Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Linchpin sex secret power of Christianity

" is sex the linchpin of Christian cultural order? Is it really the case that to cast off Christian teaching on sex and sexuality is to remove the factor that gives—or gave—Christianity its power as a social force?"
Rod Dreher smacks an argument to the jaws of Western civilization. But Western civilization fights back through the counter-punches of Donald Devine. Who will win? Actually, maybe both as they score various hits on different parts of the body politic.

Dreher is warning that Western society embracing same sex marriage is effectively a choice to hasten the demise of Christianity as the social force of Western civilization. Devine argues that Christianity is a victim of its own power, in this case the power of individualism which Jesus unleashed on the world (however unintentionally). Yet Devine also underscores the death of Christianity,
"What we see today in the success of gay marriage is not really freedom run amok, but the result of turning the power to define morality over to the state, or to the dominant group representing it."
Is the state is the new god of the Western world, worshipped in the cathedral of parliament, led by the high priests and priestesses elected by the people to 'represent' them to the god but subject to the influential judgments of the elders (also known as 'journalists')?

The demise of Christianity is also measured in my post yesterday: the failing power of Christianity is evidenced by the lack of concern the Western world shows for persecuted Christians.

For decades we have known that Christendom no longer defined the relationship between Christianity and the West but we have harboured the sentiment that Christianity nevertheless remained the ruling paradigm for morality, justice and human dignity. The last nail in the coffin of Christendom turns out, pace Dreher and Devine, to also be the nail which deflates the balloon of inflated expectations about Christianity's cultural influence.

The death of Christianity as the social force for Western civilization is a Good Friday moment in history. We need to use Holy Saturday to prepare for the Day of Christianity's Resurrection.

On that day we will not be restored to former glories and life in the citadel of power. But we will experience again the power of the Holy Spirit.


Chris Hynde said...

Well said Peter! This is why I follow your blog despite our differences. You share the light you perceive freely with all. That is truly Christ-like.
Thank you.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Is the State the new god of the western world?"

In answer to this question, one might raise the point that the 'western world' may be in the vanguard of the advancement of human rights - in the prevailing ethos of slave/master relationships.

In the spiritual realm, todays advancement towards equality for all people(s) might well be compared with that established by Jesus in his freeing of women from ritual abuse by their men-folk.

Andrei said...

The Western World is fading, drowning in a sea of sordid squalor as the degenerate ruling classes squander the wealth and heritage created by their far more illustrious forbears.

What is happening here Fr Ron?

One country, two religions and three very telling pictures

Father Ron Smith said...

What you are doing here, Andre, is comparing the religious fervour of the followers of Islam with the faithful of Christianity (of which latter, presumably, you count yourself).

It may have escaped your notice that the numbers of Muslim immigrants in the UK have increased exponentially over the last decade - with a consequebt increase in the number of Islamic worshippers. It is a well-known fact that Muslim adherents worship consistently more frequently than Christians - whether in Eastern countries or those of the West. T hat does not necessarily mean that western countries are going to the dogs. It may mean that Muslims are more systematic in worship -wherever they happen to live - in the Eastend or Westend.

Undergroundpewster said...

50 years after the sexual revolution shook their foundations, many of the once great denominations are still falling. The secular world has taken the sexual ball and gleefully run with it, chasing weakened Christianity from the halls of power. What the resurrected Christianity will look like, I do not know, but I hope to share in a nice fish breakfast on the beach with it someday as far away from the halls of power as I can get.

Bryden Black said...

“Is the state is the new god of the Western world, worshipped in the cathedral of parliament, led by the high priests and priestesses elected by the people to 'represent' them to the god but subject to the influential judgments of the elders (also known as 'journalists')?” - PC

I shall avoid the specific catalyst of this post Peter and focus on this far deeper matter you raise in principle.

It began some centuries ago actually, when the rising notion of the nation state began in earnest to flex its muscles over against that other source of authority and power in Europe, the Church. True; this very Church had helped to weaken itself due to a lack of “ecclesial love” and truthful dialogue when the Reformation burst into its midst. And yet we cannot follow the tenet that the religious wars of the following century were the principle fault of the rise of this notion. On the contrary, the state wanted power for its own sake!

All this broad stroke history of the West is suitably written up and assessed by especially Bill Cavanaugh’s work. Whether we turn to his earlier essays in Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism (T&T Clark, 2002), or his subsequent collection, Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church (Eerdmans, 2011), or canvass his book-long thesis, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (Oxford, 2009), the simple fact is Peter you have begun to name THE 21st C idol of all idols. Furthermore, this idol is notably calling for ‘ultimate security’, and if necessary “to-die-for”. While the theocratic ethos of radical Islam would be quick to fall into line with this logic, the Christian Faith would/should hold to its customary ambivalent stance towards the secular powers of this ‘age’ - at least, that is the stance of the entire NT and subsequent Tradition.

So; watch this ‘space’ in particular ... Nor am I at all as ‘optimistic’ as you seem to conclude; I have in fact little hope of the secular powers permitting anything like “resurrection” frankly! Any resurrection of the Faith will be despite this new potential (NB potential - as we must accent the “ambivalence”) enemy of the Faith. Yet given the sheer fact of the Gospel’s “disarming of the powers”, that resurrection might occur WITHIN this ‘age’ in the West is surely possible - hallelujah! But I’d canvass other mission fields as being more likely loci long before!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
My optimism is the optimism of the gospel!

Bryden Black said...

And my pessimism is governed by the likes of the "ebb and flow" of the Expansion of Christianity ala Kenneth Latourette's thesis ...!

Peter Carrell said...

Jesus versus Kenneth?

I will think about that, Bryden!

Father Ron Smith said...

re our Host's last comment: the Gospel of OLJC is often denied by writers both ancient and modern - not omitting M. Latourette.

Bryden Black said...

The thing to quietly observe Peter (and Ron) is how in fact the Holy Spirit has "ebbed and flowed" territorially and intentionally throughout salvation history - so far! And what we might humbly draw from such 'movements'. That's all ...!
As for the nation state stuff: that too has proven a vital factor in these dynamics.