October 16, 2017

Losing The War

794-September-2,-1945-Emperor-Hirohito-signi

The problem with going to war is that there is a very real chance you may lose.

It was August 14, 1945 in the United States, but due to the International Date Line, it was already August 15 in Japan.   The Japanese Empire was reeling.  The United States had just obliterated two major cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on the 6th and the 9th using weapons of hitherto unimagined destructive power.  In addition, the mighty Red Army of the Soviet Union, flush with victory in the largest and most brutal land campaign in human history, had just occupied the Japanese client state of Manchuria and was poised to invade the home islands.

The Emperor Hirohito, god-king of the Japanese Empire, deciding that his subjects had suffered enough at the hands of the warlords who had hijacked his government in his name, declared over the radio his intentions to surrender to the Allied powers on the basis of the Potsdam Declaration.  This was the famous Gyokuon-hōsō, “Jewel Voice Broadcast.”  For most Japanese, it was the first time they had ever heard the God-Emperor’s voice, and he was announcing the defeat of Japan and her absolute surrender.  The impact of this event on the Japanese psyche cannot be overstated.  It was as if Frodo and Sam had been slain by the Nazgul on the slopes of Mount Doom and the One Ring been slipped onto the finger of the Dark Lord.  It was as if the body of Christ had been found and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem.

I can imagine that if you were one of the Christian ministries or individual believers who had decided that the maintenance of the definition of marriage to exclude members of the same sex was a hill you needed to die on, or worse, force others to die on,  you may have felt something of what the Japanese felt on that August day 68 years ago.

On this issue, at least, we live in a different world than we did just a year ago.  First of all, the high profile ministry Exodus International, which sought to administer the Christian faith like a prescription drug to “cure” the contagion of homosexuality, closed its doors after 37 years and issued a controversial apology to those it had harmed during its existence.

Then nine days later, on June 28, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act passed by the United States Congress in 1996 as unconstitutional, thereby short-circuiting any possibility of blocking same-sex marriage legislatively at the Federal level.  On the same day, at the end of an arduous 14 day fast by Puerto Rican Christians hoping to block a resolution permitting same-sex marriage in the Puerto Rican legislature, Juan Joaquin Avila died.

I’m not surprised Avila is not as well known as other Latin American Evangelicals such as Luis Palau.   Luis Palau is tall, irenic, cosmopolitan and, thanks to a Scots grandfather, fluent in English.  He is a well-known figure at international Evangelical gatherings such as Lausanne and the various Urbanas.  Juan Joaquin, better known as “Yiye” in the picaresque Spanish of Puerto Rico, was short, pugnacious (a boxer in his youth), and as Puerto Rican as a plate of arroz con gandules.  As far as I know, he didn’t speak a word of English and was practically unknown outside the world of Spanish-speaking Evangelicalism.

What he was was an old-school Pentecostal evangelist, holding mass meetings  throughout the world wherever Spanish was spoken or where he could get an interpreter.  His heyday was during the 1970s and 1980s, where he was able to enter both left-leaning Peru and Pinochet’s Chile and leave behind a number of converts.  His message was simple;  Jesus is coming.  Those who believe in Him and lead a righteous life will be rewarded by a ticket to Heaven at the Rapture.  Fornicators, liars, the weak-believing and wavering, and all idolators, by which he meant devout Catholics and probably Orthodox as well, although he never mentioned them, would be Left Behind to face the horrors of the reign of Antichrist and the judgment of God.  I heard him at a campaign on the night the Two Towers fell.  His message didn’t change an jot or a tittle.

To the end of his days, Yiye Avila used language to describe the destiny of homosexuals that would blanch the skin of anybody to the left of the Westboro Baptist Church.  His view of homosexuality was as simple as his eschatology.  Homosexuality was sin, and people persist in it because they like it.  They like it more than they like living righteous lives going to six or seven church meetings a week as is common among Spanish-speaking Evangelicals.  For this reason, they will share the fate of drunkards, heterosexual fornicators, liars, corrupt officials, or idolators.  I don’t know whether he knew anything about the etiology of homosexual orientation, but my guess is that those arguments wouldn’t have mattered to him.

My wife was converted in one of his campaigns.  May he rest in peace in the light of the Lord.

The irony that he died on the day that the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act was not lost on the gay community of Puerto Rico.  They took no pains  to hide their unabashed delight.  Now, I  admit that you would almost have to be practically inhuman not to have acted like this.  Latin American Evangelicals are much more traditional than their English-speaking counterparts, much less apologetic in their rejection of homosexuality, and Latin American gays have a much harder row to hoe in the larger culture than do gays in English-speaking countries.  In a way, Ev. Yiye’s passing is more than metaphorical.  It is demographical as well.  Younger Evangelicals, both in Puerto Rico and on the mainland, are far less bothered by same-sex marriage than their elders, and this procession of the generational equinox is more significant than anything that occurred in the Supreme Court.

I do not know the final fate of the Puerto Rican bill.  The decision of the Supreme Court makes it moot.  Puerto Rican gays can marry in Massachusetts and their marriage must be recognized in Puerto Rico.  So, on this issue at least, Evangelicals (and Catholics, and Orthodox) are like the Japanese man in the street on August 14, waiting for the conqueror to issue the terms of occupation after the most radical and complete transmutation of values since the conversion of Constantine.

If you will all give me leave, I want to explore what it will mean to us to have lost the so-called Culture War.   If you like, think of it as a coda to Mike Spencer’s series on the Coming Evangelical Collapse.  I want to do a series, five posts, this being the first.  Next week I want to deal with the primary temptation that will beset us in the coming decades as our influence wanes and the culture becomes more actively and joyously non-Christian, and guess what?  Nothing bad happens to it!  The temptation to accedia, spiritual sloth, will become pandemic.  The first gusts of the oncoming gales are already fluttering the flags down at the Evangelical marina.

Then the third week, I would like do a post on “Love In The Ruins.”  Anybody with eyes in their head realizes that same-sex marriage is the caboose, not the engine, and that the train is still running.  Christian marriage no longer exists in the legislative landscape of the West or in the sacramentology of the larger Church, and I would like to look at what has replaced it.   When the most intimate and foundational relationships in the human oeconomy undergo a tidal change, the State is a clumsy instrument to use in an effort to address matters.

After this on the fourth week, I would like to write a post on Pneumatology.  I believe that, in comparison to the Orthodox East, the Christian West has a faulty theology of the Holy Spirit (yes, I believe the filioque matters), and this faulty view of the Holy Spirit has hamstruck its efforts to deal with ‘the World’.  I doubt if any of you ever become Orthodox as a result of what I write here, but if you ever steal anything from the Christian East to use in your own churches, please consider our Pneumatology.

Finally, I want to end on a note of hope.  The straits in which the Church finds herself at this juncture are actually a result of her overwhelming success.  I think this is often overlooked in the general tendency to look at twelve year old girls twerking in middle-school gymnasia and declare that everything decent and worthwhile has disappeared from the world and that we have become cordwood for Hell.  There is a lot of heavy lifting the Church is going to have do in the following decades, but by God’s grace together I think we can do it, and if so, the latter shall be greater than the former.

