Guilt and Rest

[This appeared first at The Jagged Word on August 31.]

If Hitchcock remade Fight Club, it would probably look a lot like The Machinist (2004). If you haven’t seen it, but you’ve seen Fight Club, then I probably gave away the major plot twist. But even if you know the major twist, this is a devastating film about the destructive power of buried guilt. I had seen The Machinist before, but I honestly didn’t remember much except that he works in a machine shop and is struggling with something. I probably watched it on a VHS rented from a Blockbuster (RIP) in Washougal, Washington during a summer when I worked the night shift at a Safeway and then in a hot, dusty, stifling concrete plant in Portland. Not much else to do during my first summer not returning home from college.

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The Face in the Mirror

A while back, my wife and I watched an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling called “Pray the Gay Away?”  I thought the show itself did a good job of getting interviews with those who thought that homosexual sex and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible, as well as with those who thought they can be reconciled and that there is no fundamental contradiction.  Ling interviewed both the current head of Exodus International, which exists to lead homosexuals out of that life, as well as a former founder of Exodus, who now lives with his male lover.

That was all pretty much down the line, as far as someone might expect.  What I found most significant was the segment that Ling did with the counselors and campers at a camp in Minnesota, called The Naming Project ([TNP] held at an ELCA camp, and founded by two ELCA pastors and another ELCA-trained leader).  The impulse behind the camp is good: provide a camp for kids who have been bullied or otherwise marginalized by other people.  It does not help anyone to call them names or reject them because of their sin; they, like everyone, are individuals for whom Christ died–that, in itself, should be enough to end any form of aggression by Christians.  (Of course, this whole issue depends on what is or is not sin, which automatically determines what is and is not forgiveness.)  For TNP, Christianity is equated purely with acceptance and what amounts to greater self-esteem.  The entire segment with the mirrors and the affirmation of individuals no doubt feels good, and maybe those kids feel like no one has ever loved them unconditionally.  Unfortunately for this camp and for the kids who go there, unconditional love has been equated with acceptance of every person along with his or her every sin.  It seems that for every call to “hate the sin but love the sinner,” there is an equally loud call to love the sinner and the sin.

But the fundamental problem with the way that this camp goes about its “project” is symbolized by the very thing that the leaders think will show unconditional love: looking at themselves in a mirror.  “Look at yourself, don’t look at me.”  “You are a child of God.”  “We offer kids a place to be at peace with who they are.”  “Look what God has made: you are made in the image of God.”  This would fit very neatly at a free-will Baptist camp, but I see no way that it can fit at a so-called Lutheran camp.  For Lutherans, it doesn’t matter how you “self-identify,” and, for that matter, it doesn’t matter how others identify you.  It only matters how God identifies you; and how God “identifies” you is only good news if you are not a sinner.  And, for Lutherans, no one is not a sinner.  Gay, straight, married, single, there is no one righteous, not even one.  Looking in a mirror at what and who you are and saying that this is the fullness of who God has made is the opposite of everything the Scriptures say about human beings–unless one confines the Scriptures to Genesis 1 and 2, as the pastor in the clip seems to do.  We may have been made originally in the image of God, but unless we are remade by the Image of God, Jesus Christ, we are not children of God.  Instead, as our (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) baptismal rite says, “The Word of God also teaches that we are all conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims us as His own.  We would be lost forever unless delivered from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation” (Lutheran Service Book, 268).  If you are at “peace” with who you are, you either haven’t been paying attention, or you’re lying to yourself.  Whoever is at peace with himself has given up the Holy Spirit’s fight with his own sinful nature, which is not eradicated until physical death and physical resurrection.  As much as looking at themselves means not looking at the one holding the mirror, it also means not looking at Jesus, whose judgment of us is the only one that matters.

