17 August 2012

Adopt That as Our Anthem

by Frank Turk

Yes: I have tricked you again.  You were expecting the Best of Phil and rather you got me spouting off about something which caught me late in the week and it needed to be set straight.  (A turn of phrase which, after you have read this post, will be very funny)

Also: warning.  Adult topics ahead.

The Huffington Post has been experimenting with me for LiveStream chats because they don't know any normal conservatives and they ran into me one week hoping they could find a stereotypical rube they could use to say they have diverse voices.  You can imagine how that turned out -- but they do keep calling me and somehow the video never makes it to the web.  In their defense, the first video had to be scrapped because one of the other bloggers interviewed did the LiveChat without headphones on, and the reverb through his/her computer ruined all the audio; the second video was a little stilted because they invited the guests for one topic and sprung another on us after we were all linked in -- it's hard to say anything useful when you're caught flat-footed and the host is a harridan.

Now, here's the thing: this week HuffPo ran what I would call an Op-Ed on the question of why there was a media kerfuffle over the fact that Anderson Cooper's boyfriend was caught out-out in NYC with someone other than Mr. Cooper. Here's the money quote from that essay:
If monogamy works for you, more power to you. If you and your girlfriend want to sleep with other people on occasion (or invite someone home with you at the end of the night), do it. If three men want to live as a throuple, let them live as a throuple. If a husband and wife want to take separate vacations and sleep around while they're apart, who is anyone else to say that that's unsavory?

I'm not saying that everyone is -- or should be -- throwing key parties or hunting for a plot of land to start a sex-based commune with 40 of their closest friends. I'm saying it's time to start breaking down our antiquated ideas about romance and relationships, many of which are largely based on ideas of control and fear, and start talking openly and honestly about what really works best for each of us.
Now, when I found this, I threw a line to soon-to-be-published atheist chaplain Chris Stedman to see if he would be helping us find out why we would be better together with that kind of thinking.  His feedback:

Which, as we say around here: Aha!

This is the valuable conversation which, it turns out, nobody wants to have.  Look: I sort of gave Maury Povich the side-eye last week in pointing out the kind of morality which, allegedly, nobody wants to have.  We can watch Maury parade legions of self-destructive relationshipwrecks out of the docks and we can say in every case, "Wow -- at least I'm not that screwed up."  We can, on the surface, agree that whatever it is we think we want out of our emotional and family lives, it ain't that.  That, as they said in the gauzy and Rockwellian past, is wrong.

And while we have been told that, fortunately, there is no slippery slope from abandoning a traditional definition of marriage down to all manner of relational ruin and absurdity, suddenly Anderson Cooper ought not to be abashed or abased that his lover is not just his lover.  In fact, in spite of the third-rate sports entertaiment you can find on Maury Povich, maybe none of that is actually anything to be ashamed of, according to Michelson.

Think about this: last week, I did in fact state that the LGBT lifestyle was personally dangerous to the people in it -- and spelled out the public health reasons why.  But under those health reasons, there are clear and present emotional reasons that this lifestyle is hazardous -- as made transparently-clear by Noah Michelson at HuffPo.  And those reasons, frankly, are not because people like me object to this behavior or because we hold to an antiquated moral code which isn't relevant to our advanced society.  They are because that lifestyle is, ultimately, in the psychological and intellectual thrall of the reasoning Michelson has spilled upon the readers of HuffPo.

Listen: years ago, when the sadly-deceived Lisa Miller sprung it upon us in the pages of Newsweek that, in fact, it was the Bible which was foisting upon us a definition  of "marriage" which looked a lot more like a loose polygamy for the sensually and spiritually weak, or 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, she said: nobody really wants that.

And yet it seems that such a thing is exactly what the editorial staff at HuffPo says should be utterly blasé -- and they are a significant infotainment company.  They are allegedly main-stream.

Now, to wrap this up: so what?

There are a lot of things wrong with this.  This is the internet, after all.  But the thing which, it seems to me, must be mulled over immediately is the fact that the darkly-funny claim that people like Chris Stedman make about the ways we can be "better together" is suddenly exposed as desolately vacant.  I have asked him (often) how exactly we can establish any kind of common ground when the most-essential issues of interpersonal relationships cannot be part of our common ground.  How do I know what is and isn't even courteous let alone morally virtuous and exemplary when we ought to make moral equivalence between sleeping around and 50 years of monogamous hetero marriage -- both are fine, apparently, for whomever's boat is floated?  And when we find an example like this, where the rubber meets the road on that claim, he has other things to do.

