Homosexuality: Four Arguments for Affirming Same Sex Marriage, Part 2

gay christianWe’re considering Richard Beck’s post at his Experimental Theology blog summarizing four arguments for affirming same sex marriage. He did not endorse or advocate these arguments.

2. Marriage as Grace

“Male and female God created them” and “Be fruitful and multiply.” …

[Pro-gay marriage or pro-GM] views of same-sex marriage argue, however, that there is another marriage found in the Bible, the marriage between God and Israel. This marriage is not based upon biology but upon election and grace. In this marriage the Image of God is witnessed in covenantal fidelity.

The primacy of grace over biology is also highlighted by Paul when he discusses the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church, the non-biological children who are grafted into Israel “contrary to nature” via the grace and election of God. This grace is also displayed in the family of the church, a family not formed through biology but through the Spirit and our pledges of covenantal fidelity to God and each other.

Does the Bible evidence covenantal unions that are not literal heterosexual marriage? Are some analogized by the scriptural authors to heterosexual marriage? Absolutely. Do any of these covenantal unions (other than heterosexual marriage) involve actual sex? Of course, not. Apples and oranges.

In fact, when the prophets compare God’s relationship with Israel and when Paul compares Jesus’ relationship with the church to a marriage, both are specific that it’s a heterosexual marriage and that God or Jesus is the husband and Israel or the church is the wife.

Homosexual relationships were known in the ancient near east (and here) and in the Grecian world of NT times, and so the prophets and Paul could have used gender-neutral language to describe the relationship of God with Israel and Jesus with the church, but they chose to speak in terms of husband and wife.

The inclusion of Gentiles “contrary to nature” is not contrary to the created order.

(Rom. 11:24 ESV)  24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

It’s a brilliant analogy that Paul is using to make a point. “Contrary to nature” means “Gentiles are treated as part of the elect nation of Israel contrary to genetics. Gentiles aren’t born Jews.” But “contrary to nature” here does not mean “contrary to the created order.” In fact, the grand narrative of scripture is that the division of mankind into separate nations and ethnicities is contrary to God’s original design for creation, and the Kingdom re-unites the nations to become a single people under the Messiah — taking us back to Genesis 2 and before Babel. (This is a major theme of the Revelation, as shown in the recent series on that book.)

However, in Rom 1, when Paul declares homosexual acts “contrary to nature” (Rom 1:26), his point is that such actions are against God’s original purpose and design.

Does this mean Paul uses “nature” is two very senses in the same epistle? Yes, it does. This is hardly shocking given the limited number of koine Greek words available to Paul (5,264 root words in biblical Greek compared to over 1,000,000 in English). In Ephesians he uses pneuma to refer both the Holy Spirit and to Satan. Context rules.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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49 Responses to Homosexuality: Four Arguments for Affirming Same Sex Marriage, Part 2

  1. Christopher says:

    Jay wrote:

    However, in Rom 1, when Paul declares homosexual acts “contrary to nature” (Rom 1:26), his point is that such actions are against God’s original purpose and design.

    Even Darwin would concede that point. Homosexual behavior is maladaptive; if everyone engaged in it, the human race would soon become extinct.

    Speaking of logical inconsistencies, here’s a question I have for “progressives” who argue for things like gay marriage: if homosexuals are to be granted constitutional protections because their SSO, like skin color or gender, cannot be helped, what about pedophiles? Does anyone seriously imagine they “choose” this behavior? Why should they have to deny themselves when homosexuals do not? If SSO is genetically determined, why isn’t pedophilia? And are you saying they just got the short end of the genetic stick and that’s too bad?

  2. The fact that homosexuals are usually understood to be consenting adults and pedophiles are predators that do extreme damage to innocent children is the obvious difference. To make homosexual marriage illegal is to say, “I don’t care what you believe or if you understand it, my religious beliefs trump your freedom to make your own life choices and also trump your dignity as a human being”. It’s an amazingly arrogant attitude driven by a belief that Christianity should be forced on a population regardless of that population’s own beliefs. That’s just not the way Christianity was spread in the first century and it isn’t the way it’s going to be spread now.

  3. John F says:

    Christopher, Of course you are correct. GM is just the beginning as SSO is accepted (cannot be proven by science). There is literally no end to the perversions that can be justified, pedophilia, incest, bestiality, etc. are all but different expressions of the similar failure to accept revealed truths — through nature and through revelation. The larger point that is that “we become like that which we worship”

  4. Christopher says:

    Ellen wrote:

    “The fact that homosexuals are usually understood to be consenting adults and pedophiles are predators that do extreme damage to innocent children is the obvious difference.”

    How does this resolve the logical inconsistency of arguing that homosexuality ought to be constitutionally protected (as opposed to letting states decide the matter) because SSO is genetic and cannot be helped while contending that even though pedophiles cannot help their “orientation”, they cannot fulfill their sexual desires as homosexuals can? Do you not know that pedophilia has been legal in various cultures throughout history, most notably in ancient Greece? What makes YOUR morality superior to theirs? It strikes me as being a hypocritical argument. People object to others telling them homosexuality is immoral (because it cannot be helped), but then turn around and say pedophilia is immoral (though it cannot be helped). I don’t see how you can have it both ways.

  5. Alabama John says:

    Ever how you see it, I didn’t want either one around my children and don’t want either one around my grandchildren.
    Interesting that the bible is for all time, back then and also now, but, in every case of this type of sin, its always directed to the males. What about the female lesbians and the female sexual sins of various kinds? Hard to believe women get a pass or didn’t matter so its all directed to men. Maybe the bible does need another editing.

  6. Ellen Williams says:

    Most people have a built in moral compass that says that innocent and helpless people must be protected. That’s what the government is for.

  7. Christopher says:

    Ellen wrote:

    “Most people have a built in moral compass that says that innocent and helpless people must be protected. That’s what the government is for.”

    History says otherwise.

  8. My reasons for believing that same sex marriage should not be outlawed are not based on the belief that it can’t be helped. You’ve oversimplified the issue in your straw man argument, Christopher. And maybe I know better people than you do. According to Psych Central, about 1 in 25 people lack a moral compass. That still puts the rest in the majority.

  9. Christopher says:

    Ellen wrote:

    My reasons for believing that same sex marriage should not be outlawed are not based on the belief that it can’t be helped. You’ve oversimplified the issue in your straw man argument, Christopher.

    You are not everybody and are apparently unfamiliar with one of the main arguments made for gay rights (thinking it a straw man argument). Otherwise, I am not sure why you are on a CoC blog arguing for an obviously unbiblical position. There are plenty of political blogs that may better suit you.

    Ellen further wrote:

    And maybe I know better people than you do. According to Psych Central, about 1 in 25 people lack a moral compass. That still puts the rest in the majority.

    I see your Psych Central and raise you three histories. You need look no further than our own history (such as in close to a century of segregation after an even longer period of slavery) to refute your claim.

  10. Dustin says:

    To link homosexuality/gay marriage and pedophilia is absurd. Gay marriage is linking two people who love each other. You can debate what the bible is saying but to link the two doesn’t help the argument, especially with non-Christians.

    Christopher, I’m not sure why you are asking Ellen to leave. Christians should be able to have discourse with anyone, whether they agree or not.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Christoper wrote,

    Otherwise, I am not sure why you are on a CoC blog arguing for an obviously unbiblical position. There are plenty of political blogs that may better suit you.

    Not your blog. You don’t get to dis-invite commenters.

    PS — As I read Ellen (and she is more than capable of correcting me if I’ve misunderstood), she is arguing a position of political science — whether a nation-state’s legislature should allow gay marriage. That is not quite the same thing as whether gay marriage is acceptable for Christians. My articles are about what Christians may or may not do, and civil law is quite beside the point.

