Accidental Scientology

If you follow Mike Cernovich on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a lot about DMT experiences and their spiritual significance lately. To quickly sum it up in meme form…

How it started:

How it’s going:

That second tweet comes off as bonkers, certainly; and it’s easy to simply ridicule and dismiss the whole thing. But while its good to be skeptical of his conclusions, we shouldn’t be dismissive of his experiences. I can’t help but conclude that there is a spiritual significance here–just not the significance Cernovich thinks. After all, if you’re familiar with the doctrines of Scientology, then this is not the first time you’ve heard the message in this tweet.

As I understand it, you have to spend a fair amount of money and do a lot of Auditing before they actually tell you this, but the Church of Scientology teaches that people are really Thetans–a kind of transdimensional quasi-omnipotent being. Unfortunately, we have been trapped in physical human bodies in the MEST (matter, energy, space, time) universe. The reason we don’t even remember this supposed true nature is because we’re loaded down by traumas from this life, past lives, and even false traumas that never belonged to us in the first place. These “engrams” are Scientology’s version of karmic baggage and are what Auditing is supposed to remove in order to cross the Bridge of Total Freedom and finally live as Thetans once again.

And yes, all of that is encompassed by a pulp sci-fi narrative involving Xenu (the tyrannical ruler of the Galactic Confederation,) a universe-encompassing video game, and all the salacious tidbits people love to make fun of. However, the core of the religion really isn’t appreciably different from Cernovich’s tweet. So while I can’t claim to know the going price of DMT, I’m guessing it’s something of a bargain compared to the costs of joining the Church of Scientology when you consider the similar results.

But there’s nothing new under the sun, and that’s true of  Scientology as well. If you look past L. Ron Hubbard’s schlocky writing, all you’ll find is the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.

Gnosticism was one of the first major heresies to pester the early Church. The Gnostics taught (stop me if you’ve heard it before) that people are really divine, spiritual beings who became trapped in human bodies in the physical universe. However, by gaining gnosis–the secret knowledge that only initiated Gnostics were privy to–you’d be able to escape from this material prison and live according to your true spiritual nature. They had a more fantasy-oriented mythology involving godlike Aeons, the Pleroma, the Demiurge, and so forth, but at it’s core it’s the same thing once again.

So yes, everything from Scientology to Star Wars to The Secret basically borrowed this whole schtick from Gnosticism. But then, the Gnostics only copied what they were told by that one angel of light who first offered secret knowledge to humanity with the promise, “ye shall be as gods.”

Now that might actually sound pretty compelling. All these different people from all these different times piercing the spiritual veil in different ways and all arriving at pretty much the same doctrines–just wrapped up in different aesthetics. It’s not that big of a stretch to think they were all hearing the same message from the same spirits.  These similarities are precisely why I don’t think Cernovich’s DMT experiences are “fake” per se. I do think he probably had a spiritual experience with the tea.

But there is a big problem with message and spirits alike: It all stands against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This is the advantage Christianity holds over all the various mystery religions:  It’s not that it rings truer or fits with our spiritual experience better. It’s that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead–not in the sense of a story or a doctrine, but as a matter of historical fact. That changes everything. In The Secret, Rhonda Byrne lists all sorts of famous people who supposedly knew the same old secret spritualism: Shakespeare, William Blake, Beethoven, da Vinci, Plato, Socrates, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and so forth. But the other thing they all have in common is that they’re all dead–their bodies have rotted away in the ground.

But Jesus is alive. You don’t need E-meters, secret societies, or just the right blends of herbal teas to know the hard fact of what happened out in the open 2000 years ago. And if you want to know about life after death, who better to consult than someone who actually died and came back? If you want to know about God, who better than the One who made the absolutely insane yet demonstrably sound claim to actually be God?

I’ll take Jesus’ word over those of a DMT Elf any day of the week. And Jesus says that His Father, the Creator of the universe, made a very good physical world and created us with very good bodies–not prisons that obscure and deny our true natures. Jesus himself took on that very good human flesh, and when He died, He rose to life again with that same very good flesh now glorified. He promises us that same embodied salvation in resurrected flesh, not an eternal life as wandering spirits.

Any spirit who tries to draw us away from that flesh is inevitably attempting to draw us away from the God who Created us with it. When an Apostle chosen by Jesus Himself instructs us to discern between good and evil spirits, he immediately points us right to Christ coming in the flesh.

Whenever you hear from spirits, it should always raise the question: Which spirits? I’ve seen Cernovich acknowledge the existence of both good and and evil spirts and seems to more-or-less associate them with angels & demons. He also seems pretty sure that he can tell the difference on the basis of the experiences themselves. But let’s just say I’m skeptical of the angelic explanation when I hear people start passing on teachings from “DMT Elves” and find the same teachings that the devil has been peddling since the literal Garden of Eden.

Could psychedelics open one’s mind to the idea of God? Sure. Humans are designed for belief in God. Denying the divine means ignoring those parts of ourselves. It may be that the kind of experiences triggered by drugs like this make it harder to continue sidelining those parts. But seeing a beautiful sunrise, a wide-open sky, or any natural manifestation of sublime beauty can do the same. It has been so since the dawn of time, for the heavens declare the glory of God. Humans are inevitably religious–even atheists.

The bottom line, however, is that none of these experiences are self-interpreting–not even DMT experiences. By natural religion and intuition, we can know that God exists, but we’re never sure where we stand with Him. For that, we have to rely on a Word from outside of ourselves. Not from spirits veiled behind secrets, but from the God who actually lived among us and openly shared our human nature:  Jesus Christ.

Posted in Apologetics, Gospel, Heresy, Paganism, Spiritual But Not Religious, Theology | Leave a comment

She’s Just a Woman

“She’s just a woman.”

Men and women alike have been well-trained to hate that sentiment. It’s the kind of phrase you only expect to hear from one-dimensional movie villains these days–the kind who will inevitably get a moment of girl-power comeuppance later on in the film. What was once common sense can become beyond the pale shockingly quickly, it would seem.

Like pretty much everything else feminists accomplished, driving this observation from the male lexicon was a tremendous disservice to men and women alike. Based on the presumption that women can do anything men can do, they encouraged us to judge everyone simply as people rather than as men and women. This was supposed to shatter glass ceilings and usher in a new age of opportunity for women.

The problem, of course, is that the presumption of equality is blatantly false. There is no such thing as a neuter human to which we can compare men and women. When men think there is and try to measure a woman against this fantasy, they inevitably judge her the way they would judge a man. But women are the worst men ever. If judged as men, most women would be considered weak, cowardly, flighty, manipulative, and compulsively dishonest.

So when modern men who were raised to expect equality start forming closer relationships with real women, they often find themselves asking a lot of questions that men from other times and places would have found egregiously naïve:

  • Why can’t you just set your feelings aside and focus on the problem at hand?
  • Why can’t you just tell me what you want instead of making me guess?
  • Why can’t you just pull yourself together and keep going?
  • Why can’t you just argue rationally?
  • Why can’t you just see things from my perspective?

The answer to all of these is, of course, “because she’s just a woman.” To be sure, any given woman might be able to do any of those things in some circumstances. That doesn’t mean she can do so in the same circumstances as most men, or that she will do so for the same reasons that most men will, or that she will do so as reliably as most men will, or that she feels the same obligation to do so that most men do.

