False, False, and False

For those who for some reason want to follow the saga of the most recent secularist and hypocritical (but I repeat myself) attack on Christ Church, you can see a particularly ripe sample here.

This kind of thing is of course crazy. So why respond to it then? Why give the time of day to these people? The central reason is that cogent responses provide a teaching opportunity for many Christians across the country who are caught up in similar snarls. This same kind of thing is happening all over the country. You may have read recently about the university librarian in Ohio (a devout Quaker) who was charged with sexual harassment simply because he had suggested that some conservative books be included on a reading list for freshmen at his university. The charges were dropped after bloggers and media got a hold of the story. The secularists thrive when their propagandistic murky thought prevails unchallenged, and shrink back when reasonable people learn how to stand up to them. It is really that simple.

And so permit me to take just a few moments of your time to answer Bill London’s open letter to me and President Roy Atwood of New St. Andrews College. Speaking of NSA, any college that is garnering this kind of opposition must be doing something fundamentally right. Consider sending in your application today. The linked ad is dead on target. Laughter is War.

Bill London correctly points out that two young men in our community were guilty of sinful and criminal behavior in a way that brought discredit on them, their families, their churches, and their communities. Having stated something that was obviously true, Bill was obviously uncomfortable with just leaving it there, and so he quickly moved on to more comfortable surroundings.

So Bill then hastened to offer his own theory of causation. He thinks the culprit is the “boarder system” we established, combined with our so-called “patriarchal system of male/female relationships.” His idea is that when confronted with older males who are “more important” in the church hierarchy, the girls are “essentially powerless.” On the other side of this horrible set-up the “young men are taught to expect that kind of control” and are “raised in a system of sexual denial.” Bill then helpfully suggests that we should end the boarder system, given his determination that this is likely to happen again. Thus far London.

Now we do have many students who live with families. That much is true. But after that, the three key elements of this theory are, in turn, false, false, and false. The reason they are false is that Bill London has absolutely no idea of what we teach about role relationships between men and women. He has absolutely no idea of the nature of our “church hierarchy.” And third, he has no sense of when he has flatly contradicted himself in the same sentence.

He accuses us of having a patriarchal system, defined as one in which all women are taught to be submissive to all men, and this puts any given woman at risk when in contact with any given man, especially an older man higher up in the food chain of ecclesiastical politics. The problem with this wild surmising of Bill’s is that it is the photo negative of what we actually teach. The young women are taught that godly submission to their own fathers or husbands necessarily excludes the possibility of submission to any other men. And furthermore, they are also taught that submission to fathers and husbands must never be taken in any absolute sense — there are times when a daughter or wife must obey God rather than men, even if those men are their fathers or husbands. And Scripture determines the principles for sorting this out.

Second, Bill’s notion of the authority structures of Christ Church is . . . um, interesting. Now I have no intention of being insulting to our NSA students, because we really love them all. We have a firm conviction that they are going to make a major difference for our nation in the generation to come. But currently, it has to be said that a sophomore at NSA is not really part of the power structure. A sixth grader can be very impressive to a fourth grader; this is how the world works, but it does not have anything to do with some kind of heavy-handed Yertle the Turtle set-up. The same kind of thing (to a lesser extent) is true of our Greyfriars ministerial students. They are studying with leadership in view at some point in the future, but that future for most of them is years away. And to return to the first point, any young girl who lets her head get turned by the glories of sophomoric masculinity is not actually following our teaching on this subject, but rather rejecting it.

Bill’s third assumption is that young men are taught to have this kind of authority and control, and this is coupled with the fact that they are brought up to deny themselves sexually. This explosive combination proves to be too much, and blam! The problem with this is two-fold. First, the young men are taught that they do not have this kind of control at all. Men as men have no authority whatever over women as women. If some random guy walked up to my wife or daughters at some church function and told them to get him a cup of coffee, he would be asked (politely) if his foot was tied to the piano. Some guy, considered as such, is just some guy.

But secondly, the fact that Bill recognizes that our young men are taught to exercise sexual self-control shows the contradiction he advances. A man cannot be simultaneously taught to take advantage of women and to refrain from taking advantage of women. When a man fails at the Christian standard for sexual ethics, this does not invalidate the standard. It is a failure, not a repudiation. Hypocrisy, it has been said, is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. People counterfeit twenty-dollar bills because they are worth something. Nobody counterfeits brown Safeway bags. In the same way, hypocrites want to be known as being among those who follow Christ’s teachings on sexual purity, without actually doing so. When this hypocrisy becomes apparent, we discipline for it. But the fact that the failure happens is a tribute to the value of sexual purity. Young men should be taught to control themselves. The tragedies that follow when some of them fail should not be taken as an arugment for abandoning that standard. Sexual faithfulness to one woman only is the only standard that makes widespread cultural respect for women possible. The fact that some men fail to respect women is no reason to abandon our teaching that men should respect women. So Bill thinks that we should teach our young men to worry less about sexual denial. Gee, I wonder what might happen if we did that?

Bill is worried about the future of our boarding situations, and he is worried because of these examples of human failing and sin. Following his interesting theory that corrolation must mean causation, I will invite Bill to an edifying thought experiment. Since the presence of this kind of crime in a system, according to Bill, means the system is to be abandoned lest anything else bad happen, I would like to invite Bill to join with me in calling for the dismantling of the government school system. The news in recent months has had multiple stories of teachers having had sex with students, a far more grievous abuse of authority than anything we have had to deal with. We have not been dealing with abuse of authority at all, but rather abuse of God’s Ten Commandments and abuse of fellow Christians. But teachers having sex with students must reveal (on London’s principles) that the authority of the state looming behind some horny teacher makes the students believe that it is their civic duty to be hot for teacher. But I doubt that he will go along because this is not about consistency. Bill has a political agenda, and he will take any data available in order to fashion an argument that will advance that crackbrained agenda.

So why is all this happening? Spiritual authority is not the same thing as political authority. But political authority is the only kind of authority that these secularists understand. And when they encounter someone with any kind of authority doing something of which they Disapprove, they try to bring it down with the approved methods of taking a political authority down. If you don’t like what Bush did in Iraq, you highlight gaffes, get a scandal going for someone in the cabinet, you try to get Rove indicted, you get stories into the papers, you plant phrases so that they will come up when googled, and so on. And, in the political realm, this works. But the authority of Jesus Christ cannot be touched in this way. His reign is not going to be tarnished by poll numbers, and His worship will be established from the river to the ends of the earth. And the more His adversaries try their petty political tactics on His servants, the more they establish or reinforce the authority of those servants. This is one reason (among many) why Jesus said that we were to rejoice when we are slandered. And Jesus, who told us to respond this way, is the one we will be worshiping in the heavenly places this next Lord’s Day. He is at the right hand of God the Father, and He cannot be impeached.

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