27 August 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 4)



To answer my first question:

For the unbelievers among us, what purpose does marriage serve?

As I said, I'm talking about this from our perspective as Christians living as Pilgrims in Babylon. In Genesis 9 where God covenants not just with Noah but with all of humanity regarding nature...a nature no longer under man's blessed Dominion (Genesis 1), but now under fear, dread, and curse.

Man is still over this creation, but no longer has any hope of building the Garden-Kingdom of God on earth. This peace...where the wolf lies with the lamb, will only come with the New Heavens and Earth, the Garden reborn and transformed, the Consummated Kingdom under the 2nd Adam...Christ Jesus.

For now man has dominion over the creatures....not as in the garden, but for food. And we're enemies and there's no longer any peace. We eat each other, or to prevent them from eating us we have to either domesticate them or kill them.

The lex talionis (law of retaliation) outlined in Genesis 9 is often appealed to as a prototype of civil government. This is largely correct. Again we're not being given a blueprint for civil society...we're being told what government is really all about. It's violence. Violence employed to keep fallen man from violence against himself and his neighbour.

It's a Means, a tool employed by Providence to keep people from killing each other. We can kill the beasts, but when a man kills another man...he's treating the man not as one made in God's image...but as a beast.

When Providence removes its restraining hand...then yes, men turn into animals. That's also the lesson of Romans 1. When fallen man completely suppresses conscience then he's handed over to judgment and ceases to be (as it were)....human.

Watch out. It's blood in the streets, people losing all humanity... all humanness (that which differentiates us from beasts)...and eventually yes, even boys don't know that they're boys anymore and girls don't know that they're girls.

And that's where we're at today. The celebration of violence, the lack of decency and even basic charity and manners[i] towards each other...and people self-destructing in an orgy of bodily destruction...a destruction of God's image.[ii]

I think we learn that in terms of theology and expectation, government is really and truly limited...it's to keep people from slashing each other's throats...to keep people from turning into animals and cannibalizing each other. Beyond that it serves little purpose.

Sacral Theorists have for centuries tried to place positive and pedagogical frameworks on government. By this I mean, they want to suggest that government can help to build the Kingdom, or on a more basic level, teach morality and encourage manners. Christians will often appeal to Galatians 3.24 at this point, but in doing so demonstrate they’ve not understood the chapter or that they’re taking Paul’s illustration out of its redemptive context.

To juxtapose Law in Redemptive Covenantal Israel and… Civil Law in Common Non-Covenantal New Testament Era States is to profoundly misunderstand both categories.

Government can force fallen man to conform to social norms. In that sense it can ‘force’ morality. But what is morality?

‘You can’t legislate morality’ we often hear. Christian Sacralists will attack this as an absurdity. And in one sense they’re right and in another sense they’re absolutely wrong. You have to ask some questions first.

What is morality?

Is it tied to action or thought? Or both?

If it’s ‘merely’ action, then yes, government can make you do this or that.

But as Christians we certainly know better. Morality is a matter of the heart[iii] and when someone is not regenerate, even their ‘good deeds’ are tainted with sinful motive and intent. Hence from a theological standpoint their social ‘good deeds’ are not moral, in fact in terms of the Judgment of God…their good deeds condemn them and increase their judgment.

They ‘knew’ that something was the right thing to do but did it not to glorify God but to make themselves feel good, earn adoration, maybe acquire a bit of legalistic pride. Their actions may benefit society….via the Providential Common Grace of God, but is it moral?[iv]

No. And in that sense, no, you cannot legislate morality, because the state cannot in any way change the heart or shape it into something that pleases God.

As Christians our morality flows from the heart and our lives, our moral action, shows our renewed minds and hearts. Our lives are worship, not merely an outward conformity, which we fail to attain, but the posture of our hearts. We don’t desire righteousness out of fear of violence, but because we desire to ‘know’ God, and be reconciled with our Father. We seek to do the right because it is right.[v]

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight. (Proverbs 15.8)

If our civil morality is shaped by Christian thought and action, then it’s something the unbeliever cannot comprehend, let alone accomplish, and in no way does it please God or earn his favour. Our lives are worship and if our every thought and deed is to be to the glory of God how can the unbeliever participate in this moral action?

 



[i] Manners rooted in altruism are something we should embrace and teach our children. Thinking about others first is a critical element to ‘social’ thinking, which is part of what makes us human. We have to be both individual and social. Being purely social is a problem and not one we have in our society. It’s something you’re more likely to find in a Confucian structure.

Our problem in the West is that we’re almost wholly individualistic and hence our ‘society’ which is built around manners is collapsing. Increasingly the only way to hold it together will be the threat of violence.

