Thursday, January 1, 2009

Book Review: Al Mohler: Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance (Part 1)

Desire and Deceit
The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance
By R. Albert Mohler Jr.
© 2008

From the bio on his web page:
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
From the book's introduction:
This book is an attempt to look at many of today’s most controversial and troubling issues concerning sexuality from the perspective of biblical Christianity. Every one of us has a stake in this, and Christians are responsible for a special witness to the meaning of sex and sexuality.
In the spirit of psychological projection, Mohler quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien -- the famous Lord of the Rings author: “The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject”.

As we shall see, it isn’t so much that sex is Mohler's the devil's favorite subject, but homo-sex.

In the first chapter, Mohler provides context for his endeavor through The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Tolkien warned, because human beings are capable of almost infinite rationalization in terms of sexual motives. Romantic love is not sufficient as a justification for sex, Tolkien understood.
He goes on to say that Tolkien “argued that men are not naturally monogamous,” and that for men, monogamy was a “‘revealed’ ethic,” the result of Christianity, and remains the only hope of controlling the unrestrained sexuality of “fallen man.” Mohler describes Tolkien’s understanding of human sexuality as that of “deep moral insight.”

The word “moral” is used throughout the book. Moral insight, moral scrutiny, moral context, etc. And true to anti-gay form, no explanation is ever given as to how human sexuality can be a matter of right and wrong.

Chapter 2 attempts to paint the “secular view” of lust as being “sexual pleasure for its own sake,” and then clarifies that:
The Christian worldview finds congruence with [philosopher Simon] Blackburn on this essential point---that lust is best described as a desire for sexual pleasure as an end in itself.
It is then explained that sexual desire -- within the Christian “God’s gift” context -- is meant as a carrot of sorts, to goad us toward the monogamous confines of an offspring-producing marital union, and concludes with: “Christianity alone can explain why lust---and sin in every form---is so deadly.”

Chapter 3 is pretty much more of the same vacuous ambiguity, except this time, it’s the contrasting Christian view.

In it he quotes from Joshua Harris, Senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Mohler says, “As Harris sees it, the problem [of struggling with sexual impurity] is deadly serious.”

Mohler continues:
When addressing lust, defined as an illicit sexual desire, the chief difficulty we face is in defining the distinction between lust and a healthy sexual desire. […] The essence of lust is the enjoyment of the illicit desire, the pleasure of temptation prolonged. […] The deadly problem of lust arises when the sex drive is directed toward something less than or other than the purity of marriage. […] Lust is not only a vice, it is a sin that ignites other sins.
So, so far the “danger” of lust that makes it a “sin” and a “moral” issue, is the fact that it might distract you from getting married. Though the words “morality” and “danger” were peppered throughout, I really could not find anything more to those chapters than that.

Fortunately, however, there is some redemptive value to it all in Chapters 4 and 5, which deals with the wiles of pornography.

He speaks of how pornography has been “so mainstreamed” in our culture, and acknowledges that it is mostly a “male phenomenon,” and how in essence, it “celebrates the sensual in at the expense of the spiritual.” But then, again, ends with how this “corrupts the idea of marriage.”

Keep in mind that all of this is being said within the context of, and with phrases like “God’s design, God’s gifts, God’s plan, God’s image, God’s glory.” So I imagine that Mohler and his audience are putting much more stock and worth into, what so far, has been little more than an attempt to portray their own infantile view of human sexuality as being superior to that of we reality based individuals godless heathen.

Chapter 5 is entitled: Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage.

Which includes such quotes as: “marriage is a picture of God’s own covenantal faithfulness.” That’s one example of what I mean by Mohler and his intended audience putting more meaning into what is actually being said. They see God -- and this is Biblical -- being “married” to His creation - namely, us.

It makes sense, even if you don’t believe in God. Practically speaking, nature is ‘married to’ and unified with what becomes of it. Ascribe to nature the consciousness of a god as described in the Bible, and the male/female element is brought into it - God=male and creation=female. (Actually a better analogy would be God as the parents -- both male and female -- and creation as its children.)

But fortunately for those who subscribe to the doctrine of testosterone, God was designed as a He, with a penis.

