Is God’s Word Responsible For Ravi Zacharias?

She didn’t put it in quite those terms, of course, but that’s exactly the allegation Sheila Gregoire is making in her recent article. She writes:

Evangelicals are pointing fingers at “celebrity Christian culture,” blaming it for the tragic Ravi Zacharias sexual abuse and rape scandal and the extramarital escapades of Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz (as well as so many more). But what if this epidemic is not just — or even mostly — caused by celebrity culture?

What if it’s the evangelical view of sex?

Yes, celebrity culture gave Zacharias more access to victims and gave both men cover for what they were doing. But it was not celebrity culture that taught these men to objectify women. Our evangelical culture primed them for it.

So how exactly did evangelical culture teach men to “objectify” women? Well, by acknowledging men’s struggle with lust and by pointing out God’s solution for that struggle which Paul recorded in 1 Corinthians 7:

It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

To support her case, Gregoire throws together a lengthy list of quotes from various popular evangelical writings:  all applying these verses and all seasoned with commentary meant to poison the well. She undoubtedly expects the reader to be whipped into an outrage matching her own by the end of the list. However, any critical reader will notice that the list of quotes mostly just acknowledge what the Bible acknowledges and attempt to make specific exhortations based on the Bible’s general exhortations. I’m not going to critique the whole list since they’re all out-of-context anyway, but at a glance, they fail by offending the tone-police more than by actually teaching falsely.

Next, Gregoire attempts to put the shoe on the other foot, claiming that if anybody is being sexually neglected in marriage, it’s women. After all, while 92% of men report always or almost always climaxing in sexual encounters, only 49% of women do. Of course, there are a lot of physiological differences between male and female orgasms–not surprising given that sex is where the sexes are, by design, the most different. Accordingly, blaming men for the orgasm gap makes almost as little sense as blaming women for the erectile disfunction gap. Sometimes it’s the fault of one partner or the other, but in most cases, no one is really to blame.

And since I know the devotees of whataboutism will object to that…  Yes, some husbands are indeed at fault on the orgasm issue. Maybe they don’t care enough; maybe they’re too lazy to put in the effort; maybe they’re simply inept. But then, some wives are to blame as well. Maybe they’re frigid and unable to lower their guard sufficiently to climax; maybe they’re unwilling, unable, or too ashamed to tell their husbands about their own specific desires. After all, most husbands enjoy their wife’s orgasms and would happily put in the effort if it meant more. In fact, that masculine desire is strong enough that it can itself become problematic by creating a kind of performance anxiety for the wife–a problem only exacerbated when folks like Gregoire try to toss a moral obligation onto the pile.

But beyond these kinds of situations, there lie a whole host of cases where no one is really to blame. There are often physical, psychological, or pharmacological barriers to orgasm that are more the result of circumstance than anything else. But these unfortunate realities of life in a fallen world tend to be overlooked by women like Gregoire because blame is a feminist’s only real currency.

That’s why the orgasm gap isn’t really the issue here. Neither is Gregoire’s vague desire for “a Jesus-centered sexual ethic, rooted in mutuality and intimacy.” The issue is that feminists cannot countenance the idea that a woman could have an obligation she doesn’t feel like fulfilling. In the words of Gloria Steinem, “Feminism starts out being very simple. It starts out being the instinct of a little child who says ‘it’s not fair’ and ‘you are not the boss of me,’ and it ends up being a worldview that questions hierarchy altogether.” Blame is always the result when this attitude of selfish entitlement meets a reality in which God-given authority and responsibility truly exist.

As I’ve written before, sex in marriage is a duty. We all want it to be more than a duty, of course, but we must never regard it as less than one. If we cannot be bothered to even care for our spouse’s needs after making ourselves their sole provider, then we will neither achieve nor maintain the genuine intimacy and loving-kindness we’d like to experience. Accordingly, we should not regard emotional intimacy as a prerequisite for sex in marriage, but rather as the fruit of sex in marriage.

When we reverse this, we fall into the trap C.S. Lewis describes in The Screwtape Letters. The demon Screwtape observes:

The humans are to be encouraged to regard as the basis for marriage a highly-coloured and distorted version of something the Enemy really promises as its result. Two advantages follow. In the first place, humans who have not the gift of continence can be deterred from seeking marriage as a solution because they do not find themselves ‘in love’, and, thanks to us, the idea of marrying with any other motive seems to them low and cynical. Yes, they think that. They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion.

This demonic mix-up is no less damaging within marriage than without, and it is precisely what Gregoire is promoting. She despises God’s commands regarding sex in marriage so that she can prop up an idol of emotional satisfaction. As with any other issue, we would do far better to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all these things will be added unto us.

Like most feminist analysis, Gregoire’s complaints here do nothing but turn marriages into resentment factories. After all, feminism teaches women that they cannot feel safe around men unless they can control them, but nature simultaneously teaches women to despise men whom they control. It’s like turning off the tap and then complaining that that the sink is dry. But this is a strategy we’re all nauseatingly familiar with by now:  Sow anti-male resentment among women, claim that resentment as proof of abuse, and then use abuse to license divorce, fornication, and pursuit of women’s preferred form of promiscuity: serial monogamy.

Because in the end, there is a problem with the way evangelical culture views lust. It’s just not the one that Gregoire sees–insufficient hatred of masculinity. The real oversight is that while evangelicals will freely acknowledge men’s vulnerabilities to sin, they fail to acknowledge women’s. In fact, I suspect that this may be part of Gregoire’s problem here–she expects men to be as immune to temptation as evangelicalism pretends women are. Sometimes people drink the Kool-Aid simply because it’s the only beverage they’ve ever been offered.

In any case, women lust too–as badly as men do, in some respects. They merely lust along the lines of their own natural mechanisms of desire rather than men’s. But God offers the same solution to both sexes: faithful marriage. If evangelicals were more willing to acknowledge women’s frailties alongside men’s, it wouldn’t just be wives getting advice on how to help their husbands, but also husbands learning how to help their wives overcome temptation. And that advice would look less like perpetually trying to find ways to sate feminist demands for fried ice, and more like finding ways to become more attractive to their spouses.

As for men like Ravi Zacharias, help in resisting temptation will do no good to anyone determined to flirt with it. Neither does 1 Corinthians 7 somehow undo “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But we must not hide away God’s help from struggling men simply because some men refuse to struggle. After all, some men’s failure to abide by God’s word neither deprives it of its power nor gives anyone else license to cast it aside.

Posted in Chastity, Ethics, Feminism, The Modern Church | 1 Comment

Sex Without Sex – Dissecting a Piece of Trans Propaganda.

As I’ve explained at length, I do have a great deal of sympathy for trans folks. Their feelings of alienation from their gender are real, even if their proposed solution is faulty. And as absurd as we might find that solution, it’s nevertheless understandable given its context. They’ve grown up in a feminist culture which has deliberately sown gender-confusion, gender-hatred, and sexual deviancy in literally every area of their lives. Something had to give sooner or later, and unfortunately, it was their willingness to embrace biological reality. When we offer people nothing but an utterly broken sexual landscape, we shouldn’t be surprised when people begin refusing it en masse, and we shouldn’t be surprised that they do so in chaotic ways.

