Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Political vs. Spiritual Continued...

Whew! Sorry this is so late in coming, but as you can see, I've got quite a bit to say, and it took a while to get it all together...and readable.

To begin, a recap: Jason clarifies his side of the argument in response to Brian's post on the subject. Go ahead and read 'em both. I'll wait.

Back? Let's begin.

First, a point I haven't seen either Jason or Brian touch on: the Christian faith is a relational faith. This means that my relationship with Christ, my relationships with fellow believers, and my relationships with unbelievers are the core of my faith. Whatever influence the Christian faith has is meant to be exerted through those relationships, as exemplified by Christ's interactions with those same groups. Working from this premise, it seems that enacting legislation relating to sinful behavior is the diametric opposite of that toward which Christians should be working. (There is a lot to hammer out and clarify on this too-wide generalization, but it does not directly apply to the topic at hand.) I'll let C.S. Lewis make the point better than I could hope to:

"Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realised that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power - it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk."
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

This is not to say that unbelievers are not sinful (of course they are), nor that we should ignore their sins (of course we shouldn't). Just that we can't expect them not to be sinful, nor to appreciate the true difference between sin and righteousness without the revelation that comes upon every believer at the time of belief. As put by St. Augustine:
"I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."
- Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258.

Here, then, is point 1: Christianity is primarily, and perhaps wholly, relational. Any influence it will have is on those who come into contact with it directly. Those who do not believe, by internal definition, do not understand - for to understand, they must believe. And as we can derive from Lewis (and as he later spells out), as human beings, we can no more expect an unbeliever to understand the "Moral Law" than we can expect an infant to understand quantum physics. Do we hold infants responsible for this lack of comprehension? Of course not. Neither can we (God is another matter) hold unbelievers responsible for that which they cannot know ("How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?").

Corollary: I want to spell this out, just so I'm not misunderstood. I'm not saying that there is no point to conversing with nonbelievers about moral issues. Quite the opposite. I'm saying we must converse with them about moral issues (and primarily about the single most important issue that faces us: who is Christ?). What I'm trying to get across, however roundabout the manner, is that we cannot expect them to agree to the imposition of the Moral Law as codified secular legislation without some argument from outside the spiritual realm. Unless, of course, we engage them in discussions about the spiritual first.

On to the second point: virtue enforced is no virtue at all. If you have no choice but to tell the truth, how is that commendable? If you only love those who love you, how is that virtuous? Doing good is only virtue if there is some other thing that one could do instead. This is, at its centre, the nature of a free will.

By preventing sin through government power and penalty - by attempting to remove free will from the picture - we are no more "saving" unbelievers than if they were able to go about sinning freely. Indeed, it is not the government's place to ensure that its citizens do not sin (more on this later), even in a Christian nation (if such a thing exists). How much less so in an unChristian or antiChristian nation?

Working to change people (and not just their behavior) through government is not only impossible and undesirable, it is antithetical to the Christian experience.

Point three: In democracies, the government is a reflection of the culture. Therefore, to change the government, one must change the culture. And what defines the culture? Its people.

Do you want to protect marriage? Great - make sure your own is doing well, and do all you can to help your friends. You want to protect the legal definition of marriage? Okay. Then you've got to start convincing people that you have the right notion of what marriage should and should not be, and that doesn't begin with the marriage issue. You must convince them that there is a "Moral Law" out there, set down by a Higher Power, and that that Moral Law has very clear guidelines for the joining of a man and a woman. It starts with evangelism, the foundation of which is set by living out your relationship with Christ through your relationships with others. Then, once the terms are defined (so to speak), we can begin discussing the legal definition of marriage.

This is a massive undertaking and a slow one. It's also the way to ensure genuine cultural change.

Point four:
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
       And what does the LORD require of you
       But to do justly,
       To love mercy,
       And to walk humbly with your God?

- Micah 6:8.

