10 December 2008

Of Course, she says

by Frank Turk

Before you start here today, Dan advised me to split this essay in half because it is exceeding long -- even by the standard of, well, what Dan and I usually write. I did not take his advice, so pack a lunch before you get started here -- and my apologies to your boss and your family as you dig in.

The blogosphere is absolutely a-twitter over that Newsweek essay reproaching the conservative view of marriage – and rightly so. I mean, we have all read at least this much of this piece of writing:
Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.
And most folks responding have sort of lost it in various ways because let’s face it: if anyone read Hamlet or Harry Potter with the critical finesse exercised in this paragraph, well, one would think they were reading something from a blog with only 5 or 6 readers – not from a magazine which people would (and did) pay money for.

But the thing which I think is interesting is the underlined part: “of course not”.

Lisa Miller’s point here is clear: if this is what conservative readers of the Bible – the ones advocating against “gay marriage” – mean when they say a “Biblical definition of marriage”, of course no one would want that. There’s a certain irony in this, but if the “religious conservatives” would “define marriage as the Bible does” – and define it therefore as loose polygamy for the sensually and spiritually weak, a vehicle only for the satisfaction of urges one cannot control for the fulfillment of promises one doesn’t think God is willing or able to keep, of course nobody would want that.

The problem for Lisa Miller, and her editor Jon Meacham, and their publication Newsweek, is that this is not the definition of marriage religious conservatives are promoting.

I am about to pour out the 100-proof polemics here, so before I tell you what exactly “conservatives” are (or at least ought to be) demanding, let me make something transparently clear: what I am personally demanding is not some sort of crime of hate against people with whom we disagree. I could repost it here, but back last summer I posted this piece about apologetic encounters with people who have loved ones who are g-l-b-t-q, or are themselves g-l-b-t-q, and I stand by it emphatically. This is not about how to injure anyone.

Here’s where I’d start: there is no question that of course the Christian church does not define marriage the way Ms. Miller has in her opening salvo here. But the reason Ms. Miller can make her point as hap-hazardly as she does in her essay is that the church has done a lousy job of defining marriage in the last 100 years. Someone might want to make the case that the church has been doing a poor job longer than that – I leave that case to that person, whomever he or she may be.

But here’s the truth: nobody can frame Barack Obama as a supporter of the war in Iraq, right? Nobody can frame Bill O’Reilly as a supporter of Barack Obama, yes? Nobody can frame Sean Penn as a political conservative – or even as a moderate. In fact, nobody can frame the advocates against Prop 8 as advocates of marriage in spite of their repetition of the word.

But why? Why can these people not be carelessly framed with not just a caricature of their views but with an outright contradiction of their views? Let me say it plainly: it is because these other people and groups are clearly on the record regarding what they believe. Publicly, openly, often: they say exactly what they mean, they do not apologize for it, and they are categorically militant to say what they are in favor of and are not merely and glibly chanting slogans about what they are against.

“But Frank,” says the politically-conservative reader who has stumbled onto this blog post, “how can you say that? Aren’t the proponents of Prop 8 and like legislation clearly for the union of one man and one woman? Don’t they say that often enough?”

My answer, unequivocally, is:

NO.

There are very few problems in the church that make me this angry, but this one is in the top 3. See: this is why Ms. Miller can say exegetically- and theologically- ludicrous things about what “Christian” religious conservatives want. Religious conservatives don’t really know what they want, or how to get it. And frankly, they have effaced their own position so badly in this case, it is no wonder we can see the head of the hideous monster about to be born cresting behind what they say they want.

What the student of the Bible ought to want in this case is not a social agenda. What the student of Biblical principles here should want is not for the government to force people to one kind of, um, gender entanglement over another.

Here’s why I say that: if the primary need for marriage is a social contract, one which gives me rights over another person, and rights regarding another person’s property so that they do not cheat me or that I am not otherwise cheated, I say plainly: let everyone have that. If that is all, or even principally, what marriage is, then please let every person have that as often as possible and with as many people as possible. Let Government (great “G” intended) protect the rights of each person so that no one is cheated.

But here’s the thing: I think – and historically the church thinks -- that marriage is not the social construction of a network of rights – especially the “right” to some emotive or financial state of being appeased. In fact, the church (since it has come up) reads the Bible to mean that marriage is a surrendering of rights first to God and then to another person for manifold theological purposes – that is, a wide variety of purposes which, when acted out, give glory to God.

Marriage is about God. That is, the God who created us out of the dust for a purpose and subordinated to Himself. Marriage is about the Creator of all things and the purpose He made in mankind.

Now, all the people who liked Lisa Miller’s essay are thinking, “he’s going to break into the procreation riff here, and I’m checking out.” But because that is actually going to be my last and most derivative point, you should not check out. You think it’s a crude and dangerous club. Let’s wait a second here and put that purpose in its right place, and see if you still believe that.

The purpose of God in creating mankind is first to show the power of God over all things. The story goes like this:
YHVH-God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
and then God says:
It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.
Man’s purpose in God’s creation is to work and “subdue the Earth” as it says in another place, and God makes woman to help man. That word “helper” there in the Hebrew is later used in the OT almost exclusively to mean the kind of aid only God Himself can provide -- as in Psa 115:11, or Psa 124:8.

So God put Adam over all creation, and puts Eve with him as a divinely-given help in order to subdue the Earth. And Jesus – since Jesus’ opinion came up in Ms. Miller’s essay – says this about these events:
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
That celibate, single Jesus said that – endorsing the story in Genesis not only by saying He believed that’s what happened but in fact by saying those words from Genesis 2 were actually spoken by God. So what we have is not just some human story but God’s very own story-telling, God’s very own words telling us that marriage was made for man and woman, that in marriage they would become one flesh, and that it should never be separated because God made it so.

Marriage is therefore a glorification of God in our obedience, to do a thing the way He said it should be done, and not to treat it – as we do today in our churches – as something which is often abandoned because the other person has become to us not our own flesh, but merely a room-mate or worse: merely a contractor who we can fire when we aren’t satisfied with their work.

And that’s not hardly all. This Paul fellow whom Ms. Miller seems to think held a very low view of marriage didn’t quite receive the husbands and wives in Ephesus as second-string, morally-weak jobbers for the faith. To the men he said this:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Which, sadly, is the most powerful theological statement about human relationships and God in the entire Bible – and our churches treat it like it is some kind of cryptic betrayal of what we ought to stand for.

Yet to the women, Paul said this:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
And of course, Ms. Miller and Mr. Meacham want none of that – even if they would concede that the man is called to die for the sake of lifting his wife up. How can they admit that submission to a savior is actually a work of right-minded obedience? It would be a fatal betrayal of the godless religion they have tried to advance in their essays.

And in that, let me say for all of them that of course they do not want this kind of marriage, either. A marriage which at its root is a union intended and created by God that glorifies Him by being for the good of mankind – man and woman both – which creates a permanent and unbreakable bond in which one submits to the other, and the other in turn commits even to die for the sake of the first in order to nurture her as his own body – and that this union (here it is now: watch it) is the union where God has ordained to bring more human life into this world -- is simply not what the opportunists who chant “gay marriage” want for themselves.

Now, so what? Read the rest of this essay carefully, because it makes two points against both sides of this public argument which ought to give both sides a reason to pause.

“So what?” #1 is this: if the church was serious about this kind of love – which is Christ’s kind of love, first and foremost demonstrated on the Cross for a specific bride in order to make her holy and spotless before God – it wouldn’t abide a social Gospel of nondescript good will or idiotic exhortations about “your best life now”. Listen: often in marriage, you are not on the receiving end of good things but are in fact in the middle of hard doings. And if you expect that your marriage should be about satisfying you instead of sanctifying someone else through sacrifice, you will want to end your marriage in short order – kids and social appearances be damned. And let’s be honest: since divorce in the church looks like divorce in the world – that is, we do it just as often and for all the same reasons – I suspect we think of “marriage” in the same way the world does. So when the world simply wants to make the law look like what we are actually practicing, we have to look in the mirror and admit to ourselves that we are to blame for what the world thinks of marriage.

But my final “so what” here is to Ms. Miller and her tribe of social liberation kin: don’t kid yourself about what you “of course” don’t want. I find it almost incredulously-ironic, as I said above, that when Ms. Miller lists the sins of the OT patriarchs, she overlooks how the Bible describes what these acts were: “every man did what was right in his own eyes,” and “they did what was evil in the sight of YHVH, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.” It is expecially vexing and darkly funny to see her editor Mr. Meacham appeal to the sacrament of marriage when what he wants isn't what God has specifically called holy. To appeal to sacrament is to appeal to God's view of a thing, and to call for a blessing on an invented standard which seems right to a man but ignores or contorts God's specific prescription for things is exactly the opposite of "sacrament".

