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The Varied Enemies of Marriage

Perusing the news nowadays becomes a masochistic exercise as we face a quickening accumulation of human folly and travesty. It is little wonder that many prefer to stick their heads in sand to safeguard their very psychological equilibrium.
So while this nation heaves a wearied sigh of relief from an electoral rebuke of the more blatant forms of petty-minded nativist bigotries in Quebec, along comes a broadside against the Estate of Marriage and by extension civil society. But from the ‘Conservative’ Party of Canada!

52. (1) Subsection 4(2) of the Canada

Evidence Act is replaced by the following:

(2) No person is incompetent, or uncompellable, to testify for the prosecution by reason only that they are married to the accused.

It was always my expectation that the bit-by-bit weakening of the spousal immunity laws over the years would invariably lead to a total blanket overthrow of this legal protection from the creeping tyranny of statism. But it was not to be expected from the ‘Conservative’ Party of Canada in this Amendment to the Canada Evidence Act as part of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

The whole point of spousal immunity is to provide one corner in this gotcha dog-eat-dog social jungle, where a person can be psychologically naked, open and vulnerable and without inhibition, that is intimated in the very metaphor of sex. Having at least one venue of protected confidentiality is a primary contributor of mental health. Having at least one person, one can trust, can act as check against one’s own folly and even criminality.

However, it is not only a matter of psychological well-being. This yet another intrusion into the bedrooms of the nation, enervates the cohesion, unity and strength of the nation’s marriages, and by extension families. It attacks trust, which is the fundamental foundation to all social relationships. Indeed, emotive and erotic passion, is, in large part, a function of such trust. Spouses must now be courageous enough to suffer judicial penalties to protect the sanctity of their marriages.

By extension, it further diminishes the distinction between all-consuming, fierce loyalties of committed and united lovers from the mindset behind atomistic hook-up sex culture. It undermines its very raison d’être for getting married.

It extends that late Roman Empire policy of pitting every man to spy on their neighbour and every man to distrust his neighbour into the very midst of erotic union. It brings to mind the state exploitation of the Hitler Youth, to report on their parents. It furnishes yet another statist assault on the private civic entities, which can provide checks against this encroaching totalitarian Leviathan.

Yes. I know that there exists this half-wit, self-righteous form of conservatism of the Vic Toews and Britain’s William Hague who pontificate that “the law-abiding citizen has nothing to be worried about”. However, this obtuse form of conservatism is ignorant of history. Even cursory perusal of Quebec politics should disabuse such a notion. It presumes the virtue of the judicio-political authorities. But why should anyone think that the propensity to folly and foible in humanity becomes transformed upon entrance into public service or that the governors will not use such overriding of immunities for less than noble ends?

The ‘Conservative’ Party of Canada has sought to radically reduce judicial discretion in sentencing because of radically widespread inconsistencies, which undermine the moral authority of justice. Does it now wish to sic these judges on married couples; giving judicial discretion as to what constitutes a valid and acceptable violation of marital confidentiality? Does the notion of rational consistency ever creep into their caucus meetings?

This type of policy emanates from the simple-mindedness of single-issue morons, who cannot balance in their mind, more than one consideration at a time.

First of all, it is the last vestiges of a very antiquated area of the law.

Peter Mackay, Justice Minister, April 7, 2014

What a curious and sophomoric argument from a ‘conservative’. The agedness or newness of a principle or attitude surely has little correlation to its virtue. Should we also abrogate democracy, rule of law, chain of command, principles of justice and due process and other concepts and practices that gave rise to Western civilization, because of their antiquarian pedigree?
Such “first of all” modernist arguments can only emanate from the arrogant stupidity of a pampered child of hardier ancestors who fought to extract such restraints on statist overreach. In what way exactly has human nature or the sociopolitical dynamics of societies changed over the last couple hundreds of years, to justify such a sophomoric sophistry?

♦     ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

I, as committed Evangelical, cultural conservative, and small-r republican, social contract libertarian, find it difficult to comprehend any silence from the Conservative Party’s religious supporters. It is too important an issue to disregard and comply with. Any professed Christian, Jewish or Muslim adherent, who fails to remonstrate against this spousal immunity provision, is unfaithful to a primary concept of marriage within their own Holy Writ; namely of the one-flesh oneness of spouses, which this abrogation undermines.

I, as committed Evangelical, cultural conservative, and small-r republican, social contract libertarian, will defy this law, if called upon; in the name of a Christian, even universal (i.e. pagan Roman, Babylonian) understanding of the ingredients, necessary to marriage.

