Category Archives: Christianity

A Small Game

If you are a Christian and attend church regularly, I have a small game you should play every year.

On Mother’s Day, if the church you attend has a service which honors mothers, you win the game.

On Father’s Day, if the church you attend has a service which honors mothers and tells fathers to man up, you win the game.

I’ve won the game every year since I started keeping track in 2010. Pretending to win something keeps me sane.

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Feminist Eisegesis

When you encounter a command in Scripture that you don’t like, you have a few options available to you. You can reject it, accept it, or take a more creative approach and impose a new meaning on it.

Here’s an example of the latter approach.

The passage in question is 1st Corinthians 14:34:

“…women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak but must be in submission, as the law says.”

The blogger is upfront about his bias:

It’s embarrassing because it so out of step with our understanding of equality and the value of women in our culture today.

This is a fairly loaded statement, because it implies that if anyone were to take Paul seriously and not try to read his meaning in a way that comports with our post-feminist society, that person doesn’t “value women” or “understand equality”.

He suggests that this statement, if interpreted literally, contradicts Paul’s theology generally, in particular his statement in Galatians that “… there is no longer… male or female”. This passage is often (ab)used to put a rubber stamp on all of the modern, often intentionally anti-Christian movements to attempt to remove distinctions between men and women. I suggest that it’s an abuse of the text, because Paul isn’t making metaphysical statements; he is saying that the Gospel is for everyone. This is obvious from the context, but if you strip that out, you can make the passage in Galatians into a Marxist toolkit.

If you decide to read the entire post, you’ll note that the author takes into account the history of Corinth, the linguistic circumstances of the day, and pretty much every piece of context that fits his case.

What he neglects, however, is the context of the passage itself as well as any parallel passages. Here’s the passage in full:

As in all the congregations of the saints, women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church.

Did God’s word originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, let him acknowledge that what I am writing you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

Since these are Christians and Paul is an Apostle who has no problem taking badly behaving Christians to task, Paul could have said “Some women in your churches are misbehaving and talking out of turn, and talking out of turn isn’t good for order, so I do not permit them to do that.” Paul could not have been more clearly not saying that, though.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have a related passage in 1st Timothy 2:

A woman must learn in quietness and full submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression. Women, however, will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

I strongly suspect that the reason this passage was skipped was because Paul explains his rationale here, and it doesn’t fit the blogger’s interpretation. Paul doesn’t say “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet. For your churches have women who are misbehaving”. If that’s what he meant, he easily could have said it. Instead he traces his reasoning to the very nature of man and woman. Eve was deceived and Adam was not – and this is a huge deal.

Finally, there’s this gem summarizes his thoughts, and I think it explains what’s really going on. A feminist, thoroughly imbibing on Marxist toxin, doesn’t like the passages in Scripture that contradict feminism and all his pet liberal causes, so he imposes new meaning on them. At least in this instance, his motive is clearly stated:

Unfortunately, since many of the dominant voices throughout church history, have been straight**, white*, males, this has meant that the church has been slow in pushing past the flimsy exegesis, and damaging assumptions of our past.

Instead of being the sexist, misogynist many have taken him for, I believe that Paul brings the challenge of feminism to the Church.

It’s worth remembering that if this is true, 2000 years of Christians were women-hating, racist, homophobic, sexists  who couldn’t understand Paul. It took secular anti-Christian feminist and sexual revolutions to get the church to finally see the light. Paul was, in his mind, obviously a far-left radical.

What I’d prefer, though, is for those who think all of these things to stop reinterpreting Paul and just say what they really think: Paul was wrong. Honesty is much better than manipulation.


* Most of the early church fathers were not European.

** I bet this blogger would also support the notion that the Bible has nothing meaningful to say about sexual ethics (except those cherry-picked portions that support feminism and egalitarianism). Who knew obedience to Christ’s commands about sexual activity was an unfortunate thing?

