Earlier this week David Gushee continued his sad decline with a cowardly piece for Religion News Service. It’s all par for the course for progressive evangelicals like Gushee, of course, which is why I’m generally not too bothered by what they say. But even so the dishonesty in this particular piece is jarring and merits further comment.

I could quote multiple lines, but this one will suffice, to begin. In talking about those awful backwards bigots (that he used to hang out with), Gushee writes, “(Religious conservatives) are organizing legal defense efforts under the guise of religious liberty, and interpreting their plight as religious persecution.”

Let’s review what is actually happening on the ground right now, since Gushee at least apparently has not noticed: Baronelle Stutzmann has faced major lawsuits from private parties and the state of Washington after she declined to provide services that would violate her conscience for a same-sex wedding. The lawsuits could drive her out of business. The same thing has happened to Aaron and Melissa KleinCynthia and Robert Gifford, and Jon and Elaine Huguenin. We could go on.

In every case, we are dealing with people who have been given a choice between a) violating their conscience or b) losing a significant source of income for themselves and their family. Is this persecution on the level of what Fr. Hamel faced in France this summer? Of course not—and conservatives who suggest otherwise need to stop being ridiculous. Part of the problem we’re dealing with today is that we have over-played the persecution card in the past, which has created a boy-who-cried-wolf problem. That said, sometimes there really are wolves. And if you tell a person “I am ordering you to choose between your conscience and your livelihood,” you are persecuting them. And that is what our government is doing right now.

Of course, it’s possible that these are beliefs that ought to be persecuted. You can argue that the harm done to LGBT individuals by allowing private citizens to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings is socially significant enough that we should legislate against such action. Thinking more expansively, if you want to argue that traditional monotheistic sex ethics are beyond the pale and shouldn’t be tolerated in society, you can make that case. But what cannot be questioned is the fact of state and federal governments forcing private American citizens to make such an unhappy choice between conscience and livelihood.

Unfortunately, Gushee and others like him stubbornly refuse to see what is already happening as well as what could happen in the near future. Instead, they consistently say that fears about persecution are unfounded and naive. They claim that we are not going through a social revolution in which basic social institutions are being radically redefined and reimagined. Rather, we are simply undergoing a natural social progression toward acceptance and inclusion (as defined by 21st century western elites and corporations).

Here’s Gushee’s opener:

Middle ground is disappearing on the question of whether LGBT persons should be treated as full equals, without any discrimination in society — and on the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs.

Note the subjects he uses in that sentence: “Middle ground is disappearing.” The subject of the sentence is a thing rather than a rational being that acts—”middle ground,” whatever that means. And whatever it is, it’s going away. But Gushee never bothers to explain why. Apparently no one is acting in Gushee’s writing on the issue. The thing is just happening: “Don’t look at me. I had nothing to do with it. Don’t look at them either. Don’t look at anyone, in fact. It was just inevitable that this would happen. Stop asking questions.”

The funny thing is how insistent Gushee is on using such an awful sentence style throughout the entire horror of an essay: “It turns out that you are either,” “Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.” “The landscape is dramatically different (BUY MY BOOK).”

The only active people in Gushee’s sentences are those awful backwards bigots who deserve whatever they have coming. I mean that quite literally. Go back and reread the essay. When talking about society’s shifting attitude on sexual ethics, Gushee leans heavily on the passive voice and on sentences whose subject is itself a thing rather than any sort of rational being capable of action. We do not have “Gay rights advocates have done x,” or even “pro-LGBT advocates have won victory x.” Instead: “The issue has been forced.”

In Gushee’s world, no one is acting to promote a certain social agenda premised on redefining marriage and transforming sexual ethics into an exclusively consent-based system. It’s just happening like magic. Because #history.

But then note the change when he begins talking about the conservative evangelicals: Once he shifts his attention to us, his sentences suddenly become active. We are doing specific things to promote bigotry. We are lying. We are over-reacting. We are hateful. His side, meanwhile, is actually not doing anything—they’re just standing there watching history unfold. He’s so committed to this false narrative that even his sentence structure is dishonest.

For Gushee, laws passed by states and the federal government targeting religious conservatives are not the conscious choices of individuals and groups focused on promoting a new social vision for America. Rather, this is all just a passive social transformations that religious conservatives can either choose to embrace, like the enlightened converts Gushee, Evans, and Merritt already have, or choose to reject.

If they do the latter, they will be swept into the dustbin of history, not because their beliefs have been tried and found wanting but because that sublime word “progress” does all the heavy lifting for us and conjures up a magical world where only one side is actually acting and they are acting badly. So screw them. To read Gushee is to be told that we aren’t seeing a fight between two fundamentally different visions of reality with competing claims about the nature of human beings, sexuality, and family life. We’re simply seeing a fight between the inevitable forces of progress objectively understood and those backwards people who would oppose it.

The trouble here is that this completely misrepresents what is actually happening. What we are witnessing is the triumph of one understanding of reality over another. As I noted last week, market-enabled, government-backed individualism is ascendant; Christianity is in decline.

This transformation will have wide-reaching social consequences that extend well beyond the redefinition of marriage to accommodate same-sex couples and give them access to legal benefits enjoyed by married couples. Again, you can argue that this is a good thing. Many will. And that’s fine. I’d prefer it, actually. But let’s be clear on this point: We aren’t witnessing a transformation effected by an objective, impersonal force called “progress” in which entrenched social conservatives are acting to oppose it. We are witnessing a conflict between two groups with rival conceptions of reality that are incompatible on certain key points. That is the story here even though you’d never guess it from Gushee’s remarkably dishonest account.

And here’s the thing: If we’re honest about the fact of the conflict playing out in front of us, we can be honest about the stakes of the debate, which are enormous: Either we are completely autonomous, self-defining human individuals and the government has an obligation to protect our right to self-definition or we enter into a world given to us in a certain condition, shaped by certain factors outside our control, and filled with norms, rules, and laws we are powerless to change and can only submit to. Gushee’s attempts to obscure this fact do nothing to change it.

One cannot coherently affirm the goodness of natural, creational limits while rejecting one of the oldest and most widely affirmed examples of such limits. To affirm the moral licitness of same-sex acts seems to lead inevitably to affirming an understanding of reality that is out of step with Christian faith—a point Rod Dreher was making years ago.

You can side with the ancients or the revolutionaries, but you cannot do both:

For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: The solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious.

The fact that a huge number of people, including Gushee and his friends, absolutely refuse to see this point doesn’t change the facts of the debate. We either have a right to define our own concept of existence—in which case we should just be done with Christianity altogether—or we do not. There can be no attempt to pretend that our current social revolution is simply the natural progression of history happily moving toward climax as those awful, backwards bigots die off in its wake. Such claims are not only dishonest; they are cowardly.

Here’s the truly awful thing about all this: This sort of framing makes both real debate and real pluralism impossible. If we recognize the radical nature of our dispute, we might also be able to recognize ways of living together peaceably in the midst of those differences. Consider the many examples of close friends who are fierce ideological opposites. But as long as we insist on this absurd idea that one side is simply going along with history and the other is bitterly clinging to their bigoted religious beliefs, there can be no understanding of the other. And where there is no understanding, there can be no functioning polis.

In “Hamilton” when forced to choose between his long-term enemy Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, a man always scheming for a new way to be perceived as a revolutionary without ever taking the risks required of actual revolutionaries, Hamilton concludes that he must support Jefferson because “Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none.”

I suppose what I’m asking for is more Jeffersons and fewer Burrs. Alas, progressive evangelicalism seems capable of producing only the latter.

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Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).


  1. […] Agency The Poignant but Triumphant Story of the Yugoslavian Nun Who Was Raped – Shaun McAfee David Gushee, “Middle Ground”, and Dishonesty – Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy Pope Francis Said It: Climate Change Is Not a Population […]


  2. Gushee is simply mistaken. Once we render onto Caesar, what belongs to God, and thus deny that God, The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Complementary Love, The Author Of Love, of Life, and Of Marriage, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Is Sovereign, we no longer recognize that our Right to Life, to Liberty, and to The Pursuit of Happiness Is Endowed to us from God, and, thus anything can become permissible.


  3. […] Meador, “On David Gushee’s dishonesty” at Mere Orthodoxy = https://mereorthodoxy.com/persistent-dishonesty-progressive-evangelicals-religious-liberty-debates/. Yow that’s quite a title. Dreher didn’t get into critiquing Gushee much. Mainly […]


  4. Gushee is blissfully unconcerned with either state-enforced sexual orthodoxy or the possibility of religious freedom being restricted because he is on The Right Side of History, and therefore has nothing to fear. He is a fool and a tool, and will be one of the first devoured by the tiger he is presently feeding.


    1. I believe Stalin called such people “useful idiots.”


  5. Single most chilling sentence in Gushee’s piece: “I have been a participant in the effort to encourage Protestant religious conservatives, generally known as fundamentalists and evangelicals, to reconsider their position voluntarily.” Apparently, we will reconsider involuntarily if we don’t shape up.


    1. Exactly, and no doubt Gushee and his friends all look forward to that day.


      1. DR84: ATTENTION! The starting pistol has already been fired. There is no longer a contest for public opinion. There is no longer an Areopagus. The ‘culture’ is too diffuse. It can’t even be called a culture anymore. There aren’t 3 news channels any longer. There are 3 million channels. There is not even any semblance of an Areopagus in the Church. ‘Discourse’ itself is now a relic. Your case cannot be won. It cannot even be heard. This forum makes as much difference as shaking a tambourine. And if you think the average churchgoer will pay more attention than the average American, you’re kidding yourself.

        The instructive nature of laws and judicial rulings is the only ‘moral’ guidance that will be heeded by the masses in the culture AND the Church. Look back at the changes in public opinion surrounding abortion after Roe v. Wade. Or even the changes since Obergefell. Understand that the argument is over.

        You are obviously highly intelligent – although if you haven’t realized that this will come down to money and guns, you’re not thinking hard enough. Your intelligence should be used to amass money and a knowledge of financially sustainable, communal living. Or, if you are young, you should be attempting to gain public office in a role to shape future policy.

        Another possibility is in the entertainment industry. I’m serious. People like you should be part of creating movies, songs, and novels that don’t STINK and begin to recapture hearts. The frontal assault won’t work. Remember how Wilberforce “cheated” a technicality of shipping rules in order to get the slave trade banned?

        It’s time for strategy, which will be wrought in Committee. Hoosier Bob, if he’s smart, is going to his own Committee. The future discourse is behind closed doors. If you know Jake Meador personally, begin talking about what comes next. We will need ‘Schindlers’ in all sectors. Remain as innocent as a dove, but begin sharpening your shrewdness.


        1. I’m taking a wild guess: you aren’t living in a red state. Speaking as someone who does, you may think you’re being persecuted, but here, people who share your views are running the show.


          1. I’m not being persecuted, and I live in a blue state, albeit a “swing” one. I live a good, quiet life. I’m free to prosper and to raise my family. I’ve experienced absolutely no discrimination or persecution for my conclusion that SSM was not God’s original intention for human marital relationships.

            I’m very ready to disobey civil laws if I feel that obeying them would force me to violate God’s laws, but I’m at a loss when it comes to figuring out what sort of business transactions would make me complicit in sin in the eyes of God, especially with regard to SSM. What if I was in the chair/table rental business? Does renting tables out for a SSM make me guilty of sin in the eyes of God? Honestly, I don’t think it does. What about flowers that would be picked up at the store? I don’t know. What about being a wedding photographer or decorating a cake? It gets a little fuzzier there, since the service rendered involves attendance at the event or artistic expression – I think the state is overreaching if it compels someone to attend a SSM in order to remain in business.

            But the truth here is that in a pluralistic society, no one can have unrestricted political or economic freedom. It’s a myth to think that freedoms don’t eventually begin to conflict with each other. And so it will come to Force, and we must be ready.

            These folks live in a red-ish state:

            This guy lives in a purple state.

    2. Look…as an acquaintance of Gushees and someone who holds the same position, we’re not out to get you personally. But try to see things from other’s standpoint – if you lived in a time where mainstream Christians were still mostly opposed to interracial marriage, would you be glad when that was changing? Of course, because that’s how your beliefs align – and while I get that you don’t see those to as equitable, that is my personal perception (and I assume, Gushees). I have many LGBT friends, who regardless of your personal intentions against them, have been discriminated against because of the beliefs you hold.

      Yes, there is a chance your churches and schools may lose your government funding, just as churches that refused to marry interracial couples did. I don’t relish in that coming conflict or in the suffering and possible deconstruction of your institutions – but of course I am glad for the protections being put in place for my LGBT friends. Of course I’m glad when my tax payer dollars don’t contribute to their hurt as I see it perpetuated by your institutions.

      To Jake: Gushees analysis is far kinder to your position than you are being to his. When he is polite and even handed you call him a “Burr” (I’ll grant you that’s a very interesting allegory) and yet still nit pick the syntax of specific lines as if you are uncovering some super secret ulterior motive – the position which he openly and honestly states in the same article *which you then proceed to quote him on*. What do you want from him? To write a spiteful, reactionary, ad hominen laced article like the one you just have? Seriously, I sincerely don’t see how any of what you shared supports your thesis of his “dishonesty”. It seems pretty apparently from where I’m sitting you simply don’t like the fact that Gushee disagrees with you, and no matter how nicely, sincerely, and even handedly he presents his case (a case which most Christians on both sides agree with and you even generally concede), you’ll nitpick – not even *what* he said, but *how* he chose to say it. Did you seriously just write an article whose thesis is based on the fact that he doesn’t…..what?….agree that he has the evil motives of happily wanting to destroy your traditional xian marriage? Do you understand how silly that sounds to anyone who doesn’t hold your views?

      Sorry – neither Gushee nor are going to admit to some evil joy in your tradition’s destruction, no matter how discriminatory we may perceive it – because we don’t have it. No one is out to get you. We just don’t agree with you. You are far less important than you think and ultimately none of this is about you – it’s about protecting the people we care about, nothing more.

