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Volume 7, Issue 5: Anvil

The Nose Under Joe Camel's Tent

Douglas Wilson

Francis Bellamy, a socialist minister, first published the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892. School children first recited it at the dedication of the 1892 Chicago World's Fair. In 1945, the Pledge was adopted by the 79th Congress, and in 1954 the words under God were added to the Pledge. And the object of the Pledge, the flag of these United States, may now be offered protection by means of an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting flag burning. The proposed amendment, like the Pledge, represents a well-intentioned misunderstanding of the meaning of true loyalty.

Consider the word indivisible . The word does not reflect a charitable desire"may the nation never be divided." Rather, the word means " incapable of being divided." This represents an ontological claim and goes far beyond a Scriptural desire for political stability. The same distinction can be observed between the vain pagan dream, "May the king live forever," and the Christian desire and hope, "Long live the king."
The problem with the claim is that it is just not true. Our nation, like every nation among men, is capable of division. We may oppose or support such division if and when it happens, but all should agree that it is most certainly not an impossibility. But if it is not an impossibility, then why do we claim that it is? The Confederates and the Yankees had different views on the desirability of separation, but they did agree on one thing. They agreed that the thing could happenthat is why there was a war. Anyone believing this nation is indivisible will treat all attempts at secession as the civic equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.
Our culture is currently in rebellion against the laws of Heaven. The Bible tells us that a throne is established by righteousness, a throne is not established by making schoolchildren say untrue things, or by putting people in the chokey if they burn the flag. Thrones are not established by pledges or penalties. Scripture tells us that a nation is blessed whose God is the Lord. The Bible says, "Take away the dross from silver, and it will go to the silversmith for jewelry. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness" (Prov. 25:4-5).
Christians must be loyal citizens. But they must first understand the ground of all allegiance.

No Pity for Beijing

By Douglas Jones

Can anything good come from the recent UN Fourth World Conference on Women? Yes, but it may be hard medicine. Too hard for some.

By now we've heard the horror reports and denials regarding the conference's Platform for Action. It promotes the "deconstruction of gender," the egalitarian ideal of dismantling the "artificial" barriers of sexual identities. The document is, predictably, hostile to the family and biblical values, and delights in abortion and homosexual/lesbian "stuff and nonsense." It seeks serious sexual quotas around the world and, like all UN projects, calls for increased shakedowns of citizens to pay for it all.
This is all quite pernicious and rebellious and largely funded by the U.S. But I can no longer work up the shock and pain popular among conservatives and evangelicals. Before the conference, these good folks exhorted us to throw our resources into opposing the conference and to complain to our representatives in Congress. After all, they said, imagine the damage that can be done around the globe if the credibility of the US is used to undermine the family, promote abortion, teach immoral behavior, and vilify religious faith.
Damage around the globe? But certainly there comes a point at which we say to anti-Christian cultures bent on social suicide: "Go your way; follow your folly; fight reality, and see what comes of it." Why must we constantly seek to preserve God-hating cultures by trying to forbid them to destroy themselves? Why should we become tearful if non-Christian cultures want to undermine their families and slaughter their future?
Scripture tells us that sympathy is immoral at times. Paul tells us that if a believer doesn't work, then he shouldn't eat. Pity is out of place here. In various places the Lord strictly forbids His people to pity certain kinds of criminals. When God directed Israel to clean out His Canaanite enemies, He commanded Israel: "your eye shall have no pity on them."
If countries around the world, including the U.S., adopted the egalitarian flat-earthism in the Women's Conference platform, their cultures would self-destruct in short order. If Christians tried to forbid this cultural suicide, then wouldn't we be somewhat like ancient Israelites seeking to pity and sustain rebellious Canaanites, Amorites, and Jebusites? Shall we save Babylonian babies so that they can grow up and rebel in full flower? Is this truly pleasing to God? I remain skeptical.
Of course, we should be working harder than ever to disciple the nations and bring them Christ's compassion, but when they scoff at the glories of God, we must be ready to do as Christ says and depart, shaking the dust from our feet. If after sincere warnings, they are still determined to cut themselves off, Christian families will continue to grow and flourish. Reality will determine the winners.

