The other day I was chatting with a neighbor who attends a liberal, “inclusive” (gay friendly) church. He mentioned helping with children’s Sunday School the previous week. The lesson? David and Goliath.
The class ended with the kids throwing marshmallows at a cardboard cut-out of the 666 giant.
There’s a metaphor here somewhere.
Any day now the Supreme Court is going to announce its decision on Obergefell vs. Hodges, one of the most paradigm-shifting cases in its 226-year history. At stake is whether the definition of marriage that has stood for millennia – that is the union of one man and one women – is in need of a makeover in order to include same-sex couples. Personally, I expect their decision to be 5 – 4 against the traditional, default position. But even if it simply moves the homophile agenda forward rather than granting it the blank check it’s been lobbying for, the die is cast. The center of the target for human sexuality toward which all of us have been designed, programmed and then proscribed by our Creator to aim is eventually going to be completely erased here in America (and most of the so-called First World) as far as man-made laws and dominant public mores are concerned.
You can count on it.
The reasons for this extraordinary, rapid shift in legal and public opinion – likely unprecedented in American and perhaps even world history – are many and varied. But as an observer looking through the lens of a Christian worldview there is, in my opinion, one key straw that did the camel in. The “meat” of American culture is rotting because the “salt has lost its savor.” (Matt. 5:13)
There are many ways in which the Church collectively and Christians individually have become lukewarm (Rev. 3:15, 16) and have thus failed to retain our inherited saltiness. (I know we’re dealing with metaphors here. But this is an example where literal chemistry still applies. Run lukewarm water over a block of salt and behold: it melts and you’re left with some tepid, briny water that is only good for helping people poop or throw-up.) Among them:
1. Worldliness – compromise in matters relating to Lordship; chastity (pre-marital sex, pornography, adultery, etc.); gender roles; the sanctity of marriage (unbiblical divorce and remarriage); soaking up entertainments that have championed the post-modern-sexual (pomosexual) ethos; worldly dating patterns and ideas concerning human sexuality (e.g. that a person can’t live a full life unless they are partnered and having great sex); etc..
2. Our failure to obey our God-given mandate to “tend, protect and cultivate” the broader world (Gen. 1:28; 2:15) – which includes a focused engagement in culture-forming arenas such as academia, the arts and politics.
3. Handing the majority of our children over to Pharaoh to be educated – and hence – indoctrinated in a humanistic, relativistic, and pomosexual worldview.
4. Calling it “traditional marriage” and primarily defending it as such rather than taking out the sharp, two-edged sword of presuppositional apologetics and boldly standing with God and biblical marriage. There isn’t time here to develop this somewhat complicated distinction. But by ceding the terms of the debate to the humanists and their fallacious insistence that it take place solely on “religiously neutral” grounds, we have fallen into the Proverbs 26:4 pit: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” (For the reader who understands this distinction, I am not suggesting that natural law arguments don’t play a key role in our broader apologetic. But we should no more lead with them than we should prefer working by moonlight rather than by the full light of day.)
5. Not understanding the times and how the church is called to do respond. (1 Chron. 12:32) See all the above plus the ridiculous reactions of too many pastors and Christians towards homosexuality. Among them: treating it as almost an unpardonable sin and the same-sex attracted person as a separate category of sinner; thinking and acting as if such inclinations are a choice; that every individual homosexual fits neatly into the categories outlined in Romans 1:21-32; and that a couple of prayers, some deliverance, or just getting married to a member of the opposite sex will invariably eliminate homosexual impulses. I could go on and list dozens of other bone-headed responses and clichés I’ve heard Christians use that haven’t even reached the pathetic threshold of “healing the wounds of people slightly.” (Jer. 6:14)
6. A lack of consecration in regard to the divine engines of prayer, fasting and worship. There is a profoundly spiritual component to this struggle (Eph. 6:12). And it is folly and to neglect the spiritual weapons the Lord of Host has granted us for the battle. (2 Cor. 10:4)
7. Fumbling and even ignoring outright our call to boldly proclaim and defend (as well as model; see #1) what the Bible says about human sexuality generally and homosexuality specifically. The bottom-line? When truth falls – stumbles, is unproclaimed and undefended – in the public square, darkness and confusion settle over the people. Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance. (Isa. 59:14) And so normalizing homosexuality begins to first look plausible…and finally necessary.
In Part 2, I will develop this last point a bit more, particularly in regard to the so-called millennial generation upon whose shoulders much of the battle but most of the blowback for losing it will fall. Just what is the “truth” concerning homosexuality we as Christians are called to proclaim and defend? The answer is perhaps a bit more complex than the stereotypical “The Bible says it and that settles it!” mantra allows. And in Part 3, I will suggest a “modest proposal” to the statistical majority of millennials who have come to believe that God is OK with people being gay.
