November 24, 2017

Which Way? Religious Conservatism at the Crossroads

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling [Obergefell v. Hodges] which found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage surprised few observers. Whether or not such a right can legitimately be derived from the Constitution, it seems impossible that the court would have voted the way it did had this case been brought before it 20 years ago. In other words, religious conservatives find the decision to be so troubling because it does not come out of the blue, but reflects the radically changing mores of our society. Like the trophy presentation after a sports championship game, it announces and formalizes what has already happened on the field of play. At least on issues of sexual morality within public policy, the religious conservatives have lost.

This column is not about the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. Rather, it poses a different question: In light of the defeat over same-sex marriage (which exemplifies defeats in similar areas of social concern), what should religious conservatives do?

One option, of course, is to stand firm and fight back.  Robert P. George writes in First Things:

How shall we respond to a lawless decision in which the Supreme Court by the barest of majorities usurps authority vested by the Constitution in the people and their elected representatives? By letting Abraham Lincoln be our guide. Faced with the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, Lincoln declared the ruling to be illegitimate and vowed that he would treat it as such. He squarely faced Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s claim to judicial supremacy and firmly rejected it. To accept it, he said, would be for the American people “to resign their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”

Today we are faced with the same challenge. Like the Great Emancipator, we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation. We must, above all, tell the truth: Obergefell v. Hodges is an illegitimate decision.

Another option is to turn our focus inwardly, in order to build the kind of church that can best persevere in a post-Christian culture. Rod Dreher wrote a piece for Time in which he laid out “The Benedict Option”:

It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. He pointed to Benedict of Nursia, a pious young Christian who left the chaos of Rome to go to the woods to pray, as an example for us. We who want to live by the traditional virtues, MacIntyre said, have to pioneer new ways of doing so in community. We await, he said “a new — and doubtless very different — St. Benedict.”

Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization.

I believe that orthodox Christians today are called to be those new and very different St. Benedicts. How do we take the Benedict Option, and build resilient communities within our condition of internal exile, and under increasingly hostile conditions? I don’t know. But we had better figure this out together, and soon, while there is time.

Dreher wrote a little more expansively about what the Benedict Option means in First Things last February:

In our time, the Benedict Option does not offer a formula (at least not yet), but it does call for a radical shift in perspective among Christians, one in which we see ourselves as living in the ruins (though very comfortable ones!) of Christian civilization, and tasked with preserving the living faith through the coming Dark Ages…

Our Benedict Option will express itself within institutions—churches, schools, para-church organizations, and so forth—whose purpose is to keep orthodox Christianity alive in the hearts and minds of believers living as exiles in an ever more hostile culture.

David Brooks responded with another option in the New York Times. He hopes religious conservatives will quit the battlefield of the current culture war, in order to re-group for a different kind of battle.

I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues. But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer. And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course.

Consider putting aside, in the current climate, the culture war oriented around the sexual revolution.

Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.

Consider a different culture war, one just as central to your faith and far more powerful in its persuasive witness.

We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed. Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements. Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital. Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms. Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through.

Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.

The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority. It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.

Rod Dreher responded to Brooks on Wednesday:

I don’t believe my friend David understands the inseparable connection between Christian sexual morality and the familial and social instability David rightly decries. Family and social breakdown is inextricably linked to the abandonment of Christian sexual ideals — specifically, the idea that sexual passion should be limited to expression within the bounds of marriage. Chastity — which is not “no sex,” but rather the right ordering of the God-given sexual instinct — is a Christian virtue. It is not the most important Christian virtue, but it is not one that can be discarded, either…

Christianity, properly understood, takes a more holistic view of the human person. David rightly causes us to think of how few conservative Christians consider the role that economics and economic policy plays in breaking apart families and communities. But liberals, Christian and otherwise, fail to appreciate the extent to which abandoning sexual restraint results in broken families and broken societies. “Different beliefs about the universe lead to different behavior,” Lewis writes. The Sexual Revolution teaches something different about sex, the body, desire, and identity. Christianity opposes it — and Christian chastity cannot be isolated from the overall Christian conception of what the body is and who we are as incarnated eternal beings.

The point is, there is no way for Christians to undertake the task of nurturing stable families, as David correctly wishes for, without making the teaching of Christian chastity part of the mission. This is the one thing the world cannot accept — and in fact, finds a form of madness, indeed of bigotry…

Dreher also quotes Patrick Deneen on why Brook’s suggestion to quit the field of battle will not work:

The origins of the “war” was arguably launched by Roe v. Wade, which was, for the Christian, less about sexual morality than protecting the life of the unborn. It was a human rights battle, not a battle over sexual propriety… But in recent years, from whence has the aggression come? ..Have Christians threatened to wipe out the livelihood of rural pizza makers who didn’t conform to their views, or even launched boycotts against the likes of Apple, etc.? Or, we might even ask, when is the last time someone heard a sermon about sexual morality from the pew?… But what Brooks simply neglects to talk about is that Christians are not going to be allowed to depart from the battlefield. Once the atomic weapon of “bigotry” has been used, you can’t just contain the radiation. Christians will be occupied for years yet to come defending their institutions – not because that’s what they want to do, but because they will be forced to.

So there are at least three choices laid out: The Status Quo Culture War, The Benedict Option, and the Mother Theresa Plan. Obviously these are not entirely exclusive of each other. But where should our emphasis lie? Or is there a fourth (or fifth) option? What are your thoughts?

Comments

  1. Vega Magnus says:

    Option 4: Ignore all of this superfluous stuff and go about our own lives minding our own business. That may sound a bit brusque, but I am intensely tired of the Kulture Wars, Komrade. And I’m sick of both sides of it as well. Patheos has been unreadable recently with proggies and fundies each going on ad nauseam about their views on the Kulture War, adding nothing new to the discussion and obliviously channeling the views of their chosen political parties as the WORDAGAWD without even realizing how ridiculous they sound. I am so done with all of it.

    • dumb ox says:

      Where’s the “like” button?

    • David Cornwell says:

      Yes!

      Part of the problem is the seemingly necessary use of the word “conservative.” It starts the discussion out in a divisive way. I really do not care about the survival of “conservative” or “liberal” Christianity. For a change we need to see the real thing, dropping these descriptive terms.

      I know so many people who are very “orthodox” (lower case) in their foundational beliefs who could never be labeled “conservative” because of our modern use of the word. The word itself has become tainted.

      • David, unfortunately, the world (read: media) WANTS labels. It is the most intellectually lazy way of categorizing people, organizations, and movements. You may tire of the overused labels but how else are people going to know who to hate and villify?

        • David Cornwell says:

          “You may tire of the overused labels but how else are people going to know who to hate and villify?”

          Sad fact of life it seems.

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        Eh, I hate the labels too, David. But trying to write a title and post about a large group of people without using any labels is beyond my skill level, I’m afraid. I couldn’t just use “the church” for many in the church have no problems with SSM. Same problem for using the description, “religious people”. I suppose I could have used something like, “those who object to SSM and the values of the sexual revolution on religious and/or moral grounds”, but it would get a little clunky to repeat that every time.

        • David Cornwell says:

          Thanks Daniel. I understand your problem. Our problem.

          But it goes way beyond sexual values and the sexual revolution doesn’t it? Conservatives will be facing huge problems in the future if they make this the center of disagreement. It will stay negative and will probably dwindle to a mostly older minority.

          We live in a secular democracy in which decisions for the future probably will not go a desired direction for conservatives over the long term.

          I’m thinking out loud, without my feet in concrete (I think).

    • Brianthedad says:

      That kinda sounds like an adaptation n of option 1. But hey, I’m with you. I’ve gotten a few astonished looks from my Christian friends and family when ive simply shrugged my shoulders at the hubbub surrounding all this.

      • Brianthedad says:

        Then again, it sounds a bit like Brooks’ approach too. Minding our own business and then being about it quietly.

    • Exactly, Vega (and others). Just let the sexual stuff alone for awhile, say 10 years. Let the Culture do what it wants. We Christians should continue to look for positive things to do to usher in the Kingdom, I think. We shouldn’t react to every change in The Culture as if to an electric cattle prod.

      • Great last point there! I wish more public christian leaders/clergy were like that – it might actually help their cause more – right now I think a lot of secularists/liberals get a big kick out of shocking/aggravating the trads – it’s become too much fun – provides lots of entertainment… time for trads/etc to stop huffing/puffing at everything…

  2. Canada has had law like this for quite awhile and the sky has not fallen. Churches still function. People still follow Christ in many different expressions (and beliefs about LGBT issues).

    Ditto the rest of the world… there is a huge range of different law and policy on this matter. And the bride of Christ continues on.

    The only massive handwringing that I see is I the U.S., and that only because the Moral Majority is obviously no longer the majority (arguably no longer even moral).

    But since they’ve been playing the power game on the religious right, it’s a hard thing to give up. Hence the braying.

    The rest of Chrstendom, not having seen any real power in the worldly sense for centuries (and that’s a good thing), may provide a good example, if American Christians care to pay attention.

    • +1!

    • Robert F says:

      E.G.,
      How has Canada’s law effected secondary religious institutions like universities? Are they required, for instance, to allow on campus student housing for married same-sex couples? Are they required to extend all the same employment benefits to same-sex couples as the they do to heterosexual couples? Etc…..

    • People still follow Christ in many different expressions (and beliefs about LGBT issues).

      But can they freely speak out about it without running afoul of the authorities?

      • No the sky has not fallen in Canada but it really is open season on people of faith.

        You cannot really speak freely about it or you can end up in court over hate speech, or before a human rights commission. If you are taken before the human rights commissions the one who complains has the bill paid for by the state. You pay your own legal bills. It can effectively bankrupt you.

