Sunday, September 27, 2015

Odds and ends 9/27/2015

Rod Dreher remarks on a professed pedophile:

He says he found hope in a group called Virtuous Pedophiles, who support each other and encourage each other not to act on their desires.

This cross of sin is his to bear, and I’m glad he bears it. We’re all sinners, right? For some it’s lust, for others greed, for others envy. This is what Pope Francis meant when he said, “A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will—well, who am I to judge him?”

I’m less angered by sin, a universal trait of humanity, than I am by denying sin exists. For an example of that, at Public Discourse, Timothy Hsiao looks at an incestuous “marriage” between a father and daughter:

Her reasoning is typical of contemporary liberal approaches to sexual morality, which are usually justified by appealing to mutual consent. So long as an activity is performed in private between consenting adults, it is argued, there can be nothing inherently objectionable about what they do. Why? Because they have given their consent, and consent is what matters most when it comes to one’s decision to engage in sexual activity.

Whoever said slippery slope is a fallacy didn’t experience the creep of post-Christian relativism.

Pat Buchanan speaks common sense:

Beliefs matter. “Ideas Have Consequences,” as conservative scholar Richard Weaver wrote in his classic of that title in 1948. Yet, for so believing, and so saying, Dr. Ben Carson has been subjected to a Rodney King-style night-sticking by the P.C. police.

Asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” whether he could support a Muslim for president, Carson replied, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Carson was not out of the studio before the airwaves were filled with denunciations. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said CAIR is calling on Carson to “withdraw from the presidential race because he is unfit to lead, because his views are inconsistent with the United States Constitution.”

In the name of tolerance, says CAIR, we cannot tolerate Carson. And what does the Constitution say? “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

But Carson did not say no Muslim could serve. He said he would not advocate having a Muslim as president, that Islamic beliefs are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. Is he wrong? Or is it now impermissible to question a candidate’s beliefs about God, man, and the state, and about whether his religious convictions might affect his conduct in office?

A man’s religion is a part of who he is. While not an infallible guide to what he will do, it is often a reliable road map.

If Mormons still championed polygamy and declared that blacks could not be Mormons, would it be illegitimate to raise that issue? Should a Quaker who believes in “turning the other cheek” not be pressed on whether his faith disqualifies him to be commander in chief? If an Evangelical running for president believes the “end times” are at hand, would it be un-American to ask of the Armageddonite if his religious beliefs might affect his decision on war in the Middle East?

Islam means “submission.” And a believing, practicing, devout Muslim believes in submission to the teachings of the Prophet. That means not only following the dietary laws and fasting during Ramadan, but adhering to the tenets of Islam on the modesty of dress in women, praying five times a day to Mecca, and treating false faiths like Christianity as the great heresies that they are.

Seeing as how the Iran deal is an alliance with an emerging power, not a check on aggressive nuclear ambitions, I’d say it’s working as it was designed to. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The current fad of the “selfie” photograph has a new category with the news that Iran has been allowed to self-inspect its suspected nuclear site at Parchin. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday that Iran had turned over samples that the Iranians had themselves collected from the military site that IAEA inspectors haven’t been allowed to visit in a decade.

ZeroHedge gets some things on right on Martin Shkreli, the Daraprim gouger:

Now that Shkreli’s 15 minutes of fame are over and his Twitter profile is now in “private” mode (we doubt the SEC will investigate his shorting activity of biotech indices—we are confident the young “hedge funder” will have bigger headaches to deal with soon enough) the attention should shift to the real villains—those truly big pharma companies, who do what Shkreli did but on a far vaster and grander, if less obvious, scale taking advantage of the price cushioning effects that Obamacare provides.

We also are curious to see how Hillary’s populist outrage at Shkreli will be explained when the public realizes that it is only thanks to the benefits of socialized insurance programs such as Obamacare, of which Hillary is a staunch supporter, that such price gouging was possible in the first place.

Kenny Webster breaks it down another way.

What strikes me here is not that novelist Andy Weir gets it wrong in his book. It’s the half-assed explanation from a NASA physicist!

Although dust storms on Mars come with their hazards, it’s highly unlikely that any storm would be powerful enough to strand astronauts on the surface or rip apart equipment. The strongest Mars winds top out at around 60 miles per hour (less than 30 meters per second), less than half the speed of hurricane-force winds on Earth. But it’s not the speed of a wind that does the damage, it’s atmospheric pressure, something that Mars is somewhat lacking. The planet’s atmospheric pressure is around 1 percent that of Earth’s, which is a serious bummer if you wanted to fly a kite on the Red Planet.

“The key difference between Earth and Mars is that Mars’ atmospheric pressure is a lot less,” said physicist William Farrell, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who studies atmospheric breakdown in Mars dust storms. “So things get blown, but it’s not with the same intensity.”

It’s all about mass. Less dense air means there’s less force imparted on objects by the wind. You’d need wind speeds up to 10,000 miles per hour to generate the kind of force you see in hurricanes on Earth.

A fraction of the “refugees” entering Europe migrants are actually from Syria. The UK Daily Mail reports:

The EU logged 213,000 arrivals in April, May and June but only 44,000 of them were fleeing the Syrian civil war.

Campaigners and left-wing MPs have suggested the vast majority of migrants are from the war-torn state, accusing the Government of doing too little to help them.

‘This exposes the lie peddled in some quarters that vast numbers of those reaching Europe are from Syria,’ said David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth. ‘Most people who are escaping the war will go to camps in Lebanon or Jordan.

‘Many of those who have opted to risk their lives to come to Europe have done so for economic reasons.’

Robert Stacy McCain puts Phyllis Schlafly’s name in the ring for the $10 bill. She’s a fine woman, a hero in many ways, but I’m partial to keeping Alexander Hamilton, preeminent author of the Federalist papers, aide-de-camp to Washington during the Revolutionary War, and first Treasury secretary. My second choice is Margaret Sanger, who’s done more for American women than any woman in American history. She’s as American as apple pie.

Commenting on what’s on a video without watching the video is par for the course these days. Jay Caruso writes at RedState:

Hillary Clinton, once again, rushed to defend Planned Parenthood because of all the talk surrounding the effort to stop subsidizing their abortion business with tax dollars:

Hillary Clinton rushed to Planned Parenthood’s defense Thursday, warning congressional Republicans against blocking funding for the entire federal government in an effort to stop the flow of dollars to the organization.

“I would hope that the Republicans—and particularly the Republicans in the House, led by Speaker (John) Boehner—would not put our country and our economy in peril pursuing some kind of emotionally, politically charged, partisan attack on Planned Parenthood to shut our government down,” Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “I think that would be a very, very unfortunate decision.”

This is very typical of Hillary and the left in general. However, the critical information is revealed next:

Clinton wouldn’t answer when asked whether she has seen the controversial videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of aborted fetuses for research—which has fueled a new GOP push to block government dollars from flowing to the organization.

In other words, she has not watched the videos.

This is nothing new. President Obama, a stalwart defender of Planned Parenthood and their butchery has not seen the videos either:

President Obama likely hasn’t seen and has no plans to view four videos made by an anti-abortion group purporting to prove that Planned Parenthood profits from selling aborted fetal tissue, a White House spokesman said Friday.

They have not seen the videos, but yet they do not hesitate to defend Planned Parenthood. In doing so, they sound like the mother who insists her son is a “good boy” despite just having been arrested for being a serial killer.

They sound like Doc Rivers ripping his boss Donald Sterling without knowing what he really said.

The president and the president-in-waiting are busy people. They don’t have time to know what they’re talking about.

At First Things, Amy L. Wax notes the shortcoming of secular materialism’s explanation for lower class troubles:

Although Putnam admits that life for the working class, and even the poor, used to be dramatically different, he has remarkably little to say about why parents in straitened circumstances were once far more effective in establishing orderly homes, socializing their children, and equipping them to exploit chances for self-improvement or, at least, to achieve a decent, satisfying life. And he devotes no attention to the significant number of less skilled Americans—including many recent immigrants—who effectively resist the social problems that bedevil others at the bottom of the economic ladder.

In fact, Putnam’s own anecdotes belie his tilt toward the economic roots of working-class distress, highlighting the dynamic, two-way relationship between material hardship and life choices. Joe, one of his working-class protagonists, is steadily employed at a decent job managing a pizza franchise. Yet he chronically overspends his earnings and forms tempestuous, unstable liaisons that produce children he can scarcely afford. Indeed, virtually all of Putnam’s working-class subjects seem to specialize in a familiar litany of self-defeating behaviors. Short-lived broken relationships, random spawning and abandonment of children, squandered educational opportunities, repetitive lawbreaking, and drug abuse are staples of their existence. Male incarceration is commonplace. Parenting is often harsh while also indifferent, erratic, and neglectful.

In short, the picture Putnam paints is too often that of people who repeatedly pass up the chance to steady or improve their own lives. The sociologist Isabel Sawhill, whom Putnam cites, has observed that a few simple choices—the so-called “success sequence”—can minimize poverty even for people with modest education and skills. The prescription is to graduate from high school, work steadily at any job available, get married before having children, and avoid crime. These basic prudential steps are within the reach of virtually everyone, regardless of means and background, and most people used to accept them as indispensable way stations to responsible adulthood. Yet these steps are no longer followed by most people without a college degree. Laying this at the feet of economic causes requires adopting a peculiar brand of causal materialism that now dominates the social sciences.