So what happens when a modern, equalitarian young man finally encounters real feminine behavior? Ideally, he’d be able to learn and adapt in a positive way. This man will find himself saying “she’s just a woman” in a way that’s appreciative rather than diminutive. He’ll see the differences, appreciate what she uniquely brings to the table, and find ways to provide the kinds of things she cannot. He can genuinely love women and learn to live with them happily.

Unfortunately, feminists deliberately create roadblocks to this ideal resolution. They themselves cannot admit that equality is an outright lie and do their best to punish anyone who points out that the emperor is buck-naked. As a result, even though they can’t help but notice the differences, many men are burdened with a phony moral obligation to maintain the pretense of equality. They end up having a very hard time coming to terms with the real situation.

So what becomes of these men? Well, on one hand, you get men who end up being constantly disappointed by women. They’ll see the differences, but they’ll end up blaming the women in their lives for them the same way they’d blame a man. Instead of learning how to relate to women, they’ll learn that women are just incompetent and impossible to deal with. These are the MGTOW who eventually just give up, and it is not healthy for a society when too many men check out of life this way.

On the other hand, you get men who end up idolizing women. They’ll see the differences, but they will instead blame themselves for not behaving enough like women. Instead of learning how to relate to women, they’ll try to imitate them (and destroy their self-confidence as a result because men make absolutely terrible women.) These are the soy boys and white knights whose distorted masculinity ironically becomes toxic to everyone in the end. Unlike women, they will become truly weak, cowardly, flighty, manipulative, and compulsively dishonest. Nobody–especially women–really wants men to be like this.

The solution is simple (which is not the same thing as easy.) Men need to unashamedly  rekindle some double-standards and reclaim that phrase: “She’s just a woman.” It’s an observation they should be prepared to make rather than discouraged from considering. They need to hear it from their fathers and older brothers–even about their mothers and sisters sometimes. They need to hear it from each other as they reach adulthood. Not as a tool to dismiss women, but as a reminder that sometimes men need to assign a very different significance to their actions. And when they hear a woman complaining about the phrase, they need to learn how to deal with it as pique rather than injury. After all… she’s just a woman.

Posted in Ethics, Family, Feminism | Leave a comment

Parsing the Paranormal

So UFO’s are coming up in the media narrative an awful lot lately. There have been those videos from the Navy, segments on 60 Minutes and Tucker Carlson, comments from Senators, and the like. Apparently the DOD is supposed to release a report on it sometime later this month as well. Whether this will be a conversational blip or a more deliberate paradigm change is anyone’s guess.  But it’s still worth asking “what if” sometimes.

Our habit is dismiss the UFO subject as crazy talk; and we get to do that because the subject currently has no practical relevance to most of us. But if it does end up taking a larger role in cultural conversation, then dismissal won’t be so easy, and “crazy” isn’t a good explanation. While mental illness leads people to do and say things that most of us wouldn’t do or say, it does so in relatively predictable ways (which is why we have diagnostic manuals for mental illnesses.)

In fact, “crazy” usually isn’t an explanation at all. Rather, it’s one of the words we use (like “random”) when we have no good explanation but don’t want to admit it. And there have been enough accounts of UFO’s, alien encounters, and the like that it’s very difficult to maintain that all of them were either imagined or else a misinterpretation of swamp gas from a weather balloon getting trapped inside a thermal pocket and refracting the light from Venus.

So what’s a Christian to do if a new cultural narrative prevents us from simply dismissing the experiences behind all these reports and we instead actually consider the question: What does it all mean? You could just believe whatever the government and the media tell you, of course, but if you read this blog I’m guessing you don’t find that satisfactory. We’ve been absolutely buried in increasingly obvious lies lately, and there is not a single institution on Earth whose explanation I would implicitly trust. That leaves us to make our own judgments as best we can.

Unfortunately, it’s never easy to parse paranormal phenomena like this. Because they defy the usual explanations, we lack obvious categories with which to understand them. Accordingly, the problem is not that we have no possible explanations, but that we have too many with very little means to narrow it down. Let’s consider two of them.

First up: actual aliens. This is what we’ve been trained to think of when we hear “UFO.” Spacecraft made by biological creatures from other planets who are visiting Earth for some reason or another. It’s the quintessential modern conspiracy theory, and probably the explanation we’d be told to believe. But even so, I wouldn’t rule it out prima facie.

Many atheists and Christians alike presume that intelligent extraterrestrial life would falsify Christianity. I’ve even believed that myself. The thing is, the arguments that convinced me before aren’t good ones. The most common one I’ve seen is based on the fact that mankind has been given a degree of cosmic significance in Christianity. The Bible tells us that the whole of creation was cursed on account of human sin and indeed that it will eventually be destroyed in favor of a new heaven and new earth as well. That hardly seems fair to any potential Klingons and Romulans out there. So many Christians conclude that God would never act against the entire universe on account of human sin unless humans were alone in it.

I no longer find that argument convincing because of how often God does things that I would not consider “fair.” Most of the time, when we say that God would never do something, we’re really saying that we would never do that thing if we were God. But we’re not. And apart from what God has actually told us about Himself, we’re only speculating about His actions. So could he have created life on other planets? Maybe. Could He have redeemed those beings? Perhaps. Could those aliens have avoided falling to temptation in the first place? Possibly. Are there more ways God has of dealing with such a situation than we can possibly imagine? Absolutely.

But just because it’s a possible explanation doesn’t mean its the only possible explanation–or even the best one. Biological life, technology, and so forth may be categories we’re used to using, but when what’s been observed is so… well, alien, its unclear whether they are in fact good categories to use. And they are not the only categories Christians have available.

That leads us to a second possible explanation: Strictly speaking, the Bible does affirm the existence of extraterrestrial life–but in the form of spiritual beings rather than biological ones. In other words, Christians are told about angels and demons. We know that they are powerful on a scale beyond humanity, and that they are actively at work in this world. And while God certainly restricts the scope of their activities (see Job for example), those activities have included all manner of things we would consider paranormal (also see Job for example.)

It falls into that category because angelic activity is mostly a closed book to us. We know they’re there, know they’re organized, etc. God, however, hasn’t seen fit to disclose many details, and most of the Biblical details raise more questions than they answer. Presumably, humanity doesn’t need to know. Generally speaking we’re never supposed to see angels at work. If we do, it’s either a rare, miraculous circumstance or else that something has gone terribly wrong.

Of course there’s also the possibility of these beings doing deliberate harm, and that is where fallen angels come in. Everything we’ve noted of angels is true of demons as well, except that they are in rebellion against God. They’re clearly kept on a somewhat short leash but are just as clearly allowed to work harm against humanity in various ways. While some UFO/alien encounters appear benign, it’s hard to ignore just how destructive it’s sometimes been to some people and how deceptive its been when people talk about the messages they’ve sometimes supposedly delivered. I’ve also seen various anecdotes about ongoing alien encounters that responded to exorcism. I find it entirely possible that many or even most UFO encounters are demonic.

There are objections to this explanation as well, of course, but I don’t find them particularly convincing. One of the most common has to do with observations (or at least interpretations) of technology in these experiences (e.g. flying saucers and such.) To paraphrase of Captain Kirk’s famous question, “what does an angel need with a starship?” Well, nothing says angels can’t use technology. On the contrary, many of the Biblical images have them using swords, trumpets, bowls, and other tools. And if they’re doing work in the physical world, why couldn’t they be using tools that have some kind of physical presence?  Could human technology be at the point where it can occasionally record traces of this hypothetical angelic technology? Who knows?

