at hand. Quite a trick, really, even if feminism were a heresy.

It isn’t, of course.  It’s just offensive to Wilson, which, God be praised, is not sinful and quite often, in fact, reveals a deft understanding of theology and hermeneutics.   

“Heresy” is defined by theologians as a teaching that strikes against a core, fundamental teaching of the orthodox, historical Church.  Bennie Hinn’s assertion, for example, that each of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity possesses Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within, resulting in an un-Biblical “novunity,” is a heresy.  T.D. Jakes’ United Pentecostalism understanding of the Trinity is considered heretical by evangelical theologians for the same reason; Jakes’ “Jesus Only” grasp of the Triune God is faulty, although charity requires us to presume lack of understanding and not malice in their error.

The historic creeds of the Christian Church didn’t simply codify foundational Christian beliefs, but did so in response to heretical teachings that threatened the unity and fidelity of the nascent Church.  The Athanasian Creed, for example, reiterates the complete ontological equality of the Son to the Father in the eternal economy of the Trinity — meaning that a fully-God, fully-human, fully-equal Jesus Christ willingly emptied Himself IN THE INCARNATION of some of his deitific prerogatives and powers, but never of His divinity.  Further, He and the Holy Spirit, also ontologically equal to the Creator we call Father, Yahweh, are in no way subordinated to each other in the dance of equality, mutuality, and selfless love of the Triune One. 

Sadly, the popular complementarian teaching of Jesus’ subordinationism, which has flared in popularity as masculinist theologians and pastors have attempted to craft arguments against the full integration into church, home, and society of women, is perilously close to the heresy that Athanasius addressed.  In placating women by insisting that, like Jesus is fully equal to the Father, women are fully equal to men, and that, as Jesus is perpetually subordinated to His Father, women must be perpetually subject to men, these teachers commit the error of subordinationism — the first step toward the full error that prompted the Athanasian Creed.  “Be like Jesus — be eternally in subjection” is horrendous counsel and even worse teaching particularly because it does damage to the historic, Biblical teaching of the Trinity and does damage to women.  Wilson is a subordinationist; if he cares little about damage to women, his belief in his theological prowess ought to prompt some care about a true and faithful understanding of the Trinity he worships.

I believe, passionately and unequivocally, that the Kingdom of God and the work wrought in its establishment by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Scriptures — and not just in the “red-letter” words of Jesus — has as at its core the desire to reconcile humankind to the Holy One and to reverse, here on this earth, the toxic, violent effects of the Fall.  Women and men were created with both ontological and functional equality; no responsible reading of Genesis teaches otherwise.  The subjugation of women to men is a grotesque deviation from the mutuality and harmony God created them in and intended for them to live in.  Yahweh’s solemn words to Eve — “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” — were God’s warning to the Woman that she would be forced into subjection as a result of their sin, not a prescription revealing a sudden change in God’s will for men and women.  These words predicted the rise of sinful patriarchy — patriarchy  – as defined not as “one man over all his women,” but “one man over all he deems his inferiors.”

Feminism, unlike subordinationist-fed complementarianism, does not strike at the nature of the Trinity.  It says nothing in opposition to Christ Jesus’ work in the redemption of humankind.  It doesn’t deny the authority of Scripture; it doesn’t sow unwarranted division in the Body.  The teaching of full ontological and functional equality of women to men, whether called “feminism” or not, upholds the nature of the Biblical Trinity and rightly extends Christ’s redemption to all, male or female, who call upon Him in faith.  It respects the teaching of Scripture and calls the Body into full service, full participation, and full inclusion in the mission of the Gospel.

Masculinism strikes at those foundations — and yet I could not in good conscience dare presume that someone who differs with me in understanding Biblical teaching on sex roles is a heretic unworthy of my fellowship, unworthy of inclusion at the Table, and unworthy of the name “saint.”  See, Wilson and I don’t just differ in our beliefs regarding complementarianism and egalitarianism.  We clearly have very different and remarkably clear differences in our understanding of just what constitutes delusionalyl self-aggrandizing, divisive theological edicts and what simply is a reasonable analysis of doctrinal differences.  I hope to forever be found frolicking with the healthy and humble in the latter and pray that Wilson would leave the former to join us. 

Because, unlike Doug Wilson, I have a pretty healthy understanding of the infinitely vast difference between me and the Holy Spirit.

Out, Foul Demon Of Laptop Mischief!

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Here I am, all pumped up and ready to unleash anew the Prevailing Winds of correction and rebuke against Christian bigots and bullies local and national — turns out, there’s a lot of this locally — when my laptop is beset by some bug requiring a five-day stay at the Computer Hospital here in Moscow.  But I’m back, so get ready — there’s a lot of Bigotry-in-the-name-of-Jesus out here in the Palouse, and now that cookies and programs are restored, I find that my ire is still aflame . . . stay tuned, dear reader!