        Some of the other Canadians who post here will try to say it is all okay up north and we continue on as the peaceable kingdom but that is an illusion.

        There is a Christian university that has had trouble because their code of conduct affirms marriage between man and a woman, effectively saying SSM is a no-no. They have had vitriolic attacks and plans for a law school put on hold as various legal societies have said they will not certify its graduates.

        They have gone after Christian schools, the Knights of Columbus, private businesses.

        And the liberals here said they would protect religion when they brought the laws in. Isn’t happening.

        I wish I could be optimistic, all I can say is Good luck America.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          The Christian University thing is simply because they essentially require something that goes against the legal code. They can still be Christian without people having to sign a code of conduct (what is it with that anyway?).

          I would like to see the links to your claims (I might of course be ignorant of them too). I had to google for all these horrible cases you claim: I came up with the following:

          In 2000, there was a printer that got fined $5000 for refusing to print a letterhead fora gay and lesbian charity.

          In 2010 the Ontario Human rights commission found against a Christian non-profit charity that required all employees to sign a Lifestyle and Morality Statement that required that they not enter into homosexual relationships etc etc. No fine.

          There is the case of the preacher who got in trouble for hate speech, but he stood on street corners and shouted out the most insanely vile stuff about homosexuals. Really, really vile.

          A couple of other cases exist. All together less than 10 in the last 10 years. And none since 2012.

          Please stop your fearmongering. It is disgraceful.

          • No fear mongering.

            I have a friend who is a lawyer who has dealt with these cases. He recently had to defend a retired couple who ran a B&B in the country who did not let 2 young males stay there. They ended up before the human rights commission and were fined. After the hearing and before the judgement I asked ‘do you think you won?’ he said – no way. All I can hope to do is produce a reasonable doubt that the couple were acting out of convictions that were a part of who they are. His comment is that they were angry young males looking for revenge.

            I heard Scott Brockie the printer give a talk about his ordeal. He was sitting at tens and thousands of dollars in defence fees. He had even tried to get another printer – they would not settle for that. His comment was that they were an activist group and he could not support them. And that the first he heard of the complaint was the Human Rights commission contacted him and told him he was guilty and owed $5000, before there was even a hearing.

            There was a pastor in Red Deer who wrote a letter to a newspaper during the gay debate-dragged through HR commission for years-I have been in contact with him. It cost him heavily. At first HR commission wanted $5000. And there was not even a victim in the case, it was someone spuriously filing on the basis of a letter to a newspaper

            Since when is a community covenant against the legal code? Please explain? Have you read the covenant?

            And what about the Alberta government ruling that will likely mean private Christian schools have to provide space for gay/straight clubs? Does that cover Hutterite colonies as well?

            And then there is the gay teacher in Vancouver who took a year long job at a private Catholic school and wanted maternity leave (when she was not pregnant) of course the parents freaked when they discovered it was her lesbian partner. So they put her on non-classroom duties when she returned. She made a huge noise to the media-who takes a job at a private Catholic school not knowing their stand on these issues?

            And yes, there are nutbars like the one you speak of. And I agree with you- disgusting.

            I respect a lot of what you say and it is thoughtful. But on this one I think you are missing the boat.

          • Robert F says:

            It sounds like it’s hard to know the extent of the negative effect on conservative Christian churches in Canada, because people may be afraid to open their mouths. They may have a reasonable expectation that if they are not careful of what they say and do, they will be sued, taken to court and have to pay enormous fees in defending themselves before they even get to the part where they might have to pay damages they can’t afford. The power to tax and fine into non-existence, or silence, is one of the most ominous powers of the modern state.

          • Klasie:

            Here is a link to Trinity Western University’s Community covenant.

            The clause that is causing the issue is in Section 3, the fifth bullet down.
            And also see the section: Health Sexuality

            When I finally read the thing through I really wondered if this is all political.

            And the law societies refusing to certify people graduating from there are really saying ‘we can’t trust you to practice law because you went to a school that had that clause in their code of conduct’

            If what they say is true, then logically they need to find out if a new lawyer is Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or any of the protestant sects who do not agree with SSM.

            http://twu.ca/studenthandbook/university-policies/community-covenant-agreement.html

          • To a degree you are right Robert. When there have been a few notable cases where people have faced human rights commissions and large fines that puts a damper on discussion or any kind of disagreement. You tend to find that even the public media will not allow contentious opinions, always the fear of lawsuits.

            There have been a few fundie types who get quite judgemental and are firebrands, and I find them disgusting but does that mean they should be charged with hate speech? I am sure that the definition would be fairly fluid, so who knows what will be unfashionable in the future.

            Most Canadian churches let the law for SSM come into being without as much as a wimper. One of the problems in this country is if a non-profit charity engages in political activity they can have their tax free status yanked. I do not know if that played into their silence. Except for Catholics, most were silent.

          • Please stop your fearmongering. It is disgraceful.

            End of discussion, in other words…the easiest way to shut down dialog.

      • Here is an article about gay clubs being mandatory in all schools in the Province of Alberta if requested by students. This includes private schools of faith. This is the result of a lot of work by some people.

        http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/gay-straight-alliances-now-mandatory-in-alberta-were-no-longer-that-redneck-roughneck-province

        • Well, if a request is made, what’s the problem exactly?

          Churches still choose who they marry in Canada.

          Private schools still can set religious-based entrance standards (yes, we know about TWU, but it’s more complicated than that, and it seems that they are winning their side anyhow).

          People can still voice dissent.

          However, no, you can’t be exclusionary on the public dime.

          • Private schools of faith includes anyone, even if the school is 100% self financed.

            A request being made: do you think that it is even remotely possible that a school could be a deliberate target?

      • Yes.

  3. Christiane says:

    is possible that some religious conservatives openly targeted LGBT folks in ways that were extremely public and so shocking that our American people began to say ‘wait a minute, that’s not who WE are as Americans’.

    I think about the time of the Civil Rights movement which exploded into the public consciousness when the press filmed unarmed marchers being attacked by water canons, vicious beatings, and by police dogs . . . for the first time, on national televised news, the country saw the abuse our African American people suffered for standing up to discrimination, and our American public said ‘wait a minute, that is not who WE are as Americans’ . . .

    Over recent years, I think that extreme conservative far-right ‘christians’ went too far in their efforts against our LGBT citizens. There was a punitive quality to their attacks which aroused the consciousness of many Americans who could not identify with such campaigns targeting the LGBT community . . .

    If, in social and civic areas, our country’s consciousness ‘changed’, let the reasons for that change be examined for responsibility to be placed where it should be placed:
    American people, when they see abuse of minorities that is extreme and consistently unfair, will react to protect those minorities.

    I think recent events have been our country’s way of saying to the ‘christian’ far-right: ‘back off, enough already’ . . .

    agree? disagree? I see a pattern. Maybe I’m wrong. Could be. But I lived through the Civil Rights era, and now I see this national respite come for the sake of our LBGT citizens;
    and I recognize something familiar in the reaction of the consciousness of our American people to the treatment of a minority of our citizens by them what have gone out of their way to target them, label them, and marginalize them.

    • Christiane – +1

    • Who is doing the reporting, and why? Are the “far right” (those pesky labels again) that numerous, or are “they”, WHOEVER “they” are, just thew latest in media whipping boys being used to change opinion?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Over recent years, I think that extreme conservative far-right ‘christians’ went too far in their efforts against our LGBT citizens. There was a punitive quality to their attacks which aroused the consciousness of many Americans who could not identify with such campaigns…

      What do you expect from those whose God exists only to PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH?

      In the dictionary, the word “Judgment” means “a binding decision”.
      In Christianese, it means somebody gets it in the neck and burns in Eternal Hell.

  4. Keep in mind that the same-sex marriage issue is not the “end game”. There is more to come, and is WON’T be coming from Christians.

    I learned as a very young man, CHILD actually, that when you have your opponent on the ground you NEVER walk awy. You pound him INTO the ground until they can no longer stand. Now, as a Christian, I realize that this is not the proper way to fight. When you best someone you then reach out a supporting hand in hopes that amity can be restored. As Winston Churchill once suggested “In victory generous, in defeat humble”.

    We will soon see if the victor extends the olive branch or the cudgel. My guess is NOR generosity…

    • Robert F says:

      Difficult times are definitely coming to conservative Christians, evangelical and Catholic), in the US, and to those who believe that the religious liberties of Christian conservatives should be protected (I count myself in the second group, though not the first). As part of that protection, I believe that not only churches, but secondary Christian institutions like schools (including universities) and hospitals should be exempt from some of the implications of the recent SCOTUS ruling. That this change came through the Court instead of legislatures is unfortunate, because Court rulings are unable to address such particular legitimate problems and concerns. I believe some of the pouncing that victorious humans are prone to will occur in this area, oscar.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That this change came through the Court instead of legislatures is unfortunate, because Court rulings are unable to address such particular legitimate problems and concerns.

        Don’t you know the only reason we have a President and Congress is to appoint the Supreme Court which actually rules the country by five-to-four decree?

        And when it’s always five-to-four, one appointment can change everything completely.
        Let the Game of Thrones begin.

      • 2004: “Gay marriage must be outlawed. Civil unions, too. No, same-sex weddings performed by pro-gay churches are not real.”

        2015: “Anti-gay churches must be protected from infringements on their liberteeeeeeeeze!!!”

    • And how generous were WE to our political foes? How compassionate were WE to folks on the other side of this debate? It’s a little disingenuous to cry for mercy when you war motto has been “NO COMPROMISE! TAKE NO PRISONERS!”