But while there might be a demand for this breadth of activity to be accepted as patently bourgeois, the problem that these are really not morally equivalent has to rear its ugly head.  If not, Maury will go out of business: the shocking and subtle self-aggrandizing salve for our conscience dries up if these people entertaining us with their moral tragicomedies are suddenly not morally-entertaining at all.  There's no comfort in it if we are not better than they are.  If being joined as one flesh until death do you-all part ought to be just as acceptable as treating others' emotions and well-being like yesterday's newspaper, we might as well substitute a wet whoopee cushion and an inverted trash can for the brass and timpani in "Fanfare for the Common Man," adopt that as our anthem, and see what other innovative, open, and honest best practices we can concoct for our society.

Let me say this plainly: this is the kind of so-called "good" people figure out without God, especially the naive ones who are on about how they can definitely be without God.  The Bible says this is what seems right in our own eyes.  And it's the grand obstacle to having a purely-secular discussion about what we ought to do to improve our society: we don't know what's best for us, and we trade the true God for a fake god of our own creation, and we worship the god we desire instead of the God who made us.


FX Turk said...


The Damer said...

It's easy to yell "there is no slippery slope" from the bottom of the cesspool that is 21st century American sexual ethics.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing helpful to add, but I did want to comment anyway. That was outstanding.

Nash Equilibrium said...

The last paragraph ties it together, and also fits well with Dan's post of yesterday.

I caught the HuffPo article the other day when you tweeted it. My reaction at the time was how clear it seemed to make it that once the hurdle of same sex marriage is cleared, it will be on to the next absurdity and the next, until people are standing outside Lot's door demanding who-knows-what. But of course, even thinking that makes me a hater.

Tom Chantry said...

Well, now I'll never be able to hear Fanfare for the Common Man again. Thanks, Frank!

Unknown said...

Perhaps the one-star is a result of an internet bug? :-p


Well said as usual. God bless you guys for your effort and commitment.

Man I cannot get past thinking that this is just a result of man's inherent desire to get back to the garden somehow. Of course, not physically, but at least emotionally. Specifically to that point where the fruit of the 'knowledge of good and evil' was still hanging safely from it's branch. I think this is all just a slippery slope that results from the morals of the God-less moral man. In forgetting that their morals didn't just evolve they get to decide what's right as they go. What's right today isn't necessarily what's right tomorrow.

It's hard to say where it started. I had a pastor in college who blamed Three's Company, I'd say abortion is maybe the catalyst. Once you make that step in saying one wrong is right where do you stop?

Even so come Lord Jesus...


Nash Equilibrium said...

When Three's Company fell, all creation fell with it?

Unknown said...

@Nash ... I guess I left that open for interpretation... I deserved that.

As far as our (nation) current state of moral degradation: with Three's Company we began to let homosexuality into our homes, if even through humor. I don't know that I buy that entirely, but it was an interesting insight.

David said...

How appropriate that you would choose Copland. His music was beautiful, his life not so nice.

FX Turk said...

Kjos: you are my hero because you really get me.

FX Turk said...

For the rest of you:

There is no way I blame the unbelieving secular culture for the fix we are in, and you shouldn't either. How else do you expect unbelievers to behave?

My opinion, which is not at all new, expressed at this blog at least as early as the Newsweek piece I linked to in this post, is that the church is 100% to blame for the state of sexual ethics in the West. From the Catholic side, where everyone thinks they have such a great theology of sexual ethics, they are a massive failure for betting utterly entrenched in the idea that celibacy is a holier lifestyle than marriage and failing to let Pastors and Elders be chosen by the criteria Paul gave to Titus and Timothy; they pay lipservice to the sanctity of life, but do not live it from the top-down (and for those of you about to unfurl the "Justification by Faith" flag here, shut up: that is a different error). From the protestant side, we are utter failures when it comes to seeing marriage as more than a job. It is in our history to be this way. When we (rightly) condemned the Catholic church for calling marriage a "sacrament," we went too far in calling it a "vocation," and insisting that the secular courts ought to be the place to arbitrate the problem that arise between a man and a woman. Marriage is not a contract, and when it gets treated as such, it is ruined.