* Lost… for now. As Christians, we should ever keep in mind the implications of Jesus’ bruised heel over the serpent’s crushed head. (Gen. 3:15) We should maintain a strong confidence in the power of light to vanquish darkness; grace to triumph over sin; love to conquer death; truth to cast down lies; and leaven of the Kingdom to eventually work through the loaf. (Matt. 13:33) We should boldly believe and confess that the God of peace will eventually crush Satan under our feet even as He did for the early Christians who suffered under the anti-Christ persecutions of Nero, Domitian and the Roman emperor cult. (Rom. 16:20) Observing the flow of both Biblical and secular history, we understand that sometimes people and nations have to go backward and down before they can take the next step forward and up. We should believe that our best days are yet before us – though they may only be seen by our children or some other future generation. The profound loss of Christian civilization and the captivity we are and will experience will be temporary. Out of the ashes of a spent, dissipated America, a humble, Godly remnant will arise, repent and rebuild. There will be seed in the stump! (Isa. 6:13)
I’m presently working on a series of articles and videos concerning the sea-change taking place in the West relative to sexual and gender mores. To this end, I’m looking to interview Christian husbands who have been faithful regarding their own sexual integrity.
Now people can and do define this standard differently. Relative to the task at hand, I am using the following standard:
1. Premaritally, you abstained from all forms of genital contact with another person.
2. As a married man there have been zero erotic interactions with anyone other than your wife. You have also never looked at pornography (“soft” like lingerie advertisements and, of course “hard”) to the point of stimulation/masturbation.
If this honestly describes you, I would deeply appreciate your confidential feedback on a couple of questions. If you are willing, please contact me via email me at email@example.com. And please feel free to forward this message to others you think may be interested.
(As an important aside, if the statistics I read are correct, the majority of Christian men who read this will not qualify. If you have godly sorrow about your “falling short” in this regard and are actively taking steps to “practice righteousness” (1 John 3:7), know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Do NOT let the enemy or your own sense of shame keep you from experiencing God’s complete love, forgiveness and acceptance — as well as His power to overcome. Every son of Adam struggles with one or more “besetting sins” in their life. Some by a peculiar combination of nature, nurture, marriage and God’s grace don’t have to fight the temptations of sexual sin as much as others. The only, true Judge of the earth knows. He will sort it all out. He will do right. (Gen. 18:25))
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Even to sympathetic friends, Dietrich von Hildebrand was considered extreme in his early opposition to Hitler. Looking in our rear-view mirrors, no one would say that today. Might the same be happening again as Christians who stand up for biblical values on marriage, family and gender are being labeled extreme, homophobic dinosaurs; even becoming something of an embarrassment to their silent friends?
What follows below is an interview conducted by Franciscan Way magazine with John Henry Crosby, the translator and editor of My Battle With Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich. The book is based upon the 1920s–1930s memoirs of Dietrich von Hildebrand, the renowned German Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian, and also includes important essays from the period.
I found the interview fascinating on a number of levels.
First, here was a man who very early on saw the catastrophic end-game of Hitler and National Socialism when the vast majority of Germans missed it. Why? Because he reasoned biblically, his keen intellect informed by the “new world of grace.” Though he was an intellectual living in a materialistic, anti-supernatural zeitgeist, he wasn’t afraid to give preeminence to the spiritual world. Coupled with his apparent knowledge of scripture, redemptive history and biblical typology, he quickly recognized Hitler as “an anti-Christ.” (Note he used “an” and not “the”–avoiding the common error many make today as they await the coming of the anti-Christ.) As a result, he became one of the preeminent prophets of the 20th century. Also, unfortunately, one of the least well-known. I pray this book helps change that.
Second was Hildebrand’s courage. Let’s be honest. Most professing Christians today are remarkably silent concerning a very similar dark cloud creeping its way into America’s governmental, judicial, educational, economic, and infotainment institutions. They are too busy accommodating themselves to the cloud and having their ears tickled with messages of cheap grace and how to have their best lives now. Among those who do see the darkness rising and are willing to think, pray and even address it from time to time, vanishingly few are willing to do much to practically, boldly and, yes, sacrificially stand against it. Here, again, Hildebrand stands as a light on a hill.
Next was his balanced approach to cultural transformation. Yes, we are called to be “hot”– to confront evil when and where it manifests. But we should also strive to be “cold”–to bring living water to a culture dying of thirst. (Many today are simply lukewarm; not a promising temperature to be. (Rev. 3:16)) And so his passion to foster a counter-culture of life, beauty, grace and truth is exemplary.
