Christianity,  Politics

Healthy Economies Rely on Healthy Marriages

Pope Benedict XVI has some fascinating things to say in his latest encyclical titled Caritas in veritate “Charity in Truth.” A papal encyclical is a general letter to Roman Catholic Christians, and Popes use such letters to teach the church the Christian viewpoint on key issues. The document is 30,472 words, which translates to about 54 pages of single-spaced text. For a good summary, see Francis Beckwith’s piece at the Christianity Today website.

Among other things, I found it interesting that the Pope attempted some “public access” arguments in favor of marriage. Much of this letter is taken up with economic issues, and the Pope insists that healthy economic policies must be built upon the recognition that economies are comprised of persons created in the image of God and that these persons owe one another “love in truth.” The Pope holds furthermore that some “formerly prosperous nations” are experiencing economic decline precisely because of a shortage of human capital due to “falling birthrates” (44). For this reason, the Pope concludes:

“It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character” (44).

In short, the argument goes like this. Love for one’s neighbor means adopting a concern for his economic interests (at both the macro and micro levels). At the macro level, it is not in any society’s economic interest to deplete its most precious resource—human capital. That capital is being exhausted in those places where marriage and family are held in low regard. The subtext is very clear. The degradation of marriage makes for the degradation of economies, and love requires us to promote public policies that do not degrade either. Homosexual “marriage” degrades both, and thus love bids us to oppose it.

Whether or not this argument will persuade secularists remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I’m happy that the Pope has made the attempt.


  • Barry

    Speaking of charity, that is NOT a charitable picture of the pope. Looks like a cross between the crypt-keeper, Freddy Krueger, and Santa Clause.

  • Sue

    This is a matter of enormous concern. In fact, I would say one of the most important of our generation.

    In Italy, Poland and Spain, the birth rate has fallen to 1.2. This seems to be the trend in predominantly RC countries. In countries with a more secular focus, like France and Sweden the birth rate is now 2.1.

    The contrast is dramatic.

    I have blogged about it here so I hope you don’t mind –

    It seems that the more open an economy is too women working while they bear children, the more children a woman will have.

  • Sue

    Perhaps this should read –

    It seems that the more open an economy is to women working while they bear children, the more women will bear children.

  • Darius T

    Yeah, Spain and Italy are already below the point of no return. In other words, they are doomed to dwindle away to nothing (unless they have significant immigration, which creates a whole different set of problems).

  • Kelly

    Whatever ones opinion on gay marriages, a lot of people now know/love people who are in a gay marriage or civil union, and putting “” around the word marriage just confirms the sterotype that Baptists are bigoted and rude southern rednecks. Sorry if that bothers, but, thats just how a great deal of other people will read it and that is the sterotype that Baptists are often up against. They will see it as bad manners. Which, whatever your opinion on the topic may be, it is.

    It stops any chance you have to communicate to anyone but ‘the choir’ dead in its tracks. It’s hard for a lot of evangelical conservatives to get their heads around the fact that outside of the evangelical ghettos of the seminary and the areas where they are strongest, most younger people in society accept gay marriage now, and “” around marriage is seen as insulting and hurtful and uncouth to a LOT of them, and they are big on respect towards others.

    Dialogue and polite disagreement can lead to respect and friendship and an openness to hearing the message you wish to spread. Do you like to be insulted by rude athiests? I know a Christian who was questioning her faith but put down a book by an athiest because it put “” around the word ‘educated’ preceeding the word Christian. The bad manners did not impress.

    Nobody ever insulted someone into church, or even convicted them. Baptists often seem to miss that point, I am sad to say. I am sorry if that upsets anyone, but, I am just repeating what a lot of people who have said “No thanks” to Church/Christianity have told me.

    The examples given by other posters of poland and Italy, which are very conservative in their treatment of gay couples and have indeed passed the point of demographic no return, and Sweden, which in contrast has a replacement birth rate (2.1) AND gay marriage says a lot. Trying to blame lowered birthrates on gay marriage…well, that dog don’t hunt. Marriages are falling apart as fast or even faster and birthrates are declining in the conservative Baptist and evangelical south and in uber Catholic Italy than they are in other parts of this nation or other more secular gay friendly parts of Europe.
    And most people realize this now.
    Conservatives should get their own house in order before blaming gay marriage for such things.

    From my perspective as a former evangelical, and as a friend of a lot of secular people, I feel pretty safe saying that the self evident flaws in the argument(pointed out by other posters here) will ensure that this papal letter will have very, very little influence. At least not in the manner that the pope would like.

    I am no fan of his…but, that photo is awful! LOL! that IS the least flattering photo I can imagine! It makes him look like a cross between the star wars emperor and Santa who is contemplating drowning puppies for kicks after he steals all the Christmas treats down in whoville!

  • Darius T

    Kelly, you would have found Jesus and John the Baptist quite rude. Jesus kept calling people snakes and worse, while John the Baptist said it was sin for Herod to have his brother’s wife. Homosexual partnering is not marriage and never will be. If that offends some people, so be it. Christ didn’t come to bring peace but offense.

  • Kelly

    Darius T, do you want to spread your message, or just feel good and self satisfied with yourself and how you sound, while turning off the majority of a whole generation who will tune out the moment that they read/hear something that insults those they love and know to be good and decent people?

    This attitude on your part explains a bit about the decline in interest among the young and declining baptism numbers in the SBC though.

    There is an old (and wise) saying about not shooting the messenger by the way. Seems I hit a nerve.

    Manners and tone, in a multicultural society where there are 1000’s of religious options to choose from if someone is insulted by the tone of ones speech or insulting of ones loved ones by putting “” around the description of their relationship, are important. Now, it is just a non starter for a lot of people. The seeker looking for a faith will read something like that, think of her favorite aunt and her legally married wife in Iowa and go down the stree to the Episcopalians, the UCC or just become one of the ever growing number of “spiritual” people.
    Just how big do you want the holes in you nets to be?

  • Darius T

    So Kelly, is there any truth you do stand for? Paul tells us that the Cross is an offense, does that mean we should stop talking about it? What about the idea that only through Christ can one find God? That’s terribly offensive today. I suppose we should just light some candles, hold hands, and repeat ad infinitum “God is love.”

    OR, maybe we should preach that which the Bible preaches and leave God to the details. If a goat doesn’t like the taste of what we offer and moves along, that’s between the goat and God. God does the calling, we merely spread the food.

    No one is a seeker, by the way, at least, not of God. No one finds God unless God first calls him. So if some “seeker” doesn’t like the message, he must not (yet) be called.

  • Darius T

    MatthewS, let’s see what the Prince of Peace Himself said:

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    Christ came to bring spiritual peace, not cultural or social peace. And history has shown this to be true. Nothing has caused more bloodshed (either directly or indirectly) than the name of Jesus.

  • Brian Krieger


    I find this odd. After writing a 500 or so word diatribe (while throwing in an occasional phrase such as “how…other people will read it”, it was quite the attack), you receive one short response and then state “seems I hit a nerve”. Huh…..I suppose I wouldn’t characterize it that way. You are correct, though, in that many on this site are passionate about submitting to the authority of scripture (and defending how). And my guess is that this will elicit response worthy of that statement (hitting a nerve), so maybe oddly premature.

