Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The Family by Robert Andrews
Back when I was a young college student,and still a firm conservative (in spite of some of the misgivings I'd encountered among orthodox Christian groups), I joined a Christian group which was stridently pro-life. I later took part in an on-campus protest against abortion. It was only later that I began to have some misgivings--not so much on the conservative position on abortion per se, as on the underlying motive. Back then, I had no doubt that Christian conservatives held only the highest moral imperatives in protesting abortion. I supposed at the time that the pro-life position was a concerned soley with ethics and human welfare. I did come to view certain pro-life groups--such as Randal Terry's Operation Rescue, with some suspicion; a fair-minded pro-choicer, with whom I once had a polite disagreement, DID agree with that Randal Terry, for one, was more concerned with personal power than anythin else. However, in hindsight, wouldn't people like Terry go further in politics by taking the PC, more acceptable, pro-choice position? Then, there was matter of contraception. Why weren't Christian conservatives promoting the hell out of contraception to reduce the number of abortions. But it turned most were opposed to it in almost equal measure.
Something wasn't right.
Not just about abortion and birth-control, but with the whole Christian conservative movement, including Creationism and Intelligent Design.
Which brings me to the topic at hand.
For the past few months, the Sunday School class at my church has been studying The Family: God's Weapon for Victory by Robert Andrews. As its title suggests, the book is all about the preservation of the traditional nuclear family in our pollitically correct secular culture. There are chapters included about secular influences on children such as movies and television, women's role in the family and in procreation, God's purpose for sex, the principle of purity, how to train up a child properly, among others.
More than any other book I've read thus far, The Family demonstrates with much clarity just what the real motives are behind the conservative movement, in particular the issue of reproductive choice.
It has nothing to do with ethics. And consequently, it has nothing to with morals.
You could,(and indeed some do)take a very moral position on the abortion issue--that it is taking a human life, or (in the case of contraception)at least a potential life. And I know there is at least one pro-life atheist out there, and, come to think of it, the pro-life postition is very consistent with the argument often put foreward by unbeleivers that, as there is no hereafter, life is all the more precious, and everyone should therefore have the right to enjoy it. Not many atheists actually take this position of course, and the one unbeleiving pro-lifer I mentioned was terribly treated on the forum he posted on. You can't be an atheist pro-lifer, it seems, without compromising the "orthodox" atheist position on adult reproductive autonomy. If only atheists could take a moment to realize that a pro-life postion, at least applied to themselves, might make for some formidable competition.
Which brings me to my main point in writing this. Andrews has much to say in his book, not only the importance and godliness of having children, but rearing large families. "Be fruitful and multiply, (Genesis 1:28)" is the verse mot often raised in support of producing as many tykes as possible. And why? Andrews tells his readers directly on on page 192, in regard to a former decision he and his wife made not to have any more children:
"We did not understand that children are not for us, if we want them, but, but for God, and His purpose of extending His kingdom. They are like arrows (Psalm 127:3-5), instruments of war, by which our influence can be extended to the next generation. Well-trained, with a vision for the kingdom, they will fly straight and true into the heart of the Devil. The more arrows we have, the more effectve arrows we have, the more effective we can be as warriors in the battle."
Arrows? Instruments of war? Shouldn't kids be of value because they are human, each made special by God? And moreover, because each one of them has a special "right to life?"
No, apparently not, so far as conservative envalgelicism is concerned. Worse, would the moral value of a child who decided to leave the faith as a teenager be diminished? Such instruemntal value applied to children is morally problemic to say the least, since it is very far removed from ethics.
But even more significantly, I think that raising an army for the Lord is not really the underlying objective here. Certainly, many Christians believe it's all about serving God, but that does not make it the truth.
I beleive (and what comes next may be shocking) that this whole pro-family position on the part of Christian conservatives is Darwininan to its core.
That's right: Darwinian.
How can that be, with so many Christian conservatives so adamantly opposed to Darwinism? Sure, many, in fact, claim that Darwinism influenced Hitler, and some may even beleive that, but remember, ethics is not the issue here, as pastor Andrews has made abundantly clear.
Anne Rice, author of the Interview With A Vampire series, who shocked the world by her re-conversion to Catholicism (and who recounted her spiritual awakening in Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession)recently and famously renounced her Christianity:
“I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of … Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen"
Notice that she does not say that she renounces Christ. In fact, she has affirmed that she remains as committed to Him as ever. What she is renouncing is "Christianity" as an ideology, a set of rules and and traditions and rituals whose adherents are struggling to keep alive against a flood of social change.
And this is precisely the sort of "Christianity" promoted by hard-core conservatives lik pastor Andrews. It isn't Christ to whom these conservatives are committed first and foremost, even though many may sincerely beleive otherwise. It is not about Christ, who warned the Pharisees repeatedly against legalism.
What this sort of conservative religious thought is really all about is preserving the culture. Perpetuating the faith. Passing on the torch. It is all about group survival, which is Darwinian if anything qualifies as such.
I said it had nothing at all to do with ethics, though, to be perfectly fair, it has nothing at to do with bigotry, oppression of women, patriarchy or suppression of freedom either.
What we are dealing with here is nothing more and nothing less than a culture, fearing it is in its final hours, and is struggling mightily for its own self-preservation.
'Til next time.