One of the glorious gifts of this Corona-Crisis is the revelation of our gods. And with that revelation is pouring in the returns that our gods are, as usual, impotent, moody, tyrannical, and indisposed.
Jack Boot Diversity
What are those gods? Their name is Legion, but let’s start with multiculturalism and diversity. This is the god of secular human harmony and unity. Let us call this god Jack, short for Jack Boot Diversity. This is the attempt to have unity apart from the blood of Christ. And what did that get us? It got us officials in New York City urging everyone to carry-on like normal all the way into March. Why? Initially it was to avoid canceling or postponing a huge China Town parade in February. The New York Surgeon General, a New York Representative, and even Chinese New Yorkers reassured everyone that there was no reason to be worried about the virus in New York City. Nothing to see here, people. Find a large crowd and breathe deeply. Mayor De Blasio was even encouraging people in New York to go to the movies on March 2. Then came the lock-down and a pretty intense outbreak of the disease and finally Governor Cuomo came in with his fascist policies and threats.
Here is the hot air of human wisdom on display: ignorant, arrogant, utterly powerless but ultimately full of threats of violence. And this is the same wisdom trying to turn enemies into friends, trying to deal with generations-old enmities and envies and rivalries. Please note the careening messaging, the arrogance, and then the threats. This is like passive aggressive parenting on a grand scale. Go to the movies! Go home! If you try to go to church, we’ll lock you up and take your building permanently.
But do not miss the fact that it is this same careening insanity at work with the religions of climate change and sexual perversion. We have all the same ingredients and woe betides. The numbers, the statistics, the data, the data models, scientists and doctors preening madly in front of the screens telling us that people are dying and millions more will die soon if you don’t do something extreme now. Trannies and sodomites are committing suicide. You must stop telling them they are in sin. You must not call on them to repent. You are causing them to die. And if you keep driving cars and eating beef, our fancy models indicate that millions or thousands or at least seven people might die from something at some point, you hater. We’re not exactly sure, but you have to do something drastic right now or else you don’t care about humanity. Do you want people to die? Love your neighbor. This is why bakers and photographers and florists have been forced to bake the cake, take the pictures, and provide flowers for the sodomite weddings or else. All hail Jack Boot Diversity: harmonious unity or else.
And Now For Some Wisdom from John Calvin
Of course leaders can be wrong, and this doesn’t destroy their authority. But when they are wrong and refuse to acknowledge it, that does begin to corrode their reliability. And when they have shot themselves in the foot a few times, the reluctance of many to follow can only be followed up with threats. And this is what we call an abusive power.
It’s striking that many who are urging complete submission to magistrates, and counseling only self-examination and repentance, even if the magistrates are being harsh and unwise, would hyperventilate if the same counsel were given to a wife under the authority of a harsh and foolish husband.
So for example, a friend shared this quotation from Calvin’s Institutes on submission to magistrates. And it really is good, but notice the analogy he draws (the breaks are inserted just for ease of reading):
“This feeling of reverence, and even of piety, we owe to the utmost to all our rulers, be their characters what they may. This I repeat the oftener, that we may learn not to consider the individuals themselves, but hold it to be enough that by the will of the Lord they sustain a character on which he has impressed and engraven inviolable majesty.”
“But rulers, you will say, owe mutual duties to those under them. This I have already confessed. But if from this you conclude that obedience is to be returned to none but just governors, you reason absurdly. Husbands are bound by mutual duties to their wives, and parents to their children. Should husbands and parents neglect their duty; should the latter be harsh and severe to the children whom they are enjoined not to provoke to anger, and by their severity harass them beyond measure; should the former treat with the greatest contumely the wives whom they are enjoined to love and to spare as the weaker vessels; would children be less bound in duty to their parents, and wives to their husbands? They are made subject to the froward and undutiful. Nay, since the duty of all is not to look behind them, that is, not to inquire into the duties of one another, but to submit each to his own duty, this ought especially to be exemplified in the case of those who are placed under the power of others.”
“Wherefore, if we are cruelly tormented by a savage, if we are rapaciously pillaged by an avaricious or luxurious, if we are neglected by a sluggish, if, in short, we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake by an impious and sacrilegious prince, let us first call up the remembrance of our faults, which doubtless the Lord is chastising by such scourges. In this way humility will curb our impatience. And let us reflect that it belongs not to us to cure these evils, that all that remains for us is to implore the help of the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, and inclinations of kingdoms (Dan. 9:7; Prov. 21:1; Pss. 82:1, 2:10; Isa. 10:1).” (IV.20.29)
Did you catch that? Calvin says the duty of obedience owed to magistrates is one and the same as owed to other authorities. And he is addressing situations where the mutual responsibilities are not being kept. What happens when a father is harsh or a husband treats his wife with “greatest contumely” — which means “greatest insolence or insult” — what happens then? Calvin says that the duty of each is not to look behind them (at the duties of others) but for each to submit to his own duties. And finally, he says that when we are tormented by wicked authorities, our first instinct ought to be to recall our faults and receive it as scourging from the Lord and call on Him to deliver us.
