Volume 13, Issue 1: Magistralis
Gregory C. Dickison
Success in war requires, among other principles, knowledge of the nature of the enemy and the objective of the fight. In any religious war, the nature of the enemy is to despise anything stamped with the image of God; the enemy's objective is to efface that image from the world. These statements sound overly broad at first when we see that the attacks of unbelievers are usually aimed at the government rather than the Church and are waged in the name of liberty, privacy, diversity, and so on. They speak of God not so much as a target, but as irrelevant. But these are diversions. Examine the details and background of any battle in the culture war, and it begins to look like unbelievers studied their Bibles thoroughly, then set out to do exactly the opposite of what it says, down to the last jot and tittle.
Understanding these principles is critical to understanding why the decline in sexual standards has been so widespread and so rapid. The armies in the culture wars are filled with liberals on one side and conservatives on the other. The Liberals have always known, and loudly proclaimed, exactly what they are doing: trying to overthrow Christianity. Conservatives, however, have never understood this, in this century or in any other. While Liberals mount an attack on God, the Conservatives defend things like "traditional family values" and "the way it has always been." Consequently, the Conservatives get slaughtered on a regular basis.
This is why Christians need to climb out of the Conservative trenches (and its current manifestation, the Republican party), shake off the shell shock, and figure out where the real war is. Like Cool Hand Luke in "the box," we need to get our minds right. While Liberals and Conservatives battle it out in the sexual revolution, Christians need to lead a sexual reformation.
Understanding the true nature of the enemy is relatively easy. If the apostle Paul made anything really clear, it is that everybody hates God and works really hard at suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. That's hard to do when all of creation declares God's glory. The poor unbeliever declares a war he cannot win and is left with the hopeless task of trying to redefine and recreate everything in the image of man. The various methods of attack have lots of nuances and take on subtle forms that require wisdom to discern, but the basic principle is simple.
Understanding exactly what we are trying to protect is harder. Catch phrases like "traditional values" sound good on the surface. It encompasses all that is good and wholesome: Mom, apple pie, Chevrolet. And we understand it to mean Christianity, although we don't come out and say that because that would make everybody mad. The trouble is that an undefined generic goodness is indefensible. Tradition simply means "what most people have done for a long time." When enough people start doing something new, the new thing will become traditional. While good traditions can have authority, they need a foundation; tradition is not foundational in and of itself.
What we are really defending, or more accurately, asserting, is marriage-not in a generic sense, but as God ordained it. Marriage is a display, a representation, of the relationship between Christ and His Church. This is true of every marriage, whether any particular husband and wife acknowledge it or not. This display is part of the ordained created order and is simply part of the way God made the world. There is nothing we can do to change it. We might display it imperfectly or badly, but that does not change the nature of marriage. We are not free to make up some other reason for getting married.
Consequently, what the state decides to recognize as a marriage matters. To apply the term "marriage" (or even "civil union") to homosexual, incestuous, or bestial relationships is to tell a gross lie about the nature of God, Christ, the Church, and salvation.
Because the biblical nature of marriage is under attack, it must be defended on biblical grounds. The usual conservative responses to sexual anarchy (it's icky, no one has ever done it that way, and the nuclear family is the foundation of our social order) are completely beside the point. The perverts simply talk about loving and committed relationships, the flexibility of tradition, and patriarchal hegemony. The argument degenerates into a diversionary shouting match, while at the real battle front, the Christian nature of marriage, there wasn't even a fight.
There is no mechanical formulation, no "just do this" method we can apply. This is spiritual warfare. But that shows us where the battle must be joined. The "religious right" lobbies the Republican party to solve the problem, but the Church is where the problem began. We think Virginia is breaking new ground for recognizing "civil unions" of homosexual couples, but homosexual "marriage" within the Church is old news.
The civil government does not need to pass any new laws in order to protect marriage, not even laws defining what marriage is. The Church needs to enforce the old laws through discipline, and the state will follow suit. That's the way God made the world.