Why Give a Definition of Christian Persecution?


Tryon Edwards, great grandson of Jonathan Edwards, once said,

Most controversies would soon be ended, if those engaged in them would first accurately define their terms, and then adhere to their definitions.

Edwards was perhaps too optimistic about the end of controversy, but he was right to note the power of definitions to bring clarity and, perhaps, unity. Definitions are important things. A trip to the local reference section of a library or bookstore proves beyond doubt that we think definitions are important things.

Christian persecution definitionConsider the prevalence of English dictionaries. There are dictionaries for synonyms, dictionaries for war terms, for business terms, legal terms, theological terms, psychological terms. A seemingly endless stream of dictionaries flows from the ocean of words which break upon the pages of our literature and, thus, land upon our minds, enabling and empowering our thoughts. Our thoughts ride and move upon the surf of words.

But words do not always come as docile tides bathing a white sand shore. Words break upon our ears and often crash into our minds challenging our very existence. As the existentialist Sartre declared, “Words are loaded pistols.” And that is often true. Defining words can be a dangerous game because words are the means by which reality takes its shape.  Consider, for example, how the Nazis defined treason and loyalty. And consider the implications for Germany and the world.

In our own culture, consider how important it is to define the word person. It has become a deadly word for babies developing in the womb because they have been excluded by definition from the semantic range of the word person. So, you see, subtle changes in the definition of words can have cataclysmic long term effects for us. Definitions are exceedingly important.

Two particular words Christians must define in our own day are marriage and persecution. The first is necessary because the word is being redefined.  The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has fallen on notoriously difficult times, and marriage is now successfully being redefined to include same sex unions. In fact, as I’ve noted in prior posts, the new definition of marriage demands no boundaries on the basis of avoiding all discrimination. A recent federal case in Utah may now allow group marriages (read about it here).

Because marriage is now redefined, Christians will be tested on whether or not they believe what they have been saying about their own definition.  Do we as Christians believe God’s monogamous design for heterosexual marriage? Will Christians stand on these convictions? What if group marriages, gay marriages, or even bestial marriages become matters of civil rights? Will Christians remain steadfast in their biblical convictions? Will we pay the price in persecution? What if churches will lose their tax exempt status as a result of monogamous marriage commitments? What if pastors are convicted of civil rights crimes—or hate crimes—and sent to jail for refusing to marry a small group of lovers?

Persecution will likely flow from the deluge of court decisions against traditional marriage. Thus, Christians ought to start defining persecution so we understand what and why we are suffering.  Persecution means many things to many different people. I read an article recently which stated that wild birds were being persecuted in northern England.  Whatever the journalist covering birdcrime in Great Britain meant by his use of the word persecuted, the Christian must understand it much differently. Both Christians and birds of prey can be hunted and threatened with extinction, but Christians alone are human beings created in the image of God and charged with witnessing to His glory. Birds are not people and, thus, not created in God’s image.  Persecuting birds is not the same as persecuting Christians. But Christians will be persecuted. Thus, persecution is a concept which needs to be properly defined. Here is a good, biblical definition of persecution:

Persecution is a retaliatory action against the revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ which is represented or proclaimed by the followers of Jesus Christ. 

The definition is helpful for Christians so we can test ourselves (as Peter commands) to make sure our suffering happens because of Christ and His righteousness, not because of our own stupidity, arrogance, or offensive behavior. The definition is also helpful so we can experience the full joy of the blessings of Christ (Matthew 5:10-12). Finally, the definition is important because we will likely be facing persecution of a more intense nature than at any time in America’s history.

Here we return to Edwards’s point. Definitions do provide clarity and can lead to unity. Often, however, the clarity itself leads to controversy.  Such controversy by no means argues for de-emphasizing the need for definitions. Rather, the controversy serves further to clarify where to stand, when to stand, and how to stand. And if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. If you do stand for something as a Christian, you will face persecution. Define your terms so you will know why you suffer.

And as you suffer, remember the words of your great Shepherd: “Blessed are you.”  Learn from this Shepherd the definition of being blessed—even when you cannot be united on account of the words you have learned to define.

