In his novel Silence Japanese writer Shusaku Endo tells the story of two Portuguese missionaries in 17th century Japan. After initial pioneering work by Francis Xavier in the 16th century, a small native Japanese church had begun to flourish in the mid-to-late 16th century, possibly growing as large as 100,000 people. Then the government took a hard anti-Christian turn, closed the island to foreigners, and began a harsh regime of persecution against the Japanese Christians.

At the center of this persecution were small icons called fumi-e, pictured above. During the torture, the government officials told the Christians that all they needed to do to end it is agree to trample on the fumi-e, which was understood to be a way of renouncing the faith. To make sure it took, it was common practice in much of Japan to require former Christians to step on a fumi-e once a year. (Silence spoilers below the jump.)

The drama of Endo’s story, however, does not concern whether or not Japanese Christians will step on the fumi-e, but if the Portuguese missionaries will. The story begins with the younger missionary, Fr. Rodrigues, traveling to the island to see if his former teacher and mentor, Fr. Ferreira really has apostatized as some say or if he has died as a faithful martyr. Much of the book’s power comes from the final third of the story after Fr. Rodrigues has been captured and is being interrogated by Inoue, the local magistrate overseeing the torture of the Christians.

Eventually Fr. Ferreira, who we learn did apostatize, comes to speak with Fr. Rodrigues as well. Finally, they begin torturing Japanese Christians by suspending them head first over a pit of feces and tell Rodrigues that they will remove those Christians from the pit only when he steps on the fumi-e.

Here is the key account:

The first rays of the dawn appear. The light shines on his long neck stretched out like a chicken and upon the bony shoulders. The priest grasps the fumie with both hands bringing it close to his eyes. He would like to press to his own face that face trampled on by so many feet. With saddened glance he stares intently at the man in the center of the fumie, worn down and hollow with the constant trampling. A tear is about to fall from his eye. ‘Ah,’ he says trembling, ‘the pain!’

‘It is only a formality. What do formalities matter?’ The interpreter urges him on excitedly. ‘Only go through with the exterior form of trampling.’

The priest raises his foot. In it he feels a dull, heavy pain. This is no mere formality. He will now trample on what he has considered the most beautiful thing in his life, on what he has believed most pure, on what is filled with the ideals and the dreams of man. How his foot aches! And then the Christ in bronze speaks to the priest: ‘Trample! Trample! I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot. Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.’

The priest placed his foot on the fumie. Dawn broke. And far in the distance the cock crew.

The entire torture account feels like a scene out of Orwell. The prosecutor is not after simple assent, but wishes to break the person entirely. It’s a blunt force instrument applied with such power that those subjected to it are shattered. In the epilogue to that scene we see that this is precisely what happened to Fr. Rodrigues.

This sort of persecution—aggressive, coercive, meant to break us—is what evangelicals have long-feared. And, as it happens, we now live in an age where this sort of fear is not unreasonable, not as an imminent threat coming tomorrow, but as a reasonable concern given the trajectory of some in the contemporary west.

But, ironically enough, we evangelicals seem to have forgotten our Bibles. If we remembered them, we would know that often (though not always) in Scripture more explicit, coercive persecution of God’s people is a consequence of their own disobedience and lack of fidelity. Persecution from without comes to assail a church that has rotted from within. There are, after all, two ways of killing a church. The Japanese found a way of doing it through aggressive, coercive methodologies. But in America even that may not be necessary.

That’s as good a place as any to consider the latest news on Donald Trump, I suppose. Yesterday, Focus on the Family founder and religious right icon James Dobson endorsed the short-fingered vulgarian. He joins a depressingly long list of religious right endorsers that includes Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, and many others.

The membership list of his evangelical outreach committee is similarly depressing, including Sarah Palin wannabe Michele Bachmann, Mark Burns (who gave the blasphemous benediction earlier this week), Ronnie Floyd (recent president of the SBC), Richard Land (former president of the ERLC), James MacDonald (former Gospel Coalition member who left at the same time as Mark Driscoll), and Ralph Reed. All this elite support comes alongside recent data suggesting that Trump’s evangelical support runs deep as well, even deeper than Romney’s support from evangelicals did in 2012.

What this shambles of an election has exposed is that there is a sizable group of evangelical leaders for whom the power and prestige of partisan politics is more dear than fidelity to our resurrected king, that we would chase glory alongside a thrice-married serial adulterer even if it means our Lord who calls us to a cross rather than the ephemeral glory of the moneyed mobs, that we would sooner cast our lot with a pathological narcissist than dare to, like our fathers and mothers in the faith, face the danger and vulnerability of life with Christ in the wilderness.

There is a second famous dystopian novel from the mid-20th century, after all. It is not the story of a silence achieved via torture and brainwashing, but of a similarly devastated people who need no external pressure to obliterate them. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World there is no need for loud Big Brother slogans or wooden fumi-e to test a person’s loyalty to the powers and principalities. There are no tests at all because the people, sated with the wonder-drug Soma, police themselves, drugged on a cocktail of medication, cheap entertainment, and the illusion of happiness, success, and (no doubt) safety.

If tomorrow’s evangelicals face their own fumi-e, and we very well might, it won’t primarily be the fault of those on the left forcing them into the position of having to make such a choice, although they will bear some responsibility. The primary fault will be with the generation that proceeded them which, doped up on Soma, sold their fidelity for a bowl of pottage served to them by a charlatan who promised them the world.

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Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador 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, and son Wendell. Jake's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

  • casey

    I’m disgusted with Trump, Republicans (as a likely soon to be former Republican,) and especially supposedly Christian leaders who are publicly endorsing him – but should we really fault the membuers of his Evsngelical Executive Advisory Board for accepting? The article says they do not have to endorse Trump to be on it. Perhaps its an opportunity to give good counsel and wisdom, to potentially exert positive influence, on a man and campaign that in many ways is harmful to your cause. I wouldn’t blame anyone for turning it down but I’m not sure we can criticize anyone for joining either, without know their motivation. I fear, though, that Trump wants this board priamrily to figure out how to manipualte the “evangelical” vote.