Sacred Sin

An old acquaintance of mine recently claimed to have reconciled his Christianity and his newly admitted same-sex attraction. He provided a lengthy explanation which followed this pattern (written from his perspective):

  1. Before I was openly gay, I had shame and feared rejection. Now that I’m openly gay, I feel great.
  2. I’ve been encouraged by lots of people, but there are also lots of judgmental, hateful bigots and I hate any law that would prevent me from openly working in a Christian institution. Damn those laws.
  3. I think our country is moving in the right direction on sexual ethics.
  4. Make sure you fully support anyone who identifies as LGBT++, lest they commit suicide.

The first thing that struck me is how this reasoning is consistent with the most radical anti-Christian sexual revolution rhetoric you can find: same-sex attraction is totally fine, people who disagree are judgmental bigots, religious liberty is a code-name for bigotry, we are Progressing, full acceptance of radical gender ideology is the next mile marker, LGBT++ people commit suicide because of evil hateful bigots being mean.

This is not the type of thing I would ever expect a Christian to write. In fact, were it not for a comment that he had somehow reconciled his “faith” and his “sexuality”, I would have figured he had abandoned Christianity altogether. Instead I conclude he has abandoned the content of Christianity while retaining the form.

My point for this post is not a comprehensive take-down of his poor moral reasoning, his unsubstantiated claims, or his vitriol toward Christians whose ethics are biblically informed and haven’t changed with the culture.

Instead, I want to illustrate how bizarre same-sex acts are as a category of sin. Imagine that, instead of same-sex attraction, this person was constantly tempted to rape women. Follow the reasoning again:

  1. Before I was open about my desire to rape women, I had shame and feared rejection. Now that I’m open about my desire to rape women, I feel great.
  2. I’ve been encouraged by lots of people, but there are also lots of judgmental, hateful bigots and I hate any law that would prevent me from openly working a place where women felt unsafe by my presence. Damn those laws.
  3. I think our country is moving in the right direction on removing the stigma from rape desires.
  4. Make sure you fully support anyone who wants to rape women, lest they commit suicide.

This is a totally unacceptable series of claims, and yet same-sex desires are elevated in such a way that they somehow get accepted, even among Christians.

I think there is a history here of Christians leaving behind the words of Jesus and Paul on marriage which has made any of this possible, but it is still striking. Same-sex attraction and same-sex acts are now sacred.

The Immoral Gag Reflex

The harbingers of the sexual revolution within conservative circles often point to disgust and gag reflexes as symptoms of bigotry.  One of the more insidious efforts of the sexual revolution was to shame people for their natural gag reflex.

The term “homophobia” is a bizarre neologism. No one “fears” people who are attracted to the same sex, so its meaning is left intentionally ambiguous. For most on the Left, it means any disagreement with same-sex acts at all. But on the Right, which has become simply a loyal opposition to the Left (moving Left with them) instead of standing on something concrete, “homophobia” has morphed into a term to guilt people who are disgusted by the acts performed in same-sex relationships.

But one need not fear (no one does) nor hate (few do) same-sex attracted people to be repulsed by the acts. Little do conservatives know that by giving in on this term, they have made the baseline for sexual attraction to be bisexual. If you are shamed for having disgust at same-sex acts, they become acts that you know are forbidden by divine command, but for no other reason. If the only reason to avoid an act is because you are commanded not to, you are far more likely to engage in it or to lessen your hatred for it.

We see the same thing in other places. If you command someone to eat better (maybe a doctor trying to help a patient), they will likely fail at dieting. But a vegan who is convinced this meat is to be reviled is probably going to stick very strictly to a diet.

Shame (when we do something wrong) and disgust (when we see someone else doing something wrong) are God-given.

But exclusively on “consensual” sexual issues, we are told that disgust is oppressive, mean, and “phobic”. We are told no such things when we see a murder, a theft, a scam, or a rape. With those things, we are encouraged to be disgusted.

