Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Do Christian apologists need to know how to defend chastity and marriage?

Rod Dreher, not one of my favorite people, writes about it in the American Conservative. (H/T Dalrock)

He writes:

Though he might not have put it quite that way, the eminent sociologist Philip Rieff would probably have said yes. Rieff’s landmark 1966 book The Triumph Of the Therapeutic analyzes what he calls the “deconversion” of the West from Christianity. Nearly everyone recognizes that this process has been underway since the Enlightenment, but Rieff showed that it had reached a more advanced stage than most people—least of all Christians—recognized.

Rieff, who died in 2006, was an unbeliever, but he understood that religion is the key to understanding any culture. For Rieff, the essence of any and every culture can be identified by what it forbids. Each imposes a series of moral demands on its members, for the sake of serving communal purposes, and helps them cope with these demands. A culture requires a cultus—a sense of sacred order, a cosmology that roots these moral demands within a metaphysical framework.

You don’t behave this way and not that way because it’s good for you; you do so because this moral vision is encoded in the nature of reality. This is the basis of natural-law theory, which has been at the heart of contemporary secular arguments against same-sex marriage (and which have persuaded no one).

Rieff, writing in the 1960s, identified the sexual revolution—though he did not use that term—as a leading indicator of Christianity’s death as a culturally determinative force. In classical Christian culture, he wrote, “the rejection of sexual individualism” was “very near the center of the symbolic that has not held.” He meant that renouncing the sexual autonomy and sensuality of pagan culture was at the core of Christian culture—a culture that, crucially, did not merely renounce but redirected the erotic instinct. That the West was rapidly re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation was a powerful sign of Christianity’s demise.

[...]As philosopher Charles Taylor writes in his magisterial religious and cultural history A Secular Age, “The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaningful cosmos).” To be modern is to believe in one’s individual desires as the locus of authority and self-definition.

Gradually the West lost the sense that Christianity had much to do with civilizational order, Taylor writes. In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.

To Rieff, ours is a particular kind of “revolutionary epoch” because the revolution cannot by its nature be institutionalized. Because it denies the possibility of communal knowledge of binding truths transcending the individual, the revolution cannot establish a stable social order. As Rieff characterizes it, “The answer to all questions of ‘what for’ is ‘more’.”

Our post-Christian culture, then, is an “anti-culture.” We are compelled by the logic of modernity and the myth of individual freedom to continue tearing away the last vestiges of the old order, convinced that true happiness and harmony will be ours once all limits have been nullified.

Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.

It also remains to be seen whether we can keep Christianity without accepting Christian chastity.

One of the reasons why I write so much about chastity and dating and courting on this blog is to try to convince people that it is necessary to have a rigorous, grounded understanding of the practical execution of chastity and marriage. See, a lot of apologists have tunnel vision. They want to focus on apologetics, especially on philosophy, without talking about sexual morality, politics, current events, and other things that will affect whether a person is open to Christianity or not. Like it or not, Christianity has regulations on sexual behavior, and we have to be able and willing to defend those regulations.

I am not opposed to basic Christian apologetics on God’s existence and Christ’s resurrection, but I recognize that people who are too deeply compromised by unbounded sexual appetites are not going to be open to a genuine Christian re-prioritizing following conversion. I am not saying that we need to stop talking about the problem of evil and the women discovering the empty tomb and the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant. I am saying that we need to add onto all of that good stuff an understanding of public policy and ideology. We need to promote, in the culture, lifestyles and moral rules that are going to make it easier for a person to become a Christian. And that means studying to be persuasive on things like premarital sex, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage, and so on.

I think a very important thing that Christians need to be able to do is to explain and demonstrate that chastity empowers an individual to love others in a way that is not available to them if they are sexually active with that person before marriage. See the papers below for more.

Related posts

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama pushes for gay marriage at second inauguration

From Life Site News. (links removed)

Excerpt:

 President Barack Obama forcefully advanced the homosexual agenda in his second inaugural address this afternoon, saying redefining marriage must be enacted “by [God's] people here on earth.”

[...]“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” the president said.

Although the president trumpeted his support for redefining marriage during the presidential campaign, he promised to leave the issue to be settled by the states. However, his decision to include gay ‘marriage’ in an inaugural address alongside issues such as green energy, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and robust entitlement programs, which he has pledged to actively champion, suggests it may be part of the president’s legislative, or administrative, agenda.

The president wove homosexual activism into multiple aspects of the inaugural ceremonies.

A clergyman who supports the homosexual movement gave the benediction in place of a pastor who supports the traditional family.

Luis León, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church just across the street from the White House, has been described by MSNBC as a “pro-gay Episcopal priest.”

[...]Leon replaced Rev. Louie Giglio, who was pressured out of giving the benediction by homosexual activists who had discovered a sermon he delivered in the 1990s offering a “Christian response to homosexuality.”

[...]At another juncture in the inaugural festivities, poet Richard Blanco earned the distinction of becoming the first gay Hispanic poet ever to read a poem during an inauguration.

If gay marriage is legalized, then speaking and acting like an authentic Christian ill be much harder. Dr. Robert P. George explains why that’s so in Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union—not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it—they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume—and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one—that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously.

[...]Thus, advocates of redefinition are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality—those who would “expand the circle of inclusion”—on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination—those who would exclude people out of “animus”—on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists. Of course, we (in the United States, at least) don’t put racists in jail for expressing their opinions—we respect the First Amendment; but we don’t hesitate to stigmatize them and impose various forms of social and even civil disability upon them and their institutions. In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty—especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience—and genuine equality are undermined.