 

Comments

  1. The downward spiral continues.

    I often pray that the Lord wraps all this up, once and for all.

    But He is patient. He is patient.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Downward from what?

      I’m inferring from the term “downward” that society has been on an inevitable decline.

      When were we at our apex?

      • I believe that would be Eden…

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          I agree that that Eden would be the beginning point, but I wouldn’t define that as a “downward spiral” as much as a fall (hence the term “the Fall,” rather than “the Decline”).

          It may seem like a petty argument of semantics, but usually when I hear folks refer to a moral “downward spiral” or “decline,” the implication is not that there was a decline from Eden. That starting point is usually a fixed point in human history, and usually one specific to one’s cultural lens. For example, referring to the “good old days” back in the 50’s and 60’s, when “our country” had “real moral values.” Or the time of the “founding fathers,” when America was really “a nation under God.” Both of those references are beyond laughable.

          I’ll give Steve the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he meant “Eden” as well, but I think the term “downward spiral,” in terms of society’s moral values, has been hijacked by folks who choose to believe that Christians are at war with atheists, or Muslims, or gays, or liberals, or public education, etc. Personally, I prefer to avoid the term altogether, rather than get sucked into this culture war in which nobody ever really wins.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Very good point. There was no golden past.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            It may seem like a petty argument of semantics, but usually when I hear folks refer to a moral “downward spiral” or “decline,” the implication is not that there was a decline from Eden. That starting point is usually a fixed point in human history, and usually one specific to one’s cultural lens.

            I would like to point out that this is very similar to the Salafi movement in Islam (the movement which gave us the Saudi Religious Police, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda). The Salafi’s “fixed point in human history” of Utter Perfection is Year One of the Hegira, “As it was in the Days of the Prophet”.

            In general, the idea of a Perfect Golden Age in the past (from which We Have Declined) is common to ancient and Medieval cultures pretty much across-the-board. The idea of Progess as we know it (as in Upward Progress to a Better Future) is an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, rapid technological advance, and Victorian attitudes and memes. (Darwin himself disliked the word “evolution” as it already implied linear UPWARD progress, and Chesterton observed “The Victorians believe history ended well — because it ended with the Victorians.”)

            To this day, a basic difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction is that Fantasy uses the meme of Decline from a Golden Age and SF the meme of Progress into the Future. From Star Wars’ “a relic of a more elegant time” (fantasy trope) to Disney’s Carousel of Progress’s “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (SF trope).

          • You know what Christians sound most like Salafis? The Orthodox. They bash gays not only figuratively, but literally, e.g. by instigating riots in eastern European countries where they dominate. Mule is trying to whitewash this Orthodox record of barbarism, by dwelling on God knows what abstractions.

            Why is Mule even here? Why are you giving him this platform to spread his bs? How can you complain about the abuses of Evangelicalism, and then make common cause with the Orthodox–the only major form of Christianity to still promote anti-Semitism? They have no lessons to teach us, least of all pneumatology.

          • David Anthony says:

            Hi Blake
            I believe the point mule was trying to make is that eventhough Orthodoxmay not support gay marriage, they do not expect the culture or “world” to change. Therefore there is no sense of loss if governments legislate it whereas an evangelical who beleived the cullture can be changed would experience a sense of loss.
            Also when Orthodox writer such as John Chrysostom speak against Jews they are only talking about the religious system, not the race of people.

      • As Dr. F., P., rightly pointed out, the grand decline started there (Eden) and continues .

        This world and everyone in it is not progressing…but is being brought to an end.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          How does that differ from “It’s All Gonna Burn” Christian Nihilism?

          Evangelicals have been doing that since John Nelson Darby and Hal Lindsay; look where it got us. Turning our back on Creation for a Fluffy Cloud Heaven like some sort of Gnostics trying to escape contamination.

          • We don’t turn our back on life. We live in this world and pray for it. But we have no illusions about the outcome. Our own…or the world’s.

            “If it is for this life only that we hope, we are the most to be pitied.” – St. Paul

      • Ask your grandmother if she remembers “twelve year old girls twerking in middle-school gymnasia.” We’re living in a different world completely. The 50’s may not have been Eden, but we’re not in Kansas anymore, either. The sexual revolution and narcissism epidemic have all but gutted our culture of the ability to reflect critically on ethical behavior (or the lack thereof). We’ve thrown out all social taboos as if they were instruments of Satan to make us miserable, and now we live in denial of the consequences.

        I don’t buy any of this “our founding fathers were Jerry Falwell fans” narrative coming from the religious right, but I am equally skeptical, if not more so, of the “meh, the kids are gonna be fine. Look how I turned out!” excuse for parental negligence. It scares me to consider what it means that the upcoming generations will someday run the country.

        I never thought the culture war could be won. But for pete’s sake, we were so busy lobbying congress that we lost the war in our own congregations. Mule is right: we have our work cut out for us. Hopefully now that we’ve lost the wrong war, we can get back to where the battle truly lies.

        • Brianthedad says:

          Hear! Hear! Or is it Here! Here!? Either way, spot on! Especially true the narcissism comment. It is rampant and the root of much evil.

        • I never bought the “it was better back then”, it was stricter, kids were given less freedom and harsher consequences for misbehaviour (not following an adult’s whims), but my grandmothers lived their share of vanity and stupidity in their times – so did my grandfathers, why pick on women here?

          My well-to-do grandmother had to put up with a vain general’s wife, who didn’t want her (my grandmother) to give her servant a day off, my grandmother ignored her and did the right thing by her servant, and the general’s wife used her power as the wife-of-the-base-commander to make my grandmother’s choice to do the right thing a great misery for her. Narcissistic to the core, but everyone was taught deferential submission to the higher ranks, so the fact the base-commanders wife was a b*tch beyond reason made no difference in wives actions. Even though they sided with my grandmother against the manipulative idiot, they were to bowed down and intimidated to show it.

          Sexual revolution. OK, heres the thing, without it, men raped and molested with impunity. The best news out of India has been that women are starting to stand up against rape. When I was there in the 90s girls lived in fear of stepping out of their houses after dark (6 PM), or the police would accuse them of being at fault. Go back in time and learn the truth. Pre-sexual revolution girls were blamed for inappropriate behaviour, cases with obvious sexual assaults were brushed under the rug, and rapist or molesters were often never brought to justice. In India, it was like I had stepped back to what you naively call the “good old days” where girls had to have the appearance of “good”, or they will never marry. But that forced appearance allowed men to rape girls, because no girl would report it and damage her reputation. They, at the time, avoided western women because we would scream blue murder if they tried that with us, but Indian women were open season if they could get her alone anywhere.

          A quick look at cold cases from the 1950s showed that many sexually motivated murders went unsolved, or never got to trial, but the rates have actually gone down since the sexual revolution, not up. I doubt life was any safer for girls and women back then, it was just they were more naive and sheltered – and it was easier for them to fall into a trap. If you look at Mad Men, women were treated like sh%t in the workplace. Frankly, I’d take the sexual revolution any day – I had no trouble living as a Christian in this world, and likely less trouble, because there were a few guys I had to tell to F-off for attempting to try and get me to do something I chose not to do, but I had the wherewithal and sense of self to stand up to them and stand my ground. I had a meek christian roommate once who didn’t, and she had been pushed into all sorts of things Mark Driscoll thinks are just great but she was very ashamed of doing with her boyfriends because she had been taught to meekly look to men as protectors. I was taught to stand up for myself, in the end, that was far more valuable in the dating world.

