There are only two “ways,” two fundamental religions in the world. One of them feeds people, and the other one eats people. We see this contrast in vivid relief in the juxtaposition that Mark gives to the death of John the Baptist. That sad but typical episode is followed immediately by the feeding of the five thousand.
“And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother” (Mark 6:28).
“He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.” (Mark 6:37).
At the banquet of the first king, the head of a preeminent saint was brought to him on a platter, on a serving dish. “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? Who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord” (Psalm 14:4). And in the next scene, at a banquet hosted by a completely different kind of king, all the people were invited to sit on the grass, and they were there fed by the prayer and power of that king, and the hands of his disciples.
Because people don’t like being devoured, various tricks have to be employed to keep them in a cooperative frame of mind. They have to be told something else is happening, or is going to happen. I hear Bernie Sanders was going to give everybody a free college education—all you have to do is agree to live in this little veal cage. As it happens, the one behind all of this is very good at lying. When he lies, Jesus tells us, he is speaking his native language (John 8:44). He is fluent in falsehood, and the people he cultivates in order to fill out his cupboards are gullible enough. As long as he keeps changing his story, they keep going along.
Keepers of the Volcano
So picture this devouring system as typified by the virgin and volcano set up. We can use that as place holder. It doesn’t always have to be virgins, just as it doesn’t always have to be volcanoes. But there must be blood. Someone has to be lied to. Someone has to be ripped off. Someone must be shredded. Someone must be pitched headlong.
A generation ago, the sexual revolution began with the demand that we “make love, not war.” It ended with us making war on the inconvenient children who resulted from all the lovemaking. It turns out we live in the world that God made, and not in the world we claimed we were making. We have killed 50 million so far, selling a number of them for parts. This is a religion driven by bloodlust. Abortion is not an aspect of this that the secularists wish they could get rid of. It is an essential part of the point. “Let’s keep abortion safe, legal, and sacramental.” This is also why policy shifts won’t get at the problem. This is a disease that can only be addressed through national repentance, and that cannot happen without a proclamation of the death of Jesus. His guiltblood is the only answer to our bloodguilt.
The blood of our innocents must be shed because this is how pagan temples are always built. Blood must be mixed with the mortar. But something else must be present as well. The lies must also continue. Killing is what they do, and lying is also what they do. As it works out, they can easily combine the two. The priests of this system have two basic jobs. The first is keep throwing virgins into the volcano. The second is to keep up an unrelenting stream of criticism of the Christians, heaping scorn on how we treat our virgins.
They slaughter virgins by the tens of thousands, and they also want to maintain their appointed role as the sole arbiter what constitutes respectful treatment of virgins. If you doubt that the system works in this way, then ask yourself what countries have a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Heh. That list of worthies includes, natcherly, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. You will pardon me if I no longer go along with your little games? You know, because all of them are a Colossal Fraud?
So the secularists, the progressives, the enlightened among us, have flooded our nation with porn, have made it legal to chop babies up into little pieces, have appointed officials of a leering state to slip condoms to horny teenagers, have made it legal for two dudes to be united in the unholy bonds of same sex mirage, have made it illegal to object to such things, and have done whatever else they could to batter down any of the few remaining cultural restraints that have kept us from joining up with the cities of the plain.His guiltblood is the only answer to our bloodguilt.
AND they have taken it upon themselves to chide us for our “purity culture.” Taken to extremes, this concern of ours for purity might have a deleterious effect on our, ahem, virgins. We want them to be in good shape before their big day at the volcano.
Suppose I lived next door to a guy who was the original wife-beater, down to the T-shirt named after him. Not only so, but he was good at it—every time we called the cops on him, he (and she) would have a story that fully explained the newest black eye. So one day he happened to see us loading up the car to go to the church potluck, and he beckons me over. He explains that he noticed that the prepared hot dishes were being carried out the car by our womenfolk, and he wanted to know if that was on purpose. “Because,” he argued, “I think that going along with stereotypical roles like that does a disservice to women in the long run.”
