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If they do listen, do we have anything to say?

February 24, 2017

How are Christians to live in an era which is so far removed from Christian theological and moral values (which from the beginning had held sway in America, more or less) that now prominent people like Chris Cuomo (and many others) simply dismiss our moral concerns as intolerant without making the slightest attempt to interact with them? Cuomo responded to a father’s concerns about his daughter encountering a male in a high school lockeroom. Here is Cuomo’s tweet as reported by Rod Dreher:

i wonder if she is the problem or her overprotective and intolerant dad? teach tolerance.

— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) February 23, 2017

There you have it. Teach tolerance. End of discussion. There’s no room even for debate anymore.

More and more is being written by Christians about how to think about how to live in a society racing headlong into total secularization where the rules of life are chosen by us with no transcendent input. Not only are Christian beliefs rejected; there is little or no attempt to even understand them. Rod Dreher has gotten a lot of attention for his “Benedict Option.” I won’t describe it here; descriptions are easy to find online. In his (very long) article on The American Conservative linked above, Dreher challenges the lack of thoughtful opposition to his (and most any other Christian) views. He has several links to other blogs and articles worth reading.

I encourage–no, urge–Christians to start thinking seriously about this, first by stepping out of the typical political liberal vs. conservative vs. libertarian framework. Politics has to do with action, with how we live in society. More fundamental issues have to be addressed before action can be considered. We must first have a good foundation in Christian doctrine, especially today in the areas of divine authority and human nature. Then we have to engage in some serious self-analysis. Have evangelicals capitulated to our secular culture? Having focused our thinking, we can then consider more clearly how to think and live as faithful Christians in today’s culture. A good place to start with that is to read or at least skim through articles like Dreher’s to become familiar with the issues involved (this article or any of his many others online). I still recommend James Davison Hunter’s book How to Change the World which reviews several perspectives on the Christians-in-culture issue and offers his own ideas. There is much more available as well.


A side note here: In Dreher’s discussion of what stands behind conservative Christian views, things opponents and critics ought to understand before dismissing them (and us), he gives some space to the significance of metaphysics, a subject Christian apologists should give more attention to. We have been made male and female; to alter that is to go against the way we are designed. He quotes Michael Martin:

“Our current, postmodern moment — materialistic, technological, technocratic, atheistic — exemplifies a nominalism writ large. Here there are no universals. There are no ideas, no archetypes. Only names. ‘Marriage,’ for instance, no longer embeds universal cultural archetypes of ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’ . . . Marriage, previously assumed as the union of a man and woman into organic whole, has been relativized beyond the point of recognition. A collateral ontological shift has also occurred in the postmodern understanding of the word ‘family.’ Perhaps most emblematic of this shift is the new conceptualization of the term ‘gender,’ which, tellingly, has proved the most plastic of all. Does not the notion of elective gender reassignment surgery, like nominalism, assert in the clearest terms that universals do not exist?”

And this from Russell Moore:

“Ultimately, the transgender question is about more than just sex. It’s about what it means to be human. Poet Wendell Berry responded to techno-utopian scientism with the observation that civilization must decide whether we see persons as creatures or as machines. If we are creatures, he argued, then we have purpose and meaning, but also limits. If we see ourselves, and the world around us, as a machine, then we believe the Faustian myth of our own limitless power to recreate ourselves.

“This is, it seems to me, the question at the heart of the transgender controversy. Are we created, as both the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus put it, ‘male and female,’ from the beginning or are these categories arbitrary and self-willed? Do our bodies, and our sexes, represent something of who we were designed to be, and thus impose limits on our ability to recreate ourselves?”

If it is so that we are designed for a purpose (teleology), then this would be more than a simple philosophical notion, but should be visible in nature. If transgenderism is an alteration of an built-in design, then our bodies should show damage or at least some kind of diminishment when “re-purposed.” I would also expect that, since we are wholistic beings, changes would also be seen in non-physical aspects of our beings. Time will tell if this is so as more and more people become transgenders.


One Comment
  1. Paul Rutherford permalink

    Great points, Rick. Thank you for sharing!

    Paul Rutherford


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