Sympathy, however, cannot be allowed to overshadow the truth of the matter. And the truth is that the vile and antihuman philosophies many alphabet people have embraced do nothing but devour life and sanity at a faster and faster clip. In just a few short years, we’ve gone from “Shut up and bake the cake, bigot” to “Shut up and wax that woman’s balls, bigot” and are now arriving at “Shut up and try to have sex with me, bigot.”

While this comic I came across on Twitter is by no means the first time I’ve heard that latest sentiment, it’s the first I’ve seen that expresses it with an appropriate level of grotesquery.

As you can see, each panel is brim-full of a seething hatred for the human body.

The inversion begins with the first panel. Do you find the opposite sex attractive? Do you like the way they look, feel, and sound? Do things like that make you want to join together in exactly the way you were designed to desire? All of these bodily impulses are the nuts and bolts of a healthy sex drive, but the artist would like you to draw a different conclusion: You’re only experiencing some kind of “genitalia fetish.”

That phrase is quite literally a contradiction in terms, of course. Even a quick trip to will tell you that a fetish is “any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.” In other words, a fetish takes something that isn’t sexual, but attaches an undue amount of sexual response to it. The genitals which create life–and even the breasts that nourish it, the strong arms which will provide for it, the hips made to deliver it, the various indications of fertility in the lips, the voice, the skin, etc–are all meant to direct our minds towards the act that creates life. But unlike these things that we’re all designed to notice and appreciate, a fetish involves things like feet, leather, and other non-sexual body parts, materials, or circumstances that activate an unusual erotic reaction in some people.

The artist desperately wants to sell you on the equivalence of those two categories–natural attraction and fetish–and therefore sell you on the contradiction. And so the panel presents the idea of genitalia as a wall of various disembodied bulbous objects–all of them interchangeably disgusting. It would be strange to have an erotic reaction to any of those, and so you’re expected to think it’s strange that you’re attracted to the bodies of the opposite sex. You’re not supposed to care whether genitals are real or some facsimile made of detachable plastic or mutilated flesh. It’s all a puerile attempt to get healthy people feeling like they’re the weird ones.

The second panel directs us to a the core problem in the entire philosophy of the trans movement–and one of the biggest problems in Western culture at large. It presents the desire to have sons and daughters as somehow alien–and even arrogant–despite the fact that having children is the primary biological purpose of sex in the first place.

It starts by acting as though wanting to have children is somehow a mysterious personal preference–one that can only be explained by a self-obsession with your own “exceptional genes.” Lacking any familiarity with a healthy self-respect, the artist cannot conceive of a desire to have children of one’s own as anything other than arrogance. But normal and healthy people tend to love their relatives and see them as blessings. They want to do unto others as was done for them and pay the love they received forward to a new generation. They want a posterity to whom they can pass on their blood and their heritage, just as they themselves are the posterity of their ancestors.

All this, the artist reduces to “biological children.” You’re supposed to believe children are fungible. You’re supposed to believe that they’re are a peculiar lifestyle choice and that your own flesh and blood are merely one arbitrary mechanism among many by which you can achieve that lifestyle. It’s about as sterile a view of children as its possible to have, and it’s meant to deceive you into thinking that sex–both the act itself and the division of mankind into male and female–has no significance with respect to having a family of your own. But this is yet another contradiction, because having families of our own is exactly what sex was designed for.

And yes, I know. A lot of people don’t actually want their sex to be fertile, which is why I already said this was a problem that extends much further than the alphabet people. It’s true that even those who do want their sex to be fertile aren’t thinking of their future children whilst in the throes of passion.  It’s likewise true that they sometimes enjoy activities that can’t result in conception. People point that out as though it somehow changes the nature of sexuality, but it doesn’t. If we were machines, it might indeed be indicative of either misunderstanding or of poor design. But we are organic rather than mechanical. We ought to view our sexual capacity as a whole and revel in that rather than trying to dissect each discrete action into meaningless granularity. We are alive; we are not machines with replaceable parts. We should view sex the same way, as it lies at the center of human life in some very important ways.

Moving on to the 3rd panel, we begin to see the artist beginning to exploit the deliberate confusion and uncertainty that was sown and turn it into shame. Having already cast healthy sexuality as a weird fixation on irrelevant biology, the artist now wants you to believe it’s bigoted as well. After all, you have no idea what a trans person’s body is like–you’re just making assumptions based on stereotypes. It’s accompanied by a picture of some androgynous thing in order to underscore that uncertainty.

Well, the sleight-of-hand is seasoned with a pinch of truth this time to make it easier to swallow. You really don’t know what a trans person’s body is like and shouldn’t assume. But that’s far less relevant to the subject at hand than the artist wants you think. After all, you do know exactly what it isn’t–the natural and well-cared-for body of the opposite sex which you’ve been designed to desire and appreciate. Trans can mean any one of a billion entries on an ever-growing list of invented genders, but the one thing it always means is a mismatch between what you claim to be and what you bodily are.

Setting gift-of-celibacy considerations aside, a healthy and mature man wants to be a with a woman, just as a healthy and mature woman wants to be with a man. He does not want to be with a man pretending to be a woman. And while he may find a quirky or eccentric woman entirely desirable, a woman pretending to be something other than a woman and demanding that he do the same is a different matter altogether. There’s neither shame nor guilt in deliberately wanting a genuine woman and avoiding fakes. But a man who pretends to be a woman is claiming to offer something of value that he does not truly possess. That attempt at fraud is what deserves shame–not the simple state of being wise to the scheme.

The 4th panel concludes by dropping every shame-payload in the arsenal and hoping they strike the target. Everybody’s already sleeping with trans people, doncha know?  If you don’t join this crowd the artist just invented (for a comic complaining that the crowd is too small,) then you’re a transphobe! Not only that, if you don’t want to sleep with trans people, you’re actually perpetrating violence and putting them in danger!

The extent to which those bombs detonate for the reader will depend on how much they were taken in by the earlier deceptions. The gullible and the foolish will be cowed into submission because that’s the natural reaction when one is disoriented and then vehemently accused of some kind of serious wrong-doing. But the rest of us will see that the artist and those making similar accusations are only engaging in emotional blackmail by holding themselves hostage, and we’ll move on.

If you want to make insanity like this appear normal, you must first treat normal as insane. That’s the only thing going on in this particular piece of propaganda. The real problem is that so much of the West has already rejected normal. We’re vulnerable because we were already both gullible and foolish when it comes to sexuality. We had to be in order to justify the way we’ve already been sexualizing the next generation. We all have much to answer for. But when boys, girls, men, and women become uncomfortable with their bodies because of what our culture has done, the last thing we should do is to turn that discomfort into all-out warfare by telling them their “wrong” bodies really are out to get them.

Sex is and always has been a package deal, no matter how much we struggle against it. That’s how God created it in the first place. Deliberately carving up sexuality by trying to have the parts you prefer while discarding the rest has never been helpful. It was wrong when “cishet” men and women tried to pursue sex without marriage, without children, and without responsibility. It’s no less wrong when alphabet people try to pursue sex without sex.

Posted in Chastity, Culture, Ethics, Family, Feminism, Natural Law | 2 Comments

What Can You Do About the Americans Next Door?

In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul talks about those whose consciences are seared through lies and insincerity. If you’ve ever been curious to know what that looks like from the inside, you can check out Virginia Heffernan’s tale of hatred in the LA Times.

