What Zambia And Russia Can't Teach Us About Discipleship

Flag-map of Zambia

Flag-map of Zambia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On More Christian Politics Without Jesus

The last time I responded to the TGC on “natural law” and the “yuck factor,” I do so only through the blog comment section and a post about Paul Over Jesus.  Unlike Thabiti, I do consider myself a “culture warrior,” just a different kind, I like to call it a “multiculture warfare.”  What is particularly bothersome about Thabiti Anyabwile’s latest post on homosexuality, What Zambia and Russia Can Teach Us About Homosexuality and Gay Rights Debate is the lack of criticism geared toward hegemonic violence.  Anyabwile continues to insist that a return to natural-law arguments would be Christians most effective weapon to win back the culture. In his response to my criticism of such an approach, Thabiti said that if Christians were to bring up Jesus, we would be ridiculed.  What? Christians aren’t part of punch-lines right now? What this reasoning boils down to is more Christian politics without Jesus; Jesus’ life, teaching, and Resurrection are stripped of their meaning as church members trust more in themselves, their “man-power” [Republican leadership, control of the policing forces/military] to hold the culture hostage, to restore a 1950’s Utopia that never was.

Christian politics without Jesus the Messiah is andro-centric hegemony.  Apart from the consequence of backlash (when our “enemies” come to power to exact revenge), the idea that the law ever has to be on “OUR” side is a gross misrepresentation of the traditional Christian sex ethic and those who have pronounced it in prior generations.  The Law is unable to teach self-control, and it definitely not able to compel persons to gain will-power.  The Law is violence, both rhetorical and physical violence, it is an unnecessary evil that can never replace the witness of Jesus’ Priestly Office as our Excellent Teacher and Rabbi or the Christian practices of celibacy and sacrament of marriage between one man and one woman. This witness is a nonviolent witness because it seeks to lead by persuasion and not coercion.  It is a Christ-centered approach, the way of being a disciple of Christ Jesus.

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0 thoughts on “What Zambia And Russia Can't Teach Us About Discipleship

    1. RodtRDH Post author

      Hi Charity Jill,

      Yah I have tried to fix the link, but here is the original link I am trying to fix:

      politicaljesus.com/2009/10/14/one-flesh-christian-marriage-as-nonviolent-sacrament/

      Reply
  1. Thabiti

    Hey Rod,

    I’m always grateful for your interactions and I pray you continue to serve the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength.

    But I do feel like you often mis-state my positions by just enough distance to be potentially misleading.

    This post might more accurately summarize what I’ve said/written with something along the lines of, “Anyabwile thinks a return to moral law arguments is essential for:

    (a) establishing a public discourse that everyone can access without privileging religious texts;
    (b) bringing the moral dimensions of the behaviors we’re debating back into focus; and,
    (c) attempting to raise or awaken consciousness on the issue.”

    I do not recommend any of this to “win the culture” (a concept I find quite dubious, as the introduction to this address makes clear: http://t4g.org/media/2010/06/fine-sounding-arguments-how-wrongly-engaging-the-culture-adjusts-the-gospel-session-iv-2/). I’m perfectly happy to “lose the culture” and wouldn’t think doing so would threaten our Lord’s kingdom in the least little bit. The law doesn’t need to be “on our side.” I’m of the opinion that for most of Christian history in most places in the world, the law has not been “on our side” and that has been a good thing for the church. When church and state has snuggled and cozied up to one another, it’s been disastrous for church and state.

    You’re quite correct to say my post doesn’t address hegemonic violence. But you note that as if I said anything to commend such violence. I don’t and haven’t. I condemn that kind violence in the strongest terms. As I noted in the comments thread of one of the posts, personally I favor hate crimes legislation that would more stiffly punish such violence against the LGBTQQ community.

    Finally, as for Christians being ridiculed, I think I said pretty clearly in the original post that Christians are in fact being ridiculed now. It’s not a matter of “more Christian politics without Jesus” on the way to a “1950s style utopia that never was.” For me, it’s about moving the conversation in directions that accomplish an apologetic work necessary to evangelism. In other words, there are some issues we have to address on the way to talking about Jesus. I think that’s precisely what Paul does in the opening chapters of Romans (1-2) on the way to a fuller explication of the gospel (chap’s 3-11) and an articulation of gospel-transformed living (chap’s 13-16). It seems to me that most people, in their own way and for noble reasons, want to drop down in Romans 8:1 without duly noting the “therefore” that leads to it. I think it’s necessary to apply the entire letter, not to win a “culture war” or policy victory, but to be faithful to gospel and neighbor even if it makes us unpopular or takes us into uneasy territory.

    Thanks for letting me comment on your blog, showing grace and patience, and interacting on this issue. I always benefit from your reflections. May the Lord’s grace, love, peace and power abound to you at all times!

    T-

    Reply
    1. RodtRDH Post author

      Thabiti,

      Thanks for the much needed clarification. I think Wisdom calls for us Christians in this situation to look out, and listen to the concerns of the LGBTQ community, and violence against their bodies through bullying and legal imprisonment is just one of them. I do not intentionally misrepresent your position, if I have, I apologize. The sum of my argument, my counter-argument, is that you mention Jesus and his teachings exactly zero times in both of these posts so far. That’s the limit to what I have said in my engagement.

      Rod

      Reply
    2. Curt Day

      Thabiti,
      What I was never satisfied with your comments on your TGC blog was your apparent denial of a Christian supremacy that reigns over people in Zambia and Russia who have different sexual orientations and views. It is all done in the name of natural or church law. This supremacy brings an unnecessary ridicule of the Church and the Gospel. With the Gospel being offensive enough for people, I think we need to shed any extra grounds for derision.

      What I wrote in the posts I left links to was intended to show that holding firm to Biblical sexual standards does not mean that we need to control behavior and speech that we find offensive. In addition, we often seek to artificially distance our own sexual relations from that of homosexuals. This artificial distancing allows us to employ the slippery slope argument as an excuse for controlling others.

      If we really want to be effective as cultural warriors in the sexual and other arenas, which is nothing more than persuading people to follow Biblical standards more consistently, we will combine compassion, humility, and boldness in preaching Biblical standards while at the same time, in the name of equality, vigilantly protect the rights of others to be and proclaim different standards than what we attempt to hold to. As long as the practices are not abusive and they recognize the person to person contract that marriage requires, we need to allow society to make room for us and those who are not us. Neither Zambia nor Russia provide the necessary protection of rights to make this room and their persecution of others stems from Christians and the Christian religion. And this association of Christianity with persecution does nothing to advance the Gospel nor a clearer view of appropriate sexual relations.

      Reply

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