The Stupidity of the Christian Perspective, Among Others

Whenever I see (or sometimes use, myself) the phrase “for the Christian”, or, “from the Christian perspective”, I also see–hidden just below those words–a pit-trap. There is no other perspective worth considering.

10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die.
11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord;
how much more the hearts of the children of man!
12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise.

If we Christians accept the premise of Christianity–that God created us, became man, died for the sins of all mankind, and is resurrected for our sakes–then we cannot separate what is good for us from what is good for everyone else.

One area I keep seeing this stupidity is in the area of legal marriage, and I want to address is quickly because I have written recently that I advocate the position that it is the authority of the father of the bride who legitimizes a marriage. I must imagine that many of my fellow pro-marriage, anti-statist cohorts are cheering, “Yeah! Who cares what the state says about marriage?” No, no: We want the state to recognize our marriages, as witnesses, should someone attempt to destroy them.

Anyone who has ever considered the life of a slave is stupid to even ask the question. “Well”, you may say, “we don’t have slaves anymore, so this is a non-issue, that we need state-recognized marriage.” Then consider the life of a soldier, or a government clerk. Consider the position of whomever is the innocent in a divorce; including the children. Is your ex-wife’s family larger or much wealthier than yours? What chance will you have to see your child, under such conditions? As evil as it is that a woman can just fill out the paperwork and move the kids across the country, at least she has to fill out the paperwork. I realize this is an infinitesimally small consolation, but what makes us think that abolition of the paperwork will keep her from moving?

There is no good alternative to a wise and benevolent authority. Since we know that governments are ordained for our discipline, and discipline is for our benefit, then we need to improve if we desire a better authority. The beatings actually will continue until morale improves. Thankfully, we have been born again for a better future, and we have a source of hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It’s ironic that people will chuckle that we get the politicians we deserve, but then bemoan the calamity that befalls us as unfair.

Romans 13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For 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. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

If we do not respect the authority of the state to witness–NOT authorize–our marriages, they will surely ignore them. What is good for the sinful Christian goose, is good for the whole fallen gander.

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23 thoughts on “The Stupidity of the Christian Perspective, Among Others

  1. One area I keep seeing this stupidity is in the area of legal marriage, and I want to address is quickly because I have written recently that I advocate the position that it is the authority of the father of the bride who legitimizes a marriage. I must imagine that many of my fellow pro-marriage, anti-statist cohorts are cheering, “Yeah! Who cares what the state says about marriage?” No, no: We want the state to recognize our marriages, as witnesses, should someone attempt to destroy them.

    I’d like to ask for some clarity here– is there a distinction between having the state recognize our marriages versus authorizing them? The reason I ask is due to the whole “gay marriage” debate. Proponents of “gay marriage” would argue similarly, saying it’s important for the State to recognize their “marriages” as witnesses. Though, they take it further and demand their unions to be seen the same way with heterosexuals.

  2. @Laceagate

    is there a distinction between having the state recognize our marriages versus authorizing them?

    Yes. The same distinction that the physical witnesses have at a wedding. They’re just there to say it happened. This is important so that if either one of them starts acting in a way that is not in keeping with marriage, the witness can say: “No, they’re married. I was there.”

    Proponents of gay marriage are properly reading the signs that Christians are putting up. When Christians allow other each other to marry, divorce, and then re-marry another who was also married to another…you get the drift. What we have is a spiritual orgy of flesh and conflict. As I said somewhere else today: Jesus doesn’t tell the adulteress that she has HAD five husbands, but that she HAS five husbands. A women who re-marries, or sleeps around, is refereeing a particularly gruesome sword-fight in her belly.

    Law follows culture because law is for culture; not the other way around. Women, particularly mothers are the culture. Mothers are the home. Mothers are the moral referees of society.

    Understand: Referees are different from the commissioners, who write the rules, and make decisions about which direction the game should take.

