A Culture of Death
March 18, 2021 · C.E. Carter
With the recent flurry of news stories around the Equality Act flying around, as well as last week’s episode of The Briefing by Al Mohler, we need to consider the theological significance of what’s going on. Mohler’s treatment of this current event is fantastic, and personally, I wish I could see some more orthodox heat like this from him and the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention more often, and on other issues as well. You have to remove the sticks from the hay, even if there seem to be a lot of sticks in the SBC. You can listen to the episode here. For those of you who are unaware, the Equality Act (HR5) is a bill that seeks to apply the consequences of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to LGBTQ+ people, essentially outlawing the ability for Christian institutions like Christians schools to govern themselves according to the Christian worldview. I won’t go into the politics of that here; Mohler has already done a great job of examining the issues. What I will do instead is provide a bit of theological backdrop to this controversy.
A culture marked by sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and depravity of mind is not just a sinful nation, but a nation of sinners that is being judged by the Lord of Hosts. We often think of the Law of God as a set of arbitrary rules that God put in place in order to give human beings a hard time, or to make sure that no one was having too much fun down here. In reality, God’s Law defines true and acceptable morality, because it defines what kind of relationship we are supposed to have with God and with one another. In other words, God designed human beings to work a certain way, and His Law is the owner’s manual for how to live life the way it ought to be lived: in a manner consistent with flourishing. God says, “do not murder”, because murder ends human life. God says, “do not steal”, because stealing forcibly and unfairly diminishes the livelihood of another. God says, “do not commit adultery”, because marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred and inseparable bond predicated on trust, love, and undying commitment, a reflection of Christ and the Church, from which flows abundance, stability, and heritage; an unfaithful spouse undermines all of that. God commands that we abstain from sin because every sin contributes to death. “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death” (James 1:15). Obviously, sin leads to spiritual death. Those in Christ have had their sins punished in Christ by pure grace, and there is no more condemnation in Him. Those who are not in Christ are still in their sins, as those who actively oppose and hate the Triune God who created them, and they will face the full weight of His wrath when they find their place in the lake of fire for all eternity. That said, sins are not only punished in Hell. There are very real consequences for sins in this life as well. Sin brings death, and death is the punishment for sin.
The conditions of God’s judgement against sinners in this life are revealed in the first chapter of the book of Romans. God has made His glory and majesty evident to all men. Not only does His glory fill the earth and the heavens so that they declare the truth about His majesty, His love, His benevolence, His truth, and all the other aspects of His divine and thrice-holy nature, but God has also revealed Himself to us in the scriptures and in His Son, who is the perfect representation of Himself (Romans 1:18-20). This means that mankind does not have an excuse for not honoring God as we ought to. When we think about the nature of God, His holiness, His glory, His righteousness, His grace, His power, His wisdom, who dwells from eternity past in unapproachable light, we must understand that “honoring” God does not mean giving an occasional nod His way as we go about our daily life, nor can we honor God when we dishonor those who are created in His image. Honoring God means acting in accordance with a complete understanding of who He is in all His holy majesty, and being undone like a torn garment when we fall short of that standard. Those who fail to honor God by suppressing the truth of God are subjected to His wrath in very real and tangible ways. Sometimes God rains down fire and brimstone upon those who dishonor Him, but more often, the manifestation of this wrath comes when God just lets the reprobate have a little bit more leash than they usually would, so that their sinful hearts are free engage in even more of the debauchery that they desire to do. In our foolishness we reject the Lord, and His punishment for our foolish rejection of Him is to give us over to even more foolishness. In our degrading passions we forget the Lord and profane His name, so His punishment for this is to give us over to even more of our own degrading passions. Sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and depravity of mind are not just sinful; they are punishment for sin itself, a manifestation of the wrath of God revealed against those who do not honor Him as He is. Sin brings death, and death is the punishment for sin.
“Living in the world that God actually created is a tremendous advantage”, as Doug Wilson often says. Knowing God through his revealed word allows us to evaluate the world around us through the lens of scripture to discern what is actually happening. Our country is filled with sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, transgenderism, ubiquitous pornography consumption, and pretty much every other kind of sexual deviance. On top of this, marriage rates are at an all-time low, people are marrying later in life, divorce rates are as high as ever, fewer people are having children, more people are aborting their children, and the children who actually make it out of the womb are more likely to grow up without a father in the house than with one. What are we supposed to think of all of this? Secular people see all of this as the blessing of “progress”, a novel time in history marked by collectivism and sexual freedom. To the contrary, scripture is clear that these things are not blessings, but curses, and not new curses for new behaviors, but the same old curses for the same old sins that have been committed at every point in history. More specifically, these are exactly the kinds of sins that God uses to punish societies that don’t honor Him; the kind of sins that contribute to a “culture of death”. Cultures like this cannot sustain themselves without major ramifications for economic contraction as a result of population decline. All of these sexual vices are impotent to produce children. Homosexual relationships cannot produce children. Transgenders cannot produce children, since a man who transitions to being a woman is still a man, and is not capable of bearing children. Likewise, a woman who transitions to being a man is a mutilated woman who is no longer capable of bearing children. Engaging in self-pleasure while watching pornography will never produce children no matter how often it is done. Marrying later in life diminishes the window of opportunity for having and raising children. Fatherlessness ruins the lives of children. Abortion terminates the lives of children. A culture inundated with the kinds of sexual depravity that are currently running rampant in our nation a culture which is fundamentally opposed to the fertility of women and the heritage of children. In other words, it is a culture which has embraced death.
Secularists, especially those who see the human race as a threat to the planet, don’t see this inevitable population decline as a bad thing. Fewer people on the planet, after all, means fewer people eating meat and burning hydrocarbons. It also means fewer people having children. Scripture, to the contrary, emphatically values children as a blessing of God, and the heritage of a married man and woman to be a reward to them. As the Psalmist says,
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)
Cultures that love death do not share in the blessing of knowing that their present labors will continue to bear fruit for generations after they are gone, and good riddance. This is what our nation wants, and it is what our nation will be given.
P.S. Sorry I’ve been gone a while. I’ve been working on some more important things.