Igor Doesn’t Know His Cultural Geography [Living in an Obama Nation]

As a follow-up to my previous post, I just looked at Igor’s prognostication again and noticed a couple of funny things. Here is his map of the Divided States of America following the collapse of the USA some time in 2010.

Parts of this map just make me laugh. For starters, he seems to think that Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas have more in common with the Northeast than the Deep South. That’s just plain silly. All of those states (and Southern Virginia) would join the newly reborn Deep South (they always said it would rise again), consisting of Mississippi eastward with parts of south Florida protesting vociferously.

Texas would probably annex New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana (if they’re lucky!). My guess is that the Interior West (Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado) would become its own region as well (with all of the sane people in California, Washington, and Oregon modifying the 19th century slogan to “Go East, Young Man”).

I’m not sure how the Central Plains and Midwest would shake out, though I doubt that they would constitute one large region. Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia have more in common with Ohio than with the East Coast. It’s possible that Arizona and New Mexico would join with the Interior West rather than with California and Texas.

But perhaps the funniest thing about this prediction is the idea that Russia, China, Mexico, Canada, and Europe would be so unaffected by the collapse of the United States that they would be able to exercise “influence” over the reconstituted regional republics. Mark my words: If the US goes down, those other countries will be too busy worrying about their own issues to exercise influence over anybody. If anything, these new American Republics would be exercising influence over their neighbors.

So what do you think? Do I have my cultural geography down? Or do you foresee other combinations? And perhaps the kicker: after everything sorted itself out, would the division of the country into autonomous regional republics be a good thing or a bad thing?

I-35 Southbound [Living in an Obama Nation]

One of the bloggers over at RedState posts Some Macro-Thoughts for 2009. He discusses Russia, China, Iran, Terrorism, and the Economy. In short, Russia may seek to save itself by recovering its former glory; in the near future, China will begin to reap the bitter fruit of its disastrous social engineering policies (the one-child policy). Iran is on the verge of being the first “crazy society” to acquire nuclear weapons and the past 30 years may have convinced them that Allah has been orchestrating events in their favor. With Bush finally out of the way, Big Terror, after laying low and stocking up ammo for the past 7 years, may make a comeback. Those who think that the economy is in for a quick bounce-back are deluding themselves. High taxation, increased regulation, and lack of trust in public and private institutions may conspire together to kill American innovation and prolong this recession.

Needless to say, not a very optimistic picture.

But compared to this Russian academic, RedState is wearing rose-colored glasses. All I know is that if Igor is right, you will find Jenny and me on 1-35 Southbound for the newly reconstituted Republic of Texas. For those of you who weren’t aware, Texas has an isolated power grid, meaning that when the Disintegration happens, you can bet that the lights will still be on in the Lone Star State.

Like a Good Tuna Casserole [Sexualotry]

Over at Between Two Worlds, Justin posted links to drafts of papers from a recent conference at Princeton on The Social Costs of Pornography. I was reading Hadley Arkes’ paper and came across the following section that seemed relevant to our recent discussion (Be warned: these papers at times mention disturbing material):

Goldman conceded that sex enveloped by love would be handsomely amplified, as indeed anything could be. That tuna casserole served up by a loving mother may have a significance that runs well beyond its culinary virtues. But Goldman insisted that sex could be taken as plain sex, savored for its own delights, savored quite detached from any of those attributes of love and commitment and the children who embody that merging of the partners in sex. What is central, said Goldman, was “the immersion in the physical aspect of one’s own existence and attention to the physical embodiment of the other.” Goldman recognizes that as with anything else, sex can be part of a means-ends chain leading to a harm. Sex can be used to injure, not only in rape, but in many other subtle forms of wounding. But Goldman holds to the possibility that sex could be undertaken by people in evanescent relations, with eyes open, so to speak, with no expectation of commitment, and undertaken then with full innocence. What he rejects is the notion that there must be any moral implications contained in sex at all. As he argued:

[T]here are no moral implications whatever [in sex]. Any analysis of sex which imputes a moral character to sex acts in themselves is wrong for that reason. There is no morality intrinsic to sex, although general moral rules apply to the treatment of others in sex acts as they apply to all human relations.”