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            +1

          • Insightful perspective. I mentioned grand”mother” because she is statistically more likely to be living still. I had no idea that rape had actually decreased over the last 50 years. I don’t know exactly how we could quantify that with a whole lot of certainty, but it is a comforting thought nonetheless, and not too difficult to believe.

            But before we pat ourselves on the back for not having the miserable shortcomings of our predecessors, we do, as you acknowledge, still have much work remaining on those fronts.

            Oh, but technically speaking, anything a christian roommate does with her boyfriend is not something Driscoll thinks is great. He actually comes down pretty hard on virtually all extramarital contact. But I get your drift.

            I really don’t think America in the 50’s was comparable to India in the 90’s. Remember, women’s lib and equality under the law for all people is a very Western idea rooted in the culture of Christendom. You get into countries run by religious fundamentalists and the middle ages begin to look appealing.

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          My grandmother doesn’t remember 12-year-old girls twerking in a gymnasium but, as a person of color, I’m sure she would take that over getting arrested for staged sit-ins as a college student. Don’t get me wrong: I fully agree that a problem of oversexualization exists in American society (to be fair, it is no doubt an overcompensation for the sexual repression and gender inequality experienced in previous decades). But how quickly we tend to evaluate an era’s morality in terms of its sexual liberation or repression! Did we forget about institutionalized discrimination, or mistreatment of the poor and those with disabilities, or the many forms of accepted bigotry that are only beginning to be addressed in this lawless and amoral age? Or is it just easier to dismiss all that as a “Yeah, that was bad. Whatever…let’s talk about sex.”

          And you might want to have a conversation with Paula Deen about whether or not we have dismissed all social taboos. I’m sure she would disagree.

          • I suppose we’ve actually created some new social taboos, and helpful ones. Racism is pretty much taboo these days. I’ve grown up in a world so little affected by it that it’s easy to forget how bad it truly was and the great price paid to overcome it. For the progress we’ve made on some fronts, we’ve really regressed on others. If you’re a female or minority your lives are certainly much better today for it. As per your (and Loo’s) critique, I certainly feel much more optimistic about our society. Thanks!

          • Marcus Johnson: applause!

            Miguel: except when it isn’t. and that’s in a VERY great deal of the country (cf. all the people rushing to George Zimmerman’s defense).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I often pray that the Lord wraps all this up, once and for all.

      Is that anything like “And I will be laughing as the world burns — SMITE! SMITE! SMITE!”?

  2. I left Canada for overseas in 1992. By the time I returned in 2000 I saw that Evangelicals had largely caved into easy divorce and had become just like their neighbours.

    Homosexual marriage has been de facto for a couple of years here. I am already hearing Evangelicals soften their stance. I hope I am wrong, but I think they will also accept this as well, and come to believe that it is the right thing.

    • That is because gay marriage isn’t really a big deal – as you say, it was the permission for divorce under any circumstance, followed by the freedom to live however you want, followed by the idea that if you love someone enough that is all that is needed for marriage, until, finally gay marriage was legalized.

      Society had already completely changed. Marriage is something you do to shore up a feeling of commitment to the other, not something you pledge to do through tough times or not, weather you feel like it or not. Once you no longer feel committed, no sees the purpose of staying in a marriage anymore.

      With the idea of marriage being the end result of a connection between two people, rather than the start of the building of a life and family together, it makes little difference to society if gay marriage is legalized or not. It is hardly the corrosive element the Fundy preachers promise us it will be. Marriage in Canada has actually seen a drop in divorce rates, life has not changed much in the 7 years that gay marriages has been legal nationally (a decade in my province). Why would it? What huge shift would allowing gay couples to marry make? People don’t get married exclusively to raise kids anymore, they don’t marry with the intent to make it work at all costs. They marry to express their feelings for someone else, and that opens the door to just about any adult coupling being acceptable as long as they are in love.

      Consider the present day Queen became a queen because her uncle married a divorcee, unacceptable in that society’s view. Today, the heir to the throne has married a divorcee and no one bats an eye over that, they just plain don’t like Camilla or Charles, but no one points out Charles will become the head of the church of England (Anglican/Episcopal) and that church forbids ministers from being remarried (in the commonwealth, not sure about the US). It is all about love. If you love someone enough, that is the only requirement left in marriage. That is the huge social experiment we are conducting right now, and Christians are following it too.

      The thing is, the BIble itself is actually pro-celibacy, not pro-marriage, so trying to use the Bible to argue for all these different forms of marriage falls flat, as Paul tells every single person not to marry, and the later church heeded that advice and made it a requirement for any church ordination. If we realize that marriage itself is considered second rate in Christianity, it puts into perspective why we are continually losing ground. Marriage is not the be all end all of a trely committed Christian life – that is celibacy.

      Since we, as the church, claim we can’t live without marriage – it means we can’t really voice are indignation at others for living how they desire. I don’t know what it is like to desire the same sex, but if that were the case, in this time and place, I imagine it would seem very weird to not follow that desire. As the church seems to allow anyone and everyone to get married, and then remarried (actually plain old adultery according to Christ), I would wonder why I was supposed to be the sacrificial lamb in this culture, and it would hardly seem fair. I suspect no one would ever suggest celibacy – even if I were not gifted. They would likely suggest prayer, or a healing ministry, but celibacy would be considered out of reach until I was “cured” of my desires.

      The thing everyone forgets is that in St. Paul’s day, all the men were bisexual in practice and likely some were homosexual in desire. Yet he addresses them as anyone else, remain celibate if you are not yet married. Celibacy was considered the solution to broken marriages – they were common, gay desires – they were likely common too, and plain old heterosexual longings to be married. It wasn’t just a temporary command for St. Paul’s day, the movement (desert fathers/mothers, etc.) it lasted into the seventh century.

      I think the church stands on shaky ground when it promotes nuclear family as the biblical foundation that holds up a society. It is fine to be in a nuclear marriage, I am, but it isn’t a sign of any special health spiritually. In the days of the early church, one’s desires did not mark their eligibility for a spiritual life, it was how they managed their desires that counted. Do we teach self-sacrifice or cultural conformity? As long as we teach cultural conformity, we will continue to lose ground.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I think the church stands on shaky ground when it promotes nuclear family
        > as the biblical foundation that holds up a society. It is fine to be in a nuclear
        > marriage, I am, but it isn’t a sign of any special health spiritually

        +1

  3. Actually Puerto Rico does not have to recognize same-sex marriage yet since the Supreme Court only dealt with recognition by the Federal Government of same-sex marriaged couples in States that recognize same-sex marriage. It did not deal with State (or self-governing entites such as Puerto Rico) recognition of such.

    BTW the Puerto Rican bills which passed were to extend the laws against domestic violence to same sex couples and to ban employment discrimination because of gender or sexual orientation.