Another objection is that angels are spiritual beings while many alien encounters describe something clearly physical. But then angels are described as having the appearance of physical bodies in Scripture–sometimes bodies that look human, sometimes bodies that look completely bonkers. Other times, demons are seen to possess the physical bodies of other creatures. So it hardly seems that the spiritual nature of angels would ipso facto preclude their involvement in physical encounters with aliens, UFO’s, etc. We just don’t know enough about the rules by which angels operate to either affirm or preclude the possibility.

And that’s precisely the difficulty with parsing the paranormal. We don’t know enough of the rules to confidently trim down enough of the possibilities. It could be aliens or demons, sure. But it could be a cabal of humans with advanced technology, time travelers, Nephilim 2.0, or just one giant elaborate hoax to advance some cause or another. Like conspiracy theories, the honest answer to explanations for paranormal experiences is generally “I don’t know.” Some possibilities may hold more appeal than others, but at the end of the day, there is more on heaven and earth than is dreamt of in our philosophies.

Now if the UFO topic actually becomes “normal” to the point that anybody can investigate, make accurate predictions, and find replicable patterns, then these explanations can probably be whittled down. (And yes, there are dedicated investigators who have attempted this, but considering how many wildly different conclusions these investigators come to, I can only conclude that there just aren’t yet enough facts from which to draw solid conclusions.) But if facts accumulate further, some explanations will fit those new facts better than others. But until that happens, there is no reason to commit ourselves to one explanation or another–and no reason to be ashamed for skepticism of whichever explanation the world tries to foist on us.

So if we do start hearing more about aliens, we need to rely on what we know rather than what we don’t know:  God is still in control. He has still given us work to do in this world. Satan still teams up with that world in order to to deceive and destroy us. If we do end up encountering “great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect,” we have no need to follow after them. Christ’s work and promises hold true through mundane trials like war, famine, pestilence, and persecution. They will hold true through extraordinary paradigm shifts as well–no matter what form they might take.

Even if aliens showed up on my doorstep this afternoon, Jesus Christ still rose from the dead 2000 years ago–that blessed reality is where Christianity stands or falls.

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment

Don’t Let Whim Dominate Your Marriage

Whenever the concept of marital duties  is brought up, it’s inevitable that the red herring of rape or “forced sex” is thrown out in response. In other words, if you contend that spouses have a responsibility to provide each other with sex, you’re inevitably accused of providing license to take sex by force.

It’s also a straw-man, of course. If a neighbor borrows your hammer and doesn’t give it back, his responsibility to return it doesn’t become your authority to beat it out of him. I’ve yet to see any contemporary Christian claim otherwise when it comes to sex in marriage.

However, I sometimes get the impression that the straw-man isn’t actually deliberate. Rather, I suspect that Americans have grown so mentally and spiritually shallow that many can’t even see any third alternative between feeling like doing something and being forced to do something. In other words, when they hear the equivalent of “Hey man, that’s my hammer and I need it back” or “you ought to return the things you borrow” they end up categorizing it as coercion simply because they wouldn’t be giving it back on a whim.

There are many reasons for this false dichotomy’s hold on our minds: Popular but rancid philosophies like utilitarianism, the dehumanization of consent inherent in our responses to so-called “rape culture,” and the idolization of romance have all played their roles. All of these pathogens have inhibited our ability to mature beyond the childish idea that when the world demands something that we don’t feel like giving, it is somehow being unfair. Instead of embracing those demands and learning to see more of what life has to offer, we remain imprisoned in our own myopia.

This development has not spared our understanding of married life. As a result, when some Christians hear God’s command to be sexually available to your spouse, they’re simply unable to perceive anything except an invitation to rape. Nevertheless, a vast, colorful, and wonderful world exists in the expanse between whim and force. Most of married like takes place there, surrounded by better reasons to care for each other than mere whim. And far from being an imposition, the most profound blessings are only available to us there. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Happiness

Wait, how can you be happy doing something you don’t feel like doing? Isn’t happiness just a matter of doing what you feel like? A thousand times: NO. That’s utilitarianism at work again, but even pagans living in antiquity knew that the most important kinds of happiness require effort and discipline.

If you look at many of the fixtures of modern life, you’ll find an astounding amount of superficially entertaining pleasures that divert us away from that effort and discipline. Consider how much time you’ve wasted by mindlessly channel surging, playing mobile games, browsing social media, and so forth simply because you felt like it. Has any of it actually made you happier?

We feel like doing such things because of the way they manipulate dopamine, and once we’re doing them, we never actually feel like stopping. When we’re zoning out watching some inane video, we don’t feel like getting up and engaging in more rewarding pleasures like reading a good book, taking a walk on a nice day, engaging in a favorite hobby, or what-have-you. But if somebody metaphorically drags us off the couch or we work up enough gumption to get ourselves up because we know we should, it only takes about 5 minutes or so before we become much happier than we were zoning out.

There are times when the same dynamic applies to sex. You may not initially feel like it, but it’s nevertheless more rewarding than wasting time on the mindless entertainment that pervades so much of our lives. And yes, sometimes you need to work up the gumption to do it, and sometimes someone has to metaphorically drag you off of (or onto) the couch. But not only do you usually feel happier 5 minutes in, your effort is also rewarded with closeness to your spouse and the simple satisfaction of giving generously. But beyond the moment, it’s also a long-term investment in joy because its an investment in your husband’s or wife’s happiness and well-being.

Responsibility

While the fool will look at his responsibilities as chains which hold him back from doing what he truly wants, the wise man will see his responsibilities as proof that things in his life have value after all. Take, for example, those hard days when sending your kids off to be raised by wolves can seem like a tempting option. Even so, you take care of them anyway–every time. And ultimately, you don’t do it because you’re being forced to, but because your kids are awesome, you love them, and you know wolves won’t do a job worthy of them. Buckling down and doing what needs to be done may not be pleasurable, but its nevertheless *good* because you know that the objects of your responsibility are more important than your whims.

We spend most of our childhood learning that, and coercion does play a role early on. A two-year-old needs to be told that he won’t get a cookie unless he finishes his dinner. But as an adult, we eat healthily for the sake of health itself, not because mom and dad won’t give us dessert otherwise. In other words, as we matured, we became responsible. We’ve learned about what’s valuable in life, developed the ability to prioritize such things over momentary impulses, and became empowered to carry out those priorities.

Well, we have responsibilities to our spouses as well, and sex is one of those. You have made yourself the only person they will ever be physically intimate with for the rest of their lives. How cruel would it be to steal yourself away from them? So you don’t rob them–not because you have no choice, but because you recognize that your spouse is actually valuable. He or she is more important than your whims.

Now, when responsibility is the only thing keeping you going for years on end, that is an indication that something else is wrong–we’ll get to that a little later on. But you don’t get to just shirk the responsibility until you get your lack of desire sorted out. By way of analogy, a husband might find his employment tedious and unfulfilling. That’s a problem a couple can solve together; but that doesn’t mean the husband can just quit his job and let his family starve until work spontaneously becomes fun to him. He knows his family is too valuable for that. The same holds true when a wife or husband feels that way about sex.

Practicality

Sometimes we do things we don’t feel like doing simply because it’s practical to do so–because it will get us something else we want. It’s not necessarily a matter of responsibility or even happiness per se, but merely deferred gratification. We do our homework right away so we can enjoy the weekend. We plant an apple tree so that we can get apples in a few years. We take an undesirable action now because we know it will be worth it to us in the end.