You see: if what you want is the church to bless your social-contract view of marriage, and you admit that this view is about what you want and not about what God has prescribed for you – male, female, for His glory, to your obedience, that you will sacrifice and for the sake of bearing children – you are asking for what you abhor in others, what "of course" we should abhor in the patriarchs described by Moses and the Prophets. Demanding a higher standard from others when one will not abide it himself is called “hypocrisy”, as we all know well and enjoy saying to the poor, ill-advised conservatives who want to do through Government what they cannot do themselves.

The other side, however, is in the far more pitiable position of wanting the government merely to allow them to do what they see in others as rank stupidity and evil. I’m not sure there’s a word for that (the Bible has one -- you can find it in Prov 12:1) but if they come up with one that means what I mean, let's by all means use that word instead. They should own up to what they are asking for, but please do not call it "marriage".

Stop asking for “marriage”. You don’t want marriage but a way to make other people put their blessing on your life and choices; you want them to call your values "holy" when you can't even say where they came from. I say you should have what you want here – because frankly you deserve what you are asking for, and that is not a compliment.

We are at fault here: we have taught you that marriage is a cheap thing which is easily made and easily unmade, and that it is about the pursuit of happiness. Shame on us for teaching you such a thing -- may God have mercy on us for it; let us repent for making marriage about human urges and rights. But if we are willing to stand corrected -- because of course nobody should want such a thing as you have asked for, a thing like the sinners of the Old Testament have done -- you yourselves should change your minds. May God grant mercy that you, too, will stand corrected and you will repent of your offense against Him.






80 comments:

Libbie said...

I would so like that to be the last word. Because it is, it's the copper bottom.

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

Good stuff, Frank. When people can only see Jesus as a single guy, they miss the whole purpose of His coming -- to seek and win a bride to whom He has been a faithful husband these 2,000 years! Human marriage exists as a picture of the Lord's relationship to us. He is the original of which the mere mortal husband is the metaphor. And because earthly marriage is a mere picture of the divine relationship with man, we will always define it wrongly if we fail to look at Him. The church lost this battle when we gave up loving leadership and loving submission as the warp and woof of marriage. By throwing out clear biblical guidelines on the roles of husbands and wives, thereby obliterating the clear distinction of the sexes at the most crucial point, the American evangelical church has been performing same-sex marriages for decades. Any wonder that the world has followed in our steps?

DJP said...

Pyro's got Pucca!

LOL

Johnny Dialectic said...

The article is laughable. The sad part is so many IN THE CHURCH can't put up a biblical case against it, because they simply don't KNOW the Bible. Because they are, instead, getting sermons about "7 days of Sex" from their pastors.

"Right in their own eyes" applies to so many (most?) pulpits today.

Fred Butler said...

I realize you don't want to get into this specifically, but what you argue is exactly the reason why we must defend Genesis as an historical book of God's creation of the world and the origin of humanity.

Perhaps the average person will glaze over when "evolution vs. creation" debates pop up now and then, but defining humanity as God has created us is exactly the reason why the war against Darwinian evolution matters.

Hayden said...

Frank,

Excellent points!

I am reading a book right now on marriage that I came across called 'Sacred Marriage' by Gary Thomas. I am not 1005 in agreement with everything in the book, but he makes the same point that you are making here well. I recommend it highly because it puts out the case for the statement 'What if God designed marriage not only for your happiness but also to make you holy?'

Frank Turk said...

Gary Thomas' book is an excellent resource. It is sadly under-appreciated.

And so that I will derail my own meta this time, Fred, I'm non-plussed by the Genesis/Evolution lever these days -- and not because I don't think that it turns out the Genesis stands in opposition to evolution as a description of history.

I think that it is far more important to see Genesis first as a story which is making a specific point. "Story" doesn't mean "fiction" but "account" -- it tells about a series of events in a way to make a specific point about those events.

That is far more important to the issue of whether or not Jesus has anything to say to us than if Genesis is a comprehensive history of the world until the rule of Pharoah and the oppression of the tribes of Israel. And listen: that story does more damage to the presuppositions and conclusions of evolution than simply, blankly demanding that there be a 6-day start of all things.

But this post is not about literary theory: this post is about why the church can't win the culture war by demanding that the state do things that the church ought to be doing but frankly refuses to do. And it is also about calling things by their right names.

donsands said...

As I look at the Scriptures and see Abraham, Jacob, David, and others having more than one wife, it seems that this was a cultural thing, and it was for rulers and kings and such, and not so much for the every day people. Sort of the exception to the rule. And it was a blessing from the Lord as well, as to David when he was king (2 Sam. 12:8).

And so Christ comes and reveals through the New Testament what was concealed in the Old Testament.

"So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

Good thoughts in this post.

I agree there needs to be the Church being the Church, and the Christians being citizens, or Americans.

Both need to be light and salt, but the Church should not try to be the State, or government, though Christians can surely be part of the government.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Dan advised me to split this essay in half because it is exceeding long -- even by the standard of, well, what Dan and I usually write. I did not take his advice"

Dan gave well-intentioned advice.

olan strickland said...

If the church was serious about this kind of love – which is Christ’s kind of love, first and foremost demonstrated on the Cross for a specific bride in order to make her holy and spotless before God – it wouldn’t abide a social Gospel of nondescript good will or idiotic exhortations about “your best life now”.

Amen Frank! You are right. If the church were serious about this kind of love it wouldn't attempt to reduce itself either to some form of "public utility" or adulterators of the Word of God but it would rise up in its purity as the pillar and support of the truth.

Frank Turk said...

Olan --

I'd be careful how we say this. Because let's be clear that the church is actually a refuge for adulterers from the coming wrath of God. Adulterers are one of the reasons there is a church: that Christ might save them.

What the church cannot be doing is encouraging adultery or simply wringing its hands at adultery.

The adulterer who repents and believes is saved -- but the adulterer who clings to his sin ... he needs to repent and be saved, because he has not repented.

I am waiting, however, for the really wily antagonist from the "other side" to say something like this: "Dude, there is all kinds marriage outside of Christian marriage. How can you say what you have said here?"

We'll see if they ask.

Strong Tower said...

"do things that the church ought to be doing but frankly refuses to do"

Like call sin sin.

We don't police marriage in the church, but then again, much of the disciple-inary functions of the church are shunned as too intrusive. How often do we hear of a church that refused to marry a couple where one them has been the divorcer in another marriage?

The fact is, frankly, Frank, we say if judgement is to come let it start with the household of God, but few are willing to go that route. Marriage is just one of a myriad of expressions of a deeper dilema.

In some ways the challenge of new church form is forcing a discussion of ecclesiology and the responsibility that should be motivation of its leaders: For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

Ephesians revisited reveals that this function is why the gifts were given. We tend to sequester portions and forget that the overseers have a very precious treasure to purify.

And where do we start. You have posted on membership and the "few" reasons for leaving. And one of the arguments used against Christian marriage is the lack of commitment. So, we have a big problem. It is not just that divorce in the church is rampant between individuals but divorce seems to characterize the church as a whole. Also, as you indicate, we need to define, or reform, and educate. It is a long road back up the mountain and from the perspective we are in now, it seems hopeless, but your post was another reminder that we must start that climb. And it is never to late to do so.

Daniel said...

To the unchurched "marriage" is just the word we use to describe a formal co-habitating union.

The word marriage, whatever else it describes biblically (Great job btw Frank!), is culturally limited to a mere sense of legitimacy, and there is, as you state Frank, a dark irony in pursuing a legitimacy that is utterly ignorant of what it is trying to equate.

Excellent points.

chrish said...

Frank,

Thank you for this. Marriage is on my near horizon, and this post was absolutely what my heart wanted to read.

dac said...

just one nit, on an otherwise great article

Frank said ...(it is not about) making marriage about human urges

I Cor 7 certainly seems to state that (in part, an perhaps as an allowance for our lack of self control) that it is about human urges

Which does not in any negate your point about the primary purpose of marriage.

Daryl said...

So, not because I'm the other side, but because I'm curious to read your response...

Dude, there is all kinds marriage outside of Christian marriage. How can you say what you have said here?

Frank Turk said...

Dac:

Let me suggest something about 1 Cor 7. Paul is answering a question from the Corinthians regarding whether all people should refrain from having sex -- a question about a kind of religious stoicism. In that, Paul is telling them (in effect) everything has its place and its purpose, and the place for sex is in the boundaries of marriage.

And let's keep this in mind: while marriage has a primary purpose, that doesn't mean it doesn't have other good and godly effects. You know: in spite of my admonition in this post that marriage is not designed with the primary purpose of the happiness of each person in mind, good marriages bring not just happiness but joy.

For the record, my wife brings me joy -- a joy I could not have if we were just living together until such a time as we decide to do something else.

So let's not get to the place where we see marriage as "only" about God. It is primarily about God, but it has people-ward effects which are part of the package. The problem comes when we try to separate the other effects from the foundation for the whole enterprise.
____________________

Daryl:

I am surprised you asked.

