Finally delving into Renee Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. Only two chapters in, I am fairly confident I am missing quite a bit, as this is the kind of book you have to marinate in for a while. Nevertheless, I found this quote particularly thought-provoking:
The children repeat the crimes of their fathers precisely because they believe they are morally superior to them. This false difference is already the mimetic illusion of modern individualism, which represents the greatest resistance to the mimetic truth that is reenacted again and again in human relations. The paradox is that the resistance itself brings about the reenactment.
Recently, shots have been taken against Slavic Reformation Society (SRS), and some of the pastors and teachers associated with that ministry (these comments have been blogged, but I’m not going to dignify them by linking them here. If this is a mistake, feel free to tell me). Now, I am very biased toward SRS, since Pastor Blake Purcell is a personal friend, not only of mine, but of our entire congregation. This is the only mission work we are presently able to support, and they are regularly named in our corporate and private prayers. Blake and his family have given years and years of service in the former Soviet Union to promote the Gospel, and to serve the kingdom of Christ in that desolate land. And instead of applauding Blake, his family, and those pastors and teachers who are willing to make sacrifices, and even risk their lives for the cause of Christ, they have all come under criticism for their supposed perpetuation of another gospel – a claim that is flatly false. So, who argues like this? Who would take shots at faithful ministers of the gospel, and why?
In his excellent little book, In the Beginning. E.J. Young expounds upon Satan’s deception in Genesis 3, and provides some insights that are profoundly applicable to the situation I described above. He argues that Satan is impugning motives. “He sees that Eve is listening to him, and so he goes on to say: ‘For God knows that in the day that ye eat thereof, your eyes will be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.’ There is Satan’s reason. He is hitting below the belt, as it were. Satan works in that way. I do not think we can make a greater mistake than to assume that Satan comes with an objective argument.”
Think of what often happens in the churches in these days. We have controversy every now and then. We must needs have it, because it is the truth of God that is involved. But the tragedy of it all is that the doctrines in dispute cannot be brought out into the open and discussed objectively. There is always someone who introduces personalities and impugns the motives of the man who is taking a different position….
We must have honest discussion in the church. Failing that, the church is going to die. We have to be constantly considering the things of God, and we must expect differences of opinion. When you have that kind of controversy it can be carried on in love. We can respect one another, even though at times we may disagree with one another. We find that out as we go on. The same holds true of denominations. They do not agree on everything, but the remarkable thing to me has been that we can respect one another’s differences. We can differ in love, and we can realize that other people are good Christian people, even though we may not quite see everything as they do. We need to have that respect for one another which is based upon genuine Christian love, and which allows other people to have honest differences of opinion from yourself. When Christians can get along in that way, we have real Christian unity. I think that Christian unity is a fact. We see it wherever Christian people get together. When there are differences they are discussed in love, and we realize that each one is in earnest in trying to understand the Scriptures. There is real Christian unity because it is based on Christian love. But that is not the way the Devil fights, and we find very often that those who are on the side of the Devil use his tactics.
One of the greatest disgraces of the church of Christ – and this applies to the Protestant churches as well as to the Roman Catholic church – is the playing of politics in the church by ecclesiastical politicians. That type of person speaks whatever will gain the end that he desires. You can see it happening in church history. The burning of John Huss, for example, will serve to show what I have in mind. People will manoeuvre behind the scenes in order to suppress their opponents. It has been vividly brought home to me by the experiences I had in connection with the late Dr. J. Gresham Machen. Nobody would come right out in the open and answer his arguments, but they could smear his name. They could spread stories about him that were not true, and those stories are hard to live down. People are willing to believe the falsehood rather than the truth, and this is the way that Satan fights. Here is a good practical rule for us as Christians: when somebody says something derogatory to you about someone else, just forget it. Do not believe it. It may be true; it may not be true. Whatever you do, do not spread it; do not repeat it. Gossip is a terrible thing. At times I think it one of the worst of sins. You can destroy a person’s character by gossip, and Satan delights in that. This gossip simply eats at the bones of the another person and destroys him. It is easy to spread derogatory stories about a minister who is contending for the truth, because they take hold and they do a great deal of harm. You may for a time effectively stifle his witness, but if that man is contending for the truth earnestly, remember that the truth has a way of coming to the fore sooner or later. It is wonderful how God defends those who are on his side. Truth will prevail in the end. We must help those who are defending the truth by refusing to believe the stories that Satan spreads about them. All kinds of stories were spread about the late Dr. Machen. There was no truth in them, but people believed them. I say these things because in Genesis chapter three that is precisely the line that Satan is taking: ‘God knows that in the day ye eat thereof your eyes will be opened.’
