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By In Politics

Abraham Kuyper and the Pluralist Claims of the Liberal Project, Part 3: What Liberalism Implies for the Two Pluralisms

In Part 2 we examined the implications of Kuyperian and liberal pluralisms for ecclesiology, that is, our understanding of the nature and authority of the institutional church. We noted, in particular, that liberalism, following John Locke, is compelled to reduce it to a mere voluntary association of like-minded individuals.

There are two implications to this liberal move. First, it is incapable of accounting for structural differences among an assortment of communities. State and church are not essentially different from the garden club or the Boy Scouts. Whatever differences appear to the casual observer can be ascribed to the collective wills of the individuals who make them up. Proponents are persuaded that, even if different groups of citizens operate out of divergent comprehensive doctrines, they must be made to look beneath these commitments to what are believed to be the raw data of human experience that bind all persons together. These data are, of course, the constituent individuals themselves.

Every community can be easily understood as a collection of individuals who choose to be part of it for reasons peculiar to each member. There is nothing unusual about this approach, the liberal insists. Michael Ignatieff believes himself justified in asserting that liberal individualism is not peculiarly western or historically conditioned; it is human and universal: “It’s just a fact about us as a species: we frame purposes individually, in ways that other creatures do not.” Therefore if the claims of groups and individuals come into conflict, as they inevitably must, Ignatieff confidently concludes that “individual rights should prevail,” despite the contrary claims of nationalists, socialists and many conservatives of a communitarian bent.

The second implication flows logically from the first. If liberals claim that individualism is simply human and universal, then this implies that their own worldview must be privileged above any that denies this. Liberal tolerance is thus conditioned by a worldview that explicitly denies that it is a worldview, and thus finds no difficulty positioning itself as a supposedly neutral arbiter of the competing claims of the other alternative worldviews.

Yet there are those who object to this sleight of hand. Karl Marx, for one, famously denies that such neutrality is possible and argues that political institutions, like all other human agents, always act in behalf of a particular economic class, even if they claim impartiality. There is, in short, no neutrality in the global class struggle. Liberation theologians in Latin America and elsewhere refer to this lack of neutrality as a “preferential option for the poor,” an oft-used expression that does not sit well with the liberal emphasis on the autonomous freely-choosing individual.

However, one need hardly be a Marxist or a liberation theologian to recognize what is at work here. James Kalb points to what he calls the tyrannical character of liberalism, despite its proponents’ undoubtedly well-intended pleas for tolerance of religious differences. The liberal strategy for tolerance requires that the particular claims of traditional religions be softened to more manageable private lifestyle choices. “Even religion, to be legitimate, must transform itself so that it simply restates established egalitarian, rationalist, consumerist, and careerist values.” Moreover, “No religion can claim superiority over any other religion or over irreligion. Each must understand itself as an optional pursuit, and thus as not a religion at all.” Accordingly, the authoritative claims of church institutions will be tolerated only in so far as these institutions accept the norms of a liberal society. The church can continue to claim authority in some fashion over its members, but it cannot do so in a way that might be interpreted to negate the voluntary principle. No one has to belong to a church, after all, and those denominations emphasizing individual choice and free will tend to fit more comfortably into a society governed by a dominating liberal paradigm.

By contrast, an obviously hierarchical church body with a strong confessional identity may be seen as at least potentially disloyal, as was the case with the Roman Catholic Church in nineteenth-century America. As late as 1960, presidential aspirant John F. Kennedy felt compelled to assure the Greater Houston Ministerial Association that he would not be taking orders from the Pope in the conduct of his office. Similarly, in his famous 1984 speech at the University of Notre Dame, New York Governor Mario Cuomo explicitly stated that his belief in his church’s teachings on abortion was a private belief with no bearing on his pursuit of public policy.

Of course, it would be unwise to state categorically that all professed liberals everywhere necessarily follow a consistent individualist approach to human communities and religious diversity. With some spectacular exceptions, most people are generally better than their ideological visions would make them if they were to follow them consistently. Remaining open to correction by the real world is key here.

