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Archive for February, 2009

Marriage By Faith

We are about to enter a new era of world history. How will it come?

The last time it came, it came by means of God conquering the impossible and overcoming barriers that were superhuman. That is how God does it every time He does a new thing. The last time, He overcame the remnants of the old paganism that were still resident in the Western mind and soul. If you go to India, and you study the still regnant idols that many of the people are still in thralldom to, you see that these idols are really horrible, bloodthirsty, murderous, devouring, demons. They hate humanity, and long to destroy humanity. In the West, God had through a thousand years taught the human race that it was sinful, and that at the same time, He was just. When the explosion of the Reformation came, it came to the human race by enabling them to take hold on something that was impossible: that God was not a blood thirsty demon who wanted to trap the race and destroy it, using its own sinfulness against it, but was a God who was so great that He could forgive human beings and overcome His own unquenchable anger by means of mercy. God could overcome God, and mercy could triumph over wrath and justice. It was impossible, utterly impossible. In Europe, men still were close enough to the old empire and tribal paganisms to feel what humanity in India still feel. But by faith, one could find mercy in a just God. It is hard for us to relate to the quandry that men felt in those days.

The new era is going to come through something that is now felt and experienced that is just as impossible. The Reformation came through Justification by Faith. The new era will come through a new emblem: marriage. It is the image of marriage as combined with the image of the city in the picture of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22.

Marriage is the new emblem and type of the new configuration of the human race: the city. The two are combined in Revelation 21-22. But marriage is impossible. Just ask almost anyone under thirty, and if they won’t say it, they feel it. It is impossible. That is why such a high percentage of them are shacking up. They have watched their parents and seen too much for too long. The experience is too deep and they are too knowledgable. The thing is impossible. Just as well not even try. Just hook up and have a room mate for a while. And even more fearful is the thought of having a family. Lots of girls want a baby, but the only thing that is more fearful to young men than marriage is the thought of being a father. That is the horror of horrors. And on top of that, we are now facing the fears of world wide depression. Who in their right mind would take on a the most extended financial obligation of all in a world like ours? Marriage is impossible.

There is only one way to be married. One must be married by faith. It is as impossible in our time as believing in forgiveness was in Luther’s time. And the only alternative to the image of marriage as we find it in Revelation 21 and 22, as we metropolize all over the world, is the image of a whoredom in Revelation 18. This tells the whole story of the hell that humanity is doomed to in the city if we do not marry successfully. The Whore of Babylon who drinks blood and is herself destroyed by her pimps, is the other possible picture as the alternative to the picture of the New Jerusalem. This is also a picture of economic devastation. The whore and her pimps not only devour blood, but every form of wealth. It is all just squandered in the most horrible of orgies. Sex and death are very expensive, and generations of capital can be devoured in one night of revelry. Whoever is right about the technical source of our vast malinvestment, at heart it is whoredom that undoes everything.

Marriage is impossible. The city is also impossible. The university is impossible. But, these are NOT impossible, either on the micro or the macro level. But it happens in only one way: by faith. And marriage is the type that is at the heart of each of these realities. And the first and primary reality of all of these types is the church, the Bride of Christ.

Marriage by faith is where the new world is going to come from. It is impossible in every other way.

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What happens if the church doesn’t sing the Imprecatory Psalms? We don’t like them. They are mean and nasty, and the one outstanding virtue inculcated in our public schools and universities (as Allan Bloom noted more than twenty years ago in his observations of American college students) is “niceness.” But what happens when everyone is “nice” and “conflict resolution” and diplomacy are made the ideal for everyone around? The end result is: the sociopaths take over.

Sociopaths, and people who at least begin to mirror them, and begin to have attributes that resemble them, are extremely adept at putting themselves in positions of power, and have an uncanny way of holding everyone at bay with massive amounts of confusion and intimidation. Eventually, they get their way simply because nobody has the energy to deal with them or stop them. These people become a full time job.

There are nations in the world where not just individuals who fit this description, but whole clans and families of this sort of people, control everything. Russia , for example, is famously run by “Mafioso.” The American myth of “The Godfather” tells one tragic story of a generational line of the Mafioso. The great tragedy of the Mario Puzo tale is that in that case (as I suspect in many real life cases) the “Godfather” grew up in an old Sicilian neighborhood in New York City , and became a better, and more virtuous protector of the neighborhood, against a more vicious godfather. One godfather overthrew another, but in the end, his own line and own corporation was worse than the last. The Godfather and his family and corporation, were a false church and shadow state.