We taught the world what it knows today about sexual ethics. We did it. We are to blame, and we have to repent before we can fix it.

FX Turk said...

To the Orthodox who feel left out: you should feel left out. You marginalize yourselves.

The Damer said...

Oh the irony... Jack Triper wasn't really gay.

Daniel said...

A pastor who pours himself into his ministry in order to avoid dealing with strife in his marriage cannot, when his marriage fails, cannot blame the demands of his ministry for the failure - but some pastors do just that.

Why? Because the pursuit of ministry is a far more noble sounding motive than the unwillingness to deal with personal failures in marriage.

This kind of self deceit, the assigning of a better motive to our pursuits than actually motivates us, is what I see behind some of the moral decay our generation is presently enduring.

In the name of tolerance - which sounds very noble, we should accept anything that doesn't personally impede our own lives - but the real motive isn't tolerance it is rebellion. We would not have anyone or anything rule over us - period. If I want to do something, who are you to tell me no? I should be allowed to do whatever I please because that is how I see freedom: it is the freedom to glut myself on whatever pleasures I can imagine.

Sadly we live in a culture where that level of self absorbtion isn't even shocking.

Unknown said...

Touché Frank,

Perhaps you can blog me this: we are responsible for our failure here as a community of believers. But if the world will be the world will they listen to us even if we were doing things right? I can go to my small group, my Sunday School class, my Church and we can agree on your examples. We can confess individually and corporately. But can we do anything about the world?

I know this is where a lot of Christians get into the political side of things thinking that legislation is the key to these questions. I think that's naive especially in a nation built on the concept of freedom of religious tyranny. I may be putting myself in the stocks to be mocked here, but I wonder CAN the Church really do anything to change the mind of the secular world other than just give them the gospel?


Unknown said...

@TheDamer... isn't that what made the topic tolerable?

Nash Equilibrium said...

I can totally accept that the state of sexual ethics in the church is the fault of the church. I'm having a harder time understanding the Biblical basis for concluding that the state of sexual ethics outside the church being the church's fault. Can some of you Bible scholars help me understand where God held the church responsible for the sins of unbelievers? I'm not necessarily questioning that it's in the Bible, I'm simply looking for guidance to see Frank's point from a Biblical standpoint. Thanks in advance.

The Blainemonster said...

Bravo! Just a bit above here, Frank, you said "How else do you expect unbelievers to behave?" Precisely. The "fix" we're in is simply our own depravity. The answer is Gospel, no matter what flavor of depravity we're craving on any given day as a culture or individuals. That's one reason why I'm really, really iffy on boycotts, sit-ins and legislated morality. None of that fixes anything or points in the right direction.

FX Turk said...


I think you should read the letter of Methetes to Diognetus and then ask your question again. In my view of it, when Christians grasp the Gospel and then live out as if all the necessary consequences are actually necessary and consequential, the World finds itself in the ugly position of being humiliated by the wisdom of God. It may therefore persecute us or hear the call of God to repent, but it cannot be apathetic or say idiotic things about morality which, let's face it, are transparently false.

Unknown said...

@Nash: perhaps it's more of the point that we've made a mockery of one of the best things that God gave us on this plane of existence and given the heathen fodder for their attack?

Unknown said...


Apocrypha? How dare you! ... Okay okay, reading. (thanks for playing along)

Unknown said...

@Frank: personal enquiry:

As one who works in a secular job (if I'm wrong about that you can stop reading...) do you have these types of consequences? I for one do not. At least, as far as I can tell. I only have to assume that I don't fully grasp the Gospel in light of that context. So is this on par with where the charismatics get the idea that some aren't as full of the spirit as others?

DJP said...

For those keeping score at home, this would be Axiom #17.

FX Turk said...

Les: read the letter to Diognetus and then ask your question again.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Could I get that letter to Diognetus as a YouTube video or in coloring book form? I'm a postmodern and can't understand other forms of communiction.

Unknown said...

Okay Frank, I've read the letter, I'm sure I need to read it again, I'll be long in digesting pieces of it (as above is stated I too may have post-modern tendencies)..

