A few days ago I wrote, in that lucid and penetrating way I sometimes have, that we ought not be tying other political or cultural issues to our pursuit of Planned Parenthood. As much as within us lies, we ought to keep the focus and attention on the indefensible conduct of Planned Parenthood, and the outrageous behavior of those politicians who are covering for them.
All well and good, but at least one astute observer noticed (and thereafter mentioned to me) that I have been spotted, within the precincts of this abortion issue, horsing around with the Confederate flag, and Bruce Jenner’s predilection for girly stuff, and so on. What’s with that?
There are two ways to reply to this, but they actually reduce to the same point. We must notice, first of all, the particular way in which God has served this collation of issues up to us. As I wrote previously, we ought not try to cobble our pet projects to this issue (e.g. #DefundPP and #FlossDaily), but that is quite different from seeing the straight line connection between these apparently disparate issues as they all come barreling toward us.
These videos are simply God’s return volley to the Obergefell decision. In the conclusion of his opinion in that case, Scalia wrote this prescient sentence.
“With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them – with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the ‘reasoned judgment’ of a bare majority of this Court – we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.”
That is what is happening right now. The nation acquiesced to Roe, which we should not have done. That acquiescence makes the entire nation complicit, but God in His great mercy has presented us with an opportunity to repent of that complicity. In 1973, we saw Gross Constitutional Overreach A, and we did nothing. In 2015, Gross Constitutional Overreach B arrived, as it had to, given A, and then God — whose mercies are everlasting — gave us an opportunity to react to A the way we should have the first time. We are now being given an opportunity to undo Roe and to do so by direct action.
Now there are no doubt some who would grant this point on a flaming issue like Obergefell, but the Confederate flag? I do sympathize with the one who says, “Oh, for pity’s sake.” At least flossing is good for you.
But I would still offer two responses. First, look at the time line. If you were reading all this in a novel, or watching it in a movie, would the timeline say anything to you? Do you know how to read a story at all? Jenner identifies as a girl, Dolezal identifies as black, a grotesque shooting takes place, a frenzied campaign to make South Carolina take down the Confederate flag breaks out, a few days later, the Supreme Court imposes same sex mirage on a whole bunch of states that didn’t want it, and then just a matter of days after that, these devastating videos start to come out. I am not trying to cobble anything to anything. I am just watching.
And here is a second response, one that requires an answer from anyone who wants these particular issues to be kept in separate boxes. In 1830, if the Supreme Court had mandated that the several states had to allow for abortion on demand, and had to embrace same sex mirage, all the state governors and all the state legislatures with them, would have laughed the Supreme Court to scorn. The replies would have varied, but they would have all been along the lines of “come and make us.” They would have reminded SCOTUS of their impotence, and would have done so promptly and without hesitation. But in 1973 the Supreme Court decided Roe and in 2015 they decided Obergefell. For some reason, the governors and their legislatures, which by and large overwhelmingly dissented from these decisions, had come to believe that they didn’t have the right or the authority to laugh the Supreme Court to scorn. What changed? When did it change? How did it change? You don’t like my answer? Fine. What is the right answer then? When did that happen exactly?
At the Founding, the Bill of Rights used to be taken as a set of restrictions on the central government (e.g. Congress shall make no law), with the states functioning as the guardians of those restrictions. It is now being taken as a restriction on evangelical florists and bakers, preventing them from hurting the feelings of lesbians, with the federal government functioning as the guardian of those restrictions. Now if you want to explain how we got from point A to point B without appealing to the 14th Amendment, and then (of necessity) explaining how we got that amendment, then good luck to you, says I.
And returning to the top, here is the second great reason why abortion and same sex mirage cannot be discussed biblically without talking about slavery. The other side won’t let you. One of the books I am currently working through is Kevin DeYoung’s book What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? It is a very fine book, but in it, there is a section on . . . you guessed it, slavery. This is because any faithful Christian who appeals to Scripture as normative on homosexuality will be asked, in the first ten minutes of any open Q & A session, why we take scriptural teaching on sexuality the way we do when the Bible allows for slavery. Hmmm?
If we say, “no, it doesn’t,” that response is what should be called, to use the exegetical term for it, “a lie.” The Bible does allow for slavery. If we say, “that was then, this is now,” we will be asked why that neat little maneuver works on slavery and not on committed and monogamous same sex relationships. Homosexuals have hands also, which means that they can just wave them over the text as well as we can. In short, there is no way to fight intellectual dishonesty with intellectual dishonesty.
Now because the previous paragraph contains the phrase “the Bible does allow for slavery,” I would urge anyone who feels an attack of the vapors coming on to read my summary of what the Bible teaches on slavery in Black & Tan. That chapter is called Scripture and Slavery, and I come out of it looking like a very reasonable man. And if you don’t want to give me the satisfaction of getting the book, then you can read something here on the biblical strategy for tackling social evils like the institution of slavery. But note, mark it well, hark! The social evil of slavery and the moral evil of same sex behavior are not in the same category. They must be treated very differently. And intellectually dishonest ways don’t count.
So the real issue in all these controversies is biblical authority. Christians should know by now that as soon as we start apologizing for the Bible, there is no consistent stopping point. You have had it, you’re done. This is because when we act embarrassed about parts of the Bible, the Bible says that God will act embarrassed about us.
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
And when God is ashamed of us and our caviling words, it is a safe bet that the Spirit of boldness is not on us. And that might explain some things.