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The Gospel Coalition Guide to Undermining Christian Marriage

(h/t to bdash 77 over at Dalrock’s blog)

The Gospel Coalition has published a step-by-step guide on how to reject the Biblical rules for marriage and then, to throw off anyone orthodox enough to try and stop you, they demonstrate how to hide your tracks with bombast and exaggeration. There’s an epidemic of men locking their wives in closets! (pay no attention to the conspicuous lack of lawsuits)

“A Hidden Epidemic God Hates”, written by one Steve Hoppe on May 11th of this year, begins with what appears to be a horror movie still and this quote, which is also meant to scare you:

Tom micromanages his wife Sarah’s physical appearance to fit his personal tastes. He picks out her clothes, tells her how she can do her hair, and restricts her diet so she remains thin. When Sarah confronts him on his controlling behavior, he cites Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”

The word “submit” appears only once in this article, and it’s in this opening paragraph. Steve never addresses Ephesians 5:22. In fact, he never cites a single passage in the Bible regarding marriage to make his case.

Sarah, if she is a real person, doesn’t want to submit to her husband when it comes to her physical appearance or her diet. Whatever it is that constitutes her diet, it apparently keeps her healthy, though she is described as “thin” so we don’t accidentally misread this attempt at a horror story. Sarah obeys her husband, as she is commanded in Scripture. This obedience is framed as victimhood.

A real Sarah – Abraham’s wife – was praised by the Apostle Paul himself for her obedience. She planned to commit adultery at the request of her husband (it’s the only example of her obedience we have). Paul apparently doesn’t have the insights of The Gospel Coalition. Had he known what they know, he would have condemned Abraham for his spiritual abuse, rather than praise Sarah for her obedience. As we’ll soon see, Steve condemns husbands who ask for sex even for themselves, so this isn’t a stretch.

Miranda is an overprotective mother. She homeschools her 17-year-old daughter, Kate, to prevent her from being exposed to rebellious teenagers. She won’t allow her to play sports, attend dances, or get her driver’s license. She cites 1 Corinthians 15:33 as her justification for parenting this way: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

The only thing noteworthy in this story is the use of the term “overprotective mother”. I presume Steve had to include the term “overprotective”, else readers would scratch their heads wondering what was wrong here.

Bill forces his wife Angie to have sex against her will. He’s rough in bed and occasionally strikes her when they’re being intimate. He cites 1 Corinthians 7:4 as his allowance for doing so: “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.”

“Force” is an interesting term in a relationship in which sex is pledged at the start. Steve has decided, for whatever reason, not to use the clearest passage in Scripture regarding sexual duties, that being the next verse: “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

I suppose if he included the full context, then a wife who had to be forced against her will to have sex would clearly be a wife rebelling against her husband and God.

All three of these stories are attempts by the author to illustrate “spiritual abuse”. What are his specific examples of spiritual abuse? If nothing else, they are revealing. Here are some of the more interesting selections:


Physically harming you.

There’s no limits on this one. Spanking a child or slapping a face are both “spiritual abuse” here. Forget about the rod of Proverbs.

Pressuring you to engage in sexual activity.

A wife can apparently deny her husband sexual activity for the duration of their marriage, and not be guilty of spiritual abuse. After all, as Steve explicitly states, spiritual abuse can only occur when someone is in spiritual authority over someone else. That would always be husbands. Wives are not even capable of spiritual abuse. They can disobey every command regarding sex and remain innocent here, while their husbands can ask just one time too many and be condemned.

Insulting you or calling you names.

Insulting or calling names seems fair enough, until you consider that both are easy accusations for anything you don’t like to hear. “You called me fat!” is an insult and a name, and an obvious accusation to make when your husband suggests you go on a diet. Speaking of…

Forcing you to diet or exercise.

Heaven forbid. Steve has a particular problem with evil husbands demanding that their wives stay healthy.

Threatening you.

