Not A Private Sin

The most liberal I’ve ever been on the issue of homosexuality was supporting civil unions back in my libertarian phase–an obnoxious part of growing up that many young men have to struggle through. I still knew sodomy was sinful, but by my reckoning at the time, it was an entirely private sin. It wasn’t my business. It wasn’t the government’s business. So “live and let live” seemed like the appropriate course of action.

Even then, I wasn’t willing to grant the marriage label because that’s not what marriage is. But being libertarian, I foolishly presumed that marriage fell into the same legal category as sodomy–a wholly private matter that wasn’t the business of myself or government. Legally equivalent civil unions therefore seemed like an appropriate stop-gap for the sake of fairness until government could be removed from the marriage business altogether.

Thankfully, it’s been about two decades since then, and I’ve come to realize how dreadfully wrong I was on several points. The most obvious is my stupid idea of marriage being a wholly private matter. Sex is literally where the public comes from, and marriage is unequivocally the most important earthly institution for cherishing those new lives. We can argue about how government could effectively recognize and support that institution, but a just and effective government simply cannot be marriage-neutral in any broad sense. The social atomization that renders libertarians so myopic on that subject is one of the philosophy’s greatest weaknesses.

But there’s another fatal error I made that has been slowly gnawing on me for the past few years. If marriage and chastity aren’t private matters, then neither are sins of unchastity.

It was LGBTXYZ nonsense that finally woke me up to this. Tolerance of a “private” sin seemed like a reasonable idea back in the day. But let’s check in on tolerance and see how that’s working out for us: drag queen story hours at public libraries, LGBT indoctrination at public schools, forcing individuals to publicly pretend two men can marry, criminalizing parents who try to protect their children from being vivisected to vaguely resemble the opposite gender. The list goes on, and there’s nothing private about any of it. Making it illegal and/or shameful to discriminate between right and wrong was not what I had in mind, but it’s what we got.

It shouldn’t have been surprising. One cannot expect sin to obediently remain in the abstract space we assign to it. That’s not it’s nature. We’re either actively struggling against it, or its growing. There is no middle ground. Unchastity is no exception.

But the reaction to Florida’s anti-grooming law should be a wake-up call to anyone who hasn’t already realized this. There are an insane number of influential people who actually think it’s controversial. Literally all the bill does is 1) forbid schools from teaching K-3 children about sexual orientation & gender identity and 2) ensure that parents have access to their own children’s records, curriculum, surveys, and so forth. That’s it; read it for yourself. You’d have to be either a pedophile or a deliberate enabler thereof to knowingly oppose measures like that.

But what is everyone calling it? The “don’t say gay” bill. They say it infringes on the rights of supposedly gay and trans children and puts them back in the closet! That’s not just fringe activists, that’s literally every news program, politicians at the highest levels, and millions of ordinary people willing to toss children to predators so that they can be seen as “affirming.”

Now, if I were a “good conservative,” I’d take this opportunity to say that the way progressives are associating gays with grooming children makes them the real homophobes.  But I’m not a good conservative. So instead of owning the libs, I’ll tell you the truth: Progressives are not “associating” gay with grooming. They are openly revealing an association that’s always been there and of which they are no longer ashamed: Advocating for sodomy largely depends on sexualizing, corrupting, and molesting children.

I remember a bunch of “crazy radical right-wing Christians” pointing that out decades ago, and I remember thinking they were, at best, overstating their case. After all, there was a logical progression–if valid, most rationalizations for sodomy would apply to pedophilia as well.  But that abstraction was as far as it went, right? Well, LGBTP advocates and their accomplishments have changed my mind. The crazy right-wingers were correct; I, the idiot libertarian, was wrong. Apparently, “Live and let live” was never really on the table.

But while the effects of sodomy affirmation programs on children should be a wake-up call, it’s a fruit of the problem rather than its root. It’s such an extreme form of unchastity that it can only become normalized after countless other lines have been crossed–not by 2% of the population, but by the rest of us.

Genuinely chaste societies have been pretty rare historically, but the normalization of chastity is not rare. For any society to remain functional in the long-term, it needs to honor marriage and child-rearing rather than deviancy and perversion.