At Public Discourse, Daniel Haqiqatjou analyzes liberals’ adoption of John Stuart Mill’s harm principle, and reveals it for the libertarian bunk that it is, using the example of adultery.

We might wonder, why couldn’t the pain and suffering that the betrayed spouse feels—which some psychologists speak about in terms of post-traumatic stress disorder—be considered harmful in the logic of secular liberalism? One would think that, given how much stock liberal ethical theory puts into sexual autonomy and the negative emotional and psychological impact of curtailing sexual freedom, liberal pundits would express at least some passing consideration for the negative emotional and psychological impact of adultery upon the betrayed spouse.

The difference, we are told, is that the emotional distress of the betrayed spouse is due to a misplaced sense of marital commitment, which is ultimately based on provincial religious attitudes, whereas emotional distress caused by curtailed sexual freedom is based on immutable human needs at the core of personhood. In other words, if a married man has sexual needs that can only be satisfied by someone not his wife, those needs take priority over marriage vows. To put the point succinctly: sexual needs are real, but marriage vows are based on religion, which is not real as far as rational secularism is concerned. If betrayed spouses feel bad, it is their own fault for naively buying into this whole idea of marital commitment. This is similar to the way in which parents and family members who are distressed when a loved one adopts a “gay lifestyle” or chooses to have sex-change surgery are told that their distress is not legitimate. Rather, any negative emotions or harm are their own fault—the result of buying into naive and prudish views on sexuality and gender.

Liberalism is reality denial.

Thomas Sowell defends his book from an ignorant reviewer. Excerpt:

As for inequality of incomes, these depend on so many things — including things that no government has control over — that the obsession with statistical “gaps” or “disparities” that some call “inequities” is a major distraction from the more fundamental, and more achievable, goals of promoting a rising standard of living in general and greater opportunity for all.



Or, if logic doesn’t work, which it often doesn’t, point out many women don’t earn any of the wages they buy phones with. They get it from their husbands.

Horrific is the scene of thousands of people waiting in line for Section 8 vouchers. The article saves the worst part for last:

A fact sheet distributed by the city prior to the event warned prospective applicants that it “may be many months or several years before we are able to assist you with your rent. This is not an emergency program.”

If it’s not a short-term helping hand to help people get back on their feet, then it’s long-term assistance.

We need to reform welfare so that, as Pope Francis told the UN, we can “allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.” Wealth redistribution programs don’t work because, as George Gilder points out, “it is extremely difficult to transfer value to people in a way that actually helps them. Excessive welfare hurts its recipients, demoralizing them or reducing them to an addictive dependency that ruins their lives.”

Wealth transfers also don’t work because wealth is knowledge. Giving someone money doesn’t give them the knowledge to replicate it. Capitalism joins knowledge and power.

Now for some gems from Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty:

The flood of protean growth can be comprehended and sustained only by millions of individuals with access to disposable savings and deep involvement in the companies themselves—that is, by investors who have money of their own and who can share in and pass on the profits as they gain new knowledge and investment skills. Although the desire to consume is ubiquitous and plays a significant role in motivating all men, far more important in capitalism is the purposeful drive to understand the world and to create things: to generate wealth (value defined by others) and reinvest it in the continuing drama of human invention and progress.


Even the most indigent families will do better under a system of free enterprise and investment than under an excessively “compassionate” dole that asks no return. The understanding of the Law of Reciprocity, that one must supply in order to demand, save in order to invest, consider others in order to serve oneself, is crucial to all life in society.


The gifts of capitalism generate economic progress chiefly because they comprise an epistemological system, a way of making discoveries and exploiting them. Accompanying every visible profit earned by enterprise is an invisible profit of expanded knowledge. Investments are in fact purposeful experiments, and whatever the outcome, the results are informative.


Steeply “progressive tax rates not only destroy incentives; more important, they destroy knowledge. They take from the givers and thus prevent them from giving again, from reinvesting their winnings in the light of the new information generated by the original gift.


Socialism is an insurance policy bought by all members of a national economy to shield them from risk. But the result is to shield them from knowledge of the real dangers and opportunities ubiquitous in any society.


The spirit factor is best elicited by ownership. Ownership means exposure to the risks and benefits of productive property, whether it is one’s own land and labor or IBM shares. It means, in a competitive economy in a changing world, that the owner lives on the crest of creation, continually informed and inspired, edified and motivated, by the flashes of surprising news about fashion, taste, and technology, that can radically shift the values—the future returns—of what is owned.


Progress is always dependent on the creativity of suppliers.


Nearly all the programs that are advocated by economists to promote equality and combat poverty—and are often rationalized in terms of stimulating consumption—in actuality reduce demand by undermining the production which all real demand derives.


Wealth consists in assets that promise a future stream of income.


In the noosphere of capitalism, all riches must finally fall into the gap between thoughts and things. Wealth is governed by mind but it is caught in matter. To be negotiable, an asset must afford an income stream that is expected to continue.


Saving is often defined as deferred consumption. But it depends on investment: the ability to produce consumable goods at that future date to which consumption has been deferred. Saving depends on having something to buy when the deposit is withdrawn.

More to come.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Social contract

Witness multiculturalism, or the fantasy that different visions of the public good can coexist in the same space, at work in New Jersey. This is not just about what holidays to observe. It’s about the school district’s identity. Is it Christian, Muslim, all of the above, or none?

The Jersey City Board of Education voted last week not to close schools for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, one of the most important holidays for Muslims.

School board members in New Jersey made their decision Thursday despite appeals from Muslim attendees who showed up to advocate that the board change the school schedule.

At one point, things became so heated that an official urged security to “take charge” of the situation. At least one person was seen on video being escorted from the meeting.

“We feel alienated from the Board of Education, we feel alienated from this system,” Omar Abouelkhair told WNBC-TV.

“We’re going to be the majority soon,” another said.

The Islamic system they’re demanding is the same one they came to America’s shores to escape, steeped in an ideology of hate and easily swayed by distrust, corrosive to civility, safety, and productivity. Nevertheless, they want it. (Or maybe what brought them here was the commandment to overtake the infidels by mass immigration, hijra.)

The majority imposing what they believe to be right, whether or not it is truly right, is more reasonable than the cognitive dissonance multiculturalism requires, the pretense that the differences in people don’t matter, that we’ll get along if we just mind our private affairs and don’t butt into each other. We are not islands of rational autonomy, able to compartmentalize our private affairs and public personas. We are social beings, destined to cooperate with others. People organize themselves on the basis of mutual interest all the time, from work to politics to clubs. The “cooperation” of opposing interests subtracts from the social peace. To what end this factionalism, if not civil breakdown and war?

The secular, liberal model does not work because men are not monads. You can’t invite people to participate in society and expect them to not bring their inmost beliefs. In the public sphere, something will prevail over nothing. It’s all a matter of what that something is. The key to civility is not an absence of public passion, but a combination of correct passions prevailing over incorrect passions. Those passions develop in the soul, trained to stay in the likeness of God, and extend through the flesh out into the community.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Capitalism for the common good

Pope Francis confuses unneighborly, exploitive secular materialism, the reduction of man to utilitarian/hedonic units, and the spiritual isolation and dysphoria that entails, with the wealth-building and virtual communion of free-market capitalism. CNN reports:

In the chapter on economics, Francis argued that while it can be good for development, capitalism lacks morals and promotes selfish behavior.

“What the Church criticizes is the spirit that capitalism has encouraged, utilizing capital to subject and oppress the man,” Pope Francis wrote in his book, titled “Dialogues between John Paul II and Fidel Castro.” CNNMoney obtained a copy of the book in Columbia University’s library.

He added that capitalism “develops with characteristics of individuality, in a life where men look for their own good and not the common good.”

Baloney. The free market serves the common man’s interests better than any other economic system. The great leaps in the common man’s standard of living were initially pursuits of passion by innovators looking to profit the lives of others. This requires great ingenuity and perception of people’s needs, learned through close, personal interaction, to address shortfalls and uncertainties in the current order’s ministry to economic man. Free-market experiments are selfless in that they commit men’s savings, industry, and genius to aid others in the struggle of life, with remuneration always coming afterwards. The free market ensures the lessons of what people want, communicated by losses and profits, accrue to the entrepreneur.

I’ll paraphrase my 2013 article on envy at Red Pill Report:

Prosperity is sustained by allowing those who acquire property, whether by luck, hard work, or talent, to keep it for reinvestment. The feedback loop between the producer and his market, which signals human wants and desires, dead-ends when government confiscates his property for redistribution. George Gilder writes: “Entrepreneurs must be allowed to retain wealth for the practical reason that only they, collectively, can possibly know where it should go, to whom it should be given.”

Knowledge of his market sets the businessman apart. He knows better how to invest his winnings than anyone else. Government redistribution cannot meet or supersede the value provided by capitalists. Simply put, government lacks the knowledge. By divorcing the capitalist’s wealth from his knowledge, confiscatory taxation destroys wealth.

For example, Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys for $140 million in 1989. Now the Cowboys are worth $4 billion, a 900 percent increase in value after inflation. If Jones left me the Cowboys in his will, they wouldn’t be worth half as much my first day on the job. I don’t know how to run the Cowboys. I don’t have the knowledge to sustain, let alone build, that kind of value. Jerry Jones evidently does. The profits from that venture, then, belong to him, he who knows best how to keep giving what people want, and even what they don’t yet realize they want.