This makes most of Scripture a form of spiritual abuse. God threatens people all the time. God’s prophets make threats. Christ’s Apostles make threats. If you are forbidden from making threats, you cannot exercise spiritual authority. You can only passively wait for people to listen to you if they choose to, which puts the authority in those who are commanded to submit. This role-reversal is a common feminist Christian tactic.

Restricting your ability to access financial information.

I’ve known several marriages that have ended when the husband or the wife (almost always the wife) has spent money behind her husband’s back and bankrupted the family. Apparently, a husband who seeks real safeguards to this is abusive.

 

Preventing you from working.

Are you noticing a theme here? Any time a husband wants his wife to do something, any time a husband expects his wife to submit to him about something, it is a form of spiritual abuse. Steve doesn’t provide a single meaningful example of a husband who has spiritual authority over his wife acting in a practical way.

Telling you what you can and cannot say in small groups, church, or other social settings.

This is too all-encompassing. Are we really to presume that parents can’t tell their children what to say when they are around other adults?

Locking you in rooms, closets, or basements.

This one is meant to shock you. It’s meant to catch you off guard in case you’ve been questioning this list.

Taking away your access to transportation.

Grounding your child is a form of spiritual abuse.

Blocking your contact with counselors, mentors, or other spiritual figures.

Does this include Imams? How about psychologists who advise your wife to divorce you because she is unhappy?

Punishing you for your sins.

Remember the book of Proverbs? Every time it provides instructions for disciplining your children, it’s actually teaching you how to spiritually abuse them.


 

It became apparent to me, as I read through this article, that Steve wasn’t sure if he was writing against husbands who exercise their spiritual authority or for parents who exercise authority over their children. I suspect he came up with his definition and realized it applied to parents, so he tossed in a story about an overprotective mother and then forgot that near half of his examples of spiritual abuse are actually things that are commanded for parents when dealing with their children.

It goes further, though. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in the same way children are. A wife is not a child and isn’t to be treated as a child, but she is in the same position of spiritual submission. Many of these supposed forms of spiritual abuse, then, are simply real acts that a spiritual authority can use over those he oversees.

Steve hates these things, but Steve hating these things isn’t very profound. He needs to find a way to say that God hates these things. So what does he do?

In Titus 1, Paul rebukes Jewish Christians who were teaching heresy for selfish gain (sounds a lot like spiritual abuse, doesn’t it?):

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. . . . They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:10–11,16)

God detests spiritual abuse.

He finds a passage that has nothing to do with marriage or parenting and claims it applies to the home. Condemning heresy is framed as an equivalent to condemning patriarchal family structures and the acts which enforce that structure. This doesn’t work, though.

He should have chosen a different passage for another reason. Part of Paul’s condemnation of these heretics is that they are “insubordinate”. They refuse to submit. This passage is the condemnation of insubordination to real spiritual authorities, not of spiritual authority wielded for selfish gain.

Pastors and church leaders, it’s long past time we stand up against all forms of abuse. This includes spiritual abuse in the church and the home. Domestic spiritual abuse is far more common than you think. It hurts innocent sheep daily. It destroys the fabric of families and churches.

Steve ends his post against the role of husbands in marriage by calling pastors to help him bring down the patriarchy. Having established that spiritual abuse just is that set of acts which give teeth to spiritual authority, his condemnation of spiritual abuse and his call to arms is an inquisition into any real forms of spiritual hierarchy in the churches of his readers. Since only men can be spiritual abusers in marriage, only wives can be the victims of spiritual abuse. In this way, Steve has found the ultimate Christianesque form of a get-out-of-marriage-free card. Wives need only identify a single example of their husbands attempting to exercise spiritual authority and BAM, spiritual abuse.

Without even feigning respect for the passages of Scripture that describe how Christian husbands and wives are to live together, he condemns them all. After all, who cares about Paul when we have these millions of women locked up in cages?

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Is Marriage Possible?