Nevertheless, one cannot deny the historic tendency of liberalism in its various permutations to downplay the significance of nonvoluntary community and to individualize and relativize the claims of traditional religious worldviews. We see this in the increasing trend in the western world to reconfigure marriage as a mere private contract between (thus far!) two persons and to deny any intrinsic structure that might negate this contractual status and even to stigmatize those who adhere to a “thicker” understanding of the marriage covenant. We see it too in judicial efforts to redefine the limited personal liberties found in the English Bill of Rights and its successors (to, e.g., freedom of speech) as a more expansive and normless individual autonomy (e.g., freedom of expression) whose only limit is conceived in terms of John Stuart Mill’s famous harm principle: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

However, Mill’s harm principle, despite its superficial libertarian flavour, has totalitarian tendencies in so far as it is suspicious of those communities bound by standards unrelated to this principle. Liberalism thus negates the very pluralism it claims to uphold. This suggests that another approach is needed.

Part 4: The Kuyperian Alternative

Part 1: Liberalism and Two Kinds of Diversity

Part 2: The Church as Voluntary Association

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By In Politics

How Gay Marriage Will Save the Evangelical Church in America

Boycott Fail

In a matter of weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in Obergefell v. Hodges, and is widely expected to impose homosexual marriage on the whole of the United States. There has been some speculation as to what the implications of such a ruling will be. Given the hysterical reaction to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, along with the cases of florists and bakers who have been made to pay exorbitant fines for having refused to serve homosexual weddings, it is clear the goal of the homosexual movement, despite for years claiming their only goal was “tolerance” and “equal rights” (with regard to marriage), is really about silencing dissent.

To the LGBT(etc.) movement’s credit, they were incredibly effective in taking advantage of the enormous sentimentality attached to weddings in our culture. “Why can’t we have our tearful, happy, once-upon-a-time day as well?” homosexuals weepily bemoaned. And every bridezilla who  ever spent $10,000+ on a dress she would wear exactly one time, added her hearty “amen.” Never mind the absurdity of assuming people who view how they gratify their sexual organs as the very core of their identity as human beings would pledge sexual fidelity to one person for the rest of their lives. These people love each other. It should come as no surprise that the exponential growth of the wedding industry is in direct proportion to our culture’s (growing) contempt for the institution of marriage. The rhetorical case that homosexuals should not be denied the ooey-gooey sentimentality everyone else enjoys was driven home to perfection. After all, who could dare deny homosexuals the opportunity to dance to Usher’s “Yeah!” with all their closest friends and family?

During the debates over same-sex marriage over the last decade, when conservatives would try to look down the road at what implications acceptance of same-sex marriage would have, they were decried as slippery-slope scaremongers. “It is preposterous and offensive to say polygamy would gain acceptance as a result of same-sex marriage.” Yet, as a result of the very same post-Christian cultural shift that has given us same-sex marriage, polygamy has begun to gain acceptance. When it comes to pondering the implications of same-sex marriage, conservative evangelicals who opposed it unfortunately but all-too-predictably have been vindicated. Because conservative prognostication  with regard to same-sex marriage has a strong track record, this should cause us to ask, “what’s next?”

Given that the homosexual movement has already played its hand, we have a pretty good idea: they are after cultural dominion—any expression of opposition to homosexuality must be banned. As has already been pointed out above, Christian bakers, florists, and caterers are the first to come under attack for opposing gay marriage. Former Mozilla CEO, Brandon Eich, who at the time supported gay marriage, was deposed for having once donated money to a group opposing gay marriage in California. As Rod Dreher has pointed out, a jeweler who did not refuse service to a lesbian couple was forced by the LGBT lynch mob to give them a refund after the couple discovered he opposed same-sex marriage. Speaking of Canada, that country also has Human Rights Tribunals which can levy fines for hate speech. Here in America, the terms “unsafe speech,” “verbal rape,” “trigger warning” have entered our common vernacular. It is not hard to find an example of someone who can, with a straight face, actually utter “I believe in free speech, but hate speech should not be tolerated.”