Category Intros: Cue ‘N Ays

That’s Q&A’s for those of you who can’t read good.

One of my favorite pastimes is asking good questions and seeking good answers. And I’m a community thinker, meaning I like the give and take of a discussion. I do okay by myself, but in seeking to work through a problem in a group, I often find that things become clearer in my head and, subsequently, out of my mouth.

So in this category I’ll throw out a question. Then, for the 2 or 3 of you who actually read this blog, if you feel so inclined, you can respond with your own remanating in the comments. Then, after a sufficient amount of time, I’ll give some of my own thoughts on the question. Hopefully this will lead to more Cues, and then more Ays, and then more Cues…

So here is an opening question (and a very serious and significant one): At the moment the Israeli Defense Force is pummeling Hamas in Gaza for the continual rocket attacks that Hamas has been launching across Israel’s southern border. Estimates are that around 280 Palestinians have been killed (mostly Hamas militants, but including some civilians).

Some commentators on the left are calling the IDF’s retaliation a use of “disproportionate force.” Hamas is taking “potshots” and Israel’s responds with deadly airstrikes, resulting in the inadvertent deaths of civilians, sometimes including children and Palestinian Christians.

Supporters of Israel respond that such logic “amounts to a total rejection of the distinction between aggression and self-defense and indeed the entire concept of deterrence.” Hamas has been launching rockets into Israel from Gaza for months, seeking to kill and maim civilians. Moreover, Hamas stated goal is the obliteration of Israel, making diplomacy impossible.

So then, how should Christians think about the current situation? Is Israel justified in its airstrikes? If not, what other alternatives are available? (For a similar question from Doug Wilson, see here).

Good Stories Create True Categories [Diablogues]

A while back, Abraham Piper and I got into a discussion about the nature of stories and truth. The discussion was sparked by a couple of posts at Abraham’s blog (here and here). I’ve been thinking about the subject again lately and would like to pick it up. In honor of Abraham, here is a twenty-two word thesis. Feel free to interact with it.

A good story always creates accurate categories of truth and reality, no matter whether the story is redemptive or historical or not.

Like a Chia Pet [Sexualotry]

We’ve noted that modern culture, enshrined in its movies, television, and music, is seeking to disassociate sexuality from morality. Good people can and do have lots of sex with lots of different people. In addition, we noted that the severance of sex and morality is not due to the marginalization of sex, but to its exaltation. Sexuality, and the extensive exploring thereof, is considered to be indispensable to true and lasting happiness and fulfillment.

This should not surprise us. If sexuality is a wonderful plant in the cultivated garden of fidelity to God, and you happen to be a newly-commissioned expert in botany who is convinced that this wonderful plant will produce even greater and more satisfying fruit if it could only be grown in the wild, then the first step to realizing your dream of a refashioned Sexuali-tree is to tear down the garden walls and kill the gardener. So the elevation of sexuality in terms of significance and personal happiness is accompanied by a corresponding destruction of the links between sexuality and God and his law.

But here our creative botanist runs into a problem. In this case, the Gardener knows best. The Sexuali-tree is most fruitful and life-giving in the Garden of God, under his watchful care and cultivation. Removed from this sacred place, the Sexuali-tree withers and dies. Indeed, it becomes poisonous and addictive, sucking the life out of those who eat of it even as they seek to suck the life out of it.

To return to the world of Romans 1, even the truth-suppressing glory-exchangers must live in the world that God made. They can call evil good, but they can’t make evil good. They can call adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc. healthy, normal, and right, but they can’t make these things healthy, normal, and right. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”

So what is an enlightened botanist to do? The answer is simple: hire an ad agency to convince the public that the new, liberated Sexuali-tree is better than the old, traditional, boring one. In other words, learn to lie and lie well.

This is what we see in Romans, and this is what we see in our culture. Movies, television, and music are filled with stories of fictional characters who have sex with impunity and without consequences. Two people can begin dating, have sex, cheat on each other, and reconcile in under 30 minutes. Friendships between men and women can be unaffected by casual sex. Frequent fornication with multiple partners before marriage will have no effect on fidelity in marriage (in fact, it will probably make it better). The message is simple: We can tear down the walls surrounding Sexuali-tree and still keep the thing under control. Like a Chia pet.

