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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Every Last Bit Of Authority From God

by digby

What do Jim DeMint and Daniel Webster have in common? They love this guy, and have both appeared on his radio show in the past couple of days.

In this speech to the Values Voters this month, he very usefully explains the difference between the evil Islamic theocrats and good Americans like himself:

We know that politicians get every last bit of their authority from God. We know that there are certain things that are right in the sight of God and certain things are evil in the sight of God. And I would submit to you that the conscience of the man of God cannot rest as long as the authority of God is being used to trample the will of God. The conscience of the man of God cannot rest as long as it is being used to trample on the moral law of God.

Now one last thought, we know another thing about public officials. They are ministers and servants of of God. Paul twice refers to them as deacons or ministers of God. They are literally ministers or deacons of God. A third time he refers to them as servants of God. Paul goes out of his way to drive home the point that political figures exercise a vocation that is every bit as sacred as the role of pastor of your church. Now I ask you who has a greater interest in the selection of the ministers of God for our culture than the people of God.

Now some will accuse me of advocating for theocracy --- because I believe November 2nd we are going to choose the ministers of God, we're going to choose the Pastors of our public culture --- will accuse me of advocating a theocracy in which God rules a nation through its clergy. To borrow a phrase from a politician who has troubled America by forsaking the command of God, "let me be clear": I am not talking about an arrangement in which God rules the United States through the church. The role of the Church is to be the conscience of a nation not to govern a nation.

If you believe in theocracy, then the dark and dangerous and devious religion of Islam is for you. ... I'm talking about an arrangement, the arrangement I'm talking about the the arrangement where God guides and governs the United States of America through statesmen who are committed to align the public policy of the United States with the will of God.

I am talking about an arrangement in which God, to borrow a phrase from the founding fathers, in which God governs and guides the United States through statesmen who are determined to align the public policy of the United States with the laws of nature and nature's God. I'm talking about the same arrangement that Sam Adams spoke of on July 4th 1776, who said "we have this day, restored the sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come."

Now I believe on November 2nd we have a fresh opportunity as the people of God to restore the sovereign to whom all people ought to be obedient and I say we do it.

Perhaps the distinctions he cites between Islamic theocracy and his own version are meaningful to you, but I think the more common definition of theocracy well encompasses what this man regards as the proper United States "arrangement."

Theocracy is one form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler, or in a higher sense, a form of government in which a state is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In Common Greek, "theocracy" means a rule [kra′tos] by God [the.os′].

But Mr Fischer is a reasonable man, you say. There's nothing threatening about his comments at all, regardless of which meaning of theocracy you use. Well, here are a few examples of Fischer's thoughts on gays:

The time Mr. Fischer said that 'Homosexuals in the military gave us...six million dead Jews'

The time Mr. Fischer said only gays were savage enough for Hitler

The time Mr. Fischer invoked a Biblical story about stabbing "sexually immoral" people with spears, saying we need this kind of action in modern day

The time Mr. Fischer compared gays to heroin abusers

The time Mr. Fischer told us to just shut up

The time Mr. Fischer oddly interpreted past historical oppressions

The time Mr. Fischer directly compared laws against gay soldiers to those that apply to bank robbers

Here's Fischer yesterday on the Grayson/Webster flap, explaining that women don't have to submit to their husband --- unless there's a disagreement.:

Grayson's conduct was so inexcusable that even lefty groups like the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Orlando Sentinel issued full-throated condemnations of Grayson, who heretofore has been their pet. [Jon Stewart too, with an uncharacteristically obtuse "we're good and they're evul" rant as well -- ed]

As an aside, you cannot find a more stark contrast between Islam and Christianity than on their respective teaching about marriage. While Islam instructs husbands that they literally may beat their wives into submission, Christianity instructs husbands to imitate the example of Christ, who loved his bride (the church) so much that he laid down his life for her.

This is just another example of the profound, unbridgeable chasm between the value system of Islam and the value system of the West. They are and always will be irretrievably incompatible. Every advance of Islam in America will come at the expense of liberty and of rights for women.

Now there is probably no other concept that is more misunderstood, both inside and outside the church, than the Bible's teaching on submission and headship.

The first myth is that in a Christian marriage only the wife submits to her husband. But the first statement the apostle makes is this: Both husbands and wives are to "submit...to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

So a Christian marriage is to be one of mutual submission, not the domination of the husband over the wife. There is a profound sense in which a Christian husband submits to his wife as much as she submits herself to him. Submission takes a different form for the man than it does for the woman, but it is submission nonetheless.

Ok. That's not so bad. They both submit in love to one another.

Well, let's not get carried away:

The Scriptures clearly instruct wives, "Submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). The word "submit" is comprised of two Greek words, one of which means "under" and the other of which means "to set" or "to arrange." So a wife is instructed to arrange herself, put herself, set herself, under the leadership of her husband in the home.

What's critical to understand here is that there is no verse in the Bible that instructs a husband to see to it that his wife submits to him. This is a matter between a wife and her Lord, not between a wife and her husband. It is not her husband who is asking her to submit, it is God. It is a matter of reverence for Christ rather than for her husband that prompts her to voluntarily arrange herself under her husband's leadership.

It is a gift that she gives to her husband, not a right that he demands. She demonstrates her reverence for Christ by not challenging her husband's leadership in their home but by supporting him and working with him to help him succeed in shaping and directing the life of their marriage and family.

How does a husband submit himself to his wife? As Webster reminds us, husbands are told to "love your wives, as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). That is, he submits himself to his wife by refusing to use his headship simply as an excuse to get his own way, or as a cloak for his own selfishness. He submits himself to his wife by making a determination to use the authority God has given him in his home to give his wife and children what they need rather than to get what he wants.

