Handicapping the U.S. Election of 2016

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC: I think she’s got about a 95 chance to win this election, and I think she’s going to have a higher margin than Barack Obama did in 2012. Higher margin. She’s going to win by more than 5 million votes. She’s going to win a higher percentage. And interestingly she’s going to have a more diverse coalition than Barack Obama even did when you take the final vote into consideration. Every piece of data points in that direction.[1]

Contrary to the existentialist “wish as reality” analysis of the Versaillean soothsayers of the Potomac and Hudson, who have been consistent in their misreading of the entrails from the get-go of this election cycle; I suspect that most pieces of data point to very iffy outcome in either direction. There is reasonable chance that while Hillary Clinton may win the popular vote by up to 2%, Donald Trump may squeak through an Electoral College victory. There is even a plausible possibility of a tie, with all the partisan hell that that would entail and ensue.

In the first place, one cannot help but be skeptical of the integrity and competency of public opinion polls. The variances between the different polls results in a situation whereby even a good plurality of competing polls are outside of the “margin of error” of other polls. To explicate: if Poll A claims that Hillary will win by 5% percentage points with a margin of error of 2.5%, 19 times out of 20; but a good third of competing polls claim that it is tie; those third are well outside the margin of error parameters of Poll A. How credible can polling be with that state of affairs?

Methodological finagling, beneath the surface of the stated approach, is so easy to do and has been much in evidence. The demographic composition that is chosen; the means by which the poll is solicited; even the order by which one frames the survey questions can solicit a significantly different result, especially from those who really haven’t given the matter serious final thought.

Consider those poll of polls averages, whereby one single outlier poll can so distort the averages, that Electoral College predictions can change hands. The Granite State Poll (University of New Hampshire) gave HRC an 11% lead, which, by its own singular influence, placed the state onto the Blue side.

Poll Date Sample

Size

MOE Clinton Trump Johnson Stein Spread
Emerson 11/4 – 11/5 1000 LV 3.0 45 44 5 3 Clinton +1
WMUR/UNH 11/3 – 11/6 707 LV 3.7 49 38 6 1 Clinton +11
Gravis 11/1 – 11/2 1001 RV 2.0 41 43 7 2 Trump +2
Boston Globe/Suffolk 10/31 – 11/2 500 LV 4.4 42 42 5 2 Tie
ARG 10/31 – 11/2 600 LV 4.0 43 48 4 1 Trump +5
UMass Lowell/7News 10/28 – 11/2 695 LV 4.3 44 44 5 2 Tie
WBUR/MassINC 10/29 – 11/1 500 LV 4.4 39 40 10 3 Trump +1

Why then are the competing candidates heavily campaigning in New Hampshire in the last days before the election? Even Olympic events, which depend upon such type judgments, toss out the outliers.

We dwell in the Age of Mendacity, where propagandistic advocacy poses as journalism, and sociological surveys ape as science. One suspects that these advocates hope for a bandwagon effect; but which, if it ever existed, vaporizes if virtually everyone has become knowledgeably jaded to such dissembling.

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I remain convinced that any poll, even if conducted with the highest degree of intellectual integrity and competence, will understate the Trump support. As a rule of thumb, it is the Right and the radical Left who are most tender about privacy concerns, and therefore tend to hold their cards close to their vest. And in the present American political milieu, it is less socially acceptable and economically advantageous to appear to be a member of the “irredeemable deplorable,” especially if the higher classes (a.k.a. employers), whether of the elite Right or elite Left, who may have influence over one’s welfare, display a universal detestation for this vulgarian. Furthermore, there exists more evidence of harassment, death threats, and low-level violence emanating from the Left than from the Right in this election cycle.

If Trump was able to appeal to the “irredeemably deplorable,” who rarely voted in prior elections, to vote in a primary/caucus, it seems implausible that they would not lift themselves from couch potato positions for the general election. These from the “rube class” may or may not be accurately demographically apportioned in political polls. Likewise, it is understandable if the tribalist instincts of Blacks are less enthusiastic to vote for a white woman than from one of their own “species.” It is likewise understanding if the Hispanics are aroused who consider Trump an existential threat to their own well-being.