  • Dan Grubbs

    The capitulation of some – whom I will now call supposed – evangelical leaders to Donald Trump is quite disheartening. I don’t have to understand their motives. Their actions speak for themselves. Any alignment with Donald Trump is, as Mr. Meador has touched on, is a departure from our high calling as Christians. I gave up on Focus on the Family years ago due to the secularization in much of their ministry. But, the litany of those falling in line with the Trump machine is a sign to me that strange days are in store. This degradation was detectible earlier. But, it does appear to this uneducated eye to be accelerating. Are these capitulations just to thwart the Democratic ticket? If so, these supposed evangelical leaders have put themselves in bed with unsavory fellows, indeed. They will regret this decision. Those with ears to hear should hear and prepare themselves for a future where society will attempt to force us into our homes and churches (that will soon be taxed) and try to keep us from living our faith openly and evangelically.

    The very real question now is whether we will step on the metaphorical fumi-e or not.

  • hoosier_bob

    First, I see no evidence that Christians are about to face anything close to the kind of persecution that characterized the Tokugawa period in Japan. This “persecution” amounts to things like requiring Christian-owned places of public accommodation not to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the manner in which they transact business. And, in California, Christian colleges may lose access to public funds, if they want to continue discriminating against LGBTQ students. As I’ve noted before, the logic behind the California legislation is analogous to that of the Hyde Amendment.

    Second, I’m not remotely surprised by the evangelical embrace of Trump. I spent about 15 years in evangelicalism, and still have an affinity to certain aspects of the movement. I see very little substantive difference between Trump and the “conservatives” I knew within evangelicalism. One need look no further than the recent events at the recent T4G conference to see similarities between Trump and the conservative evangelical elite. Or look at the way that Wheaton College’s administration handled an African-American woman who dared to give voice to the common Abrahamic origins of the Christian and Muslim religious narratives.

    • Philipp

      Discriminating against “LGBTQ students”? How about having a moral code that defines the shared life of a purely voluntary institution? But leftists don’t believe in voluntary institutions anymore; only in the power of the state to coerce all citizens to live the way that their ideology demands. That is what was at stake in the Larycia Hawkins case, of course, not race. She was not fired for being black, despite the insinuations of malicious leftists, for whom an African-American woman’s skin color is the first fact of importance, her sex (or “gender,” now?) second, and her mind an utter irrelevancy. She was fired for teaching, contrary to the doctrine of the church, that Islam is also a way to God–the orthodoxy of this “progressive” age, but anathema to all Christians everywhere. I do fear that a Trump victory might lead people on the right to ape, in reverse, the execrable assaults on liberty carried out by leftists over the past few years, but it helps nothing at all to distort the real terms of engagement.

      • hoosier_bob

        First, I’m a conservative Republican, not a leftist. That’s how out of touch white evangelicalism is these days: Even mainstream conservatives are now leftists.

        Nothing that’s occurring in California represents an attack on voluntary institutions. The question is whether California taxpayers should have to foot the bills for those voluntary institutions. Moreover, one man’s “shared moral vision” is anothe man’s discrimination. Jim Crow laws represented a shared moral vision, after all.

        Lastly, you have misrepresented what Hawkins said. Moreover, she didn’t say anything that wasn’t too different from what Billy Graham has said on previous occasions. Also, consider the difference in the way that the Wheaton administration handled Hawkins versus how it handled white professors who made similar averments. There is no other reasonable conclusion to draw but that racial animus toward African-Americans motivated how Ryken and Jones handled the situation. I dare say that Wheaton would not have fared well if the Hawkins case had gone before a jury.

        • Philipp

          Perhaps, on Hawkins (though more below), but I doubt the claim to be a ‘conservative Republican’ from anyone in these Trumpian days. The two terms, taken together, are clearly too malleable to mean anything definite. The fact is, hoosier_bob, everything I have seen you write on this website implies that you see being an LGBTQ ‘ally’ as more important than standing up, in this troubled political climate, for your evangelical brethren (and they are your brethren if you are a Christian, even if you, like me, don’t usually identify with the theologically-imprecise morasse that is modern ‘evangelicalism’). Now, it may just be that you want to explain to evangelicals how things seem from other perspectives; that’s good, but is it what you are doing? Christian morality is pretty quickly being excluded from the public sphere in the United States–you can practice it, for now, in the privacy of your own home, but not in a school, a university club, a florist shop, a church daycare, or anything with any public relevance whatever. The entire public sphere needs, apparently, to express the morality that the left adopted about three weeks ago. I’m afraid we have sides to pick here.

          Re. California, SB 1146. The matter is not as simple as ‘whether California taxpayers should have to foot the bills for those voluntary institutions.’ The fact is, all colleges and universities, public and private, express a certain moral ethos, and this is about excluding certain schools whose ethos conflicts with that of the presently dominant classes. Many California citizens would, no doubt, prefer to support such institutions with their money, and wish that their barely-adult children could go to schools were they were not constantly pressured to approve of sodomy and give way to sexual license, as every state and many private universities in the US expects. Others could probably agree that such support is a good thing in the interest of maintaining a pluralist society. Neither will get their way, and all will still have to pay money into universities (state and private) that are actively opposed to Christian morality. This law would gravely restrict the ability of Christian (or Muslim, or Jewish…) schools to provide an alternative to these institutions, which are artificially propped up by government aid. That fact is, however, apparently secondary to the whining of a few students who want to muscle their way into those schools and destroy their particular ethos and way of life.

          This is not about keeping public money from supporting parochial concerns, it is about enforcing a particular, parochial morality on everyone, and excluding those who disagree from the financial recognition that is the currency of participation in public life. The American left no longer wants a pluralist society, and so any opposition needs to be deprived of both money and legitimacy.

          Re. Hawkins: yes, perhaps such an argument could be made. But I do not know that to be true. I have seen such claims about other Wheaton professors, but I have never actually seen them quoted. Billy Graham’s statement (at least the one I have found) was an expression of the confidence that God could call to himself even those who had not heard the Gospel. That’s a fairly common belief, which he could match with an unquestionable commitment to preaching salvation through Christ alone. Hawkins, by contrast, 1) declared that she stood in ‘religious solidarity’ with Muslims, 2) affirmed that Muslims were with Christians ‘people of the book’ (thereby adopting a parochial Muslim designation for Christians), 3) asserted that they and we ‘worship the same God’, and 4) attacked legal opposition to Sharia as ‘Islamophobic’. Graham affirmed that God might save Muslims; Hawkins affirmed Islam as a religion and path to God. That’s a pretty big difference! Quite frankly, her statements sounded like a typically theatrical attempt by an academic leftist to ingratiate herself with her own class through a bit of ostentatious ‘activism’, at the expense of the more conservative evangelical community from whose support she was living. She picked her side, and lost. For the moment, that is! She will make good money as a speaker or memoir-writer, I don’t doubt.

