WORLD enters the Promised Land...

Father Bill Mouser submitted this excellent comment under the post, WORLD's schtick.... Reading the original post may be necessary to understand this comment. (TB)

Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. (Leviticus 18:24, 25)

Imagine for a moment Joshua facing Israel as it's perched on the east side of the Jordan river, addressing that nation this way:

"For the longest time I’ve struggled to put my finger on just what I believe about homosexuality. Or, for that matter, about incest. Or, for crying out loud, Moloch worship. Forty years ago, after all that sturm und drang at the foot of Sinai, I think I would have come down pretty solid on the line of “absolutely not.”

"But, I’m not sure I can say that anymore. Wait a minute: It isn’t that I think homosexuality, or incest, or Moloch worship, or anything else Moses wrote in Leviticus 18, is OK and is something YHWH overlooks or agrees with. But it is that I’m understanding a little better that what is commanded of us Jews is simply not the same as what we should expect from those who inhabit the land YHWH has given to us...

"Because of my Mosaic worldview, I do not agree with the practice of homosexuality, or incest, or Moloch worship, or anything else done by the Egyptians whom we left behind or the Canaanites to which we are going. But, I do not expect their governments or most of their culture, or for that matter most of the world, to share that view. The trick for me right now is how do I explain this to our kids?
 
"My friend Abdul ben-Baal is a celibate homosexual follower of our camp. I have another friend, Moloch Meleki, who never worships Moloch while he's wandering through the desert with us. And my dear young friend Edward Oedipus is a paragon of faithfulness to his elderly wife, and his burgeoning brood is a model of familial fecundity to us all. Knowing and loving these friends has been formative in helping me understand the struggle of some of us Jews who find themselves wondering what it means that they struggle with homosexual orientation, or a lust to bed their mothers and sisters and grandmothers; or those who seem unable to avoid thinking of roasting their babies to a crisp. I asked each of them for their thoughts on how all these things are perfectly legal in the land of the Canaanites where we are going. Their answers, if I may summarize them together, amounted to this:

 

I tend to think we Jews shouldn’t behave as if our viewpoint on any of these practices resonates, deep down, with everyone,  . . . because it doesn’t. We tend to think every Canaanite really knows that  that these things are wrong, but when we say that, we’re just not listening to Canaanites people well enough about how their (our) orientation toward all these things is "hardwired" and not "chosen."
 
What that means in terms of specific policies when we cross the Jordan, I don’t know. I’m inclined to think that we Jews shouldn’t have much of a problem with Canaanite governments sanctioning all these things. Even our premier family organization Purposeful Patriarchs has recently admitted that we Jews pretty much have no street cred within any of the Canaanite enclaves. (Wasn’t there a recent interview with a PP employee in WORLD to that effect?)

As Paul Griffiths says, "What Israel ought do . . . is to burnish the practice of marriage and family [as we Jews do it] until its radiance dazzles the pagan Canaanite eye." Our best apologetic for "traditional marriage and family" is the beauty of the Jewish lives we live. We ought to woo the Canaanites towards it rather than to legislate its acceptance.

"So, put away those swords and spears, my brothers. Let us cross this Jordan and engage the Canaanites and their culture with the hope that in the marketplace of ideas, ours will not only find a hearing, but will prevail among those who lust after their fellows, and bed their mothers, and sacrifice their children to a god who is just as thirsty for our blood as he is for the roasting flesh of their babies."

There we go. Ever so much more accessible to our culture than what some narrow-minded prophet claims Joshua did in Joshua chapter 6, right?  

Comments

It always amazes me how desperate we are to find a way to sin, and then construct some semi-educated sounding argument for it. It's so ridiculously obvious how wrong the woman who wrote the piece for World is. If it weren't for the connection to a magazine I [used] to really enjoy and learn from, I would have skimmed the headline and moved on to the laundry pile. But when I saw that she was a home educating mother, a leader in Classical Conversations, and realized the influence she has with so many of my own friends who are World subscribers and promoters, I had to do the work and read everything connected to this--and I'm glad I did. Thank you all for your efforts to alert and inform.

P.S. Isn't this pretty much the same (base) argument used for abortion?

I have read and re-read this comment several times, trying to decide if it was worth interacting with. Yet days later, I am still sitting here, feeling unsettled.