The capitalist might well hoard his wealth and say he’s made enough, and withdraw from the supply side of the economy. That is the retirement attitude, the slow entropy of static savings and triple-A bonds to consumption and inflation. The risk of retirement is not knowing if you’re savings will outlive you, like letting off the gas and not knowing if you’ll make it to the top of a hill. Retirement’s view of current levels of wealth’s sufficiency is a perilous trait for people in the prime of life and society in general, for legacies cannot sustain successive generations. More wealth must be created, or the standard of living will plummet.

Our society is witness to the temptation to live off the past. Slick corporatists beg politicians for fiscal stimulus for favored projects. Established, calcified big business welcomes regulation as a barrier of entry to competitors. Unions legislate demand for their services to guarantee future income. Welfare dependents pass on entry-level jobs to enjoy perpetual holiday and checks in the mail. Gilder writes:

The so-called me generation of egocentric men seek not the productive adventure of enterprise, but the comfort and security of the welfare state, even if disguised in the form of protectionist tariffs, parity systems, or other invisible handouts. ... Even among exceptionally ambitious and committed men, self-love leads not to the giving of oneself and one’s wealth to the realm of chance and fate, shaped by the decisions of others in the market; rather it leads to a quest for power over others, in an effort to impose the fail-safe fantasies of radical politics.

This is true selfishness, seeking the rents of big government, the guarantees of socialism, or its many manifestations, in an inherently tumultuous, unpredictable world; recoiling from the risks and dangers of using your gifts to minister to others in the marketplace. Socialism l isolates economic man from the real ways he can improve his neighbors’ lot. Socialism, not capitalism, causes men to overlook each other and to look after number one instead, seeking security in a piece of the economic pie, shrinking for the lack of mutual beneficence in society.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Socialized healthcare since 2010

This is the second New York Times article I’ve read recently that reports on the socialist dystopia of American healthcare:

It may not seem like much—just an extra hundred dollars or so a year.

But the steady upward creep in health insurance deductibles has easily outpaced the average increase in a worker’s wages over the last five years, according to a new analysis released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kaiser, a health policy research group that conducts a yearly survey of employer health benefits, calculates that deductibles have risen more than six times faster than workers’ earnings since 2010.

Let’s see, what happened in 2010? Oh, that’s right. Obamacare—or the more ironic, official title, Healthcare Affordability Act.

The political director of a nurses union, National Nurses United, tweeted a link to the article, including the hash tag “#Medicare4All.”

Why would nurses want Medicare, a form of socialized medicine, for everyone? Because it subsidizes poor people to buy services they otherwise could not afford. It pumps up demand, giving nurses income security. That’s why one of their unions supports it, even if it means inferior care for the patients they ostensibly serve. Such a tragedy to see a noble profession be claimed by greed.

Demand overreaching supply is the definition of inflation, which is what the Times article highlights. The prescription for seemingly insufficient supply is freedom to innovate to broaden healthcare options and bring costs down. The political establishment, however, is blind to the realities of market supply. Obamacare, an insane Rube-Goldberg device of healthcare delivery, removes unpredictability, especially creativity, closing off new supplies of goods and services while subsidizing and artificially raising demand. This entropic healthcare equation will continue to age and atrophy until it is overthrown for a market-based system.

Related: “Socialism incentivizes price gougers.”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Socialism subsidizes price gougers

The 18th and 19th paragraphs of this New York Times story on pharmaceuticals gouging are the most important:

Daraprim cost only about $1 a tablet several years ago, but the drug’s price rose sharply after CorePharma acquired it. According to IMS Health, which tracks prescriptions, sales of the drug jumped to $6.3 million in 2011 from $667,000 in 2010, even as prescriptions held steady at about 12,700. In 2014, after further price increases, sales were $9.9 million, as the number of prescriptions shrank to 8,821. The figures do not include inpatient use in hospitals.

Turing’s price increase could bring sales to tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars a year if use remains constant. Medicaid and certain hospitals will be able to get the drug inexpensively under federal rules for discounts and rebates. But private insurers, Medicare and hospitalized patients would have to pay an amount closer to the list price.

By raising the price 5,000 percent, Turing is betting more than one-fiftieth of the market will continue to buy Daraprim. It’s a good bet.

In a free market, Martin Shkreli’s apparent greed would have deadly consequence for Turing. First, use of Daraprim would not remain constant after such a sudden and severe price spike. People would immediately curb their consumption. Then, the price gouge all but begs a competitor to come up with a cheaper alternative to Daraprim and in effect shoulder Turing out of business.

But this isn’t a free market. Under our socialist, bureaucratic healthcare regime, innovation and risk-taking are heavily disincentivized. The liability risks, FDA regulations and clinical trials, and costs of research and development may in fact reflect the true price needed to keep Turing profitable and churning out Daraprim while it looks to diversify its product line. New entrants into regulated markets, especially healthcare, have a harder time than established powers staying in business. In other words, a cheaper alternative to Daraprim is likely not forthcoming.

Furthermore, consumers will continue to use Daraprim as long as health insurance shelters them from the increased costs. Health sector inflation is the worst of any other economic sector because of the divorce of runaway demand from finite, government-regulated supply. Private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid trying to meet consumer demand and their coverage requirements assures the debt of millions owed to Turing, smaller than a rounding error in the federal budget, will be diffused across the rising subsidies of the subsidy-dependent healthcare sector.

The free market is better than this.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The appalled appaller

Hypocrisy has been in the news lately. It has been used incorrectly to describe people who have accepted God’s forgiveness for sins and at the same time condemn sin, as if those two positions were not completely consistent with trying to lead a godly life.

The etymology of hypocrite indicates its true meaning is actor, pretending to be someone you’re not, from the Greek hupokritēs. So the way a sinner is a hypocrite is if they say they’re not a sinner. What condemner of sin claims he has not sinned, that he is pure as Jesus Almighty? No one that I’ve heard of. Secularists, atheists, and materialists, those who categorically deny sin, come closer than anyone else to this claim.

If we say we do not beat the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

If you want to see real hypocrisy, look at Hillary Clinton, pretending she wants calm debate, contra those hotheads who want to exacerbate divisions in our society. Three weeks after the president-in-waiting likened pro-lifers—the non-barbarian counterrevolutionaries to the apocalyptic sexual autonomy zeitgeist—to terrorists, she lectures on the state of civility, or lack thereof, in public discourse. The Washington Post reports:

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday denounced Republican front-runner Donald Trump for not challenging an audience member in a rally Thursday night who said that President Obama is Muslim and “not even an American.”

“I was appalled,” Clinton told reporters following an appearance at the University Of New Hampshire. “He should have from the beginning repudiated that kind of rhetoric, that level of hatefulness in a questioner in an audience that he was appearing before.”

Having all but declared war on half of America, which the other half can’t stand but for some reason won’t let go, I’d say she’s in no position to judge.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Welfare Balkanization

My mother-in-law says the Civil War was God’s punishment for slavery. There’s something to that thesis. Looking back, the slavery debate’s degeneration into incivility and war seemed to be propelled by a supernatural force, by men operating not under their own power, but the compulsion of bewitching pride. The sequence of events that led up to the war, the especially bloody nature of the fighting, and the two sides pitting the country’s finest against each other, one side for an inhumane and obsolescent economic “institution”—all required a perfect, unrandom, orchestrated national and spiritual disunion. When you read how both sides hardened bitterly to the point of secession and war, you begin to understand what it means when the Bible says “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 9:12).

I’m tempted to posit supernatural punishment is befalling Europe with this immigrant crisis, for its abandonment of Christianity for secular humanism. Secular Europe isn’t just vacant from a below replacement fertility perspective, but also from a cultural perspective. It at once gave up the selflessness to personally minister to others and the implicit bonds of faith on those who receive charity directly. Real charity represents both a barrier to people who would take advantage and a draw to those open-minded to salvation in Jesus’ blood. The welfare state model made charity an official policy, removing the moral agency of the giver and the recipient. This enabled immigrants to not care where the money came from, and therefore to abuse it, and natives to not care where the money goes, as long as they don’t have to confront poverty in their daily lives. The impersonal giving of the secular welfare state assures no mixing of the poor and middle classes, and therefore no reconciliation of the home culture and the immigrant culture. Multiculturalism, the hallmark of post-World War II liberalism, is made possible by de facto segregationist welfare policies.

People of Turkish descent comprise 3 percent of the German population but 6 percent of welfare recipients; Turkish nationals comprise 2 percent of the population but 8.4 percent of means-tested, long-term unemployment benefits, according to a 2009 study. Turks were three times more likely to receive long-term unemployment benefits than native-born Germans. Turks lag behind other immigrant groups in Germany in terms of education, employment, and dependence on welfare. Their failure to integrate bodes ill for the 500,000 Syrians, Turkey’s southern neighbor, that Angela Merkel invited to the country.

The refugee appellation the media has granted the Syrians rings with irony as, weighed down with smartphones, Instagramming their journey, they pass through non-war-torn Turkey and the non-war-torn Balkans to reach the cushy welfare states of Europe. There’s a reason Syrians want to apply for “refugee” status in Germany. Germany’s welfare system offers a higher standard of living than less liberal countries like Serbia and Hungary. Syrian immigrants are less fleeing war than seeking to create their own cultural and economic space in the welfare state.

“The reality is that Europe is threatened by a mass inflow of people, many tens of millions of people could come to Europe. Now we talk about hundreds of thousands but next year we will talk about millions and there is no end to this.” –Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán

Secularism is a death cult, embracing abortion and euthanasia, so it’s unsurprising that it can’t rouse the energy to defend itself. A proper response to the Syrian immigrant crisis is to curtail all immigration, then to reform welfare and honestly assess where multiculturalism has gotten Europe and its citizens.

Related: “Liberal scrooges” and “What’s left of Europe.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Odds and ends 9/14/2015

I could listen to Rod Dreher wax on the social issues and the coming secular technocracy all day. But on fighting for what he believes in, and trying to avert “inevitable” “progress,” he’s a wimp. Example:

The Family Research Council and other Christian, Inc. lobbyists are already writing the fundraising appeals, you can bet. And you can also bet that they’re bending the ear of clueless House Republicans to get them to propose provocative religious liberty legislation that stands no chance of passing, but every chance of discrediting the cause in the public’s eye. (In fact, I was told last night by someone deeply involved in this issue at the Congressional level that this is exactly what is happening.)

So I’m angry about this. Huckabee and Cruz, but especially Huckabee, are doing wonders to inject juice into their own presidential campaigns, but the political cost to the long-term good of orthodox Christians will be severe. But hey, we’ve Made A Statement, and demonstrating our emotions (and, while we’re at it, raising some money for GOP candidates and Christian advocacy groups) is the most important thing.

He continued in the comments:

I’ve been saying for a long time now that AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME, the key thing to preserve is the liberty of our Christian institutions to operate free from state interference. The legal and political battle for the Kim Davises and even the cake-bakers and wedding photographers has been lost. To keep trying to fight those battles is a waste of precious ammunition (again, I speak metaphorically) and of precious time. The next front is when progressives start trying to cut federal funding, including student loan funding, from Christian colleges unless the adopt LGBT non-discrimination policies. And not only funding, but accreditation and licensing. What do you do when public school teachers are forced to teach a curriculum provided by GLSEN, or otherwise to affirm LGBT ideology, or lose their jobs? It’s coming. Getting statutory protections in place to protect institutions and individuals like that may still be possible (and it’s not just me saying this; I just got off the phone with a prominent lawyer engaged in the fight at a senior level, who said the same thing). But the more time, energy, and capital we spend on lost causes like Kim Davis, the harder it is going to be to defend our institutions.

The Arizona and Indiana episodes clearly signaled the secular autonomy zeitgeistians will brook no exemptions, religious or otherwise, to their rule. This is elementary. We are all bigots to them. Stop pretending they will have sympathy for a carefully reasoned, civil argument. Ryan T. Anderson shredded Suze Orman on CNN, and all she did was insult and belittle him. They know not reason, only power. That’s what it means to be enthralled by lies.

When the battle is at your door, fight! You don’t get to choose when to fight back, to wait for the perfect opportunity with the perfect leader. There’s no time to waste.

Robert Oscar Lopez speaks some sense here:

I am sure that Kim Davis prayed prolifically in the months leading up to her arrest. She had some difficulties with marriages in her past, but it seems that after a recent conversion, she did what she had to do to make her life as aligned with Christ’s dictates as she could. She seemed, even when being hectored by angry gay out-of-towners flanked by nosy cameramen, to speak with love and reverence for God.

In other words, she did all the soft and cuddly, non-hating stuff that the diplomatic Christians ask us to do all the time. Including prayer.

Then she simply said, “No.” She would not sign the marriage license. Like Thoreau, she went to jail.

Marriage matters. Of the Ten Commandments, the first one mentioned that reflects upon social relations among human beings is “Honor your father and mother.” Gay marriage dishonors one or the other. There is no godly or Christian way to endorse it, whether you are in a state job or in a private job. This is the moment when you, as a Christian, must not retreat. When people pray, they pray so that at moments like this, you do as Kim Davis did, and stand up for God.

I will not name names, because there is no sense in shaming the many disappointing conservatives who have run around criticizing Kim Davis and warning that she is a bad standard-bearer for our cause. Most of them are fixated with the “law,” forgetting that John Adams said our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. John Adams did not say our Constitution was made for graduates of Yale Law School.

They should be ashamed of themselves. Many of them, it seems, are telling me I should keep praying for some kind of divine intervention or guidance. They don’t get it—God has heard our prayers and sent us a chance to do something. Kim Davis gave us a chance to defy. Unlike so many others, she showed up to work with Nehemiah’s sword at her belt, and when the moment came, she unsheathed it.

Dominic Burbidge serves strong medicine on autonomy at Public Discourse:

The “golden age” of selfless denial is running out. Younger generations have taken up the demand for autonomy with alacrity. The basic argument is that choice should dictate our lives from beginning to end. At its core, it is an argument that resents discussion of the meaning of life, or even the meaning of pleasure and pain. This is consistent, because our general preference for choice over other goods requires that we avoid affirming through law goods that have an inherent dependence or social knowledge written-in, goods such as family condolence, deeper reflection on pain, or friendship as a guard against loneliness. All three depend upon others, and so are averse to absolute autonomy.

Our generation’s love for autonomy has not been built through frequently addressing end-of-life issues but through shying away from them. It is a product of our love for career. Career as the aim of life builds these discussions of efficient life termination as a question of autonomy, and it just so happens that it is also efficient for our economy.


We are the inventors of a truly individualized cult. We reject community-based religion as the zone of guilt trips and instead retreat into self-made sanctuaries where we pour our own stored-up guilt upon ourselves with the hope that it will make us study harder, make more careful life choices, and work with less rest.

Autonomy is the sunrise and sunset of our lives. It gives us the ability to do what we want, and the explanation for why what we do is good. Its enemy is dependence, not because the two are at war but because dependence provides a silent, robust alternative. If society accepted dependence, we would still be able to do what we want, and we would also have a better explanation for why what we do is good. Dependence is a threat to our love for autonomy because it is better, stronger, and speaks more deeply to our nature. Against this strength, it is futile for the lovers of autonomy to say their way is superior, so instead they say their way is inevitable. The irony is that their prophecy requires laws to be implemented.

At Taki’s, David Cole asked his friend why unisex bathroom accommodations weren’t good enough for a 17 year-old transsexual. Her response:

Unisex restrooms only serve to further separate, where we should be teaching our children to be inclusive.

Reeducation camps for all of you who think a boy doesn’t belong in the girl’s room. It’s not about having a safe public space to pee, it’s about forcing people to accept you and not think verboten thoughts about you. If the transsexual’s “right” to pee with the girls supersedes the rights of girls to not pee with him, will girls be obligated to witness this narcissistic beast use the toilet to validate his delusions?

At the American Thinker, Jeremy Egerer lays the wood on transgenderism. This is a great post. Excerpt:

The reason that the “post-gender generation” is temporary (and hopefully only a generation) is because the one thing they never should have bucked is the one thing they did, and it happens to be beauty. There’s nothing attractive about Miley Cyrus, nothing that makes you say I want this woman living in my house with me forever. She’s already ruined her looks with androgyny and bad fashion. She’s unsuitable for any pursuit of tranquility (which every single one of us eventually needs), useless for any kind of actual production (which most of us are forced by circumstances into doing), and even worse for the raising of children (which is the biological purpose and statistically unavoidable result of having sex). And if children aren’t ready to begin searching for these qualities intently, they’ll feel themselves drawn magically to them by their guts—which are eternal, unlike the tastes of our intelligentsia.

The irony of the post-gender generation is that it claims to be getting a minority out of the closet, while forcing the majority back into another. It demands that the majority of people celebrate things they don’t really feel like celebrating—unless they have to celebrate it for the purpose of fitting in. And this is because a person who's post-gender or transsexual has never really left his sex. He’s just terrible at being it. He straddles the infinite chasm between two ideals, and he cheapens both of them while getting neither. Children instinctively know this, and teachers know that they know it—and we know this because teachers are spending a lot of time telling children to say that they don’t know it.

The post-gender movement is against the things all generations of healthy people have recognized as masculine and feminine, which means that in a universal sense, it’s profoundly anti-democratic. It’s about pretending the forces of nature never existed, and that all the healthy people in fiction and in history, from the Nephilim to Lord Byron, were wrong about their feelings. The movement isn’t about the minority who wants to wear makeup and still be respected as manly; it’s about the people who know he isn’t manly and are forced to celebrate him because he isn’t. It asks people whether they would rather be “individuals” or be beautiful—and it not only asks them to pick the option they’d rather not, but chastises them when they refuse to conform to the celebrations of tasteless individuality. Everyone is beautiful, they say—especially when they’re responsible for making themselves ugly.

Matthew Kacsmaryk writes about the zeitgeist in Public Discourse:

It sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults. In this way, the Sexual Revolution was more like the French Revolution, seeking to destroy rather than restore.

Kacsmaryk reports on liberals trying to inject “identity” and “orientation”—which are definable and immutable, you know—into the 1964 Civil Rights Act, another reason to repeal that misguided law.

The lips of the adulterous women drip honey, and her seductive words are smoother than olive oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grace. Lest she should make level the path leading to life, her paths are unstable but she does not know it. (Proverbs 5:3-6)

Lloyd Marcus writes a passionate piece on what Christians face in the culture war in the American Thinker:

Wedding chapels, cakes, flowers, and everything else needed for homosexuals to marry are readily available to them. Homosexuals’ ultimate mission is to force Christians to rubber-stamp their behavior, thus betraying the true God.