Though published in 1976, Dr. Young’s words are prophetic, and certainly applicable to the climate of our day.
In past posts I have recommended children’s stories, and given a brief analysis of the content. On his new blog, Jonathan Rogers has written an excellent post that touches on the ways in which we can help our children understand a story and what it may be teaching them. Toward the end of the post he also mentions some specific stories that may be of interest to you. I commend it to you – and his other posts, too.
In this thorough post, Alastair Roberts provides a thoughtful exposition of the implications of gay marriage on society, and how the discussion of that subject should be broached. While somewhat lengthy, I commend the whole of the post to you.
Here are a few quotes that stood out in particular from my reading, with notations from the various article headings.
From The Public Nature of Heterosexual Marriage
The connection of heterosexual intercourse with procreation renders the existence of a sexual relationship between heterosexual partners a matter of public significance. The public recognition and celebration of the sexual character of the relationship between a married couple needs to be regarded in this light. Apart from gossip, prurient interest, and perhaps understanding the surface dynamics of relationships in which the partners are involved, why should society have an interest in the private act of sexual union that occurs between a couple? Why should the occurrence of this private sexual union be regarded as so important to the public recognition of the relationship that public recognition can frequently be withdrawn or denied in its absence? Precisely because the most private act of heterosexual marital union is an act which has potential consequences that are inescapably public.
From The Shifting Ethos of Marriage
Unlike traditional marriage, homosexual relationships are almost entirely oriented towards the present desires and emotions of the parties within the relationships. In contrast to the place of intercourse in marriage, which involves openness to the future gift of life and to all that that entails, the sexual intercourse in homosexual relationships is invariably and necessarily sterile and detached from the future. There is a significant disconnect and indeed tension to be observed between homosexual patterns of relationship and the notion that marriage involves making potentially costly sacrifices, limiting one’s pleasure, and forging lifelong commitments that may run radically contrary to the desires of both parties in the future. Such a notion only makes sense within a relationship that is structured in a manner that primarily serves the needs of people beyond the two partners.
Gay marriage accomplishes no movement from one generation to another. The union more or less terminates on the desires, emotions, and needs of the two partners. To establish gay marriage would be to institutionalize the close personal relationship model of marriage, which would hasten the rot of traditional marriage values. In particular, it would encourage the removal or compromising of those aspects of marriage culture and law that orient the union towards the needs of children, and others beyond the marriage partners. For those who enter into marriage as something that is about little more than the satisfaction of their desires and the public recognition of an emotional bond that they have with another person, the values of traditional marriage will be regarded as constricting….
It would be naïve to think that the gay rights movement, having achieved the status of marriage, will make peace with its traditional virtues of lifelong faithfulness and exclusiveness. The idea of marriage as an institution, with values, expectations, and requirements that transcend individuals is generally contrary to the gay marriage ideal and so the institution of marriage will be attacked, even while the privileges and honour accorded to its status are being enjoyed.
From The Breaking of Natural Bonds
If only on account of the differences between male and female sexuality, gay marriage will fuel attempts to undermine the necessity of fidelity and monogamy, and to push for easier and less costly divorce. This will weaken marriage for everyone; as history has shown, removing legal any other impediments to divorce hastens the collapse of marriages. Such a shift of values is very concerning….
Homosexual marriage does not provide for the natural bond between children and their biological parents. Perhaps the most significant consequence of this development will be the gradual detachment of children from their biological parents. As the conception of sex within marriage is increasingly conformed to the norm of an essentially sterile act, private and unregulated, shorn of responsibility or consequences, and marriage and the family come to be viewed as primarily legal constructs, the bond between marital sex and the family will come under threat in various ways.