How Would You Answer These Ethics Questions?


English: A section of a page from the Wicked B...

English: A section of a page from the Wicked Bible of 1631. The image is not copyrighted due to the age of the work. The section highlights a contemporary typographical error insofar as it omits the word not from the commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have taken a day for study today. One of the things I have been able to finally accomplish is to get a list of paper topics out to my students in Christian Ethics.  I have pasted the paper topics below in the form of propositions, which I expect the students either to defend or rebut. I am posting these topics because I thought you might find them interesting. You may want to think through the topics as well and answer them for yourself. Feel free to share your response to one or all of the topics:

1.  Christians should be protesting against the oppressing sin of usury because it is more clearly condemned in the Bible than abortion. (See Daily Kos article)

 

2.  Matthew 19:1-11 stands in complete agreement with Luke 16:18.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9, NASB)

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18, NASB)

 

3.  There is never a situation in which it is acceptable for a Christian to lie—a thorough consideration.

 

4.  A proper biblical understanding of theology leads to the conclusion that masturbation is a sin for the Christian.

 

5.  The most important reason Christians cannot be utilitarian or consequentialist in their actions is ______________________________________ (fill in the blank, then defend it).

 

6.  Any Christian in any country throughout the world who wishes to live a consistent, Christian life of faith will suffer persecution.

77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Traditional Marriage


Marriage in America in 2010

Marriage in America in 2010 (Photo credit: GEEKSTATS)

Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute has put together a list of 77 non-religious reasons to support man/woman marriage. While 77 reasons may be a bit of overkill on the subject of traditional marriage, these reasons do indicate that there is a good case to be made for keeping marriage traditional.

Dr. Morse has a host of articles on the Ruth Institute website which demonstrate the wisdom of traditional marriage. No other structure compares with traditional marriage for protecting and fostering human growth. As I have noted before, traditional marriage is nothing less than a reflection of the reality of human existence.

Some of Dr. Morse’s reasons are offered on the basis of biology, while others are given on the basis of sexuality and benefits to the children. A few of the more interesting arguments are given below:

2 “Man/woman marriage allows children to know and be known by their biological parents. Same sex marriage separates children from at least one parent.”

17 “Same-sex marriage changes marriage from a child-centered institution to an adult-centered institution.”

29 “Same sex marriage makes an implicit statement that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and that sex is irrelevant to parenting. The burden of proof should be on those who make this strong, non-intuitive claim.”

30 “Even same sex couples believe sex is relevant: the sex of their partners. A gay man insists on a male sex partner. He is not satisfied with a female sex partner, no matter how masculine she may be. A lesbian insists on a female sex partner. Even a very feminine man will not do.”

And, finally, one which mirrors the argument I have made here before,

70 “Same sex marriage is a creation of the state. Man/woman marriage is an organic institution arising spontaneously from society.”

If that last one seems unimportant, read my post. It is the difference between freedom and tyranny. (Feel free to offer your own responses).

3 Life Lessons from Listening to Groovy Music


When it comes to music, I got stuck in the ‘70’s.  In my mind, very little compares favorably to Carole King or James Taylor—or Gordon Lightfoot, America, or Seals and Crofts.  My favorite Spotify playlist is called “Dad’s Groovy Music” because since the ‘70’s, I have been groovy—the way a 33LP ought to be.

So it’s no wonder that I dig Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s most popular single: Southern Cross. (I know, it’s from the early 80’s, but it has the flavor of the 70’s.)   Ostensibly, the song is about the famous astronomical wonder down under: The Southern Cross.  In reality, the song is about the breakup of Stephen Stills’s marriage.  When understood in this context, the song contains at least three significant life lessons.

First—and I will admit that this first lesson applies more broadly than a single song—Southern Cross is about listening for redemption.  Some would argue that Christians ought not listen to secular music at all because it does not glorify God.  They would say that holiness demands our abstaining from Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I am not mocking their position.  The point is valid. I once cleansed myself of a 130 volume CD collection out of concern for holiness.  Music is a vehicle for carrying a message, and its message can easily carry us away from everything good. Never listen with an unguarded mind.  But if we listen with a guarded mind, we can find hints of redemption.

