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Big Layoffs at Focus on the Family
Money & Finances
Written by Jim   
Wednesday, 19 November 2008 14:28

The Colorado Independent reports:

Focus on the Family announced this afternoon [11/17/08] that 202 jobs will be cut companywide — an estimated 20 percent of its workforce. Initial reports bring the total number of remaining employees to around 950.

...

Critics are holding up the layoffs, which come just two months after the organization’s last round of dismissals, as a sad commentary on the true priorities of the ministry.

 

Comments
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MakaDad   |2008-11-19 15:28:32
Well, I have to say that I see the critics' point.

I stepped away from anything related to FotF a few years back when they completed the transformation to political activists.

They went off-message, and it has cost them in money and credibility.
holmegm   |2008-11-19 15:46:25
So basically, those who don't like prop 8 didn't like anybody to support prop 8, especially people who they already hate like FoF. Got it.

I couldn't see much of an reasoned argument in this article. Prop 8 passed with basically the same margin of victory as Obama's (amazing how the same percentage is "tiny" and so forth when it comes to prop 8).

FoF support for it was consistent with their positions, and presumably no surprise to their donors. FoF support for it was successful - it passed, with the same "landslide" proportions as Obama's presidential victory.

And the idea that nobody should even try to use democracy because courts will (the critics hope) illegitimately strike the results of democracy down is, ah, novel.
docbob   |2008-11-19 16:36:30
I think the article really shows the bias of the author.

FoF is going through what many ministries go through. An incredible few years of growth then lay offs year after year. Isn't that what Theophiles predecessor went through initially. (thought not with cash).

It is the normal way of things and the author of the article is trying to blame it on their support of Prop 8.
Entity   |2008-11-19 16:54:08
I think the article really shows the bias of the author.

I agree. Not a single quote from someone who was for Prop 8. And one of the people quoted has a problem with an organization based in Colorado with members in California donating to support Prop 8, but doesn't appear to mind that a Colorado individual with no apparent relationship to California donated against Prop 8.

FotF's ministry is not the employment of people. It promotes marriage and family. Why shouldn't be involved in this issue?

(And FotF is no friend to Catholics, so don't think I'm defending them because I'm enamored with them.)
MakaDad   |2008-11-19 19:05:22
And I guess that's where I differ from a large number of folks here.

FotF should be promoting family and marriage. By promoting family and marriage. By producing materials that build up families and marriage. By showing examples of functioning families and marriages.

Not by campaigning in a culture war that makes Christians look like self-righteous twits.

Imagine the power of a ministry that did nothing but show how great marriage can be, and how great family can be. Imagine having the reputation of being "those guys that are always talking about making family better" and "those guys that say I should treat my wife better" and "those guys that make all those books on how to be a better parents" instead of "those narrow-minded blowhards" (an actual quote from a non-Christian friend, btw).

Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, folks. We as Christians seem to have forgotten that the the tyranny of the majority works even when we're not in the majority. And if we keep it up, we won't be, soon enough.
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-19 19:28:24
MakaDad wrote:
Imagine the power of a ministry that did nothing but show how great marriage can be, and how great family can be. Imagine having the reputation of being "those guys that are always talking about making family better" and "those guys that say I should treat my wife better" and "those guys that make all those books on how to be a better parents"


They do, in fact, do all that.
MakaDad   |2008-11-19 21:06:56
No, you missed the "nothing but" in the first sentence of your quote.

And they most certainly do not have the reputation mentioned in the second. Not in any of the circles that I hang out in, anyway. Christian, non-christian, seeker, they have opinions of FotF that vary from "right-wing nutjobs" to "Christian lobby group" to "Who?". Not a single "what a great organization, showing what Christians should be."
steves   |2008-11-19 21:41:00
Quote:
Not a single "what a great organization, showing what Christians should be."

Perhaps you should be concerned with the notion that FotF is "a hateful and dishonest organization demonstrating what Christians are." If honest and rational Christians don't fight back, they're going to find themselves lumped in with Fred Phelps and Kent Hovind.
wezlo   |2008-11-19 21:53:09
The Case For Civility
steves   |2008-11-19 22:11:13
Thank you for (what is from the product description) an excellent example of false equivalence. Now why can't reasonable Christians ever argue against this dishonest nonsense? Why do all the intelligent and moral Christians sit down and give right-wing extremists a friendly audience?
wezlo   |2008-11-20 07:28:59
Umm, huh? What false equivalence are you referring to, exactly?
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-20 09:16:56
partially because as intelligent and moral christians they ought to give everyone a friendly audience (then of course argue for truth and correction when applicable.)
certainly they ought not equivocate, but not listening in the first place really profits nothing and undermines the spread of truth as well as neglecting the reality of the basic worth of all individuals regardless of how completely wrong they may be.
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-20 06:00:55
MakaDad wrote:
No, you missed the "nothing but" in the first sentence of your quote.

And they most certainly do not have the reputation mentioned in the second.


Well, I can only reference my experience. We ordered some materials from them (I think related to adoption ministry). Ever since, they've sent a little free magazine about, well, all the topics you mentioned as laudable.

A quick glance at their website shows a wide range of concerns, social issues being one of many.
holmegm  - re: re:   |2008-11-20 12:35:56
holmegm wrote:
A quick glance at their website shows a wide range of concerns, social issues being one of many.


I also have to admit that I've heard their radio program for children a few times ("Adventures in Odyssey", I think it's called) and enjoyed it despite it's high corniness :)
steves   |2008-11-19 21:33:58
Quote:
FotF's ministry is not the employment of people. It promotes marriage and family. Why shouldn't be involved in this issue?

If I were feeling generous to you, I'd assume that you had misunderstood the article and ask that you read it again. Proposition 8 was the anti-homosexual amendment and FotF donated for the measure. In other words, FotF came down solidly against the family and against marriage.

But let's be serious here: it's obvious you understand what Prop 8 was and FotF's stance on the matter, you're just using doublespeak.

Quote:
(And FotF is no friend to Catholics, so don't think I'm defending them because I'm enamored with them.)

Irrational hatred makes for strange bedfellows.
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-20 06:07:16
steves wrote:

If I were feeling generous to you, I'd assume that you had misunderstood the article and ask that you read it again. Proposition 8 was the anti-homosexual amendment and FotF donated for the measure. In other words, FotF came down solidly against the family and against marriage.


At the risk of feeding the troll ... Proposition 8 is not an "anti-homosexual amendment". It's the people of California trying - yet again, against their activist judges - to codify in law their belief that marriage is something that exists between one man and one woman.

The recent, novel attempts to redefine marriage to the point of meaninglessness are being opposed by measures like this. I believe they've passed successfully in 20 states?
steves   |2008-11-19 21:27:15
Quote:
I think the article really shows the bias of the author.

