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Michael P. Walther
July 4, 2021 Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois
This Bible study is an add-on to my previous study titled "Overcoming Racism."
Last summer, while race riots were raging, we studied the problem of racism. At the end of that class I asked this question, “Do some remedies for racism go too far?” Critical Race Theory is a response to the problem of racism, but it is not a Christian response. As we evaluate CRT, we will try to find its philosophical and theological foundation. We will identify those aspects that are contrary to the Bible and any that are in harmony with it.
1. A Brief Summary of Racism From the 2020 Class
Inherent Inferiority As I pointed out in last summer’s class, “racism” is a concept that arose in the Enlightenment. Its roots reach into the Theory of Evolution to draw its energy. Racism teaches that certain kinds of people are inherently inferior and others are superior. Prior to the Enlightenment, people thought this way, however, they didn’t think of it biologically or genetically. The victors of wars were superior, the losers of wars were inferior. Bad science gave people permission to rank human beings according to their characteristics. This led to horrible practices such as slavery and eugenics.
Categorical Thinking also contributes to the problem of racism. Categorical thinking is what human beings do in order to think and live efficiently. If three different people from a certain group of people abuse me, I begin to associate all the people of that group with that behavior. But categorical thinking goes well beyond the characteristics of skin color, language, etc. This happens when people from Illinois start associating behaviors with people from Missouri (such as driving skills, etc.)!
Theological Rebellion I also pointed out last summer that one of the root causes of racism is idolatry, particularly the idolatry of self. If the roots of racism reach into the Theory of Evolution and into Categorical Thinking, the tap root of racism reaches into the sinful nature of man that shakes its angry fist at God and hates all that God loves. I’ll expand more on this third prong of the racism pitchfork in this class and in next week’s class on antisemitism.
2. What is Critical Race Theory?
Main Source: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (Delgado, Stefancic)
CRT denies that “race” is biological or natural. Race is a socially constructed category. This is a major shift in the definition of “race” that I’ve used. CRT says that society “creates races, and endows them with pseudo-permanent characteristics” (8). Despite this definition, CRT constantly uses biological/natural differences of whiteness vs. color. CRT is critical of past civil rights progress. Color blindness and equal rights may have solved some problems of racism, but many others remain: poverty, infant mortality rates, incarceration rates, school dropout rates, the gap between income, assets and education between whites and nonwhites. CRT sees at least two causes for these problems: 1. The weight of past oppression particularly the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws; 2. Economic oppression of white people vs. people of color as the dominant race (The “two headed hydra”) (90).
3. What Do Critical Race Theorists Want? And How?
CRT wants economic equality/equity between whites and people of color as well as power sharing. According to CRT, "whites" are not just people of a certain skin color. "Whites" are all people who have found success through the current structures of society, especially through capitalism. "People of color" are not just African Americans, they include anyone who has been oppressed by the current structures of society including LGBTQ persons. Ways to achieve this include: wealth redistribution, including reparations (118); police and prison reform (120ff); Affirmative Action (125ff); new voting procedures such as Cumulative Voting (138ff); race-conscious measures in employment and education to level the playing field (157).
4. What About Marxism?
Delgado and Stefancic never mention Marxism (except in the glossary). However, it is obviously hidden in the background. Karl Marx developed a theory to solve the problem of poverty. In his mind, poverty was caused by capitalism, and the solution was to destroy capitalism. At the heart of capitalism is the idea of “merit”: People have a right to be stewards of the rewards of their labor/investment. Marx denied this by abolishing private property. His famous slogan was: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Marxism is a “need” based system of economics. The authors ask this: If racism is largely economic in nature – a search for profits – and hypercapitalism is increasingly showing itself as a flawed system, what follows for a theory of civil rights? (108). One obvious answer to that question is Marxism.
5. CRT and CT
Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the founders of the CRT movement said that CRT is grounded in Critical Theory (Critical Race Theory, the Key Writings That Formed the Movement, p. xxvii). Critical Theory is a philosophical/sociological movement of the Frankfurt School of Germany and America. The Frankfurt School was interested in changing society using the ideas of Marx and Freud. They sought emancipation from economic and sexual oppression. The leaders of CRT have really modified the goals of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to become part of the goals of Critical Theory. Without going into a lot of details, many of these goals are anti-Christian and anti-family.
6. A Christian Response to CRT
A. We have to reject the idea that any individual is racist/oppressive because of his or her skin color, ancestry, or achievements in life. This is categorical thinking, and it is a kind of racism itself. CRT does not recognize the sinful nature of man and focuses rather on collective guilt. The Christian worldview believes that “all fall short of the glory of God” and need God’s mercy and forgiveness in order to overcome the problem of sin (Romans 3.21-24).
B. We continue to work against all forms of hatred and all that goes against the Second Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22.39).
C. We must continue to uphold the ethics of the Ten Commandments and reject any worldview that condones behavior contrary to these commandments. (Intersectionality)
D. We must continue to confess the theology of the Apostles’ Creed that we live in a world created by God, redeemed by God, and sanctified by God.
Michael P. Walther
June 20, 2021 Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois
This Bible study is an add-on to my previous study titled "The Ethics of Sex."
Many years ago a pastor asked his aging father, who was also a pastor, what is the hardest part of being a pastor? His father replied, “If only God had left out the Sixth Commandment, the ministry would have been a lot easier!” Easier for pastors? Perhaps. But would life really be better without the commandment: You shall not commit adultery? We are going to explore this question today as we consider the limits of sexual morality and immorality? What are they? What do we have to guide us? As we do this we will also see how we can respond by speaking the Truth in Love, to those who say that Love is Love.
1. What do I mean by LGBTQism?
The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was a cultural movement aimed to create acceptance of sexual activity outside of marriage. It included a wide variety of sexual practices such as pre-marital sex, pornography, open marriage, and homosexuality. LGBTQism is simply a part this Sexual Revolution. It is a philosophy of life that rejects the Biblical teaching that sex is a gift of God designed to unite a man and a woman in a lifelong union, for the sake of raising children, and as a symbol of God’s relationship of love with His people.
2. Are there any sexual sins left?
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer/questioning. It is a large umbrella that covers a wide variety of sexual activity. Are there any limits to sexual activity? A quick online search on the topic of “sexual morality” will show most that most articles are written by Christians who are focused on the limits of marriage. You will find a few other articles that support sexual activity outside of marriage. For the most part, the world does not even use the term “sexual immorality.” Does that mean that nothing is immoral? Is every kind of sexual activity okay? No. There are still some sexual activities that are considered immoral and even criminal even by the world: Rape, Incest, Public Nudity, Pedophilia, Prostitution, and Sexual Mutilation.
3. Why are these activities not allowed even under the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQ umbrella?
Most people today still abhor forcing people to do things against their will. This, thankfully, is still an anchor for some sexual moral limits. But there are at least three activities on the list above that could escape even this restraint: Public Nudity, Pedophilia, and Prostitution. The limits of Public Nudity vary from community to community depending on how many people consider sexual exposure a kind of rape? Pedophilia was widely accepted and practiced in the Roman world, and is still practiced in some places today. This hinges on the question of when a child can make decisions about sexual practices? If a child can begin to transition from one gender to another, why couldn’t they choose to begin sexual relations at an early age? Prostitution is usually portrayed as Sex Trafficking, and it is often assumed that prostitutes have been force into prostitution. But is this always the case? Is there a moral limit or restraint upon someone who wants to be paid for having sex?
4. How can we be sure of what is morally right or wrong? How can we respond to the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism?
This is the realm of philosophical and theological ethics, and it is ancient and huge. This was the question that men like Aristotle and Kant tried to answer using the tool of human reason. This was the question that Moses, the Prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles also answered based on divine revelation (the Bible). There are at least three ways we can try to answer this question, and all three are helpful as we try to understand what is morally right or wrong when it comes to sexual activity.
A. Nature: What does nature teach us about sexual activity? Much of the Sexual Revolution has been driven by the theory of evolution. It assumes we are animals, that everything is ultimately an accident, and that there is no divine sexual morality. But nature also teaches us there are consequences to our sexual activities. Sexual transmitted diseases and the need for long stable marriages to raise children successfully, both point to the sexual morality of life-long heterosexual marriage. A first response to all advocates of the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism is: Is this really natural? Is it life enhancing?