There are a whole bevy of books out there now that tell us about dealing with “evil.” I am not up on the latest ones, but two that I am very familiar with are Scott Peck’s PEOPLE OF THE LIE, and Edwin Friedman’s A FAILURE OF NERVE. Peck says there are people out there who defy any psychiatric designation, and can only be termed “evil.” And what is worse, he says they are not so rare.

Europe before WWII became a place of complete lassitude, complete tolerance. The Weimar Republic was famously a place of, as we would say now, “complete liberation” rather like modern day Holland . But far from being ultimately liberating, along with the rest of “liberated Europe ,” it simply became a breeding ground for evil take over artists. We all know the rest of the story. In large measure, Hitler took over, because nobody had the energy, or time, to deal with him and his crew of wreckers and troublemakers. It is like having cockroaches take over. They have a persistence of survival, and have more energy and reproductive capacity than you can deal with. And, given enough time, these groups rediscover what good and virtuous people, who are filled up with being “nice” and self pre-occupation, have forgotten. They rediscover the power of fathers. They learn to become “godfathers” and learn how to spawn families, clans, and whole tribes of very energetic and controlling take over, and “keep over” artists. They become “war lords.” They rediscover fatherhood, and use its power for completely perverse and tyrannical ends. Finally, they rule everything. That is what large portions of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia look like today. The ridding of whole areas of such control is what one of the long sustained achievements is of what is now in some places contemptuously referred to as “Western Civilization.” The replacement of warlord clans with the rule of law was an enormous achievement.[1]

And such a takeover again is what threatens if the church decides that the imprecatory Psalms are not “nice.”

You might notice that at least some of the Imprecatory Psalms are directed at whole clans of people. They say terrible things like (Psalm 109 NKJV)

8 Let his days be few,
And let another take his office.
9 Let his children be fatherless,
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg;
Let them seek their bread[b] also from their desolate places.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend mercy to him,
Nor let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off,

And in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

Such terrible things are said, not because the authors were “sub-Christian” (meaning “sub-nice”) but because they were dealing with conditions that we have long since forgotten.[2] Evil runs and grows in generational lines. And what sounds cruel and horrible may be the most merciful, and indeed the only merciful thing that can happen.

Our best instruction today is in the movies. If you remember, the entire tragic enterprise of Michael Corleone, was to escape his family, and he could not. Because he didn’t, he had to lose everything, including finally, his beloved daughter in order to be saved (the Script title, given by Puzo himself was “The Redemption of Michael Corleoneā€). If a generation earlier, he could have escaped, if he could have become “fatherless.” if he could have been “cut off” as posterity, if the name “Corleone” could have been “blotted out” the final “cutting off” could have been avoided, while there was still a scintilla of goodness left in the line. But it was not, and one line finally destroyed another line.

We baptize in the “line of generations” that righteousness might grow strong and become an oak and not just an individual twig. Evil also grows in generations, and Americans no longer remember this. We are too many generations removed and have entirely done what the Bible warns us over and over not to do. We have forgotten. That is why we no longer include the Imprecatory Psalms even in our readings, let alone as material for chanting.

Woe be onto us. God hears our prayers, and we get what we ask for and the rot grows where we as the church and caretaker of the world do not ask, and do not fight. We are about to rediscover again what it means to have “warlord families” in our midst. Indeed, they are already here.



[1] Ellul, J. (1978). The betrayal of the West. New York, Seabury Press.

Ellul understands far better than the critics the follies and crimes of Western Civilization. But he also knows that many of the critics are not real patriots, like Jeremiah was a true Hebrew patriot, or Solzhenitzyn a true Russian patriot. Many of them are traitors to exactly those Christian and Biblical roots that have made Western Civilization almost uniquely self critical.

[2] Indeed, our ethnocentric blindness is enormous and almost funny. It is almost as though we believe it a shame that King David did not have daily web access to the New York Times editorial page. If he had, just think how many elementary mistakes he could have avoided.


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