Now even if there were a point here—there isn’t, but work with me—I don’t want to hear about it from a guy who punches his wife. Neither do I want an exceptionally nice Christian who lives across the street to admonish me about using terms like womenfolk in the previous paragraph—did you think that was an accident?—because our friend the thug might get the wrong impression. He might think that we think that mistreatment of women is okay. Whatever we do, my Christian friend argues, we gotta work at not alienating the wife-beaters.
Assistant to the Regional Manager
So the class of secularist opinion managers are Keepers of the Volcano. They throw the virgins in, but they are also critics of the Christians who labor to keep their virgins away from the volcano. They are contemptuous of our attempts to keep our young women away from what they call a genuinely authentic experience. They sneer when they think of us. They scoff at all of us as red-statey rubes.
But there are also many Christians who have been cowed by the bright robes worn by the Keepers of the Volcano, and these Christians are urging the rest of us to moderate our language. They are not critics of our position proper—they get where we are coming from—but they nevertheless think we should temper our tone somewhat. After all, they reason, if you react too strongly, unbelievers will probably think, and will certainly say, that we treat our women poorly. But, I reply that—and I think not unreasonably—they throw their women into volcanoes.
Take a deep breath. Testimony. All about testimony.
“Your voice is too strident, Wilson. Surely there is a time and a place for the tone you have adopted, but we are not there yet.”
“I see. When will we be there?”
“Oh, lots of things would have to happen before Christians would be justified in taking your Juvenalian canoe paddle to the whole thing.”
“Oh, like trannies in junior high girl locker rooms, hard core celebration of homosexual marriage, dudes winning “women of the year” awards, women deployed on submarines, outlawing evangelical baking and flower arranging, things like that . . . oh, I think I see what you think you might be getting at.”
Out of My Mind. Clean Out of My Mind
The apostle Paul really did not like getting maneuvered into talking about himself in ways that could be considered boasting. If you played it just right, and you maneuvered like the dickens, you could get him into a corner. But then he would come off the top ropes at you. There are parts of his letters that reveal that he had some very odd views on what constitutes ministerial credentials, or what was appropriate for a resume that a pastoral search committee wouldn’t immediately round file (2 Cor. 11:16-33).
I am not worthy to imitate such a great apostle, but I am going to do it anyway. I apologize for this deficiency at the very beginning. My reputation is nowhere near as soiled as his was, I don’t have any riots to my name, and no stonings. I had one of my books burned in Jakarta once, but that is as close as it gets. I am not anywhere disreputable enough to black the boots of an actual apostle.
But one of the things I have been doing for approximately four decades now is that I have been trying to warn people that B follows A. In fact, I have been warning the saints that Q follows A. And, not to put too fine a point on it, you know what else follows A? The answer to that is LGBT and Q. They all follow A. My father once joked that we needed to have Richard Weaver’s great phrase, Ideas Have Consequences, carved on my tombstone.
Look, I would plaintively say. You can’t say THIS, without at some point in the foreseeable future, also saying THAT. The crowd would roar. You’re a nutter! Nobody is saying THAT. Find us one example of anybody saying THAT. We are simply maintaining THIS. You are grievously misrepresenting us when you try to intimate that we are in any way in favor of THAT. There is no way THAT could ever happen in white bread America!
Fast forward a few years. Crowds of thousands are marching down the boulevards of all our major cities, a big banner stretched across the front of their columns. The banners read POWER to THAT! Hand-held signs coming up behind say things like Yes, That! or THAT’LL DO!
I look up one of my old interlocutors to at least obtain the mild satisfaction of hearing him say, “Okay, you had a point.” But instead he stares at me blankly when I try to remind him of our old interminable conversations. I feel like Jeremiah having to stand with some of the false prophets as they watch Nebuchadnezzar’s engineers pulling down the last great tower in Jerusalem. And that is the moment when one of the false prophets turns to Jeremiah and says, “I bet you’re sorry you made all those big prophecies now, aren’t you, big fella?”