      • Robert F says:

        Even if all you say is historically true, and I think it is, I don’t think it benefits anyone for us to be self-hating Christians. To the degree that the US cannot make room for those Christians who dissent on this issue, and their institutional voices, it will harm itself. For instance, if the Catholic hospitals are stripped of their tax-exemption because they refuse to obey all the implications regarding the rights of same-sex couples employed by them (if that’s what they do), and as a result close because they can no longer afford to operate, it would be a tremendous loss to American society, not just to conservative Christianity. On this issue, it’s impossible to separate the fate of the American Roman Catholic Church and the evangelical churches; we should remember that when we discuss this.

      • Are you trying to blunt what MAY happen by vilifying one side or the other? Does saying “I know you are but what am I?” really change the metric? How do you know what other people believe? Where do you get your information and is that information totally without bias?

        I read this blog regularly and hear about evangelical failings and outright sins, then I go out into my world and see little of what is being complained about. Are we being influenced by the reportings about some outliers as if they were ubiquitous or is the Christian world truly fallen and those here at iMonk are the exception? Is it possible that we are being manipulated unconsciously, by what we hear? I wonder…

        • Radagast says:

          The game has changed. The noise and rhetoric will die down over time, as it has for the most part on Obamacare. As I have said in the past, I have no issue with the secular portion of marriage – call it civil union. The part that will become more complicated is the religious aspect, as those churches that do not accept the secular ruling will begin to be challenged for their intolerance of this basic American right. Additionally, the long standing definition of marriage has been changed, and its looser definition will also begin to be challenged over and over again. Support for other forms of marriage will become more palatable as we begin to accept it as normal by being exposed to it over and over again through media and television. Our right to “intimacy freedom”, whatever that means will become a new call to allow people to practice their right to do whatever makes them happy.

          As an observer of this lifetime it looks like things are going to become very interesting…..

          • ” Additionally, the long standing definition of marriage has been changed, ”

            That long standing definition began changing well before this ruling;

            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-gay-marriage-and-straight-liberation.html

            But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.

            The traditional understanding, which rested on sex difference, procreation, and real permanence, went into crisis in the 1960s and 1970s.

          • I actually found the following reaction to the Ross Douthat column insightful. The definition of marriage did have to change from the various tradition definitions to one that focused on a bond of love between two equal partners before the idea of same-sex marriage even made sense. If I recall correctly, the last law in the US granting special rights to the husband in marriage wasn’t repealed until 1980, though that process began in the 60s. So yes, we changed the legal definition of marriage and the supporting laws decades ago. Frankly, I’m extremely glad my daughters didn’t grow up in the oppressive era of “traditional marriage”. Under our new definition, civil recognition of same-sex unions not only became reasonable, but likely inevitable.

            http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/gay-marriage-scotus-ross-douthat-oppression-vs-love

            I have no suggestion or thoughts on what “conservative Christians” should do in reaction. I attend an SBC Church, but culturally I’ve always been more of an interested outsider looking in. Using our current civil definition of marriage as a legally recognized bond of love between two equal partners, I can’t think of any reason it shouldn’t be extended to same-sex couples. Nor do I want to restore any of the older, traditional legal definitions of marriage under which a woman was basically chattel and a brood mare.

          • I resonate a lot with that comment, Scott. I also can’t think of a good reason not to extend marriage to same sex couples, and I am also very, very glad that my daughter will not be growing up in a world where “traditional marriage” was legally enforced.

          • Edited by moderator. Unnecessary profanity.

            *As I have said in the past, I have no issue with the secular portion of marriage – call it civil union.*

            All–100%–of the state bans on gay marriage passed in the 2000/2002/2004 election cycles ALSO SPECIFICALLY DISALLOWED CIVIL UNIONS.

            Any other hypocrisy you want to traffick in? I am all ears.

      • @oscar, Robert

        I am neither wallowing in self-hatred nor downplaying the possible consequences. I am simply saying that we ought to consider that the lack of graciousness on the part of those opposing Christian conservatives in this matter might possibly have been partially generated by a profound lack of grace and compassion on the part of those conservatives. You can’t deny *that*, surely…

        • Robert F says:

          When you say “conservatives”, are you thinking only of evangelicals, or do you include the Roman Catholic Church? They’re hitched to the same wagon on this issue, and shall share the same fate with regard to the direction this ruling takes the nation.

        • Eeyore, since when is it “OK” to retaliate in kind? And, again, who exactly are we talking about? It is so easy to criticize the generally labeled “conservatives” for their “intolerance” and lack of love, but that is a very large swath of the church you are broad brushing, and not altogether fair to those among the “conservative” camp who are genuinely Christian and strive to live as Christ commanded.

          So, what percentage of the “conservative” camp do you want to criticize? Do you have any hard and fast numbers, or are you just going on what you have heard and seen? Certainly there is an abundant supply of targets, so lets try hitting a few of THEM instead.

          Unfortunately, to randomly level accusations against those you do not know sounds a lot like bearing false witness, especially if you do not use modifiers such as “SOME”, or “CERTAIN” in your statements.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Keep in mind that the same-sex marriage issue is not the “end game”. There is more to come, and is WON’T be coming from Christians.

      “WE’RE THE WINNING ORIENTATION NOW! EVERYBODY! STOMP HARDER! STICK IT TO ‘EM!”

  5. Marcus Johnson says:

    What we’re seeing right now with conservative American evangelicalism in the wake of current cultural and political trends is nothing new; it hasn’t really gotten worse, and that pattern will probably repeat itself in another fifty years. So much of the cultural identity of which we’re talking about in this post defines itself through contention, not mission or advocacy. It’s a combative stance that has a very limited life span.

    Maybe conservative American evangelicals won’t win any more battles until they stop fighting them.

    • Christiane says:

      anytime a group, calling itself ‘Christian’, uses the weapons of THIS world to fight battles it has gone out of its way to stir up, it is very likely conclusion that the group is bogus

      • Robert F says:

        Including post-Constantinian Christian Rome, and Medieval Christian Europe.

      • Christiane, I have to take SOME exception to your statement “fight battles it has gone out of its way to stir up”. More realistically, I would say that they inadvisably PUSHED BACK at forces that began sweeping society. They didn’t just, out of the blue, decide to oppose same-sex marriage, or “gay liberation”, or any other so-called trend, they just reacted in an unmeasured way to something that was beginning to encroach upon their world.

        You are portraying these groups (its always easier to say “groups” because it depersonalizes them) as if they somehow have changed and now oppose what is “accepted”. THEY have not changed…the SOCIETY HAS! The problem is that SOME people, SOME groups, have pushed back as if the society belonged to THEM. IT never DID, never will, and it will be the agency of opposition and persecution when things culminate at the end.

        Jesus said that the world will hate YOU because it has hated ME. If we think that we will have peace with the zeitgeist of this age by leaving it alone then we are mistaken. Fighting against it will lead to failure, but standing on what we know to be true, even though it leads to death (in the extreme, that is) is the path that Jesus took and which we are called to follow.

        • Oscar,

          Don’t co-opt the persecution card for your own purposes. Does the hate toward Jesus because he was against gay rights while the religious authorities in power were for it.

          • Typo;

            “Was” the hate towards Jesus because…..

            There are legitimate points on both sides. Persecution is human thing, and could be just as easily demonstrated from other perspectives in this argument.

          • Sorry “M”, I just don’t get your point. Not clear enough for me…

        • They didn’t just, out of the blue, decide to oppose same-sex marriage, or “gay liberation”, or any other so-called trend, they just reacted in an unmeasured way to something that was beginning to encroach upon their world.
          I’m not sure this is accurate. One of my professors in seminary did his PhD work in post-WWII evangelicalism, and he argued that there was a very good case that a certain brand of white evangelicalism was essentially enshrined in law and shoved down the public throat in the fear-riddled post-war era.

        • Edited by moderator. Unnecessary profanity.

          In 1971 the Southern Baptist Convention, adopted the following resolution:

          “We call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        “anytime a group, calling itself ‘Christian’, uses the weapons of THIS world to fight battles it has gone out of its way to stir up, ”

        The idea that the Church ‘stirred up’ Gay Marriage or abortion is a bald faced lie.

        How to win ‘Culture Wars’ (TM)

        1 Agitate for something offensive to the Christian faith.

        2. Paint anyone who disagrees as hateful and bigoted.

        3.When the Church speaks out, label it as violating the hallowed separation of Church and State.

        4.Ramrod the agenda through the courts after deluging the culture with propaganda.

        5. After the laws are changed, tell the Christians to ‘drop the Culture war’ thing because it is a stumbling block to the younger generation’s hearing of the Gospel.

        • You left out the part about control of the media and the banks. Probably also want to darkly warn of ‘rootless cosmopolitans’, Agenda 21, Operation Jade Helm, the Bilderberg Group, and, of course, Benghazi.

          But a strong, B-minus effort, nonetheless. Keep practicing and come back next year.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Indeed, we’re supposed to love our enemies. Well, Jesus said so, anyway.

  6. Robert F says:

    Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization.

    Uh, they helped re-found western European civilization. The Chinese, Indians, and Muslim civilizations were all doing quite well, thank you. Eurocentric as our mentality is, we frequently fail to acknowledge that the Dark Ages were a period limited to Europe, and that while they occurred other civilizations to flourished. European civilization has never been the only game in town.

    We also forget that the Western Roman civilization that fell was Christian, not pagan. When Benedict, and the early hermits and monastics, fled to the edges of cities and forests and deserts to escape corrupt civilization, it was Christian civilization that they were fleeing. As the newly adopted official religion of Rome, Christianity not only failed to reverse the decline of Roman civilization, but actually contributed to it.

    • I would push this one step further. The Roman Empire did not fall because of its sexual mores – it fell because it’s rapaciousness, cruelty and hubris caught up with it, and it could no longer sustain itself. Thus is the fate of all hyperpowers. And when I look at the problems facing our country – crumbling infrastructure, massive and increasing debt, growing poverty, a growing collection of aggressive external enemies – it matches that pattern to a tee.

