Our debauched world: owning up to our responsibility…
First they called for “free love.” It was the sixties and we lusted for fornication—sex before marriage. The movement was loudest in Haight-Ashbury and Woodstock, but fornication quickly spread across the country—including the Church. Not that any church had been vigilant to preach against, admonish, and discipline fornication prior to the sixties, but by the beginning of the seventies any preaching against, or discipline of, fornication in the Evangelical church had ceased. Inter-Varsity Press issued a book by a seminary prof that approved of what the prof sold as responsible fornication. The prof was popular and his book was a bestseller, so if seminaries and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship called for the reappraisal and approval of fornication, what preacher was going to preach against it or appeal to his elders for its rebuke and discipline? Thus fornication took over the Church and Christians yawned. Heavy petting that stopped just short of intercourse was the sweet spot of maintaining our ability to claim Christian faith while giving in to our lusts.
Next they called for “a woman’s choice.” It was the seventies and we lusted for the blood of our unborn children. The movement was loudest in the American Law Institute, the American Medical Association, and the National Abortion Rights Action League. In time, the Supreme Court did the bloody work the lawyers and doctors were calling for and issued their infamous Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion from conception to birth across every one of the fifty states of this Union. Child sacrifice quickly spread across the country—including the Church. Following Roe v. Wade, the Evangelical church was silent. It was the day of “law and order” and, as Evangelicals saw it, the Supreme Court was our authority and they had declared “a woman’s choice” a fundamental human right, so abortion must be OK. The Roman Catholics had opposed the groundswell calling for abortion prior to Roe v. Wade in 1973, but during the buildup Evangelicals were silent and following Roe v. Wade we continued to be silent as abortions went above 1,500,000 per year. Evangelicals contracted the bloodlust ourselves, joining our pagan neighbors in sacrificing our children to Molech.
Then, at the end of the seventies, C. Everett Koop and Francis Schaeffer joined forces and went on a barnstorming tour across North America calling for Evangelicals to repent of our participation in the holocaust. We lived in Boulder at the time and I remember their appearance in Denver where Schaeffer decried Evangelical pastors and parachurch leaders’ indifference to the slaughter. He told us when he and Koop’s tour arrived in Chicago, he himself personally called fourteen Evangelical leaders in Wheaton asking them to come and listen to what he and Koop had to say against abortion, but not one of them was willing. A few years later, Inter-Varsity Press issued a book written by some prof who approved of child-murder in this and that case, and thus child-murder came to the Church. Yes, across the intervening thirty-five years, the practice of child-slaughter within the Church has been somewhat hidden…
Koop was the world’s preeminent pediatric surgeon and a member of Philly’s Tenth Presbyterian Church, and when he resigned from the Evangelical professional association called Christian Medical Society (now Christian Medical and Dental Society) in protest at their refusal to condemn abortion, his resignation shamed Evangelical physicians into finally saying “no” to the massive child-sacrifice that was running like a tsunami across our nation. Then, following their lead, other Evangelical leaders and pastors knew the gig was up and they began saying they were opposed to abortion.
Christian Action Council stepped into the opportunity created by Koop and Schaeffer and soon Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and collecting diapers for the local crisis pregnancy center became a litmus test of a church’s Evangelicalism. Still, Evangelicals’ opposition to abortion remained tepid and if you ask pastors half-alive to the sins of our congregations whether abortion is committed by Evangelical Christians, we’ll tell you of secret abortions confessed by members of our congregations. As Evangelicals see it, abortion is necessary for our fornicating kids to get through high school and college, and then established in their careers.
Thus abortion came to the Church. Publicly, everyone agrees abortion is wrong; publicly, everyone observes Sanctity of Human Life Sunday; publicly, everyone gives diapers and used onesies to the local crisis pregnancy center; but privately, abortion is the necessary cover-up of fornication. It assures that our children won’t be publicly humiliated, and that they finish their education and get established financially. We are like Israel before us: our streets run with the blood of the innocent.
Next they called for “no-fault divorce.” It was the eighties and we lusted for younger flesh—but more, an end to making judgements. The breakdown of a marriage was hard enough. Why make it more painful by requiring one spouse to accuse the other of emotional cruelty or adultery? If a couple doesn’t want to stay married, why prolong the pain? Let them divorce and keep it as painless and quiet as possible. Here are the forms. File them, then get your mandatory counseling and come back in a couple months and it’s all over. No muss no fuss.
