Two things I think are related:
1) For reasons I don’t entirely understand, it has become normal in certain parts of the Christian subculture to join the secularist crusade against any concrete application of the biblical exhortations to modesty. Suggesting that bikinis or skin-tight yoga pants are not proper public attire has been castigated as legalistic and “abusive.” It isn’t a woman’s responsibility if a man lusts as a result of seeing her curves or other anatomy. (One extreme anti-modesty zealot asserted that a Christian man ought to be able to stand in front of a string-bikini-clad woman and not think a thing except something like “this could be my daughter.”)
These anti-modesty activists wholly discount the psycho-physiological realities of male sexuality. They view people, men particularly, in this case, as brains on sticks.: detached, sovereign wills that have unlimited power to act. The only factor in what a person thinks, says, or does is what they choose. External stimuli either have no effect, or can be completely conquered if only a man chooses it.
2) More understandable to me is the increasing (or so it seems to me) interest in libertarianism. Or, at least, a popular expression of libertarianism that I’ll call market fundamentalism. For the market fundamentalist, the answer to every social and economic problem is to deregulate something. Are monopolies dominating markets and undercutting mom-and-pops? Deregulate them. Are peddlers of smut delivering their wares to ever-younger victims? Deregulate them. Are corporations polluting the commons? Deregulate them. All these problems are somehow solely the fault of the government.
The market fundamentalist cannot conceive that the market might reward or encourage evil behavior, or if it does, that a person might not be able to resist those enticements. No, if we see problems in our society and economy, then those suffering under those problems are to blame. Their only recourse is to muster up their willpower and make a better decision.
Both of these errors, along LGBTism and transhumanism, share the same wrong-headed view of man; they all have a false anthropology. They see man as unlimited will. The only thing that matters is what he chooses, and he can choose whatever he will. There is no consideration of his limits. He is not embodied. He’s completely self-made.
We need to shore up our understanding of nature, custom, and human limits.
I reproduce publicly something I wrote in a private group about the outlook for Western Christians. Even if the stuff about liberal sexuality were not true, I think points 9-14 would still hold. The LGBT crusade is just helpful in making the necessity of this rather obvious to anyone paying attention. (Read Rod Dreher’s book.)
Here’s a rough outline of my thinking on this:
1) Christians are a minority in Western culture now. We do not hold cultural or political power.
2) The liberal sexual paradigm is ascendant and dominant, culturally, politically, and religiously.
3) The liberal sexual paradigm is opposite to and irreconcilable with the Christian sexual paradigm.
4) The liberal sexual paradigm does not allow for dissent. Normalization and celebration of deviancy is being/will be compelled.
5) The educational establishment is pushing the liberal sexual paradigm, including transgenderism, at all levels of education, requiring both students and faculty to assent to it.
6) The corporate world (finance, administration, media, law, retail, etc) is fully on board with the same. HR departments routinely push for ‘diversity training’ and public expressions of ‘allyship.’
7) Christians are already being terminated from these jobs in small numbers.
8) All indicators say those numbers will increase.
9) This means large numbers of Christians in those fields will need some sort of livelihood and a place to educate their children.
10) Those will only be possible in a thick community of like-minded, serious, orthodox Christians living in close physical proximity to one another and serving one another and their wider community in interlocking vocations.
11) Such a community cannot be built over night, so waiting until one is fired to begin building it means you’ve waited too late.
12) LGBT woes are the occasion for our strategic withdrawal, but they are only a recent symptom of a deeper, older problem that the Church has failed to address.
13) Failure to form these thick communities will mean widespread apostasy, isolation (ironically) of individual Christians, and irrelevance of the Church.
14) It is only from these thick communities that we can hope to be a compelling witness for Christ and His kingdom.
We Abandon Social Conservatism at Our Own Peril
By Carlos Flores at Public Discourse. Fiscal conservatives, don’t be too quick to move on from social issues; they have fiscal impacts.
Our State Religion
By “Johnny” at Granola Shotgun. This one is not actually about religion, but what is the state’s “religion?” Read to see.
Pronouns, Ordinary People, and the War over Reality
By Anthony Esolen, also at Public Discourse. (The Witherspoon Institute provides quality content, I must say.) This piece brings to mind Solzhenitsyn’s admonishment to “live not by lies.”
I’m An English Major Who Just Got Fired As A Barista. Here’s Where I Went Wrong
By David Breitenbeck at The Federalist. He cautions against going to college without a clear understanding of why you’re going. As someone who is currently enrolled at Georgia Tech, I concur with his assessment.
The Sentimentality Trap
This is an excellent essay on poetry and the temptation towards sentimality by Benjamin Myers via First Things. A though-provoking line:
“Sentimentality is really a form of that deadly heresy of Gnosticism, which prefers airy spiritualization to God’s actual creation.”