HT to Farmer Tom. This is a classic
that is packed.
“It also remains to be seen whether we can keep Christianity without accepting Christian chastity. Sociologist Christian Smith’s research on what he has termed “moralistic therapeutic deism”—the feelgood, pseudo-Christianity that has supplanted the normative version of the faith in contemporary America—suggests that the task will be extremely difficult.”
all through the bible God says that if we obey Him and follow His commands, He will be our God and take care of us. but if we turn from Him, He will turn from us.
it’s always the ‘slight deviation’ that gets us. when we begin that slight deviation, we’re still so close to the point of origin that it’s difficult to see the logical conclusion. the ‘plumb line’ never changes, but that line that began as a slight deviation becomes so vast and wide that by the time most wake up to its reality, it’s waaaaay off course.
can ““moralistic therapeutic deism”—the feelgood, pseudo-Christianity that has supplanted the normative version of the faith in contemporary America” continue and the church, as God ordained it, survive? i think not … because i do not think God will allow it. God is Holy. we are deceiving ourselves if we think it’s okay to ‘adjust’ God’s laws to suit our culture because it ‘feels good’ and it draws more people into the church building.
it very well may be that, in the future, those who truly follow Christ will become so very distinct. as like attracts like, we will draw together and form an outwardly visible ‘church’ as we meet together, to fellowship together, to encourage one another and lift one another up … for the time *is* near.
The problem is not so much the separation of Church and State; it is the increasing secularization of our society.
That Christian consensus–which drove the development of our rule of law–is evaporating. And as that happens, the push for everything from abortion rights to secular collectivism to gay “marriage” is just a matter of logical consequence.
And no, it won’t stop there. Killing children in utero is widely accepted now–and we are fast approaching a society where almost half of all women of childbearing age will have killed at least one child in utero–but the Baby Boomers had better watch out, as they are next.
Heath care costs are spiraling at an unsustainable pace; we are on the path toward a single-payer (think socialized) medical system. When that comes to fruition, the same generation that gave women the right to kill their children, will witness their children pulling the plug on them when it becomes economically expedient.
And why should it matter in a secular society? If Christian ethics mean nothing, then there is no secular reason not to end someone’s life when their productive years are over.
Baby Boomers–the Overrated Generation–are going to get their payback. And what a bitch it shall be…
as much as we try to separate church and state, the reality is that they blur togeher. the morality and values, or lack there-of, of the people bleeds into the government. people became liberated, stretched their morals and values so much their original state is unrecognizable, and now it’s changing the laws. and we’re surprised?
it is very disheartening, though, and overwhelming. i’m thankful that Jesus has overcome the world already.
I am mystified by the attention we give to ‘gay marriage’ – frankly. As a heterosexual christian man, I can’t get married, either – not in any meaningful legal sense; not since the early 80s. I wish Christians were making noise about no-fault divorce .. this would make more sense, I think, if we accept the supposition that the State’s acceptance or blessing or recognition, or whatever, is what makes it marriage in God’s eyes.
That’s what I think REALLY muddies the waters: no-fault divorce.
That has done more to erode marriage than anything the gays are doing now. In fact, I would submit that there has been a larger erosion of culture going on for decades. The Kinsey reports of the 1940s were one of the big red flags; no-fault divorce was a huge red flag; legalized abortion was a shock wave that was part and parcel with the sexual revolution. Gay “marriage” is just one of the logical conclusions.
It’s not so much about gays; that is just evidence that truth is getting turned on its head. Our society is exchanging the truth of God for a lie.
Of course, I would submit that the Church in the United States has not done an effective job communicating that truth, especially with respect to matters of sexuality. Too many have embraced Victorian-era hypocrisy whereas the Scriptures teach nothing of the sort.
I’ll elaborate more later. But I think Dreher is mostly on the money.
“It’s not so much about gays; that is just evidence that truth is getting turned on its head. Our society is exchanging the truth of God for a lie.”
yes … evidence of what is really going on … exchanging God and Truth for the lies. satan truly is devious beyond measure.
