As the bathroom wars continue to unfold, and as the advocates of totalitolerance continue to embrace the arts of coercion, as they continue to bombard us with ideas so fine they have to be mandatory, it has been natural for Christians to try to pivot.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be opposing same sex mirage. Perhaps we shouldn’t be opposing the rights of mentally disturbed men to pee with our daughters. I know, somebody suggests, let’s turn the discussion to matters of religious liberty. Surely there we might find some common ground there. Surely there we will be able to reach a compromise.
There may be some short term tactical relief in such a move, and I am entirely in favor of it if and when it happens. Those who fight for such tactical relief are to be commended. But there is no long-term strategic success to be found in the fight for religious liberty. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but somebody has to. Here is the reason:
Religious liberty is itself a religious value.
Religions differ. They differ wildly. They differ fundamentally. Some religions value liberty for practitioners of other religions, and some religions don’t value liberty for practitioners of other religions. Some religions respect the authority of the individual to choose his own religion, and other religions don’t allow for conversions at all. If you want the fruit called religious liberty, you have to want the tree that this kind of fruit grows on.
This means that if we want maximum liberty for people who don’t believe in Jesus, then we will have to . . . believe in Jesus. If there is no God, and if Christ did not come back from the dead, then the bi-pedal carbon unit that doesn’t believe in Jesus is nothing more than 200 pounds of protoplasm with an average temperature of 98.6, and endowed by blind evolutionary processes with nothing in particular to speak of. Rights? In order to be rights at all, human rights have to be grounded in a reality that is completely out of the reach of our elected and appointed officials. And that means religion. For the best results, it needs to be the true religion. False ones let you down.
Religion makes people fly planes into skyscrapers. Religion makes people baptize babies. Religion makes people go door to door in order to offer little pieces of paper to other people. Religion makes widows be burned alive on the pyre of their deceased husbands. Religion makes other widows mail pitiful little checks to Joel Osteen. Religion makes people build hospitals in the jungles of the Congo. Talking about what “religion” does in the world is like defining “medicine” as “pills in bottles.” I am not sure you should take that. My aunt took a pill from a bottle once and was sick for a week.
In response to this dilemma, we are often offered “secularism” as a lo-fat alternative religion. Secularism is an arrangement whereby we adjust to the realities of our cosmopolitan world, and the genius of secularism is that it accommodates everybody. Well, actually they don’t accommodate everybody — but they do accommodate everybody who is willing to be accommodated! And it must be said that the accommodations have gotten much more tight in recent weeks. We can hardly turn around anymore.
First, notice that to make “secularism” the approved religion is to establish a religion. The religion you have established has no candles, altars, or pulpits, but it remains the reigning worldview, the one that reserves to itself the authority to sit in judgment on all other religions. Thus, a secularist magistrate reserves to himself the right to pronounce that Ahmed the Jihadist is not a “true Muslim.” Good to know, good to know. I didn’t know that the State Department was issuing fatwas now. Well, they are. And when the Bible tells me not to love the world, the secularist tells me that I must applaud the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. In fact, when the pride of life in a codpiece swanks out in front of us all, I am now required to applaud like a North Korean at a missile parade. If I don’t applaud the courage! the courage! I am guilty of hate. And, come to think of it, I am. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13). Unfortunately for me and my verse, a gent named Marcion at the Department of Justice has recently determined that Proverbs is “in the Old Testament
So while secularism claims not to be “a” religion, they do claim to be the arbiter of all religions — the faith of faiths, the religion of religions, the king of ki . . . better not go that far yet. Let’s give a few more months.
Second, please notice that secularism has been radically anemic in its defense of religious liberty. They have wanted to pretend that religious liberty was a value of theirs, when in reality religious liberty was a fruit of the Christian religion. As faith in Christ has waned, so also has our understanding of and commitment to religious liberty waned. As secularism has begun to function in terms of its own premises, we can readily see that their tolerance for views other than their own is rice-paper thick.
And third, this is only to be expected. Secularism has no transcendent ground for anything. There are transcendent claims, there are false transcendent claims, and then there are no transcendent claims. Jehovah spoke to Moses on the mountain of God. Muslims claim that Allah gave revelations to the prophet. But secularists issue predestinating directives and decrees from offices with eight-foot drop-down ceilings, waxed linoleum floors, and blaring florescent lights. The bureaucrat responsible for ruining your life has been sleeping at his desk for so long that one side of his head is flat. But he does wake up periodically to send you a notification.
Thank you for writing this. It challenges me and is well written.
Brilliant. Yes to all points!!
Ever notice how the secularists aren’t saying things like “Question Authority!” anymore? They only wanted us to question authority because the authority wasn’t them.
My response to “Question authority.” , has always been, “Question yourself”. ????
Of course they never said which authority we shouldn’t question. If it’s a “progressive” politician, a feminist college professor or overzealous gov’t regulator, by no means are you supposed to question them. You’ll look like one of those crazy climate change deniers!
My response was always, “Says who?”
Goes also the question of what “conservative” means. Much like “faith,” it begs the question of object. (What ought to be conserved?)
Amen, but every good sermon needs a “so-what” built in.
So… what do I do with this?
Ha! Truly brilliant. I shall feast on these words all day.
Well said. Secularism is the state religion, and as it gains influence it will seek to restrict the religious liberty of all other religions.
But doesn’t Christianity, if without a means to enforce faithfulness to one degree or another, inevitably descend into the type of secularism we did have, which in turn descended–inevitably–into the utter insanity we currently have (and we’ll inevitably get more)?
If Christianity is all about democracy and religious liberty then the heathen, heretic, and Saracen all get votes–without means to enforce adherence to and maintaining of Christian principles, our open-mindedness erodes, and eventually destroys, itself.
Perhaps we could distinguish, then, between full democracy and a republic with restricted franchise?
Can we really? The latter has a strong tendency to turn into the former, at least rhetorically. (“Full Democracy” is not really achievable in practice.)
We can distinguish between them without necessarily being able sustain the model we prefer in the world.
But it’s also true that all governments eventually disintegrate. But I think republican governments (de facto or de iure) do a good job of maintaining justice and liberty.
Relatively speaking, of course. Republican Florence was a rotten place in certain ways.
Wes, God requires people to obey.
Disobedience is its’ own “enforcement .
Okay, but abstract platitudes do not govern and cannot maintain an actual society.
I’m talking about real laws and principles for governing a real society.
If our current system is foolish and (self-)destructive, then not addressing it–or worse, continuing to advocate for it–with a “let go and let God” carefree mentality is itself foolish and disobedient.
Wes, Gideon and the 300 did what they were supposed to do, and God did the rest. David did what he was supposed to do re: Goliath and God did the rest.
Isaiah and Jeremiah said what they were supposed to say, and God did the rest.
I’m all for real laws, but laws do have their limits.
Did you for real just use “Saracen” to refer to folks in the Middle East? I guess that’s better than suggesting forced adherence to a religion is the door to open-mindedness….. darn, you beat me to it.
I did!! I would have used “Muhammadan,” but I couldn’t get it to rhyme with “heathen,” and “towel-head” wouldn’t have really fit IMHO.
BTDubbs, I spoke of adherence to principles, not forced conversion, and there is a difference, but chasing that completely out was beyond the scope of a one-paragraph comment.
Just look out for those Asiatics and Ethiopes. They are of wily stock.
Try mushrooms! Research them. They treat depression, and have no side-effects besides seeing outside long-held biases. Won’t hurt you! Might even cure your ill-founded fear of people who are just like you in almost every respect.
You’re a hoot, Mac! Toodles!
I’m not sure if Wesley Sims’ question is rhetorical, but I would answer this way: If the principles of the Laws of God remain as mere social barriers to constrain and conform our behaviors, externally, then they will always give way and be trampled, inevitably. God proved this to us by giving His perfect Law to Israel, which they trimmed and corrupted and ignored. However, even then, God revealed the solution to the fault of this perfect Law. The solution was to write the Law on the heart, so that it was not merely an external barrier to an unchanged… Read more »
“Rice-paper thick” reminds me of this great line
“And the coat that I was wearing / Was mosquitto netting thin.”
From Langston Hughes via Taj Mahal.
We have stage four secularism: malignant and probably terminal. God help us.
Well,….He has before!????????
Well,…..but wait, ……are you certain that Donald Trump in a codpiece would not be at least a little bit trancendent? In a Donald sort of way?????
“As secularism has begun to function in terms of its own premises, we can readily see that their tolerance for views other than their own is rice-paper thick.”
“Quickly as you can, Grasshopper, snatch the pebble from my hand.”
Nay! Stay! As long as you deny the Blue and embrace the Red. For lo, the great white north has need of ye! ;)
Your sarcasm does not dissuade me! :)
In the words of ‘Bob and Doug McKenzie’ beauty eh.
Swing and … its over the fence. In a similar vein, here’s my little ode to secularism’s insane response to the perpetrators of the “religion of peace” 1. Bomb 2. .”We will not give in to terror, platitude, platitude, blah, blah…” 3. # We are all Paris, San Bernadino, Brussels, the world, unity, coexist, tolerance, never forget, emote, oops forgot New York, alter facebook profile picture in solidarity (2 weeks max), never forget, oops forgot Boston, blah, blah…” 4. “Islam is not the problem, definitely not”, “Create jobs for would-be terrorists”, “Bush’s fault”, “Seeds sown of Western oppression by Christian… Read more »
Hey! Those were love bombs!????