From Homosexual Marriage and Tyranny
Gay marriage has been propagated chiefly by means of litigation and political pressure. Once we appreciate the manner in which gay marriage advocates seek to deny the normativity and superiority of the natural bonds enshrined in marriage, to claim as their right the same privileges that heterosexual married couples enjoy from the hand of nature, and to replace the normativity of a blood relations understanding of family with an understanding of family as a legal construct, we should be extremely worried. One requires some fairly big guns to wage the war against nature, which is one reason – though not, as we shall see, the only one – why sexual liberation from the natural order goes hand in hand with tyranny. Gay marriage can’t render itself public in the natural way that heterosexual marriage can, and so it must use the law and the state in order to achieve this….
Once the state has determined that a sexual relationship between a same sex couple is completely equal to a sexual relationship between an opposite sex couple, and ought not merely to be tolerated, but to be celebrated and privileged to exactly the same degree, where do we draw the line regarding the degree to which political agitators and litigious minorities can impose their vision upon society? When the state gives so little attention to the immense weight of millennia of tradition throughout human cultures and the order of nature in asserting the will of a vocal group upon society, we should all fear for our freedoms. When the state has arrogated to itself the right to define marriage and the family as it pleases, apart from reference to natural forms that it must recognize and uphold, have we not arrived at a position where the state regards society purely as its own creation, and thus subject to its domination, rather than as involving inviolable bonds and forms that pre-exist it?
If, rather than the laws surrounding marriage and family being ways to protect the substantive realities of blood relationships, marriage and family increasingly come to be regarded as legal constructs, detached from such underlying reality, the state gains increasing control over children and marriage is pushed into the private realm. Once we accept the normativity of a sterile understanding of sex, and a model of family increasingly detached from blood relationship, the state gains incredible power to reorder human society. As the recognition of the bonds connecting parents with their children are weakened, we give the state an ever-growing capacity to intervene in the upbringing of our children. When sex is no longer conceived of or engaged in as responsible behaviour that is open to potential consequences that may exert their effects for a very long period of time, any consequences that do arise will tend to become the responsibility of some other party, almost invariably the state. Where marriage and sexual intercourse within it are not entered into with a commitment to or expectation that one should be expected to shoulder the responsibilities attending conception and child-rearing, children will gradually come to be treated as if they were primarily wards of the state.
Gay marriages do not produce children, yet children are essential for the implementation of the vision of those who wish to maintain the equality of homosexual unions to heterosexual marriages. Homosexuals need access to children, both as badges that demonstrate the fact that their unions are completely equal to heterosexual marriages, and also as means by which to shape the society of the future. As homosexual relationships do not produce children, they must gain access to children by other means. The strong bond of blood that exists between parents and their children is a threat to homosexuals, as it limits their access to the next generation. Consequently lengths must be undertaken to undermine and weaken this bond.
State intervention is the primary means by which gay marriage advocates have pushed their agenda. In addition to using the power of government and the law to force people to accept their unions, government and the law are used to limit the rights of agencies and individuals to discriminate against them when it comes to such things as adoption. Gay marriage advocates won’t be satisfied with the fact that many adoption agencies will be happy to place children with gay couples; they must press to ensure that no agency can operate on the belief that a heterosexual married couple can offer things to a child that a homosexual couple never could. The powers of the legal system and the police powers of the State will be marshaled against any who might act on such a conviction. Convictions that arise from deep within our engagement with the world, our personal histories, and our cultural and human traditions are incredibly hard to eradicate. The belief that it is natural for a child to have a mother and a father, and that any departure from this norm is undesirable and not to be encouraged is one such belief.
