We Expect the AAUP to Speak Up

An adjunct prof at the University of Illinois has been fired for offending a student (engaging in “hate speech”). What was that “hate speech”? He dared to contrast a natural-law approach to homosexuality with other approaches (HT: AR).

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Natural Law, the Two Kingdoms, and Homosexual Marriage

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27 comments

  1. I don’t know Howell’s stance on 2k, but this ought to serve as a caution to those who wish to say the 2k view is somehow cowardly, or seeks to ingratiate itself to some sort of liberal political agenda. The fact of the matter is that unless you buy into the whole thrust of the gay agenda, many will view you as a hater regardless of the reasons of your convictions. My libertarian stance on issues such as Prop. 8 here in CA weren’t a capitulation to the gay lobby here in CA, or nationally, rather they were formed with a view to how involved the state should be in marriage law/civil unions. I have been called a hypocryte to my face from a gay-rights proponent for voting no on prop. 8, yet maintaining that homosexuality is a sin, and that the state had no right to impose it’s latitudinarian stance on marriage upon the church.

    What the gay community wants, with little exception, is for us to give a carte blance acceptance of their lifestyle. However inclined of disinclined we might be to extend certain political rights to a community of divergent belief, there is still no way to remain faithful to Scripture and to ingratiate ourselves to the gay community at large. I know there are plenty of 2k-ers who didn’t vote the way I did, and that there are many who would vehemently disagree with my stance here, and I do respect this. However, for those of us who took this political stance, it was most certainly not to give approval to the sin of homosexuality rather it was a stance of how individual freedoms should be applied in a plural society.

    • Good point, Jed. But for some people, you are only courageous if like Frank you do it their way.

  2. As John Frame says, “it is even more difficult to argue from natural law. For natural law is not a written text. Even though it is objectively valid, there is no way of gaining public agreement as to what it says as long as we simply exchange opinions about what natural law says…people are pitting their intuitions against the intuitions of other (intuitions which, when true, are often suppressed). Often these arguments are naturalistic fallacies, arguments from “is” to “ought”…Arguments from Scripture are not problematic in this way.”

    • Uh, Paul disagrees and so does Calvin. If it wasn’t written we wouldn’t know about it nor would it be objective. It’s written in more than one place.

      • I guess the follow up question would be do Natural Law and Revealed Law (The Law Written on Our Hearts and the Law Given to Us in Scripture) ever disagree and/or is one more “thorough” in its implications than the other?

        The follow up question would be if they do not disagree then why not use and appeal to what has been revealed in inerrant written form as opposed to appealing to a “natural law” that no one can agree as to what it it says because those who deny it are just suppressing the truth in unrighteousness?

        • Benjamin,

          But the written text (Rom 1-2) tells us that the natural text is clear enough and Paul doesn’t say (Rom 13) that the magistrate is God’s minister “if he follows the written text.” He’s God’s minister full stop.

          Evidently the natural text, which is written on the human conscience, is sufficient.

          • The clarity is not the question. The Natural Text is suppressed by the unrighteous ruler is it not? How can you then appeal to the Natural Text that the unbelieving ruler denies for the basis of your argument if he/she denies its validity?

            • Benjamin,

              Do you think one could do better with a written text? Who (i.e., what unbeliever) concedes the authority of the written text today?

              The question is not whether the unbeliever accepts the authority of the text. We know (from special revelation and from general revelation) that everyone knows the moral law. It’s written on every human conscience. It comes out. They suppress it but not entirely and never consistently. This is why Paul appeals to it. It’s in there. It can’t be completely or consistently evaded.

            • The first time that I began to see the perspicuity of the natural, moral law, written on the conscience, relative to the public square was in the UK. Not long after we arrived I read in one of the national papers a quotation from a leading public figure (I don’t know who it was and it doesn’t matter) who replied to a proposed policy by saying, “That contradicts natural justice.” Remarkably no one said, “What’s natural justice?” In the course of discussion it seemed to be understood by this quite secular, largely pagan audience that there is such a thing as natural justice and we all know what it is and we can appeal to it.

              I concede that it’s not without ambiguity but that gets us back to QIRC doesn’t it? i think we call all agree that even were we to appeal to the written text of the law there would be ambiguity so the superiority of the latter over the former, in this spehre, isn’t self-evident.

              My experience is that I get a lot more stick from theocractic and theonomic Christians than I do from pagans when I appeal to natural justice. After all, pagans have been acknowledging the existence of such for a very long time.