Churches, Christian schools, and Christian homeschoolers are the next, most obvious target. Within a generation, pastors who preach on Romans 1 or First Corinthians 6 should expect to be fined. Christian schools will be forced to hire homosexuals or admit homosexual students. Homeschool parents have their children put into foster homes for promoting hate speech within their own homes.

In the space of one generation the greatest cost of believing in Jesus in America could go from the inconvenience of having to take your kid from soccer practice to youth group at the middle class, suburban megachurch to having your children kidnapped for teaching them to believe the Bible. The church in the United States will be forced from its lackadaisical comfortability to experiencing what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would call “costly grace.” It will take courage to be a Christian.

Despite being a defeat, it isn’t all bad. Secularists famously don’t let a crisis go to waste, and neither should we. Even if conservative evangelicals become actively oppressed, we are still a significant minority in the United States. Just look at what happened when Chik-fil-A or the Robertson family was threatened for their respective stances on homosexuality. Look at the massive outpouring of support Christian florists, bakers, and pizzerias have received when the LGBT lynch mob has struck. What is that? It is sheep without a shepherd, but perhaps forcing belief in Jesus Christ to be costly will force the church to find some leaders with some sand.

Perhaps pastors will finally preach from the Bible and against sin, since any sermon could be their last before being sent to jail or losing their house. Perhaps, if you are at risk of losing your business because you attend a church which preaches “hate speech,” your worship will go from being vapid and irreverent “Jesus is my girlfriend songs” to the battle hymns and psalms to Lord Sabaoth, the God of Armies. Perhaps the evangelical church will be forced to engage with culture in a way that makes the Moral Majority look like the lightweights they were. The majority of evangelical Christians might even become aware of the key role of cultural formation education plays and pull their children out of public schools—the training centers of anti-Christian, secularist dogma responsible for much of the cultural shift that has already taken place. Just think about that. It could happen.

It has been said “the kingdom of God advances through a series of glorious victories cleverly disguised as disasters.” If we have eyes to see it, the disaster of same-sex marriage could very well lead to the glory of a reformation of the American church.

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By In Family and Children, Theology

Is the Trinity Egalitarian?

Trinity Egalitarian

At Kuyperian Commentary we begin with the Trinity as the starting point for understanding our relationship to God and to one another. In this perspective, our understanding of the Trinity, informs our understanding of salvation (as against the Arian heresy) and our relationships with each other. Kuyperian Commentary’s founder Pastor Uri Brito explored these implication for the family in his book The Trinitarian Father.

Creedal Christianity has traditionally emphasized the equality of the persons of the Trinity through phrases like, “of one Being with the Father” (Nicene Creed) and “And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.” (Athanasian  Creed) In attempting to understand the marriage relationship from a Trinitarian perspective, some scholars have suggested that similar language should be employed in the relationship between husband and wife. The result is a flattened view of the Trinity to emphasize an egalitarian view of marriage.

Recently Peter Leithart (Theopolis Institute) addressed this trend on First Things, identifying what he called, “Gender Arianism.” Leithart explains that:

“Feminists reject the Genesis account of creation as misogynist, but they do so only because they have assumed that to be second is to be subordinate. Whereas Trinitarian theology denies the premise. Eve comes second, not as lesser but as the glory of Adam; Eve is the woman without whom the man is ‘not good.’” (Gender Arianism, FirstThings.com)

RC Sproul Jr. also picked up on this theme on his podcast Jesus Changes Everything. In a short segment on Feminism, RC Jr. explains how the Godhead is understood in both its oneness and diversity, as is true for marriage.

“Now it is true that in the garden Adam and Eve are both made in the image of God; they both are equal in dignity, in value, and importance. But they take different roles. Husbands are called to lead their wives, wives are called to follow their husbands. This does not make husbands more valuable than wives nor wives less valuable than husbands anymore than the fact that God the Son submits to God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit submit to God the Father.

