In the post-Obergefell era, there are two basic areas of scriptural understanding where evangelicals really need to get up to speed. I will only mention them here, and briefly outline the problem, but hopefully more development can follow in the weeks to come. As we go along, I also hope to be recommending books here and there. Getting up to speed requires a theological and intellectual armory, I mean library, and that means books.
The first problem is a cause of a paralyzing tension in the evangelical reaction to homosexuals gaining certain political — so-called civil — rights. On the one hand, they know homosexuality to be a sin, because of their Bible reading, and therefore they have a negative reaction to it. But on the other hand, because of their deep theological commitment to autonomous individualism, and all related cooties, they don’t know what to do with an argument that says “we should outlaw discrimination against gays.” That strikes them as prima facie reasonable, but it does so for a reason.
The distinction we must recover, or at the very least shore up, is the distinction between individualism, an ideology that is profoundly antichristian, and individual rights and duties, which are grounded in the biblical idea of covenant. Individuals are the bricks for making the great house we call a culture, but covenantalism means that we get to use mortar as we build it.
If someone — me, for instance — says that of course we should discriminate against practicing homosexuals, and everyone in the room gasps, this reveals plainly how we haven’t really thought this thing through. First, discrimination is inescapable — it is not whether our society will do so, but rather which which group will be the object of that discrimination. Every evangelical baker, florist or photographer who is getting slammed in the name of tolerance is getting slammed because somewhere, somehow, evangelicals were chary about discriminating against people because of personal choices. But because they could not see the sense in discriminating against people because of their personal lifestyle (homosexuality), they found themselves having to put up with discrimination against people because of their personal lifestyle (evangelical businessmen).
Discrimination need not be a bad word. A man of discriminating taste is a man who knows that Pappy Van Winkle’s bourbon is a far smoother drink than Stomach Surgery in a Bottle. Every man makes choices, and every society makes them also. It is not possible for a society, any more than it is possible for a man, to go through its time on earth being neutral about choices. If you are going down the road, and we are, there will be turns, intersections, crossroads, exit ramps, and choices.
So of course we should discriminate — society wide — against the homosexuals who embrace that lifestyle of perversion. We should do this the same way auto insurance companies discriminate against policy holders with five DUIs. If you refuse to discriminate against them, simply out of pig-headed principle, then you are now discriminating against those who don’t have any DUIs — for they will be the ones who pay. Why? Because in the world God made, somebody pays. The question is who, not whether.
So evangelicals do need to hold on to their belief that each individual is radically important. As the Lord taught, what profit is there in gaining the whole world if you lose your own soul? Your own soul is vastly to be preferred over all the wealth than even Greek voters could imagine. At the same time, individual bricks were made, fashioned, and designed to go into buildings, and to fit into the building in a particular way. We must therefore have God’s mortar, and we must follow God’s blueprints.
So the first lesson is this — Christians must learn how to reject autonomous individualism without surrendering their understanding of the importance of an individual relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. As we see this debacle unfolding in front us, we must come to understand that autonomous individualism is a deadly foe of individual liberty.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, the second area concerns the issue of civil disobedience, particularly when it comes to tax issues. The reason we must get our act together here is that we have been way too compliant with those preachers who expound Romans 13 upside down to congregations who are listening while looking at the text sideways.
From where I sit right now, this battle is going to be really joined when it comes down to money — issues of tax exemption, tax immunity, tax receipts, tax returns, and so on.
A lot of Christians have not been paying attention to the disintegration of their nation because they had businesses to build and families to raise, and so on. They were minding their own business, or at least that was the theory. They didn’t have time (or so they thought) to read a bunch of big, fat books that would help them discover that the clouds on the horizon looked ominous. But then when the government comes in and shuts your business down, you don’t have to read a book to discover what you think about it.
So mark this. In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy basically said that opponents of homosexual mirage were protected by the First Amendment, such that they could continue to think and express themselves on this subject. What he notably did not say was that entities which do so may continue to receive what the government considers “a benefit” from the government (in the form of tax exemption status).
By the way, here is another screwed up thing. We have gotten to the point where the government thinks that when it lets you keep some of your own money that it is being generous. But let us leave that alone for a moment.
So when the inevitable moment comes when it is determined that churches, colleges, Christian schools, etc. may no longer retain their “tax exempt” status because their “deeply held convictions” are at odds with the decision the highest court in the land made against “bigotry” in Obergefell, it will be necessary to have a theology of Christian resistance in place, with taxes as the point of conflict.
