Even More Angst about Selective Sensitivity

Bruce Baugus is worried about assaults on religious liberty coming at Christian vendors who refuse to provide services for gay weddings. The issue is the old Kuyperian one of how deep down does my religious identity go? Does it involve primarily acts of worship and devotion or does it extend to all of life so that my conscience and religious identity are implicated even in business transactions?

The problem is that Christians look fairly selective on this one. Chances are Christian entrepreneurs have been serving burgers and gas to homosexual clients for a long time. And chances are that the food and fuel consumed by gay-Americans have not always gone to holy ends (as if heterosexuals use such energy for good purposes). So why have Christians become particularly sensitive about serving gay clients now? Duh. The issue is gay marriage, to which Christians object (as do other American citizens) and plans for such nuptials reveal the sexual orientation of clients in ways that pulling up to the drive-thru or pump do not.

I do get it and the libertarian in me says government should not coerce any person to engage in any particular business transaction — the removal of prohibitions about serving minorities does not strike me as the same as forcing a business to engage in certain transactions but I may be off on that since I am neither an attorney nor a Jesuit. But I do think that folks worked up about restrictions on religious liberty need to pay much more attention to what’s at stake in freedom of conscience. According to the confession of my communion:

The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin; from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also, in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law. But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.

Where you find in that a plan for expanding notions of religious freedom from worship to decorating wedding cakes is not altogether clear. Baugus seems to acknowledge something behind this point when he concedes:

. . . providing a good or service is not always the same as participating in the activity for which it is procured. Yet in some cases it may be a way of participating in or endorsing the activity.

Heck, if your conscience is really really sensitive, or if your w-w is turned up high, you’d never leave the house because that would mean endorsing the ways of all the unbelievers with whom you interact in the course of car driving, grocery shopping, and mail sending.

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95 thoughts on “Even More Angst about Selective Sensitivity

  1. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

    This isn’t arbitrary; homosexual ‘marriage’ is a bigger deal than anything else progs have thrown at us so far.

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  2. It is hard to see the sky falling because wedding photographers and wedding cake decorators may have to make a choice between participating in an event they find offensive or staying in business.

    Where there may be a bigger issue is in the world of accreditation and tax exempt status. It is increasingly looking like Christian colleges & seminaries will have to choose between forbidding same-sex activity and tax exempt status (sort of like Bob Jones had to make that choice as it regarded interracial dating). How long would Westminster Seminary survive if it had to pay property tax because it is a “hate” organization?

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  3. As I suggested on another blog some months ago, there is nothing to stop these Christians from exercising their First Amendment right to tell all the guests what they believe to be the truth about these “weddings” and to hand out literature explaining their views. My guess is that, if they tell their would-be clients this in advance, the clients will choose to go elsewhere.

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  4. Forget Christianity for a moment. (Yeah, I know it’s hard.)
    Is homosexual “marriage”, like abortion, incest and cannibalism, a violation, even egregious, of the natural law?
    Duh.

    Part deuce.
    Is it one thing to say abortion, pornography (fill in the blank) is legal and another to say it is mandatory?
    Double duh.

    Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of Charity etc. mark a watershed in American jurisprudence where in the twinkle of an eye, the optional became obligatory. (Of course when the Repuglican appointed Chief Justice can’t tell the difference between a tax and a penalty, you know nothing is beyond politically expedient redefinition.)

    Not that T.H. White in the unpublished conclusion to Once and Future King didn’t already tell us that the New World Order according to Arthur’s apprenticeship in the anthill was that: Everything Which Is Not Forbidden Is Compulsory.
    And of course all the ants agreed. Unanimously. Vociferously.

    IOW Bruce Baugus is but a stalking horse for all the latent lesbians and sodomites statists who claim to be 2k, but ain’t.

    cheers

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  5. Frankly, like most in my age bracket, I find the hand-wringing over same-sex marriage a bit difficult to understand. The institution of marriage is a far cry from what it was just 100 years ago. Following the romantics’ and the Freudians’ lead, we came to accept marriage as an institution primarily concerned with the expression of heterosexual desire. It’s no wonder then that the church inevitably had to accept divorce and remarriage as part of the package. After all, if heterosexual desire is the fuel that feeds the flame of marriage, we can’t exactly ask Christians to stay married when that fuel is running low. So now we’re forced to ask what we should do with those who don’t feel any heterosexual desire at all, or whose primary desire is directed to those of the same sex. And we rightly look a little silly demanding that they remain lonely and celibate for the rest of their lives.

    And don’t get me started with the rather extra-biblical notions of “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood.” When you spend time interacting with gay people, especially gay Christians, the topic of sex rarely comes up in their explaining why they identify as gay. Their explanations largely center around a sense of being excluded by the culture’s normative scripts for masculinity and femininity, namely, in that they want to feel a closer bond to men than what the culture deems to be acceptable. But when we look at Jesus or Paul, we don’t exactly see two men whose persona oozes with the SEC frat bot characterization of masculinity that’s promoted by our cousins over at the Gospel Coalition. Maybe it’s our culture’s misinformed notions of masculinity and femininity that are screwed up, and that those identifying as gay may be more normal than chest-thumping blowhards like Mark Driscoll, Denny Burk, Al Mohler, the BBs, etc.

    I do think that there’s a certain wisdom in opposite-sex coupling. But I doubt that that wisdom has much to do with sex, except for purposes of procreation. Paul’s reluctant commendation of marriage in I Corinthians 7 in no way endorses marriage in the way that evangelicals, and particularly Reformed evangelicals, have come to construe the institution–as something of a playground of (male) heterosexual desire. Sadly, most 20-somethings considering marriage would do far better reading Gary Becker than any of the litany of books authored by evangelicals. Or maybe they should consider the wisdom of Nietzsche: “When marrying, you should ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you are going to enjoy talking with this woman into old age? Everything else is transitory, as most of the time that you’re together will be devoted to conversation.”