Lastly, as I have already alluded to, I was struck by the remarkable similarities to his time and ours. I need to be cautious here. I don’t see anything like a new Hitler on America’s horizon. (So please, no invoking Godwin’s Law on me.) Nor do I foresee a day when any adult people group will be marched into concentration camps and gas chambers. But we have killed–and are killing–the unborn at a rate that makes the Holocaust look like a pre-game show as far as the number of people murdered. (I understand there are other factors associated with the Holocaust that make it unsurpassed in regard to human suffering and the callousness of heart necessary to perpetrate it.) We are in danger of ceding all authority to a centralized government run by elites chorusing “Let us break the (LORD’s and His anointed’s) chains and throw off their shackles. (Psalm 2). Let us do what is right in our own eyes. (Judges 21:25).” Having attacked the fruit of marriage (abortion; untethering sex from marriage and then sex from procreation; turning what children are born over to humanistic schools and pop-culture brainwashing; etc.), we have been continuing to chip away at the root: God’s image in the binary, male/female distinctive and their reunion through marriage and sex. And what happens once the foundation of the biblical family is destroyed; once its position as the center of the target towards which every sojourning soul is called to aim is erased and replaced with a 360º “Do what thou wilt” panorama?
Both the Bible and history–including mid-20th Century history–says it will not be pretty.
(Special note: I’m aware I have readers who are anti-Catholic. Many assume that because I produced Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism, I’m also anti-Catholic. I am not. Today’s RC church is a far cry from the medieval brand that Luther and other reformers rightly, though imperfectly, challenged. And perhaps more to the point, Protestantism–with its multiple tens of thousands of schisms and compromises–is likely as goofy and apostate as the Roman church was six-hundred years ago. I believe Christians are called to recognize and honor the works of the Holy Spirit when and wherever they manifest. Dietrich von Hildebrand was just such a work. And I’m proud to pay tribute to him and bring him to more people’s attention.)
Just after midnight, on March 12, 1938, three Gestapo agents pounded on the door to Dietrich von Hildebrand’s home. When no answer came, they broke down the door, only to find the Viennese apartment empty. The German philosopher had fled the apartment (and Vienna) just five hours earlier.
Austrians awoke on March 12 to find their country occupied by the German army. Their political leaders had been arrested while they slept. After the heads of government, von Hildebrand had been next on the Gestapo’s list.
What had the philosopher done to incur the wrath of Hitler’s regime? And what more would von Hildebrand do in the weeks and years ahead?
Recently, Franciscan Way sat down with John Henry Crosby to discuss von Hildebrand’s campaign against the Nazis. Here’s what we learned.
Franciscan Way: Perhaps you could set the stage for us and explain a little about what von Hildebrand was doing when the Nazis came to power?
John Henry Crosby: By the fall of 1919, von Hildebrand was living and teaching in Munich, which would soon become home base for the fledgling Nazi movement. This proximity gave him the opportunity to see firsthand the movement’s early growth. Already by 1921, more than 10 years before Hitler came to power, von Hildebrand had made his first public statements against National Socialism. I know of no other German figure of prominence who recognized and denounced the Nazi movement earlier than von Hildebrand. From his memoirs, it is not quite clear when he became fully conscious of a mission to fight Nazism, but certainly by 1933, when Hitler seized power, von Hildebrand knew that he had to raise his voice. It is moving to see that von Hildebrand left Germany in March 1933, not because he knew what form his opposition would take, but because he was sure that God would show him the way.
FW: How did von Hildebrand’s Catholic faith influence that decision?
JHC: So much could be said here. I think von Hildebrand’s faith gave his reason a powerful supernatural dimension. He was a convert, received into the Church at Easter 1914. He was gifted with a penetrating mind and the ability to articulate his perceptions. When he converted, his intellectual gifts expanded as he discovered the “new world” of grace, as he often put it. Would he still have grasped the danger Hitler posed had he not converted? I think so. But I don’t know if he would have perceived the demonic evil present in Nazism so clearly. His faith allowed him to see Hitler through a supernatural lens. This explains why he often described Hitler as an “Anti-Christ.” Many friends, even those who shared his anti-Nazism, thought he expressed himself in excessive terms, but looking back on the destruction and genocide propagated by the Nazi regime, it’s hard to deny how accurate von Hildebrand’s perception turned out to be.
FW: What concrete steps did von Hildebrand take to oppose Hitler?