          • hoosier_bob

            For what it’s worth, none of the candidates in this go-around did much for me. I’ll likely vote Johnson-Weld, although I’d feel more comfortable with a Weld-Johnson ticket.

            I guess that I’m an LGBTQ ally, in a sense. I see various LGBTQ identities as no more or less artificial than heterosexual identities. In fact, I generally see LGBTQ identities as reactions to the over-enforcement of heterosexuality. So, I’m an ally in a limited sense; they’re a good battering ram for eradicating notions of heterosexuality from our society and moving toward a more utilitarian/pragmatic view of marriage. My thinking on these matters is heavily influenced by George Herbert Mead (generally) and Gary Becker and Ronald Coase (specifically). I’m also a big fan of Menger, Hayek, Polanyi (Michael), and Rothbard.

            I don’t support “evangelical” opposition to gay rights because I see no nexus between those views and Christianity. The mere fact that a lot of Christians are ugly bigots doesn’t mean that, as a Christian, I’m obligated to help them further the cause of their bigotry. I believe that the procreational mandate was fulfilled in Christ, and that there is no more such a thing as “Christian marriage” than there are Christian loan agreements. Sure, one can violate Christian principles in the way that one structures the loan agreement. But there is no particular Christian ideal. Christ fulfilled the eschatological significance of marriage.

            As for S.B. 1146, the principle here is the same as that of the Hyde Amendment. The State of California is under no obligation to provide funding to post-secondary education providers. The State can elect to provide funding to certain such institutions, and generally has broad discretion in doing so. I see no issue here. If the Hyde Amendment is Constitutional, then so is S.B. 1146. Yes, when white Christians held a majority in California, they could often leverage their political power to direct taxpayer dollars to subsidize their institutions. But they were not entitled to enjoy such benefits into perpetuity, especially after they lost their majority.

            Lastly, the Time piece and other news articles from last winter provide ample details, including quotes, concerning the Hawkins incident. Moreover, Hawkins has expressly disavowed the interpretation you’ve elected to place on her writings. Your insistence in willfully misrepresenting her is a bit puzzling, at least for someone who claims to be a Christian. Moreover, most would view UVA as a step up from Wheaton. I’d say that she won.

            One last point… It would do you well to focus less on battling imaginary Leftists and focus on whether your arguments are remotely persuasive to the pragmatic middle. The left wing is largely irrelevant. The Sanders campaign was the closest they’ve gotten in decades to having any significance. As James Davison Hunter notes in his excellent boon, “To Change the World,” culture is largely in the hands of the cognitive elite. Elites are largely pragmatic, and operate on a harm ethic. They have an aversion to explicit morality, believing that the social marketplace (and the desire to accumulate social capital) is a sufficient incentive to induce moral conduct in a given circumstance. When evangelicals can speak about social issues in the way that Gary Becker does, they’ll be making headway.

            For what it’s worth, I tend to believe that same-sex coupling of often unwise. But I don’t see it as bringing any great harm onto society. And, in some cases, it may be good for the contracting parties. Because I see no reason for the government to forbid conduct that doesn’t otherwise bring material harm onto unconsenting parties, I see no reason to oppose same-sex marriage. In fact, I can’t imagine any cogent reason to oppose same-sex marriage. It made perfect sense to me when Andrew Sullivan proposed it in the 1990s (when I was an undergraduate), and it makes perfect sense to me now. I realize that not everyone approaches issues as analytically as I do. I’m an I(E)NTP, who’s borderline on the I/E index, and off the charts on N, T, and P. I’m also asexual (as are a lot of cognitive elites), and find the public hand-wringing over sex to be remarkably silly.

          • Philipp

            Christ fulfilled the eschatological significance of marriage, but marriage still has a typological significance. It symbolizes and reveals the relationship of Christ and the Church. Loan arrangements do not! On that St. Paul is utterly clear, even if your radical libertarian (hardly ‘conservative Republican’) pundits are not.

            The same thing goes for evangelical opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’. The Bible is utterly clear on the illicitness of the behaviors that such ‘marriages’ are intended to condone and approve. Heterosexuality is a modern construct, but so is the entire gender-debate, including every Western critique of heterosexuality and heteronormativity. There is no escaping our culture, not really. In this cultural context, heteronormativity, leavened by a firm recognition of the good of celibacy in the service of God, is the closest approximation to the actual biblical teaching, for the very simple reason that it makes normal and normative the only kind of sexual behavior the Bible praises, let alone allows. That’s the sticking-point, in my view. In our political context, to support same-sex marriage (especially in conjunction with a critique of heterosexuality) is to be an ally of the ‘effeminate’ and ‘male-bedders’, as St. Paul called then, the ‘dogs’ of the Revelation of John, against the Church. It is, in short, to ally with the enemies of God and the persecutors of ordinary Christian bakers, florists, and photographers (and, in legal principle if not yet in high-profile court cases, church day-care workers, school-teachers, and the rest). I’m afraid that this is bringing moral harm on a great many people, by forcing them to go against conscience, and by putting children in a position where they may come to believe that what God forbids is in fact good, right, and praiseworthy.

            Perhaps Hawkins didn’t mean what she said. I’ve not researched in any detail the intellectual repositioning she or anyone else engaged in after the fact. If she didn’t mean it, I’m glad she didn’t, and hope that she is more careful with her words in the future. For what it’s worth, Wheaton didn’t fire her, either; she resigned by mutual consent. A face-saving maneuver, I am sure, for both sides, and a bit distasteful–I’d prefer the college to take real responsibility, but it might well be better for her, too, not to have ‘fired’ anywhere on her CV.

            Battling imaginary leftists? If only they were imaginary! I am an academic. This is the kind of thing with which I am continuously surrounded, and, having seen how things have gone over the past few years, I am pretty darn sure that this is how the rest of American society is heading. Did anyone imagine even ten years ago that Federal funding for schools would be tied to whether they let boys wearing skirts into girls’ locker rooms? But the academic left has been gunning for this, and for crazier things. They will win in the long run, too, unless we are quite clear about what is at the lower stages of this slippery slope, and are careful not to go down it.

            P.S. The left wing is not irrelevant. They may be in economic terms, much as Hayek or Rothbard are, quite frankly, in actual ordinary political life. But the social left? They’re winning across the board.