      To focus almost solely on sexual mores, as evangelicalism is doing now, is to ignore and belittle all the other besetting sins of American society – racism, greed, pride, materialism, wars of aggression, lack of charity – and thus imply that God only cares about who we screw and how.

      Dare I say it? Homosexual marriage is almost an irrelevancy in light of all these other factors.

      • +1

      • Robert F says:

        Agree.

        Except that the SCOTUS ruling will eventually, probably in the not too distant future, cause problems for secondary Christian institutions, like hospitals, schools/universities, etc. Although I’m a progressive on the issue of same-sex marriage, I also believe that religions and secondary religious institutions should be protected from some of the legal implications of the ruling, and I think that conservative Christians, evangelical and Catholic alike, are being completely realistic when they speak about how the inevitable unfolding of these implications will effect non-church Christian projects that are set-up in the public square.

        I know one option would be for churches to willingly give up their religious tax-exemption for themselves and their secondary institutions. But I wonder if it is economically realistic to suppose that either churches themselves or their institutions could survive such a change. I also wonder if, given the conflation of religious legitimacy and tax exemption that seems to exist in American mentality and law, giving up tax exemption also involves giving up institutional status as a recognized and protected religion, i.e. giving up religious liberty.

        (From my words, it’s easy to see that, though I support same-sex marriage, I don’t consider religious objections to same-sex marriage as morally equivalent to religious objections to inter-racial marriage; I would never be in favor of any protection from the full implications of current law for the latter.)

        • …also believe that religions and secondary religious institutions should be protected from some of the legal implications of the ruling,

          You are dreaming, Robert! If we use the Roe versus Wade ruling as an example, how successful have opponents of abortion been in limiting it? Not much! The same will go with this latest ruling. When the opposition gets legal standing then anything else tangentially connected will be pushed. You can count on it.

          The world does not operate on Christian principles so we should not expect it to act benevolently toward moderation.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            When the opposition gets legal standing then anything else tangentially connected will be pushed. You can count on it.

            “WE’RE WINNING! STOMP HARDER! STICK IT TO ‘EM! STICK IT TO ‘EM! STICK IT TO ‘EM!”

          • Robert F says:

            oscar, I’m not dreaming, I’m only saying what I think is the right way forward. I concede that it’s unlikely that things will go that way. Litigation will eventually attempt to force the dissenting churches and their institutions to go along with the new dispensation, and the dissenting churches and their institutions will have occupy a smaller and smaller public space. Hospitals, universities, etc., that don’t get in line will disappear (Goodbye, Notre Dame football! THAT I can applaud!).

            I don’t expect that the willingness of mainline churches (or any others that decide to play by the new rules) to go along with the new marital dispensation will in any way draw more people to them, so the net effect will be a disappearance of Christianity from the public sphere in the US.

            No matter how stripped down Christianity becomes of extraneous elements, whatever those happen to be, the world is not really interested in the way of the cross. The Church, however, should be; if this new ruling helps it along that way, then an unintended consequence of it is that it will be good for the Church.

          • Robert F says:

            I think you’re wrong, oscar. I think opponents have been quite successful in limiting the abortions, on a state by state basis, and that this, as much as anything else, is why there has been such a great decline in the actual number of abortions performed in the last decade and a half.

        • I think the handwriting is no only on the wall WRT religious tax exemptions, but for a lot of other institutions (hospitals, etc) religious or not. I think we are all going to have to learn to get by without a lot of the infrastructure and institutions we have grown accustomed to over the past century, regardless of whether or not it’s due to religious persecution or just outright economic decline. Again, I am darn near of the opinion that the culture war is a red herring in all of this.

          • Robert F says:

            But this is my question: Is it possible, under current law and interpretation, for a religion to be recognized as protected under the Constitution if it forgoes tax exemption, or is tax exemption the default machinery by which a religion is recognized and afforded legal protections?

          • Robert F says:

            My question has nothing to do with culture war.

      • Damaris says:

        Good point, Eeyore. Rome and America have both been empires, either political or commercial. John Michael Greer, a writer and blogger, calls empire a “wealth pump” of resources away from other countries and to itself. Eventually the pump runs out and the empire begins to run dry. Cultural decadence of any kind — whether gay marriage or Gibbon’s effete Christianity — is more likely a symptom than a cause of collapse. The real causes are always economic and environmental.

        • John Greer has done much to shape my thinking in regards to civilizations and decline. I see I’m not alone in that regard here…

        • Robert F says:

          This is mostly true, though I hesitate to reduce all “real causes” to ones rooted in a philosophical materialist analysis of history.

          When the US finally loses all its hegemonic power, what’s gonna happen to all those nuclear missiles, which are loaded and ready to go at a moment’s notice? I shiver to think.

          • Damaris says:

            Here’s an article by someone who has both thought and shuddered about the possibilities of nuclear war, Robert: http://www.vox.com/2015/6/29/8845913/russia-war

          • Robert F says:

            Damaris, It seems like only yesterday it was 1989, we were watching the Berlin Wall being demolished on our televisions, and it seemed like we were also”watching the world wake up from history”, in the words of a popular song written on and about that event. It was a pleasant dream for the short while it lasted, wasn’t it?

          • Robert F says:

            “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — William Faulkner

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Correct! I came to the same conclusions no through Greer but through other authors. Climate and economics – the shift of agricultural production away from Italy, the massive pressures on the Roman frontiers, the beginning of the cold period that led to the Rhine freezing over in the year 406 – many factors colluded in the slow fall of the Empire.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        +1

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        “The Roman Empire did not fall because of its sexual mores – it fell because it’s rapaciousness, cruelty and hubris caught up with it, and it could no longer sustain itself. ”

        The reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire has been a topic of steady discussion since at least the 18th century, with any number of causes proposed. Gibbon, for example, blamed it on their going soft, what with converting to Christianity. I don’t claim to have the answer, but I do know that the Romans were rapacious, cruel, and hubristic before they were an Empire. Indeed, that is pretty much how they got their empire in the first place. That and certain military advances others had difficulty replicating, and civil constitutional advances that helped them consolidate their gains.)

        • Radagast says:

          The Roman Empire rotted from with, economic and political instability, an empire spread too thin, while outside forces continued to chop away at it in waves. Without a strong inner core it was doomed to fragment and fall…..

      • The Roman Empire did not fall because of its sexual mores – it fell because it’s rapaciousness, cruelty and hubris caught up with it, and it could no longer sustain itself.
        Oh, absolutely. There are several Roman carvings depicting Roman soldiers ravaging women who represent the surrounding conquered countries. I can’t imagine that was good for diplomacy.

      • Don’t forget all their lead water pipes.

  7. Family and social breakdown is inextricably linked to the abandonment of Christian sexual ideals

    As I have pointed out before, it is cultural nostalgia to blithely link Christian sexual mores to nuclear family monogamy. And it borders on self-serving propaganda to pin social decay to the abandonment of “Christian sexual mores”. I read an article thus week which stated that saying that the abandonment of heterosexual marriage norms is the epitome of rebellion against God is to ignore the myriad ways we Americans have defied God’s moral laws in the past – racism, wars of aggression, greed, materialism, pride, etc. – and it insinuate that God is primarily if not only concerned about who we screw and how.

    When I look at the stormclouds on our horizon, I see mounting debt (materialism and greed), tottering infrastructure, increasing mass poverty, and foreign powers knocking at our gates. Is this SOLELY because we don’t all have Ozzie-and-Harriet marriages?

    The Roman Empire did not fall because of no-fault divorce. It fell because it’s greed, rapaciousness and hubris caught up with it. Thus all hyperpowers fall – thus will WE fall.

    Homosexual marriage is – dare I say it – almost an irrelevancy.

  8. As a pastor working in a poor community in southern Appalachia, I find more wisdom in David Brooks approach. The people I serve could care less about what the social conservatives are in a snit about. The folks who do have their panties in a wad over the social conservative hot button issues are the very folks who who tend to condemn those in poverty to hell over perceived violation of the rulebook. So much for love… and so much for enabling conversations about Jesus with the very folks who need him most.

    I’m not about to suggest that all we need is love (to paraphrase John Lennon), but it would be a refreshing change.

    Sorry if this doesn’t make a lot of sense. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee yet.

  9. dumb ox says:

    How does one evoke Lincoln? The Dred Scott vs. Sanford enshrined human oppression. I see an elephant-sized irony in the middle of this room, but this seems neither the time nor place to point that out.

    • ” For (people) to claim that now God’s protection will be withdrawn is to suggest that prior to this time we were the active recipients of that protection, that to this point God had shined his light upon America, blessing us with all good things, happy at the sight of our superior morality. And yet, for that to be true, one would have to believe that God saw nothing wrong with the enslavement of African peoples for over two hundred years, the slaughter and forced removal of indigenous peoples from their land, the invasion and theft of half of Mexico, the abuse of Chinese labor on railroads, the internment of Japanese Americans—nothing wrong with lynching or segregation. You would have to accept that God is more offended by marriage equality than any of those things, that God was essentially sanguine about formal white supremacy, and willing to extend his protective blanket over us even in the face of that, but somehow so-called “gay marriage” is a bridge too far.”

      The oblivious, casual racism of modern conservatism

      • dumb ox says:

        Precisely! One would have to accept the idea that Constitutional protections apply to only certain classes of people, which I hear over and over again from conservatives. There in lies the irony of evoking Dred Scott when one believes LGBT are not entitled to equal protection. Of course, the problem is that conservatives view themselves as the oppressed in this scenario.

        • One would have to accept the idea that Constitutional protections apply to only certain classes of people, which I hear over and over again from conservatives.