Jonathan said...

Brother, that was simply put and truly beautiful and edifying to say the least. I am directing everyone here to give it a read asap.

Thanks for this,

Jonathan G

Fred Butler said...

But this post is not about literary theory: this post is about why the church can't win the culture war by demanding that the state do things that the church ought to be doing but frankly refuses to do. And it is also about calling things by their right names.

I understand your main point, but I encounter Christians willing to surrender the historical reality of this "story," or account as you call it, as it is presented in Genesis all the time when gay "marriage" is discussed. And until they are willing to recognize the historical connection between marriage and the creation of the world as it is presented in scripture they will never be able to call things by the right names.

The reason I as a Christian defend marriage as I do is because God has defined the subjects of marriage in the foundation of the historical record of creation which literally took place in time and space.

David said...

Oof. Couldn't you just say, "God didn't create Adam and Steve?"

Russ said...

What most today sadly don't not to realize is how they've been brainwashed, that there's no such thing as the delusional oxymoron "homosex-" (homo=same+sex=opposite) (or its delusional companion "heterosex-" (hetero= opposite +sex=opposite)) anything and never was, merely a riotously (literally so in the Prop 8 opposition) and diabolical manifestly successful clever 19th century ploy by satan's antiChristian bigots to brainwash society with their propaganda
(extensively described in the profoundly crucial 2005 article "The gay invention" at http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-10-036-f)
that exposes the three-part brainwashing perversion propaganda agenda of
1. the embracing of the bogus oxymoronic wordgroup "homosex-"
2. the perverted use of "sex" as a verb that even the world knew was too filthy to use 50 years ago when I was young, and
3. wrongly misusing and abusing the solely linguistic word "gender" to falsely replace #2 with a slick fraud gullible fools have embraced.
It's evil roots, especially fascism, are also exposed by "The Pink Swastika" at www.abidingtruth.com/pfrc/books/pinkswastika/html/the_pinkswastika_4th_edition_-_final.htm
and www.DrJudithReisman.org

How painful once again seeing the usual scene of the church aping the world a generation later versus being the cultural leader of bygone days when myopic selfish ego wasn’t the watchword, especially glaring in the deluded fatuous postmodern emergent bigotry heresy.

It's even gone so far as eventually successfully to pervert most 20th century Bible translations in 1 Corinthians 6:9 & 1 Timothy 1:10
(Paul here clearly authoritatively reiterating God's Levitical prohibitions across the Testamental divide,
(thereby overriding Jesus's usually controlling "It's FINISHED" of John 19:30
ABROGATING ALL THE LAW BY FULFILLING IT IN HIMSELF as the crucial
passages of Matthew 5:17; Romans 5:20-21+6:1-3; Galatians 3:24-25 and Hebrews 7:12
make very clear, no matter the confusion of superficial contrary theologians with an
antiBiblical agenda)
by coining the unique arsenokoitai clearly based on YHWH's holiness code in
Leviticus 18:22
(LXX meta ARSENOS ou koimēthēsē KOITĒN gunaikos)
& Leviticus 20:13
(LXX os an koimēthē(G2837) meta ARSENOS KOITĒN(G2845) gunaikos bdelugma epoiēsan amphoteroi)),
the sadly brainwashed unwitting translator sadly misusing the invalid propaganda as supposedly valid receptor language that governed the translation versus the transmitter language that should be ultimate, thereby mistranslating arsenokoitai and malakoi so badly that if you want a Bible to tell what the words really mean, in most cases (ESV,NIV,NAS) you'll have to go elsewhere to find it, usually long before the 20th century. My present preference seems to be homogenital that I may owe to Anglican conservative David Virtue at www.virtueonline.org. I've tried homoerotic but it's less helpful.

Apart from God having mercy to send us His convicting Spirit in revival to restore true horror of sin and fear of God to embrace His true marriage versus our worldly frauds, I can't help but wonder if it's too late and that we may have gone so far that God has handed us over to Romans 1 depravity as He did Israel, but only He knows. Time to eat carpet and cry 2 Chr 7:14. There may be a ray of hope in God saying to Abraham in Genesis 18 that He wouldn't destroy Sodom if there were 10 righteous in it. Now the fearful question is if we can meet God's standard of ten for Sodom proportionally in our much larger context. God save us.

On a brief but crucial tangent concerning ultimate Biblical authority the Church is now rejecting everywhere, further grave evidence of it is seen in when it comes to true Biblical versus the bogus irrational antitheist bigotry of worldly darwinist chronology most gullible professing Christians have bought, extensively chronicled at www.creationontheweb.com and www.trueorigin.org. that shows the only Biblical or even rational view of origins is the young-earth creation of all Israel and the Church Fathers and founders of true modern science like Newton and Copernicus, up to the darwinian captivity tissue of bogus lies and frauds now enslaving the mindless and uncritical
(including denominations and seminaries-cemeteries and compromising falsely so-called "inerrantists"
(my main reason for rejecting that evil compromise word for my own coining (as far as I know) of the more exalted "supraerrancy" that in presuppositionalist versus evidentialist manner shows the Bible is above error(=supra), not just without it)
who mostly reject the sufficiency of Scripture for the sufficiency of darwinism/neo-darwinism without being honest enough to admit it),
like Arianism once did, this time rejecting Christ as Creator, even His Mark 10:6 Word making evolution and its deist bastard "intelligent design" similarly wickedly rejecting Biblical chronology impossible, foolishly embracing the darwinian delusion as truth in rejection of Jesus (sadly including the great sadly deceived racist B. B. Warfield and fellow deluded Reformed types).

Frank Turk said...

David --

God did create Adam, and did create Steve. They are precious in His sight.

God simply gave them instructions -- instructions I would ultimately argue are evident in creation -- for how to relate to women, and also how to relate to other men.

You know -- here's another thing we should think about: my complaint doesn't exclude the "hook up" culture we have, either. I would contend earnestly that we ought to say that anyone who is having sex with a person of the opposite sex outside of marriage is doing so because they are born that way. Being "born that way" doesn't excuse us from discovering that, just like pooping in our own pants, there's a better way to handle the situation.

This is not merely about homo/hetero misalignment: this is about man/God enmity and the church's role in seeking, showing and supporting reconciliation with God.

Frank Turk said...

Russ --

Take a breath, dude. I may agree with almost everything you have said, but we're here 24/7: you don't have to make sure you say everything that's bugging you in one comment.

David said...

I'm wondering why from a secular perspective, that no one has observed that in NO culture in 6000 years of recorded history has there been anything remotely resembling marriage between homosexuals, even in cultures that have been friendly and approving of homosexual behavior. It almost seems that, *gasp*, they are really interested in destroying it rather than affirming it.

They will reap what they sow. And the church MUST repent and return to an understanding of God's ways and intentions, affirming His grace and forgiveness for all who repent and believe.

Daryl said...

Frank,

In answer to the question I stole/you posed...

The question was:

"Dude, there is all kinds marriage outside of Christian marriage. How can you say what you have said here?"

The answer I would propose (following along with your post and commetns) is that there are only 2 kinds of marriage, real and counterfeit. Real marriage is that covenant marriage spoken of in Scripture. The other kind, in all it's forms, is counterfeit whether it be a "me-first" marriage in America, a skacking up somewhere else, or some elaborate ceremony in Papua New Guinea where, for all it's ceremony, the marriage is a means for both parties to get what they want out of the other.

In short, it really is only Christianity that defines marriage properly, so, per your other points, call it what you want, but don't call it marriage.

olan strickland said...

Frank: Olan --

I'd be careful how we say this. Because let's be clear that the church is actually a refuge for adulterers from the coming wrath of God. Adulterers are one of the reasons there is a church: that Christ might save them.


I am in total agreement Frank. And what I was saying was intended to reflect what you were saying. By stating that the church isn't to reduce itself to some form of "public utility" I was speaking of a social gospel that encourages utilitarian religion and uses the church for wrong and selfish purposes. This will cause The Secularization of the Church and cause the church to no longer have a voice to uphold the truth of God's Word. Then instead of adulterers and homosexuals and gossips and liars and all immoral and ungodly people hearing the truth of the Gospel so that they can be saved from the wrath of God through Jesus Christ - they hear a watered-down, "I'm OK, you're OK" message.

However, the church that is serious about the Gospel and the purifying love and glory of penal-substitutionary-atonement will be of great benefit to the immoral and ungodly. It will be the pillar and support of the truth declaring, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

I was an adulterer, but I have been washed, sanctified, and justified - and I want no part of reducing the church to some form of public utility or allowing it to be an adulterator of the Word of God.

Frank Turk said...

Olan:

Amen.
____________________

Daryl:

not so much. I'll be back in a bit to answer the question and tip my hand to the non-Christian.