But to try to play along:

What greater example of pure belief post-Apostolic age than the chance to put your faith on display by being burned for refusing denial. I have a hard time paralleling this with my own life. If the denial of man-made idols to the point of death is equivalent to the rejection of sexual immorality to the point of being called a 'hater' as the kids say I guess it kind of makes sense.

But making the jump from being perceived as a prude to being a no fear, sold out, follower of Christ for who He claimed to be and Who he IS where I guess I miss the boat.

As long as the public facing church is not the Church I can't fathom how at a macro level this can even be overcome, perhaps though as one who lives the Gospel (as you say) then my own world would be tilted to steal a term from DJP.

But at what point can I say I either do or don't' get the gospel? I write code for a living. Boring. Has no eternal value. It helps me pay the bills. Where does it come in that I don't have a big enough impact for the gospel so maybe I don't get the gospel? Who has that measuring stick? And at what point do people take this and even start doubting their conversion? Sure I say I believe, and yes I believe true faith produces works according to that faith... but how much is enough?


Gilbert said...

I kind of figured this is what Frank would say---and well done, I may add.

Actually, I want to add another axiom: Don't be surprised if unbelievers aren't embarrassed or humbled if believers don't act like believers. They're just looking for excuses to justify their behavior...and sadly, today, the visible church provids an absolute titanic load of things we do for that to happen (and unlike the real ship Titanic, I wish that "boat" would sink to the pit of Hell!).

It is, of course, much more than sexual immorality: that's just one aspect of it. What Frank details here is just but one major symptom of the free-fall of society. We try to make the rules because the "gospel" that is preached and/or seen today is powerless. And so, we become our own "gods", as Frank alludes to.

So, for instance, I'm so sick of "we must vote for this person" to "save our nation". Darn it to all get out, we need, as a body of Christ, to fall on our knees and weep at what we have become. Christianity today is a kick below the belt to God...and I don't mean the magazine (though it is reflection of it as well, apparently). Until we (first and foremost me) actively seek God's provision for everything we have, repentance in sorrow, and desire holiness by the one and only Holy Spirit...reading, believing and obeying God's word...Frank's whole post, and our society, can be summarized in three words: rebellion against God. When was the last time you heard or said the word "repent"? I don't do it enough (not that, in any way, repentance of everything in a robotic-type way is expected. I don't have the time to list at night every single sin I've done in one day.) But until unbelievers hear and see us doing that, they'll just keep on doing what they're doing...and enjoy it. In this world. And so, sexual immorality isn't, and it will only get worse.

FX Turk said...

Here's the perfect graphic which this post didn't get.

Anonymous said...

Great points Frank,

As to your statement that the church, and only the church, is at fault for the state of sexual ethics in the west...

Exhibit A - Corrupt Rome. Rampant immorality, rampant corruption.
What did the church do? It lived as the church should, it loved as the church should love. Rome fell, and things began to change in the west.

Exhibit B - Whatever they call the revivals in England when Wesley and Whitfield turned on their big guns. England, on the way to a French revolution type-deal, turned away from that as people began to respond in repentance and faith to the gospel.

Exhibit C - The church in the west today. Europe, once the breeding ground of the reformation, now dead, immorality is much more of a way of life than in North America.
America and Canada - Universally acknowledged that the church is in decline, it is not growing numerically and has not in a long time, sexual ethics are keeping pace with the decline.

It is true, I think, that the church ought to take the blame for the sin of the nation (Unclean people and unclean lips...Nehemiah saying "we have sinned"), but not in the way the Religious Right would have it.
Power is a failed end, repentance and suffering, not so much.

But my attitude towards power vs. suffering doesn't really differ from my neighbours on most days and so the sexual revolution continues to gather speed, and advocates.

FX Turk said...

I fear compacted historical summaries like that, but that is the core case.

Nash Equilibrium said...

So... the first century Christians were to blame for the decadence of Rome, the 1930s German Christians were to blame for Nazism, the 21st century Christians are to blame for the decadence of the West, and so on? I just don't see that principle in the Bible. Is it there? Or is it an opinion? Someone will get angry for my asking, but I'm asking.

Chris said...

I think it may be seen in the Bible in Adam and Eve; in Israel's disobedience in not taking the Promised Land properly; in Israel failing to be faithful to God and bringing on the discipline of the conquering kingdoms.

All of these were the result of God's people refusing to be obedient and assisting/allowing sin to multiply. I feel like a lightweight when I read this blog and the comments, but I think this applies.

