Beyond the Blue

We do not believe in immortality because we can prove it, but we try to prove it because we cannot help believing it.
~ Harriet Martineau

In the winter and early spring of 2007-08, my mother and I spent her last days together.

She was 93 years old, but still mentally sharp. Macular degeneration had reduced her vision and a congestive heart condition slowed her down, but despite those issues she refused nursing home care, and still lived in the same house that my father had purchased for them in 1978 when they had moved to Rhode Island. She hated the thought of losing her independence; when I took over her finances after she received a $58.00 bill from the gas company and wrote a check for $5,800.00, her comment to me was that she felt like she had reverted to being “just a silly teenager again with no responsibilities!”

My father had died the previous year at age 92. He had also been in good health, but had fallen down a stairway and suffered a severe head injury. Mom blamed herself for his death, and despite the attempts of family members to comfort her, she was lonely and depressed. I had been laid off in late 2007 and was doing contract work, so I had time to spend with her in her last days.

We ate together, I took her out to do food shopping, and we often had ice cream together with Danish fruit sauce. Then I would read to her and we would talk of many things. She had a Master’s degree in child psychology and had been an instructor at the University of Minnesota from 1959 to 1967. She was there during the sea-change in American public education, when a new generation of post-modern educators turned the system upside down. Early childhood sex education funded by Planned Parenthood was introduced, responsibility was replaced with permissiveness, phonics was replaced with the “look-say” reading method, and other changes were made that have been largely responsible for the disastrous declines that have occurred in American public education. Mom watched all of this happen and saw that it was not an accident, but rather the result of deliberate policy decisions. She fought it tooth and nail as best as she could. But she did not have a doctorate and was not tenured, so she was pushed aside; in 1967 she retired in frustration. I have often reflected on the utter poverty of many current psychological theories and counseling methods, as indicated in the following quote: “Practicing psychiatry without faith in God is like meeting a hungry man and giving him a toothpick.”

Most of our conversation, however, was about the family and the future. I was in the process of writing a history of our family, and she provided many details. We also discussed God, life after death, and what heaven would be like. In the months after my father’s death in May, 2007, she often told me that she was ready to die; that it was time for her to turn the page and move on.

In her book Mrs. Marco Polo Remembers, Mary Parker Dunning tells of the death of her husband with whom she had traveled the world:

On June 27, 1960, Harry went exploring in an uncharted country where I could not follow, and with his passing all the candles in the world flickered and went out, the temple bells were stilled, and the faraway drums of old China no longer sounded in my heart.

On March 3, 2008, my mother passed away in her sleep.

Like mom and many others, such as Allan Bloom, author of the book The Closing of the American Mind, I have been concerned about the many social pathologies plaguing our great nation, such as divorce, abortion, selfishness, expanding government, etc., along with the individuals and forces in politics, education, and the media that have deliberately created and/or exacerbated these problems. However, as I have grown older, like my mother I have increasingly turned my attention to God and family. Addressing societal issues and fighting for what is right remain as essential duties, along with generating the income necessary to keep the family afloat. But the death of my parents has underscored for me the ephemeral nature of life. As it says in the NT Book of James, “Your life is but a vapor that appears for a while and then vanishes away.”

I have returned to the basic questions of existence:

  1. Where did I come from? (the past, and the question of origin)
  2. Why am I here? (the present, and the question of purpose)
  3. Where am I going? (the future, and the question of destiny)

For me, the answers are simple:

  1. I was created by God.
  2. I am here to do the will of God.
  3. I will eventually return to God.

Of course, these simple answers involve incredible complexities:

  1. Like everyone else, I was the biological child of a man and a woman, but also have a soul and spirit from God. How does that work? I have no idea, but it is true.
  2. There are no pat answers to the question of what I should be doing with the time that is given to me. The Bible provides principles for how we should live, and the parents of each child should guide and help him or her to determine their gifts and calling. But it is ultimately left up to each individual to figure out what he or she should do.
  3. After I die my spirit will return to God. How does that work? Again, I have no idea, but it is true.

There are, of course, many skeptics who see this as “crude faith” and deride it as “pie in the sky.” Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people,” and critics routinely cast Christians as ignorant and intolerant boobs. But as an intellectual with degrees in biology and software engineering who has carefully considered the alternatives, and is painfully well-aware of the conundrums and unanswered questions about God and the Bible, I am convinced that Christianity is by light-years still the best, the most comprehensive, and the most satisfying answer on many levels to the questions of human existence. There are at least as many, if not more, ignorant, bigoted, and boneheaded non-believers as there are believers, and the notion that non-believers are “smarter” and more “scientific” is pure poppycock and wishful thinking on their part.

That being said, I am also painfully aware that “Christianity” can be empty and soulless. We always tend to paint ideological opponents with a black brush, like the contempt which liberals feel for Rush Limbaugh and the disgust that conservatives have for Bill Maher. Likewise, we attempt to excuse and dismiss the foibles and failings of the ideas and people on “our side,” whatever that side happens to be. But there have been many throughout history who identified themselves as Christian, and of whom I am ashamed. They brought disgrace to the name of God, and I feel no desire whatsoever to defend them, other than to point out that calling yourself Christian, or having a position in a religious organization, does not guarantee anything. As I have said, “We are human first, and Christian (or anything else) second.” Beyond that, there has to be more to Christianity than just philosophy and ethics. Important as those things are, they are human and earthly; we need something that goes beyond this world, that transcends death, and is able to reach all the way to God in heaven. But despite centuries of trying, we cannot prove or disprove God, nor, assuming that God exists, can we prove His nature. Whatever position/religion we take or is taken for us – Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, humanist, or whatever — can only be done on the basis of faith.

The most prominent religion in contemporary western society is humanism.  Being the religion and the worship of self with no pastors, priests, or religious organizations, people do not typically think of it as a religion, but it is so nevertheless, as it provides the moral and philosophical foundations for its adherents, and requires significant faith to believe that it is true. Humanism is the belief that “what you see is all you get,” in other words, the only things that actually exist are what can be sensed with our five senses. Humanists claim that there is no evidence for God whatsoever, because God cannot be touched or experienced. I find that argument to be ridiculous; we cannot, for example, see or touch electrons, but that does not stop us from believing in their existence because we can see their effects. Likewise, we can see the effects of God all around us, but a true humanist rejects that idea, and believes everything just evolved by accident, an idea which I and many others likewise reject. Humanism teaches that people have the same intrinsic nature and value as that of animals, insects, and trees. When you die, life is over, and therefore there is no overarching purpose and no basis for morality beyond what is contrived and enforced by society and its leaders. Guilt is therefore a figment of your imagination, and there is no ultimate love, justice, or purpose.

However, most people cannot accept the amorality and purposelessness of a thoroughgoing humanism, so they commingle it with elements of Buddhism, Christianity, and/or others to create their own version—a syncretistic “designer” religion. For many this is not a conscious or a well-thought out process; they live for moment with little or no thought for the future, and are in denial about death. Religion is “caught” by absorbing what parents or friends believe, taking on the color of one’s surroundings, and then adapting it to fit one’s biases. Our era is steeped in the romantic movement of the 19th century which taught that feelings are all-important. Truth and morality are therefore self-defined according to a person’s feelings, with the result that religion and logic are considered to be incompatible (logic is supposedly “too cold,” and “too male”).

It may be cool to design your own religion and to think that God can be shaped into a mold of your own making. But the problem is, what appeals to you may be simply a fantasy, and like the flat-earthers, what you believe may be a lie. What assurance do you have that your designer religion is actually true and real? It may make you feel good, but what happens when the real God shows up, calls each person to account, and blows away the stupid and selfish notions that people have about Him?

IMHO, there must be more to life than we can see, there must be a true basis for morality, there must be life after death, and humans must have been created in the image of God, which explains our passion for love, romance, meaning, understanding, justice, purpose, and immortality.

These are all statements of faith—I can’t prove them, but neither can you or anyone else disprove them. Whatever we believe is always based on faith. It takes faith to be a Christian, but in my opinion, it takes much more faith to be a humanist; see The Darwinian Emperor is Naked for a critique of Darwinism, which forms the metaphysical and theological basis of humanism.

C.S. Lewis in his essay The Weight of Glory, describes the problems with humanism as follows:

And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.

But do what they will, we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy. However, is there any reason to suppose that reality offers any such satisfaction? “Nor does being hungry prove that we will have bread.” A man’s physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will. A man may love a woman and not win her; but it would be very odd if the phenomenon called “falling in love” occurred in a sexless world.