What was it that first impressed me about Dabney when I first encountered him back in the seventies or early eighties? I can assure you that it was not because I went to a librarian, and asked her to find me somebody down in the stacks I could like—from the nineteenth century, say, and preferably an irascible slave owner. That is not what happened at all. No, it was because I read statements like this one:
“So the actual and consistent secularization of education should not be tolerated. But nearly all public men and preachers declare that public schools are the glory of America. They are a finality and in no event to be surrendered. We have seen that their complete secularization is logically inevitable. Christians must prepare themselves then, for the following results: All prayers, catechisms, and Bibles will ultimately be driven out of the schools” (emphasis mine).
So he wrote this in the century prior to when it all happened, and I was reading his words while surrounded by a multitude of Christians who were all scratching their watches and winding their rear ends. “What is happening to our schools?” Dabney was not a prophet, or the son of a prophet, but he was a principled thinker. He was someone who knew that he who says A must also say B, and eventually will.
I gave myself to learning how to think in the same way. And not to brag or anything, because (as Paul would say) this really is demented, but I have been warning everyone about this for decades. So there are two things that have to happen. The church needs to find people to help explain what is happening to us. They should limit the search to those who predicted it happening long before it did. They should exclude from consideration those who stoutly maintained that “THAT could never happen here. Because America has magical defenses. Because America is our idol.”
So when you understand the play that has been run on us, and not until then, you will come to understand the plays that are being run, by a handful of people, in opposition. And none of that will happen until we come to see the sins that have blinded us as evangelicals. Why have we not be able to see what was visible to some in the nineteenth century?
The Sin of Soft
The modern evangelical church is effeminate. That is the problem. That is our besetting sin. When the apostle Paul rebuked the malakoi, the soft ones (1 Cor. 6:9), he was talking about the effeminate objects of sodomite lust. But that kind of softness can also trickle into bed with a girl. That kind of softness can remain heterosexual, and can get institutionalized in the overarching directive to all faithful evangelicals, which is, be nice and don’t be mean.
Worse, we give all the credit for our effeminacy to the Holy Spirit. We call what we are doing gentle, but what we are actually doing is refusing to protect our women, and we do this by imitating our women, in the wrong way, at the wrong time, and with wrong motives.
And of course I need to take a moment to explain why using a word like effeminate is not an insult to women. When a woman seeks to be womanly, she is being obedient. When a man does it, he is being disobedient, and the results are consistently perverse. And when men abdicate their role in leading and protecting their wives, the result is that this opens up room for women to abandon their assigned role. They start to become arbiters of “nice” in ways that they are not suited for. And does the phrase assigned role chafe you? Congratulations—your indoctrinated compromises are coming along nicely.
Now of course, I accept the injunction to not be mean as biblical (Eph. 4:31). But evangelicals—babes in the woods when it comes to this kind of thing—have confused the biblical requirement to not be mean with the impossible requirement to never be accused by liars of being mean. Once you accept the latter as your standard, you can always be steered, no matter how nice you are.
When controversy around such subjects erupts, the point is to win the controversy, not to get out of it. The point is to “fight the good fight,” not to “run the good retreat.” The point is to be men. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). But in order to quit yourself like a man, you have to start thinking like a man.
Cracks in the Dam
I talked a bit about predictions made back in the day. But anybody who believes that the time for predictions has ceased is simply not paying attention. We have a vast array of evangelical institutions—colleges, publishing houses, seminaries, television and radio networks—and the pressure to acquiesce that is going to be brought to bear on all of them is going to be simply enormous. Now when some of them start to go over—say an otherwise evangelical seminary is now employing a homosexual bursar, not to worry anybody, he’s not teaching anything—what will the others do? And remember, whatever you do, it can’t be mean!
They are only cracks, not to worry, but they are cracks in the dam. Consider this short review in the latest edition of World magazine.
“I can anticipate the objections to Very Married by Katherine Willis Pershey (Herald Press, 2016). She’s a female pastor in a very liberal denomination and, no surprise, favors same-sex marriage. But her book on marriage, told in the form of a memoir, gets much right—and it might be the perfect book for someone who’s more theologically liberal. Of marriage v. premarital sex, she writes, ‘The covenant of marriage—the vows to love now and forever—changes everything.’” (World, 3/4/17, p. 21).
But is it our job to help people who are “more theologically liberal” stay that way? Because I can assure you that the pressure is actually being applied in the other direction.