For Christians, marriage involves a husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife who submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. The husband is to love his wife even unto death, and a wife is to submit to her husband in everything. There are no exceptions.

These are impossible standards for mere humans to live up to, but that’s the nature of perfect moral standards. It isn’t a defect in them.

Husbands are also to teach their wives about spiritual things. They are to “wash [their] wives with the word [of God]”. Paul says that only men are to preach because Eve was deceived; naturally then, this role falls to men.

I’m convinced Christian marriage doesn’t exist in the West. Christian marriage isn’t just difficult today. It is actually impossible. We have only clumsy attempts, and can get nothing more.

In the military and in other hierarchies where real submission to authority takes place, there are safeguards to enforce the structure. Punishments exist for those who disobey orders. The mere fact of these consequences is enough to deter the majority of those who might be tempted to disregard their superiors.

In Western marriages, there have also been safeguards against disobedience. Husbands had tremendous control over their wives. While the modern mind might be tempted to think of physical violence, there were more effective ways to accomplish the goal. Women needed husbands to have any political voice, as only men would qualify to vote, serve in officer corps of the military, or in the court of a king. Christian civilization had mercy for widows, but none for adulteresses. It had roles for women who abstained from marriage, but disdain for women who abandoned their vows. Husbands could rely on all of these things to get the job done so they could focus on Christ’s command for them: to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

None of these things exist today. There are no negative social consequences for women who divorce their husbands, who sleep around while married or not. In fact, women who unilaterally divorce their husbands are often rewarded by courts stacked in their favor. Women don’t have to break their family apart on the outside to rebel, though. With universal suffrage, a house can be divided on the inside; husbands and wives can vote against each other, bringing the government into their home like some totalitarian’s dream.

There are no social restraints to keep a wife submissive toward her husband. And there are no legal actions available to men to do so on their own. In fact, a man who tries to enforce his authority in any way will bring only scorn.

Submission is impossible to enforce, so we are required to trust that women will simply submit out of their own good nature. But women are sinners, just like men. And women, as Paul says, were the first to be deceived, being more likely than men to be manipulated. Our fundamentally feminist culture has honed its skill in manipulation.

Since submission is impossible to enforce, and impossible to produce without enforcement, and since submission is fully half of what makes a Christian marriage, I posit that Christian marriage is not simply difficult in 2018. It is impossible.

There’s No Such Thing as Free

This image has been popping up on social media frequently the past few days. I thought I’d critique the hell out of it, because its content is as foul as the language it uses:

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Let’s take this emotional-tirade-pretending-to-be-an-argument one falsehood at a time so as not to cause ourselves permanent brain damage.

What .. is wrong with Americans who aren’t on board with free healthcare.

  1. You’ve already committed the fallacy of equivocation.
  2. There is no such thing as free healthcare.
  3. Presuming you are actually referring to a system where the government taxes its citizens and pays hospitals directly or funds universal health insurance, there are economic, moral, and practical reasons to oppose.

I’m Canadian and I don’t care that I pay extra taxes…

  1. Is this an argument?
  2. Why do your preferences constitute objective moral law for everyone?
  3. You probably don’t pay taxes in the first place. If you did, you’d probably care.

… so a little boy in Alberta can have open heart surgery or an elderly man in Nova Scotia can get the heart medication he desperately needs.

  1. This is sentimentalism, which is not an argument. Feelings do not constitute an argument.
  2. I bet heart surgery is covered by private insurance. So is heart medication.
  3. Government subsidized college in the US has increased in cost by magnitudes in only a couple decades. Do you suppose medical costs might parallel this? Do you simply not care about these implications, or have you never taken a course in basic economics?
  4. Even if it is noble for these people to receive money to cover their needs, why is it noble to take that money from people by a government backed by military force? Charity is one thing. Taking money by force and redistributing it is not charity.
  5. Do you donate money to such causes?
  6. Are you aware that scarcity exists whether the state pays for something or not? A market can easily get goods and services to where they are needed most by price increases and decreases. Your system devolves into rationing to people the government picks. They probably won’t pick that elderly guy in Nova Scotia.