      Maybe you should start with being more honest with yourself about why you felt the need to spend your time writing this article, simply because the author of an article you ultimately agree with doesn’t hold the same view as you.


      1. Good point. I’m rather agnostic on the merits of SSM, and therefore see no credible reason to object to it. Even so, I’ve never understood why issues concerning homosexuality induce the kind of histrionic flip-outs that they do. I’m asexual, which, on its face, shouldn’t be a problem within Christian circles. But it was. I was asked to leave several churches (in the PCA), and was even referred to reparative therapy on multiple occasions. Evangelicals seem to have read certain neo-Freudian notions of “heterosexuality” into their whole conception of the Gospel.

        Sexuality is incredibly complex. Our culture has finally come to the point of acknowledging that, although not always in ways that are helpful. Heterosexuality is an invented relic of flawed 19th-century psychological theories. It’s time to junk it, and accept that people’s sexuality is much more fluid and complex than we’ve often admitted in the past.

        As people of the Gospel, we should never fear the truth. And, yes, truth often emerges at the expense of social order. But maintaining the social order never seemed to be high on Jesus’ agenda. That’s not to say that all things that challenge the existing social order are necessarily beneficial. But that’s often the price we pay to create the space into which new and better models can grow. Sitting around in fear fetishizing the 1950s doesn’t seem like a very Gospel-centered way of navigating these waters.


      2. Why does Jake need to be “more honest with [him]self about why [he] felt the need to spend [his] time writing this article”? Are you and Gushee exempt from self-examination about why you and he “felt the need to spend your time” on this?
        In other words, aren’t you being a bit condescending and dismissive?


        1. I can’t speak for Dantastic, but one of the reasons why I agree with that sentiment is because Jake’s article involved calling Gushee cowardly and dishonest. It’d be one thing if his article just stuck to the facts and offered a rebuttal of the facts, but the fact that he used personal insults suggests that there’s some personal animosity against Gushee.


          1. Whether or not Gushee’s article fits the bill, there does exist occasions when mendacity and timidity are so blatantly evident, that aspersions of character are justified and legitimate. It becomes unproductive to rebut facts and arguments if it is obvious that the interlocutor has no interest in intellectual integrity.

      3. The idea that recognizing non-marital relationships as if they were marriages protects LGBT identifying people is just laughable. Even more laughable is the idea that traditionally minded institutions harm or discriminate against people who identify as LGBT.


        1. Simply put: I have learned that toleration is one thing and affirmation is another. For instance I tolerated my favorite uncle’s drunkenness, but did not affirm it.


      4. The problem with the “…opposed to interracial marriage” argument is that race color and creed are immutable. If you want to now include what someones perception of the reality of their gender or emotional attractions are, then you cannot stop there. You must include inter-generational relationships (pedophilia), multiplicity (polygamy and polyandry) or interspecies (bestiality) in the non-discriminatory ‘marriage’ mix. If you want to be honest – that is.


        1. Slim Picnic – See my response to DR84 below. Get started now. If you attend a church, begin pursuing a solidarity with your brethren that encompasses all aspects of life. Specifically, begin pursuing economic interdependence. Make sure your debts are few and that your assets and income are diversified. Above all, make sure your future income does not depend on adherence to the emerging civil structures. We will not be able to be CEOs of companies like Mozilla Firefox. However, we can be substantial shareholders who reap the corporate profits.

          The fight for majority status is over. It’s time to begin living like an ethnic minority in NYC circa 1900. To look to each other and to create a sub-culture that sustains and prospers its adherents. The utter impossibility of peaceful pluralism is not yet acknowledged by either side. We will be picked off if we attempt to live and prosper outside the circle of wagons.


      5. Dantastic writes:

        “Yes, there is a chance your churches and schools may lose your government funding,…”

        What are these churches that receive govt. funding? Do tell.

        As for religious schools getting govt. funding, that also is a sleight of hand. Does Gushee feed you these lines?

        Individual students are the ones who apply for student loans/grants, not the prospective institution. If that student receives the funds, the student is free to use those funds at an institution of choice – public, private, secular, or religious. Courts have ruled that to deny a student use of those funds at a religious institution is an infringement of the student’s free exercise of religion.

        If a homosexual student with such funds doesn’t wish to use them at a religious institution, that student is free to go elsewhere.

        The next time you meet with your “acquaintance,” Gushee, perhaps you could introduce him to the inconvenient facts and then, the both of you, go say “hello” to your own discriminatory ways staring at you in the mirror.


      6. He’s not asking that you admit to “evil joy”. He’s pointing out that you are taking no responsibility for your own actions to bring harm to traditional Christians.


  6. Great piece. Obama has a saying on a rug in the oval office: The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice. And when Kerry criticized Russia’s actions as so 19th century, they illustrate Jake’s point perfectly. The big question about what drives this ideological conflict is whether they simply disagree with conservative thought or they literally don’t understand it. Its hard for me to believe but even the hyper educated left just seems unforgivably ignorant of conservative thought. Read Haidt’s The Righteous Mind for proof of this.


    1. #WhiggishHistory: Over time, history is always right, except when it’s wrong, in which case it isn’t history, so “history” is always right.


    2. Interesting. I didn’t know about that quote, but Russell Moore played on it in his book, Onward. He writes, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward Jesus.”


  7. Gushed is merely making an observation. Sure, his tome is unnecessarily smug, but he’s probably correct.

    There was a time, probably 15 years ago, when proponents and opponents of same-sex civil marriage (SSM) could have reached an amicable peace–a peace that would have preserved the ability to be neutral on the merits of SSM. Even though SSM opponents had the upper hand at that time, it was clear even that they were fighting a losing battle. Any astute observer of the culture in 1999 (when I entered the professional world) could see what result would ensue. Misty Irons, an OPC pastor’s wife, penned a persuasive piece in the late 1990s in which she called SSM opponents to make peace with SSM proponents and to negotiate a respectful peace that protected both parties’ core interests.

    But SSM opponents rejected the path of peaceful compromise. Instead, they launched a nasty (and often dishonest) effort to halt the culture’s embrace of SSM and to re-stagmatize homosexuality. SSM opponents pulled out every stop to fight this scorched-earth campaign. Well, they lost. And, as every poker player knows, when you bet big on a weak hand and lose, you suffer big losses. What SSM opponents are suffering today is an entirely predictable result based on the strategies they pursued.

    Rod Dreher often refers to the Law of Merited Impossibility. The phrase is somewhat inapposite here. No one ever said that the current situation for SSM opponents was impossible. It was entirely possible! When you find yourself on the losing end of a scorched-earth campaign to stigmatize an entire class of persons, you’re not simply going to lose the battle itself. The culture will insist on punishing the people and institutions who played a material role in furthering that campaign. Under such situations, staking out positions of neutrality often disappears as an option. I think Gushee is probably correct here.

    I also say this as someone who’s always been neutral on the SSM question. I see no reason to oppose it, but I also have certain gut-level misgivings. But I don’t expect the government to enact laws based on such misgivings. And because I’m not aware of any rational reason for precluding same-sex couples from entering into civil marriage contracts, I’ve don’t oppose it. Even so, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain such a middle-ground position. Because SSM opponents’ scorched-earth tactics have set off such a cultural backlash, the neutral ground is disappearing. Gushee sees that as a good thing. I don’t, as I think there’s something good to be said for a “confident pluralism,” where we develop the cultural maturity to respect each others’ differences and learn to live and let live. SSM opponents had the opportunity to demonstrate that in the late 1990s. But they rejected it. So, it’s understandable that SSM proponents see no reason to act any differently.


    1. “But SSM opponents rejected the path of peaceful compromise.”.

      Indeed. And if the French and English had continued the path of peaceful compromise in Belgium that they’d practiced after Austria and Czechoslovakia, we would have had “peace for our time” rather than World War II.


      1. Ahhh…the inevitable “reductio ad Hitlerum” argument that evangelicals frequently use to justify the Culture Wars. This is precisely why evangelicals have lost credibility within the broader culture: You handle every cultural dispute as though your opponents are as evil as the Nazis, and then wonder why people suppose that you’re irrational.

        There are any number os issues on differing sides of cultural debates have reached an amicable and long-standing peace. I’ve had a number of LGBT friends and colleagues over the years. The overwhelming majority of LGBT people simply want to be left alone, and to enjoy the same legal protections for committed same-sex relationships that the rest of us enjoy for our opposite-sex relationships. Few of them had any axe to grind with evangelical institutions until evangelicals waged a two-decades-long campaign against LGBT rights that was largely marked by fear-mongering, ridiculous hyperbole, and outright lies. But now that you’ve conducted that campaign and lost, you just want everyone to pretend that it didn’t happen. LGBT people may be evangelicals’ enemies today, but it’s because evangelicals have spent the better part of the past 20 years kicking LGBT people to the curb. Now that the cultural power dynamics have changed, it’s comes off as a bit disingenuous for evangelicals to say that they just want a world where the two sides can live together peaceably. That was possible 15-20 years ago. But it’s the SSM opponents who squandered that opportunity.

        Go back and read Misty Irons’ piece from November 2000. That was the time to advocate for strong legal protections for minority groups to live peaceably and not to suffer interference from the government or private institutions. But evangelicals misread the cultural dynamics, supposed that they could achieve majority support for their political positions, and became strong advocates for majority rule. Now that public support for those political positions has eroded–largely due to the fact that they were weak positions with little rational support–evangelicals are less interested in majority rule. It’s hard not to see evangelicals’ positions on these issues as rather self-serving and disingenuous.


        1. Why should we not think people who want to force everyone to celebrate homosexual conduct are not evil? The “just want to be left alone” is a huge lie. People don’t seek social approval for their conduct if they just want to be left alone. They don’t demand the government make everyone affirm and celebrate their relationships if they just want to be left alone. People who just want to be left alone don’t attack others, they don’t sue, they don’t lash out and call them names (bigot, hater, etc).

          Sure, many actual LGBT identifying people do want to be left alone, and they also want to leave others alone. They don’t want the state to destroy the institutions and organizations and even individual lives of people who do not share their views. It is the activists who do not at all want to be left alone wanting these things that Gushee predicts to happen.


          1. Virtually every human being wants social acceptance: it is a natural part of being a social creature. Wanting equal rights and protections and the ability as consenting adults to participate in secular civil contracts does not constitute wanting to destroy anything.

            You are not forced to affirm, celebrate, OR accept same-sex marriage. Your histrionic foot-stomping is nothing more than lies and misconceptions.

            And no gay person is trying to withhold rights and protections from you: that is your own projection. Once again, you show yourself to be a liar, and thus your ramblings are not worthy of consideration.

          2. Vorpal, if we don’t treat two men who are ‘married’ in the exact same way as we treat a married man and woman, we can be taken to court. That is certainly ‘affirmation’ and ‘acceptance’, in every legal way that counts; it may at times hedge into ‘celebration’, too, for those who are being compelled to take part as hired agents in same-sex weddings. I realise that people on your side of this issue like to change the definitions of words arbitrarily, but the lexical gerrymandering is getting a bit ridiculous.

          3. P.S. I mean, of course, that this is certainly a requirement of affirmation, etc.

          4. Please state in what circumstances you are forced to treat two men who are MARRIED (no fear quotes required) in the exact same way you treat a married man and woman. Be specific, and think about your claim before you make it lest you result in sounding ridiculous.

          5. Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? If you’re a traditionalist on these matters, you don’t think that this *is* marriage, and so don’t believe that you should pretend that it is. In other words, you are being forced to ‘accept’ and ‘affirm’ something that you believe to be at best a legal fiction, and at worst a damnable display of human pride.

            So people who have practiced their businesses without interruption for decades, potentially, should immediately betray their consciences the moment a tyrannical judge decrees that they should? This argument could be applied to almost any situation, you know, and I don’t think you would like the conclusions to which it could lead.

            To be frank, I think we actually agree here about what is going on. You just think that religious people should have no right to practice their religion outside of their own homes, or their places of religious assembly, and justify it by appeal to the procedural bureaucracy of modern business law. I just think that that’s a pretty weak basis for narrowing the meaning of the First Amendment and grievously restricting the inalienable, natural human right to practice religion freely.

          6. If you’re a traditionalist on these matters, you don’t think that this
            *is* marriage, and so don’t believe that you should pretend that it is.

            You’re free to believe that same-sex isn’t real marriage all you like, but that doesn’t make your belief true. In the same way, you can believe that Missouri isn’t a real state (like Abe Simpson), but Missouri’s statehood doesn’t depend on your belief.

          7. That’s irrelevant. I get the point that you don’t believe that marriage has any meaning beyond the one we give it, and that what is created by God can be changed by a human judge’s whim. The question is whether legal coercion is being applied to those who disagree with that idea, and the answer is yes. Why not admit that that is what you are doing, and be honest about it?

          8. I’ll answer your question when you recant your assumption of what I believe.

          9. And I’ll recant my assumption when you admit that denying the moral and logical truth of a recent legal decision is in no way equivalent to denying the existence of a semi-sovereign entity incorporated almost two centuries ago.

          10. That is not even an assumption, if you believe two men can really marry each other you *cannot* coherently believe marriage has any meaning beyond what people give it. In effect, you believe marriage is not really real because any kind of relationship between any number of people can be a marriage.

          11. I believe that it’s real because the marriage I have with my wife is real. She and I know that from experience. We didn’t get married for the generic purpose of “supporting the institution of marriage”, because the marriage should be something that benefits married people, not the other way around. In the same way that Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for men (not man made for the Sabbath), marriage is like that too.

          12. What makes the relationship you have with your wife a marriage?

          13. Yes, made for man. Did God make marriage, or did he not? Jesus had something to say about that too, last I checked…..

          14. Oh, as for same-sex weddings, if you are a public accommodation, you have entered into a contract with the government as demonstrated by your acceptance of a BUSINESS LICENSE. This license entitles to you public access to the marketplace and a good number of rights and protections subject to certain conditions, which, in certain areas, include nondiscrimination clauses. Nobody is forcing you to agree to the terms of this contract, and if your personal religious lifestyle choices preclude you from doing so, then accept responsibility for it. You do not get to arbitrarily make up your own terms any more than I can enter into a contract with Verizon and then refuse to obey the terms to which I agreed. You also do not have the right to enter into business on whatever terms you wish any more than I have the right to demand employment as a fire fighter on my own terms despite likely being physically unsuited for the job.