This is no less applicable to sex in marriage than it is to anything else. No matter how it’s portrayed in media, sex is not some discrete act of entertainment disconnected from the rest of your life. It is an indelible part of a permanent relationship with your spouse. In other words, sex has consequences. We always seem to talk about that in terms of unplanned pregnancies and STD’s for the unmarried, but seldom reiterate the positive consequences for the married.

Children, of course, are one of those. And while having them falls under the categories of both happiness and responsibility, it’s a matter of practicality as well. If you want children, you’ll need to have sex relatively frequently–including times when you may not have done it on a whim. But you do it because it’s worth it to you.

But beyond that obvious practicality, it’s also an investment in your relationship with your spouse. In nearly every case, husbands will take better care of their wives when their wives take better care of them. The Proverbs 31 woman is frequently discussed, but we need to remember the Proverbs 21 woman as well: “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” This is not just a warning to men about what kind of woman they marry. It’s a warning to women about what kind of relationship they’re cultivating with their husband. If you’re always bickering about things–including his frequent desire for sex, then you’re simply driving him away from you. Is that really in your best interests? Do you want to spend time with your husband? Do you actually want positive attention from him? Do you want him to work hard in your home? If so, then being sexually available helps to accomplish that. Withholding yourself does exactly the opposite. “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” is a cliché precisely because we need to hear it so often.

The fact that sex is exclusive to marriage is a clue to how central it is to the entire enterprise. It’s not just a matter of making sure children are cared for. Every consequence of sex–from higher concepts like intimacy & romance to mundane details like releasing hormones that facilitate closeness–serves the fulfillment of the relationship between husband and wife. From beginning to end, regular sex is remarkably practical for any marriage. Accordingly, it’s usually in your best interest even if it’s not your current whim.

Fearing God

This is the best reason for the Christian–though even the wise pagans were able to catch a glimpse of it. There are many goods in life, but God is the greatest Good of all. If we call anything else good, it is only because it reflects His Goodness in some way.

Some people can only see threats and coercion when God commands us. “If I don’t do what He says, then He’ll send me to Hell!” Some even see coercion when God blesses us–as though He’s merely choosing to use the carrot rather than the stick in such cases. But God’s instructions are not the quid pro quo of “God will do good things to me if I do what He says and bad things to me if I don’t do what He says.” They’re the reality that God is, Himself, Goodness in person. When we say God is good, we don’t mean that he meets with our approval. We mean that there is nothing greater or better than God. He Himself is the ultimate goodness.

Accordingly, following His Word is the best thing we can possibly do no matter the consequences. Oftentimes we do not feel like it. Sometimes we do not want to. Other times, there is a terrible price to pay for following Him. But it is always worth it simply because nothing can be greater than gaining Him. As Jesus tells us:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Accordingly, many Christians will eagerly try to fulfill the commands that He gives to us simply because He loves us and we love Him. Our whims are as dust beside that. 1 Corinthians 7 is not an exception to this blessed reality. It is only the peculiar sins of our culture that make us think otherwise.

I could go on; the list need not stop at four entries. However, this should suffice to at least give us a peek into a world that’s far greater than our whims–even when it comes to sex. Taking action for such reasons doesn’t make our actions less meaningful, but more. It’s truly unfortunate that the extreme solipsism of many contemporary women makes it all but impossible for them to catch a glimpse of such things. After all, happiness, responsibility, and the like depend on a world outside of ourselves that interacts with us on its own terms. But that world is not a curse; it’s a blessing.

That leaves us with one last item to consider. Surely, if a spouse never feels like having sex, there must be a reason for it, right? Shouldn’t we be trying to address that reason rather than just ignoring it and insisting on sexual availability despite it? Absolutely. Thankfully, these two things are not usually mutually exclusive.

Short-term reasons for rejecting sex are almost always addressed. Reasons like “not tonight, my period’s starting” or “not tonight, I threw my back out” seldom amount to more than a passing frustration. Long-term issues, however, are trickier. The problem still needs to be addressed, but the pertinent question is whether sex must be put on indefinite hold until it’s resolved. There, it really depends on the problem.

In those rare cases like a medical issue involving severe pain or a psychological issue involving severe trauma, then the problem really does need to be addressed first. These kinds of things can make it literally impossible to fulfill one’s marital duties. Though, if that’s something a spouse only finds out about on the wedding night, annulment needs to be seen as a legitimate option. Not everyone is capable of being indefinitely celibate for the years or decades it may take to work through such issues. Having that option is especially important if a spouse refuses to even try to overcome their issue or fights against every offer of help–there’s no obligation to stoically hold to broken vows. And if you know you have this kind of issue beforehand, you need to give advance warning to your partner and not get married unless you’re both willing to work through the issue.

On the other hand, if the problem is something more mundane like waning attraction, infrequent orgasms, being too busy, being too lazy, feeling uncomfortable, and so forth, then sex should absolutely not wait indefinitely on a resolution. These kinds of issues should be addressed, but they cannot be solved without teamwork and loving-kindness. Nothing erodes teamwork faster than deciding to blow off your responsibilities. Nothing injures loving-kindness more than deciding you don’t care one whit about the other person’s needs. Withholding sex over things like this (whether by explicit refusal or by punishing requests for sex) is always either a short and painful road to estrangement or a long and painful road to estrangement.

The West’s childish myopia towards everything other than whim and coercion has caused incalculable harm–both within marriage and without. But Christians need not be slaves to that culture. We don’t have to conform ourselves to the modern Pharisees who insist that sex is wrong if we don’t feel like it. That’s a tradition of men, not a command of God. The Christian must instead consider not only 1 Corinthians 7, but also Hebrews 12:10-11:

[God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Marriage does not exempt us from God’s discipline. On the contrary, it’s all the more important that husbands and wives submit themselves to it.

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

And Women Rule Over Them

Another day, another university student falls victim to SJWs–that was my first thought upon reading this account of Kieran Bhattacharya, a UVA student who dared to ask critical questions about Critical Race Theory at a panel discussion.

After the event, assistant professor/organizer Nora Kern found them “a bit too pointed,” so she filled out a kind of formalized complaint called a “professionalism concern card” against him. Kern found Bhattacharya “antagonistic,” perceived “frustration/anger” from him, and judged him “disrespectful.”

From there, the UVA administration escalated its response against Bhattacharya. They began by offering meetings to help him “understand” and “cope” with conversations. They sent him a letter reminding him about “mutual respect” and how to “express yourself appropriately.” Then they suggested counseling. Then they demanded counseling and a psychological evaluation. When Bhattacharya continued his penchant for asking clarifying and critical questions about all these accusations and mandates, it only cemented the administration’s views.

The end result, according to Reason, was that Bhattacharya “was ultimately suspended for ‘aggressive and inappropriate interactions in multiple situations.’ On December 30, UVA police ordered him to leave campus.” They add the comment:

UVA’s administration engaged in behavior that can be described as “gaslighting.” Administrators asserted that Bhattacharya had behaved aggressively when he hadn’t, and then cited his increasing confusion, frustration, and hostility toward the disciplinary process as evidence that he was aggressive. And all of this because Bhattacharya asked an entirely fair question about microaggressions, a fraught subject.

Bhattacharya is suing UVA on free speech grounds, and his lawsuit has been allowed to proceed. I wish him success in that.

This kind of thing has become such a dog-bites-man story that I almost didn’t even bother to read past the headline at first. Yes, we all know that universities aren’t places for free inquiry or critical thinking any longer. Yes, we know they’re infested from top to bottom with SJW’s who are only capable of overcoming criticism by fiat. Yes, we know innocent students get cut down pretty regularly when they become that one stalk of wheat that stands a little higher than the rest.  But when I did read more, something different struck me about the whole the situation this time around.