This is no more a denial of the equality of value than the reality that the Father is the authority over the Son and the Spirit. They submit to Him, they proceed from Him, they are equal in power and dignity though they fill different roles. And that is really at the end of the day where we need to come down. We need to recognize the absolute, complete, equal dignity of women. We need to embrace it, we need to celebrate it, and we do need to recognize that men and women are different for God’s glory.” (Feminism, Jesus Changes Everything)

Is marriage modeled after the Trinity egalitarian? As image bearers, our marriages express our view of the Triune God and His faithfulness. In this sense, our marriages are a picture of the Godhead. Husbands who refuse to lead, cherish, and honor their wives create a caricature of the Trinity with their marriages.

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By In Culture, Politics

Anglican Archbishop Asks Clergy Not to Sign First Things “Marriage Pledge”

The Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of North America has released a statement urging members and clergy not to sign, “The Marriage Pledge” introduced by the writers at First Things. Archbishop Beach is asking for time for his bishops, clergy, and lay leaders “to consider the consequences of making such a commitment.”

The pledge introduced by Rev. Radner and Rev. Seitz at First Things is very compelling, the language  appeals to those of us who are frustrated with the judicial activism that has altered the meaning of marriage in too many states. The statement appeals to my inner libertarian with notions like, “We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates.” While at the same time reaffirming our love for the Church by an act of allegiance to the Christian definition of marriage, “We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.”

Doug Wilson has said of the pledge, “…Christians who tie the knot need to have more secure knots than the secularists do. If this pledge catches on, I can easily envision Christians being less bound, less obligated, less constrained, and less secure than Andrew Sullivan is in his mirage. In short, church weddings detached from the civil sphere are worthless unless the church is being given the contracted legal authority to adjudicate the divorce — property, custody, the works. Anything less than that is a sham and a farce.”

Read the statement from Archbishop Beach below:

“I am writing to you because there has been alot of discussion in recent days about taking “The Marriage Pledge.” If you have not been following the online conversation, you can read the Pledge here at First Things , as well as a critical commentary here on Doug Wilson’s blog.

Some of our bishops and clergy have been in favor of signing this pledge, some are not in favor of signing the pledge, while others need more time to consider the consequences of making such a commitment.

It would be best for us to take counsel together before taking further action. Therefore I ask that you do not sign this pledge until as bishops, clergy, and lay leaders we have had more opportunities to pray about and discuss the legal, theological, and sociological ramifications of signing such a statement.

I ask us all to join together in prayer for the preservation of a biblical understanding of marriage in our society, in specific prayers for the courts in North America, and particularly the U.S. Supreme Court as these issues come before them. Even in the midst of different perspectives about the wisdom of signing the pledge, we can rejoice that all of this discussion is motivated by a strongly shared commitment to the sanctity of marriage as established by Our Lord in the Scriptures. It is often when the times seem darkest that God’s glory can be most clearly displayed.

Your brother at the Foot of the Cross,

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Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America”

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By In Scribblings

What Does Repentance Look Like for the Unfaithful Husband?

Guest Post by Alan Stout

Here is the scenario: You have cheated on your wife. You have been unfaithful and she has asked that you leave the home.  Your desire is to repair the relationship, reconcile with your wife, and get back to leading your family in righteousness. What does repentance look like?

