A Theology of Resistance for Florists

One of the things made apparent by the case of Baronelle Stutzman in Washington State is that we are to be allowed our convictions about same-sex mirage, but only if we can find a place to store them. You see all the storage bins have been nationalized and are now public property, and so all the contents have to conform the current policy of these United States, which holds, among other things, that the anus is now a sex organ. It follows from this that if you know it isn’t, having had biology in high school, then these aberrant and blasphemous thoughts of yours must never be expressed or even hinted at within a fifty foot radius of anyone who might be offended. What if you said something about this, and there were a drag queen nearby? Nothing worse than having a drag queen clutch at her pearls.

After you get to Heaven, you can take out these deep religious convictions and show them to God. So sorry. At that time, the public policy of these United States won’t care about any of this anymore because all these homo-regs of ours will at that time be found in a huge column of smoke ascending from Babylon the Great. But we don’t like to think about that too much, so for the time being you Christians had just better shut up.

So the Attorney General of Washington is going after Baronelle Stutzman in order to make an example of her. In the uproar that followed, everything broke down the way you might expect. The people who think that the gummint is just a gaggle of bullies with guns who hate freedom have one more reason for thinking so. And those people who think that the government, correct spelling please, is powered entirely by pure thoughts will continue to think that. Look at them fight for mutual acceptance!

But what about those Christians who ought to know better? The striking thing is that now that we have come to the pressure point, where taking a stand for Christ might actually cost you something, we are seeing a lot of theological ingenuity (of all kinds) being expended by Christians who don’t want to do the obvious thing that must be done. From the kid glove treatment that Tim Keller gives it, to the retreat and surrender option served up by Russell Moore, to the confused muddles of leftist anabaptism (never judge the world outside the church for things like same sex mirage; always judge the world for being chintzy with the EBT cards), to the retreat to commitment orchestrated by First Things, all done to flourishing bugles to make it seem like a cavalry charge, we see the same thing over and over again, which is refusal to engage.

The sophisticati among us almost never engage, which is why some pert Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader is closer to the kingdom than is some gender-sensitive lit prof at Wheaton College. Who is more likely to sign a petition to prevent pervs from being allowed to use the girls’ restroom? Ah.

Don’t ever do anything that might get you sympathetic treatment on Fox News. That would reveal you to be a rube and cornpone, and everybody knows that rubes and cornpones cannot be nuanced theologians. And, by the way, continuing with the point made in the previous paragraph, Fox News, with all its glaring faults and big busty blondes, is still closer to the kingdom than certain theologies that have the word kingdom in their tagline.

Ambrose Bierce, in his Devil’s Dictionary, described a certain kind of valor — the kind we have on tap among smart evangelicals — in this way.

“Why have you halted?” roared the commander of a division at Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; “move forward, sir, at once.”

“General,” said the commander of the delinquent brigade, “I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.”

This is why we see so many of the evangelical intelligentsia (sic) doing what intelligentsioids do best — which is to flake. In the meantime, even though it feels like the Alamo redux, the task of upholding the moral order of Scripture and Christendom falls to bakers, photographers, and arrangers of flowers. This is a true occasion for having mixed emotions — being deeply proud of our ordinary foot soldiers and profoundly ashamed of our leadership.

I wish I could do more, but here are just a few practical theological observations for the ordinary Christian, still at his beleaguered post, wondering why headquarters won’t respond to repeated pleas for air support. Ordinary Christians would be justified in feeling the same way that ordinary Ukrainians do when they pleaded for aid against the Russian invasion, and Obama sent them extra socks to help get them through the winter. Winter wasn’t the problem.

1. One of charges made against you is that you are just one more bigot, trying to resist the march of progress. A generation ago, white restaurants would not seat blacks, and here you are, supposedly playing the same role. But such bigotries back then were a sin, just like sodomy is today. When a Christian merchant today refuses to help celebrate iniquity, he is not a restaurant manager refusing to seat blacks; rather, he is a restaurant manager refusing to seat the Grand Kleegle Wizard of the KKK, just back from a cross burning and feeling a mite peckish. There is no generic sin called “refusal to seat.” Who? Why? These issues cannot be sorted out apart from a fixed standard of right and wrong, and we cannot have that apart from God’s revealed Word in Scripture.

2. The issue is not the sale of goods to sinners, but rather the celebration of sin with sinners. If you were a graphics design guy, and a homosexual came in and asked for an ad for his new restaurant, you should have no problem designing his ad for him. If he wanted you to design the ad for his new bathhouse, you would have a problem. You would have the same issues designing an ad for a heterosexual whorehouse. You do not want your expertise in making things look attractive and winsome to be used in making iniquity look attractive and winsome. The reason these particular professions have become the battleground is that homosexual activists are demanding, not our co-participation in the same economy, but rather our approval. They will not stop until they have that approval, and we should rather die than give it.

