The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “gay marriage”

Universal Healthcare, Universal Drone Strikes

by Adam McIntosh

Who else remembers the progressive-liberal movement displaying such moral outrage towards George W. Bush because of the “war on terror” and his unconstitutional invasion of Iraq? We’re talking impeachment-level outrage. Bush was deemed a war criminal worthy of imprisonment. He was condemned for passing the Patriot Act, a bill that essentially repeals the fourth amendment. Celebrities made a mockery of him and thousands upon thousands of protesters gathered all over the world in defense of peace and the rule of law.

The anti-Bush hysteria certainly included independents, libertarians and constitutionalists, but the majority aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. Riding the coattails of the anti-war movement was Senator Barack Obama, identifying himself as one who was against unconstitutional wars and the Patriot Act. He promised to bring the troops home from Iraq within the first year of his presidency. This sealed his White House victory quite easily. The movement had finally found their man. So, where aantiwarleftre they now?
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The Moral Imagination’s Role in the Abortion and Gay Marriage Debates

Last week, I wrote a blog post on Abortion, Gay Marriage, and the Good Life. In it, I mentioned this idea that Christians need to operate on a different plane from the rest of the world as we engage them in debates like abortion and gay marriage. Our tactics should not allow us to be confused with them because they are utterly indistinguishable from theirs. We should approach the world with the truth in a way that inspires the moral imagination and demonstrates “the good life.”

What do I mean by moral imagination, however?  The best definition may be Russell Kirk’s, “The moral imagination is an enduring source of inspiration that elevates us to first principles as it guides us upwards towards [sic] virtue and wisdom and redemption.” It, however, may need some explaining. The way I was using it was probably a bit more simple, reduced even. The moral imagination, as I was using it, is the story we carry around in our minds that helps to make sense of the world we live in. It is what gives us meaning and purpose, helps us to know what is right and what is wrong, and moves us toward living a better life, whatever it is we view as the “the good life.” Read more…

Abortion, Gay Marriage, and the Good Life

This Sunday, my pastor told a story about an occasion he had to protest at an abortion clinic. When he arrived, there were already activists present, representing both sides of the debate: pro-life and pro-abortion. The former was lined up on one side of the sidewalk, the latter on the other. Each side had its array of signs declaring the evils or virtues of abortion, respectively. What he noticed, however, was that the pro-abortion crowd was fiercely and angrily yelling and screaming at the pro-choice crowd, fists pumping and obscenities flying. When he glanced over at the pro-life crowd, to see their response, he saw a crowd of activists, just as angry, yelling back with fists in the air and obscenities accompanying them.

He realized, at that moment, that if a non-English speaking person appeared, he would have no way of differentiating the two. Without being able to read the signs or understand the words being yelled out, the two would be utterly indistinguishable.

It is with this story in mind that I think back Read more…

The Battle in Bear Country » Sullivan v Wilson: Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?

The University of Idaho hosted a public debate, to a crowd of over 800, on February 27, 2013. The debate was participated in by Andrew Sullivan, blogger and former senior editor of The Atlantic, and Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church of Moscow, ID, author and educator. The topic of the debate: Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?

Battle of the Beards

Battle of the Beards

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A New Conservative Manifesto?

DonQuixoteunhorsed

“How to revive the flagging fortunes of the Republican Party might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled conservatives. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task.”

Several weeks ago a piece appeared over at The American Conservative touting itself as a manifesto-of-sorts for a re-envisioned and reinvigorated conservatism: “Counterculture Conservatism: the right needs less Ayn Rand, more Flannery O’Connor.” Before the literary among you get excited, I should warn you that author Andrew J. Bacevich interacts with O’Connor nowhere in the article; in fact, by the end, I felt a little like Inigo Montoya (“you keep using that name; I do not think it means who you think it means”). Anyway, Bacevich’s opening lines (quoted above) are one measure consolation, one measure exhortation, and just a splash of knowing self-congratulation

True enough, a lot of people predicted that if and when Republicans lost the 2012 election, the party would attempt to reinvent itself, distancing itself from “loser issues” like the sanctity of biblical marriage, or the fight against abortion (of course, the party had already begun to do this when they put Mitt Romney in the race, but what’s a few months one way or the other to the long memory of history?). ‘Republican’ and ‘Conservative’ might be related terms, but fortunately they are not perfect synonyms, and many of the latter woke up and found themselves too “principled” to remain attached to the former. I followed the author this far because, truthfully, I was in that number and could say, without irony, “thank God for conservatism,” but he (in this case, the article’s author) wasn’t finished yet.

What, then, is Bacevich’s vision of conservatism in the coming epoch?

“The conservative tradition I have in mind may not satisfy purists. It doesn’t rise to the level of qualifying as anything so grandiose as a coherent philosophy. It’s more of a stew produced by combining sundry ingredients. The result, to use a word that ought warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, is a sort of an intellectual slumgullion.”