It’s called taking care of people.

  1. It’s called socialized medicine. Whether it more effectively “cares for people” than a free market is a dubious claim.
  2. Your tax dollars being whisked away by an unseen government, put into a giant pot, and then that same government spending money on drugs or surgery is not “care” any more than a machine “cares” when you press buttons on it and it makes you coffee.

I’m glad I pay so that people can have a good quality of life.

  1. You probably don’t pay. I suspect you are a leech on the system. What you mean to say is that it makes you feel good that other people are forced to pay because you vote for liberals to take their money.
  2. Did people not have good quality of life before bleeding edge medicine? If not, how can you make bleeding edge medicine a prerequisite for good quality of life?
  3. Are you sure the system increases quality of life in the first place? Are you sure everyone’s quality of life might not be enhanced without government theft?

It’s called being a decent *** human being.

  1. It’s called socialized medicine.
  2. Your childish moral superiority complex does not constitute an objective moral standard by which you can bash everyone else.
  3. People who oppose socialized medicine have good reasons for it. You don’t have good reasons to ignore them.
  4. You’ve equated being a decent human being with being a socialist. Are you sure you want to do that? Are you really really sure? Because I can think of some people you might not consider decent who were socialist demagogues and who maybe, just maybe, murdered hundreds of millions of people. It was for a good cause, though.
  5. You are a pompous ass, not a decent human being.

The most irritating thing about all of this that you know the woman who wrote it is convinced she is better than you because she votes to take away people’s money to give to others. She’s never thought about any potential flaws in the system (rationing, cost increases, inefficiencies causing death because of no market corrections to fix them). But it doesn’t matter.

On second thought, the most irritating thing about it all is that her vote is equal to the vote of an economic scholar.

Mob Rule as Science

I’ve been researching the philosophy, history, science, and politics of transgenderism in order to create a more comprehensive series of posts that deal with topic. This is still something I’d like to complete soon, but while going through the process I discovered some surprising things.

In every article discussing changes to mental health guidelines (whether the APA’s or the WHO’s), the driving force to rewrite sections on transgenderism was liberal politicians in countries that held sway over the respective guidelines.For instance, in Denmark, politicians declared that they would legislate new guidelines for a presumably scientific document:

“I think it’s really time to push the WHO in the direction of changing now,” Flemming Møller Mortensen, a Social Democrat member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the health committee, told STAT in an interview.

“Now we give them a little kick and we say: ‘If you do not finish in the autumn of this year, we will go by ourselves by the first of January.’’’

And what was the motivating factor?

Rights group LGBT Denmark also welcomed the move.

“To remove transgender from the section of mental disorders means removing an institutionalised stigmatisation of trans people,” spokeswoman Linda Thor Pedersen said.

That’s right. The reason it is no longer scientific to call a man wrong for thinking he is a woman is because professional agitators want to “remove an institutionalized stigmatization”. I wonder if physics has a history of change due to the feelings of people impacted by physics. This is “science” by legislative dictate in order to appease the mob. Which is to say, it isn’t science.

There are thousands of LGBT blogs advocating to what they call transgender rights. The word “right” has been bastardized beyond meaning, but the gist of the articles on these blogs is that the science really doesn’t matter when it comes to transgenderism. What matters is the stigma. So whether people are objectively wrong about their own bodies or not, the only important concern is the feelings those people have. And this at least is consistent. If feelings are more important than the human body, why wouldn’t they be more important than a human intellectual pursuit like science?

Not a single article I could find articulated a case for transgenderism based on logic or biological factors. The closest I could find were articles discussing the structure of brains in those who are mistaken about their sex, but by nature these arguments can say little about the merits of treating transgenderism as normal and healthy. Just as the presence of people born without legs can say little about the merits of treating such a condition as normal and healthy. In both cases, it is the incredible rarity of both that negates the claim to normalcy, and frustration of natural ends that negates the claim to health.