  • MatthewS


    It amazes and frustrates me when people pick small isolated pieces of Jesus’ ministry that were directed against the religious leaders and use those to create a whole image of Jesus quite different from the Prince of Peace, friend of Sinners, Suffering Servant. We should be ambassadors of reconciliation, servants who are not quarrelsome. Ambassadors of reconciliation, not Marines of Truth 😉

    Is there any book in the NT that does not mention peace at least in the greeting? The God of peace gives us peace, we are to seek peace, it is a fruit of the Spirit. In Paul’s instructions to Timothy we see that a man of God is not needlessly offensive or quarrelsome. We are blessed if we make peace. Jesus came to bring peace to those near and those far (Eph 2:17), the gospel is the good news of peace (Eph 6:15) etc., etc. The entire NT is interwoven with it.

    BTW, Jesus was a friend of sinners. The people who found him rude were the ones who called him a glutton and a drunk (something many religious people would do again today, no doubt). Curious: how many groups of people, outside of the religious leaders, did Jesus call “snakes and worse?” Prostitutes? (he befriended them) Gays? Immoral men? Thieves? Drunks? Children? (never anything BUT gentle with them) Crippled and lame people? (healed and forgave them) The Sick? (ditto) Gentiles? Samaritans? Centurions? Pilate? Herod? drawing a blank, here – help me out…

    There are tensions within the NT. Yes, in one speech Jesus did tell his disciples that he did not come to bring peace. But the overwhelming message of the NT shows us that is not the whole picture. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Everybody wants it but only the Spirit of God can truly give it. And yes, the Prince of Peace DID come to bring peace.

  • Darius T

    Matthew, so you just ignore it when Jesus says otherwise?

    Jesus was a friend of some sinners. He wasn’t a friend of the Pharisees, but lest we forget, they were BIG sinners. So saying that He was a friend of sinners doesn’t give the whole picture. To be more accurate, He was a friend to those who didn’t claim to be righteous. The gay lobby* claims to be righteous (and what’s worse, wants to force everyone to agree with them). The whores and drunks of Jesus’ day didn’t claim to be righteous or that prostitution or drunkenness was a moral good. They were sheep without a shepherd. We’re talking apples and oranges.

    Lest we get away from the original context of my statement that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, I made that claim (one that Jesus Himself affirmed) in response to Kelly’s argument against telling God’s truth because it will offend people. Jesus (or John the Baptist) didn’t seem to be one to avoid causing offense if it meant dumbing down His message. Else, He wouldn’t have died on the Cross. The Peace He offers is not some fleeting temporal peace between Muslims and Christians or between Evangelicals and the Gay Lobby. The Peace He offers is spiritual peace with His Father. We are/were all natural enemies of God, living in outright rebellion against Him prior to His call. Jesus is the Way to obtain eternal and permanent peace with God.

    *When I say gay lobby, I mean the activists. Many gay people are just like prostitutes or drunks, stuck in a sinful rut that they don’t know how to get out of.

  • Brian Krieger


    I, too, get uncomfortable when folks immediately go after the dividing the household thing. However, I think it is appropriate here. While the letters (and Christ) speak peace, they are all speak very forcefully against false teaching. We are all sinners. A difference comes, however, when we teach that dark is light or that error is truth. Similarly, we don’t back away (as is so en vogue now) from calling sin, sin. Christ befriended sinners, but he said they were sinners. Likewise throughout the NT. Just a thought.

  • MatthewS

    oops, i was playing around and hit submit quite by accident!! dang! Denny, I would be ever so grateful if you would delete comment 17 and this one

    *smacks forhead*

  • Kelly

    Darious, I find it interesting how you know so much about ‘most’ gay people and what they think. Comparing most of the gay people I know to prostitutes or drunks is ridiculous and insulting. And some people wonder why the church is declining in influence.

    My statements, and my comment about hitting a nerve, stand on their own.

    You want to spread your message of conservative evangelical Christianity (which as a mainline protestant, former evangelical I do not agree with in large parts)? Fine. But go talk to anyone who has had any success is convincing anyone of anything and they will tell you that the best chance you have is to become someones friend first, show them respect, and treat them the way they want to be treated.

    Insulting them and the people they love by denigrating their or their loved ones relationship by putting “” around the word marriage or union (the term for relationships that have been blessed in the sight of God and the congregation in my denomination and others) only turns people off.

  • MatthewS

    I think my comment #14 stands, except I would modify it to not imply that Matthew 10 was directed against religious leaders. It was a conversation between Jesus and his followers in which he assures them that they will be persecuted, perhaps even by their own family, and that they need to prize their relationship with Jesus as more important than their own family.

    Darius used a phrase that occurs in one verse to color Jesus’ entire ministry without qualifying, nuancing or limiting it.

    I pointed out a theme in tension to that phrase that is present in Jesus’ very name as well as possibly every book of the NT and the need arose for Darius to qualify, nuance and limit.

    BTW, perhaps we should refer to the man in the picture as Pope Sidious?

  • MatthewS

    FWIW, I believe that Jesus would have led people away from the gay lifestyle, to repentance and reconciliation with God. But as a friend, not with a “You’re the disease and I’m the cure! yah! No peace for you!” sort of attitude.

  • Brian Krieger


    Just out of curiosity, would you elaborate on:
    Comparing most of the gay people I know to prostitutes or drunks is ridiculous and insulting.

    I think I know the answer, but I’m just curious.

  • Darius T

    “I believe that Jesus would have led people away from the gay lifestyle, to repentance and reconciliation with God. But as a friend, not with a “You’re the disease and I’m the cure! yah! No peace for you!” sort of attitude.”

    I haven’t seen anyone promoting that attitude or approach on here. However, you may need to reread large portions of the Gospels, Matthew. Jesus’ preached one message. It was this: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God/Heaven is near.” It wasn’t “Be my friend, and after we really know each other, I’ll mention that you may have some things to change in your life.” He told them to first REPENT, because He offered peace. He didn’t first offer peace then ask for repentance.

    It should be pointed out that all Christians were such as those (to some extent or another). We were all rebels at different points along the same path to hell.

  • Darius T

    Kelly, along the lines of Brian’s question (I think), is homosexual behavior sin in your view? Or phrased differently, does God bless homosexual unions? If it is not and He does, then they have nothing of which to repent. If homosexuality is wrong, then why isn’t it perfectly correct to compare it to drunkenness and prostitution (or, for that matter, adultery, gossip, pride, etc.)?

  • Kelly

    Darius, I have two main points, and I will try to be succinct. I tend not to be, and the answers to your (fair) questions are not short or pat.

    1) No, I do not believe gay committed relationships to be sinful, and no, I think there is nothing to repent of if one is in such a relationship. I have read the works of the majority of the theologians in my own denomination (PCUSA) and believe they make a better case than the conservatives. These are available to you no doubt in the seminary library in Lousiville or on line.
    2) I am not trying to say you must think likewise. I am saying you would do well to speak to people with respect and the dignity they are due. The “” around marriage on the part of the author is not much better than the quote by the poster (“you’r the disease…”).
    Feel what you will about gay people and their relationships. In time (generations) the society will change so overwhelmingly on this issue that the church will follow suit anyway, as it has done on so many issues. What I am pointing out…and Darius is not addressing, is my observation that such linguistic usages and tone turn lots of people off…and when people have tuned you out, how are you going to witness to someone who thinks you are a jerk? Disagree with me on my theology, resent my pointing this out, but, I am correct about this point.