As Christians, we are commanded to do justice, and to see justice done. So the question posed is: is marriage, in this instance, an issue of justice for which all of Christendom must be roused? Certainly the Civil Rights Movement in the US was such an issue. People were being horribly treated, and change was too slow in coming. But as I'm so quick to point out to any who will listen, the differences between Martin Luther King, Jr.'s peaceful marches and the push for Same-Sex Marriage are vast. There is no issue of justice here on the side of homosexuals seeking recognition under the law - but neither is there injustice against heterosexuals. This is not an issue of justice at all. (See: all individuals are treated equally under the law).

So what is the argument against Same-Sex Marriage? As Jason mentions, it is an issue of social stability (in this case, it is also a matter of preserving religious rights and rites, but that's another issue entirely). The definition of marriage as between a man and a woman has been the bedrock upon which the structures of society have grown. To disrupt them is to tinker dangerously with things about which we have little knowledge. Now, social stability (that is, "the public interest") is what government is all about; and, as just stated, we Christians will find arguments from the basis of revealed truth ultimately futile. We can include it to inform our opposition, but in a pluralistic society (or one that makes handwaves toward such status) it cannot and must not be the whole of our position. Therefore, those against the redefinition of marriage must argue from historical experience and prediction, rather than spiritual condemnation.

This is why I do not feel that the movement against Same-Sex Marriage is one that should rally Christians everywhere to its cause (though I am sympathetic, and would, if given the opportunity, vote like Brian suggests). It's not that we are to let the sinful world shuffle slowly into Hell. It's that we are to pull it back from the brink through relationship and dialogue, rather than with legislation. Argue before the Larger World about social constructs and legal structures, but our primary function is to witness to individuals. It is the individuals who matter; and it is the individuals, en masse, who hold the power to change the larger world.

One final point: marriage is a social foundation, but it is also much more than that. In the Christian experience, marriage is a spiritual construct that has social implications, rather than the other way 'round. It follows, then, that for Christians, it is more important to have God's recognition of your union than it is to have the State's. (One could argue that having the State's recognition is irrelevant, but I'm not going there). While those tax credits and legal exceptions are nice, they aren't what validate a marriage. Assuming I ever find "wedded bliss," I don't need the State to rubber stamp it.

Now, there's a lot more to say about Christian involvement in and duty to the legal and social aspects of a democracy (and Brian has promised to look into it - personally, I feel that most of it is centered around the commands in Micah 6:8), but as far as SSM is concerned, I think I've exhausted my argument.
Comments:
This is a good argument.
 
I've decided to ignore your statements that smack vaguely of the need for a theocracy, that justice is not on the side of homosexuals ( a group that was forced into the societial underclass and closets for decades)

I've decided to focus on your assertion that sounds like the new right-wing bete noire UNELECTED JUDGES MAKING LEGISTLATION.

Let's make this clear: you want the majority to decide the rights and privliges of a minority group?

You expect any minority to come, hat in hand, and ask the majority of the population to make complex legal and moral decisions based on public campaigns and good marketing?

NOOOOOOO. THAT IS A HORRIBLE IDEA.
I won't say anything besides this because YOU KNOW IT IS RIGHT.(you also sort of contradict this notion with your discussion of civil rights, but hey)

Listen: the modern Reich-staat cannot afford to be ruled by the whims of ideas of a "higher power". That is why the modern nation-state is fundamentally a secular institution- ruled by the "rule of law" and notions of human rights and equality. The "evangelization" of the modern Reich-Staat is propogation and enforcement of the notions of human rights and equality.

So it seems that in many places, the HIGHER POWER and MORAL LAW have already been spread and embraced by the population as a whole.
 
Austin:

This is a brilliantly written piece that crystallizes a lot of what I have been thinking. Much appreciated.

P.S. Miss those Friday train trips and the discussions that came with them, especially now that I am diving deeper into issues like this.

Brian
 
I've had some time to think about your arguments... and I still disagree.

So our culture doesn't believe in the basis for our arguments: this doesn't mean we should cease to have conversations and attempt to persuade them, even if they're without faith.