Ordinary Americans have had to deal with a lot recently: livelihood-killing lockdowns, families and communities torn apart through cancel-culture, having their federal government stolen from them, and so forth. But those like Virginia who can afford “pandemic getaways” have to deal with far greater burdens, like a neighbor helpfully plowing their driveway without asking anything in return. Sure that might sound neighborly but… what if they did it while supporting the other political party? “Oh, heck no,” says Virginia.

The whole thing should be silly to normal Americans. After all, we don’t plow our neighbors’ driveways because we like them or agree with their politics; we do it because they’re our neighbors. Unfortunately, she isn’t just a one-off crazy.  She is the product of a furious effort to dehumanize Trump supporters and thereby turn Americans into a new caste of untouchables.

But as hard as the wicked are trying to paint their political opposition as evil and retrograde, the results are still incredibly fragile. Even a simple act of kindness can throw that manufactured worldview into crisis. How could a “Trumpite” who supports blue lives be so fundamentally decent as to freely help his neighbor without even being asked? How could a figuratively-literal Nazi be someone so charitable that even she was forced to realize she owed him some measure of gratitude? As she observes,

When someone helps you when you’re down, or snowed in, it’s almost impossible to regard them as a blight on the world. In fact, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed with gratitude and convinced of the person’s inherent goodness.

Now that is certainly true, but having her license to hatred suddenly revoked was clearly bothersome for her all the same. You can tell because of how furiously she works to rebuild the anthill that was just kicked over by her neighbor’s kindness. The typical approach of calling him a Nazi and moving on ceased to be a potent enough drug to dull her conscience. So she had to compare him to Hezbollah. Then to the mafia. Then to the Nation of Islam. Then to Nazi collaborators. After all, those people could all act kind in superficial ways. Right? RIGHT?!

So where does Virginia end up when she’s finished clutching her pearls hard enough to make her hands bleed? Well, she desperately tries to reframe her neighbor as someone who might eventually mature enough to seek her forgiveness for his sins. Then she offers a standing invitation for him to someday become human again in her eyes by telling her she was right all along and by serving her political agenda. No doubt, she considers that the height of magnanimity.

I’ve seen plenty of people on Twitter calling her a horrible human being, and they’re not wrong. But she is still very much human. It was actually encouraging that even this let-them-eat-cake liberal who views her normal American neighbors as foreigners in her land and blasphemers against her religion (the Capitol was “desecrated” on Jan 6, doncha know) was still able to have a crisis of conscience when confronted by a good deed.

It was, of course, sad that she chose to strike that conscience dead lest her hatred abandon her, but not everyone will make that choice. More and more will inevitably be faced with that choice, though. And rebuilding that anthill will become more and more exhausting. The far more horrible truth that folks like Virginia have yet to face up to is that so-called “Trumpists” aren’t devotees to a particular man, but simply genuine Americans doing their best to live productive lives while reclaiming their country and their heritage for their children. We are everywhere; and we actually love our neighbors.

The media and the progressive left have done an excellent job of whipping up hatred against us. With the help of fools like Virginia, they will probably even succeed in turning that into open violence before too long. But it’s hardly the first time in history that a people has been dehumanized to justify others’ hatred. Neither will it be the first time that God lays down those who shed innocent blood–especially to a nation of His children.

Posted in Christian Nationalism, Musings, Politics | Leave a comment

What Does “Sexualizing” Children Really Mean?

Last year, when I wrote about Netflix’s pedophilia movie, Cuties, one of the things I and many others objected to was the way it “sexualized” children. Now, the film certainly had its droves of defenders. And while most of the defenses they offered were wholly worthless, there was a piece by pornography advocate Jerry Barnett at Quillette that was well-worth pondering.

The main thrust of his critique has to do with that same term I used–sexualization–which Barnett argues is a nebulous rhetorical term meant to incite moral panic rather than to communicate a meaningful concept. He writes:

The idea that young people might have sexual feelings, desires, and even experiences, before reaching the state-mandated age of consent has triggered countless moral panics in recent years. I have closely followed and documented some of these panics, and encountered their proponents in TV studios, parliamentary inquiries, and university debating chambers. The instigators of sexualisation panics always claim to have evidence of harm, but they are never able to produce it. Beyond the obvious fact that non-consensual sex is certainly harmful, moral entrepreneurs tend to be driven either by deep moral (sometimes religious) outrage, or vested self-interest. When they talk about the sexualisation of children, they are almost always referring to teenagers who have passed puberty but are below the age of consent. And when pressed, they almost always mean girls. The word “sexualisation” is itself slippery and hard to define, and was in fact deliberately popularised by morality campaigners to paper over their lack of strong arguments for censorship.

He is indeed correct in certain respects. The age of consent is not a magic line which, upon crossing, humans suddenly become sexual creatures. We are all either male or female from birth, and are, at least in that sense, sexual. And those differing natures do inform our childhoods in certain respects. Boys and girls tend to have different interests, different behavior patterns, and so forth.

Boys and girls also relate to one-another differently. I can remember having crushes on girls as far back as 1st grade, which is about as far back as I can remember anything at all. Such childhood feelings are certainly very different than those experienced later on in life, but they’re also very different than what boys normally feel for other boys.

But apart from a handful of woke-scolds, nobody has a problem with these kinds of expressions of sexuality in children. Crushes, playing with different toys, wearing dresses vs suits at Easter, or other early expressions of masculinity and femininity are all part-and-parcel of a normal and healthy childhood. So that particular line has little to do with what anybody means by complaining about sexualization.

No, when we talk about sexualization of children or adolescents, we’re clearly talking about something different–something specifically to do with sexual maturity. And Barnett does have a point about the term being nebulous.

Part of the sexualization we object to is the prospect of imposing mature sexuality on immature people. The moral intuition of normal humans informs them for an absolute fact that there are some sexual behaviors in which children and young adolescents absolutely should not be engaging. There are acts their bodies are not designed or prepared for. They are weaker and more vulnerable in virtually every respect than adults who may prey on them. There are intricacies and consequences of sexuality which they are not yet psychologically or emotionally equipped to understand.

This aspect of sexualization is “nebulous” only in the way that any intuition is nebulous. It’s difficult for many people to articulate, and because it belongs to common sense and natural law, most people don’t really need to try. Instead, they can throw out a word like “sexualization” and normal people will immediately get the gist of what they mean. Intuition isn’t precise, which is why the so-called age of consent is always going to be somewhat arbitrary–it differs even from state to state, let alone from culture to culture. But it is still accurate in that we all know there is a line, even if we don’t always know where exactly to draw it.

But there is another aspect to what we mean by sexualization, and it’s nebulous by our own fault rather than by the nature of intuition. When we condemn the sexualization of children, we’re also condemning a kind of interference in “normal” sexual maturation. Sexualization doesn’t merely thrust them in before they’re ready, but actively damages their ability to properly become ready.

Now here’s what I mean by that:  Any healthy and moral society is going to direct the sexuality of its members towards marriage and family because that’s what genuine sexual maturity looks like. The virtue of chastity doesn’t hide sexuality per se or attempt to pretend that children aren’t sexual beings. After all, even telling your son or daughter, “you’ll understand when you have kids of your own someday” overtly recognizes their inherent sexuality. However, it does so in a an appropriate way because rather than forcing them into details which they aren’t ready to process, it merely sets before them a glimpse of the fruits of sexual maturity. It nurtures rather than undermines.

