With Tongues Hanging Out

I posted something here about a small dust-up at Wheaton College over the appearance of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield there. My post was blunt, as it needed to be, and at least a couple of additional things need to observed after the fact.

The concern of Scripture is holiness, not propriety. Chesterton teaches us that virtue and respectability are not the same thing. They are not synonyms, sorry. In our time, basic Christian morality is being surrendered by the effete evangelical elites, and it is being surrendered for the sake of their own very precious (to them) respectability. Thus, when someone identifies what they are doing in blunt terms that cannot be denied or evaded, the only standard they can appeal to in an attempt to make you back off is the appeal to respectability. I am afraid, however, that I don’t care. I distinguish here, incidentally, the kind of respectable integrity that Paul says all elders ought to have (1 Tim. 3:7), and the kind of respectability that makes men run after the world’s honors with their tongues hanging out (John 5:44).

Second, the issue of the student protest there, and the response to it, simply identifies that the immune system of evangelicalism is just flat busted. The issue isn’t the presence of the sin, or the reality of such temptations, or the fact that this kind of thing shows up everywhere. Of course. Those are pastoral givens. The problem is the anemic response, the weak sister answers, the galling timidity. That is the problem.

But it is not the case that discipline is gone. No, remember the inescapable concept — not whether, but which. Every human society disciplines, of necessity. The issue is what gets disciplined, and what gets invited to further dialog parties. Here’s a thought experiment for you . . . or any conservative Wheaton students with a taste for high-jinks might actually want to try it. They could organize a protest of their own — sponsored by the Wheaton Alliance for Normal Sexual Pleasure, Biblically Defined — and see how far they get. I will go so far as to hazard the guess that invitations to warm dialog will not enter into it. They will be seen as the troublemakers, which is quite right. They would be — disruptors of flaccid respectability.

And about time.

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43 comments on “With Tongues Hanging Out

  1. So…                                                                                                                                                    
    Not all killing is murder. Some killing can be done justly, as in the case of self-defense, just warfare, and capital punishment.                                                                                                                                                     
    Not all deception is lying. Some deception can be done justly, as in the case of defending the innocent, just warfare, and getting the guest of honor to the surprise party.                                                                                                                                                      
    Not all talk about sexual and bodily functions is filthy talk. Some can be done innocently, as in the case of married bedroom conversation, visits to the doctor, and prophetic condemnations of sin.                                                                                                                                                      
    And we probably find lots of other such parallel constructions.

  2. Dorothy Sayers considered Respectability number one in her list of seven deadly virtues.  (The other six were Childishness, Mental Timidity, Dullness, Sentimentality, Censoriousness, and Depression of Spirits.)

  3. Modern Evangelicalism: Love the Sin, Hate the Conversion.

  4. Doug, out of curiosity, assuming Rosaria Butterfield responded in the meeting the way the article claims, do you think her response was right? Should she have been less “tolerant”? 

  5. Actually, this sort of thing happened to the Duck Dynasty guy, as well. People who did not want to say he was wrong (because they ostensibly believe what he said was true) but did not want to enter the foray just sided with his opponents and condemned his language. The same thing is happening here. Doug was right, Wheaton was wrong. The people my grandfather would call “Yeller lizards” want to come off as being neutral and unbiased. Malarky! What was that quote by Luther about opposing sin that nobody cared about but keeping quiet about sins everyone wanted to commit? I hear so many Christians railing against rich greed and against racism, etc. so they don’t come off as biased. Fine, they are sins, rail against them. But try picking up your arms against evolution, homosexuality, and abortion and see what happens. Christians need to see where the battlefield is and join it. I doubt it would be too long before they caught themselves saying something a bit out of bounds. But then again, I doubt these yeller lizards would dare join the fight. They might actually have a secularist or two not like them.