  4. I’m looking forward to that filioque discussion.

  5. A very apt analogy – I am looking forward to the rest of this series. But itf I may, let me attempt to throw a monkey wrench into your scenario…

    You state that “the culture becomes more actively and joyously non-Christian, and guess what? Nothing happens to it!” My concern is, what if something DOES happen?

    For years, I have watched the gathering economic, demographic and ecological storm clouds, and I believe that we will see a monumental shift in our lifetimes parallel to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. (I do NOT believe this necessitates the Apocalypse, though many of us living through it may wish it did). I also believe the coming storm is much more a judgment on our materialism and squandered wealth than on our sexual mores. But for some people, it may be easier to assign blame on The Gays, or The Liberals, for our civilization’s plight than to own up to the share of responsibility we bear with OUR “lifestyle choices”. That being the case, we could see a revival of “traditional values” in a not so nice way.

    I am NOT saying these things will happen – I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. But they COULD happen. And if they do, what is our call then?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That being the case, we could see a revival of “traditional values” in a not so nice way.

      As in “Coup, followed by the Holy Republic of Gilead — or at least an attempt at same”?

      • Short answer – I don’t think so, and I hope I’m right.

        Longer answer – I think by the time things really start hitting the fan, political evangelicalism will be a spent force, at least nationally. On a more local level, however, the dynamics of lost privilege and lack of say in social mores could lead to some backlash. Take the forms of Christianity in the South in the 19th century for instance. They lost the political and military debate over slavery pretty decisively. For the greater part, this did not lead immediate introspection and repentance. Instead, resistance – legal where they could get away with it, social where they could not, and in extreme cases violence (the first two iterations of the KKK) – were the norm. And I can definitely see local/regional politicians exploiting such resentment…

        • Tim vanHaitsma says:

          Eeyore,

          That was one of the more insightful comments I have seen. I have stated similar things in other places than here. The lack of privilege and power that they once experienced is leaving and it is not coming back. How evangelicals deal with that will be the interesting thing. will they retreat into their ghetto, or will they lash out?

        • Eeyore,
          In these United States, God and Country have always been only a hop,skip and jump away from Blood and Soil.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Something about the end of WW2 in Japan. There was an attempted coup by elements of the Army to save the Emperor from himself, and continue the war. To the death. (Citing how Paraguay took 2/3 of its population dead in the Green Hell War and kept fighting on, plus the Japanese Fascist version of bushido — “A Samurai can never surrender; a Samurai can only kill himself!”) The last 24 hours before surrender were a chaos of coup, counter-coup, “Patriotic Society” assassinations, and suicides, all whirling around War Minister Anami (head of the Army) who was trying to keep a lid on things.

      As head of the Army, Anami was one of the most vehement pro-war in the Supreme War Council. However, he was also loyal to the Emperor, and when the Emperor finally decided to end the war (completely unheard of in Japanese Imperial protocol), Anami sided with the Emperor. When the coup plotters came to General Anami, he stayed noncommittal — figuring if he acted sympathetic, they’d do it, and if he opposed it they’d write him off and do it anyway, stalling them as long as he could. When things went down, Anami committed seppuku (formal suicide) after issuing a general order that his seppuku would serve for all — the others must live because Japan would need them in the aftermath.

      My source for this is a book, Japan’s Longest Day, by the Pacific War Research Society, a Japanese historical organization. It tells the story of the last few days before The End, from the Japanese point of view.

      P.S. An Emperor of Japan is never referred to by his proper/personal name as Americans do. While alive and reigning he is always “Tennohieka”, usually translated as “The Emperor”. Upon his death, he is identified by the name of his reign; i.e. the Showa Emperor.

    • M. Kennedy says:

      ‘But for some people, it may be easier to assign blame on The Gays, or The Liberals, for our civilization’s plight than to own up to the share of responsibility we bear with OUR “lifestyle choices”. ‘

      For me this is the crux. I don’t see Jesus spending much time blaming anyone but the self-righteous. This always gives me pause when I (too often) look down my nose at someone else.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But for some people, it may be easier to assign blame on The Gays, or The Liberals, for our civilization’s plight than to own up to the share of responsibility we bear with OUR “lifestyle choices”.

      More generically, “it may be easier to assign blame to THE OTHER(TM).” Whoever or whatever that OTHER might be. Through a good chunk of history, THE OTHER was The Jews; look what happened there.

      “I THANK THEE, LOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THAT FILTHY PUBLICAN OVER THERE…”

      • I was reading quickly and thought your last line was …like that filthy Republican over there . . .” And thought you were having a moment. Ahh has. Snort.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Dude, I went through a twelve-core prostate biopsy yesterday, the latest act in a continuing prostate cancer scare that started early this year. I am “having a moment” continuously these days.

          If “When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro”, when am I going to get paid?

          • Blessing and healing, HUG, body and soul. A friend went with a robot operation by someone who had done many and recommends it if it comes to that. My prayer for you would be that if possible it not come to that. God’s strength and comfort and peace fill your heart.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’m leaning that way myself if it comes to that — Robotic Laparoscopic. It’ll make me The Antichrist to the Anti-Surgery Faction of the local Prostate Support group, but it has the best chance of catching it completely while minimizing collateral damage to my bod.

            Tip: Be wary of “support groups”. You’ll only become more confused; the factionalism in them is incredible. Every one has their One True Way (usually contradicting all the others, but generally grouping into Surgery and Anti-Surgery) and any other approach is Anathema and Heresy. There’s also an undercurrent of Conspiracy Theory re the mainstream medical establishment reminiscent of quackery.

          • Dana Ames says:

            HUG, if it comes to it, beware of anything related to the DaVinci robot method. I transcribed for an oncology practice for 22 years; the prostate specialist there would steer men away from DaVinci as strongly as he ethically could.

            Remember, percentages you are given are only numbers to guide you; each person’s body handles the various modes of treatment differently. Go with your conscience, with the caveat above. My unasked-for advice, along with a hug for the HUG.

            Dana

  6. The culture war was an irritating distraction. It led plenty of Evangelicals astray by getting us to rant and rave against sin and sinners, and to seek power in the kingdom of this world, rather than preach grace and the Kingdom of God. Would that it really were over, ’cause plenty of us are in denial, and in fear and loathing are mounting a backlash to take America for secular Christianism once and for all… And so the distraction continues.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Would that it really were over, ’cause plenty of us are in denial, and in fear and loathing are mounting a backlash to take America for secular Christianism once and for all…

      The Holy Republic of Gilead, just like Citizen Robespierre’s Republique of Perfect Virtue, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” The Perfect-in-Every-Way Utopia beckoning from The Future, always on the other side of the “Regrettable but Necessary” Reign of Terror.

  7. Richard Hershberger says:

    My dream scenario: the church collectively realizes that Christianity and the Bible are only incidentally about marriage and sexual morality in general; the church turns to the Bible and discovers all that other stuff in there.

    • Michael Z says:

      Back when I was in high school, I read through the Bible cover to cover for the first time. People are usually impressed when I tell them that… and then amused when I follow up by saying that the reason I read it cover to cover was that I was heading off to college in a year and thought I ought to find out what the Bible had to say about sex before marriage. People always talked about the Bible as an “answer book” that contained all the guidance I could ever need for living, so I expected that the Bible would cater to my needs and provide a passage that would spell things out in black and white, preferably detailing exactly how far it was okay to go at any given stage in a relationship.