While I’m not old enough to remember it, it wasn’t that long ago that divorce was weird in America and the term “pre-marital sex” actually implied marriage (as in, it meant you had sex before the wedding night with someone you intended to marry.) But I am old enough to remember when sex in marriage-less “long-term-relationships” was the norm, hookups & homosexuality were weird, and transgenderism was really weird. It seems that even a few short decades is sufficient to demonstrate that the Slippery Slope is by no means a fallacy. We are no longer slouching towards Gomorrah, but sprinting.

But the slippery slope does have its mechanisms–a thousand tiny rocks sliding out from under foot. And it’s not hard to come up with examples: 40 years ago children’s books were telling us that there’s no real difference between boys and girls. 60 years ago, my own denomination was already teaching that romance rather than marriage legitimizes sex. Novelties like these which we now take for granted laid the groundwork for our contemporary pedo-state. And you can go as far back as you like–to Romanticism, to Chivalry, to Rome, or to the Fall itself–for history always proceeds from what came before. But my point is that the reason so many Americans are so sanguine about sexualizing kids is because of how poorly we ourselves were sexualized.

As we stand teetering at the brink of this abyss, there are two imperatives before us. And I do mean us–people who know better and are willing to admit it. Nobody else is going to pull America back from the edge.

The first is to repent of our sins before God.  We need to struggle to disentangle ourselves from both our own vices and our foolish misconceptions about sex, marriage, men & women, etc. We aren’t in this mess because of “those people” but because of what “normal” people including ourselves have willingly done.

I don’t placard it, but I’ve admitted in the past that I have not lived chastely. There are many times in my life in which I’ve done what was normal rather than what was right. In service to those sins, I’ve both repeated the world’s lies and invented new ones as cover. So I myself have contributed to the very thing I now condemn. Accordingly, I can only condemn it at all insofar as I can admit that God is right and I am wrong. And I can only accept that shame because Christ has already borne my sins on the Cross. But condemn it I must because God is right, and He is quite clear about those who call evil good. Refusing to engage the issue now would only compound my sin.

The second imperative is to rebuild the groundwork of civilization with respect to chastity. The whole point of civilization is to curb outward expressions of sin so that we can make that slope less slippery. Some kinds of unchastity need to be included on that list of gross outward sin to be deliberately inhibited.  And the list can’t stop at consent.

We must be willing to apply both social and legal pressure where appropriate–two things modern conservatives are scared of imposing for these kinds of sins. We actually think we’re morally superior to our ancestors because we don’t prosecute things like adultery anymore. We even congratulate sodomites for renting wombs for children they intend to deprive of a mother. Conservatives should be ashamed rather than proud. Neither law nor society can be neutral on the issue of sexuality. Marriage and family need to be held up as true sexual maturity. When deviancy becomes a matter of public knowledge, it should earn contempt. Gross deviations need to be criminalized. When we fail to do this, we inevitably teach and promote perversion instead.

Talk of imposing this on a large scale is mostly just talk. Christians simply do not have that kind of hold on American culture. But doing so on smaller scales is not beyond our grasp. We should enforce these things wherever we have dominion. That includes our own households at a minimum, but everyone reaches outside of the home to some extent or another. For example, SJWs have already shown how powerful codes of conduct can be in radically altering private institutions. As for public ones, laws against many of these behaviors are still on the books. When the “large scale” in the West finally finishes collapsing, we’ll be grateful for any healthy local governments and institutions we’ve managed to build or maintain.

Christians have labored too long under the Enemy’s contention that sins of unchastity are private matters between consenting adults which are closed off from the rest of everyone’s lives. They’re not, and our children cannot afford for us to pretend otherwise. Chastity and degeneracy each have a powerful impact on the rest of society. We are fools for having forgotten this. It’s time for Christians to remember and act accordingly.

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8 Responses to Not A Private Sin

  1. Matthew Etzell says:

    Well said.

    I, too, went through a libertarian phase, and I thank God that He brought me out of it.