Pornography and masturbation are normal and acceptable expressions of sexuality. Anonymous sex with random acquaintances has no effect on the way that one views the opposite sex. Men who spend their single lives sleeping with numerous women will suddenly turn into faithful, self-controlled, affectionate husbands after they get a ring on their fingers. It is perfectly normal and acceptable for “good” husbands to ogle beautiful women. In fact, the most self-assured wives have no problem with this (and even enjoy ogling and being ogled by other men).

This is the world depicted on television and movie screens and in the lyrics of songs. And it’s a big fat lie. The world knows that sexuality is hugely significant. They just want all of the benefits with none of the costs. They want to reap deep pleasure, incredible intimacy, and satisfying relationships without first sowing faithfulness, sacrifice, and marital love.

Because of this, they create a virtual world filled with many other commendable virtues alongside an unfettered, promiscuous sexuality. In doing so, the hope is to normalize sexually immoral behavior while convincing people that they need not give up the culturally palatable virtues like tolerance, patience, and kindness in order to have a multi-partner, mind-blowing sex life.

The evidence that this lie is alive and well can be seen in the rampant sexualization around us, even in the church. The only difference is that the virtual world where sex is both connected to happiness and disconnected from virtue is a lying charade, whereas the world where adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and pornography lead to broken marriages, shattered families, and further rebellion is the one designed by the Creator of the universe.

In future posts, I’ll try to unpack what the implications of this may be for Christians. In the meantime, I would love those of you who read this blog (all three of you) to offer any feedback you might have on this subject. Does my analysis fit the facts? Is there anything I’m failing to grasp? What implications do you see?

Interview with Leif Enger

As a follow-up to my earlier post, here is an interview with the author of Peace Like A River.

W&B: Several times in the book Reuben, after a “miracle” has occurred, tells the reader, “Make of it what you will.” Is this possibly a disavowal of the truth of the family’s history from the voice of the adult Reuben who is writing the story from the future? Or is it more of what one reviewer called an example of the “verbal stoicism of the northern Great Plains”? What are you advising readers to believe?

Enger: The lovely part of being a witness is that you can’t compel belief. All you can do is say: here is what happened. In saying this the witness is only doing his job; how people respond is their own burden, their own responsibility. Whom would you say has more credibility: the man who pounds on the table insisting his story is true, or the one who, having the reputation of honesty, frees his listeners to decide for themselves?

Can I Get A Witness? [Things That Make Me Glad To Be A Christian]

One of my customs for holiday breaks is to read things that I don’t normally read during the year. Often this means reading a work of fiction. This year, at the recommendation of Abraham and Molly Piper (and John) I read Peace Like A River by Leif Enger. It took me two days to read it. And I plan to read it again.

One of the many reasons that I enjoyed the book was the use it made of the biblical concept of “witness.” Here’s a section from the first chapter of the book:

Let me say something about that word: miracle. For too long it’s been used to characterize things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal. Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week–a miracle, people say, as if they’ve been educated from greeting cards. I’m sorry, but nope. Such things are worth our notice every day of the week, but to call them miracles evaporates the strenght of the word.

Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It’s true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave–now there’s a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.

My sister, Swede, who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles because they fear being changed–though ignoring them will change you also. Swede said another thing, too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will…

I believe I was preserved, through those twelve airless minutes, in order to be a witness, and as a witness, let me say that a miracle is no cute thing but more like the swing of a sword.

This emphasis on witness dovetails nicely with some recent sermons by Pastor John. John’s been preaching through John and he spent a good bit of time on John (in order: Piper, gospel of, the Baptist). John the Piper referred to John the Baptist as John the Witness. “He was not the Light, but he came to bear witness about the Light” (John 1:8).

Pastor John emphasized the “not-ness” of John the Witness. He refused to draw attention to himself. In fact, part of his witness was to confess his “not-ness.”

“And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests andLevites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

For John to fail to confess his “not-ness” would be to deny his witness. Which means part of John’s witness was a witness to his not-ness.