Churches were especially pleased by this change. Fault divorce was all about finding fault, and publicly. This left the church in an embarrassing position, well behind the eight ball. The pastors and elders read in the newspaper that Mrs. Bradley was suing her husband, Bob, for divorce on the grounds of adultery. They had thought Deacon Bradley and his wife were doing just fine. “Who knew? Who could have known? But something has to be done. We can’t have the newspapers publishing such things about our deacons. We’ll be made fun of by our neighbors.” So grudgingly and with an ill-temper, the pastors and elders met privately with Deacon Bradley, then his wife. Soon after the meetings, Deacon Bradley stopped coming to church. A few months later, Mrs. Bradley and the children left the church, also. Mrs. Bradley went to the Bible-believing Baptist church across town where no one had witnessed her humiliation. Mr. Bradley is said to be attending one of the mainline churches downtown. Either United Methodist or Presbyterian—no one can remember which. “We miss the Bradleys. Our kids miss their children. But something had to be done. We couldn’t have people around town talking about one of our officers and his wife fighting in the courts—and her accusing him of adultery. We wish it hadn’t been made public, but it was. What are you gonna do?”
Then California brought in the legal innovation of no-fault divorce. A couple could simply agree that the marriage was over, and for whatever reason they chose. No need for one spouse to accuse the other of anything. No need for the judge to make judgments between husband and wife. Snip snip and the bond of marriage is legally broken with no public fault or shame. And what a relief it was to Evangelicals! Churches who never want their pastors and elders wasting time meddling in members’ private lives. “Really, what went on behind closed doors in members’ homes was between the father and mother of that home. And yes, certainly God. But if Mr. and Mrs. Smith didn’t want to be married any more, it may be said but who are we to judge? You shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Anyway, it’s better for the kids. No one thinks it’s healthy for children to grow up in a home of conflict between the father and mother. Better for the parents to find someone else they love and are compatible with. The kiddos will do much better when their mother is with a man she actually loves, rather than sticking it out with their father just to keep up appearances.”
And so, California’s no-fault divorce was contracted by the rest of the country, and within a few years it became the law of the land. No more accusations needed. Just the simple quiet ruling of a judge and the couple’s vows “until death do us part” are carried out with the trash.
Thus the adultery of serial divorce and remarriage came to the Church. Publicly, everyone agreed divorce and adultery are wrong; publicly, everyone knew the Seventh Commandment says “thou shalt not commit adultery”; publicly, no one proposed to remove the “until death do us part” from the church’s wedding ceremonies; but privately, everyone was relieved we’d found a way to make it easy for marriages to break up quietly, without public charges of adultery and our pastors and elders having to wade through the mess. “One month they’re married and sitting in the sanctuary with their children. The next they’re divorced and the father sits there forlorn and alone. Turns out his wife ran off with her yoga teacher. Now she’s saying she was always a lesbian and she and her yoga teacher can’t wait to adopt. The court awarded custody of the children to the lesbian mother, although the kids tell people they’d rather live with their Dad. It’s shocking and sad, but what’s a poor church to do? Who’da thunk it? If we’d only known! But you know, what could we have done if we had known? Tell her not to feel that way? She can’t help how she feels, and probably her husband wasn’t very sensitive. Likely he wanted to have sex when she had a headache—stuff like that.”
Next they called for “gay rights.” It was the early nineties and every TV show made it appear that fifty percent of the people in Chicago, Denver, the Twin Cities, and up and down the East and West Coasts were gay and gay was cool. Sure enough, it turned out our interior designers and real estate agents and WWF heroes and band teachers and opera singers and Rock Hudson and (even) Father Mike down at the rectory are all gay. “But they’re all nice men. So what’s wrong with gay? I’m not gay myself, but just because a guy is attracted to other guys doesn’t mean he should have to hide in a closet. Why make him keep it a secret? If that’s who God made him, why add to his suffering by treating him like he’s dirty? ‘Hate the sin but LOVE the sinner’—that’s what the Bible says, you know.”
Then sons of the congregation began coming home in caskets. No one knew how they had died. They’d only been in their early thirties, and then they were dead. So sad.
Then another son of the church came home very sick and moved in with his single mother. She nursed him and when she was asked by the other women of the church what was wrong with her son, she said he had skin cancer or chronic pneumonia, or that his immune system was shot and he might not make it. For a while, people felt sad and tried to help out. It seemed some mysterious death was approaching. Then articles about “gay cancer” began appearing in the paper and something began to click in the minds of the people of the church. The single woman’s son had played in the band and always had a part in the musicals in high school. He was not the jock or stoner type, but more refined. He’d never been on the basketball court or the baseball field. His mother hired an older man in her neighborhood to cut her grass—her son never cut it. He’d always hung with the girlie-girls in the high school; they were his best friends and he spent hours on the phone with them at night. In college, he studied music and voice, and after college he moved to New York City where he got a job taking tickets at the Met… “You know, the more I think about it, the better sense it makes. Poor boy. Poor mother.”
