Sunday, October 18, 2015

Russell Moore Says Evangelicals Won't Surrender to the Sexual Revolution

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention is drawing his line in the sand about the Sexual Revolution.

"Could the next Billy Graham be a married lesbian? In the year 2045, will Focus on the Family be “Focus on the Families,” broadcasting counsel to Evangelicals about how to manage jealousy in their polyamorous relationships?"

Wouldn't that be awesome???

Now that the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case has nationalized same-sex marriage, America’s last hold-outs, conservative Evangelical Protestants, will eventually, we’re told, stop worrying and learn to love, or at least accept, the sexual revolution. As Americans grow more accustomed to redefined concepts of marriage and family, Evangelicals will convert to the new understanding and update their theologies to suit. This is not going to happen. The revolution will not be televangelized."
Like evangelicals never eventually changed their minds on slavery and such? But it might be nice if he's right, they could just all die off instead of change. Not much difference to me.

In any given week, I’m asked by multiple reporters about the “sea change” among Evangelicals in support of same-sex marriage. I reply by asking for evidence of this shift. The first piece of evidence is always polling data about Millennial support for such. I respond with data on Millennial Evangelicals who actually attend church, which show no such shift away from orthodoxy."

Well, yeah, but your problem is that the vast majority of Millennials are NOT attending church! You already lost, they left.

"Many secular progressives believe that Evangelicals, along with their religious allies, just need a “nudge” to catch up with the right side of history, a nudge they are more than willing to provide through social marginalization or the removal of tax exemptions or various other state-mandated carrots and sticks. Our churches can simply accommodate doctrines and practices to new family definitions, these progressives advise, and everyone will be happy. Religious liberty violations, then, aren’t really harming Evangelicals, this reasoning goes, but instead are helping us to get where we’re headed anyway a little faster."
Nah, this secular progressive is really just interested in getting people to do their damn jobs and getting people their rights.

This narrative is entirely consistent with the sexual revolution’s view of itself—as progress toward the inevitable triumph of personal autonomy and liberation."


But however confident and complacent are these helpers, they can’t change the fact that the Evangelical cave-in on sexual ethics is just not going to happen. There is no evidence for it, and no push among Evangelicals to start it."

Ok. Maybe it won't happen. But you can't say there isn't some pushback at the fringes.

"The first stumbling block to any Evangelical cave-in is the Bible"
Well, that's for damn sure!

The Reformation principle of sola scriptura does not mean, as it is often caricatured by non-Protestant Christians, that the only authority is the Bible and the individual Christian. It means instead that the only final authority is the prophetic-apostolic word in the writings of Scripture. If an Evangelical needs driving directions to Cleveland, she consults Google maps, not her concordance. If, though, Google tells her that first-century Judea was uninhabited, she knows Google is wrong. The authorities here conflict, and Scripture trumps other authorities, not the other way around."

WHOA WHOA WHOA!!! Scripture trumps Google? Scripture trumps all possible evidence???

Well, no wonder he says evangelicals can't change. They're immune to evidence.

"Revisionists get around that flat conflict by citing a context for the text, asserting the difference between ancient and modern notions of sexual orientation. But, Evangelicals reply, the definition of marriage is not grounded in ancient Near Eastern culture but in the created order itself (Gen. 2:24). That’s why Jesus speaks of man-woman marriage and its permanence as “from the beginning” (Mk. 10:6). Moreover, the canon asserts that even this natural “one-flesh union” points beyond nature to the blueprint behind the cosmos, the mystery of the union of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:32)."

So the context for the bible matters sometimes, but not when you have a naturalistic fallacy to lean on? Check.

In virtually every case, the high-profile “Evangelicals” who have shifted on sexual ethics were already theologically liberalized on multiple other issues, often for decades. An “Evangelical” who attends a mainline, liberal Protestant church or who shares platforms with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is not likely to be received as an Evangelical by Evangelicals."

No True Scotsman, check. There's no real falsifiability to Moore's claims about not giving in to the sexual revolution if everyone that shifts is just going to be recast as never having been a true evangelical.

"Journalists covering such dissenters should ask them these basic questions: Where do you go to church? What do you believe about the inerrancy of Scripture? Is there a hell, and must one believe consciously in Christ in order to avoid it? They cannot portray these figures as representative Evangelicals unless they give certain answers. I would bet that a little probing would show that these stories are the equivalent of writing an article about the Democratic party’s views on foreign policy by citing hawkish independent-Democratic former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman."

More No True Scotsman. Although, not bad questions to ask.

"The fact that homosexuality—and other forms of sexual immorality—is always and everywhere spoken of negatively in Scripture is explained away by a lack of scientific knowledge about loving, monogamous same-sex unions, the immutability of sexual orientation, or something else. Such arguments make sense if the authority of Scripture rests in the expertise of the apostles and prophets themselves. If, on the other hand, the authority of Scripture rests in the Spirit inspiring and carrying along the authors, the arguments collapse. If the Bible is a coherent book, with an Author behind the authors, one can hardly say that God is ignorant of contemporary knowledge about sexuality."

Oh, awesome! It doesn't matter if the writers of the bible didn't know about loving gay couples, because god knew and still wanted them to write verses against it! Great explanation. We already learned that we should trust the bible over google anyway, so even more unfalsifiability.