This is why I get upset with Christians who still do not get it—labeling any pushback as intolerant and un-Christian, lecturing fellow Christians about showing these passive, humble homosexuals more love. I want to scream, “This ain’t about that!” This is about saying no to being bullied into embracing anti-biblical behavior.

The radical homosexual movement is a form of the Mark of the Beast. In essence, any business or household that does not display the homosexual rainbow flag over its doorway will not be permitted to exist. Remember the pro football player who was fined and forced into sensitivity training for tweeting his disapproval of two men kissing on national TV.

When did we lose the power, folks, becoming subservient to 2% of the population, forced to comply or end up in jail?

It’s not just the 2 percent of the population who is gay. The gay mafia’s power comes from its alliance with progressive radical egalitarians, who are mostly straight, white, rich, Pharisaical secularist zeitgeist worshippers.

At Return of Kings, Michael Sebastian makes a familiar argument against pot:

A self-absorbed populace is easy to rule. That’s why rulers have always provided diversions to keep the masses distracted. In ancient Rome, it was the games in the Colosseum. Today, the media, our celebrities, and the other members of our new “aristocracy” encourage us to enjoy life and light up our medical marijuana cigarette.

Like soma to dull the pain. I wrote last year:

The bipartisan ruling establishment, who push immigration, globalization, and technisation, favor legalizing marijuana. They’re more interested in dumbing people down, softening them up for tyranny, than locking up malcontents. They don’t want to pay for your imprisonment. They want to sell it to you—and tax the profits. It’s a win-win!

Politico reports Obamacare sucks:

Flexible spending accounts, which allow people to save their own money tax free for everything from doctor co-pays to eyeglasses, may vanish in coming years as companies scramble to avoid the law’s 40 percent levy on pricey health care benefits.

“They’ll be one of the first things to go,” said Rich Stover, a health care actuary and principal at Buck Consultants, an employee benefits consulting firm. “It’s a death knell for them. If the Cadillac tax doesn’t change, FSAs will go away very quickly.”

That fact alone could dramatically alter the political equation surrounding Obamacare, potentially blindsiding middle-class voters who may be only vaguely aware of the Cadillac tax. Though the levy won’t take effect until 2018, it could be one of the first items on the next president’s desk.

Already, it’s become an issue in the Democratic presidential primaries, with Sen. Bernie Sanders vowing to junk the tax and Hillary Clinton saying she’s open to changes.

But it’s the law!

Confirmation bias on my article “Tax the rich, starve the poor” from George Gilder:

Time itself means continuous change of knowledge and conditions. Among all states it is the “stationary state” so favored by the prophets that is most sure withering away.


Because there is no demand for new and unknown goods, no demand for the unforeseeable fruits of innovation and genius, preoccupation with demand fosters stagnation. Egalitarianism in the economy tends to promote greed over giving.


Entrepreneurs must be allowed to retain wealth for the practical reason that only they, collectively, can possibly know where it should go, to whom it should be given.


The crucial question in a capitalist country is the quality and quantity of investment by the rich. A tax increase will not greatly affect their consumption, which represents a relatively modest and steady portion of the wealth of the upper class. What is affected is the calculation by which a rich man decides to save and invest and by which he chooses what kind of investments to make.


When it is impossible to earn reasonable returns from durable capital, the only thing to do is grope for the much larger through perilous yields of speculation.


Steeply progressive tax rates may have an idealistic ring, but their effect is to reduce incentives for economic success, work, and risk, and to favor the search got unproductive sinecures that make small encroachments on leisure time or household comforts.

I’m almost finished with Capitalism and Poverty, and there is more wealth of knowledge to synthesize. Stay tuned.

Betsy McCaughey talks some sense about “rape culture” at the American Spectator:

It’s not clear what happened between two St. Paul’s students on a June evening in 2014. The female accuser told the jury that the defendant “couldn’t know that I was uncomfortable because I was laughing,” during the encounter in the school’s equipment room. “I was trying to be cool.” But five days later, she went to the police. The male defendant said, “I thought she was having a great time.” Last week, the jury rendered a mixed verdict, acquitting him of felony rape though finding him guilty of lesser charges.

Regardless of the sentence he faces, his life has been irreversibly harmed by the rape charge and trial. Yet there will be many more trials like this, thanks to the warriors for political correctness. They have pushed to remove force as the standard for rape, and they’ve succeeded in nearly half the states already, including New Hampshire, where this trial occurred.

Sometimes, a young man will come on too strong but the young woman will go along and only later claim it was nonconsensual. In states without a standard of force, he could be convicted and sent to prison for years. In New Hampshire, had the defendant been convicted, he would have faced a mandatory 10 to 20 years.

That’s a draconian punishment for what may be mixed signals between sexual novices.

Let’s face it. Maturing heterosexual males are wired to pursue women for sex. And maturing females learn—often through trial and error—how to respond. When young women want sex, they learn to tilt their head or smile. And when they don’t want sex, they need to learn to firmly push away, convincingly say “no,” or just get up and leave. In the absence of force (or intoxication), there is nothing stopping them except their confusion.

The man declared innocent of rape had his face all over CNN for weeks. The non-victim with the flaky accusation got off with no one knowing her name. We were better off being chaste.

Republican congressional leadership likes to set up phony votes to put the Democrats on the spot, so to speak, but they don’t win anything other than rhetorical points. If they really believed in the nobility of their cause, they’d come to these budget battles armed to the teeth, prepared to deploy every weapon against the Democratic government to exercise leverage. But they don’t.

CNN has the story:

Boehner and McConnell are highlighting the series of investigations congressional committees have launched to explore Planned Parenthood’s actions and funding. They are discussing moving the issue to a separate process—known as budget reconciliation—to take on the organization without risking the closure of the government. They are privately making the case to their members that any shutdown would hurt the anti-abortion community’s cause.

Because getting the government out of human trafficking and feticide is not something you want to shut the government down for. Pathetic.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Welfare reform

Our welfare policies make human flotsam out of economically vulnerable families. Breitbart reports:

The [CIS] report highlights that less educated immigrants are most likely to use every kind of welfare program.

“Education level plays a larger role in explaining welfare use than legal status. The most extensive use of welfare is by less-educated immigrants who are in the country legally. Of households headed by legal immigrants without a high school diploma, 75 percent use one or more welfare programs, as do 64 percent of households headed by legal immigrants with only a high school education,” the report reads.

Households with children tend to use welfare at a higher rate across all three categories (legal, illegal, and native) of households.

Among legal immigrant households with children 72 percent accessed welfare in 2012. Meanwhile 87 percent of illegal immigrant households with children accessed welfare that year compared to 52 percent of native households with children.

Resistance to the welfare state is necessary for self-preservation for lower-income families. The seductions of subsistence and leisure sap ambition and familial interdependency. George Gilder writes:

In 1979 there were some 20 million families that could substantially improve their economic lot by leaving work and splitting up. Yet they did not. Three-fifths of eligible two-parent families even resisted all the noxious advertising campaigns to apply for foods stamps, which they could have merely for the asking. Millions of qualified couples continued to jilt the welfare state. Only in the ghetto, among the most visible, concentrated, and identifiable poor, did the insidious deductions of the war on poverty and its well-paid agents fully prevail over home and family.

What the HEW experiments showed, however, was that many of the yet uninitiated families were vulnerable to a better marketing effort. They will break down rather readily when fully and clearly informed of the advantages and not effectively threatened with child-support suits. In other words, the test showed that millions of jobs and marriages would be in jeopardy if placed in the midst of a welfare culture where the dole bears little stigma and existing jobs pay amounts close to the welfare level or pay cash untraceable by official investigators.

Welfare is a huge barrier for family formation, social discipline, and upward mobility. It is the greatest contributor to creating the permanent underclass featured in the national riot of the month (Ferguson, Baltimore, etc.). Immigration of low-skill labor—“the jobs Americans won’t do”—exacerbates it.

Welfare must be reformed.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Don’t click that link

My minister Barry Newton has a relevant column on the deceit of images up at Excerpt:

In the foreground we see the profile of a powerful and experienced man with his gaze riveted upon the beautiful form of a woman bathing in the middle distance, unaware of his attention. The snapshot of David looking upon Bathsheba could evoke lust within our hearts. This is possible because with tunnel vision it mutters deception, “This sensation of desire is all that there is!”

The scene reveals nothing about David’s forthcoming agony and deep pain. David would experience his baby slowly die and would witness his own family being torn apart because he chose to act upon this moment of lust.


Years ago I heard an interesting statement. Most of those in prison fixate upon the moment and do not consider a long view of time. If you will, it was a deceitful snapshot about a situation that empowered them down the wrong path. (Emphasis added)

It’s classic salesmanship. A coat of paint and a coat of wax make a clunker look brand new. The image presents a glossy picture of sinful indulgence, obscuring the detrimental consequences on inner peace and character. It shows and seems to elongate the temporary high without showing the hangover.

One of liberalism’s main tenets is no judgment. This is maintained by feigning no consequences, that you can play with fire and not get burned. In advertising, television, and movies people indulge their sinful desires, most frequently sexual desires, and the relevant consequences are glossed over, if not written out of the script. There is no spiritual rot, no shame to wrestle with, contrary to reality. The illusion that people can master themselves, that they can negotiate their sins, is prevalent.

