Posted by: gmscan | April 3, 2013

Deer in the Headlights

There is nothing quite as sad as watching Christians rolled over by a juggernaut of secular political activists. As a rule the Christians are never really quite prepared for it. Christians try so hard to be nice people.  They are kind, considerate, soft-spoken. They worship on Sundays, volunteer at some charity during the week, attend a Bible study group Tuesday evenings. They never litter. They are courteous to other drivers. They say please and thank you. They are grounded in some truths, like the importance of family and being reliable workers.

Secular activists are nothing like this. Activists want to win at all costs. Winning isn’t the main thing, it is the only thing. Even winning isn’t enough. They want to permanently destroy any opposition. Thoroughly crush them so they will never again dare oppose the agenda. They will use any tools at their disposal – mockery, ridicule, lies, threats, even violence when they must.

Think I’m overstating the case? Visit the comments page of any Washington Post or Politico article having anything at all to do with religion and politics. I guarantee you will be appalled at the viciousness on display, not by just one or two oddballs, but by dozens and dozens. Consider the behavior of the Occupy Wall Street mob and how few progressive political leaders even criticized it.

What’s a Christian to do? We might start by actually listening to the Lord. He told the disciples in Matthew 10:16-18

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.”

Jesus did not want us to just be doormats to be trod upon, He wanted us to be as “wise as serpents” in our dealings with the World. We lost that ability when we placed more value on being likeable than on being faithful witnesses. We Christians have come to care more about what the World thinks of us than what Jesus thinks of us.

The latest iteration of this is the current (one-sided) debate over same sex marriage. We are being stampeded into approving something that violates many millennia of human experience as well as the explicit word of God.

We are told that the trends are decisively moving in one direction, so resistance is not only futile, but foolish. This despite the fact that until this past November traditional marriage has won every time, without exception, it has been voted on, and the handful of states that approved it in November were all squeakers that rode on Obama’s coattails.

We are told that the youth are in favor of it, never mind that youth always changes its mind as it grows up. If 20-year olds ran the world, it wouldn’t survive a generation.

We are told that we are bigots to oppose it, even though in California, for example, it was blacks and Latinos that were most in favor of traditional marriage.

We are told that we should mind our own business, that what a homosexual couple does should be of no concern to us, that it should have no effect on our own marriages, so why should we care.

This last is the biggest lie of all, and it is one that is exceedingly hard to counter, at least in a made-for-TV sound bite. And this is indeed the essential issue.

In fact, the actions of one segment of society does have an effect on the whole society. Society is changed, either for better or worse.

The “sexual liberation” movement of the 1960s and 1970s has had a profound effect on the entire United States and everybody in it. The arguments for it at the time were very similar to what we are hearing today:

  • Almost everybody screws around, so it is hypocritical to pretend otherwise;
  • It is better to be honest about these behaviors rather than hiding them in the shadows;
  • We shouldn’t be tied down to old-fashioned prudish morality;
  • It is unhealthy to repress your basic instincts;
  • Today with birth control sex is safe;
  • If you don’t want to do it, that’s your choice, but why should your morality stop me from doing what I want to do?

These arguments were hard to answer, other than to say that sanctions against pre-marital sex were no whim. They came about over many thousands of years of human experience — they are locked into our genetic intelligence. Very little good will come of loosening our standards of sexual behavior.

It’s not that social disapproval will stop it from happening, but that such clear disapproval will discourage it and give a safe haven from peer pressure for those who prefer to avoid the behavior.

After half-a-century of this experiment in sexual liberation, what do we find? Despite the availability of birth control we perform well over a million abortions every year  and 40% of all children are born out-of-wedlock.   We also have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the world, with 20 million new infections every year.

We are systematically destroying two-parent families. Boys are being raised without fathers as role models, so they attach to gangs. Girls are taught to dress like hookers. College students no longer go on dates, they have meaningless sexual hook-ups  instead. To become a celebrity, release a videotape of yourself having sex. Our society is drenched in sex, a hollow, empty kind of sex that fulfills no one.

The argument that sexual promiscuity would have no effect on anyone who isn’t promiscuous was absurd. In fact it may be destroying this society. The jury is still out on that.

This was purposeful. It was part of a long campaign to use sex to destroy the family and Christianity. In his 1982 book, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” (which I will review here in the future), Michael Novak quotes Joseph Sobran as writing –

“It is no accident… that Socialism and Sex (or ‘free love’) came together as ‘advanced’ ideas.  Russian dissident Igor Shafarevich… explains that the Socialist project of homogenizing society demands that the family be vitiated or destroyed. This can be accomplished in good measure by profaning conjugal love and breaking monogamy’s link between Sex and loyalty.”

Novak goes on to describe a Carter-era “White House Conference on Families.” Carter intended it as a recognition of the contribution of the family to American society, but by the time his underlings were done with it, it became just the opposite. His staff referred to the traditional family as the “nostalgic family” as if it were already obsolete, only fondly remembered from the past. More contemporary, they thought, were unmarried couples living together, homosexual couples, clusters of friends sharing a home. In their view, these all were “families” worthy of celebration. Yet at the time, the Census bureau reported there were 101 million husbands and wives in the U.S. and only 2.3 million unmarried men and women living together. Carter’s people were wishing the traditional family was gone and working to make it seem so.