The power of a belief is directly proportional to the degree of force and intrusive social engineering required to deprogramme it, which is why the doctrines of modern egalitarianism, feminism, and gay rights have needed to throw such great weight behind a movement of oppressive political correctness. Political correctness cannot easily tolerate and respect the existence of vocal public opposition. The more contrary to commonsense and natural reason a particular view is, the more rigorously its proponents will have to suppress any opposition. Permit the opposition clear public expression of its convictions and it is rendered vulnerable and exposed. The gay marriage position involves several claims that run strongly counter to commonsense – the parity of homoerotic desire and heteroerotic desire, the equality of homosexual forms of intercourse to penile-vaginal intercourse, the disconnection of sex from reproduction, the interchangeability of men and women, the dispensability of the roles of husband, wife, father, and mother, the family as primarily a legal construct, rather than a bond of blood, etc. For this reason, political intimidation, government propaganda, militant litigation, smear campaigns, vicious attempts to discredit opposition, and attacks on academic and press freedom have been and will always be primary weapons in the armoury of gay marriage advocates. All criticism or voicing of opinion that displeases the gay lobby can be labeled as intolerant and homophobic, and anyone who dares voice public opposition can expect to be targeted and hounded out of public office, academic respectability, or have their voice silenced by the media.
Although gay rights advocates can undoubtedly point to the manner in which the power of the state has been wielded against them in the past, my point here is that there is, by the very nature of things, a close natural alliance and affinity between soft totalitarianism and a movement that denies so forcefully convictions that have underlain human societies for most of history, and which relies upon government and the law to render itself public. The same natural alliance and affinity with oppressive state power does not exists in the case of heterosexual marriage.
Government and the law are also used as means to indoctrinate the youth. People that naturally have no children will seek to wrest control over the children of others in order to shape society according to their vision. It is for this reason that homosexuals who have no children of their own have an extremely high interest and desire to shape the education of other’s people children, and to limit the rights of parents to remove them from the desired indoctrination. It should not be a surprise to us that those who stand most opposed to the traditional structures surrounding reproduction in our society will often be the parties that invest the most effort in seeking to shape and control the education of our children and almost always the ones who are most in favour of limiting the control that parents have over their children’s curricula.
It has long been recognized that a strong family is the primary basis for a free society. However, a strong family is the greatest threat to the achievement of equality for homosexual relationships. Although it trumpets itself as a movement for sexual liberation, the gay marriage movement – and the gay rights movement more generally – will, by the very nature of the agenda that it seeks to advance, be one of the most powerful driving forces towards totalitarianism. Through state education and other means governments have already gone far in the direction of weakening the natural bond between children and parents in order to strengthen its grip on public society. Gay rights advocates provide governments with a natural and invaluable ally in this struggle against the natural bonds of the family, pushing towards the position when all children are regarded as essentially wards of the state…
The movement towards gay marriage is one of the movements within our society that is most antithetical to liberty. For this reason alone it must be firmly opposed. If homosexuals are to be the friends of liberty, they must recognize and submit to the extreme limitations that their refusal to engage in traditional marriage places upon their ability to form society and shape the minds of the future, to recognize that, by their very character, recognized or not, their relationships are largely powerless in the public realm. Of course, the naturally unenfranchised character of homosexual relationships will condemn homosexuals to a marginal and alienated status when compared to married couples (those of us who are single find ourselves in a similarly disadvantaged position, probably even more disadvantaged in certain respects).
Society as a whole grows out of the union between a man and a woman. On account of its significance to society, and its preservation and deepening of natural bonds, this relationship should be encouraged and protected and set apart from all other forms of sexual relationship. Homosexual marriage is a state-sponsored parody of the real thing. While homosexuals must be accorded respect and dignity to no less of a degree than married persons, as a parody of the natural order of things, homosexual marriage merits not merely our political and social resistance, but also our moral repugnance and revulsion. For this reason, we must resist it without compromise, and firmly discriminate in favour of heterosexual marital union. On this upholding of this discrimination hangs much of our freedom.
“Since Adam was a priest, and priest of the garden, spiritual leader of humanity, the fact that he needed a wife means that clerical celibacy is Satanic to the core. If there is any kind of man who needs a wife, it is a clergy-man. A man is in a profound sense of “alone” unless he is married. Of course, God calls some men to be ‘alone’ all their lives, but this is not the normal calling, nor is it the normal situation for a parish minister. Such a man is ‘alone’ unless he is married. In this life, before the last day, God will not be our spouse, and He says we should have one. It is ‘not good’ if we don’t. He may call us to live a life that is ‘not good,’ and thus to undergo suffering for Him, but for the Church to require such a life is a great evil.” – James B. Jordan, Trees and Thorns