  6. This!
                                                                                                                                                        I would sign up for that Alliance in a heartbeat!  It is so easy to illustrate the stupidity and shallowness of a life (including institutional life) without the Holy Spirit.
                                                                                                                                          
    Vox Day labels this technique “embrace and amplify.” You accomplish a very important task by doing this. You force them to choose between God’s word and their own desires using their own “values” as the lever.
                                                                                                                                              Does anybody have any  good ideas for those stupid pins they try to get you to wear during “maloch awareness week”.
     
     
     
     
     

  7. @Valerie,
    Add “the distinction on submission to Godly authorities”  as well.
                                                                                                                                           Your comment prompted me to add a section to my study  notes; It has the unfortunate heading of “Lying Killing Coarse Language and Disobedience.” That has the makings of a provocative book title, don’t you think?
                                                                                                                                                    “The Pastors handbook of …” or,
                                                                                                                                                       “LKCLD….An Introduction to the Reformed Faith” ….
     
     
    cheers!

  8. p.s.
     
    Definitely going the 150 cut-n-paste method from now on.

  9. It seems important to separate on the one hand, just pastoral criticism of the powers that be at Wheaton College, who rather than effectively discipling their students who struggle with same sex attraction seem to be playing into the hands of a very powerful force of social activism that is rooted in rebellion against God, and on the other hand , the witness and work of Rosaria Butterfield. I am encouraged and instructed by her example in dealing with this generation of young people, who on this issue as well as countless others are sheep without a shepherd. To me, the far more edifying piece from the recent Wheaton event was the Q & A piece. Near the end of it, Rosaria makes the point that this world of sexual politics is a world she helped create. Finding herself on the other side of this issue is something she at one time would have thought a preposterous impossibility. It makes me think of the apostle Paul’s life. I am unconvinced that Wheaton knows what side of this issue it is on. The best I can say is that they are trying to find their way, and to the degree they take Rosaria’s story, which is a true story of gospel transformation that aligns with the Scriptures, and seeks to make it their goal for each and every student that comes through their doors, they will flourish. Otherwise they will languish and I for one will be grieved.    

  10. I’m not shocked by the LGBTP protest at Wheaton.  I am shocked that Rosaria was allowed to set foot on their campus.  As a graduate of an equally well known ‘Christian’ college; I can say that Christian colleges were under severe worldly assault in the early 1970′s.  My roommate and I were told by our Associate Dean of Students that we were wrong to report the sexual antics going on in the next room (we could hear it through the wall) because those students had ‘sexual needs’.  They guy was a student leader and the girl was from a very wealthy family. This was in 1974.  In ’75 when I graduated, we had an openly gay boy attending school there. The amazing thing to me is how good the marketing campaigns of these schools are in appealing to parents and donors with their “wonderful Christian witness” in the good works they brag about and the occasional scripture they quote. They are extremely quiet in the marketing department about what they actually teach.  I know there are some wonderful Christian professors and employees there who hate what is happening, but they are an insignificant minority.  If I had a college age child in my home today, I would much rather send them to a public university where you know who the enemy is rather than a prominent ‘Christian’ school where Satan wanders freely as an angel of light.

  11. Just an additional thought.  When Christian schools fail to expel students who engage in sinful sexual behavior – without repentance – they are giving tacet approval to such behavior.  This is an unbiblical practice.  If Christian schools had sent those students packing back then, they would not be facing what they are today.  If pastors had preached against sexual sin back then the church would not be under the assault that it is today.  Of course the number of mega-churches would be fewer and the size and prestige of Christian colleges would be smaller as well.  Ah, well…we all know that to be “salt and light” we must be popular with the world.

  12. I knew there was a reason why I keep reading this blog. You go, Batman, you go!

  13. BJ, good comments: “But try picking up your arms against evolution, homosexuality, and abortion and see what happens. Christians need to see where the battlefield is and join it. I doubt it would be too long before they caught themselves saying something a bit out of bounds. But then again, I doubt these yeller lizards would dare join the fight. They might actually have a secularist or two not like them.”  This also what I detect from some well-known Christian leaders who go on CNN talk shows, and try to show how “nice” and “tolerant” they are, so as to be liked by intolerant, biased, anti-Christian, secular talk show hosts.