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm.

[...][T]here is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.

The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.

You can read about some examples of attacks against proponents of traditional marriage in my secular case against same-sex marriage.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Post-1960s progressivism: a lecture from Hillsdale College

Tom sent me this excellent bird’s eye view of the progressive agenda. It’s very direct, and it does NOT shy away from moral standards and social issues. It squarely hits on feminism and gay rights as it relates to marriage and family. (H/T Tom)

The lecture: (37 minutes)

Here’s a snippet from a summary of the lecture from the Hawaiian Reporter:

The natural man-woman-children family was considered the only way to structure healthy family life by both the Founders and Old Progressives.  The Founders believed strong families arose from the natural law and were an essential building block to a virtuous and productive society.  They expected states to pass laws to support the family structure.  The Old Progressives believed similarly that social science required government support of the natural family.  Part of this “support” included the need for trained experts in “home economics” to assist families in the scientific practice of family life.  From both traditions we had laws that made divorce difficult, usually requiring serious grounds like adultery, and placing children in the custody of the father to further discourage frivolous divorce.  Both traditions stressed sexual activity within the family structure.  Both traditions understood the centrality of the natural family to the strength of the society.  Churches and schools supported this traditional morality.

New Progressives adopted sexual liberation as a main value.  They have been indifferent to the natural family as merely one option of how to live, and, in many cases, with a sneering belief that it is not all that good an option.  Sexual liberation contradicts both the natural law of the Founders and the scientific ethical ideal of the Progressives.  Rather than supporting the natural family, the government of the New Progressive does its best to undermine it.  Welfare goes to unmarried women, reducing motivation to marry, replacing fathers with government.  No fault divorce has exploded the divorce rate, with actions brought overwhelmingly by women who are more likely to benefit from it.  “Self expression” of the New Progressives trumps “self control” of natural law.  57% of college students are now women, and Title 9 (that wrought so much damage to men’s smaller sports in college) is now beginning to be applied to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) studies in academia.  Hiring preferences for women exist throughout government.  There has been no similar concerns about the status of men.  Exploding out of wedlock births (over 40% of all births now) demonstrate the destruction of the natural family.  Now gay marriage is the new cause, an attempt to place such relationships on the same plane as the natural family.  Social health requires children, and children require a father and mother in the same household.  Gay marriage can lead to no procreation, and anti-family policy ensures an underclass of angry, neglected children.

Justice Douglas had embraced sexual liberation as a form of self-expression that frees us from rigid traditional morality of self-control.  Hence first amendment protection of nude dancing.  In Lawrence v Texas, the 2003 Court decision that found state sodomy laws unconstitutional, Justice Kennedy had this to say:  “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” A libertarian might well find criminalizing such conduct as unwise and unjust, but unconstitutional in a document that celebrates natural law?  And we have gone far beyond decriminalization to government celebration of gay alternative life styles.

Even in our foreign policy.  Secretary Clinton considers gay marriage and other aspects of sexual liberation a priority in our foreign policy:  “The Obama Administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy….The President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct.”  The Founders believed that American foreign policy should be about the protection of unalienable rights of Americans.  The Old Progressives that it should be about spreading Progressive ideas of freedom and the uplift of less advanced peoples.  The New Progressives that its should be about spreading sexual liberation throughout the world.

It does discuss fiscal issues, but it does not ignore moral and social ones, since sexual liberation and the breakdown of the family is what drives a lot of the fiscal issues anyway.

The full index to the “Constitution 201″ series is on Youtube in this channel.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teachers face termination for refusing to promote gay marriage

From the UK Telegraph. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

Primary school teachers could face the sack for refusing to promote gay marriage once same-sex unions become law, a minister has signalled.

Liz Truss, an education minister, refused to rule out the possibility that teachers, even in faith schools, could face disciplinary action for objecting on grounds of conscience.

Miss Truss said simply that it was impossible to know what the impact of the legislation would be at this stage.

Her admission came in a letter to a fellow Conservative MP, David Burrowes, last month.

[...]Mr O’Neill, an expert on human rights, was asked to advise on the impact redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could have on schools, churches, hospitals, foster carers and public buildings.

Among his conclusions was that schools could be within their statutory rights to dismiss staff who wilfully fail to use stories or textbooks promoting same-sex weddings.

Parents who object to gay marriage being taught to their children would also have no right to withdraw their child from lessons, he argued.

And, in theory, the fact that a school was a faith school would make no difference, he added.

Read the rest, because our country just voted for Barack Obama, and he supports gay marriage.

How would gay marriage change your life?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is gay marriage a threat to religious liberty and liberty of conscience?

Dr. Robert P. George makes the case in the Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union—not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it—they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume—and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one—that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously.

[...]Thus, advocates of redefinition are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality—those who would “expand the circle of inclusion”—on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination—those who would exclude people out of “animus”—on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists. Of course, we (in the United States, at least) don’t put racists in jail for expressing their opinions—we respect the First Amendment; but we don’t hesitate to stigmatize them and impose various forms of social and even civil disability upon them and their institutions. In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty—especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience—and genuine equality are undermined.

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm.

[...][T]here is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.

The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.

You can read about some examples of attacks against proponents of traditional marriage in my secular case against same-sex marriage.

 

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wintery Tweets

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 4,201,928 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,954 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,954 other followers

%d bloggers like this: