InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an Evangelical organization that played important roles in the college and young adult lives of both me and Mrs. Tipsy (this book, for one major instance, packed one of the pivotal epiphanies of my life as a Christian), has taken a stand against the sexual zeitgeist and in favor of an essentially orthodox Christian view of human sexuality.
It predictably is being vilified for it.
What I find depressing in the vilification is the predominant theme, by professing Christians, that a Christian organization must not declare Christian teaching if enough members of a sexual minority aver that they are hurt or made to feel unsafe by it. Since the tone is not heckling, I’ll call this a Sniveler’s Veto.
Of course, there always is a fall-back position, which is implicit in the notion that we mustn’t declare Christian teaching if it’s hurtful or makes someone feel unsafe. The opening gambit of the Father of Lies has ever been “hath God truly said?” Friends and Snivelers United assure us that they’ve been listening to their holy spirit and what God hath truly said really isn’t all that clear.
In other words, we mustn’t declare Christian teaching because it’s false. This is more heckle-like.
IVCF apparently anticipated the vilification but thinks it’s possible to tell the truth without attacking anyone’s dignity:
We do continue to hold to an orthodox view of human sexuality and Christian marriage, as you can read in our Theology of Human Sexuality Document at the bottom of the article.
That said, we believe Christlikeness, for our part, includes both embracing Scripture’s teachings on human sexuality—uncomfortable and difficult as they may be—as well as upholding the dignity of all people, because we are all made in God’s image.
Some will argue this cannot be done. We believe that we must if we want to be faithful followers of Jesus.
I regret that Protestants are compelled to revisit, revisit and revisit aspects of Christian tradition that are out of favor currently. They do so because, in Protestant theory, tradition is virtually weightless. Spiritual ancestors don’t get a vote — not even 3/5.
When I was an Elder in a Calvinistic Church, we were revisiting what church offices women may hold. I ended up on the “liberal” side, frustrated that the “conservative” side seemingly argued thus:
- Our doctrine affirms, and our entire Protestant tradition depends upon, the perspicacity of Scripture.
- Our tradition is that only men may be Deacons, Elders and Pastors.
- Therefore, Scripture clearly teaches that only men may be Deacons, Elders and Pastors.
I had not yet experienced my last major epiphany — the one about the incoherence of Christianity without frank reckoning with tradition.
If you asked me today whether Calvinist Churches should have women pastors, my answers would be “How should I know whether you should; your conception of pastors is not the historic conception of Priests” and “Right or wrong, you will have them because Protestants can’t say ‘no’ to the spirit of the age indefinitely.” (That Church now has Husband-Wife Co-Pastors — nice kids, by the way — so it’s hardly adventurous of me to predict it.)
And, be it noted, she that weds the spirit of the age is soon made a widow:
[W]hoever advocates the conciliatory strategy today fails or refuses to see the conditions in which Christians have been living. It is utterly mistaken to take the position that many do: namely that the Church should take over some liberal-democratic ingredients, open up to modern ideas and preferences, and then, after having modernized herself, manage to overcome hostility and reach people with Christian teachings …
An aversion to Christianity runs so deep in the culture of modernity that no blandishment or fawning on the part of the Church can change it. Going too far along this road actually threatens the very essence of Christianity.
(Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies)
Legutko’s book sheds some more sympathetic light on the IVCF progressives: giving them every benefit of every doubt, they’re just ahead of the curve on ingratiating themselves to the emergent Liberal-Democratic Totalitarianism, much as clergy in communist lands tried to do what must be done to preserve a remnant for a more propitious day.
Quislings gotta quisle, yeah, but conscientious leaders in bad times sometimes make choice that in hindsight are bad or at least embarrassing.
The more I think about it, the more consternation I feel at the state of Evangelicalism and the happier I am that I got out of this debating society and into the Church, which admits that Scripture and Tradition belong together.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)