    Brian, in answer to your question, my nephew has a wonderful pediatrician (pardon my spelling) who is gay whom we all know we can trust with his health and well being. I cannot imagine his mother leaving him in the care of a prostitute or drunk person. My state assemblywoman is a lesbian, and is a professional, successful, intelligent and respected role model for local kids. I cannot say that about the local drunks or prostitutes. My former pastor (now honorably retired) who married my husband and me is gay. I would not appreciate it if the local drunk or prostitute tried to perform such a ceremony. Finally, one becomes a drunk due to choosing to drink. One (often due to awful poverty or against ones will…pimps, human trafficking, etc) is a prostitute by choose (of force) but can stop being one. ALL of the so called former gay people I have met, upon discussion, tell me they are still gay, and just trying to please fundamentalist family members or work through guilt they were saddled with from attendance at conservative churches. I have worked with ex-ex folks helping them get over the trauma of the ‘ex gay’ programs (usually very well intended I must add) they had gone through. People do not choose to be gay Brian,and before you say “but such were some of you”, I dont believe anyone lived to be over 900 either or that the earth was made in one huma week. Happily, more and more churches like the Episcopalians et al are realizing this and providing church homes for gay people, their partners/spouses and their families.
    Sorry about the length of the answers, but the questions were fair, and to answer them well took a bit of writing.

  • Darius T

    “Disagree with me on my theology, resent my pointing this out, but, I am correct about this point.”

    In a way, you are very correct. Preaching Biblical truth will make some people think you’re a jerk… it should, the Bible says humans are evil and sick and needing a savior. What natural prideful person wouldn’t at first blush think that’s pretty offensive? Jesus didn’t come to heal the “healthy,” He came for the sick. So those gays (or adulterers or liars or gossipers) who don’t believe they’re sick will find Jesus offensive. But those who do recognize their own sickness will respond to His call to repent and turn from their wickedness.

    As for your theology… unsurprisingly to you as this may be, but it is my opinion, based on Scripture, that you and your church are doomed for the dust bin of history. The Anglican church is dying a swift death wherever it proclaims homosexuality as good. More Nigerians attend Anglican churches than the entire Anglican attendance in Europe and America put together. This is because the Nigerians still hold to truth, so their churches are alive and vibrant while the Western Episcopalians are boarding up their windows and closing up shop.

    This isn’t at all unexpected; it happens whenever people deny God or the power of His Word. People naturally flock to an objective, absolute standard. Many times it is a wrong and ungodly standard, but rarely is it a subjective or flaky one that changes with the wind. Those kind of standards, like the one adopted by many Western Episcopalians, is inherently self-refuting and people know it (even though they won’t all admit it). You can’t say “I love God” and in the same breath say that the Bible is mostly just myths and error-prone, or culturally irrelevant. If you love God, you’ll not call Him a liar. If you know God, you won’t deny the very Word that tells us about Him.

    Yes, homosexuality will probably become more rampantly accepted in the wider culture, but I can promise you this, it will never be so within the true Church. Mainstream churches will flock to the gospel of self-gratification, but the Body will not. Those who are regenerated can not go back to the ways of the flesh or the fallen thinking of the worldly mind.

    Lastly, regarding the idea that one should give gays “the respect and dignity” they are due… is it respectful and dignified to not warn a person about to be hit by a bus? Is it respectful and dignified to actually encourage them to step in front of that bus? Is it respectful and dignified to stop others from trying to save the person from getting hit by that bus?

  • Darius T

    As for “ex-gays” and what not… I know plenty of adulterers who are still tempted to commit adultery again even though they’ve gone through counseling. For that matter, I’ve never cheated on my wife but the occasion temptation (however fleeting or slight) does flit through my mind. Just because we’re born with a desire doesn’t make it okay. Men are naturally promiscuous and polygamists (with few exceptions). Monogamy is not our natural state. Does that mean it is right to embrace and live out these urges? I doubt you would be fine with it if your husband did. So why do you hate gays so much that you won’t tell them that it is likewise not healthy or honoring to God when they embrace their desires?

  • Kelly

    Darius, you have my deepest pity.

    If you cannot bring yourself to admit that face the fact that insulting someone is not the best way to start a conversation (a conversation and discussion I admit I expect and would want you to lose) then you will make a poor apologist for your cause and point of view.

    I have know anti gay Christian pastors who were solid in their anti gay positions and theology.

    They were not jerks.
    Indeed, one of them, who years into our friendship told me that he saw no real success in making people no longer gay, told me that the only success he had whatsoever in even engaging with gay people was when he put anger and loathing away, and started to talk with the gay people he wanted to, as he saw it, help.

    Like I said, with the attitudes and positions you are espousing, I should be happy you have the attitude you do. It will prevent you from being effective. It was this that I was refering to in the section of my post you quoted. Not the things you made reference to afterwards.

    But as I said, in time, like on issues of slavery and race, and for most churches, gender, the vast majority of denominations will come around. God works in Gods own time and scheduel afterall.

  • Kelly

    Oh, and Darius, it is unfair, and the depth of fundamentalism to compare a committed monogomous and loving gay relationship, blessed in the eyes of God in the church, as my denomination does for such couples, to those with multiple partners, polygamists, etc. You do not get to redefine what is hate when you are so obviously full of it yourself. By your words, and tone, you are known.

    Have I not given examples of the many gay persons in my life, from my pastor to my young nephews doctor to the my many friends and relatives whom I love who are wonderful, Christian, moral upstanding citizens and role models? My former pastor is a missionary, a fighter for the weak and poor, and a wonder person who loves God with heart and soul. She honors God in her daily life in ways I can only hope I grow into so doing. I love them all deeply, and it is out of line for you to imply otherwise when you do not even know the nature of my relationships with them, me or them personally. Thank you.

  • Darius T

    Kelly, what are you talking about? What “attitude” or “tone” are you reading into my words? How is “homosexuality is wrong” convey any attitude? This is what is so frustrating about liberals and emotion-driven debaters, they see hate, anger, and attitude behind every word of disagreement.

    What is unfair with comparing homosexual unions to polygamous unions? You seem utterly unaware of your cultural blinders… why is polygamy wrong but gay marriage “blessed by God?” Most cultures in the history of the world would have thought the opposite.

    To be clear, I don’t “hate” gays. What am I that I didn’t receive (1 Cor. 4:7). You feel love towards gays, but by your actions and words, you hate them. For if you loved them, you would correct them like the Proverbs 13:24 father. Instead, by affirming their sin, you help prepare them for hell. I plead with you to reconsider the course of your life, for Jesus said that it would be better for someone to be drowned in the ocean than to cause someone to sin.

  • David Hamilton

    It is great to see people stand on what the Bible clearly teaches, because when people disagree with those who stand on the Bible we can say this:

    Your disagreement is not with us, but with the Bible upon which we stand.

