John Piper and His Silly Tweets

I refuse to get a Twitter account. First; I find it difficult to even flatulate in less than 140 characters. And having been cursed by attending two of High School teacher John Strebig’s English classes, my stomach churns if I dare proffer opinions without substantiation. Finally, as consequence of a spiritual odyssey, which required the dotting of every i and crossing of every t, in order to navigate to safe harbours; I am inclined to want to stomp on the snake of every objection until the guts of each argument has been thoroughly expelled. Consequently, I am verbose. Why write an eight line poem, or even a two page executive summary when a twenty page dissertation will do?

However, Pastor John Piper provides the best reason to stay clear of Twitter when pontificating great nostrums of wisdom.

To quote from the Desiring God site:

Monday night, in the wake of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, John Piper posted two tweets at 11:00pm (CST).

·  @JohnPiper: “Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead.” Job 1:19

·  @JohnPiper: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” Job 1:20

These tweets were taken down two days later with explanations you can look up for yourself.
My concern with tweeting has always been that with the limited ability to fully explain oneself in 140 characters, one is prone to make utterances that will be misconstrued; innocently or malevolently. However, it appears that Mr. Piper cannot restrain himself from framing every disastrous event into some moral or spiritual point. There might be some moral or spiritual point. However, although I am a continualist; I am pretty certain that I am not privy to every thought of the Sovereign God.

When that idiot from Virginia Beach ranted about the Haitian pact with devil after the Port-Au-Prince earthquake, in which that buffoon even got the details of the timeline wrong; this quickly came to mind.

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelled in Jerusalem? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.(Luke 13:1-5)

Because of the genesis of sin in the cosmos, a tempest of disastrous consequences has ensued. And like Jonathan Edwards expressed in his infamous sermon; our human condition is consequently as one exposed to sudden destruction and dangling over the pit of hell. We are kept from immediate justice but by the forbearance and long-suffering of God.

However, unless one prophecies ahead of a disaster, the credibility of mapping a particular event as a particular punishment for a particular sin or sinner strains credulity. Post facto predictions are an oxymoron.

Evil occurs even to the ‘righteous’ for reasons too varied to explicate in a Tweet. Therefore, if a theologian feels a narcissistic compulsion to make a point in the aftermath of a disaster, take many a cold shower. Such pontifications are grating to the hurting recipients. As it is the ‘victim’, who is primarily hurting, his/her first priority is not likely to be to care how a theologian is particularly feeling.

Having been one who has suffered immensely over my life, this I can advise to those who seek to give counsel in times of grief.

a)  Do not offer solicit counsel until it is asked for.

b)  If it is asked for, solicit it in private.

c)  If you solicit counsel, deposit your doctrinal headgear at the coat check and speak from the heart.

d)  Better yet, sit in the ashes with the person who is suffering and SHUT THE HELL UP.

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Protagorean Arrogance

I often make reference to a stock phrase protagorean arrogance to describe feminist perspectives. The purpose is less to insult than to explain. The notion emanates from observation and excruciating personal experience; whereby one’s interlocutor is so locked up in their subjective mantras that no amount of valid reasoning or evidence can genuinely dislodge them from their pre-existing opinions, even one iota. However, the danger from such persons lurks in their tyrannical impulses, “sincerely exercised for the good of its victims” and “who torment us for our own good, [who] will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”.1 New York Mayor and plutocrat “Big Gulp” Bloomberg comes to mind. They are the enemies of liberty of conscience, the progenitors of ideological and social tyranny, and the begetters of civil wars, from family relationships up to civil societies. For, it is not in differences of opinion that most civic conflagration arises; but when one or all factions seek to impose their worldview and ethic/ethos upon all others.

Protagorean derives from the Greek sophist Protagoras of Abdera (490 – 420 B.C.), who is made famous by his utterance “Man is the measure of all things”.  This radical relativistic notion, that objective reality and the Good is determined by our epistemological ability to ascertain it, was seen in its time as leading to moral/legal chaos and societal disintegration. The astute will also surmise that the ultimate sociopolitical end result of such thought will be civil governance by arbitrary coercion of pure power instead of through consent. The autocracies of Alexander’s and the Roman Empire are artifacts one and two for the prosecutor for such conclusions.

It should not be thought that feminists are the only culprits of this disposition.