In contrast, pornography interferes with that kind of maturity. Fornication interferes with that kind of maturity. So does pedophilia. So does the behavior depicted in Cuties. So do many of the things that young teenagers typically do these days. Such behavior might come “naturally” to them in the sense that they do it because they feel like doing it. But that doesn’t make it healthy or mature anymore than eating whatever food you feel like makes for a healthy and mature diet. Feeding children a steady diet of unhealthy sexuality through mass-media makes stable marriages and families a whole lot harder and a whole lot rarer.

Now, one certainly might not agree with that understanding of sexualization, but the one thing it’s not is nebulous. But that’s only what I was writing about.  I’d wager that most of the people who condemned Cuties don’t actually share that understanding, and that’s where the problem that Barnett is picking up on comes in.

By natural law, we all know on some level that marriage is where sex exclusively belongs. But very few contemporary Westerners will actually recognize that knowledge despite the numerous clues scattered throughout our shattered culture and psyches. Fewer still will actually try to live according to that knowledge. Fewer still will actually succeed. After all, our entire culture constantly screams the opposite of what our malnourished consciences tell us.

The result is that most of us are at war with our own moral intuition, and so our behavior makes often little sense. Parents see their pubescent children behaving in ways that they know are wrong–ways that often horrify them–and they cannot remain silent. But they’ve hamstrung their own ability to discern and describe the “why.” So they complain about the youth not being “ready” without ever defining what “ready” means. They complain about how their kids are too immature without having any clear vision of what “maturity” looks like. They complain about a lack of emotional intimacy without realizing they have no business telling anyone how to feel. They try to reduce everything to consent and then flounder when trying to point out the problems with consensual harm. In that context, most of Barnett’s criticisms hit home.

The solution, however, is incredibly simple: Repent. When we’re willing to repent of our own sexual immorality and immaturity–when we’re willing to depart from our culture’s faulty understanding and embrace chastity–then we also become able to talk about sexual maturity in a way that’s not at all nebulous. From the perspective of chastity, Barnett’s criticisms quickly fall apart.

For example, he says there’s no evidence of harm resulting from sexualizing children. But if you define harm entirely in terms of missing consent, it’s not terribly meaningful to go on and say that consensual sex is harmless. When we take a broader view of sexual morality, however, the evidence of harm abounds: abortion, divorce, single motherhood & fatherlessness, STD’s, repeated heartbreak, hookup culture, hatred of children… It’s not a short list, and most of the facts aren’t particularly contentious. The list is controversial only to the extent that we ourselves have been sexualized to pretend that these banes are actually blessings.

Barnett also argues,

The problem for believers in sexualisation is the fact that, notwithstanding the growing prevalence and availability of sexually explicit material, sex appears to be going out of fashion. In an unprecedented cultural shift, young people are giving up sex in record numbers. This is hardly the outcome anyone would expect if they believed that insidious sexualising, pornifying influences are bombarding our youth.

But from the perspective of chastity, the problem with porn is not that it turns non-sexual humans into sexual humans. The problem is that it consumes our sexuality without giving us anything in return. Barnett’s observation about sex going out of fashion is itself part of the problem, not a sign that everything is swell. A lack of sex is by no means the aim of orienting sexual morality around marriage and family.

He even correctly observes that we treat the sexualization of girls differently than the sexualization of boys in order to imply hypocrisy. And from our wider culture’s perspective, it is hypocritical. But when we accept marriage and family as the picture of sexual maturity, then we get to say, “Of course we treat the sexuality of girls differently than that of boys!” The fact that boys and girls are different is the warp and woof of human sexuality in the first place! A sexually mature man is going to be very different from a sexually mature woman, and therefore so will the ways we nurture those two different kinds of maturity.

It’s good that so many people were outraged over Cuties–we were right to have been. But we also have to grapple with the reality that Barnett was correct about how much of it was nebulous. It shouldn’t have been. But as long as it is, pornographers are only going to be marginally inhibited. And eventually, another trial balloon like Cuties is going to succeed, and the P in LGBTP will no longer be overlooked. Our culture is an unequivocal sexual failure. For our children’s sake, it’s time for fathers and mothers to be truly counter-cultural and rediscover chastity.

And the only thing standing in our way is an unwillingness to repent of our own unchastity.

Posted in Chastity, Christian Youth, Culture, Family, Natural Law | 3 Comments

Who Are Today’s Lepers?

We hear a lot about how the church needs to reach out to the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. That shouldn’t be too surprising given our Lord’s example of ministering to the tax collectors, prostitutes, and lepers of his day. Nevertheless, there’s something very curious about the way in which Christians identify the marginalized today.

Nine times out of ten, these exhortations from American Christians focus on a very small and very familiar subset of minorities. Many say our churches needs to be more welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Others say we need to seek out racial minorities–usually blacks and latinos. Single women, of course, also frequent the list. These, they say, are the outcasts of society that our wicked churches have neglected.

But are they really?

See, the lepers of Jesus’ day were bywords and outcasts. They were the people everyone deliberately kept at a distance. They were the ones people loved to mock and were consequently ashamed or afraid to associate with. Jesus was often condemned for spending time among the tax collectors, the prostitutes, and the lepers he encountered. The Pharisees and other people of high repute were aghast that Jesus would eat with sinners.

That is not at all what we observe with respect to the usual list of popular minorities today. They receive the world’s accolades, not it’s scorn. The fixtures of our society go out of their way to affirm and praise them. They make haste to tell everyone when they include one in their organization. They take turns patting each other’s backs for their willingness to be sycophants. It’s a stark contrast to Jesus’ day, when none of the big authorities were telling him that they needed to do a better job with their Samaritan outreach.

And yes, this kind of false praise for these groups is even the case in more conservative church bodies, and yes, even with the alphabet people with whom there is usually the most friction. To be sure, orthodox Christians do insist on repentance for sexual sin, as is proper. After all, Jesus affirmed Zacchaeus for making amends, he told the woman caught in adultery to leave her life of sin, and the tax collector in Jesus’ parable went home justified because he confessed himself a sinner. As much as theological liberalism tries to paint Jesus’ teachings here as hatred, they are nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, conservative Christian are generally so desperate to be seen as hating the sin but loving the sinner that they often fall off the other side into flattering the sinner.

We never see a dynamic like that playing out in Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels. To put it bluntly, if you can use your ministry to a particular minority as a means of virtue-signaling to society at large, then those who belong to that group are ipso facto not modern lepers.

So who are the true lepers of today? Who are the ones to whom we would never say “you sit here in a good place” when they enter our churches on Sunday mornings? Who would we never want to deliberately associate with because we’d be afraid of what society would think? Likewise, what do we call people when we want to dismiss what they have to say, like how Jesus was called a Samaritan? With what do we tar and feather them when we want to warn others to keep their distance? Who does no one of good repute ever stand up for? Who does absolutely no one use to signal their virtue and compassion because they are held in universal contempt by polite society?

Incels. Incels are today’s lepers. They’re widely seen as pathetic at best and dangerous creeps at worst, and so people recoil from them. It’s a term of scorn that’s used almost exclusively as an insult. People don’t want to risk being associated with the term, and when it gets wrongly applied, most men will start getting defensive right away.

And yet, I have never encountered a congregation that publicizes how incel-friendly it is. I have never seen prominent Christian publications calling on the Church to start welcoming incels because they’re so marginalized, despised, and excluded from normal society. And “incel” is indeed the label people try to associate with any man who tries to call out society for the recent changes in sexual customs which have facilitated the rapid growth of this group of young men. In other words, if you actually address an issue that incels are concerned with, you run the risk of being associated with them.