      Imagine my surprise when I finished reading and was even more confused about sexual ethics than I had been before. Polygamy? Wife kidnapping? Sex slavery? All approved by God? And how could Paul have been so short-sighted as to tell people to “avoid sexual immorality” without actually spelling out what he meant by that? Didn’t he realize that would be confusing to those of us reading his letters two thousand years later?

      I really do wish the church would “turn to the Bible,” as you say. Most of the people who think the Bible is black-and-white, think that because they haven’t actually read the whole thing. The more you read, the more you realize that the Bible is _not_ a “rule book” and that if you treat it that way, _you_ are the one guilty of twisting Scripture to fit your own needs and desires and presuppositions.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The Bible is not a rule book, and Aslan is not a tame lion.

      • Re “Polygamy? Wife kidnapping? Sex slavery? All approved by God?”

        Oh, come on, dude. I read the Bible off and on in bits and pieces from childhood to my teen years, and at around age 17 or 18, I read the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and even at a young age, I knew that the Bible describing something (such as polygamy) did not mean that God was necessarily condoning it, or God did not intend for those things to be done by all people in all situations, such as genocide or murder.

        I think the Bible is pretty clear that sex is for marriage only.

        The OT penalty for sex before marriage was death, IIRC, the person was to be stoned to death. The NT talks about marrying to have sex so as not to “burn with lust.”

        I’ve remained a virgin into my 40s, waiting to marry to have sex, so any time I see people saying, “Oh golly gee, the Bible sure is murky in pre-marital sex, it really is not definite,” quite frankly, I want to smack that person. I think such people are trying to justify fornicating.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “I think the Bible is pretty clear that sex is for marriage only.”

          That would explain the punishments meted out on David for having concubines!

          Oh, wait…

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            >That would explain the punishments meted out on David for having concubines!

            Which is, as the previous poster points about – beside the point.

            David was the king of Israel. Israel as a theocracy had a system of judges. The bible is pretty clear God wasn’t keen on that king idea, he said it would go badly, but let them have it anyway. That doesn’t muddy moral teaching, it just means people are muddy [and frequently stupid, obstinate, and just mean].

        • Daisy,

          I understand that you’re frustrated with people who believe in what you consider to be a faulty justification for pre-marital sex, but wishing violence on them is absolutely unacceptable and sinful.

        • Daisy, I used to think the OT never contradicted the new on sexual ethics, but read this:

          2 Samuel 12:7-9 (especially verse 8)
          7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

          Here we have the prophet Nathan telling David God gave him Saul’s wives for his collection – remember, David has several wives at this point, and now God is adding even more – so polygamy is something the Mormons can argue for biblically. There is more, and this is where adultery doesn’t involved death:

          Deuteronomy 22:8-29
          28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[c] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

          Which begs the question who is God punishing here? The man or the victim and her future kids. Put it more bluntly – if we still lived under this law Ariel Castro’s victims would have been forced to marry him and live with him, he wouldn’t be in jail for it and they would never be free.

          See, the OT is not a great book for people to try and follow. It was a bronze age tribal culture that was trying to become monotheistic, and little attention is paid to issues like equal rights for women or the disabled. Those were the people Jesus would go to, to bring the Kingdom (freedom, equality) to them and through them to everyone.

          Which is why I stand so strongly against the nonsense spouted by complimentarians these days – we are not to conform to the world, not even the Old Roman or Ancient Israeli world, but to live free of oppression and free others from the oppressions of slavery, sickness and inequality. The OT isn’t about freedom from that, it is about God working with a people so he could bring a Saviour to earth that could do all that.

          I agree, we as Christians are called to chastity (a little different than just virginity, as it isn’t a physical state but a spiritual virtue, where you live with sexuality under control and submitted to God), but the OT doesn’t necessarily show us why we are to live chastely – esp. with David and Solomon collecting concubines like Imelda Marcos collected shoes – it just points to a reason we need a saviour – can you imagine being those concubines? What a dreadful existence. What a dreadful existence Amanda Berry, Gina D’Jesus, and Michelle Knight had. Good thing they were rescued in a somewhat Christian influenced equality promoting society and not Ancient Israel.

    • That Other Jean says:

      Hear, hear!

    • +1 (Richard’s comment)

    • Richard:
      Intriguing comment that has caught my interest.
      What are 1 or 2 other things that have spoken to you?

    • +1

  8. A very good post, but I think you miss the point with the DOMA ruling. It does not in fact settle things at the Federal Level and unions in one state are not automatically recognized in all. That may be forced but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Good piece though.

  9. Christiane says:

    I’m not into judging folks who are born with same-sex attraction. I don’t think we understand all that we know about it as far as it not being ‘a choice’. I don’t think same-sex attraction is a ‘choice’, myself. I’m Catholic, so my Church does expect people with same-sex attraction to remain celibate, which is a great trial for them we know. I still personally will not sit in judgment on those people with same-sex attraction who do not remain celibate, as ‘who am I to judge anyone’ (quoting Pope Francis there )

    I don’t know what is happening in fundamentalist evangelical circles, but I don’t see them abstaining from judging others, so I suspect that is a part of their faith, which is sad for them as there is a freedom fthat comes from not ‘having’ to see another human being through judgmental eyes as some sort of ‘lesser being’. All the labeling we have done of one another has not furthered the Kingdom of Our Lord one bit. end of rant 🙂

    • Hi Christine,

      I think sometimes judging is confused with giving an opinion or advice or just plain calling out bad behavior. And I think the sexual choice issue is just one part of a larger issue. For example I was talking to my Priest yesterday and he was stating that just a few years ago, if it was revealed that a couple was living together during a pre-marriage class they might at least feel a bit embarrased or defensive… now they are confused when its brought up at all…almost like they don’t understand that it is wrong in the first place in the eyes of the Church.

      But the world is changing…

      In my parish 80% of babies being baptized are conceived out of wedlock…. and I am in a suburban neighborhood.

      The growing trend for kids around here is to hook up with same sex partners, the new rebellion tactic for the youth

      Parent’s lives revolve completely around the activities of their children, everyone of them a potential superstar in their parents eyes… the whole pedestal affect.

      I think the “everything is ok as long as it is not hurting anybody” attitude aka narcissism could have some real negative effect on society over time whether it is regulated by government or not.

      I agree with you that labeling has not promoted the Kingdom of God but we also have to be careful not to lose all boundaries under the guise of relativism.