          • Philipp

            P.P.S. I do apologize, if I misrepresented Larycia Hawkins’ actual beliefs. I do not believe that I misparsed the original statement with which she began the controversy, nor do I think it likely (though I could be persuaded otherwise) that I have misjudged how she was trying to position herself. That said, could you, perhaps, consider whether it is right for a Christian to call his brethren who are simply saying what God himself says about marriage, sodomy, and the rest ‘ugly bigots’?

          • hoosier_bob

            I stand by my statement concerning Leftists. I’m a corporate lawyer who specializes in technology transactions and venture financing. A lot of my work brings me into contact with academics at R1 universities. I run across very few who are Leftists. Or, if they were, they change their tune when they collect multi-million-dollar payouts as company founders and dart to the nearest Tesla dealership for a new ride.

            Yes, Paul draws certain analogies to marriage. But he also says that it’s better not to marry, and commends marriage merely as a pragmatic accommodation. With the procreational mandate having been fulfilled in Christ, marriage is reduced to a pragmatic, earthly institution. The view of marriage espoused by many evangelicals has more to do with Enlightenment notions of romantic love and Freudian social theory (familialism) than with the teachings of Jesus and Paul. After all, Jesus and Paul don’t exactly fit the mold of manhood that’s generally prescribed by evangelicals today.

            From what I’ve seen, evangelical opposition to same-sex marriage, sodomy, etc. is generally rooted in the fact that such things fly in the face of the romantic, neo-Freudian notions that guide their views of marriage. Carl Trueman addressed this in his excellent piece, “The Yuck Factor.” Evangelicals long ago embraced an unbiblical view of marriage and sex that’s perfectly consistent with the acceptance of same-sex eroticism. Besides, even a fair number of the sex acts that evangelicals promote would have been classified as sodomy. (See, e.g., Mark Driscoll’s promotion of anal sex.) In fact, it is only recently that Christians have come to accept recreational sex as ethical. Moreover, to the extent that Scripture condemns same-sex sex acts, it only condemns anal sex. In their Freudian efforts to reduce every kind of human emotion to a sexual desire, evangelicals have come to forbid a fair bit of same-sex interpersonal intimacy that earlier generations of Christians would have accepted as benign. In fact, there’s a rich history of vowed friendship within Anglicanism–a history that came to an abrupt end when Freudian notions of marriage and sex began to eclipse Christian notions of the same. All that to say, I have strong doubts as to whether the evangelical opposition to same-sex marriage rests on anything resembling a coherently Christian notion of sex and marriage. Rather, from what I’ve seen, it rests on a dung pile of Enlightenment notions of romantic love and Freudian notions of social organization, which were improperly baptized as “Christian” by the family values movement. So, I see no need to run to the defense of those whose objections to same-sex marriage are rooted in such extrabiblical notions of marriage and sex.

            I also have doubts as to whether evangelicals really object to homosexuality, per se. I say that as someone who’s asexual. I exclusively date people of the opposite sex, and generally don’t engage in premarital sex. In short, I engage in no conduct that should necessarily draw any condemnation from the church. Even so, I was referred to reparative therapy by a several pastors (from my days in the PCA). One church barred me from having contact with children, and another barred me from leading a Bible study. Two churches refused me membership until they could conduct “further study” about whether asexuality posed any ethical issues. Several churches asked me to stop dating women, for fear that I was misleading the women I was dating (even though my girlfriends were well aware of my asexuality). I know plenty of other asexual Christians who have experienced the same treatment in evangelicalism. Our experiences suggest that evangelical opposition to homosexuality has less to do with ethical objections to sodomy and more to do with promoting heterosexuality (and concomitantly marginalizing anyone who dissents from heteronormative social scripts). Otherwise, there would be no reason to treat asexuals in the manner that others and I were treated. Evangelicals have traded in the Gospel for a mess of Freudian pottage. Their current “sufferings” are no one’s fault but their own. I see no reason to stand in the way of justice.

            Evangelicalism (or, more appropriately, “neo-evangelicalism”) was a suitable embodiment of Christianity for the new “middle class” that emerged in the 20th century. It had its time and place, but seems to serve no useful purpose these days. It’s not surprising to me that evangelicals are running en masse after Donald Trump. Trump’s entire campaign is built around the notion of restoring an idealized 1950s America that simply can’t be restored. Incidentally, that’s the same project that occupies most of evangelicalism’s efforts. Like it or not, Donald Trump and Al Mohler represent two sides of the same nostalgic coin. Evangelicalism was bound to falter over something. Institutions that have outlived their utility always do. It turned out that the issue was same-sex marriage. It could have been almost anything.

            I suspect that the majority of Americans still have doubts concerning the wisdom of same-sex coupling. There’s a certain inherent complementarity between male and female, even if it can’t be as rigidly defined as evangelicals would hope. And that complementarity is far broader than sex. In fact, all of my asexual friends date or have married people of the opposite sex. And not one of them has even gotten divorced (compared to the high divorce rate among evangelicals). We sense a certain complementarity with the opposite sex, even apart from sexual attraction. Even so, it’s hard to see that same-sex coupling imposes any harm onto society. And if it proves to be utility-maximizing to some small percentage of the population, then so be it. That’s how most Americans view same-sex marriage, at least among the cognitive elite. And that view is fairly consistent with most people’s lived experiences. In fact, I can’t think of a single way in which same-sex marriage has affected me one bit. So, when evangelicals are proclaiming this as the harbinger of the end of civilization, we have a hard time taking you folks seriously. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to suggest that you’re ugly bigots. But I’m at a loss for a better phrase.

            I agree with you that some of the administration’s policies concerning transgenderism can seem a bit overwrought. But, from where I sit, I see it as no less silly than the notion of heterosexuality. If things like same-sex marriage and transgenderism are ridiculous, they are simply reflecting the ridiculous notions of marriage, sex, and gender that comprise “heterosexuality.” When you promote one ridiculous fad (and enforce it at the tip of the spear), you eventually get other ridiculous responses to it. Evangelicals are primarily responsible for the promulgation of heterosexuality in our culture, at least in recent decades. If the pendulum seems to be swinging back too far in the other direction, it is only because you guys pushed it too far in the first place. That’s how pendulums work. So, forgive me if I have a hard time sharing in your pain. You made this bed, but now you don’t want to lie in it.

