Douglas Wilson’s Letter From America

Evangelicals Confronted by a Leper

Douglas Wilson
Thursday, December 23, 2010 

So the sexual socialists found a few craven Republicans and jammed a sea change bit of legislation, the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” through a lame duck Congress. Instead of the president having to leave town in humiliation over the high-handed antics of a discredited Congress, this, and a few other passed and signed monstrosities, are now being touted as proof that the elections didn’t affect the president the way everybody was talking like they might. “Don’t count him out early!” What the elections actually didn’t affect was the president’s hubris and messiah complex.

Just imagine, if you have the horsepower to do so, a conservative president pulling the same tactical stunt. Your inability to do so should not be taken as a reflection on you — the current zeitgeist is rigged against the very possibility of such a thing happening.

There are only two sacraments in the Church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But these sacraments teach and instruct us about God’s ways with man in all things, and so from them we should learn that many more things are sacramentals. Sexual union is one such sacramental, or mystery, as Paul puts it in Eph. 5, and is at the beating heart of family government, and from that position it is necessarily at the heart of every civilization.

A people who screw this up are screwed up in everything. And everywhere we look, we see Christians accommodating themselves to these new sexual derangements outside the church, or preparing themselves for such accommodation when the opportune moment comes.

It will not do to prove your purity in the meantime by holding aloft a narrowly-construed and very truncated gospel, one that passes muster with our (equally narrow) doctrine cops. A truncated and inert gospel is no gospel at all. You will call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their . . . what?

One of the best books I have read in a long time was John Piper’s God is the Gospel. As soon as I was done, I started right over at the beginning, and am reading it again now. It is required reading (especially chapter two) for all those believe that gospel purity can be accomplished by means of setting up a tiny little evangelical kennel, in which the gospel will be required to be a yippy dog thoroughbred. No, the gospel is as wide as the character of God Himself, and is therefore something which encompasses heaven and earth, and all that they contain. This is not to say that everything is the gospel, but it is to say that the gospel pervades everything. This includes, as it turns out, the sex lives of upscale urban professionals . . . who will almost certainly find a plain statement of this cosmic reality as judgmental and offputting.

Refusal to be specific about what these sins those might be is evangelical cowardice. But someone might reply that if he preached against sodomy, well, this would just get everyone in an uproar. Well, that’s something we find in the New Testament, right? A total absence of uproar whenever the gospel is preached?

You might reply that if you tried that kind of message in Los Angeles or Manhattan, you would lose your audience. But if you leave out sin, there is no point in having an audience. There is a way of appealing to your audience which is just a (thinly) disguised way of revealing how much your audience has successfully appealed to you.

And it will not do to say that this is being done in order to winsomely reach those who have not yet heard the gospel. Those who construe the gospel as a limited set of propositions which, if affirmed in a repentance-free and abracadabra-like fashion, will get one’s sorry butt into heaven may discover, at the end of the day, that this is not where their sorry butt actually went.

When the story of the collapse of academicky evangelicalism is finally written, compromises on these sexual issues will be right at the center of the autopsy. The coroner will have circled that business with a red pen.
When the winds of sexual doctrine finally blow over the cardboard cut-outs of John Knox and Hugh Latimer that we have set up in our Reformed Card and Gift Shop, there will be no end of a mess to clean up. Whenever a stiff breeze blows through this shop of ours, papers, cards, and cardboard go everywhere, cause that’s all we have anymore . . . paper products.

What issues am I talking about? Here is a sampling, a representative list of issues that the respectable part of the conservative evangelical world is currently handling very badly — headship and submission in marriage, women’s ordination to the ministry, women’s ordination to the diaconate, women enrolled in seminaries, women in combat roles in the military, evangelicals ceding control of what constitutes legitimate discourse about sodomy over to the perpetually offended, the legitimzation of sodomy as a federally protected vice, the delegitimization of opposition to said vice-nurturing, women doing everything an unordained man can do, pervasive hostility to genuine masculinity within the church, puff-translations of the Bible that cater to the heresy of feminism, complementarians becoming complimentarians, and the spectacle of effeminate homosexuals fighting for what they believe in a far more manly way than Christians do. How’s that for starters?

Now I know that my reception at the great banquet of evangelicalism resembles, as the fellow once said, that of badly dressed leper. Quite all right. I won’t stay long. I just had this message to deliver, and I’ll be on my way.

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