Mind the Gap documentary

I starting watching this documentary on Hulu and couldn’t finish it because it hit too close to home. Much of it is what I saw growing up: friends from broken homes beginning to split apart and have out-of-wedlock children as they hit adulthood to repeat the cycle of hopelessness and poverty. No faith, no family, little hope for climbing the social and economic ladder. This is all over the United States today and not only in the decadent place I grew up.

“Do not be anxious” and some other thoughts

A woman over at Desiring God wrote a good piece on anxiety. Lately, I’ve been wondering why so many women are writing about theology. This is new in church history. All of the authors of the Bible and all of the great theologians in human history are men. The human brain shows as much sexual dimorphism as the rest of the human body divided into male and female. I am firmly of the opinion that male intellectual accomplishment versus female is not due to male oppression but male gifts. That women are writing most of the theological content means that the content will likely not be as good as men writing it. Female writers tend to focus mostly on female problems; male theologians are expected to address both sexes. Both viewpoints seem to contradict the thrust of Paul’s argument that women ask theological questions of their husbands at home rather than speak out in church. It’s easy to Paul’s argument as cultural but we have basically the same culture as Paul in the first century. What I mean is that the amount of daylight between 21st century American culture and 1st century pagan Roman culture is small in terms of its religious orientation. It’s also easy to say that Paul’s mandate applies in mostly the church until you read Ephesians 5 and his other writings (1 Corinthians 11) and Peter’s agreement. Therefore I don’t think women should be writing about theology. Some theology should be directed mostly at women. Certainly the confessional standards of the church are for both sexes. But the weightier books should always be directed at men who can in turn equip their households. That, I think, is the model of the New Testament. (This is certainly open for debate. We have examples of women in Acts correcting Apollos, but her husband was there. )

What’s really going on here though? Women are bored at home quite often. Many need more intellectual stimulation than they’re getting from doing dishes, raising kids, and taking care of their husbands, much of which is often thankless toil. They long to be Proverbs 31 women who are engaged in a variety of commercial activities which are interesting work. The problem is that 21st century Protestants operate under a definition of “household” that is foreign to 1st century Biblical authors. In fact, it’s foreign to all authors before the industrial revolution. In the postmodern household, there is not much context for a Proverbs 31 woman to exercise her gifts at home since men our out working for GloboMegaCorp and households are no longer productive. So they write. What else can they do that makes money and exercises their minds? Maybe we – both men and women – should think more critically about our households.

Natural law and prospects of persuasion

I just read this essay over at Mere Orthodoxy and it agrees strongly with my personal experience. The summary is that many Protestants have risen to the challenge of defending natural law theologically, none are optimistic about its persuasiveness in the public square. This should be obvious since the public cannot tell the difference between male and female, much less what oughts we should derive from what is. If Westerners from a Christian civilization do not find these arguments persuasive, how much less will non-Westerners find them persuasive? How insufficient, therefore, is natural law as a basis for relations among nations?

To summarize, while Protestant scholars are increasingly open to the idea of natural law, many register a vote of “no confidence” when considering the question of how persuasive we can expect natural law arguments to actually be. They are hardly alone in making this assessment either, for many Roman Catholic scholars of natural law have expressed similar sentiments.

Let’s look at this practically. Westerners believe in Hume’s “ought/is” distinction: you can’t derive ought from is. Just because you have a brain doesn’t mean you ought to use it. Just because you’re male and larger, stronger and more athletic than your wife doesn’t mean you ought to defend her from an intruder, and so on. Further, you can’t tell a Westerner to use the brain God gave him to study or to use the limbs God gave him to work since he doesn’t practically believe God gave these things: we’re just evolved from a common ancestor of apes. Natural law, in the Western tradition, hinges on Creation, man made in the imago Dei, and a telos for nature, including man. All of these things depend on special revelation (the Bible), not general revelation (Creation). This should pound the nails into the coffin for natural law as a basis of public morality or reason in the West. So what? Be pessimistic about the West as a whole but try to build Christian community on a local level. Remember: reality wins in the end whether or not the Left denies it exists.

The alpha male in church and society

Vox Day’s socio-sexual heirarchy is a good model for understanding male-male and male-female interactions. Like any model, it’s not perfect and has boundary conditions, but that doesn’t undermine its usefulness. It’s very important to seek honest feedback on where you rank on the model. Ask your friends or wife. A realistic self-assessment is the basis of self-improvement.

It’s also important to evaluate the other men around you for several reasons. Surrounding yourself with gammas will make you a gamma. Associating with alphas is a both a two-edged sword and dangerous if the alpha is a bad man. Even if the alpha is a good man, bear in mind that much of what he wants you and others to do is in alignment with HIS mission in life, not necessarily yours. You must always be aware of this and wary of what an alpha is trying to get you to do.

Alpha: The alpha is the tall, good-looking guy who is the center of both male and female attention. The classic star of the football team who is dating the prettiest cheerleader. The successful business executive with the beautiful, stylish, blonde, size zero wife. All the women are attracted to him, while all the men want to be him, or at least be his friend. At a social gathering like a party, he’s usually the loud, charismatic guy telling self-flattering stories to a group of attractive women who are listening with interest. However, alphas are only interested in women to the extent that they exist for the alpha’s gratification, physical and psychological, they are actually more concerned with their overall group status.

Lifetime sexual partners = 4x average+.

Notice who is the center of the alpha’s universe: himself. The women around him are for him and his purposes; so are the men. Obviously, the Bible opposes this mindset. He who would be first shall be last and the last shall be first. The alpha’s other shortcoming is similar to the problem alphas face in nature: there can be only one man at the top. Other males are either subordinate to him or a threat. In nature, males that haven’t been defeated by the alpha are challengers. Alpha male sons of Adam suffer the same difficulties being alphas. Also, they’re daily getting older and weaker. No one stays on top forever and this is always in the back of their minds.

I experienced this recently at a dinner with a bunch of guys I went hunting with. I rode 30 hours in a car with an alpha 10 years my senior and his surgery partner who is more of a sigma. I tend to be a sigma. We all had a great time in the car. I thought I was this alpha’s friend. At the dinner party, he started negging me and trying to put me down. I could’ve gotten mad and lashed out angrily, but instinctively I knew he’d say something like, “I was just kidding, bro! Lighten up!” Then he’d laugh with the others around him. Instead, I just laughed it off and made some deflections. He eventually got tired of it. I didn’t think too much about it until my wife and I discussed the “friends” we had in our area and whether they were really our friends. My wife didn’t like this alpha guy and brought up the incident. She was pissed about it. I explained my response and she agreed it was the best way to handle it until I learn a better one (this is in progress). I showed her the socio-sexual heirarchy and she agreed the guy is an alpha and I’m a sigma which explains my threat to this guy: I’ve always been a skeptical outsider who does his own thing and therefore can’t be bent to an alpha’s purposes. If you want a problem solved, leave me alone and I’ll solve it, but don’t micromanage me to support your own ego. This, combined with my other traits that mimic those of an alpha, makes me a threat to one. This explains the chewing I got.

This behavior can also be found in the church, which is the last place it should be found. One way you see this is that ministers (often with the elders) will cook-up some program they want everyone to participate in. The program is socialized and moralized as “Kingdom Building” but is really “Reputation Buidling” among the ministers friends at presbytery and general assembly. The program will build the minister’s kingdom, not God’s. He, as the alpha, is just trying to use you for his purposes and manipulating you with Christianese. Jesus deals with this behavior directly in Matthew 20:

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[c] 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,[d] 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Good alphas recognize that their mission must be in line with God’s mission and must look out for the people below them as they look out for themselves. These are the First and Greatest and Second. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Many ministers nowadays don’t even like people and, to the extent their mission is out of line with God’s, they don’t even love God. To the extent that they’re lording over their flock and binding the consciences of those in their congregation to their personal mission, they’re no better than worldling alphas.

Most alphas nowadays, whether in the church or without, are not looking out for anyone but themselves. When they ask you to do something, ask more questions. Ask why. Questions quickly expose motives. Be prepared for some angry, moralizing, shaming responses but stand your ground.

Your time is precious, be careful who you spend it in service to.

Natural law and Romans 1

Radical 2Kers argue that natural law – God’s moral law published in Creation and written on the human heart – can be a basis for national and international law. Romans 1 seems to refute this soundly:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Here, the Bible explains that men know they need to worship God but instead worship Creation. Consequently, God gives them over to “shameful lusts” including unnatural relations with members of the same sex and also general disobedience to the moral law published at Creation and summarized the the 10 Commandments. If God is giving man over to ignorance of and disobedience to the moral law published at Creation, how can it be used as a basis for natural law? It can’t. Rather, these unnatural and immoral acts coming from the worship of Creation become national law. We see this in almost every human civilization that’s not based on the Bible, and in ancient Hebrew civilization as it exchanged worship of God for worship of Ba’al and Ashteroth and the pantheon of Canaanite gods. Vishal Mangalwadi confirms this is still going on today, which is why so many believers in the Global South want their societies to be governed by Biblical principles, just as the Reformers did. It’s simply awful to live in a society where everyone is violating even natural law because God has given them over to ignorance of it and suppression of it. The Reformers knew this. They even lived in merciless, wicked societies filled with Biblical ignorance, which was bad for everyone. These are the societies Third Worlders are fleeing when they come to the West. Why do you think they’re so desperate to get here?

Life in a low-trust society

Mexico is collapsing. It has never been a nation-state in the same sense as Western states but it was much more stable with a semi-functioning government. The cartels used to report to the government and it was relatively safe if you minded your own business – safe in the Latin American sense. Now, the government reports to the cartels and even defeats Mexico’s military.

All this has lead, predictably, to an increase in violence. In the past, you could write-off the violence as cartel members killing each other. Not any more. The violence has spread well-beyond the drug trade into adjacent markets: extortion, prostitution, kidnapping, and other forms of theft. This is what it’s life living in a low-trust society, which is what the USA is now. Even if the Mexicans were armed – and many are armed illegally – it still takes trust between neighbors to repel gang predation. It takes cooperation with honest government officials to fight crime. If your neighbors and government have even a 10% chance of being on the payroll by the cartels, what are the odds you’ll ask them for help? You could be asking one of their informants for help and then you’re dead.

Gang extortion has wider implications than just poverty – it also means you lose your property rights. If a gang decides to use your property for storage or trafficking, it’s no longer yours. If this is likely, why buy property or capital equipment? If you can’t buy property or capital equipment, how do you earn a living? Most poor people throughout the world have a home-based business: all their possessions and income are within the 4 walls of their house and co-located shop.

It’s not long before we have the same problems here, enabled by the elites and the voters. The elites play this game by building low income housing in your middle class area and moving section 8ers and immigrants into it. But the cartels are more skilled and ruthless at extortion and they’ll eventually figure out our law enforcement are no match for them. (Many of our state, local, and federal bureaucrats want completely open borders). They’re already crossing our borders armed and having gunfights right on our Southern border.

Put yourself in the shoes of these Mexicans and think about what you’d do if the cartels moved into your town. They’re probably already there, in fact.

Can you argue from nature without knowledge of Creation?

Every culture has a creation myth. Ours is that we came from muck and evolved into humans over millions of years and are no different than animals. We’re particularly smart apes. The moral implications of our creation myth are that there are no morals: do whatever makes you “fitter” than your neighbor. Hitler took this to its logical conclusion: Germans passed his fitness test and Jews, gypsies, and others did not.

When addressing the Athenians in the Areopagus, Paul refuted the Athenians’ creation myth with Genesis and the person and work of Jesus:

Acts 17 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

The Athenians believed they sprung up from the soil of their native Atticus and were not descended from an ancestor common to all mankind (Adam) who was created by God. They thought that the gods were far from them and they could do whatever they wanted. Paul tells them that since Jesus came and rose from the dead, they could no longer claim ignorance about their creation, the Fall of our federal head (Adam), and its moral implications, namely coming judgment and the need to repent.