    As to Ellen’s point, the US allows the construction of Hindu temples even though the Bible considers this idolatry. Does the fact that idolatry is plainly a sin mean the government should ban Hinduism?

    Then again, there are some sins — such as murder — where the Bible and civil law agree.

    So when should the government enforce the Bible (such as murder) and when not (Hindu temples)? Do we want to criminalize pre-marital sex? We used to. Do we want to criminalize a failure to go to church on Sunday? That was the law in many places in the 18th Century. In Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was a Deist but he went to church because the law required it.

    See, it’s not quite as easy as “It’s wrong; therefore, it should be illegal.”

    Doesn’t mean I agree or disagree, just that I think you two are talking past each other on a very important issue.

  12. Johnathon says:

    Jay said, “See, it’s not quite as easy as, “It’s wrong; therefore, it should be illegal.”
    Christopher did not say anything remotely like that. Could this be an example of a strawman argument (un-Christian tactic) like the ones you earlier today accused those to the right of you as using?
    “There’s something about the rightwing of our movement that justifies un-Christian tactics to win an argument — the ends justify the means, as it were. Strawman arguments, …”

  13. Christopher says:

    Dustin wrote:

    To link homosexuality/gay marriage and pedophilia is absurd.

    Tell that to the married man who sexually abused me as a child. You think he did that without homosexual inclinations? Give me a break…

    The reason I linked the two was to illustrate the absurdity of the argument made by “progressives” that homosexuality is morally permissible because people are born that way, just as they are born with a gender or ethnicity. To get people to think, in other words. If homosexuals are born that way, then so are pedophiles. In years past, homosexuality was condemned because it was seen as a choice. Homosexuals responded that it is not a choice and hence not wrong. But then they turn around and fault pedophiles the same way they were faulted, even though they should have realized that if they were born with a SSO then so were pedophiles born with an abnormal orientation. And since I don’t believe for a second people are born with an SSO (and there certainly is no real scientific evidence for the claim), I am trying to help others face the logical implications of their position. Why would anyone with an SSO not prefer to know they were made, rather than born, that way? There is hope in the former, but none in the latter.

    Dustin further wrote:

    Christopher, I’m not sure why you are asking Ellen to leave. Christians should be able to have discourse with anyone, whether they agree or not.

    I wasn’t asking her to leave. I was questioning why she was arguing an obviously unbiblical position on a CoC blog (rather than on a political or Unitarian or some such blog). It makes little sense. I sometimes post comments on a well known legal blog. But I don’t make clearly unconstitutional arguments there. What would be the point? The blog is mainly concerned with constitutional issues.

  14. Christopher says:

    Jay wrote:

    See, it’s not quite as easy as “It’s wrong; therefore, it should be illegal.”

    You should probably read my comments a bit more carefully. I spent several years studying the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. In the first place, it does not explicitly give the SCOTUS authority to perform what is now called “judicial review” of laws passed by Congress. That was a power it gave to itself in Marbury. Many of its rulings since then have clearly twisted the words of the Constitution. Indeed, the very fact that it reached two logically opposed rulings with respect to segregation in the space of about six decades shows they are not reasoning correctly – from the Constitution or otherwise.

    My view is that the SCOTUS should not make law. But that is precisely what it has done with controversial social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Rather, these issues (which are not explicitly addressed by the Constitution) should be decided by the states. The US is not a theocracy. If states want to allow prostitution, gay marriage, on demand abortions, gambling and so forth, then I am okay with that. What I am not okay with is a tyranny of the minority at the federal level by using the judiciary to accomplish what could not be done legislatively – especially by seeing “emanations and penumbras” on a social contract and thereby making the Constitution say what it doesn’t.

  15. Christopher says:

    Jay wrote:

    As to Ellen’s point, the US allows the construction of Hindu temples even though the Bible considers this idolatry. Does the fact that idolatry is plainly a sin mean the government should ban Hinduism?

    We are a democracy, not a theocracy. But in federalism, states are allowed to decide many of these issues separately. So if I’m an agnostic homosexual and want to marry another of my gender, I simply move to the state(s) that permit it. And if I find that sort of behavior morally repulsive, I simply move to the states(s) that do not. Robert Frost had it right: good fences make good neighbors.

    A better question on this blog is this: can one be a Christian and advocate for laws permitting sinful behavior? Would Peter, in other words, have argued in front of Jesus that people should by law be allowed to commit adultery (as they are in the United States)? And if adultery, then why not murder or theft or gay marriage? Unbelievers will do what they will do, but should a Christian not vote in a way that represents the values of his master?

  16. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Christopher wrote,

    A better question on this blog is this: can one be a Christian and advocate for laws permitting sinful behavior?

    Except the gay marriage laws do not permit sinful behavior. That was decided by Lawrence v. Texas, which banned laws making homosexual conduct illegal. Gay marriage laws do not legalize gay sex. They do, to some extent, normalize gay sex by wrapping it in the veneer of nation-state approval when part of a marriage. Of course, much of the world cares nothing about sex in or out of marriage. Oddly enough, the impact of the law is therefore largely on the religious, who are now confronted with “married” gay people — meaning the gay couple has made the same commitment heterosexuals do and thus taking away a debating and emotional point. But to those outside the Judeo-Christian ethic, it doesn’t make gay sex less sinful because they approve gay sex outside of marriage, too. To them, “sin” isn’t even a moral category.

    Nonetheless, a Supreme Court decision doesn’t change what the Bible says. It’s just not relevant. Hence, the gay marriage question is not about how Christian gay men and women behave. Nothing changes. It’s about how non-Christians gay people behave and are treated by society — which invokes some very hard questions, such as 1 Cor 5:12-13, for Christians, as well as public policy considerations, for all.

    There’s an argument that runs contrary to most preachers and blogs based on Rom 1 — which is that if God wants to turn people over to homosexual conduct, to show their separation from God, why should we pass a law seeking to thwart God’s will? Maybe we should butt out and let “contrary to nature” take its course? What do we gain by using the power of the ballot box to tell non-Christians how to live? Again, 1 Cor 5:12-13 hasn’t received nearly the thoughtful consideration it deserves.

    So, to me, it’s not an easy or simple question — and few people are able to wrap their heads around the real questions because so much of the Christian press is fighting a culture war without asking whether we’ve been called to fight a culture war. We’re missing the deeper, harder questions — replacing them with soundbite logic: it’s wrong and so it must be illegal. It’s bad constitutional law. (And I agree that the framers of the Constitutional are turning over in their graves.) But arguing law is not a Christian argument. It’s a legal argument that a non-Christian can make as well as a Christian. It may be right — but it’s not Sunday school material — and it distracts from what the Bible says — whatever that is. When we’re arguing about the Federalist Papers and Constitution rather than Romans and 1 Cor and Lev, we’ve secularized a Christian argument.

    So are we called to fight a culture war? And if so, do we fight it in the courts? in the ballot box? with billboards on character? Or with the gospel? To quote my friend Buddy Bell (and I think I’m being fair to what he means), we can’t fight Satan using Satan’s weapons. Maybe we fight the culture war with Christ-like, sacrificial love for gay people. Maybe we show the world that true love isn’t rainbow billboards and placards but friendship, love, inclusion, and encouragement — not just in theory and from the pulpit but for real, up close and personal? Just a working theory, mind you.

    I’m a lawyer. Made good grades in Constitutional Law. And refuse to discuss the law in Bible class — because we’re there to discuss the Bible. And this is not a political blog. It’s a theological blog, meaning we build our cases from scripture, not the Declaration of Independence or the Magna Carta. I came to these questions by the hardest — and I’m still sorting through them.

    Oh, and there’s also the fact that we’ve already lost. Bad. Not only has the Supreme Court mooted the question in this country (although the world is much bigger than the US), but I can’t imagine having a president in the next several years who will appoint a justice who takes a conservative position on this issue. I mean, do you think Trump, Hillary, or Bernie would appoint a justice conservative on this point? So we’re only talking about other countries.