While I personally am against gay marriage, i do not feel at all that it is a fair comparison to what Megan wrote in her piece. First of all, American is not the same thing as the nation of Israel. What God commanded at that time by way of total annihilation of sinful cultures and sinful people is not what he commands for us today. Christ paid that debt for those who are elect at the cross. Furthermore, again, Megan explicitly stated that she believes that homosexuality is a sin and she in no way endorses or upholds those who are enslaved to the gay lifestyle. I feel it is somewhat unfair to Megan to make it seem like she is endorsing all sorts of sinful lifestyles and promoting the acceptance of these lifestyles in the church just because she talked about her "celibate homosexual friend." Not that it really matters at this point, but on her own personal blog, she explained that a better description would be "celibate Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction." In looking back at some previous posts on this blog, I read some very excellent interactions with another believer with these same struggles, thoughts that I'm certain Megan would agree with, to encourage this young man to continue his struggle against his broken desires. We want people like him in the church, people who are honest enough to admit even the vilest sinful desires they have, to confess them and be taught and encouraged to walk the narrow way.

It just strikes me as uncharitable hyperbole to compare what she wrote with "those who seem unable to avoid thinking of roasting their babies to a crisp." And while Scripture says that we are a scent of death to those who are perishing, at the same time the Spirit does use the beauty of Christian life, well-lived, as a beacon to the hurting and lost. "Let your light shine..that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven..."

Well, I feel better now. Thank you.

Aubrey,

Let's begin at the beginning, shall we?

“I have read and re-read this comment several times, trying to decide if it was worth interacting with. Yet days later, I am still sitting here, feeling unsettled.”

I was hoping “unsettled” would be the right feeling for some. But, as I carefully read and re-read your interaction with the post, I fear you ought to have re-read what I wrote yet again, as well as Pr. Tim's original post about what the WORLD columnist penned.

“While I personally am against gay marriage, ...”

We're encouraged for your sake. But, is there a reason why you'd choose to qualify that conviction as “personal?” Or to frame that conviction as a sort of subordinated disclaimer? Some would wonder if you were feeling apologetic for having such a conviction in these modern times, and would, therefore, want to assure others that such a conviction is merely “personal,” suggesting that you'd never be so crass as to imply that your conviction would ~ever~ affect your opinions on public policy, for example.

“... I do not feel at all that it is a fair comparison to what Megan wrote in her piece.”

What I offered is, in fact, a mostly verbatim reproduction of what Megan wrote in her piece. I began by copying her piece exactly, after which I adjusted details so that, mutatis mutandis, they were placed in the mouth of Joshua before crossing the Jordan. Another inspiration was a portion of Leviticus 18, which text Pr. Tim provided at the beginning of the post that featured my fisking of Megan's column.

“First of all, American is not the same thing as the nation of Israel.”

Who ever said this was the case? Not I! Not explicitly, nor even by inference.

“What God commanded at that time by way of total annihilation of sinful cultures and sinful people is not what he commands for us today.”

Agreed (though see below on what He commands for us today). But, again, you're tilting at a windmill I never erected. I don't even have blueprints for such a structure!

Here's the point you have missed completely: Megan and, arguably, the editors at WORLD with her, urge upon us a posture, a stance, an attitude – not only toward homosexuality and those who champion it, but toward the entire spirit of this age as regards sex, its meaning, and its practice. And the attitude which Megan cops (and urges us to cop) scrupulously avoids the one urged upon us by Holy Writ (again, see below). One way to expose her folly is to imagine how it would sound if someone like Joshua were to cop the same attitude toward homosexuality that she does for the same reasons as she propounds.

“Christ paid that debt for those who are elect at the cross.”

Ummm, yes. So? What has this got to do with the appropriateness of what we find in Megan's column? She never raised this point one way or the other. Should she have? To what end?

“Furthermore, again, Megan explicitly stated that she believes that homosexuality is a sin and she in no way endorses or upholds those who are enslaved to the gay lifestyle.”

You know, it's probably just me. I never detected (nor, upon rereading her entire column, still do not detect) anything so overtly blunt as the way you parse her words. Rather than to convict ungodly deeds done in an ungodly way by ungodly people (I really must reduce my exposure to Jude! His rhetoric is sooooooo outré), she counsels a sort of tolerant ambivalence for what we find in the public square, especially something as perverse as gay marriage.

“I feel it is somewhat unfair to Megan to make it seem like she is endorsing all sorts of sinful lifestyles and promoting the acceptance of these lifestyles in the church just because she talked about her 'celibate homosexual friend.' “

Aubrey, you really must slow down when you read. Quote to me the words in my parody of her column which makes her to endorse all sorts of sinful lifestyles. Anticipating an answer (based on how you read a parody), I wonder if you'll mention Moloch Meleki or Edward Oedipus.