The early voting seems to confirm these premonitions, with the proportion of the white vote marginally ahead, while the black vote is significantly behind in places like North Carolina, where they constitute 22% of the population; Florida (17%); or Philadelphia.

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Presidential elections have been rather static affairs since 2000, each side appealing to their respective bases. Donald Trump has substantially altered the axis upon which this electoral divide is premised and indeed, has made voting intentions more fluid. Even if Clinton was to maintain the same popular vote lead as Obama in 2012, the shift has placed hitherto solid-Blue states into play. Clinton has little over a two percent lead in Pennsylvania, which Obama won by 10%+ points in 2008, and 5.5% in 2012. New Hampshire is dead even with advantage Trump, which Obama won by 9.5% and 5.5% respectively. The same goes in a myriad of mid-west states (e.g. Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio).

I have great suspicions that many voters will become last-minute shoppers, sizing up the possible consequences of the respective future administrations. While the vulgar, self-serving, unsympathetic, intemperate, inconsistent, intellectually ignorant albeit shrewd instincts (Reptilian Brain – Joe Stein of Time Magazine) of Trump may break such an undecided vote towards the Democratic camp; the thought of yet another Clintonesque ordeal and politically deadlocked paralysis at a time of greater perils; or the overwhelming evidence of corruption, public collusion with private interests, and the use of the organs of state to promote partisan interests, may make break it the other way.

Finally, one must consider the zeitgeist, in light of the Brexit vote. The Financial Times poll of polls placed the Remain side ahead by 2%. Yet the Leave side won the vote by 3.8%, as the turnout in the cosmopolitan areas was significantly lower than that found in Little Britain’s hinterland. The lower classes and the hinterland are up in arms everywhere in the West.

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Even so, as indicated by the states which the respective candidates are visiting in the last days, the battleground states seems to show a Trump offensive and momentum.

  • Ohio
  • New Hampshire (especially)
  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota (which seems like a Trumpian feint)

Barring a last minute shift of sentiment; because of the lower turnout of Blacks in North Carolina, I suspect that that Red State remains Red. Ohio, like Iowa, which went Obama in 2008 and 2012, seem solidly on the Red side. The very close electoral college (current predictions of 272 – 266 in favor of Clinton) pivots on Florida and New Hampshire, with an outside chance of Pennsylvania and Colorado making a difference. If the Hispanic vote makes up for the lagging Black (and millennial) vote, while the “white nationalist rube” vote remains subdued, the Democrats win. If the New Hampshire vote is reflected by the myriad of late polls giving Trump the edge rather than that Granite State outlier, while Florida goes Red, Trump wins 270 – 268. If one district in Maine, which is presently in the Red camp goes Blue, there exists an Electoral College tie.

Thus, I cannot make any firm prediction other than it might not make any difference in the end in regard to the great unravelling of the Republic as a free civic polity.

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Therefore, contrary to pontifications of ABC News Matthew Dowd, which, I believe, are without common-sense merit and sufficient, let alone universal evidence (“Every piece of data points in that direction”); there is a better chance of a Trumpian victory at the Electoral College than expected, even if, as I suspect, Clinton squeaks a popular vote victory; barring a major shift in sentiment her way.

If the world was presently sane, and merit actually meant something, and the mainstream media was more concerned with their own long-term credibility and viability than short-term partisan gain, I might have applied for Dowd’s job, if I prove right.

 

 

 

[1] Matthew Dowd, “Clinton Has 95% Chance To Win, Will Win By 5 Million Votes,” This Week (ABC News), November 6, 2016, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/11/06/matthew_dowd_clinton_has_95_chance_will_get_higher_margin_than_obama.html.

Porky Pig for President

Donald Trump will probably lose the election. But he is a final warning. Unless political elites of both the left and the right become more humble, unless they once again ask themselves how their agendas will play in Peoria, the next rough beast might slouch over the corpse of the republic.[1]

I am in general accord with our John Ibbitson concerning the meaning of Donald Trump. (Indeed, I have pretty much said the same in prior blog posts – re: August 24, 2015.)

But Trump himself is not the actual threat. He is but a Storm Trooper of political demagogues to come; a barometer to would-be tyrants of the venality and imbecility at the heart of American politics; a harbinger of the effectual end of free civic society, except for its forms, and [the effectual end of] individual liberty, rule of law and peace.

But unlike John Ibbitson and other members of the cosmopolitan media; I do not consider his opponent, de facto criminal and American Marie Antoinette wannabe (re: “irredeemable . . . basket of deplorables”) to be any less the embodiment of the last generation of the American Republic.

So for those Bernie Bros of the Progressive Left seething at the thought of electing the very symbol of corporate-bought, self-serving venality and corruption in Lady MacBeth Clinton, or those Evangelicals who are appalled at the nose pinching Sophie’s Choice between the lesser of two weevils; the question becomes, “what to do, what to do?”

One could vote for third candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. However, as both belong to either edge of the political continuum, such would not serve the interests or values of the muddled middle. Furthermore, a vote for either would not sufficiently register the disgust and anger at the current state of political affairs.

Taking a trip to the local polling station in order to register a spoiled ballot is unlikely to sufficiently inspire the live-in-their-parents-basement crowd to momentarily depart from their video porn and games.

So taking a cue from our Québécois folk from a couple of generations back, from whence arose the Rhinoceros Party out of their poutine forests, and which garnered a not inconsequential support in the 1980 Canadian election, the American disaffected might take advantage of that unique feature of their politics; the presidential write-in.

But which figure would rally the democratic troops from all corners of the political spectrum in one concord of mass disgust?

James Buchanan, considered the worst president in the history of the United States, whose machinations (re: Dredd Scott) quickened the onset of the American Civil War, seems a suitable stamp of ironic preference. That or Tamelane, Ghenghis Khan, or Ivan the Terrible. However, such would require history and/or civics literacy, to which modern generations of Americans are not particularly adept.

Perhaps, Mister (Fred) Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, whose simple-minded homilies could make even the most cynical secularist liberal weep. But that would require a resurrection, or at least a séance, were Mr. Rogers ever to be actually elected. And like the prophet Samuel, the ghost of Fred Rogers might object.

Perhaps the polarized American electorate could have a kumbaya moment wth Barnie the (purple) Dinosaur; that is all except the Liberty University crowd. Obviously, Kermit the Frog, Roger Rabbit, and Pepé Le Pew would alienate those averse to strange love. Elmer Fudd would provoke objections in those appalled by those who “cling to guns.” And cute little Dora the Explorer has unfortunately been commandeered in the service of the wedge issue of illegal immigration.

dora-the-explorer-wanted-poster-71948

Therefore, my candidate of common choice is the bow-tied, suitably plutocratic Porky Pig, whose signature sign-off seems apropos for the times; the swan song for the fall of the American Republic and for free civic politics.

2003_thats_all

Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

And thus it will be said:

This is the way the American Republic ends,

Not with a bang, nor a whimper,

But with a modicum of plebeian wit.

 

 

[1] John Ibbitson, “He’ll likely lose – but Trump is the final warning to elite,” The Globe and Mail, October 7, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9434BoGkNQ.

Les Déplorables

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right . . . The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

– Hillary Rodham Clinton at LGBT for Hillary Gala – Sept 9, 2016

If I was to be grossly generalistic, I’d say that you can take Trump supporters and put them in two big baskets. There are what I call the deplorables. They’re racists, and the haters, and the people who are drawn because they think somehow he’s going to restore an America that no longer exists. So just eliminate them from your thinking because we have always had a paranoiac and prejudicial element within our politics.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Interview with Yonit Levi, Israeli TV – Sept 8, 2016

There are knock-out zingers or gaffes which make or break a public persona. Certainly, Mulroney’s “you had an option, sir” comeback qualifies as the defining and determining moment in a 1984 Canadian Federal Election debate; or Reagan’s folksy “there you go again” in a 1980 U.S. Federal Election debate; or contrariwise, Rick Perry’s infamous “Oops,” after an early stage senior’s moment.

While lacking the virtue of hindsight or empirical polling date, it seems virtually certain that a politician, publicly denigrating a quarter of the electorate of one’s nation as a basket (with intimations of “basket case”), as deplorables, as irredeemable, and as un-American, more than qualifies as such a defining and determining moment.

Such intuitions arise not merely from the amount and duration of play that these terms have generated in the media, including the foreign press and the now nakedly partisan mainstream media (MSM), who normally protect their Champion from self-inflicted wounds through non-reportage and other media contrivances. But such disparagements as Hillary Clinton’s are sufficiently over the top that they cannot be ignored.

It is rather because such sentiments speak directly into the zeitgeist of the moment; namely the disrobing of a hitherto veiled contempt by the cosmopolitan elite for the commons, the unwashed masses, the ignorant rubes of the hinterland, and the vengeance that such disdain would naturally provoke in the latter. It is open class warfare in a nation whose civil religion has hitherto repudiated and denied the existence of class in America. And Hillary Clinton has successfully auditioned for the starring role of that horror film.

Many among Clinton’s allies have condemned her remarks; a meritorious few among them out of genuine concern for the public good. “We believe in redemption, not just because you’re a liberal but you’re American. When you right off people and blame the customer; that is really bad.” – Mark Shields)

But a surprising number have thought it prudent and shrewd to embrace her sentiments, to violate the politically correct nostrum of modern democracy concerning the decency and virtue of the common man.

Partisan Considerations

Having no direct skin in the U.S. election, I have little interest in the Stock Ticker of partisan gamesmanship. Nevertheless, it seems quite evident to me that this ‘basket of deplorable’ motif exhibits a dearth of political acumen which plunges well beneath the lowest bar of expectations for a veteran politico and a major political party. It is unfathomable how such an indiscriminate and amorphous insult against one’s own electors could produce a net partisan gain. The stings of verbal assault linger far longer in those against whom they were directed than with those who enjoy a momentary glee.

Certainly, the optics of declaiming, at an LGBT gala, the theists and moralists, who do not buy into the LGBT agenda (and thereby summarily qualify as a homophobic heretic in an LGBT moral universe), is supremely rich in irony and dissonance from the latter’s perspective (Isaiah 5:20). It is well reported that many among the theists and moralists have been having a crisis of conscience in voting for Trump; these, who have hitherto dutifully supported whatever Champion the Republican Party proffered. But in that such malevolent attitudes permeate the soul of Clinton and her allies towards them, those, who may have otherwise sat on their hands, may find it a compelling existential necessary for their own welfare to effectually vote against Clinton.

The evident general contempt for the unwashed masses and ignorant rubes of the hinterland by this member of the cosmopolitan elite may arouse even more nativist rubes, who have never or rarely voted, from their apathy in a singular display of defiance. One would have thought that someone within the Clinton coterie would have picked up on the political blunders of the Remain side on the Brexit referendum.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus – The New Colossus (1883)

It is also rich irony in a nation whose founding myth includes America as refuge for the many who were deemed the social outcasts, the deplorables, within their native homelands. This is an attitude that many first generation immigrants, residing in the United States, would have first-hand knowledge. The myth of the immigrant is celebrated more by the progressive liberal set than their political adversaries; a myth which includes a new start for those who had been considered irredeemable. Yet the would-be governor of America has inadvertently positioned herself, in her updated version of wretched refuse against a large swath of the governed, as an instigating agent of emigration.

Higher Considerations of Statesmanship

As intimated elsewhere, I have been of the studied opinion since the late 1980s that United States has been sleepwalking (and now hurtling) towards civic conflagration, barring a preemptive coup d’état. There are seminal causes, which underlie the accelerating polarization and schisms since especially the 1960s, whose crosscurrent dynamics are now in abundant display. But the flurry of empirical evidence of imminent civic tumult is now rushing faster than one can countenance it all.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties (factions) in the state . . .

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is  itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

George Washington, Farewell Address (1797)

One might wish that some American Cincinnatus or Scipio, with substance and natural nobility, might emerge from the culturally gated communities of the American optimates or the subterranean swamps of the populares, who recognize the present peril and demonstrate genuine will to forestall such civic conflagration. However, not only have recent politicos been blissfully oblivious to the dangers, but they have exacerbated and contributed to this hurtling vortex. In that none exists among the representatives of the American populace, with the wisdom to recognize, acknowledge, and address the present peril, it may be indicative of America’s ethical and intellectual depletion.