I cannot conceive how this abrogation represents any normalized and healthy form of conservatism? Conservatism has traditionally sought to strengthen the civil intermediaries between state and individual as a bulwark against statism; whereas Rousseauian liberalism reduces all civic intermediaries to become adjuncts and executors of the public will. And the 20th Century is full of examples of the atrocities of this latter mindset.

This provision is every bit statist sentiment as those of their liberal statist counterparts, which conservatives rail about. It is not conservative in any sense. Those, who have true conservative and/or theist sentiments, should at minimum, sit on their hands and let this monstrosity of a conservative party pass into the ash heap of history.

Political Christianity

I chanced upon a headline in the New York Times Magazine this afternoon at Starbucks. Now, that statement might intimate that my political loyalties lie with the Left. However, except for a fling with the NDP, in disgust with the conservative and liberal parties’ evident selectivity in the upholding of civil rights in the War Measures Act of 1970; I could not vote for any party, whose unstated policy of laïcité would preclude Christian/religious values and principles from contending in the public square. Indeed, I belong to that great and deep chasm between conservative moralism and liberal intellectual intellectualist arrogance called True Christianity.

The Trap of Loyalty

Syria’s Alawites are caught between for their own increasingly brutal leaders and a rebellion that may want to wipe them off the map.1

I cannot help but think about the snare that conservative Christians (and to lesser extent, progressive Christians) have fallen into, as I wait for my Cappuccino. The lamentable thing is that neither Christian ‘faction’ seems sufficiently aware of their self-inflicted conundrum.

The report articles the many Alawite Muslims, targeted by the rebels, for being of the same Islamic sect as the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. They have given that dynasty a tribalistic level of support. Some had even participated in massacres against various adversarial groups in decades prior.

Therefore, regardless of personal culpability or concurrence with the atrocities, committed by the regime, these Alawites are painted with the same brush. Were they to withdraw political allegiance due to horror at the atrocities, Bashar al-Assad might very well withdraw his protection. And they would be gunned down unprotected, without discernment or distinction because of past animosities and associations. They are stuck in their loyalty with whatever angel or devil represents the regime.

Tribal loyalties are understandable. Christian commitment to one secular sociopolitical faction or the other is declaimed by Christian Scriptures (“unequally yoked”) and imprudent.

Certainly, many of these political Christians are spiritual weeds; as Christian as the “German Christians” of the 1930s; ignorant of Scriptures; certainly ignorant of the principles, ethic, ethos and Gospel of Christ. And perhaps, it is time to call a tare a tare.

Having cast their lot with the Republican Party, conservative Christianity unnecessarily alienates the other half of America on matters of secondary consequence; on issues which have little to do with Christianity, on issues which are contrary to Christianity. Indeed, in this pact with the devil, one painfully observes conservative Christianity conscript and construe (and misconstrue) Scriptural verses to give spiritual imprimatur to matters which are ethically dubious (i.e. the political issue is too complex to pontificate moral / spiritual blessing). More so, the reputation of Christianity becomes beholden to the conduct and attitudes of their political allies and protectors.

There is a statistically significant dip in Southern Baptist membership growth in 2003, the year of the Iraq War; which shocking to me, the SBC actually gave official sanction. There membership has been on a slow wane ever since. And the SBC is wondering why it is losing its youth; not to alternative denominations; but to agnosticism and even hostility.

 And considering that the current political polarization in the U.S. will likely only worsen, only become nastier, only bring on further extremist measures on both factions; the reputation of Christianity suffers for the friends with whom conservative Christianity associates with. “God’s name is blasphemed among the nations because of you.”2

The spiritual problem is not about the sociopolitical issues themselves. The issue is about having the independence of choosing, which issues of the Republican (or Democratic) arsenal are morally clear cut. The issue is about being neutral on sociopolitical issues in which neutrality is spiritually prudent or morally complex and doubtful. The issue is about retaining autonomous independence and moral authority in speaking truth to power, regardless of whoever attains the Commanding Heights of society. The issue is about having a purifying and distinct Evangelical voice. The issue is about being free to give other sociopolitical factions credit and support in those issues in which they may be closer to the right; however rare that might appear to be. The issue is about not permitting unregenerate people to enlist Christianity in non-Christian and dubious, even corrupt, causes. The issue is about being able to retain a clarity of mind, not besmirched by the flak of worldly and unchristian thought and attitude.