          15. “Business license” — when the government takes away the natural right of a free people to engage in lawful business, and then makes one pay (and comply with other conditions and quid pro quos) to get it back.

            This isn’t comparable to agreements between agreements between private parties, because neither of the private parties possesses unilateral authority to deprive the other of life or liberty.

          16. The government grants you rights and protections as part of your business license. It is not a one-sided contract.
            You may disagree with the concept all you like: you are free to try to enact change.

            This isn’t comparable to agreements between agreements between private parties

            Ummmmwut? In any of the contracts I have entered, be they licenses with the government or private contracts with companies or other individuals, none of them have granted either party a unilateral authority to deprive the other of life or liberty.

          17. “The government grants you rights and protections as part of your business license.”

            What rights and protections — assuming your business isn’t “too big to fail” — does government grant your business which it doesn’t grant to you as a citizen?

            In any of the contracts I have entered, be they licenses with the government or private contracts with companies or other individuals, none of them have granted either party a unilateral authority to deprive the other of life or liberty.

            I’m talking about the relative bargaining power that the average small businessman and the government bring, respectively, to the bargaining table. If the small businessman transacts otherwise lawful business without a business license, the government may — if the businessman persists — lock him up or (in extreme cases like that of Eric Garner’s) kill him.

          18. Actually, it is because a “business license” is merely a set of default contractual terms between the would-be proprietor and the public at large.

          19. Also, words are TOOLS and not FENCES. The definitions of words shift subtly all the time, as language is a function of time and culture.

            The suggestion that marriage has adhered to some rigid, fixed determination across humanity for all of its existence is laughably ignorant and almost trivially verified as false.

          20. Where did I say that it had? You can find rather shaky evidence of same-sex ‘marriages’ pretty far back, even in the Western world, though not so much evidence that anyone gave them any legal or social recognition (at least in Rome; I don’t know about elsewhere). But it is pretty clear that ‘marriage’ has meant something *in our culture*, and that extending it to involve two men and two women is arbitrary (why not more than two?) and innovative (why of the same sex?)

          21. P.S. Usually, when something is ‘almost trivially verified as false’, that’s a sign that you’ve replaced your interlocutor’s actual argument with a straw man.

          22. Nope. In this case, I’m not going to go repost my own recollections from a bunch of references when there are people who have invested much time and effort documenting this far better than I ever could.

            See the Wikipedia article on marriage, for example.

          23. If polyamorous groups wish to marry, they certainly have the right to make their case heard for consideration. I have no opposition to hearing a well considered argument for it. The logistics would clearly be more difficult than the simple extension of two person marriage from male-female couples to the inclusion of same-sex couples, which is a challenge.

            While, in our current culture, certainly, the overarching idea of marriage was male – female, there have still been vast changes to many other aspects of it.

            What would you propose as a solution to NOT treat same-sex couples as second-class – and by extension, gay people as second class – under the eyes of the law? Or would you advocate for treating such relationships – and by extension any children they may be raising – as second class and unworthy of protections afforded to heterosexual couples and their children? I’m genuinely curious and not trying to be overly inflammatory in this paragraph, despite it being a personal issue for me, especially since my husband of 12 years and I were a binational couple and likely could not have even been together without immigration rights ensured by marriage.

          24. I would say that a man should be able to marry a woman, and a woman a man, so long as no circumstances obtain to prevent it, such as a pre-existing marriage or excessive consanguinity. I don’t believe that anyone is defined by sexual orientation, or that our marriage-practices should be changed to suit questionable dicta of modern psychology. Persons have rights, not couples. So no one will be a ‘second-class person’; he may find, however, that his preferred relationship does not have the same position as another.

    2. What sort of compromise was actually possible? Please don’t suggest something akin to civil unions, because history shows those were always used as a stepping stone to legal “marriage” recognition. They were never a compromise at all. SS”M” advocates were never going to be satisfied with that option. Nor would they have been satisfied with legal “marriage” recognition alone without social recognition as well. I’m not at all buying that there ever was a possible compromise. This was an all or nothing “war” from the get go.

      Despite your claims of neutrality, your comment is horribly disingenuous. How did you miss that it was the ss”m” advocates that launched a scorched earth campaign? They, from the get go, attacked their opponents in the most dishonest and cruel ways imaginable. Have you never heard them repeatedly and over and over again make sure to tell everyone just how “bigoted” and “hateful” we are? Have you not noticed their hate and nastiness has only increased the more they have “won”? In contrast, the backbone of the pro-marriage side is guys like Ryan T Anderson and their arguments (which have nothing to do with demonizing anyone). The difference between him and his argument and the typical ss”m” activist and their argument could not be more stark.

      I am not saying there are not and have not been any actual anti-gay bigots and that some of these may have been involved in various political campaigns, but it is quite smug to suggest that the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptists, and LCMS along with many other traditionally minded churches only have themselves to blame when they get crushed into oblivion in this country by the state as Gushee predicts. As if the *real* hate and bigotry of the lgbt/progressive’s had nothing at all to do with it.


      1. I’m suggesting something akin to what Misty Irons proposed in November 2000: A robust system of what John Inazu calls “confident pluralism.” This basically amounts to strong legal protections for those who hold to minority views that are otherwise unpopular with the culture. In the early 2000s, it was quite reasonable to have reached a legislative compromise akin to that enacted in New York, where same-sex marriage was enacted along with certain religious-liberty protections. SSM opponents would have been wise to use their political leverage at that time to push for reasonably broad religious-liberty protections in exchange for SSM.

        Instead, SSM opponents spent their limited political capital on a high-stakes effort to re-stagmatize homosexuality that was doomed to fail from the start. You placed your bets poorly, and you’re now suffering the consequences for that. That’s how life works.

        Also, I hardly see how it’s cruel for same-sex couples to expect their government to provide them with a rational basis for denying them legal protections that are otherwise afforded to opposite-sex couples. You had plenty of chances to proffer rational arguments for your position, and you couldn’t come up with a single one. Anderson’s argument may have made sense if we were talking about marriage in the 1800s. But we had long since dispensed with conjugal marriage, both as a legal institution and a cultural institution. If Anderson truly believed in the concept of conjugal marriage, he ought to be out arguing for a whole host of legal reforms related to reestablishing it as a legal norm. Where is his forthcoming book on the merits of female coverture? Right, there won’t be one. That’s because his argument was concocted merely to have a legitimate-looking reason to oppose SSM.

        Throughout this decades-long ordeal, SSM opponents have consistently failed to make a rational, pragmatic, intellectually consistent case against SSM. When people persist in a position for reasons that lack any rational or pragmatic grounding, it’s hard not to conclude that such people are bigots. After all, we’re not talking about sacramental marriage here. We’re talking about civil marriage–an institution, which, as creature of contract and property law, is governed by pragmatic considerations. I see no more reason as to why any religion should have an opinion on civil marriage any more than it has an opinion on the rule against perpetuities.


        1. No “compromise” would have lasted, they think we are hateful bigots who deserve no rights nor protections, and thought this from the beginning and made centered their argument around it.

          You must think there are no rational reasons to not let siblings “civil marry” or any other combination of adults for that matter.


          1. No. You’ve proven yourselves to be hateful bigots, and have therefore forfeited the right to benefit from certain benefits and protections. Your last sentence makes that clear. If evangelicals can’t distinguish between a typical same-sex coupling arrangement and a situation where one sibling is grooming another as a sexual partner, it reveals that you’ve largely decoupled your thoughts on this issue from any kind of rational analysis. Evangelicals had two decades to come up with some rational reason–even one–to explain their opposition to SSM. And, now, after two decades, the best you can do is come up with slippery-slope analogies to sibling marriages?

          2. “Grooming”? That’s a strange inference from what DR84 said! What about two consenting, sibling adults who make the decision, with clear minds, that they love each other in that kind of way? Or what about two adults who have no sexual interest in each other, but see that it is the ‘pragmatic’ and ‘utilitarian’ choice that will maximise their own happiness to marry and receive the social and economic benefits that come with it? This isn’t even a slippery-slope argument, as you disingenuously suggest. It might be a reductio ad absurdum, but then we’d have to convince the utilitarian that anything is absurd. There is no conceivable ground for endorsing same-sex ‘marriage’ and forbidding consensual sibling-marriage, save your own moral disgust (or a selective appeal to genetic harm, but, then again, we didn’t forbid Ashkenazim or Amish from marrying one another, now did we?) Remarkable, isn’t it? The ick-factor returns at some funny times….

            Here’s a rational reason to oppose same-sex ‘marriage’: it isn’t marriage by any meaningful, historical definition of the term, and enacting it involves changing our already-weakened marital customs at their foundation, all to satisfy some persons’ mistaken post-Freudian ideas of indelible sexual orientiation. But that won’t convince you, will it? Evangelicals are the enemy, ‘heterosexuality’ is the root of all society’s evils, and you will hold to that line, no matter how loudly you have to contradict yourself. I’ve seen one man on this blog who consistently expresses bigotry, contempt, and a gloating, self-righteous hatred for his political opponents, and it isn’t DR84.

          3. What about two consenting, sibling adults who make the decision, with clear minds, that they love each other in that kind of way?

            They have the right to bring their case before the courts to challenge existing law, just as anyone else.

            Or what about two adults who have no sexual interest in each other, but see that it is the ‘pragmatic’ and ‘utilitarian’ choice that will maximise their own happiness to marry and receive the social and economic benefits that come with it?

            This happens all the time, and HAPPENED all the time prior to SSM. I don’t know of any requirement where you must prove a sexual relationship to the government to qualify for the civil contract of marriage.

            Evangelicals are the enemy

            They certainly have been making themselves look bad for quite some time: decades, at least, and likely much farther back. Tautologically proclaiming yourself moral may work for Evangelicals: it doesn’t work for most others, especially now that, with globalization and greater access to information, we can see what Evangelicals are typically really like.

          4. You prove my point, Vorpal. There’s no principled objection to incest, once you’ve accepted homosexual marriage. I realise you may not be a Christian, but Bob says that he is, and both incest and homosexual conduct are things that the Church and scripture condemn. A position that leads to normalising both, and attacking Christians for resisting that normalisation, is thus a very problematic thing for a Christian to adopt.

            As for your last point, most Evangelicals are, in my experience, good people who live their lives, do honest work, and want to be allowed to live according to conscience. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet.

          5. Nonsense. Same-sex marriage and incest have nothing in common. Your slippery slope argument holds no water.

            Your church can define holy matrimony / religious marriage however it wishes: I have zero desire for your church’s approval of my civil marriage.

            If your church and scripture condemn certain behaviours, then lead by example, live your life accordingly, and don’t engage in them. I am not held to your church or your scripture.

            I should have been more clear: most Evangelicals, like most people, are largely well-intentioned. I have met some Evangelicals whose religious beliefs are a positive force in their lives and not used to harm others, but my experience has been that Evangelicalism is one of the uglier sides of Christianity in general.

          6. Nothing in common? Well, incest and sodomy are fenced about with taboos in many societies, forbidden in our own, condemned as sin by the Christian church (and Christianity is *hugely* important to the moral and intellectual history of modern civilisation, whatever role you think it should play now), and, by your own declaration, equally subject to being sanctified as ‘marriage’ at the merest whim of a judge or two. Sure, allowing same-sex ‘marriage’ does not automatically lead to allowing incestuous ‘marriage’, but I see no principled reason to stop with extending marriage to two people of the same sex. Once we’ve rejected all appeals to tradition and digust (which played a major role in a recent case allowing uncle-niece marriage in New York, for example) and to natural law as being, in principle, mere veils for irrational prejudice, we have very little ground left on which to say that marriage should *be* anything in particular, and for arguing that any relationship at all should not be given the name ‘marriage’, so long as it can claim the barest homology to marriage in its traditional sense.

          7. ‘Have been’ fenced about and forbidden, of course, not ‘are’; the perils of editing on the internet…..

          8. Ahhh…out come the irrelevant slippery-slope arguments, where everything that runs against purity-culture taboos is necessarily treated as being interrelated. Yes, Christianity has played a role in shaping the modern West. But that doesn’t mean that Christians were always right, or that every Christian doctrine is necessary to constructing an orderly civil society.

            Same-sex coupling has been around for decades, and doesn’t seem to impose any substantial harm onto society. So, I see no reason to deny such couples the option of contracting into the set of default property-ownership rules that we call “civil marriage.” Sibling marriage is much more idiosyncratic in nature, and, in our experience with it, usually involves coercion of some sort. This is simple. Do the costs outweigh the benefits? They generally do for sibling marriage, but they generally don’t for SSM.

            God made the world and everything in it. It’s all a reflection of His will. Therefore, if something is inherently sinful, there ought to be a number of pragmatic reasons as to why it’s wrong. We don’t need to rely on Christian taboos because we can just observe the world around us and make carry out basic pragmatic analyses. Or do evangelicals not do Coase and Becker?

          9. The vast majority of sibling relationships involve no coercion at all. Suggesting this incredibly rare possibility is reason to not allow siblings the legal protections and benefits of CIVIL marriage is irrational. It is also hateful and bigoted toward that minority group of siblings that want to be CIVILLY married.

          10. You’re not really helping your case here. If these are the best arguments that SSM opponents have–and they probably are–it’s rather clear why you lost this one.

            By the way, I said that most sibling marriages (e.g., incestuous marriages) involve coercion, not sibling relationships generally. Please read more carefully.

          11. It’s the exact same reasoning you use to justify calling us hateful bigots and saying we deserve all the bad things coming our way. I am not surprised you dismiss it because you act as if your view is immune to all challenges and requires to self examination on your part.

            By the way, you are making a distinction without a difference. You believe two men can actually marry, your view of marriage does not require the married people be involved in any kind of sexual relationship.