    So is the solution to get a conservative president elected and hope to appoint new members to the Supreme Court who will reverse prior decisions — which will in turn be reversed by most state legislatures? Or is the solution to live the gospel — especially when it comes to gay Christians struggling to reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation? I don’t have that many years left, and don’t see that I have time to change the law or that, if I were to succeed, it would make much difference. It would just set up the next round of Supreme Court appointments by the other side. So I’d rather figure how to persuade my Christian brothers and sisters to stop arguing and campaigning and start loving our fellow broken and fallen Christians brothers and sisters.

    I’ve written on the topic several times and I have a post coming shortly, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

  17. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon,

    Christopher wrote,

    You are not everybody and are apparently unfamiliar with one of the main arguments made for gay rights (thinking it a straw man argument). Otherwise, I am not sure why you are on a CoC blog arguing for an obviously unbiblical position. There are plenty of political blogs that may better suit you.

    He says that gay rights is an obviously “unbiblical position.” That statement is not based on the constitution or states rights. It’s based on the Bible. And the Bible says gay sexual activity is sinful. So I took that to me that the Bible itself prohibits gay marriage for non-Christians — which I understand to be Ellen’s issue. She said, “It’s an amazingly arrogant attitude driven by a belief that Christianity should be forced on a population regardless of that population’s own beliefs.” That is, she seems to be speaking to the tendency of Christians to use democracy to impose Christian values on an unwilling non-Christian populace.

    If Christopher was responding to what she actually said, then that’s the question. Not whether homosexuality is a sin, but whether the fact that it is a sin justifies legislation banning it as against non-Christians.

    Now, I have very mixed feelings, and will shortly argue from an entirely different perspective. The point I wish to make is that our discussions superficial and therefore unhelpful — even boring. We aren’t grasping the really difficult challenges we’re faced with — and we’re letting the politicians manipulate us into futile efforts that don’t really serve Christ – but do serve the politicians — turning churches into special interest groups within a political party — which is to demean the church in ways I can’t begin to express. To play politics with the gospel is deadly dangerous — to the church and to the gospel. It’s a distraction.

    I think the Supreme Court is dead wrong as a matter of constitutional law. I think the state courts that impose gay marriage on an unwilling populace are dead wrong — as a matter of state and federal law. And I think our response as the church Christ died for has been dead wrong. It’s just not about getting laws passed in the legislatures — which is playing on the other guy’s field by other guy’s rules. It’s gospel — always gospel and only gospel. And our problem is that we understand the American political system much better than we understand the gospel. And so, when we’re stressed, we run to what we know. Politics and law. It’s the American way — but is it Jesus’ way?

    So what would Jesus do if he was asked to bake a wedding cake for non-Christians who wish to marry — and are gay? Would he go to the legislature and try to pass a bill? Would he close his shop? Would he make the cake?

    Now, I agree and have argued extensively that gay sexual activity is sinful. But I’m also aware that Jesus served wine at a party where he expected the guests to get so drunk they couldn’t tell good wine from bad. And he ate with prostitutes — not former prostitutes, prostitutes — in a society where eating was acceptance. So we need to be honest enough scholars to recognize that this is not as cut and dried as we would like. We need to stop getting our talking points from the Republican National Committee and instead find them in the NT. There’s some nuance here that we’re missing — and even get mad about when someone suggests it.

    So when is fellowshipping error participating in the error? And when is it not? When does going to a gay friend’s marriage “condone” the marriage? And when does it show love despite disagreement? We act like these are easy questions, but they’re just not. (Would you go to an engagement party for a couple that is sleeping together? Not exactly the same but close. It’s a hard question, isn’t it?)

    (1 Cor. 5:9-13 ESV) 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler– not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    So I’m specifically permitted — even instructed — to associate with the sexually immoral of the world, but to hold my Christian brothers and sisters to a very different standard. Our job isn’t to make the world like the church but to invite the world into the church — which is not be not like the world at all. I’m not sure that legislation gets that done.

    Do I have all the answers? No, I do not. But I’m pretty confident we’re asking the wrong questions. And we’re managing to make ourselves look very un-Jesus-like to the world.

    So moral umbrage over the conduct of the damned gets us nowhere. They’re damned! Of course, they’re immoral. That’s how damned people act. The solution is to save them, not to regulate them with the laws of a nation-state — a nation-state that Jesus will destroy when he returns. I mean, obedience to the laws of the USA out of fear of jail is not the same as obedience to Jesus — even if it’s the same behavior. Nothing is accomplished until people follow Jesus. It’s not about behavior as behavior. It’s about who our Lord is.

    Our confession isn’t, “I’ll be good,” but “Jesus is Lord.” If you’re good for any other reason, you’re still damned and still part of the world that we are commanded not to judge.

    So it’s late and I’m going to bed, and I apologize for rambling as I have. Again: I’ve said plainly that gay sex is a sin. It is. Does that mean that we need to recruit our fellow Christians, organize special interest groups, hire lobbyists, gain political power, and use that power to require the DAMNED to act like the SAVED — as a matter of what the Bible teaches? Where does the Bible say that our churches such form political action committees and super-PACS?

    (2 Cor. 12:9-10 ESV) 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Now there may be very good reasons as American citizens to protest how the courts have handled this (and there are), but those are not to be confused with acting as God’s church, the body of Christ on earth. That’s being a citizen of America — whereas the other is being a citizen of heaven.

    And long before we worry about acting like citizens of America, we should first ask what we should do as citizens of heaven. And it’s not the same question — and when we get them confused, we just go in circles. First things first. Answer the biblical questions first and foremost and thoroughly — and then ask all the secular questions you wish. But the citizen-of-heaven questions are first.

  18. Johnathon says:

    Jay said, “I mean, do you think Trump, Hillary, or Bernie would appoint a justice conservative on this point?” Hillary or Bernie, no I do not. Trump, believe it or not might, for he as said that he would appoint Justices like Thomas. Will he or will he not do this I do not know, but we may find out.

  19. Johnathon says:

    Jay said, “That is, she seems to be speaking to the tendency of Christians to use democracy to impose Christian values on an unwilling non-Christian populace.” “Does that mean that we need to recruit our fellow Christians, organize special interest groups, hire lobbyists, gain political power, and use that power to require the DAMNED to act like the SAVED — as a matter of what the Bible teaches?” “So moral umbrage over the conduct of the damned gets us nowhere. They’re damned! Of course, they’re immoral. That’s how damned people act. The solution is to save them, not to regulate them with the laws of a nation-state — a nation-state that Jesus will destroy when he returns. I mean, obedience to the laws of the USA out of fear of jail is not the same as obedience to Jesus — even if it’s the same behavior. Nothing is accomplished until people follow Jesus. It’s not about behavior as behavior. It’s about who our Lord is.”

    Not saying that I disagree or agree, but I would offer some advice: Your arguments would carry much more weight if you either applied them to other political issues that you sometimes seem to advocate for (environmentalism, social justice, outlawing gambling & check cashing businesses, stop subsidizing our domestic agricultural industry etc…) or demonstrated how the arguments would not apply to these other issues.

  20. Johnathon says:

    Your rambling comment aside, I would like an answer to to my question. It certainly seems that Christopher thought you mischaracterized his argument:

    “See, it’s not quite as easy as “It’s wrong; therefore, it should be illegal.”

    You should probably read my comments a bit more carefully.”

