More A1B Conversations on Voices

I chose “marriage equality” for a reason even though a good number of my conservative listeners objected.

There are two motivations I can see in the CRC for changing the status quo:

  1. I remember the heartfelt speech by Jack Roeda on the floor of Synod. Is there no compassion for the companionship and partnership needs of the same sex attracted? I think there should be. Lew Smedes’ I think comes from the same place.
  2. Equality, “I’m not a second class citizen and my sexual orientation is no less God blessed than your heterosexual one.” This is the liberationist posture. I think this train, as conservatives assert, simply won’t stop at MM4L or FF4L. It’s just all letters and no numbers.

Now I think people are pleading #1 publicly while the cultural force is clearly #2.

The argument is that if you stop at #1 you are violating the ideal of equality. The spirit behind the revolution is “we don’t want no stinking charity! Accept us as equals or die upon the dustbin of history…”

Pleas that we are all sinners seem to fall flat when some sinners have access to a level of authorized potential sexual fulfilment than others.

Compassion here becomes the victim of liberation. Nuance can’t prevail where there is justice to be done. pvk

There’s no question that “homosexual acts aren’t sinful” is a change in the CRC implicit “code of conduct”.

One should note that along with HSR and other things a “code of conduct” is new actionable text which can be used to remove someone from office and/or employment. These are the enforceable confessional code. Most theological code in the CRC is now inert. Even the Kinnism heresy declaration follows the cultural anti-racism trend rather than anything you’ll find in the HC, BC or CoD. This is where we are.

This to me should be another item on the “to do” list of all one body. (It’s great fun filling the to-do lists of others. I know, as a pastor people fill mine all the time so it must be great fun.)

They sort of do it with the standard booklist that has been making the rounds but seldom is the move explicit. It is always implicit however and I find it snuck into all sort of books, Christian and sometimes medical.

I remember reading a book, I don’t remember which or what the book was about but it was not a religious book but it was full of lines that said things like “religious people and churches in the past used to think that…(divorce, same sex sexuality, etc.) were wrong. We no longer believe that…”

Oh, I guess I missed the memo.

This is, of course, a change that has been happening in the far broader fuzzier public morality conditioning industry we are immersed in.

My wife and I were watching “Worth” on Netflix about the 9/11 settlement project that tried to avoid snarling up the courts with everyone suing airlines because of the death of their loved ones. The move gave special attention to a Virginia man who was to be married to his boyfriend who died in the towers. The parents were estranged because “they didn’t accept his lifestyle” and the law didn’t recognize their relationship.

Story lines like this have been cut and pasted into nearly every conceivable plotline for a very long time now. This is moral persuasion by communal eye-rolling.

I spotted an example of it in the normally masculine movie Tombstone recently where one particular cowboy felt especially grief stricken at the death of one particular male actor who he earlier in the film expressed appreciation for his beauty. Obviously set in Arizona in the 19th century there wasn’t much overt but the director clearly knew he was sending a message that many would get. “I’m on the right side, aren’t you?”

Lest we be too dismissive Hollywood has been doing this for a very long time on a lot of topics. Star Trek of course had a racially diverse crew on the starship. Maybe today we might not appreciate Kirk’s obvious fondness for his administrative assistants in those mini-skirts but Hollywood has long wanted to subtly impact our collective moral compass. Sometimes we might think it for the good, other times not so. I felt very uncomfortable with the fishy sexuality in “The Shape of Water”.

The official position in the CRC continues to be the traditional view that God’s design for licit sexual intimacy is MF4L.

An overt logical process would be to tackle this issue explicitly first, and then move on from there.

Those who wish the denomination to affirm know that such a strategy would be counterproductive to their goals.

In many places in the public sphere a statement as such in most public spaces would be jeered and even de-platformed as blatant bigotry. Even Donald Trump didn’t dare to do so, or perhaps he didn’t care to. And this is part of the pickle the church is in.

There are really two sorts of appeals churches are making today.

  1. “We are the vanguard of the eschaton, leading the nation into moral excellence.” The assumption is that the church and the broader culture are aligned. The mainline wishes to be this but always seems to be catching up or performing their morality in merely symbolic ways. Most progressives see the real action in terms of law, money and the really big guns of our symbolic culture which is mass produced music and cinema.
  2. The other path is the counter-cultural moral resistance effort. Bunker churches waiting for the rapture, the eschaton or holding true against all odds until death.

One devastating trick that has happened in our culture is the great inversion. Our culture LOVES the lone wolf moral stand against the bruising tide of the masses. Why don’t churches who are resisting these changes get this sort of credit in popular culture? Some of them feel it themselves but the world doesn’t start the slow clap or cheer them on…

It’s because, as I think Jonathan Pageau beautifully illustrated, that storytelling has become parasitic.

The progressive vanguard has been able to cast themselves AS the pucky upstarts who possess the clear moral vision of the future against the vast, corrupt ways of the past that denied protected-class-victims their due. Queer students at Dordt ARE harmed by the college’s conservative posture. Pay no attention to the fact that the vast majority of universities in the country, often at considerable financial savings, will not only affirm but cheer her queerness. Dordt represents THE MAN and must be brought to heel. Please don’t tell anyone that THE MAN died with his retirement gold watch and in most cases has been mouldering in the grave for a generation or two.

The PCUSA has outlets almost everywhere but the CRC must fall in line.

The difficulty, as Pageau points out, however, is that no matter how much the progressives win they MUST continue to portray themselves as the underdogs. Apple MUST continue to imagine it is the plucky rebel ( ) long after it has achieved the IPhone hegemony and commercial success it enjoys. This means that the progressive wave in order to continue to win victories keeps propping up their feeble opponents in order to revisit that glorious rebel win. It’s sort of the Washington Generals playing the Globe Trotters.

This also requires that the progressives keep opening up new fields of conquest. This is why I don’t think MM4L or FF4L will matter one year after an imagined Synodical victory. It almost doesn’t matter now as young B and Q often look at older L and G as bigotted for their old “born that way” flag. T, B, and Q are clearly today’s cutting edge. Andrew Sullivan, that old fart, wants to say “thus far and NO MORE!”

Conservatives in the CRC can hardly be blamed for being skeptical about MM4L and FF4L. It’s 2021 and we have the Internet.

The Biblical defense for re-defining legitimate same sex intimacy was always a tough sell. Unlike WICO where you at least had Deborah and Lydia and Junia hanging around the fringes one might try to make a case. There are no Biblical comparables for life long gay and lesbian OT or NT heros.

Now again, I’m a moderate in this fight. I’m in the midst of working through Paul on circumcision and there are zero OT examples of overturning that rule as David Holwerda noted at CTS. Christianity does some surprising things.

What again, as I have pointed to before, there is a way in which this fight is particularly Protestant. I now live in a world where people jeer my “Sola Scriptura” stances.

I’m not saying a revision can’t be made. I am saying that probably the way it will come will be by avoiding specifics like this and instead sort of letting the culture win its victory and maybe everyone else will forget, like with circumcision. But that process is a VERY long one.

Those LONG processes, however, have their own dangers. If you’re playing for the celebration of your cause in the future you’d better hope that we can look down on future generations from above.

Many gay and lesbians who grew up in the church have for the most part moved on. If, as Protestants state, the Bible reveals then how could it have missed that same sex attraction is like being left handed?

“We were reading it wrong but now we know” sort of sets up “well what are we missing now…” which initiates the whole progressive/parasitic cycle once again.

This is all tough stuff.


About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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