    I understand why many would accuse evangelicals of opposing same-sex marriage merely out of anti-gay bigotry. After all, evangelicals don’t have a very consistent ethic of marriage. But I think that that criticism is too simple. Rather, I’d suggest that evangelicals actually have no ethic of sexuality, marriage, and family. Sexuality is messy and complex. Heck, if we’re honest with ourselves, none of us fits neatly into John Piper’s ridiculous scripts for “biblical manhood and womanhood.” But evangelicals like clear answers. So, we lay out a formula, and then try to cram ourselves into the roles demanded by the formula, all the while hoping that no one discovers that we’re frauds. And we also fear the disorder that could ensue if people started going off script.

    I suspect that the storm and drag over same-sex marriage has little to do with deeply felt objections to gay sex. Rather, it’s something more akin to a fear that calamity will ensue if the prevailing script is deconstructed and dethroned. These folks probably have high F-scores on Adorno’s test for authoritarian personalities.

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  6. Chances are Christian entrepreneurs have been serving burgers and gas to homosexual clients for a long time. And chances are that the food and fuel consumed by gay-Americans have not always gone to holy ends (as if heterosexuals use such energy for good purposes). So why have Christians become particularly sensitive about serving gay clients now?

    Uncle Screwtape, hamburgers can’t be gay. “Marriages” can.

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  7. “I do think that there’s a certain wisdom in opposite-sex coupling.”

    Should we be reassured?

    “When you spend time interacting with gay people, especially gay Christians, the topic of sex rarely comes up in their explaining why they identify as gay.”

    You know a different crowd than I do. The primary reason I usually hear is “I find myself attracted to guys. I’ve tried to fight it, but it’s just how I am wired.”

    Your comments frustrate me because I find the accusations of hand-wringing over same-sex marriage by people in my age bracket unnecessarily dismissive. Of course there is some “hand-wringing,” as there is in every religious group over every topic. But overall what I find as I read/listen are admissions of past failures in charity towards gays, and attempts at intelligent expression of Christian thinking on sex. Christopher Derrick never blogged like Piper, but his “Sex and Sacredness” is still pretty good. Ditto Budziszewski’s “On the Meaning of Sex.” Steadfast affirmation of beliefs and practices does not have to make someone an authoritarian personality type, any more than an appreciation for Picasso has to make you a libertine. Sure is some overlap, but the arguments go far deeper that preferences. A great example of someone who defies such expectations is Julie Lyons, whose “Holy Roller” is a great read.

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  8. Joe,

    Why do you cite only Roman Catholic authors as guides on the meaning of sex? I think that proves my point that evangelicals have no coherent theology of sexuality.

    Also, the statement, “I find myself attracted to guys,” can be a statement of exclusion, especially in an evangelical culture that defines “biblical manhood” that permits no aesthetic, emotional, or interpersonal attraction to other men. Instead, “real men” are to be physically aggressive, prone to verbal or physical violence, emotionally restrained, interpersonally tough, risk-taking, competitive (especially toward other men), professionally successful, and driven by a desire to exercise sexual dominance over women. Under this model, men view other men as competitors. “Friendships” among men are merely alliances formed for the intent of marginalizing lesser men. Sociologists refer to this model as “hegemonic masculinity”; evangelicals refer to it as “biblical manhood.”

    I suspect that many who identify as gay are not gay at all. They simply desire to have a more cooperative relationship with other men as opposed to the competitive relationships dictated by our culture. A high school soccer teammate of mine once remarked that about one-third of the guys from our team now identify as gay. We were discussing it after Ann Coulter criticized soccer as insufficiently masculine. In some sense, I think Ann’s right. Soccer is a cooperative sport that tends to emphasize finesse and technique. As such, it tends to attract guys who don’t conform as readily to the model of hegemonic masculinity. Many of them would probably even say that they are attracted to other guys…maybe not sexually, but at least physically, aesthetically, emotionally, and interpersonally. After all, Christiano Ronaldo doesn’t exactly scream “manly man” by American standards. Even so, he’s viewed as fairly masculine by Portuguese standards.

    In many ways, I’d suggest that the southern European model of manhood, which remained rather unaffected by Freud, is probably a lot healthier than that in North America.

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  9. Des Moines Register’s uber-liberal columnist gets that the Catholic Church has changed:

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/rekha-basu/2015/01/31/open-letter-gortz-haus/22682485/

    “I believe you are sincere in thinking you have to reject gay couples to follow your Mennonite beliefs. I also believe you’re not hateful people, just people caught between tradition and change when our world, nation and state are rapidly evolving their standards, laws and understanding of humanity. We have a black president, and a pope who says it’s not his place to judge a person’s sexual orientation. Women are serving in combat, and “Kinky Boots” is playing on the main Civic Center stage. Where do traditional’ values fit in?”

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  10. Erik,

    Nice piece from the Register. A couple of thoughts…

    I’m not sure that the strategy of groups like ADF and Becket truly represent a theologically sound response to these challenges. Scripture specifically warns against litigiousness. Yet these groups specialize in legal brinksmanship and generating publicity. Take a look at Wheaton’s lawsuit last summer, wherein Wheaton was represented by Becket. The federal district court in Chicago had offered Wheaton the option of opting out of using the HHS form and certifying in language of its own choosing. Wheaton, led by TGC superstar Phil Ryken, spurned the judge’s offer. They appealed to the Seventh Circuit, and lost. And then filed an emergency appeal to SCOTUS. But, before SCOTUS, Wheaton did not make the sweeping demands it had made before the district court and before the Seventh Circuit. Instead, Wheaton basically asked SCOTUS for the same relief that the district court in Chicago had offered it a week earlier. This was not some kind of monumental victory for Ryken and his friends at Becket: Wheaton ended up with the same relief that the district court had offered it. In that sense, Wheaton engaged in a fairly disingenuous legal strategy whose purpose was to create buzz…and to generate donations for Wheaton and Becket. And that’s my problem with a lot of this so-called religious-liberty litigation: It’s largely frivolous. Its intent is simply to use (mis)use the federal courts by filing questionable lawsuits, generating publicity from the inevitable losses (or, in some cases, rather narrow victories), and use that publicity to go out and plug would-be donors to pay for the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by those who run these organizations. This is blatantly apparent to non-Christians in the legal profession, and to many Christians as well (at least those not blinded by the Culture War). In that sense, Phil Ryken is just the Reformed version of Creflo Dollar.