Moving on from the questions of origin and purpose, and given the shortness and fragility of life, it seems to me that the most important issue is that of destiny, because the future is more important than the past. There are stages in life: baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult and senior; as we reach the end of each stage we seek to turn the page and move on. We are always reaching for what comes next, and we want more—more things, more money, more satisfaction in relationships, more health, more sex, more life, and so on. Many view God as the slogan on the sweatshirt: “The National Bank of Dad — Closed,” but the Bible says the opposite, “He gives us richly everything to enjoy.”  As songs have expressed it:

When we have exhausted our store of endurance;
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done;
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources;
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit,
His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundaries known unto man.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Annie J. Flint

No great success to show, No glory on my own,
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know:
His strength is perfect when our strength is gone;
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.
Raised in His power, the weak become strong;
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.
Stephen Curtis Chapman

C.S. Lewis explains God’s perspective on our desires:

I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, sex, and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Of course, there are many who have prayed for this thing or that, and didn’t get what they wanted, so they concluded that God is either a cheat or a myth. What they have failed to see is that like a wise parent, God does not pander to our selfishness or feed our greed. Rather, he treats us as his children, loving and caring for us, but also disciplining us so that we can share in his glory. Becoming a soldier, a leader, a parent, or anything else of significance requires discipline which to some degree involves pain, privation, humiliation, and abandonment of self. Having created human nature, God knows it very well; He understands how easily we rationalize and even “religionize” self-centeredness, which unfortunately is what postmodernism in Western society is all about. God is preparing us to share in ruling his universe, and so demands that we be worthy of such a high position. He answers prayer, but in ways that are often mysterious to us, because we cannot see things from His perspective. For example, we may pray for the recovery of a diseased relative, but the person may instead get worse and die. Perhaps there was some fault in us or in our prayers, or perhaps God chose not to answer in the manner that we asked? There are often no clear answers, and this is a test of faith—to see if we truly will trust God or not. Everyone dies, and it seems that death is the ultimate failure, but life and death are in the hands of God:

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39-40

There are a number of problems that people have with God, such as “If God is good, why does evil exist?”, “Why doesn’t God just get rid of evil?”, and “Why can’t we have heaven on earth right now?” Such questions are addressed in the following article: The Problem of Evil. We may not like God’s standards or His ways, but like gravity, that is the way things are.

Unlike religion, believing in the God of the Bible is far beyond philosophy and ceremony. Rather it is entering into a relationship with the divine where ritual is replaced by love and communication. If we want more than this life and this world can offer, then we are not alone—many others have felt the same, and some have given expression to their feelings:

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16

And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores, and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
The Return of the King, by J.R.R Tolkien

Orion thought of the glories of Elfland, dimly known by magical memories that he had from his mother. The little cries of the early evening behind him he heeded no more, nor heard. All this was lost to him—the ways and the needs of men, the things they plan, the things they toil for and hope for, and all of the little things their patience achieves. In this new knowledge that had come to him beside the glittering boundary that he was of magical blood, he desired at once to cast off the his allegiance to Time, and to leave the lands that lay under Time’s dominion.
The King of Elfland’s Daughter, by Lord Dunsany

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
II Timothy 4:6-8

The world is passing away, and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God shall live forever.
I John 2:17

As this knowledge fills our soul, the world begins to lose it grip on us. We still struggle with selfishness and failure, but like a flower turning toward the sun, our lives turn toward God and doing his will, which involves serving others and giving our lives for them. The formerly strange perspectives of individuals such as Mother Theresa and Tim Tebow then start to make sense. Those who have self firmly enthroned at the center of their hearts cannot understand this—living for God seems to them to be completely stupid and bone-headed, as Paul tells us in I Corinthians: “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them.” But as we move closer to Him our perspective changes. We begin to realize how far we fall short of the ideal, but nevertheless we also begin to understand that this is the future, and the way things will be. Like children growing up to discover that the real world is different than their childish fancies, so we discover that in the future God’s ways will be “the new gravity.”

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Matthew 25:31-46

We start to realize that the entire economy of heaven, which is our future, is based not on what we can acquire, but rather on how much we love and give (this is true to an extent even in our current economy, as success requires providing products and services that others want and need). Christian concepts such as “dying to self” which formerly seemed so crazy and unthinkable, and which, if we thought about them at all, would be considered impossible and stupid, now attract us in the light of our future existence and the judgment to come.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
Revelation 20:11-12

But judgment is no longer a threat, because if we truly belong to Christ and put our trust in Him, then we are covered by his blood. Jesus is the ultimate lover and romantic—he died and gave his life away so that we could live.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
John 1:12

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:1-6

The words “judgment,” “condemnation,” and “death” are negative and strike fear into the heart. Perhaps fear is necessary in some cases to get a person’s attention, but these negative things are swallowed up by the love of God. He loves us with a passionate and desperate love, like a mother for her babe or a grandfather for his grand-kids, but much higher and deeper. God never abrogates our free will or forces us to seek Him, but nevertheless He is “the hound of heaven” who pursues us and tries to break through our indifference. As we come to understand and bathe in God’s love we gain a security and a peace that is beyond what the world can give us—”Perfect love casts out fear;” and “If God is for us, then who can stand against us?” Many years ago Bill Gaither wrote the song “I am loved, I am loved; I can risk loving you. For the one who knows me best loves me most.” Being loved by someone who knows all your warts and still loves you anyway is powerful medicine for the soul.

What follows is a celebration of our immortality and the love relationship we can have with God:

The Past

A voice said, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever.
Isaiah 40:6-8

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:10-13

I’ve heard a tale that a man would climb a mountain just to be with the one he loves.
How many times has he broken that promise? It has never been done.
I never climbed the highest mountain, but I walked the hill of Calvary.
Just to be with you I’ll do anything, there’s no price I would not pay;
Just to be with you I’ll give everything. I would give my life away.

I’ve heard it said that a man would swim an ocean just to be with the one he loves.
But all of those dreams are an empty emotion – it can never be done.
I never swam the deepest ocean, but I walked upon the raging sea.
Just to be with you I’ve done everything; there’s no price I did not pay.
Just to be with you I gave everything. I gave my life away.
Just to be with you.
Third Day

O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become his counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

The Present

When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before you. Nevertheless I am continually with you; you have taken hold of my right hand, with your counsel you will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalms 73:21-26

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelation 3:20

Who is this that appears like the dawn?
Fairer than the moon, brighter than the sun,
You’re the lover of my soul.
Draw me near to you.

Who is this that beckons me to come close?
Beauty beyond words surrounds me when you’re near,
You’re the lover of my soul.
Draw me near to you.

Who is this that wipes the tears from my eyes?
Just one glimpse of you steals my heart away,
You’re the lover of my soul.
Draw me near to you.
Vineyard Music

You will make known to me the path of life, and in your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:11

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
Psalms 34:4-10

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalms 84:11

“I am with you at present,” said Gandalf, “but soon I shall not be. I am not coming to the Shire. You must settle its affairs yourselves; that is what you have been trained for. Do you not yet understand? My time is over; it is no longer my task to set things to rights, nor to help folks to do so. And as for you, my dear friends, you will need no help. You are grown up now. Grown indeed very high, among the great you are, and I no longer have any fear at all for any of you.”
The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.
Psalms 37:3-5

Then the rainstorm came over me, and I felt my spirit break.
I had lost all of my belief, you see; and I realized my mistake.
But time threw a prayer to me; and all around me became still.

Through the rainstorm came sanctuary, and I felt my spirit fly.
I had found all, my reality; I realized what it takes.

I need love—love’s divine. Please forgive me now I see that I’ve been blind.
Give me love. Love is what I need to help me know my name.
Love’s Divine, by Seal

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. That I may know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings; being conformed to His death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:7-14

“My body is broken. I go now to my fathers in whose mighty company I shall no longer be ashamed… A grim morn, a glad day, and a golden sunset!”
Theoden, King of Rohan, dying in the defense of another land, from The Return of the King

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
Death, Be Not Proud, by John Donne

The Future

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:51-57

And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he judges and wages war… And he is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God… And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, “KING of KINGS, and LORD of LORDS.”
Revelation 19:11,13,16

The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Deuteronomy 33:16

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.
Malachi 4:2

And there arose loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he will reign forever and ever.”
Revelation 11:15-16

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling place of God will be with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new!”
Revelation 21:1-5

It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To him who thirsts I will give from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Revelation 21:6-7

I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by your side.
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when your face is before me;
I can only imagine.

Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of you, be still?
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing “Hallelujah!”? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.
Mercy Me

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night there, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God Himself will illumine them. And they shall reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5

When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.
William O. Cushing

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong still do wrong; and the one who is filthy still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
Revelation 22:10-16

The Spirit and the Bride say “Come.” And let the one who hears say “Come.” And whoever is thirsty, let him come and let him take the water of life without cost.
Revelation 22:17

Entering Heaven

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Religion and the Corruption of Eroticism

Couple

The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer
~ Marcus Aurelius

Introduction

Using the words “Religion” and “Eroticism” in the same sentence generates a number of different responses, depending on the perspective of the reader. Some will immediately be suspicious, and consider the combination of those two words as the sum of corrupting influences on what to them should be austere and holy. Others will perhaps smirk and replay their feeling of disgust with how traditional religion has supposedly trashed eroticism. Yet others may think that we must be discussing some type of new-age, free-love movement.

The goal of this article is to demonstrate that Christianity (as directed by Biblical teaching) and eroticism (in its proper context) fit very well together, and it is only because of historic distortions and mischaracterizations that we have come to the point where many have abandoned or at least questioned the faith because it doesn’t seem to square with “real life,” and in particular with the sexual aspects of life.

Sexuality and Shame

Sexuality is, of course, a touchy subject and has been viewed in negative terms by many throughout history regardless of religious perspective. However, in contrast to these negative and questionable views of sex, the book of Genesis indicates that after God finished each element of the creation, He paused and called it “good.” How did something that was supposedly good come to be seen as bad?

The basic and primary reason for the corruption of eroticism is the fall of Adam and Eve. The book of Genesis indicates that prior to that event, both the man and the woman were “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25), implying that they had no sexual hang-ups and no feelings of guilt. Everything about their bodies, their sexuality, and their relationship was pure and right, and shame for them was unknown. This nudity was not only physical—it was also psychological. They were completely open and honest with each other, with nothing to hide or conceal.

After their disobedience, however, the first feeling that they experienced was shame, and the first action they took was to sew leaves together to cover themselves (Genesis 3:7). It is significant that at this point, no other people were present and the couple was alone. In other words, they had been so deeply affected by shame and guilt that they were not even comfortable being naked in front of each other with no one else there to see them.

The shame of their nudity was not simply related to their physical bodies—it was also psychological. From that point onward, in addition to the fig leaves to cover their genitals, they put on what all of us are intimately familiar with—“masks” to conceal their thoughts and hide their motives. They were afraid to fully reveal themselves, both to God and to each other, and became afflicted by the same psychological problems that we suffer with today—guilt, fears, inferiority complexes, and so on. Sexuality, which has deep connections to the associated male/female relationship and cannot be divorced from it, was thus corrupted in the first family, and at the beginning of humanity. In the centuries that followed our views of sexuality became twisted in a variety of additional ways, resulting in much human misery and suffering.

Misinterpreting the Bible

One of the major areas of concern in the Bible is human behavior – upholding and encouraging what is good, and condemning and eliminating what is bad. In America the Bible is seen as being “narrow” and “confining,” but that is the nature of all morality – it is necessary in order to promote peace, justice, and fairness. Furthermore, God is not a cosmic killjoy – the Ten Commandments and other expressions of Biblical morality are intended for our benefit.

In any society there is a direct correlation between the level of morality, and the happiness, success, and prosperity of the society. Here are a few examples:

  • When people are generally moral and unselfish their marriages will be stronger and healthier, producing families with less dysfunctionalism and abuse. Their children will tend to be more balanced and productive, and less likely to grow up to be needy, addicted, or poverty-stricken.

  • Moral societies have higher ethical standards for leaders, and there is much less tolerance of bad behavior. Therefore, people in general are treated better, and there are more limits on political corruption. Contrast the moral climate of America with that of a country like Uganda in Africa where dictators like Idi Amin killed people for sport.

  • The elements of society intended to protect it from internal and external threats (the police and the the military) will have more pressure on them to benefit society, and much less scope for corruption and the abuse of power.

  • Business leaders likewise have to live up to higher standards, and their companies must produce safer and more reliable products and better services. Where there is fairness and an arms-length relationship between business and government, businesses have to become customer-focused and produce quality products at competitive prices in order to survive and prosper, rather then becoming part of the government and therefore monopolistic and uncaring.

  • Business growth requires credit, which in turn requires a level of borrower honesty. Interest rates, the cost of money, are largely based on the risk of making loans – the more people that default, the larger the losses to the lenders, and therefore the higher the rate they will require in order to induce them to lend. Correspondingly, the more honest and credit-worthy people are, the lower the interest rates will be, and the more competition there will be among lenders to gain the business of borrowers.

  • Inculcated morality reduces crime rates, which in turn requires less resources and lower taxes from the society to protect itself – fewer police officers, less courts and lawyers, smaller prison and penal systems, less need for drug treatment programs, smaller homeless populations, less need for poverty relief, etc. This is especially striking when we understand that homelessness in America is largely due to substance abuse issues, and poverty in America is mostly the result of female-headed households.

People are still human, and this is not to say that morality will eliminate human problems and produce heaven on earth. The point is merely that an increase in general morality will typically give us a “two-fer”: an increase in productivity, and a decrease in social pathologies that weaken and damage societies. Therefore, every society has (or should have) a vested interest in promoting the morality of its members.

In regard to sexual issues, the Bible clearly spells out what is right (sex within a committed relationship) and what is wrong (sex in other contexts). Sexual morality is also intended as a benefit, and the social pathologies created by various types of wrongful sex are also clear – jealousy, distrust, hatred, betrayal, revenge, divorce, confused and conflicted kids, feelings of worthlessness, abortion, unwanted pregnancies, unwanted children, venereal diseases, etc. Whether a person is Christian or not, adhering to Biblical advice on life and sex pays big dividends, both for individuals and for the society at large.

However, some Biblical content has been used to teach or imply that sex is shameful and sexual desires are a disgrace. For example, Galatians 5:19 says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality… those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” A quick reading of this and similar passages may give the impression that because sex is a “deed of the flesh” that it therefore amounts to immorality, and so is wrong. But what the Apostle Paul is actually referring to here is the misuse of sex (unfaithfulness, adultery, rape, sex with multiple partners, casual sex, etc.) It is the misuse of sex that is a “deed of the flesh.” The abuse of sex is therefore the issue, and twisting the passage to say that all sex is shameful/wrong is a misinterpretation.

Old Testament passages are sometimes cited that supposedly indicate the shamefulness of sexuality and the body, for example: “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean.'” Leviticus 12:2 But many things were declared by God as “unclean” not because the body or physical things were bad or evil, but rather due to health issues. In a day long before the discovery of bacteria, the Israelites were directed to wash their hands and clothes, and so prevent the spread of disease that could be caused by prolonged contact with body fluids. Furthermore, the uncleanness was temporary – after a person washed themselves and their clothes they would be considered clean again.

There are also areas in which the differences between societal norms and what the Bible teaches seem to be irreconcilable, such as the homosexual rights movement. Given the fact that human society throughout history has often been wrong and misguided on many issues, and that today’s societal leaders are just as human and mistake-prone as those of the past, it makes sense to take or at least lean toward Biblical views rather than those of the society.

Corruptions of Sexuality and Male/Female Relationships

There are numerous Biblical passages that touch on male/female issues, but it is the Song of Solomon, a short old-testament book, where the Bible’s approach to romance and sexuality is most fully revealed. Christianity and Catholicism have often been the target of accusations regarding sexual repression and prudery. But a careful reading of the Song of Solomon should disabuse everyone of the notion that the Bible is anti-sex, because this book is essentially a love poem celebrating eroticism. It is therefore worthy of careful consideration. See the following internet resources for a complete commentary on this important book, and on its application:

Commentary on the Song of Solomon
The Redemption of Eroticism

Many early Jewish rabbis believed that the Song of Solomon could not mean what it literally says. According to some of them, a book of sacred writing could not possibly be about sex and eroticism, so they ascribed spiritual and ethereal meanings to it. The early Christian writers, such as Jerome, Origen, and Augustine, largely followed the lead of those Jewish rabbis.

At times throughout history, the church as well as secular society has demonstrated a loathing of sex, a feeling that the body is unworthy, and a view of women as the cause of temptation and evil. Where did these negative views of sexuality and male/female relationships come from?

As mentioned above, the basic and primary reason is the fall of Adam and Eve, followed by the reduction in the status of women to being the property of men, coupled with misinterpretations and misapplications of Biblical texts. However, there were a number of specific theological and philosophic developments throughout history that further twisted people’s views of marriage and sexuality.

Gnosticism

In addition to the fall described above and therefore the natural squeamishness that people feel about sex, the source of hostile views toward sexuality was largely the religion of Gnosticism and the ideas of Plato which were the foundation upon which Gnosticism was based.

The Greek philosopher Plato (ca. 400 BC), believed that the heavenly form or archetype of all things was the ideal, and that earthly things are only shadows of the heavenly, and therefore inferior. The influence of Platonic thought had declined after the destruction of the Greek Empire, but his ideas were revived by the Neoplatonists, led by the Greek philosopher Plotinus (ca. AD 205-270) who lived during the early Christian era, as well as by various Gnostic sects.

Gnosticism (from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning inner knowledge or wisdom), was based on the Platonic concept of the superiority of the spiritual over the physical. Gnosticism taught that only the spiritual aspects of a person were good, and the body was evil. This meant that sex, and especially the female body, were from the “dark side.” Being truly spiritual thus meant removing oneself from the physical aspects of life, to the extent that this is possible, and the adepts who understood this hidden wisdom would seek to remove all fleshly influences from their lives. These views were often based on and justified by the misinterpretations of the Bible mentioned above.

Gnostic theology is also dualistic—God and the devil are essentially equal in power and are constantly at war with each other. Some Gnostic philosophers taught that this continuous war between God and Satan was the main source of human misery and suffering.

Why was there a surge in Gnosticism’s appeal during the second century? It was a reaction on the part of some to the despair and darkness of those times. In Israel, traditional Judaism had held the upper hand over Jewish Christians from the standpoint of politics and money, and they had persecuted the church since a few years after the death and resurrection of Christ. The Jews also continued their revolt against Roman power, which led to the Roman general Titus invading Jerusalem in 70 AD, and destroying the Jewish temple so thoroughly that there was “not one stone left on top of another.” The temple mount that still exists today is all that survived (the Islamic Dome of the Rock was built there six hundred years later).

Further unrest followed, culminating in the Bar Kokba rebellion of 132-135 AD, in which the Sanhedrin regarded their military commander, Simon Bar Kokba, as the Jewish Messiah, causing a deep schism between traditional and Christian Jews. The Roman emperor Hadrian, determined to wipe out Jewish resistance to Roman rule once and for all, crushed this revolt with great ferocity. His armies destroyed every fortification and razed almost every town in the land, and over a half-million Jews were slaughtered. Hadrian then burned a copy of the Torah on the temple mount, banished Jews from Jerusalem, forcibly resettled survivors in other lands, and renamed the land “Palestine” in place of “Judea” in order to wipe out its existence. Hadrian is the source of the term “Palestinian.”

In the bitter aftermath of this catastrophe, betrayed by false hopes of a Messianic military deliverance, many turned away, sought other religions, and created a number of antinomian sects. The Gnostic Cainites were an example of this—former Jews who came together after the Bar Kokba revolt, and who rejected all prior teaching. The Cainites taught that Jehovah of the Old Testament was evil, and they venerated Cain, the son of Adam, who was the first murderer in history. The Gospel of Judas in which Judas Iscariot is the hero, was a Cainite writing.

Gnosticism was also formally promoted by the ex-Christian theologian Valentinius (c. AD 100 – c. 160).  He was an influential man who was attracted by the Gnostic concept of a “secret and hidden wisdom.”  He came to Rome around AD 136 to become involved with the church. However, the other leaders failed to appoint him to a position of authority, and he eventually left the church in order to teach his own theology of Gnosticism.

Perhaps the largest and best-known Gnostic group were the Cathari of southern France. Like other Gnostics, the Cathari believed in theological dualism, were anti-sex, and were hostile to maternity and family, at least for those in the inner circle of Catharism. Pregnant female Cathar followers were told that they “carried demons in their bellies.”

While the church never seriously considered adopting the dualistic concepts of Gnosticism, which are antithetical to the Bible, it unfortunately allowed some of the anti-sexual overtones of the Gnostics and the Neoplatonists to creep in through the influential theologian Augustine (354–430 AD) and others. In his early life, Augustine was deeply influenced by Plato and the Greek philosophers, and therefore no doubt internalized some of the Platonic/Gnostic prejudices concerning sexuality. Augustine went from being a playboy and besotted with sex as a young man (and very much ashamed of what he had done), to becoming a leader in the church. He eventually became the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa in his latter years. By the end of his life, his view of sexuality had taken a 180-degree turn. Having been obsessed with lust as a youth and deeply troubled by his obsession, he then condemned even marital sex, and censured other teachers who objected to his views. In his Soliloquies he wrote, “Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downward as the caresses of a woman, and that physical intercourse which is part of marriage.” Augustine’s immense contributions to the church in the realms of theology and philosophy were thus darkened by his negative view of sexuality, and the negativity he fostered continues on the part of some to this day.

Asceticism

An even more significant source of sexual condemnation were the ascetic and monastic movements. Medieval society was often brutish, coarsely sensual, and corrupt, and many felt a desire to purify themselves in order to approach God. Thus, a number of ascetic and monastic movements were launched, including the Cluniacs, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Hospitallers, and even the Knights Templar. Each of these organizations had different rules for their members, but most required or preferred celibacy, because sexuality was often seen as moral pollution or compromise. These groups often went beyond mere personal abstention, to believing and preaching that sex itself was wrong and/or evil.

All of us have the tendency to think that our own desires are normative—in other words, that everyone else should live in the same way and have the same desires as ours. Those with lower levels of sexual desire will thus tend to look down on people with higher sex drives, and think of them, correctly or incorrectly, as lustful, licentious, and decadent, whereas those with higher levels of desire tend to view those with lower sex drives as repressed, inhibited prudes.

Many people define their religion partially or wholly in terms of the things that they do not do. In other words, there is a tendency to think of oneself as “a real Christian,” “a real Catholic,” “a real Humanist,” or “a good person” because one does not smoke, drink alcohol, snort cocaine, or “xxx”—fill in the blank. This is spiritual pride, the sin of the Pharisees, which Jesus condemned in the strongest terms. The danger of spiritual pride is that a person will go beyond merely giving up “xxx” as a personal calling intended just for them. He or she begins to think that “xxx” must be given up by all in order to become truly spiritual. Next, the person begins to think of others who engage in such things as sub-par and inferior, and to tout their own piety and spirituality, as well as maligning those who have a different perspective.

The Gnostic, Platonic, and ascetic influences combined with spiritual pride, resulted in many harmful teachings:

  1. Sexual pleasure is tinged with evil.
  2. Sex is for procreation only.
  3. Birth control is wrong.
  4. Women are a temptation that must be avoided if a man would be truly spiritual.
  5. Priests and official ministers of the church must be celibate.

The life of bishops and priests throughout most of the history of Catholicism thus swung back and forth between celibacy and the complete condemnation of sex on the one hand, and a debauchery of sexual excess on the other. The history of the Papacy is depressingly replete with men for whom celibacy was a thinly-veiled hypocrisy (see the article Criticism of the Church for more information). Bishops and priests were and are just as red-blooded as any other males, and when their sexual desires had no valid outlet, it resulted in homosexuality, concubinage, prostitution, affairs with married women, and the resulting social problems and feelings of betrayal by those in the church who looked to the Pope and the bishops as both moral and spiritual leaders. The current problems with homosexual and pedophile priests in the Catholic Church may well be a modern symptom of this issue.

This is not to say that asceticism is evil. The Bible directs us to fast at times, not because food is evil, but because we sometimes need to put aside all other concerns when praying and entering the presence of God.

Likewise, celibacy is not innately wrong or bad. Some may be called to it, and have the necessary personal discipline and/or the lack of sexual desire to remain in a celibate state without undue frustration. Some of the most successful people in history never married, such as John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Leonardo Davinci, Queen Elizabeth, and Mother Theresa. A celibate person has “mastered his or her own body,” and therefore celibacy can become a source of power, pride, self-esteem, and purity, as well as providing more time and energy for other activities. [1]

But celibacy should never have been turned into an obligation because God created us with sexual appetites, and never intended that celibacy should be a requirement for ministry. The Old Testament contains detailed instructions on marriage for priests, who were almost always married, and the New Testament likewise takes the view that church leaders will marry. A married leader is better able to understand and relate to the concerns of the rest of society, and has the perspective of a member of the opposite sex living with them. Mandatory clerical celibacy was therefore not the command of God, but the mistake of men.

Bridal Mysticism

Another way that sexuality was twisted by the Catholic Church was through the teachings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Bernard was an ascetic and one of the founders and champions of the Cistercian monastic order, as well as being the European spokesman for the Knights Templar, a confidant of several Popes, and the “power behind the throne.” He was probably the most influential man of his times.

In addition to his monastic and political activities, Bernard wrote many sermons on the Song of Solomon and used this book to construct his theological doctrine of “Bridal Mysticism.” The New Testament indicates that the church as a whole is the bride of Christ, but Bernard took this a step further, applying feminine imagery to everyone in the church, men as well as women. According to Bernard, every believer should become the literal “Bride of Christ.”

Masculinity with its aggressive and competitive urges was seen by Bernard as inherently unspiritual. Men were therefore told to abandon their masculine nature as being inimical to spirituality, and to adopt the feminine mindset of a receptive vessel for the grace of God. For example, Bernard urged his male monks to “let your breasts swell with the milk of compassion.” This sounds twisted and repugnant to most men, with overtones of homosexuality and bisexuality.

Ironically, Bernard was also the main European cheerleader for the Knights Templar, a military order in Palestine that was founded after the First Crusade, in which control of the city of Jerusalem was wrested from the Muslims. The Knights were thus dedicated to the defense of pilgrims and the support of the Crusaders in the Holy Land. [2] Bernard himself wrote the charter and the code of conduct for the Knights, basing it on the same rules used for his Cistercian monks, for which celibacy was a requirement. Therefore, in Bernard’s view, a militaristic man could only serve God if he gave up wife and family, and dedicated his life to fighting, with the additional limitation that the conflicts had to be sanctioned by the Pope. Only in this way could the aggressiveness of masculinity be redeemed. The Templars venerated Bernard, and taking his theological concepts, they melded them into the Templar version of chivalry, which was total devotion to fighting the enemies of God, whoever they may be. For his part, Bernard was always mindful of the tenuous hold that the Crusader Kingdom and the Knights Templar had on Jerusalem, and it was due to Bernard’s insistence that Pope Eugenius III (who, in the opinion of many, was Bernard’s lackey and mouthpiece) launched the disastrous Second Crusade in 1145. [3]

Bernard was also obsessed with the Virgin Mary (with her passive and receptive nature) and Bernard’s ideas and writings formed much of the basis for the veneration of Mary, and the latter declaration of the Catholic Church that Mary herself had no sin and was “immaculately conceived.” The idea that goddesses could recover their virginity after sexual experience was an ancient concept. Led by Bernard, this idea was increasingly applied to the Virgin Mary by church leaders. Seven hundred years later, Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) formalized the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary as official church policy, and declared that Mary was a “perpetual virgin.” This same pope also declared that pontiffs are infallible in matters of faith and morality. However, Pius IX merely formalized these concepts, as they had been part of the standard papal operating policy for centuries.

Many have noted that men are largely absent from Catholic churches, and have been for a long time. This is especially true in Latin America where “church is for females and girly men.” The top leadership is male, but those who attend and become active in church ministries are mostly female. This was not always so—in the early church male and female participation was relatively equal. More equal participation is also true of many Protestant denominations, as well as Judaism and Islam, and Muslim men may be more religiously active than Muslim women. The negative influences of St. Bernard’s teachings have thus persisted in Catholicism down to the present.

In addition to denying any literal translation of Song of Solomon, Bernard was also one of the main proponents of his time of the notion that only the designated representatives of church could read and interpret the Scriptures, and that the common man should simply listen to his religious leaders and obey them without question. In contrast, Peter Abélard, the famed lover of Héloïse, and a contemporary of Bernard, was one of the first church teachers to espouse personal reading and consideration of the Bible. His treatise Sic et Non was an attempt to apply logic to the questions of theology. This is routine practice for Christians today, but it was a revolutionary idea in the twelfth century. Due to Bernard’s opposition, Abélard teachings cost him his life. [4]

St. Bernard of Clairvaux was canonized as a saint, and his teaching on Mary and his doctrine of Bridal mysticism had the benefit of elevating the status of women and ascribing spiritual value to femininity. But this was achieved at the cost of denigrating masculinity and corrupting the church’s view of sexuality. His concepts of bridal mysticism, combined with the Gnostic/Platonic/ascetic anti-sex and anti-female biases described above, have been largely responsible for the Catholic Church’s failure to treat sexuality in a positive and affirming way down through the centuries.

Courtly Love

The Middle Ages also witnessed the flowering of chivalry and amour courtois, or “courtly love,” which idealized women as the fair sex and put them on a pedestal. This movement began in southern France primarily through the influence of William IX, Duke of Aquitaine (1071-1127), the great-grandfather of King Richard the Lionhearted. In addition to being a political leader, William IX was also a poet, and the first well-known troubadour of history. He was a Casanova-type of type of man, singing the praises of women, as he hopped from one bed to the next. Courtly love was later championed by Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard’s mother, and the powerful wife of Henry II.

Love and affection were poor reasons for marital coupling in the thinking of that era. Marriage, especially for the high-born, was a formal affair, often arranged by parents when the children were infants. It was primarily concerned with property rights and dynastic maintenance. Love, if it occurred at all, was a secondary consideration. Amour courtois was thus an attempt to reintroduce love, romance, and eroticism back into male/female relationships, to curb the brutishness of men during a violent era, and to elevate the status of women. But on the other hand, it was also intended to justify adultery and break down the hegemony of marriage, so that men could sample the charms of many women, and that married women could be free to engage in affairs.

The church responded in predictable fashion, denouncing the sensual and adulterous impulses of courtly love. The Albigensian Crusade of the 1200’s against the Gnostic Cathars of southern France (who ironically also condemned eroticism and demanded celibacy of their followers) perhaps was also an attempt to repress the libertine practices of that region.

The same fault lines exist today—an “anything goes” mentality pushed by liberal cultural forces, opposed by conservatives who condemn it. Unfortunately, the balance provided by the Song of Solomon—unbridled eroticism within the context of marriage—was then and still is today, often lost in the shuffle.

Feminism

Being a modern movement, most people are quite familiar with feminism and its influences. It has been instrumental in shaping the contemporary Western mind, but despite its accomplishments on behalf of women, feminism is responsible for a number of serious marital and familial pathologies, and so needs to be included in the list of ways that the male/female dynamic has been corrupted. Feminism is not typically thought of in a religious sense, but as we shall see, its leaders are quite religious and they proselytize very aggressively, even using taxpayer monies to push their agenda.

Considering problems with a popular mindset can be painful, but analyzing it is all the more necessary, because feminism is the one of the most powerful forces in current times that is damaging sexuality and polluting male/female relationships. Therefore, we shall consider it in detail.

Feminism is rooted in and was the result of the wrenching changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Up to that time, and for decades afterward, society was largely rural and agrarian. There were few stores where goods could be purchased, and little division of labor, i.e., each household produced virtually everything necessary for life. Goods were generally handmade, children were educated largely by their parents, and most activities centered around the home. Husband and wife were each essential because survival required the application of both masculine and feminine skills. Life meant hard work for all, but there was often a deep satisfaction in such a life, because everyone was needed and the roles were clear. Feminine traits and skills were highly valued and appreciated because they were necessary for the survival and prosperity of the family. Therefore, even though the lot of women was often very hard (as was also the lot of men), their place in society as wife and mother was generally honored and held in high esteem. They certainly had fewer rights than men did, but they also had a relatively high level of respect.

However, the Industrial Revolution changed all that. Transportation facilities were developed and people who had once spent their entire life in one locale began to move. Men left their homes and farms to labor in the factories. Formerly they had worked closely with their wives, but now their time was largely spent away from home, developing a separate work life. Manufactured goods became common, and many labor-saving devices were invented. Thus, the homemaking and handicraft skills of wives were increasingly rendered unnecessary. Public schools, started in the 1850s, increasingly became the place where children were educated, in contrast to earlier times in which education was done at home and in privately funded local schools (in colonial times, it was assumed that when a child started school they already knew how to read, and ironically, the level of literacy was higher then than it is today). These changes took a long time to fully sink in, and were not completely realized until the twentieth century.

