Emmaus News

November 1998

A Friendly Word

Greetings in the Lord,

I urge readers of Emmaus News to search their lists of friends for those interested in equipping themselves to speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ in public.  Gift subscriptions to Emmaus News are $4 off our regular price.  Very few resources even attempt to renew the intellectual standards of Christendom today, which is a major reason why we are so consistently behind the 8-ball.  This is a winnable battle if we commit ourselves to the truth and the Lord of truth.

We are once again in the Advent season, remembering the First Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and looking forward to the Second Coming, The teaching of the Second Coming is, I am told, forbidden by the Chinese Communist government, presumably because it bespeaks the sovereignty of Christ over all things, and they do not want to hear about it.  For Christians, it means that as we look down the corridor of time, we do not see a blank, empty space, but rather the figure of Jesus coming to meet us.  A powerful image of the meaning of history.

Our copy machine, about 13 years old, is running out of replacement parts.  We will be looking into a new machine shortly.  The cost will be about $6000.  Our copy machine has provided us the equivalent of a small printing press, and is vital to the work of Emmaus.  If anyone is able to contribute toward that project, help would be greatly appreciated.

Faithfully in Christ,
Earle Fox

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our Reasonable God

Public Privacy

Part II

- 5. Pursuit by the Prosecutor -

Kenneth Starr has been the object of sometimes savage attacks by those who think that he is intruding unfairly and obsessively into Clinton's private life.  Richard Cohen (whom I quoted favorably above -- see last month) worries:

How was it that we lost a president on account of a lie told about sex?  The answer is that we live in an era in which the boundary between public and private has been obliterated... and where a prosecutor, suffused with zealotry, went where he should not have gone.  [Ibid.]
Cohen thus worries about the invasion of privacy which has become standard treatment in America.  He does well to worry.

Anthony Lewis makes a similar complaint in the New York Times.  Lewis rejects the comment by Senator Lieberman that "no President today can have a private life":

Privacy is an essential ingredient of civilized human existence.  [9/8/98]
Lewis refers to an article from the London Times by Thomas Nagel, in which Nagel upholds the necessity for privacy.

Professor Nagel correctly saw the destruction of Presidential privacy as part of a larger trend...

a disastrous erosion of the precious but fragile conventions of personal privacy in the United States over the past 10 or 20 years.
Nagel continues:
We can't limit the choice of political figures to those whose peculiar inner constitution enables them to withstand outrageous exposure, or those whose sexual lives are simon-pure.
And Lewis again:
We should not ferret out the secrets of private lives; least of all should we do so by the terrible power of the criminal law.
Starr's critics rest on a naive perception of our situation.  It seems that it is specifically sexual sin which such persons want to protect from the eye of the prosecutor.  Cohen ends his article:
This is what concerns me.  Only one of us is president.  But all of us have bedrooms.
The misplaced concern over "ferreting out" private behavior misses the fact that the behavior in question with Clinton was not in his bedroom, but in the office of the president of the United States, that it involved an enormous abuse of power over an intern (which does nothing at all to excuse the intern), and that sexual sin inevitably compromises one's moral integrity in other areas.

To compare Starr's "ferreting out" of Clinton's sin with snooping pruriently around someone else's bedroom is nonsense.  Taking their advice, Starr would have had to ignore the evidence put forth by Clinton's victims, deny their day in court, and allow an evil-minded man to pursue his lusts.

Starr was forced by three circumstances into his relentless pursuit of Clinton. 

First, he was forced by the condition of our society to which the above writers point, that we have become a nation of voyeurs and peeping Tom's.  If we cannot actually observe our neighbors having sex next door, we will do it on TV and at the movies.  The very nature of a sexualized culture voids all respect for legitimate privacy, and mandates the private right to do evil.

Secondly, Starr's hand was forced by the legendary dishonesty and deceitfulness of Clinton himself.  A prosecutor must prosecute just as relentlessly as the suspect is devious.  If the suspect ups the ante, then so must the prosecutor.  If he does not, he might as well not prosecute in the first place.  A guilty suspect will simply raise the ante to the point where the prosecutor gives up.