I should add at this point that I am referring to the theology of resistance outlined by the magisterial reformers, and not the theories that sometimes float out of Swamp Whackadoo.
I still have the ash-tray I made for my non-smoking Mom during camp that summer at Swamp Whackadoo. The memories!
Yes, the reason the government has been allowed to grow is because they have promised to protect our idol of money.
As a card-carrying citizen of the good Swamp Whackadoo, I resemble that remark. The “minding their own business” comment got me to thinking (and I was in 1 Thess. 4 this morning): There is a general rule for believers to ‘mind their own affairs’, and to live life that, if observed by even the rankest of pagans, really does look like life in all of its fullness. There is also the fact that we won’t be left to ourselves by truth-suppressing postmoderns, especially when we don’t join them in celebrating sin, and the prophetic role of the church (as embodied… Read more »
Tim, Interesting premise. I was having a similar conversation today with my daughter regarding statists (inside every leftist liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out). In North Korea, when “The Dear Leader” was called before “The Judge of the Whole Earth”, the loyalists put on a huge state event for mourning dear departed Yuri Irsenovich. Those who did not grieve with sufficient enthusiasm were granted an exemption from the ceremony, and from breathing. When totalitarians ascend, they brook no resistance, not even a lowering of the eyelids that might conceal disagreement. It will not be enough that you will… Read more »
I’m just going to anticipate Ryan Sather’s next racially-charged rant… cause you all know it’s coming. Something to the effect of “Wilson makes one good point, but he supports slavery, so we should all condemn him.” Repeat ad nauseam.
There, now that’s out of the way, serious discussion can commence.
If only people would just stop feeding the trolls.
Precisely. Let the trolls starve.
I don’t think Ryan is a troll. I don’t know him personally, and my reading of his posts here isn’t extensive enough to figure out what his positions are, but I think that he is: 1) A man who sincerely believes he is a Christian (also, for clarity, I am not questioning his salvation), and is attempting to live out that faith according to their understanding. 2) Someone who is greatly offended, for a variety of reasons (not entirely sure of them because of aforementioned lack of personal knowledge), by Doug Wilson’s positions, and feels the need to express that… Read more »
He’s not quite yet hit troll stage, but he’s quickly approaching that point. And I have yet to see him attempt to engage in a civil conversation, but then again, I haven’t read all of his comments.
It started out civil on the “Tolle, Leg It” thread but deteriorated after a while. Since then, it’s been barely civil at best, something quite different at worst.
Yeah, it’s gotten to the point that it’s better to not encourage people like that by giving them the time of day. Social ostracism really is an effective method for changing people’s behavior; so it might be the best thing for him, until he’s willing to act civilly. An apology on his part might be a good place to start.
While, as I say, I think he’s seriously misguided on how to converse civilly, he has offered a very thoughtful apology for calling people cowardly by commenting anonymously or pseudonymously.
Oh? I missed that. Where was that?
Way, way down the thread chain (https://disqus.com/home/discussion/dougwils/children_of_the_rainbow/#comment-2112839904 ). Dunno if that link will work, but it’s there, and I think it does evidence a heart that wants to follow Christ’s commands, even if I disagree about how that works out.
Well, a whole-hearted kudos to him for doing that. Well done.
While I haven’t kept up with all the comments in recent posts, I’ve been struck by the offense taken by those objecting to Ryan because of his tone. It’s usually the other way around here – those who admire our esteemed host are sharpening their verbal blades and whatnot. I suppose I’m unclear on what legitimizes harsh language, and what pushes it into “incivility.” But that’s a rabbit trail and we’re probably all pretty tired of following them!
I am glad he is here. I do not think he is trolling.
I do not think his purpose here is trolling, either. However, I think that in the heat of frustration, he more than occasionally crosses into troll behavior. The “whitewash tombs” cracks he was making, frequently without any other accompanying substance, would be something a troll might do. But I hope for better things, if he sincerely desires to have a genuine conversation.