1. This is my sin. I have sinned against God and my wife and the consequences of my sin are a broken family, including my headship. I am NOT currently the head of my home, because I broke the covenant vows that I made. As a result…

2. I am not going to plan or lead my wife in sanctification. It will not be my place to lead her in accepting me back into her life. I have, through my own sin, abdicated that role for a time. I have hope though for I know that…

3. The Holy Spirit does not leave my wife without a covering nor has He left her without counselors. I need to trust God and the men that He has placed in our lives to do what I failed to do. So that…

4. I might, in this wilderness of my own making, learn humility, love, and sacrifice for my wife. To that end…

5. I am committed to resting under the hand of a holy God. I will submit myself, my wife and my children to the care of the Church, believing that this will work to the glory of God and benefit of my soul, my life, my family and as a testimony to the truth of the Gospel. All the while…

6. Knowing that this is going to take a long time I will commit myself to prayer and patience, believing that God will give me the strength to bear this weight. Even if my family is never restored I will trust God through it all.**  Finally,

7. As God works in me to see and to do His good pleasure I will be made more like Him and I will be the husband I have been called and always wanted to be. Even though I will have difficulty seeing God because of my sin, I know that He still sees me and will not abandon me. Hear the word of God from Job 23:8-10:

8 “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,

and backward, but I do not perceive him;

9 on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;

he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.

10 But he knows the way that I take;

when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

** Part of this confession of sin is realizing that it may be too late to repair what has been broken. Your sin may have gone on too long, the testimony of an unfaithful man has far reaching effects and while your wife should forgive you she does not HAVE to take you back simply because you have seen the error of your ways and repented. This is not your wife’s fault… Trust God to turn even this situation toward your good.

Pastor Stout blogs at http://importantparentingtips.wordpress.com<>mobi gameаудит  а пример

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By In Family and Children

“The Good News About Marriage”

Guest Post by Ben Rossell

“Half of our marriages end in divorce.” No, they do not! The real numbers are in and it seems that little more than half of half end in divorce.

As a homeschool dad, I often refer to the “smell test” when reviewing math assignments with my sons.  ‘Okay, if you multiply a big number by another big number, the answer is not going to be a small number, right?’

Well, perhaps we can do the same here.  How many married people do you know?  Okay, now how many divorced?  This is a difficult thing to get our minds around, but try.  Think about the sheer staggering number of married adults you know.  It is far easier to list the unmarried adults than the married.  Now think about the divorces.  Do they even begin to approach half?

Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn are Christian marriage counselors, popular conference speakers, and family enrichment authors.  This Month Shaunti released The Good News About Marriage reporting the findings of an 8-year research project reviewing the statistical data on marriage and divorce in America.  Her conclusions are shattering many of our most common conjugal clichés.

Among her more noteworthy findings were:

 

–          The divorce rate in America has never even been close to half.  While the actual divorce rate is impossible to establish, [the Census Bureau stopped trying in 1996] realistic estimates put the societal divorce rate as low as 27% with almost every source reporting a decline in divorces for the last 30 years!

 

–          College-educated couples, married after their mid 20s, who stay together for their first 5 years have a general divorce rate of only 5-10%.

 

–          Almost 80% of married couples describe themselves as “happily married”.

 

–          A statistical majority of those who respond that they are “unhappy” or “miserable” in their marriages, when willing to hang in there, rate their marriages as “happy” when surveyed 5 years later.

 

–          Only around 33% of remarriages end in divorce, rather than the often quoted 60-75% figure.

 

–          The vast majority of marital problems stem from accumulated minor offenses.  Small, simple changes produce significant and lasting improvements for the majority of married couples in counseling.

 

–          Christian couples who attend church weekly have a divorce rate 25-50% lower than the average.

After hearing these results, one reviewer commented, “Wow!  You’re like the Snopes of marriage!”

Well, besides being interesting, does any of this matter?

The Feldhahns insist that these things matter a great deal and that falsely inflated divorce statistics have been deeply detrimental to our national morality.  If young people take for granted that they have a coin-toss-chance of succeeding in marriage, they will be much more prone to accept divorce as an inevitable outcome.  They will be more tempted to cohabitate rather than marry.  And they will be discouraged from persevering and fighting for their marriages.  Statistics of defeat rob us of hope.  And as any counselor can tell you, hope is the single most important factor in making a marriage work.

Ben Rossell is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Valparaiso, Fl.<>уникальность контентасоздание и раскрутка интернет магазина

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