In other words, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Sheesh. And Christians wonder why they've achieved such a reputation for being irrational or even anti-rational.

Quote:
It is the normal way of things and the author of the article is trying to blame it on their support of Prop 8.

Actually, it looks like the author of the article is pointing out that despite being in financial trouble, FotF still managed to donate large sums of money to fight against civil rights.
laika   |2008-11-19 22:01:39
steves wrote:
Actually, it looks like the author of the article is pointing out that despite being in financial trouble, FotF still managed to donate large sums of money to fight against civil rights.


i'm seriously curious, steves, how many other definitions of marriage you would consider to be a civil right. could you get worked up, for instance, in favor of polygamy?

thanks.
MakaDad  - re:   |2008-11-19 22:37:13
Quote:
i'm seriously curious, steves, how many other definitions of marriage you would consider to be a civil right. could you get worked up, for instance, in favor of polygamy?


You're asking the wrong question.

You need to ask yourself why we as Christians are deciding that our own set of behavioural rules are applicable to non-believers everywhere.

Why should we be legislating Christian behaviour onto non-Christians? Where is this laid out as Scriptural behaviour?

This isn't about homosexuality or polygamy or anything like that.  It's about (North) American Christianity equating political power with God's will, and believing that God's will is a club to be wielded to subdue sinners.

Christians are aggressively pursuing non-believing sinners. Is that right?

We don't need to say that this is a good thing, or that we think homosexual marriage is right or anything like that, but we do need to take a good look at our behaviour and at scripture and ask if this is what Christ would have us do.
laika   |2008-11-20 00:03:01
MakaDad wrote:
You're asking the wrong question.


MakaDad, it wasn't a loaded question; i'm genuinely curious. maybe i shouldn't have used polygamy as my for instance, but it's handy and it has a legal history in the USA.

i tend to agree with much of what you say, but when same-sex "marriage" is discussed as a civil right, i wonder how far its advocates see that right as extending.
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-20 06:12:27
laika wrote:
but when same-sex "marriage" is discussed as a civil right, i wonder how far its advocates see that right as extending.


As far as they want it to. Your children will have to be indoctrinated to support these "marriages", your business or government agency (meaning, you and the people in the organization) will have to fall in line and pretend that these are "marriages", etc.

After all, we can't have any "civil rights" be "violated".
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-20 09:05:06
to be fair. from a christian perspective a large percentage of the marriages in this country aren't full on marriage in the christian sense. but it doesn't seem we've tried to legislate that (nor do i think we should for that matter.)

I think one of the hopeful benefits of this discussion, if people are smart, will be to help re-emphasize the difference between civil contract and sacrament.
emperorbma   |2008-11-20 10:53:26
Quote:
civil contract and sacrament.


I think there is plenty of room for this distinction that has not been properly explored.  That's where I've come to the conclusion that even if the government decides to marry a man and a cactus, or anything else besides what God's Word allows, there is no requirement that the Church has to recognize it as religiously or theologically valid. In effect, it amounts only to a conferral of certain property rights associated with the traditional marriage framework and a civic title that, if imposed on religious institutions' views of the rite, would amount to a violation of the Separation of Church and State.  In that case, we may well have the ACLU on our side for a change...

(Ancillary note: I wouldn't call marriage Sacrament, being Protestant, but it is still a vitally important rite of the Church.  It does strongly resemble a Sacrament, but although it has an association of the Word, it lacks the "visible means" and the "promise of grace" that characterizes a true Sacrament as the "means of grace"... at any rate, the distinction on this point between Lutherans [Duo-sacramentalists] and EO/Catholicism [Septa-sacramentalists] is primarily semantic and definitional since we both see it as a matter of theological importance if the proper definition of marriage is contravened)
grizzly  - re:   |2008-11-20 15:24:28
emperorbma wrote:
... EO/Catholicism [Septa-sacramentalists] ...


As a point of clarification, the Eastern Orthodox Church has never limited the list of sacraments to seven (properly in our terminology, they are called "sacred mysteries"). We hold that anything the Church does as Church is in some sense sacramental.

Some lists of the sacraments taken from the Church Fathers include the Consecration of a Church, Monastic Tonsure, and the Burial of the Dead. Other writers include the Great Blessing of Water, the Blessing of Bread, various other Blessings (for homes, infants, travel, businesses, etc), and the Memorial Service (held on specific anniversaries of a death). So, I would term EO as multi-sacramental, rather than septa-sacramental.
emperorbma   |2008-11-20 23:08:47
Correction noted. Don't most EO theologians use 7 for the general enumeration though, or do I need to get better sources?
grizzly   |2008-11-21 10:31:05
Yes, in general, we use the RC enumeration, as it's the most familiar to others.
emperorbma   |2008-11-21 21:00:32
Okay, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't totally insane here. :P
grizzly  - re:   |2008-11-23 00:31:53
emperorbma wrote:
Okay, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't totally insane here. :P


You know, a single data point can't rule out that possibility. ;-)
emperorbma   |2008-11-23 09:32:41
Quote:
You know, a single data point can't rule out that possibility. ;-)


The definition of sanity is also malleable and tends to fit the convenience of the person using it. There's really no "baseline standard" of what someone who is really sane is like. In a way, someone could suggest we all have varying degrees of insanity.
laika   |2008-11-20 12:12:30
holmegm wrote:
As far as they want it to. Your children will have to be indoctrinated to support these "marriages", your business or government agency (meaning, you and the people in the organization) will have to fall in line and pretend that these are "marriages", etc


but do these rights extend beyond a same-sex version of traditional marriage? are advocates of redefining marriage saying that there is something uniquely rights-worthy about monogamous household arrangements?
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-20 12:33:03
laika wrote:
but do these rights extend beyond a same-sex version of traditional marriage? are advocates of redefining marriage saying that there is something uniquely rights-worthy about monogamous household arrangements?


I'm not sure I understand the question?
laika   |2008-11-20 14:24:23
holmegm wrote:
I'm not sure I understand the question?


i have a fever. apparently it's affecting what little ability even under good conditions i have of making sense :-) i'll try again later.
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-21 06:11:27
laika wrote:
i have a fever. apparently it's affecting what little ability even under good conditions i have of making sense :-) i'll try again later.


Yikes; I hope you get well soon!
Entity   |2008-11-20 09:17:48
Why should we be legislating Christian behaviour onto non-Christians?

So should we not legislate behavior at all?  Drop all laws? Or how does one determine which behaviors to legislate and which to not?
emperorbma   |2008-11-20 11:48:31
I don't believe he was saying we should drop all laws. Rather, I think he was saying that we shouldn't be delegating matters of self-discipline and faithful practice to be taught within the Church into becoming the government's responsibility.

The government exists, from the very writings of Scripture on the matter, to ensure that "we may live peaceable and godly lives, dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:2) To that end, it should prevent others from robbing us of our lives, of our basic freedoms or of the property that we have been given stewardship over by God. What it cannot do, however, is force people to become Christians or to abide by our Christian standards of ethical behavior. There is a principle of freedom of conscience and religion protects our right to worship God as much as it protects the unbelievers' right to do the opposite. If we sacrifice the latter, we must also compromise by sacrificing the former.

A law against murder is fairly obvious on the basis that it is robbing someone of their dignity and their life. A law against sexual impropriety, however, cannot be justified in a civil setting because what other people do in their own private homes doesn't affect anyone else's ability to live a "peaceable and godly life, dignified in every way." As much as we may disagree with the behavior of a homosexual or a pagan, we are not injured by their freedom to practice what they chose to practice. The basic line to be drawn is whether, by permitting it, someone is being harmed by the behavior. If we cannot discern an obvious victim, then there is little recourse to legislate against something in terms of government practice.  As it is written also, "rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." (Romans 13:3-4)

We are well within our rights as Christians to advocate against behaviors which are contrary to the Word of God just as those listening are well within their rights to ignore us. (To their own harm, eternally, but alas... 'tis not ours to judge)  Within the Church, it is certainly an issue because it is an issue of our relationship with God and the Church serves to foster and strengthen that relationship. To that end, we must strongly maintain our independence to be able to preach the Gospel and maintain our discipline within the Church without government interference. [Of course, we can't burn people at the stake, either... but we can excommunicate them if necessary] However, outside of the Church, we cannot force people to do what God commands beyond what God's own grace is already at work doing to bring people to the faith and what keeps basic society operating effectively. We can only teach and preach the Word of God faithfully, but we cannot force people to listen. The sword is not a tool of the Gospel, but the Law, and we are required to preach the Gospel to all nations not to bring a sword against those whom we disagree with as legislating our morality would inevitably become.

I think the basic goal here is to prevent a repeat of the Crusades, the Thirty Years' War and a myriad of other religiously motivated conflict that had political overtones. In these cases, the government did try to legislate morality and the whole situation devolved into mercenary armies pillaging the continent... the exact opposite of "peaceable and godly lives, dignified in every way."
emperorbma   |2008-11-20 11:52:46
Quote:
A law against murder is fairly obvious on the basis that it is robbing someone of their dignity and their life.


... and since I see the unborn as fully human, I think this leads to the logical conclusion of my stance against abortion. :)
Entity   |2008-11-20 12:04:47
A law against murder is fairly obvious on the basis that it is robbing someone of their dignity and their life. A law against sexual impropriety, however, cannot be justified in a civil setting because what other people do in their own private homes doesn't affect anyone else's ability to live a "peaceable and godly life, dignified in every way."

I see the same arguments used for legalization of abortion as the legalization of homosexual marriage. And while a law against murder should be fairly obvious, Christians are told that a law against abortion, which is viewed as murder, should not be advocated for.

And does a law allowing homosexual marriage affect Christians?  You bet. In Canada, preachers and priests are being charged with hate crimes for speaking out against it. In Massachusetts, Catholic Social Services had to stop their adoptions or be forced to adopt to gay couples. A photographer was fined for refusing to photograph a gay wedding. A Knights of Columbus was fined for refusing to hold a gay reception.

It is impossible to say that this law doesn't affect others than one single group. There are obvious victims and people harmed by this behavior.
emperorbma   |2008-11-20 21:09:07
Quote:
A Knights of Columbus was fined for refusing to hold a gay reception.


Precisely why I'm seeing where this leads... If they are hypocrites enough to violate the separation of Church and State while using it as a shield to protect their behaviors then they deserve the full legal onslaught they get in response.

If they're gonna beat us over the head with it, we may as well use it to make our case as well. Personally, I think there is a peaceable solution but neither side seems to be really willing to accept the compromises it requires. On the one hand, we Christians may well need to give up the civil aspect of marriage while focusing strongly and unabashedly on the religious one and maintaining that such civil "marriages" aren't valid before God. However, the homosexual community will also need to give ground to let us maintain our religious freedom to teach reject such "marriages" on religious grounds and to be free from having to officiate them or else we will darn well stand to the last man against their infringement upon our faith.

The way I see it, they seem to think we're imposing our religion when we say they can't have marriages before a judge. However, even if they did have such things, there's nothing that says that we have to allow them to have it before our priest or our pastor. If that line is crossed, it's clearly their attack and only the most militant anti-Christian would, sanely, consider it otherwise.
laika   |2008-11-20 23:17:08
empy wrote:
The way I see it, they seem to think we're imposing our religion when we say they can't have marriages before a judge. However, even if they did have such things, there's nothing that says that we have to allow them to have it before our priest or our pastor. If that line is crossed, it's clearly their attack and only the most militant anti-Christian would, sanely, consider it otherwise.


my fever-raddled (no, not riddled or addled) is enjoying turning this over, and i'll venture to add that gay folk could start their own religion if the civil aspect of their unions doesn't satisfy. how obvious is that? solutions all around? oh, hells yeah!

brilliant empy, brilliant me, yes? i defy the fever!
emperorbma   |2008-11-20 23:37:55
If it ain't affecting the sound preaching of the Gospel in the Christian Church, it really doesn't matter. If they wanted to make a LGBT-ism, that's their prerogative. However, if even an angel of Heaven should preach any other Gospel in the name of Christ... well, we know the rest of what Paul said on that matter.
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-21 06:04:45
laika wrote:
my fever-raddled (no, not riddled or addled) is enjoying turning this over, and i'll venture to add that gay folk could start their own religion if the civil aspect of their unions doesn't satisfy. how obvious is that? solutions all around? oh, hells yeah!


Won't happen, for the same reason they didn't just start a "Gay Scouts" instead of trying to break into the Boy Scouts.

They want to subvert an existing institution that already has earned credibility. So they can get the dual reward of 1. stealing unearned credibility and 2. the joy of subversion and destruction ... a heady psychological brew.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-21 16:09:58
holmegm wrote:
They want to subvert an existing institution that already has earned credibility.

I'm sorry, as a general rule, that's nonsense.  
It's not a matter of homosexuals being some sort of pod-people body snatchers that come from a distant land and want to leach off our culture.  It's their culture too and they want to participate in it. A gay man raised in Xchurch may very well feel a profound and deep personal and spiritual connection to Xchurch and be very insistent that he is/should be involved in or a part of that which he feels is an integral part of himself. Xchurch's teachings on issues a, b, and c, may very well seem incidental to him (as they often do to any number of Xchurch's parishoners).

Same goes for boy scouts or anything else. It's a desire to participate and be included (or perhaps a desire not to be rejected.) It frankly seems a bit paranoid to say that it is fundamentally a desire to subvert and steal. (This is of course not to rule out the existence of subversive nutjobs, but I hardly think they are representative in the least.)
Entity   |2008-11-25 12:40:57
If they are hypocrites enough to violate the separation of Church and State while using it as a shield to protect their behaviors then they deserve the full legal onslaught they get in response.

Yep. I'm going to have to disagree. First, if you say that laws saying that the government cannot perform homosexual marriages are violations of church and state, you better throw out any law based on ethics or morality, particularly when it applies to marriage. The government should be forced to perform polygamous marriages, incestuous marriages, and underage marriages. (All of these have more historical basis than homosexual marriage.)


Second, this is not a law that regulates personal or corporate behavior. This doesn't say that individuals or corporations must not recognize homosexual 'marriage'. This is significantly different from laws that would say that a individual or corporation must recognize homosexual marriage and treat it like heterosexual marriage. (You may have just seen that the founder of e-Harmony has been forced to create a site for homosexuals to find partners on.)

Third, I can find no possible legitimate interpretation of the First Amendment that is violated by the government not performing homosexual 'marriages'. It isn't banning homosexual 'marriages', just not viewing them as legally legitimate. I would think that banning polygamy could be a violation of the First Amendment, as it is banned and not just not legally recognized.
emperorbma   |2008-11-25 13:46:28
Quote:
you better throw out any law based on ethics or morality, particularly when it applies to marriage. The government should be forced to perform polygamous marriages, incestuous marriages, and underage marriages.


In a sense, I don't really disagree here. If we say the government cannot make a law about restricting homosexual unions on the basis of liberty of conscience, then the only things the government really does have are prevention of physical crime and property crime. As I said before, the government's job is that we may "live peaceable and godly lives," not that the Church can impose its standard of morality on everyone else. In that vein, I don't really think the government should be managing this stuff anyway.

Do we, as representatives of God's Kingdom, have a responsibility to adhere to the standards? Obviously.

However, can we require the same Christian standards of a Buddhist or a Hindu? I don't think so. It would be a violation of their freedom of conscience for them to have to follow the standard of Christ without having faith in Christ.

[Drat... have to go to class... I'll finish this post in a bit]
emperorbma   |2008-11-25 14:20:17
Quote:
This is significantly different from laws that would say that a individual or corporation must recognize homosexual marriage and treat it like heterosexual marriage.


This is the other demon's horn. You see, I don't support government regulation in either direction. It shouldn't be forcing people to recognize "homosexual marriage" but it shouldn't disallow homosexual unions from existing either provided that it doesn't interfere with anothers' religion. Either type of restriction would be a "law respecting the establishment of [some] religion [or other]."

Quote:
Third, I can find no possible legitimate interpretation of the First Amendment that is violated by the government not performing homosexual 'marriages'. It isn't banning homosexual 'marriages', just not viewing them as legally legitimate. I would think that banning polygamy could be a violation of the First Amendment, as it is banned and not just not legally recognized.


Probably not directly, but someone could have a religion that doesn't prevent them from being homosexual and desire a marriage under its rites... thus, it falls under Amendment 14 and Amendment 1. The polygamy thing is another very tenuous issue and probably couldn't stand against an honest examination. As I see it, the Church should be maintaining its own standards as an aspect of faithfulness instead of imposing the standard on those who don't share our commitment to God's Word.
Entity   |2008-11-20 12:07:02
prevent a repeat of the Crusades

Oddly, I just posted this article.
Jim   |2008-11-20 13:33:34
Actually, you didn't (the date stamp had it end publishing before it started). But, I fixed it. :-)
Entity   |2008-11-20 14:05:38
Thanks!
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-20 12:18:39
Entity wrote:
So should we not legislate behavior at all? Drop all laws? Or how does one determine which behaviors to legislate and which to not?


Good question. Should Jesus be the Lord of everything except our votes?
Jim   |2008-11-20 13:34:19
Something about his kingdom not being of this world comes to mind...
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-20 13:44:40
Jim wrote:
Something about his kingdom not being of this world comes to mind...


Again, one could argue that means "no political involvement allowed".

Hardly anybody consistently does, though. Somehow their own political positions fit right into the Kingdom as they see it.
Jim   |2008-11-20 13:58:37
I figured if we're going to start trading stoopid slogans, I'd at least grab one from the actual Bible :-)
holmegm  - re:   |2008-11-21 07:02:53
Jim wrote:
I figured if we're going to start trading stoopid slogans, I'd at least grab one from the actual Bible :-)


Fair enough ;)

Point is, the article isn't really a process objection, as it pretends to be. The writer and the people he interviews would become suddenly unconcerned with the supposed misallocation of Focus on the Family funds if FoF had been anti-8.
MakaDad  - re: re:   |2008-11-21 19:38:40
holmegm wrote:

The writer and the people he interviews would become suddenly unconcerned with the supposed misallocation of Focus on the Family funds if FoF had been anti-8.


But some of us in the thread here wouldn't be.  :)
MakaDad  - re:   |2008-11-19 22:26:22
steves wrote:
Why do all the intelligent and moral Christians sit down and give right-wing extremists a friendly audience?


It's a self-selecting crowd.

The ones who aren't interested in making Christianity into a political power bloc don't get into the arena, so the only ones heard shouting there are the extremists.

The ones who aren't interested in making Christianity into a political power bloc would have to enter the arena and argue with brothers, which is exactly the antithesis of where we stand.

So we sit and get ashamed and try to convince people that not all Christians are like that, and we quietly move on in our work.
holmegm  - re: re:   |2008-11-20 12:17:01
MakaDad wrote:
It's a self-selecting crowd.
The ones who aren't interested in making Christianity into a political power bloc don't get into the arena, so the only ones heard shouting there are the extremists.


I might buy this argument, if it included all political engagement. What it usually entails, though, is saying that the other guy's politics are off limits.

Nobody who gets upset at Focus on the Family seems to mind if Bono or some priest agitates for government to spend more on AIDS, or whatever. It's apparently OK for them to lobby government in the name of what they see Christianity as dictating for moral imperatives.

Christian engagement with politics has run the gamut - anti-slavery, anti-alcohol, anti-poverty, anti-AIDS, anti-"gay marriage". One can make a principled argument against such engagement, but very, very few do.  Most just declare the other guy can't be a Christian and politically engaged.
MakaDad   |2008-11-20 16:06:04
Would it make any difference if I said that I'm not really in favour of government involvement in those things either?

We as Christians should be able to out-give just about any government in the world. We should be able to out-serve any government organization.

We need to be engaging people, not politics. If we legislate, the most we "win" is reluctant obedience, or hidden rebellion, or outright hatred.

If we lead by example and win hearts, then we win the things that we tried and failed to accomplish via politics.

We've lost the "light on a hill" bit, and are trying to become more "the edge of the sword".
MakaDad   |2008-11-20 16:11:45
You may say that I'm a dreamer....

But (I hope) I'm not the only one....
Jim  - FWIW   |2008-11-19 22:34:41
There were articles on this that were less biased, but they were also all AP pieces.

Since AP has been... odd about fair use of articles and the like, the only alternative I could find was the The Colorado Independent, which seems to be the States answer to the British Guardian.
laika  - re:   |2008-11-21 02:28:34
emperorbma wrote:
If it ain't affecting the sound preaching of the Gospel in the Christian Church, it really doesn't matter.


in all seriousness, looking for a downside it occurs to me that such a solution as you suggest might cause confusion, but we have that now.

hmmm... here's a near-future collaborative screenplay exercise for you... a coalition of Nicene Christians living shoulder to shoulder with Caesar's civic religion discovers that (feel free to play along)...

emperorbma wrote:
However, if even an angel of Heaven should preach any other Gospel in the name of Christ... well, we know the rest of what Paul said on that matter.


the UCC, ECUSA, et al are eager enough already to play that role. no shortage of candidates there.
laika  - re:   |2008-11-21 17:26:27
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
...It's their culture too and they want to participate in it. A gay man raised in Xchurch may very well feel a profound and deep personal and spiritual connection to Xchurch and be very insistent that he is/should be involved in or a part of that which he feels is an integral part of himself. Xchurch's teachings on issues a, b, and c, may very well seem incidental to him (as they often do to any number of Xchurch's parishoners)...

Same goes for boy scouts or anything else. It's a desire to participate and be included (or perhaps a desire not to be rejected.) It frankly seems a bit paranoid to say that it is fundamentally a desire to subvert and steal. (This is of course not to rule out the existence of subversive nutjobs, but I hardly think they are representative in the least.)


but they are every bit as free as you or holmegm to participate and be included. maybe the subversion referred to by holmegm is the insistence on remaking existing institutions to conform to a certain worldview? what's paranoid about a simple statement of fact?
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-21 18:28:17
no, they're not every bit as free. If you've got to give up a lot more to participate it's not equal. My basic point isn't really about what boy scouts policy, or this or that ought to be, it's that the desire to be accepted or involved is not the same thing at all as the desire to subvert. things may be subverted by it, but that's a different matter. Saying that the desire to participate or even for an institution to adjust to accommodate, is looking for "the joy of subversion and destruction." can hardly be considered some "simple statement of fact".

again, my point isn't what ought to be done or where accommodations or adjustments should or should not be made. It's simply that we ought to understand some of the real human reasoning and desires here and not set ourselves up for conflict and antipathy by creating negative caricatures of the others motivations. (same could be said of a lot of what's been said about FotF.) It's just not fruitful (or true).
holmegm  - re: re:   |2008-11-22 11:08:00
laika wrote:
maybe the subversion referred to by holmegm is the insistence on remaking existing institutions to conform to a certain worldview? what's paranoid about a simple statement of fact?


That's pretty much it.

It's not like it's hard to make your own alternative institutions in the US. But if you do, you don't get the size/power/respectability of taking over an existing institution (which, let it be noted, got that way by being what it was, not what the newcomers want it to be).
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-22 11:57:20
but the desire isn't necessarily toward power or prowess, but rather particular to that organization, even if their are aspects of it they dislike. If I'm not mistaken, you consider yourself at least somewhat patriotic but there are certainly aspects of this country you dislike (and as a fan of homeschooling some aspects of this country that kind of give you a bum rush.) Are you staying here/loyal rather than seceding or emmigrating simply because you like the pre-existant prowess of the U.S. or because you have an affinity for it, if not for everything about it?

as to your newcomers comment, though I think this is moderately tangential, I think you are way off. Institutions aren't static, because people aren't static. Even if founding documents remain unchanged the interpretation of and sentiments toward those principles shift dramatically from time to time (and even vary significantly between contemporary individuals.) I think that can be a prevalent misunderstanding amongst "Traditionalists" of all sorts. Stasis is a human impossibility, a fiction.
emperorbma   |2008-11-22 12:42:40
Institutions may well not be static, but there is a certain point past which an institution ceases to be continuous with the principles on which it was established.

[... and I seem to have misinterpreted the context of the discussion, originally, due to a lack of sleep, but the Episcopal schism issue is a good example of one instance of a similar issue:]
I think the conservative [Anglicans] who are opting to leave are doing so because they believe the trend is inexorably going towards the ECUSA becoming something like the Unitarian Universalists and these conservatives don't want to just "go down with the ship."

Basically, they are taking the lesser "bad" of two similarly undesirable routes. In this case, it is seen as less costly to leave the institution to flounder as it will and set up their own institution to carry on, what they believe to be, the original guiding principles of the Episcopal Church.

In terms of adaptation, I think there is a certain amount of adaptation before you have an entirely different species altogether. At a certain point the communities cease to be compatible. As it is seen biologically it is quite similar theologically... (and all within the limits of Divine provision, of course.)

[... and, yes, I should go to sleep before making replies. I think I lost most of my clarity with my original version. :( ]

[P.S. I know where I got it, now. I must have "merged" your other post at the bottom of the page into this one. Seriously, I guess I shouldn't stay up all night before posting.]
laika   |2008-11-21 19:15:18
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
It's simply that we ought to understand some of the real human reasoning and desires here and not set ourselves up for conflict and antipathy by creating negative caricatures of the others motivations.


positive caricatures are still OK, though, right? i didn't mean to speak for holmegm, but how do you know that he doesn't "understand some of the real human reasoning and desires here?"

WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
Saying that the desire to participate or even for an institution to adjust to accommodate, is looking for "the joy of subversion and destruction." can hardly be considered some "simple statement of fact".


i'm sorry, but insisting that institutions be forced to reflect pet worldviews seems almost a definition case of subversion. wouldn't it follow that holmegm's statement isn't paranoid? even the destruction part isn't so far off if you look at something like ECUSA for an example.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-22 10:35:58
I didn't say he didn't, but If he does, in this situation, I don't think his comment reflected that.

I don't really think I'm presenting a positive caricature, for sure it is a generalization, I acknowledge that, but I think it's a lot more representative. While I'd strongly disagree with your characterization of "pet world views", even if this were a matter of pet world views, insistance on them, even if it subverts current orders, is not necessarily subversive in intent or motivation. Which is again the primary substance of the dispute I've presented. I honestly think that people out there subverting for the sake of subverting are few and far between. Most of these issues seem to be about acceptance (not a positive buzz word, meant to be morally neutral) and self-identity.
If we presume that subversion is the sole basis and motivation for dispute there is ground to interact on or understand each other on. If group A presumes group b's primary reason for being is to fundamentally to subvert a, what possible fruitful interactions can happen. but if a acknowledges that while there are legitimate conflicts and disputes, perhaps some very grave, that b isn't out to subvert and destroy for subversion's sake, but rather because it feels threatened or abused or hopeful or spurned etc. etc. there is an actual basis for human interaction and thereby a basis for some degree of progress, if not at least a reduction of self-sustaining antipathy.

I look at ECUSA and don't at all agree with your assessment. In all honesty it seems to me a pretty solid counterexample from my experience. I know a lot of gay episcopalians who were dedicated to the church long before it made shifts in their favor and who wouldn't dream of leaving it, even were they not-ordainable. That isn't subversive. They weren't outsiders covertly infiltrating the ranks of the parishes and planting seeds, biding their time to hatch the master plan. Has subversion occured, of course (though honestly just about as much on the part of ACN and AAC), but I don't think, for the most part that it is the motivation. That's a world of difference. (I have really not seen any joy in the destruction of the ECUSA, if we'll call it that. I've seen precisely the kind of vilifications, assumptions, and antipathy, that are making me nervous in this discussion, tear apart the ECUSA limb by limb, destroying families and churches by cutting off real dialogue and understanding between people who used to share pews (and more disconcertingly, the eucharist).)
laika   |2008-11-22 14:45:06
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
I don't really think I'm presenting a positive caricature, for sure it is a generalization, I acknowledge that, but I think it's a lot more representative. While I'd strongly disagree with your characterization of "pet world views", even if this were a matter of pet world views, insistance on them, even if it subverts current orders, is not necessarily subversive in intent or motivation. Which is again the primary substance of the dispute I've presented.


it dawned on me last night while thinking about our discussion that homosexuals are the new Noble Savage. i mean that generally, WFC, and i'm not really accusing you of using positive caricatures. i realize that you genuinely mean well and i respect that.

i realize that post-modernism has won the field for a time, but if all ideas are equally valid and worthy of respect, then so are the ideas of the Boy Scouts or orthodox Christians. it is subversive, or at least corrosive, to insist that every established institution bow and accommodate the cause celebre of the moment.

WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
I look at ECUSA and don't at all agree with your assessment. In all honesty it seems to me a pretty solid counterexample from my experience. I know a lot of gay episcopalians who were dedicated to the church long before it made shifts in their favor and who wouldn't dream of leaving it, even were they not-ordainable. That isn't subversive.


i'm well aware that the Episcopal church has been pretty gay for a long time. when i was 18 and preparing for confirmation, one of the priest was trying to seduce me. thank God the old bastard couldn't penetrate my profound ignorance. it took my naive self a few more years to realize that it was understood that at least one church in the diocese and several personalities were very friendly to the young men.

then later when women were allowed to become priest, it slowly occurred to me that every single one of the lady priests that i met had a little something in common.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-22 18:23:25
but I don't think post-modernism and homosexuality really go hand in hand so comfortably as you seem to imply. Relativism is trash. But a) again even if these ideas subvert or corrode, that isn't necessarily (i would even say usually) the motivation or intent., and b) Plenty of the individuals in question aren't post-modern or relativist. Plenty feel very strongly about truth and falsehood, it's just that the appropriateness and morality of homosexuality is part of the former and not the latter. I'd be really careful about conflating those concepts.

Well, I'm not really describing it as a gay church, nor do abusive lustful priests really form a representative portion of homosexuality in ECUSA. (I should also say I know several current and former ECUSA female priests who are very much heterosexual.) This is somewhere where I'd take part of what seemed misplaced to me in the first part of your comment and apply it a bit more snuggly. The primary difficulties of ECUSA were relativism butting heads with obstinate and short-sighted "traditionalism" (there are plenty of reasonable people in between but when lines get drawn in the sand and polarization is forced from both extremes it's hard to straddle the center.) Homosexuality really isn't the center of the schism (nor is orthodoxy for that matter.) Anyway...long diversion. Honestly, I typically think it better to keep my mouth shut about some of this (ECUSA in particular), and am conflicted about having opened it up on this, but I suppose I ought to let it stand. apologies if i've been short-sighted, brusque or hurtful in my characterizations. tried to tone them down, but still have some strong feelings that slip out a bit.
laika   |2008-11-23 14:34:47
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
but I don't think post-modernism and homosexuality really go hand in hand so comfortably as you seem to imply ...I'd be really careful about conflating those concepts.


i know you're tired of the discussion, but i have to say that post-modernism is what allows us to entertain the subject of homosexuality in the way that we do. it's what allows you to frame your arguments the way you do. and yes, distasteful as you find it, even the relativism applies.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-24 00:58:26
it's not so much tired as wary. I'm going to have to disagree (at least a bit). Not denying that modern popular philosophy influences how we frame our language etc. etc. whether we like it or not, but I think the issue of homosexuality and church/ social institutions really isn't dependent on or unique to a post-modern world view. disagreements on sexual morality are hardly an innovation of the postmodern world. same for disputes on self-identity. (Nothing new under the sun. we change and rearrange the semantics but just about everything has precedent.)

a bit more to the point, if you're placing postmodernism so broadly, it's making itself a moot point because if everything's postmodern its a wash (3postmodernx+27postmodern=postmodern/y is no different than 3x+27=1/y) you still haven't shown that postmodernism and homosexuality are specially tied in ways that any other outlook isn't.
it seems like a boogie man.
laika   |2008-11-24 14:41:52
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
it's not so much tired as wary.


wary?

WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
but I think the issue of homosexuality and church/ social institutions really isn't dependent on or unique to a post-modern world view. disagreements on sexual morality are hardly an innovation of the postmodern world. same for disputes on self-identity.


you and i might wish it otherwise, but the Bible leaves no room for disagreement on the issue. the idea that it could even be debated in the Church seems a product of post-modernity.

in fact, we might ask why now(edit: and why here, in the West)? where is the past record of huge numbers of people self-identifying as homosexuals and expecting the Church to see the merit of that choice?

and what, please, is the downside of yoking homosexuality as it wants to be understood today and post-modernity? does it make homosexuality as you understand it any less "true?"
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-24 21:14:12
wary because I'm uncertain of the spiritual healthiness of this conversation for me (or for anybody else reading what I've got to say.) I'm working very hard to avoid discussing elements that I feel I ought not discuss.