Hi Jane, I asked Ryan in another comment if he was channeling Howard Zinn. Meaning that this Gramscian commie has written text books on American History that employ what is called ‘Critical Theory’. ‘Critical’ is used in the sense of ‘To Criticize’ and not ‘To Critique’. The goal is to delegitimize a culture–in Zinn’s case American Culture. Looking at Ryan’s premises (largely unstated, but hinted at) I think that is the difference. It would explain Ryan’s critique of the culture assumptions Doug has and Ryan’s demeanor. Thankfully, I can be as obnoxious as Ryan is so it does not bother… Read more »
Just replying to Ian not because I’m addressing Ian specifically, but just so I could hop into the conversation. To be fair, I don’t think we gave Ryan enough credit in the education posts for what he was saying–not for his position or the points he was making, but for what he said he did in being involved with his kids’ public education. It was apparent that he was highly involved personally in his kids’ classes and schools and making the absolute best of what others would say to be a less-than-desirable state. According to him, his family’s and church’s… Read more »
Agreed. I tried to express that in my interactions with Ryan. I disagree with him, but am glad that even in his choice that I think is wrong, he is earnestly seeking to follow God’s commands in the education of his children.
Where I have difficulty is what Jane mentions below – the name calling, and the obstreperousness (though I myself am quite guilty of that failing. Perhaps his comments about whited sepulcher applies to me there ;).
Like the theory that all regulations by all Federal agencies are unconstitutional because they’re not Congress, and therefore no-one is obligated to pay a single penny of income tax unless all 535 members of Congress personally come to your front door and ask for it? Like that theory, Doug?
Who believes that? Particularly the last part about Congress coming to your door?
Is insisting that a binding law actually be passed by the body empowered to create law equivalent to some whackadoo idea about individual members of Congress coming to your door?
The income tax rates are set by Congress. The penalties for not paying income tax are established by Congress. All the IRS does is “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” by collecting income tax. And yet, because IRS = EVIL UNCONSTITUTIONAL WILLIAM SHERMAN, the good Pastor Wilson thinks that tax evasion is perfectly okay as long as you can get away with it.
What does that have to do with Congressmen showing up at your door?
Sure, that’s “all the IRS does”, unless you count targeting political enemies of the ruling party. But who cares about stuff like that?
Rev. Wilson, I’m looking forward to reading more about your ideas concerning civil disobedience/resistance to Obergefell.
Per your thoughts on another thread about the Church’s inconsistency with rogue Supreme Court rulings, etc., have you read this article? Probably. I’m trying to catch up. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2013/03/14/does-the-driving-logic-of-black-and-tan-hold-up/ This part below in particular. (He addresses the inconsistency, as you have pointed out, yet then proceeds to basically recommend a continued pragmatic approach. I thought if one AT LEAST acknowledged the situation and recognized it for what it was (the rogue rulings and the Church’s inconsistency), they would at least come to…a different conclusion. Anyway, interesting.) ————————— Second, the Federal action to end slavery in 1865 can’t be causally connected to… Read more »
I’d read it before, but re-read it just now. Yes, he’s playing the same game with Lincoln’s War that Rev. Wilson and white evangelicals are playing with Loving v VA. Insisting that it has absolutely nothing to do with the present situation, when clearly it has everything to do with it. Well, I shouldn’t say Rev. Wilson is playing that game; I think that so far he’s just ignoring Lvoing and hoping no one brings it up. But I’ve engaged with several evangelical preachers and teachers on this very topic in the past, and to a man they have insisted… Read more »
The outcome of the Loving decision is great, but as a legal matter and legal precedent the decision is not something to celebrate.
See, that’s not impossible to say.