Charles, first I agree the no-fault divorce is a bigger problem in Christianity. And yes the church should be fighting against it.
But, as Ame said, sodomy permission certificates are a big flashing neon sign of the collapse of the culture, ie the downward spiral described in Romans (which my pastor just started preaching through) In Romans 1:18 and following there is a clear progression, first they denied God, then they worshiped the creature over the Creator, then the defiled themselves with mankind. So sodomy permission certificates are just another step down the path of destruction. And that means we should be warning those on that path.
Interestingly, this secular author suggests that “the pill” is at least partly responsible for sodomy “marriage”.
An interesting read. How gay marriage’s fate was sealed more than 50 years ago
I’d have to agree with him in large part. The Pill has been a disaster on many fronts. And yes, it was a large factor–among several–that helped fundamentally transform marriage in the United States, and not in a good way.
Farmer Tom: How, exactly, do you suppose the Church is to be Salt and Light in this example? By changing the label, or changing what is in the can?
Charles, We had a busy weekend, sorry I didn’t answer sooner.
It’s late and I can’t give a comprehensive answer now. But, I’ll give a short one.
First, the church needs to make clear that the command to be fruitful and multiply is part of the natural Law, and nowhere in Scripture is that command rescinded or ended. For whatever reason, it is part of God’s plan that mankind reproduce over and over again. This goes totally against modern humanist culture, but that is God’s plan.
Second, the church needs to teach their members that with the pill comes tremendous responsibility. We are taking the role reserved for God in decided family size. I’m not saying that we should be party to ban the pill, but, we should surely not encourage its use either.
Thirdly, the health risks to the women should be clearly addressed.
Several things I’ve read, seem to suggest that overuse of the pill leads to long term infertility problems. Many young ladies start on the pill in their early teens, then find they have trouble getting pregnant later in life.
Fourth, Clearly teaching that sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage is unBiblical. Scripture clearly teaches that we are to avoid those kinds of actions. The pill makes it much easier to hide/participate in those behaviors without the risk of pregnancy. This does not make it somehow less sinful, it only increases the temptation to try getting away with it.
Farmer Tom, I doubt you are being deliberately condescending. I invite you to comment on the Calvinst/Focus on the Family assumption that the civil authority’s say so is what makes a marriage a marriage.
In a dinner conversation not long after the publication of American Grace, Putnam told me that Christian churches would have to liberalize on sexual teaching if they hoped to retain the loyalty of younger generations. This seems at first like a reasonable conclusion, but the experience of America’s liberal denominations belies that prescription. Mainline Protestant churches, which have been far more accepting of homosexuality and sexual liberation in general, have continued their stark membership decline.
I agree with AME – W.O.W.
I have heard the argument couched in such a way recently that just kind of slammed home the “while your not teaching this, why should you teach that?” mantra. I think it was the idea that Jesus said nothing about it, so what makes Paul so right? We really don’t have a good way to answer that question because I don’t think the church is well-equipped to give a satisfying answer.
In Romans 1:18 and following there is a clear progression, first they denied God, then they worshiped the creature over the Creator, then the defiled themselves with mankind. So sodomy permission certificates are just another step down the path of destruction. And that means we should be warning those on that path.
This was actually my immediate response to the article.
And I also agree with FT and that article about the Pill. Divorcing the well-being of children from marriage has had a disastrous effect on what marriage is. It is not about love. Paul is quite clear that you love your wife, but in the context of arranged marriages, love before marriage is NOT necessary.
I invite you to comment on the Calvinst/Focus on the Family assumption that the civil authority’s say so is what makes a marriage a marriage.
Just because faiths across the world have something to say about marriage does not make marriage inherently religious. Don’t forget that the OT laws were also largely concerned with maintaining order in a theocratic society. Marriage is not “Christian”, but Scripture has a ton to say about how we behave within it. Slavery is not “Christian”, but Scripture has a lot to say on how to behave in that, as well.