          • Victoria Vista

            I don’t agree with some of what you say. Rather, I don’t agree with some material parts of your argument, but much of your reasoning is exquisite, if I might use that word.

          • DR84

            Your comparison of SB 1146 to the Hyde Amendment might work better if SB 1146 was about preventing students from using state loans at all colleges and universities in the state, or even at least all private colleges and universities. Instead, SB 1146 is written to specifically target students that want to use state loans to attend private (primarily) Christian colleges and universities. For all intents and purposes, SB 1146 is saying the state is fine with helping kids get an education and being part of an academic community that conforms to any religious faith *except* the historic Christian faith. The point of SB 1146 is to eliminate Christian education. It is only a matter of time before the same concept goes Federal so that students cannot use Fed loans either. Along with that, private Christian schools will be made to employ LGBT identifying persons, and because they have to employ LGBT identifying persons, they will no longer be allowed to speak, teach, or act in any way that might offend an LGBT identifying person.

          • Philipp

            (For efficiency’s sake, I’m replying to some points made in the Home Economies thread here; I also warn that I may not, in the interest of saving my own time, reply any further. Thanks for an interesting discussion, though.)

            1. I’m sorry you had such a bad time of it in evangelicalism. I have never encountered the sort of thing you describe in any Christian setting, except maybe indirectly on the internet, but then again, I would need so many footnotes to call myself an evangelical that I suppose you could doubt whether I have actually been in ‘evangelicalism’. Nevertheless, I think the conservative Lutherans among whom I have worshipped for most of my life would often call themselves ‘evangelicals’; and the Baptists to whom I owe much of my early religious formation almost certainly would. There’s a lot more to modern evangelicalism (not just an American phenomenon!) than your corner of the PCA or the man-child inanities of Mark Driscoll. Most people get their ideas on marriage from reading Scripture, some eclectic dipping into books on marriage (taken by every sane person with a pinch of salt and an eye to practical wisdom), and, above all, the actual lives of those whom they know to be godly people and worthy of imitation. It is such people whom you are attacking when you denounce ‘evangelicals’. Don’t.

            2. You agree in the other thread, Bob, that modern notions of sexual identity are useless. Why on earth should we think that enshrining sexual orientations and gender identities in law will help us overcome the excesses to which some supporters of heteronormativity have come? This increases the sexualization of society, it does not decrease it. I too would like to get back to the days when a man could be a sworn friend, in all chastity and godliness, of another man, and in which we did not assume that two women, living together, must therefore be lewd. But that is not the world we live in, and that is not where we are headed right now.

            3. Same-sex couplings are rare, period. And there are at least three ways ‘to embrace queer as normal’. One is simply to take differences in inner urges in stride, yet demand chastity and abstention from unnatural acts, and recommend marriage to those who desire children, a wife (or, mutatis mutandis, a husband), and all that comes with both; another is to accept the performance of unnatural acts, yet make little of the choice (your preferred option, with strong shades of the first?); the third is the one we actually face as a society: to be required, on pain of fines or exile from the public sphere, to ‘celebrate’ every bizarrity a San Francisco Pride parade could come up with. I think the first option good, and much preferable to pressuring anyone to feel desires he does not (and I’ve never met an evangelical who would have said anything else); the second would allow, at least, for everyone to live and let live in a really pluralistic society; the third, however, is what we have, and it is what is producing the intense Christian (not just evangelical!) reaction to the present judicial and executive overreach.

            4. Of course you wouldn’t have experienced any harm from same-sex marriage. You are, by your own description, an unmarried man of wealth and high social class without children, whose particular line of work is focused entirely on the making and transfer of money. As such, you are completely sheltered from the moral and economic harms to which ordinary Christians (and especially their children) are being subjected, and, in denouncing them as ‘ugly bigots’, you are, I am sorry to say, complicit in those harms.

            Forget for just one moment your own bad experiences in evangelicalism. Forget for one moment your hatred of ‘heterosexuality’. There are ordinary, decent people out there (and such nearly all evangelicals are, in my experience) who know that God forbids sodomitical behavior. They do not hate homosexuals; they may well enjoy the company of homosexual friends (I know I have and do). The courts have ruled that opposing sodomitical behavior brings harm to ‘gays’ and ‘lesbians’, and have identified opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ with bigotry against those of alternative sexual identities and orientiations (as have you, despite your denial of the coherency of those intellectual categories).

            Our Christians in question are approached by people who want them to use their skills as photographers, as florists, as bakers to celebrate and glorify the solemnization of a sodomitical union that they, as Christians, know to be offensive to God, a nonsensical parody of the real meaning and aims of marriage (and, maybe worse yet, a perversion of wholesome friendship), and destructive to the souls of the couple themselves.

            Or, perhaps they run a Christian day-care center that meets in a church, and a man shows up in a skirt and demands to use the ladies’ room–in a Christian church, before the eyes of impressionable children.

            Or, perhaps they are teachers. Already despairing over the loose morals, the immodesty, the broken homes in which the students whom they love are raised, they now hear that a boy in a skirt wants to use the girls’ locker-room–and that the president of the United States of America has demanded it, on the grounds that such a boy is really a girl, even though God made him male and condemns the wearing of the other sex’s clothing.

            Or maybe they are being coerced by the state into calling a man ‘she’ because he has demanded it–and so into professing that a man can, in fact, become a woman at will.

            Can you not recognize that their refusal to participate in these things is born not of ‘ugly bigotry’, but from an honest conviction that what they are being asked to condone, approve, and celebrate is wrong in the eyes of God and ultimately harmful to the spiritual, moral, and bodily well-being of their neighbor? It is their liberty to speak the truth in love that is at stake, not the Grand Heterosexual Ideas that probably play only a very small role in their actual lives. You may find it hard to ‘share their pain’, but, to be honest, that ought to be a call to self-examination, ought it not, rather than to self-righteousness? People are losing their livelihoods here; children are being taught that God did not make them male and female, and that he certainly did not ordain that a man should leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and become one flesh. These are the things at stake. The end of civilization? Maybe not, but we do not know where this experiment will end.

            5. Women cannot participate in anal sex with one another, at least not in the ordinary sense. Yet St. Paul also condemns female homosexual conduct. In the ancient Roman world, things done with the mouth were seen as even more degrading than things done with the posterior. Do we really suppose that early Christians accepted the worse act and not the less bad? Paul condemns ‘effeminates’ (literally, ‘the soft’) and ‘male-bedders’ (probably a nonce-formation in allusion to Leviticus); neither obviously implies unique reference to only a single kind of perverse act.