First off, the fact that you cannot type the words “wives submit to your own husbands, like Sarah who obeyed her husband, calling him ‘Lord'” without inciting riots in the social media streets is telling. But if you say “Romans 13,” people break into reverent, hushed tones like you’ve dropped some atomic truth bomb — shouldn’t that give all of us some pause? Why doesn’t 1 Peter 3 have the same effect? If you write for some mainstream “Christian” magazine or blog, the unspoken assumption among most editors is that if you insist on bringing up those (ahem) passages, you will do so with great care and caution, swaddling everything with warbling bubble wrap, yellow warning tape, and flashing yellow lights, listing all of the many exceptions before and after and thereof, relating horror stories and anecdotal cautionary tales, rendering the whole thing pretty off limits and don’t actually try this at home.
It goes something like this, “Of course what the Apostle Paul meant when he said submit [insert muddled Greek word study here] has to be understood in the context of “mutual submission.” In our day with so many abusive fathers and husbands and pastors, we want to be very careful to make sure everyone knows that this should not be misunderstood. Submission to those in authority must be thoughtful, careful, and constantly on guard for abuses or anything that might seem hard, painful, awkward, or inconvenient.”
Ok, maybe that’s a little on the nose, but that’s the basic spirit of the thing. But what happens when we’re given the Romans 13 mic drop? Nothing quite so cautious. Perhaps, we may have an occasional allusion or reference to extreme abuses like Nazi Germany or North Korea, but the assumption is largely, that whatever we are experiencing in America or the UK or Europe is largely within the realm of reasonable. Romans 13, everybody, submit to the authorities.
Right. I agree with Romans 13. But the same God who inspired Romans 13 also inspired Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 and Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 2 — you know, the passages that prohibit women from exercising authority over men in the church? The passages that exhort wives to submit and obey their husbands in everything, even the disobedient ones, and be really into homemaking and babies?
My point is that you can tell a culture’s gods by the verses they put extra precautions around. You can say, “citizens submit to your judges and police officers,” and everyone yawns. But if you say, wives submit to your husbands, everyone waits for the exceptions and precautions. And if you don’t give them, you will be considered reckless and insensitive. Don’t you know how many women have been abused by Hard Complementarianism and Biblical Patriarchy?
But don’t you know how many millions have been butchered at the hands of civil magistrates? And yes, we can point to the Russian gulags and German concentration camps, but we can also point to the Planned Parenthood gulags and the American concentration camps.
The irony is deep and thick. Many of the same “pro life” civil magistrates that insist that abortion is the law of the land, and that they are doing everything they can to stop it, in full submission to Roe v. Wade, are the same who have declared states of emergency over less than a handful of deaths in their state over fear that many others *might* die. This is hilarious and glorious, if not also appalling. The gods are being revealed. But when all of this insanity is over, there will not be one “pro-life” governor with an excuse, and there shouldn’t even be an excuse right this minute. Do governors have emergency powers or not? Can they suspend ordinary constitutional rights when lives are in danger or not? Over 3,000 babies are legally executed in our nation every day. Don’t tell us you can’t do anything to stop that. Heh.
But don’t miss what Calvin says we ought to do when confronted by wicked authorities. He calls on citizens to recall their sins and faults. He calls on citizens to repent. Now, this section is not all that Calvin says on this topic. He recognizes that all human authority is limited authority and not absolute. Lesser magistrates have duties to protect those under them. But my point is that we must have equal weights and measures here. If you would start hyperventilating if a pastor urged a wife with a harsh husband to begin by considering her own faults and see what sins she has to repent of, then you cannot participate in this conversation. You do not know what authority and submission are.
At what point would you counsel a wife to be an Abigail and go behind her husband’s back? At what point would you encourage a 12 year old boy to imitate the young Jesus and go to church despite the expectations or instructions of his parents, since he must be about his father’s business? Wherever that point is, it should be consistent with your thoughts on this corona-moment and submission to civil magistrates. Biblically speaking, the honor and obedience due to superiors is one and the same, adjusting for the various jurisdictions that God has assigned.
Let me be clear: Romans 13 really is in the Bible. But so is 1 Peter 2 which also requires Christians to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to kings or governors (1 Pet. 2:13-14). And so let jaywalkers beware, unless of course you don’t count crossing the street before the little green walk sign turns on. But why not? People do get hit by cars you know. Do you even care about human life? But of course that passage also goes on to require slaves to submit to their masters, even the harsh and abusive ones. But nobody seems to be that excited about 1 Peter 2 either. So when is it permissible for a slave to disobey his master? When is it biblically permissible for a slave to disregard instructions or runaway or organize an Underground Railroad? I’m not saying these questions are all easy to answer, but I am saying that a bunch of Christians are acting like it is. They seem to think that slaves can pretty much revolt for any cause, since they will not admit that slavery is ever acceptable. And they think that wives may seek shelter if a husband raises his voice above the sound ordinance that the Commies in Spokane, Washington just passed for those worshiping Jesus outside of the Planned Parenthood there.
The point is that you cannot pick and choose. Does God establish authority or not? And if that authority is limited and delegated by God Himself, at what point may that authority be disregarded or defied? There are not easy answers, but let us be utterly sure that the gods of our nations will not be providing any of them — the gods of science, the gods of data, the gods of diversity, or the gods of economic boom. They love tangling people up in doubts and fears and envy and lust. But all of it is slavery since idolatry is always slavery. But the irony is that many of the same people who insist that God would never allow for slavery, never, ever, ever — they are perfectly fine with citizens enslaved to their states, locked in their homes and locked out of their businesses, so long as it is done in the name of that great goddess of safety and health. All rise!