I’ve done a lot of historical research on this for one reason or another – traditionally, historically, governments impose marital law on their peoples (regardless of religion) for the sole purpose of creating a stable environment in which to raise the next generation of citizens – Greece, Rome, Israel, Egypt. No commonality of faith, and yet they all have imposed and recognized (on a civil authority level) marriage. Rome and Greece had even gone so far as to push a fine on those who reached a certain age without marrying.
There is a huge disregard for the meaning and purpose of marriage in this country, and FT is right that the church has helped propagate this travesty. The church no longer recognizes marriage as being for children, either – it is to them all about self-fulfillment and feel-goodery that has little to do with discipline and “til death do we part.”
To make any headway, we need to completely shift (as a whole church) our teachings on marriage – and that includes ridding ourselves of the idea that marriage is solely a “Christian” sacrament. We lose the battle from the get go by claiming something that is simply and easily verifiably wrong.
Christina is correct,
I am not a libertarian like some around here. I believe God ordained governments and that all law should be in agreement with Natural Law.
Marriage existed long prior to the church. In Genesis 20 Abraham tries to pass off his wife Sarah as his sister to king Abimelech.
If marriage is merely a church ordained arrangement, then God’s promise to kill Abimelech is kind of a harsh reaction isn’t it?
Here’s a guy who does not have the revealed Law of God, does not have the institution of the Church and for all we know only had an understanding of marriage in relation to his government or religion, yet God held him accountable for the marriage of Abraham and Sarah.
We must see marriage as an institution ordained by God for all of mankind, Christians and non-Christians, pagans and believers, churched and unchurched. The role of government according to Romans 13 is to punish evil and protect the good. Marriage is good. Government is to protect marriage, for the believer and the unbeliever.
This means that when government pretends to allow sodomy permission certificates, when it endorses no-fault divorce, government is attacking Natural Law. But, this does not mean that government should have nothing to do with marriage. Their job is to protect the institution of marriage.
I’m all for the Natural Law angle; at the same time, my libertarian position has more to do with the fact that our society has already abandoned any acceptance of Natural Law, and we now have a government that has no semblance of understanding of how our understanding of law ought to be informed.
I mean seriously….if we have reached the point where we have to write a marriage Amendment into a national Constitution–largely due to attacks from sectors of society that have been backed by our state and federal court systems–this is proof positive that our society is royally screwed.
I totally agree that we are royally screwed.
I’m arguing that the only way to return to a foundation of proper government, we must recognize that Natural Law is true for all of mankind, at all times and under all circumstances. As Locke, Blackstone, and Aquinas argue, any law which violates God’s Law is no law at all, it is unlaw, it is lawlessness.
Sodomy marriage, (and no-fault divorce) are lawlessness.
Sadly, we will probably have to watch as the post-Christian society gives birth to an era of barbarism. Hopefully, if things suck badly enough in the early going, our country will come to her collective senses and repudiate this stupid, barbaric, insane rejection of God’s created order.
If that happens, we may yet live to see an American Reconquista. Otherwise, the suck meter is going to go high for a very long time.
Farmer Tom, you are talking around and past me; though I don’t know if that is intentional.
My son was ‘married’ in the civil and legal sense a month before a public ceremony was performed — it so happened that a pastor ‘officiated’ this; but there was nothing for him to sign. My son and DIL were not intimate and had not even had a mouth kiss until the public ceremony in front of friends and family. He and I both cracked up at his Calvinist friends who had their panties in a bunch trying to decide if he was “married” or not in that month and various other parrallel questions.
My ex brother in law was married in a civil ceremony only, and to placate the hyper calvist stained on both sides of the family, eventually had a public ceremony complete with wedding dress, reception, etc. No pastor to pronounce words over them, though. This helped keep the peace because everything ‘looked right’ I suppose. It so happened that his pastor wanted him to undertake the founding of a church plant; which he declined to do. Was he even married, Farmer? Is he now?