  21. Christopher says:

    Jay wrote:

    We’re missing the deeper, harder questions — replacing them with soundbite logic: it’s wrong and so it must be illegal. It’s bad constitutional law. (And I agree that the framers of the Constitutional are turning over in their graves.) But arguing law is not a Christian argument. It’s a legal argument that a non-Christian can make as well as a Christian. It may be right — but it’s not Sunday school material — and it distracts from what the Bible says — whatever that is. When we’re arguing about the Federalist Papers and Constitution rather than Romans and 1 Cor and Lev, we’ve secularized a Christian argument.

    Thanks for the lengthy responses, Jay, but my main point in all of this was not about laws or the Constitution. It was about the illogicality of one of the central arguments justifying homosexuality. I was attempting to appeal to other’s reason. THAT is a tactic God uses often trying to get us to repent (think again, change our minds). Here is a passage from the OT that illustrates this:

    He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!” They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

    (Isaiah 44:14-20)

    No one stops to think. Based on this passage I have for decades been trying to get people to stop and think, by pointing out the illogicality of their position or behavior. Sometimes it makes them mad. Yet Jesus was not hated because He healed people. He was hated because He testified that their actions were evil.

    We ALL try to justify our bad behavior to some extent. We should be so lucky as to have a righteous person (figuratively) slap us in the face, someone whom David said he would thank. For we all are dolts from time to time. Indeed, I like to say we are idiot savants – people who can put a man on the moon while dumping millions of gallons of crude oil in the gulf of Mexico. Jesus simply called us sheep. But, unlike sheep, we can reason. And logic is like a natural law, a great gift from God.

  22. Monty says:

    There’s a certain sadness in watching your nation die morally. In some ways it’s like watching a friend or loved one die a slow painful death due to cancer or maybe a better analogy is watching alcoholism take it’s toll. You remember that person’s vitality and life and wish there was something you could do about it. In the case of alcoholism if you are close enough to the person you may(if you care) exhort, rebuke, chastise, encourage, hide the bottles or pour them down the drain, help them get treatment, whatever you can do. To not do anything would be a lack of love. As far as with terminal cancer goes it’s truly in God’s hands and there’s not a single thing you can do or anyone else, except God.

    As I see it, we can view the nation from one of these two perspectives. If we view it as a lost cause to return to the moral vigor and life we had at a previous point in the past, then we don’t try to change anything because it’s in God’s hands, let’s sit back and watch and wait and see if God performs a miracle, or, we can take the view that America’s plight doesn’t necessarily have to end in total moral corruption(save for God’s miraculous intervention). And so most believers perhaps, feel compelled to use whatever means necessary to stop the hemorrhaging, albeit the government, politicians, prayer, the pulpit, protests or what have you, as one who is trying to keep an alcoholic from self destructing. I understand we’re not a theocracy but neither was Nineveh when God sent Jonah to urge her to repent. There he was telling an immoral people who didn’t know God to repent or else, the nerve of that guy. That image of God doesn’t quite fit in with the sweet Jesus image some have molded and shaped where Jesus didn’t require anything of anybody. I mean to hear some talk the prostitutes and tax collectors just needed love, but more than that, a love with total acceptance of lifestyle, and that’s not true. You can’t really grasp the good news without knowing how bad the bad news is first, which IMO is Paul’s teaching in Romans 1 and 2. You guys are were bad, no, reallllllllly bad.

    The difference perhaps in 1st century Jewish culture compared with our culture today was the prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners, knew they were, well, sinners. There was no argument from them that they were OK, there were no protests that prostitution was an honest way to make a living. The prostitutes and tax collectors weren’t advocating for equality and acceptance among the populace. Wrong was wrong and they new where they stood with a holy God. Jesus comes along and doesn’t treat them like dirt, but he eats with them, not that he was approving of their lifestyle choices , but that he wasn’t there to condemn but to bring them back to God. He stated repeatedly that he was there to find the lost sheep. He wasn’t there to affirm there lifestyle choices. Surely they knew they had to change whether expressed or implied. God would help them change.. We see such a change of heart in the story of Zacchaeus.

    Jay, you seem to suggest that Christians in America shouldn’t resist the downward spiral, that’s taking place but that’s a tough sell. Let’s let America “bottom out.” Perhaps the quicker we bottom out the quicker we might return in some form or fashion to God. Maybe. However, I can’t picture Jesus telling his fellow religious Jews to allow prostitution to become accepted practice and to bring it out of the shadows or to allow idolatry to run rampant. To me the point of the prophets in the OT and in John the Baptist was to urge vehemently for Israel to return to God. How were they to return? First and foremost by acknowledging their sins. “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” They had forgotten how to blush. They worshipped idols, they cheated their fellow Jew in business. The train had left the rails, sort of like today.

    Question: Does God only want us to pray and leave the rest to him or to be proactive, reactive, to put up a fight, or whatever, and pray, and seek his will? Are we too far gone for the political debate and legislating morality (something the framers had no problem doing ) and are we responsible and in a sense, (even loving and compassionate) if we throw up our hands and leave it in God’s hands(something we would never do with an alcoholic loved one).

    Our appeal for the individual is through the Gospel, changing one soul at a time. But our duty as the righteous of a nation is to call the nation back to a standard(at least the standard our nation was founded upon). Were not seeking some “new fangled thing” or trying to radically change into something we’ve never been but a return to the way it once was. It is to advocate for the nation to do “right” in whatever lawful and Christ honoring way we can. Somehow without being disparaging of those who are fighting against us. Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Certainly our founding fathers didn’t think so. It is righteousness that exalts a nation(any nation) but sin is a reproach to (any) people.

  23. JES says:

    Amen Monly

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty wrote,

    Jay, you seem to suggest that Christians in America shouldn’t resist the downward spiral, that’s taking place but that’s a tough sell. Let’s let America “bottom out.” Perhaps the quicker we bottom out the quicker we might return in some form or fashion to God. Maybe. However, I can’t picture Jesus telling his fellow religious Jews to allow prostitution to become accepted practice and to bring it out of the shadows or to allow idolatry to run rampant.

    A couple of important distinctions:

    1. Christians, as Christians, have no business lobbying the government to compel non-Christians to act like Christians. It’s not the mission to which Christians are called. The church is not called to raise up money and voters to change the culture so that non-Christians behave as God would have them behave. It’s just not in the Bible. In fact, 1 Cor 5:12-13 expressly prohibits it.

    Regarding Nineveh, what threat do you announce to non-God-fearers to get them to repent? That God will destroy them? How does it help to announce God’s judgment on people who don’t believe in God? Carts and horses.

    Our problem is that we’ve just assumed that everyone would believe in God no matter how useless and annoying the church became, and (surprise) we lost a generation of Americans, who just don’t believe. Announcing God’s wrath to most Americans won’t even get you a good laugh, much less repentance. So it’s a waste of time, pointless, and contrary to scripture. (The Ninevites evidently believes in YHWH, God of the Jews. They just didn’t think he gave a rip about Assyria. They were a brutal, violent, ruthless people — and wrong about God. They repented because they believed the wrath of God was a real thing. Modern Americans largely don’t measure up to even that level of faith.)

    2. Americans, as citizens of the US, may lobby for whatever suits them — but if they’re Christians, they can’t argue from the Bible when they’re acting as citizens rather than Christians. And yet they must conduct themselves as Christians — that is, with good will, honesty, love, etc. We don’t get take our Christian “hats” off and act like non-Christians. And this greatly limits the arguments available for use.

    Hence, if you want to argue for a zoning law change to keep a shopping center from being built near your house based on property rights and values, by all means do so. But don’t thump your Bible and claim that God told you you have a right to high property values.

    If you want to argue against gay rights, don’t use the Bible to tell non-Christians how to live. But if you want to defend the rights of Christians — as Americans — under the First Amendment, then by all means do so. And if you have good public policy arguments against gay rights, make your arguments. It’s a democracy. Just don’t read Lev 18 and tell the city council that they’re obliged by God Almighty to make gay sex illegal. God has already made it wrong. But those who don’t follow God have no reason to care, and you have to find your arguments somewhere else.