    When NYC elites wanted to turn our society from producers to consumers, they bribed the referees with “convenience”…you know, to better referee.
    When Washington elites wanted to turn our society of federalism to collectivism, they bribed the referees with “equality”…you know, to better referee.
    When the serpent wanted to subjugate humanity, it turned to the referee, and offered Eve “God-like” powers…you know, to better referee.

  3. Proponents of gay marriage are properly reading the signs that Christians are putting up. When Christians allow other each other to marry, divorce, and then re-marry another who was also married to another…you get the drift.

    Okay, I get where you’re going with this. There’s a reason why American Catholics are considered the butt of jokes due to the high level of remarriage after receiving an annulment. I won’t get started on the annulments, but will say I can see how proponents of gay marriage can see the divide going on. If the State isn’t witnessing to the marriage and thereby providing proof that “no, I was there. Those two are married,” I can see why authorization would mean bunk in the end. They can authorize, but they can “unauthorize” as well (providing witness to divorce versus marriage.)

    I have wondered much about the role of the State within society. At one time I was sure that the State should have a distant role or be far removed, but now I don’t think so.

  4. I don’t wonder much about the role of the State within society. Anytime Romans 13 is read, 1 Samuel 8 should be read alongside it. Probably with Hosea 8 getting a look in as well, just to drill home the point: claiming authority, and even being generally recognized as having it, isn’t the same as legitimately having it. Anytime you propose to have the State do something, you should be sure you aren’t asking it to usurp something that’s properly the responsibility of other people with authority – individuals, heads of households, a community’s elders or natural elites, church ministers, etc., etc., depending on the matter – or God alone.

    In this case, one can agree that there’s no substitute for wise and benevolent authorities, while simultaneously doubting whether even a wise and benevolent State (assuming any such thing exists) has any business witnessing or otherwise concerning itself at all with marriages

  5. Is it wise to have the State be removed too far from society? If laws are to govern and reinforce moral code within society, how can the State accomplish that without a level of involvement? Also, if we want the State to bear witness to marriage the State has to be willing to recognize the validity and sanctity of our unions.

  6. I say the best State is no State at all. I doubt they’re generally ordained by God, and where they are, they’re ordained to scourge us for idolatry, not keep us safe and warm. Laws do not depend on the State – if nothing else, you have the whole book of Judges, describing a 400+ year period, twice as long as our own little republic is going to last, to illustrate this. Then you have the next several books to show that, while the Judges period had plenty of unpleasantness, it took a centralized monarchy to really schlock things up. When ‘each man did as he saw fit’, things were better or worse as common men were better or worse; a bad king, on the other hand, could work national corruptions in the space of months or years that, before, took several generations. Most of them were thoroughly bad – and even the best of them found the time and opportunity to bring national-scale ruin in one way or another.

    Albert Jay Nock wrote: “Let me draw a rough parallel. Suppose vast numbers of people to be contemplating a machine that they had been told was a plough, and very valuable – indeed, that they could not get on without it – some even saying that its design came down in some way from on high. They have great feelings of pride and jealousy about this machine, and will give up their lives for it if they are told it is in danger. Yet they all see that it will not plough well, no matter what hands are put to manage it, and in fact does hardly any ploughing at all; sometimes only with enormous difficulty and continual tinkering and adjustment can it be got to scratch a sort of furrow, very poor and short, hardly practicable, and ludicrously disproportionate to the cost and pains of cutting it. On the other hand, the machine harrows perfectly, almost automatically. It looks like a harrow, has the history of a harrow, and even when the most enlightened effort is expended on it to make it act like a plough, it persists, except for an occasional six or eight per cent of efficiency, in acting like a harrow.

    Surely such a spectacle would make an intelligent being raise some enquiry about the nature and original intention of that machine. Was it really a plough? Was it ever meant to plough with! Was it not designed and constructed for harrowing?”

    1 Samuel 8 rather caustically tells us what it’s for, even when it is openly ordained by God. And here, the people demanding the State defend their marriages are repeating the same mistake the Israelites did, demanding a king to to lead them and go out before them and fight their battles. THEIR battles – as in, the battles that are properly their own, to be fought in homes and churches and gatherings! When the State turns on them for its own benefit – and it will (and, in this case, did a long time ago) – they will cry out for the Lord to save them. And, judging by the way things continue to go by the board, He will look down and whisper, “No.”

  7. And here, the people demanding the State defend their marriages are repeating the same mistake the Israelites did

    I don’t think you’re reading me wrong, but I want to clarify that I chose the words I did carefully. The state is a witness to marriage. The law condemns, and the state is for punishment of evil. The state does NOT have the responsibility to defend marriage. Indeed, it cannot, as it has not been authorized by God to do so. The state is meant for punishment. It’s understandable to want to not be punished, as long as we also understand that punishment and discipline is a good thing to the wise–even when he is the recipient, and even especially when he is the recipient.

    demanding a king to to lead them and go out before them and fight their battles. THEIR battles – as in, the battles that are properly their own, to be fought in homes and churches and gatherings!

    Not their battles–God’s battles. I don’t think we disagree on this; I just want to be plain for other readers. Insofar as we are in submission to Him–like good wives and soldiers–then His battles become our battles.

    I also don’t want us to make the logical error that somehow the Israelites (and therefore us) are disconnected from God because there is a government between us. We are connected through the government. This is important because it’s the same way wives and sons and daughters are connected through their husbands and fathers to God. It’s the same way we are connected to the Body of Christ through our local church, and in submission to our pastors and priests.

    So, we should be very careful who we choose to husband and father us.

  8. I think I agree with his general idea, but I don’t know if what he says about licenses is true. Regardless, it is certainly dangerous to give the state the power to marry, and we should be clear what we mean when we say the state can license something.

    By his reckoning, a Christian has leeway to disregard the marriage of any non-Christian on several grounds (illegitimacy, polygamy, etc.) That is not right. Not even the RCC does this.

    I think he errs in not considering the state a legitimate authority over people. It is. I don’t know all the specifics about how licensing works, or the legal implications. What I do know is that public records are a much better way to track who is married than family bibles. I can’t see them from here. It strikes me as perfectly acceptable, and even good for a state to clear people for marriage. If that is the extent of the license: then I see no problem with it. If it is as the paster of Mercy Seat says, then we need to change it.

    Until then, I’d say listen to you pastor. If he says not to, and you get punished by the state, then it’s on one of them. If your pastor/priest says to go get one, then I can’t see how you’ve sinned either. The sin is on him.

    Overall, the trouble with marriage isn’t that it’s too easy to get out of because of state involvement, or even that it’s too easy to get out of, in general. It’s too easy to get into. Everyone takes shortcuts, and then not having done the work, wonder why they do not have the spirit.

    People get a sense of this unpreparedness, and so they say, “Wait until you’re older, and have finished school before you get married.” That is the appeal to “right-thinking” that my blog stands against. The sense they get should lead them to think: “Establish a way to provide for yourself and your wife without debt to anyone.” We don’t need more waiting; we need more competent 18-year olds.

  9. I actually agree with your (Cane’s) general perspective as set out here. I would go farther and state that the State can be a tutor for good via law and I disagree with Unger in that as Christians I think we should at the least _presume_ that the State is operating under a “licensure” from God.

  10. “We don’t need more waiting; we need more competent 18-year olds.”

    YES! and Amen, Cane.

    People once shared a maturity upon reaching the teens that is unthinkable in today’s society. I know culture has changed, and life-expectancy has changed, etc., but it is striking that people less than one hundred years ago were quite mature at eighteen, and many young men were ready to start a family not too long thereafter.

    Today we encourage perpetual adolescence – “adultescense”, as I have heard it called.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about pastor Trewhella’s beliefs. I would think if a couple were going to marry via this route, then they would have to submit themselves to the strict accountability of the church (which is what his congregants who are married by him do.) I understand that there has been only one divorce out of twenty married couples, over twenty years.