I dated a baptist girl, a cute Romanian, who could not get past the fact that I was the one who set the legal works in motion for my divorce, after two years and two affairs by my ex. Her lifetime among people who are probably more like you than like me, Farmer — pray don’t take offense, I’m just making a guess — did not communicate to her that I was not guilty of unbiblical divorce for getting the courts involved (my ex remarried three days after the legal business was settled)
In my contemplation of the legal structure surrounding my next ‘marriage’, I consider that I may do something like create a series of legal ‘bundles’ in which my future spouse enjoys a variety of contractual benefits like common property, durable medical power of attorney, and so forth. It is not clear that a structure like this can be enforced; though there are people in this state who are doing things like this as an alternative to what the state is pleased to call “family law.” There will be some church ladies who have their hair nets in a bunch if I am ‘married’ this way; but then again some of them don’t know their husband can divorce them at any time for now reason at all under the laws of the state, since they think they are still living pre-early 80s insofar as the law is concerned.
Farmer: I submit to you that the reason we are not being salt and light is because we are instead trying to be chill peppers and light shows, and have forgotten to consider what is in the can instead of what is on the label.
In all seriousness, I think you’re addressing two different matters.
Farmer Tom is right in the larger rejection of Natural Law by our society. I would otherwise agree with him; my only issue is that, if we have reached the point where we have to write this into a Constitution, it is proof that our society has pretty much screwed the pooch here.
At the same time, the Church has a lot of reconsidering to do over the way they approach gender relations in general and marriage in particular.
If we are confused about what the ‘disease’ is we will be misdirected in our ‘treatment.” I think we are called to treat the Body of Christ before society. ..and also that any Christian leader who speaks out against gay marriage but can not be found to have ever spoken out against no fault divorce is someone whose critical faculties may not be finely tuned, given which of the two is more dangerous. I further think that many leaders would like the state — or who in fact think the state should be — to be the guarantor of marriages instead of the quality of their preaching and teaching.
Oh absolutely. I doubt Farmer Tom would have an issue with your take on no-fault divorce. In fact, I would submit that he is as opposed to that as we are.
At the same time, I look at it as a both-and and not an either-or issue.
As for the State licensure of marriages, I tend to oppose it, largely because I believe that, as a society, we have reached the point where we can no longer trust government to be on the right side.
Charles, I’ve read and reread my comments. I’m not sure what I have done that confounds you.
I am strongly opposed to no-fault divorce. Very strongly, have a friend in the Iowa State Legislature who is trying to end it here in Iowa, and I support him in his efforts.
I strongly oppose sodomy permission certificates. I helped in an effort of non-retention for the judges who forced this evil on Iowa. And we dumped three of them. A major event, only been done one other time in US history.
I believe strongly that marriage is both a civil and a religious relationship. Those who are not believers can still be married. Those who are believers should be able to covenant before God without interference of the state.
BUT, marriage is an issue of Natural Law. It has existed since the Creation. It exists all thru human history. and governments are attempting to make something which is lawlessness into law. We must oppose that.
And the church must stand in opposition to that as well, Just as they should be standing in opposition to no-fault divorce.
I don’t know what else to tell you.
Tom, you can’t hear me because you are projecting onto me, I think, a question I am not asking. I am trying to get to you acknowledge that any civil authorities’ say-so is what causes God to recognize something as a marriage. Really straightforward. If you accept this — that is, that the civil authority does not speak for God in this kind of case, then there are many logical sequelae that follow from this that I do not think you have thought through. I *get* seven ways to Sunday all about being salt and light, including in the legal and social realms as well as in the home. I write a blog for single Christian man. I’m not advocating homosexual behavior. (I think I would differ with you as to whether the State can, or should, punish such behaviour — the logical sequelae of your talk about “sodomy permission certificates.” But, you speak of believers being able to covenant before God without “interference” of the State. This is interesting — how about non believers covenanting with each other, with their having no notion of God one way or the other? Your precise words are that they can be married ..but I am still in the dark as to what makes it a ‘marriage’ or not. I think if you are irritated by all this — I have no way to know if you are, or not — it is a sign that you are being challenged on foundational levels. You are being challenged on foundational levels. I reject the foundational notion that the State’s permission or say so is what makes it a marriage. There is an Asian country that disallows its citizens to marry a foreigner older than fifty. Suppose I wanted to marry a Khmer woman in her jurisdiction? In the days of regnant Communism in Albania marriages were only recognized in state ceremonies wherein the participants had to pledge to build the Communist state. … and so forth. Ignore this thread or these ideas if they trouble you. … but these ideas are not going to go away. When a minister says “by the authority invested in me by the State of _______” he is acting as an agent of the STATE. And I am not aware of any State in this Union where the family laws reflect anything like a biblical understanding. Not one; not since the early 80s. And I have a sushi dinner bet with a lawyer that not too long from now the STATE that I live in is going to go after the tax exempt status of Church’s who refuse gay ceremonies.