          WHo, exactly? Name name and quote speakers, please. It is not so much that I disbelieve, it is just that broad brushing is a convenient way to end discussion.

          • Try reading the linked article. In a similar vein, be sure to bring a racket and wear sneakers when invited to play tennis.

      • DennisB says:

        Hi Eeyore,

        You’re absolutely right, however this “redefinition” has repercussions at a lower “grassroots” level of the family unit. It is universal in transcending race, economic, health and other types of “status”. The more one chisels away at the family unit through issues like pro-abortion, marriage re-definition, certain ivf, certain types of divorce, acceptance of adultery, etc, the less human we become.

        Maybe it took this issue to show that the “emperor had no clothes” on a lot of other issues. The church has been living in Babylon for a long time…

        • I just have trouble with making such a fuss over the “decline of the nuclear family” when Jesus and Paul both showed at least some ambivalence about placing those relationships on a pedestal. Jesus demanded that His followers prioritize Himself over all other relationships, and taught that there would be no marriage in the new creation. Paul wished that all Christians might be happy as unmarried singles. Evangelicalism – at least in its political manifestations – have totally lost sight of that counterbalancing stream of thinking in Christian theology.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Evangelicalism has gone the way of “Salvation by Marriage Alone”.

  10. Personally, I lean towards the David Brooks approach. It seems to look/sound the most like Jesus and therefore have a greater possibility of bearing real fruit (as opposed to the illusory fruits of political/social power and status that culture warriors seem to want)

  11. dumb ox says:

    David Brooks may not have the entire formula, but his perspective is spot-on: in the moment when secular society needs religion, religious leaders choose to alienate themselves instead. It is very compassionate, constructive criticism which will obviously go unheeded. Jon Stewart’s comments this week were far less kind yet equally relevant.

    • dumb ox says:

      Conservatives have an opportunity for a course reversal from the one they selected after the Scopes trial, which drove religion into the fundamentalist ghetto.

      • But at least in the ghetto, they’d still be in charge. “Better to reign…”?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Though given past performance, they’re more likely to Double Down AND SCREAM LOUDER!

    • Secular society needs Jesus and His gospel. All the religious leaders have on offer is a doubling down on the cultural norms and mores that sustained their now-slipping privileges for centuries.

      Little wonder secular society ain’t buying what they’re selling.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Good comment.

        Someone asked me yesterday what our pastor should do if pressured to speak from the pulpit regarding the Supreme Court ruling. I told them that if I were the pastor, I’d look every person pressuring me in the eye and say, “I’m going to continue to preach the Good News of the Gospel.”

        “But what about…?”

        “I’m going to continue to preach the Good News of the Gospel.”

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          A lovely answer to give. God has already won and is still winning, even if we as those engaged in the culture think we’re losing. Any message to the contrary just is not gospel. Period.

  12. I identify with Rod Dreher when he writes “Chastity — which is not “no sex,” It is not the most important Christian virtue, but it is not one that can be discarded, either…”. As a divorced and remarried father of three, life is all about living in the refuge of Gods grace and mercy in Christ. At the same time, I’m responsible for teaching them sexual ethics based on the whole council of God. Our new youth pastor makes his support of SSM quite clear, and now I have to make a decision whether to stay or leave. It’s very disheartening.

    • Decision time and I truly empathize with you. I’ll bet your kids are leaning the same way as the youth pastor. We can expect more of the same as time goes on.

      • Thanks Oscar. You are exactly right about my kids… which is all the more reason to be concerned. There is an epidemic of sexual confusion amongst our kids and I believe we, as the Church, need to communicate that Gods counsel on sexual morality is every bit as important to us as a community as social justice and the environment.

        • Robert F says:

          Roger Olson over on his blog predicts that many evangelical churches will go along with the cultural swing toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, merely because they, being populist forms of Christianity, have no inner resources to resist such a culturally powerful change.

          • I would be very surprised if that happens. I still believe that there is a large and quiet group of socially conservative folks that populate most evangelical churches, especially in suburbs. No, they are not a majority anymore, but still a substantial number that would be very disillusioned by their church “catering” to changing social mores. My family and I belong to an American Baptist Church in a downtown neighborhood in one of the most progressive cities in America. So I suppose I shouldnt be surprised when the church brings in a liberal youth pastor, even though AB churches put out a statement several years ago in support of traditional marriage.

  13. Robert F says:

    Help! My comments are in moderation, and they can’t get out!

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I freed them. I am your hero.

      Seriously, though, I have NO IDEA why some comments get stuck there. Yours had no links, no spam words, and were from a long-time poster.

      *scratches head

      • Robert F says:

        I was viewing the blog, and made my comments, over Google Chrome instead of my usual Mozilla Firefox; could that account for it?

  14. Robert F says:

    In order to nurture stable families, as Brooks says Christians should do, they need to have a definition of what a family is. If the secondary institutions of conservative Christian churches only help to nurture stable families as conservative Christians define them (and how could they do otherwise?), heterosexual marrieds and their kids, they will eventually find the government putting up road-blocks, of one kind or another, to their activities on the basis of what will widely be seen as the churches’ unjustifiable exclusionary discrimination. I don’t see how any of this will be received well by “secular society”, or make either the churches or the news of Jesus Christ welcome in the world.

    • DennisB says:

      Hi Robert,

      You’re right. There will be all sorts of issues to sort out. For example, I assist in a homeless shelter run by my church. It offers overnight accommodation on the weekends. What happens if a “gay couple” want to sleep next to each other ? Should the church ask them to sleep separately ? Is this the same type of issue as asking someone not to bring alcohol or drugs into the premises ?

      This is the “tip of the iceberg”. Should the church offer its services as an entry point into discipleship or should it offer services as an “arm of the state” ? Or is it a matter of communication where certain types of behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated ?

      The church can’t deal with the typical crowd in its unrelenting disunity, it will have stuff all hope with these difficult scenarios. (I’m talking about it as a whole. Sure some churches will be able to sort this out on a local level).

    • Well, doesn’t that raise the question of how closely tied the Good News is to family structures? Is that really the implications of biblical teaching? Or have we just assumed it for so long that it has passed by unexamined?

      • DennisB says:

        Was Jesus incarnated into a family or was he a ward of the state ?

        • You mean the Jesus Who said “Whoever hears My word and obeys is My mother and brothers”? That Jesus? 😉

          • Nice move, changing the context of Jesus’ words to suit your own argument. You KNOW that He wasn’t downgrading the family structure in that instance.

            I was involved in a cult which used your point to get adherents to disown their own families and stay faithful to the cult leaders, so please excuse me if I sound a bit prickly on the subject.

          • He changed the historic and cultural context, I changed the hermeneutical one. Quid pro quo. ?

            But seriously, this more than makes my point about how we evangelicals have taken one aspect of morality and subordinated EVERYTHING else to it. Take a survey of the OT and NT – the bible has MUCH more to say about economic sins than it does sexual ones.

        • I recall him being born to an unwed teenage mother.

      • Robert F says:

        @Eeyore, No, it raises the question of how closely tied the Good News is to sexual behavior and mores. I think it is tied to them, though my net for what is included is bigger than that of those who think same-sex marriage, among other things sexual, is incompatible with following Jesus Christ. I am, however, unwilling to insist that my net is the exact right size, or that the net of others is definitely and absolutely wrong. I think that would be real hubris, such as is only possible for fundamentalists, secular or religious.

        And I’m not an evangelical, just a mainline progressive with some conservative/traditional tendencies.

  15. A family to whom I am related by marriage had a patriarch who was a devout Christian man with some very large character flaws that his Christianity did little to ameliorate, In other words, he was very much like me. and apart from four or five almost-saints I know, like every other Christian I have ever met. The character flaws must have been very great, although I never knew the old man, because only three of his seven children profess the faith today.

    In particular, one of the brothers was theatrical in his rejection of the faith. As a young adult recently out of university, he announced his atheism at a family gathering and dedicated his life to becoming sort of a local Robert G. Ingersoll, using his position as a high school teacher to undermine the faith of as many young people as would give him their attention.

    He passed away in 2103. I heard from his brother, who does not follow his father’s faith either, that his brother’s passing was stormy and tempestuous.

    What I want to say is that the Obergefell v. Hodges decision is for religious traditionalists a moment akin to that of the older brother’s announcement of his rejection of Christianity at the dinner table. In one sense, the older brother’s announcement surprised nobody. The conflict between him and his father had been building all through his adolescence, and the declaration came as something of a relief. However, there was a change in the relationship between father and son. It became more formal and polite, and lost intimacy. A lot of people were pleased that the frequent arguments and name-calling had ceased, and I read David Brooks as suggesting something akin to this. Let’s just be polite and get along. I’m all for that, but it will come at the price of diminished intimacy and hiding of true feelings.

    Another opinion I have is that Obergefell v. Hodges was a very statist decision. We will see a greater expansion of the powers of the Federal government as a result of it, as well as King v Burwell. They were all very corporate-friendly as well.

    • Obergefell v. Hodges was a very statist decision. We will see a greater expansion of the powers of the Federal government as a result of it, as well as King v Burwell. They were all very corporate-friendly as well.

      THAT portion of the “spirit of the age” worries me 100 times more than homosexual marriage.

    • Spot ON, Burro! Every government throughout history progresses from the appearance of benevolence to eventual autocracy, if not outright repression. What makes us believe that OUR country will be any different?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        At which point, the Christainese Culture War makes some sense. Especially the Quiverfulls & Reconstructionists. They want to make sure THEY’RE the ones sitting on the Iron Throne as the Autocrats, repressing everyone else.

        • Burro [Mule] says:

          Is our Lord not an Autocrat?