  • Brian Krieger


    That’s what I assumed (your view on homosexual activity), but I thought I would ask first. Just a few thoughts.
    1) “Most [blank] people in society accept [blank] now” or “In time (generations) the society will change so overwhelmingly on this issue ” are a foolish reasons to do anything. It’s even worse to indicate that we should accept something that is unbiblical simply because someone else does (blown about by winds….). But expected. You’re inaccurate that this will be something the church will “just accept” (unless the church, as a whole, abandons biblical inerrancy and authority). I think you are accurate in a sense in that trying to maintain a hold on the word “marriage” is futile.
    2) I find it interesting that you hold a view of (this is just a codifying statement) “how are you going to witness to someone who thinks you are a jerk?” yet at the same time bark bigot.
    3) The drunk/prostitute part. I’ll kind of cut to the chase. In some ways, the only thing that differentiates me from a prostitute and a drunkard is the type of sin in which I revel. Because I know Christ (and if the drunkard/prostitute doesn’t), then we would be set apart. Saints are not sinless. They sin less and feel worse about it. God’s sons and daughters aren’t always nice either, while I know many wonderfully nice and friendly atheists who soundly reject Christ. So while I understand your physical concerns about the safety of a child, it has nothing to do with the spiritual equivalence of my gossiping and someone else’s adultery or my lust versus some other’s homosexual acts (or a drunkard, or a prostitute, etc.). A difference might come in each of these in that I do not say that my (or Darius’ or my mom’s) gossip or lust is OK because I’m (or they are) a nice person or that I just don’t like that or that society has just accepted it.
    4) “down the stree to the Episcopalians, the UCC or just become one of the ever growing number of ‘spiritual’ people….” OK. Sorry to say it, but “they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,”
    5) Darius isn’t spreading his message (a reference to your earlier post). It’s not something he made up or I made up. People put too much emphasis on how it’s up to me to get the message. I’m going to convince them. The holy spirit might. We are to preach the message with gentleness and reverence. But it’s the message, not just part of it. And we should respect.
    6) Personally, I’m torn on the original remark. On the one hand, I understand respect, we don’t insult, etc. On the other hand, it’s a hijacking of language. Meaning if the goal was really “we just want to live in peace”, then “unions” would be perfectly fine. However, it seems to me that it’s more about forced acceptance. I.e. get someone to call me married and thus they must accept that marriage as norm. Subtle, but it’s what’s happening.

  • Brian Krieger


    Just to note, nice != moral != Godly

    You have a very elitist hierarchical view of sin (that even seems incompatible with your own statements). Sin is sin.

    And, again, I think I know the answer, but which part of what Darius said was “full of hate”?


  • Scott

    If evangelicals spent half as much time fighting to protect their own marriages as they do fighting to keep homosexuals from getting married, then the message might have a little more traction! As it is, it sounds shockingly hypocritical to the wider culture when the evangelical divorce rate is so staggeringly high. Again I wonder, where is the same outrage over the “sin” of divorce as is evident with the “sin” of homosexuality?

  • Kelly

    Darius, do you honestly not realize how you sound and come across? Your loathing and disdain for gay people and their relationships and families comes through loud and clear.
    Attitude and tone? You would agree with putting “” around a description of someones marriage, knowing that their kids could see that, and no doubt you must be aware of how insulting to you it would be if someone put a “” around a description of your marriage or that of your parents, and you have the chutzpah to say you are not hateful? Trust me, to the people you speak of, it is hateful. Respectfully, you do not get to descibe what is hateful to someone else. The someone offended does. I might not consider it rude to call someone a Bible thumper fundy if I really thought they were (I do not feel this way…I am making a point), but the conservative Christian I so described would be correct to say they do not want to be referred to that way, and that using the desription is rude and hateful.
    Exact Same Thing.

    David, please, have the grace to acknowledge that this issue is NOT one with which the Christian faith speaks with one agreed upon voice. At one time perhaps it did. But, at one time it did on slavery, the role of women, usury and the world being flat. The many denominations and thousands of congregations, theologians and scholars who would disagree with you on the status of committed, monogomous same gender relationships and marriages are Christians also, read the Bible also, and often, as is the case in my denomination (PCUSA) are not only the majority of seminary professors, but are our most educated scholars…and quite often, former conservatives like myself. The main difference being that I was happy to find myself no longer a conservative, and many of these older men and women, such as Guthrie and Rogers, found it difficult to change to positions on this issue that many in society still do not hold. But, as they have often said, “it may not be popular, but Christianity is not a popularity contest”. None of these Christian scholars, professors or missionaries have an arguement with God. Thank you.

  • Darius T

    Scott, quick question for you… does anyone teach that divorce is healthy, good, and blessed by God? Sure, some may rationalize their own divorces that way.

    Secondly, because the Church has fleshly flaws doesn’t mean that we should embrace other ones.

  • Scott


    No, I think it’s safe to assume that no one within the church teaches divorce is healthy and blessed. That’s not my point. My point is to lament how much ink & time is spent on telling others (whom you presume outside the church) how to live without removing the planks in our own eyes. If Jesus said little about homosexuality, I’m quite certain he said much in this regard.

  • Kelly

    Scott, I am glad you posted that. I made a reference to such stats about the divorce rate among evangelicals earlier…it was ignored. Much like my point that one never influences anyone by approaching them with an insult…and that the person being insulted is the one who gets to define the terms of polite address and discussion.

    It has been my experience that evangelicals and fundamentalist love this topic so much because it is (was) for so many of them an easy target. Can you imagine if Burk and Mohler spent 1/10th the time they spend talking about gay people and their relationships instead talking about the divorce rate in the SBC? Yes, there is some talk about divorce out there, but, well, my point stands on its own. I doubt it will get as much talk as gay issues do…way to many sensitive toes in those pews for that topic for it to come up much.
    When more and more people get to know their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors,meeting gay and lesbian pastors, etc. they will be less and less comfortable hearing sermons/posts like this. It is already happening in fact. But, it will take time.

    But, it will continue to happen.

  • Darius T

    “Respectfully, you do not get to describe what is hateful to someone else. The someone offended does.”

    Moral relativity… I will give you this, Kelly, you’ve been a careful student of the postmodern cult. When all disagreement with your position is labeled “hate,” it’s hard to have a conversation with you. As Brian pointed out, there is not a little irony when you yell “hateful bigot” when someone disagrees with you.

    Regarding the use of “marriage”… Brian pointed out that this is a hijacking of the language, a Orwellian attempt to wipe out opposing views and ideas. Why are gay lobbyists not content with “union?”

    “David, please, have the grace to acknowledge that this issue is NOT one with which the Christian faith speaks with one agreed upon voice. At one time perhaps it did. But, at one time it did on slavery, the role of women, usury and the world being flat.”

    This is absurdly not true, please read at least a smidgeon of history before telling us what the Church believed in the past, otherwise you’ll continue to make silly statements like this one. The Church (not mainstream “churches” but THE Church) always opposed the type of forced slavery over which the Civil War was fought. Likewise, the Church has been the only institution in the world that has proclaimed equality of women and fair treatment. It’s been the culture that has always fought against this idea. As for the world being flat, that is a highly overblown issue.

    “The many… theologians and scholars who would disagree with you on the status of committed, monogomous same gender relationships and marriages are Christians also…”

    Without knowing each of them personally, I can’t say for sure, but I would tend to not have much faith in their salvation. Ultimately, it’s up to God, but based on the fruit of heresy, it doesn’t look good.