    I also wonder whether the proprietors of the marriage business in Iowa had been all too concerned about the morals of those who rent their facility. About a year ago, I was talking with a friend who’s the college/young adult pastor in a large conservative Reformed church that sits near a major university. I asked him if the couples he marries are generally virgins. He laughed. He mentioned that he’d been in his current position for about 3 years, had counseled about 30-35 couples, and had come across only 3 people (out of 60-70) who had waited until marriage (and that 2 of those 3 had engaged in oral sex on a number of occasions). He noted that, in most cases, the unmarried couples were having sex at least once a month. He further noted that, in most cases, the couple’s reason for getting married probably centered on their desire to ease the guilt over their premarital sex. In his view, only about 10% of the couples he counsels are approaching marriage with a mindset that will permit them to weather the storms ahead. Many of those among the 90% may develop that mindset at a later date, but others likely won’t.

    Interestingly enough, my friend noted that, for men, the fear of being gay is what primarily drove them to push their partners to have sex with them. The reality is that most men experience some level of same-sex attraction. If that weren’t the case, there would be no plausible explanation for the homoerotic advertising of vendors like Abercrombie, Hollister, Banana Republic, J Crew, etc. Surely these mainstream retailers aren’t simply shooting for the small fraction of the population that identifies as openly gay. Even so, evangelical churches seem have difficulty accepting that reality. That probably explains why guys like Ryken, Tim Keller, and others at TGC fell over themselves to kiss the feet of Mark Driscoll. Evangelicals seem to be uncomfortable with the notion that men are complex. And by forcing men to ignore their complexity (or, worse yet, to repent of it), we end up providing the fuel that feeds things like premarital sex, pornography use, and the like. By denying men any outlet in which to express legitimate, non-sinful same-sex attraction, we end up doing two things: (a) forcing young men into risky heterosexual behavior to prove to themselves that they can indeed succeed as straight guys; and (b) leaving them with only illegitimate outlets for otherwise legitimate same-sex attractions (e.g., gay porn, bathhouses, Grindr, etc.). When one starts to come to terms with the seedy underbelly of “traditional” marriage as it’s often practiced today, same-sex marriage starts to look remarkably tame. And that’s why the culture smirks a bit when it listens to the “religious objections” of those who oppose same-sex marriage.

    The problem with same-sex marriage for evangelicals isn’t that it’s such a foreign concept. Rather, it’s that it hits a bit too close to home: It risks legitimizing conduct that evangelicals would prefer to relegate to out-of-town bathhouses and minivans parked at the local forest preserve. Trust me. As an avid trail runner, I see a statistically significant number of minivans bearing Christian bumper stickers parked in the more remote parking lots of my local forest preserve.

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  11. Bobby,

    Another thing that’s lame about the Des Moines (Grimes, actually) case is, why are Christians (Mennonites are Christians, right?) running a wedding venue? I thought Christians got married in churches. If a gay couple demanded to get married in a Christian church the church could tell them to stick it and the law would be on their side. You open up a “wedding chapel”, a la Las Vegas and you’re on your own.

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  12. Bobby – This is blatantly apparent to non-Christians in the legal profession, and to many Christians as well (at least those not blinded by the Culture War).

    Erik – VDM resents that…

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  13. Bobby – He mentioned that he’d been in his current position for about 3 years, had counseled about 30-35 couples, and had come across only 3 people (out of 60-70) who had waited until marriage (and that 2 of those 3 had engaged in oral sex on a number of occasions). He noted that, in most cases, the unmarried couples were having sex at least once a month.

    Erik – Was this pastor named Dr. Ruth?

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  14. Bobby – Interestingly enough, my friend noted that, for men, the fear of being gay is what primarily drove them to push their partners to have sex with them.

    Erik – No. Most (Christian) men have premarital sex because they really dig women, especially their fiances. You need to adjust your gay tinted glasses.

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  15. Bobby – It risks legitimizing conduct that evangelicals would prefer to relegate to out-of-town bathhouses and minivans parked at the local forest preserve. Trust me. As an avid trail runner, I see a statistically significant number of minivans bearing Christian bumper stickers parked in the more remote parking lots of my local forest preserve.

    Erik – If you can get us the GPS coordinates we’ll get Sowes right on that.

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  16. Bobby, I know a pastor who says pastors don’t get that level of sexual detail from their members and, if they did, they wouldn’t tell it to a non-ordained man. And I know, well, people who say people getting married due to doubt over their sexuality don’t divulge that insecurity in sufficient numbers to give us any clue of their percentage. And my mystery sources are as reliable as yours.

    Beware seeing what you want to see.

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  17. As a woman, I’ve faced the nastiness of gays because of my build. It’s the female identifying partner that has been nasty, I’m assuming. And it’s been while frequenting their businesses. Getting an ice-cream cone, getting a salad to go, sitting down at a restaurant while on a date.

    I had a boss who couldn’t stop staring at my breasts. It was a stare of discomfiture and he meant no offense, so I never took any but it was still off.

    And I think that the reason Sullivan went after Palin is because of a similar insecurity. That is, would my lover, in certain circumstances, be attracted to her?

    Palin may be off-putting for various reasons but any right leaning, prominent blogger who would have pursued a woman as prey, as he did, would be teaching at a Community college right now.

    I do think that heterosexual divorce rate opened the door to gay marriage because it made of marriage nothing to respect.

    I am opposed to gay marriage because it raises it to parity with the biblical and normative union of a man and a woman it but that doesn’t stop me from liking my ex-boss who I still see, at work, a few times a week. And as with me learning that a gay man is a regular man, in most ways, like any other man I’ve known or worked for, after working with me for a couple of years, he stopped staring.