Russ said...

Sorry Frank, it's your fault; you started it with your bad example;)! It's why I seldom do blogs, aren't you glad;)! As with our superficial society overall they're far too limited in scope for extensive thoughtful concepts like the wonderful oceanic depths of John Owen's day, even by regular folk then, not that I imagine mine anything but woefully lacking in that regard.

Even So... said...

Oof. Couldn't you just say, "God didn't create Adam and Steve?"

...or Madam and Eve...

Frank Turk said...

I'm still broken up about missing your last visit to my bookstore, JD.

You gotta e-mail or somethin', dude. Somethin'.

Even So... said...

I really didn't think we were worth bothering you over, see-ins how you are doing so much travel and all these days, just hoped to catch you at the store for a moment. We weren't sure of our schedule this time, as we flew in and were at the mercy of others as to when we would hit your neck of the woods...

BTW, this post is a real keeper, and I do think Fred makes a valid point that we shy away from too often.

It all comes back to the masses of biblically illiterate believers we have thse days, which points right back to the pastors, of course. The pulpits could be much more politically (read: spiritually)powerful if we were to understand the real biblical reasons for our politics, and then we wouldn't have hollow harangues about matters we can only defend by seeing who can scream the loudest....

Aaron Snell said...

Frank,

Good word. I was wondering, though - is there room in your analysis for why the church punted on its responsibility to faithfully represent marriage to the world? I agree that if we have failed (and I think we probably have, as the Miller article evidences), we need to own up and repent, but is there something to be gained from attending to the argument that the shift in the church's portrayal of marriage reflects the societal upheaval brought about by the Industrial Revolution? Nancy Pearcey makes a good case for this (I think in Total Truth).

Frank Turk said...

I have the unenviable position here at TeamPyro of being a non-fan of Ms. Pearcy's view of things.

I think she gets a good bit right -- the compartmentalization of faith away from reason, and the privatization of values in particular.

But was the Industrial Revolution the culprit? Yeah, I dunno. I think the idealization of "objective" inquiry (what some call "enlightenment" thinking), and it's collapse into hyper-individualization so that we ultimately have rank subjectivism as popular epistemology is the ideological foundation for this stuff.

And then in the church we have (as Mark Knoll has pointed out) the gross anti-intellectualism of the early dispensationalists and fundamentalists which sort of then fueled a wing of liberalism which painted itself as the thinking-man's christianity, but it was just religious skepticism.

I think the problem in our lifetime is the same as the problem in Spurgeon's lifetime -- and that's the natural urge of men to want to be popular, and want to appeal to many people, and be "relevant".

And you know something: I said this a while back, and the truth of it shows up in all kinds of crazy places -- like Doug Pagitt determining to run for public office in MN. Liberalism and conservatism as they have played out in the American church both deiscover that they would rather seek political remedies to their so-called spiritual objectives because at their root they are really the same urge manifested in two different ways.

The public nature of the church is not that it chould actively tug at the reigns of government: the public nature of the church is the proclamation of God's law and man's failure to keep it, culminating in God's work to reconcile men to Himself. Ultimately, that will influence government, but not the way some people think.

~Mark said...

Tremendous post!

KRG said...

To Fred Butler,
Hey man, this will only scratch the surface but my primary reason for reading Genesis as a literal historical book is because the inspired authors of the Bible treated it as history. For example, if Adam were not understood to be a historical figure, but a fictional character intended to convey truth allegorically it would be ridiculous to include him in genealogies. However, we find him in several; Adam is included in the genealogy of Abraham in 1 Chronicles 1, the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3 and a genealogy of sorts of Enoch in Jude 14. Clear indication the writers of scripture understood Adam to be a real man, who had real sons.
We can also turn to Paul, who was an expert in the interpretation of the Old Testament. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a zealous Pharisee (Philippians 3), educated in the Law by the revered rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), he was personally tutored by God in Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and was instructed through amazing visions (2 Corinthians 12). Paul’s credentials in biblical interpretation are arguably unsurpassed. If Paul understood Genesis 1&2 as allegory we could readily accept the possibility of creation’s harmony with the evolutionary model. However, we see just the opposite. Paul understands the accounts of Adam and creation as history and based cited that as the basis for critical doctrine. When Paul explained the reasoning behind male leadership in the church in 1 Timothy 2, he evoked the account of the creation of Adam and Eve, basing this doctrine on the historicity of the Genesis account.
Most notably, however, is Paul explanation of Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross in Romans 5:12-19, which is probably clearest example of the creation account in Genesis being taken as literal history. Paul also used this line of argument in 1 Corinthians 15:22 where he states, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul writes, “So also it is written, ‘The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” Not only do these directly reference the Genesis account and treat it as history, but they involve the single most important doctrine in all of Christianity: the justification of many through the obedience of one, namely Jesus Christ. Few would deny the reality of sin, even fewer would claim that death and its universality are merely figurative. To assume that Paul points to a fable as the source of the very real and very dire truths of sin and death would be ludicrous. Furthermore, if Paul is saying that the source of sin and death lie in a fable then there we have no reason to understand Paul explanation of salvation in the work of Christ as anything but fable. John MacArthur puts it this way:
The fact that Adam and Eve not only were actual historical figures but were the original beings from whom all others have descended is absolutely critical to Paul argument here and is critical to the efficacy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a historical Adam did not represent all mankind in sinfulness, a historical Christ could not represent all mankind in righteousness. If all men did not fall with the first Adam, all men could not be saved by Christ, the second and last Adam (see 1 Cor. 15:20-22, 45). [MacArthur, John F. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Romans 1-8 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 294.]
If we believe that your sin will be forgiven and our relationship with God restored through the atoning work of Christ on the cross, then we should have no problem accepting that there was an actual Adam who actually lived and actually sinned, bringing death and condemnation on all mankind. In fact, if we rest our faith in Christ’s work, Paul makes it impossible to understand the Genesis account as anything but historical. If we do not accept Christ’s atoning work, then I guess we have bigger problems than how literally to read Genesis. Hope that helps.
KG

Stefan said...

Frank wrote:

And then in the church we have (as Mark Knoll has pointed out) the gross anti-intellectualism of the early dispensationalists and fundamentalists which sort of then fueled a wing of liberalism which painted itself as the thinking-man's christianity, but it was just religious skepticism.

Hammer. Nail. Head.

Strong Tower said...

"Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?"

Two things we know: If the church repents and becomes a beacon for the world it might bring blessing it might not. And, the eventual end of all things will surely be the establishment of his kingdom.

"there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls."

The outcome of the church doing her job, sort term, doesn't really matter. What does matter is doing what is right. Our solution must be engagement, within and without, but our goal cannot be prosperity and peace. They are good things to be petitioned for from God. But they are means to the end and not the end itself.

thatbaddog said...

It is no doubt true that "this is not the definition of marriage religious conservatives are promoting" and that the essay fails to display the "critical finesse" of, well, a critical-finessey thing.

But some of the hand-wringing over this article in evangelical circles may have a different source.

Surely Ms. Miller can be forgiven for citing examples of what really happens when one uses OT narrative passages as a "how-to script", when in actual fact, using OT narrative as a "how-to script" has become the interpretive norm in conservative pulpit and print.

In my experience, this has become a kind of pandemic in evangelical circles, and tending worse the more one boasts of his "conservative, Bible-believing" views.

OT narrative has broken free of its former bonds, when it was held back to service as mere inspirational illustration of generic religious pablum, and now lives in freedom to both defend and even originate doctrine.

Whole Gothardian seminars and publications have been built solely on this exegetical "method", and I am confronted on a weekly basis with individuals and writings whose "Bible-based" arguments run something along this line: "[Name of OT character] + [action verb]."

No doubt, the evangelical church abandoned the moral high ground by accepting EZ Divorce with barely a whimper, if not hearty enthusiasm. But can Ms. Miller really be faulted for her "use" of the texts, when the method is so common that people will actually accuse you of some kind of low view of inspiration for challenging it?

Just a thought.

Stefan said...

This is the first time I've seen put into words something I've been trying to put my finger on for the last year and a half.

Although you guys have previously touched on the anti-intellectualism of our early 20th-century predecessors (which is a current in Christianity that sadly continues today), you made the key point that liberal Christianity positioned itself contrapunctually as the "thinking man's Christianity" (when indeed it is just a web of (self-)deception and empty faith).

This is why, even today, there are many non-believers who've bought the myth that if they want intellectual discourse on Christianity, they should turn to liberal academia, mainline bishops, the seminaries that reject inerrancy (like, 99% of them), etc.

Stefan said...

That last comment was in reference to my previous comment, regarding Frank's comment.

Brad Williams said...

Brother, I cannot tell you how many times I have stolen this line in pre-marital/marital counseling: God did not/does not marry you to make you happy. He marries you to make you holy.

