No High Like the Most High!

Okay, this is for all you people, like me, who need to get out more. Apparently there is this Christian rock star, Vicky Beeching, who has written worship music that lots of people sing, and who has come out of the closet as being something that rhymes with say. You can read a brief interview with her here.

I want to pick up on a couple of expressions used in the interview because they will serve us well in identifying the basic move here. It is the opening gambit — “not that we expect everyone to go along with this, but we need to establish this as something upon which people can agree to disagree.” But in order for evangelicals to agree to disagree about something, there needs to be some principle of unity. If we let lesbianism inside the fence, we still need to have a fence, and we need to know what it is.

As this particular move gets run on us, that principle of unity is having “a high view of Scripture.” That adjective, like love, is supposed to cover a multitude of sins. Notice how she says it — “I value the Bible highly,” and “my very high view of the Biblical texts.”

But high is not necessary a good thing, as those who have dealt with stoners should know. Once I saw a church sign that perfectly represented an inadequate view of the power of this word: “There is no high like the Most High!”

“I value the Bible highly” does not have the same semantic range as “I read the Bible accurately.” Someone who believed that the book of Romans is actually a coded numerological message from aliens might have a very high view of the book, meaning that he did not think about anything else, but having this “high” view is not the same thing as knowing anything about it. Vicky Beeching

The whole thing is the classic bait and switch. You start with a high view of Scripture, detached from real exegesis, and what you wind up with is a low case of the hermeneutical uglies. How this sad woman looks provides us with a metaphor. You start with Vicky Beeching — quite a pretty woman — but when this story is over and done what we will have later on is Miss Hardcastle in orders. Not quite as alluring.

The Word Count of Righteousness

I am currently reading a (very good) book on preaching by William Willimon. The book is entitled Proclamation and Theology, and Willimon is a bishop in the United Methodist Church. He plainly got to his position of influence there because of intelligence, learning, grace, and wisdom.

But.

He is in a liberal denomination, surrounded of necessity with all kinds of liberal craziness. The crazies are those who have given way to their sodden premises, like a soaked California hillside. They are all down at the bottom. But even with those who have not given way, and who still have valuable things to say, if you look carefully you can see the softness.

“For instance, amazingly little is said in Scripture about human sexuality. Jesus and his disciples present next to nothing said about their sexual interests, inclinations, or orientations. The conventional response to this curiosity is that Scripture was produced by naive, limited, first-century Jews who did not know that sexuality is the most interesting aspect of a human being — which is what we, in our advanced state of human development, now know. Perhaps Scripture shows little interest in our sexual dilemmas, not because it is primitive and limited in its view of a human being but rather because it is working with a very different view of a human being, a view in which our sexuality is not the supreme defining characteristic of our humanity. Perhaps we, in our present notions of what is important and unimportant, are primitive and limited, not Scripture” (pp. 45-46).

This is very cleverly done. It appears to be taking the side of Scripture over against our current sexual manias, but it is actually creating space for all kinds of moderated manias. Instead of absolutizing the perversions, as the crazies at the bottom of the hill do, it is nevertheless leaving room to normalize them.

But there are three problems.

Merchants of Resentment

Is it possible to sow the wind and reap the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7)? Well, of course it is. We live in a world where disproportional effects can follow hard after trivial causes. Not only so, but the disproportional effects can be unevenly distributed. Two toddlers disobey their mothers in exactly the same way, and one of them dies while the other gets a scolding and his family gets a cute story.

It is not my purpose here today to defend the justice of God given the fact of this unevenness. That is another task for another time. I simply want to take that unevenness into account as a fixed given. It happens. Whatever we think of it, we have to deal with it. We have to factor it into our calculations. All mothers warn their toddlers of certain things because some mothers lose their toddlers.

Sometimes the disproportionate effects are the result of sinful, human actions. Sometimes the trivial causes are also sinful, but not nearly as heinous, and other times there is no sin involved at all. The combinations of responsibility are varied and many.

Here is a (made up) example of the former scenario. Suppose a young teen-aged girl has been warned by her mother and father about her circle of friends, and she has been warned repeatedly. There have been scores of discussions about it, and the young girl has rolled her eyes in all of them. Suppose one night she disobeys them by sneaking off to a forbidden party, and suppose that while she is there some vile husk of a human being slips a drug into her drink and rapes her. So her parents were proven right in all their concerns, and she has been proven wrong. But in addition to being proven wrong, she has also been wronged. The consequences were not commensurate with her offense — but they nonetheless happened. I am afraid that it is a fact that the effects of such disproportionate consequences tend to fall heavily upon women.