          12. So sin is determined by what appears to us to be more socially harmful than not? Well, I’m glad you’ve just seen through the errors of biblicist gnosticism, and recognised that statistics reveal the law of God. If only Moses had known that, or Paul! It would have saved us a lot of trouble, don’t you think?

          13. “No. You’ve proven yourselves to be hateful bigots, and have therefore forfeited the right to benefit from certain benefits and protections. ”

            So do you think, for example, it will be justice served if and when the state destroys the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and all known members of that church who do not publicly recant are unable to be gainfully employed at best and perhaps dead or jailed for resisting. Got it.

            This is what Gushee is predicting will happen.

      2. There can be no compromise since progressive ‘gays’ (and just what is a gay anyway?!?) seek nothing less than the disintegration of Western man’s inner person (Imago Dei). And as progressivism in both secular and religious forms, is a new and revised pantheism, it also seeks the blending of male with female, a so-called ‘new’ man that ancient Mystery Religion adepts knew as the androgyne.


        1. Histrionic foot-stomping and fear-mongering is not an acceptable substitute for rational argument. One can fairly criticize the rigid gender-role theology of evangelicalism without succumbing to mystery religions. Besides, androgyny is largely a socially constructed concept. In many Asian cultures, the features that Americans associate with masculinity are actually associated with effeminacy. Moreover, until recently, Christian ideals for masculinity lay closer to the Asian ideal than to the “real man” ideal promoted by evangelicals.


          1. You said one “can fairly criticize the rigid gender-role theology of evangelicalism without succumbing to mystery religions.” There can be no fair, let alone rational criticism of a set of worldview presuppositions when the criticizer possesses only a shallow knowledge of his own worldview. If he actually knew its’ origins, he would not scoff at its connection to ancient Mystery creeds, man as god, illumined philosophy, magic science, androgyny, worship of energies and spiritism.

            With respect to David Gushee’s progressivism, it emerged out of the Renaissance when certain ministers of the Church and Christian intellectuals rediscovered and embraced ancient creeds whose roots stretch back to Babylon. C.S. Lewis underscores this point in “The Abolition of Man:”

            “You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak.”

            In “God and the Knowledge of Reality,” the Catholic philosopher and historian, Thomas Molnar (1921–2010), reveals the ‘temper of that age’ as a spirit of rebellion against the Christian God, and this is why occult science and evolutionary thinking provided the greatest impetus. During the Renaissance, certain Christian theologians, mystics and scholars such as Emanuel Swedenborg had discovered Hermetic magic and occult Jewish Kabbalah texts which they studied and translated resulting in Hermetic Kabbalah. Then like Pico della Mirandola, they argued that occult hermetic science – the divine technology or Magic Way of reaching divine status and powers through ritual procedures (spiritual evolution) is the best proof of the divinity of Christ. In other words said Molnar,

            “…..by the time of the Renaissance the esoteric texts of the first centuries A.D. had acquired in scholarly and humanist circles an unparalleled prestige, confronting as equals the texts held sacred by the church. In Pico’s estimation, ‘nulla est scientia que nos magis certificet de divinitate Christ quam magia et Cabala’ (there is no science that would prove for us Christ’s divinity better than magic and the Cabala.)” (pp. 78-79)

            John Taylor Gatto, former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year, meticulously tracked the rise of America’s destructive progressive intelligentsia together with the potent interconnected shadow-government they have created to radically reshape the Western and American consciousness. In his book, “The Underground History of American Education” Gatto points to the progressive Fabian socialist utopians as one of the most powerfully effective revolutionary ‘change-making’ organizations and notes that,

            “…it would not be too far out of line to call the twentieth century the Fabian century.” (Gatto, p. 178)

            What ‘scientific’ secular-atheists aspired to be in completely reordering Christian-based Western society and the souls of men, 20th century Fabians actually were. Much if not most of the madness, apostasy, wild sexual anarchy, chaos and all else that has gone so horribly wrong here in America is attributable to the Fabians.

            The first Fabian progressives had almost all been lapsed Anglicans from Evangelical homes who became dignitaries in the Church of England:

            “There was a Christian fringe to the London socialism of the eighties, but this too was Anglican. The Christian Socialists came together in Stewart Headlam’s Guild of St. Matthew and the Land Reform Union; and the more respectable Christian Social Union, formed in 1889 – seeking in Fabian style to permeate the Anglican Church – soon attracted more than two thousand clerical members. Dissenting clergymen too began to find a place in the Fabian Society and the London Progressives, while Unitarian churches and centres like Stanton Coit’s Ethical Church provided a meeting place for believers and idealist agnostics…Socialism was for all of them, the new Evangelism.” (Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie, The Fabians, 1977, p. 18)

            The failure of Anglican hierarchy to repudiate apostatizing Biblical critics and radical freethinkers scandalized faithful, orthodox Evangelicals whose outraged response was considered reactionary by the intellectually arrogant progressive scholarly community. In 1861, Benjamin Jowett and six heretical progressive Churchmen published a volume entitled Essays and Reviews in which they expressed alarm lest,

            “…the majority of Churchmen, by holding fast the narrow, fundamental beliefs, should estrange themselves more and more from contemporary thought.” (The Founders of Psychical Research, Alan Gauld, p. 49)

            It comes as no surprise that a defiant, arrogant Jowett held that, “Scripture must be interpreted like any other book…”

            The portents of apostasy in the Church of England were ominous:

            “It seemed to conservative Christians quite appalling that at a time when the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture was being undermined by Darwin and his allies, a group of those whose sacred duty should have been to shore it up again had conspired to hammer their wedges not under it but into it.” (Gauld, p. 50)

            Gauld records the rapid decline in faith among younger Cambridge men:

            “Skepticism based on science flowed into and reinforced the older stream of doubt stemming from historical and ethical considerations. Their joint effect may be traced in the fact that whilst the outstanding Cambridge men of the 1840’s…all took Orders (three of them becoming great clerical headmasters and six bishops), the outstanding Cambridge intellectuals of the 1870’s – the Trinity group centring on Henry Sidgwick and Henry Jackson and including Frederic Myers, G. W. and A. J. Balfour, Walter Leaf, Edmund Gurney, Arthur Verrall, F. W. Maitland, Henry Butcher and George Prothero – tended towards agnosticism or hesitant Deism.” (Gauld, p. 64)

            In this same period a group of young dons from Trinity College, Cambridge, were turning to psychic research as a substitute for their lost Evangelical faith:

            ” In February 1882, Podmore took Pease to a meeting at which this group founded the Society for Psychical Research . . . Among those who founded the SPR were Henry Sidgwick, Arthur Balfour – later a conservative Prime Minister – and his brother, Gerald.” (The Fabians, p. 18)

            The progenitor of the socialist Fabian Society was the Cambridge University spiritist group, the Ghost Society, founded in 1851. The Ghost Society also spawned the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) founded in 1887:

            “Council Members and Honorary Members of the SPR included a past Prime Minister (William Gladstone)…and a future Prime Minister (Arthur Balfour)…2 bishops; and Tennyson and Ruskin, two of the outstanding literary figures of the day (as well as) Lewis Carroll (and) a surprising number of titled persons.” (Gauld, p. 140)

            Having conceptually murdered the God of Revelation and supposedly liberated their souls from Him, Fabians sought power here below, thus the over-riding interest of the S.P.R. was the spirit realm. In search of power they conducted scientific research into phenomena such as mesmeric trance, telepathy, clairvoyance, apparitions, haunted houses, séances, and all aspects of mediumism, or contact with spirits, to determine the scientific laws of physical spiritualistic phenomena.

            By the early 20th century, the materialist Sigmund Freud and heavily demonized Gnostic occultist Carl Jung were SPR Corresponding Members. Both men contributed to the S.P.R. Journal of Proceedings.

            In an expose of Jung’s occult tendencies Richard Noll writes:

            “With the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in England in 1882, and the copious publications of its investigators, new models of the unconscious mind emerged. The most respected model was that of the ‘subliminal self’ by Frederick Myers (1843-1901), the ‘mytho-poetic’ (myth-making) function of which resembles Jung’s later conception of a collective unconscious. Jung read widely in the literature of psychical research in medical school and his 1902 dissertation cites the work of Myers and others in this school.” (Noll, The Jung Cult, pp. 31-2)

            Above all else, revolutionary/evolutionary socialist organizations such as the progressive Fabians were anti-supernatural, anti-morality, counter-establishment, anti-tradition, pan-sexual liberationists consisting of committed Darwinian Gnostic pagan elitists who were intolerant of the Holy God in three Persons, man as His spiritual image bearer, and every vestige of authority ranging from immutable Truth, Moral Law, sexual ethics, and the traditional family to free market systems, individual liberties, and cumbersome processes of Americas’ Constitutional Republic. What they desired was a new poly-sexual order ruled by a superior caste. And as Gushee makes clear, they are more determined than ever to have what they want and to trample over faithful orthodox Christians and anyone else who stands between them and what they demand.

          2. I’m not an advocate of epistemological idealism, which forms the basis of your “worldview” analysis. In fact, in my opinion, epistemological idealism is generally inconsistent with Christian faith, as it tends toward Manichaeism. Rather, I go for epistemological realism. It saves one from falling victim to convoluted conspiracy theories that say more about their prolocutors than their targets.

            If I have any worldview, it is the basic neoliberal worldview of the Chicago school.

          3. Good Lord! Quit your obnoxious soap-boxing, Bob, and admit you don’t know the first thing about the terms you are throwing around! Manichaeanism was a very specific religion, with a particular history, holy books, teachers, and doctrines. It has not one iota to do with ‘epistomological idealism’ as a generic concept, any more than the idea that the Bible gives one knowledge of the law of God is gnosticism! This is simple abuse of language, for the sake of making yourself look sophisticated. It’s not working. Knock it off.

            And yes, you most definitely have a worldview: the tired self-superiority of the modern, semi-libertian, semi-progressivist, self-proclaimed ‘elite’ who sneers down his nose at ‘purity culture’, ‘biblicism’, and everything else that is fundamental to traditional Christianity, but contrary to the values of your own class. Well, I’m sorry. God says that purity matters, that his prophets, apostles, and Son speak true, that he joined male and female together in the beginning, that ‘male-bedding’ is contrary to the ‘health-bringing doctrine’ of the Gospel, and that he will shatter with a rod of iron the princes of the Earth who seek to cast off the bonds that he has laid upon them. You may not want to believe him, you may deny his commandments, you may mock those who hold the law of God and his testimonies; just stop pretending that your utilitarian immorality has anything to do with the law of God or traditional Christian ethics. It doesn’t.

          4. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I’m not suggesting that modern-day biblicism directly derived from Manichaeism. Rather, I’m simply suggesting that it contains substantial similarities to Manichaeism. Moreover, this is hardly a novel observation. Secular scholars, such as Harold Bloom, have made that observation. But the same observation has been made by a number of evangelical scholars, including Mark Noll, Peter Leithart, and Michael Horton, to name a few. So, you can stomp your feet all you want, but I see no reason to confer divine approval on your private, self-serving interpretations of the biblical text.

            I have a worldview, but not one that depends on epistemic idealism. If there’s any reason why I left evangelicalism, it’s because I came to believe that epistemic idealism was becoming an implicit test of orthodoxy. That’s rather ridiculous, given that Protestants have generally been epistemic realists. The Bible is not a rule book filled with little morsels of unadulterated truth. Rather, it is a collection of writings of people’s experiences of God, and must be read in context. Besides, we’re talking about CIVIL marriage here. I would expect a Lutheran, whose church’s theology is centered around a two-kingdoms view of ethics, would recognize that the civil order is to be governed by principles drawn from pragmatic reasoning.

            I generally believe that humans are prone to error when they stray too far from things we can measure. In that sense, assessing transactional efficiency or utility maximization gives us a reasonable approximation of truth. In fact, I’d suggest that it gives us a far better approximation of truth than that of various idealist ideologies, like Apartheid, Bolshevism, Jim Crow, eugenics, Nazism, and the like. Thus, on social issues, I’m generally willing to live in a world where we withhold judgment unless some practice subjects substantial harm onto innocent third parties. After all, my belief is in the person of Christ, not in ideas about Christ. I fear that too much theologizing leads us astray.

          5. No pragmatic reasoning is going to lead to the conclusion that it makes sense to treat same sex relationships between just two not too closely related people that sexually stimulate each other alone as a marriage, the legal equivalent of a union between a husband and wife. This is absurd.

            Also, observing that two person relationships involving homosexuality do not cause obvious third party harm is not reason that these relationships should be treated as if they were marriages. That is not even an attempt at good reasoning.

          6. Private, self-serving? What’s self-serving about holding what Christ, the apostles, and all Christians everywhere have always held? It’s your view that is the radically innovative, and that allows you to live in perfect comfort in your own social circles, approving all the right people, sneering at all the right people, being just the right kind of person to all your friends. And what I said about ‘gnosticism’ above applies perfectly here. ‘Manichaeanism’ is a term with a meaning, just as Christianity is a religion with actual moral doctrine. Calling something ‘Manichaean’ doesn’t make it bad; it simply means that you don’t like it: an utterly toothless objection.

            Of course I believe in pragmatic governance. All governance is, and has to be, pragmatic. But I also think that our moral reasoning, as Christians, has to be guided and bound by the law of God, and that the state, as God’s executor of judgment, must not condone what is evil. Lutherans also believe in the First Use of the Law: to be a curb for human sinfulness. A human law that actively supports and condones immorality is not functioning as a curb.

            Besides, you aren’t exactly the creature of clear-minded logic you claim, and your repeated distortions of your own claims make this clear. You don’t just think that it is a pragmatically sensible position to support civil same-sex ‘marriages’. You believe that anyone who opposes them, on any theological ground at least, is a ‘hateful bigot’ and deserves to be destroyed, as you’ve crowed again and again and again on these threads. A selective attack on the evils of ‘theologising’ hardly covers over your pervasive engagement in nonsensical pseudo-theologising (empty appeals to ‘gnosticism’, ‘manichaeananism’, and definitions of apostasy, all of which are unmoored from their traditional Christian context) in order to sidestep substantive problems with your own position. The one consistent thread I have seen across all of your self-contradictory and sometimes blatantly silly arguments is a deep-seated, profoundly prejudiced hatred for Evangelicals.