Then why will none of these preachers say it? And why have Christian leaders spent the last 40 or so years praising Loving? (For the first 10 years or so, Christians denounced it as judicial tyranny. When the decision was handed down, Christians were about as outraged as they are about Obergefell. But as opposition to interracial marriage came more and more to be seen as irrational bigotry and hate, every year fewer and fewer Christians took that position, at least publicly, and we gradually got to where we are today, when Christian views on interracial marriage are now the… Read more »
Anti-miscegenation laws were racist, were a clear violation of Civil Rights laws and a violation of the 14th Amendment. Robert’s deals with this in his dissent: “In Loving, the Court held that racial restrictions on the right to marry lacked a compelling justification. In Zablocki, restrictions based on child support debts did not suffice. In Turner, restrictions based on status as a prisoner were deemed impermissible. None of the laws at issue in those cases purported to change the core definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The laws challenged in Zablocki and Turner did… Read more »
“In Loving, the Court held that racial restrictions on the right to marry lacked a compelling justification.” Stating something doesn’t make it so. In Obergefell, the Court held that gender restrictions on the right to marry lacked a compelling justification. So they must be right, too. See how easy that is? And SCOTUS had no business deciding whether or not state marriage laws are valid. Several states said there *were* compelling justifications for racial restrictions on marriage. And 80% of the population agreed, And nothing in the Constitution gives Congress, the President, or the federal courts the power to override… Read more »
“Overturning the racist law in Loving did not change the meaning/definition of marriage. It was still the union of a man and woman.” I appreciate the details. However, that isn’t the concern I’m expressing with the current ruling. Sure the marriage meaning/definition is disconcerting, but it is SECONDARY. It might not have come to this (and there wouldn’t be a faulty precedence of a rogue court) had Loving been handled without indeed “doing violence to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the very meaning of words”. We let our biases and beliefs blind us to the foundational issue. It… Read more »
“Anti-miscegenation laws were racist, were a clear violation of Civil Rights laws and a violation of the 14th Amendment. Robert’s deals with this in his dissent” Laws against gay marriage were homophobic, were a clear violation of Civil Rights laws and a violation of the 14th Amendment. Kennedy deals with this in the ruling. See how easy it is? And Roberts is being quite disingenuous when he says “Nor did the interracial marriage ban at issue in Loving define marriage as “the union of a man and a woman of the same race.” Actually, and obviously, that’s exactly what those… Read more »
Exactly. The issue of marriage was not the federal government’s jurisdiction since the Constitution doesn’t give them those rights.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.”
But in Loving, they usurped the 10th Amendment…and at that point, marriage was indeed ruled on and the concept of marriage now became the federal government’s business.
You are still confusing “views on interracial marriage” with the Loving decision.
Plenty of people thought that interracial marriage was just fine, but the Loving decision was not.
That simply isn’t true. In 1967, 80% of Americans thought interracial marriage was immoral.
I think the points of our concern might also be expressed this way: 1) Just as with the homosexual “marriage” decision and people claiming it was the “popular opinion”…we don’t KNOW how MANY people thought interracial marriage was just fine. We can’t go by informal polls and media and bias speak to KNOW. So, and/or besides that 2) The Court, as it did this time, usurped its Constitutional authority based on presumed “popular opinion” taking away decisions that are rightly the states’. 3) If we had raised a sure and proper fuss back THEN on #2, it maybe wouldn’t have… Read more »
Putting this here since Roberts expressed this whole concept so well (of the damaging effects to all from not being left to the states). Bottom of 40 through 42.
When you wrote ” ….decision the highest court in the land made against “bigotry” in
Obergefell, it will be necessary to have a theology of Christian
resistance in place, with taxes as the point of conflict.” what did you mean? If the courts decided to revoke a church’s tax exempt status, then are you saying the form of resistance will be taxes?
Since we currently find ourselves on the losing side of the present cultural battle, let me recommend a couple not-very-fat books from losers of battles past: “Cannibals All!” by George Fitzhugh (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35481 ) and “The Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion: A Tory View” by Peter Oliver (https://archive.org/details/originandprogres011156mbp ). You may, after reading them, find their attitudes and slant on the facts to be deplorable: but keep in mind that our enemies do too, and most of our allies in this fight lived in the past. (Bonus belated 4th of July addendum: the last British governor of Massachusetts’ response… Read more »
Bro Doug, Not that anything you’ve said is wrong, but is it possible that a big wedge of the explanation is a lot simpler? People have been voting for the guy who promised to give them the most free stuff. Free stuff from the government has to be stolen, no, taxed, no, “contributed” from somebody else. The stupidest man in America knew this but didn’t care. So thieves now represent us all too well. We should not be surprised that a government of thieves elected by a population of thieves has no honor about other moral issues, whether it’s abortion,… Read more »
Swamp Whackadoo? Isn’t that the planned capital of the soon to be declared United Heterosexual States of Judeo-Christian America, and CentCom for overthrowing the current government?