JHC: The single most concrete thing he did was to found and edit the premier German-language intellectual and cultural anti-Nazi publication. From 1933, when Hitler’s takeover of the German government forced von Hildebrand to flee Germany for Austria, until 1938, when the Nazis took over Austria as well, he published his journal on a weekly basis and managed to pen an essay for almost every issue. By bringing together many different voices, from right and left, his paper presented a formidable united front against National Socialism. But just as important was his direct impact on individual people. And that influence was deep and lasting. I can think of no better confirmation of this than the words of one student who credited von Hildebrand for “immunizing” him “against the siren song of National Socialism.”
FW: When the Nazis entered Austria, von Hildebrand was one of the first people they went to arrest? Why? After all, he was a philosopher, not a politician?
JHC: A very good question. It is a little ironic, but it’s also a tribute to the central role of ideas in political and cultural struggles. There are several reasons the SS came straight after von Hildebrand. Certainly von Hildebrand had crossed the line from philosophy into politics and public debate. He was so fearless and uncompromising in his articles that the Nazi regime (before invading Austria in 1938) regularly complained about him to the Austrian government. I like quoting the assessment of FBI founding director, J. Edgar Hoover, who said von Hildebrand was “editor of the most violently anti-Nazi newspaper in Austria.” While Hoover would have welcomed von Hildebrand’s efforts, his words pair well with those of Hitler’s ambassador in Vienna, who thundered: “That Hildebrand is the worst obstacle to Nazism in Austria. No one does more harm!”
FW: At a time when so many other Christians, Catholics included, chose to remain silent, what gave von Hildebrand the courage to speak up?
JHC: The memoirs offer a sort of “anatomy of witness” as exemplified by von Hildebrand. We see, for example, how remark- ably little influence prevailing ideas had on him; we see his sense of responsibility to speak out, both as a philosopher and Christian; and we see how deeply he loved his country. But all of this is just prologue when it comes to the real source of his courage, which was his absolute faith that God had called him and would sustain and protect him no matter what happened, provided that he remained faithful to his calling.
FW: How is von Hildebrand’s witness still relevant to Catholics today?
JHC: I view his memoirs and essays as a handbook for wit- ness. They are packed with illuminating examples and practical wisdom. But this should not overshadow a further deeply personal relevance for Catholics and, indeed, for any readers of the book. Think of a great work of fiction or drama. Just as literature allows us to inhabit the characters and storyline, and thereby to grow in self-knowledge, I think von Hildebrand’s story, which is so intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally rich, can illuminate and nourish each of us as we need it most.
FW: The struggle to end the evil of abortion is probably the clearest parallel to the struggle against National Socialism? Given that, what advice do you think von Hildebrand would have for the pro-life movement?
JHC: Von Hildebrand’s career was just ending as the pro-life movement was beginning. His last public lecture, however, was about abortion, and he spoke in almost prophetic words about what legalized abortion meant for our society. He was always un-compromising when it came to moral evil, and abortion horrified him profoundly.
But if he were alive today, I suspect he would challenge us to not view our pro-life position too exclusively in political terms. He would have resonated with Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “culture of life,” recognizing that pro-life laws and court rulings are necessary but far from sufficient for creating a public order that truly respects all human life. I think he would have called atten- tion to the many subtle ways in which committed pro-life people undermine their efforts through the indiscriminate consumption of mainstream culture.
Of course, he would not have wanted Catholics to move into a sort of ghetto—he was far too much of a Christian humanist to propose that. But he would have reminded us of St. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: “Test everything, retain what is good.” I can almost hear him pointing out to his fellow Catholics that a culture of life is as much (if not more) fostered through beauty and things that ennoble the spirit as it is through good public policies. (Franciscan Way, a publication of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Spring 2015, pp. 34, 35. Visit the Hildebrand Project for more information on Dietrich Von Hildebrand.)
If you came to this blog through a link, scroll below to see readers’ comments. If you came here by accessing The Apologetics Group site directly, see TAG readers’ comments — posted at the bottom of this dedicated blog page. I personally value living outside an echo chamber; and if I only read things I agreed with and neglected the iron sharpening iron benefit of people providing a different perspective than what I’m used to — I would be the poorer for it. Of course, there’s a balance; comments extremely outside the bounds of what I consider orthodoxy are often not worth my time.
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Am I the only one who sees that the emperor once again has the backside of his hospital gown flapping open? I’m talking about the accolades being heaped on the mom who yanked her masked son out of the chaos surrounding the recent riots in Baltimore. From Whoopie Goldberg to Bill O’Reilly, a steady chorus of praise is growing for the feisty lady whom many are now calling the “Mother of the Year.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a book deal or reality show is already in the works.