When you look at the narrative as a whole, it’s exactly what a man trying to push a rational argument onto an insecure wife or girlfriend looks like.

It starts with presenting a reasonable challenge to something she said. But if the initial response to that challenge isn’t immediately and completely accepted, she has to attack whoever made her feel threatened. The conversation swiftly departs from both reason and the original topic. Instead, it gravitates towards things like tone, fairness, feelings, and so forth. Proportion is quickly left in the dust as each perceived peccadillo becomes a representative of every peccadillo that’s ever been inflicted on her. If neither party just lets the matter go, the gaslighting about aggression starts. Counseling is first suggested and then demanded. Finally, the inevitable break-up happens.

So to put it briefly and bluntly, there is a very clear feminine pattern to the whole debacle. It certainly brought Isaiah 3:12 to mind:

My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

Going back to check the details, I wasn’t surprised that the principle defendants mentioned in the article were, indeed, both women. Yes, that’s offensive, and I’ll get into the nuance later on. But for now I want to consider a question raised by that pattern: How much of the problem with Western Universities is a problem with leftism, and how much is a problem with having put too many women in charge?

Back in the day, I took a class on epistemology taught by a professor who was both far-left and a committed logical-positivist. A few days into the course, I politely challenged him on one of the contradictions in that line of thought. Rather than trying to discipline me, his response was actually to come over and shake my hand–thanking me for opening up a critical discussion because too few of his students actually do that. And we proceeded to have a polite and edifying one.

Why did he do that? Because at the end of the day, whatever our philosophical differences, the man was still good at being a professor. He knew that understanding was borne out of rationally challenging ideas. He recognized value in debate and critical discussions in the academy. Interestingly, he didn’t really dispute that logical positivism was contradictory. His take was more of a conviction that contradictions or no, it was the only way forward for human unity. He believed it was impossible for philosophy to return to anything else, and no viable alternatives were forthcoming. That conviction also gave him sufficient confidence that he never really felt threatened when a student challenged his worldview.

Now don’t get me wrong: The fact that every philosophy professor I had was a committed leftist is still problematic. The fact that a student has to be well-prepared to defend the good, true, and beautiful before studying the subject matter under them is also problematic. And as I’ve written before, certain leftist philosophies like Critical Theory are so anti-reason that they’re incompatible with meaningful higher learning. But in many cases, one could still learn a lot from good leftist professors, question them critically, and get along with them well so long as one applied himself.

But none of those things are possible under professors and administrators who act like insecure women that find reasonable argument threatening. That’s a big problem with the feminization–or perhaps emasculation–of higher education.

Now we come to the nuance and disclaimers. Am I saying that women should never be professors or administrators? No. I suspect all women act like this at least some of the time, but not necessarily all or even most of the time. If you go back and read carefully, I said that this is how arguments with insecure women usually go. While insecurity holds a more prominent place in women’s psyches than men’s in general, obviously some women will end up acting this way a lot more often than others. Some may barely act this way at all.

Well, can’t men act that way too? Absolutely. But then you have to stop to consider exactly what kind of men we’re talking about. For the most part, they’d fall into the “gamma male” category that Vox Day coined. Gammas are essentially men who have adopted more feminine character traits. They tend to be insecure, passive-aggressive in conflict, strategically and superficially “nice”, dishonest for the sake of social appearance, and catty. And because they’re male and therefore absolutely terrible at being women, men & women alike tend to find them repulsive. While feminine character traits are great in women, they aren’t at all great in men.

But how did these gammas pick up all those feminine traits anyway? There could be a lot of different reasons, of course. Their fathers could have been distant, absent, or weak (or conversely, so buffoonishly alpha that they treated their boys as failed competitors rather than as sons, and drove them away from masculinity.) Their mothers could have been overbearing, passive-aggressive nags, or simply single. They could have spent a lot more time growing up with female teachers and day-care workers than with any positive male role models. Nevertheless, one way or another, they learned how to get by in life through pleasing women in the way that a child would–but never how to stand on their own two feet or to get along with women in the way a man would. They lack the ability to provide security for themselves or others.

So then isn’t the problem more with insecurity than with female inclusion?  Well, yes and no.  Perceptions of security are one of the areas in which men and women tend to diverge pretty significantly–and it’s a matter of both design and experience. While I’m not going to get into the details here, men are expected to be able to provide security for themselves. When we feel insecure, we generally try harder to generate that security. But despite the feminist girl-power tropes, women typically gain their security from men in one way or another. Maybe that’s directly through a strong relationship with a father, husband, or brother who supported them well or whom they know is looking out for them. Or maybe it’s simply through benefiting from an advanced civilization built primarily by men. Either way, when women feel insecure, they generally appeal to an amenable authority.  Accordingly, avoiding the kind of pervasive insecurity that leads to situations like the one at UVA requires a strong masculine foundation.

The West’s rampant feminism has, of course, eroded that foundation terribly. This didn’t merely happen through the inclusion of women in higher education, but through redesigning it so that women rather than men would tend to excel in it. Should we really be surprised that institutions reorganized by women and gammas will start seeing rational criticism as a threat that must be excised and punished through policy? You can also see the same kind of dynamic at work in HR departments, social services, and other professional settings where women end up ruling.

Now, despite how some people will want to read this post, it’s not a call to throw women out of universities and other professional settings. Women have always participated is such settings to some degree, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, a call to reevaluate our assumptions about increased female inclusion being a positive goal. Many of our attempts to reengineer institutions to provide a level playing field for the sake of female inclusion have turned those institutions into overbearing monstrosities. Despite the frantic claims of liberals and conservatives alike, the West doesn’t actually need more women in leadership. As American Christian men build replacements for our institutions, we’re going to need to consider how much inclusion we actually want.

It’s easy for conservatives to blame leftism. They’re used to it, it’s comfortable, and there’s a lot of truth to it. But it’s not necessarily the only or even biggest problem. I don’t blame anyone for being offended at this prospect. But if we only consider the mistakes that our decayed culture allows us to consider without offense, we’ll never make sufficient use of the opportunity to learn from them.

Posted in Feminism, Musings | 6 Comments

The Vocation of Hate

A friend of mine recently let me know that Milo Yiannopoulos is working on a new book, Make America Hate Again, which appears to be a Christian exhortation to hatred. From the looks of it, it’s shaping up to be about as provocative as one would expect considering the author.

But hatred is a concept that American Christians ought to seriously reconsider–with or without Milo’s usual flair. After all, the postmodern world has transmuted “hatred” into buzzword conjured by social justice warriors using a dozen different flavors of Critical Theory as reagents. They continuously signal their virtues by vocally opposing this sort of hatred whenever they think they may be noticed doing so. And worldly Christians, of course, slavishly follow this trail blazed by the politically fashionable.

But how should faithful Christians think of hatred?

There is still the temptation to simply agree with the world on this one. After all, God is love, right? And hate is the opposite of love, right? So clearly Christians should also see hatred as pure evil, right?  Well that’s not what God says about Himself, as a quick trip through Scripture will make plain.

To be sure, it’s easy enough to find verses that condemn hatred.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
Proverbs 10:12

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Proverbs 13:24

Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 3:14b-15

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
Leviticus 19:20

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:3-5

But it’s also easy enough to find verses that approve of and even command hatred:

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Proverbs 8:13

Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.
Amos 5:15

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Revelation 2:5-6

O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the life of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 97:10

So it would seem that hatred is a “sometimes food” for the Christian. We are to hate the correct things in the correct way and refrain from hating the wrong things or in the wrong way. Accordingly, this is a matter that calls for wisdom and discernment rather than merely proof-texting.