Incels aren’t our society’s only outcasts, of course–just a good example because they’re the platonic ideal at the moment. Qanon devotees and other conspiracy theorists could also be a timely choice with everybody warning us to stay away from them. Racists and sexists have been deliberately ostracized for a long time now, though the way the terms are becoming undefined means that’s already on its way out. (Arguably, you might even count “housewife” for the way most people sneer at the label and most women fight tooth and nail to avoid it. But housewives tend to be very good at building their own small societies, so the “outcast” part is pretty blunted once they get going.) Really, there is no shortage of marginalized groups that people don’t fall all over themselves trying to affirm.

If Christians, congregations, and para-church organizations really wanted to be Christ-like in the sense of ministering to the outcasts and the downtrodden, those are the kinds of people they would be reaching out to despite the condemnation they would receive for associating with them. But they don’t really want to be Christ-like. They only want to be seen as Christ-like.

Christ, however, was never trying to be seen as Christ-like. He was simply fulfilling the calling his Father gave him by ministering to those to whom he was sent–including the blind, the deaf, the lame, the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the gentiles, the Samaritans, and every sinner. We should imitate him by doing the same. Not by starting some program to target some marginalized group or another. And certainly not by seeking the praises of men. But by ministering to those whom God has placed in our lives, and going to those to whom we are sent, no matter what boxes they might check.

Posted in Culture, Gospel, The Modern Church | 2 Comments

Hope Under El Presidente

So Joe Biden was inaugurated yesterday, and Donald Trump placidly left office without even bouncing the rubble on his way out. Those who were still hoping for some manner of last-minute Hail Mary on Trump’s part and those who had already given up on that option are now in the same boat. It’s time to mourn and time to move on. So naturally, the question that’s on many of our minds at the moment is where do we go from here?

Boomers, of course, still think it was just another election, but then, boomers aren’t going to wake up to reality this late in the game. Those of us who were paying attention know that this was anything but ordinary. And given the scope and nature of its problems, we also have more-than-adequate reason to believe that America is not going to have ordinary elections going forward. How, then, are American Christians going to grapple with an administration that is hostile to both our nation and to our faith?

What of Romans 13?

I addressed this question in the abstract not that long ago, but now it’s time to apply it in the concrete. Many of us are convinced that the election was stolen–and that Biden is not the legitimate President. Given the banana republic shenanigans of the past few months, El Presidente would be a more appropriate title. Are Christians truly bound to submit to an usurper under such circumstances? After all, I myself could falsely claim to have won the election, but that wouldn’t obligate anyone to be obedient to me.

Well, the unfortunate reality is that, cheater or not, Biden has indeed won rulership. Not because he was legally voted in–I don’t believe he was–but because nobody else is making a plausible counter-claim to the governing authority he now wields. If, as some firmly believed and I admittedly hoped, Trump had decided to press the matter further even through military intervention, I would have supported him as the legitimate president. And Christians who did so would be fulfilling Romans 13. But he didn’t. So was “the plan” a lie? Was it real but faulty? As before, the honest answer is still “I don’t know.” But whatever it was, it’s plainly over.

In theory, Biden is subject to the Constitution, but let’s be real. El Presidente did not gain power according to it, and few are actually following it anymore. Failures to properly carry out the election transparently and properly occurred on virtually every level of government. The Constitution has become the paper equivalent of a figurehead. He may not preside as the President, but Biden bears the sword and rules where it can reach.

So El Presidente is in power. Not absolute power, thank God–even emperors must bow to the bureaucracy–but it’s real power nonetheless. The local and national authorities are all in submission to him, and so we as Christian citizens must be as well–at least inasmuch as we can without violating our faith and our own God-given responsibilities.  That scope may or may not end up being quite small, but it’s there. We should keep paying our taxes, rendering unto Caesar, and so forth.

Until those God-given responsibilities lead us into new circumstances.

The Trump drama may be over and done with, but other opportunities for righteous opposition will arrive. Maybe sooner, maybe later. In time, alternative authorities will challenge America’s current regime. It cannot help but happen, for God has promised that the wicked will not prosper forever. Part of that inevitability is that too many Americans know the truth and will constantly find ways to resist the clown world these people are attempting to bring about. They demand what we must not give.  But even more importantly, this past year has shown that our governing authorities cannot even keep order in the streets. There is an evil, illegitimate, and corrupt government, yes, but there’s just as much an absence of true government.

That void will be filled by other men–hopefully faithful Christians–who find practical ways of fulfilling the responsibilities that El Presidente and his functionaries neglect. They won’t be rebels at first, but rather men fulfilling their God-given vocations on behalf of their families and neighbors. But in time, wicked governing authorities will make those men rebels who will not abandon their duties. At that point, Christians will once again need to answer the question for themselves: which of these competing governing authorities do I support? And then, if God is gracious to us, those better men will prevail and become the new authorities to which Christians will need to submit.

What of voting?

If the election was stolen this brazenly and this successfully, then how are Americans to treat voting going forward? Well, If you’re still looking to elections to change the direction of the nation, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. That game is very plainly rigged, and the powers that be aren’t going to just abandon such a successful strategy. We can’t count on the polls to change anything that our elites think truly matters.

But that doesn’t mean voting is entirely useless. For one thing, we have terrible elites. Not only are they bound to overlook some things that do truly matter, they’re probably not going to become any more competent at the whole enterprise. It was sloppy this time, even with their fanatical determination. It’s only going to become sloppier as they get complacent.

For another thing, Americans have many different levels of representation. Federal representation is a no-go at this point, but that’s not necessarily the case at state and local levels (though your mileage may vary depending on where you live.) Even as a mere tradition, voting still holds some ability to influence our rulers. The closer those rulers are to home, the greater that influence.

But American Christians do need to remove Democracy from the pedestal we’ve placed it on. We do not have government of, by, and for the people any longer. We need to start looking for other ways of affecting change. But we can keep voting in the toolbox, even if we don’t use it as often.

What of Christian Nationalism?

I’ve been talking about Christian Nationalism quite a bit lately. Does Trump’s defeat put an end to that endeavor? A lot of people may have conflated Christian Nationalism with Trumpism, but in reality, it’s nothing of the kind. A second Trump term would have been useful, certainly, but it was never essential, for nations transcend their governments. America still exists, even if traitors and hostile tribes rule over us for the time-being.

What it does mean is that we need to take a different approach. As I’ve already explained, recovering self-government by vote is no longer tenable. Instead, we need to do the hard work of rebuilding a culture–by being the men authorized to serve our families and neighbors that God has declared us to be. We need to look for voids in our communities to fill. We need to produce cultural value as free men. Most of all, we need to repent before God of our failure to preserve the heritage that was entrusted to us the first time around. It pains me to say it, but right now America has the government we deserve. We need to work to deserve better.

As I said before, I’m not ashamed of having rolled the dice on Trump. But Trump was only the quick option to restore America. While he failed, the long option still remains, just as it always does so long as Americans survive as a distinct people. It’s just going to take generations worth of work now to pull off. But we should have already been prepared to engage in that kind of labor. The fact that we weren’t is why we lost our government in the first place.