3. All societies have unquestioned axioms, certain beliefs held in common. As de Tocqueville put it, without such a common belief a society cannot exist, “for without ideas held in common there is no common action, and without common action there may still be men, but there is no social body” (p. 8). Our ruling elites are in the midst of trying to change a foundational American axiom of liberty to the alternative foundational secularist axiom of universal tolerance. It will do you no good to appeal to the former while they are busy trying to supplant it with the latter. They don’t feel bad denying such appeals; their goal is to deny such appeals. We need to resist them, which is not the same thing as appealing to them. Our appeal is to God.

In addition, the one thing that universal tolerance cannot abide is any denial of universal tolerance, which is why dissenters are put down with such ferocity. But this means the longer you stay on the field, the worse it is for them. So stay on the field, and pray for Baronelle Stutzman.

Denethor in the Oval Office

One of the amazing things about our president is that he will move heaven and earth to avoid saying something like “Islamic extremism.” When it comes to being PC, he is the utter frozen limit. He is out there by himself on the tundra. He has gathered up every liberal bromide, every pious political platitude, every cheesy sentiment ever uttered by a bouncy camp counselor at a United Methodist youth ranch, and made a huge pyre out of all them, where it is beginning to look like he is going to immolate himself, just like Denethor.

Since when is the president supposed to pronounce on what is and what is not the “true” heart of any religion? Since when did he become the theologian-in-chief? He doesn’t want to use the word Islamic because he doesn’t want the ISIS psychopaths to have the satisfaction of seeing us recognize the religious element in what they are doing. But if you want to read some bracing good sense on the subject, as distinguished by that crawling green mist coming from the State Department, I recommend this.

Secularism wants to run the world, and yet secularism does not know what religion even is. Secularism does not know what men are, and this is why they do not know what evil men are. Putting it all together, this is why they do not know what evil religions are, and why they are so attractive to sinful men.

This ISIS caliphate has come into being because men need for their lives to mean something. The best that secularism can offer is an abstract system that sees us as undulating protoplasm, moist and confused carriers of our selfish genes, which all know exactly what they want. And then you die.

The Allah of ISIS is a blasphemous parody of the triune God, but from a distance it has provided enough transcendental dazzle to begin to attract a number of lost boys from the West. Turns out that cocaine and Playboy are not a marching creed, and men eventually need to march.

We have come to a crossroads that divides into three paths. One sign says that Evolution is god, and time is its blind prophet. The second says that Allah is God, and Muhammad is his prophet. The third says that God is the Father, and Jesus is His Son.

And it also appears that God is insisting that we make our choice, and take the consequences. As for me and my house, the path we are on is the one that follows Jesus.

Squandered Opportunities

“We [evangelicals] have countless churches, radio stations, publishing houses, colleges, seminaries, magazines, and astonishing wealth. At the very same time, we are being outmaneuvered by adversaries who have nothing close to our distinct infrastructure” (Rules, p. 67).

Bard Still Has an Arrow Left

As I watch the evening news, night after night it appears to me that our nation is being ruled by men who are hellbent on destroying us before they leave office. Either we are dealing with malevolence of a high order or incompetence of a higher order, and quite possibly both. Now I say this knowing that if they are successful in their vision, there will be no injustice done. We deserve everything that is happening to us, good and hard.

But, that said, let me tell you why I am optimistic.

At the end of the book of Esther, the Jews were enabled by the grace of God to defend themselves, and they wound up killing 75,000 of their enemies (Est. 9:16). Just prior to that, their enemies had been hoping to use the decree of Haman to wipe out the Jews, but at the last minute the tables were turned (Est. 9:1).

There was a goodish bit of court politics going on, combined with a little of “no, wait, not that.”

“The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed” (Est. 3:15).

Perplexed, sort of like me, scrolling through the Drudge Report. I am regularly amazed that these people are still running what is left of our civilization. Shoot, I am amazed that they all still have drivers’ licenses.

I believe that we will be delivered. I believe that we will see a black swan revival. But whether we are delivered or not, it doesn’t matter. Faithfulness can be found in apparent defeat as easily as in victory. Deliverance is given to faithful men, and faithful men are those who care about certain things more than deliverance.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:17–18).

I believe we need to pray and work for deliverance. I believe we need to expect deliverance, trusting God for it. But whether or not He grants us that victory, we can at least arrange for a flamboyant defeat.

In the meantime, always remember the blessing given by the elvenking at the end of The Hobbit. When he said farewell to Gandalf, his blessing was “may you ever appear where you are most needed and least expected” (The Hobbit, p. 247).

One of the reasons why Christians are so discouraged by the turn events have taken is that they have not been steeped in the right kind of stories. Smaug is great, but Bard has one arrow left.

Why We Need More of Moore, and Also Less of Moore, More or Less

We live in a time of great cultural blessing, by which I mean that God is no longer permitting us to talk nonsense, at least not without that fact becoming manifest to all and sundry. Secular man is just standing there, shivering in his skivvies, listening to the imperious demands of Muslim clerics on the one hand, and the imperious demands of poofter pride on the other.

These conflicting demands are God’s way of using current events to run a reductio ad absurdum on us. Thus far, we are continuing to embrace all the absurdities, as we are able, in the hope that no one will notice.

