Tuesday, January 29, 2013

sex and culture

Another great post by Doug Wilson dealing with a complex issue nearly impossible to properly communicate well in the blogsphere. Here's the money quote:
For the political activists, we must confront the realization that there is no political solution for the challenge we face. Laws won't do it. For the gospel-firsters, those who keep the gospel sealed off away from our public dilemmas and challenges, we must realize that while politics is no savior, politics desperately needs to be saved.
And here's the post:

What I have been calling pomosexuality is both a normal and abnormal state of affairs, and I should probably explain.
Scripture teaches that there are two humanities, one broken and the other . . . broken, but in the process of repait. One humanity resides in Adam, and is in complete bondage to what Paul calls the flesh. The other humanity resides in Christ, and is progressively being liberated from that old bondage. This happens through a process of both individual and cultural sanctification.
We should not be surprised that each humanity, being a humanity, expresses its nature in sexual ways. So in this sense, homosexuality, promiscuity, pornography, and so forth, are all "normal." A broken creation, a broken humanity, mean a broken sexuality.
This affronts our deep-seated Pelagianism (which is also normal for unregenerate man), which wants to say that if we can't help doing something, we can't be held responsible for it. Obligation implies ability, and since we have no ability to stop being so universally horny, we must not have the obligation to do so, or so the thinking goes.
Trouble develops when a culture dominated by the old humanity in Adam finds itself saddled with laws, customs and mores, all inherited from a time when the new humanity in Christ had much more influence than it does now. This residuum does nothing but chafe. Someone like Nietszche shows up in a Europe that is spiritually dead, but with "fussy" biblical customs, assumptions, and laws extending in every direction, and what happens is the only possible thing that could happen. What happens is revolt.
Perversion is perversion when compared to the creational norm that God first established, and also when compared to the design that God has set out for us in regenerate humanity. But it is undeniably biblical to affirm that adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and so on, are natural to the natural man (Gal. 5:19). Apart from Christ these lust clusters are normal, and they are so connected to our members which are on the earth that we as believers must still deal with them (Col. 3:5).
Patterns and customs and expectations and laws which are conducive to the new humanity cannot be laid on top of the old humanity. It will not work. But I do not say this as a prelude to an exhortation to "give up." No, we must not give up. We were told to teach all the nations how to obey every word that Jesus left to us, and this requirement includes Massachusetts. But before that can happen, we must baptize them, and baptizing them means baptizing them into His death (Rom. 6:3). That death is a death to sin, and this cannot happen without a Spirit-anointed proclamation of the gospel, such that the nation turns en masse, and bows down before the Lord in true humility. There is no other way to save our nation. No salvation without a Savior, and there is only one Savior. His name is Jesus. But before we can get America to confess that Jesus is the only Savior, we must get the Church to do so.
In his very fine book, Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp points out the neglected context of a very famous verse. That context identifies for us what the need of the hour is. What Israel needed in the days of Isaiah, we need now. And, pressing the point further, what that is can be summed up with four Rs -- repentance, regeneration, reformation and revival.
For the political activists, we must confront the realization that there is no political solution for the challenge we face. Laws won't do it. For the gospel-firsters, those who keep the gospel sealed off away from our public dilemmas and challenges, we must realize that while politics is no savior, politics desperately needs to be saved.
"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, 

        Call ye upon him while he is near: 
Let the wicked forsake his way, 
        And the unrighteous man his thoughts: 
        And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; 
        And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
        Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
        So are my ways higher than your ways, 
        And my thoughts than your thoughts. 
For as the rain cometh down, 
        And the snow from heaven, 
        And returneth not thither, 
        But watereth the earth, 
        And maketh it bring forth and bud, 
        That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: 
        It shall not return unto me void, 
        But it shall accomplish that which I please, 
        And it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. 
For ye shall go out with joy, 
        And be led forth with peace: 
        The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, 
        And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, 
        And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: 
        And it shall be to the Lord for a name, 
        For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off" (Isa 55:6).

God's Word goes out and it accomplishes its purpose. It does not return void. But, as Tripp asks, what is that purpose? It is clearly the regeneration of mankind.
It has to do with seeking the Lord, calling on Him (v. 6). It has to do with wicked men forsaking their way, and unrighteous men forsaking their way of thinking (v. 7). God's way is to pardon (vv. 7-8), and it is in this sense that we may say that God's thoughts and ways are far above our own -- pardon, mercy, and forgiveness are not comprehensible to the natural man. When we talk about God's thoughts being higher than ours, we are not talking about the kind of calculus that God can perform compared to what we can do. We are talking about genuine love, which unconverted men cannot grasp. But God's ways are much higher than ours, which means that His plans for a new humanity will be realized (vv. 8-9). As rain and snow water the earth and are efficacious in bringing forth growth (v. 10), so also God's Word functions (v. 11). Just as precipitation does not water the earth in vain, neither does the rain of God's Word come in vain. The result will be great joy (v. 12). But there is one remarkable difference. God's Word does not result in us getting more of what we have now, only greener and lusher. God's rain transforms the nature of what is growing. This is why we must have regeneration.
When God's rain falls, fir trees will grow up instead of thorns. When God's rain falls, myrtle trees will replace all the briars. This is why we must have the new birth.
God's regenerative Word, the gospel, does not make the old humanity bigger. We do not get thicker briars and thorns. God's Word is transformative. If it did not transform, it would not be gospel.

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