So, instead of drawing crowds to himself, he drew crowds in order to witness to the Light. And when the time came, he bore witness. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The goal of the Witness is to awaken belief. “He came as a witness, to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through him” (John 1:7).  But belief is not something that can be forced. As Reuben Land, the narrator of Peace Like A River, notes:

Is there a single person on whom I can press belief?

No sir.

All I can do is say, Here’s how it went. Here’s what I saw.

I’ve been there and am going back.

Make of it what you will.

The responsibility of the Witness is fidelity to what he’s seen and heard. John the Evangelist picks up this theme in his first epistle.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3)

The application to ourselves is obvious. Witnesses draw crowds (or engage readers). They are not boring, especially when they have a true story to tell. But the crowds are not there to see them. The crowds are there to see through them to what the Witness has seen and heard. The Witness is the finger; the Truth is what’s pointed to. In the testimony of the faithful Witness, we come to believe the truth, indeed, we come to see, with the eyes of faith, what the Witness himself saw.

And, if John is right, the purpose of the witness is to bring the hearers into fellowship with the Witness and the One To Whom He Witnessed. To bear witness is to issue an invitation, to put out a summons, to publish a call. It’s to invite someone into the fellowship of the Divine Life. In other words, a witness both points to, and in pointing to, becomes a Remanation.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

And They Think We’re the Silly Ones [Potent Quotables]

The special mark of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. It says, in mockery of old devotees, that they believed without knowing why they believed. But the moderns believe without knowing what they believeand without even knowing that they do believe it. Their freedom consists in first freely assuming a creed, and then freely forgetting that they are assuming it. In short, they always have an unconscious dogma…Their thoughts will work out to most interesting conclusions; but they can never tell you anything about their beginnings. They have always taken away the number they first thought of. They have always forgotten the very fact or fancy on which their whole theory depends.
–G.K. Chesterton, “The Debate on Spiritualism”

Exchanging the Truth About Sex [Sexualotry]

I’ve already mentioned the profundity of Paul’s analysis of the natural human condition in Romans 1:18-25. No doubt I will come back to it again and again. Here I just want to highlight the bit in v. 25 about exchanging the truth of God for a lie. Earlier in the passage, man exchanged incorruptible glory for corruptible glory. Now the dark exchange involves truth. And, as we’ve already noted, sexuality is all bound up with this business. When truth about God is exchanged for lies about God, you can expect very quickly to see the truth about sex exchanged for lies about sex.

In the past few months I’ve noticed one particular manifestation of this particular folly in movies and television. Even in today’s debauched culture, an attempt is still made to lift up older, ancient virtues, things like honesty, family, loyalty, and integrity. However, for some strange reason (or, given Romans 1, perhaps not so strange), sexuality is exempt from being brought under the sway of these ancient virtues.

Loyalty to oneself and to friends is virtue; sexual fidelity (and by that, I mean monogamy) is not. Integrity in matters of money and business is praiseworthy; sexual integrity (again, monogamy) is not. It’s not that sexual promiscuity and immorality are praised per se (at least, not in every instance). It’s that the use we make of our sexuality is deemed irrelevant with respect to the moral worth and value of a person. Sexually immoral people can be–and often are–good people.

Let me give a couple of examples from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which my wife and I saw last night. I’ll try  avoid plot spoilers as much as possible, though there will be some. Those who plan to see the movie may want to wait until after viewing to read this.

– Queenie is Benjamin’s adopted mother. She is a strong Pentecostal Christian who attends church every weekend and constantly urges Benjamin to say his prayers. She is presented as a paragon of loving motherhood. However, throughout the movie, she is sexually involved with her boyfriend Mr. Weathers, eventually fathering his child.

– Captain Mike is Benjamin’s employer and friend on the tugboat. A surly sailor, he drinks and cusses like one and takes Benjamin to his first brothel because he can’t fathom a man Benjamin’s [apparent] age never having been with a woman. Needless to say, Benjamin enjoys this first exposure.  [SPOILER ALERT] As he is dying later in the movie, Benjamin tells Captain Mike that there is a place in heaven reserved for him.

– Elizabeth, wife of the British trade representative to Russia, has a nightly affair with Benjamin during his extended stay in Russia.