The conventional version of that wisdom is often summed up with a very popular phrase: “Hate the sin; love the sinner.” In other words, Christians are right to hate evil deeds, but we must stop short of hating the people who do them. While you won’t find that phrase anywhere in the Bible, it does enjoy a certain pedigree, as St. Augustine coined a very similar phrase, “love for mankind and hatred for sins.”

And really, it is a decent proverb, so long as it isn’t misused. God called all of His creation very good. That includes humans. Accordingly, a man’s existence is good, while the disordering of that existence is evil. But that can’t really be the whole of the matter either. After all, God clearly does not limit Himself in this way. He sometimes describes Himself as hating the sinner along with the sin.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Psalm 5:4-6

“Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever’.”
Malachi 1:2b-4

And while I could recall no explicit exhortations for Christians to hate persons, there are the imprecatory Psalms to consider. These are prayers we have been given by God to pray, and yet they contain things like this:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Psalm 139:19-22.

So once again, proof-texting has failed us, and so we must rely on God’s promise that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Upon reflection, I find that it’s not the collection of out-of-context verses I’ve presented that are confused, but rather our own shallow understanding of hatred.

I call it shallow because we generally think of hatred the way a child does: double-plus-dislike. But that’s not the extent of what’s going on in any of the verses I’ve cited so far. Hatred typically involves some intense emotions  to be sure (e.g Psalm 139,) but the core of hatred is not a matter of feelings, but a matter of dedicated and unrelenting opposition.  It’s matter of making oneself an implacable enemy to the object of your hatred. There are many reasons a person might commit themselves to such a course–not just some kind of personal animosity, prejudice, or lust for violence. When we go back to the verses above with a broader understanding of hate, we start to understand how they all fit together.

The forbidden kinds of hatred are very clear. When we put ourselves in opposition to our brothers, we stir up strife, but loving forgiveness and reconciliation can heal the offenses which divide us. If we commit ourselves to destroying our brothers’ well-being, we have broken the 5th Commandment. We reason with our neighbors when we have disputes instead of making them our mortal enemies. We do not spoil our children because we intensely dislike them, but by spoiling them we set ourselves against them by catastrophically undermining their well-being.

But the enjoined kinds of hatred are clear as well.  If we fear God, then we naturally hate whatever evil opposes Him. We are to deliberately and relentlessly oppose evil when it confronts us. When we oppose evil and love good, we establish justice as a result. We should stand up to oppose false teachers like the Nicolaitans, and when our brothers in Christ are under assault, we stand with them in faithful opposition to those who would do them harm.

As for God’s hatred of persons, He absolutely opposes evildoers rather than merely opposing sin as some kind of abstraction. That doesn’t mean He intensely and personally dislikes sinners. On the contrary, He tells us that He so loves sinners that he sent His only Son to die for them. Likewise, He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wants all to repent. Nevertheless, God does set Himself in opposition to many people–both individuals and nations. He raises up many a Jacob but casts down many an Esau. He brings destruction on those who persist in their wickedness.

And that brings us to our final question: Should Christians likewise hate evildoers rather than merely hating evil?

In many respects, the answer is no. We are not God and should not put ourselves in His place. But as is so often the case with proper Biblical ethics, the complete answer is a matter of vocation. Just as God has sometimes called us to do violence or to resist governing authorities, so also we must sometimes hate evildoers when and only when it’s our job to do so.

The soldier, for example, must hate the enemy soldiers–not necessarily in the sense of cultivating personal dislike or national animosity, but in the sense of seeking their destruction. Likewise, the judge must hate the guilty. However he feels about the man on trial, its his job to see him convicted and ultimately punished if he has indeed broken the law. The father also must hate those who are trying to harm or corrupt his wife and children, for it is his job to protect and defend those in his care. (And this vocation of father is much broader than the modern world would have us believe.) Whether through these vocations or others, God has given us work to do in this world, and sometimes hatred is our business.

Even in such cases, we should have a care because any vocational hatred we may develop needs to be laid down when we’re “off the clock.” The judge needs to give up his hatred of the convict when he’s off the bench and sees him in his neighborhood. The soldier needs to give up his hatred of the enemy when either he or the enemy soldier has been discharged. When his family is safe again, the father must forgive the man who tried to harm them.

These are not always easy transitions to make. Therefore, we must be careful to avoid cultivating the kinds of hatred that make the transition harder. God has not told us that we must be dispassionate machines in these vocations who never dislike our enemies or feel joy over harming them. Nevertheless, the more visceral and personal we allow a hatred to become, the harder it is to let go. Lutheran theologians often call the judgment of the wicked God’s “alien work.” Vocational hatred should be just as alien to us.

All that said, more often than not we hate without any direction from the Lord. We hate because we were wronged. We hate because we were offended. We hate because we were reminded of unpleasant truths. We hate because we are envious. We hate because we are entitled. We hate because we are prejudiced. The list goes on and on, but none of those things give us any authority to relentlessly oppose the ones who have done us harm. It’s not a matter of whether the harm is real or imagined, but of what God has actually called us to do about it.

Apart from more specific vocations, this is our calling:

You have heard that it was said, “you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:43-45

We all have enemies, and we have all suffered some degree of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the Bible consistently teaches us to leave it to the Lord to avenge such things. We ought to pray that God would do so, and sometimes we might even use the kind of colorful language we read in the Psalms. But retribution remains God’s responsibility, not ours. Sometimes He does delegate temporal retribution to temporal authorities, and sometimes we are those authorities. But eternally, He avenged all of that wrongdoing by sending His Son to die for us. That blessed retribution should always color the way that we perceive any wrong done against us.

The Cross does not remove all temporal responsibilities anymore than it does temporal consequences of sin. It does not require armies to disband or prisons to shut down. But if any man makes a decision to set himself against another to destroy him, he had best be certain that God has given him that authority, or he will incur judgment against himself. Accordingly, it does not befit a Christian to look for excuses to hate, as we are constantly tempted to do. After all, the only thing worse than a busybody is a hateful busybody.

On the other hand, if God has given a Christian the responsibility to hate, then he had best carry it out to his utmost. We overcome evil with good, but not necessarily with niceness. Understanding our vocations and what they require of us is precisely how we manage to love our enemies without hating our friends.

May God gives all of us wisdom to carry out this difficult charge.

Posted in Ethics, Law, Theology | 2 Comments

Cut Off From The Land

I’ve recently begun leading a study of Proverbs at my congregation, and was particularly stuck by the end of the 2nd chapter:

So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

This summary comes at the tail-end of a section in which Solomon teaches us how to pursue Wisdom and why she is precious. Included in all that, of course, are some of the consequences of abandoning the path of Wisdom for the path of foolishness. And capping that all off is this very interesting phrase:  cut off from the land.

As usual, this can be understood on a number of levels. Most directly, Solomon is probably referring to the land of Israel which God had given his people as an inheritance. After all, among the Covenant curses which God declared in Deuteronomy 28 is verse 63: “As the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” That covenantal consequence is mirrored by the eschatological one: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and those who reject Him are lost eternally, not just temporally.