Here is what I mean. In the Old Testament, God’s people were told to be Holy because the Lord their God is Holy.  The same message is affirmed for God’s people in the New Testament.  But a significant change happened between the Old Testament and the New.  Jesus came, and with Jesus came redemption.  In the Old Testament, holiness took the form of abstaining from things the rest of the nations were indulging.

Life Lesson 1: In the New Testament, holiness looks less like abstention and more like redemption.  Meditate on Paul’s comments in Colossians 2:20-22, and you will see what I mean.[1]  Christians are holy through the redemption of Christ. We are alive to a new resurrected reality and, as such, ought to be those who point everything and everyone in this world to reality of Christ and His kingdom, which has begun.

So, with redemptive ears turned to the message of the Southern Cross, I offer two more life lessons.  These are easily grasped.  Stephen Sills wrote this song after his divorce in an attempt to find healing.  His crying out to his estranged wife is evident in the line: “In a noisy bar in Avalon, I tried to call you.”  He then admits that he understands why twice she ran away.

Southern Cross on Australia Flag

But in the chorus, he makes plain the permanence of marriage: “What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.”  Stills even acknowledges that “spirits” are using him, and a larger voice is calling.  He gets that divorce cost him something real.  He gets that he needs something larger than himself if he will heal.  He looks to the heavens for his help but comes up short, finding only the Southern Cross. With redemptive ears, we can hear the permanence of eternal things even in secular lyrics.

Life Lesson Two: God has set eternity into every heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Listen to others with redemptive ears, and you will be able to point them to eternal realities.

Finally, realize that most folks live in a contradictory mindset.  While Stills gets the eternal nature of marriage, he feels also that it is lost. So, he must conclude, “Somebody fine will come along, Make me forget about loving you. At the Southern Cross.”  On the one hand, he sees that marriage is an eternal reality which cannot be forgotten.  On the other hand, when he feels all is lost, he professes belief that someone will come along who can erase it all.

If we listen closely to what others are saying, we might help them see that eternal things are real, and they need not give in to the contradiction.

Life Lesson Three: Eternity is real. Don’t live in contradiction.


            [1] Colossians2:20ff, If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence (NASB).

Why Marriage Must Remain Traditional


A few days ago, I reluctantly re-entered the gay marriage debate. Believe me, I don’t enjoy this debate. I feel the brunt of all the “hate” language it saddles me with, and I am burdened by the weight of the discrimination label, as though I am in the camp of George Wallace, the Democrat governor who stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in 1963, preventing blacks from entering college.  I am not in Wallace’s camp and neither are those who wish to preserve traditional marriage. Of course it would be easier to capitulate, to give up the fight and not say anything, just going along with a comfortable life indifferent to the plight of those who are born into America after I die, but where is the value in that approach?

Why speak to the issue?  Trust me, even if I were anti-gay, being anti-gay would not be sufficient reason to speak. I am not anti-gay. I do not count gay persons as inferior to myself. I count them—and all people—as my equals because we all stand equally as sinners before God in need of grace.  I believe—as the Declaration of Independence asserts—that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” It is on this basis—and for this reason—that I feel compelled to plead with folks to uphold the traditional definition of marriage.  The issue is NOT “gay vs. anti-gay.”  The issue is NOT one of “bigotry vs. civil rights.”  The issue is not even a political one, in the sense of it being “conservative vs. liberal.”  The issue comes down simply to Tyranny vs. Liberty, and  I hope always to be on the side of liberty.

I have attempted to make this case before, and I was then accused of being “hung up” on fighting against gays. So, again, I repeat that I am not anti-gay.  I am anti-tyranny, or, as I prefer to say it, I am pro-liberty.  I am for freedom in the truest sense of that word. I am for the belief that all of us have certain unalienable rights which were granted to us as human beings not by our government but by our Creator, as the Declaration of Independence says.