  • Darius T

    Scott, Kelly is not outside the Church, she’s in it (even if her particular denomination is pretty much irrelevant to the wider Body). Nor are the people she looks up to in the PCUSA. Perhaps the argument could be made that they qualify as the unrepentant brother in Matthew 18 or 1 Corin. 5 and that we should stop repeating to them the truth since they won’t accept it. After all, Paul says not even to eat with such people, but pray that their sinful natures will be destroyed and their souls saved.

    Also, as even Kelly admitted, some (I would say many) are preaching against divorce. One can do both. It’s not a matter of addressing only one issue at a time. We can address divorce AND homosexuality AND poverty AND gossip AND pride. As long as they’re all grounded in the Cross, we can multi-task.

  • Brian Krieger

    Spot on about divorce. We need a strong reformation of marriage as a whole. Acceptance of homosexual marriage is simply the breaking of the dam, so to speak. A quick search on Mohler (this year) returned about a 2 – 1 split (8 to about 4). Of course, much of what he writes on is what is in the news, too. I had written out a response to Kelly prior and I am sad that I didn’t include it:
    • Re: marriage, you are spot on. Christians need to be the ones with the lowest divorce rate (by a landslide). And we’re not. We won’t call adultery “good” either, I hope you see the consistency.

  • Brian Krieger


    Just to ask, what is the difference between a “committed monogomous and loving gay relationship” and a “committed, polygamist loving relationship” (you can insert several types in that statement)?

  • Kelly

    Darius, please! The amount of discussion about divorce compared to that of gay issues among Baptists and other conservatives is not even to be compared!
    And there is a reason!
    The SBC openly is discriminatory towards women, though happily most denominations no longer are, and women are full memebrs of the body of the church in all its offices and positions. The church in largest (did I mention two college degrees in history under my belt?) degree until the 1700’s had little to say or tacit (or even outright) support of slavery…some denominations even grew out of the groupings that in the 19th century had supported it. And people were killed (their statues are scattered around Europe), punished, forced to renounce their scholarship or put under house arrest for years for saying the world is flat. “Overblown”…ha!

    And Darius, I know people who disagree with gay rights and gay ordination while not being hateful in tone, word or spirit. When someone sounds hateful, insulting of others, and uncouth, I say so. I am not saying you mean to sound so…just that you do. Hey, keep doing so. Only helps my side of the debate.

    The mainstream is called that for a reason by the way. They are, as much as you, a part of the Church, thank you very much. And if the Presbyterians (and Episcopalians) did not have the influence they do, their movement towards inclusiveness for gay people in their denominations would not be such news afterall.

    And a marriage is a marriage, and should be called a marriage, whether it includes two people of opposite gender or the same. Remember, when you put “” around someones marriage, you just add more fuel to those who will read it and say (as I have heard them say) “see, I told you they were uncouth/bigoted/unkind” (I have heard them all)” at which point I have to explain why I would still want to be a Christian when it appears to them tha Christians must be nasty and unpleasant people.

  • Darius T

    Both Brian and I have now asked why you don’t like polygamy but you’re cool with gay marriage… any response?

    Regarding the flat earth topic, you clearly didn’t learn the truth of the matter. First of all, you’re confusing the issue. The normal claim is that Christians wouldn’t let go of a flat earth in the face of scientific evidence, but you’ve confused the sides and are now saying the opposite. I would recommend you start with something as basic as Wikipedia:

    Here is the money quote: “From Late Antiquity, and from the beginnings of Christian theology, knowledge of the sphericity of the Earth had become widespread.”

    It’s an ignorant myth that says people were tortured because they wouldn’t accept that the earth was a sphere. You should read Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s so Great About Christianity for more on this myth.

  • Kelly

    Giordano Bruno. Burnt at stake for saying earth was not at center of solar system (and flat) by the Church. February 17, 1600. Has a nice monument in Rome.
    I could list many others, but the point is made. It was indeed widespread knwoledge among the educated, but it is equally well known that the church fought this idea, and that idea that the earth was not the center of the universe tooth an nail for centuries.

    I was not discussing Polygamy. I was discussing monogomous gay marriage and the ill manners of putting “” around the word marriage when it refers to gay couples I know and love (or do not for that matter).
    Have you read any respected Christian scholars making a case for polygamy? Have you heard me say that anything goes? Have you heard me call for human sacrifice, or incest? And why do you think we will be combining the arguements in an attempt to tar the relationships and persons I described in my earlier posts with this brush? I don’t think so. It is not postmodernest (not that this is an insulting term) to refuse to let someone else try to set the parameters of the debate in a manner that is both illrelevant and damaging to ones just cause. When you can show me a Christian denomination that is calling for polygamy (I said Christian, not some weird cult or Islam), then it might be a topic for discussion. Otherwise, no. But it has no relation or relevance, expect as a topic to try to freak out and startle much of the general public and body of the church which is not shocked by gay people in the pews (and pulpit)now, but grew up watching Will and Grace, seeing their gay neighbor the accountant and his husband the teacher and their two kids at the PTA meeting or at church. If polygamy and such are not brought up, the fear that is so valuable in making people see gay people and their families as ‘beyond the pale’ by association wont exist. The need for such ‘combination’ shows the weakness of conservatives in their work to influence the public if one thinks about it. How many polygamous groupings or advocates have you encounted? I have met none, and I know a LOT of people on the theological left/secular culture. It is just not relevant to the arguements that have been made by scholars in the mainline Christian and Jewish denominations that gay couples and their families, lives and even ministries are blessed and accepted by God.
    So, for that reason, and the ilrelevance to the discussion at hand, I am not ‘going there’. Thanks.

    Once again, I was making the iron clad arguement, which you just seem unwilling to face, that insulting someone is a poor way to start a discussion with them…and that yes, whether you realize it or not, your tone and grammer would be seen as insulting by most gay people, their friends and family. You seem to want to avoid addressing this, and to move the discussion elsewhere.

  • Darius T

    Hahaha, you brought up Bruno??? Seriously? He was burned at the stake for heresy and blasphemy. You might want to actually read about the subject before you continue to list evidence that doesn’t help your cause.

  • Darius T

    “How many polygamous groupings or advocates have you encounted?”

    You should get out more, this is the new cultural battlefield in Canada. Gay marriage is so 2003 up there.

  • Darius T

    “Have you heard me call for… incest?”

    Nope, just the equivalent in gay marriage.

    You do realize, don’t you (actually, you probably don’t or just don’t care), that a stronger case can be made for polygamy based on the Scriptures than for homosexuality? Both are false, but it takes much less of a exegetical stretch to conclude in favor of the former as opposed to the latter. The OT forefathers were all de facto polygamists. Meanwhile, Paul says on several occasions (most clearly in 1 Corinth. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10) that those who unrepentantly practice homosexuality have no place in the Kingdom of God.

  • Brian Krieger

    “Iron clad”

    So, then, Kelly, since we are the unwashed who don’t understand, you have insulted me and you have no chance of reaching my evangelical brethren by referring to homosexual couples as marriage. You just need to figure out how to talk to evangelicals.