And in the meantime, we’re going to suffer. There are consequences to losing. This is what they would do to those of us who refuse to bend knee to the Lie. And they will, to many of us. More than ever, we’ll need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

But that’s just a return to business as usual for Christians. Satan has been using that tired old strategy for millennia, and it never works for him in the end. His head is already crushed under Christ’s heel, and by the Blood of the Lamb we have been made immortal. The devil can bury us, but he can’t keep us in the ground. The coming persecution will just wind up being his latest failure.

In Conclusion

In my analysis, the first American republic is dead. It is right and proper to mourn the loss. But America’s life goes on, and we are, in some ways, freer than we were last year. There is no tradition, civil religion, social contract, or business-as-usual that needs to weigh us down. It is time to move on and find new ways make America great again.

So pray for El Presidente–he’s our ruler now, fulfilling whatever role God, in His sovereignty, has appointed. But pray for the American nation as well. Go to church. Get married. Raise a family. Catechize your half-dozen children. Serve in your community. Become a useful and competent person. Learn to be faithful in the small things.

In other words, stop shirking your vocations. We are well past the time when our government is going to pick up our slack.

Posted in Christian Nationalism, Culture, Ethics, Politics | 4 Comments

Losing Without Shame

In the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol Building, most of my news and social media feeds have turned into a deluge of shaming from the left and the right alike. And in my own disappointment over Trump’s apparent concession, I’m as susceptible to peer pressure as anyone else. So I found myself wondering whether or not I should be ashamed.

I was, after all, more invested and involved in 2020’s race than in previous elections. All the evidence of election fraud and the the inability of most of our institutions to take it seriously was a wake-up call. So I did say my piece as publicly as I could. I also, for the first time, participated in the tradition of writing to various government officials with the authority and responsibility to do something about it. That’s a minuscule role, to be sure, but it’s a role nonetheless—an ordinary one for an ordinary citizen.

So should those of us who were involved in such ways be ashamed of last Wednesday’s violence or the blaring flat note on which American democracy appears to be ending? After some reflection, I’ve found that I’ve yet to be presented with a valid reason.

Should I be ashamed for not believing the election was over when the media told me it was? Not at all. There is a lot that we don’t know about what went down during this election cycle. There is a lot we will probably never know. That utter lack of transparency is untenable in a representative democracy, but America is currently stuck with it nonetheless.

What is absolutely certain, however, is that big media is filled with liars and political activists posing as journalists. To baby boomers, nothing is true until they hear it on the evening news or read it the newspaper. But the rest of us have moved on from such archaisms because they have proven themselves untrustworthy time and again.

It was never truly over until President Trump finally conceded–no matter how passive-aggressive that concession might have been. And even now with the election decided, it’s not truly “over” because there is no real unity, compromise, or even detente in 2020’s wake. There is only the progressive left looking to crush all dissent and tens of millions of Americans who will continue to find ways to resist such efforts.

Should I be ashamed of believing the election was stolen and promoting that belief? No; indeed, I still believe this. Does violence at the Capital refute the footage from Georgia? Does President Trump’s concession refute the forensic examination of the Dominion voting machine from Michigan? Does the fact that anger over this fraud led to violence mean that anger at the prospect of a stolen election is unjustified? By no means.

As much as they’d like to blame independent and skeptical thinkers for irresponsibly inflaming tempers, the only real irresponsibility was in big media refusing to investigate seriously, big tech trying to cover up the allegations, and our courts–both high and low–dismissing cases on technicalities instead of hearing them. If the evidence were really so easy to refute, those on the other side should have actually bothered to do so at some point. What America got instead was a barrage of mere labels that all amount to some variation on “conspiracy theorist.”

But what I wrote a few weeks ago still holds true. Skepticism of the results is an official narrative. If the prospect of a stolen election is a conspiracy theory, the idea that the elections were fair and honest is no less of one. Both sides believed a conspiracy because those were the only options we had. Any way you slice it, there was a conspiracy to steal the election. The only question is which party was truly guilty—something that should be decided based on evidence rather than peer pressure or fiat.

There is no shame in speaking the truth, in asking critical questions, or in a healthy skepticism. It’s true that not all the skepticism was healthy. And it’s true that some of the protesters in DC lost their tempers over the issue. That doesn’t mean it’s not a real issue. Besides which, you don’t hold your temper by pretending nothing is wrong, and you don’t help anyone calm down by yelling at them that they’re crazy. The shame is on all those elites of ours who failed to realize this.  If you run your election like a banana republic, it’s going to be disputed like a banana republic.

Am I ashamed that storming Capitol Hill provided an excuse to ramp up the left’s crackdowns on free speech? Once again, I can only answer “no” because an excuse is exactly what it was. The left and the moderate right alike have already been successfully cracking down on liberty bit by bit for a long time. Cancel culture was already intolerable. Big tech’s would-be oligarchs were already banning badthink. What does it matter if they finish 5 years faster than they otherwise would have? It matters very little to me, and absolutely none to my children. Either way, they would need to live their adult lives in a world where giving voice to common sense is considered violence.

Why, therefore, would Americans in my situation not take a chance to provide a better future for our children instead? Contending for truly free and lawful elections was an opportunity, and I did what I could to use that opportunity. The very nature of risk is that it makes failure an option, but a well-lived life still demands risk. This risk may have ultimately failed, but there’s no shame in mere failure–not compared to a refusal to even try.

And while a major battle was lost, it’s by no means the end. As our institutions continue to tighten the screws on ordinary Americans, their discontent will only grow. As our new emperor and his sycophants take more and more from us, people will find themselves with less to lose, and they will consequently take greater and greater risks.

A lot of our elites are going to find out the hard way that so-called “Trumpism” was never anything of the kind. They’d love it if the American desire for freedom died with his presidency, but it won’t. Trump was an opportunity to advance the cause of freedom over-and-against elites of both parties. Such opportunities were never offered by establishment conservatives who managed to do nothing more than maybe slow the social justice warriors down (while simultaneously providing them with cover). But other opportunities will come. Better opportunities will come.

Am I ashamed of the men rioting in the Capitol building? This is the hardest question of the bunch, as people lost their lives over it.

Now, it does seem that there were Antifa members present in that mob. But there were certainly many more Trump supporters involved as well. So while I suspect that Antifa essentially lit the match on the powder keg when everything went south, there is also more to the situation. It would be easy to blame Antifa and leave it at that—especially given then role in creating the lawless situation America now finds herself in—but easy isn’t always right.

So should I be ashamed of them? I do have a powerful temptation to answer “yes.” Not only is rioting something I never wanted to see , but like most Americans, I cannot conceive of actually doing something like that myself. I don’t condone what happened. I’m certainly embarrassed by the guy running around dressed up like a Minotaur. I’m certainly embarrassed by people on my side rioting—and that is what it amounted to, no matter how much some people try to label it as an “insurrection.” If the hundreds of thousands of people there actually planned to seize congress, they would have.

But embarrassment is not the same thing as shame, for the latter extends past mere feelings about social norms and passes moral judgment as well. As I’ve already said, we shouldn’t be ashamed of anger over election fraud. Neither should we be ashamed of people showing up to protest over it. On the contrary, we should honor that vast multitude who took action on behalf of their nation. And we shouldn’t condemn anyone for merely “storming” the Capitol Building when even the police waving them inside apparently had no problem with it.