In this narcissistic, subjectivist age, the adage has morphed into I am the measure of all things. In a discourse of a generation back, the interlocutor who disagreed with you might declare a Kierkegaardian sentiment that what is true for you is not [necessarily] true for me. Nowadays, that same disagreeing interlocutor will tend to subscribe to the view that since what you say isn’t convincing to them; it is not true for you neither. Consequently, instead of acknowledging liberty of conscience differences of opinion, these interlocutors must coerce others to their way of conduct or thought.

Same-sex proponents operate in this way. It is not sufficient that they live their relationships and call them and others to call it whatever they please. Behind the movement is this intention to isolate and marginalize their ideological and sociopolitical adversaries and coerce these others to publicly concur with their politically correct cant through threat of subtle legal and socioeconomic reprisals.

However, the more insidious kind of protagorean arrogance is that which emanates without deliberate intent to deceive. Same-sex advocates probably know that they are pushing the envelope against liberty of conscience to the extent that they can get away with, until they meet rock hard resistance and push back. The evil of protagorean arrogance is that in the unwitting unknowing, these Lilliputian zealots lack any boundaries in violating the rights of others. They will not likely stand down.

I bear witness of this tyrannical impulse. A fifty-something grandmother constantly questions and countermands her daughter’s instructions and discipline of the daughter’s daughter in the presence of the latter. It would often take the opprobrium and intervention of the wider family to arrest this busybody from publicly undercutting the authority of the daughter. However, when that opprobrium and intervention was less present, the grandmother would resort to her old tricks. The matriarch’s self-righteous certainty trumps the rightful authority of others to govern their own lives and those of their wards.

Having been herself a mother at one time, one would have thought that the grandmother would have innate appreciation of a parent’s desire and right to steward their own child. And there are times, when the situation is of such severe nature and clearly pre-defined to warrant intervention. If however, every minutiae of difference of opinion becomes a federal issue, it indicates that the protagorean arrogance borders on both the lawless and the tyrannical.

This psychosocial phenomenon is highlighted to explain an astonishing lack of psychological insight by modern women; feminists in particular. Some have convinced themselves that the differences between the sexes are mere social constructs (Second Wave Feminists). Men really ought to be thinking like women. And if males don’t; from the protagorean vantage point of such women, it must derive from an ethical deficiency rather than a gender-based proclivity to approach existence from a different vantage point. Alternatively, there are the Third Wave Gender Nationalists, who acknowledge that differences in gender proclivities exist, but that the attributes of their side are superior to that of the other.

Thus, like Hitler’s Youth, they must indoctrinate and ideologically emasculate boys to the superiority of feminine traits even before they become men. They deem themselves alone as being competent enough to define and arbitrate the nature of masculinity; which often amounts to little more than servicing women’s every need and fetish, just like in their romantic novels. Such will deign to denigrate the masculinity in masculinity. As evidenced in the Slut Walks, such believe that they should be free to trample on the sensitivities of others and to encumbrance all others. Others must rearrange their lives so to accommodate these sluts alone. For, they alone are right. The cosmos is neither geocentric nor heliocentric. Nay. The cosmos orbits around their itsy bitsy opinions and interests.

And the lack of psychological insight is blinding them from perceiving the encroaching and overwhelming social counter-reaction by new generations of young males. While the obtuse Hanna Rosin is declaring a triumphalist feminine victory in “The End of Men”; I see a different dynamic, bubbling up from the ground up and terrifying to the status of women in the generations to come.

The pertinent point is the obliviousness in these women’s lack of psychological insight; the arrogance in this unreasoning stupidity. It doesn’t seem to occur to such persons that the real Truth is somewhere out there, to which they themselves are not likely to have ownership, to which they like all others must strive. Or that their gender counterparts might be a necessary counterbalance to the excesses of their gender proclivities; as would be the case of female proclivities mitigating male excesses.

©Copyright John Hutchinson

NOTES

1C.S. Lewis, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, The Twentieth Century: An Australian Quarterly Review, 3(3), 1949, p 5-12.

Mark Driscoll and the Song of Songs

To declare that Mark Driscoll has become a polarizing lightening rod, both within and outside of Christendom, is trite observation. Google his name and a cartload of hostile web sites will likely populate the screen; many of them emanating by those purporting to Christian Regeneration and Conversion. And the manner by which this opprobrium is manifested by these Christian authors and commentators is often just as ungracious, unfair, dissembling and deceitful and downright slanderous as secular critics.