The issue is about moral credibility and the reputation of God.

And in alienating the other sociopolitical faction, that other sociopolitical faction will have greater and justified cause to depredate the cause of Christ. Indeed, fear of the liberal secularist onslaught that depredates Christianity, which gave genesis to Evangelical prostitution with conservatism in the first place, will only bind Evangelicalism ever closer to their secular johns.

The taste of Christianity, emanating out of current Evangelicalism, has become painfully worldly, idolatrous, moralist and lacking in grace, mean-spirited and hateful, jingoistic, compromised and without spiritual vitality. It is social and capitalist conservatism sprinkled with God words.



NOTES

1.       Robert F. Worth, “The Trap of Loyalty”, The New York Times Magazine (Print Edition), June 23, 2013.

2.       Romans 2:24 NIV. I have replaced Gentiles with nations (Greek – ethnesin) in this quote. It is equally valid; speaking objectively and generically, rather than in relationship to the Jews.

    

Comments on ‘What Southern Baptists must do to slow their decline’

RE: What Southern Baptists must do to slow their decline | On Faith & Culture.

I have been reading various reports about ‘Hemorrhaging Faith’; here in Canada and in the United States. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada produced a report by that name last year. And the Southern Baptists have engaged in introspective navel gazing in response as statistics of declining membership etc catch up with the reality of their loss of spiritual vitality some time ago. Empirical statistics are always, at best, lagging indicators in a spiritual setting. Sometimes, they could be false indicators; as the leadership hierarchy roll out initiatives, which might inflate the numbers in a brief burst of ersatz spiritual fireworks.

I could give my own deep and comprehensive rendering of the problems. And I would probably be 90-95% correct. But my efforts would be of little use. This would be due partially to the fact that I would be perceived as an outsider in a variety of ways. Rebuke and reproach is only effective, at best, if the person addressed believes that one is, at heart, on their side; that the advice given is from someone who is genuinely interested in their welfare, apart from any personal benefit to the counselor. Loyal criticism from one’s own is always preferred. Outside criticism sends the guard goes up. The wagons are circled.

A particular problem with SBC members is that they demonstrate fierce denominational nationalism and pride; not the type of attitude that is prone to self-doubt and introspection. And I have been acquainted with this proud and unbecoming sectarianism, which is particularly unique to Southern Baptists and puzzling to outsiders; in Israel, America and back here. I see something of the same in Conventional Baptists in Canada. But that is another story.

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Betrayal of Men by the Evangelical Mind (Part 2)

In the first segment, I suggested that the man-up rants, being deployed by Neo-Calvinists, are not necessarily symptomatic of effeminization of the church; but are leftovers and corollaries from a conservative patriarchal perspective that sees men as leaders and women as flotsam; the latter, to be directed by the programming expertise of the male leader. I do not dispute that an effeminization of the church is occurring. However, if we misconstrue the diagnosis, our prescriptions will also be askew.

Recovering from a long sojourn in spiritual warfare and psychosis, familiar to both John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon; I began recollecting the abusive behaviour of a wife during my period of weakness. I vented my pains and frustrations to a male Christian colleague, leader of our small group.

In similar manner, after the Golden Calf incident, Jehovah vented His anger about the Hebrews to Moses; even threatening to eradicate the nation and produce the promised seed of Abraham through Moses loins. Although His Will might be set on saving these incorrigible people (as a sociopolitical entity), it did not stop Him from confiding His justified feelings. This suggests that it is OK to confide one’s justified feelings, even against one’s spouse, to a confidential source in order to seek psychic validation and vindication, although one has no intention of pursuing the ramifications of such feelings. It clears the air and clarifies the mind before being able to determine how one ought to proceed in the face of such circumstances.

However, the small group leader set upon me for ragging about the wife, even in confidentiality. This is consistent with this conservative value that men ought only to be concerned about their own conduct in the marriage. If the husband leader is wise and virtuous, he will know the right buttons to push so that his woman will respond in positive fashion to his manipulative craftsmanship. The man initiates; the woman responds; in sex and everything else. It is daft! And it is largely unbiblical and unchristian.

I had heard this perennial nonsense from a spouse who excused her every vice and viciousness as being a response to some failing on my or some other person’s part. But it becomes highly incredible when the husband, following the example and admonitions of Christ, refused to rail against the wayward and vitriol railings of the spouse. For, failing to react to the railings in like manner, that same small group leader set upon me. I no longer have contact with the man or his ex-church.