  11. Is it even normal for 18 year old marrieds to live on their own immediately? Has an 18 year old woman really learned all she needs to to run a household? Can an 18 year old boy support a wife and baby with no help and weather the storms that is a young 18 year old woman with the hormones of raging fertility to addle her brain?

    It seems to make more sense to me to have them living in the basement or a mother-in-law suite for a few years. She can learn a cottage business and he can finish his training. She can finish learning to run a household and aid mom or MIL with the cooking and the washing. If she has a baby then she has someone to help out for those tumultuous first few months of learning to care for baby while keeping the house from falling apart.

    I am not sure it has ever been reasonable for two young people to support themselves entirely without any help or guidance from their elders.

  12. @Cane: It isn’t that he does not consider the state a legitimate authority at all – he does (section entitled ‘When Does the State Have Jurisdiction Over a Marriage?’); it’s that he doesn’t consider it a legitimate authority over everything – to wit, some things are not Caesar’s, and aren’t owed to Caesar, even if he issues the demand in writing and calls it a law and has you fined, beaten, imprisoned, or killed if you disobey. If Trewhella is wrong, it’s not there: it’s that for peace’s sake, we’re told to obey even usurping authorities as much as possible. I say if he’s wrong, because I don’t know. I have never read an answer to the question of when, if ever, rebellion is legitimate, that wasn’t childish in the extreme: either adolescent rebelliousness, or, much more commonly, patent hypocrisy – curses on others’ rebellions, but special pleading for their own pet causes, and appeals to ‘the verdict of history’, as if apparent worldly success ever justified a thing.

    Maybe there’s a reason for that? We need little encouragement to rebel; we do it all too naturally, and have little trouble finding reasons. Most are even ‘good’ reasons, insofar as their minor premises are true: the state really is nothing but a powerful gang of criminals who belong against a wall; one’s husband really is a stifling dullard; one’s wife really is a frigid nag; mom and dad really don’t know or remember what it’s like, etc., etc. – and, of course, one’s rights, one’s own prerogatives, one’s own sphere of authority, really is being violated. Submission – submitting to legitimate authorities, or turning the other cheek to usurpers for the sake of Christ and peace – is the difficult thing, and we need much more schooling in that.

    For my part, if I marry – stranger things have happened – I’ll get a marriage license the same as I have a driver’s license and CHL, even though I think none of them are properly the State’s business. Why? Because I’m not here to fight The Man. There are no rewards in heaven for not paying license fees, and the trouble of not doing so would get in the way of what I am here for. In other words, ‘that I may not offend’.

    @GKC: I don’t think the State has any legitimacy at all, in the way that, say, a father’s household authority is legitimate. The State isn’t part of the created order; it’s a distinctly manmade one, and made exclusively of fallen Man, at that: there is simply no room for a territorial monopoly on violent force superseding all rights of patrimony in Eden or the New Earth to come. The State is not necessary for order: stateless societies may be the exception, but a number of successful ones have existed, one of them illustrated in Scripture, so insistence on the contrary is not only historical ignorance, but heresy. The State is seldom ever obviously ordained by God – really just once, and that as punishment for idolatry – and Hosea 8 makes it clear that it’s quite possible for men to set up States without any such approval or ordination. If we know things by their fruits, virtually no State in history has ever been organized under circumstances that suggest anything holy, and, given that in the 20th century alone, even excluding the communists, States murdered more people than all the common criminals in all of recorded history did, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the State is one step away from being openly Satanic – and then I’ll refer you to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, in which it’s made explicitly clear that that’s precisely the case.

    Thus, when you say we should presume the State operates under divine ‘licensure’, I have to retort that it’s merely angelic, and the worst of the fallen at that. When you say that the State can institute order and be a tutor for good, I can only reply that so can any other violent criminal gang – and all of them, even the Crips and Bloods, do, in some way or another. But we only make excuses for this one. Only this one do we call ‘God’s servant to do us good’ and say ‘oh, that’s just politics’ when we see it seldom commends the good and routinely upholds the evil, and when it uses its sword most of all as a tool of conquest and extortion, giving only cursory and largely ineffectual care to promoting justice and order. Like Nock said, no other social institution needs such excusing. And like Samuel said, the reason is quite simple: we are constantly looking for idols to do for us what God will not.