What the Bible does and doesn't do is not particularly certain (I know I sound incredibly post-modern in saying so, but hear me out.) My point isn't "the bible means different things to different people and how are we to choose?" It's that disagreements about a truth, in particular the nature of scriptural authority, are not new or relativistic or "postmodern" to disagree doesn't make someone a post-modernist. Questioning which elements of scripture hold normative/proscriptive authority is also not new. There are plenty of people who disagree, with ample arm-room, but of course that disagreement has deeper roots (in disagreements that have been about and unresolved for quite some time)

the why is less a matter of post-moderninty and more a matter of bigger fish to fry. As in most societies where this has not been the case the attempt of people self-identifying as homosexuals has been to not get killed or arrested for their sexual orientation. That takes priority to recognition (typically). And particularly as the prevailing churches have been pretty state-ist for most of history, seeking acknowledgment from the church would provoke state action (and death, torture, or prison).

the downside is that it is not an accurate yoke. It's a false and flimsy generalization. Self-identifying as gay doesn't make you post-modern. Sexual preference is only one of a grand many of a persons outlooks and dispositions and it doesn't really define the others. I'm really not making an argument for (or entertaining a discussion of) the "truth" of homosexuality. I'm addressing what I believe to be the misrepresentation, misconception, or "untruth" of your categorization.
laika   |2008-11-24 22:37:49
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
wary because I'm uncertain of the spiritual healthiness of this conversation for me (or for anybody else reading what I've got to say.) I'm working very hard to avoid discussing elements that I feel I ought not discuss.


then we'll drop it. contrary to appearance, i'm not that heavily invested. the strange twists, turns and denials that the conversation usually takes when homosexuality comes up is what fascinates me. it's the train wreck for me, i'm afraid, except that i do feel very strongly regarding the Church being expected to ape the ways of Caesar.

though i must admit that the way you exit the subject does intrigue.

WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
the downside is that it is not an accurate yoke. It's a false and flimsy generalization. Self-identifying as gay doesn't make you post-modern.


obviously every homosexual isn't post-modern, but post-modernism is what makes it possible to self-identify as a homosexual and demand that others recognize it in the way we're now seeing. we're talking about a category that simply could not exist without PM. and it will continue to gain momentum because of PM. inextricably linked.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-26 16:56:02
No need to drop it really. Things are staying mostly healthy it seems (at least from my vantage.) To clear up the intrigue, basically, as best as I've been able to reason or discern in all my prayer and study I really can't understand how a single-partner committed, loving homosexual relationship is sinful. At the same time, I realize that many people far Godlier and spiritually insightful than I have felt strongly otherwise. I can't ignore the product of my personal prayer and discernment, to do so would seem disrespectful to God, Whom I seek for guidance, but I also can't assume that where the Fathers and others disagree with me they must be wrong, to do so would be profound arrogance, and disrespectful of God, Who guides them. The point where it typically breaks down is that I thankfully don't 100% need to know, because it's not really an issue for my personal life, and in that capacity I can find comfort that God knows what He's doing and faithfully guides and honors the fervent and honest prayers of those who need to figure these things out in a more immediate fashion, and seek his Guidance.
That's why I shy away from debating the morality or immorality of homosexuality. (That and the train wreck you refer to seems often to be a multi-car junction collision, with twisted reasoning and hot steel headed in all directions.)

still firmly disagree. It isn't postmodern to demand recognition. It's human. If I think I'm the queen of france and people disagree I will likely get upset and demand recognition. If you tell an Alzheimer's patient that they aren't 12 anymore, they will likely get upset. It seems postmodern to demand that everyone recognize everyone else's concept of reality as true, and we certainly do see bits of that (frankly regarding just about everything) but it's by no means the driving ubiquitous argument framing the debate on homosexual identity. Again I think the basic fault in your premise is that modern culture is perhaps inextricably linked with post-modernism and you haven't really demonstrated how this is something about homosexuality or more so tied to it than to anything else.
laika   |2008-11-29 08:07:21
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
No need to drop it really. Things are staying mostly healthy it seems (at least from my vantage.)[


glad to hear it!

WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
To clear up the intrigue, basically, as best as I've been able to reason or discern in all my prayer and study I really can't understand how a single-partner committed, loving homosexual relationship is sinful.


that's the big mystery? i have quite a list of What's The Big Deal questions in the sex and marriage categories alone. for instance, i notice you're concerned with a "single-partner" commitment, while i don't see the downside to consenting, adult polygamy. but i don't make the rules, so i'm not going to get out on the hustings for it.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-29 22:46:17
to be fair you only quoted a third of the big mystery, that by itself wouldn't really be a big deal (though honestly, undisclosed intrigue is almost always a lot more interesting in speculation than in disclosure.)

legally, I'm not convinced there's a solid case against consenting adult polygamy, morally it seems a bit more solid. (should say my use of single-partner was intended to avoid the term monogamous, which would be inaccurate in this context. just as much against the whole "serial" thing as the all at once thing.) Multi-partner relationships conflict with the complete devotion/ownership involved in marriage. I know there are plenty of interesting biblical arguments against me (whether it be Communitarians or fundamentalist mormons) but I see a pretty understandable reason on that front.
Entity   |2008-11-25 08:44:55
Self-identifying as gay doesn't make you post-modern.

Here's what I've observed: wanting to continue in a sin that one's church teaches is wrong typically leads someone to become postmodern. It allows one to justify that sin as being OK now even though the Bible, church teaching, and/or Church Fathers are clearly against it. I saw this when my parents separated and my dad moved in with my future stepmother. Suddenly, church teaching that had been solid was not applicable to current times and culture. And this went beyond adultery for him. His views on abortion, homosexuality, church attendance, and much more changed. Every church rule was now malleable or not applicable.

I've seen this with a number of friends who came to the realization that they were gay. I knew some that were ardently pro-life who are now militantly pro-abortion. After all, if the church must be wrong on homosexual acts (because otherwise they would be committing mortal sin), the church most likely is wrong about abortion as well.

So, it is not homosexuality that is tied to postmodern thought, but the willing persistence in sin.
emperorbma   |2008-11-25 13:25:15
I'm not so sure even this is exactly a new thing. Haven't people been equivocating away sins since day one? Wasn't that what Adam and Eve did, even?
Entity   |2008-11-25 14:08:19
I would agree that it is not necessarily a new thing, just a new name. However I would say it is more prevalent. I think much of that has to do with Protestantism. First Luther said the Roman Catholic Church was wrong. Then others said that Luther's church was wrong and formed their own churches. And yet others said that those churches were wrong and splintered yet again. The thought that an individual could divine their own morality and truths and have them be of equal or greater standing than the Church's is a very Protestant idea.
emperorbma   |2008-11-25 14:32:44
It may be endemic to Protestantism, but it is endemic only in the strains of Protestantism that reject a principle of doctrinal concord.

To wit, however, Martin Luther and the Lutheran Confessors did attempt to gather the churches of the Reformation through the establishment of a common doctrinal basis. (i.e. Concordia) Luther himself did not look fondly on the schismatic Protestants, either. In fact, as he saw it his goal is restoring the Catholic Church to its genuine and true Christian teachings not in usurping the Church as Christ's kingdom.