            6. Perhaps we should call them ‘progressives’, if you cannot, as a member of the cognitive elite, forget the economic connotations of ‘leftist’? The primary denotation of ‘left’ in politics is, after all, radical and reformist; it has usually born economic connotations, but it is aptly (and commonly) applied also to those agitating for social reforms. But ‘progressivist’ might help us to denote uniquely those who are not necessarily economic leftists, but are social anti-traditionalists.

            7. Evangelical divorce-rates are a lot lower once one controls for actual church attendance. And the friends of a corporate lawyer are very likely to be wealthy and well-educated; both, in modern America, correlate with a low likelihood of divorce. People often complain of evangelical hypocrisy in accepting divorce but rejecting sodomy; I am minded to agree, but, then again, divorce has not been accompanied by flag-waving, parades, and demand for universal acclamation. It has been allowed to remain a pastoral matter for Christians; ‘homosexuality’, ‘transgenderism’, and the like are pretty quickly becoming sacrosanct. It is one thing to have failed to resist an evil that most people recognize is, at least, undesirable (I’ve never met anyone, of any political or religious or social stripe, who thought divorce a good thing, if it could be avoided); it is another thing to call good whatever evil society has decided to praise.

            8. How utterly Puritanical your final paragraph is! And how very, very parochial to your cosmopolitan, well-heeled class. Just remember that God actually commends some feasting in the Old Testament, and that Jesus provided wine for a wedding-feast. Yes, of course, that miracle had a divine message–how could it not have!–but he still did. Also, do not forget that the Bible includes the fifth chapter of Proverbs and the Song of Songs. Christians have tried for a very long time to make the latter, in particular, out to be purely spiritual, but an allegory whose symbol has no literal referent is pretty toothless, especially when we are told that the marriage of Christ and the Church is represented by the marriage of a Christian man and a Christian woman. People like Mark Driscoll have said disgusting things, but a view of marriage that makes it out to be just another contract, of no greater significance than the taking of a loan, is not Christian; it is just etiolated. Marriage is a mode of life in which husbands and wives, and the wider families that they unite and propogate, live out their vocations to one another, in the service of God. And it is in so doing that they will be saved. Though Lutherans have always reserved the term ‘sacrament’ for the means by which forgiveness is imparted, we would not be wrong to see marriage as a sanctifying vocation. It is not the only, nor the highest, such vocation, but it is too important a part of life to be treated with the kind of casual almost-flippancy that name as your ideal. Most people celebrate things that are important and joyful. Why condemn those who do so with their many kin and friends and neighbors?

            (Besides, come on. The German-speaking world has civil marriage. Of course that’s what they did. It’s no sign of particular virtue, or particular Calvinism.)

          • hoosier_bob

            I’ll offer a brief response.

            1. I’m not looking for your pity. I bring up the struggles that asexuals face within evangelicalism merely to illustrate the disingenuousness of evangelicals self-serving averments concerning the “biblical” basis of their opposition to homosexuality. Our experiences demonstrate that evangelical opposition to homosexuality are NOT religious objections, but are instead objections borne of a neo-Freudian philosophy whose history closely tracks with that of the eugenics movement. Racial segregationists also swore that their objections to racial integration were “biblical.”

            2. Protections for “sexual orientation” would presumably protect people who reject any sexual orientation, just as protections based on “religion” protect atheists.

            3. Give me a break. No one is being required to celebrate anything. Forcing you to keep quiet about your objections to homosexuality in certain settings (e.g., work) is not the same as forcing you to celebrate it.

            4. My education and social status are irrelevant. As to these businesspeople, they’re not being asked to condone anything. When I went to a wedding last weekend, I didn’t wonder what florist, caterer, or cake-baker was condoning the nuptials. And I’m sure that no one else was either.

            5. Paul does not condemn sex between women. The reference to women is Romans 1 is generally interpreted as referring to women engaging in unnatural sex acts with men (e.g., sex acts that defied Roman patriarchal practices).

            6. Elites are not generally progressives. We are largely pragmatists; I loathe social conservatism and social progressivism about equally.

            7. People generally attend church with less frequency when they encounter marital difficulties. I’d guess that the marital difficulties precede the decision to stay away from church, and not the other way around. Even so, the low rate of divorce among elites probably relates to the fact that we tend to marry for pragmatic reasons that are likely to persist over time. We’re not marrying simply to ease the guilt we feel over the fact that we’re engaging in premarital sex, which, in my experience, is a key factor in evangelicals’ decisions to marry.

            8. I agree that marriage is an important social institution. Even so, I agree with Calvin, who famously compared its spiritual significance to that of hair-cutting. I believe that we would do well to place less weight on marriage, and more weight on friendship within the church. I’ve also observed that couples who divorce often have very few close same-sex friendships. If you’re expecting marriage to complete you, you’ll probably end up divorced in a few years.

            Peace in Christ.

          • DR84

            It seems you misunderstand the plight of the wedding vendor. They are being required to help other people celebrate what they believe ought not be celebrated. This makes them an accessory or accomplice, so to speak, to that (immoral) celebration.

            It is also way too often forgotten that their services are not life and death. No one needs the services of a baker, photographer, florist, etc to have any kind of celebration. If nothing else, people can take on those tasks themselves.

            If nothing else, consider that this means a wedding photographer must take a photo of a man kissing another man in order to be able to legally practice as a wedding photographer. This is just as insane as making doctors strangle puppies in order to practice medicine.

          • Philipp

            A few final replies:

            1. I never said you were; but I did think it right to express some human sympathy. People can be really nasty.

            3: Yes, actually, that is what pro-LGBTQ media are presently demanding, or indeed that all of human society and human experience be rearranged to suit their experiences: for a bizarre example, see the piece on ‘male bodies’ presently linked in the ‘Mere Notes’ sidebar on this website. Maybe they will not get it (and surely, with arguments like that one, they won’t!), but they’ve made enormous headway in higher education, at least. Besides, when the highest level of government itself has adopted the propaganda of a particular political movement, we are in for some trouble. I have seen an enormous rainbow flag looming over the tiny flags of the several states on the side of the US embassy in London. Is that a demand for universal celebration? No, but it is a clear declaration of the Federal Government’s official celebration of this, and that’s a pretty good way to chill dissenting speech.