  14. Pastor Wilson, well said: “Chesterton teaches us that virtue and respectability are not the same thing…In our time, basic Christian morality is being surrendered by the effete evangelical elites, and it is being surrendered for the sake of their own very precious (to them) respectability.”  This is so true.  It might be fair to say that “respectability” has become an idol of sorts.  The question we must ask is, what is behind this idol?  Is it the need to please others?  Is it the need to be liked?  In this aggressively secular culture, who in their right mind believes the elite secularists want to even engage in discussions within a Judeo-Christian moral framework?  It is anachronistic to them.  Thus, what they expect of us is to simply back off, to retreat into our nostalgia.  If they can do this by appealing to our people-pleasing need to be “nice” and “respectable” then so be it.  But to them, what it really reveals is how soft and weak we are, since we’re not even willing to defend the truth and defend what the Scripture says.  Some of us are too afraid to be labeled “intolerant” or “fundamentalist” or “radical”.  Here’s the blunt truth, people:  If the elite secularists don’t respect you if you stand up for your Christian beliefs, do you honestly think they’ll respect you more if you don’t?  Do we even have to ask this question? 

  15. Hey BJ,  your comment created a scene in my brain. If only I had the ability to paint it. Imagine a beautiful landscape made up of two hills and a large green valley in between. You know the type, something right out of Braveheart. In the valley is only one battle line of individuals all kitted up in warrior paint and claymores, but wearing typical american churchman clothes. The flag being flown says “EVANGELLYFISH” and a single bubble thought above the confused face of one of the front runners says, “Where is everybody?”

  16. “Flaccid respectability”!  Rub it in!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Also trying out that paragraph thingy.

  17. They could organize a protest of their own — sponsored by the Wheaton Alliance for Normal Sexual Pleasure, Biblically Defined — and see how far they get. I will go so far as to hazard the guess that invitations to warm dialog will not enter into it. They will be seen as the troublemakers, which is quite right.

    In other words, they’ll be treated in exactly the same manner that you treated these others?

  18. In other words, they’ll be treated in exactly the same manner that you treated these others?

    You forget, Matt, that one side is in favor of obedience to God, and the other is not.

  19. @Matt — Yes, precisely.  The entire point of the exercise is to find out what they will encourage, and what they will censure.  Do you see a problem in there somewhere?

  20. I’m afraid it is rather obvious what “they” encourage and what they don’t.  The hypocrisy charge in this case is double-edged.  If Doug wants his position to be granted a hearing in the public square, he can’t go around demanding that his opponents shut up.  It’s a common problem with conservative Christians: they want to claim a position of privilege, where they never have to hear anything they don’t like, and then claim persecution when others treat them the same way.

  21. Matt, Wheaton isn’t the public square. It’s a private college. The faculty of that school is certainly “privileged” to allow or disallow whatever discourses they want.

  22. And furthermore, they are charged with the moral and spiritual education of their students (that is to say, with actually doing it well), unlike the public square.

  23. Returning to the strong language issue.  Clearly, fearless denunciation of sin is sometimes called for.  For me, the central issue is not respectability and propriety as values in themselves.   Plain speaking is a virtue.  But there is a kind of plain speaking that sometimes appeals to the lascivious, both in the writer and in the reader, and that should be avoided.  Are we intent on being explicit so that we can condemn immoral sexual acts or so that we have a pretext to discuss immoral sexual acts?  I have said before that sometimes there is a sniggering tone in Pastor Wilson’s jeremiads against homosexuality that has made me feel a little unclean, and it certainly isn’t because he is convicting my conscience of secret sexual sin.  I don’t think Charles Spurgeon would have called it a circle jerk.