Now suppose it is years later, and you are a counselor trying to help this woman. She is now a married mother of two lovely daughters of her own. Her life is generally together, but she has this raw place in her heart, and it still affects a number of things negatively — her relationship with her parents is still strained, her sex life with her husband is affected, and so on. It has gotten to the point where she feels like it is some spiritual form of that flesh-eating bacteria, and so she has sought your help.

Sexual Justice

If you stick around, in just a moment I am going to be dealing with the problem created by registered sex offenders attending church. However, before we get there, I want to say something about the cultural context we find ourselves in. And that said, I want to warn you beforehand that the point I am going to draw from that context is probably not what you think I am going to draw, so please hold your wrath until you finish the paragraphs following.

There is no way to pornify a culture the way we have done without making porn far more available to kids than it used to be. And kids obviously learn from what they see, monkey see monkey do. This includes what we call “mainstream” entertainment, and not just the triple-x stuff. We now have young kids who have seen, or who have heard about on the playground, practices that previous generations learned about in their second year of med school. Nobody should be surprised when when some junior high boy tries out some of what he has seen or heard about on his younger sister. When sexual corruption becomes ubiquitous, many more kids are going to get swept up in it. Call it the collateral damage of the sexual revolution.

But I am not saying this in any exculpatory way. Corruption is corruption, and being steeped in corruption from childhood does not remove any personal responsibility. We are a sinful race. So this point has nothing to do with the making of excuses for the perpetrators of sex crimes — while it is true that many victimizers were victims themselves first, that doesn’t make any of it right. Personal responsibility is assigned by the Bible, and not by our experiences.

So why make the point about pornification then? What this is intended to do is point out that those who promote and advance such corruptions in one area ought not to be entrusted with adjudication of crimes and offenses of a sexual nature in another area. Our establishment no longer knows what sex itself is supposed to be, and so cannot know what sexual justice is supposed to be. We therefore ought not to rely on their “wisdom” about sexual justice as it relates to children. They don’t have any wisdom. Our cultural milieu tolerates and teaches courses in our universities (!) which solemnly maintain that all instances of PIV (penis in vagina) are rape by definition,  dogmatically pronounce that TMI sex education for grade schoolers is a moral necessity, say that doing the anal honors should be considered a high privilege, and now with much of the legal resistance to same sex mirage out of the way, has already been preparing to mainstream pedophilia. The last thing in the world Christians should do is join in with any stampeding opinions about any of this from the secularists. They don’t know what sex is for, and they therefore don’t know what sexual justice is.

Here is (just) one example of secularist dogma that Christians are bound to reject. “Sex offenders don’t ever change.” This is not only an error, it is an error which strikes at the heart of the gospel’s efficacy. Now it is quite true that sex offenders don’t ever change themselves, but this is true for the same reason that thieves and adulterers never change themselves. Christ came into the world to save sinners, including the really screwed up ones.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9–11).

The words translated here as effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind refer to homosexual behavior, plainly and unambiguously. Anyone who says otherwise is blowing some scholarly smoke at you. And in the ancient world, who does not know that this kind of practice routinely included young boys? But my point in citing this passage is not to prove that this kind of behavior is immoral, as much as that point might be needed in other discussions, but rather to demonstrate that “sex offenders cannot change” is a lie straight out of the pit of hell. Among the Corinthians, do you think there were any converts who had been given over fully to the ancient ways with a whole series of young boys? “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Thus, if a sex offender is kept outside the congregation, and is served communion in a back room, then what you are actually doing is making a liturgical statement that he ought not be served communion at all. If he is vile, and cannot change, then excommunicate him and be done with it. Your justification for such excommunication would then have to be that “such people never change.” But if he can repent, and be brought to the Table, then he must be brought to the Table with all the other forgiven sinners — which perhaps includes the rest of us.

Crime in a World Without Crimes

“Thou shalt not follow the multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2).

In an earlier post, I said that consistency was necessary in any worldview seeking to build a civilization. It is not necessary if the point is to tear a civilization down. If that is the goal, then radical swerves and changes help to achieve the goal.