For example, a child molester may feel that he is loving children he touches. Yet no one would argue that we shouldn't try to change his mind-- to help him see the error of his ways. Saying that he must be a believer before he can be convinced, or more importantly, before a law can be established to stop him, is ludicrous.

We're still misdirected if we say these existing laws are established only to 'protect the children,' and therefore not applicable to homosexuality. Rather, these laws are meant to protect all of society.

It may be easier to see the negative ramifications of a society allowing child molestation than one allowing homosexuality. This is perhaps why people are open to the idea of homosexual marriages. Nevertheless, the basis of our argument is to protect society in ways we cannot perceive.

We must be careful to police our deconstructionism-- convinced that not every tradition passed down from ancestors has fear at its root.

~Jason Silver
CrookedBush.com

~Jason
 
The HUMAN PARADIGM

Consider:
The way we define 'human' determines our view of self,
others, relationships, institutions, life, and future.
Important? Only the Creator who made us in His own image
is qualified to define us accurately. Choose wisely...
there are results.

In an effort to diminish the multiple and persistent
dangers and abuses which have characterized the affairs
of man in his every Age, and to assist in the requisite
search for human identity, it is essential to perceive
and specify that distinction which naturally and most
uniquely defines the human being. Because definitions
rule in the minds, behaviors, and institutions of men,
we can be confident that delineating and communicating
that quality will assist the process of resolution and
the courageous ascension to which man is called. As
Americans of the 21st Century, we are obliged and privi-
leged to join our forebears and participate in this
continuing paradigm proclamation.

"WHAT IS MAN...?" God asks - and answers:
HUMAN DEFINED: EARTH'S CHOICEMAKER
by JAMES FLETCHER BAXTER (c) 2005

Many problems in human experience are the result of false
and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised in man-
made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe. The
balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human reason
cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the intellect
can rise no higher than the criteria by which it perceives
and measures values.

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure. However,
as with all measuring systems, a standard must be greater
than the value measured. Based on preponderant ignorance
and an egocentric carnal nature, humanism demotes reason
to the simpleton task of excuse-making in behalf of the
rule of appetites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament, cannot
invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist lacks
a predictive capability. Without instinct or transcendent
criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight
and vision for progression and survival. Lacking foresight,
man is blind to potential consequence and is unwittingly
committed to mediocrity, averages, and regression - and
worse. Humanism is an unworthy worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with a
functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the foot-
dragging growth of human knowledge and behavior. Faith,
initiated by the Creator and revealed and validated in His
Word, the Bible, brings a transcendent standard to man the
choice-maker. Other philosophies and religions are man-
made, humanism, and thereby lack what only the Bible has:

1.Transcendent Criteria and
2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival equip-
ment for today and the future.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by nature
and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of Criteria.
Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive characteristic
is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of his
environments, institutions, and respectful relations to his
fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom whose roots
are in the Order of the universe.

At the sub-atomic level of the physical universe quantum
physics indicates a multifarious gap or division in the
causal chain; particles to which position cannot be
assigned at all times, systems that pass from one energy
state to another without manifestation in intermediate
states, entities without mass, fields whose substance is
as insubstantial as "a probability."

Only statistical conglomerates pay tribute to
deterministic forces. Singularities do not and are
therefore random, unpredictable, mutant, and in this
sense, uncaused. The finest contribution inanimate
reality is capable of making toward choice, without its
own selective agencies, is this continuing manifestation
of opportunity as the pre-condition to choice it defers
to the natural action of living forms.

Biological science affirms that each level of life,
single-cell to man himself, possesses attributes of
sensitivity, discrimination, and selectivity, and in
the exclusive and unique nature of each diversified
life form.

The survival and progression of life forms has all too
often been dependent upon the ever-present undeterminative
potential and appearance of one unique individual organism
within the whole spectrum of a given life-form. Only the
uniquely equipped individual organism is, like The Golden
Wedge of Ophir, capable of traversing the causal gap to
survival and progression. Mere reproductive determinacy
would have rendered life forms incapable of such potential.