The chaos of what happened next makes the rest extremely difficult to judge. But unlike most of the other riots this year, they weren’t burning down buildings and lootings stores.  It did cause deaths, but all but one of those were of the protestors themselves.  Whose side got violent first or why is not public knowledge.

I wasn’t there and don’t have a good idea of how events actually unfolded.  But as for however many or few subsequently lost control and caused and/or facilitated that riot?  I can disapprove of their intemperance and mourn its results without passing judgment on the whole for putting themselves in a situation that tested their mettle and found a relative few of them wanting.  I won’t condemn them for that while I sit here in my comfortable office. It’s easy to be temperate behind a keyboard from a thousand miles away.

And if any necessary retribution is necessary, it will be fulfilled with or without my shame. Unlike the countless Antifa and BLM rioters of 2020, those few who lost their temper at Capitol Hill will actually be punished for their actions. That’s the price of crossing the line between boldness and recklessness when you don’t control your nation’s institutions. Their actions had consequences, and they will pay for them. And I’m not ashamed of them having to either–only that justice has become one-sided in my nation.

And lastly, Am I now ashamed of supporting President Trump? As you might suspect by now, my answer is still no. We asked something extraordinary of President Trump. We wanted him to stand up to the collective weight of our entire media and political establishments in order to put America first and drain the swamp. We cannot ask the extraordinary but then expect business as usual. Someone who acted like the typical milquetoast Republican is neither what we wanted nor what we needed.

While I can’t claim to have particularly liked President Trump, I’m quite content with having supported him. I’m disappointed that he’s leaving office with a bark that has proven worse than his bite. But we can’t forget that even his bark shook our corrupt elites in their jackboots. They never would have hated him with that constant deranged fury of the past 4 years if he had never posed any threat to them. Accordingly, I still thank him for his service to our nation. If nothing else, we know what we’re dealing with better than before.

So we lost this round. And I suspect the next round is going to be long, dark, and ugly. But I’m not ashamed of trying to win. And make no mistake, this is not really the end. The wicked will not prosper forever, and so we know God will grant us or our children other opportunities in the future. For now, we watch, we wait, we pray, and we tend to the daily work that God has given us.

Posted in Ethics, Politics | 4 Comments

Does Christian Nationalism Cause National Christianity?

In my last post, I considered the differences between “Christian nationalism” and “national Christianity” (the former being a form of nationalism modified by Christianity and the latter being a form of Christianity modified by nationalism.)  While national Christianity would be a short road to false teaching and heresy, Christian nationalism is both necessary and natural. Christian nationalism is merely men who are both Christian and American rejecting the religious neutrality of the 20th century and acting according to both of those identities at the same time in the public square.

But there is one last complaint against this phenomenon that I did not have space to address last time. Many of those who decry Christian nationalism allege that it conflates American and Christian identities and creates some kind of Frankenstein hybrid of the two. Putting it another way, they suggest that embracing Christian nationalism would necessarily bring some measure of national Christianity along for the ride. So how valid is that particular criticism?

Well, “conflation” is certainly not the right word for what happens in Christian nationalism. If I, as an individual, am to be both Christian and American at the same time, then those two identities are necessarily united in the way I live–as they are in all American Christians. Christ lays claim to our entire lives, not just the “spiritual” parts.

But “united” is not the same thing as “conflated.” We may be citizens of both of these Two Kingdoms—the Church and Civil Government—but their responsibilities and authorities are different even as they proceed from the same God. For example, the Church has no need of violence to make disciples of all nations, but the State sometimes does in order to punish wrongdoers and protect right-doers. But at the same time, the State’s ability to discern between wrongdoers and right-doers should absolutely be influenced by the Christian faith of its citizens and their representatives. Likewise, on one hand, the State has no need to administer the Sacraments or preach God’s Word, while these are the Church’s raison d’etre. But on the other hand, when it considers how to deal with different forms of religious expression, the State does need to distinguish between things like gathering for a church service and flying planes into skyscrapers. So these responsibilities and their attached authorities do not need to be mixed or confused, but neither can they be hermetically sealed from one-another.

Our dual-citizenship in these Kingdoms therefore does create dilemmas for American Christians sometimes. But these dilemmas are resolved by considering our vocations—exactly what God has called us to do in our various circumstances. As my regular readers will know, I’ve written about such matters quite a few times. And while it’s not always easy to discern how each of our identities parse out in real life, the futile and contradictory attempts to keep our politics religiously neutral and our religion politically neutral has already failed utterly. I am both Christian and American, but I am only one person–not two. I do not have to or want to split myself between them in order to walk that fine line.

But if it is such a fine line, then, surely there are going to be a whole lot of American Christians who walk it poorly. So practically speaking, does that mean Christian nationalism will end up resulting in some degree of national Christianity? This may come as a surprise, but yes; I think it will. Does this therefore mean we must avoid it at all costs? No; absolutely not.

If you’re looking for an invincible political ideology that will never fall to corruption, your only option is to wait for the eschaton. Politics corrupts. Always. There is no nation that will last forever. There is no political ideology that fits all circumstances. There is no earthly authority that will not be abused and misused. As life changes, Christian nationalism in America will fail–just as it already failed once in the past, resulting in today’s multiculturalism and globalism.

In the same way, if you’re looking for an invincible Christian tradition that will never be affected by worldly corruption, you’ll be empty-handed until Christ returns. The gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church, but the various traditions she creates will inevitably have a shelf-life. Worldliness corrupts. Always. Even when that world is shaped by Christians for the better, it will still come back to hate us. Indeed, in the post-Christian West, it already has. The very institutions and ideas born from Christian compassion and faithful activity in the world are even now being wielded against their sire.

That’s a grim prognosis to be sure, but do not mistake it for fatalism. It is nothing of the kind.

Christians of weak constitution will perceive such natural consequences and simply give up and withdraw from the fight. They will continue in the futility of severing their faith from their politics, desperately trying to keep both pristine. But in doing so, they will increasingly abandon their responsibilities in both Kingdoms.

After all, we are not of the world, but God has deliberately placed us in it. He has called us to many and various worldly tasks. He has given us divine wisdom to carry out those tasks well. Pastors should condemn those politics which contradict God’s word. Laity should carry out their civil vocations as Christians and let God’s word inform their public lives.

That is why to the strong, the inevitability of corruption in a fallen world merely provides a scope to our warfare. We are not responsible for building an eternal utopia; we are only responsible for the tasks that have been given to us–including preparing our children for the tasks that will be given to them. We must learn to discern well. We must teach the next generation to discern well. We do our best, and then we lean on Christ’s forgiveness.

Right now, neither the Church nor the American nation are under assault from Christian nationalism. They are under assault from globalism, multiculturalism, wokeness, absentminded Marxism, and the like. Those are the battles that face Americans today–including Christian Americans. And as I’ve written before, these poisonous ideologies wreak the kind of havoc they do precisely because of the fake religious neutrality we’ve embraced. America needs Christian nationalism because that religious neutrality has failed. Right now, our civic responsibility is to provide for that need. If we shy away from that fight and instead throw down against Christian nationalism because of what it might someday become, we’re playing Screwtape’s game: “To have them all running about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.”

Now, if America succeeds in her present conflict, then in 200 years, American Christians may very well need to fight against whatever form of national Christianity that Christian nationalism devolved into. They will need to retake their ecclesial traditions from worldly corruption. They will need to retake their civic institutions from false religion. Such a battle will no doubt look very very different from our own.