– Daisy is Benjamin’s love interest throughout the movie. When she is young, she is depicted as a very “loose” woman, a free spirit. She works in show business and apparently enjoys the company of men. As she ages, she becomes a wise, caring, and self-sacrificing woman, looking after Benjamin during his later years.

– Benjamin himself, as you can see above, is no one-woman man. Aside from those already mentioned, numerous other sexual encounters are mentioned.

In the movie each of these individuals is presented in a positive light. They are faithful, loving, and caring people, in some cases, rough around the edges, in others, a little immature and naive. Nevertheless, the constant theme in all cases is that their sexual immorality is no reflection on their true character. Moral character and integrity, whatever else they may involve, do not consist in sexual fidelity and monogamy. Sexuality, while central to a person’s fulfillment and happiness, is not connected to a person’s morality.

In subsequent posts, I’ll provide a couple more examples along these lines and give an attempt to unpack what I think is going on here. My hope is that naming the idolatry will be the first step to casting it down.

Saved Through Childbearing [Exe-Jesus]

I was talking with my father-in-law the other day about Genesis 1-3 and the fall of Adam and Eve and at some point our conversation turned to that mysterious passage in 1 Timothy where Paul says that women will be saved through childbearing. In the course of our discussion, a thought occurred to me about that text that was new (to me anyway). Here’s the 1 Timothy passage:

1 Timothy 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing- if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

The two most common interpretations of this last verse are

1) “saved through childbearing” is a reference to the promised Messiah in Genesis 3:15 (“saved through the birth of the Messiah”) or

2) “saved through childbearing” means that woman are saved through faithful embrace of their God-given femininity, epitomized in motherhood.

The thought that occurred to me was that these two options may not be as far apart as they would appear.

Note the connection between “saved through childbearing” in 1 Timothy and the curse of the serpent and the woman in Genesis 3:15-16. When the LORD God curses the serpent, he promises conflict between the seed of the snake and the seed of the woman. This conflict will culminate in the crushing of the serpent’s head by her seed. This passage is often called the proto-euangelion—“first gospel.” Deliverance from the serpent’s enmity will come through the Seed of Eve. So, the bearing of children carries the promise of great Blessing.

Then, in 3:16, the LORD God curses the woman by promising to greatly multiply her pain in bearing children. Birth-pains, as any mother will tell you, are indeed a result of the Fall. So the bearing of children carries the reminder of the great Curse.

These two realities—the Blessing and the Curse, the Promise and the Pain—are a tremendous summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-6).

But how did Jesus redeem us? Compare the passage above to the similar one in Galatians 3:13-14. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

So the One born of woman redeems his people by bearing the curse. The Promise of Blessing will come through the Pain of the Curse. Restoration arrives through Crucifixion.

So then, isn’t this simply the first option given above: “saved through childbearing” refers to the birth of the Messiah? Yes, but it’s more. For if Paul is connecting Genesis 3:15-16 in his summary statement, then this gospel promise is embodied and portrayed anytime a woman gives birth. For every birth contains both Pain and Promise, Blessing and Curse. The pain of childbirth reminds us of the curse of God upon our sin. But the joy following childbirth reminds us of the Skull-Crushing Seed of the Woman. At least, that’s the connection that Jesus made in John 16:21-22:

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

In this way, every birth, marked as it is by pain and promise, by the curse and the blessing, displays the gospel in miniature. When a woman sees this microcosm of the gospel for what it is—that is, when she abides in faith, love, and holiness and views the pain and glory of childbirth through faith-filled eyes—she will be saved by the redemption accomplished for her by the One born of woman who himself bore the curse of the Law.

Not a bad remanation to reflect upon this Christmas season.

Leithart Gets It [Potent Quotables]

Death and resurrection, of course, is the comic theme, the comic theme of history, and there is thus a “comic” structure to the triune life, an eternal “story” of “emanation and remanation,” of exile and return. Because this is the God who created and governs history, history manifests the same structure, and it is a story not of a golden age lost, nor even of a return to Edenic paradise, but a story in which the second moment, the final moment, is the glory of the first.
–Peter Leithart, Deep Comedy (p. 90)

Category Intros: Exe-Jesus

exegesis (n.) – a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, esp. of the Bible

Jesus (n.) – the Eternal Son of God, made flesh for us; the one who “makes known” the Father (John 1:18)

“John declares that the incarnate Word made [God] known (exegesato). From this Greek term we derive ‘exegesis’: we might almost say that Jesus is the exegesis of God. Elsewhere in the New Testament the verb means ‘to tell a narrative’ or to narrate’ (Lk. 24:35; Acts 10:8; 15:12, 14; 21:19). In that sense we might say that Jesus is the narration of God.”

