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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some Conservative Christian Obsessions: Islam, Marx, And Sex

When it comes to relating to the outside world, it seems that some of us religious Conservative Christians have hangups. We get stuck on certain issues while other ones roam around unimpeded. And there is a certain method to our madness. What is allowed to go free are those parts of the status quo from which we feel free to  benefit and take credit for. And what we are trying to put the brakes on in society are outside influences.

Of course, what we are most focused on is sex. For when we consider how Conservative Christians hardly ever write about the perils of our economic system, the damage being done to the environment, and our proclivity for making new weapons and war, the attention we pay to sex might appear to some as a defense mechanism. And that might, to some degree, be true.

Before saying anything else, I should be clear that my data sample of Conservative Christian writings is rather small compared to what's out there, but there is definitely a pattern. Sex is a big deal to us. This is especially true for the sexual practices of others. For when those practices pass a certain threshold, we feel very threatened. In fact, the perils we perceive make us want to either rule over our immediate world or escape from it. Nothing could illustrate this more than our reaction to the current judicial decisions recognizing same-sex marriages. In response, some of us Conservative Christians tried to pass legislation that would restore some Jim Crow type laws and allowances only with a different target.

In terms of the blog world, one popular Christian blog had posted a double-digit number of post on the issue of sexual orientation dating back just to January, 2015. Blogposts and articles about the sexual orientation issue at other blogsites are not as frequent, but they are there. Another popular Christian blogsite has also posted a double-digit number of blogposts and articles on sexual orientation but dating farther back than the beginning of this year. 

Again, not all Christian blogsites focus so much on society's changing views of sexual orientation as the two blogsites mentioned above, but they do report on it while remaining silent on other issues.

We Conservative Christians are very touchy about sex. That is because there are many sexual practices that both bring God's displeasure (see I Corinthians 6:9-10 for example) and which we feel pressured, either as a result of our own weaknesses or due to changing values in society, to pursue. And perhaps since there are clear and strong Biblical sanctions against sexual immorality, we're afraid to admit that committing such immorality is an understandable part of our fallen human condition. Admitting that creates dissonance regarding how serious the committing of sexual sins is. 

So since many of us don't have the tools to handle that tension, we turn to fear. And in turning to fear, we have externalized the problem by focusing on the sexual sins of others. BTW, it isn't that we shouldn't be afraid to commit sexual sin, we should be. But we can't afford to be so focused on avoiding sexual sin that we overlook our participation in a very exploitive economic system, our contributions to the harming of the environment, and our silent complicity in our nation's pursuit of war and the rule of force. In other words, we have a tremendous amount of work to do even if we are able to remain sexually pure.  

We should note one thing here, the more we write about society's changing sexual mores, the more we seemed to view our problems with sex as something that is outside of us. And, as stated at the beginning, sounding the alarm at what is foreign and giving hall pass after hall pass to what is familiar is what primarily determines what we will obsess about.

And speaking of warning people about outside threats, we give special treatment to both Islam and Marxism. For Islam is a foreign religion to this country for most of its history and Marxism is a foreign political economic system. And if we add atheism, as some Christians bloggers do (see here for an example applied to Great Britain), we have the perfect foreign trifecta for what ails us. Our problems are never because our own chickens have come home to roost.

The flap over the President's National Prayer Breakfast comments serves as example of how some of us religious Conservative Christians will only see the problems that reside outside of us (click here, there, and there again). In fact, Pat Buchanan equated Obama's criticisms of Christianity and the Crusades as kind of changing citizenship from America to the World (click here). And think about that, criticizing Christianity's past before there was an America is equated with changing national identies. This illustrates the Conservative identification of Christianity with America and the West. 

We should add that Islam should not feel especially picked on, Marxism is being targeted too. And the Conservative Christian's problem with Marxism is that they so often identify and equate it with the Soviet Union's Communism (click here). To try to argue otherwise can result in attempts at public humiliation--please note Steven Rummelsburg's February 21 comment on how I was not only 'confused' in my answers about socialism, he stated that I would defend the 'authoritarianism of a social utopian despot' (click here).

I don't mention Rummelsburg's strong comments toward me to cause others to look down him. Rather, I want to point them out to show how strongly the equation of the Soviet Union's Communism with Marxism has been hammered into people. And as much as Rummelburg accused me of lacking 'rigorous intellectual work,' others, with reputable intellectual reputations would disagree with him (click here and there). Here are a couple more links on a Conservative view of Marxism (click here and there).

Now, do Conservatives ever recognize other problems besides those with sex, Islam and Marxism? Yes. Many Conservatives are effectively writing against racism. Others are writing against human trafficking. But there is, for the most part, silence regarding the imperfections of our nation's own systems. And even when there is such recognition, such as in Joe Carter's blogpost on predatory lending (click here), the solution is not found in any call for justice and the changing of the system. Rather, in that article, Carter calls the Church to rescue the victims from a system that is to remain unchanged.

In short, what drives the obsessions of many of us religious Conservative Christians is a witch hunt for blame. Too many of us seem unable to recognize how what we have supported could have hurt others and so we look at how outsiders either threaten our wellbeing or have actually caused us harm. And until we can be more honest with ourselves, our obsessions with the faults of others will thrive.

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