Jesus does not say that we should just be ourselves, or be at peace with ourselves; He says we must deny ourselves (Matthew 1624-25; Luke 9:23-24).  He says not that the person is good, but that everything that comes from our own hearts is evil: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20).  (No doubt this bible, listed under TNP’s resources, will help you understand these passages in a different “light.”)  To look in a mirror and accept oneself is the opposite of confession (which is essence of a wholly Christian life): it is pure narcissism.  It is much more Lady GaGa than Lord God Omnipotent.  Confession is to acknowledge that I am, along with all my impulses and desires, opposed to the God who made me originally in His image.  I have rebelled against that image.  I have nothing good in me.  I am, not to put too fine a point on it, evil.  That is the truth about me, and if it is not the truth about me, than I have no need of a Savior.  I may need a life-coach, or an encourager, or a self-esteem raiser, but I don’t need a Savior.  This camp teaches the opposite of everything that actual Lutherans believe.  And it’s not really relevant that these teenagers have identified themselves, or are being encouraged to identify themselves, as homosexual.  The relevant question is, what is the truth about human beings?  What is the truth about every human being?  And it is not good enough to “confess” that we are all sinners.  Christ did not die for generic “sin.”  He died specifically and particularly for sinners who do not “sin,” but who actually and specifically lie, lust, murder, steal, fornicate, commit adultery, covet, and make idols for themselves.  It is not good enough for the counselors and campers to confess that they are sinners in general, and then talk about God having made them that way.  What God made must be unendingly distinguished from what we are now.  To say that we are, without remainder, children of God who are “born this way” (it is a serious problem when a supposedly Christian camp’s slogans are indistinguishable from Lady GaGa’s), is to deny any doctrine of Original Sin.  If we are born “this way,” and if “this way” is okay with God, then either God is the author of sin; or we are not sinners, though we make mistakes.  I don’t know which one the leaders of the camp would choose, but they are alike denials of the entire Scriptural witness, not to mention a denial of Jesus Himself.

All it takes is a brief thought-experiment to highlight the (Christian) absurdity of accepting the person in the mirror: imagine if we were to do that with any other sin (for the sake of the progressives/enlightened, let’s call it a “negative behavior”).  Imagine an alcoholic who beats his wife: look in the mirror; you are a child of God; God made you this way; be at peace with yourself.  Or a chronic philanderer: be at peace with the person God has made.  Or an abuser of animals: look in the mirror and accept that you are made in the image of God.  Or even someone who lies or steals only once in a while: be at peace with the person in the mirror.  If we do it with LGBTQ youth, why not with those people?  What possible argument could be made?  There is at least as much or more public opprobrium connected to an alcoholic wife-beater than to a gay teenager.  The wife-beater is marginalized and oppressed, and it may even get him beat up by a better man.  Those are his impulses and inclinations, maybe even his orientation, and there are studies that connect alcoholism to genetics.  Why doesn’t he get a mirror in which to look and affirm what God has made?  Try to make an argument that could not also be applied to homosexual youth.

They are free to deny that we are sinners; but sinners don’t need a Savior.  Why not just say, we’re happy with who we are and we don’t need God to tell us that?  Why must we seek justification from some higher Power for our choices?  That’s a far more fundamental question than whether my personal god likes me or not.


“Christ Dwells Only In Sinners”

Therefore, my dear brother, learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say, ‘Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin. Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine. Thou has taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.’ Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners. On this account he descended from heaven, where he dwelt among the righteous, to dwell among sinners. Meditate on this love of his and you will see his sweet consolation. For why was it necessary for him to die if we can obtain a good conscience by our works and afflictions? Accordingly you will find peace only in him and only when you despair of yourself and your own works. Besides, you will learn from him that just as he has received you, so he has made your sins his own and has made his righteousness yours (Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel [trans., ed., Tappert], 110).


The Consequences of a Pseudo-Gospel

If anyone would like to see the future of the LCMS if we continue to deal with the Scriptures in a pure Law/Gospel way (i.e., Law versus Gospel), read this.

Gene Robinson is the product of a mainline American denomination that has clearly played Law against Gospel and is reaping the harvest of such an approach to the Scriptures. Other things have contributed to the chaos, such as picking and choosing which parts of the Scriptures are “God’s Word,” but behind it all is the idea that if someone says “no” to a particular behavior or lifestyle, that person is legalistic and anti-Gospel. Thus, the Gospel is turned into one big huggy-kissy “yes” to the perversion du jour.

“Jesus never says anything about homosexuality,” he says, the light tone in his nasal voice suddenly darkening, “but he says a lot about treating every person with dignity and respect. All the biblical appeals for a particular attitude to homosexuality can never quote Jesus.”

What, though, of Old Testament condemnations of “men who lay with men”?

“The Church isn’t the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he says.

“Only God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Church has always been changing. The Holy Spirit is leading us into truth. And I believe we have learnt that about people of colour, about women, about those who are disabled and now about lesbian and gay people.”