  3. Jed,

    I suppose you could have supported the measure because sodomitic marriage is simply bad public policy. Libertarian rhetoric aside, the state/republic does have an interest in marriage as a fundamental societal institution.

    Ken

  4. Lacie,

    In addition to the counter-point that the NL is indeed written, Frame’s premise is that general revelation is insufficient to govern general tasks (yeow), and his reasoning leaves one with no other option that to say that special revelation should govern general tasks (double yeow). Moreover, he reveals the 1K tendency to be ill-at-ease with uncertainty. I believe some call that the quest for illegitimate religious certainty. I read it in a book somewhere.

    Ken,

    There is a third legitimate option in the “Prop 8” sort of question amongst those of us who consider homosexuality an immoral sexual expression (and thus grounds to say homosexual marriage is illegitimate) but who have equally great reservations about the quest for cultural and political power these efforts inhere: abstaining from voting. God bless America.

    • Zrim,

      Voting against redefining marriage is a “quest for cultural and political power?”

      As a citizen, you have the right to not vote, but that doesn’t negate your responsibility, in a participatory system, to participate. Republics, whether or not ours still qualifies in reality, are founded on the supposition that the citizens have an interest in maintaining good government. When one refuses to participate, there are consequences.

      Perhaps you’re arguing an anabaptist understanding of the Christian’s relation to the state where because of it’s inherent corruption a Christian simply cannot participate? Or is it simply that you don’t believe sodomitic behavior/marriage to be necessarily destructive to a well-ordered society?

      • Ken,

        So whenever anyone gives you a black-and-white question you think you have to answer? Ever heard of a bad question? I think it’s rather naïve to think the question is simply one along the lines of, “Is homosexuality a legitimate sexual expression that deserves the sanction of marriage?” To that I answer no, but as with all politics (especially in modern America) I think a whole lot more is actually going on. I know it’s a minority view, but I am of the persuasion that something like Prop 8 is simply a battlefront in culture war.

        Abstaining isn’t the same as withdrawal. Why is abstaining not a form of participation? Could it be that sometimes silence is one of the loudest answers one could give? No, my argument isn’t Anabaptist, it’s simply coming from a highly skeptical view on culture war.

        • Perhaps I am naive when it comes to California politics, but I was under the impression that it was the sodomites who’ve been advancing the marriage agenda around the country and that these sorts of propositions were simply ways for local citizens – not the Feds – to order their own society. [If anything, the fact that this was/is a state issue should actually please folks like Jed who champion individual freedoms.]

          So now I really am very curious; what is the “whole lot more [that] is actually going on?”

  5. “So whenever anyone gives you a black-and-white question you think you have to answer? ”

    Hmmm…is this a trick question?

    Be skeptical about agendas, tactics, etc. within the culture war. But I think it’s a mistake to dispute the existence of said war (not that you did, but it leads to my next point…); a mistake compounded by definining abstention as a neutral action. At the risk of sounding paranoid, some day they’ll come for the abstainers too.

    • Ken,

      It could be a chicken or egg question, and it may depend on who one asks, but when you say “it was the sodomites who’ve been advancing the marriage agenda around the country” it sounds a bit like “they started it.” When my kids hand me that line I do what my folks did, which I’ll trust you understand.

      The “whole lot more going on” is culture war. No, not a trick question, just a suggestion that there are such things as bad questions, as in, “Should homosexuals have cultural power or should conservative Christians?” But you’re right, I don’t dispute the existence of culture war because that’s the point. And who is coming for us Prop 8 abstainers, the legal secularists or the conservative Christians?

      My turn for more questions: However destructive homosexual behavior/marriage is to a well-ordered society, isn’t culture war just as damaging? This is a question I don’t see many pro-Prop 8ers asking, which makes me think the idea is that culture war is somehow holy at worst or that collateral damage is negligible at best.

      But don’t you not think there are various possible ways to help society flourish besides activism designed to culturally and politically marginalize and punish? Could it be that raising good children outpaces raising up warriors of one sort or another, or is that too feeble and weak a proposition?

      • Zrim,
        “it sounds a bit like ‘they started it.’ When my kids hand me that line I do what my folks did, which I’ll trust you understand.”