          “Behold, all authority is given unto me in Heaven and on Earth…”

          But who represents Him? Ah, that’s the rub.

          “It is necessary for you that I go away….” for me is the most frustrating and enigmatic verse in the whole Bible. It scoffs at my lust for security and certainty.

        • Christiane says:

          those who are extremists DO seem to believe in an earthly ‘iron throne’, don’t they? this power-seeking and control-seeking does reflect Dominionist doctrines

    • Not sure if you’ve read Obergefell v. Hodges, or understand law (I am not a lawyer, but I have studied law and have read Obergefell v. Hodges), but I have absolutely no idea how anyone could interpret Obergefell v. Hodges as statist. I honestly cannot understand how one would arrive at that conclusion, unless I am using a different understanding of the word statist. Anyone care to explain?

      • Damaris says:

        I think, if I’m understanding the word “statist” correctly, the four dissenting judges see the decision as the Supreme Court improperly legislating and acting beyond its mandate in a way that robs states of laws written by elected representatives of the people of that state.

        • The federal government has always had the power to over-ride states laws when they violate constitutional rights. We settled that pretty decisively with the Civil War. I don’t think “statism” can accurately be applied to this ruling, any more than it could be to the Emancipation Proclamation. I understand statism to be “a political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs.” Ruling on the constitutionality of marriage law in a way that limits the power of government hardly seems statist by that definition.

        • This would be the same court that, in Shelby County vs. Holder, overturned an act passed UNANIMOUSLY by Congress?

          But nevermind gutting the Voting Rights Act: Adam and Steve getting married are the REAL injustice . . .

  16. 2 Chronicles 7:13-15

    13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

    Maybe this should be our response. After all, it is addressed to “my people” during hard times…

    • Damaris says:

      It is never wrong to humble ourselves and turn to God. It should be our default position. The real challenge of humility, though, is that not only do we have to let go of our sins and hand them over to God, we also have to let go of our virtues and do the same. I admit that I don’t see much humility on either side of the gay marriage debate; rather I see each side hitting the other over the head with their virtues — “I believe in chastity and you’re wrong!” “I believe in tolerance and you’re wrong!” .

      *Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

      *Act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

      *Love God, and love your neighbor like yourself.

      No decision of the Supreme Court affects our ability to keep those commandments.

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        Wow. Great comment. Handing over our virtues to God is indeed the real challenge.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        “No decision of the Supreme Court affects our ability to keep those commandments.”

        But the Supreme Court decision is an affront to God and His Holiness and His Righteousness! We must FIGHT for Truth, and stand firm for God!

        Love your comment, Damaris. Nothing prevents us from bearing the fruits of the spirit except how we choose to respond to things we don’t like.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          Oh, please note the heavy sarcasm in my comment:
          “But the Supreme Court decision is an affront to God and His Holiness and His Righteousness! We must FIGHT for Truth, and stand firm for God!”

      • Robert F says:

        Good comment, Damaris. Easier said than done, of course, especially for citizens of a nation with democratic institutions that exhort us to advocate and contend for policies that we believe are right for us and for our nation.

    • turn from their wicked ways

      Assuming that this verse directly applies to Christians (I have some small doubts about that), the emphasis here is on OUR sins – not those of wider society or of non-believers. And if we do repent of our sins – and not just the easy ones – I will lend a hearty AMEN to this course of action.

      • Assuming that this verse directly applies to Christians (I have some small doubts about that),

        Eeyore, it clearly DOESN’T apply if one cares to read the previous TWO CHAPTERS preceding that passage! It is for the nation of Israel in that time. Of course, it SOUNDS real nice and SEEMS spiritual to use it, but it just does not fit.

        • Clearly, I didn’t make my ambivalence about this verse applying to the modern church more plain. But even if one were to assume it does, it’s plain assertion is as I stated it anyways (i.e. self-examination vs. The Pharisee’s Prayer).

  17. David Cornwell says:

    “They were all very corporate-friendly as well.”

    Watch the Supreme’s. Corporate power/desires will triumph almost every time. Large companies are gay friendly. They also like ObamaCare, or at least most of it.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Meant to be a reply to Burro [Mule].

    • Burro [Mule] says:

      The Corporation, along with its brother abstractions The Vanguard of the Proletariat and the Master Race, is the last and strongest of the bastard children of Hegel to trouble our unfortunate age.

  18. BigHeadEd says:

    First of all, IANAL and I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of constitutional or tax law.

    One of the arguments I hear for continuing to fight these types of judicial or legislative outcomes is that eventually it will be forced on local bodies of believers. Examples given include being required to host same-sex weddings and blocking employment actions against staff that identify as gay or lesbian. There is already a case in Florida where a lesbian teacher has been fired by a private, church-operated school and a lawsuit is likely.

    A common approach applied by the government is to require any organization receives government contracts, funding or support (not unusual for schools or community outreach programs to the poor, or even to local bodies meeting in public schools on Saturdays or Sundays) to follow it’s rules. It wouldn’t seem too far a legislative stretch to see tax-exempt status being used in the same way in the near future as well.

    So….given the possibilities, how likely would it be for a local church to remain true to the convictions they seem to hold so dear if it meant giving up tax-exempt status or going it completely alone as a private organization?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Well, that puts an end to the Wal-Mart size Megas and the Furtick Mansions…

      • BigHeadEd says:

        Headless, it’s been a few years since I’ve been on IM and I must say, I forget how much I enjoy your wit and insight.

      • Which, cynical as it sounds, may be the “real” reason for so much of the angst. Social evolution often forces Christians to confront their values and choose between faithfulness and mammon.

    • Robert F says:

      And I wonder if, as private corporation, sans religious tax exemption, they would be classified as an institution with religious protection status under contemporary law.

  19. Richard Hershberger says:

    I am curious about the source for Lincoln’s reaction to Dred Scott. Here is what he said on the topic in a speech he gave in Springfield, Ill. on June 26, 1857, as posted at http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/speech-on-the-dred-scott-decision/

    “He [Stephen Douglas] denounces all who question the correctness of that decision, as offering violent resistance to it. But who resists it? Who has, in spite of the decision, declared Dred Scott free, and resisted the authority of his master over him?”

    and, a bit later,

    “…we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it, has often over-ruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it to over-rule this. We offer no resistance to it.”

    Compare these with Robert P. George’s characterization that “Faced with the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, Lincoln declared the ruling to be illegitimate and vowed that he would treat it as such. He squarely faced Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s claim to judicial supremacy and firmly rejected it.” It is possible that Lincoln took a different line on different occasions. He was, after all, a politician. But I want a firm source before taking this at face value.

  20. Michael Z says:

    What all three of these options have in common is that none of them mention repentance. None of them even hint at the possibility that we may discover that our behavior over the last few decades has not been Christlike. Instead, all three options are basically saying, “Let’s hurry up and busy ourselves with something new so that we don’t have any time for introspection.”

    I know plenty of individual people who use busy-ness as a way to flee from self-knowledge, avoiding quiet places or inward-looking thoughts so they don’t have to deal with hard truths about themselves. It’s unhealthy when a person does that, and it’s unhealthy when an entire religious movement does that, too.

    • Agreed. What I’ve seen from the conservatives is very little in the way of repentance. Even if I agreed with them ( I used to), I would be reflecting on the long period of time when gays were persecuted and gay teens committed suicide. When I still believed gay sex was inherently sinful, I also believed it was no worse than any other sexual sin, but even that level of liberalism came far too late.

      But I also agree with Robert F that the liberal side will probably go too far in its victory and start pressuring the Catholic and other churches to toe the line. It won’t be nearly as bad as what gays have suffered, but that still won’t make it right.

      Rid Dreher though–I really have zero sympathy for that attitude. Apparently it takes equal rights for gays to make him see that the world isn’t entirely friendly to Christianity. All the sins America has committed, and this is what has him wanting to retreat.

  21. Rick Ro. says:

    Daniel, kudos to you for the brilliant way you presented the subject at hand, bringing it to the table in a way for it to be discussed civilly and not devolve into a shouting match. The comments here have been very respectful; it’s an amazing feat!

    • Ha ha! Read the responses half way through the day Rick. I’ll bet your opinion changes…

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Thanks, Rick. But I basically just found an interaction between Brooks and Dreher that I thought others would find interesting, and then added a frame around it. MUCH easier and quicker than the Ramblings.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        It was a good framing of the topic. And I think asking the question – “In light of the defeat over same-sex marriage (which exemplifies defeats in similar areas of social concern), what should religious conservatives do?” – was a good one in which to focus the conversation and help it to be semi-rant-free.

  22. Burro [Mule] says:

    I am praying that the Church will, after two thousand years, finally the Church will begin to develop a robust Theology of the Body. What is sex for? What are people for? What are families for?

    I have heard so much “Love Wins” rhetoric in the last few days that it makes me want to vahr. If the kind of love they are talking about is the love we have posited as the foundation for heterosexual marriages, then yes, I see no compelling reason to limit gay marriage to straights.

    I remember reading CS Lewis about erotic love: No false god whispers as insistently, promises as extravagantly, or fulfills as niggardly as Eros. Why is that? I haven’t found an adequate answer for that in all of the Church’s deposit, and what the secular society is offering a perfect prescription to manifest Hell on Earth.

    I think Pope John Paul II, the straightest, most masculine Pope in my memory, was clearing some of the path forward with his Theology of the Body. Apart from that, I have a couple of essays by Charles Williams which I barely understand, the Ambigua 41 of St. Maximus the Confessor, which is even more opaque. That’s it. Everything else is the Party Line from either party.