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  18. Erik,

    I think most guys do dig those they’re seeking to marry. But unless one scores a 0 on the Kinsey scale, there’s probably some residual same-sex sexual attraction, even if it’s not predominant. Also, there could well be a certain amount of aesthetic or interpersonal attraction to other men, which, while legitimate, is generally viewed with skepticism within evangelical circles (as nothing more than veiled sexual attraction).

    The guys aren’t coming out and admitting this in such direct terms. Rather, they’re saying things like: “I wanted to be sure we were sexually compatible.” But this is another way of saying: “I wanted to be sure that I would be able to perform when the moment demanded it.”

    I guess I’m simply saying that the gay-straight dichotomy is unhelpful. So, in some sense, Christians have been right to question whether sexual orientation is real. I’d argue that it’s largely a social construction that owes more to the Freudian lenses through which we tend to view sexuality than anything else. I also think that there’s no sound reason for supposing that one’s social identity must relate in any way to sexuality.

    Contrary to Muddy’s suggestion, I have no interest in trying to goad the church into embracing same-sex relationships. Rather, my interest is in helping the church see that its theology of sexuality is something that owes more to Freud than to Scripture, and that we’d be in a far better position to speak to our sex-obsessed culture if we recovered a more robust Pauline vision. The prevalence of same-sex eroticism throughout Western and non-Western art and literature suggests that it’s not as “unnatural” to the human condition as the Freudians (and the folks at TGC and CBMW) would have us believe. That’s not to excuse it as licit. To the contrary, it’s to point out why arguments that rely on social stigmatization are bound to fail eventually. And that’s the problem with much of the evangelical social agenda: It relies on generating social stigma around certain activities rather than offering a theologically robust case for why it’s unwise to engage in those activities. After all, once people come to see through the contrived nature of the social stigma, we find ourselves bereft of arguments to offer in its place.

    That’s actually what attracts me to 2K theology. It recognizes that God’s general revelation offers us plenty of ways to demonstrate why certain social practices are wise and others are unwise. It helps us make a positive case for social conservatism that actually makes sense. After all, that likely explains why elites, despite their liberal views, tend to conduct themselves in ways that would put most evangelicals to shame. Because they’re not fixating on Scripture in a vain effort to find “the Christian way” to do this or that, they actually use their high-functioning brains to make reasonable pragmatic choices based on the world around them. Same-sex marriages are vanishingly rare among the cognitive elite. That’s not because they’re convinced by the social stigma surrounding gay sex. To the contrary, most of them are rather ambivalent about gay sex. Instead, they opt for opposite-sex arrangements because, in looking at the prospect of entering a life-long partnership, the pragmatic case for opposite-sex coupling is simply a lot more persuasive than that for same-sex coupling, even for those who may experience some amount of same-sex attraction.

    So, perhaps my question is this: Can evangelicalism be saved from moralism? Or, rather, is there any way to extract a robust theological orthodoxy from the ruins of moralism and its nasty sisters, pietism and revivalism? Or have the three ugly sisters come so much to define the evangelical identity that there’s no efficient way to rekindle an orthodox, non-moralistic alternative from the rubble?

    When I was an associate at a large DC law firm, I had a number of colleagues who grew up in evangelical or conservative mainline churches. Few of us had experienced any radical falling out with the church. Yet few of us attended church on any regular basis. One guy jokingly referred to himself as a nominal evangelical: He basically accepted the broad contours of evangelical theology, but had no interest in being a part of the moralistic way in which that theology was put into practice in the local church. I’d have to say that I’m in much the same place. I generally rely on my professional colleagues for ethical accountability: They understand me better than the minivan-driving class. And I trust their judgment more than I would those at church. So, I need church for sacraments. I’ve largely given up on the idea that the church in America can do anything else with any integrity or competence. Maybe that’s explains why Peter Leithart increasingly makes sense to me.

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  19. Learned last night that the Griswold of Griswold vs. Connecticut (court decisions that liberalized laws against birth control) was Roman Catholic, as was one of the inventors of the birth control pill.

    Didn’t make use of the sacraments properly, obviously.

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  20. Bobby,

    However you slice it no more than 3% of the population is gay — period. It’s a political football and a theological football in some places, but the fight concerns a small sliver of the population.

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  21. MLD,

    Sorry, I can’t comment. I fit into more of the “gaybro” category. In fact, like most gaybros, I do find certain women to be attractive. But let’s just say that I wouldn’t expect to find too many such women at Curves. On the other hand, I find most of the women in my triathlon training group to be fairly attractive. If they weren’t all lesbians, I’d date one of them.

    I couldn’t begin to tell you what’s going through the head of a femme gay guy.

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  22. Erik,

    I don’t publicly identify as gay, so, for all anyone knows, I’m in the 97%. I wouldn’t marry a guy simply because I think the notion of same-sex marriage is ridiculous. Marriage is about sexual restraint. Period. That’s why the evangelical hyper-sexual view of marriage is also pretty ridiculous.

    My psychologist suggested that most of her male clients who identify as G, B, or Q often tend to be more asexual, meaning that they have no primary sex drive. That would be true of me. I don’t feel any sexual attraction to men. I do, however, find some range of men and women to be aesthetically attractive. And I enjoy the interpersonal company of both men and women, but in different ways. I tend to identify with the “gaybro” category, but more for socio-political reasons, i.e., as a protest against a culture that unfairly privileges conformity to the script of hegemonic masculinity. In cultures where androgynous-looking (but otherwise masculine) guys don’t face discrimination, I would probably feel no need to identify as anything but male.

    In elite corporate culture, that’s increasingly the case. Men who need to have sex all the time can’t keep up with the work demands. As for me, I’m good to go as long as I have a hotel with a decent gym and a bar with an attractive clientele.

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  23. Dear World,

    Think what you want to think (and you will) but Old Life is a one of a kind place, with at least one of everything — Presbyterians, Lutherans, anabaptists, flaming Socia-mentalists, the undermedicated, gaybros, atheists, feisty women, armies of one, cranks, theonomists, non-denoms, tattooed Jeremiahs, academics, lawyers, Mark Jones, Iain the Druid, RSC, New Calvinists, and hillbillies. It’s not for the weak of heart, as this thread attests, but comments are open. Light and heat emanate by turns. It’s a dive bar in a seminary basement, a psych ward with a great library, it’s real and many of us could hardly live without it.