In this system, Jesus is the Almighty Messenger of Acceptance, Dignity, and Respect (AMADR). Somehow “dignity and respect” are exchanged for love, and Jesus, the AMADR, has no words of condemnation except for those who condemn sin. What Robinson fails to understand is that this is not about “a particular attitude to homosexuality,” but about an attitude toward the relationship of men and women, and Jesus does have some things to say about that, including “at the beginning, God made them male and female,” with all that that entails in Genesis 2. We can talk all we want about dignity and respect, but there is no passage, not a single one, that expresses a positive attitude toward homosexual genital contact. The Law of God built into creation itself has been transformed into something that can mean whatever the individual sinner wants it to mean. Forget homosexuality; can Gene Robinson say a single prohibition to any form of conduct, sexual or otherwise?  And on what basis?  By what standard can he judge to be in the wrong those who think sex should be confined to marriage between one man and one woman?  Further, I challenge him to point to a single passage where Jesus says we should treat people with “dignity and respect.”

And can we put to bed (no pun intended) this ridiculous notion of the Holy Spirit leading us into some sort of nebulous “truth”? Why do these people always end in the middle of verse 13? The rest of the passage says,

“…for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13b-15, ESV)

The Spirit is not an independent god floating around bringing whatever notions of “truth” might fit with our own self-conceptions. If it doesn’t fit with the Trinity, especially the Gospel of the Incarnate Son, but also the creation of the world (God did that, remember?), then it’s not the Holy Spirit who gave that “truth.” How arrogant do you have to be to presume that your pet sin has been truthified by the Holy Spirit? This is more dangerous than any dictator claiming to have God on his side, because the dictatorship of the self over and against God is open to everyone. I’m not sure where, exactly, Gene Robinson would locate God and His revelation, since he seems to think that Scriptural prohibitions against having sex with other men is something the Church, and not God, has said. That’s freedom for you! Just claim that whatever sin you like to commit is not prohibited by God, but by the Church–St. Paul was a member of the Church, after all (the patriarchal, hierarchical, sexist, homophobic Church, at least).

But here is Robinson’s driving concern (sound familiar?):

“It is so sad to me that this issue has become so important to us,” he insists. “To raise any issue about the central issues that Jesus raised is idolatry. To focus on this issue to the exclusion of everything else is a kind of idolatry.

It makes the Church seem that much more hopelessly irrelevant to the culture for whom this is less and less of an issue all the time, and especially for people under 30. It makes the Church look so behind the times. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Church could lead for a change rather than bring up the rear?” [emphasis added]

It’s no longer loving someone who is “homo” to you that is narcissistic and idolatrous, but calling that sort of “sexual expression” wrong that is idolatrous! But seriously: who focuses on homosexual genital contact “to the exclusion of everything else”? There I agree with Robinson; such a person would have a problem.

But it’s all about relevance. There is perhaps not anything worse that the Church could be. Hey, whatever people want to do, we’ll say it’s okay. You want to beat your wife? We’re relevant to that. You want to divorce your husband for the cable guy? We’re relevant to that. You want to drink yourself into oblivion? Let us help you! Whatever your perversion, we’ll be relevant. In fact, we’ll lead the way, and beat your wife for you! We’ll give you and the cable guy a blessing! See how relevant and leading we are?

The only way the Church can be relevant to damned sinners is to be irrelevant to their individual wants and desires. Only the Law that condemns sinners and their pet sins is relevant. Only the Gospel that forgives and does not excuse their sins is relevant. Everything else is playing games and chasing fads. The Church does not exist to “accept” anyone (which means, in Robinson’s parlance, “letting them do whatever they want as long as they don’t tell me I’ve sinned”), but to destroy their pretensions. Making people feel better about themselves is the job of the self-help section. The Church exists so that God can kill sinners and raise them to a new life. Robinson wants them to go back to their old life feeling “dignified” and “respected.” That’s called Hell.

This is a pseudo-Gospel, and therefore a pseudo-Christ. In Robinson’s World, everything is inverted:

Given that he is not about to change his view, Anglicanism faces an uncertain future, I suggest. “I believe,” he says, giving every indication of meaning it, “that in the end the communion will win out and we will hang together. God calls all of his children to the table. We can disagree and even say a lot of hateful things, but what we can’t do in good conscience is leave the table. Or demand that someone else not be at the table.”

Which seems to be exactly what some of his fellow bishops are demanding of him. “They are,” he confirms, “and that is the worst sin. But by virtue of our baptism, Peter Akinola and I are brothers in Christ and one day we are going to be in heaven together, so we might as well learn to get along here because we will have to get along there. God won’t have it any other way.”