But Wisdom is not Wisdom to Israel alone, for she cries aloud in the streets, the markets, and at the city gates so that anyone can hear her. And it is not Israel alone which was blessed by God with an earthly inheritance. Many–indeed most–have received a treasury of love, privilege, and maybe even property from their fathers which they wish to pass on to children of their own. And it should be no surprise that foolishly following the paths of the wicked has a tendency to destroy anyone’s heritage before too long.

Ironically, that’s exactly what happened to Solomon himself as he foolishly accumulated foreign women as brides and then accommodated their desire to worship idols and lead him away from the Lord. The end result was the division of the kingdom, most of which ended up in the hands of his servant, Jeroboam, instead of his own foolish son and heir, Rehoboam. And there was precious little good to be said of most of Israel’s subsequent kings. David and Solomon were the high water marks for Israelite kings until Christ–and He did not preserve the nation in an earthly sense, but delivered an imperishable heritage to his people rather than an earthly one.

That whole dynamic is also precisely what we see playing out in our own nation of fools today.

The wise build an inheritance for their children. They raise them, teach them, pass on their wisdom and know-how, and do everything in their power to leave their children better off than they themselves were. In a word, it’s a father’s job to privilege his own children in this way. That’s precisely what a healthy civilization looks like: the nation’s mothers and fathers constantly investing in their posterity rather than consuming everything they produce.

Today, we see the exact opposite of this going on in America. Our debt amply demonstrates that we don’t even stop at consuming all that we produce for ourselves; we even consume now what we expect our children to someday produce as well. We actually borrow from our sons and daughters instead of investing in them. The Baby Boomers–a gaggle of fools and scoffers if ever there was one–will be the first generation of Americans to leave their children worse off instead of better. Many (not all) of them even go so far as to see any inheritance they might leave as “lost” money that they never had a chance to spend (or as something to be passed on to the government or a 501c3 instead of their children.)

And that’s for the children that were actually born in the first place. The US birth rate plummeted during the 60’s and early 70’s to levels even below where they fell during the Great Depression. And they stayed there thanks to Boomers diligently promoting education and career above family. On top of that, we have the mass murder of the unborn by the millions since ’73 to consider. Older people sometimes joke about surviving lead paint, riding bicycles without helmets, not having car seats, and so forth. But a full quarter of my generation was actually murdered in utero. That’s a lot of innocent blood for a nation to contend with.

And how did they deal with the population shortfall? Boomers embraced the largest mass migration in human history to “do the jobs Americans won’t do.” In other words, they imported people in to be their servants (a strategy that has never worked out well for America.) They even looked the other way when tens of millions arrived illegally because “undocumented workers” are workers which can be paid illegally low wages. And, of course, most of our political elites were happy to go along with it since they would get a whole new electorate out of the deal. But America will get more than she bargained for on this score because mass migration has always resulted in division and bloodshed–another bill for that will be footed by America’s posterity.

Boomers even left many of their congregations in shambles. For one, they failed to produce enough Christian children to populate them, and sought after all manner of dubious fads to try and kludge a solution. For another, they embraced en masse the heresy of theological liberalism to baptize the leftist politics that were becoming popular. Of course, the Boomers were a deeply divided generation politically–many of them became the staunch conservatives of today rather than larval progressives. Of course, there are large swaths of Evangelicalism which rejected theological liberalism only so that they could baptize their own conservative politics instead. So in the end, both political sides of the Boomers made similar mistakes. All-too-often lost in the shuffle were the actual moral law, Biblical wisdom in general, and worst of all, the Gospel.

Now, as much as I may be crapping on Boomers here, the other generations of Americans are hardly guiltless in this whole mess. The Boomers inherited the legacy of slavery, the rise of progressivism in Western academies, the rise of theological liberalism in churches and seminaries, a nascent feminism and sexual revolution, a generation of parents scarred by war, universal suffrage, etc. That’s a considerable list of challenges even though they failed rise to meet any of them. And what of their progeny? Rather than trying to fix their parents’ mistakes, Generation X actually takes pride in its preference to stand back and watch the world burn. And while Millenials may hate Boomers as a rule, it’s a hatred borne primarily out of envy rather than anything more noble. We want our fair share of the mammon. No, we’ve all been fools, and we will all reap consequences for it.

Accordingly, the real question left for Americans isn’t whether we are going to be cut off from the land, but to what extent. Our own house will be divided, and those we intended to be our servants will inherit much of it. We’ve already consumed much of what we were, and have lost much of the knowhow to cultivate it anew. We failed to teach wisdom to our children or adequately invest in them. And the price of all the innocent blood we’ve shed will fall on our heads.

But there has always been a remnant of wise and faithful individuals in every one of our generations–even the Boomers. There has been a growing desire among many Americans to reject the lies we’ve been raised with, repent of our wrongdoing and our insanity, and strive to once again govern ourselves well. There are many who still raise their voice for understanding and search for Wisdom as for hidden treasure. God showed mercy to Solomon for David’s sake and let his posterity keep Judea. I pray that God will show such mercy to America as well and provide a heritage to those of us who would still fear the Lord.

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

Death Is Swallowed Up In Victory

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-56

Have a blessed Easter, for He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Conservatives Lose: A Case Study

About six years ago, I wrote a piece at the Federalist called “Conservativism is Obsolete.”  I received a grim reminder of that fact in a pair of recent Tweets from conservative Princeton law professor Robert P. George.

In 2021, I don’t think “old-fashioned” is an adequate description of this kind of folly. There is so much wrong even in such a short statement that it’s difficult to even know where to begin.

First and foremost, I suppose, is the misplaced sense of fair play we find here. It’s one thing to suggest that an institution must not privilege truth over falsehood so that truth can win in a fair contest. There is a measure of naivete even to that. After all, reasoned debate in order to discern truth necessarily privileges theories that are actually concerned with truth and see reason as a way to find it. Even so, there’s certainly an important place for debate of that nature in academics. But fairness does not require offering a seat at the table to someone who wants to smash the table to bits and beat you with the wreckage. Nor does it require opening your institution to people who quite openly wish to take it over and throw you out of it.

When we speak of Critical Race Theory–or really any branch of critical theory–we’re no longer speaking of a competing view or even an error but rather a kind of anti-truth. How exactly can there be a fair contest to find the truth when “truth” is deemed a matter of raw power, “fair” a matter of entrenched privilege, and “contest” a matter of total war? George speaks of “the proper currency of intellectual discourse” but CRT deems that entire economy to be an example of systematic racism that must be torn down. Proponents will use reason or evidence as a tool of that warfare when useful, but they’ll just as quickly discard it when it provides no tactical advantage. Inviting CRT into an academy is is like inviting a tribe of cannibals to play a friendly game of basketball.

Despite how often conservatives use the term “culture war”, precious few act as though they are actually in one. After all, nobody is as content with winning a war as they are with losing one, as conservatives seem to be. They fall into this trap for a reason that seems noble at first glance–they want to stand by their principles at any cost. The problem is that it’s not really a mere willingness to do so, which would at least be laudable for it’s courage. In truth, it’s actually an eagerness to do so borne from a desire to be seen as courageous.

There’s nothing noble about virtue-signaling of that kind, and the result is a strangely extensive list of “principles’ for which  conservatives are willing to lose. That list now extends far beyond things like God, moral absolutes, or Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. In their eagerness to signal their supposed courage, they also wish to lose for things like fairness, civility, and courtesy. As I’ve written before, these things are social contracts rather than moral absolutes. They generally aren’t worth dying for.