            But all that aside, my chief concern is that you are still ignoring the actual experience of the Christians in the scenarios raised–at least as they perceive it, they are not being asked not to discriminate in a generalized sense (as if they would refuse a cake or flowers or photographs for a gay man’s birthday party), they are being asked to affirm and approve by their actions in a very particular, politicized circumstance, of things that they cannot approve without offending God. You may disagree. But you mustn’t simply call that ‘bigotry’, not without at least as much charity and care for the consciences of the people involved as you demand others give to someone like Larycia Hawkins, whose positions you find more amenable to your own.

            And respectfully, I must disagree that your education and class are irrelevant: as in any case involving social power and privilege, they can make a big difference in how you experience the effects of major social and political changes.

            5: ‘generally interpreted’? Yes, it is a widespread view, but the other interpretation is also widespread, and just about as old. You can already find it in Ambrosiaster in the second half of the fourth century, for example. The real question is which Paul means, of course. The key thing, whatever he had in mind, is that he affirms that there is a ‘natural use’ and that deviation from it is sinful. That should naturally exclude both female homosexuality and male-female perversions of any kind (not just anal intercourse, which he certainly doesn’t specify; that’s just an inference from the plausible supposition that anal rather than oral intercourse was more common in antiquity). And ‘patriarchy’ is just a bogey-man, until we have determined what it means in any given context. Paul is not playing off Roman notions of masculinity, which were quite comfortable with sodomy (so long as the real man was on top), but Stoic natural law theory, whose greatest exponent, Gaius Musonius Rufus, believed that marriage was about mutual love, life-together, and children, condemned male infidelity, even with slave-girls, attacked homosexual conduct (and sex not for procreation), and believed that women should learn philosophy. A modern feminist he wasn’t, but an inarticulate, woman-oppressing patriarchy certainly wasn’t the only option, nor the one that Paul was aligning himself with by talking about ‘natural use’ and condemning deviations from it. Paul, for his part, extensively modifies patriarchy to make it an expression of Christian charity, or, if you don’t think Ephesians is his, his followers seem to have learned that view from him.

            What I’ve not seen from you or in the pieces on ‘heterosexuality’ that you recommended from First Things is any clear recognition that there is a distinction between natural and unnatural sexual conduct. We can certainly agree that a psychologized view of sexual orentiation that internalizes it and makes it a central part of one’s being is unhelpful. I think we also have to recognize that the present judicial and executive initiatives have enshrined that view in law, and that the Bible, though it knows nothing of psychological ‘orientation’, nevertheless does view some sexual acts as according to human nature (if in need of careful control, and worth transcending for service to God), and others as contrary to it.

            6. What’s an ‘elite’? That’s certainly not true of academics, for example; I can well believe that it is true of people primarily involved in business, though.

            8. Calvin was a ninny. That’s why I’m a Lutheran. But friendships are a good thing.

            In Christ,

            P.

          • hoosier_bob

            Thanks. I’ve enjoyed the discussion. I do want to make a couple of points.

            First, I would jettison the “complicity” arguments. They are not persuasive, and tend to discredit the whole notion of religious liberty. The culture is broadly willing to confer onto religious people liberties of a certain objectively reasonable scope. But the law cannot reasonably cater to every florist, baker, or photographer with a hyper-sensitive conscience. And, in a culture where the harm principle dominates our shared ethical reasoning, granting people the right to harm others is going to be a very tough sell. I know, a lot of social conservatives don’t like the harm principle. So what? It’s so ingrained into our culture that there is little likelihood of displacing it. I fear that Christians will spend their limited cultural capital fighting losing battles, and will have no credibility to fight the battles that they can actually win.

            Second, I would spend more time understanding how culture actually works at the culture-making level. Very few cognitive elites are leftists. Their thinking usually represents some combination of pragmatism and utilitarianism. Evangelicals have this habit of dividing the world between “real Christians” and leftists.

            Third, I would focus more on the acquisition of wisdom and less on the promulgation of explicit black-and-white moral shortcuts. This means building institutions that can assist in the accumulation of social capital, and which can train young people to be wise rather than merely obedient. I walked away from evangelicalism, in part, because its explicit moralism did a poorer job of producing well-adjusted adults than the implicit moralism of secular elites. If you want people to become wise, you have to place them in a moral system that has some give at the edges. Otherwise, they have no opportunity to gain wisdom. We need to let kids (and adults) make small mistakes, so that they can learn to avoid making big mistakes. Trying to avoid making mistakes altogether is a fool’s errand.

            Fourth, I would spend more time listening to single people and older people without kids at home. Too many middle-aged evangelical families with kids only spend time with other middle-aged evangelical families with kids. This isn’t a good thing. When I was growing up, our neighborhood contained people of a variety of different ages. Both of our neighbors were ten years older than my parents, and were able to provide advice to my mom. Most families who lived in the neighborhood had lived there for several generations. It was a world unto itself. Social mobility has killed off that kind of community. We need to recreate it. Otherwise, families with kids become too anxious, and that anxiety begins to drive the tenor of the church. Sadly, that’s where we are today. So, people like me just walk away because the entire church is focused on addressing he anxieties of middle-aged families with kids.

          • DR84

            “The culture is broadly willing to confer onto religious people liberties of a certain objectively reasonable scope. But the law cannot reasonably cater to every florist, baker, or photographer with a hyper-sensitive conscience. And, in a culture where the harm principle dominates our shared ethical reasoning, granting people the right to harm others is going to be a very tough sell. ”

            Yes, the law can easily cater to every florist, baker, and photographer who does not want to be involved in same sex “weddings”. The law has not always made them get involved after all.

            The problem with the harm principle in these cases is who is actually harmed. The person harmed is the baker, florist, photographer, etc who is made to help people celebrate a homosexual relationship. People involved in homosexual relationships are not harmed at all if a baker, florist, photographer, etc does not want to help them celebrate their homosexual conduct. Now, I am aware many other people see this the opposite. However, it is far more pragmatic to side with the wedding vendors than the same sex couples. The same sex couples can just go somewhere else or make their own cake. This is not a life and death issue. They will be fine. The wedding vendor is either going to lose their business and possibly everything else they own or sear their conscience…they will not be fine. The fact that the vendors by and large are not winning indicates to me the pragmatic side has little power, or the people who think they are pragmatic aren’t.

            ” I fear that Christians will spend their limited cultural capital fighting losing battles, and will have no credibility to fight the battles that they can actually win.”