        2. What is “a gay?”

          It’s not rocket science.
          A gay person is a personal who is predominantly or exclusively romantically and sexually attracted to their own sex.

          A new and revised pantheism sounds just fine to me.
          This male right here (points to self) has zero desire to blend with a female. It is either same-sex relationships or celibacy for me, and I see no reason for celibacy.


          1. This nation was founded for free people. Unknown to Americans ‘educated’ in leftist/progressive controlled educational institutions today is that the concept of personhood is unique to the Christian conception of man as person because created in the image of the One God in three Persons. This concept was considered radical and heretical by ancient pagans who held to dehumanizing evolutionary cosmogonies. What this means is that Americans who reject the One God in three Persons are by the logic of their position no longer persons but walking dead body’s that somehow speak. In the choice between same-sex relationships in this world that is passing away and celibacy, Jesus Christ, the Physician of our souls, and embodied eternal life please choose the latter.

          2. This nation was founded for free people.

            So allow people the freedom to not share your faith.

            Man is person by definition. This had nothing to do with your creation story of humans being created in your god’s image, and assuming otherwise is putting the cart before the horse.

            What this means is that Americans who reject the One God in three Persons are by the logic of their position no longer persons but walking dead body’s that somehow speak.

            That’s funny. I was a dedicated Christian for 22 years, and I can tell you that I feel much more alive and like my worldview is far more logically sound now as an atheist / philosophical Taoist than I ever did as a Christian. I’m sure, though, that you know better.

            In the choice between same-sex relationships in this world that is passing away and celibacy, Jesus Christ, the Physician of our souls, and embodied eternal life please choose the latter.

            No thank you, and I feel just as confident with my choice as I’m sure you do with yours.

          3. Vorpal,

            “That’s funny. I was a dedicated Christian for 22 years, and I can tell you that I feel much more alive and like my worldview is far more logically sound now as an atheist / philosophical Taoist than I ever did as a Christian. I’m sure, though, that you know better.”

            No, you weren’t a Christian for 22 years. You were just an unbeliever who was deceived into thinking you were a Christian. Your stone cold heart finally got tired of playing the game and naturally gave up. This is exactly what is described in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

            The reason you feel better and like your life more now is because you’re simply doing what your sinful and rebellious heart has wanted to do all along – sin. You’re just doing what comes natural to you in your spiritual blindness and hardness of heart. You’re little quip here does nothing to prove the superiority of your worldview.

          4. “No, you weren’t a Christian for 22 years.”

            Oh, I didn’t see THAT coming as something I haven’t heard a million times before.
            CHRISTIAN OLYMPICS! You get the gold medal!

            Sorry. At that point, I recognized the stupidity and assumption train barreling down full throttle, and decided to step off of the tracks instead of letting myself be splattered by your wisdumb.

          5. Oh… I couldn’t look away from the wreck before I spotted this:

            “You’re [sic, sick, sick] little quip here does nothing to prove the superiority of your worldview.”

            IRONY. Like the age of your belief system.

      3. Have you never heard them repeatedly and over and over again make sure to tell everyone just how “bigoted” and “hateful” we are?

        The solution is obvious: if you don’t like being called on it, stop being bigoted and hateful.
        After the vicious garbage you’ve spewed about us, and the civil rights you’ve fought to withhold from us, were you expecting a friendly handshake post-Obergefell?

        Every time you put your childish fear quotes around the M in SSM, it just makes your bitter, whiny defeat more delicious to savour and damages your religion further.

        I don’t have to do anything other than exist and watch you indulge your Christrionics.


        1. No, you need stop calling people hateful and bigoted who are neither. That is the only solution here. Pointing out that same sex relationships are not marriages is no more bigoted than pointing out that apples are not oranges.


          1. Your blatant opposition to recognizing law, thus attempting to have equal rights and protections withheld from same-sex couples (while insisting obstinately that extending them rights will result in them advancing some greedy, sinister agenda), even if justified in the name of your religious lifestyle choice, is hateful and bigoted, regardless of how opposed you are to the truth of that statement.

            Nobody is forcing you to be hateful and bigoted. You decide to be that way all on your own. Even your religion does not “force” you to be hateful and bigoted: I am happy to let you call whatever you like “holy matrimony” and impose whatever limitations you think your god has set for it. I will not, however, have my relationship legally treated as second class, and your attempt to enshrine your religious beliefs as law is what makes you precisely hateful and bigoted, amigo.

          2. Huh? Thinking a court imposed law is a bad law is “hateful and bigoted”? How does that even make sense?

          3. You can think that the law is a bad law all you like.
            I feel that way, for example, about Hobby Lobby.
            That being said, you are blatantly trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, and thus once again, as seems to be the status quo for you, being entirely dishonest in your assessment.

          4. In what way do you think I am trying to pretend Obergefell hasn’t happened ?

          5. You are not ignoring the ruling, nor did I ever state as much: you acknowledge it and pretend it doesn’t exist by denying that same-sex couples can get legally married according to US law.

          6. No, I have only said that legally recognizing a relationship between people of the same sex does not magically make those relationships actual marriages. They are not and will never be. A marriage cannot exist without a man or woman involved.

          7. Well:
            1. Magic doesn’t exist; and
            b. They are actual legal marriages.

            My marriage – which is a marriage by law, which you are denying – has zero women involved and is doing just fine after 12 years.

          8. What makes this relationship of yours a marriage?

          9. My marriage exists because my husband and I made the decision to commit to one another and then went through the process of receiving a marriage license.

            You can commit to your partner all you like, but that does not make it a legal marriage.

          10. Ok, what was the content of the commitment you made? People can commit to anything after all. So just saying you made some commitment does not mean much of anything.

          11. You never mentioned the content of your commitment either, you do realize.

            My husband and I pledged to spend our lives together, to take care of each other through difficult times / illness, to help each other grow as humans, to love one another, and to build a future together.

            Our commitment means a lot to us, and for the 12 years that we’ve been married, we have been through many things and honoured that commitment and took it very seriously.

          12. My commitment includes a commitment to (sexual) faithfulness.

            What specifically would you say makes your commitment a *marital* commitment? It looks to me like friends could make and live out an identical commitment.

          13. My commitment includes a commitment to honesty and trust, to living a life fully with my husband, to making decisions together with full consideration of each other, and to uplift each other as best we can.

            Sexual faithfulness does not make you special: there are plenty of “friends with benefits” who are sexually faithful to one another, and plenty of people dating who are sexually faithful who are not and who choose not to be married.

            Thus, in both our cases, there is no reason why friends couldn’t – if they so chose – make and live out an identical commitment. I hope you can agree with me, though, that generally the way two friends feel about each other – while it may be intense in its bond – is subjectively different than the way two people in romantic love feel about each other.

          14. Just saying that you believe in god is not really saying anything either.

    3. Exactly. I’d say that even in 2004 (when only one of the 50 states had same-sex marriage in place) such a compromise still would have been possible. Instead, conservative Christians doubled down and proposed a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage nationwide, and George W. Bush fully endorsed it in order to win re-election. It seems like many people forgot about that, but I did not.


      1. Agreed. I know several LGBT people who point to the 2004 election as the point when they decided to take a more aggressive approach. They had simply wanted to be left alone, but it was clear that evangelicals weren’t going to stop bullying them unless they fought back.


      2. What has never existed, practically speaking, cannot exactly be banned. It is not as if so called same sex marriage was a normal thing for millenia and all of the sudden 2004 people sought to ban it. That is precisely the opposite of what happened. Same sex “marriage” was a newly invented idea and people sought to keep the legal recognition accurate to the reality of marriage.


        1. One could say the same thing about egalitarian marriage, interracial marriage, etc. So, what’s your point, unless you’re implying that we pass a Constitutional amendment forbidding interracial marriage?


          1. No, they could not say the same thing about. Same sex “marriage” is not even marriage at all. It never has been and never will be.

          2. As another commenter noted below, you’re free to believe that it’s not a “real marriage,” just as you’re free to join Abe Simpson in believing that Missouri is not a “real state.” If that helps you fall to sleep faster at night, then feel free to keep believing it.

          3. Egalitarian and interracial marriage are just marriage. Egalitarian and interracial just describe something about that marriage. Same sex marriage is something else entirely. Just as “same sex” precedes the word marriage just like “interracial” and “egalitrian” do it does not follow that is interchangeable with these things. This is much like “black man” and “dead man”. Black describes something about a man a dead man is something else entirely.

          4. Repeating the same circular argument over and over again will not make it any more persuasive. If it makes you feel better, go on believing that same-sex marriages are not “real marriages.” You’re even free to believe that cauliflower is not “real food,” that Eminem doesn’t make “real music,” and that curling is not a “real sport.” But others are free to disagree with you, and even ignore you (which is what I’ll be doing going forward). It’s merely a statement of your subjective preferences. And I see no reason why your subjective preferences are entitled to any greater deference than anyone else’s. In fact, many of us enjoy variety, and like hanging out with people whose preferences in dating, food, music, and sports are different from our own. I understand that you find no such enjoyment in variety. Even so, you can’t exactly expect everyone else to change merely to satisfy your subjective desire for cultural homogeneity.

          5. Two people of the same sex cannot commit themselves to a lifelong, exclusive sexual union because people of the same sex cannot actually have sex together. That is not a subjective fact, that is an objective, empirical fact.

          6. Just as you are free to drive the false narrative that God-ordained institutions are malleable. Of course, if this be so, the only thing that matters then is who has the greatest number of votes or biggest guns. Seems odd that in the early 21st century we continue to whiff the putrid odor of Marxian styled historical re-writes, and when I read the line of reasoning utilized in these comments, I’m thinking I might be hearing the distant clanging of gulag chains…

    4. What, exactly, hoosier_bob, was the “peaceful compromise?”

      Something like civil unions or registered domestic partnerships, which were EXPLICITLY disallowed by the very constitutional amendments that disallowed same-sex marriage?

      But yes, we gay people should just be happy for the crumbs that the right would occasionally considering rolling under the closet door for us when we’re nice and quiet and don’t pose too much of an inconvenience for your life of privilege and special rights.


      1. Obviously facts don’t matter to you, not recognizing pretend marriages as if they were real is not at all animus against anyone in any group or category or identity or whatever else you can make up.


        1. There’s nothing pretend about my marriage :-).
          You have no trouble recognizing a pretend god as if it was real, so you don’t have a whole lot of credibility when it comes to reality, bubs.


      2. The compromise would look something like what Irons proposes in her piece, i.e., permitting civil same-sex marriage, but providing civil-liberty protections for religious organizations that may have misgivings concerning same-sex marriage.

        I agree, however, that evangelicals rejected the possibility of a reasonable compromise. So, they are now stuck with very limited civil-liberty protections.


        1. Again, no lasting compromise was ever going to be possible. Why would you ever think that the ss”m” advocates would be ok with same sex “marriages” not being regarded as real marriages in a large segment of society long term and that these people who refused to recognize same sex “marriages” as actual marriages would be legally protected in doing so? This contradicts everything they were fighting for. The social acceptance always outweighed the legal benefits. This compromise would have consigned their “marriages” to second class forever because they will live in a reality in which everyone recognizes the legitimacy of a marriage between a man and woman but not everyone would between two men or two women.


    5. Rod Dreher often refers to the Law of Merited Impossibility. The phrase
      is somewhat inapposite here. No one ever said that the current
      situation for SSM opponents was impossible.

      No one? You have never read, in any popular SSM advocacy piece, assurances “if marriage is redefined to include SSM, the only ‘consequence’ is that gay and lesbian people will be at liberty will marry; it will not affect anyone else at all”? Never heard “if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married”?

      There were, ’tis true, academics who were more forthright all along — e.g. then-law professor Chai Feldblum called LGBT liberty/Religious traditionalist liberty a “zero sum game” at least as early as 2006. But SSM was absolutely not sold that way in popular media. Which was smart: if it had been, popular support wouldn’t have advanced nearly so rapidly as it did.


      1. So true. There were tons of gay marriage advocates saying “this won’t effect your marriage or your family, what’s the big deal?”


      2. I’m not suggesting that it’s inherently a zero-sum game. After all, a number of churches place strict limits on the social roles that women can play. Such disparate treatment of women differs sharply with our cultural practices, and certainly doesn’t reflect majority opinion. Even so, such churches are generally able to continue these practices without governmental interference. That occurred because traditionalists reached a reasonable compromise with feminists, and arrived at a peace that’s held for over 50 years.

        But that’s not the tack that evangelicals took with respect to gay rights. Instead, evangelicals have fought every advance of gay rights, often in the most alarmist, divisive, and dishonest of ways. It’s become a zero-sum game precisely because evangelicals pursued their policy objectives in ways that allowed only for zero-sum outcomes. They did this believing that they could win the zero-sum game and drive gay people out of the public square. Of course, in pursuing that strategy, evangelicals implicitly accepted the risk of being driven from the public square themselves if they lost.

        Yes, by 2006, it was apparent that a zero-sum outcome was likely, and that the battle lines had become drawn in a way such that it was unlikely that either party would pursue a reasonable peace. But it didn’t have to be that way. In the early 2000s, evangelicals could still have approached the issue of gay rights in the same manner in which they had approached women’s rights. But they chose not to. This choice was especially apparent in the near-constant scapegoating of gays that we observed during the run-up to the 2004 election. That choice was hammered home by the smug proclamations of evangelical leaders following the election. But the 2004 election had another consequence: It turned millions of otherwise-moderate gay people into activists. They saw that evangelicals had no intent of dealing with them reasonably, and took up arms to defend themselves and their families from the slurs and lies that had been leveled against them. Evangelicals awakened a sleeping bear, and they’re now paying the price for it. But that’s what happens when you pursue risky strategies and lose.