  24. @timothy: On “Molech appreciation” buttons – when I was a student at Michigan State in the late ’70s, the then tiny gay rights movement declared a certain weekday “gay jeans day”. They asked all gay students to wear jeans, and then any straight student who mistakenly wore them would feel a bit of the “oppression” that gay students felt.
                                                                                                                                          
    For myself, I wore jeans anyway as was my habit, with a sign on my backpack that said, “My jeans aren’t gay – they just needed to come out of the closet.” In other words, wear the required Molech ad du jour, along with a sign or tag that undermines or inverts its meaning.

  25. Matt, you said: “It’s a common problem with conservative Christians: they want to claim a position of privilege, where they never have to hear anything they don’t like, and then claim persecution when others treat them the same way.”  Really?  I think it’s precisely the opposite.  It’s the Left and the secularists who cry racism and sexism and homophobia at every turn, simply because they won’t (and can’t) argue the issues on their own merit.  Thus, they resort to the demagogue, and they manufacture phony campaigns like the “war on women”.  Just because I don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills doesn’t mean I hate women.  It’s just silly nonsense.  But this is how the Left plays the game.  And the Left is also good at sending out willing race baiters and race hustlers in order to show us all how to be tolerant like them.  It was the Left who couldn’t tolerate what Phil Robertson said in a magazine interview.  So who’s in the position of privilege here?  Do you really think conservative Christians are in position of privilege in the media, or the academy, or the entertainment industry, or the courts?  We are in the minority and it’s likely to continue that way.  Nevertheless, it’s the same Leftists and secularists who advocate for tolerance and free speech who are the chief violators of both. 

  26. Jill, you said: “there is a sniggering tone in Pastor Wilson’s jeremiads against homosexuality that has made me feel a little unclean…”  Fair enough.  But how does it make you feel when Christian leaders and pastors seek man’s approval, and thus are tolerant and respectable, and are even open to the idea that perhaps homosexuality is not a sin after all, and there’s no need to defend the traditional view of marriage?  That shouldn’t make us feel clean either.  Therefore, if other leaders and pastors (such as Doug) are willing to put themselves out there in the arena and are willing to partake in this battle, it’s true that they may step on some toes and raise some ire on occasion.  But at least they’re out there in the fight.  Too many Christian leaders are just sitting it out and are feeling good about their own respectability.  That is fine, I suppose.  But our decaying, secular society has no fear of such leaders.  And neither, of course, does the Devil. 

  27. @Matt
                                                                                                                                            
    It was Keynes who observed that the most self-certain practical men where those most likely to be the slaves of a defunct economist. C.S. Lewis railed against an style of “education” that created men with no chests. It was Alan Bloom (, I know, Gay dude who died of aids)  who’s book, “The Closing of the American Mind” lamented what Lewis had railed against had come to pass in American universities.
    When I read this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “It’s a common problem with conservative Christians: they want to claim a position of privilege, where they never have to hear anything they don’t like, and then claim persecution when others treat them the same way.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
    I shake my head in sadness, for you are what they warned against.
                                                                                                                                                     
    C.S. Lewis’ “The Abolition of Man’ in the lecture “Men Without Chests” contains the background if you are interested.
     
     
     
                                                                                                                                                  
     
     

  28. @Mark.
     
    Thank you for the inspiration. cheers. t.

  29. @Jill.
     
    I can commiserate. I start every morning with a daily devotional from David Wilkerson. Reading them reaches me in a way that only one other pastor has been able to do. What is funny is that I cannot stand to hear the sound of Pastor Wilkerson’s voice and the pentecostal style of screeching drives me nuts.
                                                                                                                                                     
    So, what to do? I let God know and leave it at that.
                                                                                                                                                     
    I do agree, however, that big happy dog that is Pastor Wilson’s prose did slip the leash on that occasion. Just hand him the doggy bag with the dog and move on I guess. (:

  30. @Dan,
     
    I think we can both agree “The Privilege Pit” is doing what it is designed to do.
                                                                                                                                                     
    We need effective ways to counter-act it.
     