        A bit dismissive or perhaps simply an oblique maneuver, in any event, I don’t recall evangelicals or Americans-generally-speaking deciding that marriage needed redefined. So, yes, Zrim, they started it – just like somebody started World War II. But if you have alternative facts, I’m willing to listen. Furthermore, I was not aware that the proposition in question was a referendum on whether or not conservative Christians should rule California culture. My conservative friends here in the Midwest will be surprised and likely gladdened that our West Coast cohort achieved such an astounding victory.

        “But don’t you not think there are various possible ways to help society flourish besides activism designed to culturally and politically marginalize and punish?”

        Most law is negative in its application and would thus by definition be punitive; the law is supposed to marginalize and punish the wicked. Wicked defined as those whose behavior undermines order within the state. Much of Western history has considered sodomy to be akin to murder in that it significantly undermined the well-being of the state and therefore was deserving of capital punishment. Evidently Moses thought so as well. Society flourishes when he wicked are marginalized and punished.

        Are there other ways in which to encourage society to flourish – surely; no one on this blog has suggested otherwise, but are you really arguing that good law isn’t the foundation to a flourishing society?

        “Could it be that raising good children outpaces raising up warriors of one sort or another, or is that too feeble and weak a proposition?”

        Amen to raising good children; in healthy kingdoms/states these children are often called upon to be good warriors, and when the battles are over, they go back to pacific endeavors.

  6. “Or is it simply that you don’t believe sodomitic behavior/marriage to be necessarily destructive to a well-ordered society?”

    Ken,

    With millions committing adultery and getting divorces, why should only a few gay people marrying destroy anything? Also, since you object to “sodomite” marriage, does this mean you are okay with lesbians marrying?

    • Todd,

      Webster’s defines sodomy as ” anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite sex.” It would seem that “sodomitic” by definition is broad enough to encompass illicit relationships between women as well as men.

      You are quite correct that adultery is a much more pervasive sin, and absolutely as , if not moreso, destructive to society as the indulgence of sodomy. However, in light of the thread to which my comments were directed, the topic at hand was whether or not a Christian should have supported the recent referendum in California regarding the question of whether or not sodomites, both of the male and female variety, should be extended the right to marry. Historically, this would have been an easy decision for Reformed Christians to make.

      If California has an amendment to ban divorce except in case of adultery or abandonment, then I would urge Californians to support such a measure.

  7. “Webster’s defines sodomy as ” anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite sex.” It would seem that “sodomitic” by definition is broad enough to encompass illicit relationships between women as well as men.”

    So only applying the word to homosexuals only is incorrect.

    “However, in light of the thread to which my comments were directed, the topic at hand was whether or not a Christian should have supported the recent referendum in California regarding the question of whether or not sodomites, both of the male and female variety, should be extended the right to marry. Historically, this would have been an easy decision for Reformed Christians to make.”

    Why is it easy? Why can’t Christians disagree on this, since the Bible is not concerned with this legal issue?

    “If California has an amendment to ban divorce except in case of adultery or abandonment, then I would urge Californians to support such a measure.”

    And we could disagree on that also. Isn’t Christian liberty grand?

  8. …are you really arguing that good law isn’t the foundation to a flourishing society?

    Ken, good law is certainly a part of a flourishing society. But my point here is that good law is just one facet of society. I take what I consider a more conservative view that the family is the soul of society and is the more determining factor about how cultures flourish, not the progressive view which thinks it’s how a society legislates itself. Moreover, as important as good law is, it sure seems to me we live with plenty of bad law as well. So if it’s bad law you’re so concerned with it would seem you’d have plenty on your plate besides the politics of sex. If not, then it begins to look like maybe it’s not so much bad law but certain kinds of sinners you have a problem with.

    Most law is negative in its application and would thus by definition be punitive; the law is supposed to marginalize and punish the wicked. Wicked defined as those whose behavior undermines order within the state. Much of Western history has considered sodomy to be akin to murder in that it significantly undermined the well-being of the state and therefore was deserving of capital punishment. Evidently Moses thought so as well. Society flourishes when he wicked are marginalized and punished.

    So maybe keeping Adam and Steve permanantly single might not be enough? Maybe something like Prop 8 is just a stepping stone to theonomic law? More reason to abstain.

