Let’s Celebrate Christian Pride Millennia
The worldview that gave us Gay Pride Month could never have given us the free society, and, if unchecked, will decimate it.
Dear friends and supporters:
Western civilization has been commandeered by Gay Pride Month and its ubiquitous rainbow signifying that traditional society will never again destroy sexual diversity by the historic God-unleashed flood punishing radical individual autonomy. The ark of the gay lifestyle has safely survived the millennia-old deluge of culturally (in distinction from politically) enforced sexual morality that is now receding from the Brazen New World.
As the icon above indicates, Christian families must now protect themselves from the morally opposite flood of politically (not just culturally) enforced gay judgment on the godly.
All biblical Christians oppose Gay Pride Month, but some partly on the grounds that all pride is a sin. This view is possible only because of equivocation around the word “pride.” Pride in the Bible is roughly equivalent to haughtiness (Prov. 16:18): thinking oneself superior to others due to his own birth, heritage, talent, goodness, merit, and so forth, all marinated in self-sufficiency. This form of pride is sinful, and God hates it (Prov. 8:13).
But pride can also refer to a sense of satisfaction in accomplishing something creditable or belonging to a group of which one thinks highly. For instance, when we take satisfaction in the rewards for our hard work, or in the church we attend, or in our child’s graduation, there’s no evidence the Bible would identify this attitude as sin. It’s a legitimate kind of pride.
Indeed, it would not be wrong to say that in his earthly life, Jesus Christ took pride in his Father. He was constantly talking about his Father and his own relationship to his Father.
In the Old Testament, it’s evident that Jehovah took pride in his servant Job, and in fact commended Job to Satan on those very grounds.
Similarly, we read in Malachi 3:16–17 —
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another,
And the LORD listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the LORD
And who meditate on His name.
“They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
This is God’s pride in his people, and it’s obviously not sinful.
So Gay Pride Month is not wrong on the ground that it’s necessarily a sin to be proud of one’s position or accomplishments or membership in a group.
It’s sinful because homosexuality is a sin.
Proud of Christendom
Using pride in this denotation, it’s equally true that Christians can be proud of their Faith, and particularly, proud of how that Faith has admirably shaped Western civilization. In fact, it’s impossible to think of the West apart from the molding influence of Christianity. Western civilization until well into the 18th century is rightly identified as Christendom.
Just now, I’ll elaborate on only one dimension of that influence of which Christians can be proud: the creation and fostering of the virtuous, free society. Christianity produces free societies.
Christianity and the Free Society
The 19th century Christian intellectual Lord Acton is known most for his aphorism, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But he also uttered: “Liberty has not subsisted outside of Christianity.” The foundational factor in Christianity’s creating this society began in the ancient world. Political philosopher Eric Voeglin called it “de-divinization.”
The ancient world
Almost all societies in the ancient world except Israel saw reality as a great chain of being. God or, more frequently, the gods, occupied the top of the chain of being, and as one moved downward the degree of divinity dissipated. Rulers of large societies like empires, almost always absolute dictators, shared in a reduced form of that divinity. In some cases, they were actually considered gods. This was true of many leaders from the Egyptian Pharaohs down to the Roman Caesars in the New Testament era.
The unity of the ancient, pagan world consisted of the divinization of the temporal order in the form of the state or emperor. By contrast, while they were not anarchists, the early Christians recognized that no earthly authority, especially political authority, could be divinized or ultimate.
God’s authority is ultimate.
This recognition set patristic Christianity on a collision course with classical politics. Early Christians were savagely persecuted not because they worshipped Jesus Christ, but because they refused to worship the Roman emperor. Polytheistic societies encouraged the worship of deities. What they resisted was the exclusion of all deities, particularly the state, except the true Deity, the God of the Bible.
The medieval world
In the medieval world, the Latin Church became a countervailing force in society, checking and limiting the authority of the state. In fact, much of the time, the church’s size and strength far exceeded that of any particular state. Lord Acton was correct to suggest that the practice of political liberty in the West arose largely from this medieval church-state conflict.