Marriage is not and can never be a democracy. Somebody has to have the tie-breaking vote when the poll reveals a one-to-one tie. In a Christian marriage, the husband is the tie breaker. The way it is designed to work is that a wife willingly defers to her husband on those rare occasions when they cannot agree on a course of action, and the husband makes the decision that his conscience tells him is best, not for himself, but for her, their marriage, and their home.

If a husband believes before God that the best decision in a given situation is different than the one his wife prefers, he does not order her to follow him, he asks her. The decision is then up to her. He's not forcing her to do anything. He leaves the issue squarely where it belongs, between her and her God.

If you have a problem with a Christian view of marriage, fine. Don't become a Christian then. Nobody is going to make you, again unlike Islam where the choice is convert or die. But if you do decide to follow Christ, his instructions regarding marriage are clear.

Basically then, if a Christian woman refuses to go along with this "arrangement" she can go to hell. Literally. But hey, I agree that that's her choice. What I object to is the fact that people who believe these things also believe, as Fischer clearly said in his speech before the Values Voters, that these are the beliefs that should guide our "statesmen." That's when his metaphorical fist hits my metaphorical face and I don't like it.

Of course that's not really what Daniel Webster's Christian reconstructionist mentors mean anyway. Bill Gothard, at whose institute Webster made the comments in Grayson's ad, is known for his institutional indoctrination programs:

Gothard's additional errors contribute to the overall harmful nature of his ideology. Because favor with God must be earned through works of submission, one must have a structure that requires submission. He misinterprets key Scriptures about authority, perceiving that the church and the family operate under a military-style, chain of command authority structure. Because one must work to accumulate this mystical substance of merit, mistreatment and abuse merely provide needed mechanisms for accumulating merit. Unless an authority requires a Christian to commit an overt sin, Gothard teaches that all authority must be obeyed at all costs.

. . . Those who live at the top of the food chain fair well, but in the process of this chain of command/humility system, those who fall at the lower end of the hierarchy are required to submit and suffer all manner of injustice to improve their character and work God's mystical and often indiscernible divine plan.

Here's Fischer's conclusion:

Getting back to the Websters, it's worth asking how this whole leadership/submission thing works out in practice.

Here is Sandy Webster, Dan's wife of many years: "Dan has been an amazing husband and father, and the finest man I have ever known."

Here's a wife who believes in the biblical view of roles in marriage, and seems quite happy to be married to a man who is dedicated to using his strength to protect her and provide for her, and to "nourish and cherish" her as the Bible says. What wife wouldn't?

I don't care what Mrs Webster does with her life. It's none of my business. But I do care that her husband is a candidate for office and he belongs to a dangerous cult that believes the nation should be run under theocratic rule. And just as I don't care for the fact that these folks believe women have second class status, I also don't care for the fact that I'm supposed to pussyfoot around this issue and pretend that semantic distinctions between these and other pre-modern religious beliefs about female submission are somehow substantial and that the similarities are a matter of degree rather than scale. And while Factcheck.org and Jon Stewart and other very reasonable people may not be aware of it, Bryan Fischer is surely conversant with Webster's mentor Bill Gothard, who doesn't explicitly condone the beating of wives to be sure --- but does believe that if they have an abortion or are unfaithful, they should be stoned to to death.

Now, all this may just add up to more of the same old, same old we've been seeing for the past quarter century of Moral Majority/Christian Coalition civic involvement. If that's the case, then it simply means yet more incremental claw back of many of the rights and liberties, mostly for women, enabled by the usual timidity of liberals who run over each other in an attempt to distance themselves from anyone who confronts these people head on. (Best to find more "common ground" by whittling away at women's autonomy. Don't want to rock that boat too hard ..) But if the far right's power grab in the Republican party is successful then these ultra-right social conservatives are going to be in a position to demand far more than they have been able to get in the past and things could get very interesting very quickly. I just think it's probably important to be aware of the belief system that's "guiding" our "statesmen."

Here's a reminder of how defacto Senate Monarch Jim Demint put it:

David Brody: Are you concerned at all that some of the social conservative issues, abortion and same sex marriage, some of these other issues because they are taking somewhat of a back seat right now at least to the fiscal issues that there are some inherent problems for social conservatives in something like that?

Senator Jim DeMint: No actually just the opposite because I really think a lot of the motivation behind these Tea Party crowds is a spiritual component. I think it's very akin to the Great Awakening before the American Revolution. A lot of our founders believed the American Revolution was won before we ever got into a fight with the British. It was a spiritual renewal.

Senator Jim DeMint: I'm 'praying for you' comes up more than anything else in these crowds so I know there's a spiritual component out there.

Senator Jim DeMint: I think as this thing (the Tea Party movement) continues to roll you're going to see a parallel spiritual revival that goes along with it.

David Brody: Just so I understand, when you say spiritual revival how are you terming that? What do you mean specifically as in "spiritual revival?

Senator Jim DeMint: Well, I think people are seeing this massive government growing and they're realizing that it's the government that's hurting us and I think they're turning back to God in effect is our salvation and government is not our salvation and in fact more and more people see government as the problem and so I think some have been drawn in over the years to a dependency relationship with government and as the Bible says you can't have two masters and I think as people pull back from that they look more to God. It's no coincidence that socialist Europe is post-Christian because the bigger the government gets the smaller God gets and vice-versa. The bigger God gets the smaller people want their government because they're yearning for freedom.

Maybe DeMint is just another in a long line of Elmer gantry's taking the true believers for a ride. Or maybe he isn't.

Oh, and both Palin and Huckabee are associated with Gothard too. Just FYI.