I’m suggesting that the cause of truth may be better served viewing her as yet another tragic victim of the systemic problems that help fuel the riots, and perhaps even more insidiously, an example of how far America has lowered the moral bar for people trapped in the blighted housing projects that dot our country.
(Important note; too important to be relegated to a footnote that many will miss: I’m not going to refer to #BaltimoreMom in this article by her real name, though it is now well-known. That’s because I don’t want to focus on her as a person, one I’m loathe to shame given the likely hand she’s been dealt by circumstances over which she has had little control. Instead, I’m using #BaltimoreMom as a symbol of the prevailing thought in and about today’s inner-city black culture.)
First, credit where credit is due. She clearly was genuinely worried about her son. That’s a good thing. She claims she wanted to protect the police and help maintain law and order. That, too, is laudable. She was willing to enter a chaotic situation and take charge. Kudos yet again. And she’s not afraid to discipline and show tough love towards her son. My kind of gal that. I admire and thank her on all four counts.
But seriously, how many times did she drop the f-bomb in the process, worse the mega mother-f bomb? Five or six times in the thirty seconds I saw. I’m guessing it was more than that, with even more bombs dropped when they got home. It’s not a stretch to imagine that the lad and his five sisters have been exposed to that type of vulgarity their entire lives.
Big deal, you say. They’re just words. These kids are used to it—it’s part of their culture. But isn’t that the point? When people—and particularly young people, whose character and brain architecture are in formation from conception right through adolescence—are routinely exposed to vulgarity, ugliness and ill-manners, that is more often than not how they will turn out. Vulgarity becomes vocabulary. Thug talk helps beget thugs. And thuggery is a big part of the Baltimore riots.
Let’s be honest. A white woman talking that way and beating on her kid would be called trailer trash and an abuser. Protective Services would be called. But a black woman? She gets labeled “the mother of all moms” by CNN. That’s not praise—it’s affirmative insult, like walking up to Mrs. Lincoln in the cemetery and telling her how lovely she looked in black.
It’s both interesting and telling how many reports praising her actions used the word “beating” to describe the way she dealt with her son. Seriously? Do we really think beating kids is a good thing? (Maybe, faced with a mob on a mindless rampage, and civil authorities reduced to hapless, helpless gawkers, some of us do like the idea of beating them. And so, for granting us a moment of catharsis, an abusive mother is transmogrified into a hero. Something to think about.) A pro football player recently caught similarly wailing on his son faced a suspension and an avalanche of public vitriol and humiliation. But because she’s a woman—nay, a black woman—she doesn’t just get a pass; she is celebrated.
Look, I believe in corporal punishment when it is appropriately (calmly, lovingly, redemptively, biblically) administered. But her angry, nearly out-of-control hitting was none of that. The matriarchal culture that dominates black inner-city America—more on that in a moment—afforded her all kinds of protection and moral authority. Some firm, clean words and dragging him home by the ear would have been just as effective in getting him out of a bad situation.
That’s what a true “Mother of the Year” would have done.
And how likely is it that this was a one time thing? That she hasn’t beaten on her children like this before? Sure, it’s better than providing no discipline at all. Maybe. But it’s a far cry from what’s needed to produce future MLKs who will champion peace when chaos rears its ugly head.
But this is all nitpicking compared to the last point I want to make, one that—from what I can tell—has been completely passed over by both press and pundits—save Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who gave it all of five minutes.
#BaltimoreMom describes herself as a “single mom with six kids.” Now, here I dare not tread lightly because I don’t know her full story. (And extensive research online yielded nothing about her past in regard to the six children, an anonymity I find curious—if not indicative—of the politically requisite lowered bar of expectations.) Maybe she’s a widow and had all six of her children by her deceased husband. Should that be the case, I will be forever sorry for having impugned her character by implying otherwise. But the principle here is far too important not to raise. Arguably, the single greatest factor contributing to poverty, crime, school drop-out rates and just about every other social ill that gave rise to the Baltimore riots is fatherlessness. And in Baltimore, as in most of America’s inner cities, more than four out of five babies born to black mothers will be raised without a married father in the home.
If #BaltimoreMom has contributed to these statistics, then at bottom she’s part of the problem. And honoring her as “Mother of the Year” is not only a disingenuous and sobering example of lowered expectations, but also an insult to any woman of her “race”—the human one—who abstains from sex outside of marriage and strives to create a nurturing home environment for her children, one that is free from vulgar language and slapping around.
These are the true “Mothers of the Year.”