      My thoughts…

      • Christiane says:

        Hi RAD . . . thanks for replying . . . I see your point and I don’t have any problem saying that ‘in my faith, ‘such and such’ is considered a sin’ . . . but I will let the Holy Spirit do the convicting of people’s consciences concerning their own sins . . . I look at myself, I can find no great reason that I am able to examine another person’s conscience for them, nor can I by human intervention do the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I suppose, if I am in conversation with someone who is of my faith and who has same-sex attraction, I can bring up the position of the Church which condemns acting on that attraction; and I can suggest to them that they might want to talk to a priest or a spiritual advisor about their own situation for guidance. But I would draw the line at judging them personally. I can’t do it. It really is against my conscience because I cannot know their struggle, or what it takes for them to live with something that the Church defines as ‘a disorder’ . . . I can pray for them, and with them, and encourage them to remain in the Church and seek the support that the Church offers to help them bear their burden. The Church’s ministry to its sons and daughters who have same-sex attraction is well-developed and most communities in our country will have at least one Catholic parish with a support group for LGBT Catholics . . . the Church cares for them as its sons and daughters, not as people who are ‘bad’. I can’t judge them because in my own way I am as broken as they are, just in different areas of my own, as we all are broken, if we are honest with ourselves and one another.

        I can care. I can listen. I can encourage to remain in the Church. But I cannot judge people personally on this issue, no.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Parent’s lives revolve completely around the activities of their children

        Oy, yea. I did youth ministry back in my Evangelical days. NEVER AGAIN!

        It led me to the firm belief that those least qualified to raise a child are its parents. A horse with blinders has a clearer vision of the world.

        Ever gotten barked at because someone’s 19 year old “child” isn’t going to church or participating? Or listened to someone describe their “child” and think “Wait, have you every met this person?”.

        NEVER AGAIN!

    • M. Kennedy says:

      I don’t know what is happening in fundamentalist evangelical circles, but I don’t see them abstaining from judging others, so I suspect that is a part of their faith…

      Ouch!

    • I’m Catholic, so my Church does expect people with same-sex attraction to remain celibate, which is a great trial for them we know. I still personally will not sit in judgment on those people with same-sex attraction who do not remain celibate, as ‘who am I to judge anyone’ (quoting Pope Francis there )

      The church expectation of gays to remain celibate will not pass the straight-face test as long as churches allow divorced people to remarry—even to be installed as deacons or elders, as in my church, which is very conservative baptist with fundamental rumblings.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That’s because Homosexuality(TM) is the OTHER guy’s Sin, the one Good Fundamental Baptists NEVER have any chance of actually committing. EVER.

        But Divorce? Always best to keep your options open; never know when you might need it yourself…

    • Re Christiane’s comment:
      “so my Church does expect people with same-sex attraction to remain celibate, which is a great trial for them we know”

      So are hetero-sexuals who are not married.

      Heteros who are not married are expected to be celibate too (as is in the Bible), contrary to all the Christians who try to fudge on sexual ethics by saying, “Oh well, now, the Bible is not very clear about pre marital sex between heteros, so I guess it’s okay!”

      I’m a hetero, and in my forties, and still a virgin because I have never married.

      It’s not a cake walk to be celibate this long when you have a regular sexual drive and no out-let for it. It’s not an impossibility, but it’s not a cake walk, either.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Hi, Daisy. See you’re here from Wartburg Watch.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I’m a hetero, and in my forties, and still a virgin because I have never married.

        Good for you, seriously.

        >So are hetero-sexuals who are not married.

        Yep.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          But Daisy and I both bear the Carrion Stench of Virginity.
          Which makes us Perverts in both the World and the Evangelical Circus.
          Yet another reason I ended up swimming the Tiber — to Catholics, this pretty much doesn’t matter.

  10. I am especially looking forward to your post of hope. There seems to be so little these days.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Or more accurately, the most common hope we see among Christians is sitting on the roof (so you don’t have as far to ascend) clutching that Rapture Boarding Pass. (Any minute now… any minute now… any minute now…) And Fluffy Cloud Heaven in the Bye and Bye while It’s All Gonna Burn is not a very substantial hope — unless you’re so much a Gnostic Pneumatic you’ve effectively ceased to be human.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I am especially looking forward to your post of hope.

      Me to. I hope Mule can convince me, I generally like and agree with his stuff.

      It will be tough, I’ve got none.

  11. I am looking forward to this series and depending on how this is shaped I may find myself on the other side at times. I find myself more and more an observer of a changing world knowing that there is too much momentum for me to have any affect on the speed of change. Not all change is good. To be perfectly blunt I am not a big fan of relativism which I see a greater number on this blog falling into…

    The younger generation looks at my generation as intolerant on so many levels, and in the coming years will be in the drivers seat. More conservative faith traditions I believe will be looked at as intolerant as well and it won’t be too long before the public and government outcry will become an issue for these groups.

    I heard a commercial on the radio the other day about the promotion of cyber school. The schtick for this commercial was that it provided parents flexibility around their children’s activities. What an interesting culture we live in.

    Let’s have some fun…

    • I remember hearing a fellow talk in Sunday School at a church I used to attend, back about 12 years ago. His name is well-known in conservative (political and theological) circles and he is still on the radio occasionally. The discussion had turned to the state of American culture and evangelicalism. His response to the discussion was to say (and this is as exact a quote as my memory can muster) “What the Church in America *really* needs right now is a nice bloody round of persecution!”

      I’d be very interested to know if he’s still of that opinion.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Funny; most Christians in countries where the government and society ARE murderously hostile to the church would rather be here in America. Maybe someone could arrange an exchange?

        And someone on IMonk long ago pointed to the end of the Cold War and collapse of the USSR — where were all those tried-by-fire-and-persecution Mighty Christians we were told would come out of the fires of the USSR to show us what being Christian was REALLY like? (Which in turn reminded me of all those denunciations of “Spoiled Rotten Baby Fat Americans” you got in the editorials of Guns & Ammo and Soldier of Fortune magazines in the Seventies and Eighties.)

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    More conservative faith traditions I believe will be looked at as intolerant as well and it won’t be too long before the public and government outcry will become an issue for these groups.

    Which can end in the “cleansing” of such Intolerant Bigots from the face of the earth. With the populace cheering on the Cleansing (from the stands of the Circus Vaticanus?)

  13. We never foresaw a future with legalized abortion and gay marriage because we planned only one future — rapture, by the end of the week. We gave control of the future to those who planned for it and took it. Until we admit the possibility that Jesus might not return this week, we will keep losing battles regarding the future.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      As someone said once at the Lost Genre Guild, “We signed the future over to The Antichrist.”

      And when you have No Future, the Future has a way of happening on its own (without your influence) and you find yourself Left Behind (just not in the way you thought).

      And like Islam, once you wake up to the fact that The Other has pulled ahead while you just sat on your butt doing nothing “worldly”, you react by More Extreme Fundamentalism and Trying to Grab Control Back By Any Means Necessary.

      • Dana Ames says:

        HUG,

        I read your unicorn story. It made me cry. Just wanted you to know.

        Dana

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Yeah, it has that effect. It was one of only three times in my life I had a “spontaneous story” burst into my head almost fully written, without the usual extensive outlining and prepwork. And every time that’s happened, said story is usually Dark, Tragic, or both. In this case (and in the related “Lament for a Cobra in a White Dress”), a tragic paranormal romance of a sort. Like I used to say, “last time this happened, a unicorn got beheaded.”

          Incidentally, in both the Unicorn and Cobra stories, the appearance of the imaginary critter is the ONLY fantasy element. Everything else in the story is closely based on fact; in this case, the origin of the picture and the story.