And again with the “danger” theme, in that marriage protects us from the “inevitable disaster that follows when sexual passions are divorced from their rightful place.” What is the “inevitable disaster” of which he speaks? Well, imagine the ideal marriage, one where the husband responsibly takes care of his wife and children. Now imagine a man who squanders his “God given” sexual desire by choosing to wank it to porn every day, who thus, has no need to improve himself to find a wife, and thus, no need to reflect the image of God in regard to his sexuality.

Now, a few things. What Mohler’s basically describing here is an addiction to porn, but he characterizes this scenario as a choice of lust over love, what became clear to me as I was reading through the depiction of this man, was that he was in this position because he was never able to find a partner to begin with. It had nothing to do with choice, it was because he was ugly, obese, mentally ill, or whatever, but at this point, he’s let himself go and couldn’t find a date if he wanted to, and the only way for him to abate his sexual frustration, was through pornography.

Perhaps Mohler knows of situations like that where the guy could indeed go out and find a mate, but the point is, he doesn’t clarify. And that’s a significant portion of my complaint with this book - what is NOT said.

The example of porn addiction -- an often times rightful concern -- is used by Mohler for his own agenda: “To abuse this gift is to weaken not only the institution of marriage but the fabric of civilization itself.”

He ends the chapter with: “The damage done to that man’s heart is beyond measure, and the cost in human misery will only be made clear on the Day of Judgment.”

I would offer to Mr. Mohler that the “damage” in question isn’t due to his porn addiction, but due to the low self esteem that caused it. Namely, a sexually repressive society that’s fostered and sustained by needle butts like you.

Furthermore, If you’re that concerned about any damage that may be the result of his porn addiction, you may want to buy a computer and learn how to operate a search engine before the “Day of Judgment,” as I’m sure there studies that have already been done on the subject, which might be helpful in your ministry to people like that.

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for:

Chapter 6 Homosexuality in the Theological Perspective: The Roots of a Movement

Just to get some crap out of the way…

This book is 160 pages long, this chapter is 7 pages long, and the first 3 pages use the word “homosexuality” or some derivative thereof, a total of 23 times. Phrases like “Homosexual activist groups” … “special protections” “secular academy…capitulated…[to the] homosexual movement” abound.

And let’s not forget about the HORROR of “mainstream media now portray[ing] homosexuality in a positive light.” “Openly homosexual characters” … “homoerotic images,” and “More distressing…Protestant mainline are debating…homosexuals to the ministry.”

The idea being conveyed of course, is that in reality, homosexuality is a negative thing. Thus, any positive portrayals of homosexual persons, must be a fabrication that has been carefully foisted upon an unsuspecting public by the mighty and invincible iron fisted homosexual empire.

But hold your socks, in addition to all that, “the movement has pushed for specific policy goals, such as the removal of all antisodomy laws.”

And if portraying as unreasonable, the "goal" of not wanting to be imprisoned for having sex wasn’t bad enough, he minimizes it by accusing us of wanting even more:
the goal is not merely the legitimization of homosexual activity or even the recognition of homosexual relationships. Rather, it is the creation of a public homosexual culture within the American mainstream.
But fortunately Mohler realizes that “this is a challenge evangelicals must not fail to meet with both grace and honesty.”

At this point he begins an all-out attempt to paint “secular society” as the culprit of “moral relativism.”

“From the Christian perspective, the most important category is truth,” he says. “a majority of American adults now reject the very notion of absolute truth.”

Meaning of course, that a majority of American adults reject the very notion that absolute truth is based on whatever you pull out of your ass authority (in this case the Bible) one arbitrarily chooses to appeal to. It goes on and on, the projection and baseless notions of morality are strewn throughout.

He conflates the concept of, and uses the word ‘moral’ with what should be the meaning of Christian (ie; the Golden Rule), at least three times in the last two pages of this chapter, with no qualification to back up the connection. It’s a constant theme and he does the same vice versa, secular = anything goes, homosexuality = not knowing right from wrong. It’s as though he things that if you puts the words and concepts in the same sentence or within close proximity, that they magically somehow come true. Which is essentially the definition of relativism. And given that his slander of LGBT Americans and LGBT human citizens at large are his main target, the use of relativism to make his case here, is decidedly immoral.