I lost it with one web site web site, which thought that the type of slanderous crap that Seattle’s “The Stranger” flushes is acceptable if uttered by Christendom. The blogger was irritated, not so much with Driscoll, but with Scriptural adages against nagging wives. However, it was the snide slanderous assertions and vitriol, which were permitted without moderation that attested to the virtue, or lack thereof, of those site authors and their allies. The following is a sampling of the tone of the comments.

Muff Potter on Wed May 01, 2013 at 10:17 PM said:

Dana & Katie,

I think some men greatly fear the raw and elemental power of women. That’s why I think they’d just as soon cover it up, whether it’s with stretched Holy Writ in the Christian world or burquas in the Islamic regimes. I’d pay money to see a Bene Gesserit sister use the power of voice to make Driscoll get down on all fours, howl at the moon, lift his leg, and pee on a fire hydrant.

 William Birch on Wed May 01, 2013 at 07:56 PM said:

Masturbation is a form of homosexuality if one’s wife is not present.

I can’t help but wonder how many bouts with “homosexuality” he has experienced in his many years (wink, wink).

Pam on Thu May 02, 2013 at 12:22 AM said:

Also, maybe it’s just my unmarried female naivety, but I’d have thought a man who was comfortable enough to hear and respond to criticisms/questioning/disagreeing by his wife would be a heck of a lot more respected than a whiny manchild who’d rather have an obsequious and mostly-mute cheerleader bedroom toy than a flesh and blood woman with opinions and independence of thought.

This ignorant and uncharitable manner of discourse has become a hallmark of the larger plurality of those who deem themselves as Christian, especially towards those outside the church in the various culture wars. In the act of examining oneself to determine if one is indeed Regenerated, by the criteria found in Epistle of John 1, these persons would be miserably failures.

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However, that rant must be reserved for another day. The purpose of this day’s ruminations emerges from one of the few thoughtful and gracious critiques of Driscoll’s famous commentaries on Song of Songs (Solomon); (found here, here, here, and here). And although I can empathize and concur with her arguments and concerns, I think it prudent to expand the debate to include some other considerations.

Conscious or not, spokesmen propagate their message with certain agendas and stresses that they feel need to be addressed. And to Driscoll’s credit, he shows much self-awareness and willingness to disclose those motions of his own heart. In this age of political correctness, gotcha politics, inclinations to plead the fifth and public persona and masks; such refreshing openness has winning appeal; even if one must suffer scorn for one’s honestly held beliefs, for allowing oneself to being ‘naively’ exposed to such ridicule, and exploitation by sociopolitical adversaries.

I cannot genuinely claim to speak for Driscoll’s frame of mind. However, I can speak of my own and what Driscoll represents to me; which is namely a welcome tonic against the detrimental trends and corruptions of the modern Evangelical church.

Significant sections of orthodox American evangelicalism have become locked in a 19th Century moralist time capsule; which can only survive and sustain itself in separatist isolation. It is unintelligent and unintelligible. Those who desire to utilize their subjective rational faculties will drift off into incorporating many of the transitory secular ideas into their worldview; largely because of the general intellectual bankruptcy of an Evangelicalism, which decided in the early 19th Century that the First Commandment love of God needed not the mind. These seemingly innocuous secular adjuncts to faith often furtively and insidiously undermine the survival, the strength and/or vitality of their Faith.

But while Evangelicalism is largely unable to proffer a credible and superior rational defense of the Gospel and Full Counsel of God to the outside world, my integrated understanding of Scriptures lends me to believe that the Counsel of God is more than sufficient for the task. For while Evangelicalism is engaged in defensive rearguard actions in the U.S. and timid compromises to protect their myopic self-interests outside of the U.S., I note that Scriptures does not speak of the forces of Hell not being able to break down the Church; but of the defenses (gates) of Hell not being able to prevail against the Holy offensive through the truth that the Church purports to hold. Christianity is supposed to be the ideological aggressor. Driscoll is an ideological aggressor.