FX Turk said...

Nash: I think you're not reading at all.

FX Turk said...


There is a difference between obeying God's law and living with the necessary consequences of the Gospel. The former, if I can say this, is impossible; the latter is not only possible, it is the only thing which describes true faith.

trogdor said...


The church is the light of the world, the salt of the earth, Christ's ambassadors, etc. In a world full of sinners, we who are redeemed sinners should be the ones who know what's what. Our holiness will generally either slow the decay of the world around us (the restraining effect of common grace) or result in our persecution.

If we who know God's will and are called to live in holiness have abandoned our calling and rebelled against God's commands, of course the world is going to go crazy in that regard. When the light of the world turns down the dimmer switch, of course those who love darkness are going to revel in it.

So in that regard, we are definitely responsible for the degree to which we could light the world around us. And there's no question that the church in America especially has been large enough to exert tremendous influence on our culture - if we had chosen to do so. While the number of actual Christians is questionable, our existence in large numbers is not. We have for centuries had a large platform to promote our beliefs, and if we lived in obedience to them, the results would be rather hard to miss. And of course, when we're disobedient en masse, it's all the more obvious to the unbelieving world, and just helps makes the world an even safer place for their sin.

So in that regard, the church's disastrous witness on mawwiage has to bear the blame for the cultural disintegration on the issue. The issues Frank mentioned earlier. How we've capitulated on divorce. Our acceptance of fornication/cohabitation and associated issues (such as abortion). Devaluing marriage enough to let our men dwell in perpetual adolescence, robbing godly women of husbands.

When we, who should know better, present such a craptacular view of marriage to the world, is it any wonder they take it another step or two further?

CAPTSteveHardy said...

This post and the comments just made me think of how much we've abdicated our role and responsibility as salt and light in this wicked world. Some of it, recently, can be linked to a degree, by our mobility. Instead of walking to church as many of our grandparents did, it's so easy to get in the car and drive 30 minutes or an hour to the church of our choice. We don't know our neighbors anymore; especially if they're non-Christians, we just don't spend time with them. Too often the friends we have are made at our churches and live just as far away as the church we attend. That speaks to me so much of the second half of the 20th century. Now into the 21st century, everyone is 'connected', but I think it's getting harder for people to really interact, especially face-to-face. Yep, FaceBook, Twitter, texting literally all over the world, but true conversations become a challenge. And while the Word of God preached is the Lord's method to bring that Word for the Spirit to work in hearts, I think it is the example of His people actually living His Words out that bears witness to how much we actually believe that Word.

I'm saying all this as I reflect on how far short I fall in what I've written, and, like Gilbert wrote, see the need to repent and seek the better course.


Unknown said...

I want to say only 2 more things:

1: of all the comments I left today, whether edifying or not, I didn't once mess up on the CAPTCHA. (a personal record!)

2: Salt and Light. That's what I'm taking from all this. Good post, good discussion. I need sharpened.

God bless (I guess that makes 3)

FX Turk said...

Someday Trogdor will do more than just write great comments.

ANiMaL (richard) said...

I don't write because I read Frank Turk, and I can't write like that.

Trogdor, that's a blog post all in itself.

Andrew Lindsey said...

I honestly used to think that slippery-slope arguments re: "gay marriage" were somewhat bogus, but quotes like the one you give from HuffPo keep proving my former attitude wrong; the same logical move that leads to an acceptance of "gay marriage" does-- practically speaking-- seem to lead to an 'absolutely anything goes' position.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks. I really have only been seeking clarification on exactly what was being maintained about the church's responsibility for the actions of those around us. If the idea is that the church in the West could be doing a whole lot better at modeling the Christian ideals for {marriage, life in general, etc} to the unsaved around us, then I agree absolutely. Who could disagree with that?

I guess where I had gotten hung up is the way Frank had phrased it, which to me sounded like he was saying we were responsible for the sins of those around us. I just think that is a much stronger statement and if it can be defended Biblically, I'm not sure how. Currently I'm reading Ezekiel's prophecies and am reminded that sometimes people are just Hell-bent on self destruction as Israel was at the time, no matter what role models are around them. Now, if there were NO good role models of Christian marriage in the church, that would be one thing, but there are SOME, even if they are not in the majority.