But we don’t live in a speculative future when Christian nationalism is our enemy. We live in a very real present in which Christian nationalism is a necessity for reestablishing competent American civic institutions (and benign with respect to the common ecclesial corruptions of our day.) It is our job to take up that banner even if it may be our descendants’ job to lay it down for a time. To be clear, this doesn’t mean we embrace Christian nationalism as some kind of necessary evil. It means we embrace it as a good which is not immune to corruption—as is the case with all earthly goods.

We cannot fight every conceivable battle at the same time–though Satan would certainly like us to exhaust and defeat ourselves trying. Instead, we need to engage in battles we’ve actually been given. Right now, that means being Christian in everything we do as Americans.

Posted in Christian Nationalism, Culture, Ethics, Politics | 3 Comments

Christian Nationalism vs. National Christianity

December brought a great deal of hand-wringing from Big Eva and mainline liberalism over the “threat” posed by Christian nationalism. The pieces range from attempts to be thoughtful to puerile scoffing that tries to tie Christian nationalism to things like racism, violence, and–even worse–wives submitting to their husbands. But wherever they fall on that spectrum, they all agree that Christian Nationalism must be stopped.

The volume on that shared note is peculiar, as I daresay there is more open opposition to Christian nationalism than there are people who embrace the label. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting just how threatened they are by us even when we’re few in number.

In any case, there are a multitude of faults in this latest barrage, but the one that seems common to them all is a simple confusion between Christian nationalism and some kind of “national Christianity.”

So what’s the difference between those two very similar terms? Well, remember that the adjective modifies the noun. So Christian nationalism is a nation-centric political philosophy altered by Christianity whereas national Christianity is a version of the Christian religion altered by nationalism. Those are two very different animals, and it does us no good to conflate them.

Let’s look at Christian nationalism first. At it’s core, Christian nationalism is a political philosophy that involves putting your own nation ahead of others—just as any other brand of nationalism is. However, because it is informed by Christianity, it changes many of the how’s and why’s behind that priority.

For example: Whereas some forms of nationalism have people putting their nation first because they believe it superior to every other nation on Earth, Christian nationalism has people putting their nation first because it’s the specific nation into which God has placed them. Effectively, it’s the same reason we prioritize our own children over others–because they’re ours and we have a special responsibility to them. As Jesus told the Canaanite woman who beseeched him as king of Israel, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.”

And this kind of modified priority brings another important implication along for the ride: Whereas some forms of nationalism view other nations as consumable resources for one’s own, Christian nationalism does not–anymore than caring for your own children means a freedom to exploit other children. We know that citizens of other nations have been called to serve their own country ahead of others just as we have, and we ought to respect that calling. Simple adjustments like this can make a huge difference to one’s national priorities—and limitations.

Another difference made by Christian nationalism is that it embraces Christianity’s judgements on laws and politics.  To be sure, the Bible does not endorse any particular political system, and it remains silent on many legal issues.  It does, however,  pass judgment on many others and it inevitably informs Christians as they go about their civic lives. Christianity may not have anything to say about whether we should have a republic or a monarchy or on capital gains, but it has much to say on whether we should value our children or murder them.

Lastly, Christian nationalism seeks to minimize the extent to which the Church and the state are in conflict with one-another.  Some nations have done this by means of establishing state churches–an arrangement which has generally gone very badly.  But America has chosen a better way of protecting religious freedom and respecting the different roles that church and state play. Nevertheless, we live in a time when many in the state seek to impose a fanatical false religion of gnostic hyper-individualism in violation of that religious freedom. Accordingly, it’s become apparent that religious freedom does not mean religious neutrality. Christian nationalism rejects neutrality to try and prevent situations where the commands of the state contradict the commands of our God–forcing us into disobedience to the state.

As a result of differences like these, Christian nationalism ends up encompassing beliefs that are more mundane than the current hand-wringing would suggest. For Americans, it means recognizing that Christianity’s influence over the United States has eclipsed the influences of other religion. It means believing that a Christian worldview should predominate over alternative worldviews in American civic life. And as a consequence, it means that American heritage is inextricably tied to Christianity. A nation that tried to remove or sufficiently dilute that heritage could no longer be called “American” in the same sense as before.

Such beliefs may indeed be controversial in 2021, but they are hardly beyond the pale in the way that the critics try to portray Christian nationalism. Only a few generations ago, they would have been broadly expected. But much of the ire directed at Christian nationalism by Christians doesn’t really come from beliefs like those. Rather, they come from beliefs that would more appropriately belong to the category of “national Christianity.” After all, for the most part, they are comprised of Christian religious beliefs altered by American nationalism rather than vice versa.

Some of those beliefs, I’ve never really encountered “in the wild,” and so I suspect them of being strawmen. I’ve seen, for example, condemnations of the belief that being a good American is a key part of the Christian’s path towards salvation or even a belief that only Americans can be saved. Those would, of course, be ridiculous heresies according to real Christianity if anyone actually taught them.

Other condemned beliefs, I have actually encountered–either in history or in person. For example, some American Christians (falsely) give America some kind of place of honor in their absurd misunderstandings of end-times prophecies or redemptive history. Others try to turn America into some kind of second Israel–taking many of God’s Old Testament promises to His people and applying them to the United States. These are likewise false religious teachings that Christians are right to condemn and avoid. God may have given us the task of caring for our nation, but He has not declared any such status to America today.

There is also so-called “Trumpism” to consider. There are evangelicals who suggest that the President has some kind of special “anointing” that goes beyond the ordinary civil authority that God ordains and which President Trump lawfully possesses. (After all, everyone in authority has been specifically appointed by God to rise to the challenges of the day which their responsibilities present–not just President Trump.) Here too, we must treat this as wholly speculative, for God has not declared any such special status for the President either. Believe what you will about the man, but only false teachers present that kind of personal speculation as divine writ.

To be sure, I support President Trump. I’ll even go a step further and point out my expressed suspicions that many of the forces contending against him are demonic in nature. I am grateful to him for engaging in that fight despite all that pressure against him. But it does not logically follow that he is therefore on the side of the angels. After all, as Luther put it, God will often use one knave to punish another. And even if he does end up prevailing over the electoral fraud for a second term, that’s only the continuation of America’s struggles, not the end. We cannot presume to know God’s mind or plans and must never conflate our speculation with His Word.

So the various voices opposing Christian nationalism are right to decry beliefs like these. Nevertheless, those beliefs are not best described as Christian nationalism at all for they conform our religion to our politics rather than our politics to our religion.

Neither, I suspect, are they held by most Christian nationalists. Those are all elements of an American civil religion that stands apart from Christianity even as it borrows from it. But Christian nationalism is not a matter of America using Christianity as raw material to cast a spiritual light on our civics. It is, rather, a nation of men who are both Christian and American serving their country according to both of those identities. That isn’t something which the Church needs, but it is something America needs—desperately.

Too many such men have set down their Christian convictions in public because of a false narrative of religious neutrality. Christian nationalism is rising only because that narrative has failed, and more of us are becoming willing to let our faith into that area of our lives again. And that is not something to be condemned, but embraced.

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Merry Christmas

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

The Light still shines in the darkness. No matter what shadows you and yours may stand under as 2020 draws to a close, Jesus is king. The child born to Mary 2000 years ago still lives and reigns. May He continue to bless us with grace upon grace, that we might all find our lives in Him.

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