The 19th Century throwback of orthodox American evangelicalism, self-isolated in their gated ideological and ethical community of Churchianity subculture, is neither relevant nor resonant in the hearts of unregenerated and broken humanity. Many attempt to overcome this by faddish Madison Avenue manipulative devices, while preaching an inane Hallmark Card Christianity.

I have been cursorily acquainted with Red State America and even its (rural and urban) backwoods. Otherwise, I would not believe the moral integrity of statements by some Evangelical spokesmen that purport to protect the eyes and ears of their wives, children and congregations from the ‘vulgarity’ of a Mark Driscoll and the world that he dwells within. But I suspect that such preachers are somewhat naïve as to what their children and congregation is familiar with nowadays.

However, I dwell in Canada. And I backpacked through Europe in the late 1970s. And the ol’ time religion of American Evangelicalism has no resonance outside of that diminishing choir and enclave of Middle America. And that American enclave is quickly losing its own because this mindless Evangelicalism is not up to the secular challenges; although the resources are already within their grasp. Effeminate modern Evangelicalism fights by retreating, not by attacking with superior confidence in a superior message.

Seattle, more than most American cities, represents the cosmopolitan milieu pervading the world; a return to the ancient Roman pluralistic pantheon in which early Christianity flourished and quickly propagated. The ol’ time religion mindset sustains on nostalgia and a virtuous and sweet ethic that lacks an intelligible justification. Mark Driscoll represents a confident Christianity that can take on the ideological challenge of the secular, ‘post-Modernist’, post-Christian world.

A holier-than-god, super-spiritual, ‘higher-plane’ living infects modern Evangelicalism, which tends to denigrate the elements of this world, by which the Christian ethic and ethos are supposed express itself through. In sexuality and alcohol use, what is deemed Puritanical is more often a case of 19th Century Methodist moralism. The spiritual and moral arrogance towards those without, all too often seep out. Such pretend that Christians are a species apart; instead of failed human beings just like their non-Christian counterparts, who must both contend with the same horrid conditions of human existence and a perilous spiritual state. Christians are but endemically depraved beings, called out and given grace and power to overcome. (That we are set apart operates at the Sovereign level to which we are not privy. We do not know at our human level, what persons belong to that set. We are not to make such inordinately strong distinctions.)

Such Christian Pharisees imprison themselves in their own ersatz sanctuaries, afraid to muddy their feet, fearful of their unbelieving counterparts and all too ready to condemn those who do muddy their feet and engage with the wider world. Such Pharisees demand that a potty-mouth preacher be defrocked while that false prophet from Virginia Beach, who seeps with hatred and periodic fatwas, remains a membership in the SBC. Such are ignorant that Martin Luther was a great fan of scatological discourse and was deemed just as vulgar and a wild boar in the vineyard by the Pharisees of his day. Give me my 21st Century wild boar in the Evangelical vineyard any day over these hypocritical prigs!

The most virulent of ‘Christian’ critics seems to stem from the Christian feminist, who resent the push back against the feminization and effeminization of the Church that Mark Driscoll represents. Marital egalitarianism within marriage is a formula for battle-of-wills, war-of-attrition social disorder within the family, as any political theorist without an agenda could attest. And the protagorean arrogance of this feminine mindset has seeped into the Church, trampling over clear Scriptures and on legitimate concerns by men and would-be male converts. Even as if I believe that Mark Driscoll pushes too far in his jock mentality; it has been a welcome tonic to counterbalance the pietist and gnosis sentimentality, the ‘love’ without truth, holiness and justice, and the nunnish and self-centered attitudes of these Christian feminists.

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Saying all this, the critique of Mark Driscoll, noted above, has gracious value; (even if elsewhere, that person betrays a less than gracious attitude). She notes the critiques of Mark Driscoll’s interpretation of Song of Songs (SoS) as…

a)   being so erotically explicit that the holier-than-God crowd deem his understanding pornographic

b)   cavalierly repudiating the allegorical interpretation of SOS, the so-called “venerable interpretive tradition within the Christian faith”

Her complaint is that Driscoll’s repudiation of the allegorical interpretation that SoS refers to Christ and His Church (or God and the citizens of Israel, both physical and spiritual) violates Scriptural principle that everything contained therein speaks of Christ. (“These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,” John 5:39).

To summarize her points

The problem resides in Driscoll’s hermeneutic of erotic at the expense of both the perspicuity of scripture and of Jesus’ own words about His fulfillment of Scripture.

