PMW 2018-063 by Alastair Roberts (The Gospel Coaliton)
The postmillennial worldview expects a time in which righteousness and peace will spread across the globe (Isa. 11:9). This will result from the gospel making its way more deeply into the hearts of men and more fully into human society and culture (John 3:17). But though our world is instant-this, freeze-dried that, biblical eschatology operates slowly over the long term. Just as the first promise of the gospel occurred thousands of years before Christ (Gen. 3:15) and finally came to fruition in his birth, just so the progress of the gospel promised in both testaments only gradually moves toward victory.
Recently we have been witnessing the wholesale and seemingly unrelenting collapse of morality and virtue in world culture. And this is occurring in America, which claims that it is “One Nation Under God” so that our motto has been “In God We Trust.” The radical leftist agenda has asserted itself and has won the day in terms of the homosexual movement. Of course, God is greater than our sin, and greater than all sinners (1 John 4:4). So this too will pass for Christ has promised: “if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32).
But in the meantime, we do well to arm ourselves with knowledge of the situation transpiring around us so that we might understand and expose the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). This review article of an important secular work on our cultural collapse provides us valuable insights that we would do well to notice.
Why American Elites Support Same-Sex Marriage
by Alastair Roberts
Over the last 20 years, there has been a vast and decisive shift in society’s opinions on same-sex marriage. Within a remarkably short period of time, same-sex marriage has moved from being virtually unthinkable to an unassailable cultural orthodoxy. How can we account for such a dramatic transformation? In his new book, From Tolerance to Equality: How Elites Brought America to Same-Sex Marriage, Darel E. Paul presents a compelling case for the role played by America’s elite class in effecting this change.
Conventional accounts of this social transformation typically focus on the work of activists and the moral evolution they helped advance, yet fail to attend to the specific shape the same-sex marriage movement took or account for some of its contingent features (e.g., why has a normalization of same-sex couples occurred, rather than a recognition of them as a radical “queer” alternative?). As a professor of political science at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Paul seeks to address this deficit, particularly focusing on why American businesses and elites—not traditionally recognized as a vanguard of the left—played such a critical role in the movement’s success.
What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change
by Denny Burk and Heath Lambert
Is same-sex attraction sinful, even if it is not acted on? Denny Burk and Heath Lambert challenge misconceptions on all sides as they unpack the concepts of same-sex orientation, temptation, and desire.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Examining Elite Support
To explain this phenomenon, Paul must first demonstrate its existence. Much of the book describes and substantiates the critical role played by America’s elites. Whether through their corporations, churches, universities, or cultural production, Paul shows that these elites were pioneers for same-sex marriage and the normalization of homosexuality.
Paul’s argument contains close analysis of data, using a more sophisticated array of statistical methods than the typical layperson will probably be familiar with (e.g., multiple correspondence analysis). While perhaps occasionally forbidding for the uninitiated, this statistical sophistication is one of the more impressive features of Paul’s case—especially in chapter 5, where it enables him to demonstrate significant clusters of practices and values representing distinct social classes.
The title of Paul’s book foregrounds the importance of the distinction between “tolerance” and “equality.” Tolerance refers to the indulgence and protection of people and practices we find objectionable on moral or other grounds: “for a person to ‘tolerate’ something, she actually has to believe the object in question is deficient, false, or wrong in some way” (70). However, the assertion of equality denies the appropriateness of the negative judgment presupposed by toleration; “it demands public affirmation backed by state power and restricts the private scope for negative judgment to the narrowest range possible” (8). While attitudes to gay and lesbian persons even a decade ago among America’s elites were largely marked by tolerance, in the push for “marriage equality”—marriage being society’s sanctioning, celebrating, and privileging of certain sexual relations—a fundamental move toward approval was galvanized.
The inrushing tsunami of transformed elite opinion seemed to sweep away all before it. Heretics within their ranks, such as Brendan Eich and Mark Regnerus, were mercilessly denounced and expelled. Political leaders such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—who once claimed to oppose same-sex marriage—rapidly “evolved” on the issue, becoming its prominent cheerleaders.
Homosexuality, Transgenderism, and Society
5 downloadable mp3s by Ken Gentry
The homosexual movement is one of the leading challenges to the moral stability of American culture and to our Christian influence in culture. In this sermon series Dr. Gentry tackles the homosexual question head on.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Same-Sex Marriages Embody Elite Values
Paul compares this shift to the dramatic collapse of a taboo whose rationale had been forgotten. The plausibility of the taboo failed, not least because same-sex marriages increasingly resembled the elites’ own marriages and symbolized their aspirations for the wider marriage culture.
Marriages between two persons of the same sex represent the dislodging of the gendered hierarchy in marriages between men and women. Same-sex marriages are less a shared commitment to the demands of a natural institution ordered toward the bearing and raising of children, than they are a potent symbol of individual autonomy, self-realization, and expression. When marriage isn’t a male-and-female reality, gender stereotypes associated with parenting and labor can be undermined. Indeed, for these and other reasons, in many quarters elite opinion swiftly moved to present same-sex marriages as the ideal, not just an exception to be tolerated.
Paul suggests that perhaps one of the greatest factors informing elite support for same-sex marriage is their own low fertility. Through his analysis of the data, he reveals that fertility is “the fulcrum around which family models turn” (109). The more children a couple have, the less likely they are to be sexually progressive. Conversely, by far the highest support for the normalization of same-sex relations is found in those groups with the lowest fertility, for whom sex detached from reproduction is most normalized.
Procreation is the elephant in the room of all of our cultural conversations about sex, sexuality, gender, and marriage. To the extent that it can be suppressed in our awareness by technological and ideological means, sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships can float weightless and ungrounded in a gravity-less vacuum.
Particularly important for understanding the support for same-sex marriage is its nullification of the father figure, who, though prominent in the high-fertility family, becomes increasingly dispensable as marriage and procreation are detached from each other. Paul writes that:
those most opposed to women taking their husband’s name are generally those most supportive of same-sex sexual relations, of defining gay and lesbian couples as a family, of same-sex couple adoption, and of same-sex marriage. Vice versa, those most supportive of married women taking their husband’s name are the least supportive of normalization. (109)
With low-fertility families and the advance of contraception, sterilization, and abortion (to which one could probably add the considerably reduced dependence on male economic provision due to government welfare and women’s increased activity as wage earners), the patriarchal social power of the traditional father figure can be steadily undermined. . . .
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Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University in England) works for the Theopolis, Davenant, and Greystone Institutes. He participates in the Mere Fidelity and Theopolis podcasts, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.