          • HUG,

            And where can I find this?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            If you’re talking the unicorn story (where I got my handle), it got bootlegged to a blog I’d never heard of before, illustration and all. Since I was never able to interest any publisher, I just let it stand on that blog:
            http://thingsthatarerectangles.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/51-the-unicorn-story/
            (Story is SFW; blogger’s comment intro contains some heavy cusswords.)

            As for the “Cobra” semi-sequel, that has never appeared anywhere. I think Chaplain Mike has my email address; if he can put you in contact with me off-IM, I can send you a copy and link to the pic that inspired it.

          • HUG,

            Cool – thank you

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >We never foresaw a future with legalized abortion and gay marriage because we planned only one future

      It isn’t “the future”. Merely return of the past, the norm. Don’t confuse a brief blip of western society – a fraction of the earth’s population, as all-history. Many many many people from many places and many times wouldn’t be puzzled or bothered by now in the least.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        No, it was the same progression of “the future” you saw in SF after The Sixties, mutating again after Y2K.

        Through the first 1960s, Bright Futures dominated — the “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from Disney’s Carousel of Progesss, “Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before” from Star Trek (which along with Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, were the last Bright Futures in mass-media SF).

        After the 1960s, Crapsack Dystopias dominated — Nuclear War Dystopias, Race War Dystopias, Nixon-dictatorship Dystopias, Ecologial Holocaust Dystopias, Reagan/Christianese-dicatorship dystopias, Right Wing Conspiracy Dystopias, Y2K Holocaust Dystopias, Dubya Bush/Christianese Dystopias, Global Warming Dystopias… From Bright Future to Dark Future.

        Then around Y2K, another shift away from Future settings into Alternate History and One-Way Time Travel Into The Past — running from Dark Future into No Future.

        From Bright Future to Dark Future (Seven-year Antichrist Dystopia) to No Future (The End).

        • I agree with HUG (a sure sign THE END IS NEAR!)

          Not just “No Future” via time travel and alternate history – a lot of super-dark futures, where life is meaningless and horror is everywhere (Stross’ “Glass House”, anything by Alistair Reynolds, most of “The Night’s Dawn Trilogy”, even “The Culture” from a certain point of view)… no future you’d want to live in.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            This is a continuation of the previous Dystopias, with the addition of “Can You Top This?”. The actual technical terms (from TV Tropes) are “GrimDark” and “Crapscack”. Both terms came out of Warhammer 40K fandom, and that says it all.

            A related term is “DARK & EDGY” (pronounced as if badly constipated), related to the “Women in Refrigerators” trope of superhero comics. Add “Can You Top This?” and you get “NO! DARKER! AND EDGIER!” (again pronounced as if badly constipated).

          • I think it’s a change in spirit (zeitgeist).

            The original dystopias were precautionary (“watch out!”, “don’t let this happen to you”).

            The modern ones are different. I don’t know what exactly. Pessimism (on their part, I know I’m pessimistic :), maybe.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The original dystopias were precautionary (“watch out!”, “don’t let this happen to you”).

            The modern ones are different. I don’t know what exactly.

            I can tell you “what exactly”: FAH-shionable NIHILISM.
            Marinating and glorying in their GrimDark Crapsack Dystopias.

            No future, No hope, We’re All Gonna Die (or worse), It’s All Over But The Screaming — make sure you have the Appropriate Ironic Quip ready when you leap into the Nothingness of death and utter annihilation.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Rod Serling’s futures were not very bright at all…

          Dana

  14. IndianaMike says:

    Likening V-J Day to the Supreme Court decision on DOMA. What a pretentious crock of $%&* InternetMonk.com has become.

    • Indiana, I can recall Michael Spencer having written a post a year or two before his death, rejoicing that the Presbyterian Church had rejected the idea of same-sex marriage or ordination. So that “has become” in your post is another example of looking back to a Golden Age that never was.

    • @ IndianaMike
      I don’t know if it was that far out there, given how deeply some right wing Christians are vested in the culture wars.

      Some Christians are utterly obsessed with homosexuality, feminism, and abortion, so you can better believe if Obama wins office, or DOMA gets struck down or what have you, some Christians who are obsessed with the culture wars go into despair or fury over it.

      I happen to be a Republican and social conservative myself, but I don’t get how or why some Christians are so consumed with the culture wars.

      Republicans Take Up Cause Of Religious Liberty — And Ditch Family Values

      • Interesting read… as I think some over-reached in the culture wars, so too I think there may be some over-reaching from the other side as the culture warriors lose ground and fall behind the earthworks in a strong defensive position.

    • IndianaMike says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, H. Lee and Daisy.

      I will stand by my initial reaction that the Mule is a Jackass.

      I don’t know how else to describe someone treading on the graves of those OBM to score a few cheap post-modern social and political points.

      • My godfather went ashore at Tarawa and Okinawa.

        I used the broadcast because of the chronology, and because of the general despondency of the Japanese during the Occupation.

        Of course, your observation about my pretentiousness is still spot on. We cant all be Julian of Norwich all the time.

  15. Regarding:
    “I think this is often overlooked in the general tendency to look at twelve year old girls twerking in middle-school gymnasia and declare that everything decent and worthwhile has disappeared from the world and that we have become cordwood for Hell.”

    As a forty-something who was once a devout Christian (I accepted Christ as Savior very young, and I am still right wing, politically speaking), who has been reading and listening to conservative Christian opinions and fretting over the society for over two decades, I’ve gotten worn down by it.

    I’ve heard, or read, I don’t know how many Non- Christian right wingers, and Christian right wingers (social conservatives), over the years keep lamenting the ruin and coarsening of American culture, the never ending predictions that our nation will collapse – (and feminism is usually to blame, or liberals), I find it tiresome and ridiculous.

    The world still carries on same as it ever did.

    It also dawned on me that maybe Christians should be more busy being “pro” stuff than “anti” stuff. If they spent more time supporting people, helping them, and encouraging them, that might also have the side effect of hammering away at all the stuff they are against.

    But many Christians would rather shake their fist in anger at feminism, Democrats, homosexual marriage, abortion, etc, then actually take steps to help people.

    I’m still right wing, I’m a social conservative, and maybe marginally still a bit of a Christian (though tipping towards agnosticism these days), and so I agree with these groups in principle, but how they choose to carry out their beliefs, of that they never, ever shut up about homosexuality/ abortion or whatever, is so old. I’m so tired of it. (Of course, some liberals and Democrats are equally as bad about this, so I don’t give them a pass, either.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It also dawned on me that maybe Christians should be more busy being “pro” stuff than “anti” stuff. If they spent more time supporting people, helping them, and encouraging them, that might also have the side effect of hammering away at all the stuff they are against.

      I’ve heard it said that “You can tell when a preacher’s in trouble when he stops preaching what he’s for and only preaches about what he’s against.”

  16. The Church has been on the wrong side of the Culture Wars too many times. Too often, the Church has simply identified with the values of the dominant, wealthier, culture, and has supported them fiercely until forced, generally at gunpoint, to change. I’m thinking of the Civil Rights movement in America, for one example. For another example, see the position of the Russian Orthodox Church at the time of the Russian revolution. In both these cases, and many more, the church *was* the dominant cluture, and readily supported the ruling classes against the poor and oppressed.