    We are living in a huge transition in church history, from a culture that accepted Christian values as normative — even if they weren’t Christians — meaning they were happy to hear what the Bibles says on a subject — to a world in which the Bible is considered irrelevant and backwards. We have to learn to live in the world we live in. And the Bible was written to people who lived in just such a world. Paul couldn’t go before the Athens city council and ask that pederasty be made illegal. They’d have laughed at him. So he went to Mars Hill and debated the resurrection with the philosophers. And he taught in synagogues and among God-fearing Gentiles. He found common ground and built on it — and yet he made one convert at a time, planted one church at a time, and made no demands on non-Christians to change. Rather, they changed society by being a better, alternative society within a society.

    But we’re so used to telling that we’ve forgotten how to show. And we’re not there yet. We’re making progress, but we’re still filled with churches that see “salvation” solely in terms of the afterlife, who do very little for their communities, and who won’t be missed when they close their doors. And they can scream the Bible to the government and the electorate all they want, and they’ll change not a single vote.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty asked,

    Question: Does God only want us to pray and leave the rest to him or to be proactive, reactive, to put up a fight, or whatever, and pray, and seek his will? Are we too far gone for the political debate and legislating morality (something the framers had no problem doing ) and are we responsible and in a sense, (even loving and compassionate) if we throw up our hands and leave it in God’s hands(something we would never do with an alcoholic loved one).

    Pretty sure I said nothing about only praying — although prayer is a good idea. But so would be evangelizing a lost world — which requires much more than prayer.

    And I think it’s proper to argue for any law based on public policy grounds, that is, values that are shared with the general electorate. But the complaint about legislating morality is a slogan, not an analysis. Let me explain.

    1. Is it true that all moral things should be legislated?
    Plainly, no. We would not want to criminalize pre-marital sex in today’s world. We would not want to criminalize divorce, I’m pretty sure. Do we want to criminalize lust? It’s immoral. Plainly. How about rudeness?

    2. Is it true that some moral things should be legislated?
    Plainly, yes. Murder and theft come to mind.

    3. Then it’s a false dichotomy to argue that we must either be for or against “legislating morality” and totally misses the real question: WHICH moral truths ought to be legislated?
    Even in a nation that has a consensus Christian ethic (ours does not, but it once did), not all moral imperatives are appropriately redressed through through the criminal justice system.

    Few of us have ever even heard the question asked this way, and so we are at a loss to respond. We are in good company. The political scientists and moral philosophers struggle with the same question — and it comes up all the time in law and legislation.

    I think the answer lies on a multivariate continuum — that is, there are multiple dimensions to the question, not just one factor. For example,

    * To what extent does there exist a consensus among the electorate that the behavior is even wrong? If we ban things that people aren’t against, then the legislature loses the respect of the populace and the next term, they get thrown out and the law gets repealed.
    * To what extent does legislation actually solve the problem? Premarital sex, for example, was commonplace long before it became illegal (in 1975 in Alabama).
    * To what extent would the prosecutors actually be willing to prosecute? In most states, there’s not been a sodomy prosecution for 40 or more years. It was illegal until recently, but the prosecutors and police had other priorities. Laws that are routinely not enforced not only don’t change culture, they lead to disrespect for government in general — although some would argue that there’s value in declaring something wrong even if the law is not enforced. Experts differ.
    * Is it even possible to get the law changed? Sometimes it’s better to lobby for something that can be accomplished rather than to feel good about glorious defeats.
    * At what cost could the law be changed? Must I buy politicians? Lie? Compromise principle? Become despised by my opponents? Is it worth the cost?
    * Can I persuade non-Christians? Do I have an argument that’s not Bible-based?
    * Am I in a jurisdiction where there’s a Christian consensus? Or must I persuade non-Christians to be effective?
    * Would my law withstand judicial scrutiny under my state and federal constitutions?

    The problem with banning gay marriage for non-Christians is that most non-Christians believe such a law to be itself immoral. Hence, Christians must take a position perceived by the world to be immoral in order to impose on non-Christians a biblical imperative. The Bible doesn’t require that we do this. But as American citizens, we have a right to pursue any agenda we please that is not anti-biblical to shape the culture as we please. True?

    But is there a Christian purpose in shaping the culture this way by these means? I mean, Christians should be persuaded to obey God by adherence to scripture. The law is only relevant to the behavior of non-Christians. More precisely, Jesus will honored only by obedience that comes from the heart. Obedience on fear of jail may make for a much better nation to live in, but it doesn’t honor Jesus in any way that I can see.

    So the goal, therefore, is presumably a better nation to live in. So be it. Now argue that banning gay marriage is better using arguments likely to persuade a non-Christian. You absolutely are entitled to vote and argue for the America you want. But you’ll lose if your only arguments are found in the Bible.

    Now, I READILY agree that the Supreme Court’s decision is bad constitutional law and a gross over-reach of judicial power. I can make you a GREAT constitutional argument — but that’s been tried, lost, and is over. Just like the abortion fight. Get mad. Vote Republican. Change 9 Supreme Court votes and reverse Roe v. Wade, and 2/3rds of the state will still legalize abortion, meaning a legal abortion will be 2 hours away for anyone except those in central Texas. (It’s a really big state.)

    So it’s really about hearts won one at a time. There is no escape from the need to evangelize the world — and we’re arguing about symptoms rather than the disease. And until the church becomes the church that lives like Jesus, nothing will change.

  26. Johnathon says:

    Jay in this discussion about “legislating morality” I can help but point out the obvious: Anytime you pass laws you are “legislative morality.” In other words, any law that mandates, prohibits, or permits any behavior is in effect saying that society or at the very least government finds that behavior immoral or moral.

  27. Monty says:

    Jay,

    Thanks for your response. My post was a general asking of “what to do” to every reader and not specifically addressed to you ,except in the last paragraph(I certainly felt you would be reading it). But it was not intended to rebutt all of what you said. I usually agree with you way more than I ever disagree with you, even in your last response. You seem(if I’m correct) to take a more hands off approach, a separation of church and state, which of course is exactly what those on the left(culturally and to some degree those more religiously left too perhaps) are advocating for. America is unique in history with it being for the people. Most nations in the past have been ruled by kings and tyrants, some good but most were bad. Most folks I know just see us heading off the cliff and are desperate to stop the insanity. Most folks I know believe God will judge our nation for abandoning the Christian values we once held(even though not necessarily practiced) and that have been slowly eroding over decades. If there is a legal way to change the landscape that is moral to do so, they want to do it. No one I know is ugly or hateful to gays even if they want marriage to be defined as between a man and a woman. Those two, as I said, don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Love doesn’t have to mean “I accept your lifestyle as good and wholesome”(no matter how much culture paints it that way). Jay you have to admit that mantra has, and is, weaving it’s way into the church with more and more Christian leaders affirming gay marriage, as someone mentioned about Tony Compollo recently has. Culture is affecting the church, the church isn’t affecting the culture. We can’t just blame all the failures of today on the irrelevance of the church in previous generations. Did the church protest against segregation? Don’t you feel we should have? What about when one woman singlehandedly removes prayer from school? I’m not old enough to remember but I believe by in large we kept quiet. Roe vs. Wade same thing. If everyone who claimed to be Christian stood up for what was right (maybe you disagree) but I don’t believe we would be in the shape we’re in right now. It’s my understanding that in the last election the majority of evangelicals didn’t even vote! For whatever reason they have removed themselves(perhaps based on the idea of separation of church and state) from the political fray, which is of course what the progressives (socially and politically) want us to do. Should Christian values take a back seat when politicians want to bring in the sale of liquor in a previously dry county because it will increase revenue for the county? Should the local Christians get involved in the process? What about adult bookstores and topless bars and such. Isn’t that legislating morality? Or is it saying we’ve never had those things and we don’t want to start having those type things now. We were a nation for 230 years or so that didn’t have gay marriage, most states were against it numbers wise until the SCOTUS ruling. Of course the ball is rolling down hill and getting bigger and bigger now that the govt. has legitimized it. Most folks I know aren’t trying to inforce new restrictions on previously held norms but feel as though they’re trying to hold onto the norms we once had that are being stripped away more and more each day. It’s hard to compare America or Christian sin America with say Christians in the Roman Empire or under any other oppressive regime. The US was founded because people sought religious freedom and it was also founded on in principal in Judeo-Christian beliefs. But like Harvard, Princeton and many other prestigious universities that started off as Christian institutions and became secular, the nation has gone the same path.