If you cannot see this point, then when you cease to be "happy" and the kids are driving you nuts and you aren't crazy about what's happening in the bedroom then you think your marriage is failing. In point of fact, these things are "successes" of marriage, demonstrating our incredible selfishness and demanding repentance from our me-centered universe.

Rachael Starke said...

"Marriage is about the Creator of all things and the purpose He made in mankind."

Amen and amen.

Marriage is God's supreme depiction of who He is, what He's done, and (most important for those who for a variety of reasons find themselves not married at this moment) what He will do one day.

But if those things either aren't taught or lived, well, exactly. What's the point?

And this part:

"You know -- here's another thing we should think about: my complaint doesn't exclude the "hook up" culture we have, either. I would contend earnestly that we ought to say that anyone who is having sex with a person of the opposite sex outside of marriage is doing so because they are born that way. Being "born that way" doesn't excuse us from discovering that, just like pooping in our own pants, there's a better way to handle the situation.

This is not merely about homo/hetero misalignment: this is about man/God enmity and the church's role in seeking, showing and supporting reconciliation with God."


-would make an excellent post, or collection of them, all on its own.

You said this is in your top 3 of things that make you angry. I'd be curious to know the other two, because for me it's number one. This is not just a problem for homosexuals and the churches who won't love them.

It's a problem for every teenage boy with a computer,

and every 45 year old married woman with a "just a friend I can talk to",

and every bitter wife who sees her husband's adultery as a "get out of marriage free" card

and every adulterous husband who says "God just made me this way."

God has angry warnings to heed and promises of forgiveness and renewal for all of us. But if preachers won't preach and people won't listen and obey, why are we surprised that this is happening???

Sorry for the mini-post in response, but I've been getting so tired and angry at all self-righteous finger-pointing at the world.

Gilbert said...

Frank,

You just annhilated "gay marriage". But more importantly, you also convicted the church of its sin. We have caved in to culture, and as a result, culture has defined us...a disaster declaration if ever there is one.

If there were anything that would make this post better---it would be on the church's damnable failure to preach the Word and *from it* properly. That in itself books could be written on.

Gilbert said...

Rachael,

I missed seeing your post before I saw mine. A valid question, I think: How much of the problem is the lack of the Word being preached, and how much is it disobedience? Very hard to quantify, of course, because both feed off each other.

Rick Potter said...

Excellent Post Frank....as usual!

CR said...

I agree that this post was too large and should have been split into parts. I think it's difficult to comment on long posts.


Frank: What the student of Biblical principles here should want is not for the government to force people to one kind of, um, gender entanglement over another.

I'm going to steal from DA Carson and in my comment use a distinction between the church qua church vs. responsibilities of Christians. I think one of the biggest confusions is when we use "church" when we should say Christians. They are important distinctions.

HSAT, What many Christians are trying to prevent is the government from forcing us to embrace a public policy that is destructive.

I think what Christians want to do (or should want to do) is prevent the government from forcing people to embrace a public policy (especially when it's not the people embracing it, but judges forcing a society to embrace it) that is completely destructive to society.

Frank: Marriage is about God. That is, the God who created us out of the dust for a purpose and subordinated to Himself. Marriage is about the Creator of all things and the purpose He made in mankind.

So is government. Government was created by God and it too is about God. Everything is under God, church, state, individual, animals, the heavenly hosts, demons, Satan, everything in creation is under God and about God. Christians, and here I would use also, the "church" have a duty and an obligation to speak out and tell the state where they are wrong. Not to be confused with what kids are being wrongly taught in our schools, but there is in a real sense, a separation of church and state (not in the US Constitution). The church has its obligations and the government has its. But both are under God's authority and under His rule. The state or government is not separate from God.

Frank: So what?” #1 is this: if the church was serious about this kind of love – which is Christ’s kind of love, first and foremost demonstrated on the Cross for a specific bride in order to make her holy and spotless before God – it wouldn’t abide a social Gospel of nondescript good will or idiotic exhortations about “your best life now”.

snip snip

So when the world simply wants to make the law look like what we are actually practicing, we have to look in the mirror and admit to ourselves that we are to blame for what the world thinks of marriage.

I don't think the church or Christians are to blame for what the world thinks of anything. The world is what it is because the road to life and salvation is narrow. It's a hard road and a narrow path. Are Christians proclaiming the gospel like they should be in public square? No. That needs to improve drastically. The reason why you have "Your Best Life Now" is because of false teachers and teaching within the church. That's no surprise. Jude predicted that there would be many. They will always be here and will never go away until the Lord returns. The church is not to blame for that per se.

Frank: Demanding a higher standard from others when one will not abide it himself is called “hypocrisy”, as we all know well and enjoy saying to the poor, ill-advised conservatives who want to do through Government what they cannot do themselves.

The state is in the business of legal force or legislating morality. (The aim of laws is not to change hearts but force morality.) The purpose of the government forcing morality is (or should be) for the public good.

One of the first forms of government we see in the Bible is the cheribum and flaming sword guarding the tree of life. The Lord instituted that form of "government" (in this case, not human government but direct divine government) to protect Adam and Eve and the human race because had Adam and Eve planned to go back in partake of that fruit He would have to destroy them and there would be no human race. This is key. The cheribum and flaming sword were not put there to change Adam and Eve's heart. The cheribum was there to keep and force Adam and Eve (against their will if need be) out of the garden of Eden and away from the tree life to protect them from God having to wipe them and others out.

I'm not going to not ask my government to do certain things on public safety or policy issues just because if it did I would be a hypocrite.

For example, speed limits. Most of us don't abide by the highway speed limits. Does that mean we should not demand a standard for something like speed limits? The state which is under God, ordained by God, is the only rightful institution that has legal force to force its citizens to behave in a certain way. I'm not going to wait for the church to expunge hypocrisy from Christians before I speak out against gay marriage and neither should any of us.

Christians and the church can't wait to get all their ducks in a row before they speak out against gay marriage or any other public safety or policy issue because important matters are at stake. Gay marriage (along with what divorce is already doing) will destroy families and quicken our destruction at a faster race.

God forces certain restrictions on the principalities and powers of the demonic spiritual realm and forces certain restrictions on the wicked for our good. Our nation, for which Christians in America live in right now, should reflect that good in certain aspects whether or not we have our theological ducks in a row and whether or not the wicked are ready to embrace it.

Frank Turk said...

| I agree that this post was too large and
| should have been split into parts. I
| think it's difficult to comment on long
| posts.

The irony!

| Frank: What the student of Biblical
| principles here should want is not for
| the government to force people to
| one kind of, um, gender
| entanglement over another.
|
| I'm going to steal from DA Carson and
| in my comment use a distinction
| between the church qua church vs.
| responsibilities of Christians. I think
| one of the biggest confusions is when
| we use "church" when we should say
| Christians. They are important
| distinctions.

It is specifically useful here for one reason only: Christians (as you have lined out the distinction here) are not the arbiter of what God has said or what constitutes marriage: the church (small “c”; local church) is.

| HSAT, What many Christians are trying
| to prevent is the government from
| forcing us to embrace a public policy
| that is destructive.

Then let them start inside their own house where this kind of “marriage” is already in practice. Listen: if the argument for marriage was the one I made here, I wouldn’t have posted this – there would be no need to. But the truth is that the “religious conservative” argument is that the social arrangement known which confers rights to individuals in personal relationships is for one man/one woman pairing at a time.

They can have that. Who wants that really? Only people who think divorce is a solution to “marriage” – even Christ points this out to the Pharisees. My objection is that we should not confuse whatever that is with marriage.

I did say this in my post – maybe you missed it.

| I think what Christians want to do (or
| should want to do) is prevent the
| government from forcing people to
| embrace a public policy (especially
| when it's not the people embracing it,
| but judges forcing a society to
| embrace it) that is completely
| destructive to society.

Divorce is what is destructive to society – far more destructive than conceding that two gay men what to have rights over each other’s property.

Divorce – which is the destroyer of marriages – is completely passé in the church. That is the problem – because that fact defines marriage the wrong way. That is how the glbtq side finds their definition of “marriage”.

If Christians want to fight a fight, fight that one first as the root cause, rather than treating the rash symptom with napalm.

| Frank: Marriage is about God. That
| is, the God who created us out of the
| dust for a purpose and subordinated
| to Himself. Marriage is about the
| Creator of all things and the purpose
| He made in mankind.
|
| So is government.

See: I have to stop you right there. I have to stop you because you are mixing categories now. You are forgetting that marriage was instituted by God before Government and before the church, and even before Israel and the Law of Moses.

You can say whatever you want after you say this – but this is your root error. God did not establish Government in order to prop up marriage: marriage stands as something God ordained in creation, as part of who and what mankind is.