    Owen Barfield, following the medium Rudolph Steiner, said there were two principles of evil at work in the material world – Ahriman, whose task it was to keep mankind in a state which it had outgrown, and Lucifer, whose task it was to impel mankind prematurely into a state for which it was not yet ready. I have some real problems with Steiner, and with Barfield’s allegiance to him, but damned if it doesn’t seem to me that Ahriman has possessed the conservatives and Lucifer the progressives.

    • Robert F says:

      Enough with the esoterica, Mule. The Theosophists already have a Christian denomination; it’s called the Liberal Catholic Church. I once considered joining it.

  23. Given the title of this post and the picture, I am amazed that no one has come up with the obvious solution, the Robert Johnson option.

    • Or the Yogi Berra option? 😉

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          Interestingly, Yogi used to say this when directing people to his house. There was indeed a fork in the road along the way, but whether you went left or right you came to Highland Avenue and to his house.

          I wonder if there’s an important illustration here…

          • “There was indeed a fork in the road along the way, but whether you went left or right you came to Highland Avenue and to his house.”

            Daniel, easily the most astute comment of the day. Maybe any day. My house has many rooms.

          • Exactly!

          • Christiane says:

            it is always beneficial to be smarter than the average bear

  24. charlie says:

    Daniel 3:18b …let it be know to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.
    it’s a choice….
    we have the gospel of Jesus Christ, good news.
    we don’t have to win the culture war(s).
    1Thess 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands…
    seems to me the gospel was spreading just fine under these circumstances.
    why do we think shrillness will get us any further?

    • Rick Ro. says:

      +1

    • Josie Wales says:

      Charlie, I think your perspective is very accurate. I also think that there is something essential being overlooked. New Testament scripture says that certain elements about marriage and the physical union between a man and woman in that context are a “mystery” and are reflections of Christ and the Church. If they are mysterious even to those alive to the Spirit how can people in the World possibly understand the mystery? Impossible. Secondly, God uses his creation to duplicate facets of his nature or multiply who he wants us to know he is. To magnify himself. This procreation occurs in marriage between men and woman and reflects God’s fruitfulness. A similar, but non-friutbareing union is as opposed to God as the Spirit of the antiChrist; just similar enough to be an abomination. This too, can not be understood or embraced by those who remain dead to the Spirit of God. Propagating the Good News of Jesus Christ so that people might come to know Christ and receive the Holy Spirit is the only way for the truth to be received. Too long has the Church neglected the Gospel in exchange for moralistic teaching – and here we are; arguing with dead people (spiritually dead). Jesus said, first you must be born again. Only then can someone receive wisdom that comes from God.

  25. Patrick Kyle says:

    Most often I find the admonition to ‘abandon t,he culture wars’ really translates into ‘abandon your beliefs’ concerning whatever subject is being debated, and it’s corollary ‘abandon your right of free speech’ concerning said subject.

    In other words, ‘Shut up and be quiet.’

    • Or, perhaps, following Paul’s injunctions to live a quiet life and stop judging those outside the Church?

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        Eeyore,

        As a citizen of two kingdoms ( The church and the State) your suggestion is that I abrogate my duties as a citizen of the State and adopt a more Amish outlook?

      • Robert F says:

        From what legend and the Biblical evidence have to tell us, Paul certainly did not succeed in taking his own advice and living a quiet life.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      That’s an error on your part, Patrick. No one needs to abandon their beliefs. Just stop trying to fight a war that was never yours to fight in the first place (a war, by the way, which was won at the cross and the tomb 2,000 years ago).

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        Actually, I think Patrick is saying that for the first time since, oh, 1648, the State is going to say ‘your religious beliefs are wrong and there will be consequences for that’. That’s why the people who were awake at the switch saw the weathervane turning with Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith 1990, and Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah 1993.

        The State may choose to accomodate religious belief, but it is not required to do so by the Free Exercise clause.

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          First, the State isn’t setting consequences just for having religious beliefs. Whatever consequences you are probably thinking about are either a) imposed on agents of the State who operate in a way that privileges certain Christian faiths at the expense of non-Christians, b) private corporations and business who have been compelled by the market to change their hiring or operational practices to be more accommodating of folks of other faiths or non-faith, or c) the result of individual interactions with non-believers, in which we no longer have the assumed hegemonic influence. I can assure you that whatever you’re thinking about fits into one of those categories, and it all comes down to one simple truth: Christians don’t have control of the culture anymore. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

          Second, the point about State accommodations is a bit of a digression. I was referring more to the general conversation about how to engage the world when mainstream Christian traditions no longer hold the assumed privilege they once did. It’s a little bit bigger than just our engagement with the State.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Thank you. That same who-is-me-the-sky-is-falling rhetoric has been the stock and trade of religionist here in the south since, well, since the beginning.

        • BWAHAHAHAHA!! “First time since 1648”. . . Whew. Oh man, that’s rich . . .

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Latter_Day_Saint_movement

        • *…for the first time since, oh, 1648, the State is going to say ‘your religious beliefs are wrong and there will be consequences for that’.*

          You guys had no problem at all in 2000/2002/2004 (and onwards) saying that exact same thing to Unitarians, Reform Jews, UCC churches, secular people, etc. who were willing to marry gay people. WE got no ‘religious liberty’ exemptions whatsoever.

          It’s okay, though: We’re used to it. We’re used to such treatment at the hands of the royal court. Rights for thee, not for we. It’s all we’ve come to expect and, though we feel pain, we never feel *surprise*.

    • I don’t think we as Christians should “Shut up and be quiet.” But I think we need to be careful what we say and how we say it, always keeping in mind that we are ambassadors of Christ and a loving God, who loves the person we’re arguing with just as much as He loves us.
      Turning on the light is always going to me more effective than trying to turn off the darkness.

  26. Phil M. says:

    Forgive me if this has been mentioned – I haven’t had a chance to read through all the comments. But the thing I notice in Dreher’s response to Brooks is that it seems to be based entirely on the sexual act itself. I think this is a big reason why Christians talk past people. They talk as if every gay person is living a wonton, promiscuous lifestyle. Certainly, some do, but, you know what? Many straight people do, too. Where was the talk of the Benedict Option in response to straight promiscuity? I just have trouble understanding why this particular issue is the thing that triggers all these things. Like the article says, in many ways, the court’s decision just affirms what was already happening. Personally, I believe marriage is better option for homosexuals if the only other option they see is promiscuity or “serial monogamy”.

    • Christiane says:

      “Where was the talk of the Benedict Option in response to straight promiscuity? I just have trouble understanding why this particular issue is the thing that triggers all these things.”

      it’s that kind of lack of integrity that shows up ‘christian’ hypocrisy . . .
      PHIL M, you have identified how it is that when folks are ‘comfortable’ with certain ‘sins’ and ‘uncomfortable’ with other ‘sins’, it affects where they draw the line . . . surrounding their own comfort zone 🙂

      the shallowness of the hypocrisy is such that in itself it insults the faith and hurts the Church’s witness to the watching world . . . if people want to be ‘consistent’ in ‘reacting’ to human failure (‘sin’), maybe it is always best to begin with one’s self, and one’s own tribe . . .

      want to uphold Christian marriage? good . . . find out how patriarchy has hurt women . . . find out how among certain ‘churches’, a wife who finds out her husband views child pornography and seeks a divorce is then punished by the church leaders . . . the very leaders who now look favorably upon something foreign to their tradition called ‘the Benedict Option’, thinking that it may be something to reinforce their control over their sheep (it isn’t) . . . sad doings in some churches where contracts must be signed turning over control of a person’s conscience to committees that will enforce ‘church discipline’ . . .

      no offense, but these types of patriarchal, misogynistic organizations would really need to clean their own mess up before adopting something along the lines of the ‘Benedict Option’, or these cult-like groups would corrupt the good name of St. Benedict in more creative ways that they now corrupt the idol of male superiority . . .

      Catholic monastic philosophy and tradition would have to be corrupted to serve the extreme doctrines of mysogyny and patriarchy embraced by certain conservative fundamentalist-evangelical faith groups
      . . . do I foresee a problem ? YES

      to take ‘obedience’ out of Catholic monastic context and place it into patriarchal cult settings has the potential of pouring oil on fire and its the women, and the girls, that provide the fuel for any male-idolatry cult . . . the good name of St. Benedict can not be charged with that kind of conflagration, no

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        Wow, talk about painting with a broad brush. Who exactly are you talking about? Which organizations are ‘patriarchal cult settings’?

        Lots of talk in this thread about nameless. faceless, patriarchal/misogynistic/ fundamentalist, gay bashing boogie men. Sounds like a straw man to me.

  27. I think that all this discussion presupposes that conservative churches have to “do” something on a national level. I don’t think they do or even can, necessarily. Socially conservative christians aren’t a unified movement really, more like a loose alliance. They push the same votes while their members debate the salvation of other members.

    I think each denomination, each local church, etc needs to look at their own communities, inside and outside its walls, and figure out how best to serve them according to the needs and abilities present, as well as their particular beliefs.

    In a month or two, they should quietly seek out their own LGBT members and talk to them on a personal level. Right now, there is so much hostile “christian” speak towards people just for being gay (no opinions or actions taken into account, just being), that most of us are pretty hunkered down. Last Sunday was “Don’t Go to Church Unless You REALLY Trust Your People” Day. But as that eases off, our churches should be talking to us. Worry about the ones already showing up before making grand plans about future hypotheticals. Talk to and deal with the realities of people with faces that you can see. Making policies about moving forward based on abstractions would be the worst thing to do. A precedent of loving pastoral care in line with your beliefs will be more nuanced and a lot less likely to ignore the personhood of the people who are at or will come into contact with your church.

    Rod Dreher is a brother, and given my own choices I’m sure he’d let me into his Benedict Option community. Can he imagine that I would really every feel comfortable living there, though? People who feel that this issue is the straw that broke the camel’s back do not feel like the safest bunch to make a life with.