The revisionists most often wish to keep the attention on Moses and Paul, pointing to the fact that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Of course, by defining marriage in terms of male–­female complementarity and by affirming the moral teachings of the Torah, Jesus did speak to the issue. Not only that, but Evangelicals don’t set the words of Scripture not explicitly uttered by Jesus in so ­malleable a condition. If “all Scripture” is breathed out by the Spirit (2 Tim 3:16), and if the Spirit inspiring the biblical authors is the “Spirit of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:10–11), then every text of Scripture is Jesus speaking, not just those that publishers code out in red letters."
Ok, he's got a point. It's not a good argument to say that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

Some would say, though, that even if the ­Bible can’t be easily made to fit into a sexual revolutionary matrix, the culture will change quickly enough to make traditional ­Christian sexual ethics implausible. The Church will adapt to same-sex marriage the way the Church adapted to divorce...Most Evangelical Protestants acknowledge that sexual infidelity can dissolve a marital union and that the innocent party is then free to remarry. The same is true for abandonment"
In an Evangelical Protestant view, a remarriage after a divorce may well constitute an act of adultery, but the marriage itself is not, in the view of most Evangelicals, an ongoing act of adultery. Even if these marriages were entered into sinfully in the first place, they are in fact marriages. Jesus spoke of the five husbands of the woman at the well in Samaria, and differentiated them from the man with whom she lived, who was not her husband (John 4). Same-sex unions, which do not join male and female together in the icon of the Christic mystery, do not constitute marriages biblically. Repentance, in this case, looks the same as it does for every other sexual sin—fleeing from immorality (1 Cor. 6:18)."

Well, isn't that convenient that you can repent your adulterous marriages and stay married, but a gay couple would have to separate and never have sex again? And Moore's view is not the only evangelical one. Very fundamentalist evangelicals would say that anyone married adulterously must separate and be reconciled to the original spouse or be celibate.

Moore then goes on to talk about other times that the church has weathered theological storms:

"In the 1970s and 1980s, a movement gained steam in Evangelicalism to read biblical texts on gender in a more egalitarian way. These feminist groups stood with other Evangelicals on biblical inerrancy (and on the prohibition against homosexuality) but argued for women’s ordination....Several years ago, I argued that although I strongly disagree with it, I thought Evangelical feminism would win the day in American Evangelicalism. The cultural currents were simply too strong, I thought.
I was wrong. It is now hard to find leaders of Evangelical feminist organizations who are recognized by the rest of the movement as solidly conservative and orthodox...the “slippery slope” from Evangelical feminism to heterodoxy proved to be real. More and more Evangelical feminists applied their gender views to sexuality in ways clear enough for conservative Evangelicals to see it as a rejection of biblical authority.
  if Evangelicalism can withstand the strong cultural tides of feminism—even in its most popularly palatable forms—Evangelicalism can do the same with the even more clearly defined issues of sexual morality."

LOL, if we can withstand feminism, we can withstand anything!!!

The Christian sexual ethic is controversial, to be sure, and in different ways at different times, it always has been. But it’s not the most controversial thing orthodox Christians believe. That would be the doctrine of hell...In almost every generation of the Church, someone seeks to negotiate away the doctrine of hell through a universalism that sees to it that judgment will not fall on sin. Churches that embrace universalism typically start out on that path with exuberance, as they are freed from the shackles of guilty consciences and fears of eternity. But those churches quickly wither and die. 

 What the sexual revolution’s revisionist ethic asks is that the Church adopt a pinpointed surgical-strike universalism, one that denies that judgment is coming for this one particular set of sins. As with any form of universalism, this doesn’t liberate people, but rather enslaves them to their own accusing consciences. Even if we can excise what the revisionists call “clobber verses” from the Bible, we cannot overpower the witness of the conscience."

Well, hell-belief seems to be on the decline too, so I'm not sure what Moore is trying to accomplish here.

He's also just flat-out wrong about the conscience, as people do not feel guilt over consensual sex without him and his ilk telling them they should.

Now, Moore will lament the decline of cultural Christianity and traditional values:

For nearly the past two centuries, Evangelicals, especially in the South and Midwest, could count on the culture to do a kind of pre-evangelism. The culture encouraged people to aspire to a kind of God-and-country citizenship, to marriage, and to stable family life. Even when people didn’t live up to those ideals, they knew what they were walking away from. Evangelicals, then, could use “traditional ­family values” to build a bridge to people for the Gospel.
 We can no longer assume, even in the Bible Belt, that people aspire to, or even understand, our “values” on marriage and family. These parts of our witness that were the least controversial—and could be played up while playing down hellfire and brimstone, for those churches wanting a softer edge—are now controversial. Churches that reject the sexual revolution are judged as bigoted."

GOOD!!!!! Your "values" are bigoted and awful and it's wonderful that people are seeing that.

Some will suggest that a Christian sexual ethic puts the churches on the “wrong side of history.” Well, we’ve been on the wrong side of history since a.d. 33."
Well, thanks for admitting it!

 "If we are right about the end of human sexuality, then we ought to know that marriage is resilient. The sexual revolution cannot keep its promises. People think they want autonomy and transgression, but what they really want is fidelity and complementarity and incarnational love. If that’s true, then we will see a wave of refugees from the sexual revolution, those who, like the runaway son in Jesus’ story, “come to themselves” in a moment of crisis."

Yes, I just THINK I want autonomy. I'd be much happier as a little robot in the christian box. If you want something that hasn't kept its promises, try Christian morality.

Moore goes on to say how evangelicals need to preach repentance to the culture in a balanced way, and like many defeated evangelicals, he reiterates that Christians were countercultural in Rome and during most of their history. In fact, they aren't supposed to be well-tolerated by the world, and they need to deal with the world as it is, and not in whatever utopia they think it used to be. Those are pretty wise words, and I welcome their new defeated minority perspective. It's much better than their haughty, privileged Christian Nation bullshit.