Here is the issue. Biological nature (and biological nature’s God) has established male and female as the basis upon which humanity would multiply and prosper. Good governments serve nature (and nature’s God) by enacting laws which comport to natural laws, thus maintaining order for the benefit of humankind. The law in this case is not an imposition; it is a clarification of what is true by natural design. As such, the law serves as an affirmation of that which is best for ordering human society.

Heterosexual, monogamous marriage resulting in orderly reproduction is a true design of biological nature.  Though reproduction is not the only significant aspect of marriage, it is certainly a primary aspect of marriage.  A recent article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy states,

Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.  Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 245-287, Winter 2010

This view of marriage, which is known as the “Conjugal View,” is rooted in nature, in biology, and in the basic reality of creation and creaturely existence. It is not the property of American politics. It was not founded here. Its roots go back thousands of years prior to the establishment of the United States of America.  The oldest social law code extant (the Code of Ur Nammu) details penalties for adultery and affirms the conjugal view of marriage. Long before Republicans or Democrats, Conservatives or Liberals, were conceived, civilizations discovered in nature and codified in law the conjugal view of marriage.  Marriage, ultimately, is defined by nature itself for the orderly propagation of humanity.

This view of marriage has weathered other libertine tempests in American history, such as the 19th Century drive by the Mormon church advocating polygamy.  In its famous case deciding the fate of polygamy in America, the Court ruled in Reynolds v. United States (1878) that monogamous, heterosexual marriage provides the bedrock structure for societal harmony:

Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law. Upon it society may be said to be built, and out of its fruits spring social relations and social obligations and duties, with which government is necessarily required to deal. In fact, according as monogamous or polygamous marriages are allowed, do we find the principles on which the government of the people, to a greater or less extent, rests.

The conjugal, biological view of marriage is foundational, and it is rooted in creation—not in government. What is being proposed by gay marriage advocates is an imposition of an alternate reality—a revised reality—which is not rooted in biological nature but, rather, is rooted in political power. Because the state can alter the definition, therefore, the state should alter the definition: This proposition appears to be the heartbeat which pumps lifeblood to the gay marriage movement.

This proposition—that the state can alter the definition of marriage and thus it should—is a proposition untenable in the history of our nation.  When a different minority position gained political steam in the 19th Century and desired a revision to the definition of marriage, the Court took refuge in the conjugal view rooted in biological nature and said, “No,” to the proposed redefinition.  Believing in heterosexual, monogamous marriage as the ideal upon which society would continue to prosper, the court had no other choice. The stakes were too high to decide any other way of ordering society.

Now, the situation is radically different.  The movement toward gay marriage is fueled with a post-Civil-Rights passion that has moved beyond asking what is ordered for society in nature. This movement is asking instead for the government to revise a natural order definition and replace it with a state-imposed one.  In other words, this movement is not appealing to a natural and unalienable right resting on the beneficence of nature’s God. Instead, this movement is asking for a government-bestowed right.  If rights and privileges are not determined by nature and nature’s God, then who determines them? The government.

In the short term, there is great appeal to having the government determine rights rather than having nature’s God determine them.  If the government is on your side, then, of course, you will have a vested interest in that government bestowing a previously restricted right upon you (thereby gaining you as a member of its political voting block).  But beware. Surfing this self-serving wave of government control may prove in the end to be no day at the beach.  If government really does possess the power to grant what once were thought unalienable rights, then government has the power to take away those (and other) rights as the political climate (and voting block) changes. When government overtakes nature’s God in determining basic human rights, liberty is lost. Freedom is a mirage of the government’s making.

Here is tyranny.  If the government can go against biological nature and prescribe rights to groups of citizens without recourse to a reality outside of itself, then government has become god. Government not only will give rights to some, it will take rights from others. Not only will the government make laws consistent with its revised reality; it will also—of necessity—enforce those laws for the sake of maintaining its ability to control reality (=oppression).  Reality itself will become what the government mandates.

In response to the recent decision by the legislature in New York to adopt gay marriage, George Weigel—precisely on this point of losing liberty—states,

The argument over marriage will and must continue, because it touches first principles of democratic governance — and because resistance to the agenda of the gay-marriage lobby is a necessary act of resistance against the dictatorship of relativism, in which coercive state power is used to impose on all of society a relativistic ethic of personal willfulness.