–Don Carson, The Gospel of John (p. 135)

Though this category may get broken up later, for now I will put all of my general reflections on the Bible in this category. If we are going to learn to “read” the world rightly, then we must seek to master the Grammar. Or rather, we must seek to let the Grammar master us.

Worship and Whoopee [Sexualotry]

Recently, in an interview with beliefnet.com, Rick Warren answered some questions about a variety of issues facing evangelicals today (HT: Justin Taylor). Here’s a portion of their exchange:

Which do you think is a greater threat to the American family – divorce or gay marriage?

[laughs] That’s a no brainer. Divorce. There’s no doubt about it.

Here’s an interesting thing. The divorce statistics are quite bandied around. People say half the marriages end in divorce. That’s just not true. 40% of first time marriages end in divorce. About 61% of second time marriages end in divorce and 75% of third time marriages end in divorce. So the odds get worse and what’s balancing this out…when you hear 50% end in divorce, that’s just not true. The majority of marriages do last….

So why do we hear so much more – especially from religious conservatives – about gay marriage than about divorce?

Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? Why do we hear more about anything else than about wasting time or gossip? We want to point that my sins are perfectly acceptable. Your sins are hideous and evil.

I think Warren is right on two counts and wrong on one. First, divorce is probably a greater threat to the traditional family than gay marriage for the simple reason that the breakdown of the traditional family begins with the breakdown of the traditional family and not in the knock-offs that rise to take its place. Fidelity in legitimate marriages is a great bulwark against the rise of illegitimate non-marriages (whether of the homosexual or polygamous varieties).

Second, one of the reasons that we hear more about the push for “gay marriage” than about the divorce culture is that we all have to deal with the little Pharisee on our left shoulder, reminding us of the importance of gnat-straining while gulping down two-humped Bactrians. Many evangelical churches are far too comfortable with easy-peasey divorce and remarriage. And if Christians can’t seem to understand “What God has joined together, let man not separate,” then we shouldn’t be surprised if the world reads the passage, scratches its head, dismisses the Bible as antiquated and out of date, and heads down to the courthouse to opt out of marriage number 2, 3, or 4.

Having said that, it seems to me that Warren fails to mention the fact that one of the main reasons for evangelical opposition to “gay marriage” is that its proponents are trying to ram it down our throats. And Americans don’t like pushy people. Imagine if the serpent had come off like a bad used-car salesman in the garden, pestering Eve to eat the fruit and berating her for any hesitation and then picketing out in front of her tree-house for weeks on end after she rejects his offer. Human beings don’t like to get shoved into rebellion. We prefer to slide or drift into it. Easier to blame shift that way.

“I was just standing here, trying to figure out why the snake was talking, and next thing I know, the woman you gave me is eating this fruit and handing me a piece and, all of a sudden I’m munching away, wondering why I feel so exposed.”

In all seriousness, I think there is something to Warren’s reasoning, but it is certainly not the whole story. Many evangelicals are defending traditional marriage against the homosexual lobby because that’s who’s assailing it right now. If the Muslims were publicly and unapologetically seeking to legitimize polygamy, I would imagine that evangelicals might have something to say about that.

In the end, the chief threat to marriage is unbelief. Our spirituality affects our sexuality. Or, to put it more poignantly, worship affects whoopee.

If the universe is the product of time and chance whereby one thing evolves into everything else (as in Darwinian naturalism), or some sort of spiritual energy has reorganized itself into differentiated individuals (as in various Eastern religions and modern paganism), then playing mix and match with the genders isn’t such a big deal. What else would we expect in a world like that?

On the other hand, if the living God has created the world in order to get a bride for his Son, and we know that said bride is actually a bride and not another groom, then our sexuality and marriages and families must reflect that. You might even call it a remanation.