Author’s Note: Yes, I have stepped into it with this one. I know—I truly know—it’s all very complicated and #BaltimoreMom is in large part the victim of a failed cultural experiment and deserving of compassion. Believe me, as a former pastor whose parish was the DC area, and who worked with people like her (including adopting an unmarried young lady into our family for the last two trimesters of her pregnancy) my heart aches for this woman and her children. But dumbing things down—worse, making her and others like her feel good about their sinful lifestyles—is not true love and compassion. It is a form of indifference, even hate. I also know this would be a lot easier to take if I weren’t a white guy. But I’m done playing the PC game. Our country is in freefall. I waited a couple of days for someone like E.T. Williams or Star Parker to step up to the plate on this. They didn’t, so I did. If you want to come after me simply because I’m a white dude, talk to the hand. Lastly, and most importantly, in one interview, she said in reference to her son and his problems that she wasn’t “like that anymore.” If she has repented of the lifestyle described above she has my utmost praise and respect. Until I was twenty-six, mine wasn’t any better. In fact it was worse—egregiously so—considering I was blessed to be raised in a far more nurturing environment. I had no excuse. We should all be grateful and awestruck by the forgiveness and the new life is available to us in Christ. If #BaltimoreMom has sincerely repented, and can get to work on her language and approach to child discipline, I’ll be happy to throw her name in the hat as a real “Mother of the Year.”
In attempting to discern the true root of a nation’s problems, it’s important we begin by differentiating between cultures that have never been transformed by Christianity and those that have. What’s wrong with Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia is one thing; the result of sin and the influence of “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), largely un-ameliorated by the Gospel of the Kingdom. They are in an entirely different situation from those countries that make up what is commonly referred to as the West; what was once called Christendom.
When someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required (Luke 12:48). And while far from perfect, there has never been a country that has been more powerfully impacted by and entrusted with the Gospel of the Kingdom than the United States.
Jesus called His church the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Matt. 5: 13,14). He further said that collectively we would do the things He did…and MORE because He was going to the Father (John 14:12) — that the gates of Hell itself could not prevail against His Bride. (Matt. 16:18).
And yet the Church throughout much of the West is seeing the forces of darkness prevail all around her.
What is wrong with America is precisely what was often wrong with the nation in Old Testament times that was most closely associated with the Kingdom of God on earth, Israel: “They (God’s covenant people) did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (Judges 6:1). See also, among many other verses, “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6) and the destructive power of laziness (being “at ease” when the walls are crumbling) and spiritual pride. We can go on. Make no mistake, America is slouching towards Gomorrah and judgment not because Satan and his seed have grown so powerful, but because the church has grown so weak.
It can’t simply be attributed to the serpent. His head was crushed at the cross 2000 years ago and there is no prophecy of Scripture that would indicate that this mortal wound would ever be healed. Quite the contrary, the God of peace promises that we will also crush Satan under OUR feet (Rom. 16:20).
It can’t be “the spirit of anti-Christ” – the adversary that was in the world during the apostolic period and will remain, manifesting itself in and through various people, until the end of the age. How can the spirit of hell and Satan, operating through mortal people, ever be able to conquer the Spirit of God living in and through Christians? It can’t; “greater is He that is in us than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)
No, the blight is with the light. The Church has become “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col. 2:8) We have been at ease in Zion and through sloth and carnality have yielded the ground gained by those who have gone before us.
And we dare to presume that God is going to give us a pass and rapture us out of the mess we have helped create?
A high-stakes, zero-sum game is unfolding in the heartland of America. And along with it, a glimpse into the brave new world that is being fashioned by homosexualists and abetted by the timid souls that increasingly “man” the Republican party.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, “zero-sum” conditions exist whenever any gain on one side in a game or conflict is met with a corresponding loss for the other. Poker or the way two teams move or defend the position of a football on the playing field are two classic examples. But now another, far more ominous one is unfolding in the arena of civil rights. The campaign to normalize homosexuality is threatening to not just push Christians into their own end zone, but out of the stadium as well.
This past Tuesday, Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence did an about-face from his earlier defense of Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Faced with having himself and the state of Indiana branded with the dreaded “H” word (homophobic) as well as potential economic losses due to threatened boycotts (it’s money and not principle that matter in the end after all), Pence threw the bill back to the House, declaring that it needed to be rewritten so it wouldn’t “permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.” And today (Thursday), Republican lawmakers also bowed the knee, offering an amendment that not only gutted the original purpose of the bill (protecting religious liberty and freedom of conscience) but virtually guaranteed an open season on Christians who dared to not compliantly serve the homosexualist campaign. (To learn more the implications of this amendment, read Matt Barber’s insightful commentary here.)