In addition, the medieval world, despite its many defects, supported a large measure of political liberty in fostering several human institutions besides the church that claimed the allegiance of man: the family, the guild, the feudal lord, and so forth. This meant that the state had to share its authority with other equally legitimate human institutions. No human institution may exercise ultimate authority.
The modern world
Constitutional limitations on political power started in Christian England with the Magna Carta. Out of these limitations arose the practice of 18th and 19th century constitutional democracies. During the Puritan Revolution in the first half of the 17th century, England delivered the first successful assault against the evil doctrine of the divine right of kings. In 1688-89 during the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary, it nailed the coffin shut on this long-lived threat to political liberty.
The founding of the United States was perhaps the greatest experiment in political liberty to that time, and it operated self-consciously on certain distinctly Christian premises. (See “The Liberty Movement.”)
The Founders, for example, recognized the Biblical doctrine of original sin and human depravity, and therefore fashioned a system of civil government that divided decision-making among several branches. They didn’t vest any single branch of civil government with too much power.
Civil government’s role
Second, they argued that the role of civil government is to secure the rights of “life, liberty, and happiness,” with which God as Creator endowed all men.
Third, recognizing the Biblical doctrine that civil government should protect minorities (Ex. 23:9), they drafted a constitution to which they attached a Bill of Rights, thus inhibiting tyranny arising from quick political change at the whim of majority democratic opinion.
Political liberty as reflected in the separation of powers, as well as checks and balances; the role of the state in protecting life, liberty, and property; and the constitutional protection of the rights of minorities — all these were bequeathed to the modern world by Christianity.
The tragic record of secularism and humanism
The idea that the West should get rid of Christianity and embrace secularism in order to preserve political liberty is not just mistaken: it’s embarrassingly false. The most vicious, violent, and murderous political regimes in the history of mankind have been non- or anti-Christian: the primitive pagan humanism of ancient Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the sophisticated secular humanism of revolutionary France, the Soviet Union, Red China, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and other modern secular states. Humanism is and always has been a recipe for political terror and tyranny.
In the words of a recent writer, if you want to assess a political philosophy, “Count the corpses.”
This is a book about what revolution is, how it came about, how it is transpiring right before our eyes, and what Christians can do to arrest and overcome it. This book presupposes the necessity of Christian society, not just Christian families and churches, foundational though they are. It addresses topics as diverse as the culture war, the separation of church and state, the altered meaning of liberalism, the true objectives of progressivism, the human types that make statism necessary, and the blight of political soteriology.
Get the e-book here.
Always presupposing the free society is the sort of virtue in the lives of citizens as they live self-consciously before the face of God and his moral law always and everywhere. Liberty is never freedom from moral restraint but, rather, freedom from coercive restraint precisely because virtuous self-restraint renders the exercise of most external coercion (the state) unnecessary. In other words, the most important government under God is virtuous self-government.
Political philosopher Frank S. Meyer argued that the only valid political conservatism is that which constantly and equally emphasizes virtue and liberty. It is that aspect of the Christian worldview that pertains to society, culture, and politics. Meyer knew this, and despite the fact that he wrote these lines before he became a Christian, he was well aware of how Christianity created this socially superior combination.
President John Adams declared famously to the Officers of the First Brigade, Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts (1798):
Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious [he means a generically Christian] people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
One reason for the ethical social breakdown that we see everywhere in the West today is that it is becoming, as Cornelius Van Til used to say, “epistemological self-conscious.” Citizens are increasingly aware of what it means to live in this world after abandoning God and his word — and they relish this godless world, fatal though it will be.
Eighteenth century enlightenment thinkers like Immanuel Kant and David Hume and Baruch Spinoza wanted to maintain Christian morality while getting rid of the inspired authority of the Bible — and, therefore, the God of the Bible. Indeed, they seemed particularly intent to preserve a very high morality at the expense of a very low view of biblical authority.