    Sincerely,

    Cw

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  24. Bobby,
    Just what is it you don’t understand that we is not evangelicals so all your handwringing and sob stories really don’t cut it?
    Ditto Kinsey and Freud. The evangelicals may buy in, but your mission (impossible?) is to demonstrate that the reformed have, before blithely assuming it and blathering on.

    After all the evangelicals are also all about wrapping the Bible with the flag and anointing America as the NT version of Israel which is pretty much verboten here.

    Or do you consider the reformed to be on pretty much on par with the evangelicals in their compromise overreaction to marital rights for sodomites and lesbians. Contra Scripture (never mind 2k natural law)?

    To corinthianize was understood to mean given over to sexual immorality, but Paul still tells us in 1 Cor. 5:1 that some things like incest were not so much as named among the heathen, i.e being married to one’s (step) mother. But your argument is that Scripture really doesn’t condemn, never mind speak to sodomite unions; the opposition to the same is just an evangelical hyper masculine overreaction/projection.
    Incoherent much?

    The doctor’s prescription is, less psychologist, more Bible and catechism not to mention membership in sound P&R church.

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  25. CW, gaybro is a new one on me and I used to drive cab and pick up that segment of the population.
    Ditto Ian the Druid.

    But ” many of us could hardly live without it.”
    Please. The OLTS combox is a psych ward with limited access to Youtube. Hardly reassuring when it comes to the continuity of Western civilization.

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  26. As a follow-up to my thoughts above…

    I have a certain appreciation for Mike Huckabee’s honest comments today.

    “I don’t drink alcohol, but gosh — a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do. You know, I don’t use profanity, but believe me, I’ve got a lot of friends who do. Some people really like classical music and ballet and opera — it’s not my cup of tea….”

    I appreciate Huckabee’s comments because he openly admits something that conservative Christians need to admit: That is, that conservative Christianity in America is more about sociology than it is about theology, more about being around people like us than it is about understanding those who are different from us, and more about upholding a certain homespun way of being Christian than it is about wondering whether our practices exclude certain people. Sure, Huckabee admits, evangelicals care about preserving truth, but they care about doing so in a way that leaves the movement’s social populism largely intact. There may well be other ways of preserving that same truth that don’t come admixed with so much folk wisdom. But most conservative Christians in America probably couldn’t recognize it as such.

    What’s long bothered many of us theologically orthodox non-conservative Christians is the steadfast refusal of conservative Christians to admit that “doctrines” like inerrancy, biblical manhood, and the like, have as much to do with their movement’s unique sociology as with theological necessity. In that sense, it’s a great advance for someone of Huckabee’s stature to admit implicitly that it’s improper to defend “the evangelical way of life” as a necessary expression of Christianity, and to defend it instead as merely a sufficient expression of Christianity.

    I’m not sure what that means for something like Keller’s project. The PCA, after all, largely rests on the fundamentalist, semi-dispensationalist Presbyterianism championed by the likes of Carl McIntire and J. Oliver Buswell. And recent events at Westminster Seminary suggest that the spirits of McIntire and Buswell are alive and well (and that the urbane sophistication of Machen has long since been forgotten). But that’s not my issue.

    I’m not sure what this means for those of us who find ourselves comfortably situated among the cognitive elite. But I think it suggests that we don’t really have a place among conservative Christians, or at least not within their church communities. And that’s fine. In fact, I’d respect the folks at my local PCA church a lot more if they’d just come out and say, “We don’t really want your type around here, son.” After all, I’m pretty confident that they actually feel that way.

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  27. No CW and my feelings were hurt.

    Even further those of us who didn’t make the cut are obviously frosted by this remark: “I’m not sure what this means for those of us who find ourselves comfortably situated among the cognitive elite”.

    Call me an uncomfortably situated whiner. Sociologically, that is.

    But let the cognitive elite beware a revolt on the psych ward.
    The scenario could turn grim if one wasn’t ready to resist the natives by ahem, force.

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  28. I tend to see celibacy as something of a calling–a calling that’s supported by a broader church context. In the American evangelical church, where celibacy is demurred and where marriage is “honored” as a playground for the celebration and expression of heterosexual desire, I’m not sure that it’s a place for anyone with that calling. I’d probably suggest that such a person convert to Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Trying to live out a calling to celibacy among evangelicals would be akin to Yo Yo Ma serving as the opening act at a Hank Williams, Jr. concert.

    I feel no such calling; I just don’t feel a strong desire to have sex. I’ll likely get married (to a woman) when it makes sense professionally and socially. I suspect that I’ll hold off until work takes me back to the Northeast or the West Coast. I have no desire to plant long-term roots in the Rust Belt.

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  29. Bobby, our old school PCA church of 150-200 has several celibate singles and a few odd marriages. You’re generalizing from limited experience. A sound church can handle more diversity than most think.

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  30. Bobby –
    “The guys aren’t coming out and admitting this in such direct terms. Rather, they’re saying things like: “I wanted to be sure we were sexually compatible.” But this is another way of saying: “I wanted to be sure that I would be able to perform when the moment demanded it.”

    There are a couple more likely scenarios than yours. Like “I got really horny one day but had to explain it with something that looks like a thought process,” and “I wanted to make sure she’s good that way before I commit to her.” But, yes, lots of church marriages are not preceded by chastity. I think a fair number of those are couples that just got carried away while waiting for a marriage date that was too far into the future.

    Look, you’re articulate and have some interesting observations. I don’t know how you present yourself in churches, but I’d advise that you not go looking for a fight. There won’t be many groups of people that will be comfortable with your amorphous gender identification. Lots of people have some piece(s) of themselves that they just don’t discuss in certain settings. I don’t demand that people hear about and embrace everything about me – it’s just not realistic. No point in leading with your chin.