His recipe for this mess of pottage includes, among other thinkers, heavy doses of Flannery O’Connor (he drops her name a second time, but by now I’m even more skeptical that he could explain satisfactorily why she belongs in the discussion) and Wendell Berry (who recently came out in support of gay marriage, which will seem more relevant in a minute)—“don’t skimp” he writes.

Next, there are the sweeping, inspirational value statements about the human responsibility of stewardship—“preserving our common inheritance and protecting that which possesses lasting value”—the importance of community—“ Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault”—awareness of pain and suffering—“conservatives also believe in Original Sin, by whatever name”—and patriotism—“America is amber waves of grain, not SEAL Team Six.”

Bacevich finally descends to the level of clear details in outlining the task that is before the next generation conservative.

“The key to success will be to pick the right fights against the right enemies, while forging smart tactical alliances. (By tactical, I do not mean cynical.) Conservatives need to discriminate between the issues that matter and those that don’t, the contests that can be won and those that can’t….So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.”

He warns against a Quixotic tilting at windmills, while adopting for himself the conciliatory tone of the Don on his deathbed, claiming that there are no birds in last year’s nests. I mention Don Quixote, but the reader may also be reminded of the first-century Sadducees with their “smart tactical alliances.” This conservatism begins to sound less countercultural and more concultural or syncultural. One could hope that the author simply intends the Church to play a larger role than the State in transforming culture, but churches are mentioned as a kind of afterthought in the close of his manifesto and largely as a sheepish concession that they all “may be flawed.” The piece reads instead, as if conservatives simply have bigger (largely financial) fish to fry.

More recently, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman wrote an article (also for The American Conservative) entitled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” arguing,

“There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship [a happy marriage] with the person they love.”

But his essay’s final remarks strike a now familiar chord that complicates the simplicity of that emotional appeal:

“We are at a crossroads. I believe the American people will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game—because there is no opportunity or job growth any other way. But the American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.”

Neither Bacevich nor Huntsman is the force behind this shift, but they are both good indications of where the winds are blowing. Both outline a strategy that feigns compassion (or possibly misunderstands real compassion as a secondary end) in order to gain influence, especially in financial/economic arenas. These Conservatives are simply maneuvering to become the new Republicans and making moderate the new conservative.

Fortunately, the Christian remains more conservative than the Conservative. Kuyper would remind us that the state is meant to restrain sin out of love for the nation and concern for its culture; love and concern based in and upon the truly charitable, Gospel-oriented mission of the Church, where liberty and equality truly abide.

So, how to revive the flagging fortunes of the conservative movement might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled Christians. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task.

 

Sean Johnson is a graduate student of Literature at the University of Dallas (TX) and husband to a beautiful pregnant woman.

Gay Marriage and Christian Values

Last night, Douglas Wilson debated Andrew Sullivan on gay marriage. Peter Leithart summarized the debate and the difficulties Christians will face in that debate. He noted:

It will take nothing short of a cultural revolution for biblical arguments to be heard, much less to become persuasive.

Wilson’s [argument] was [came across as] a fundamentalist, theocratic argument.

The claim that legalizing gay marriage will make the legalization of polygamy easier, as Wilson repeatedly argued, is coherent, but doesn’t have much purchase. Nobody seems to be much worried about a polygamous future for America, and making polygamy the centerpiece of opposition to gay marriage looks too much like fear-mongering.

In the end, these dilemmas may not matter. Perhaps Christians are called to do no more than speak the truth without worrying about persuasiveness.

Whatever the political needs of the moment, the longer-term response to gay marriage requires a renaissance of Christian imagination. Because the only arguments we have are theological ones, and only people whose imaginations are formed by Scripture will find them cogent.

Leithart is right. We live in a world, always have, that doesn’t want to hear what God has to say about anything, especially the love between two people who want nothing more than equality with the rest of us.

It is at this point that one might wonder if the best way for Christians to handle the debate is to let it go. When Constantine reformed Rome’s laws, it happened in an empire that had a Christian leader. Whatever one might believe about the founding of America, to call it a Christian nation today would be laughable, even to Constantine. Constantine, however, saw the value in Christian law because he saw a Christian culture living by it and knew that was what Rome needed.

Maybe the best response for Christians would be to simply live out Christian laws and values, offer a competing polis and culture, that the rest of the nation will someday see the value in. Rather than imposing our values on a nation that doesn’t want them, maybe it would be best to live out our values and show the nation they are worth wanting. Maybe, just maybe, the world will see the righteousness of the Law and start wondering who it is that gave us these laws. Then, the nation will have an imagination formed (or, at least desirous to be formed) by Scripture and will begin to understand our arguments.

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