    Jay, I’m curious of your view of the Revolutionary War and whether you feel our coming to be as a nation was God ordained or at the very least allowed by God as perhaps the majority of the early Christian preachers did or if it was a direct rebellion against the God ordained rulership of Great Britain, as men like John McArthur today feels? Who was at fought for the War? Were the colonist usurpers or were they men with a just cause?

  28. Monty says:

    BuckEye Chuck said this in an older post on Romans 1. I think it has some relevance to the discussion, so I reposted it.

    “Many Christians, mostly Evangelical in nature, prefer to embrace the political realm to fight legalized gay marriage because they believe it threatens their Christianity and, therefore, the best way to remove the threat. That is nonsense. Gay marriage no more threatens their Christianity than divorce or abortion which are far more common.”

    I strongly disagree. Most Christians are opposed to Gay Marriage because it’s, get this, wrong! Just like Christians were against divorce when it first started becoming prevalent, or shacking up. But time passes and these things get to be more accepted when they shouldn’t . Doesn’t make it right. Just means tolerance and acceptance has taken over. I suppose in a few years from now Gay Marriage won’t be a hot button topic and Christians won’t be up in arms about it as much, however with this difference, another thing that makes the Gay Marriage thing worse perhaps is just the plain simple fact that it is gross to the majority of Christians to even want to think about. It is a gross perversion of the way God ordered things. I believer that is why Paul uses that idea in Romans 1. Even as a 9 year old boy watching his female dog dry hump another female dog, I knew that was the strangest thing.

    When you inadvertently see same sex kissing it makes me want to take a bath. I see the same reactions in others too who witness it. It promotes a gag response. Now of course over time people can become desensitized to it, in the same way we watch violence on TV or in the same way as Christians we can watch a soap opera wanting Bob and Susie to have an affair when they’re married to other people. Doesn’t make it right though.

    And then lastly if you seriously do not believe the Gay Agenda will not cause Christian persecution in America then I don’t even know what to say. Seriously. It ‘s the Trojan Horse for persecution whether it’s 10-20 years from now if not sooner. Just think how rapidly things have moved in that direction. The bakery that had to cater the Gay Wedding (that’s now out of business and many other examples that never make the mainstream liberal news). It doesn’t matter if there are 20 ministers in a town that will officiate a Gay wedding they will seek the few who don’t and make examples of them. IF you don’t believe that Gay discrimination as they will frame it supersedes your or my religious freedom you are mistaken IMO. The individual gay isn’t the threat but the Gay Agenda is. Already in Georgia a bill that would provide protection for ministers to not have to officiate Gay weddings was adopted and vetoed by our Governor over the chagrin of his own party. And why? Because of the businesses that said they would leave the state and the professional sports leagues who state they wouldn’t hold a Super Bowl or other money generating event there. It’s all going to be tied into money. I believe, we’ll soon see that not bowing the knee to the god of Homosexuality will have dire consequences for believers who hold to a belief that to do so is anti-God. Jay is right they have framed the dialogue and they will win. One thing for sure, sin is progressive. It isn’t satisfied with the status-quo.

  29. Dustin says:

    Disgust doesn’t really help the discussion move. It especially hurts witnessing to non-Christians. It tends to make the “other” non-human, like an animal or a rotten apple. As Jay’s latest post on this topic has said, it is about love. Will God allow us to go unpunished for our sins of not loving our neighbors? There are around 2.5 million homeless children, 46.7 million people living in poverty, and some 30 million children growing up in poverty in the United States alone.

    I think more non-Christians would listen if we were actually living out the life Jesus asks us to live. Especially considering the realm of politics in the US, where politicians proclaim their Christian devotion, then lead entirely different lives than their speeches indicate.

  30. laymond says:

    Monty, wrote “As I see it, we can view the nation from one of these two perspectives. If we view it as a lost cause to return to the moral vigor and life we had at a previous point in the past,”

    Monty, don’t you mean to say the life we “hid” in the past.

  31. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty wrote (Part 1),

    Most folks I know believe God will judge our nation for abandoning the Christian values we once held(even though not necessarily practiced) and that have been slowly eroding over decades.

    I actually disagree with this. The OT declarations that God will judge Israel for her disobedience have serious implications for today, but Israel has become, in Jesus, the church — not the USA. It’s the church that is in grave danger of being judged and destroyed for her idolatries, not the USA. It’s the church that Jesus died for and that is married to Jesus — and must be faithful to Jesus. And so it’s the church that’s required to be faithful to God.

    Those outside the church are damned — of course — and so they aren’t at risk of damnation. They are damned. And the only solution is faith in Jesus. Passing new laws, cleaning up the culture, prayer in schools, etc. will not make them less damned. They are all the way damned already and will remain so until they bow to Jesus.

    PS — You should read Bradley Wright’s “Christians Are Hate Filled Hypocrites … And Other Lies” http://www.amazon.com/Christians-Hate-Filled-Hypocrites-Other-Youve-ebook/dp/B008PRGTM8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1459381246&sr=1-1&keywords=christians+are+hate-filled+hypocrites+and+other+lies+you%27ve+been+told&linkCode=ll1&tag=oninje-20&linkId=dcbeb02f72226bc0ed340ced42e8f125

    He shows very convincingly that more Americans are Christian today that at the Revolutionary War. We were a very secular nation at that time due to the influence of French Deism and English skeptics such as Hobbes. The percentage of Christians has grown consistently over the years — plateauing just before the Moral Majority and Reagan, when it dipped.

    Very surprising I know.

  32. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty wrote (Part 2),

    Jay you have to admit that mantra has, and is, weaving it’s way into the church with more and more Christian leaders affirming gay marriage, as someone mentioned about Tony Compollo recently has. Culture is affecting the church, the church isn’t affecting the culture.

    And I’ve pretty loudly disagreed with the Campolo’s of evangelicalism. They are wrong, for reasons I’ve stated several times. But passing a law or getting the courts to change won’t reverse Campolo’s mind. I mean, he is talking about how he reads scripture (incorrectly), and so we must argue scripture, not politics and culture.

    Another excellent book of James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World. http://www.amazon.com/To-Change-World-Possibility-Christianity/dp/0199730806/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=oninje-20&linkId=0b0e462bebd99bbda405edf20c9808b8

    One of the most important Christian books in the last 50 years. Not as readable as Brad Wright’s book, but well worth the time and effort. He argues very persuasively that we cannot change culture by trying to change culture. Culture is not changed one person at a time. It’s changed by thought leaders — people in privileged positions of influence. We DO need to engage the intellectual centers by sending our kids off to good schools to work at major universities and such. If we insist on hiding in the Deep South and running from science and journalism etc., we’re not going to be salt and light in some of the darkest places there are. But this takes great courage and risks career suicide. Nonetheless, if we abandon the fight, we are going to lose. We should be at the cutting edge of biology and cosmology. We can’t be in intellectual retreat and expect to be heard.