This doesn’t even get to the far-reaching damage that the liberalizing perspective causes. There’s a vast distance between a man who finds same-sex acts repulsive and one who happily engages in them. If that repulsive reaction is beaten out of the man through coercion, that distance is reduced to nothing at all. By being forced to accept same-sex acts as perhaps immoral but not intrinsically disgusting, the man who has so far avoided the acts is now has lost his strongest defense. It is our revulsion of evil that protects us when our wills and our hearts, evil and weak as they are, fail.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christian charity requires disgust and revulsion at evil acts of all kinds. Only by passionately hating evil can we love people who engage in it. Anything less than a passionate revulsion of evil will make us tolerate sin, which is the opposite of charity.

Special Treatment

I recently ran across a comment someone made about sodomy. The author claimed to be a Christian, and was upset that other Christians made a big deal about sodomy and same-sex attraction. “What’s the deal with Christians and homosexuality?” It sounded like the start of a bad joke. Ultimately, his solution was to “be kind and let God sort it out”, unlike all those evil, mean “fundamentalists”.

This was all very odd. For one thing, it seems strange to put the cultural focus on same-sex attraction at the feet of Christians. If anything, Christians are slow to respond to a total moral inversion in the West regarding sodomy. Within a generation, anti-sodomy laws were replaced by laws against any critique of sodomy. That means in less than 20 years, what was considered so evil as to be punishable by law became so good as to have any opposition to it punishable by law. Christians are making too big a deal out of this?

It gets worse though. God doesn’t allow Christians to “be kind and let God sort it out”. That sounds a bit like Christianity without the Gospel. What did Christ die for if there is no sin?

But things can get worse still. Paul spends a great deal of time condemning same-sex sexual sin. He calls it shameful, and he even says talking about it is shameful in Ephesians 5:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God…

…For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

So while our friend wants to condemn Christians for taking issue with same-sex acts, it turns out Paul was disgusted by them and treated them as utterly contemptible and shameful. The acts are called abominations throughout Scripture for good reason. For some reason, modern Western Christians would rather eject you from your congregation for having a natural, God-given gag reflex than for engaging in same-sex sin. This is totally backwards.

The thing about sodomy and same-sex sexual sin in general is that it is so damaging to one’s body and soul that it serves as its own punishment. As Paul says in Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Where Paul and the rest of Scripture treats sexual sin in especially harsh terms, the modern, Western Christian treats it in especially soft and careful terms, if at all. That tells us more about the theology of such people than anything else.

Presuppositional Apologetics as a Weak Point

This post will be brief, but I’ll still provide a disclaimer: Theologically conservative Reformed churches are Christian churches, and this topic is an internal one between fellow Christians. I myself am not a Calvinist (for what I believe are very good reasons), but I don’t deny that Calvinists have true Christian faith. With that out of the way…

Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til developed the concept of presuppositional apologetics (PA from here on out in this post) as a result of his theological work. When you combine the central tenets of Calvinism and push them to their most extreme form, you end up with the view that nothing in the entire world can be properly understood without the “light of the main doctrines of Christianity”, in Van Til’s words. In his mind, there is no such thing as a neutral ground of reason where both Christian and non can debate ideas. Even offering evidences outside of Christianity thus grants non-Christians their own presuppositions, meaning an apologist fails before he starts*.

If PA is the naturally outworking of a fully formed Reformed theological system, though, we have a problem. The Bible has many accounts where evidence is offered to non-Christians. The context of these passages makes it clear that such evidence is offered to convince people of the truth of Christianity (Jesus does this, for example, with His miracles and His fulfillment of prophecy. Paul does it as well, “reasoning” with the Greeks).

That means Jesus Himself and the Apostles don’t seem to understand the importance of PA, which is unattested in Scripture. More likely, Jesus and the Apostles do not see the value in PA (if they did, they presumably would have used that tactic).

This isn’t just a problem for PA, though. If PA really is the logical outworking of a strong Calvinist theology, then to reject PA is to reject the theological framework which necessitates it. That makes PA a huge liability for extreme Calvinists:

  • Logical conclusion of reformed theology -> Presuppositional apologetics
  • Presuppositional apologetics are not Biblical (it is both not attested, and its inverse offering evidence is well attested)
  • Therefore the logical conclusion of reformed theology is not Biblical
  • (Modus Tollens: P -> Q. Not Q. Therefore not P)

 


*I once got into an argument on social media with (Calvinist) James White, only to have my faith impugned because I didn’t agree with PA. This view really is the logical outworking of Calvinism, so much so that it seems to hold its own against doctrines like the Divinity of Christ and His death by the cross when some Calvinists determine if people are genuine in their faith.