        1. No, it was zero-sum because the “progressive/lgbt” side made every issue about their fundamental humanity such that any disagreement with their goals would be considered attacks on them and their worth/value as human beings. This is wholly different than disagreement on what the best policy or law would be. That type of disagreement can be impersonal, the “progressive/lgbt” made every issue personal to them even though this was illegitimate. The big issue, for example, marriage, never had a thing to do with homosexuality. Them making it about homosexuality was illegitimate accordingly.


        2. Let’s assume, arguendo, that your historical analysis sketches the three decades between (roughly) 1980 and 2010 accurately. (I happen to think it’s pretty good, at least about the tactics of high-level religious right political operatives in those decades. 2004 was a great example of sacrificing the future culture to win one presidential election — a massive tactical blunder, with huge strategic repercussions.)

          The question now is “so what?” Does bad political behavior by a group mean that that group’s political rights become forfeit? Or, given the amount of time that has passed, the more factually pertinent question: does the bad behavior of certain of the fathers effect the restriction of the rights of the children (whose political sensibilities, even among doctrinal traditionalists, are on the whole more libertarian)?


          1. I would like to think that it shouldn’t. Even so, history and culture develop in ways that are often idiosyncratic, and rarely proceed with the kind of gradualism that the ideas-have-consequences crowd supposes. That’s because our actions and beliefs are never as intentional as we believe them to be. Truth be told, most of us are functional pragmatists, and we arrive at certain conclusions because those conclusions make sense to us within our limited cultural bubble.

            Most non-evangelicals have significant social and/or professional contact with some number of LGBT people. Most of these folks are not the gay-pride-parade types. They’re normal people who go to work and do their jobs just like the rest of us. Thus, many of us saw the anti-LGBT attacks of the 2003-05 time period as unnecessarily divisive. It forced many of us to choose to support our friends in ways that required us to stiff-arm the evangelical movement to a degree. Over time, that stiff-arming became habitual, especially if there were few immediate negative consequences to it. Once these patterns set in, they become difficult to alter.

            That’s why I believe that this has become a zero-sum game, and that conservative evangelicals are going to lose. But I doubt that they’ll lose in the way that Rod Dreher imagines. Moderates probably outnumber conservatives in many evangelical organizations. The leadership often remains conservative in a putative sense because conservatives are more likely to jump ship than moderates if they don’t get their way. But we’re getting to the point where moderates can cast off conservatives without too much consequence. Most educated, 30-/40-something evangelicals reject inerrancy, complementarianism, and creationism, and tend to exhibit a qualified acceptance of same-sex marriage and pre-marital sex. They still tend to oppose abortion, but are not as interested as their forebears in relying on criminalization as the preferred policy lever. So, I suspect that there will be no Waterloo between gay-rights proponents and evangelicals. That’s because the next generation of evangelical leaders will steer the movement away from it. Traditionalists will still resist compromise. Bu their numbers will be sufficiently small that there will be no reason to engage them.

          2. But I doubt that they’ll lose in the way that Rod Dreher imagines. . . . I suspect
            that there will be no Waterloo between gay-rights proponents and
            evangelicals. That’s because the next generation of evangelical leaders
            will steer the movement away from it. Traditionalists will still
            resist compromise. But their numbers will be sufficiently small that
            there will be no reason to engage them.

            These things aren’t mutually exclusive at all — on the contrary, they reinforce one another. The more marginal the traditionalists, the fewer their numbers, the easier it will be to persecute them. Marginal persons and institutions are precisely those whose persecution will be invisible to the mainstream institutions. And, to the extent such persecution is visible, it will be justified, particularly by the mainstream chaplain class (basically, the old mainline and the progressive evangelicals), on the ground that the traditionalists deserve it.

            And of course woe betide those traditionalists who refuse to stay in their ghettos — who have the artistic, academic, business, or political chops to enter mainstream institutions.

            The next generation of evangelicals will steer the movement away from [a Waterloo in the LGBT/evangelical controversies].

            David Gushee said precisely that that will become impossible — unless, of course, the evangelicals “voluntarily” agree to amend their definitions of marriage and licit sexual conduct.

          3. I don’t see anyone picking on the JWs, and their views are hardly mainstream.

  8. […] deep-thinking evangelical website Mere Orthodoxy. One of their writers, Jake Meador, penned an absurd, comical post in response to Gushee. I think calling it “absurd” and “comical” is fair; […]


  9. So, in a nutshell, as I understand Gushee is predicting that it is only a matter of time until the state crushes traditionally minded religious organizations and that this will be a good thing when it happens.

    Is it perhaps time for a statement of defiance to be issued by the leaders of these organizations? Something along the lines of saying that no new taxes levied will be paid, no fines for losing a “discrimination” lawsuit will be paid, and no church property will be voluntarily vacated.


    1. I’d be surprised if there are very many institutions that are willing to take such steps. In my former denomination (PCA), the Pew survey showed that 49% of members favor SSM. Further, I expect that most of the opposition is among older members. Given that opposition to SSM correlates strongly with age, we’re probably only a few years away from a time when many evangelical institutions will be dominated by people who support SSM.

      Conservative people often misconstrue others’ silence as agreement. Thus, they tend to overestimate support for their positions. I don’t expect that it will ever come to what you’re saying because there just won’t be that many people who agree with you. After all, this is CIVIL marriage we’re talking about here.


      1. As much as I hope otherwise, I agree. I don’t think there will be much defiance, and that is part of the reason these things are happening. Although, the SB1146 challenge was nice to see and gave reason for a glimmer of hope.


      2. You left the PCA.



        1. If I moved to a different part of the country, where the PCA churches aren’t run by nutty fundamentalists, I’d consider rejoining.


  10. From his arguments it appears that Gushee figures among that contemptible group of individuals known chiefly for their cowardice and willingness to stab their brethren in the back if doing so will preserve their miserable lives, status, and wealth. It was precisely this type of ‘Christian’ who spied upon and betrayed the faithful to Marxist Communists in the Soviet Union, as revealed by the authors of the Black Book of Communism as well as by Richard Wurmbrand.


    1. So, disagreeing with the Religious Right makes some a coward?


      1. Not at all. Gushee however, willfully, arrogantly, and defiantly rejects the authoritative Revealed Word of God, and like Teilhard de Chardin, Spong, and other apostates, is inventing a ‘new’ and what he foolishly believes is an ‘ improved’ Christianity for which he shows himself willing to betray the faithful. This makes him a coward and worse. If he does not repent but rather continues along the broad highway he is traveling, things will end very badly for him.


        1. Apostasy generally relates to denying some central doctrine of Christianity, such as the Resurrection. Apostasy does not–and should not–concern these kinds of tertiary debates, notwithstanding certain evangelicals’ obsession sex-related issues.

          Also, Jesus Christ is the “Revealed Word of God.” Your biblicism actually echoes far more of Gnosticism than Christianity.


          1. Oh, come on. People need to stop throwing around the word ‘gnostic’ so easily. What the deuce do you think believing the Bible to be God’s Word has to do with Valentinus or Basilides? If that’s Gnostic, I have 144 celestial archons and a couple of divine cucumbers to sell you. There is nothing gnostic about believing that God tells the truth, means for us to listen to him, and condemns those who teach people to live contrary to it. That’s perfectly straightforward, standard Christian doctrine. Speaking of doctrine, both the immoral and the ‘male-bedders’ are named among those who act contrary to ‘the health-bringing teaching’ in 1 Timothy 1, for the record.

            We can quibble about the meaning of ‘apostasy’, but the penitential system of early churches tended to treat gross sexual immorality and idolatry (and murder!) as sins of roughly equivalent seriousness. Aiding and condoning gross immorality is less often discussed directly, as the licentious teacher is usually assumed to be living out his own teaching (reasonably enough), but they are logically at the same level as incitement to murder or to sacrificing to demons.

          2. I’m using in the sense that Harold Bloom uses it. As Molly Worthen documents in her recent book, biblicism has never been about protecting the biblical text. Rather, it has largely focused on trying to claim divine aegis for one’s preferred social policies. But Scripture was never intended as a rulebook that gives one unfettered access to absolute truth. Theologies that reposition the purpose of Scripture and use it for those purposes are seeking the same kind of “social knowledge” that Gnostics sought.

          3. Ryan Scott Grafton August 26, 2016 at 11:52 am

            The notion that a conservative, Protestant biblical hermeneutic should be labeled more “gnostic” than Gushee’s method that this author exposes is laughable! A number of the epistles specifically deal with the heretical thought that was gnosticism in practice.

          4. Read Bloom’s book. Pete Enns also addresses these topics in his works. Biblicism is largely an invention of the past 100 years.

            Yes, a number of the epistles deal with forms of Gnosticism. But I’m not sure how that insulates evangelicals from falling victim to a Gnostic-laden view of the role of Scripture in the Christian tradition.

          5. Ryan Scott Grafton August 27, 2016 at 5:37 pm

            You’re right in one way: it doesn’t prevent us from proudly deluding ourselves into thinking that we have “superior knowledge.” However, the right exegetical practices – which deal in the area of linguistics, historical/contextual interpretation, archaeology, and just plain orthodox method of translation, interpretation and application – does not admit the “new knowledge” routine of caving to the post-modern narrative that redefines basic terminology and paints an orthodox position… as if it is a recent invention, obfuscating the science of biblical and systematic theology with newspeak.

          6. It’s also very odd, Bob, that you cite people like Leithart and Horton as authorities, whom you ought to detest for being ‘biblicist’ Gnostics themselves. Even if you would give a pass Horton, Leithart himself openly avows being a biblicist. But nevermind that. What you are saying is still nonsense. Even if the careless use of ‘Gnostic’ had become universal, it would not do the logical work you want it to do. You see, Bob, you are making theological points in a theological discussion in a theological forum. In that setting, words like ‘Gnostic’ and ‘Manichaean’, especially capitalised, naturally bear their (in Christian discourse, long-established and primary) heresiological connotations. In other words, to call something ‘Gnostic’ is to insinuate that it errs as Basilides and Valentinus did; to call it ‘Manichaean’ is to assimilate it, at the very least, to the erroneous dualistic doctrines of Mani and of his disciples and followers, men like Faustus of Milevis. It certainly need not imply a historical continuity between modern and ancient ‘Gnosticism’ of course (and such intellectual filiations are virtually impossible to prove, anyway, except where someone cites a particular thinker with approval), though it certainly does need to demonstrate some kind of typological similarity.

            Your logic is more complicated, and deeply disingenuous. ‘Gnostic’ in your parlance no longer means ‘akin to the ancient heterodox doctrines called by that name’, but ‘an abstraction, identified by a modern thinker, that is vaguely analogous to some feature, real or imagined, of ancient “Gnosticism” and so given that name as a kind of metaphorical shorthand.’ For Bloom as literary and cultural critic, that might have been a justifiable move. You, however, still use the word, in explicitly theological debate, as if it still bore the heresiological connotations that gave it authority for determining the bounds of legitimate Christian discourse. It doesn’t, not anymore. So when you say that epistemological idealism (an abstraction reified from the sharp particularities of people’s actual beliefs) is ‘Manichaean’ or biblicism (yet another reified abstraction, whose real content you dextrously replace with a scholastic invention of the typically cynical postmodern Foucauldian) is ‘Gnostic’, the words bear no logical weight. All they say is, ‘I think these ideas are intellectually problematic, and I am (mis)using heresiological terms in keeping with the thought of a few modern thinkers to identify what is wrong with them’. That’s fine. They may be intellectually problematic ideas. Certainly there are problems with some kinds of biblicism, and with some kinds of ‘worldview’ apologetics. But they are not all wrong (a kind of biblicism, for example, is typical of pre-modern Christian discourse, too, and anyone who has actually read much Patristics knows this, the hermeneutical variety of pre-modern Christian texts aside), and aspects of them are far more deeply Christian than is your own preferred utilitarian neoliberalism, an invention of yesterday that you openly and unrepetantly use to replace actual commandments of God with your own private judgement.

            So no, your appeals to the authority of teachers with whom you don’t even agree don’t impress me, any more than do your selective and ignorant appeals to the theology of my own confession. You are misusing heresiological terms to score rhetorical points, in order to mislead those who are less alert to your intellectual sleight of hand and to cause them to question what God has actually commanded and the Church always taught. God has things to say about those who do such things, and who approve of the moral deception of the young, as you repeatedly have (and mocked those who watch out for their spiritual well-being, too). So go ahead. Cite another postmodern hatchet-job against evangelicalism. Produce another distorted, grossly selective picture of the traditional Christian teaching whose moral aspects you repeatedly and blatantly deny. At the end of the day, you will still be denying the clear commandments of God, mocking those who hold to them, and rejoicing at the persecution and suffering of your brethren–and smugly applauding yourself for not being one of those atrocious sinners.

          7. You keep moving the goalposts. In my previous discussions with you, you did the same thing. In doing this, you simply show yourself to be dishonest.

            I didn’t point to Noll et al. as authorities. Rather, I pointed to them to rebut your argument that it was ridiculous to suggest that biblicism is akin to a modern-day form of Gnosticism. I didn’t proffer it as an authoritative statement. Rather, I proffered it to demonstrate that you’re simply making up facts to prove your point.

            Moreover, we’re discussing CIVIL marriage. I see nothing in Scripture that requires Christians to maintain certain positions with respect who is included within the ambit of civil marriage laws. After all, many Protestants, such as the Puritans, believed that the eschatological significance of marriage was fulfilled in Christ, and that marriage today is a strictly secular arrangement whose contours are to be defined by pragmatic considerations. That explains why Calvin compared marriage’s spiritual significance to that of hair-cutting. Thus, I don’t see how this can be a question of anything other than one of cost-benefit analysis. You may disagree. But the issue is not nearly as clear-cut as you suggest, and good Christians can arrive at a number of different positions.

            Again, I’m not seeking to prove that your position is devoid of merit, although I do find it to be rather unpersuasive. Rather, I’m seeking to prove that your position is not the only possible position on this issue for orthodox Christians. In that sense, my goal is to make sure that every Christian is able to exercise his or her Christian liberty to the fullest extent. There are few sins greater sin than the sin of seeking to bind the conscience of another Christian on an issue without warrant. So, we need to be careful about circumscribing orthodoxy any more narrowly than necessary, recognizing that we may often need to divide for pragmatic reasons. For example, I believe that Lutherans are Christians, even as I recognize that Lutherans and Reformed people have incompatible views of the Eucharist, which would make it impractical to worship together.