And thirdly, as stated, his hand was forced by the claims of the women involved for justice. 

It is patently dishonest for William Clinton on one hand to support abortion (which rides on the energy of our pansexualized culture) and homosexuality (which is prodigiously promiscuous), both of which systematically undermine all sense of propriety and personal privacy, and then on the other hand claim the right of privacy when he is exposed doing precisely the kinds of things which are undermining the privacy of the American public in the first place.

The legal case for abortion was promoted and won in the Supreme Court on the alleged right of "privacy" for mothers to kill there children.  But in that very act, real privacy, which is founded on our right to live, on the value of life itself, was overthrown.  Sexual promiscuity was affirmed (our "private" right to have sex with whom and wherever we wish), making it impossible any longer to maintain the honest kind of privacy to which Clinton now lays claim.

Honest privacy, like honest government, rests on a prior awareness of objective obligation, which comes only from God.  So a culture which has told God that He can no longer talk to our children in schools, that He can no longer have His Scripture read in public ceremonies, that the civil government, not God, will decide who is and who is not a person -- such a culture can no longer claim "rights" either to privacy or anything else.  We are all at risk for the intrusion of absolutely anyone for any reason whatsoever.  Any"rights" we imagine ourselves to have will be totally arbitrary.  That is the consequence of abandoning the law of God.  The chickens have come home to roost.

In a spiritually and morally rational culture, Starr would not have had to pursue Clinton with such unrelenting determination.  In a realistic culture, the population would have done its own work to call Clinton to account.  But in a culture which has lost its moral compass, a prosecutor aiming at righteousness will find himself compelled to pursue the evil-minded without mercy.

Clinton has flourished only because the people themselves have lost their way.  Clinton knows that and knows also how to exploit it.  William Clinton will have to answer to God for hiding behind the Church and behind the Bible, which the media so prominently notices as he carries it in and out of his apostate church on a Sunday morning.

Nagel thinks that we cannot limit our choice of candidates to those with moral and spiritual backbone.  God does not agree.  We are commanded to limit our candidates to the most Godly among us.

And Lewis thinks that we should not "ferret out" the secrets of private lives, even in the case of Clinton.  He is wrong.  When a crime has been committed, and when the suspect practices open and obvious deceit, then the suspect loses all right to be treated tenderly.  The pursuit by the prosecutor must match the deviousness of the suspect.

Privacy, as Lewis notes, is indeed "an essential ingredient of civilized human existence".  But that is just the point.  We of the 20th century, who have murdered a larger percentage of our fellow citizens than any other age, long ago forfeited any right to be called a civilized human culture.  We have the outward trappings of civilization, but we have slid a long ways back into barbarism.  Pursuit by the prosecutor must match....

The Killing of Matthew Shephard

Martin Marty, a well-known and eloquent writer, has responded in the Los Angeles Times to the outrageous killing of Matthew Shephard by two thugs in Wyoming.  One must agree with Marty's sentiments against the killing, and the killers should be removed from society.  [The full article can be read at http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/OPINION/t000094631.1.html.]

His article nevertheless does a great disservice to the cause of truth and puts some all too typical roadblocks in the way of helpful discussion.  Marty's solution to the issue, the passing of "hate crime" legislation, is no solution at all, and is already creating a host of problems, including the erosion of due process where such laws are enacted.

- 1. Hating the Sin -

Marty spends a good deal of time on "loving the sinner and hating the sin", a principle which he denies has application in the present issue.  Others, such as John Spong, have made similar illogical remarks.  No one is disagreeing with loving the sinner, so "hating the sin" must be the issue.

Does God hate sin?  The book of Malachi reports that God hates divorce.  Why would God hate anything?  Hate suggests wanting to eradicate it from existence.  God hates sin because sin is rebellion against His purpose for creation, which, as it turns out, is a community of love among Himself and us, the very thing which Marty, surely, wants.

Is Marty, then, suggesting that we should not hate sin?  Or, is he suggesting that homosexual behavior is not a sin, and therefore not a proper target for hate and eradication?  Or, is he suggesting that Christians who hate homosexual sin are not competent to distinguish between the sin and the sinner, so that the sinner gets slapped with the condemnation of the sin?  And -- are there no sins which Marty wants to see eradicated?