Double Standards

Dalrock posted about one Lori Alexander who wrote an article that, whatever her intentions, served primarily to prove the existence of the Overton Window.

Phylicia Masonheimer was not going to take such an article without comment. Apparently, she married a man who was “bearing fruit”. Who had a “servant heart”. Who was “faithful”. Who “desired to grow in grace and knowledge of our Savior”. He had tattoos and debt and had slept with other women, but he met whatever her criteria was.

The target audience of Lori Alexander is too young to have slept around, but they are presumably Christians. She recommends that they remain sexually pure for their husbands, because husbands find that attractive. This would make their sexual purity a sort of “fruit of the spirit”, it would seem. For whatever reason, this fruit is not like that of Phylicia Masonheimer’s husband. It’s not appropriate to expect it or search for it.

Phylicia Masonheimer thinks this is legalistic. It grieves God to offer this advice. It isn’t Christianity. Because Lori Alexander is offering marriage advice which is not equivalent to the Gospel, she is wrong. Because Lori Alexander says that things besides faith in Christ are attractive to a spouse, she is “adding to the simplicity of faith”, which is “a distraction from what really matters”. Apparently, her advice is for women to find a guy who acts like a Christian and claims to be one, ignore everything he has ever done in his past, and be willing to marry him. Asking for anything else is not Christianity.

But she has an entire article on how to “choose a godly man”. Apparently, she does have some criteria after all.

Among them, the man needs to:

  1. Revere God and delight in His word
  2. Be relationally [sic], financially, and spiritually wise
  3. Be gracious, compassionate, and righteous
  4. Be generous and steadfast
  5. Have faith in God’s will and timing
  6. Be bold
  7. Be conscious of the needs of others

She follows it up by saying:

“…let these principles, given in God’s word, be your guide as you look for God’s man. And to the measure you use for a potential spouse, remember – he’ll be using the same measure for you. [bold in original]”

She justifies her criticism of Lori Alexander by saying:

In the name of Christianity, however, it articulated rules which are found nowhere in Scripture.

That’s not exactly true. Avoiding debt is an example of being financially wise, which she listed as one of her criteria for godliness (and how a woman should measure a potential spouse).

Being sexually pure isn’t on Phylicia Masonheimer’s list explicitly, but revering God implies sexual purity. And virginity, for someone who has always revered God.

The portions speaking of women living in obedience to their husbands is found throughout the New Testament. I’m sure Phylicia Masonheimer has read these passages before and promptly rationalized them away, but they remain in Scripture, against her claim.

The claims about college and its effects seem directly related to being spiritually wise. Worthless degrees and liberal indoctrination are not things a spiritually wise person endures voluntarily.

In fact, working through each of Lori Alexander’s suggestions, all can be related to one of the things which Phylicia Masonheimer herself has provided. But even if they couldn’t be, the Bible is not an instruction manual for finding a spouse. For all her talk about the importance of the Gospel and the clarity of the central Christian message, she seems to be deeply confused about the purpose of Scripture itself. While it offers advice on finding a spouse, it is not the sum total of all the things a man or a woman is looking for in the opposite sex. Men and women can and ought to look for more in a spouse than the limited items in Scripture. A man who wants children should not marry a woman who doesn’t like children or want them around. You don’t need it explicitly written in Scripture.

Phylicia Masonheimer has confused marriage advice with the Gospel. If we were to do the same with her article on marriage advice, we could ask why she would add so many things to the Gospel, when God forgives our mistakes. Her article is a non sequitur. And, it reveals a disturbing double standard: the imperatives of feminism (women getting college degrees, careers, postponing children, and living a life of sexual “liberty”) cannot be contradicted when offering marriage advice. To do so, in her eyes, is to impugn the Gospel. But any other marriage advice that allows for these imperatives is appropriate and not even worth commenting on.