            And, as our cultural geography shifts, Christians who previously worshiped together may well come to differing views on certain issues that make it impractical to continue to worship together. That explains why, in American Protestantism, we’ve observed major denominational realignments every couple of generations. Issues on which we were unified in the past have faded, and we’ve come to differing views on newly arising issues. I think we’re probably a bit overdue for a realignment now. I think it’s time for a number of major denominations to look into a “conscious uncoupling” so that they focus better on serving those within their community.

          8. Seeing as CIVIL marriage as you call it exists to recognize relationships that are marriages, why should a Christian (or anyone else for that matter) support non-marital relationships being included in CIVIL marriage (again, as you call it)?

            You have already said repeatedly that those of us who have not gotten on board with recognizing same sex relationships as CIVIL marriages are hateful and bigoted. These are explicitly moral terms, as in someone who is acting hateful and bigoted is also acting *immorally*. So it follows even you think there is some *morally* right position for what CIVIL marriage (again, as you call it) should be, or at least your position entails a morally right position whether you think there is or is not.

            Yet, here, you come back to suggesting that Christians should not/don’t have to let Christian moral views inform their position on “CIVIL marriage”. As if there are no morally right answers to what “CIVIL marriage” should be, or at least that the Scriptures properly understood give us no information whatsoever about what marriage is, a position which is so hopelessly impossible that it is just laughable to suggest.

            It seems to me your whole argument is a giant contradiction. Christians are acting immorally to be against same sex relationships being recognized as “CIVIL marriages” yet Christians are beholden to no moral view on marriage. They can take whatever view seems most “pragmatic” to them.

            So, which is it?

          9. Bob, I’m moving the goalposts? Don’t make me laugh. You have said, repeatedly and without a whit even of human feeling, let alone of Christian charity, that Christians who opposed same-sex marriage were hateful bigots (and insinuated, in the nastiest possible way, that a recognition of what God has called good and evil is merely an attempt to claim that God loves ‘my tribe’ more than others). If you can’t admit that those are fighting words, don’t claim that you are merely trying to preserve the breadth of orthodoxy. You aren’t, and we all can see that.

            Furthermore, we aren’t merely discussing civil marriage. Elsewhere in this thread, you have stated that the exact same utilitarian reasoning you use for politics can be used to assess what is ‘inherently sinful’. Granted that you deny that same-sex ‘marriage’ and indeed same-sex ‘couplings’ cause any real harm, I cannot but infer that you think they aren’t sinful. You are making a theological point, too, not just talking about civil marriage. Talk about moving goalposts!

          10. Huh? Yes, I believe that the contours of civil marriage ought to be determined by reference to pragmatic considerations and nothing else. It’s CIVIL marriage, after all. Imposing religious tests onto one’s qualification for CIVIL rights improperly entangles the state into religious affairs.

            I have no idea why people oppose SSM. In the 15-20 years that this debate has raged, I’ve not heard a single rational reason for opposing SSM. In fact, as hard as I wrack my mind, I can’t think of a single rational reason to oppose SSM. So, when people hold to views which entirely lack any kind of rational underpinning, it becomes hard not to use the “bigot” label. And this discourse hasn’t convinced me otherwise. If you can come up with one persuasive argument as to why the cost-benefit analysis works out against SSM, then I’ll change my mind.

          11. Nonsense. ‘Biblicism’ has been part of the Church for as long as there’s been a Bible. You might be better informed if you read fewer opponents of modern Christianity and a few more ancient Christians. And no, modern evangelical belief in the absolute truth of scripture has not one whit to do with Gnostics and their alleged special knowledge. It is just an attempt to state ordinary Christian doctrine in the vocabulary of our own age.

          12. Biblicism couldn’t possibly be as old as you suggest, given that the epistemic assumptions of biblicism are less than a few hundred years old. Biblicism is largely a product of the 18th century, and was not set forth in any creedal form until 1978.

            Neither Bloom not I are suggesting that evangelical biblicism is directly derived from first-century Gnosticism. Rather, it is a form of modern-day Gnosticism. It generally arises during periods of social upheaval for the purpose of claiming divine aegis for a way of life that was fading away and to claim divine judgment on a way of life that was replacing it.

            We are moving from a world order that was governed by classical liberalism to a world order that’s governed by neoliberalism (a la Friedman and Coase). I don’t see that Scripture says much about the relative merits of one versus the other. Making Scripture speak on issues where it is largely silent is not a way of respecting it, it is rather way of disrespecting and trivializing it. As Worthen notes, biblicism has rarely been about protecting the integrity of the biblical text, but is instead chiefly about privileging certain fundamentalist interpretations of the text, particularly in connection to social issues.

          13. As I said, Bob, read some ancient Christians before you start spouting nonsense about ‘epistemic assumptions’. Even Origen, famous for his loose allegoresis, believed the Bible to be absolutely, 100%, unshakeably the word of God, and perfectly revelatory of the truth (hence his allegoresis!). Augustine, in his later years, believed Genesis 1-9 to be a completely literal description of historical events (he had not always thought so). Those are only two famous examples, of course. Ancient and mediaeval styles of interpretation were very different from modern ones, but the basic attitude–the belief that the Bible is true, contains an accurate history and chronology of mankind, and provides profound (yes, even hidden and mystical) insights into the will of God and the reality of things–is ubiquitous in pre-modern Christianity.

            Your Bloomian appeal to ‘Gnosticism’ is just abuse of language, as I said. It takes a tendentious, rather silly definition of ancient ‘Gnosticism’ completely unmoored from the actual teachings of men like Valentinus and Basilides, and uses a vague typological analogy to a modern idea you don’t like in order to condemn that idea. It has no evidentiary force, and is little more than a disenguous attempt to claim a tradition of Christian heresiology in order to attack a modern expression of standard Christian doctrine.

            ‘Certain fundamentalist interpretations of the text’ are, in these matters, what the Church has always and everywhere taught. You can’t got a pro-sodomy position out of the Bible or pre-modern Christianity, by any effort. Your critique of biblicism is just a smokescreen for a radically (post-)modernist innovation within Christian doctrine. If you admitted that, it would trouble me less. It is the bizarre pretence that you are the better, more truly traditional Christian than the ‘fundamentalist’ whom you hate, mock, and abuse that is so disturbing, and so completely wrong-headed. Fundamentalism has its errors and its deviations from traditional Christian doctrine, but it is, in the main, faithful both to scripture and tradition. Your personal heresy, which replaces the law of God with man-made utilitarian reasonings, bears very little resemblance to ordinary, historical Christianity.

          14. The ancients were all over the place on what Scripture is. Besides, when you read what Origen or Augustine write, you have to place those writings in the context of premodern epistemic assumptions about what it means to say that something is true. I stand by my statement, which you did not rebut, that biblicism in its current form is essentially a product of the 18th century.

            Also, I find it hard to accept that my comparison of biblicists to Gnostics is off base. After all, a number of prominent evangelical scholars have admitted as much. These include, Mark Noll, Peter Leithart, and Michael Horton, to name a few.

            The problem with “worldview epistemology” is that it’s simply a collection of ideas that you want to be true, just like evangelicals of 1-2 generations ago wanted it to be true that non-white people were somehow morally inferior to whites. It’s simply a crass effort to claim divine blessing upon the tribe to which one has elected to affiliate. If it makes you and DR84 feel better to believe that God loves people of your tribe better than he loves people in mine, then I have no desire to disabuse you of that. In fact, feel free to head to the mountains and form your own Benedict Option of like-minded, middle-class, family-values types.

            Yes, people like you once enjoyed a cultural hegemony, and you could use that hegemony to cow everyone else into playing according to your rules. But your hegemony has ended, and now you have to get along just like the rest of us. After all, we never really had a common culture. Rather, we had a tribal culture, where one tribe enjoyed a hegemony and forced its ways on everyone else at the tip of a sword. Thankfully, that hegemony is ending, and various tribes are now free to organize in ways that are meaningful to their members.

            As Robert Kaplan noted in his article in the current issue of National Interest, we’ve probably reached the point where the emerging geopolitical order cuts against the strictly Westphalian notion of statehood. Christian societies have thrived precisely because Christianity operates with a fundamentally realist epistemology that allows it to adapt to a changing geopolitical scene. It is the only religion where truth fundamentally resides in a person, not in ideas. Accordingly, Christianity is sucking wind in the US today precisely because it has exchanged Christ for ideas about Christ, and the resurrected Son of God for an Islam-like form of textualism (biblicism). Thus, by my estimation, evangelicalism’s failure is something that every good Christian ought to embrace, as it can pave the way for a more truly Christian alternative to arise in its place. God is preserving His church by destroying its counterfeits. When I came to evangelicalism in the 1990s, I was looking for a refuge from the mainline social gospel. But it’s now clear that evangelicalism is content just to be another social gospel; it just chooses different positions on social issues from mainliners.

          15. I wonder if people like hoosier_bob are even aware they are advocating for a “Biblical” view about human nature, sexual morality, and marriage…in which somehow homosexual conduct is not wrong and a marriage can exist without a man or woman… that was invented in the past few decades.

            The crazy thing is how they will try to flip history and reality upside down and act as if the perfectly straightforward, standard Christian doctrine you described was invented very recently mostly to stigmatize LGBT identifying people.

          16. I’m not advocating for anything other than that the government ought to refrain from passing judgment on what people do as long as their conduct imposes no substantial harm onto innocent third parties. I couldn’t care less what people do, as long as they don’t harm me. And I see no reason why the government should care either.

            When I was in first grade, my teacher gave every student an MYOB grade, i.e., a “mind your own business” grade. It was a good habit to learn. It’s a good thing you didn’t have my first-grade teacher. You’d still be waiting to get a passing MYOB grade, so that you could move on to second grade.

          17. What does minding your own business have to do with any of the issues being discussed here?

          18. in your mind, on this issue, what would constitute State persecution of Christians who view SSM to be immoral? When can YOU be counted on to stick out your neck and to say “while I breathe, no officer of the State will do such-and-such to my Christian brothers.”?

          19. I’m unaware of any state-sanctioned effort to persecute Christian SSM opponents. Even so, if the state imprisoned people for holding such views, I would object.

          20. Is imprisonment the only type of persecution you will resist?

            Also, “objecting” is for forums and classrooms. Resisting is different

          21. I would be ready to stand against any State violence toward those in a SSR.

          22. Is imprisonment the only type of persecution you will resist?

          23. While I agree that Gushee doesn’t deserve the term “apostate,” I don’t agree that condoning sexual sin is a tertiary matter.

          24. When legislators make a law that criminalizes bestiality (is there any state without such a law?), would you consider them having an obsession with sex-related issues?

            With such a law, are they stigmatizing those who practice bestiality?

  11. Part of the problem we’re dealing with today is that we have over-played the persecution card in the past …

    But let’s not ignore the fact that our “paper-cut persecution” pales in comparison to the safe-space/trigger warning persecution that the progressives claim today.


    1. Oddly enough, I tend to see social conservatives as the right-wing version of the SJWs and the BLM adherents. It’s just two sides of the same entitled coin.


      1. …because many social conservatives have the audacity to believe a man should be able to make living taking photos of weddings without being made to take photos of men romantically kissing each other? Yes, this is totally exactly like SJW/BLM stuff. Right. Got it. Same same. Shame on these social conservatives for thinking they have the right to order their lives according to their beliefs and values and not the beliefs and values of the LGBT activist/power elite…


  12. I read this yesterday and was trying to come up with a response to explain that, from my reading of it, Gushee was writing a descriptive, not prescriptive, article. It turns out that this was exactly the case; as he wrote a clarifying article.

    While this was an understandable mistake to confuse description and advocacy, I think you owe David Gushee an apology for the insults(“cowardly” and “dishonest”) that you directed at him.


    1. I thought it was rather clear that it was a descriptive piece. Some Christians just don’t do reality too well.


      1. It is also pretty clear Gushee is pretty ok with all of these things he is predicting will happen actually happening. What he is describing and predicting is not much different than what Rod Dreher is predicting/describing.

        Gushee is a coward in so far as he claims to be a Christian yet willfully and knowingly chooses to ditch the plain truths of both Scripture and observable reality in order to please the power elite.


        1. More to the point: ten to fifteen years ago, had David Gushee “changed his mind” he may have faced some real consequences. By 2014, all the power was on the LGBT side; the only thing he could expect for “changing his mind” was applause. (No doubt he faced lots of criticism — but only from quarters that he has come to regard as morally irrelevant, and which wield no real power outside their [increasingly embattled] institutions.)

          Funny that David says that he changed sides because he “wanted to take the side of the bullied.” If that were really true, we might expect him to “change his mind” again within the next few years.


          1. New converts to the cause are usually the loudest and most obnoxious. They have something to prove to their new allies.

          2. Very true, sir.

          3. That’s often true if the cause is a tribal marker. Genuine changes of heart don’t require obnoxious displays of (new) loyalty.

    2. Jake doesn’t owe David Gushee an apology. Gushee’s original column was indeed an advocacy piece, however carefully couched in “descriptive” language. And of course, the follow-up “clarifying” article wasn’t itself a condescending advocacy piece at all. “D-E-S-C-R-I-P-T-I-V-E.” Mr. Gushee didn’t add “you morons,” because that would have been surplusage.