When one party breaks a contract, the other party isn’t “sinking to their level” by refusing to uphold their end of it. If you contract an employee who refuses to show up for work, no principle compels you to continue paying his wages. You owe fairness to the fair, civility to the civil, honor to the honorable, and so forth. When you instead offer such treasures promiscuously, they become meaningless. And any academy that needs to debate over whether objective Truth is even something that can be pursued has become similarly worthless.

So what about George’s contention that we shouldn’t shield students by refusing to expose them to the arguments and counterarguments for CRT and other poisonous ideologies?

In a way, I actually agree. Presenting such things to your students is all well and good if you’re training them to resist. After all, people need to be equipped to evaluate rubbish philosophies so that they don’t fall prey to them. They also need to be able to protect others by effectively denouncing them–both dialectically and rhetorically. The trick is that one cannot truly understand such philosophies well enough to accomplish that end without taking them seriously enough to understand why they’re appealing in the first place. And generally, the best way of doing so is indeed to study primary sources so you can understand what the proponents of that philosophy actually contend. By way of analogy, at some point, shepherds do need practice dealing with actual wolves.

But that doesn’t mean you put the wolves in charge of training shepherds. And that’s why George’s first mistake poisons something that would otherwise be good advice.

The goal should never be to shelter students from falsehood, but rather to prepare them to contend against it. I, for example, am very grateful to have taken a class on atheism at seminary–one in which I read a lot of arguments against Christianity by prominent atheists. I also found another class’s trip to the temples of various other religions quite useful. But as you might suspect, Christianity was still given a place of privilege over atheism and false religions in those classes. It wouldn’t have been a seminary otherwise. Likewise, for an academy to be a true academy, it must privilege views that honor truth and wisdom over views that wish to deconstruct those entire concepts.

What’s more, those of us who confess that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom have absolutely no excuse for not similarly privileging Christianity in our academies. This isn’t because Christianity is frail and needs the university to protect it, but because the university is frail and needs Christ to avoid treading the path of folly that Western academia has become all too familiar with. There’s a difference between exposing your students to challenging ideas and entrusting them to intellectual and spiritual predators. If conservatives cannot discern that difference or aren’t willing to establish and defend that kind of privilege, then they shouldn’t be academics.

And that leads us to the final issue to consider here. As ridiculous as these two problems with George’s tweets may be, they aren’t the worst part. The worst part is an irony that makes the fair play issue entirely moot. After all, conservatives have pretty much zero influence over which views are or are not banned in Western universities. They no longer have a say in whether any views are privileged or welcomed. The leftward drift of academia over the past 60 years or so is well-documented, so I won’t rehash it here. Suffice to say that while there are exceptions, it’s become rather difficult to openly teach or even possess any substantial measure of right-wing thought in most universities.

And how exactly did that happen? Well, conservatives decided that it wouldn’t be fair to privilege any particular view or approach, and so they invited a bunch of their enemies to run their institutions and were subsequently ousted by them. George is literally promoting the strategy that has already lost them the war.

There may be decent vocational schools or research centers hidden within them sometimes, but ideologically speaking, most secular universities are a lost cause, and conservatives already know it. They complain all the time about how they’ve become indoctrination centers for progressive politics and grievance studies. And yet, conservatives still donate to their alma mater, support public funding for them, and even send their children off to be taught by their enemies. The right needs to stop feeding institutions that are committed to destroying them and instead start finding ways to replace these fallen academies with faithful ones.

And when we do, we should never trust conservatives enough to be put in charge of them, lest history repeat itself.

Posted in Culture, Ethics, Politics | Leave a comment

The Problem With “He Bear, She Bear”

Now that Dr. Seuss is in the midst of being cancelled, I’ve seen a number of conservatives suggest “He Bear, She Bear” by Stan and Jan Berenstain (or Berenstein if you’re into the Mandela Effect) as a likely subsequent target for SJW’s. I’ve even seen some of them praising it as anti-woke and explaining how they’re going to rush out to buy a hard-copy now before they all get burned.

And that’s really the problem with conservativism in a nutshell.

On one hand, it’s an understandable reaction. I happened to read through my wife’s childhood copy of the book a few years back as I was considering it for my sons. I immediately recognized that the first few pages are indeed triggering by woke standards. It begins:

I see her. She sees me. We see that we are he and she.

Every single bear we see is a he bear or a she. Every single bear we see has lots of things to do and be.

I’m a father. I’m a he. A father’s something you could be. I’m a mother. I’m a she. A mother’s something you could be.

So there you have it, any kid can recognize there are only he’s and she’s, they can tell the difference just by looking, and that only boys can be fathers while only girls can be mothers. BAM; A shot right across the bow of those trans activists! Very timely if you’re looking to own libs.

The thing is, that’s only the beginning of the book.

The remaining 90% is all about the things that he bears and she bears are all equally capable of doing. In terms of the artwork, the book makes a deliberate point of putting women in traditionally masculine vocations. The construction crew is almost entirely women, the female firefighter is leading the way up the ladder above the female police officer, etc. When it was written half a century ago, it would’ve been obvious as a deliberate attempt at portraying gender equality. But if you need that angle to be more explicit, here’s how the book ends:

We’ll jump and dig and build and fly…. There’s nothing that we cannot try. We can do all these things, you see, whether we are he OR she.

So many things to be and do, He Bear, She Bear, me… and you.

So while the book does take the existence of men and women for granted, it’s actually typical of gender deconstruction’s long march through the West. That’s not a putting a finger in transgenderism’s eye. That’s laying its foundation. Claiming that men are really women and vice versa is indeed utter nonsense. In itself, it’s an easy target for those who merely want to complain about our decline. But the reason it makes so much sense to so many is the everyday feminism incessantly telling us that except for our genitals and clothes, men and women are completely interchangeable.

If sexual biology is the only difference between men and women, then sexual biology makes no difference. Sure, only a he bear can be a father, but that doesn’t mean much if a father is merely an otherwise androgynous parent with male genitals. What’s worse, our culture actively trains its youth to hate children and avoid having any of their own. That makes the whole matter a moot point for most people. Sure, a man claiming to be a woman might be incorrect, but only on a technicality. Why bother resisting something that doesn’t even matter in the first place? People only believe gender is changeable today because we believed the genders were interchangeable yesterday.

That’s the reality conservatives are terrified of confronting. And it’s why they continue to walk on the same path as the progressives they hate–just a couple of steps behind. Right now, I’ve been receiving all sorts of warnings about the Equality Act (and rightly so, it’s a terrifying piece of legislation.) But the parts of the Equality Act they hate are just logical extensions of the parts they love. Ask conservatives, and 90% want things like equal opportunity for men & women and an end to gender discrimination. In other words, they want to treat gender as completely meaningless in public life. But what objection can there be to a person publicly changing something that’s completely meaningless?

For all their differences, conservatives and liberals alike made their sacrifices on the altar of Equality. It’s not the only idol we’ve all whored after, but it’s nevertheless a big part of why conservatives are just as responsible as progressives for the state of our civilization. It’s also why so many refuse to to repent and change course. Most staunch conservatives bought feminism hook, line, and sinker and find the idea of telling women they’re not our equals abhorrent.

But God will not be mocked, and if we remain silent, even the very stones will cry out eventually. Ironically, it’s actually the men pretending to be women who are out there disproving equality right now. After all, a man with long hair competing against women in athletics demonstrates inequality in a way most men refuse to.  But one way or another, feminism will die in the end, equality will be toppled, and sane civilization will be restored. The only question before us is whether that civilization will still be ours, or will we simply be cut off from the land like so many evil peoples before us?

Posted in Culture, Feminism | 2 Comments