It is within this context that Hillary Clinton’s “basket case of irredeemable deplorables” must be framed. The underlying attitude, and the brazen shamelessness in publicly expressing it, makes her an active agent of civic division and conflagration and a contributor to the imminent ruin of the free civic polity and public liberty. Beyond the mendacity, the venality, the greed and self-aggrandizement, the corruption, the lack of core convictions and dedication to a transcendent vision beyond that of mere self-interest; Clinton’s arrogant contempt towards large swaths of the populace and her divisiveness makes her intrinsically unfit to lead her nation.

What a woeful state of affairs! For in Donald Trump, the Americans have an ignorant and unprincipled yet politically shrewd operator, the first edition of many demagogues, who provides a partial template for future authoritarians in the ashes of the American Republic’s demise. And in Hillary Clinton, they have an equally unprincipled but politically dim-witted Marie Antoinette (“What difference, at this point, does it make?”), whose schismatic attitudes and the policies and actions/reactions, which invariably would emanate from those attitudes, will quicken that demise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mendacity of American Journalism – Yet Another Flagrant Example

One of the thematic lessons, to be derived from study of Hitler’s Nazis and their all too easy and rapid overcoming of the impediments to autocratic rule normally posed by civic institutions and independent social organizations, was the role played by pre-existing public distrust and contempt towards those entities. In view of a similar present and persisting repugnance in the U.S. for its islands of tyrannical resistance, including its news media, the peril of demagogues and warlords can be sighted on the horizon. One would think that a modicum of prudence might, at least, infect the veteran sages within those social/civic entities. But alas, wisdom has likewise “caught the last train for the coast.

One of the devices, deployed by Satan in the Temptation of Christ, was to cite scriptural text while omitting key phrases which substantively alter the meaning of that text (Matthew 4:5–6). It seems that our modern Wormwoods understand the lesson, although less subtle practitioners.

James Fellows, veteran national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, excerpted a speech from Trump’s recent Miami political rally (September 16, 2016), and thereafter suggested that the presidential candidate hinted at “bodily harm against his opponent.”

I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Miami. “I think they should disarm. Immediately. What do you think. Yes? Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Take them. Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It will be very dangerous.

The cadence of that quote suggests that it was originally part of a larger argument. And lo and behold, such intuitions are well founded as these “incriminating” sentiments were preceded by . . .

You know she’s very much against the Second Amendment. She wants to destroy your Second Amendment. Guns, guns, guns, right. I think that what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before.

. . .  highlighting the hypocrisy of such a political stance; or alternatively, another example whereby Hillary Clinton considers herself above the rules that she would exact upon others.

Such rhetoric by Trump is hardly new. In a tweet earlier this year, Trump wailed, “Hillary said that guns don’t keep you safe. If she really believes that she should demand that her heavily armed bodyguards quickly disarm!” The integrated compactness of that tweet might make selective parsing a harder enterprise for our modern day Wormwoods.

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What makes this particular dabble in sophistic deceit by the veteran journalist such a lark is the irony of The Atlantic concurrently publishng “Why Do Americans Distrust the Media?”; or in the piece “Why Americans Hate the Media,” written by this same James Fallows in his prime. But one hardly need thrash the sociological bushes to uncover the reasons. The answer lies spread-eagled like a cheap tart on the pages of the same website; loss of intellectual integrity.

The “members of the punditocracy” are perplexed by the inability for Trump’s lies, blatant in their obviousness and childish in their silliness, to sink his candidacy. Certainly, an outside observer, with little skin in the partisan games, might cite the lack of evenhandedness in this regard by the media; neglecting, dismissing, and excusing the lies of Trump’s opponent, which are more serious in nature in that they have directly involved the public interest. But a simpler answer lies in the conundrum of veteran practitioners of the arts of partisan spin, lies, and sophistic deceit, calling another out for mendacity. The Fifth Estate has so debased their currency of influence that they can no longer credibly act as checks against the ambitions of potential demagogues and warlords.