Think of a small child, flipping out in the restaurant because the entree was not to his liking. He is lying on the floor, drumming his heels, screeching. If the hapless parents cave, and give him what he wants, and he suddenly changes his mind and flips out over that, the inconsistency helps him because the foundational consistency remains — and that fundamental consistency is that he and his sentiments of the moment must always be in charge.

The argument need not be consistent. All that needs to be consistent is the commitment to emotional blackmail.

And remember, in our day, in this culture, the point of the emotional blackmail is the relentless drive to any and every form of sexual expression, with the exception of biblically-based, monogamous and faithful heterosexual marriage. People can still do that, for now, but they can no longer call it normal, or even think in terms of normativity at all.

This relates to the strangely fierce attitude toward pedophilia on the part of those who, you would think, would have a soft spot in their hearts toward pederasty. And they do, but just wait for a bit.

The point of making pedophilia a high crime (in a worldview without crimes) was to undermine the moral authority of the establishment because of establishment hypocrites. Think of the scandals in the Catholic Church, or heterosexual fathers abusing their daughters, and so on. With all the emotional precision of a kid pitching a fit, the terrible offenses of priests and bishops are used to reject the teaching of the Church on sexual norms at all. The fathers who abandon the sacred trust of protecting their daughters from men, in order to become the man she needs to be protected from, is used by the sexual anarchists as a reason for removing godly fathers from the position of being able to protect anyone.

Bundle Up, Girls!

Last year, when I debated Andrew Sullivan over same sex mirage — he claiming to see it, and me claiming not to, for is it not a mirage? — one of the arguments that I advanced was this one: Given the premises and arguments of same sexery, we have absolutely no reason to limit marriage to two persons only. Andrew wanted to say no, no, no, and that two persons only was traditional and sacrosanct — like anybody cares about that these days. But that was his position anyhow.

In the aftermath of the debate, one of the questions raised to me (from friendly quarters) was whether I was treating same sex mirage as the slippery part of the slope, and polygamy as the bottom of the slope. But Abraham and David were polygamists, and so why would polygamy — a deficient form of marriage, to be sure, but still recognizably marriage — be treated as the reductio ad depravationem of another practice that the Scriptures universally treat as detestable. Is this not backwards somehow?

Point taken, but there are still several ways to defend this argument o’ mine — and it should be defended. The first is this. The point is not that plural marriage in itself is worse than same sex mirage, but rather that the defenders of same sex mirage like to draw arbitrary and capricious lines whenever it comes to the definition of marriage, and they have absolutely no coherent reason for doing so. When an opponent of same sex mirage is asked to defend his position, he says sure. God made the human body, He created us male and female, the two complement one another in exquisite ways, and together they carry the image of God (Gen. 1:27). When a homosexual activist is asked to defend his opposition to plural marriage, he will say sure. Because math and hate.
Whatever standards for marriage the advocates of same sex mirage still arbitarily have (for whatever reason) they should be made to defend. The point is to make it evident that they have no defense. If they say there should only be two people, make them say it, and them make them say why. If they say the age of consent should be eighteen, make them explain why it shouldn’t be seventeen. Their trajectory is evil, but this point is simpler. Their trajectory is capricious and ad hoc.

The Gaylag Archipelago

So a marginal football player got drafted into the NFL, kissed his boyfriend smack on the lips, and then another football player tweeted something that expressed the sentiment ick gross, and so the second player was hustled into sensitivity training. Got that?

As the revolution is established, there will be no heckling. Kirsten Powers got it right. I have as much of an expectation of broad-minded tolerance from the left these days as I do of somebody hoisting up a John 3:16 sign at a North Korean missile parade. These people are coercion junkies.

How will they stop the heckling? Vee haff vays. Notice that I did that obliquely because I didn’t want to violate Godwin’s Law — the first person in a debate to invoke Nazi parallels loses. This is because it is a well known principle of political science that political coercion and tyranny was only possible in the 1940s. All claims about oppressive coercion in our day are therefore bogus by definition, and one begins to suspect that the person who won’t stop expressing his views when the establishment wishes for him to express theirs is cruising for a sensitivity seminar. I also brought up Godwin’s Law because Nazi analogies are not the only negative examples that we should take into account.

Look. If you use language in ways they disapprove of, they will show the world what thorough-going malice looks like. That is why I make a point of doing it. They will send you off to the Gaylag Archipelago — there’s an example of what I do — where they will upbraid you for your intolerance until you come to realize that love is the answer. Love is all you need. Love is the best. Love is what Big Br . . . love is a good thing. Who could be against love except for the haters?