As the transformations wrought by the Industrial Revolution took hold, women gradually woke up to find themselves dispossessed. Her central place in the home was gone, which meant that her economic significance had disappeared. Her role as teacher and moral guide to her children was increasingly usurped by the public schools. She no longer had a close working relationship with her husband, and both men and kids left the home. The elements that defined womanhood, that gave it worth and value, were therefore devalued in the eyes of many women. Significantly, the feminist movement was launched in 1792 by Mary Wollstonecraft with her book A Vindication of the Rights of Women, twenty-three years after James Watt’s invention of the steam engine. This invention was considered by many as the starting point of the Industrial Revolution.

The 1800s also ushered in the Victorian era, which is remembered for its prim and properness. But it is also remembered for its repressive attitudes toward women. Victorian sexuality, by-and-large, was male-oriented, and typically denied that sex could be pleasurable for women. The Victorians developed their own brand of feminism, which taught that sex was a woman’s unpleasant duty. This served to exacerbate male-female tensions by encouraging women to remain chaste and refusing to have sex as a way of gaining moral superiority and control over men.

Another cultural shift of the 1800s, of great significance for contemporary feminism, was the so-called Romantic Movement. Romantic philosophers and writers, such as Fichte, Rousseau, Hegel, and Goethe emphasized emotion and feelings over reason—that a person could tap into the “world soul” and experience “personal truth” that stood above, and often in conflict with, reason and everyday reality. Implicit in romantic thinking is that morality is self-defined, and that truth is relative and mutable.

American women received voting rights via the 19th amendment to the Constitution in 1920. In the same era, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, began to advocate for birth control and later abortion. She was an atheist who preached birth control partly as a racist and eugenic tool to reduce the size of undesirable elements in the population, setting up clinics in poor black neighborhoods for that purpose.

The rumblings continued through the early twentieth century, when World War I and especially World War II moved many American women out of the home, and got them involved in wartime factory production. Finally the sexual revolution of the 1950’s and 60’s (essentially a repudiation of Victorian ideas of sexuality) set the stage for a widespread discontent with traditional femininity. The Vietnam War years of the 1960’s and 70’s popularized rebellion, and was the heyday of feminist movement. After success in supporting birth control, the energies of the feminist movement were turned to the struggle for abortion rights, culminating in the controversial Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973.

Feminism has made significant achievements for women, such as the following:

  1. New educational and career opportunities that were previously perceived to be the exclusive domain of males were opened to women.
  2. Greater appreciation was paid to female ideas and concerns.
  3. More freedom was available to women to make unfettered decisions about their lives (the previously perceived obligations of marriage and motherhood came to be seen as options, rather than absolute requirements).
  4. Equal pay for equal work.
  5. More financial independence for women.

However, just as the Catholic Church has brought both blessing and tribulation to society, providing peace and purpose but also afflicting us with asceticism and bridal mysticism, so feminism has likewise been a mixed blessing. It has achieved some good things, but has also produced dark and bitter fruit. Rather than trying to find ways of rebuilding the family and restoring the wife to a place of honor in the home, the women’s movement took the opposite tack, and sought to instruct women that femininity was bankrupt and had to be abandoned. They told women that in order to have any sense of worth, they had to become like men.

Like other broad social movements, feminism encompasses a wide variety of perspectives. On one end of the spectrum are women who love men, or are at least willing to put up with them, and simply want more freedom and power in their relationships. On the other end are women who hate men and feel that marriage and sex dehumanizes and enslaves women by its very nature. The latter group was the driving force of the feminist movement, using rhetoric that was often hostile and virulent. Among other things, they taught that:

“Male/female differences have no biological basis.” Kate Millett, considered to be one of the founders of the contemporary feminism, said, “It is time that we realized that the whole structure of male and female personality is entirely imposed by social conditioning.” [5]

The notion that personality is plastic did not originate with feminism. Behavioral psychologists such as Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner, claimed that they could, in Watson’s words, “shape a child into any form desired by conditioning it, provided that the conditioning began in infancy.” Freud popularized the idea of a single overriding motivation for all people. For Freud it was sex; for Adler, superiority; for Rogers and Maslow, self-actualization. A theory of personality based on a single overriding motivation is appealing because it simplifies the enormous complexities of psychology, but unfortunately it does not accord with the reality of human nature. Most of Freud’s theories have long been discredited, and despite the claims of the behaviorists, children retain their inborn gender orientation and personality despite the efforts of parents and society to alter them. David Keirsey, in his excellent book Please Understand Me, explains:

There are two sides to personality—temperament and character. Temperament is a configuration of inclinations, while character is a configuration of habits. Character is disposition, temperament is pre-disposition… Put another way, our brain is a sort of computer which has temperament for its hardware and character for its software. The hardware is the physical base from which character emerges, placing an identifiable fingerprint on each individual’s attitudes and actions. This underlying consistency can be observed from a very early age—some features earlier than others—long before individual experience or social context (the software) has had time to imprint the person. Thus temperament is the inborn form of human nature; character, the emergent form, which develops through the interaction of temperament and environment.

I furthermore want to emphasize that temperament, character, and personality are configured, which means that, not only are we predisposed to develop certain attitudes and not others, but that these actions and attitudes are unified—they hang together… For example, SJ’s [Guardian personality-type individuals] base their self-image on reliability, service, and respectability, these three traits emerging together as a unified structure of personality. These traits preclude the emergence, for example, of an SP self-image [Artisan personality-type individuals] which are based on artistic action, audacity, and adaptability to circumstances. [6]

Kiersey’s insights help to explain many otherwise puzzling aspects of human nature. For example, it becomes clear that the large difference in perspective on sexuality by liberals and conservatives is not primarily due to church teaching or lack of it. Rather, it is because social conservatives are overwhelming the Guardian personality type mentioned above, whereas liberals are largely Artisans. Guardians are concerned with rules and social propriety, whereas Artisans are concerned with freedom and unfettered experience. Given the fact that temperament is immutable, both types of people will always see the world through their own mental filters, and be drawn to teachers and institutions that support their own biases. It is inevitable that they will butt heads to some degree.

Gender, like temperament, is an inborn trait. Thus the notion that male/female differences are primarily environmental is a falsehood, as most sexual differentiation is biological in nature. It has been definitively shown that, along with male/female hormonal differences (testosterone vs. estrogen), the structure and wiring of male and female brains are strikingly different, explaining the persistent and stereotypical differences between the sexes. [7] Environment and upbringing can certainly be influential, but the inborn factors of temperament and gender impose limits on character.

While gender is hard-wired, the way that gender expresses itself in society is learned, and becomes part of the individual’s “software.” This takes place by the infant observing how older individuals of each gender conduct themselves, and eventually identifying with and mimicking that conduct. Culture essentially confirms and gives expression to what biology has already determined.

People are thus elastic to a degree, but there are limits to this elasticity. As parents have known for generations, babies are born with their sexual identity firmly in place, and resist efforts by parents or society to transgender them. Genetic re-engineering would be necessary in order to significantly alter the major differences between males and females.

But due to feminist stridency and the politically correct straight jacket thrown over academia, research that contravened feminist theory has typically been rejected or suppressed. Researchers who did not hew to the party line were in danger of loosing their positions and financial support. This problem continues today, with many American institutes of higher education being bastions of feminist intolerance and censorship.

Why is it so important to feminists that male/female differences be environmental rather than biological, even when the evidence is completely against them? Because then they can claim that society is responsible for keeping men in power and holding women back. This erroneous belief allowed feminists to claim that environmental forces such as religion (read Christianity), and the family are responsible for enslaving women and keeping them down, and that the submission of women was simply a long-running patriarchal conspiracy. Furthermore, it has given them the justification and the moral high ground for demanding the radical legal and societal changes that have been made.

In keeping with its roots in the Romantic movement of the 19th century, feminists “feel” the truth of their cause even when it is contradicted by the facts. This type of deception has become common, and spokespersons routinely lie to support the women’s movement:

  1. Gloria Steinem originally reported that 150,000 young women (age 15 to 24) die every year of anorexia nervosa — actual numbers are in the range of 50-100. [8] Her statistic has been widely quoted despite its utter absurdity.