  • Darius T

    Now she’s picking on my grammar? I thought my grammar was quite good, perhaps not. What next, my spelling? 🙂

    Seriously (well, sort of seriously), Kelly, your tone is what is terribly insulting and offensive. Reading attitudes into my words… I hope you don’t do that with your friends, or they won’t be your friends long. What hope is there for you to convince evangelicals that you’re right if you keep up with that tone? Of course, on the bright side for me, it only helps the Church grow and cut off the withered branches.

  • Sue

    Getting back to what the pope said, that singleness, or non reproductive marriages, ruin nations.

    The statistics tell us that the more childbearing subjugates women (or locks them into a role), the fewer women want to have children. Presumably, also fewer women marry, fewer women bear children, and fewer women bear a second or third child.

    Oddly, ststistics also tell us that the more available abortions are, the fewer women want abortions. And, even more curious, the more religious a society is, the more premarital pregnancies, the early teens have sex, and so on. Also, the more religious, the more divorces.

    To crack down on premarital sex and divorce, to put pressure on women to take up the feminine gender role, the more the next generation of women are going to react and withdraw.

    Women want to have children, but clearly this is problematic for some women if it means that they are therefore under the authority of a male. In a society where the workplace is flexible, and men participate in childrearing, women want to have more children.

    The US is an odd mix. Why is the birth rate so much higher than Italy, which is, of course, the frame of reference for the pope.

    The demographics are different, there is a high teen pregnancy, a curious thing in my view, and available labour for childcare, and a high participation of mothers in the workplace.

    But we should want to favour childbearing in a family with two parents and a working mother (one parent working part time or flexible hours).

    In this way, young women would seek employment as one important element in her future role as a mother. The stress comes off her sole function as childbearer and sexual complement of the closest male.

    Young women need to see themselves as equally somone who may have to support family, children and elderly parents. A young woman needs her ambition and desire to produce and participate in the world of production and wider economy to be fostered.

    Most women, almost every women I know, Chrstian or not, wants to have children.

    I honestly do not think that trying to “cure” homosexuals has any relevance to the need that the pope addresses.

    And, back to divorce, I would suspect the same applies here. The more a woman has to fit a certain “role” and a subjugated role, the more likely she will eventually desire divorce. This might explain the number of older women who wish to divorce before they die. They want to die free.

  • Darius T

    Well Sue, I would respectfully say that your comment has very little to do with reality or true statistics. Women today, more than ever before, are not “subjugated” (what a wonderful term) to childbearing or a patriarchal system. And yet our birth rates are plummeting. That seems to fly in the face of your “statistics.” It’s actually in the countries that still have semi-patriarchal systems that birth rates have stayed high.

    As for abortion rates, again, you’re making it up as you go. Read this:

    Suffice it to say, the last 30+ years has proven without any doubt that availability of abortion only increases the desire for it. Blacks are committing self-genocide by the millions which was non-existent before Roe v. Wade.

  • Brian Krieger

    Interesting Sue.

    You seem to fall in the same lines (though perhaps not same theological framework) as Kelly. Sort of summed up in “most [blank] people in society accept (or are offended by) [blank] now, ergo, we as the church should, too”. I think that part of Dr. Burk’s interest in this was the simple fact that a Christian leader (all those who disagree, just hang on to that thought) is making a “public access” argument. It seems like the arguments brought forth most often fall into that trap. I know you are simply keying off of statements in the pope’s letter (or so I assume, I still haven’t read it *blush*), but you’ve written similar posts before as well.

    In a completely related yet off topic part, I get a piece of mail every once in a while from an address that is on Powerscourt drive. I always giggle. Can a grown man giggle? I’ll have to check with Piper on that…..

  • Brian Krieger


    I’ll say it. Insulting someone to their face is not the best way to start a conversation. Did someone do that here? Even Dr. Burke’s discussion (which was a commentary, not a conversation with someone) didn’t start of with that (it was well into the comment.).

    “Have you heard me say that anything goes?”
    “In time (generations) the society will change so overwhelmingly on this issue that the church will follow suit anyway…”

    It was said we should not be like children “carried about by every wind of doctrine.”

    Do you see a discrepancy between descriptive reasoning based in the bible and prescriptive?

  • Sue

    Yes, I have read the relevant section of the pope’s letter.

    The context for what he writes is integral to his message. The birthrate in Italy is 1.2. This also applies to Spain and Poland. Oerall, the more conservative the values, the lower the birthrate. France, Sweden and so on have a high birthrate at 2.1. This difference is simply huge.

    Women today, more than ever before, are not “subjugated” (what a wonderful term) to childbearing or a patriarchal system. And yet our birth rates are plummeting. That seems to fly in the face of your “statistics.” It’s actually in the countries that still have semi-patriarchal systems that birth rates have stayed high.

    I would have to say that statistics indicate the opposite to be true in all industrialized societies.

    The US has a relatively high birth rate due to a very mixed ethos, flexible workplace, etc. and the relative freedom of women.

  • Sue

    I think Piper allows a man to giggle but Grudem has his concerns about wimps and wusses. Driscoll would say that giggling was downright chickified. 😉

  • Ryan K.

    Brian and Scot, I would actually argue as Piper does in the first chapter of his book “Finally Alive” that it is misleading to say Christians do not have a much lower divorce rate than the rest of the culture.

    As Piper points out, Barna takes people at their word when they say they are Christians when in reality many are not and only Christ haunted in cultural experience.

    The data really shows that the church is filled with a bunch of people who are not regenerated.

    So lets move beyond this tired argument that Christians do not have lower divorce rates than the wider culture. The data is highly tainted.

  • Sue

    The data really shows that the church is filled with a bunch of people who are not regenerated.

    Perhaps, we could label all those who are divorced as unregenerated and be done with it.

    I personally think it is fair to say that those who identify as Christians do not have better marital outcomes than those who do not. Seems fairly accurate.

  • Ryan K.

    Quite unfair and manipulative Sue. My comment was not extreme and in no way warranted extrapolating such an absurd statement as your offered.

    The point I was making is that the data is tainted, in that these surveys count those as Christians who would bear no markings or evidences in their life that would affirm that statement. It is like saying lets count all the ostriches in this zoo and then including everything that has wings.

    This is not a radical idea as James was very aware that the church was filled with those who professed faith but lacked any spiritual fruit that naturally follows saving faith (James 2:14-26). In addition a cursory reading of 1 John and even the words of Jesus would reveal to you that it is not a new biblical teaching that some will claim the name of Jesus and he will tell them “depart for I never knew you.”

    Am I saying that no regenerated followers of Jesus ever get divorced? No. But given that these polls are conducted with such a low bar definition of Christian, the stats are falsely skewed higher.

    I do not mind responding back and forth but can you at least try and avoid distorting my statements in any future comments? It would genuinely be appreciated and constructive toward the conversation.

  • Darius T

    I agree Ryan. From my own personal experience, I know plenty of Christians who are divorced. Most if not all of them were very weak in their faith (if Christians at all) when they got divorced and God has since matured them to the point that they would never divorce again (some are remarried or in the process of getting remarried). I’m certain that the stats are misleading. True Christians have a very low divorce rate. Christianity is worthless if that isn’t true.