Paul argues from Creation in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2 to tell women how to behave in church:

1 Corinthians 11 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels.

1 Timothy 2: For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

The only instances of “natural law” being used in Scripture are derived from the account of Creation in Genesis 1 and 2. This is actually special revelation, not general revelation. Creation myths are not common to mankind as I showed above – every culture has a different one. Thus, arguing from natural law with an unbeliever is a pointless exercise. It also means natural law cannot be a basis for a secular state unless that state has an agreed-upon Creation myth. Our elites believe in one, the Red Staters believe in a different one. The men who wrote, “We hold these truths to be self evident…” all agreed upon Genesis 1 and 2 as their Creation myth and their codified summary of natural law (The Bill of Rights) rested on that Creation myth and a Christian anthropology.

Reforms needed in Postmodern View of Natural Law

Over on the Heidelblog, there’s an interesting discussion between an African brother and Dr. R. Scott Clark of Westminster seminary on “Two Kingdom” theology. The modern version of “Two Kingdom” theology espoused by American Calvinists at Westminster appears to be different than that of the Reformers, particularly Calvin and Luther. We can get a better understanding of the modern view by looking at both sides of this discussion

My main concern with 2K theology now is that is primarily an “intra-American-Reformed-Church-” discussion.
Living in South Africa, reading van Drunen’s books and attending his lecturers when he came to SA, reading oldlife.org, reading Heidelblog, and the Reformed Confession, interacting with WSC alumni like Pastor Jooste (Cape Town) and Pastor Heck (Heidelberg, Germany), I was convinced of 2K theology for the past 8 years, until I recently interacted with the very brutal reality of Fascism, Muslims who won’t bend Shariah Law to anyone for anything, Big Tech company-driven “communism”, and Chinese communists in my business life.

Many a times I could only pray for all the death threats I received for rejecting the various “unwholesome” commercial agreements and partnerships (It is not that “easy” to walk away from those at the top!). The truth is I was “influenced” by 2K thinking in believing that a “good and reasonable” argument would make these groups “understanding” in terms of how to conduct business and commercial agreements, but alas, theirs is a “different gospel” and belief system. Death threats (for mere disagreement!) abound in these treacherous circles I unwittingly found myself in.

I only urge that my 2K brothers (I have now regrettably abandoned the position) comprehend this : 1) Muslim “nations” do not really care to budge to “natural law”, as witnessed by the persecution of many Christians over there; 2) Communists are not backing down on their China-led expansionism of their anti-God ideals and they will not listen to “argument” that derails them from their course; 3) Fascists (I primarily noticed this with an Italian I “almost” partnered with), don’t really live by any “law” except to protect and feed their own…

I am still not sure what the “resolution” is. But perhaps arguing “2K” in China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia is WAY BETTER than arguing about it within countries, and within Churches already heavily influenced by the Christian faith and the biblical/natural law. I REFUSED to give the “theonomy”/Belgis-36 crowd (J. Frame, etc) an ear 10 years ago; but I now reconsidering…

This brother is absolutely right. You can’t have a discussion about natural law with non-Christians because their religious beliefs always trump the commandments published at Creation. Non-Christian civilizations of the past and present have been dominated by homosexuality, polygamy, infanticide, murder, robbery, and suppression of free speech. For example, Muslims believe it’s ok to kill non-Muslims if they refuse to pay jizya. Mohammed had 13 wives despite God making clear at Creation that marriage is between one man and one woman. Hindus used to throw widows on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands before the British outlawed it. Pagans in the Ancient Near East and Greece and Rome made divorce, promiscuity, androgyny, and child sacrifice religious rites despite their obvious contradiction of natural law. It’s only in the Christian West that natural law has been affirmed and practiced somewhat. No sooner has Christianity been abandoned in the West that pagan sexual mores have returned with a flood of foreigners who practice the same? My question for modern 2 Kingdom Theorists, therefore, is “What proof is there for natural law as a basis for law and relations with fellow nations among non-Christian peoples?” I can’t find any. How do I have a discussion about natural law with non-Christians in the modern West when they think you can change from male to female???

R. Scott Clark’s reply illustrates the gaps in modern two kingdom theory, with my rebuttals:

I’m not sure what you’re in the process of rejecting. You write as if “2K” is a fixed, known, set of conclusions. I doubt that is correct. I would prefer to speak as Calvin did of the “twofold government” (duplex regimen) in which God is said to govern two distinct spheres in which Christians have two distinct sets of responsibilities. To deny that there are two distinct spheres commits one necessarily to (among other things) some sort of state-church. I share Abraham Kuyper’s question: Where in history has that worked out well for the orthodox? Athanasius stood for orthodoxy despite the magistrate, not because of him.