He’s the victim and the sinned-against, and not even God is going to remove that self-assurance. Thus, the one who begins by saying “yes” to everything to which God says “no” becomes the most legalistic with those who oppose him. Everyone will have a lex aeterna; the question is, does it match God’s?

Unless the Missouri Synod can escape a pure Law/Gospel polarization, following the Episcopalians down their well-trodden path is absolutely unavoidable. And unless there is something outside Law vs. Gospel (God’s Law and God’s Gospel, remember), there is no argument that can be made against Robinson’s form of Law-Gospel reductionism. In such a universe, sin will be definable as “whatever condemns my so-called sin,” and the Church will turn into the world, where discourse becomes a series of emotional assertions with moral labels attached. God help us.


The Last Straw?

In a completely unforeseen development–sarcasm doesn’t translate well over blogs–the ELCA (Evangelical?Lutheran?Church? in America) voted not to discipline either congregations or church workers who continue to live in homosexual relationships. (You can read the substitute motion, which passed, here. Not sure how to find the rest of it.)

I love this part: the Assembly wants its leaders “to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining those congregations and persons who call into the rostered ministry otherwise-qualified candidates….” First, I’m not sure what it means to “demonstrate restraint” in such a case, other than “not to do it.” Second, if they are “otherwise” qualified, they are not completely qualified. What sort of theological confusion is it (I realize there’s no shortage of that these days) that believes that people can separate the unrepentantly sinful part of themselves from the “otherwise-qualified” part? As if we were divisible into “homiletic ability,” “pastoral care,” and “sexuality”?

Nor does the Assembly want its leaders to discipline those who live “in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship who have been called and rostered in this
church.” The lack of a comma after “faithful” is confusing. Are they faithful(ly) committed? or is committed now a noun that is inseparable from “same-gender relationship”? As for “mutual” and “chaste,” I have no doubt about the first and every doubt about the second. I know this is hard to hear in our cultural setting, but not every sexual relationship, no matter how “mutual,” “faithful,” and “committed,” is chaste. Surely the ELCA has rendered itself impotent to oppose any sexual relationship that is mutual and faithful (whatever faithful could possibly be construed to mean in this context). Oh, you and your brother are mutually and faithfully committed to each other? Sure, we’ll marry you! Oh, you are in a mutual, faithful, committed relationship with your father’s ex-wife? Sure, we’ll marry you. (What do you mean, St. Paul condemned it? Who’s he?)

Is there anything else but pomp and ceremony that can still be removed from the ELCA? How will the remnant (i.e., the real faithful ones) act? Of course, if sharing pulpits and altars with those who deny our Lord’s bodily presence (for example, here) didn’t cause them any real heartburn, why should this? This is merely the harvest of forty years of doctrinal apostasy. But, if this is the last straw for you, get out now. It ain’t getting any better.


Things Bill Maher Doesn’t Understand

So Bill Maher (and his minions) finds it hi-larious that Christians (“the Christian Right”–at least he acknowledges that they’re right) oppose the HPV vaccine. His argument (that’s generous of me) is roughly as follows: because Christians hate sex so much, they’d rather kill their daughters than allow them a little “fun.” Ha, ha. Those silly Christians.

But of course, if your entire “argument” is one big exercise in missing the point, what are some snide jokes in the process?

Now for the bad news: Not everyone is pleased with this vaccine. That prevents cancer. Christian parent groups and churches nationwide are fighting it. Bridget Maher — no relation, and none planned — of the Family Research Council says giving girls the vaccine is bad, because the girls “may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

Which is really a stretch. People don’t get the vaccine for typhoid and say, “Great, now I can drink the sewer water in Bombay.” It’s like saying if you give a kid a tetanus shot she’ll want to jab rusty nails in her feet. It’s like being against a cure for blindness because it’ll encourage masturbation. It’s like being for salmonella poisoning in peanut butter because it’ll discourage weirdos from spreading it on their ass and calling the dog.

These analogies would only work if people want to drink the sewer water in Bombay or jab rusty nails into their feet, or if people actually think that masturbation–there’s a selfless action for you!–leads to blindness, or if…well, you get the picture.

Now, whatever the other Maher might have said, the point is not so much that girls will have a license to engage in premarital sex, as if, as Maher so subtly points out, this vaccine will make girls who had no prior thought of sex suddenly want to jump into bed. Again, not the point. Rather, it’s that those who are having sex will lose further inhibition. This is not an isolated case, as if the only consequence of sex was HPV. This is about an all-out crusade on consequences.