By the time AIDS had decimated The Castro in San Francisco, every sensitive woman in the Evangelical church disapproved of anyone and anything that made the life of gay men and their parents difficult or embarrassing. “Life was hard enough for those poor people,” she said; “why make them suffer more than they already suffer because they can never be like the rest of us and get married? Isn’t them dying like flies enough of a punishment, already?” And like sheep before the shearers, dumb husbands followed their emotive and sympathetic wives into the pity that repealed the sodomy laws of every state of our nation. And what the pity of Evangelical women couldn’t accomplish, the Supreme Court tidied up by finding sodomy laws unconstitutional.
Thus “gay” came to the Church. Publicly, everyone agreed they wouldn’t want their own son to be gay; publicly, everyone knew the Old Testament story of God raining fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah’s sodomites. Everyone knew that, in Romans 1, the Apostle Paul had pointed to sodomites and lesbians saying that God had given them up to their “shameful desires.” No one approved of what these people did in the bathhouses of New York City and San Francisco that caused them to catch AIDS. And yet, “Christians are supposed to hate the sin, but LOVE the sinner. Not SHAME him. Not treat him LIKE a PARIAH. Jesus hung out with people with AIDS, you know. He hung with sinners. He wasn’t ashamed of them. That’s how we should be, too! I don’t think what gays do in the bedroom is any of our business. And certainly our laws should not legitimate those nasty homophobes who already call these poor boys nasty names in the locker room and beat them up in public restrooms. Isn’t it enough that they all have AIDS and are dying? If we really love Jesus, the church should lead the fight against discrimination. We used to say slavery was right, you know? It was the church that argued for slavery. It was the church that used to say women should submit to their husbands and stay at home, barefoot and pregnant. It’s time for us to get with the times and stop being prejudiced against gays. They’re human beings just like the rest of us. They didn’t choose to be the way they are!”
Next they called for “gay marriage.”
It had taken about twenty years to rid our nation and its churches of the shame that Sodom and Gomorrah and Romans 1 had attached to lesbianism and sodomy for the past two-thousand years. But following 2010, gay was loud and proud, so it was time to move on to the next sexual rebellion against God. Now we lusted, not for any act of sexual perversion, but for the silence of every voice that dared to shame us in our debauchery. All over the country laws had been passed granting the polymorphous perversities of the LGBT crowd, granting them protected status. And again, California lead the way. School systems issued rules guaranteeing boys the right to use girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms. Federal and state penitentiaries paid for inmates to have their genitals mutilated and removed, making it easier for them to sell their bodies to their fellow inmates. California passed a law making it illegal for counselors to work with children to restore harmony between their gender identity and sexual identity, and no exception was granted for Christian counselors, parents, or children.
Emboldened, the homosexualists set their sights on silencing all the holdouts in the hinterlands—you know, Iowa, Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Indiana—states where people hadn’t yet been educated enough to lose their sense of shame. But first, a scheme was needed to make lesbianism and sodomy into a moral principle, and what better way than to try to dress them in the symbolism, drama, finery, consumerist orgy, and sentimental schlock of the modern wedding? So bathhouses went into the closet and gay men and women put on the playclothes of monogamy, long-term fidelity, and commitment—words and concepts with the connotation of marriage that stopped just short of coming out and saying “marriage”—and arguing that they should have the right to every benefit of monogamous, long-term commitment that heterosexuals had. Why should they be discriminated against just because they wanted to copulate with members of their own sex, rather than the opposite sex? Why couldn’t they file “married filing jointly” tax returns? Why couldn’t they attend weddings and funerals and parties and family reunions as a married couple, just like everyone else?
Most Americans came to accept the logic of homosexualists’ position and made the slight course correction to add homosexual couples to their guest list. After a little while, most Christians did so as well. It was a small step from loving the sinner to loving the sinner and his partner. And who talked about what they did with one another? “I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to think about it. What they choose to do in the privacy of their own home and bedroom is up to them. It’s none of our business!”
Yet there were a few holdouts and they caused all the problems.
Here and there in the suburbs and small towns were Mom-and-Pop wedding cake and photography and pizza businesses that refused to act as if the emperor was wearing clothes, refusing to join the parade. But hell hath no fury like sodomites and lesbians shamed!