You are trying to bail the lifeboat; I am recognizing that the water is over the gunwhales and set to building another boat.
I think our country–as a whole–needs to have a sober, adult conversation about (a) what kind of society we have, (b) what kind of society we are going to have if we continue on this course, and (c) what the consequences are if we continue our departure from a legal system that accepts Natural Law even while not requiring citizens to practice any particular religion.
In that discussion, we need to have a very frank discussion about what informs our understanding of law and justice. If this does not come from a Christian consensus, then it will be something. The question is a rational one of which framework is most equitable.
I’d say that without the Judeo-Christian framework, there would be no “civilization” in Western Civilization.
We know what the alternatives are. From Islam to Paganism to secular materialism–even Buddhist and Hindu frameworks–those alternatives aren’t particularly encouraging from any rational historical assessment.
Ok, Charles, I got it now. You think that libertarian utopia is the answer to everything.
I reject that premise because I believe in the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. Period.
There is right and wrong, regardless of what the state(State) federal, local or an individual has to say about it.
Pure libertarianism is unBiblical on it’s face.
God was not please with the Israelites when they lived the libertarian lifestyle.
Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
If that is your utopian dream, I want no part of it.
God ordained governments, see Daniel 4 and 5, Romans 13. If you deny that, then it is you with the unBiblical unGodly position.
That’s the thing. I’m not sure that libertopia is going to resolve this issue either.
There are some issues that are best-resolved by keeping government less-involved if not non-involved. While I have never smoked marijuana or done any otherwise illegal drugs, I support decriminalizing it. Why? Because this “war on drugs” has proven to be little more than a false canard for fleecing taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars, creating a prison industry that only perpetuates the criminal class, makes instant criminals out of people who–with few exceptions–are doing no material harm to anyone else, and denying legitimate medical alternatives to dangerous prescription narcotics.
Another example of this is guns. Even without a Second Amendment, it’s a matter of common sense: the war on guns harms the good guys and empowers government while doing nothing to clamp down on crime.
Now what about marriage?
The problem is that we’ve reached the point where–as a society–we can’t even agree that sodomy is wrong.
30 years ago, there would have been no disagreement in society: back then, it was–across the board–accepted that homosexuality was, at best, an aberration if not an outright perversion. In fact, before the 1970s, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. “Marrying” gay “couples” was unthinkable.
One didn’t even have to be a Christian to appreciate that. Even with liberals running the universities, society was still tied to Natural Law.
But today, that isn’t the case. I’m not saying I like that fact–like you, I don’t–but because it is the case, we have now reached the point where we cannot trust our government, at any branch or level, to regulate marriage in accordance with Natural Law.
What we have now is even worse than ancient Israel had.
Back then, Israel had no king, and everyone did as they pleased.
Today, we have thousands of government authorities–spanning state, local and federal levels–and they are demanding that evil be permitted and paid for by taxpayers.
That is why my position on marriage is libertarian. While I would love it if government were on the side of Natural Law on this, it is now waging war against Natural Law.
At this point, it seems that the best way to preserve marriage is twofold:
(1) Do my darndest to protect my own;
(2) Get government out of the marriage regulation business altogether.
I’m not sure I like the latter; I just see it as a problem of government being fundamentally against Natural Law, and society has pretty much punted on it.
At any rate, I’m not seeing anything encouraging about what is coming down. And short of a modern Great Awakening, I see things getting a lot worse before they get any better.
Once again, Farmer Tom imputes ideas to me that I do not have. It would serve him well to learn to listen better. I disengage from the dialogue.
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