Only a moving universe of opportunity plus choice enables
the present reality.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Man is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes his
definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall that his
other features are but vehicles of experience intent on
the development of perceptive awareness and the
following acts of decision. Note that the products of
man cannot define him for they are the fruit of the
discerning choice-making process and include the
cognition of self, the utility of experience, the
development of value-measuring systems and language,
and the acculturation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however marvelous
to behold, deserve neither awe nor idolatry, for man, not
his contrivance, is earth's own highest expression of the
creative process.

Man is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and significant
act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean fulcrum upon
which man levers and redirects the forces of cause and
effect to an elected level of quality and diversity.
Further, it orients him toward a natural environmental
opportunity, freedom, and bestows earth's title, The
Choicemaker, on his singular and plural brow.

Deterministic systems, ideological symbols of abdication
by man from his natural role as earth's Choicemaker,
inevitably degenerate into collectivism; the negation of
singularity, they become a conglomerate plural-based
system of measuring human value. Blunting an awareness
of diversity, blurring alternatives, and limiting the
selective creative process, they are self-relegated to
a passive and circular regression.

Tampering with man's selective nature endangers his
survival for it would render him impotent and obsolete
by denying the tools of diversity, individuality,
perception, criteria, selectivity, and progress.
Coercive attempts produce revulsion, for such acts
are contrary to an indeterminate nature and nature's
indeterminate off-spring, man the Choicemaker.

Until the oppressors discover that wisdom only just
begins with a respectful acknowledgment of The Creator,
The Creation, and The Choicemaker, they will be ever
learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
The rejection of Creator-initiated standards relegates
the mind of man to its own primitive, empirical, and
delimited devices. It is thus that the human intellect
cannot ascend and function at any level higher than the
criteria by which it perceives and measures values.

Additionally, such rejection of transcendent criteria
self-denies man the vision and foresight essential to
decision-making for survival and progression. He is left,
instead, with the redundant wreckage of expensive hind-
sight, including human institutions characterized by
averages, mediocrity, and regression.

Humanism, mired in the circular and mundane egocentric
predicament, is ill-equipped to produce transcendent
criteria. Evidenced by those who do not perceive
superiority and thus find themselves beset by the shifting
winds of the carnal-ego; i.e., moods, feelings, desires,
appetites, etc., the mind becomes subordinate: a mere
device for excuse-making and rationalizing self-justifica-
tion.

The carnal-ego rejects criteria and self-discipline for such
instruments are tools of the mind and the attitude. The
appetites of the flesh have no need of standards for at the
point of contention standards are perceived as alien, re-
strictive, and inhibiting. Yet, the very survival of our
physical nature itself depends upon a maintained sover-
eignty of the mind and of the spirit.

It remained, therefore, to the initiative of a personal
and living Creator to traverse the human horizon and
fill the vast void of human ignorance with an intelli-
gent and definitive faith. Man is thus afforded the
prime tool of the intellect - a Transcendent Standard
by which he may measure values in experience, anticipate
results, and make enlightened and visionary choices.

Only the unique and superior God-man Person can deserved-
ly displace the ego-person from his predicament and free
the individual to measure values and choose in a more
excellent way. That sublime Person was indicated in the
words of the prophet Amos, "...said the Lord, Behold,
I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel."
Y'shua Mashiyach Jesus said, "If I be lifted up I will
draw all men unto myself."

As long as some choose to abdicate their personal reality
and submit to the delusions of humanism, determinism, and
collectivism, just so long will they be subject and re-
acting only, to be tossed by every impulse emanating from
others. Those who abdicate such reality may, in perfect
justice, find themselves weighed in the balances of their
own choosing.