The Latest Changes in the ESV

Every Christian is entitled to his own interpretation, but not to his own translation.[1]

My pathologically precisionism and scrupulosity becomes easily incensed by mistranslations of the Bible. It is not the honest errors that irk, but rather the ones which I know emanate from pre-existing theological prejudices and speculations. There are days in which I would like to disparaging proclaim that the dishonesty of the Biblical scholars is so great that one must read the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek.

While I use the ESV translation and will cite from that version, I am always wary of intentional translative massaging of the Greek text, such as occurs in the Romans 5:12–21 passage which New Calvinists/Reformed types use to validate the notion that all humanity are deemed guilty for Adam’s sin. This is obviously against the principles of divine (Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Ezekiel 18:20) and human justice. The validity of Christ’s imputation is judicially dependent upon the free consent of the One who sacrificed (John 10:17–18) and paid the penalty on our behalf. There has been no such free consent given by Adam’s descendants.

Another example is from 1 Timothy 2:12 – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.” My suspicion of the meaning behind the first prohibition is that men generally learn differently from women. Many, observing the current state of schoolboy’s performance in the public schools, suggest that a chief cause lies for their failure, relative to schoolgirls, is in the overwhelming predominance of female teachers.

However, the second prohibition is imprecisely translated in most of the English versions. The Greek word translated into ‘authority’ in this verse differs from the norm. Whereas ‘authority’ generally derives from exousia (ἐξουσία), which denotes conferred/delegated, legal, and/or moral authority; the Greek word used in the Timothy passage is authentein (αὐθεντεῖν), which literally translates as self-arm (or unilaterally take up arms), which abstractly infers a self-appointed, non-delegated authority. Therefore, a woman can have a position of authority as long as it is rightfully conferred/delegated.

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Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. – Genesis 3:16b

A passage in Genesis 3:16 has been re-interpreted since the 1970s by the CBMW (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) crowd that has differed from its historical understanding. In response to the feminist movement and Evangelical egalitarians, these CBMW “complementarians” have suggested that the passage infers a wife’s attempt to overrule the rightful authority of her husband. At one time, I held to the same misunderstanding. But while there is no doubt that some women do make such attempts, one cannot honestly derive that interpretation from the translation.

No problem! Let us just change the translation to conform to a preconceived theological understanding! Thereby, the translation of that passage in the ESV has been modified.

Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you. – Genesis 3:16b

If it be true that “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), then neither should any single translation be so inconsistent with every other translation. The general sense from other English translations is along the same lines as it originally was in the ESV.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. [NIV]

Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you. [NASB]

and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [KJV]

and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. [AKJV]

and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [ASV]

The standard Jewish translation states “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (JPS Tanakh 1917). The Jewish scholars of the non-canonical Septuagint (3rd century BC) translated the passage into the Greek as:

καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει

kai pros ton andra . . . apostrephó . . .

And towards the man [of] you turning away from you . . . (or turning back)

One presumes that the Jews should be better authorities concerning their own language than Christian Gentiles, presuming intellectual integrity on the part of the Jews.

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In the 332 instances of the exact Hebrew term wə-’el-, there is no other case whereby it has been translated to “contrary to.” That is until now! There are occasions when the Hebrew term has been translated to “against.” However, that understanding (“Your desire shall be against your husband”) would make one wonder why a woman would ever want to get married in the first place.

The revision in the ESV is semantically silly. It might make semantic sense if the passage declared that the woman’s desires (in the plural) would be contrary to that of your husband. What specific but undisclosed singular wifely desire could it be that is contrary to that of the husband?

And how would this curse be particular to woman only? Do sons not have desires contrary to their fathers, male employees contrary to their employers, and male subjects and citizens contrary to their governors? Is not rebellion a general condition of humanity?