Here is the point that Maher with his sledgehammer-style commentary couldn’t have seen even if he wanted to: we don’t like consequences. We don’t like consequences of sexual promiscuity, so we have herpes medications, HPV medications, AIDS medications, etc. What STD do we not have a medication for? And if you get that other horrible disease from sex–the dreaded fetus–we have “clinics” where you only have to hurt and bleed a little bit to solve your problem: our modern purgatory. Don’t like the person you married, or their sex (as in gender)? That’s alright, we’ve got cures for that, too. It’ll only cost you a couple hundred dollars, and you can be free. Don’t want a divorce? Find another unhappy person to fulfill your shortcomings. Two halves make a whole, right?

Someone’s already jumping to the exceptions: what if your husband beats you? Are you saying divorce shouldn’t be allowed? What if you’re raped? You can’t get an abortion? What if you got AIDS from a blood-transfusion? They just have to suffer? Besides the fact that exceptions to a rule are exactly that, exceptions to a rule, there is something very important at stake here that our modern hedonists cannot understand: sometimes life is not fair. If your husband beats you, you should get out of the house. Should you get a divorce? That’s another question. If you get AIDS from a blood transfusion, should you have medicine? Of course. And you should have medicine anyway. But you are ignorant if you think that having medicine for herpes and commercials that show people living fun, free lives do not contribute to a recklessness when it comes to sex. All those commercials say is that herpes may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s not bad at all! Members of the opposite sex will still want to have sex with you!  You are ignorant if you think that we can remove all consequences from all actions and have a better world in the process.  More importantly, maybe it’s not always the best thing to get rid of all conceivable sources of suffering.  If that were the case, I would eliminate Bill Maher and his juvenile column.

What might a world without consequences look like? We might start with the positive: the secular hedonists are likely to go the way of the Shakers–that is, the way of extinction. What with the diseases and no offspring, I’ll give them a couple generations at most.

Negatively, if they get their way, all our children will have STDs because it just won’t matter anymore. It’s not about having sex, it’s about having sex that goes against what is built into us: to be one flesh only with one other person. Once again, I have little to no chance of getting HPV (at least the sexually transmitted kind) because I’ve had sex with only one person (my wife) and she has had sex only with me. The consequences have nothing to do with not liking sex. Hey, I love…nevermind. They have to do with having sex with the wrong people.

But the above only focuses on the lack of physical consequences for what they tell us is free, fun, no-strings sex. There are consequences beyond what we see and experience in our bodies. If you actually think that there is such a thing as “no-strings” sex, you are simply naïve. For those who might wish to attribute to Christians anything other than malice and evil motives, could it be that we might actually be concerned about things that go deeper than the physical? The physical is of course intrinsically connected to the spiritual, but we are speaking to those who think the physical can be utilized like one might utilize a hammer or a pencil. (“There is my body, and then there is me.”)

One more thing we should be clear about: I am not against the vaccine itself (other than the aforementioned crusade against consequences), but against making it mandatory–even with an opt-out clause–for little girls. No one has given any percentages about those who have HPV and cervical cancer. The media makes it sound as if every single woman or girl who gets HPV will get cervical cancer. I don’t think so. Talk about scare tactics.

But it would be no good explaining these things to Bill Maher. These are all things that he doesn’t–maybe cannot–understand.


Throw Another Farce on the Ol’ Choppin’ Block

Just do it already!  Quit the half-hearted measures and go all the way.  Why doesn’t the ELCA just do what we all know is inevitable and go the way of the oldline denominational dinosaurs?  Does it really mean anything at all to defrock a pastor for having an openly homosexual relationship, while at the same time hoping that they won’t have to follow through?

In its 14-page opinion, the committee said a narrow majority of its members felt “compelled” to remove Schmeling under the church’s current standards for clergy. But it said it was “nearly unanimous” that the rules “are at least bad policy, and may very well violate the constitution and bylaws of this church.”

If you’re in the ELCA and opposed to non-chaste homosexual pastors, I’d be interested to know whether you really think you’re going to be able to turn this tide?  To say the least, I’m not optimistic.

According to the story,

“I feel hopeful that things aren’t over,” [“Pastor” Bradley] Schmeling said yesterday after the verdict was announced. “All I can do is keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is be the best pastor I can be and tell my own story with honesty and integrity.”