“… we must come to understand that autonomous individualism is a deadly foe of individual liberty.” This is not real clear to me. There seems to be a mixing of contexts. If I said that Doug Wilson was opposed to autonomous individualism then I would likely be laughed to scorn (and justifiably so). If he was inclined to just “go with the flow” he would likely be a Baptist and Moscow Idaho would not look the same. If weak kneed evangelicals were guilty of individualism they would not be caving in to the world. The problem is that they see… Read more »
The idea is similar to “You can’t con an honest man”. The desire for radical autonomy results in throwing off natural duties and severing natural social ties. The authoritarian gains power by exploiting the desire for autonomy, affirming the rebellion against natural duties and against nature itself. With such a utopian project as its goal, the state will demand more and more power. There is no Divinely appointed individual autonomy. The man who says “No king but Christ” also does not even have Christ for a king since God delegates authority to magistrates and fathers on Earth. Even in the… Read more »
“So when the inevitable moment comes when it is determined that churches, colleges, Christian schools, etc. may no longer retain their “tax exempt” status…” Finally a specific prediction. Now care to put a timetable on that? “What he notably did not say was that entities which do so may continue to receive what the government considers “a benefit” from the government (in the form of tax exemption status).” Can we just stop being stupid for five minutes? Tax exemption status is entirely a benefit, unless your mind is so addled with privilege that you think you are owed it. My… Read more »
We have become so accustomed to the taxation of income that
it seems natural to think of exemptions as benefits; but only if the money
earned, or in this case, received by churches, belongs to the government, can an
exemption be considered a benefit.
I’ve been curious for a little more clarification, too. Given that the justices already brought up the concept and concern so that it’s active on everyone’s mind, including activists…shouldn’t be too long…however, I think there will be a plethora of all these lawsuits being resolved to first build the momentum and fury with “Civil Rights”/”discrimination” language superseding freedom of religion leading up to it. There seem to be a few states that might give a pushback to the ruling, etc. All those lower level hurdles first. Bob Jones University has been mentioned along the way (justices, media). They lost tax… Read more »
“So when the inevitable moment comes when it is determined that churches, colleges, Christian schools, etc. may no longer retain their “tax exempt” status because their “deeply held convictions” are at odds with the decision the highest court in the land made against “bigotry” in Obergefell,” They won’t go after the churches directly at first. Colleges and parachurch ministries are going to be first on the chopping block. Maybe in 10 or 15 years, with a couple more Jews and/or closet lesbians on SCOTUS, that might change. But by then, almost all churches, whether evangelical, Reformed, fundamentalist, Roman Catholic, or… Read more »
Uh, SSM and interracial marriages are very different. But if you want to give more credence to the horrible “gay is the new black” argument, I guess you just did.
it’s an explanation of one of the ways it IS giving credence to the “gay is the new black” argument. “just as churches that oppose interracial marriage are now regarded as “hate churches.” those that held interracial marriage as a “deep religious belief” (and it was to many…not as a matter to many of “hate” but a “God doesn’t want any of us to intermarry” thing) were called out “hate” and this was done by fellow CHRISTIANS as well–rather than defending religious freedom– that couldn’t see the forest for the trees. as crazy as “interracial marriage” might have come to… Read more »
What’s your point? Lots of things are very different, and all marriages are different.. My parents’ marriage is very different from my neighbors’ marriage is very different from my other neighbors’ marriage is very different from my aunt and uncle’s marriage. So what? Same sex marriage and interracial marriage aren’t the same thing, and I never claimed they are. But for all their differences, there are extremely germane similarities. Both were considered unnatural and immoral by large majorities of Americans, since before this country even officially existed. Many colonies and state legislatures, over a span of 300 years, thought it… Read more »
This movement to silence religious institutions is a political one, so I could see Colleges and parachurch organizations being targeted, but I dont see this happening with churches in general, for the simple fact that many churches that hold to a Biblical view of marriage are black churches. There will be no social opprobrium for black churches that hold to a Biblical view of marriage.
Ooooh, “There will be no social opprobrium for black churches that hold to a Biblical view of marriage.” Good point. Which aids my theory of America devolving into chaos and civil war.
Homosexuals purposely targeting white conservative Christians (like McD’s description of the Prop 8 stuff) using the “gay is the new black” all the while yes, many blacks are opposed to supporting homosexuality…civil war with everybody trying to figure out who is friend or foe or traitor on the issues…and a lack of strength and unity when a worse enemy approaches…
For the most part, white people of whatever political or religious persuasion basically regard blacks as non-entities, who make good mascots for themselves, or cudgels to hammer their white opponent with, as the case may be, but without moral agency. So when white preachers want to score points by showing how much they hate racism, blacks are devout Christians, by far, more devoted to Jesus Christ than any other ethnic/cultural group in America. Then, when a bunch of blacks burn down Baltimore and Ferguson, they’re no longer Christians, but “progressives”, and white Democrats made them that way. Black women get… Read more »