    For those of you considering changing churches over your pastor or youth pastor’s opinion on same sex marriage, if you have kids, consider what that move will mean to them if they grow up to be gay themselves or perhaps are even some flavor of LGBT right now. I’m not saying you can’t leave, but you need to explain it to them in such a way that they won’t automatically assume you would love them less if you knew they were gay. Tread lightly.

    • Which brings up other issues as well. I have two personal acquaintances that I went to school with (fundamentalist college). Both have since come out as gay and both are essentially anti-Christian activists. In both cases, they were the last people to find out they were gay. I mean, these guys were like a network TV parody of gays. And they both tried to “be celibate”, both did not want to be attracted to men, both wanted to be good conservative Christians that blended in – and both were really nice and humble guys. Unfortunately, the churches they were a part of were so vocally anti-gay (and treated them as if being attracted to other men was a choice) that they despaired. One attempted suicide. These stories have had a profound impact on how I see the situation, and how I understand an ethical Christian response.

    • As a begger in need of God’s mercy, I will try to tread lightly, Tokah. Thank you for your loving words of advice.

  28. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    OK, let me say something from the outside (outside America, outside Conservative Christianity).

    Why the had wringing, blood seating and doomsdaying?

    Because a central premise has been exposed, and has been removed. “My Kingdom is not of this world” – ja sure, everybody read it, but for over 16 centuries the majority has not believed it. And more so in a country that by its very nature is not united by ethnicity or language, but by an idea – and for most, the idea of a Christian state , or a state of Christians became meshed in the original idea – forget separation of Church and state. “We must conquer the world, not by love and care and witness”, but by sword, and if not an actual sword (though some still want to do that), then by the Sword of that blind lady with the scales. And when a battle is lost then of course they react like any nation or entity acts that loses a battle.

    So what does this tell us? Either they have abandoned the message of the Founder, or, what they believe in is just another belief or group identity like any other anthropological manifestation. Time to choose?

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Or, of course, horror of horrors, they could also have been wrong about this issue. Is such self examination possible?

    • More to the point, I am appalled that any religious group would want a government that has the power to enforce religious convictions over against democratic principles of individual freedom. The entire idea of a secular state is to protect all religious sects from enforcing their doctrines against others.

  29. Just so. Some may wonder why God has permitted what they see as something so contrary to His laws. Maybe to pry the idol of “Christian Nation” out of our death-gripped fingers?

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      t is a big idol. Speaking from personal experience having gone through the whole Christian national thing in my youth in South Africa – covenants and God’s chosen people and all that.

  30. David Cornwell says:

    It seems to me that the Church, in totality, conservative and liberal(wishful thinking?) should change its modus-operandi in order to live in this changing dangerous world. Here is a non-comprehensive list of some things I’ve thought about:

    1. We need to think about labels. We use all kinds of them to identify ourselves. We probably cannot rid ourselves of them completely, but they should become of secondary importance. The labels that we choose to identify ourselves with become self-identified virtues. To be “conservative” means we consider ourselves virtuous in certain ways, probably prideful ways. The same with whatever other label we have chosen. In some ways the label becomes our number one identifier, and the way we have chosen to be the most virtuous.

    Damaris has identified the solution to this thinking, but one that is very hard. She says:
    “The real challenge of humility, though, is that not only do we have to let go of our sins and hand them over to God, we also have to let go of our virtues and do the same.”
    Ah— this is more difficult than releasing our sins.

    She also tells us how to go about this:

    *Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

    *Act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

    *Love God, and love your neighbor like yourself.

    When this happens all other identifications and self selected virtues (conservative, pro-life, Methodist, etc) will become secondary and subject to the rule of Jesus.

    2. We need to recognize that we live in a secular democracy which more and more is built on the basis of subjective, feeling-based morality and rights. This isn’t going to change. The following is a quote from “The Unintended Reformation” by Brad Gregory. In this portion he is reporting and quoting Alasdair MacIntyre’s “After Virtue.”:

    “The de facto guideline for the living of human life in the Western world today seems imply to be ‘whatever makes you happy’ — ‘so long as you’re not hurting anyone else’ — in which the criteria for happiness, too, are self-determined, self-reported, and therefore immune to critique, and in which the meaning of ‘hurting anyone else’ is assumed to be self-evident, unproblematic, or both.”

    3. We need to be consistent in the pursuit of goals like “pro life.” So often this is narrowed down to simply mean the right to be born. We need to value life in all of its ramifications. So many children born into this world have very little chance of a real life. Parents may be in extreme poverty. Health care may be non-existent. All kinds of issues are tied into this: war, poverty, health-care, drugs, and much more. So — a right to life should really mean what it says. And it should apply for wherever we find children, including the reception centers for aliens and refugee camps. And to their parents. I like Pope Francis’ recent call for a broader pro-life agenda.

    4. We need to decouple ourselves from politico-economic theory. Capitalism means multi-national corporations which in many ways are the real governments of this era. Quit expecting a phone line to the white house, or a Supreme Court to do our bidding.

    5. Teach about sex in homes and churches. Realize the probability/possibility your children questioning our values and sometimes rebelling against them. Sleazy television and movies are difficult to control, but offer teaching possibilities. Warn and teach about pornography. All this stuff is hard, worrisome, and can become heartbreaking.

    6. Quit entertaining people in church on Sunday morning. Start having real services of worship. We will never compete with the media when it comes to entertainment. Real worship can happen in a variety of ways. It does not need to be stale.

    7. Seek spiritual unity with those from other Christian faith traditions. Look for places of agreement rather than differences. Realize that Jesus is our Head and the One who will draw us together in unity. Believe in the power of the Resurrection and Pentecost.

    • There is much wisdom here and much to chew on. Thank you David. Please keep posting.

  31. Vega Magnus says:

    You know what really annoys me? That this is THE BIGGEST MORAL ISSUE IN THE WORLD to so many. People get their knickers in a knot over Teh Evil Gayness, but do they elevate other stuff like cheating on one’s spouse or divorce to the same super-high level of Totally Awful Megabadness that gay marriage is? Nope. Homosexuality is a super-special evil thing that is vastly worse than almost everything else and will bring down the WRATHAGAWD upon this ALWAYS CHRISTIAN NATION harder than any other thing. I just don’t get it.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Because they don’t feel the temptation, and, because of biology (and not morality) might even feel somewhat of a natural aversion. It is easy. They are cowards. They don’t want to face up to the the more difficult moral issues – like hate, and gluttony, and greed. Far to easy to soothe the consciousness by crapping on “Teh Evil Gayness”. That makes it easier to sleep at night. The self-righteousness has been assuaged. They are at least better than those other guys, buster!

      Yes, I’m as fed-up as you.

    • Because you don’t understand fundagelical economics, Vega.

  32. OldProphet says:

    All these comments and almost nothing about the true issue if gay marriage which is; it’s san issue of spiritual warfare. All the verbal diarrhea won’t amount to a hill of beans. Stances, blogs, tumble, etc. Meh. Its time for the people of God to get on their knees and ask the Lord to heal our land. And our hearts. And teach us to love. The gays aren’t our enemy. The Devil and his demons are.

  33. It’s going to be real interesting to see how this all plays out down here in the southern buckle of the Bible Belt. I’m already hearing talk about local public officials discontinuing marriage services of any kind — meaning they will no longer be doing marriage services for anyone, gay or straight. And those of us at the newspaper where I work are still waiting on word from the publisher on whether or not we will be putting notices for gay marriages and engagements in the paper. I suspect he may just tell us to stop publishing marriage announcements altogether. This whole thing is going to turn into a big mire of lawsuits, while people find inventive ways to circumvent and monkey-wrench the new legal reality.
    People down here in the rural south prefer change in small, managable doses, and we’ve never been too fond of the federal goverment shoving things down our throats. Take federal law regarding prayer in public schools for instance. School teachers, administrators, and especially athletic coaches break those laws every single day, and no-one down here blinks an eye.
    I guess what I’m saying is that, for good or ill, people in the rural south are just not ready for gay marriage as a normal everyday reality. We’re just not there yet, and it’s probably going to take us a good while to get there — if we ever do.

  34. Robert F says:

    I’m in favor of the SCOTUS decision. I support the legitimacy of same-sex marriage on the basis of what I think are Christian convictions. I support the full inclusion of GLBT people, as GLBT people, at every level of Church life, also on the basis of my Christian convictions.

    At the same time, I am fearful that this decision will be the basis on which dissenting conservative Christian voices will eventually be silenced, by litigation and legislation. As an American, I do not think that it would be a good thing to silence those voices; in fact, I think it would be an injustice to silence them, and I’m opposed to my nation committing injustices against any group of people, however many times it has done so in the past, and continues to do so now.

  35. While the Bible is clear in its denunciation of homosexual behavior, the percentage of texts which deal with homosexuality is quite small. The evangelical fixation with homosexuality is out of all possible proportion to this. This does not look good, especially considering that there are other sins which Scripture speaks plainly about (bigotry, greed, racism, sexism, etc.), which do not get a lot of play in evangelicalism.

    I think evangelicals should take at least a one year fast from the culture wars. Use that time to focus on getting our own house in order. Then we will be able to speak with greater credibility on cultural issues that are of concern to us.

  36. Steve Newell says:

    On the issue of the Confederate Battle Flag, it has NO place in any public place. It represents the rejection of the Constitution of the United States of America. Those states that claimed to Confederate flag as their national flag rejected the US Constitution by signing the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. If a person wishes to fly any Confederate flag on their own property, they can under the protection of the United States Constitution as freedom of speech.

    This leads me to a follow up question: Should Christian Churches place the national flag of what ever nation they are in as part of their worship space?