Maybe that’s part of the problem.  You’re so interested in telling your story, you forgot Whose story you were supposed to be telling.  Unfortunately it’s necessary to say, that story does not sanction homogenital relationships.  There is no Scriptural room for it; all that’s left is some vague “gospel” that has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with You. 

I have nothing against the faithful pastors and people of the ELCA.  They’ve been fighting against the secularist, pagan, politically correct agenda for a long time.  After all, the Titanic can only stay afloat for so long.  “Taking on water, going down fast…”


Now You Can Prevent Cervical Cancer!

Texas’ pro-life, anti-embryonic-stem-cell research governor has signed legislation requiring all 11- and 12-year old girls to be inoculated against HPV (Human Papillomavirus). What is HPV, you may ask? It is a form of another acronym: STD. (Which is, incidentally, the primary reason I would never get a Doctorate in Systematic Theology.) Besides having the STD, you (if you are a woman) can get cervical cancer. So the good people of Texas, lobbied by the warm-hearted people at Merck (who makes the vaccine…hmm) thought it would be a good idea to make the anti-STD vaccine mandatory.

Nothing wrong with that, right? We’re all about preventing cancer in little girls, aren’t we? Besides, as the governor of Texas said, “the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children against polio.” Whatever you say, guv. The problem is, this is not just something that you can “pick up,” like the common cold. You have to have sex, hence the “S” in STD.

A Merck spokesman, Christopher Loder, attempting to alleviate parents’ fears that this vaccine might have anything to do with their daughters having sex, said

that the company simply wants to “help reduce the burden of cervical cancer — the second-leading cancer among women around the world — and other HPV-related diseases for as many people as possible, and as quickly as possible.”

“Other HPV-related diseases.” You mean other diseases caused by sexually transmitted diseases? I hate to be repetitively monotone about this, but there is a way to prevent STDs altogether (and it doesn’t even involve life-long abstinence!): you marry someone who hasn’t had sex, and you’re monogamous! I know lawmakers never think of these sorts of things, but that’s why they’re lawmakers, isn’t it?

This proposal is as absurd as encouraging everyone to have AIDS tests. (A tactic that is especially effective coming from heterosexual women on Oprah.) Why in the world would I need to have an AIDS test? I have never had sex with anyone but my wife, who has also never had sex with anyone else. The minimal chances, then, of getting AIDS are lessened by the fact that neither of us have had blood transfusions either–though let’s not forget the protestations of the homosexual male community that they should be allowed to give blood “just like everyone else.”

So, no, I will not have an AIDS test. And, no, I will not be needing a drug that lowers the number of genital herpes outbreaks. And, no, for pity’s sake, I will not allow my daughter to be vaccinated against HPV! I know, I know, I’m so harsh. The hysterics and hyperventilation have already started. Bu–, bu–, what if your daughter gets cervical cancer from her HPV!!?? Well, for starters, she doesn’t have HPV. Second, I will personally and forcibly inject cervical cancer into any boy or man who gives my daughter HPV. Third, I am not going to explain to my sixth-grade daughter (I’ve got a few years; she’s only two) why the doctor is vaccinating her against a cancer caused by a sexually transmitted disease. (“Daddy, what’s a ‘sexually tr…'”) Fourth, I will teach her to respect her body and the body of her future husband who, God willing, is also saving his body for her. Honoring the marriage bed begins long before marriage. Fifth, there are consequences for our actions in this world.

I know it sounds cold-hearted to say that. But it is not as if I wish those consequences for my daughter. I’m not hoping for them. I’m hoping and praying against them. Just like I’m not going to tell my daughter to use a condom when she has sex, instead of teaching her to respect her purity and her gift to her future husband. Just like I’m not going to tell my daughter not to worry about STDs; heck, they have medicine for those kinds of things. Just like I’m not going to tell my daughter that pregnancy is just an inconvenience; heck, they’ve got “family planning” for that kind of thing. The consequences are not good, but that is no argument against teaching my daughter to avoid the sorts of behavior that have negative consequences. My daughter (or my son) may drink and get into a car and drive. Does that mean I teach my children to “drink safely.” No, I tell them not to drink if they’re going to drive, and not to drink at all until they’re 21. Laws matter, you jelly-spined antinomians!

And the Law matters. There are worse consequences than HPV and cancer. There are worse things than death.



The sixth deadly sin is named by the Church acedia or sloth. In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin. (Dorothy Sayers,The Other Six Deadly Sins,” Letters to a Diminished Church, 103)