[snip]

|
| Frank: So what?” #1 is this: if the
| church was serious about this kind of
| love – which is Christ’s kind of love,
| first and foremost demonstrated on
| the Cross for a specific bride in order
| to make her holy and spotless before
| God – it wouldn’t abide a social
| Gospel of nondescript good will or
| idiotic exhortations about “your best
| life now”.
|
| snip snip
|
| So when the world simply wants to
| make the law look like what we are
| actually practicing, we have to look
| in the mirror and admit to ourselves
| that we are to blame for what the
| world thinks of marriage.
|
| I don't think the church or Christians
| are to blame for what the world thinks
| of anything.

It’s because you have a confused view of what even you yourself are saying.

If you are right and the church ought to dictate to Government what marriage is, then in fact you are demanding that the church is responsible for what “the world” thinks about these things – to the extent that the church must use the ministry of the sword to make sure “the world” gets it.

This is not an area where you and I are actually that far apart. You and I agree that the church ought to define the terms of this debate – I think we should do it using God’s means in the ministry of the word and the authority of the local church, and you think Christians should make laws through government to define the terms.

Our methods are what separate us, and it is a huge divide.

| The world is what it is
| because the road to life and salvation
| is narrow. It's a hard road and a
| narrow path. Are Christians
| proclaiming the gospel like they
| should be in public square? No. That
| needs to improve drastically. The
| reason why you have "Your Best Life
| Now" is because of false teachers and
| teaching within the church. That's no
| surprise. Jude predicted that there
| would be many. They will always be
| here and will never go away until the
| Lord returns. The church is not to
| blame for that per se.

It is when it has simply forgotten how to define these terms – and it has, plainly, in this case.

| Frank: Demanding a higher standard
| from others when one will not abide
| it himself is called “hypocrisy”, as we
| all know well and enjoy saying to the
| poor, ill-advised conservatives who
| want to do through Government
| what they cannot do themselves.
|
| The state is in the business of legal
| force or legislating morality. (The aim
| of laws is not to change hearts but
| force morality.) The purpose of the
| government forcing morality is (or
| should be) for the public good.

I wonder: should the government then take a hand in licensing ministers, CR? How about authorizing what is and is not a church?

You know: for the public good.

| One of the first forms of government
| we see in the Bible is the cheribum and
| flaming sword guarding the tree of life.
| The Lord instituted that form of
| "government" (in this case, not human
| government but direct divine
| government) to protect Adam and Eve
| and the human race because had
| Adam and Eve planned to go back in
| partake of that fruit He would have to
| destroy them and there would be no
| human race. This is key. The cheribum
| and flaming sword were not put there
| to change Adam and Eve's heart. The
| cheribum was there to keep and force
| Adam and Eve (against their will if
| need be) out of the garden of Eden
| and away from the tree life to protect
| them from God having to wipe them
| and others out.

That’s very interesting. I stand by the questions I just now asked you: how far do you think this mixed-category theory of government should go in the life of the church?

| I'm not going to not ask my
| government to do certain things on
| public safety or policy issues just
| because if it did I would be a
| hypocrite.

Indeed. How about if it is actually not the government’s place to do anything – as in the licensing of ministers of the Gospel? You know: since our country is over-run with a-biblical con men and uninformed story-tellers instead of ministers of God’s word in the pulpits of our churches, why not let the government institute laws against charlatan preachers and license them the way we license teachers in schools?

Any objections?

| For example, speed limits. Most of us
| don't abide by the highway speed
| limits. Does that mean we should not
| demand a standard for something like
| speed limits? The state which is under
| God, ordained by God, is the only
| rightful institution that has legal force
| to force its citizens to behave in a
| certain way. I'm not going to wait for
| the church to expunge hypocrisy from
| Christians before I speak out against
| gay marriage and neither should any
| of us.

That’s a ridiculous example because the church has no stake in speed limits. The church has a massive stake in who is a minister of the word and how these people (men? Can the government do that?) behave. Should the Government pass laws for that sake?

| Christians and the church can't wait to
| get all their ducks in a row before they
| speak out against gay marriage or any
| other public safety or policy issue
| because important matters are at
| stake. Gay marriage (along with what
| divorce is already doing) will destroy
| families and quicken our destruction
| at a faster race.

There are more important matters at stake – like the credibility of the Gospel, and the honor due to the name of Christ. What the church in general practices today is not Biblical marriage – so when the world wants to copy our mistake, it seems radically stupid to come back with the answer: “we are allowed to do this poorly-conceived thing, but you are not.”

| God forces certain restrictions on the
| principalities and powers of the
| demonic spiritual realm and forces
| certain restrictions on the wicked for
| our good. Our nation, for which
| Christians in America live in right now,
| should reflect that good in certain
| aspects whether or not we have our
| theological ducks in a row and
| whether or not the wicked are ready
| to embrace it.

Ah – the devil made the church do the wrong thing, so now government can fix it.

That is exactly what I thought you were saying. Thank you for making my point so well.

Rob Peck said...

Frank, I'm a divorced man. I did so as a Christian. A story Idon't need to get into. I thank you for your words. Very true, very convicting. We are responsible. Now we by Gods grace need to try and fix it. I thank God for bringing me here to read this post. Thank you for sharing what God has put on you heart. Keep it up!
Blessings!

Frank Turk said...

Rob:

Thanks for your kind words.

donsands said...

"What the church in general practices today is not Biblical marriage – so when the world wants to copy our mistake, it seems radically stupid to come back with the answer: “we are allowed to do this poorly-conceived thing, but you are not.”"-Frank


There was a marriage in my church that looked perfect. Perfect children. Perfect parents. Home schoolers. Bible knowledge superb. Just to look at this family made one smile.

But, the marriage fell apart. The wife had an adulterous get together with two other men, one married. Her husband divorced her. She remarried. This new husband got drunk and beat her. They are separated now. Her husband is remarried.
The children? Of course have been hurt the most through all this.

The Church? Failed. This same women is well accepted in her church. Holy hugs all around. No repentance needed. She is covered in grace.

The Church has lost it's way when it comes to "nipping it in the bud".

I think the Church has a man-centered gospel and is is flowing quickly and throughout the Body of Christ, and the world, and it's making big churches, that are empty of the Word, and have a niceness to them, as the Mormons, and Catholics, and all good groups of moral people trying to get along.

But there's a remnant of God's people who have a fire burning in their belly to see the Holy Scriptures become our heart and soul once again. And the Holy Spirit sovereign over our minds and wills.
For it is He who works in us to will and to do. Not just going through the moral motions.

And,
What mawwiage needs is twu wuv. I just needed to say that, when I saw the word mawwiage.

Phillip Woeckener said...

ME HEAD BE SPINNING FROM YE POST!
ME OF FEEBLE MINDEDNEST CANNOT YE GRASP THERESTWHILST PROFOUNDEDNESS!
TWILST I TRIFLE ON IN HUMILITY.

CR said...

Frank: See: I have to stop you right there. I have to stop you because you are mixing categories now. You are forgetting that marriage was instituted by God before Government and before the church, and even before Israel and the Law of Moses.

Frank, there's a lot to respond to, but I can't because there was too much said and I'm a working stiff.

I'm not mixing anything. Marriage was instituted prior to the government established on earth because there was so sin in the world before the Fall. Marriage is actually a very, very simple concept. Jesus explains it to us in Mark 10 when the Pharisees try to trick Him on divorce to which Jesus responds from the beginning God made man, man and female. They would become one flesh and man should not separate. There are many commands and instructions on how to behave and act in a marriage. But marriage as Jesus defines is simply this, a union between a man and a woman which God joins and which man should not separate. The state is trying to redefine that and say marriage can be between any two loving people and we are simply saying, no, you can't do that because that is not the definition of marriage. Christians don't need to go into a litany of NT passages to explain what marriage mean. The church needs to instruct Christians on what that marriage should look like (authority of a man or a woman), but Christians, when we speak out against gay marriage to the state, we don't need to go into a long essay of what marriage. We just need to say what Jesus said in Mark.

Divorce is a terrible evil but the difference between divorce and gay marriage, Frank, is that the government (one branch of the government that is) is not trying to force divorce on the people. Judges are trying to force gay marriage on society. It use to be the state would encourage public policies for marriage. All we're saying is don't encourage, don't force a public policy of gay marriage to the culture.

But just because marriage was instituted by God before government (naturally it would have to be because the Fall occurred after Adam and Eve sinned and that's when government was needed) - I just don't see the problem there. Government, the civil magistrate, the state, whatever you want to call it is just as much about God and under God.

Frank: If you are right and the church ought to dictate to Government what marriage is, then in fact you are demanding that the church is responsible for what “the world” thinks about these things – to the extent that the church must use the ministry of the sword to make sure “the world” gets it.

I'm not demanding what you said here. The only human institution ordained by God to bear the sword is the state. What I am saying is when the government fails to be the government, then who else, but Christians or the church should speak out. The church can't use the ministry of the sword because it does not bear the sword. The civil magistrate does, not the church. But when the state abuses the ministry of the sword, yes, who else (the world?) but Christians can and should speak out.