1. Driscoll’s rejection of Christ typology in Song of Songs forces him to reject the words of Christ about scripture regarding Himself.

2. This rejection also compels him to reject the Bridegroom/Bride metaphor only for Song of Songs while affirming it in every other genre.

3. This rejection of Christ typology in Song of Songs transforms the book into a type of Christian porn that has no teaching value for the unmarried, for the widow, or for a child. In Driscoll’s hands Song of Songs is no longer a gift given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the whole church and instead becomes a sex manual of special value to the married.

4. This rejection of Christ typology in Song of Songs of necessity rejects the one place in the Scripture besides the eschatological Wedding Feast of the Lamb in which the marriage between God and His people could be presented in a positive light.

That the Christian Church has generally had a horrible history with regard to matters of sexuality is trite observation. Humanity, in general, has had a horrible history with regard to matters of sexuality. Humanity has tended to pendulate between moralist and lascivious extremes, both within societies themselves and between historical epochs. Francis Schaeffer’s “freedom within form” has very rarely prevailed in matters of sexuality.

A modern barren sexuality, devoid of soul, personality, relational connected and romance is hardly a freedom worth talking about. It is a tree, transplanted in a desert wadi, sustaining itself by eating its own stores of nourishment or seeking further afield for fresh water and nutrients before dying an early death.

However, the natural religious spirit within mankind has tended to denigrate Eros. The Evangelical church exalts Agape over Eros (C.S. Lewis – “The Four Loves”, Anders Nygren “Agape and Eros”). However, Agape in the Greek language is as generic a term as love is in the English. And God is just as much about Eros as He is about Agape. Justice is all about Eros; a love that is not indifferent in the value of the object. And the purpose of Agape is to make the object of God’s affection worthy of Eros; the desire to be one with and in communion with that which is beautiful.

And in this religious pathology, the theologians defied the first intent of God and allegorized the Songs. That self-castrate (and later deemed heretic) Origen was the first well-known progenitor of this method. It is not sustainable to suggest that Songs have nothing to do with Christ’s relationship with His Church, or God and His nation Israel, or the love that exists between the Trinity. The problem has been that these holier-than-God theologians have circumvented the primary intention of the Songs in order to proffer intellectualist speculation, largely without real experiential insight, in order to avoid confronting the fact that God loves the offering of physical Eros to humanity.

The Songs violates this ascetic, Kantian, functionalist spirit of Hellenist and Romanist Christianity. And thus, they needed to neuter the Songs in allegorical obfuscation and inscrutability. The spirit of John MacArthur or Denny Burk or all the other Evangelical Romanists continue to strive to do the same; to make obscure, to leave in the hazy inscrutability of liberal theology. Their higher-spiritual-plane, super-moralist pretensions cannot fathom a God who gives celebratory freedom to his conjugal subjects.

There are explicit meanings to the euphemisms found in the Songs. Their veiled nature was not to protect the effeminate sensitivities of 19th and 20th Evangelicalism; but to give expressive and expansive metaphorical meanings and purposes to our physicality and sexuality; to escape from the desolate ugliness of scientific understandings of anatomical and mechanistic sex. It was intended that the conjugal couple inhabit the metaphors; that we become the metaphorical and experience the metaphor from within. Only after such experimental knowledge can we truly know, in much the same way as Adam knew (yā·ḏa‘) Eve, the metaphorical understandings, both in psychological terms between spouses and in spiritual terms between Christ and His Church etc.

Thus, the metaphorical significance is not to be disabused. However, the usefulness of Driscoll’s interpretation, even if insufficient, serves to counter the insufficiencies of those pathological commentators of days of yore and even of today. We cannot understand what a metaphor signifies unless we know what the metaphor literally means. Driscoll’s understanding is unbalanced. But so has been every other interpretation. And perhaps it is that the tensions between these extremes of understanding will play against each other to give full and comprehensive appreciation of the Songs.

3. This rejection of Christ typology in Song of Songs transforms the book into a type of Christian porn that has no teaching value for the unmarried, for the widow, or for a child. In Driscoll’s hands Song of Songs is no longer a gift given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the whole church and instead becomes a sex manual of special value to the married.