I expected to come across something that resembled an argument, and the closest I got was a few self-described “mental health workers” talking about their experience treating people who believed themselves to be the opposite sex. Even in these cases, there was no argumentation. There was simply an irritated reaction.

Even on the topic of hormone blockers, I found people simply defending the practice of disrupting human health on the basis of dignity. Why is it dignified to take hormone blockers? No one seems to know.

So, in the end, I discovered that the transgender movement is based on assertions, is propagated by force and threat of force, and is justified by sentimentality. This isn’t too far off from what I had expected, but to find nothing at all outside of this shallowness was a little surprising.

Weak Christianity

I encountered an unfortunate article on MereOrthodoxy this afternoon that had me remove the website from my subscription list. I have a big enough list as it is, so poorly thought and poorly written articles cause me to prune it down.

The article was about how bad Trump and Cruz are, and why the author would abstain from voting if Cruz were the nominee. I’m not sure why Trump was even brought up in the article, since the headline was about Cruz specifically. The author says, in essence, that a vote for Cruz is mere desperation of a dead “Religious Right” movement.

It had me thinking, though not about what it was supposed to have me think about. I thought instead about how today, Christians demand perfection in areas they will never get it (politics), while tolerating evil where they should never have it (in churches, accepting the sexual revolution, anti-intellectualism, etc).

We have a spineless church, unwilling to be involved in any part of the world unless that involvement is done through perfect ambassadors. We have a church that won’t vote for Cruz because he is imperfect, and will therefore help Hillary, who supports all sorts of evil. It’s the two-story view that separates the world of morals from the world of practicality taken to its most extreme.

Cruz is not a Savior. But he’ll probably fight government-funded abortions. He isn’t an Apostle. But he’ll probably stand up for religious freedom. He isn’t the way to God. But he will probably be a good president. If this isn’t good enough, nothing will ever be, and such Christians ought to just admit that they’d rather retire into a monastic order and just wait this whole pre-heaven thing out. Which, unfortunately, is an insult to monastic orders.

Abortion Better than Life for Orphans?

I encountered this image, courtesy of “FeministsUnited” or some such group on Facebook:

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Three problems are obvious after reading it.

First, many pro-life people do adopt children. Some even forgo having children of their own in order to adopt. Pro-lifers also donate millions of their dollars to help care for children who have no parents in their lives.

Second, there is another alternative to abortion and adoption: not getting pregnant in the first place. While leftist feminists will immediately bring up rape when this is pointed out, the fact is that rape accounts for a very small fraction of pregnancies. Enough that, thankfully, it is a rare exception and not a rule. For the vast majority of what feminists might call “unwanted” children, the children were brought into existence by the immature behavior of their parents. Had the parents taken responsibility for their actions, the children would not require adoption.

Third, and most important, this position requires the person who holds it to affirm the following statement: It is better for a child to die than to live in circumstances I find unsatisfactory. This brings to mind the origin of Planned Parenthood and its mission of eugenics.

A person who is pro-life is condemned for focusing on the barbaric slaughter of 60,000,000 unborn and innocent children while not doing enough for orphans, where enough is never defined. A person who is pro-abortion is praised for giving human life value based on the circumstances of birth. Far from being “pro-choice” as the slogan goes, the pro-abortionist denies any choice to the only innocent party involved.

You can tell, based on the existence of images like this, that supporters of abortion know they are defending moral bankruptcy and horrific depravity. Else, they wouldn’t try to stretch so far to find justification. If abortion were not from hell, why act like it needs to be defended? If unborn children are just masses of tissue, why abandon the argument?

As for the girl in the back of the text, the pro-abortionist must be willing to say that she ought to have been murdered before birth. I dare them to do so.