    • Last comment from me and you can have the final word…

      It’s hard to imagine a group of families existing harmoniously without some set of laws to govern their inter-family behavior. It could be that the Zrimecs intend to live in glorious isolation, but for the rest of us whose families live in communities, law is a necessity, and according to Scripture, a blessing. Its a false dichotomy you propose between family and society; they are symbiotic. What’s intriguing to me about this exchange is you evidently don’t question the efficacy of laws forbidding murder; but according to your thesis, laws against murder could very well be considered laws that permit a society to legislate itself which evidently is inherently bad, or at the least suspicious. The fact that bad laws and bad governments exist is no argument against positive law and the attempt to create good government.

      “So maybe keeping Adam and Steve permanantly single might not be enough? Maybe something like Prop 8 is just a stepping stone to theonomic law? More reason to abstain.”

      I find this a curious response. Historically, Western culture has taken a dim view of sodomitic behavior and punished it accordingly. It is probably safe to assume that in the last millenium, this Western view was largely influenced by Christianity, as we know it certainly wasn’t an ancient, pagan perspective. I read this to indicate that Western civilization, during its Christian phase, understood sodomy to be particularly damaging to a well-ordered community, and I think that, yes, this position is to be found in Scripture. As noted previously, the Bible also views adultery as undermining the society and thus prescribed harsh punishment for adulterers as well as sodomites. I am happy to admit that recently Western civilization has been less zealous in punishing adultery than sodomy, but a cursory examination of the history of Western law will show that adultery used to be considered a much worse offense than today and did receive harsher punishment than it does now. But what we see now, ironically- given your statements about family, is that it is precisely because Western culture does not have a high view of the family nor the marriage covenant that undergirds it that allows us to think that illicit sexual behavior has no connection to the well-being of these ancient, creational institutions. Why all of these facts leads you to conclude that one should simply focus on the family and not have legitimate rules and penalties to help protect it, I don’t understand.

      Which leads me to my final observation. You indicate that the well-being and flourishing of families should be the more desirable locus of effort (as opposed to legislative efforts). I’d argue that sexual immorality is a signficant threat to strong families, which is why I believe God prescribed such harsh punishment for those who trespassed in these areas. It shouldn’t surprise you that cultures that have historically shared with the Scriptures, no doubt because they take their cues from it, this high view of the marriage covenant would enact laws that prescribe serious penalties for activities that undermine this basic societal building block. Why you would perceive this as some sort of latent theonomic conspiracy reveals more about your attitude towards other members of the Church than it does your understanding of politics and the law and how they work in conjunction with society and families.

      • Ken, let me be clear: I don’t think homosexuality should enjoy the sanction of marriage. So this really isn’t a matter of wanting to live in “glorious isolation,” or not recognizing the necessity of law, or not seeing law as a blessing, or making a false dichotomy between family and society. But I don’t think “Prop 8ism” really has any of that in mind. I think it has in mind cultural and political power.

        Re theonomic law, reaching back into a history that criminalized sin, your response still seems to want to make the world safe for it. But I take the view that while all crime is sin not all sin is crime. And I think there is a principled differenc ebetween saying that homosexuality shouldn’t enjoy the sanction of marriage and stripping people of previously bestowed rights, even if mistakenly given (which is what Prop 8 is all about). One wants to see what is observed in nature embodied in law but, and this more interesting, can also live with it when things don’t always go that way. The other simply wants cultural power and clout.

        It would seem we place emphasis on different institutions when it comes to culture making, you on statecraft and me on families. Neither of us want to diminish either institution and their symbiotic or synergistic relationship. But it is interesting to note that God made the family first, not the state. So as important as the state is, it simply isn’t the cultural cornerstone the family is. What this means to me is that a parent has vastly more power than a legislator, because the parent makes human beings while the legislator merely governs them.

        And all through your comments there is a tone that seems to want to nurture harshness. I don’t have any problem with resolute laws and punishments. But not only would I want punishments to fit crimes (and remember, not all sin is crime), I am ill-at-ease with what I sense is simply a will to revenge. I favor capital punishment, for example, because it is fitting. But I get the sense that you’d favor it because you want to make sure law breakers get their due. I think those are two very different outlooks: one toggles between seeing capital punishment as necessary but lamentable, the other seems to sleep pretty soundly about it all; one can live with bad law and questions even itself, the other can’t live with bad law and is proudly certain that it knows right from wrong all the time.

    • Thanks Patrick. This is helpful.

      The Inside Higher Ed piece doesn’t lead one to think that he has not dismissed for ideological reasons. Yes, the way he was paid was unusual (but not unknown). It will be interesting to see what the internal review brings up. I haven’t seen AAUP stepping up yet.

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