I might disagree with Driscoll about some of those sexual acts (in “Real Marriage”) he finds permissible. I might disagree with Driscoll about the stress on the physically erotic in his understanding of Song of Songs and sex in general. (Someone whom I find extremely good at explaining a Sexual Eros of the soul is Tom Nelson (1991) in his rendering of Song of Songs.) However, in the wisdom of God, there are those who are sent for mourning and those sent for laughing.

I find very little in Driscoll’s rendering that is pornographic. His scornful satirical disabuse of literal, correlative allegorical renderings of the Songs is classic Martin Luther. (“They will say that it is an allegory between Jesus and his bride the church. Which if true, is weird. Because Jesus is having sex with me and puts his hand up my shirt. And that feels weird. I love Jesus, but not in that way.”) I will accord the Songs as proffering an enthusiastic ethos of spiritual Eros between Christ and His people. But the historical attempts to map out the physiological and sexual onto the spiritual will give just cause to the very type of squeamishness that children have toward thinking about their parent’s sex life.

And although Driscoll interprets, at times, a little too expansively (“going beyond what is written”) and insists on that which should be left for liberty of conscience, (to which, I believe, he has apologized and repented); the suggested erotic references are not pornographic. For, a spouse to do strip or strip tease to delight his/her mate is only pornographic to those whose “both their minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15). As regards to oral massage of genitalia; Scriptures does not ban it. Indeed, a fair literal rendering of Songs 4:12-16 gives justified understanding of that passage as enjoining it. The “tast[ing] the salt on his skin” (Susan Vega – Calypso) or acts that these pretentious moralists and feminists find acceptable can find no rational boundary in not being extended to the nether places. It is the disgust instinct, typically of the female, who, as Eva Ensler notes in “The Vagina Monologues”, has trepidations about the uncleanness of her female emblem. (Even if Ensler be touted as a sinner; with regard to the female inhibitions and anxieties, her observations are nevertheless true.) It is not Driscoll who is the problem in this regard; typical of the greater (but not exclusive) male proclivity to a free celebration of physical eros. It is the inhibitive pathologies and protagorean arrogance of females, who find his talks too over the top.

To understand the fullness of the Songs of Solomon, one must accept the Montessorian level (pure physiological and sexual), the relational and psychological (i.e. Tom Nelson) and the metaphorical (i.e. Puritans, Spurgeon). To do otherwise is insufficient and incomplete.

Sex-Selective Abortion

Pro-life advocates and anti-feminists must muse with certain schadenfreude at the irony and dilemma facing feminist women in regards to sex-selective abortion. God is in His heaven!

On no account can feminists support a motion to condemn or ban such abortions without backing down on principle. What other restrictions would then become rationally justified? They would be and appear inconsistent, selective and self-centered in the ‘quest for justice and rights’. However, many sisters must wonder about the love for the sisterhood by these zealots.

Long range; pro-choice feminists are promoting a decline of potential number of future sisters, just as stronger waves of masculinism and anti-feminism gather storm. Seeds of their destruction?

Ruminations on Same-Sex Marriage

In 1986, after taking a few courses on computer programming and having created a payroll app on a Commodore 64, which cut ten to fifteen hours from my payroll job, I was given opportunity to work on a hopelessly buggy customized accounting application in some now obscure language. After a week or two of perusing the endless spaghetti code without any modularization into subroutines, I realized that the easiest and least costly way of fixing the thing was to throw it out (eventually) and start from scratch.

The nature of the arguments made against same-sex marriage is much like that. It is not that the position is wrong. It is that the basis of the opposition is rationally incoherent and unsound, and perhaps even unscriptural. Most of the reasonings derive, as best as I can determine, from Roman Republican morality and a Roman version of Stoicism.

The problem lies in the accumulation of theological claptrap and traditions of men that have obscured a solid and sound rational argument. To fix the mess first requires a dressing down of many of these theological innovations. However, one will then need to contend against opposition from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and the informal magisteriums of the various Protestant/Evangelical sects. One must scathingly tear down the existing straw supports buttressing marriage in order to build a solid brick argument.