Well, I have much else to say, but I'll give you the last word. I have to go to work. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Frank Turk said...

CR:

You simply have too-narrow a view of the problem. You do not see causes as causes. The cause of the view that there is a legitimate way to call a non-sacred, non-permanent, non-family partnership a "marriage" is that this is what the church has reduced marriage to.

The way the church has done this is by accepting divorce as a remedy for marriage. Think about that, dude: the remedy for a marriage which does not please you is divorce -- not changing your expectations to meet God's expectations for marriage.

That has changed the definition of marriage. The church accepted this decades ago. Now all the wporld asks is that the church not have a double-standard.

CR said...

Frank,

I said I would give you the last word, but to respond to you quickly. I'm not sure I understand what you are saying that I don't understand.

There are several important components of marriage. God created man, man and female. Marriage is a union between male and female. It is a union that God joins and what God joins man must not separate (only God can separate which is by death of one spouse).

So, I agree that divorce separates and redefines and changes the definition of marriage and it is wrong. But so does gay marriage because gay marriage is a union between two females and two males.

I agree that the church is doing a terrible job with marriage and divorce. But at the same time, I'm not going to remain silent when the state wants to further degrade marriage by conferring a legal right to gay marriage. Two wrongs don't make a right.

CR said...

In other words, what I am saying is that I don't have a narrow view of the problem at all. It's a pretty comprehensive view.

What I am saying is that any institution ordained by God, whether it is the church or government, may not do wrong to destroy marriage.

Have churches done wrong by allowing for divorce and remarriage when they should not? Yes. Churches have done terrible things to destroy marriage and divorce has had a devastating and destructive effect on marriage.

Now the state wants to come in and destroy it even more by sanctioning gay marriages. And since the state is not sovereign and never has the right to do wrong because it is still under God's authority, God ordained it, and He will judge it, I as a Christian will speak out and tell it you must not sanction or confer any legal right of gay marriage.

Frank Turk said...

CR:

I was waiting for you to say this --

I agree that the church is doing a terrible job with marriage and divorce. But at the same time, I'm not going to remain silent when the state wants to further degrade marriage by conferring a legal right to gay marriage. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Emphasis added. Let me ask you: in what way does "gay marriage" do more harm than the current state of divorce in this country is doing to marriage?

Quantify your answer in any way you think is possible. My answer to this question is "it cannot possibly do more harm than divorce in the church has done in the last 50 years."

Tom Chantry said...

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality... I Corinthians 5:9-11

This, I believe, is near the heart of Frank's point.

The church is to be engaged with the world in order to proclaim the good news of Christ. Should we, then, alienate ourselves from the world for anything less than the gospel? If we attempt to regulate every unbeliever who sins, we will need to entirely separate ourselves from the world - not morally, but physically - we'll need to go somewhere else! For the church to endeavor to regulate sin in the world is an absurdity.

On the other hand, there is a necessity - in fact, an apostolically communicated requirement, that the church regulate it's own sin.

I don't see how one can consider this text carefully and not end up in agreement with Frank's post.

CR said...

Frank,

I believe what I said was further degrade, not do more harm.

I'm not going to remain silent when the state wants to further degrade marriage by conferring a legal right to gay marriage.

Divorce has done more and extensive harm to the society (not just to the church) because it has been around longer and sanctioned by the state longer than gay marriage. Gay marriage has just come on the scene forced upon us by the MA state supreme court.

Divorce has been sanctioned by the state for how many decades before it became less of a taboo. Gay marriage has just come on the scene.

Here's what I mean by gay marriage causing more harm. I've already outlined how marriage is defined from Scriptures: (a) From creation, God created man and female; (b)It is a union between man and woman;(c)God joins these unions; (d)Man cannot separate the union; (e)Only the Lord can separate the union - through death (albeit Jesus does allow (not command) divorce for sexual immorality (and we also have abandonment by unbelieving spouse).

Society is allowing for separation of unions left and right. The church is failing miserably by not disciplining and if need be, excommunicating Christians for being unrepentant in seeking divorce. This is leaving marriage in pretty bad shape 1/2 marriages end up in divorce in the society and professing Christianity.

Here's the further degradation: the state by judicial fiat wants to say marriage can be between a man and a man. The state already rejects (a) by saying there is evolution. It rejects (c) because they don't believe in God. It rejects (d) by sanctioning divorces left and right and it of course rejects (e). What's left standing? (b) That marriage is between a man and a woman.

It's hard to quantify what further damage that will be done to marriage if gay marriages is sanctified by the state and it's around for 50 years or more like divorce has been.

I for one, will not stand around and allow the state to ruin the last standing pillar of marriage that marriage is between a man and woman because the church has so many other problems with the other pillars.

Frank Turk said...

CR --

That's a lot of words when you admit that "it is hard to quantify" the damage already done to marriage.

Let me say this plainly: if we were talking about (for example) abortion, the case that the government's role to provide societal justice and use the sword to punish the lawless would be much stronger -- because law is really what is at stake. A "thou shalt not" is being violated one the face of the thing.

But marriage is not a "thou shalt not": it is a positive action, not a restraining principle. And it is a positive action, ultimately, which the church shows the world. In exactly the same way that the church shows the world that God's word is the final authority, and that ministers of the word are qualified by their character, the church shows the world what God means by marriage, or else the world doesn't know.

You know: the ground and pillar of truth.

You can't legislate that stuff -- because it's not law. It's Gospel. So when the church has spent something like 100 years giving up the Gospel on this issue, to come back now when the world says, "oh. Well, if that's all this is, we'll take two," and appeal to Government to do what the church has refused to do is, frankly, a major mistake.

You can have the last word if you want, and then I'll close the thread sometime tonight.

Libbie said...

Yes, but it seems to me that Frank is saying the remedy for the degradation of marriage is not to pour all this energy into legislating against one narrowly specific twisting of marriage - it's to deal with the root issue of the shoddy, self-centred attitude the church has to God-ordained marriage in the first place.

It rather reminds me of all that stuff he says about the church actually preaching and living the gospel, rather than trying to mobilize as a political machine to legislate the gospel.

Libbie said...

oh. snap.

dac said...

Frank -

Any comments on the Richard Cizik Resignation?

From CT

Cizik spoke mostly on the environment in a December 2 interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, but he made brief remarks about same-sex civil unions, gay marriage, and his early support of President-elect Barack Obama.

In a short portion of the program, Gross asked him, "A couple of years ago when you were on our show, I asked you if you were changing your mind on that. And two years ago, you said you were still opposed to gay marriage. But now as you identify more with younger voters, would you say you have changed on gay marriage?"

Cizik responded, "I'm shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. I don't officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don't think."

dac said...

CR said

The state is in the business of legal force or legislating morality. (The aim of laws is not to change hearts but force morality.) The purpose of the government forcing morality is (or should be) for the public good.

That is your problem - you have a fundamental and complete misunderstanding of the purpose of government

DJP said...

That's your problem. You live in a fantasy world where law is unrelated to morality. Unlike what the Bible says.

Not CR's problem.

Frank Turk said...

You know: in the end, sin is sin.

I want to think out loud about this for a minute, so bear with me.

Let's imagine for a second that there are two guys out there [Eddie and Freddie] who are single and hetero, and they are room-mates starting in college. After they graduate, they both find work in Seattle, and since they get on well, they stay on as roommates.

5 years later, they are both still roommates and they have no marriage prospects because they are, frankly, devoted to work.

Now, just for kicks, let's imagine that both of these guys have family situations in which they don't really have an extended family -- alienated, orphaned, whatever. So they have this decade-long friendship, and no family.

Then Freddie gets sick -- cancer. And all he has in the world, frankly, is his Eddie.

If this is the case -- and let me say that I think this scenario is completely not far-fetched but probably a somewhat-common situation -- why would we not want to grant that the non-sick roommate has some kind of civil liberty to be the next-best-thing to kin to the sick roommate?

A wholly-platonic relationship like this I think is wholly reasonable and godly. And I have no reason to object to the government is some way highlighting or qualifying the value of this kind of domestic partnership.

Now, what if, rather than being two straight guys, this was a guy and a girl? You know: Zach and Miri for the trendy crowd; Jack Tripper and Janet Wood for you 70's people. Still not a big deal, right? It's hard to grasp in a lot of ways, but so be it: this could also work for any non-sexual relationship for people who are frankly familyless.

But what about the obvious elephant in the room, yes? What about the question of sexual partners? You know: if Jack and Janet were [insert classy euphemism here] and not just roommates, suddenly this gets more complicated, doesn't it?