Calling Their Bluff
The late 19th century existential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called their bluff. He wrote in The Twilight of the Idols:
They have got rid of the Christian God, and now feel obliged to cling all the more firmly to Christian morality: that is English consistency, let us not blame it on little blue-stockings à la Eliot. In England, in response to every little emancipation from theology one has to reassert one's position in a fear-inspiring manner as a moral fanatic. That is the penance one pays there. — With us it is different. When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is absolutely not self-evident: one must make this point clear again and again, in spite of English shallowpates. Christianity is a system, a consistently thought-out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces: one has nothing of any consequence left in one's hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know what is good for him and what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows. Christian morality is a command: its origin is transcendental; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticize; it possesses truth only if God is truth — it stands or falls with the belief in God. (bold emphases supplied)
Nietzsche was more perceptive about the inescapably worldview-ish character of Christianity than many Christians today. Once you get rid of God and the Bible, you cannot expect people to live according to God and the Bible.
For Nietzsche, there must be an entirely new ethical system posited by courageous men who refuse to be bound by external authority. These are the true “Overmen,” the supermen of society (not superwomen — Nietzsche was still stuck in 19th century sexism), who no longer live as moral slaves, that is, as Christians, or as non-Christian citizens who want to retain Christian morality.
Because the West has abandoned God, it is now abandoning virtue, and therefore it has no basis on which to expect liberty, political or otherwise. Radical individual autonomy must be guaranteed by an increasingly coercive state that does not allow institutions like the family and church and business to foster virtue.
The New Secular Orthodoxy
This form of the state grows hostile to the genuine diversity that biblical Christianity provides, and demands a lock-step orthodoxy — today, reflected in the normalization of the Sexual Revolution. You could lose your job for speaking out against Gay Pride Month, and you might just go to jail If you resist the new transgenderism and “gender affirmation surgery” for your children.
Christian orthodoxy within the broad bounds of virtuous social liberty has been replaced by the new sexual orthodoxy enforced by the state.
Today the West languishes under the violence of abortion and euthanasia, the scourge of homosexuality and transgenderism, the poverty of materialism, the coercion of socialism, the stranglehold of public education, the chaos of judicial activism, and the injustice of a forced racism and sexism.
These tyrannies are all the direct result of the abandonment of biblical Christianity.
The Western world has increasingly accepted the proposal of that first modern political liberal, Jean Jacques Rousseau: the state will emancipate you from responsibility to all non-coercive human institutions like the family, church, and business, if only you submit yourself to the coercion of the state.
Modern man has been willing to trade away responsibility to the family and church and business for subjugation to an increasingly coercive and violent political order. We’re returning to the classical, pagan world in which the coercive state is the unifying principle for all of life.
The worldview that gave us Gay Pride Month could never have given us the free society — and, if unchecked, will decimate it.
The only hope for the return of political liberty and the free society it fosters is a return to orthodox, biblical Christianity. Christianity is not merely a matrix in which political freedom flourishes; it is the only foundation on which to build a free society, because it weds liberty to its only impregnable foundation: virtue.
And that is a godly pride worth celebrating this month and every month.
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Next week Sharon and I will be driving to western Pennsylvania for her 40th high school reunion (technically her 43rd, since three graduating classes are meeting). She graduated from Western Beaver High School, Midland, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh. She then attended Sewickley Valley School of Nursing from which she got her R.N. license.
Not long afterward, I met this lovely young woman, and we’ll be celebrating our 39th anniversary this August.
Speaking of August, I’ll be addressing the For God and Truth Conference (Pastor Ernie Yarbrough) in Decatur, Alabama, August 4–7:
I’ll be drafting next week’s e-newsletter from the road, and I plan to write on “The Authority of the Old Testament Today.”
Would you consider sending a tax-deductible donation at the digital links above or a check to the address below? In any case, would you pray for CCL and me as we stand for a thoughtful biblical faith in our Neo-pagan and apostate times?
Yours, and proud of Christendom,
Founder & President, Center for Cultural Leadership
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