Mohler cites Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon’s use of the term “rights talk,” for the purpose of glibly reducing the human rights of same-gender attracted persons, as being nothing more than a political football:
Our collective moral imagination has shifted from matters of right and wrong to mere contests for your rights, my rights, and their rights.
Rights that apparently should be defined by him and those like him.

Chapter 7 begins with “Fundamental truths essential to the Christian faith are at stake in this confrontation.”

Interesting parsing of words, as faith, by its very nature, cannot be fundamental truth - except by faith. But it get’s better. He says: “Put bluntly, if the claims put forward by the homosexual movement are true, the entire system of the Christian faith is compromised, and some essential truths will fall.”

Like how he portrays the “homosexual movement” as the potential culprit responsible for bringing down the “Christian faith?” It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the consistent and proven hypocrisy and dishonesty that his “Christian” movement is notorious for.

Furthermore, Al, if your “entire system” of faith can be compromised by a truth of human sexuality, then that aspect of your faith doesn’t deserve to stand.

He then speaks of how the “homosexual movement has employed a well documented hermeneutic of suspicion toward biblical texts that address homosexuality.”

Now speaking for the ENTIRE homosexual movement, Mohler portrays very reasonable objections to the clobber passages as being without merit. Again, he does so without offering any refutation, just baseless assertion of error.

For example, he says that the “homosexual movement” attempts to claim that the Leviticus verses (20:13 and 18:22) and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, “do not refer to consensual homosexual acts but rather to homosexual rape and prostitution.”

First of all, all three verses, even within said homosexual context, only refer to men. He doesn’t even bother to acknowledge that in order for something to be objectively homosexual, it needs to include female homosexuality.

Yet he has the gall to flippantly mock the factual observation that the so-called homosexual aspect of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, was indeed about gang rape. Worse than that however, in my opinion, was that he completely ignored the fact that the hero of the story, Lot, willingly offered to give up his virgin daughters to be gang raped by the amorous mob at his door.

Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention, demonstrates no moral objection to a father who would willingly offer up his daughters to be gang raped, but makes it a point to publish, in a book, his objection to the observation that it is unfair to equate gang-rape with adult consensual homosexual intimacy.

Read it for yourself:
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
But wait, you also get Leviticus 20:13:
13 " 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.

They must be put to death;

their blood will be on their own heads.
I find it striking that Mr. Mohler was able to find it within his conscience to condemn the “homosexual movement” for its “hermeneutic of suspicion” in regard to this text, but not for God’s command to murder us.

He then goes into Romans 1:26-27, which, if you know anything about the clobber passages, is the only verse that also includes women in its supposed condemnation of homosexuality.

Fortunately, that verse sequence falls itself apart all on its own:
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
The contention is that because gays are rebelling against God’s created order of male and female union, we can then be assumed to possess all the qualities of a person with no conscience, as is described in the second paragraph above.

And true to form, the ever morally vapid Mohler seized upon this opportunity by then concluding that homosexuality is the “first and most evident sign of a society upon which God has turned His judgment.”

Thus the reasoning behind the accusations that gays are responsible for everything from wildfires to a bad economy.

Chapter 9 is entitled “Homosexuality in Theological Perspective,” in which he claims that “The Bible is unambiguous on the issue of homosexuality,” that Scripture is “inerrant and authoritative,” and is “unassailable ground.”

Which is of course ridiculous. Read co-founder of Soulforce Mel White’s “What the Bible Says - And Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality.”

Disagree if you will with what the Bible’s original texts meant, but the only thing “unambiguous” about them in regard to homosexuality, is Mohler’s contention that the Bible is clear on the matter.

He ends the chapter with this gem of a quote:
To the homosexual, as to all others, we must speak in love, never in hatred. But the first task of love is to tell the truth, and the sign of true hatred is the telling of a lie.
In part 2, we’ll explore Al Mohler’s redefinition of lies and hatred.

1 comment:

CJ said...

It is fun to watch people like Mohler desperately try to keep the christian dictatorship from falling apart.