I came across this tweet yesterday:

Ooh, photos! There’s only one reason I would click that link: for lust. Liberals have you thinking these pictures are innocent fun. Let’s laugh at Katy Perry’s expense and then go about our business, because we are above it and in control of ourselves. Is that how it works? We pretend men aren’t catastrophically drawn by their lustful eyes to sin against God, themselves, and their wives by a barrage of stupefying pornographic images. We pretend a little part of our capacity to love and see with Christ’s eyes does not die with a clandestine peek at a woman’s flesh. Because we want to believe we are not as vulnerable as we really are.

This is but one example of the daily attack on purity that liberalism peddles as entertainment. The fact that it’s on a computer or smartphone can easily compound the susceptible male’s predicament. Thanks to technology it’s very, very easy to find more images.

Can a man hold a fire against his chest without burning his clothes? (Proverbs 6:27)

Related: “Devil in my mind.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The constitutionality of saying no

My grandpa told me about a Twilight Zone episode called “To Serve Man,” about aliens that came to Earth to “serve man.” They didn’t mean minister to man’s needs, but literally serve man as food to aliens. I never saw the episode but was struck by the aliens’ idiomatic subterfuge. And I can’t help but think that the secular autonomy zeitgeist, moving vertically through culture at a breakneck pace, is getting away with a similar subterfuge, harvesting man for the devil while convincing us it’s for our own good.

With the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk’s office giving marriage licenses again, deputy clerk Brian Mason says the office will issue licenses in Kim Davis’s absence if anyone seeks them. Ahem. Anyone, you say?

A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.

“It’s about marriage equality,” Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. “You can’t have this without polygamy.”

Why not? Really, why not? Obergefell, ensconced in a horrid lie about the nature of man, destroyed any legal circumscription of marriage. The lengths to which Anthony Kennedy “reasoned” that people of the same sex can be lawfully wedded to each other removed all barriers. Marriage is effectively destroyed; if it can be anything and everything, it is nothing.

Again, here’s Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy on what are the qualifications to be married in America. This, not just same-sex marriage, is the “law of the land”:

It is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. This, they say, is their whole point. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.

If this is the test for marriage, then constitutional protection for saying no is gone. If you want marriage’s privileges and responsibilities, you are automatically entitled to them, without that old bogeyman, discernment, singling out who you are, singling out whom and what marriage is for. Kennedy’s language allows no rational exceptions to the dignity-seeking applicant. Ask for a marriage license, and you will receive. If Obergefell is the law of the land, in my analysis polygamy is already legal, as well as incest and NAMBLA’s favorite, pederasty. The inevitable cries of “Bigot!” await claimants to the contrary.

A common but misguided reaction at this point is to demand the state get out of marriage altogether, as if a rigorous public neutrality will defuse the stand-off between cultural Marxists and traditionalists in the public square. That’s a loser of an argument because:

  • It moves the fight to the private square, where it has already proved to be a useful weapon to end careers and silence dissent.
  • It disarms civil authority as an enforcer of truth.
  • It avoids defending what marriage is.

The law should recognize marriage because it is a figment of nature and civil society, not the invention of religious dogmatists. People who respect that truth will be little affected by a bogus change to how corrupt government defines marriage. The law is window dressing; a discerner can still peer through a false veneer. People vulnerable to the false promises of equality, to the persuasion that sin can’t corrupt their souls, however, this “law” will lead them further from spiritual health and deeper into the den of the father of lies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Re: Kim Davis’s “hypocrisy,” George Gilder has an interesting take on hypocrisy in his economics text, Wealth and Poverty:

The goal of perfection may invite efforts to impose it on imperfect humans by means of compulsion and through the agency of undemocratic power. Inevitably failing to fulfill the impossible dream of a society without conflict and hierarchy, the supposed idealists often lash out at the very attitudes and institutions—social pressures and legal processes—that are indispensable to all social improvement in a democracy. Idealists, for example, always abominate what they call hypocrisy. But hypocrisy—the insincere profession of unfulfilled ideals—is the means by which the influence of ideals is extended beyond the small circles of true believers. Hypocrisy is indeed virtue. A society that often and heavily exacts this tribute has arrived at one of the two most humane and beneficial forms of redistribution (the other is capitalism). Hypocrisy might also be described as manners or exalted as civilization. These are the ways of social sublimation: the means by which we at once protect one another from the the rough edges of a perennial social struggle and indicate our hopes for something else. Hypocrisy can make us better than we are.

It’s a pejorative, but it demands betterment from the one to whom it is applied. That’s why I think it’s a mistake to call Al Gore a hypocrite because he lives large while he tells us to live small. His graver sin is lying about temperatures and sea levels. If he lived liked he preached, he’d no longer be a hypocrite, but he would be a liar.

I don’t think Kim Davis is a hypocrite. Just because she has sinned doesn’t mean she can’t ask others to not sin. If she didn’t recognize and repent the sins of her old life, if she demanded Pharisaical perfection from others without removing the beam from her eye (see Matthew 7:5), she really would be a hypocrite. I read her conversion story, and she is not.

If you cheered Gavin Newsome issuing gay marriage licenses in San Francisco in 2003, in contravention of California law then, and you jeer Kim Davis, who is in contravention of the law now, you’re a hypocrite. But that is probably not why they jeer Davis. They jeer her not from fealty to the written law, but because they think she’s a bigot.

The conversation evokes thoughts similar to “being on the right side of history” that liberals like to invoke. Of course that depends on what moment in history. Read the Bible. It’s a story about a people who vacillated every generation between being on the right side and the wrong side of history.

Authoritarian technocracy aside, by and large people themselves are the law they want placed over them, so no law is “settled,” in the sense that the people change from experience and, yes, corruption. It may very well be the lawbreakers of today will have monuments erected in their names in 50 years, will be cursed in 200 years, and will be remembered fondly again in 400 years. Who knows?

Of course, the measure of man is not the law, and it’s not man himself, this generation or the next. It’s God.

Related: “Limits of democracy.”

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Devil in my mind

We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6)

The scriptures excite my mind in all directions, but in my opinion way more important than the understanding of scripture in all its complexity is the application of first principles: Can I leave the old man of sin behind and become fully a son of God?

The devil’s distractions intrude into the mind when you least expect it, when you think you’re at last safe from the temptations that dominated your past and your guard is down. If lust is your weakness, it could be the clickbait ads between the online article and the comments, a pixellated offering of flesh that opens the door to every titillating image burned into your memory. If it’s gluttony, the hoarding of leisure time while your long-term projects rust and rot. If it’s alcohol, the mouth-watering sight of a liquor store next to the road after a hard day at work. If it’s wrath, the person who talks over you who reminds you of the inconsiderateness of others. If it’s vanity, the receding of your hairline and physical decline into middle age. If it’s envy, reconnecting with an acquaintance you used to consider yourself superior to, but you learn after so many years has it all: career, family, house, and leisure.

And, perhaps most tempting, the desire to give up on being God’s child when you fail, the confirmation in your heart that you can’t do this and you may as well give up trying.

The devil is not a bogeyman you can outrun. He’s with you all the time like a conjoined twin, feeding you suggestions as you’re hit with a hundred things simultaneously. You cannot avoid sin so much as you can build a spiritual immunity to it. That’s the experience of legalism.

Having an active defense system is essential. You can do it, but you can’t do it alone. You need to enlist help. You need the recurrent healing ministry of Jesus and/or to build structural accountability into your life. Usually older friends whose faith you respect ought to do it.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tax the rich, starve the poor

James Piereson writes about the redistribution fallacy in Commentary:

The intellectual case for redistribution has been outlined in impressive detail in recent years by a phalanx of progressive economists, including Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Krugman, who have called for redistributive tax-and-spending policies to address the challenge of growing inequalities in income and wealth. Nobel Laureate Robert Solow, of MIT, put the matter bluntly last year in a debate with Harvard’s Gregory Mankiw, saying that he is in favor of dealing with inequality by “taking a dollar from a random rich person and giving it to a random poor person.”

Piereson focuses on the proven ineffectiveness of redistributive schemes, that they actually don’t work well at making the rich poorer and the poor richer. Hence the frustrated socialist’s suggestion to bypass the welfare bureaucracy and just “take ... from a random rich person,” as if the rich walked around with net worth signs like in those ING commercials. He salivates at the possibility of equality police relieving businessmen of surplus cash on their way into work and distributing it to street people, or some variation of that.

Never mind such “pragmatic” redistributive solutions would cause the wealthy to change their behavior to protect their wealth. If a redistributive system actually succeeded in transferring wealth from the rich to the poor, it would put the economy on ice, forbidding it to flex and grow, defunding innovation and value creation.

Socialist planners have this idea in their heads, planted there by John Maynard Keynes, that aggregate demand, measured as consumer spending, is the economy’s growth engine. The rich often live below their means and have a lot of disposable income that they either save or spend on frivolities. The planner thinks if he takes that money and gives it to the poor, they are more likely to spend it, whether on food, clothes, toys, whatever. Thus, because consumer spending has increased, because demand has increased, the economy grows.

They couldn’t be more wrong. When you take the rich’s savings and disposable income, you deplete the economy’s real growth engine, capital investments. The cutting-edge inventions of tomorrow are considered essential minimum standards of living 30 years from now. First the automobile, then the TV, then the computer, then the cell phone. They were considered novelties at first. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a “poor” person with fewer than three of the four. All these innovations, in their nascent forms, lifted off the ground because the rich believed in the producers who made them and who secured their investment as start-up capital. These inventions have enriched the lives and productivity of billions of people. They would not have come into being if we had followed the planners’ advice and taken from the rich and given to the poor.