When this kind of thing happens, it reveals all our hidden assumptions and secret commitments. This most recently happened to Russell Moore, who was trying to respond to the actions of Chief Justice Roy Moore. The feds are despotically trying force homo-mirage on a nation that does not want it, and Roy Moore instructed the judges in his state to disregard the illegal actions of the feds.

What happens when you ignore the woman's touch . . .

The kind of kitsch you get when you ignore the woman’s touch . . .

What Russell Moore did was say that judges should either comply with the federal requirement, or resign their office. Quoting from the article . . .

“Russell Moore, a national official charged with representing Southern Baptists’ beliefs with regard to culture and public policy, told Baptist Press any judge who ‘could not discharge the duties of his office required by law’ because of objections of conscience ‘would need to resign and protest it as a citizen.’

He said that there is a role for civil disobedience, but not for ‘judges and state Supreme Court justices … in their roles as agents of the state.'”

Before addressing the glaring problem here, we need to note the foundational moral compromise already present in this. He does not say that judges must resign, period. He says that judges must resign rather than protest in an official capacity, but not that they must resign rather than authorize a same-sex mirage. You may be okay with that. You must not be okay with defying the state. What this illustrates is that Russell Moore is a statist. He wants to stand for biblical principle, just so long as unbiblical people have given him permission to.

I said earlier that this kind of situation reveals hidden assumptions. What Roy Moore is doing, while many soi disant defenders of traditional values are pulling their skirts away from him, is an almost perfect example of the Protestant doctrine of the lesser magistrate. What we need is a thousand more men like Roy Moore.

You New Around Here?

We have some truly encouraging news from Alabama on the same sex mirage front, but before getting to a defense of all that, I would like to dispatch the developing meme that this is just the desegregation battle all over again.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened. A federal judge struck down Alabama’s same sex mirage ban, and yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court denied Alabama’s request to have that action put on hold. The Supremes are due to hear arguments in a couple of months about same sex mirage nationwide. So after this latest outrage, at the urging of the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, Roy Moore, the majority of Alabama counties are refusing to comply with this tyrannical order.

So, a generation ago, there was a showdown between Alabama and the Feds over segregated schools, when Alabama leaders defied federal orders to desegregate their schools. And the meme is that this is just “history repeating itself.”

But strip away all the additional complicating factors, which are always there, a generation ago Alabama was being pressured to quit doing the wrong thing. Now they are being pressured to quit doing the right thing. A generation ago, the Feds had the moral high ground. Now the Feds are actively campaigning for the normalization of sexual perversion, which is not, you might take care to note, the moral high ground.

Right? Wrong? These are odd words, stranger. You new around here?

Look. Racial bigotry is a sin. Sexual perversion is a sin. The fact that the respective players in these two battles were and are Alabama and the Federal Government is completely beside the point. Those who glibly point to that as though it settles everything are like those who think that a son who once participated in an intervention over his mother’s alcoholism has thereby earned the right, twenty years later, to pressure her into committing tax fraud. No, no. Let’s go over this carefully. Drunkenness is a sin. Fraud is a sin. They are both sins. Whoever is championing the sin is the sinner.

Now, that settled, we should make a point of applauding the heroic resistance being mounted against our tyrants, who, not content with being perverts themselves, want to promulgate their licentiousness with a club. Nine counties in Alabama have complied. The majority of counties, 46, have gone on strike, refusing to issue any marriage licenses at all. Twelve counties are refusing to issue licenses to same-sex parodies.

Madison, in Federalist 47, said this about tyranny:

“The accumulation of all powers, Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

The essence of tyranny is not found in goose-stepping soldiers, missile parades, or dictatorial mirror glasses. The essence of tyranny is found in consolidated and arbitrary power. That power has taken shape in our grasping and overweening federal government, and once tyranny has gotten to these levels, the only way to deal with it is by means of active resistance.

We should want to choose the point of resistance carefully, and this situation in Alabama seems almost ideal for it. All the issues of right and wrong should be immediately graspable by ordinary people. There should be defined lines of resistance. There should be lesser magistrates who are willing to uphold the law, resisting the subversion of law from above. And once we have those elements, there should be simple defiance, sweet defiance. Just say no. Try and make us.

So I would encourage Christians all over the country to support what is going on there, actively, openly, and energetically. Start by dismissing those who say that Roy Moore is a “firebrand.” Not at all. He is just a free man, and we don’t see many of them anymore. We are not sure what they are supposed to look like any more.

And as you mediate on these things, here is a little Orwell for you. “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Darn

This coming May, in conjunction with BibleMesh, New St. Andrews is offering a week-long intensive course in biblical Hebrew for pastors. Further details can be found here. The course will be taught by Dr. Timothy Edwards, just to the right here, whose British accent will not Intensive Hebrewmake you learn it any faster, but we guarantee that it will make you think you are.

A number of other exciting developments are also percolating at NSA, and we hope to keep you abreast of them all. This is just the first. Stay tuned.