I don’t think anyone denies that there’s a City of God and a City of Man or Satan’s kingdom. The two are not even antithetical. There is still not a neat division between the two which is why we are to pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Meredith Kline and the Bible argue that Heaven will infuse earth at the day of judgment and we’re to live in light of that. It also argues that things will get worse until the end. The Bible says some paradoxical things as the Reformers well knew. -Bryce

I don’t think that you have accounted properly for natural law as a response to totalitarian movements (e.g., Fascism). I’m an American. Were it not for natural law, there would be no United States. Natural law was essential to our response to tyranny. -RSC

This is a rather flippant response. The African brother said that he has tried really hard to understand natural law and apply its principles to his common-grace life. The theory given to him doesn’t agree with his experience or reality. The response also ignores the historical context of 18th and 19th century American life. Natural law was practiced in the United States by the Protestants who founded it and governed it. As it has become less Protestant, it has become less governed by natural law. There is absolutely no proof that the tyrants of other nations would be persuaded by natural law, as if, for example, Stalin was unaware that he was murdering millions of people. What Stalin really needed to hear was the judgment awaiting tyrants and murderers. The fear of God should’ve been used to persuade men like him just as Paul attempted to persuade Roman officials during his trial in the book of Acts. -Bryce

I don’t see how adopting the Islamic view of Mosque & state helps Christians respond to the threat posed by global Islamism. D. G. Hart is right. It was the Christians who gave us the blessed category of secular. It was the pagan Romans who insisted on a state-cult. -RSC

This is a non-sequitur. No one is arguing for this. The Reformers were adamant that civil magistrates should be persuaded by the Bible though. R. Scott Clark believes this made Calvin a theocrat. I assume that he applies the same epithet to Luther who frequently counseled German nobles from the Bible. Civil government needs to be informed by religion. It WILL be informed by religion, one-way or the other. The cult of modern secular liberalism practiced by our elites is definitely a religion. – Bryce

The Israelite state-cult was divinely instituted and intentionally temporary. Where is the divine warrant for a Christian state-cult? Which apostle argued for it unambiguously? Natural law is entirely sufficient warrant for a civil-military response to totalitarian movements, whether Islamism, Communism, or Fascism. -RSC

I have refuted this above – Bryce

Who cares whether Muslim nations agree with civilized nations? International relations is a covenant of works. Civilized nations should arm themselves and fight to defend the civil-natural rights of their citizens when Islamist nations/groups violate that covenant (that covenant is essentially “leave us alone or die”). Christendom was at war with Islamism for 1,000 years. We had a respite of a few hundred years and, for a variety of reasons, that respite has ended. We are now back to the status quo ante. Now, post-Christendom, secular states have a duty to operate according to natural, including the duty to defend citizens against tyranny of all sorts. -RSC

Our elites definitely care whether we, the People, agree with the Muslims. They fall all over themselves to appease Islam now that we are post-Christendom. This isn’t terribly different from some of the Protestant states siding with the Turk against the Catholics in the past, but none of the leaders of Protestant states were arguing that their people should turn Turk or that Turks should be invited in large numbers to settle Christian lands. -Bryce

The problem academics have is they aren’t able to verify their theories in reality. The Reformers who gave us the Reformed 2 Kingdom view (as opposed to this modern one) got to test their theories in the school of hard knocks. Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door to have only an academic discussion with other monks and clergy. God had other plans: his theses were reprinted throughout Germany and he became a lightning rod for both church and state, much like Paul in the book of Acts. Show me a case in the history of the New Testament church where it has been otherwise? Even in the Dark Ages after the collapse of Rome, clergy were trying to restrain feudal lords with Biblical counsel and the power of the church. Without this Biblical counsel, the feudal lords would’ve done what seemed natural to them, which was oppress, tax, rape and murder more violently. Would this have been better? What would’ve happened to the laity if the clergy back then had said, “Welp, the feudal lord’s behavior is secular business? What has it to do with the Church?”