Given the confusion ginned up by the “gay” left and their cohorts in the popular media, it’s important that people understand two things about the original Indiana bill.
First, its language pretty much mirrors the federal version that was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. Championed by the likes of Ted Kennedy, the bill passed the House unanimously and by a 97-3 margin in the Senate.
Second, the idea that the act would, for example, grant a restaurant owner the right to refuse service to homosexuals is a complete myth, a propaganda point invented for the sole purpose of furthering the homosexualist agenda. The Indiana law simply notes that individuals and business owners’ religious values are important and should be taken into account when those beliefs conflict with other policies and values in the public arena. In other words, a Catholic pharmacist doesn’t necessarily have to dispense drugs that induce abortion. A bed and breakfast inn run by a devout Christian family doesn’t necessarily have to allow a homosexual couple to honeymoon under their roof. And wait for this (because it is coming, trust me) – a Christian church can’t necessarily be prevented from firing their choir director after he announces that he has married another man and is having faux sex with him.
Note the italics: the protection of religious liberty is not ironclad but simply recognized by the law as important and to be balanced against compelling government interests so as to find the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
But even this flimsy token was an affront to the intolerance police on the left. Bowing before their ire, Hovernor Pence not only caved, he revealed the zero-sum nature of what he is helping unleash when he added this glittering nugget of newspeak: “Nobody should be harassed or mistreated because of who they love or what they believe in.”
Really? What if that somebody happens to love God and believe He created marriage and sex and ordained that they be uniquely realized within a covenant (marriage) relationship between one man and one woman? No soup for you. “Heterosexists” and “dinosaurs” (thank-you Miley for sharing your sinsights with us) can and should be harassed at will and further be forced to either offer a pinch of incense to Dionysius or whatever other idol to sexual debauchery man’s rebellion wants to trot out…or lose the right to engage in commerce. (Here it might be good for the reader to consider the broader outlines of Rev. 13:17.)
And herein lies the rub, a simple truth that every American needs to grasp without flinching: when it comes to the inevitable collision between “gay rights” and the religious liberty of the increasingly silent majority that deep down know that homosex is neither righteous or conducive to human, familial and societal flourishing: we are ineluctably on a zero-sum game playing field.
If you don’t believe me, listen to a key playmaker on the other side of the ball. Chai R. Feldblum has served as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2010. She is a former Georgetown law professor, a noted expert on civil – most notably gay – rights, and herself a lesbian. In a 2006 interview, she used the very term “zero-sum game” in describing the conflict and then explained:
“When we pass a law that says you may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we are burdening those who have an alternative moral assessment of gay men and lesbians…” She went on to say that there should be a ” respectful awareness of the religious position” but then concluded that when push comes to shove, it’s the religious position that needs to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus:
“…when religious liberty and sexual liberty conflict, she admits, ‘I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.'”
Then in a moment of startling, “Tell me your name” honesty, she revealed the true bottom-line in all of this: “Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.” (“Banned in Boston: The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty,” The Weekly Standard, May 15, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 33)
There we have it: the dignity of gay people trumps all.
Make no mistake about where this dignity train ultimately, logically leads. Homosexuality – and progressively this will include all its myriad subsets (bi and trans-sexuality, pederasty, promiscuity, S&M, open “marriages”, etc.) – must be treated and viewed to be just as good, true and beautiful – just as conducive to human, familial and societal flourishing – as biblical marriage. Heather being raised by her biological mom and dad, this brave new world will insist, will not have the slightest advantage over the Heather being raised by two moms or two dads where at best only one of them has any biological connection to her. Speech, actions and even thought that fall short of glorifying this Orwellian/Huxleyian ideal will have to be suppressed and eventually eradicated. Why? Because to allow anything else will be to tarnish the dignity of gay people.
“You exaggerate!” some (many?) will say. Well, perhaps a bit. But then again, maybe not. The same or worse would have been said of anyone in 1995 who warned that if the American people and her professing Christians (like Pence or Hovernor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, who is waging a similar campaign in his state) continued their decline into lawlessness and doing “what is right in their own eyes,” that homosexuality and gay marriage would become widely accepted in twenty years.
 Individuals that accept homosexuality as a moral and social good, on a par with heterosexuality, and want to see it normalized both legally and socially.
(Author’s note: The reader perhaps knows that the CEO of Apple – the most valuable company in history – recently came out publicly as a homosexual. In an interview with Business Week magazine (“Tim Cook Speaks Up,” 10/30/14), Tim Cook declared he is “proud to be gay” and considers “being gay among the greatest gifts God has given” him. My thoughts that follow were inspired by his confession.)