Weigel is making the point that the definition of marriage rests upon foundational elements of nature and precedes America itself, while the proposed revision is driven by small group wielding a big stick of political momentum against history, tradition, and nature, imposing a new reality which appeals to none of these foundational elements and is the mere product of government power. In taking its stand on power rather than nature, this revised definition does not continue the legacy of civil liberty; it trumps it with raw government power.

Weigel says,

Legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause. Something natural and obvious — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” — was being denied by the state in its efforts to maintain segregated public facilities and to deny full citizenship rights to African Americans. Once the American people came to see that these arrangements, however hallowed by custom (and prejudice), were, in fact, unnatural and not obvious, the law was changed.

What the gay lobby proposes in the matter of marriage is precisely the opposite of this.

The revisionist definition wants to go back to the era preceding civil rights and impose by government authority an unnatural definition of marriage.  What this means is that the debate over the definition of marriage is not really a debate about marriage at all; it is a debate over who controls us: Nature and nature’s God or government and the ruling class.  The difference between these two governors is the difference between Freedom and Tyranny.

I understand that the short-term promise of accepting gay marriage makes it appear that freedom is at stake, and indeed it is.  But the freedom that is at stake is not the freedom of an underprivileged class being denied an unalienable right; the freedom at stake is the freedom for all Americans.  Will Americans be free to believe and live by unalienable rights guaranteed by their creator, or will we be subjected to the tyranny of a ruling class which offers us rights based on our political cooperation.  The stakes could not be higher for all of us.

I do not plead against gay Americans in this battle. I plead for them. It seems for now that accepting the premise that the government grants you your rights is going to yield in more rights for gay Americans (namely, the “right” to marry), but, in the end, political powers ebb and flow. Times change. In most cases, governments have not been overly generous toward gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, and transgendered persons. When government becomes god, only the governors prosper. Everyone else suffers.

Must Gay Marriage Bells Ring


There is a growing consensus among the cultural commentariat that gay marriage is inevitable: Given time, a majority of Americans will embrace gay marriage as the norm. This position is not the sole property of liberals. There is no small number of conservatives parroting the same meme (as this post illustrates). The argument rests on poll data and demographic research which have supposedly proven that 60% or more of young people approve of gay marriage now. Thus, when they become the next generation of voters, they will invariably alter the course of American history by jettisoning the discriminatory bonds of traditional wedding bands.

The weight this argument carries among supposedly enlightened people astounds me. Polls and research data are unable to predict who will be elected president in November (only 6 months away), yet similar opinion polls are supposed infallible when it comes to their predicting the demise of the western marriage tradition over the next 20 years? Really? Monogamous, heterosexual marriage is doomed because polling data shows that most young people now accept gay marriage?

If Americans young and old are still able to be persuaded about which party they will support in November elections (and advertising costs suggest they are), then how can we extrapolate the current polling data on youth to remain unchanged over the next two decades? I wonder if any who are reading this article ever changed their attitudes on social issues between the ages of 18 and 38. I personally know a great number of Americans (myself included) whose attitude toward abortion changed in that two decade transition from high school student to middle school parent.

Proponents of traditional marriage need not throw in the towel just yet. Rich Lowry has posted a nice piece demonstrating the folly of accepting the defeat of marriage prematurely. As Lowry points out, there was a time that the Equal Rights Amendment appeared inevitable, a time in which gun control appeared a certainty, and a time when it seemed likely that abortion opponents would wither and die away.  Tidal waves of appearances often crash against the rocks of reality to surprising results.  For this reason, I would agree with Rich Lowry: Gay Marriage Is Not Inevitable.

A Marriage Proposal


First, I would like to thank Meredithancret for a cordial and spirited debate. We obviously disagree, but she has been respectful and has engaged in dialogue on the subject of gay marriage—a subject most consider too controversial to discuss.  I appreciate the fact that there has been actual dialogue, even if there is disagreement.  Thanks, Meredith. You can check out her blog here.

Second, I hope to address some of the concerns which have been voiced.  In fact, Meredith asked a very direct question which is at the heart of the debate concerning marriage.  It is too bad that others aren’t asking the same question.  She asked, “What is marriage?”