Husbands are to initiate sex and wives respond. Husbands are to lead in setting the tone of the marriage and women will follow if that vision is good; at least in the subjective eyes of the wife. (That is the nub! The wife becomes final arbiter of the Good and therefore the de facto leader.) Husbands are to lead in reparations of marital breaches.

And indeed, this propensity has validity; especially if one isolates all the admonitions geared toward spouses from the admonitions given to general Christian humanity.

However, wives behaving in conditionally to the virtuous initiations of the husband bumps up against this piece of counsel.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.1

One can find similar admonitions to servants/employees (and there are many obtuse Evangelicals who differentiate admonitions to servants from those of employees) about acting as faithful stewards, despite the harshness and vileness of their employers. The general tone of the NT ethos of grace promotes conduct and attitude that transcends merely responding to the actions and attitudes of peers and adversaries.

That a husband should lead in promoting the general welfare of the marriage and spouse is not disputed. But it is the endemic tendency for Evangelical churchmen to blame the husband if the wife fails to respond in kind. If the wife is a natural shrew, the unstated tenor of this conservative mind in Evangelical circles, is that the husband must have made her so. That mindset simply betrays what the Scriptures say about human nature. It might be true that many, if not most people, will respond in kindness to kindness. But there are many who exploit the good will of others or whose mind is so corrupted that they misconstrue the virtue of the virtue of others’ conduct. Furthermore, Christians, whether husband or wife or whatever category of humanity, are to differ from general humanity by transcending knee-jerk reactions to the behaviour of others.

Scriptures speaks about rebellious and contentious women in equal measure as about abusive men. To his credit, Mark Driscoll will not draw back from re-iterating the many proverbs of Solomon concerning such women; despite the many modern Evangelical banshees2, who lop off in selective isolation these admonitions against nagging wives from the rest of his Driscoll’s sermon, which addressed the concerns of both sexes. However, the general emphasis of Mark Driscoll’s sermons and articles tends to be directed more towards male irresponsibility as in this video.

 

 In another sermon turned into Washington Post article3, Driscoll complains about the extended male adolescence, the whining evangellyfish without backbone; these unproductive males still living with their mamas. In a more recent and truly stupid article, Driscoll whines about the unwillingness of modern young males to marry and be responsible. 4 Under the present marital legal regime, such calls to man-up sends men into that, which is potentially hazardous to the material and psychological welfare of the male. A modern legal marriage is not a private contract between spouses alone. In the current sociopolitical environment, a husband marries a wife and the family court apparatus, manned by unjust feminist judges, who favor her. Even male feminists acknowledge the litany of evils that males face in this day5, even if they try to suggest that even more self-centered feminism would resolve it.

Driscollesque admonitions to enter an unjust and hostile legal regime is an invitation for masochistic martyrdom. Males are responding somewhat rationally to the circumstances on the ground. Covenantal marriage, in and of itself, is a virtue and benefit for both spouses. However, in the current sociopolitical climate, a conscientious male must ensure beyond shadow of doubt that the potential spouse will not take advantage of the inequitable family law system that currently reigns and holds the male hostage.

And this is a problem with Evangelical conservativism, which concentrates on private ethics but eschews and ignores public ethics that impinge on private behaviour. Conservative Evangelicals assume that the almighty male can privately overcome the legal impediments and imbalances, no matter how tilted the field of play. For Driscoll to preach marriage but not equally condemn these public impediments and call for sociopolitical reform, discredits the Christian gospel.

And there are other impediments for the young male. They include the imbalance of female to male primary and high school teachers.  And even male public teachers will be largely feminized in these secular liberal public schools. The best three teachers that I remember are all male. This is not a product of misogyny, (or mere misogyny). It is simply that males speak a similar dialect of language of thought. It is simply that males tend to learn more by more kinetic methods; the son who litters his father’s driveway with parts from a disassemble car in order to reassemble another.

In the unjust legal regime, where child support from fathers, even those who are not biological fathers, are scrupulously and relentlessly pursued, while mothers are permitted to play custody games and invent sexual and physical abuse charges with legal impunity; the young male with absentee father has no true solid psychic ground upon to land in order to soar. It is a psychological reality that feminists cannot grasp; at least until the empirical evidence becomes overwhelming after a couple of generations. But even then and there…

It is true that a large element of males do not contest for custody. But why is this?? Custody becomes a weapon, wielded by self-centered and spiteful shrews, to extort more money from their ex-spouses and ex-boyfriends.