That human institution which is structured on the
principle, "...all men are endowed by their Creator with
...Liberty...," is a system with its roots in the natural
Order of the universe. The opponents of such a system are
necessarily engaged in a losing contest with nature and
nature's God. Biblical principles are still today the
foundation under Western Civilization and the American
way of life. To the advent of a new season we commend the
present generation and the "multitudes in the valley of
decision."

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV

CONTEMPORARY COMMENTS
"I should think that if there is one thing that man has
learned about himself it is that he is a creature of
choice." Richard M. Weaver

"Man is a being capable of subduing his emotions and
impulses; he can rationalize his behavior. He arranges
his wishes into a scale, he chooses; in short, he acts.
What distinguishes man from beasts is precisely that he
adjusts his behavior deliberately." Ludwig von Mises

"To make any sense of the idea of morality, it must be
presumed that the human being is responsible for his
actions and responsibility cannot be understood apart
from the presumption of freedom of choice."
John Chamberlain

"The advocate of liberty believes that it is complementary
of the orderly laws of cause and effect, of probability
and of chance, of which man is not completely informed.
It is complementary of them because it rests in part upon
the faith that each individual is endowed by his Creator
with the power of individual choice."
Wendell J. Brown

"These examples demonstrate a basic truth -- that human
dignity is embodied in the free choice of individuals."
Condoleeza Rice

"Our Founding Fathers believed that we live in an ordered
universe. They believed themselves to be a part of the
universal order of things. Stated another way, they
believed in God. They believed that every man must find
his own place in a world where a place has been made for
him. They sought independence for their nation but, more
importantly, they sought freedom for individuals to think
and act for themselves. They established a republic
dedicated to one purpose above all others - the preserva-
tion of individual liberty..." Ralph W. Husted

"We have the gift of an inner liberty so far-reaching
that we can choose either to accept or reject the God
who gave it to us, and it would seem to follow that the
Author of a liberty so radical wills that we should be
equally free in our relationships with other men.
Spiritual liberty logically demands conditions of outer
and social freedom for its completion." Edmund A. Opitz

"Above all I see an ability to choose the better from the
worse that has made possible life's progress."
Charles Lindbergh

"Freedom is the Right to Choose, the Right to create for
oneself the alternatives of Choice. Without the possibil-
ity of Choice, and the exercise of Choice, a man is not
a man but a member, an instrument, a thing."
Thomas Jefferson

THE QUESTION AND THE ANSWER
Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son
of man that You visit him?" Psalm 8:4
A: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against
you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing
and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and
your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

Q: "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that you are mindful of him?" Psalm
144:3
A: "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose
for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the
gods which your fathers served that were on the other
side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose
land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Q: "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is
born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" Job 15:14
A: "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He
teach in the way he chooses." Psalm 25:12

Q: "What is man, that You should magnify him, that You
should set Your heart on him?" Job 7:17
A: "Do not envy the oppressor and choose none of his
ways." Proverbs 3:31

Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son
of man that You take care of him?" Hebrews 2:6
A: "I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments I have
laid before me." Psalm 119:30 "Let Your hand become my
help, for I have chosen Your precepts."Psalm 119:173

References:
Genesis 3:3,6 Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 30:19 Job 5:23
Isaiah 7:14-15; 13:12; 61:1 Amos 7:8 Joel 3:14
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Psalm 119:1-176
DEDICATION

Sir Isaac Newton
The greatest scientist in human history
a Bible-Believing Christian
an authority on the Bible's Book of Daniel
committed to individual value
and individual liberty

Daniel 9:25-26 Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJV selah

"What is man...?" Earth's Choicemaker Psalm 25:12 KJV
http://www.choicemaker.net/
jbaxter@choicemaker.net

An old/new paradigm - Mr. Jefferson would agree!
(There is no alternative!)

+ + +

"Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He
can only discover them and he ought to look through the
discovery to the Author." -- Thomas Paine 1797
 
Austin! enough of the political and religous blogs...I think you should write about more interesting things. Like sex (non-homosexual, but inculding sodomy), drugs (illegal and legal) and music (including folk rock)...lol.
 
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