This is not to suggest that any degree of pristine and near-perfect reasonings will convince one’s interlocutors or adversaries. As the song says; “We hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest”1. As Christ demonstrated, perhaps our first query with those, who challenge the orthodox Biblical position, ought to deal with their heart motivations. The evidence is overwhelming in these last generations, that intellectual and ethical/legal arguments and empirical evidence are mere tools of self-interest, easily disposed of when they get in the way, by a population that doubts or does not care about the Truth or the Good. And in observing the quality of moral reasoning by those in my online Stanford University course on Justice, I am terrified for my children’s and grandchildren’s future.

However, in perusing the transcripts of the Proposition 9 trial; even though the liberal argument, advocated by the presiding judge Vaughn Walker (with little need of lawyers), was empty and superficial; the pro-Amendment argument was just too full of holes and easy to shoot down as well.

I visited a self-professed Evangelical’s take on the issue, and like the accounting package, I found attempting to debug his arguments would be so overwhelming, that is best to start from fundamentals and work up. This is a work in progress, perhaps deliverable next year. However, these considerations might help others in constructing a valid framework of argument.

If a universal natural law, as it pertains to human nature, exists; then violating that law will have natural consequences, independent of civic, ecclesiastical or divine penalties; independent of the ability to notice those consequences. (The Roman Empire was shocked when Rome was sacked in 410 A.D., although hindsight makes obvious this eventuality.)

The existence of this natural law is independent of the ability to subjectively appropriate it. (I repudiate the long-standing Christian nostrum, whose derivation is more Stoic than Biblical, that natural law (moral law) is innately known. We do have an unavoidable subjective faculty of judgment between good and evil. However, the Scriptural basis for this faculty to be loaded with content is unwarranted and leads to all kinds of inconsistencies and absurdities. The rational arguments and empirical historical and sociological evidence simply defies any correspondence to this theological innovation of moral nativism.

The incompetence or disingenuity of humanity may not even be able to subjectively appropriate a detrimental natural consequence.

Except for a few states in ancient Greece (i.e. Sparta), marriage was considered a private estate with minimal civic regulation until the high Middle Ages. The Roman paterfamilias was up in arms over Augustus’ attempt to interfere with the Estate with his Julian Laws, which fell largely to disuse. Marriage came increasingly under ecclesiastic governance until the Reformation and Enlightenment (16th-18th Centuries).

Calling it an institution, implying a primacy of its social and civic role and thereby justifying extensive and intrusive social and civic regulation, is contrary to Scriptures and reason; since marriage existed before both ecclesiastical and civic institutions. When Isaac ‘married’ Rebecca in his mother’s tent, we can be sure that the tent didn’t have sufficient room for a presiding rabbi and bureaucrat. The God of Scriptures called that marriage. And  unless the God of Scriptures is mutable after all, church and state are not required for true marriage.

The idea of procreation as the primary purpose of marriage largely derives from a functionalist and austere Roman Republican morality. The logic of marriage as vehicle for procreation is so full of inconsistencies and incoherence that non-Christians are correct to contemptuously scorn those ‘Christians’ who attempt to justify opposite-sex marriages on those grounds. We need to utterly and scathingly destroy any pretensions that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage.

I would suggest that marriage’s purpose is for the benefit of its spouses; which in its pristine state, is the best relationship between two conscious beings possibly conceived; and is a shadow copy of the Trinity’s interrelationship and that being sought between Christ and His Church.

Making the Estate of Marriage subservient to purposes beyond itself (family lineage, ecclesiastical concerns and pathologies, civil agendas) grievously interferes and  intrudes on the Estate and invariably weakens the marriage and the raison d’être to be married. History has demonstrates a proportionate correlation between external control and internal health of this relationship. 

Western history demonstrates, as shown in the Proposition 9 trial, that state definition and regulation has caused unceasing travesty and atrocity to the private super-friendship relationship.

Any singular definition and understanding, imposed by the civil authorities, are usually wrongheaded, and invariably provokes considerable civic agitation. The question becomes: are the questionable benefits worth the civic discord and contribution to potential conflagration.

The argument against same-sex marriage will be found in the radical differences in natural and endemic proclivities of each sex. This is an assertion well challenged today, even though the scientific and historical anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea.

Secondly, the complementarianism that is bandied about by the CBMW, a complementarianism of roles is Biblically and rational insupportable. Rather, men and women represent a complementarianism of intrinsic natural proclivities. These proclivities are not rigid absolutes or immutable.