I thank you for your answer and don't want to derail the thread further by getting into ever finer levels of detail on a subject that others don't seem to be that interested in, so I'll just leave it as-is. Thanks Trog.

Linda said...

"My opinion, which is not at all new, expressed at this blog at least as early as the Newsweek piece I linked to in this post, is that the church is 100% to blame for the state of sexual ethics in the West"

I agree that the Church is mostly at fault but not 100%...

Bill said...

Could it also be just Deut 12:8, Judges 17:6 et al happening again (admittedly there is a sense in which we have one who thinks he's king).

FX Turk said...


were the sexual ethics of the West ever any different than they are today?

Linda said...

~well Frank, your picture doesn't help with that intimidating look at me...

I'm honestly not sure how to answer your question in the broader scheme of things since it's a bit loaded and requires a much bigger argument.

But to answer this

"were the sexual ethics of the West ever any different than they are today"


James S said...

What I see happening in America (and the world over) is that slowly but surely, The Lord, in His wrath, is giving people over to their evil-heart desires.

We don't know how evil the heart of mankind really is because The Holy Spirit has kept evil at bay to a large degree. But as He slowly raise His hands and backs away, we see the truth of what evils mankind is capable of, and has been kept from doing.

God's active real-time wrath is seen clearly when men & women are allowed to have the evil they so desire. It is not that they will be punished for this in the future (though they will in the future also), but it is the allowing of mankind to have their evil desires which is real-time punishment.

God has already begun to judge the one who says that Homosexuality is really not so bad. Believing that lie is punishment from God already.

I always say beware when you are allowed to believe evil is not so bad afterall, or have & do things which the bible warns against, because it means that God has stopped protecting you and your judgment has begun. When He allows you to believe a lie, BEWARE!

FX Turk said...


When were they different? You could answer with a historical age, a rough estimation of how long ago, or with reference to some major event in the history of Western Civ.

James Scott Bell said...


Luke Wolford said...

Re: Frank and Linda,

While man has always sinned sexually, would you agree that there is a more open reveling publicly in one's sin today compared to the recent past (pre-1960's)?

James Scott Bell said...

Linda, Frank, Luke: Just to be clear, we are talking about "ethics" and not "nature." Ethics refers to a code, largely agreed upon, i.e. that "governs a group's behavior." There is no question the sexual ethics before the late 1960s were well agreed upon, in popular culture, church, public education, etc.

Linda said...

The sexual revolution in the 1960's that followed the Vietnam war

and the women's liberation movement..

Nonna said...

Johnny D:

Indeed. The conscience of our society is no longer aghast at sexual impropriety.

Linda said...

Johnny thanks for clarifying

James S-
"God has already begun to judge the one who says that Homosexuality is really not so bad. Believing that lie is punishment from God already."

so true. The saddest and most horrifying, lurid part of it all is that homosexuals actually think they are winning and gaining freedom while actually they are becoming more enslaved. They don't see this as God giving them over to their sinful lusts..-Romans 1:28,and being filled up with every kiind of evil

I think we are at the tipping point of God giving them over to "a depraved mind" to Sin coming to full fruition-being "filled up with every kind of wickedness"-vs 29-20 which is conducive of God's wrath..

Psa 12:8 "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men."

FX Turk said...

It seems that Johhny D clarified Linda's answer, which is a good thing.

Linda: why were the sexual ethics of the West prior to the Sexual Revolution of the 60's more or less uniform and different than they are today? That is: what was the root cause?

Don;t think I have forgotten the point of this exercise -- but I think you have. The point here is to find out whether or not the Christian church teaches society about sexual ethics or not, bot for good and for ill.

Linda said...

Frank, Ethically speaking, I believe the root cause for their homogenous belief - of sexual ethics in the West prior to the sexual revolution was because the (majority) of the Church at that time held to and believed that all morals are objective absolute truths and not relative to the individual and that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Whether this is the answer you were looking for I don't know since I'm really not that savvy.

I'm listening and learning from you actually. So thanks for your guidance and patience wimmy ignorance...

C.T.Tang said...

Material for the discussion: Philip Johnson's (the lawyer) discussion of the fundamental shift when no-fault divorce relegated marriage to a contractual agreement. It's status as a contract meant that it could be anything. The idea of "man and woman" was as arbitrary as the idea of "couple."