I am the CEO of a small ministry that uses Apple products. I very much appreciate the incredible things their customers can achieve with them.
Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to keep the focus of the ministry on Jesus and His word and how they relate to the big questions and issues of life: creation, fall, redemption and destiny. I have never sought to bring attention to myself. However, given the trend towards using one’s position in the public eye to advocate for certain regressive lifestyles and worldviews, I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important: speaking up on behalf of a shrinking minority – people who believe that sex is a powerful and beautiful act that optimally belongs only in the context of a life-long, covenantal relationship between one man and one woman. That’s what has led me to today…and to this confession:
I have a fallen, sinful nature. Using the helpful – and in this instance relevant – analogy of a computer, this nature has profoundly gummed up my Operating System. As a result, it orients me towards all manner of things that are contrary to the operational parameters my Creator designed for me to obey in order to optimize system performance – both for myself and the good of those around me. One of them is the desire to have sex with women I am not married to. (Thankfully, I have been able to successfully resist this temptation.) This orientation is not something I want to experience or went looking for. It really seems I was just born this way. I am not proud of this orientation at all. As with my propensity to be selfish, impatient and not love everyone, particularly my enemies, I deeply regret it.
That said, I consider the cross of Christ and the outpouring of His grace and love through it – His death, resurrection, ascension and coronation – to be the greatest gift I have ever received from God. Not only do they cleanse me from the stain of these orientations, they further grant me the power to hate them and successfully wrestle against their corrupting power.
I can’t wait for the Great Day when my carbon-based quantum computer is rebuilt, my present OS wiped clean and the new and final version (completely free from the pesky viruses that infected the original) is installed and made fully operational.
I pray for Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, to experience this positive side of the Final Singularity as well. But as long as he continues to love one of the more pernicious viruses that have infected OS ver. 1 – and particularly encourage others to do the same (Luke 17:2) – he will fall into this Singularity with it intact, operational….but tragically incapable of functioning in the New World to come.
And then there will only be weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
Veni Sancte Spiritus, also called the “Golden Sequence,” is a Latin liturgical prayer that is sung or recited to commemorate Pentecost – the moment when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the nascent Church. It is usually attributed to either the thirteenth-century Pope Innocent III or to the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. (Langton was a central figure in the dispute between King John of England and Pope Innocent III that help lead to the issuing of Magna Carta in 1215 – one of the first charters that guaranteed the rights of commoners and restricted the heretofore “divine right” of kings to rule autocratically. He is also credited with having divided the Bible into the standard modern arrangement of chapters used today.)
Whatever your denomination, this is an anointed prayer if there ever was one (excepting the Lord’s Prayer, of course). I would encourage you to make it an occasional part of your devotional life.
It all makes me want to learn Latin.
|Latin text||English version|
|Veni, Sancte Spiritus,et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.
Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum,
veni, lumen cordium.
dulcis hospes animae,
In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solatium.
O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.
Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.
Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
|Come, Holy Spirit,send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.
Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.
sweet guest of the soul,
In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.
O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.
Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.
Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.
Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.
Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.
Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.
On this day 67 years ago, an Air Force pilot making $3,396.00 a year crawled into an experimental jet and risked everything to see if it was possible to fly faster than the speed of sound. More than a few scientists thought it was impossible, that the plane would disintegrate. For little more than the glory of being the first man to chase and capture the “daemon that lived out past Mach 1,” Captain Chuck Yeager pressed through two broken ribs, a buffeting plane, a broken altimeter and the fear of death and the unknown to successfully perform that exorcism.
Each of us reading this is flying through the aether of purpose and destiny at a certain rate of speed. None of us are flying as fast, as high or as well as we could, as we would like. Our jet shakes, something breaks, fear or complacency takes hold – and squeezes the faith, the desire for a better resurrection, out of us. And so we pull back on the throttle… often at the very time when we should be punching the afterburners.
There is a sense in which that is what this life is: a huge proving ground above some cosmic Mojave Desert. And God is watching. Who’s going to keep going after the daemons and defeat them? Who’s going to try – and be willing to pay the price – to fly as fast and as high as they can; to press through envelope of what is possible and then break into the realm of the impossible, into the higher heaven that shimmers just beyond our temporal firmament?
Some thirty, some sixty, some one-hundred fold (Matt. 13:8). And the stars differ from one another in terms of their glory (1 Cor. 15:41).
And here is the real bottom-line, the greatest truth ever told. We have no chance of ever going there – of ever breaking on through to the other side – on our own strength. We have to first be taken up in the air and then dropped from the belly of a B-29 bomber.
And that B-29 is the crucified, resurrected and enthroned Christ.