  2. george hapinopolis says:

    I have recently had an epiphany of similar sorts about other religions. None take sexual sin as seriously as Christianity, none even take God as seriously (Buddhism rejects, Conservative Jews allow avowed atheists to be considered members in good standing, all Jews attack anyone who criticizes an atheist Jew, and Muslims who defend Mohammed marrying Aisha at 6 or even 9 are clearly atheists and just stick with it because its their society). So freedom of religion should only be freedom of Christian denomination, not of other religions because they’re not real religions. Christian Deism could perhaps be thrown in as a Christian denomination, if needed, but clearly I think this is more in line with what the constitution writers intended, and even if not, its still the only thing that makes sense. Wicca and Satanism should not have freedom of religion extended to them, and no longer see any reason that anti-theist and atheist “religions” or even those characterized by a high degree of atheists or imitation of atheists (Judaism and Islam) should ever be allowed freedom of religion in a reasonable society.

  3. Caspar Reyes says:

    Not just a collective cost for detriment to society; we’re all more degenerate by pretending or believing it’s normal. Plus, there’s a personal direct cost to every one of us. For example, why should some sodomites’ AIDS-generating behaviors get family rates in my insurance pool? My premiums are going to cover their a$$es, literally, and going up because of it.

  4. Paul says:

    “Not a private sin”. What then? A public sin? How is sin defined at all in the public sphere, if there’s a separation between church and state, and we live in a society where people don’t share much of their ethical principles?

    America is not a theocracy, the only theocracy was Israel, and even they were sinning massively. I think as Christians we can at most hope to influence society with just laws, but the only way we can ever hope to stop people from sinning, is if we win them over to Christ. If the Church gets more influence, societies improve, if the Church declines, so society crumbles.

    If Churches are responsible for moral handling, why have they en-masse opted to endorse sexual sins of all sorts? Why have they opted to endorse divorce and remarriage? If the Church has lost its salt, don’t be surprised society isn’t salted.

    • Matthew Etzell says:

      Yes, Matt contends (and I agree) that unchastity is a public sin, because matters pertaining to sex inherently affect the public (as he notes, “sex is literally where the public comes from…”). Therefore, unchaste acts cannot be considered wholly private matters, and, because unchaste acts are at least somewhat public, the public has an interest in restraining unchaste acts.

      With regard to separation of church and state, you may wish to look up the Two Kingdoms doctrine. The fact that the ecclesiastical authority and the civil authority are distinct does not mean they are wholly unrelated to one another.

    • Matt says:

      Paul,

      First, separation of church and state doesn’t mean the government is even religiously neutral, let alone morally neutral. It literally *can’t* be neutral on such things. (I’ve written more about that here: https://thefederalist.com/2019/08/13/need-christian-nationalism-religious-neutrality-failed/, https://matthewcochran.net/blog/?p=1417, https://matthewcochran.net/blog/?p=1760, etc). Societies with insufficient moral common ground shatter apart, as America is in the midst of doing. But we need to do better with whichever smaller, more homogenous shards we’ll ultimately inherit.

      Second, the goal of civil government isn’t to stop people from sinning in the sense of turning sinners into saints. But the goal of civil government is absolutely to restrain gross outward expressions of sin so we don’t constantly go around raping, murdering, and robbing one-another. Some severe sins of unchastity like adultery should certainly be included in that mission.

      Third, the apostasy of many churches on this subject (and others) is precisely why my first suggestion for dealing with the problem is repentance by Christians who should know better.

      • Paul says:

        Keep up the good work. Really appreciate it.

        I suspect we can agree on much of your analysis, but probably disagree about the solution. “Sin” is a religious concept which in the first place is an offense towards God, something a secular state will never acknowledge. Inasmuch Christian morality has influenced the laws of a secular state such as the US, it will label certain offenses as unlawful which Christianity considers sin, but has no issue whatsoever to legislate and proudly protect abortion, divorce, remarriage, gay marriage, cursing (freedom of expression), porn production and distribution (Larry Flint), blasphemy (freedom of religion), etc. etc. Trying to salvage society is a lost cause outside of bringing the gospel. The best we as Christians can hope for is repentance of people and a change in their behavior caused by being born of the Spirit. Only if Christians make up the majority of a society can we hope society to change for the better. Christ has never called us for something else : “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” If you have a special calling to prevent further rot in politics, go for it, but I doubt calling attention to chastity and trying to get it codified in law by secular means can undo the already far greater harm done to the institution of marriage by the state, i.e. the majority of voters, i.e. society.

  5. Justin Walker says:

    Well said. I’ll join with you and others, which as you note is part of the problem; too many of us walked this same road. And the Slippery Slope fallacy should be better known as incrementalism.

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