So it is today. We don’t know what the next great leap forward in supercomputing, telecommunications, or transportation will be. And we will never find out if we starve innovators of the start-up capital they need, invested in them by the rich with their “unnecessary” excess cash reserves. Such a scheme as the socialists propose guarantees a static economy, where progress is deliberately halted for the sake of equality and aggregate demand. In the long-run, taxing the rich to give to the poor hurts the poor, as they miss out on the wonders that capitalism creates and over time makes common to all.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The last sin of relativism

Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis has sinned in the eyes of the Lord Pharisaical secular progressives. Her sin is not actual sin, it’s her recognition of sin as such. You see, it’s not that she has had three divorces. It’s that she has applied moral discernment while being thrice divorced. Having made mistakes in the past renders her unfit to apply rational moral thinking.

“The Kentucky county clerk facing potentially stiff penalties for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married four times, raising questions of hypocrisy and selective application of the Bible to her life.” –U.S. News and World Report

Don’t misunderstand. Liberals aren’t upset Kim Davis got a divorce. That would be judgy and preachy. They’re upset that a sinner objects to sin. Since everyone is a sinner, no one is a sinner, and the only real sin is objecting to people’s sin. Because we’re “born this way” and we have no agency in our righteousness. It’s Jonathan Capehart’s absolute relativism in operation. Being judgy is the last and only sin of relativism.

Is this hypocrisy? Only if the commandment to purify yourselves in Jesus’ blood is hypocrisy, a convenient trope for the nihilistic relativism of our age. If Davis had a sinless past, she wouldn’t be a hypocrite, but a bigot. Not a great improvement.

Davis has taken the interesting tack of denying all marriage licenses since the heinous Obergefell decision became the “law of the land” since June. On reflection, I would do the same. Reading Anthony Kennedy’s gobbledygook opinion, I am very confused as to what civil marriage is and what its boundaries are. The Supreme Court or the Kentucky legislature needs to provide clarification, lest we unintentionally discriminate against throuples, blood relatives, and pederasts.

“Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities.” –Anthony Kennedy, Obergefell v. Hodges

The disaster of Kennedy’s lack of a limiting principle is clear. As a county clerk, just who can I deny the dignity of a marriage license to?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Odds and ends 9/2/2015

The Kentucky clerk rejects the march of history towards Sodom and Gomorrha. You have to expect this kind of reaction, and worse, when you cram homosexuality down Americans’ throats.

Ryan T. Anderson writes:

As I explain in my new book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom,” there are ways in which public policy can create a win-win situation: where all eligible couples can receive a license and where as many employees as possible can be accommodated.

North Carolina provides a great example. The state legislature earlier this year passed a law that protects magistrates who object to performing solemnizing ceremonies for same-sex marriages and clerks who object to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. It also makes clear that no one can be denied a marriage license, but magistrates or clerks could recuse themselves from the process behind the scenes should they have sincere objections to same-sex marriage.

Again, it’s a win-win for everyone. No one loses anything.

We lose the definition of marriage! Anderson is the most eloquent traditional marriage advocate in the press. Why does he hail redefinitionists’ accommodations for tradition as a “win-win”? This compromise does nothing to prevent marriage degradation or restore the proper definition of marriage to society. It smacks of “happy warrior,” “loyal opposition” loserism, a concession to be conceded at a later date to liberals, who are never satisfied and constantly press for more.

Mona Charen puts “rape culture,” such as it is, at the sexual revolution’s feet:

College campuses, like the rest of American society today, are struggling to contain the wreckage of the sexual revolution. Neither men nor women are happy with the chaotic and utterly unromantic world they’ve inherited. It’s a culture of drunken hook-ups and “booty calls,” where traditional courtship is dead and even dating is rare.

In pop culture, in entertainment, and even in redoubts of “higher” learning, crudeness and vulgarity have become commonplace. “No Means Yes! Yes Means Anal,” shouted a bunch of Yale University undergraduates marching past women’s dorms. Our kids grow up bombarded by what feminist Ariel Levy has called “raunch culture,” just as a hormonal fire hose drenches their bodies. At the same time, a thousand spiky barriers stand in the way of mutual respect between the sexes. As for romance, it is like a transplanted tropical plant, struggling to survive in frozen soil.

Managing the transition to adulthood has never been easy or straightforward, but it is hard to think of a time when the path into the world of sex, relationships, and love has featured fewer rules or common understandings. Nor has there been a time in American history when so much of what the young are taught to prepare them for this stage is a product of ideology rather than our best understanding of the truth.

We’ve told the young that sex is “no big deal,” except for those with non-traditional inclinations, in which case, sex is their whole identity. They’ve been instructed that the crucial moral lesson they should take away from sex education is hygiene. They’ve learned that anything goes so long as both (or all) parties consent; and, most crucially, they’ve been schooled that there are no differences that matter between the sexes.

That last one especially is at the heart of the current chaos. Men have been invited to assume that women are neither more nor less sensitive than themselves when it comes to sex. Women have been encouraged to believe that engaging in casual hook ups is another step on the ladder to full equality. As the Roman poet Horace said, “You may drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she will still hurry back.”

The mess on college campuses is part of the larger chaos between men and women that characterizes modern America. This failure is no orphan. It can count among its fathers the sexual revolutionists and the feminists.

Equality is a lie that holds sway over male and female sexual impulses by force and cognitive dissonance. It is in men’s nature to provide for their families. The provider role unleashes sexual, capitalist energy that the bachelor can’t muster for himself. Rachel Sheffield writes in Public Discourse about the “marriage premium”:

In a 2014 report published by the American Enterprise Institute, researchers Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia and Robert Lerman of American University report that over half (51 percent) of the decrease in male employment between 1980 and 2008 (and 37 percent of the decline between 1980 and 2013) is connected to the decline in marriage. The authors note:

When young men and women replace formal commitment with informal relationships or none at all, work becomes less urgent, especially for men, who have historically taken all kinds of jobs to support their families. With no wife or children to support, men become less focused on the job market.

Wilcox and Lerman’s research shows that the greatest decline in male employment since 1979 has been among unmarried men. This trend holds true across all levels of education. The authors also point out that median family income would be 44 percent higher today if the United States had the same rate of married-parent families as in 1979.

Studies show that marriage is connected with a wage “premium” for men, and it’s not just because men with higher wages or greater earning potential are more likely to wed. Wilcox and Lerman find that married men work more hours and hence earn more on average. Married men ages 28-30 with a high school degree or less earn an average of $17,164 more annually compared to their single counterparts. Married men between 44 and 46 years of age earn an average of $28,253 more than their single peers.

Marriage is connected with higher earnings for another reason: men and women who were raised by their married parents earn more, on average. Men who are 28-30 years of age with a high school education or less earn an average of about $4,504 more annually if they were raised in a married-parent family.

As unwed childbearing has increased, more children are raised without fathers. While both boys and girls are at higher risk for negative outcomes when raised outside of an intact family, research indicates that father absence puts boys at greater risk than girls for lower educational achievement—and thus, lower earning potential.

I can personally attest to this. I was perfectly content with my bachelor’s wages and my low-demand job until I wanted to get married. Then, I knew, I needed to get serious, I needed to compete for higher wages to support the family I’d always wanted, since I had found the woman I wanted to start it with. I wrote 2 years ago:

Possessing a fortune or not, inscribed on man’s soul is the desire to make some woman his wife. There is no stronger impulse than to risk his sexual capital, large or small, for marriage, except perhaps the impulse to avoid that risk, to cling to himself rather than to his wife.

George Gilder concurs. From Wealth and Poverty:

Divorced, separated, and single men of all races worked 20 percent fewer hours than married men, and even Ruth the same age and credentials bachelors earned less than 60 percent as much money as husbands and about the same amounts as single women.


Civilized society is dependent upon the submission of the short-term sexuality of young men to the extended maternal horizons of women. This is what happens in monogamous marriage; the man disciplines his sexuality and extends it into the future through the womb of a woman. The woman gives him access to his children, otherwise forever denied him; and he gives her the product of his labor, otherwise dissipated in temporary pleasures. The woman gives him a unique link to the future and a vision of it; he gives her faithfulness and a commitment to a lifetime of hard work. If work effort is the first principle of overcoming poverty, marriage is the prime source of upwardly mobile work.

Finally, Sheffield drops this, which bears repeating:

The spread of birth control and the legalization of abortion attempted to disconnect sex from childbearing. It ended up disconnecting childbearing from marriage, weakening men’s responsibility as fathers. As Brookings Institution scholars George Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen put it, “By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.”

Every other day in the fall could commemorate a hurricane event from the last hundred years. The caseworker’s dream of New Orleans, a cesspool of broken economics and families before Katrina swept through, returning the sub-sea level city to the bayou, figures prominently in these retrospectives. There have been a few retrospectives on 2011’s Irene, too. Why should Katrina victims get all the attention?

Irene caused a lot of flooding in New England, but it was a dud in the Mid-Atlantic. The day after my doofus governor, Martin O’Malley, declared a state of emergency, I left work early and went for a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The storm hadn’t reached shore yet and you couldn’t tell from the local weather that a hurricane was approaching. I stopped at a Barnes & Noble going-out-of-business sale in Warrenton, Virginia, on the way home, and the only excitement was over great deals on hardcover books.