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Another passage revised in politically necessary sympathy with Genesis 3:16 verse is Genesis 4:17. The ESV has been changed from:

And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. – BEFORE

And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it. – AFTER

This rendering is semantically disjointed. The notion of sin crouching at the door infers an adversary laying a snare to bring a person under its bondage. This understanding of enslavement by sin is consistent with Romans 6 and 7.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. – Romans 6:12

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. – Romans 6:16–8

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. – Romans 7:23

A Profound Revision in Understanding

Rebellion of the wife against the authority of the husband may indeed exist. However, in blatantly revising the translation to match contemporary concerns of CBMW complementarians, it deliberately neglects another existential and historical reality; namely, that woman have often found their longings for their husbands unfulfilled as the latter seeks satisfaction away and apart from the spouse, children, and household; whether in pursuit of accomplishment and leaving a legacy (a.k.a. material and occupational success or even ministry); or in hedonistic pleasure at gaming tables and horse tracks, drinking tables, or in the arms of another woman; or in sheer abandonment.

A similar notion of material and/or effectual family abandonment by the husband and father is implied elsewhere.

Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. – Malachi 2:14–6

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. – Malachi 4:5–6; cf. Luke 1:17

And God as Father and Christ as husband declares a dedicated faithfulness contrary to this human propensity. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). “Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Which is the ontological curse for a wife? Being contrary to one’s husband (which seems, in my mind, to be more an ontological curse for the husband); or the ever pressing threat of abandonment and resulting material and psychological impoverishment? It would seem that egocentric male concerns have corrupted the Biblical scholars who translated the ESV.

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I am a complementarian, but not of the CBMW variety. The nature of Biblical complementarianism is not that of gender-based roles. Anyone, who has meditated upon Proverbs 31:18–31 and other Scriptural passages with intellectual and interpretative honesty, will not find the notion of “roles” in Scriptures, whether explicitly or implicitly. There are a very few functions which are delegated to males and females. But these can be explained upon other rational foundations (e.g. orderliness – “For God is not a God of confusion/disorder but of peace” – 1 Corinthians 14:33).

Rather, I would suggest that Biblical complementarianism is based on probabilistic differences in gender propensities and approaches to life, as well as distinctive physical attributes. This makes some of life’s functions more amenable to one gender or the other. But both Scriptures are, and real life must be more flexible than the patriarchal, cum “complementarian” notions of the CBMW crowd. And in reducing the gender differences to roles rather than to natural propensities, the CBMW crowd become intellectually incapable of presenting a credible rational defense against same-sex relationships and marriage.

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It is never a good occasion to translate a passage in the midst of controversy; or to trust such translations. Even beyond that; the blatantly deceitful and unconvincing manner of this latest ESV revision makes one averse to utilizing the ESV Bible, invokes greater distrust of the Christian intelligentsia, and discredits the cause of Christ.

 

 

 

[1] This is a variant on Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous quip, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts” as it relates to texts.

Substitutionary Atonement: The Satisfaction of the Wrath of God? (Long Read)

Many, who give Christianity a go, so to speak, do so on the basis of emotive appeals and/or yearning. And many, who eventually and effectively fall away, do so because Christianity seems incoherent. This may manifest itself as outright rejection, as neglect, or in wayward departure from essential verities and their application. Application is an entailment of genuine faith; much as technological applications entail genuine faith in underlying principles of scientific theories.

Proponents of Christianity can do little in regard those who honestly cannot reconcile Christianity with perceived realities; or those who exalt their own reason and/or psyche as the ultimate arbiters of Truth and the Good, especially whenever the counter-intuitive wisdom of the God of Scriptures comes into conflict (which shall inevitably occur); or those who were never sufficiently serious.

However, proponents of Christianity ought to, at least, ensure that the Gospel and Full Counsel of God that is transmitted is scripturally faithful and thereby rationally coherent. It is cause for deep grief and great disgust when it is the errant teachings of ecclesiastical orthodoxy, which prove contrary to Biblical orthodoxy, which are the reasons for initial or eventual rejection. It is cause for deep frustration when more time is required disabusing what Christianity is not, perpetuated by those self-identified and supposedly Christian, than in explaining what Christianity is.

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The Atonement of Christ, as the sating of the wrath of God unto our Justification, is one such ecclesiastical orthodoxy, deserving of such disdain. Continue reading “Substitutionary Atonement: The Satisfaction of the Wrath of God? (Long Read)”