  13. @gabby: I must concur. There’s never been a society of 18 year olds all ready to pack up and move a thousand miles away and raise families on their own, and the fetish for ‘independence’ at an early age is very much a new thing. The marriage-safe teenagers of the past had a great deal of support from their extended families – support which they were expected to return to the next generation.

  14. @Gabby and Unger

    I agree. Besides, scripture does say that a man will leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife. Apparently, the axe goes to the tree, and the tree stays in her forest.

    Turns out we don’t have to think about it too much, we just have to believe what we read. I keep reminding myself of this so that one day I’ll get it.

  15. @Gabby

    Did you hear that?

    The Gabby of Today must have slapped the crap out of the Gabby of a Week Ago, and I think I just now heard it. Because Today’s Gabby thinks that women–even after marriage–ought to stay close to their families; possibly living in their basements…you know, like servants.

    That got a genuine LOL; hopefully with you, but either way, LOL.

    That woman from last week argued that better women came from spending time alone in the world. I think Today’s Gabby will be much happier, and her children may represent hope that mine can find spouses.

  16. I am not sure I expressed myself well the previous week. Rather than “a period of independence” I mean a period of doing something difficult without any obvious safety net. For me that thing was the training the military put me through. For a good traditionalist Christian that might be a few months in a third world country providing aid or caring for orphans. Just *something* that makes you grow up a bit. Something that makes you experience a series of emotions that a comfortable middle class existence won’t necessarily bring to the fore- fear, vulnerability, courage, resilience, perseverance, etc.

  17. @Gabby

    I can assure you: Getting married and having a child at 18 will provide that sense of, “Oh shit. There’s no net here.”, middle-class or not.

    Also: I didn’t grow up middle-class. My family didn’t reach lower-middle-class until I was almost out of high school.

  18. The state does NOT have the responsibility to defend marriage. Indeed, it cannot, as it has not been authorized by God to do so.

    Okay, I’m going to have to disagree with you here. If the family is the basic unit making up society with a married man and woman– a pivotal foundation of society, really– how can you say the State shouldn’t defend marriage? This would open up a slippery slope, don’t you think? For the State to not defend marriage means it will not reject what we as Christians consider false marriages– gay marriages, polygamy, poly-amorous “marriages,” etc. California will (or has, haven’t checked into it lately) pen a law allowing 3 people to be legal parents for children. Many states have eliminated “Mother” and “Father” from their parent designation on paperwork and replaced it with “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”

    I understand your argument that the State has never been authorized to defend marriage, but can we say the State has ever been authorized to witness marriages? How can one witness and not defend a marriage? Isn’t saying “Oh, I was there. Those two are indeed married,” defending the existence of marriage?

  19. Another thought: (and perhaps I may be contradicting myself, but I’d rather parse it out piece by piece)

    I don’t think the State should “authorize” marriages in the sense that they are the ones who determine whether a marriage performed in a church as a sacrament is really a marriage. With the RCC, in order to conduct a marriage ceremony, you have to obtain the license before and then sign the papers the same day. Why? I don’t think Catholics (or any other Christian, for that matter) should be required to get permission from the State to marry in their church. However, if we have the State bear as a witness without the need for “permission,” shouldn’t the State defend what it witnesses?

  20. It depends what you mean by defend. I think in most cases, it should never come up, right? When someone’s born. When someone dies. When there’s a divorce.

    In the divorce situation, the state should really be more of an investigator. It’s too late. The church and family could not defend the marriage. Now, the state, relying on its witness, sets about the task of divvying up wealth, children, etc.

    How it does that will depend on the culture within the state. It will necessarily defend its values in this way.

  21. Pingback: Linkage. And like all good things… | Breathing Grace

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