Historically, there have been 3 different answers posited in reply to this question.  The answers are as follows: Biological union, legal contract recognition, or beneficial economic arrangement.  Of these 3 options, I would say that I have been arguing for the first, while Meredith has been arguing for the second.  Why do I argue for marriage as a biological union? On the basis of reality.  I assert that the reality of humanity argues unambiguously for heterosexual marriage.

By this statement, I mean to say that heterosexual marriage is built into creation.  You may prefer to think of creation as the 19th Century followers of the Enlightenment did—as Nature (with a capital N).  Or, in your current progressive milieu, you may prefer nature (without the capital N).  Or you may have progressed already so far that you prefer to refer to reality in the laughable (yet often accepted) language of mother nature.  In former days, some would have used the terms, common sense.

Whatever you call it, it argues for heterosexual marriage. I mean to argue for heterosexual marriage from the perspective of easily recognizable reality.  When a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to a wife, the two become a new family unit.  The very natural outcome of the new couple’s coitus is, of course, children.  Hence, humanity progresses through the process of a man and woman leaving two families to start another family.  Nothing is more natural.  Humanity itself is furthered by this conjugal union, a fact which ought to please the evolutionists among us.

In this sense, then, cultures and societies are built upon the biological, conjugal relations of a man and a woman forming a family unit.  Contrary to what has been asserted, this notion is not the recent invention of the modern church.  It has been around since the original couple, Adam and Eve (thus the Matthew 19 reference).

Now, before anyone gets his hackles out of whack, allow me to say that I do believe in Adam and Eve as the original parents.  Evolutionists may or may not have a name for the original progenitors of humanity—I don’t know.  Regardless, there was an original male and female joined together to continue the human race.  Historically—even without reference to Adam and Eve—cultures and societies have been built around the conjugal union of a man and his wife.

We have records from the earliest civilization on record—ancient Sumer—which demonstrate that marriage was indeed between a man and a woman.  The custom was very much like that of Israel in the Old Testament.  The husband offered a bridal price for the woman he desired to marry.  After paying the bridal price to her father, the groom was able to take his bride out of her family home and into his home, where the two became a new family unit, recognized by their government as a new family unit.

No one here is asserting that the norm has been perfect, ubiquitous, or without anomalies and exceptions.  History includes polygamy and homosexuality.  Nevertheless, the enduring reality of heterosexual marriage as a foundational institution endures today as a vital aspect of humanity.  It is reality—even after New York.  It is such an obvious, foundational element of humanity that heterosexual marriage will endure beyond the most recent assaults against it.  Just as marriage endured as a lasting human institution through the political attempts of the 19th Century polygamists, so, too, will heterosexual marriage persevere through the 21st Century assaults of the same-sex marriage proponents.  And the reason heterosexual marriage will endure is that it is a fundamental reality of humankind rooted in biological union.

Against this plain reality, an alternate definition is being proposed by Meredith, namely, that marriage does not mean anything except what society decides for itself that marriage means.  Any attempt to establish marriage as inherently meaningful is so unreasonable that it could only come from religion.  If it comes from religion, then it must be dismissed because there can be no religious influence in matters of state control.  [I might be misunderstanding Meredith’s argument here, but this is the way I read it].  Therefore, marriage can only be given the definition of a social construct: Whatever society decides is right.

Against this, I would say that the ancient Sumerians weren’t “religious” if by religious we mean from a Judeo-Christian worldview.  Nevertheless, they recognized the value for society of the marriage between a man and a woman.  The Sumerians did not invent or define marriage, they recognized it as an inherent, biologically-based reality of the human condition.  To make it something less is to make marriage meaningless.  The notion that marriage is nothing more than what society decides is not pragmatically workable.

If this were the case, then marriage might just as well mean that 2 sisters living in an apartment together could call themselves married and, thus, enjoy the societal benefits of being married.  Why not?  What could possibly prevent these 2 consenting adults from being married?  Why should society discriminate against them just because they never found a man or another woman outside of their own family?  Why are these 2 sisters an acceptable target for the narrow-minded bigotry of restricting marriage to hetero/homosexual marriage?