I think it does -- because sex is a moral issue. You know: nobody denies that sex is a moral issue. Even Oprah, who is a clear advocate of gay marriage, frequently underscores the problem that sex between two people should never involve a third party. "Cheating" is a no-no, even if her definition of "cheating" is "only one of the three people involved was fully informed about the situation".

Sex is a moral issue. People who abuse sexual intimacy are seen even in our society as having poor ethics.

And the fear from the "social conservative" side is that even if we grant Eddie and Freddy, even if we grant Jack and Janet, the vast majority of domestic partnerships will be between sexually-intimate people. In that way, the "domestic partnership" will be condoning something which we know, universally, is immoral.

That is the rub -- and it rubs the hetero couple the same way it rubs the gay couple: they are in a socially-risky (to say the least) arrangement, and they want the government to give them something their partner is probably unwilling to give them -- some kind of civil assurance.

When sex comes into the mix, the situation changes substantially. It is not about platonic care or civil liberty: it is about something else. And when the advocate for "gay marriage" comes across as wanting "only" "equal protection", he is forgetting something which, when his partner "cheats" on him, he will proclaim boldly: sex is a moral issue.

Stew on that a while and I'll be back when I have another hour to finish this thought.

DJP said...

You should've named your first two guys "Frodo" and "Sam."

(c;

Frank Turk said...

Hey DJP:

Should the government outlaw sex before marriage?

Moral issue, therefore law?

I ask because you are making a key point here, but I think you are not actually the Theonomistic hard-liner your affirmation here seems to indicate.

In love, my friend: asked and offered in love and not to score points.

dac said...

djp

Never confuse effect or result with cause or purpose.

DJP said...

Okey-doke. Thanks for that.

So, like I said, your problem is that you live in a fantasy world where law is unrelated to morality. Unlike what the Bible says.

Which is your problem, not CR's.

dac said...

djp

never said that, now did I?

DJP said...

Great, so you retract your absurd 6:38 AM comment, and agree with Carlo. Beauty.

dac said...

I never said law is unrelated to morality.

I said that CR's position that The purpose of the government forcing morality is (or should be) for the public good. is fundamentally flawed.

Forcing morality is a result or action, not purpose.

DJP said...

Whatever. You keep polishing that pig, I'm done.

Frank Turk said...

dac:

quit while you're behind, dude. You are running down the wrong path.

Fast. With scissors.

dac said...

Laws are an action of a government. CR was talking about the purpose of Government. I responded to CR regarding government. You transposed my comments to that of law. Never talked about the law

precision djp, precision

Frank Turk said...

For the record, Dan and I have taken our discussion off-line. The invasively-curious will have to find something else to invade.

CR said...

Frank,

Thanks for giving me another opportunity to respond. It looks like we agree that the state has the responsibility and charge of preserving, protecting and maintaining the sanctity of human life. My guess is you would of course even agree that the state has the charge of protecting property.

Going back to the issue of marriage, your position is that the government can't legislate that stuff. I disagree. The government is all about legislating morality (i.e. applying legal force). It does not change hearts but it does apply legal force restrain evil.

In the case of marriage, and any other areas of common grace we think of, the civil magistrate has been ordained by the Lord to protect those areas of life in the realm of common grace - that is blessings that God gives to all people, not just to Christians. One of those blessings or common grace items is marriage. That's why the church recognizes marriages that take place in the secular world. God instituted marriage with Adam and Eve, prior to the Fall, prior to the Flood and prior to the law of Moses. Marriage was given to creation and sadly, even the partriarchs and Israel didn't take long to blow it.

At any rate, it is God who ordains government, the government will be ultimately responsible to God (in our case elected officials) and they will be held accountable (our elected officials) for how they exercised that responsibility - which responsibility? The responsibility of protecting those areas of common grace which God gives to all people (not just to Christians) and one of those areas is marriage. And when our government is leaning towards redefining marriage by saying it can be between two men or two women, the church must speak out and tell the government you must protect marriage because the only the government has been given the power to use legal force, the church has not been given that power and it should not have that power because God does not give it that power. But the church can and must speak out.

Well, I could say a lot more and I'm sorry you brought up many points and questions in your comments that I wish we could address one by one, but time doesn't allow it. Thanks for letting me comment and have a great weekend.

Frank Turk said...

CR --

That is not my position at all. My position is that government can in fact legislate this stuff, and the question is whether it should legislate this stuff.

Look: tomorrow, the government could pass a law forbidding all coveting, right? That's a key moral issue according to the Bible, and frankly we live in a covetous society. And by passing a law against covetousness, the law would thereby be a tutor even to the ungodly, showing them how to rightly behave.

The question, however, is this: should government -- even as it is appointed by God today -- be the arbiter of covetousness? That is, is that really what Rom 13 is talking about?

I think that your answer is going to be "no" -- and you might couch that "no" in something about being able to read the minds of people. But the truth is that you could measure covetousness by debt ratio to income -- by seeing how people will enslave themselves to debt in order to have things the can't really afford, and debt is also decried by Scripture, so it works out even better for the theonomistically-inclined.

But there is something underneath the "no" to making covetousness illegal which we ought to consider carefully: not all of the Law is intended for all societies to enforce. Considered another way, the Law of Moses was intended to set Israel apart, meaning it was intended for them and no other nation.

So, for example, we would never expect our government to establish a sacrificial system -- in part because Christ fulfilled the sacrificial system, but also because that system is not for the Gentiles. It is not for everyone. In the same way, we would not expect our government to enforce tribal land inheritances, as the government of Israel ought to have among the 12 tribes.

But those are the functions of the Law, yes? We are not tasked to set up a nation with God as our King.

And here's the thing about marriage as related to that: it pre-exists even the law. It is part of what Rom 1 calls the "decrees of God", that which is evident even in creation. Marriage did not need the law to be established -- indeed, all people and every nation knows what marriage is -- and marriage doesn't seek law's approval.

And I think Jesus' reaction to divorce as posed by the Pharisees makes this so clear! When they ask him, "Teacher, what about the writ of divorce? What about what Moses taught us?" Jesus makes it clear that divorce is not what God intended at all for mankind -- that the law in fact was given to them that way because they couldn't do what God wanted them to do.

Jesus' appeal to what Marriage is about comes from creation, not from law.

Now, so what? I mean, at this point I have dumped terrabits of data into the internet, and I have violated my word to give CR the last word, and I have said things which frankly many people will disagree with me about. I have made a good bit of trouble, and maybe I have left you more confused than clarified.

Why all the bother?

It's because particularly in the case of marriage we are talking about something which is primarily the work of the church. That is, this isn't something that government was designed to be the arbiter of -- and yet, here we are as a culture seeking to make our government the arbiter of something established in creation and intended for a theocentric purpose.

This is church work, not police work. Seriously: what we are worried about here is that somehow the law is going to cause people to abandon the church's views -- but the problem is that the church has already abandoned what ought to be its views.

Christian people can turn to the law to do what the church ought to be doing. Go ahead, if that's what you think is right. The problem is that government didn't make this problem, and government can't fix it.

This is not in government's purview -- not any more than how often and by what means we practice the lord's table is. Demanding government fix it is like asking me to fix the orbit of Jupiter: I can say I'll do something about it, but my tool box doesn;t have the right equipment.

CR said...

Frank,

I would say that the government should legislate this stuff and it is the church's responsibility to remind the government to stand up for what is right.

With regards to your example of should or can the government legislate covetousness. It can't and it shouldn't. The government can only legislate morality (ethics) it can do nothing for the heart. Covetousness is basically another word for desire, in this case evil desires. When the government legislate laws that govern my responsibilities as a CPA or public saftey issues or financial regulations, etc. etc. etc. the goal of these laws is not change my heart on ethics. No legislation can do that. The purpose of laws is to protect the public from evil. Not change desires.

With regards to your example that we would never expect our government to establish a sacrificial system. There are certain things we are suppose to do as Christians. We are to observe the Lord's Supper. We are to perform baptisms. We are to exercise church discipline and if need be excommunications. Those are the duties of the church and the church alone.

But, in those spheres of ethics that are right for all people: paying my bills on time, have honorable contracts, not defraud people, speed limits, and marriage, we have the obligation to tell the government to do what is right. Again, marriage is not just for Christians. Christian marriages are certainly distinctive from non-Christian marriages but marriage was not merely given to the church.

When children grow up in families that are together and not divorced there are some common grace positive benefits.

I think Christians (note how I do not use church here - it's intentional - the church and Christians speak out - Christians should "work") should and I would argue, must work to have some Christian values in public policy. Not all. We should not and must not work to have the observing of the Lord's Supper as a public policy, because the Lord's Supper is not in the sphere of ethics that is right for all people. Same thing with baptism.

But in other areas of ethics, laws against murder, theft, fraud, marriage where these are issues of ethics that apply to all spheres, not only can the government legislate, it ought to legislate.

Frank Turk said...

Thread is closed in order to force me to honor CR's last word.

More another time.