Still, why should Christians worry about what the secular society does? Because the whole charade is aimed like a dagger at your ability to practice your understanding of Scripture.

Canada has had same sex marriage for ten years, and it has radically transformed the entire society according to Bradley Miler of the Witherspoon Institute.  He writes –

“What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.”

Anyone who expresses reservations about all that is labeled a bigot and a hater, even guilty of committing “hate crimes.” The Knights of Columbus was fined for refusing to rent their facilities for same sex wedding receptions. People who voice dissent are being investigated by human rights tribunals, and in some cases, “ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again.” This includes members of the clergy speaking from the pulpit

Keep in mind that all this turmoil is over a tiny number of people. There are 21,000 married same sex couples in Canada out of a total of 6.9 million married couples – they make up 3 tenths of one percent of the total.

The First Amendment may – may – protect Christians in the United States, unless the Supreme Court invokes the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to extend federal protection to same sex couples. Dan McLaughlin has written an extensive essay on this and many other problems associated with this issue.

Such a scenario could very well happen and it would place Christians in a very difficult bind. But maybe that is where Christ wants us to be. Erick Erickson writes  that, “We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship.” He reminds us that, “The world is not on its way to Christ. The world hates Christ. The world will not allow a compromise between Christians and the world.” The United States is no less “of the world” than any other country.

This challenge will not be easy. In all my years of political activism, only once have I encountered eye-popping, spittle-spewing venom. That was when our church was debating the ordination of homosexuals. Suddenly a couple got up red in the face, screamed that we were all a bunch of homophobes, and stormed out of the meeting.

Christians can expect much more of this as we go along. But there are voices of leadership out there we can look to for guidance. USAToday  offered profiles of some, including the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone and Rev William Owens, president of the Coalition of African American Pastors.

There is nothing new about any of this. When the Apostle Paul took the Gospel to the ancient Greek cities of Corinth and Ephesus he was confronted with well-established cults including the temples of Apollo and Aphrodite, where prostitution was considered a holy rite and “acting like a Corinthian” was a euphemism for sexual promiscuity.

He was not intimidated. He had more important work to do.


Responses

  1. Greg:
    Thanks for sharing your important points with us.
    From what I understand about Christianity, Christians are to have 2 distinct, seemingly opposite parts to their personality.
    The first part is to love your enemies; the second is to hate sin.
    Maybe this is why Chrustians are encouraged to love the sinner, yet hate the sin.
    We are to hate sin, for God hates sin.
    We are to love holiness, for God Himself is holy, and we are commanded to be holy like Him.

  2. Greg:
    I tried to add to my comment, so let’s make it into 2 parts.
    Having friends is important. Man does not live alone. But I have learned that to have a friend, one must first be a friend. Many times this can mean compromise on important issues, for not even the best of friends will agree on issues that are very important to them.
    That is why my best friends are not Tom, Dick, and Harry, but love, justice, and respect – for myself and others.
    At Chabad, we learn that God has 2 distinct major qualities, from which all his other attributes flow; Chesed, which is kindness and Gevura, which is severity.
    To be a whole (holy) person, we must incorporate both kindness and severity into our personality and into our everyday actions.
    Having the Bible as our guide as to when it is appropriate to manifest these these 2 important attributes lends much-needed objectivity to our thoughts and actions. One thing is certain – we are a very opinionated people, a biased, opinionated species, and we love to inflate our egos, rather than to abide by more objective standards – such as Biblical kindness and severity. It won’t produce a lot of friends, but it will help you sleep better. Kindness and severity are the 2 key, somewhat opposing characteristics we need to incorporate to get along better with others, and most importantly with ourselves and our relationship to God.
    Shalom,
    Don Levit

    • Thanks, Don, for your very fine statement. Another way of thinking about that duality might be charity (love) and justice. Too often people emphasize the first without the second. Or the Great Commandment — the part that says “love your neighbor as yourself,” comes only after the first part, “love God with all your heart, mind and soul.”

      We are often told to not be judgmental (“judge not lest you be judged”) but in fact we ALL will be judged on the final day. It is not possible to have justice without judgment. Now, you and I cannot judge what is in someone else’s heart, but we sure can judge someone else’s behavior, discerning good behavior from evil.

  3. On judgment…

    It is not that judgement will not take place, or that we should not judge others. It is that the measure we use to measure others is the measure by which we ourselves will be measured. Its an amazing thing, if we let it sink in. God will be the judge, but he lets us pick the rules by which we will be judged.

    Well, not exactly.

    Most folks do not hold themselves up by the standards they hold everyone else up to. We are invited to self awareness. We are called to learn about the love we have for our selves. To love our neighbors as we love ourselves points us to the manifold nature of human relationships. Human beings define themselves by the relationships they have with others.

    I am not convinced that Evangelicals hold marriage in as high an esteem as they claim they do when opposing same-sex marriage. But if that is the measure by which they want God to judge them in their own marriages, then so be it. The question is not limited to marriage of course. The Scriptures tell us that if we live by the Law we will die by the Law, and that if we live by Grace we will die in Grace. The laws in the Law are many.

    We don’t get to choose the measure of judgement for ourselves. We only get to make the choice for others. And we choose and judge all the time.


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