                                                                                                                                                     
    Assertive language is a rhetorical tool to jostle the mind-numbed equa-zombies out of their stupor, but once we wake them up, we need a dialectic to help them out of the tar pit of their education. We have an entire generation that thinks as Matt thinks with no concept of “The Good, The Right, The Beautiful” for to them even bringing those up is do hurt somebodies feelings and self worth..
                                                                                                                                                     
    How to do that? I don’t know. I feel like one of those fish at the end of  Finding Nemo out on dry land in their plastic bags asking, “now what?”.
     

  31. “I do agree, however, that big happy dog that is Pastor Wilson’s prose did slip the leash on that occasion. Just hand him the doggy bag with the dog and move on I guess. (:”
    This. I’m open to the possibility that Pastor Wilson crossed the line here — Jill’s point is not without merit, and I have on a few occasions had a similar feeling about the “sniggering”. As others have hinted, though, there’s got to be a way to separate a gentle questioning/rebuke over whether the language used really was appropriate in this case, with the kind of reactive pearl-clutching that drowns out his point entirely, disarms us from really effective language, or calls the kind of language (always) evil that the Bible calls (sometimes) good. Somehow we have to sort out the greater matters, and the lesser, without neglecting the lesser, yet also without spending all our time standing around at headquarters complaining about the deplorable state of the colonel’s uniform while the enemy creeps up and takes out our magazine.                                                                                                                                           
     

  32. Matt, Wheaton isn’t the public square. It’s a private college.The faculty of that school is certainly “privileged” to allow or disallow whatever discourses they want.

    No, not exactly.  See, this thinking is why Christians have been absolutely clobbered on the gay thing.  While it is true that the faculty can technically shut down the student protest, they can’t do so while maintaining any kind of high ground.  The message is inevitably that “traditional, biblical” ideas on sexuality just can’t hack it in a fair fight.  I think Butterfield recognized this, and hence displayed some savvy in how she handled it.  The “shut up and get back in the closet” demand betrays a severe lack of confidence, and if the traditional, biblical view is to win the day, it has to actually meet the opposition head on.

  33. Jane, well said: “…yet also without spending all our time standing around at headquarters complaining about the deplorable state of the colonel’s uniform while the enemy creeps up and takes out our magazine.”

  34. @Matt.

      The “shut up and get back in the closet” demand betrays a severe lack of confidence, and if the traditional, biblical view is to win the day, it has to actually meet the opposition head on.

     
                                                                                                                                                    
    I go all KeynesBloomLewis on you and then you post something so sensible that it discredits all I wrote; well done.

  35. Except that who is actually telling whom to shut up? Doug didn’t go to Wheaton and protest someone speaking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Besides, I don’t hear Doug’s message as telling the kids to shut up. It’s more about being aghast that under the care of a  Christian institution, they think that what they are saying has legitimacy in the first place. The issue here isn’t about what we don’t want them to be able to say, it’s about what they shouldn’t, as students being taught in the putative environment of a Christian worldview, even consider to be a reasonable thing to say.

  36. @Jane.
     
    Good points.

  37. Doug,
    Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it and I benefit from doing so.
    After your last couple of blog posts on the chapel protest at Wheaton College, I think it would be fitting for you to point your readers to President Phil Ryken’s official statement on the matter, which was released two days after your most recent blog post:
    http://www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/News/2014/02/Statement-from-Wheaton-College-President-Philip-Ryken-on-Chapel-Demonstration
    Like yourself, I was disconcerted at The Wheaton Record (i.e. student newspaper) article that prompted your commentary. However, as a relatively recent undergraduate student, graduate student, and employee at Wheaton College, I suspected that there was probably more to the story than meets the public eye. I believe Dr. Ryken’s statement confirms this suspicion and puts to rest a number of your concerns. Would you agree?
    Thanks!
     
     
     

  38. Matt wrote:

    “If Doug wants his position to be granted a hearing in the public square, he can’t go around demanding that his opponents shut up.  It’s a common problem with conservative Christians: they want to claim a position of privilege, where they never have to hear anything they don’t like, and then claim persecution when others treat them the same way.”