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  31. The gay-celibate discussion. The gay priests I knew, already had a workaround for prohibitions against sex by classifying gay sex, which was without procreative opportunity, as being permissible and something other than fornication because of it’s aforementioned deficiency. The hetero-celibate priests found themselves in the predicament of not only being attracted to women but often entertaining their company BECAUSE of their priestly standing and the subsequent aura of safety and trust which put them in the not dissimilar position of the gay man who enjoyed relational intimacies with women that women would not have permitted with hetero men. I often think that there are a lot of ‘gay’ men who don’t so much have a sexual proclivity for men but rather enjoy the unfettered access to female conversations and changing rooms. I’ve dabbled with the thought, if only to get some access to the changing rooms backstage, but, I digress. Then there’s the buddy who came out to me, and despite my advice married a woman, claiming she was OK with it. I don’t know how that marriage turned out, I do know he had complained to me about still being sexually attracted to men and his wife was ‘pressuring’ him for more sexual intimacy and wanting children. It gets complicated.

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  32. Bobby:
    Long distance trail running…. long bike rides… Assuming one is not plugged into the brain numbing effects of CCM or the latest neo Cal podcast, this leaves one much time for Reformed ruminations, doesn’t it? Happy running, my friend; may your 5K times drop.

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  33. Muddy,

    That certainly explains it in a lot of cases.

    For insight into what I’m saying, see Zach Howe’s piece from Slate about a year ago.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/01/30/what_is_homophobia_why_straight_men_are_right_to_be_afraid_of_homosexuality.html

    And it’s worth pointing out that the evangelical freak-out over homosexuality, which began in the late ’80s and ramped up to full throttle in the ’90s, contributed significantly to this.

    Also, I address these issues because I am a social conservative. But I fear that evangelicals have largely made social conservatism impossible because they repeatedly fail to articulate a positive, pragmatic case for socially conservative practices, and instead focus on stigmatizing certain types of conduct and vilifying certain persons believed to be associated with that conduct. So, what is it about the evangelical mindset that prevents the movement’s adherents from discussing social issues without lurching toward unnecessary alarmism? Why are evangelicals, and particularly evangelical Reformed folk (TGC, BBs, etc.), so averse to reflective discourse and nuance? Why must every issue demand an immediate response, which is often proffered in black-and-white terms that reflect practically no understanding (or an even an effort at understanding) the underlying phenomenon?

    I think Grove City College professor David Gordon addressed this issue in part in his piece, “The Insufficiency of Scripture”. Frankly, I just don’t understand it. It seems like a terrible way to live. I would get tired of being so afraid of everything. It’s part of our human constitution to be intrigued by difference, to embrace nuance and ambiguity, and to reflect creatively on complex issues. That’s what I love about trail running. You have to be fast while maintaining a certain suppleness, as you never know whether a 3-foot -long copperhead may be waiting for you around the next corner. That’s all part of the joy of life. So, I sometimes have to wonder whether evangelicalism isn’t something akin to a mental defect. Why would people choose to live in such an uptight way, when it’s utterly unnecessary to do so?

    And, for the most part, I identify as queer largely for effect. I don’t think I’m too different from most other men. I just see no reason to imprison myself into some oppressive script that denies reality and forces men to feel unnecessary shame and guilt. After all, when you make people feel shame and huilt over things that aren’t really sinful, you end up increasing the likelihood that they’ll actually engage in activities that should make them feel shame and guilt.

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  34. Bobby, you’ve probably heard of Born to Run, but in case you haven’t, I listened to that on my commute a few years back, when I got into running for the first time (haven’t kept up with it, but you’re inspiring me).

    Nice hobby you have there, bro.

    Like

  35. Bobby –

    “It’s part of our human constitution to be intrigued by difference, to embrace nuance and ambiguity, and to reflect creatively on complex issues.”

    That’s actually quite rare, whether among church-folk, secular cons or secular libs. In so many ways it’s easier to maintain bright lines and have a quick way to separate “us” from “them.” That’s the more universal human condition. And, yes, it’s annoying but it may be above the emotional and intellectual capacity of the average Joe to do otherwise.

    “I identify as queer largely for effect.”

    If you want to be a Jackie Robinson – type game changer that certainly is ambitious. But it’s a pretty tough thing to do.

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  36. I identify as queer largely for effect

    CW, up your game.
    You left “cognitive elite poser” AND The Veronian Disciple’s “theological abattoir” off the list.
    (Forget about the race card, the site proprietor has already waved it in the face of the Mad Marxist.)
    Chop chop my man or get left behind in the bum’s rush for the door.

    And don’t forget like we did.
    Slate IS the last word on racistsexistbigothomophobesantisemiteneonaziconspiracynutradical</strike.

    Hey, it's Springtime in Alaska, the aardvarks are in heat and the CogElite apparatchiks are feeling their oats. Gotta love the insouciance that accompanies their tarbrushing of the hoi polloi.
    (Hint: That's you and me, pal. IOW anybody that's doesn't self identify as CE.)

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  37. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as an over-sensitive conscience.

    It’s a fairly well-established principle that while the general provision of goods or services is neutral, doing so with the foreknowledge that said goods and services will be dedicated some specific evil act makes provider at least culpable, even blamable for that act. It’s the basis of all the material support and aiding & abetting laws, boycotts, etc..

    Serving burgers, gas and renting housing to homosexual clients = giving someone a lift; helping put on a SSM = driving the getaway car in a bank robbery.

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  38. Muddy,

    I’m not looking to change any game. I just don’t think that binary categories are helpful. And my only “them” are people who insist of seeing things in terms of an “us” and “them.” That kind of stuff comes from insecurity. And if we believe the Gospel, then there’s no place for insecurity.

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  39. “That kind of stuff comes from insecurity. And if we believe the Gospel, then there’s no place for insecurity.”

    Whether it’s insecurity or it’s close relative arrogance, there may be no place for it as a matter of principle but as a matter of fact it’s in lots of places. You have your sins and they have their sins. Maybe the better part of wisdom is to forbear and not provoke. Just a thought.

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  40. I’m not looking to change any game. I just don’t think that binary categories are helpful.