A more academic thread is from places like Duke University's school of theology. There has long been a push to abandon the "constraint" of thinking in dyads. More aggressive LBGT groups align with this, too. The fundamental social arrangement is either the tribe or the State or some combination. Martha Nussbaum has pushed argued against the arbitrary authority of traditional family structure in some of her essays. Duke pushes this. Hegel pushed the State as the fundamental hierarchy of association and authority. Several professors at Duke have been successful in gathering support for this social advance, as they see it.

Check out Duke's group -- this has been a theme in those areas for some time. It is inevitable that as technology starts to allow "virgin births" (as they are called -- a new book is out from London this past week) in test tubes with synthetic sperm and egg, the idea of pairing will be continued to be attacked.

As C.S. Lewis said, it is the picture of creation's relationship to the Creator that is hated, not the institution itself, so every image of it in our world is attacked for what it portrays, not for what it actually is.

Anyway, for what it is worth. This is pretty mainstream in many academic circles -- arguing for "pairs" is about as obsolete as arguing for marriage, irrespective of the contractual partners.

C.T.Tang said...

I meant to add (above comment) that these arguments for social arrangements more fluid and flexible than couple-dom (or marriage) are not seen as issues of sexual ethics. The argument is authority. That is, the attack is not focused on gaining sexual freedom, it is on, more fundamentally, rejecting external (God's) authority. The portrait of authority in marriage is an undesired reminder. Sex is not the issue at all.

FX Turk said...

Linda: That is exactly the answer I was looking for.

What was the primary reason that the sexual revolution was successful? That is: what institution stopped using its role to teach people the difference between right and wrong on this subject?

FX Turk said...

CT Tang:

That's good info.

Linda said...

Frank: Well, to answer your question because of how you've phrased it, I'd have to say the Church..

If you didn't ask what "primary institution" and just asked what the primary reason was? I would have said the pill..

you ask questions like a chess player~

C.T.Tang said...

One more comment, if I may, regarding the broader discussion. The fundamental challenge is not against marriage, per se, but against the Lordship of Christ— His authority, both real and rightful — over His creation. Breaking marriage is like the kid breaking the vase: it isn’t about the vase or the enjoyment that comes with the physical process of breaking the vase; it is about the act of breaking as a symbol, a statement, of rejecting the authority of the one who says “don’t break the vase.”

The lifestyle “symbols” that go with progressively greater rejection of the rightful Lordship of the Creator include libertine sexual behavior as described in Romans 1. The lifestyles described there are public statements of a progression away from recognition and toward active and public repudiation of God’s authority. Not only is there progressive public embracing of licentiousness in cultures that abandon God’s authority, but, more importantly, progressive cultural endorsement of these lifestyles by the culture’s representatives (teachers, leaders, entertainers, philosophers). Ultimately, religion itself becomes the culture’s spokesman for autonomy by incorporating these symbols of rejection into its liturgy, turning “worship” into praising the autonomous creature, not the Creator.

The fundamental truth of reality is the creature-Creator difference and the marriage dyad and inherent structure of both love and authority is its picture: suppressing the truth entails suppressing — eliminating — its symbol from the public square. Because the challenge is so fundamental and profound, the discussion is, as well, because it grapples with the original issue of ultimate authority and human obligation. That is why “important thinkers” at the most reputable institutions have taken this on — it is not about having some physical fun outside a marriage contract, it is about repudiating God as Creator. The press for “virgin births” discussed in the recent book from Univ. of London is aiming at something more profound than convenient procreation.

I’m sorry this got so long. Very profound, even frightening, topic, especially so since it is our culture, the culture to which we are to bear witness.

FX Turk said...


The Pill is a circumstance, not an advocate. The statement I made, which you objected to, was this:

the church is 100% to blame for the state of sexual ethics in the West

Because the church was the cause of the sexual ethics in the West, and it gave up its authority on the subject for other things, circumstances like the Pill, or pornography, or divorce as a remedy for marriage, or whatever you may offer as other incidences were about to enter the culture literally uncontested.

The first step in overcoming the problem is recognizing it, which I think you now can.

Linda said...

Frank, If everyone answered objections like you then we'd have less jousting more productive conversations and more people willing to listen and learn. You were patient, very pleasant and Christlike... Thank you for taking time out for me from your busy schedule

I have a glimpse of how our heavenly father is with us