Just listened to Al Mohler’s podcast where he interviews Stanley Fish. Good stuff. Here’s a secular critic basically agreeing that it’s not whether but which and that the new atheists are out to lunch.
Gotta admit… I had to google “codpiece.” Not sure I’m glad I did. Ahh… The 1500s. I may have been born too late, but it wasn’t 500 years too late. Either more or less.
Yes, there is such a thing as too much information!????
Even in fashion.
I never agreed with the concept of:
“Clothes make the man.”????
The funny thing about a codpiece is it makes a man look more fully dressed than if he just wears hose on his nethers.
Strange, but true.
Source: the IRT production of Romeo and Juliet several years back which used historically accurate costumes.
The great slayer of political correctness and the man who tells it like it is has just….. come out against the HB2 bill in NC. So Trump is all for men peeing with your daughters.
Doug, this has nothing to do with the current article, though I did enjoy it heartily. Rather, I wanted to share with you a portmanteau that sounded very much like a Doug Wilson-ism. I thought it was original until I googled it and found that I’d been beaten to the punch by almost a decade…
The word is: Bullgeschichte
Definition here: http://www.waywordradio.org/bullgeschichte_1/
Religious liberty and religious tolerance aren’t a feature of Christianity. For most of its history Christianity was no more amenable to the ideas than are any more backwards religions you can name today. Religious liberty within Christian sects arose not from a theological motive, but rather from the practical reality that post-reformation attempts to deny religious liberty had ended in conflict and disaster. Secularism tends to be good for religious liberty, because secularists usually don’t favor any one sect over any other. But secularists are still people, and when people win they sometimes get a little carried away and start… Read more »
“But secularists are still people, and when people win they sometimes get a little carried away and start abusing the losers.” One of the beautiful things about Christianity is how Christ turns such things on their head. So “what you do for the least of these you do for me” and blessed be the poor, the meek. Christ came to set the captives free. So whereas secularism and many other religions are about massing power over people and celebrating winning, the precise opposite is a pretty powerful tenet of Christianity, one perhaps we have often failed to achieve, but at… Read more »
Matt wants to revise history and give the credit for liberty to secularism, however secularism has no authoritative framework on which to ground liberty at all. Secularism is either a pocket of relative liberty in comparison to a previous tyranny, or else secularism inherits liberty, and then sacrifices it on the altar of the next humanistic and statist power grab. This is because secularism has no telos or any prescription that transcends whatever the strongman is offering at the moment. In regard to man’s dignity and liberty, what secularism gives one day, it takes away the next. Secularism is completely… Read more »
You cats are a bunch of idolaters, mistaking your symbol-system for reality, your perceptual biases for guides, and your stories for authorities. That would be cool and groovy if you didn’t also think other people exercising their own goofy idolatries in their own way should be illegal. You call secularism a religion, but it’s common sense that one human is not inherently better than another. The opinion of one person or even a group of persons is not prima facie more right than the opinion of another person or group of persons. You guys need to eat some mushrooms or… Read more »
Jesus is ashamed of people?
Whew! Good thing His opinion is not prima facie “more right” than anyone else’s!
Which does leave one to wonder why you think your opinion is “more right ” than another’s ?
Oh! Right. The mushrooms.????
“…it’s common sense that one human is not inherently better than another.”
I find it especially funny, that is actually not common sense at all! We read that in the book of James, 2 chapter,
“But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.”
If it were simply a case of common sense I would just build a giant catapult and start evicting all the mushroom eaters off my planet. :)
So right ME!
Mushroom dudes are always up for space travel, one way or another!????????????
Upvote just for the image of a giant catapult for the specific purpose of launching lovers of psychedelic mushrooms. Have you considered a career as an evil genius or Bond villain?
Mushroom dude earns a point for demonstrating a sense of humor!????????
Oh, and Memi is a genius, just not an evil one. She has demonstrated and earned many humor points!????
Mushrooms help with that! Lol
I’m open to discussion. I don’t necessarily think my opinion is more right. My opinion is just that: my opinion, open to revision, based merely on my limited experience.
Re:Jesus is ashamed of people?
Exceptions to my rule allowed for the undead?
I’m not saying that no opinion holds weight, just that no opinion holds so much weight that it mustn’t be questioned. After much questioning, I have found Jesus’ opinions to hold weight.
Jesus speaks for Himself, better than I can speak of Him.
Keep looking to The Word T’mac.
I did? Unintentional move by one unskilled with discus.
“it’s common sense that one human is not inherently better than another.”
or not so common…
Mushroom dudes are always up for accidentally up voting their own comments!
Jesus is ashamed of you.
Satan is proud of you.