  2. Public service ads for women’s shelters have indicated an increase in domestic violence of up to 40% during the Super Bowl week—no such increase has ever been detected. [9]

  3. Both the anorexia and super bowl hoax stories above were advocated by the feminist media watchdog organization FAIR (“Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting,” or more accurately, “Feminist Agenda in Reporting”). When the 150,000 anorexia death number was questioned, FAIR indicated that the total was incorrect because deaths from heart failure or suicide may have been wrongly interpreted. Unfortunately for FAIR, the numbers for 1991 (the year in question) for deaths of young women from heart failure was 19 and the total number of suicides was 649 in the target group, and most of the suicide deaths were clearly not due to anorexia. [10]

  4. A widely reported feminist statistic states that 1 out of every 4 college women is the victim of rape or attempted rape every year. [11] In other words, every woman who goes to a four-year college has essentially a 100% likelihood of being raped. This is only true if you stretch the definition of “rape” to include “flirtation” and “undesired advance.”

  5. An even more popular statistic cited in many feminist works, is that an astounding 9,000,000 women were slaughtered in witch hunts carried out by Christians over the last 500 years. This number was first created by the early radical feminist Matilda Gage in her 1893 work Women, Church and State, a book that was so extreme and far-fetched that it soon went out of print, but was revived by a feminist publishing house in the 1970s. The actual number is around 50,000, and many of those were men. When one researcher challenged the nine million statistic, the response was to demand that “International laws be created to outlaw such anti-femitism.” [12]

  6. A recent article (January 16, 2007) in the New York Times, a feminist stronghold, indicated that over 51% of women are now living without a spouse. A subsequent National Public Radio (another feminist mouthpiece) report announced: “Single Women Take the Lead in America—for what may be the first time ever, 51 percent of American women are living without a husband. Single women are more socially connected, economically stable, and happier then ever before.” But a more careful analysis of the study revealed that the number included all females over age 15 living at home, wives of men who are absent due to military and work commitments, and other categories of women whose single status is problematic. In other words, the study author grabbed every possible female living without a man, truly single or not, in a desperate attempt to reach the 51% number, and then pontificated that since this is a majority, single women must be happier.

  7. An even more recent report (April 28, 2007) stated that the value of a stay-at-home wife’s services is approximately $130,000 per year. As this is higher than even the combined average income of American families, the immediate question is, “how could that number possibly be so high?” As with the 51% single woman analysis above, this was done by taking the highest cost of different services that a professional would provide, rather than hiring an individual to do all of them. The reason for this type of statistic is to support the feminist contention that the market discriminates against women, and that the government should step in and arbitrarily set the wages of all “female” occupations at a multiple of the current market rate, and implement socialistic wage and price controls.

The feminist movement thus continually attempts to lie with statistics and then trumpet the numbers through their liberal media mouthpieces, knowing that the corrections and retractions will be seen and heard by much smaller audiences. The homosexual movement, of which many feminists are also members, uses similar mendacious propaganda (e.g., the lie that 10% of the American population is homosexual—the reality is around 2% are homosexual, meaning that 98% of the population is heterosexual). Ann Scales, herself a feminist and a legal scholar, said, “Feminist analysis begins with the principle that objective reality is a myth.” [13]

Feminists and homosexuals excuse these deceptions because their position “feels right to them,” as well as on the basis that the transformation of society and the destruction of male dominance is supposedly so important that their lies are acceptable. The idea is to trumpet your propaganda as loudly as possible so as to quickly gain power and influence—once in power the group will be able to mute and minimize the criticism of opponents. As the feminist author, Monique Wittig, said: “Remember. Make an effort to remember. Or failing that, invent.” [14]

  • “The traditional family is the source of societal problems.” Despite the obvious and common sense benefits of a two-parent family, many feminist studies were and are being produced to attempt to demonstrate the benefits of single-parent and homosexual homes, and to denigrate traditional families.

  • “All depictions of women being submissive to men should be outlawed.” This was a petition of Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon from the University of Michigan to the Supreme Court. According to Dworkin: “The immutable self of the male boils down to an utterly unselfconscious parasitism…Self is incrementally expanded as the parasite drains off self from those not entitled to it…As a child the first self he drains is that of his mother…He uses her up.” [15] In her book Intercourse, Dworkin characterizes male sexual urges as a desire to make women “dirty,” and compares the female sexual organs to a toilet. [16] According to Dworkin: “If she wants him sexually he calls her slut; if she does not want him he rapes her and says she does; he beats her and names it ‘proof of love’…Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice. Rape, originally defined as abduction, became marriage by capture.” [17]

Mary Daly, a longtime professor of philosophy at Boston College, wrote, “All females, from four-month-old babies to octogenarians are potential victims in a rapist society whose male members function as ‘lethal organs.’” [18] Daly also accused those who had let the above-mentioned 1893 book Women, Church and State go out of print, of committing “mind-rape” against women.

These statements are hate speech, and these women should have been considered psychotic and a danger to society, but sadly they were instead given tenured positions and pulpits in academia from which to spew their venom and force their intolerance on others.

  • “The housewife is a parasite.” This was a direct attack on traditional women and families, and an attempt to make them feel guilty for staying home and caring for their children. Such women were demeaned at every turn by statements from prominent feminists, such as:
  1. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The housewife is a parasitic creature.” [19]
  2. Simone de Beauvoir: “Women’s work within the home has no direct benefit to society…her work produces nothing, and the housewife is therefore subordinate, secondary, and parasitic.” “With all of the respect thrown around it by society, the function of gestation still inspires a spontaneous feeling of revulsion.” [20]
  3. Kate Millett: “The family, as that term is presently understood, must go.” [21]
  4. Jessie Barnard: “[To be happy in a traditional marriage] a woman must be slightly ill mentally.” [22]
  5. Carolyn G. Heilbrun: “[The woman who devotes herself to home and family] lacks self-hood since she fails to act in the public domain. She is a female impersonator, simply fulfilling the needs of others.” [23]
  6. Karen DeCrow: “No man should allow himself to support his wife—no matter how much she favors the idea, no matter how many centuries this domestic pattern has existed, no matter how logical the economics of the arrangement may appear, no matter how good it makes him feel.” [24]
  7. Betty Friedan: “Why, despite the opportunities open to all women now, do so few have any purpose in life other than to be a wife and mother?… They are victims of a mistaken choice… not growing up but continually infantilizing… and living in a state inferior to their true capabilities… They are mindless and thing-hungry… and not people… They are trapped in trivial domestic routine and meaningless busywork… and by declining to pursue a professional career, she evades a serious commitment through which she might finally realize herself.” [25]

Millions of women are indeed fulfilled by marriage and motherhood, and many would gladly reduce their work responsibilities in order to spend more time with their children. Friedan and the others seem to be incapable of understanding this, or perhaps more realistically, deliberately trash those desires in order to justify and promote their own personal biases.

But if the goal is, as it seems to be, to make sure the best and brightest women don’t get distracted by the temptation of love and motherhood—the feminine role—there must be no “turning back the clock” on divorce. Women must be permanently at risk of abandonment and poverty, so that they will be forced to work continuously. And if society must make special accommodations for motherhood, these benefits must be structured so as to keep women on the job, lest the most ambitious feel odd or awkward because they aren’t fulfilling traditional female roles. In keeping with this goal, the achievements of women as wives and mothers must be continually downgraded and suppressed because there is no other way that cultivating the feminine virtues in ourselves will help us write original philosophy or become great statesmen… This is why liberal feminists have such contempt for any proposal to improve women’s lives that rejects androgyny. [26]

Dworkin is certainly correct that sex is inherently “unequal.” In sex the man takes the woman and penetrates her, and it is always the woman who bears the children and gives birth to them. Our slang for sex reflects this: “scoring,” “conquest,” “impregnation,” etc. Liberalism in general and feminism in particular, while applauding free love, is very uncomfortable with the fact that men and women are inherently asymmetrical. Liberals and social justice aficionados desperately seek to make all of us equivalent, as if that will somehow make things better and fairer for all. But the truth is that we cannot be made equivalent; men and women will always be the way they are because of immutable biological realities. Social justice crusaders cannot even create economic equality, much less sexual equality.

Rather than fulminate over these unalterable differences, why not accept and enjoy them—as the French say, Vive la Différence! Why not structure relationships so that the asymmetric masculine and feminine qualities of a couple are employed for their mutual pleasure and benefit, as people have done for centuries? If Dworkin, Daly, and others hate and fear sexuality so much, why don’t they just avoid marriage and male involvement, and be exclusively lesbian? Why must they attempt to infect others with their toxins, and pollute and trash the lives of those who enjoy the way we are made, like the couple in The Song? One of the main reasons is that feminism for some has become a religion, and seeks to convert the masses. But unlike Christian missionaries who have to rely on voluntary contributions, feminists use the resources of society – the government and the public schools to preach and inculcate its message. See the article Feminist Theology.