Marty may not use the language, but he does want to eradicate hating homosexuals.  The whole point of "hate crime" laws is to harness the enormous coercive force of civil law against hating homosexuals.  So there is at least one sin which he hates.  Does he, then, love those sinners whose sin he hates?

Let us indulge in a bit of pure logic.  There are four (and only four) choices about the matter:

1. Love the sinner and hate the sin;
2. Love the sinner and love the sin;
3. Hate the sinner and love the sin;
4. Hate the sinner and hate the sin.
There are no other choices.  If Marty rejects the first, for which of the others would he opt?  Would Marty want a surgeon not to hate the cancer which ravages the body of his patient?  Would Marty not want the surgeon to cut the cancer out, destroy it to save the life of the dying patient?

The logical and inescapable fact is that we have no other choice which is either rational or compassionate than to love the sinner and hate the sin.  And the reason for doing so is precisely God's reason for doing so, namely that the greatest enemy of any sinner is his own sin, not the sins of others, however ugly those may be.  We are caused great pain by the sins of others, but we are finally destroyed only by our own sins.

That is why we should hate sin, and that is why we ought to welcome honest feedback about our own behavior.  As Jesus notes, we ought to begin by hating our own sin (Get the log out of your own eye...), for then we can be helpful about the sins of others.  Hating sin is part and parcel of loving either ourselves or our neighbor.

- 2. Honest Discussion -

Marty's argument suggests that those who condemn homosexuality are not competent to distinguish between a person and his behavior, and that therefore any disagreement with a person's homosexual behavior slops over into an attack on the person.

That is itself gratuitous, sloppy thinking which Marty would probably not appreciate being directed at himself.  Should I conclude that because he disagrees with my assessment of homosexuality, that he therefore is attacking me as a person?

That would be sloppy thinking on my part.  So, those of us who disagree with him and other homosexualists, would like the courtesy of being allowed to state our case without being called names.  Without quite saying so, Marty attributes the attitudes of two thugs to any Christian who disagrees with the homosexualist view.

They do this in televangelist programs that see God giving gay AIDS victims "what was coming to them."  They even do it in advertisements featuring smiling "ex-gays," putatively aimed at gay minorities but broadcast to a general public to stir its emotions, certainly not to promote friendlier attitudes toward the unrepentant "sinner," such as Shephard.

I have worked with ex-gay ministries for a decade, and can testify that Marty is in serious, and yes, inexcusable error.

Honest discussers will try to state the case of their opposition in terms that the opposition would recognize as their own.  For Marty to imply, as he surely does, that those who condemn homosexual behavior are aiding and abetting abuse of homosexual persons is silly and illogical thinking.  It makes helpful discussion of a difficult issue impossible.

- 3. "Who I am" vs. "What I do" -

When persons like Marty by innuendo impute the evil motives of two thugs to groups engaged in a healing activity such as the ex-gay ministries, and to all others who oppose their viewpoint, without a teaspoon of evidence to support that claim, that is slander, another evil to be hated and wiped out.

Hopefully, those who are slandered will continue to love their slanderers.  But we are under no obligation to think that slander is a part of their being, that they were born that way, or that it is all in their genes.  Avoiding the fact and logic of the situation and thus promoting self-destructive behavior, is not compassion, but criminal irresponsibility.

Yes, there are persons who abuse others just because  they are homosexual.  But no responsible Christian, no Christian anywhere in the Christian ex-gay ministry, would countenance such behavior.

We do, however, find homosexualists, flying in the face of all logic, persistently maintaining that "my homosexuality is who I am, not what I do".  The homosexualists themselves cannot keep straight the difference between behavior and personal identity.  They insist on confusing the two because their whole PR program of eliciting guilt in their critics depends on it.  They accuse their critics of making that confusion when they themselves insist on the confusion.

- 4. The Discussion They Will Not Have... -

Discussion with homosexualists such as Marty is inevitably twisted by the false assumption that homosexuality is (1) good and right in the eyes of God and (2) healthy.  No card-carrying homosexualist will be caught discussing these questions.