 

Sadly, manners can also be abused, not only in the hyper-social Asiatic structures, but in created social castes and hierarchies. Christendom has certainly been guilty of the latter. This could be explored extensively but will have to wait for another time.


 

[ii] Satan rejoices in the image of God being defiled, destroyed, and used in ways that mock God’s created order.

 

For the Tolkien aficionados, this is what Tolkien was getting at with Elves and Orcs. Elves are pure and uncorrupted and thus immortal. Orcs are perversions, tortured images of what the Valar had shaped/created… a mockery.


 

[iii] Matthew 5 is a good place to start.


 

[iv] Carnegie did a good work in the city of Pittsburgh with the museums, library and university he created. His philanthropy lives on. But did he do it to glorify God? If not…then was it actually good? It’s good in a sense, a horizontal sense…but does it give him standing before God? If not, can we call it moral?

 

Yet he knew to do it and ‘knowing’ implies culpability and responsibility. So if he did it for the wrong reason, even his good deed becomes sinful.

 

I don’t think most Evangelicals have really grasped the depth and pervasiveness of sin… and many have not really apprehended its implications.

 

As a semi-comedic aside I would point out that sometimes lost people understand this better than Christians do. Look at these lyrics to a popular song, sung by a homosexual. Ironically he grasps the concept better than many Christians do…he sadly doesn’t have an answer. But in no way would he trust in his works. How sad it is to live without grace.

 

When I look back upon my life
It's always with a sense of shame
I've always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I've ever been
Everywhere I'm going to
It's a sin

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed
They didn't quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I've ever been
Everywhere I'm going to
It's a sin

Father, forgive me, I tried not to do it
Turned over a new leaf, then tore right through it
Whatever you taught me, I didn't believe it
Father, you fought me, 'cause I didn't care
And I still don't understand

So I look back upon my life
Forever with a sense of shame
I've always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I've ever been
Everywhere I'm going to - it's a sin
It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin


 

[v] When people speak of ‘accepting’ Jesus because they didn’t want to go to Hell, I’m left wondering if they have really understood the gospel. If that’s the posture of their heart, then what they’ve embraced is akin an insurance policy or even superstition.
Part 5

4 comments:

Protoprotestant said...

I'm repairing a rotted out porch, replacing joists and cementing a new footer-post.

It's supposed to rain by late morning, so I decided to stay home work on some things here and push through more of this series.

Unfortunately I also had to draft a letter to the school district. We haven't had any problems homeschooling but our district often engages in over-reach. They ask for more than the law requires and I have to engage in a little dance.

I don't want to go beyond the law but I also don't want to unnecessarily antagonize them. In this case, it's not bureaucratic hubris, but more a case of bumbling uncertainty. He's trying to do his job and cover his bases but in the process he's asking me for forms that I legally am not required to fill out. If it was a power-grab I would resist, but in this case it's not hostile.

So I filled out the one form but attached a 2 page cover letter explaining what I was doing and trying to make everything clear so that there are no subsequent issues.

There is a certain social need for public education. I understand why it has come about but it is in a death-spin. Maybe if time permits I'll write about that some day. We(my wife and I) have spent quite a bit of time looking into, discussing and thinking about the issue.

It is irritating though that they're giving us grief when the school is failing to even meet the state requirements. Our kids are scoring in the high 90 percentile on the standardized tests and they're often producing semi-illiterate dysfunctional drones.

Jim C. said...

Hey John,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7I5UaB7mx4

For anyone who's curious or interested, here's the song you referenced.

I had no idea you were into new wave.

Cheers,
Jim

Protoprotestant said...

I wouldn't quite put it that way!

I simply remember the song.

There's a lot of interesting social and philosophical commentary in pop culture.

What cracks me up is how many songs are listened to, played in the store, hummed along with....and the listeners never even stop and think about what the artist is saying. In this case it's something philosophical, but sometimes it can be quite shocking!

Anonymous said...

Proto, you've touched on a critical point distinguishing "good" and "moral" from worship that is pleaasing to God. John 4:24 comes to bear on this point. Also Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler.

Nothing that originates from self, nothing that comes out of "man" can please God. Humanism and religion are such. It's all about the resurrection life of Jesus--either that is the quickening element, or it's fallen corrupt man--a stench and abomination. Entirely antithetical and entirely radical (to the root) Matthew 3:10. Contemporary western evangelicalism doesn't understand or at least does not impart this distincton to its adherents. "Good" is the enemy of "best" and of "godly."

Blessed rain here too, thank the Lord.
Victoria