    Matt weaves a plausible narrative, it just happens to be completely wrong.  There was no “shut up and get back in the closet” demand from Wilson.  Far from it, Wilson engages with homosexuals in public debate, and he listens to and counsels homosexuals as well.  The difference is that he continues to call it what it is:  sin.  The administration of Wheaton is busy coddling every view as if a conclusion is impossible.  That is a cowardly relativism that needs to be called out.  Wheaton is providing a voice, allowing a homosexual group to portray their behavior as something other than sin, and themselves as victims.  A debate would be in order, not a verdictless “hearing”.
                                                                                                                                                           Furthermore, Matt did not identify who these conservative Christians are that he says are claiming persecution.  Doug certainly didn’t claim such a thing.  Doug pointed out that there would be discipline and restraint applied if another group formed to advance biblical sexual/marital norms on campus.  That would be labeled and admonished as troublemaking.  Doug is saying this would be an example of hypocrisy on the part of Wheaton, not persecution.  Notice that it was the Wheaton homosexual group playing the persecuted victim card, which is a standard operating procedure.  Matt continued:

    “See, this thinking is why Christians have been absolutely clobbered on the gay thing.  While it is true that the faculty can technically shut down the student protest, they can’t do so while maintaining any kind of high ground.  The message is inevitably that “traditional, biblical” ideas on sexuality just can’t hack it in a fair fight.”

    Again, Matt’s narrative is off.  Wheaton doesn’t want a fight/debate because that might identify sin in a conclusive way that affects their respectability.  No, the reason Christians have been clobbered on the ‘gay thing’ is because we are essentially ashamed of God’s Word across multiple areas where we do not know how to answer, or we think we are already compromised (such as eating pork and wearing polyester).  Because Christians feel unsure, we shrink away from what God has said, just as Eve did in the garden.  The authority of Scripture has been abandoned, and now we are on the run.  There isn’t any authoritative ground in our culture left to stand on, and Wheaton seems to have made peace with that condition.
                                                                                                                                                              Christians will continue to be ashamed and hog-tied by guilt manipulation until we recover the full authority of Scripture in our own lives.  Only then will we be able to boldly claim Scripture’s authority over culture.  This begins with our repentance, and by studying the old testament foundations again.  Pastors like Doug show us that we don’t have anything to fear when we rest on everything God says.

  39. I agree with katecho; either Scripture is the authority over our lives and over the culture, or it is not.  There’s really no neutral position here.  Thus, we need to boldly proclaim the truth of Scripture and let the chips fall where they may.  Naturally, many in our culture will be offended, since the drivers of culture usually adhere to a relativistic worldview. 

  40. “Wheaton Alliance for Normal Sexual Pleasure, Biblically Defined”. I have a better suggestion – how about they start a Biblically Defined Sexuality Movement? It has a great acronym, and would lead to amusing and confusing counter-protests…

  41. In my view, the “weak sisters” are the right wing Christians who don’t dare to name and claim their homophobia as the Bible does so forthrightly.  Stoning could be the most humane fate for queers trapped in a theocratic state like Uganda, whatever the cost to straight people.  Tell queers that the origin of their unnatural desire is (punishment for) idolatry which can be so simply renounced.  Declare the outcome of same sex desire to be an inevitable cascade of moral ugliness, crime and murder.  Praise God for a moral order that subordinates personhood to gender, eliminates elective affinity from the definition of marriage, and arbitrarily bars queers from ever being able to satisfy their desires with a person they freely love, as straight people may.  Acknowledge that morality is fundamentally a matter of God’s taste and impurity aversion as revealed to the ancients, but not felt by all manifestly admirable people.  Admit that pastoral discipline, out to lunch for centuries, now has to sanction gay “propaganda” in order to recover social authority.

  42. No no. We want what we want.
    Our “free-wills” must be allowed to run amok.
    God’s will? Who?

  43. Can anyone point me to the Chesterton quote or writing that addresses virtue versus respectability?

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