It is true that young males are staying with ‘mama’ for longer periods of time. However, consider the economic times, in which we live. There has not only been a socioeconomic and legal war waged against the male through the organs of government, there has been war waged by the older generation against their children. The real minimum wage is 1/3 less than it was in the late 1970s. I could live in a one-bedroom Toronto apartment at the age of 17 and still save a little money. There is no calculable way for my youngest son to live in such splendour even fifty miles from a metropolitan center. Existing union members voted to protect their own wages while damning future employees to a second class wage scale. Indebtedness; through money printing (private indebtedness) and public deficit and debt incursion, which has been addictively continuing for decades; front loads an economy for the benefit of generations prior. Later generations must face an economic drag in the deleveraging and paying back the debt. That is, unless they likewise ‘pay it forward’ until it can no longer be paid forward. And in this dragged-down economy, the youth also faces the public debts of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. Is it any wonder why the younger generation wants to climb off this boat?

Globalization has strengthened the natural economic power and leverage of management at the expense of labour. Job prospects and wage rates/incomes have become increasingly dismal, especially in job categories traditionally held by males because those jobs, more than the service-oriented jobs preferred by women is more subject to globalization.

And a maturing sclerotic corporatism impedes economic growth and opportunity. The small entrepreneurial startup is often less threatened by innovative competition than by business and legal maneuvers by larger corporations with deep pockets (i.e. Microsoft versus Netscape). This affects more the type of businesses started by males more than females.

Anecdotal evidence abounds of deliberate, if furtive, hiring practices against Caucasian heterosexual males. And males are less adept at navigating the socioeconomic climate of corporate and bureaucracies, whose political correctness is reflective of the quilting bee than the rough and tumble of the boxing match.

Young males are staying with ‘mama’ for longer periods of time? I wonder why.

If women are now complaining where all the men have gone, I remember complaining to my best friend in the late 1970s about how silly and self-centered, North American girls were. Some of my disparagement of the opposite sex in those days stemmed from an ignorant lack of appreciation of the radical differences in approach to life between the sexes. This was consistent with the prevailing winds of thought sweeping those times; whereby gender differences were thought to be a product of social constructions. And thus if women did not meet standards of a supposed innate commonality, it must be less because female proclivities naturally differed, but that the current batch of females were unworthy.

However, hypergamy was just as prevalent then as it is now. I observed in mildly bemused and contemptuous detachment as girls chased the so-called alpha-boys who would express contempt towards them in “locker room” discourse.

If I had the authority of an old Roman paterfamilias, I would probably send away for mail order brides from the developing world for the other two sons that I have. However, this is just as unfair a blanket condemnation of the other sex as that conducted by modern women and theologians. There will always be a remnant of tender-hearted but tough Christian women, in amongst the American Evangelical (and other) Princesses out there.

And thus, if men don’t man up in career, marriage and children; it is equally prudent to question whether there is anything out there worth manning up to!

This is not an excuse for young males to wallow in despair and self-pity. There remains a problem with the porn and gaming culture that predominates the young male culture. However, preaching man-up sermons, without empathetic regard to the general and larger circumstances that males face, invariably and justifiably invites scorn and detestation for such a message. For obtuse evangelical preachers, to thunder without empathetic recognition of an increasingly overwhelming tilting of the field against males, their pontifications will lack resonance in the hearts and minds of future generations of young lads.

Another Note

One of the observations, emanating from the above incident with the small group leader or the Evangelical church in general (and their men’s groups); is the myopia that impedes marriage, through this modern conservative atomistic (individualistic) perspective that pollutes Christianity. We, as men, are to seek how to be better men and let women seek how to better women. In other words, each is to weed their own side of the conjugal garden.

However, analyzing only one’s own side of the garden, prevents a totality of vision as to the social dynamics of the conjugal relationship. The weeds on one’s spouses’ side can spread onto the other. The Scriptures speaks of marriage as one entity (“one-flesh”); in which the issues on both sides of the garden are of common concern between spouses. There are natural responses to the behaviours of the other. The wife, who incessantly places herself on the self-righteous Moses seat, finds a husband that withdraws from intimate confiding of his dreams, fantasies, fears, anxieties and shortcomings with her.