Defunding Industrial Art

By Douglas Jones

Art fascists are popping neck veins left and right at the Congressional conservatives' meager attempt to cutback federal funding of the arts. Time magazine devoted an entire cover screed to denounce the effort. It described defunding supporters as "populist lowbrows," "seated bigots," "yahoos," and boys and girls who "aren't even cultural Neanderthals. They're Jurassic."

Time pointed to "Fundamentalist apocalyptic religion" as the force behind the move to defund, especially the American "Puritan iconophobic streak" [ooh, sign me up!] along with our "extreme loathing of tax."
Conservatives are easily right to want to cease chokeholding people into funding the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Art always expresses a worldview, and having Bill Moyers and Big Bird extort from us should give us Stalinist chills.
But our objections should also lie deeper, in the soul of art itself. Setting aside Mapplethorpe/Serrano gags, "decent" Federal art is of a particularly industrial varietyart forced into a modern mold, severed from the intricacies of private life. The Dutch realists would sell their art in the marketplace, and flesh-and-blood folk would enliven their homes with it.
The southern agrarian poet Donald Davidson noted well that, "a multiplication of art galleries . . . is a mark of a diseased, not a healthy civilization. If paintings and sculptures are made for the purpose of being viewed in the carefully studied surroundings of art galleries, they have certainly lost their intimate connections with life. What is a picture for, if not to put on one's own wall? But an art gallery requires me to think that a picture has some occult quality in itself and for itself that can only be appreciated on a quiet anonymous wall, utterly removed from the tumult of my private affairs."
Given its national, centralizing effect, Federal art has to incline to this depersonalizing, industrial framework. It binds the soul of art and forces everything into a crass industrial mold which we rarely recognize since we're so accustomed to it.
Also, artists in a non-Christian, industrial culture have to obsess about glorifying rebellion. Rebellion and desecration have been the secular artists' monotone for almost two centuries. Every conceivable form of rebellion has permeated the modern arts, again and again and again and again. Will somebody please tell these people that glorifying rebellion is boring . It's been done. Move on. And tell oddly-dressed, attention starved, college students the same thing. Instead of gasping at rebellion, start yawning.

Cyberporn: A Case Study

By Douglas Wilson

Citizen magazine recently sounded the alarm about the problem of porn on the Internet. And it is a real problem. Unfortunately, many Christian Americanos are still fighting for traditional values and not for biblical standards.

The standard Christian political opposition to pornography, now gearing up for a cyberbattle, is a case in point. Every Christian knows that pornography is offensive to God, and, as good Americans, as soon as we determine that we are against something, we automatically assume that "there oughta be a law." Because of this, we frequently seek to impose God's standards via humanistic means and consequently find ourselves vainly trying to kill sin with Lysol.
Imagine a prosecuting attorney living at the time of Moses. And suppose some hard-core pornographers were brought in to him. According to biblical law , how would they be charged? With a biblical approach, the pornography would not be the crime, it would be the evidence of the crime. To illustrate, suppose some young teenagers went on a spree, breaking into shops and stealing things. One of the first things they stole was a videocam, and they were foolish enough to tape all the subsequent proceedings. In such a situation, we would not think to charge them with making movies of a burglary we would use the footage to establish their guilt in the theft itself.
To continue the illustration, imagine a society in which Christians insisted that we crack down on burglar movies, but resisted any attempts to punish thieves. The situation would be odd, at the very least. Why do we resist punishing what God requires punishment for, and insist on punishments found nowhere in Scripture?
The lesson should be applied to pornography. In biblical law, numerous sexual relationships are prohibited, with civil penalties attached . When pornography is made and distributed, it should simply be used as evidenceof the adultery or of the sodomy, etc. If the evidence does not demonstrate a crime addressed as a crime in Scripture, then the problem should be addressed through the governments of family or church, without the threat of civic penalties, or it should be left alone. We do not have the capacity to legislate wisely where God has been silent. The civil governor is God's minister, God's deacon . He is limited in his authority.
Christians must learn to distinguish sins from crimes. If God reveals His will on a matter, disobedience is sin. If God reveals the civil penalty which must be applied, then it is also crime. But without wisdom from Him on the civil penalty to be applied, the civil order must leave enforcement of God's law to the church, family, or the providence of God. Such distinctions are vital in order to address porn problems on the Net scripturally.

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