  • Darius T

    Furthermore, because a marriage involves two people, one could be a Christian and not have any responsibility for their divorce. The polls don’t tell us the whole story, not by a long shot.

  • Sue

    I agree that the polls do not tell us all that much about divorce. I apologize and concede that we don’t really know, either way. I don’t find anecdotal reporting to be convincing either.

    However, I notice that there has been no acknowledgement of the birth rate statistics in Europe which I posted.

    My sense is that you would like to correct me but don’t acknowledge where I have posted more verifiable evidence.

  • Darius T

    Sorry Sue, I just didn’t have time to thoroughly read your comments. Let me “pounce” on the European birth rates aspect of your argument. 🙂

    The reasons for the significantly different birth rates lies not in the “religious vs. secular values” reason, or at least is affected by many other variables. For example, France has much higher numbers of Muslim immigrants than Italy. And those Muslims have birth rates that are two to four times higher than the native population. 11% of France’s population is foreign-born, compared to 4% in Italy or 8% in Spain.

    Furthermore, you cannot ignore governmental policies’ affect on birth rates. In France, they heavily subsidize children, in effect paying couples to have kids.

    Just a couple thoughts…

  • Nathan

    Here’s another item to stir the pot, especially in response to Kelly’s favorable view of homosexual marriage and Sue’s relunctance to see the evaporation of Western European cultures who see little value in having children (this would include Americans who are following their pattern).

    The young Christian couples in America today are bearing children at birthrates almost double the previous generation. They are starting their “Go and make disciples” mindset in their own homes.

    Let the liberal denominations entertain and carry the mindset that homosexuality and other sins are normative for them. They will breed themselves extinct within 50 years should the Lord tarry. We have already seen Europe’s liberal Christians collaspe. America’s will follow.

    The young Christians and the Muslims are multiplying themselves. Hispanics in our country (mainly Christian background) are having children at higher rates as well. The Muslims couldn’t conquer Europe by the sword, so they will simply outbreed them.

    Evangelical Christians should continue to stand strong and continue to have conversations with the liberal community, but at the end of the day, they are in their 2nd to last or last generation because they won’t have any descendants. Furthermore, as we already have statistical proof, the children they have will realize their folly (just as the children of the abortion era have) and recognize that if they continue with that mindset, they will destroy themselves.

  • Kelly

    My example fits Darius. Are your college degrees in history? Mine are, thank you. Come on..just what was one of the heresies he was killed for? In any case, my point that the church held peole back in the quest for knowledge, believed that the earth was the center of the universe and pubished them for it in various ways for disagreeing holds true. Credit to the Catholic church for finally apologizing for it.

    It is inappropriate and unacceptable to compare a gay marriage to polygamy, and as I said, except for a tiny few folk at the fringe (I was well aware of the Canada case, which is seen as a non starter there I should add. No support behind it whatsoever). We will not be using such examples in such debates, or else we could use Fred Phelps as an example of Christianity. Same thing. We have stopped letting conservatives who are aware that gay relationships have largely lost their “shock factor” with the PIP’s (people in the pews…or not in them) try to tar gay relationships by associating them with something that still does shock hand has no broad support.

    Brian, Dr. Burke was insulting to many, many people in his public post when he used the “” around the word marriage. It was this inappropriate behavion on his part that I was commenting on to begin with. That and the fact that insulting someone (and the insulted gets to decide what is insulting) is a lousy way to try to start a discussion.
    Brian, just as (I believe it was you, it may have been another poster, and I apologize if I am incorrect in attributing it to you) you (or someone) tried to combine the issue at hand, meaning the respectful way to talk to people and show appropriate manners when discussing their marriages and families, and the issue of polygamy, I utterly reject the idea that what I said was saying “anything goes”

    Yes, in time, just at the church has changed on the issues I listed, it will continue to change on its acceptance of gay people and their families. That does NOT lead to the logical leap that anything goes. If it did, it could be argued that I am arguing for incest, child abuse, bans on the non fertile marrying, etc. none of these is implied in the support for gay marriage. That is a glaring fault in your logic. Its like saying that lowering the age of voting to 18 was calling for an ‘anything goes’ situtaion where people would be calling for drivers rights for 4 year olds. Working for rights for one group does not mean one is in favor of allowing everyone to do everything.

    In answer to your question on descriptive vs prescriptive reasoning, yes, I am aware. Happily, both approaches to approaching a moral question, in this case gay relationships and the inclusion of persons in them and their families, are supported by both approaches when one is not limited by fundamentalism and is thus able to approach the topic at hand fully prepared to address it. So no, I see no discrepancy, for the call to love ones neighbor, couples with the knowledge that the Bible is, while inspired by God, written by men and thus open to human prejudice and error (The 1967 Confession of the Presbyterian Church) and is thus open to greater understanding (such as the greater understanding that says slavery is wrong, although the Bible gives instructions for buying and selling slaves, etc) that can lead us to more fully love and welcome all of Gods children who suffered from the prejudices of the societies they lived in millenium ago. Inclding the gay and lesbian ones. If I did so, or the theologians in my and the other denominations that see full inclusion of gay persons in all parts of the life of the Church (universal) and society, I would not be making the arguements I am. Please note that just as with the earlie example I gave with drivers rights, this approach cannot be used to support polygamy or child marriage. Poly gamy can be shown to be abusive to the rights and dignity of women, and children are as unable to enter into a loving mature relationship now as ever they were, and the call for love and justice that leads to my and most theologians acceptance of committed, loving and faithful gay relationships and people and families involved, would prevent me or others from supporting an “anything goes” approach to allowing these or many other such type relationships. Forgive the wordiness, but there is no way for me to answer that briefly. Mea culpa.

    I am just curious, but the very question (on reasoning) makes me wonder if you are a seminarian or minister? Most persons, sadly, never even approach the questions of why we believe what we believe or how we got to said beliefs.

  • Brian Krieger

    I’ll take another view yet. OK, not another, actually a different subject. So, Sue, what you seemed to write was essentially “I baited you and you didn’t take it. C’mon, I want to argue!” Which, I suppose, is fine. It just seems a bit like the pointless arguments Paul mentions. To which I am certainly not immune unfortunately for me.

  • Kelly

    Nathan, the higher birthrate among conservatives is correct…of course, while higher, the pool of conservative evangelicals is so much smaller than the general population that it wont catch up. And you may want to check up on Barna. He has good data, and others have backed it up, that most kids raised in the conservative evangelical church leave it around college, or earlier. I know. I am one of them, as are most of my conservatively raised friends. I would not be so comfortable about the future if I were you until I had checked the full demographic data tables and patterns of loss of the evangelical youth. There are good articles about it on the BPnews site, or any google search it, or yahoo search it starting with “youth leave church in college”. It will give you a lot of interesting articles on it.
    Even with higher birthrates, if the kids leave conservative churches as they grow up, which stats show they do, and the evangelical base in question is so relatively small comapred to the general population, and liberals do have kids to by the way, albeit at a lower rate, I don’t think the future you envision is supported by demographic facts. If it were the SBC would not have just had a year of declining membership, declining baptisms (for several years now), and growing concern about a need for a reinvogorating call for evangelism and the great commission. The points you make that the stats do back up are the birthrates of Muslims in Europe vs the Christian and secular native populations. On this point, all the demographic trends confirm what you have said, and the culture of Europe will look very different over time. Although many Muslims do mainstream into the values of these societies, depending on the nation, most do not, and they have huge families indeed.