I slept in the next day and watched this “hurricane” out the living room window. Peak winds in Baltimore registered a meager 30 miles per hour. I heard on the radio hardware stores explaining they were not accepting returns on power generators bought in the panic of the prior week. People had strapped themselves financially to be prepared for disaster, then found themselves financially unprepared for the non-disaster that virtually no one predicted.

Since then I’ve been skeptical of hurricanes. I’m probably due a correction in my thinking, just like the last 10 years corrected post-Katrina over-preparedness.

Of things young men are “vulnerable” to, their salvation in Christ is not one of them. reports:

An atheist group is demanding that publicly funded universities take immediate steps to bar Christian coaches and chaplains from “converting football fields into mission fields.“

“The words of coaches and chaplains make clear that their purpose is to instill Christianity in vulnerable young men,” the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says in a new report, titled “Pray to Play.”

“Public universities and their employees cannot endorse, promote, or favor religion,” the report states. “Yet, many football coaches at public universities bring in chaplains—often from their own church or even members of their own family—to prey on and pray with students, with no regard for the rights of those students or the Constitution.”

Laugh or cry.

This comes as a surprise. I didn’t know the Federal Reserve was actively maintaining their portfolio by rebuying maturing securities. The New York Times reported in June 2014:

The Fed is gradually curtailing the expansion of its enormous portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage bonds, from $85 billion a month last year to $35 billion a month starting in July. It plans to end the expansion by the end of the year.

At the same time, however, the Fed reinvests billions of dollars from maturing securities—about $16 billion each month this year—to maintain the size of its holdings.

The Fed once planned to stop reinvesting, allowing its holdings to dwindle, soon after it ended the expansion of the portfolio. In 2011, the Fed said this would be its first signal that it was winding down the stimulus campaign. But there is growing support among Fed officials to preserve the portfolio’s size instead.

My research confirms this. The Fed held the exact same amount in Treasury debt, $2,462 billion, on August 19, 2015 as the day QE ended, October 29, 2014. They’re rebuying maturing debt.

Raul Ilargi Meijer comments on the market correction at ZeroHedge:

More QE is not an answer. And there is no other answer left either. Those tens of trillions will need to vanish from the global economy before any market can be returned to a functioning one, and by that time of course asset prices will be fraction of what they are now. It may not happen today, but that doesn’t matter: what’s important to know is that it WILL happen.

And if you keep being out there trying to outsmart a non-functioning market, you’ll get burned as badly as the millions of Chinese grandmas who already lost 20%+ so far just this month. And that’s just on their share holdings; Chinese property ‘markets’ will be at least as badly burned.

China’s leaders, and its people, have walked eyes wide open into an ugly albeit nigh perfect trap. They’ve all started to believe that borrowing more could make them richer. Outstanding credit across the entire society has reached idiotic proportions. We can get somewhat of a glance at what levels debt have reached in Steve Keen’s “Is This The Great Crash Of China?”, in which he argues that a crash is inevitable, simply given those levels.


Today may be just a warning sign, and it may take a while longer before the deluge, but it will come. And since China has nothing left to fall back on but even higher private and public debt levels, make that sooner rather than later.

The main advice we’ve always given with regards to debt deleveraging stands: get out of debt.

Meanwhile, the western financial press, which has been reporting on non-functioning markets for years as if they actually were still functioning, is worrying about a potential Fed rate hike, telling its readers and listeners that the US central bank ‘looks set to make a dangerous mistake’. But the real ‘mistake’ was made a long time ago.

Peter Schiff comments:

As I have been saying for years, the Fed has always known that the fragile economy created through stimulus might prove unable to survive even the most marginal of rate increases. But in order to instill confidence in the markets, it has pretended that it could. Wall Street has largely played along in the charade, insisting that rate increases were justified by an apparently strengthening economy and needed to restore normalcy to the financial markets.


If the Fed were to do what it pretends it wants to do (embark on a tightening campaign that brings rates to about 2.0% in 18 months), and in the process ignore the carnage on Wall Street, I believe we would see a consistent sell off in which most of the gains made since 2009 would be surrendered. After all, how much of those gains came from bona fide improvements in the economy? It was all about the twin props of Quantitative Easing and zero percent interest rates. The Fed has already removed one of the props, and it's no accident that the markets have gained no ground whatsoever in the eight months since the QE program was officially wound down.

As the market considers a world without the second prop, a free fall could ensue. Now that we have broken through the October 2014 lows, there is very little technical support that should come in to play. A free fall in stocks could be an existential threat to an already weak economy. It should be clear the Janet Yellen-controlled Fed would not want to risk such a scenario. This is why I believe that if the sharp sell off in stocks continues, we will get a clear signal that rate hikes are off the table.

Thus preserving the “recovery” which is speculation and bubbles in collective disguise. In my opinion, the Fed should hike rates even if stocks lose another 10 percent. They must let the market correct. And the money thus far retained from the liquidation won’t all be saved. It’ll be spent, driving up money velocity and inflation.

Murray Rothbard on the economic function of recession and depression:

What is seldom realized is that depressions, despite their evident hardship on so many, perform an important corrective function. They serve to eliminate the distortions introduced into the economy by an inflationary boom. When the boom is over, the many distortions that have entered the system become clear: prices and wage rates have been driven too high, and much unsound investment has taken place, particularly in capital-goods industries.

The recession or depression serves to lower the swollen prices and to liquidate the unsound and uneconomic investments; it directs resources into those areas and industries that will most-effectively serve consumer demands — and were not allowed to do so during the artificial boom. Workers previously misdirected into uneconomic production, unstable at best, will, as the economy corrects itself, end up in more secure and productive employment.

Twitter user, libertarian, and Episcopal @ScotsFyre defenestrated all the Torah law to defend her position on accepting homosexuality. She implied my position against sin is an interpretation, then she said I’m judgy, which reveals her true feelings that my view is no difference of opinion, but rather a bastardization of scripture. Show me the chapter and verse where the church fathers left so important a matter as sexual sin up for debate. You can’t, because Jesus’ teaching was explicit.

@Scotsfyre was defending atheist libertarian David Harsanyi, whom I had attacked for a pusillanimous article in the Federalist, a belated recognition that he made common cause with totalitarians to redefine marriage. There’s a reason the libertarian atheist agrees with the liberals, dear Episcopal. Do you expect someone starting from a position other than the divinity of Christ to reach the same conclusions as if he did start from that position?

Anyway, here’s a 5 year-old article from First Things by Jeremy Pierce to settle the “what about shellfish” red herring:

There’s a particularly bad argument against those who accept the biblical prohibitions against same-sex sexual acts, and I think I’ve just realized something new about the argument. The Torah prohibitions on male-male sex acts are declared to be an abomination. There are those who want to reconsider how to interpret the biblical texts who want to minimize this statement. They point to the fact that eating shellfish is also an abomination in the Torah, which means it can’t be all that bad to be an abomination in the Torah.

Anyone who has thought for a little bit about the relation Christians see between the Mosaic law and the New Testament should see through such an argument, because the New Testament explicitly affirms the judgment of male-male and female-female sexual relations as bad while explicitly rejecting the dietary laws that the ban on eating shellfish was a part of. So that objection is pretty naive. Any Christian interpretive grid that seeks to minimize the Torah prohibition on same-sex sex acts can’t do so merely because we nowadays think it’s all right to eat shellfish, because there’s explicit allowance of that in the New Testament and explicit continuance of the harsh language about same-sex sex acts.

What occurred to me today, when reading Christopher Wright’s discussion of Deuteronomy 25, is that there’s a further problem with this objection. It’s not that the occurrence of eating shellfish lowers the negative judgment on homosexuality because an innocent enough act gets called an abomination. It’s the evil of eating shellfish and the other things that fall under this same term that go way up, and that includes the example Wright discusses from Deuteronomy 25 (cheating people in commercial ventures). Eating shellfish in the covenant context of God’s people called together to be separate from their neighbors is tantamount to deciding for yourself what you think God’s standards should have been when he instituted the dietary laws. We can’t read our acceptance of shellfish-eating into how serious eating shellfish would have been taken among those at the time.

The dietary laws were an important distinguishing feature of how Israel was to live in contrast to those around them. It reflected both abandonment of pagan worship practices and an affirmation of the things in nature that, in the Mosaic covenant, represented wholeness and unity among God’s people. It’s easy to lose sight of how serious it is to reject that when you think about how easily Christians eat shellfish today. It’s a complete misunderstanding of the cultural, indeed covenant, context of the Torah to think that the inclusion of shellfish as an abomination makes abominations not very serious.

Those who continue to hold to a high view of scripture, including the Torah, aren’t going to be able to dismiss the Torah pronouncements against abominations as easily as pointing out that we all eat shellfish now and don’t consider it an abomination. Any Christian does consider it an abomination to do something with the import of what eating shellfish would have been in that context. We just rightly don’t think eating shellfish in our context would have the same import. So any reconciliation of the prevailing secular view of homosexuality of our day with a high view of Christian scripture is going to have to look elsewhere. I don’t think it’s all that plausible that we should lessen how serious we take the Torah prohibitions on what it calls abominations to be just because it’s called an abomination to eat shellfish. We should instead increase our sense of the horror an ancient Hebrew would have had at the idea of eating shellfish.