    Yup, binary categories like God made them male and female.
    Or Thou shalt not vs. Thou shalt.

    Let me help you out here, Bobby.
    Your real problem is not with the hidebound fundamentalist over reacting evanjellyfish. Your real problem is with Scripture.

    The question is not whether we all have temptations, urges and desires to sin (duh).
    Rather the question is do we give in to them and let them define us.
    The evangelicals are pushing your button and all you are doing is over reacting to the other extreme, while at the same time, trying to justify it.

    But hey, as a comfortable member of the cognitive elite, why do I have to tell you this?

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  41. Lemme guess, Muddy. You’re a member of the cognitive elite too.
    Hey, it’s hard to tell. The arrogance is so subtle.
    Gonna have to take a lesson from that.

    Like

  42. @ zrim: The point is, contra sdb, we have a reached a turning point, when Christians can’t choose with whom they wish to do business, and are effectively forced out of certain professions because of their beliefs, and actions based upon those beliefs.

    Up here in Canada, a Christian law school which makes students agree to not engage in homosexual activity or fornication has had its accreditation denied or overturned by the governments of several provinces, on the recommendations of bigoted law societies in those provinces that have argued against accreditation of the law school, on the grounds that they couldn’t be certain that homosexuals would receive fair treatment from graduates of the law school in court. That’s complete hogwash, utterly unsubstantiated, based on prejudice alone against the moral standards of the school.

    We may expect to see more, not less, of this, as our societies both (a) normalize homosexual behaviour by allowing ‘marriage’ of them, and (b) persecute anyone who oppose such moves – look what happened to Brendan Eich of Mozilla, for his opposition to California’s Prop 8.

    Why should we stand by, and let them do that?

    No; this is where we draw the line.

    BTW, I haven’t heard of progs try to force pro-life signmakers into making pro-choice placards, in the same way we’ve seen homosexual activists try to force Christian wedding cake bakers into putting pro-gay messages, endorsing particular ‘gay marriages’ (‘Congrats Adam and Steve’ or whatever) on their cakes. Abortion isn’t where the battle is at, perhaps because that’s already long lost, alas. No, it’s precisely on this issue where the fight is, so it is there where we must fight. It is there, where we draw the line.

    I don’t know why y’all are so lacksadaisical, ‘whatever’ about this. Why you don’t care about how your fellow Christians who own bakeries, wedding planning businesses, etc., and you’d rather pal around with the homo yammering away on this thread, instead of ignoring him blabbering.

    Shame!

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  43. I look forward to seeing if my passing comment about the homo commenter is regarded as inflammatory, and therefore unacceptable, and if I’ll be chastised for it, or merely ignored.

    Either way, it’ll be most revealing, about the mindset of folks here.

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  44. Yes, Bob, he made them male and female. But that doesn’t imply that he made us to conform to particular scripts for masculinity and femininity. Doh.

    I see your point, Muddy. But if evangelicalism if simply “Christianity for Dummies,” then it would be nice if its proponents would be a bit more forthright about their project. I understand that there’s a certain fraction of the population that needs black-and-white rules because they lack the wisdom and discipline to make good judgments. See, e.g., Bob, supra. But what about the fraction of the population who can handle fuzzy boundaries without losing their heads.

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  45. Will, you’re talking about this?

    http://m.nationalreview.com/article/397677/persecution-gordon-college-david-french/page/0/1

    I’m inclined to feel the pain, but would worldviewers have us believe that were they in public charge they wouldn’t impose an ideological test on private colleges? They do it when in charge of private colleges. Which makes all the complaining sound pretty whiny, as in “boo hoo, all the wrong people are in charge.” For such a he-man you’re sure on the whiny side of things.

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  46. @ zrim: So what? We’re right; they’re wrong.

    It’s not whining; it’s irritation and impatience.

    There is a difference, even if it’s too subtle for the OL crowd to get it.

    So, I see from your NR link that y’all be facing this already, too.

    Get used to it.

    And the mindset of OLers, ‘whatever…’, won’t help matters…

    @ Dr. Hart: Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, yes, I’m familiar with Ecclesiastes.

    How about Ecclesiastes 3:1-8?

    Which mentions that there is a time for war, and a time for peace.

    I humbly submit this is the time for war. The culture war.

    @ CW: Good. I’ll be a jerk, then. A jerk standing for the ways of the Lord!

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  47. Will, that’s right, irritation and impatience are fruits of the Spirit. I forgot. Wait, “get used to it”? I thought we were called to “irritation and impatience”? Culture warrior, get your virtues straight.

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  48. “I humbly submit this is the time for war. The culture war.”

    And I’m sure women will be thrilled when we get Will in Charge. But, in this period of cultural captivity, it’s just Bondage of The Will.

    No, I haven’t been waiting for months to say that.

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  49. “Up here in Canada, a Christian law school which makes students agree to not engage in homosexual activity or fornication has had its accreditation denied or overturned by the governments of several provinces, on the recommendations of bigoted law societies in those provinces that have argued against accreditation of the law school, on the grounds that they couldn’t be certain that homosexuals would receive fair treatment from graduates of the law school in court. That’s complete hogwash, utterly unsubstantiated, based on prejudice alone against the moral standards of the school.”

    As if any of its grads were going to get an interview with the Seven Sisters of Bay Street legal firms in the first place…

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  50. @ CW: Nothing, if you’re like most clueless-as-regards-womenfolk as most North American men are. Married decades, and still fools; still joking about ‘not ‘getting’ women’, when if one listens to voices of wisdom from the past, including those in Scripture, women really aren’t hard to ‘get’.

    @ Zrim: No, smart-ass; irritation and impatience is what is induced in me by the pigheadedness of the “whatever” crowd, who save their getting upset for people like the Baylys.

    As for ‘get used to it’, that’s what you get for not fighting.

    @ MG: We don’t need anyone in charge; we need people to recognize there is a battle, and become bushwhackers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushwhacker

    @ kent: So what? Small towns have need of lawyers, too! May not be as high status, but then worldly status, wealth, and fame aren’t usually high priorities for Christians, are they?