      There are a few problems with the “Gushee was merely descriptive in his first column” thesis. Jake’s column hit some of them — e.g. that Gushee just happened to follow Alinski’s Rule about picking, freezing, personalizing, and polarizing Christian traditionalists in his “description” of their situation. More fundamentally, there are some events (and predicted events) of sufficient moral consequence that one cannot merely “describe” them. The United States’ summary imprisonment of persons of Japanese descent during World War II is an historical example — imagine if an American writer “described” that in a way that implied throughout (1) that the Japanese-Americans had even partly earned such treatment, and (2) that the Americans were justified in their acts. What Mr. Gushee predicted in his oh-so D-E-S-C-R-I-P-T-I-V-E article is an Inquisition. If you try to hide, “the issue” will find you; if you try to “finesse” or hold some kind of “middle ground” on “the issue,” the powers-that-be will tighten the definitions until you have either to affirm or deny. David Gushee admittedly did not say “hurrah for the Inquisition” or “I can’t wait to be one of the Inquisitors” — but if you describe a prospective Inquisition so starkly (and I do think Mr. Gushee’s predictions will likely prove accurate), there can be no purely “descriptive” middle ground about it. And it doesn’t take any powers of divination to see that Gushee regards the prospective Inquisition, if not with pleasure, at least with I-wash-my-hands indifference — because he thinks the Inquisition’s targets deserve what they get.

      But hey, at least he tried to persuade them to come over to his side — the side, now, of most American principalities and powers — voluntarily. The traditionalists can’t say “Nobody expects the LGBT Inquisition!”


    3. Wouldn’t Jake’s criticism of Gushee’s writing style apply regardless? The passive voice thing…


  13. The question(s) underlying all of these discussions: Is there such a thing as Truth? Is Truth anything you happen to desire and want confirmed by others to make one feel good – or at least guilt free? Is it like ice cream flavors that are preferred by some, detested by others, but ultimately not of any real significance? Or is it like treating a chronic illness like diabetes where you had better take insulin and not arsenic or sugar when your blood sugar is high and harming your body? How seriously one takes one’s life and the relationship with Truth decides one’s answers to these questions. It comes down to one’s worldview and theology – and not the other way around. Hitting people with one’s righteous anger does not further the discussion. But I don’t believe people want discussion anymore. They want you to submit to their worldview and morality no matter what. Open debate is progressive. Shutting people down with name calling and threats of violence to their body or income is totalitarian.


    1. The more relevant question is whether one approaches the pursuit of truth as an epistemological idealist or as an epistemological realist. Protestants have generally opted for the latter, although post-WWII evangelicals have departed from that. Epistemological realists believe in truth; they just believe that it’s best arrived at by observing the world around us and making pragmatic assessments. We would generally join C.S. Lewis in affirming that we can never be more than “probably right” on any given issue. That doesn’t seem to sit well with certain evangelicals. But I think that’s probably more of a symptom of our intellectually lazy, microwave generation than a mark of Christian fidelity.


      1. “Probably right” is how we decide whether to execute or imprison someone. 100% certainty is not needed to be reasonably sure one is correct in believing or acting in a certain way. And not wanting men in women’s locker rooms is a reasonable position to hold to protect children and women. J. Warner Wallace, the Cold Case detective turned Christian apologist, has a lot to say about evidence in his book, Cold Case Christianity. To remain sort of but not definitely sure about such important issues seems to me cowardice. You either believe that men in a women’s locker room is wrong or you don’t. Or that children do way better – on average – in a two sex marriage than same sex coupling. Or you don’t. Or that people can hold differing beliefs without being hateful or harm mongering. Taking a strong stand is not any more dogmatic than for me know to take insulin and not sugar for my diabetes.


        1. The question of outcomes is easily measured. So, I would trust my observations over arriving at a conclusion without evidence when evidence for proving or disproving my thesis is readily available.

          I have no issue with men and women using the same locker rooms, although I do question the merits of allowing minors into such spaces. I was on a business trip to Zurich a few weeks ago, and spent a day at a thermal bath facility. The changing rooms for adults were unisex. I stood in a locker room and changed into my Speedo next to a woman who was changing into her bikini. The world did not come to an end.


          1. So men and women who are uncomfortable undressing with strange men should just put up with it because this is fine with you and that woman…

            Either that or they should just avoid doing any activity that might involve a change of clothes. That’s just wonderful that everyone should have to live by hoosier-bob’s standards of comfort and security.

            The sad thing here is it does not have to be an either/or deal. If some adults want to change clothes with people of both sexes, we can let them, while also letting the people who do not want to do this to have their own space that is free of the opposite sex.

          2. Of course you wear a speedo.

  14. Ryan Scott Grafton August 26, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Well done,JAKE.


  15. Best line: “It’s just happening like magic. Because #history.”


  16. Thanks Jake. This is well written. Mr. Gushee’s tone in the article was irritating to me too.

    What’s also irritating is that Christians who came out in support of gay marriage or full acceptance of gays and lesbians in the church pre-Obergefell were constantly saying to Christians who disagreed on this issue that we should continue to walk in communion, continue the conversation, work together in other areas were we agree – generally an “agree to disagree” attitude. It sounded good to me, though I questioned their sincerity (what progressive Christian is willing to ministry work with the modern-day equivalent of yesterday’s segregationists?) But now that political winds are at their back, it’s like “repent bigots, or prepare to be ‘pinched’ by my allies in the state!” Wait…what happened to “good Christians can disagree on these matters?”


    1. What happened to it? SSM opponents refused to agree. See, e.g., the firing of Daniel Kirk from Fuller. When you’ve proclaimed that Christian SSM opponents and Christian SSM proponents can’t worship together, you can’t really complain when those on the other side of the debate come to the same conclusion.


      1. You mean that someSSM opponents refused to agree. It’s still disingenuous to say that this is an issue that good Christians can disagree on, and then when some on the other side don’t agree with that, change your position to say, actually, it’s not an issue we agree to disagree on. Either it is, or it’s not. Now perhaps these people have actually changed their mind about whether it’s something good Christians can disagree on, which is at least a honorable position (nothing wrong with changing one’s mind), but the self-righteousness still wears a bit thin.


        1. Please identify several prominent evangelical leaders who are themselves SSM opponents but who also believe that this is an issue on which evangelicals can generally disagree in good faith. When I go down the list of the top leaders in evangelicalism, I can’t seem to come up with anyone who holds that position. For example, identify at least one speaker at the recent ERLC conference who espoused that view? How about someone from the TGC conference earlier this year? What about someone from the recent CBMW conference? Or maybe someone wrote a piece in World Magazine espousing that view? Please let me know.


          1. Hoosier, you are absolutely correct in this – if what you’re saying is that a peaceful pluralism CANNOT exist. Where do you stand on the Elane Photography, LLC vs. Willock case in New Mexico?

          2. http://religionnews.com/2015/04/24/christian-sexuality-debate-boston-mirrors-national-conversation/

            This is the type of thing I’m talking about. Two sides can agree to disagree, but still be polite, respectful and share the same stage.

            But let’s assume there isn’t a single opponent of same sex marriage that thinks Christians who disagree on this issue can work together or have fellowship. It’s still disingenuous to change your position once you’ve got the secular power of the state behind you.

    2. Gushee has aligned himself with Matthew Vines’ Reformation Project – which has never pretended that their push for “agree to disagree” is anything but a strategic stepping stone to “silence conservatives”


  17. […] On David Gushee’s Dishonesty (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy): this is a fascinating essay with surprising insights about the role of grammar in political argumentation. Really. […]


  18. The only reason why there is a conflict between two groups is because at least one of the two groups cannot share society with the other group as equals. The Christian group has refused to do such sharing for centuries and we have taken that for granted. But now many of us are in a panic because the tables are being turned.


  19. FernwoodForester August 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I got lost in the various links of articles but I wanted to respond to one where you stated that churches may lose their tax exempt status. A tax exempt status is totally voluntary. A simple search of its tax code ( I know right?) shows its not required for churches at all! My church has given up its tax exempt status… We still don’t pay taxes! Crazy! The 501c3 status was generated in the 40 s and some states only came on board with it in the 90s. With it donors may feel secure that their donation will In fact be a tax write off because the organization they donated to is ” officially” recognized by the state as a religious organization. Allll you have todo to obtain this peace of mind is give up some first amendment rights, become a legal corporation and come under laws that regulate corporations. What a deal! The opposite tact is to rest on the foundational laws that were established between church and states. Which in essence is autonomy.


  20. Kathy Green Medema August 27, 2016 at 9:02 am

    My comment here is not whether Gushee is “right or wrong”. I have read his book and I have heard him in person. My only concern with this post at all is the tone with which some of the comments about Gushee were made. I personally feel (and my own thoughts here don’t matter) that unless America and indeed the entire world cannot find middle ground with which to move forward, we will find ourselves not moving forward at all because we are polarized. Our governmental process will slow down considerably while those who need it to move normally the most suffer. I would ask all those who debate the current issues of GLBT rights/marriage, gun control, abortion, immigration and our presidential candidates to use non-hateful, respectful language. Our children are listening. I know this because I teach them. If it is okay for their adult family members to speak in certain ways, they feel they can, too. And then they get in trouble for it. Go figure.


    1. The answer is the same as it is to all SJWs, of which Gushee has cast in his lot, live and let live. It’s not all relative, they are the ones forcing their views on everyone else.

      As a parent, I do not force motels run by gay or progressive sophisticates to accept my children as customers. I am not going to file lawsuits or try to get friends in powerful places to punish them for their views. Similarly, if a private business or religious school that otherwise does no wrong to LGBT, why should they force them to support their agenda?


  21. Pardon the paraphrase, but “You cannot serve both God and PC.”
    “PC Christian” is the ultimate oxymoron.


    1. Or you will come to hate one. Most PC Christians come to hate God eventually. May take time but the passion of leftist politics comes to occupy their hearts.


  22. […] On David Gushee’s Dishonesty – Jake Meador […]


  23. Anjanette Lanham August 30, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Trying to layer in complicated explanations with false/ignorant statements attempts to make this ridiculous subject matter believable. Let’s just cut right through the colorful BS and get straight to the point in an honest manner, however brutal and blunt it may be. Gays, Lesbians and prostitutes are not born that way. They are manufactured. They are manufactured through childhood sexual assault. They are manufactured by pedophiles. In the crime of pedophilia there are large and small players. Just like there are large and small players in all crimes. The government and corporate media vehemently attack small-time pedos. Yet, the large pedo-institutions such as the Episcopal Church, Boy Scouts of America, Hollywood, etc are protected by the government with corporate media propaganda serving to brainwash the American citizen into acceptance of this insanity. These pedo-institutions are cranking out victims (gays) by the boat load. The government has cut a deal with these pedo-institutions to protect them from crippling civil suits and expensive criminal trials. In exchange the pedo-institutions (and society as a whole) must accept these victims “as is”. This is the largest societal hoax ever perpetrated against the American people in history.


  24. Revelation 13:17.

    It’s here. It’s now. We’re living it.


  25. I’m staying out of the tussle, except to say that language such as “sad decline” and “cowardly” in reference to Gushee is unnecessary; such condescension does not open ears to the merits of Mr. Meador’s arguments. But my main reason for commenting is that the very fine quote of C. S. Lewis’ from The Abolition of Man is unattributed.


  26. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    If they don’t turn from their evil ways many so-called Christians are going to one day have a sudden and irreversible epiphany. God save them.


  27. No ambiguity here:

    So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”[


  28. I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: 2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

    3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.


  29. […] column, and am glad to share my space for that purpose. (You can find other responses here and here.) What David has written is important—as is George’s […]


  30. Rev. David Gushee’s op-ed (Foes of LGBT rights can’t hide behind religious liberty, Sept.4) reveals the totalitarian streak of some on the left. Regarding religious stances toward LGBTs he wrote, “I have been a participant in the effort to encourage Protestant religious conservatives… to reconsider their position voluntarily.” Voluntarily? As if he has something more forceful in mind as a future possibility? in his conclusion he wrote, “They are organizing legal defense efforts under the guise of religious liberty.” Under the guise? As if there can be no such real religious liberty regarding such issues? Religious liberty, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, apparently counts for Rev. Gushee only if the values in question are to his liking (liberal).

    The First Amendment enshrines freedom of religion. Even God allows humans freedom to choose! But Rev. Gushee’s language suggests he would eliminate such freedom. I’m glad he’s not in charge of government… or God.


  31. Beta males who are house husbands engaging in androgynous relationships with their masculine wives have no real grounds to oppose gay marriage


  32. Gushee is the least cowardly writer I have read. So are we going to go back to the days when a hotel could post “no queers”? Where does it stop? It wasn’t that long ago that exclusion of blacks was framed as a “right” based on religious freedom. The poor baker should suck it up or find another line of work. I am sorry for her but we can’t open the flood gates to discrimination based on “religious freedom”. Guarantee even the cake lady will soon fine that our society has become absurd.


  33. […] As Jake Meador points out, LGBTism defenders are being cowardly and passive-aggressive about this threat. ↩ […]


  34. I know I’m super-late to the game, but since comments aren’t closed:

    The only active people in Gushee’s sentences are those awful backwards bigots who deserve whatever they have coming. I mean that quite literally. Go back and reread the essay. When talking about society’s shifting attitude on sexual ethics, Gushee leans heavily on the passive voice and on sentences whose subject is itself a thing rather than any sort of rational being capable of action. We do not have “Gay rights advocates have done x,” or even “pro-LGBT advocates have won victory x.” Instead: “The issue has been forced.”

    In Gushee’s world, no one is acting to promote a certain social agenda premised on redefining marriage and transforming sexual ethics into an exclusively consent-based system. It’s just happening like magic. Because #history.

    It seems to me that the most dangerous thing here is something 100% orthogonal to the actual issues being discussed. It is a denial of the following:

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing. (who knows who said precisely this)

    Let me address those who are Christians in something other than the “God is dead / a construction of our minds” sense. The Bible is filled with God acting and God wanting humans to act alongside him. (e.g. Ezek 22:29–31 and 1 Cor 3:5–9) Evil must be opposed, actively. YHWH asks Jeremiah, “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, / how will you compete with horses? / And if in a safe land you are so trusting, / what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” The book of Revelation contains 7+1 instances of “one who conquers”. Furthermore, the Bible is full of very articulate recollections of what God has done for his people—such as the Song of Moses. To speak in the vague, passive voice is to fail to hope in God and be thankful to God.

    Refusal to be explicit seems like some combination of ignorance, incompetence, cowardice, and deviousness. (Maybe some have zero magnitude, but not all.) Christianity practiced in the dark is not Christianity.


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