    He concludes that our role as Christians is not to try to change culture but to be faithful — and let God worry about the culture. I think that’s very biblical.

    It’s not nearly as fatalistic as it sounds, because there are plenty of examples of culture being changed for the better when the church was faithful — but the church was busy serving the poor and weak and teaching gospel — not trying to control the cogs of Congress.

    It’s from Hunter that I found this wonderful passage —

    (Jer. 29:4-7 ESV) 4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

    We should live as people in exile (1 Pet 1:17), seeking the welfare of our cities — serving the communities where we find ourselves as we await the New Jerusalem. That is not fatalism or quiescence. It’s doing what you can do to serve not only your own interests but the interests of your neighbors. Serve those around you. And serve in Harvard and Princeton, while you’re at it. Why not? Don’t tell them off. Don’t condescend. Just be good at what you do and be a servant who believes in and follows Jesus without apology. Earn your place in the public square by mattering.

    Also influential to my thinking is Hauerwas and Willimon’s Resident Aliens (brilliantly written, powerful little book): http://www.amazon.com/Resident-Aliens-Provocative-Christian-Assessment/dp/0687361591/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459382138&sr=1-2&keywords=resident+aliens&linkCode=ll1&tag=oninje-20&linkId=94f4c052d255dc81d11fd7eab7fcc30d

    Again, the idea (from Philippians) is that we’re citizens of heaven, living in God’s colony here on earth. It’s about how to think and live as Christians in a nation that no longer is Christian. Do we try to fix the nation legislatively? Through the courts? Ad campaigns? These are all very American — and your absolute right to do — but these are not biblical methods. We’re back to blocking and tackling. Converting the lost. Serving those in need. Self-sacrifice. Living like Jesus. (No spread offenses. Just block your man, and hit the hole hard. We succeed or fail through the same basics that converted all of Rome.)

  33. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty wrote (Part 3),

    What about when one woman singlehandedly removes prayer from school? I’m not old enough to remember but I believe by in large we kept quiet.

    I’m old enough — and the Christian outcry was loud and long and futile. After all, do you really want the Alabama legislature teaching your children Christianity? Do you want the people presently in charge of your schools teaching your children the Bible?

    Even then — and I was a kid — I knew that the in-school devos were pointless. You see, teaching prayer to children is the job of parents. Our problem is that our parents weren’t doing that. They’d farmed it out to churches and schools. We lost a generation because the parents didn’t do their jobs as parents. It’s never, ever been the job of government to teach our children about Jesus. That’s OUR job and OUR privilege. (My church is working hard on this very issue — training parents to be Christian parents.)

  34. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty wrote (Part 4),

    What about adult bookstores and topless bars and such. Isn’t that legislating morality? Or is it saying we’ve never had those things and we don’t want to start having those type things now.

    A. I’m not the one who said anything for or against legislating morality. I said some morality ought to be legislated and some not. It’s a false dichotomy.

    Notice how this issue has largely disappeared thanks to the Internet. Porn online is so much easier and more private than a bookstore or bar! So our shopping centers aren’t as nasty and we have a FAR worse problem than before – because you can pass 500,000 zoning laws to ban adult bookstores and nude bars and you’ll not have changed one heart — and so we wind up with a much, much worse porn problem — but nicer neighborhoods.

    So how do we solve the porn problem now that porn can’t be eliminated by zoning laws? It’s changing hearts — one heart at a time. And doing a better job of parenting. Blocking and tackling.

  35. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty wrote (part 5),

    Roe vs. Wade same thing. If everyone who claimed to be Christian stood up for what was right (maybe you disagree) but I don’t believe we would be in the shape we’re in right now.

    I was in high school. The Christians screamed loudly. And utterly failed.

    Imagine that the church elected a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, gained control of the House, elected a President, and made 9 appointments to the Supreme Court and unanimously reversed Roe v. Wade. What would happen? Well, about 1/3 of the states would pass laws criminalizing abortion — and 2/3rds would keep it legal. And so abortions would be available just by driving to the next state. The abortion rate would barely budge.

    The law isn’t the problem. People not following Jesus is the problem. Bad parenting is the problem. And until parents teach Christian values to their own children, we’ll only go backwards — but we expect the government to teach our children values — which is beyond delusional.

    There are many minority groups in this country that make a point to pass along their cultural values to their children. They recognize their minority status. They recognize that no one is going to do it for them. And so they teach their children what they consider important.

    Christians just get mad and try to fix the problem by voting Republican. Hasn’t worked. Isn’t going to work. There is no substitute for evangelism, serving those in need, and raising your own children with Christian values. Oh — and living for Jesus in full view of your kids. Blocking and tackling cannot be replaced.

  36. Johnathon says:

    “Well, about 1/3 of the states would pass laws criminalizing abortion — and 2/3rds would keep it legal.”
    I have serious doubts about your estimates in this statement.

  37. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon,

    This 2005 chart shows that only 9 states were majority pro-life in 2005. http://www.surveyusa.com/50state2005/50StateAbortion0805SortedbyProLife.htm And, as we’ve seen in the gay marriage, debate, many states would go pro-choice by court decision contrary to the majority wishes of the electorate. That’s the most recent state-by-state poll I can find. Obviously, the numbers are close and so the pendulum swings a bit year to year. Today it may be a little more pro-life — hence I said 33% rather than 18%. But as more non-Southerners move South to Texas, Florida, and Georgia, those states will find their politics swinging left. Very hard to predict long term trends absent the church growing stronger around the country.

    Even if every state banned abortion, Canada certainly would not, and abortion pills will be available by next day delivery from out of country pharmacies. Until the people’s hearts are changed, the political process will not do much good. And plane rides to Toronto aren’t expensive.

  38. Johnathon says:

    “After all, do you really want the Alabama legislature teaching your children Christianity? Do you want the people presently in charge of your schools teaching your children the Bible?”
    Monty did not say anything about the Alabama legislature teaching children Christianity. He commented on the outlawing of public prayer in public schools. This looks like another strawman argument those people to the right of you like to use. Also, I am not a lawyer so you may be able to corrent me on this point, I don’t think it is illegal for public schools to teach Christianity or the Bible in the same sense public schools can teach what practitioners of any religion believe and what is contained in their sacred texts.

  39. Johnathon says:

    The reason I doubt your estimates is that the voters of the various states tend not to be as left-wing as their governments. For example, I believe most of the states (sorry but I do not have the exact numbers at hand) voted not to legalize gay-marriage. Even in California and Oregon, hardly right-wing evangelical states, voted against gay-marriage. Californians went so far as to amend their constitution in order to prohibit it. But, you do have a point about the state courts declaring it legal. That is how progressives use the judicial branch of our government: They get judges to make laws they could never get their fellow citizens to make through the a constitutional process. If the left believed for a moment 2/3rds of the states would vote to legalize abortion there would be much less opposition to Roe v. Wade being overturned.

  40. Johnathon says:

    After all, do you really want the Alabama legislature teaching your children Christianity? Do you want the people presently in charge of your schools teaching your children the Bible?
    I do not know enough about Alabama to answer you first question. As to your second question, I believe governmental power is best exercised at the local level. This decision is best made at the school district level. Up until a few short years ago I worked as an auditor for the state of Arkansas. I would audit school districts, municipalities, counties, and prosecuting attorneys. I got to know many of the “people presently in charge” of the schools in Arkansas. The vast majority were Christians. And in most of the school districts I was familiar with, I would be open to them teaching Christianity and the Bible.

  41. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon,

    The NY case that banned state-prayer in schools was the result of a prayer crafted by the NY legislature. No law prevents children from prayer. The law prevents coerced prayer — although “coerced” is defined broadly. But children who wish to pray may do so. They have First Amendment rights. But they may not do so in settings that would imply school or government endorsement. Hence, even today, school kids may gather at the flag for voluntary prayer, but the school may not have a visiting preacher lead the audience at commencement in a prayer.