The Puritans envisioned marriage, society and church as a whole and total organism; a commonwealth. The actions and attitudes of one component of the commonwealth of marriage or society etc could not be readily isolated in its consequences. However, current atomistic conservative evangelical mentality is prone to conceive marriage in its individual, isolated ‘roles’. And according to Tim Keller, marriage’s purpose is ultimately to improve our individual sanctification. The onus is misplaced and it hurts the ability to see the total picture and true purpose. The marriage is the thing.

It is true that each party of a conjugal union must ultimately and personally do in order to improve the overall relationship. But understanding the social dynamics enables us to understand why we behave in the way that we do, and against what we are contending.

 


NOTES

1.        1 Peter 3:1

2.        Darlene (Dee) Parsons, “Mark Driscoll is a Nagging Clanging Cymbal”, The Wartburg Watch 2013, May 1, 2013, accessed http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/05/01/mark-driscoll-is-a-nagging-clanging-cymbal/ as of June 1, 2013.

3.        Mark Driscoll, “The world is filled with boys who can shave”, Washington Post – On Faith, August 22, 2010, accessed http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/mark_driscoll/2010/08/the_world_is_filled_with_boys_who_can_shave.html on June 1, 2013.

4.        Mark Driscoll, “Why men need marriage”, Washington Post – Guest Voices, January 11, 2012, accessed http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/why-men-need-marriage/2012/01/11/gIQALubyqP_blog.html?wprss=guest-voices on June 1, 2013.

5.        Noah Berlatsky, “When Men Experience Sexism”, The Atlantic, May 29, 2013, accessed http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/when-men-experience-sexism/276355/ on June 1, 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

Betrayal of Men by the Evangelical Mind (Part 1)

Dipping into the man-o-sphere, of both secular and religious varieties, they argue that there is an evidential propensity for even the “New Calvinists” (Driscoll, Mohler, Kevin DeYoung) to place unbalanced blame for the current state of gender relations and of marriage and ‘extended male adolescence’ upon the [young] males themselves.Men, already suffering under a legal regime that is deliberately tilted against them, and recent an economic downturn that initially hit them more, will only respond with contempt toward the Gospel and Full Counsel of God because of these obtuse pontifications without empathetic understanding. Perhaps with  tinge of self-pity, it will feel like obtuse preachers blaming the ‘victim’.

The man-o-sphere is inclined to blame this male shaming on the effeminization of the Evangelical Church. This must seem terribly ironic to “New Calvinists”. Certainly, Mark Driscoll deems himself, the epitome of rugged American manliness. And “New Calvinists” have received more than a fair shake of castigation, often vitriolic, from feminists and Evangelical egalitarians, who exalt the things of WOMAN above the things of God. Stung by prior misstatements, some of these theologians have deliberately bent over backwards to appear fair-minded; thereby kowtowing to modern cultural sensitivities at the expense of spiritual fidelity.

However, the critique that such man-up rants emanate from compromises to endemic and insidious feminism is unfounded. They derive from a different source. They reflect symptomatic excesses and perversities of a conservative ‘patriarchal’ mindset, unjustified by Scriptures; of ‘males as leader, female as flotsam’ attitude. ‘If only the man knew how to wind the woman doll up properly, she would obey his every whim.’

Read more…

John Piper and His Stupid 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.

 

 

 

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.

Sexual Liberty and the Sufficiency of Scriptures

According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue.1

The first indictment in Paul Washer’s sermon Ten Indictments Against the Modern Churchis the practical denial of the sufficiency of Scriptures.2 His purpose of the principle was to castigate “seeker-friendly” churches for using social science to rope outsiders into populating the pews. Even Denny Burk, who has deploys the Feinburg grid, has published articles to assert Scriptural sufficiency as a corollary of inerrancy (“We have an obligation to show our churches and indeed the world that God’s written Word is sufficient to address these issues”3)

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Worship

Yet I will show you the most excellent way.1

I heard another sermon message today, with one of its themes referencing worship. And as usual, I find it disappointing, even wrong-headed; although, this particular manner of presentation is common in Evangelical churches.

Worship is not just something that happens automatically. We choose to make it happen. It is a decision we make.

There is an element of truth in the above statement. The first step on the descent towards depravity in Romans 1 involves the failure to honour God or be grateful. However, intimated in the above comment is that worship is some self-propelled act generated ex nihilo. It can be appreciated that one ought to praise and honour, regardless of circumstances. It is less credible to expect genuine praise and honour, regardless of knowledge of God that one is persuaded of.

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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.

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