Each gender has a psychological insufficiency in itself that requires the complement of the other. Therefore, the opposite sex spouses need to discover, accept, embrace, mitigate against the excesses of the other and incorporate unto themselves that of the other in order to become the fullness of humanity (or Christ).

In that same-sex couples are not intimate with those qualities found in the other sex; they have less ability to detect, let alone incorporate those qualities into themselves. Indeed, historical and sociological record indicates a general disdain by homosexuals for the attributes of the other (i.e. ancient aristocratic Greeks, modern feminist lesbians). Same-sex coupling is prone to exaggerate the excesses of the same gender, rather than mitigating them.

The sociological record in Europe (i.e. liberal Scandinavia/Norway) demonstrates that same sex couplings are less stable. Divorce rates with gay males are 50% higher than opposite sex couplings. Lesbians are 167% higher. (These are state-wide statistics.) (Apparently, the Netherlands is showing the same outcomes). Instability for same-sex relationships are a common historical constant. The relational problems are endemic.

Same-sex relationships, at least amongst males for certain, invariably become polyamorous. Boredom is one constant complaint (i.e. Dan Savage). Polyamory has its own set of psychological deficiencies and grievous social consequences.

Even so, neither society nor the state should forbid same-sex relationships; nor give undue additional financial support to such couples (that which is above that given to opposite-sex) for reasons of liberty of conscience and civic peace. Nor should society or the state give legal and social sanction to same-sex relationships (or any marital relationships) for reasons of liberty of conscience and civic peace.

NOTES

  1. Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer, 1968.

Pseudo-Social Activism

On Christianity Today, (not my favorite magazine), there was a real missionary, Rachel Pieh Jones, complaining about the ersatz Western social activist of today, who do their most piddly to advance the great causes of our times; who obtain the subjective satisfaction of making a difference without actually doing so; who celebrate with flag-waving and tee-shirt branding zealotry, without risk, effort, sacrifice and muddied feet.

In Nicholas Kristof’s documentary Half the Sky, actress Meg Ryan also thought she was doing her part to highlight child trafficking in Cambodia, but then declines to go on a brothel raid. She says she doesn’t have the “adventure” gene. I appreciate her honesty. I have less appreciation for her ignorance. What did she think fighting sex trafficking would be like, if not going to brothels themselves? Her reticence is symbolic of goodhearted people who have forgotten about risk.1

I could continue to wax poetic; except such equally fluff opprobrium would quickly self-direct. What did tickle my eclectic mind was her witticism “My beef was roaming Main Street yesterday”.

If my generation cares so deeply about global issues of justice and poverty that they are willing to change eating, clothing, and living habits, where are they? A significant challenge for nonprofits and ministries remains recruiting people who will commit to serve long-term outside the United States.1

I have heard similar complaints by church missionaries about the loss of commitment and courage by increasingly effeminate Western Christians. I myself would (and am available to) go into the field except as long as it wasn’t France. And although I might be willing to go to Islamic countries; in that I am evidently opinionated, a cost/benefit analysis would likely deter the sponsoring agency from sending me there.

However, my problem with these para-Christian organizations is that they have waylaid their primary mission of transmitting the Gospel and Full Counsel of Christ; with the social beneficence as a handmaiden to support the central message. Instead, they have become just social services, adorned with god words. For me, the enduring benefit, even in this life, is found through becoming a conduit by which other people are changed from the inside out into eventual external and social manifestations.

  1.  Rachel Pieh Jones, You Can’t Buy Your Way to Social Justice”, Christianity Today, May 14, 2013, accessed http://www.christianitytoday.com/thisisourcity/7thcity/you-cant-consume-your-way-to-social-justice.html on May 18, 2013.

A Mediating Interpretation of Man’s Rule over Woman in Genesis 3:16 (Part 2)

 It is common motif in Protestant/Evangelical circles to speak of sound doctrine as being a narrow path with possibilities of falling into either the right or left ditch. I prefer to consider the dynamics of planetary orbits as a more appropriate and informative metaphor. Planets or moons trek within a narrow range around a larger body. Should they veer too far off-course, they are threatened by gravitational collapse into the larger object on one hand; or spinning out of control into the void on the other. There is a healthy tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces.

Continue reading “A Mediating Interpretation of Man’s Rule over Woman in Genesis 3:16 (Part 2)”