B. Conscience: One of the main tenets of the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism is that having multiple sex partnerships is okay. (Please point me to any LGBTQ advocates who would disagree with this.) In her TED Talk, “Is Casual Sex Bad for You?” by Dr. Zhana Vrangalova goes over the pros and cons of promiscuity. Apart from SDIs, coercion, manipulation, and shaming, there are significant psychological issues associated with promiscuity! Nevertheless Dr. Vrangalova comes to this conclusion: Casual sex is okay if it’s okay for you (?). A second response to all advocates of the Sexual Revolution/LGBTism is: Does this really lead to ultimate happiness?
C. The Bible: One of the things we can certainly say about the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism is that it did not rise up from the Bible. In the 1960s and 1970s people were not studying the Bible and discovering the idea that God really likes the idea of sex apart from marriage, that somehow the Sixth Commandment has been taken out of context or woefully misunderstood. From cover to cover that Bible affirms with beautiful simplicity that God’s design for sex is one man, one woman, for life. That begins with Adam and Eve and continues all the way to Jesus, who affirmed the marriage of Adam and Eve and said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19.6). On the other hand sexual immorality was one of the hallmarks of Baalism and Greco-Roman lifestyles. God’s word opposed these lifestyles in the strongest terms. Many people could care less what the Bible says, but there are many Christians who are tempted to accept some aspects of the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism. They may not personally participate in these sexual activities, but they are tempted to say they are okay. God clearly says it is wrong not only to do these things, but also to approve of them (Romans 1:32). Our third response to the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism is: Is this really something God commends? If you approve of these practices, what other major teachings of the Bible will you eventually reject?
5. Born this way?
“Born this way” has become one of the strongest arguments raised against the three arguments above for sex in marriage. But there are at least three very important things to consider before we punch this ticket to join the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQ movement:
A. The science of born this way is inconclusive. I would point out as an example the famous 2015 Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized gay marriage. There is nothing in this brief about “born this way.” This argument was avoided completely. This is really about sexual freedom to do what I want to do, not what I have to do.
B. According to the Bible, all human beings are fallen sinners. Along with sin comes a plethora of problems such as sickness, anxiety, depression, confusion, etc. Feelings are real. But if we say that feelings control us, we potentially open a door to endless trouble, difficulty, and destruction. Sexually, there are many different feelings that have to be controlled according to the nature, conscience and the Bible. I recommend the heart-breaking TED Talk by Mirjam Heine, a medical student, titled “Pedophilia Is an Unchangeable Orientation.” In this talk she tells about a male friend who believes he is born to be sexually attracted to young children. And there is nothing that can be done about it. Many men and women have had what they thought were uncontrollable feelings for sex apart from marriage. They could have also used the argument “born this way” to justify adultery. “Born this way” is never an excuse to do what is wrong. It is a reason to seek help from God.
C. If you think about it, the “born this way” argument could be expanded beyond the Sixth Commandment. There are all sorts of destructive human feelings, desires, and behaviors that we could excuse in this way: uncontrollable anger that leads to murder, uncontrollable depression that leads to suicide, uncontrollable lying and manipulation that destroys relationships, uncontrollable greed and lust for pleasure that lead to addictions. This list could go on and on.
In St. Augustine’s book City of God, he raises the question why Adam and Eve had to wear clothes after they fell into sin. It is a profound thing to think about? If we are just animals, why would most people be terrified of having to walk about completely naked? Augustine concludes that sin destroyed the proper will of men. They lost what had been the perfect and harmonious control of their sexual desires. First, they sewed for themselves fig leaves to help. Then God performed the first sacrifice (of animals) to cover them with skins. Thus began the long road of humanity and its need for the help of God to control the desires wrecked by sin. All of this ultimately led to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. There Jesus gave us the ultimate control over sin and death through forgiveness and faith. My appeal to all who are caught up or influenced by the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQism philosophy of life is that same as that of St Paul who said,
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
No matter how you try to look at it or try to make it work, the Sexual Revolution/LGBTQ philosophy of life is not the righteousness of God. It will not bring ultimate happiness. It does not enhance life. Only the righteousness of God can do this. This is what Jesus gave us.