    When I was growing up, my high school has a Baptist principal, and had been taught that the Baptists were lost. Hence, I worked with other CoC kids to get our fair turn at leading school devos. But I understood how it felt to have someone preach doctrine from the school loudspeaker that I’d been taught to be erroneous and damning. What baptismal theology should they teach? SHould they have students invite Jesus into their hearts? Should they teach perseverance of the saints? Should they allow worship on campus? With instruments? Clapping? Or just prayer? When I was very young, I was taught not to say the Lord’s Prayer (thanks to Foy Wallace, Jr.). I was morally opposed in the fourth grade — and my teacher asked me to lead it. What should I have done?

    Some of us define “Christian” differently depending on the issue. But even Christian teachers aren’t allowed to indoctrinate children. What of the Jewish or Muslim kid in class? I live in the deep South, but we have kids from across the planet in our schools. Which “Christianity” do we teach? And who decides?

    We no longer live in an age where most people believe in the same things (if we ever did) — and this is a university town, with plenty of atheist and agnostic kids, as well as Muslims, Jews, and anything else you can think of. So do we open up classes on Romans and let the state pick our commentary?

    We act like this is easy, but the reason the question came up in the NY of the 1960s was the cosmopolitan nature of the school system there. And the vast differences of opinion as to what ought to be prayed — leading to a watered down politically correct prayer that said nothing of consequence — and certainly wasn’t prayed in the name of Jesus. Is that okay?

    Personally, as the father of four, it’s my job to teach my kids to pray, and while I go to church with some of my kids’ teachers, some were outright atheists and others clueless on religious matters. I’d rather handle the most important things myself. I mean, the schools can barely teach history and English competently. I wouldn’t expect them to handle much more serious matters well.

  42. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon,

    Abortion and gay marriage do not poll the same and should not be equated. By the time the Supreme Court mandated gay marriage, about 37 of the states had already done so. http://www.governing.com/gov-data/same-sex-marriage-civil-unions-doma-laws-by-state.html

    In some states, such as Alabama, this came by court decision rather than legislatively, but it happened.

  43. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon,

    States in theory can teach Christianity as an academic study — as in a religious studies course — but they cannot seek to persuade students to believe and teachers must walk on eggshells to appear neutral. The Bible may be taught as literature, but not as sacred scripture. So I’m not sure that this is helpful to the Christian cause — especially since a teacher could easily use such a course to create doubts for children that their parents would have trouble responding to. Do you really want a non-Christian teaching your children about the Bible vs. science and the alleged inconsistencies in the Bible and comparing the Bible to ancient near east literature as though it’s no better than Hammurabi’s Code? I mean, I’d really rather that the government stay out of my Christianity and my children’s religious instruction.

  44. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon wrote,

    As to your second question, I believe governmental power is best exercised at the local level. This decision is best made at the school district level.

    But we really don’t get to make that decision. Education is being increasingly centralized and textbook and curriculum is more and more a state issue or even a federal issue. Again: I don’t trust them because it’s the nature of government, education especially, to seek to acquire power and control and to push control to central, more leftwing authorities.

  45. Johnathon says:

    “When I was growing up, my high school has a Baptist principal, and had been taught that the Baptists were lost. Hence, I worked with other CoC kids to get our fair turn at leading school devos. But I understood how it felt to have someone preach doctrine from the school loudspeaker that I’d been taught to be erroneous and damning. What baptismal theology should they teach? SHould they have students invite Jesus into their hearts? Should they teach perseverance of the saints? Should they allow worship on campus? With instruments? Clapping? Or just prayer? When I was very young, I was taught not to say the Lord’s Prayer (thanks to Foy Wallace, Jr.). I was morally opposed in the fourth grade — and my teacher asked me to lead it. What should I have done?”
    “Some of us define “Christian” differently depending on the issue. But even Christian teachers aren’t allowed to indoctrinate children. What of the Jewish or Muslim kid in class? I live in the deep South, but we have kids from across the planet in our schools. Which “Christianity” do we teach? And who decides?”
    These questions are best answered by the people in local communities having to deal with these issues. I do not think it is a moral position to refuse to let people govern themselves if doing so would mean they would have difficult questions to answer. As to leading the Lord’s Prayer, if you were morally opposed you should not have done so. And you should have faced the consequences (I doubt they would have severe), if there were any to be faced, of that moral choice. Christian should stand up for their beliefs. But, just to be clear I do not think it would be right for a teacher to force someone to say the Lord’s Prayer if they were morally opposed to doing so.

  46. Johnathon says:

    “We act like this is easy, but the reason the question came up in the NY of the 1960s was the cosmopolitan nature of the school system there. And the vast differences of opinion as to what ought to be prayed — leading to a watered down politically correct prayer that said nothing of consequence — and certainly wasn’t prayed in the name of Jesus. Is that okay?”
    I don’t think we are acting like this is easy. What I am saying is the power to decide these matters is best dispersed among the people having to deal with and live with these decisions. As to the school in NY perhaps they should have decided to not to have a school prayer. Perhaps they should have handle it differently. But they should have been able to decide it for themselves.

  47. Johnathon says:

    “Personally, as the father of four, it’s my job to teach my kids to pray, and while I go to church with some of my kids’ teachers, some were outright atheists and others clueless on religious matters. I’d rather handle the most important things myself. I mean, the schools can barely teach history and English competently. I wouldn’t expect them to handle much more serious matters well.”
    And, you have far greater influence over your local government than you state and federal government. The more centralized the power of education has become the quality of that education has worsened. Many Christians have pulled their children out of the public schools not only because of the ever decreasing quality of the education but also because they don’t what their children taught lies like evolution and the big bang theory that could endanger their children’s faith in Christ.

  48. Johnathon says:

    “Abortion and gay marriage do not poll the same and should not be equated.”
    I was not equating the two. I was using gay marriage as an example of the will & wisdom of the people being better than their government’s

    “States in theory can teach Christianity as an academic study — as in a religious studies course — but they cannot seek to persuade students to believe and teachers must walk on eggshells to appear neutral. The Bible may be taught as literature, but not as sacred scripture.”
    The pretty much what I was trying to say.
    “So I’m not sure that this is helpful to the Christian cause — especially since a teacher could easily use such a course to create doubts for children that their parents would have trouble responding to. Do you really want a non-Christian teaching your children about the Bible vs. science and the alleged inconsistencies in the Bible and comparing the Bible to ancient near east literature as though it’s no better than Hammurabi’s Code? I mean, I’d really rather that the government stay out of my Christianity and my children’s religious instruction.”

    I don’t know if it would be helpful or not either. Please understand I was not advocating for this, I was merely saying this is something schools cand legally do.

  49. Johnathon says:

    “But we really don’t get to make that decision.”
    The point is we should get to make these decisions. Not because we are guaranteed to make better decisions, but because freedom & self government are better than despotism & tyranny.
    “Education is being increasingly centralized and textbook and curriculum is more and more a state issue or even a federal issue.”
    And, the quality of the education is decreasing as a result of this. I am writing about this because I am trying to love my neighbors. A decent education is a good thing, so far as it goes, for them to have. And I absolutely think it is good for the children of our society to be given a Christian education. And if the people in a town, city, or county want to provide the children in their communities with a Christian education they should be able to attempt to do so through self government.
    “Again: I don’t trust them because it’s the nature of government, education especially, to seek to acquire power and control and to push control to central, more leftwing authorities.”
    A book you might find interesting is Soft Despotism Democracy’s Drift by Dr. Paul Rahe. In the book Dr. Rahe discusses the reason why democracy’s tend to fall into soft despotism, which unfortunately America is well into, and describes somethings which protected America for many years.

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