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  51. Will, your neo-Puritan slip is showing. Better tuck that in before you give the wrong guy the wrong message, then you’d have to semi-blame yourself for the assault. Go grow a beard hair or something.

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  52. @ kent: No we aren’t; during WWII, we had the fourth-largest land army in the world.

    That pacifism BS is a Pearson-Trudeaupian construction, and has nothing to do with our true heritage as Canadians.

    Anyway, the war, in case you have forgotten, is spiritual, not physical.

    You might remember something Paul said, “For we wrestle not with flesh and blood…” etc.

    And the inspiration hymn says ‘Onward, Christian soldiers, marching AS to war’ (not OFF to war).

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  53. The last time I checked, the Culture War ended on a cross outside of Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

    Also, I went to a law school that permitted students to have consensual fornication. I don’t see how having an rule barring such conduct would have made my legal education a better experience. I’m paying for my law school to teach me the law (and, more likely, to help get me a job at an elite firm); I’m not paying for it to snoop around in my classmates’ bedrooms.

    Honestly, how do pietists muster the courage to walk out the door in the morning?

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  54. The kerfuffle over accreditation is usually because it’s a Christian school that is seen as a total joke in the first place.

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  55. And up here in Canada we have only 24 law schools, 5 veterinary medicine and 14 medical schools, we don’t have that tier of “anyone gets in who can pay the tuition fees” set of schools which must number in the 1000s in our US neighbours’ coordinates.

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  56. I have so much to apologize and repent over for my heterosexual behaviour and thoughts, I try not to look for motes in other people’s eyes or wherever they might store them…

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  57. Norman Clegg had Foggy Dewhurst in view when he said this, but hey Wills, if the shoe fits…

    You get depressed sometimes and begin to believe that there aren’t any real old-fashioned idiots left. And then, out of the blue comes a genuine 14-carat gilt-edged barmpot like this!

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  58. CW, the kind of Canadian who seriously talks like Will S volunteered to storm Juno Beach on D-day and spent the 1970s through his death at 90 grumbling proudly about it at the local Legion or a Tim Horton’s or MacDonald’s.

    We dearly miss this kind of man already after the last one died in 2009 or so.

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  59. Yes, Bob, he made them male and female. But that doesn’t imply that he made us to conform to particular scripts for masculinity and femininity. Doh.

    Snicker. This from a self identified member of the cognitive elite (no conceit there, right?) who self identifies as both a a Christian and a queer (uh-huh, no confusion or conflict there) and is over here on a reformed site complaining about evangelicals/playing the victim card with abandon.
    So run that by me again, Bobby. Just what is it exactly that you are entitled to? A sympathetic ear or a swift kick in the seat of the pants, because for all practical purposes, somebody resembles a poser.

    And why do I need to tell you as one of my CE betters, that the Leftist progressives, who politicize, if not sexualize everything, that it is the homosexuals who insist on, if not deify, their perverted sense of eros, that has ruined phileo and agape for the rest of us. It’s all eros now. The degraded vocabulary which has followed the degraded behavior and in part has been degraded in order to justify that behavior has not been foisted upon us by the evangelicals, their overreactions or not aside. Rather the gaybros themselves are responsible and they need to man up and deal with it, instead of whining about bullies, homophobes and culture wars.

    But maybe that’s why they are gaybros to begin with, ya think?

    cheers

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  60. As if that were a bad thing.

    You seem to think Christendom is a bad thing. But if it weren’t for Constantine, the faith would never have come to dominate Europe and create Western Civilization (what we used to call Christendom); and even if, as we Protestants hold, there are significant problems with Catholicism, do you honestly think there’d be as many Protestants as there are today if there hadn’t been a triumphalist Catholicism beforehand that utterly crushed paganism in Europe? Was that such a bad thing? Or maybe it was providential? Hey, the Muslims crushed Zoroastrianism, and most adherents of the Nestorian heresy, too. Might not they have been used to carry out God’s sovereign will and purposes? Might not Constantine have, too?

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  61. Will S., welcome to Federal Visionville. I am a child of the West and a defender of it. But Constantinianism was not exactly word and sacrament ministry. And if you’re going to give so much credit to Europe, you also need to own up to its gifts to the world of global wars, Communism, and fascism.

    Don’t go all Roman Catholic apologist on us — we only look at the good parts and deny the stuff we don’t like.

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  62. Will is also with Kenneth, who likes big-o-sity–being big and dominant proves a thing is good and true. Also, Bayly alert.

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  63. @ DGH: “But Constantinianism was not exactly word and sacrament ministry.”

    I never claimed it was. I’m just saying that it may have served a larger purpose, in spite of its flaws. That doesn’t make me a Papist apologist; it just means I can appreciate that some good came out of it.

    “And if you’re going to give so much credit to Europe, you also need to own up to its gifts to the world of global wars, Communism, and fascism.”

    Of course! Communism and fascism, though, are offspring of the Enlightenment; not Christian Europe. As for WWI, well, it was indeed highly regrettable, not the least of reasons being that it destroyed the age of monarchies in Europe, and replaced many of them with republics, which is always an unfortunate thing.

    @ Zrim: Wrong as always; no “national greatness conservative” a la Bill Bennett be I. I do not worship bigness, but I don’t necessarily always find it problematic in all circumstances, as folks here seem to do.

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  64. “But if it weren’t for Constantine, the faith would never have come to dominate Europe and create Western Civilization (what we used to call Christendom); and even if, as we Protestants hold, there are significant problems with Catholicism, do you honestly think there’d be as many Protestants as there are today if there hadn’t been a triumphalist Catholicism beforehand that utterly crushed paganism in Europe? Was that such a bad thing?”

    No, you don’t have a thing for domination and bigness, no, not at all. You’re all about humility, uh-huh.

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  65. You Yanks always overstate the degree of ‘tyranny’ of King George III, and because you won, you believe the propaganda propagated in your history texts. (Another argument against public education.)

    In any case, I fight tyranny, today. 🙂

    Like

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