    If the Culture Wars apply only to sexual activity, guns have not been necessary to change the Church’s thinking. When over 50% of your congregations ignore the Church’s teachings, the War is over. In America in my long lifetime, the Church has retreated gradually on the sexual issues (something Jesus spent very little energy on), while generally pretending that nothing was happening. When I was a kid, contraception was forbidden by the culture and the church; people who handed out birth control pamphlets could be arrested for distributing obscene literature. Divorce was viewed with horror. After awhile those issues quietly went away and then the forbidden actions became “living in sin,” or to use less quaint words, living together without marriage. As Mule points out, that stand is vanishing quickly, leaving abortion and homosexuality as anathemas, and most young folks are fine with both abortion and homosexuality.

    The conservative Prostestant Church and the Roman Catholic Church and apparently the Orthodox Church still hold out against contraception and divorce as well as the other sexual sins, but most ordinary people in America simply ignore their Church’s teaching on these matters. (Most RC families in my town have 2 or 3 children.) So yes, the Church has lost the Culture Wars of the last 30 or 40 years, if you consider that those Wars were focused on sexual activity (and specifically, sexual activity NOT applied to heterosexual males). But focusing Christianity entirely on sex doesn’t seem a vision of Christianity very much worth fighting for anyway.

    But if losing the Culture Wars means that the Church is no longer so intertwined with the dominant national culture that it automatically ignores Jesus’ teachings about the humble, the peaceful, and the non-dominant, then I’m all for the surrender.

    • Yep… a *lot* of churchgoing people were very much pro-klan, pro-jim Crow and anti-anything at all to do with the Civil Rights movement. (not to mention very much pro-slavery.)

      How soon we forget!

      PS: I used to be anti-marriage equality, but then I got to know some gay xtians who have fought hard for marriage equality + who have suffered greatly for even saying that they’re LGBTQ. this applies to celibate *and* partnered people alike. If you listen to real-life stories of what the average LGBT person goes through, I can’t imagine how one could *not* have (at very least) a need to re-evaltuate commonly held beliefs and stereotypes.

    • Yep… a *lot* of churchgoing people were very much pro-klan, pro-jim Crow and anti-anything at all to do with the Civil Rights movement. (not to mention very much pro-slavery.)

      How soon we forget!

      PS: I used to be anti-marriage equality, but then I got to know some gay xtians who have fought hard for marriage equality + who have suffered greatly for even saying that they’re LGBTQ. this applies to celibate *and* partnered people alike. If you listen to real-life stories of what the average LGBT person goes through, I can’t imagine how one could *not* have (at very least) a need to re-evaluate commonly held beliefs and stereotypes.

      Note: I accidentally hit “post” before I was finished with this comment – previous post is full of spelling and other mistakes!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Aside: I would like to propose the term “The Unpronouncables” for “LGBTQ” per se. If you try to pronounce the latter acronym, you’ll know why.

  17. What is it about sex that so mightily ticks Christians off? Ah, there’s a question for the ages. So some guy named Avila goes to Chile during the Pinochet regime and speaks against sex? He leaves torture and brutality alone, only to speak about sex? Pathetic.

    Incidentally, the first three paragraphs of this post should not have been written. I’m with Indiana Mike: to compare the feelings of the supporters of DOMA to those of a country destroyed by WWII was a poor decision.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Considering the Japanese Army was so hell-bent on continuing the war against all odds (making it a hill for all Japan to die on — literally), it might be a valid comparison.

    • This interview of Richard Beck may shed some needed light on why “Christians” seem so often to be focused on SEX;

      http://www.beyondtheboxpodcast.com/2013/03/unclean-with-richard-beck/

      T

    • Bass – agreed.

      Mule, I like you a lot, but the analogy is just not right.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >What is it about sex that so mightily ticks Christians off?
      >Ah, there’s a question for the ages

      It doesn’t it mightily ticks of some specific sects of Christians.

      > So some guy named Avila goes to Chile during the Pinochet
      > regime and speaks against sex? He leaves torture and brutality alone,
      > only to speak about sex? Pathetic.

      Really? We cherry pick our moral indignation all the time, every day. I have to nod and smile during the orgy of thin patriotic [strike that, because I mean “nationalist pro-military”] B.S. that proceeds every sporting event I attend.

      The real nut with sexuality is that it is, obviously, a highly individual ethic. You cannot address discrimination, injustice, poverty, disease, etc… in the same manner – these are inherently social ethics. And if you have a world view that is extremely individualistic, anti-institutional, anti-governance, and [lets be honest] frequently anti-civil-society then ALL YOU CAN TALK ABOUT are issues of individual ethic. You can’t have a real discussion about social ethics, because you will immediately run up into turf you aren’t willing to tread. There is not standing up for justice without coercive power, and for a hyper-individualist that is holy ground.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Millions of Churches of One, each composed of Me and My Personal LORD and Savior.

        End result of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

        No wonder Ayn Rand is becoming the Fourth Person of the Trinity for a lot of Culture Warriors. This is “Just like Objectivism, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

  18. “..the culture becomes more actively and joyously non-Christian, and guess what? Nothing bad happens to it!.”

    It’s hard to respond adequately to that statement coming from a Christian. Those who don’t trust in Christ go to hell. Those who “actively and joyously” don’t trust in Christ go to hell. To imply that this is “nothing bad” is spiritual malpractice.

    • edj,

      I wouldn’t know where to start to respond to your comments except to point out that your rhetoric sounds something like this;

      “Let me save you from what I’m going to do to you if you don’t worship me.”

      “God”

      Is grace something created by God to save us from God?

      • I also think you missed Mule’s point. Plenty of evil occurs with no direct consequence to the evil doers. At the same time plenty of evil occurs to those who are not deserving of such suffering. Psalms 73 and 37 are apt studies in contrast.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      So EDJ invokes the threat of Eternal Hellfire and Damnation.
      Look how well that’s worked before.

  19. Mule is correct: it’s possible for moral chaos to obtain at one level of society, while everything else goes along just swimmingly. Such will probably be our lot in 21st century America. (Witness the massive drop in violent crime at the very same time traditional sexual mores are evaporating.) Regarding the Roman Empire around the time of Christ, Jacques Ellul writes:

    “The laments of Cato and the sharp judgments of Pliny or Tacitus are not the work of disappointed people but reflect the general manners of the time. We find cruelty to slaves, a fabulous squandering of money and goods, political corruption, swindling, polygamy, concubinage with slaves, an astounding increase in divorce by mutual consent (women having the right to repudiate their husbands), wholesale prostitution, homosexuality, and pederasty, which according to Suetonius is carried on to inordinate lengths…

    “Nevertheless, one should also note that this immorality developed within a society of law and order. That is to say, it did not bring any serious disorders, any insecurity, troubles, etc. Roman society was well run and functioned well. Vice had the attraction of an added spice, like the games were for the people. All the same, it is understandable that Christians of the first generations should be revolted by these modes of conduct…”

    – The Seduction of Christianity

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >Nevertheless, one should also note that this immorality developed within a society of law and order.

      Evil, like everything else, prospers more abundantly under the rule of law.

      Chaos and power-vacuums keep everything small and petty, albeit maybe more *openly* bloody.