            We dont know what battles can be won, if any. The way things are going, winning any long term seems far fetched. I hope this is not the case, but I even expect some churches to be facing serious legal issues over their stance on homosexuality and marriage. I believe the ADF has put together info to help churches prevent or weather possible lawsuits. So I dont believe what I am suggesting is far fetched. Seems better to me to fight on because it is the right thing to do, not because of any expected results.

          • hoosier_bob

            Honestly, this kind of stupid reasoning is why you’re losing this battle in the public square. Yes, I’ll concede that the businessperson suffers some harm, but it’s very slight. As I noted above, no reasonable person views wedding vendors as endorsing the propriety of the wedding. Harm must be measured by some objective standard. And by that standard, the harm to the businessperson is very slight. By contrast, most people would view it as a humiliating experience to be refused service at a business, especially when the refusal is based on their membership in a class of persons that has historically been subjected to discrimination. In balancing out the harms, I suspect that most people would see that less harm is done by requiring the wedding vendor to serve same-sex couples on the same terms as opposite-sex couples.

            I think it’s fairly clear what battles can be reasonably won. Just ask yourself whether the arguments make any sense to someone with no vested interest in their outcome. Or, put another way, look for situations where you’re advocating for a position that creates a harm-minimizing scenario compared to other alternative scenarios. I think John Inazu’s book, Confident Pluralism, offers a good place to start. I wouldn’t trust ADF. That’s like asking a tank manufacturer to comment on the merits of military spending. If we all found a peaceable middle ground on these issues, the lawyers at ADF wouldn’t eat. Their entire livelihoods depend on stirring up controversies, inducing anxieties among unwitting evangelicals, and sitting back and waiting for the donations to roll in. They are part of the Culture War equivalent to the military-industrial complex.

          • DR84

            Please don’t call my reasoning stupid when you say something must be measured by an objective standard and then proceed to not even bother coming up with that objective standard. How most people feel is not an objective standard, that is, by definition, subjective. It is subjective to how most feel in that time and place. Practically speaking, the day before yesterday, most people would have felt it was more harmful to the photographer to make them take a photo of two men kissing each other.

            “By contrast, most people would view it as a humiliating experience to be refused service at a business, especially when the refusal is based on their membership in a class of persons that has historically been subjected to discrimination.”

            Do you really believe this bunk? If so, you are as gullible as it gets. Wake up, not taking photos of two men kissing is not discrimination, and yes, making that photographer take that photo harms that photographer. And not just a little, searing someone’s conscience is no joke. That is as violating as raping someone is.

          • hoosier_bob

            Losing a small amount of state funding shouldn’t have an effect on any of these colleges. Hillsdale and Grove City have eschewed government funding for decades, and they are doing fine.

            I’m not suggesting that SB 1146 is a good law. It’s a tit-for-tat move that was inspired as a reaction to the raft of “religious liberty” legislation cropping up in red states. But I think it’s probably constitutional, even if it’s stupid.

          • DR84

            The Constitution obviously does not mandate that states must provide student loans, but if they are going to, I am not sure how someone could make a reasonable case the Constitution allows those loans to only be used at schools that adhere to the state established faith.

            SB 1146 is just as unconstitutional as a hypothetical law that made provisions for student funding only for kids who go to (orthodox) Christian schools. This would follow your same reasoning when you compare SB 1146 to they Hyde Amendment. It would just be the collective moral will of the people that students should be supported in attending Christian higher education and not supported if they choose other forms of higher education.

            That said, I dont expect SB 1146 to be ruled unconstitutional, but I also wont be surprised if a future law that would allow the state to regulate the contents of Church sermons would pass the constitutional test. Which is to say, the actual Constitional principles dont count for much. The judges will do what they want to do.

    • RustySkywater

      You’re making a lot of good points in this post, hoosier_bob. As for some of the responses in the thread, I didn’t want to interrupt the conversation going on, but I do notice a common theme that some are arguing – the notion that the only way to be a real Christian is to share the exact same viewpoint on a specific set of cultural issues. This falsehood is nothing new, of course, but with the current zeitgeist focusing on religious freedom, the implication that the freedom of “non-real” Christians isn’t worthy of discussion – that bothers me.

      • hoosier_bob

        Yeah, that’s an underlying theme in a lot of these debates. Certain conservative Christians are obsessed with sorting out the “real” Christians from the fake ones. In that sense, evangelicalism seems to be reverting to the fundamentalism it left behind. As a child of the mainline, I once felt comfortable within evangelicalism. But I don’t anymore. The evangelical movement has simply become too rigidly ideological, at least at the leadership level.

  • Victoria Vista

    I do believe that the time has come for the wheat to be shifted from the chaff. Christian colleges have failed on their mission to send out ambassadors into the world. The Jesuits’ charge during the Counter-Reformation is instructive; this was a period when the Jesuits trained the mind and body to become some of the world’s great influencers. On the other hand, Christian schools are driven by the marketplace. Thus, many Christian schools are now known for setting up schools of business, nursing, psychology, and education. Gone is the fervor to train the young mind to win souls and influence the marketplace through graft and prayer. Classes with theological requirement has become an after thought. In addition, theology, logical thinking and analysis has now been replaced by social justice warriorism, feelings, and the embracing of the mantle of both victimhood and prosperity doctrine. Given this now historical neglect of theological and analytical rigor, it is my great hope that most Christian schools will be rendered extinct; I hope the surviving Christian colleges will no longer seen as a refuge from the world and all its sorrows; I hope that those schools that survive the coming onslaught will embrace the world with vigor, confidence, love and hope.

  • Brady

    The Religious Right, to begin with, was little more neoconservative political dogma passed off as Christianity. Its end as a political force is not something to be regretted. The Trump campaign represents the end of dearly held delusions that the church has held about the proper role of the civil authorities. For some Christians, this may indeed be painful – the breaking of one’s idols always is. A genuinely workable alternative to the political agenda of the left can only be hindered by those who decry the “secularization” of that which is secular by nature. Setting a political agenda as a tenant of one’s faith leads to neither spiritual growth nor political success.

    A civic nationalism that exudes a genuine love for one’s people is more Christlike than than all the pious platitudes in the world. It demonstrates stewardship and self-sacrifice, and unlike all of that tiresome moralizing, it can actually make history, which is actually the whole point of politics. To continue to sit on the sidelines and whine might feel good, but it’s not virtuous.