But that is the discussion that must be forced to the table because all else depends on the answers to those issues.  They are winning only because the rest of us will not force the discussion into reasonable channels.  If homosexuality is indeed approved by God, and if it is a healthy lifestyle, then we who disagree should fold our tents and let homosexual people go about their business.  Indeed, we should stand with them.

But if the evidence goes the other way, that God does not approve, and that it is not a healthy way to live, then both truth and compassion would tell homosexualists that they ought to rethink their position.

It may be that Martin Marty does not hate the sin in this case, that he believes homosexual behavior really to be created by God, that it is indeed "mainstream America".

But the facts are all (ALL) against such a view.  Not a single bit of evidence can be brought before an honest public peer review to support the contention that homosexual behavior is approved or caused by God, or that it is a healthy way to live.

The medical and psychological facts are so devastating that only a malicious God would create people that way.  The clear and public evidence tells us that homosexuality as a behavior is lethally self-destructive, and that as a condition it is compulsive and addictive.  The average lifespan of homosexual persons is only about 45 years, and that is before AIDS is factored in.

[For further information on these assertions, read Jeffrey Satinover's book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth.  Also Homosexuality: Good and Right in the Eyes of God? by David Virtue and myself. ]

- 5. "Hate Crime" Legislation -

Marty begins his article:
The gruesome death of Matthew Shephard poses a tough question: Why are some Christians in the forefront of campaigns against hate-crime?
The question may not be so tough.  It may be that some of us understand more about American constitutional law than does Marty, and why it is that hate, however ugly, is never the proper object of law-making.  It is significant that those who persistently have told their nasty right-wing, fundamentalist opponents, "you cannot legislate morality", when objections were made, e.g., to killing pre-born babies, are now telling us that we must legislate, of all things, attitudes. 

Civil law is rightly directed at behavior, not attitudes.  And then only at immoral behavior, and only at that immoral behavior which is appropriately enforced, as it were, at gun point.  It is immoral to be impolite or disrespectful to one's parents.  But those are not behaviors which are appropriately enforced by civil government.

Those who attempt to direct the coercive force of law against attitude and belief are typically tyrants.  Queen Elizabeth I told her badly divided realm that "we do not build windows into men's souls".  Thomas Jefferson likewise articulated a basic principle of our emerging democratic republic -- that the coercive force of civil law does not extend to the thoughts and beliefs of men, but only to their behavior.

Is it right to hate homosexuals?  Of course not.  But the inner hatreds or loves of men are not the business of civil government.  They are the business of families, churches, psychologists, and other organizations which rightly work to form the consciences of the people, but never at gunpoint.  The only proper object of civil law (which always implies "at gunpoint"), is behavior, never attitude.

The means which people insist on using betray the ends toward which they aim.  Laws aimed at content of the mind and heart are means appropriate only to evil-minded ends -- the control of the mind and heart, and the denial of our God-given (see Declaration of Independence) freedom.

Matthew Shephard is already protected by laws governing the behavior of the two thugs.  To add a further penalty because they might hate homosexual persons is to set ourselves up for government control of all our thinking -- a project well under way through our government controlled schools.

We are already building windows into men's souls, and the coercive force of civil government is already being applied to what we think and feel.  In Madison, Wisconsin, people have been arrested, fined, and sent to "remediation" classes to set their thinking straight on the subject of homosexuality.  Already in some provinces of Canada, it is illegal to publicly criticize homosexual behavior.

If Martin Marty wishes to free himself of the suspicion that he is engaged in a subversive attempt to control the hearts and minds of the American people through the coercive force of law, then I would appeal to him to rewrite his article, taking into account the issues raised here.   Otherwise he will be placing the public in the position of having to choose between thinking of him as either ignorant or deceitful -- a fool or a knave.   That would be a tragic end to the career of one who writes so eloquently.

Quote of the Month
"Suppose a nation in some distant region
should take the Bible for their only Law Book,
and every member should regulate his conduct
by the precepts there exhibited...
What a paradise would this region be!"

- John Adams, 1756  -


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Copyright, Earle Fox 1998