Mom and Pop DISCRIMINATED! Mom and Pop were HOMOPHOBIC! Mom and Pop were HATERS! Mom and Pop had to be banished to Siberia—it wasn’t enough that they lived in the Hoosier farmland half an hour south of some city called Fort Wayne, a full day’s drive west of the Hudson River. Such buffoons were enemies of the people and they must be shamed and gagged.
The Masters of the Universe running the NCAA, Angie’s List, Gen Con, Salesforce, Subaru, and Apple stomped all over Mom and Pop’s Pizza Store, and within seconds Governor Pence and all the Evangelical Christians surrounding him in the Statehouse had folded and were running for cover. Now lesbian and sodomite marriage is the rule of the land, and what’s the rule of the land is, as we have seen, always the law of the church.
Only one tweak is required to keep the hypocrisy in that sweet spot where we can make like we honor God while living comfy in Vanity Fair: anyone who wants to be employed by our churches and other Christian institutions must publicly claim to be a celibate gay. Or a gay celibate—either way you want to say it is OK. They can reject, they can repudiate, they can rebel against who God made them, but if it’s someone of the same sex they lust for, they must not admit publicly to copulation. They can be all butch with buzzcuts and piercings; they can work out down at the Iron Pit and wear wifebeaters to the church volleyball game; they can have another butch woman right next to them at every church function—a woman with hair as short as their own; they can talk to everyone at church about how far along their adoption procedure is; and so long as they never admit to doing “that” with each other, no one lets out a peep.
Hate gay sex but LOVE gay identity, you know. LOVE gay couples. Love gay everything just so long as no one mentions that thing they promise us they don’t do.
Each step of the way, the Church has found its sweet spot where it can cop a posture of honoring God and His Law while living at ease in Vanity Fair. Sodom and Gomorrah. Wheaton, St. Louis, Asheville, Bloomington, and Manhattan.
The next step will be the pulpit. Lewis warned us they’ll tell us we can have our religion in private, and then they’ll make sure we’re never alone. The pulpit always leads the nation, but what preacher is going to preach against lesbianism and sodomy when he can get his parishioners fired because his boss listened to the hate speech in his pastor’s podcast and read the hate speech on his pastor’s blog? Pastors have long been taught by our seminary profs to stick with grace and the cross, so avoiding the specific application of Leviticus and Romans 1 and First and Second Corinthians in our sermons and blogging is only be the smallest of incremental steps. It will be almost invisible to our parishioners. No one will fault us for caving to our society’s hatred for the holiness of God. In time, the homophobes who continue to preach repentance will stick out like a sore thumb and the IRS and state legislatures will rattle the saber against such holdouts, threatening us with the loss of our tax-exempt status. Then, without money, how will we do our work? How will we hold our conferences, sell our books, and build our church-houses? Enlightened and progressive rhetoric will become the rule in our churches and the pulpits of our land will become utterly silent.
Then will come our children. Not their molestation and rape, mind you—that’s already in full swing within the most conservative homeschooling or classical schooling patriarchal churches, let alone churches of mainstream denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America, Missouri Synod Lutheran, Evangelical Free, and Southern Baptist Convention. The child molestation and incest hiding in every church in America is the fruit we are reaping from those secret sins of the past forty years in front of our television and computer and smartphone screens. We’ve sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. Soon, the whirlwind will give us Europe’s present lower age of consent which in some nations is already down at thirteen years of age. Any innocence of childhood will be a relic from the past and Christian parents who try to discipline their sons and daughters’ sexualization will be reported to Child Protective Services. But the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund will do nothing to oppose it.
You say I’m wrong, but you have no basis for your judgment. First, we said that a man couldn’t be a prophet and be a pastor. Next we said our pastors should not preach, but officiate over our religious ceremonies. Every pastor will don the robes and stoles of the priesthood, but our priesthood will be bloodless in its liturgies and sacraments. We’ll have chaplains all dressed up in spiffy dress-whites, inoffensive in our prayers, inane in our homilies, and impotent in our evangelism. Calls to repentance will be labeled “hate-speech” and “homophobic,” and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.
There is no Barmen Declaration. There is no Confessing Church. There is no Mayflower sailing toward the horizon. We have met the enemy and he is us.
But where is our love? Where is our concern for the souls of the lost? Where is our missional commitment? Where is our Christian compassion for the fornicators, abortionists, adulterers, gays, and child molesters inside and outside our churches? Where is our concern to protect our children?
If Jesus didn’t come to save sinners, why did He come at all; and why did He die?
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. – Matthew 24:9-13
Previously published May 29, 2015 on Baylyblog.