Those characters were added, by the way, to expand Joshua's circle of friends to include those whose sinful natures are enslaved not only to homosexuality but also to Moloch worship and various forms of incest, all of them mentioned in Leviticus 17 and 18 as fundamental reasons for the land of Canaan to vomit out its inhabitants and for God to send Israel to eradicate those inhabitants precisely for these sins.

And mentioning them in connection with Joshua in no way accuses Megan of endorsing “all sorts of sinful practices.” In the parody, Joshua aligns himself with Moses! In her own blog, where she discusses the challenges to her WORLD column (she doesn't mention this blog), she insists that her real concern was to make “sure my readers all knew my struggle was in understanding what to expect from an unbelieving world on issues of morality.”

Really? I mean, she doesn't know? Didn't someone somewhere say something about the world hating Christians because it hated Him? Is the world's hostility toward Christian ethics and morals really so mysterious? What part of “men loved the darkness because their deeds were evil” does Megan NOT understand?

An aside, but I must ask – since the Church is NOT Israel and America is NOT Canaan, would you therefore deny that homosexuality and the blood of millions of slaughtered infants are NOT reasons for our land to vomit out its inhabitants?

“Not that it really matters at this point, but on her own personal blog, she explained that a better description would be 'celibate Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction.' “

Yes, this is a better locution, but this change alone would hardly have rendered her piece less of the “fearful muddle” (Doug Wilson's assessment) that it is.

“In looking back at some previous posts on this blog, I read some very excellent interactions with another believer with these same struggles, thoughts that I'm certain Megan would agree with, to encourage this young man to continue his struggle against his broken desires.”

I too noted those posts and they encouraged me tremendously. But these posts deal with a pastoral response to a Christian struggling to come to terms with the claims of the gospel on the life of a certain type of sinner saved by grace (other kinds of sinners face analogous claims, with analogous difficulties for the sinner who is being progressively sanctified). Megan's column, on the other hand, treats the Christian's “understanding [of] what to expect from an unbelieving world on issues of morality” (her words, from her blog).

“We want people like him in the church, people who are honest enough to admit even the vilest sinful desires they have, to confess them and be taught and encouraged to walk the narrow way.”

This is about the only thing you wrote with which I can say an unqualified “Amen.”

“It just strikes me as uncharitable hyperbole to compare what she wrote with 'those who seem unable to avoid thinking of roasting their babies to a crisp.' "

Hyperbole, yes. That's what parody does, you see.

Uncharitable, no. For it is no charity to let such a fearful muddle, given a platform and an endorsement by those who hold themselves out as paragons of orthodox (not to say, Reformed) engagement of the world, to go unchallenged and unrebuked. On its face, it is outrageous – both the column and its venue, and it creates no end of scandal in the Church.

And never doubt this: every evangelical family has someone – a sister, a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a wife,a close friend – who answers to that Canaanite who thought of crispy babies. Except in our day, things are ever so much more clinical, so much “nicer” and cleaner than those coarse Canaanites. And, for every one of these Christians there are scores more who avert their eyes from the abortuaries, who live as if such places did not exist. A crispy baby reeks in the nostrils of modern sensabilities. Which is the main reason a parody highlights such a thing. It is also why anti-abortion protesters are pilloried for displaying photographs of “the products of abortion.”

“And while Scripture says that we are a scent of death to those who are perishing, at the same time the Spirit does use the beauty of Christian life, well-lived, as a beacon to the hurting and lost. 'Let your light shine..that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven...' “

That same light, according to one with Christ's express authority to speak for Him, has an additional function:

“8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light ... 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. ... 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”

Aubrey, if Megan's words in Joshua's mouth render him a fool, maybe the words themselves are the problem, and not Joshua. It's a very old demonstration that goes by the name reductio ad absurdam.

I would add:
- These baby-roaster-Christians, is their temptation to fry their babies something to be honored for kindness to them?
- These murderous-Christians, is their temptation to kill those around them something to be honored for kindness to them?
- These adulterous-Christians, is their temptation to commit treachery against the wife of their youth something to be honored for kindness to them?
- These greedy-Christians, is their temptation to greed and envy something to be honored for kindness to them?
- These Christians-tempted-by-sodomy, is their temptation to perversion something to be honored for kindness to them?

No. In each case, we both love them and glorify God when we faithfully show them the horror of the sin. It helps them flee from temptation. If we say, "there there, it's ok" we are acting as an enemy, tearing down their walls of protection. How could we be so callous as to participate in weakening their resolve to fight against sin? Is there no God in heaven? Is there no coming Day of Judgment?

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