  • Brian Krieger


    A few thoughts…
    ● The two of us have a fundamental difference, I believe. Mostly in what exactly the inspired, inerrant word of God is. Interpretations can be flawed, but in their original text they are inerrant. It is final and does not point to some hidden meaning (you didn’t say that, just how I’ve seen it argued). It seems you believe (and correct me if I’m wrong) that parts of the bible were inspired, parts are merely human writings that are subject to human prejudice and error?
    ● While it seems a big jumble to you, the discussion flowed to the topic of acceptance of homosexuality. Polygamy was not part of an argument per se, it was part of a series of questions. There was only equating it in your mind.
    ● You specifically stated that “In time (generations) the society will change so overwhelmingly on this issue that the church will follow suit anyway…” You have put your finger in the wind to see where society goes. So goes society, so goes your church. It’s not saying anything goes as in complete anarchy. But my question is, as a believing church, what is your defense against something like polygamy? Is it simply well, no major church has accepted it, so we’re not either. OK, but you have simply relegated your church to whatever is popular opinion (see your statement above). I think it’s appropriate.
    ● So, then, since it hasn’t been asked, how do you deal with Romans 1, 1 Cor 6 and 1 Tim 1? Again, I think I know the myriad answers, but it’s always interesting to hear a take on it.
    ● No, I am not a seminarian or a minister. I can tell by your earlier post what your thoughts are of seminary students (ghetto). Again, a fascinating part of an argument denouncing someone’s insult.
    ● Back to where this all started, if he had been really wordy and wrote “homosexual unions (I do not agree that they are married)” or something similar, would it have been appropriate? Or is it merely the fact that it’s a contrary stance or….? Again, I was still in the air over this, though the longer it goes, the more I have a tendency to agree with Mohler about the hijacking of language.

  • Brian Krieger

    I think it’s a foolish redirect, but since I’ve never heard of him, some quick info I read (online) about Giordano Bruno (a compilation of several sites…..none of them wikipedia ;-):

    He could not conceive that God and nature could be separate and distinct entities as taught by Genesis, as taught by the Church and as even taught by Aristotle.
    He had written of an infinite universe which had left no room for that greater infinite conception which is called God.
    He is one martyr whose name should lead all the rest. He was not a mere religious sectarian who was caught up in the psychology of some mob hysteria. He was a sensitive, imaginative poet, fired with the enthusiasm of a larger vision of a larger universe … and he fell into the error of heretical belief.
    Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skilful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc.

  • Nathan


    I don’t disagree that some children of conservative Christian families will not grow up to be christian. However, we don’t have enough data to prove my argument because the children of the current baby-boom era among conservative Christians are still very young. Time will prove if my thesis is correct.

    However, statistics from Europe also point to the fact that liberal Christianity tends to evaporate completely over time. There is very little liberal Chrisitanity in Europe today, certainly far less than pre-World War II or even pre-Vietnam era. So I think my argument is accurate on both points. Liberal Christianity tends to breed toward total secularism, while conservative Christianity tends to remain, even though some children will not grow up to be Christians. One of the main reasons for this is that conservative Christians also evangelize even in adversity, while liberal Christianity doesn’t. Again, Europe is the marker for measurement.

    Not all liberal christian kids grow up to be liberal christians either. Again, conservative Christians tend to have more kids, hence a higher rate of return, so to speak.

    So perhaps a question for you is: Why would you cling to a belief-system (liberal christianity) when history already proves that it is an albatross? If liberal viewpoints in the church and liberal viewpoints of its adherents were biblical, wouldn’t it thrive? Why is it that, in the history of Christianity, the liberal viewpoint has seen its demise on every front where it has been introduced, while the Conservative, bible believing (in its authority and inerrancy) is the mark of every new growth around the world (Africa, Asia, etc)?

    If you (liberal christianity) are the “true” believers and we “fundamentalists” (although I wouldn’t call myself that, I would call myself an evangelical) are the anathama, why is it that we continue to see growth all over the world and you (liberal christianity) continue to see decline?

  • Darius T

    Regarding children leaving the faith… sure, plenty do, I knew a few of them in college. HOWEVER, many of those same people come back to the Lord when they grow up and have a family of their own and realize their folly. While denominations may be shrinking (because people don’t like labels and want to be part of the entire Body), the American Church as a whole is growing, at least the Bible-believing, conservative kind. The liberal church is dying fast in this country, and as Nathan pointed out so well, history has shown this is ALWAYS the case.

  • Sue


    I can’t find the article right now, but the birth rate for native French is supposedly 1.8 and for native Italians – 1.2 or 1.3.

    In any case, the context for the pope’s speech is clear, Italy, Poland and Spain have the lowest birth rates in Europe, in fact, in the world.

  • Sue

    I can’t find the fertility rate of the Muslims in France, but they are predominantly from Algeria and Tunisia which have fertility rates of 3.0 and 2.5. If these people make up only 5-10% of the population, then they do not account for the overall fertility rate of France.

    If the higher fertility rates of France, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, is not due to immigration, but due to social policy, then the pope needs to pay attention to that.

  • Darius T

    Italy and Spain will cease to exist in a couple more generations (at least, as we know it today). The typical Italian high school student today has no uncles or aunts or sisters or brothers. That is staggering.

  • Sue

    Yes, this is what the pope is concerned about. Should he preach traditional marriage or should he talk about social policies that have been known to boost the fertility rate?

  • Sue

    The US and Sweden, France, etc. have a high number of working mothers. Italy, Spain, Germany have a lower rate. Something to think about.

  • Sue

    To continue my research, USA has the highest rate of single motherhood and teen pregnancies as well as a robust birth rate. The US has a high rate of children being raised in poverty.

  • Darius T

    “I can’t find the fertility rate of the Muslims in France, but they are predominantly from Algeria and Tunisia which have fertility rates of 3.0 and 2.5. If these people make up only 5-10% of the population, then they do not account for the overall fertility rate of France.”

    A couple last thoughts on this subject… I’m not saying that immigration is completely responsible for the birth rate gap, just that it plays a significant role. Secondly, from what I’ve heard, Muslims make up more like 15% of the population, but they aren’t distributed across all age ranges. A majority of the Muslim immigrants are young and thus, child bearing. So while they make up 10-15% of the total population, they account for more like 30-40% (rough estimate) of the child-bearing population. So, you can see how that could play a large role in the birth rates.

  • Sue

    Even if all you said were true, which I haven’t seen cited anywhere, this would still have the native French fertility rate highter than Italy.

  • Brian Krieger

    Should he preach traditional marriage or should he talk about social policies that have been known to boost the fertility rate?

    You’re right, Sue, sticking to biblical values including the traditional definition of marriage might be a better idea. Lay the cards on the table and work to help (witness, feed, care) fellow man. Making a secular-based argument (whether or not you agree with him) is a trap that we all fall into at one point or another. Regarding statistics and such, I believe it was the Psalter who asked why do the wicked prosper (I was thinking that it also mentions his generations, but that may just be me crossing these two topics). Hope everyone has a superb weekend!

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