In that vein, there were about 35 different groups which gathered under Concord from their original, diverse standards of which the only common part was the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. Even Luther didn't believe in a random man's whims as much as believing that God's Word alone is the true standard and all interpretations, including that of an individual believer, are subject to Scripture alone.
holmegm   |2008-11-25 14:36:57
Perhaps we can trace it back to Jesus splintering from the scribes and Pharisees ;)
laika   |2008-11-25 19:59:44
Entity wrote:
The thought that an individual could divine their own morality and truths and have them be of equal or greater standing than the Church's is a very Protestant idea.


you have a point there. and unbridled individualism is bound to take you to some strange places :-)

it's a tough nut. in nature there really is strength in diversity, and monocultures are subject to sudden annihilation.
laika   |2008-11-25 19:51:59
Entity wrote:
So, it is not homosexuality that is tied to postmodern thought, but the willing persistence in sin.


well, i never meant that same-sex attraction was something new and post-modern. i'm not quite that ignorant.

what you call the willing persistence, plus the attitude that the LGBT way is just as valid as any other lifestyle, brand choice or fashion statement; the total identification - all of that is a product of post-modernity.
Entity   |2008-11-26 07:50:12
I guess I should clarify as I think my original statement could be read two ways. Postmodern thought is not tied to homosexuality. Postmodern thought is tied to the willing persistence in sin.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-26 16:59:31
Not so sure. Same concept different philosophical languages. I don't really think Post-modernism really has willing persistence in sin as a defining characteristic or necessary tie. it's not even necessarily a rebellious philosophical outlook, it's largely a non-interventionist outlook, which I agree has problems, but isn't necessarily self-defense as much as avoiding criticism of others.
Entity  - re:   |2008-11-26 22:45:15
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
but isn't necessarily self-defense as much as avoiding criticism of others.


The flip side of not criticizing others is claiming they cannot criticize you either. The typical "judge not lest you be judged."  However, Jesus says that the church has a right and responsibility to judge (Matthew 16:19).
emperorbma   |2008-11-27 03:10:03
Quote:
However, Jesus says that the church has a right and responsibility to judge (Matthew 16:19).


Yes, and no.

The Church does have the keys which permit it to judge in accordance with the Word of God, but its judgment is such that it is merely an echo of Christ's own judgment. The keys of the Church are the same thing as what we Lutherans call the "Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel." The keys go two ways; we have the authority to proclaim the Law to the lawless and unrepentant, and to proclaim the Gospel to the downtrodden and poor sinner whose conscience convicts them but who desires God's mercy.

The Church does not have the authority to create rules that Christ does not establish nor does it have the authority to have dogma contrary to Christ's own teaching. Furthermore, the Church is not given authority to judge those who are outside of it... merely to deliver the Law of God to those who are erring and to preach the Gospel to those who are seeking His mercy.

As it is written:
Quote:
what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)


Matthew 18 is actually another exposition of the same point, in fact. We, as the Church, may expel a brother who chooses to undermine the genuine teaching of the Gospel with the full blessings of Christ. Because what we proclaim is true according to God's Law and His Gospel, Christ's judgment will be the same as ours. However, we do not have the authority to establish our law over others who do not share faith in Christ and demand that they obey them. At its basis, the keys provide the authority behind excommunication, that we hand the erring over to the Devil in hopes that they may be reformed before God's final Judgment.  As well, the keys are also the basis of the authority behind Confession and Absolution; that we confess our sins under the Law and receive the forgiveness of them under the Gospel. This is what we are doing when we, as a body, confess that we are "by nature sinful and unclean, deserving only God's wrath and condemnation"  This is also the authority with which a Pastor can say "I, as a called and ordained servant of the Word and in the stead of our Lord Jesus Christ, announce the forgiveness of sins."

In essence, it is not we who have the right to condemn, merely use the keys to proclaim what God Himself will judge with the full authority of His Word. In that vein, we are a part of and a means of God's grace through which God makes His Kingdom manifest in the world. However, we cannot bring that judgment down on others outside of the Church... our judgment merely serves to reveal the fact that the person erring has already cast him or herself outside of the Church by his or her unbelief or to show that someone who comes before God in true faith is redeemed by that same faith in Christ. Furthermore, if we ourselves are not faithful to God's Word, is there not also a judgment on ourselves? That was what Christ means when He said "Judge not lest ye be judged, for with the same measure you judge so you shall be judged." Not only are we not the final decider, but the keys He gives are not without license to their use. We cannot merely use them willy-nilly and expect God to kowtow. The keys are a double-edged sword... the same double-edged sword that is found in the mouth of God's Word. A person who uses God's Word unwisely will be cut by it as surely as a fool who swings around a sword but has no knowledge of how to use it.
laika   |2008-11-22 19:27:18
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
apologies if i've been short-sighted, brusque or hurtful in my characterizations. tried to tone them down, but still have some strong feelings that slip out a bit.


you're always polite and i know that your intentions are good.
metallurge  - Unpacking this secular marriage thing a bit...   |2008-11-25 21:45:25
OK, we Christians have a whole theology developed around marriage. It affects how we see marriage to a really great degree. And, to some degree, we are sensitive to the notion that secular marriage is a different institution, with perhaps different purposes.

But let me ask this question. What should secular marriage even look like? Is it a matter of inheritance; essentially a contract? Is it a matter of a "sexual license"? Is it a matter of procreation? Is it a matter of raising children? Is it a matter of health insurance rights? Is it a matter of a chosen "family"? Is it a matter of commitment? Is it a matter of access (access to a person in the hospital, or access to a person at work on an emergency basis, or for example)?

I think it is useful to examine what secular marriage is and/or ought to be. To the extent that secular people want to be married for (to Christians) secondary reasons, we need to see if they are really thereby pursuing something that Christians ought to be OK with.
laika  - re:   |2008-11-29 07:42:50
WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
I don't really think Post-modernism really has willing persistence in sin as a defining characteristic or necessary tie.


and how could an individual sin in doing what is right for that individual? sin implies a one-size-fits-all standard on all the beautiful and diverse expressions of human love. sin implies an Absolute.

WebbedFeetOfClay wrote:
but isn't necessarily self-defense as much as avoiding criticism of others.


because if there was a sin in a world of equally valid expressions of human nature, that sin would be intolerance. criticism implies the possibility that one thing really might be better than another.
WebbedFeetOfClay   |2008-11-29 22:49:08
missing my point (perhaps because I don't always express myself so clearly, non?) It's not about logical extensions of postmodernist thought toward sin, but rather that the motivation or reasoning of a postmodernist isn't necessarily going to be protecting themselves from the accusation of sin as it seemed Entity had suggested. It may well be an unwillingness to accuse.
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