Just as easily as society deems two men to be legally, contractually married, so, too, could society deem three men to be so or four men and two women.  Why not allow families to define themselves instead of having government define families?  Thus, the Manson Family would be every bit as legitimate as my family according to this definition.  Or else, on what basis would society exclude [discriminate against?] these adults wanting to enjoy the benefits of marriage?  On what basis would you exclude an adult daughter from marrying her father, especially after her mother passed away?  Could a woman enjoy the benefits of being married to her dog?  On what basis would that be excluded?  If marriage is self-defined, then its definition would have a limitless range.  In short, if marriage has no inherent meaning, then it has no meaning at all.

Viewing marriage as a mere social construct is untenable.  I suspect that Meredith and others would not care if the definitions changed and morphed into any number of carnal contortions.  Yet, that fact does not mean they don’t care about the definition of marriage.   In fact, if marriage were a mere social construct, then there would be no effort from gay activists to redefine it.

Consider it this way:  To all who would like to argue for the right of the state to define marriage anyway the state (or the majority of society) wishes it to be, I have this simple question for you to answer.  Why are you unwilling to accept the definition the states (majority of society) have already embraced?  About 60 % of the United States have constitutional amendments defining marriage exclusively between a man and a woman.  The question is already settled.  The states have defined marriage in the exact way they want it defined.  Why seek to overturn this definition?  On what grounds? You cannot answer that question without recourse to higher reality.  You believe in the inherent value of things apart from social constructs, you just don’t want to admit it.

De-funding the American Dream


Who is responsible for this bad economy?  Republicans?  Democrats? President Obama, or George Bush?  Pushing aside our partisan passions, we could probably all agree that no single individual is responsible either for a good economy or a bad one.  Although all politicians like to claim credit for the good times (and point fingers of blame during the bad), the truth is, our economy is not driven by any individual.  Rather, it is driven by all the individuals who make up our country.  Together, we control the economy.

A recent article by David Goldman in First Things points out what might be the single most significant factor underlying our economic woes: The loss of the nuclear family in America.  If Goldman is right in his assessment, the loss of the nuclear family in America means that our present housing crisis is only just begun and will not improve without an increased priority on the family.  Although the population of the United States has increased by 50% since 1970, the number of two-parent families has remained the same.  The number of houses built for families has kept pace with the population increase.  However, there are just not enough families to fill the houses.  This demographic downgrade of the family means that there are not enough young families capable of investing in the future of America.

Where have all the families gone?  Well, it turns out that while everyone has been focused on the “important” issues on Wall Street and in Washington, DC, the most important issues were being cast aside into the crate labeled “controversial.”  Though a few folks like Dr. James Dobson have been raising the alarms in defense of the family, most have silently acquiesced to the cultural accommodations on abortion, marriage, and no-fault divorce.  The last few decades have indeed brought a bulging economy, but at what cost?

While the economy appeared to be booming because of borrowed money, the family was failing.  Now that the economy is failing, we are finding out that the heart of the American family is barely beating.   The family heart rate may not be sufficient to supply the investment America needs for her future.  So, Wall Street and the White House will keep shuffling a billion here or a trillion there, but their solutions may simply be a study of a forest without any trees.  The disintegration of the family is to the United States what deforestation is to the rain forests.  Sure, it makes you seem prosperous for a day, but it is killing your every tomorrow.

If Goldman’s article is correct, then the deforestation of the American family may well be the de-funding of the American dream.  My prayer is for a revival of family life in America.

Today’s Maine Event


There is a big vote in Maine today concerning the nature of marriage.  If the measure fails, then Maine will have become the first state to actually vote in gay marriage.  As you know the other states had gay marriage more or less imposed on them by judicial fiat.  This story from Baptist Press offers a glimmer of hope in that a media frenzy has followed the harrassment case of a Maine social worker who spoke out in favor of traditional marriage.  The Alliance Defense Fund is taking his case, and the outcome of the vote may well be tilted by this single event.  The Maine event is one to watch today.