Feminism Today

In recent years many women have rejected doctrinaire feminism, or at least tried to tone down some of its more outlandish claims. A few former advocates of the women’s movement are writing books, such as Laura Doyle’s The Surrendered Wife, and Maggie Gallagher’s Enemies of Eros—How the Sexual Revolution Is Killing Family, Marriage, and Sex and What We Can Do About It, which contain some of the same relationship advice that Solomon gave in The Song. As Henry Kissinger said, “The War between the Sexes will never be won because there is too much fraternizing with the enemy.” Laura Doyle states in her preface to The Surrendered Wife:

Like millions of women, I wanted my marriage to be better. But when I tried to get my husband to be more romantic, helpful and ambitious, he withdrew—and I was lonely and exhausted from controlling everything.

Nevertheless, as feminism has become less strident, at the same time, it has also become more deeply entrenched in the psyche of virtually all western nations, especially in the areas of government, media, academia, and public education. Thought-police organizations are still operating as before, and the western nations of America and Europe are heavily steeped in feministic thinking.

Supporters of feminism are not evil or bad. They are typically serious people who, in their own way, are attempting to make the world a better place. They are thus are even more dangerous because they are deceived. Continued support requires ongoing deception, and therefore academia continues to twist sociological statistics, and to interpret them in ways that defy common sense. For example, we are told that:

  • “Children are an expensive luxury, and that we would be much better off with a smaller population.” Reality: the birth rate in America and Europe is below replacement levels, and this will have disastrous implications for social security and many other aspects of the economy. Western societies are dying.

  • “A wife’s earning are much more important than her child-rearing efforts, which can easily be assumed by schools and daycare. American men have come to expect that their wives will work, and often feel that dedication to children is less important than earning a paycheck. A wife’s desire to stay home with her young children is therefore a needless luxury and a waste of her time.” Reality: the efforts of a wife to provide a loving environment for both children and husband typically provide much more happiness and satisfaction for everyone than the money she could have earned, and are often essential in raising successful children. Contrary to the idea of the homemaker sitting at home, watching soap operas, and eating bon-bons, raising children is a serious challenge, often harder than working at a job, which is why government and public schools fail so badly at assuming the parental mantle. Successfully bringing up the next generation is hard work, but it is also a deeply rewarding effort, worthy of much study and energy. The home-schooling movement demonstrates that kids educated at home are typically more self-disciplined, more intelligent, and better educated and socially adjusted than their public school peers.

  • “Children do just fine in institutional daycare and, in some cases, do better than with a mother at home.” Reality: children are certainly resilient and there are exceptions to every rule, but those in daycare with little parental contact are more passive-aggressive, more peer-dependent, and less secure and less happy than those at home or with relatives. The children who do better in day-care are typically only those who have dysfunctional parents in the first place. Unhealthy environments are another little-explored daycare problem—consider the impact of many small kids crawling on a communal floor and continually putting everything into their mouth.

  • “Divorce is unpleasant, but children recover; it is more important to preserve the freedom and choices of the wife and husband.” Reality: divorce can be necessary in some cases, but it is a great evil. It is usually a disaster for children, causing guilt, long-term bitterness, and feelings of betrayal. With easy divorce, the secure foundation that children and even adults crave is easily destroyed, generating profound insecurities that are very difficult to overcome. Rather than providing resolution, divorce often makes problems worse, as parents fight over visitation rights and other issues. They waste a significant portion of their energy and resources on lawyers and on fighting each other, and often use their children as combatants in the domestic war. Divorce usually impoverishes the wife, and typically results in the husband, who would ordinarily pour time and energy into his kids, losing touch with and failing to support them as he moves on to his next family.

  • “Single-parent and homosexual homes are just as effective in raising kids as a two-parent household.” Reality: while there are certainly good single-parent homes and bad ones with both a mother and a father, well over 50% of female-headed households are near the poverty line—the problem of poverty in America is mostly the problem of female-headed households. Furthermore, the positive impact of a father in the home is well-documented, and the lack of a father creates many problems beyond simple finances. The average kid raised in single-parent homes has many more potential problems—shorter attention span, sexual identity problems, increased likelihood of teen-pregnancy and welfare dependency, lower reading and educational levels, lower feelings of self-worth, greater aggressiveness that generates on-going conflict and discipline issues, and so on.

  • “As women assume more power, men will become more androgynized, and will be more helpful with children and housework.” Reality: just the opposite—men do even less housework, and are often even less involved with children, especially in households where the wife’s income approaches and exceeds that of the husband. Wives with high incomes are often perceived as a threat by their husbands, who then dedicate even more of their energy and effort to their career, and leave their homes behind. Rather than the home being a haven from the cares of the world, female dedication to power and income production typically creates an environment of resentment and competition. A recent study found that the average American husband spends an average of 37 seconds a day with his own children when they are very young, the least of any country in the world. [27]

What is the result of attempting to abolish sex roles by proclamation? Men, abandoning a civilized male role, increasingly turn to promiscuous sex and violence as their primary route to male identity. Women remain in their traditional role as caretakers of children—poorer, overworked, more vulnerable to male abandonment and abuse. And children, both male and female, become the most vulnerable of all.

The result is not a gender-free society. If we do not offer our children—by word and deed—a constructive sense of gender, destructive sex roles will emerge to fill the vacuum. When we try to repress gender… our children will eventually emerge with a new sense of gender based on what they observe in the world around them: women are poor and have children, and men make love, money, and trouble. Something very like this conception of gender appears to have emerged in America’s ghettos. [28]

Feminist yearnings and government mandates cannot change human nature. Following is a summary of the problems to which feminism has been and continues to be a significant contributing factor:

  1. Magnification of female dissatisfaction with femininity. This is especially ironic, because as women reject the feminine to take on masculine qualities, they are rejecting their own nature, which can lead to intense frustration.

  2. Degradation and trivialization of motherhood. Rearing children is said to be a sacrifice and caring for home and family is beneath a woman’s dignity. Presumably any woman with a brain in her head would immediately dump her kids in a day care center and go off to work. This is one of the sickest and most disgusting lies of feminism.

  3. Dissatisfaction with the opposite sex. With feminist pressures seeking to androgynize us, women say, “where are the real men?” and men say, “where are the real women?” As John Steinbeck said, “The American girl makes a servant out of her husband and then finds him contemptible for being a servant.”

  4. High divorce rate. The teaching that “if marriage is not fulfilling, than leave it” has helped to generate a society-wide, me-first selfishness. The commitment and self-sacrifice necessary to sustain a marriage is too hard for many, and well over one-half of American marriages now end in divorce. Girls are continually taught that the basic female impulse toward the domesticity of serving and nurturing is a despicable weakness, and that they will be exploited unless they harden themselves. Boys learn that masculinity is not appreciated or encouraged, and often develop passive-aggressive behavior patterns toward women and children—uninvolvement and disengagement alternating with overt aggressiveness. Feminism is not the only cause of societal selfishness and divorce, but it is a very significant factor.

  5. Increasing levels of male disrespect and suspicion towards women. Women are continually cast in a victim role (e.g., the Duke University lacrosse team rape case prior to the truth being revealed).

  6. Disassociation of sex from committed relationships. Women should supposedly desire casual sex as much as many men do. Dream on.

  7. Embittered and confused children. The products of divorced households are children who often have many problems adjusting to society.

  8. Abortion and the cheapening of human life. When relationships are transitory and throw-away, and human sexuality is considered to be like animals rutting, than babies are an inconvenience and life itself is cheapened.

The conservative right is said to want all wives to become submissive homemakers, whereas the liberal left wants to turn all husbands into milquetoast Mr. Moms and have all wives leave their children in daycare (or abort them in the first place) so that they can develop their own career. Both sides have their own fixed notions about how things ought to be and want to foist these notions on everyone else.

In recent decades the liberal left has gained the upper hand in the gender wars, and so they seek to impose their vision on all of us in a totalitarian fashion (as totalitarian as can be accomplished in a relatively free society) through the power of government, public education, and the media. These forces have been very successful in exerting pressure, especially on women, who are naturally more concerned with what others think, and with fitting into what the culture deems to be an appropriate female role.

Nevertheless, many men and woman are deeply attracted to some form of the “white knight and fair maiden” paradigm. They feel that the general kind of relationship described in the Song of Solomon is in their blood, but they have kept those desires secret and have suppressed them because our largely feministic society has told them that female submissiveness is a sickness and a betrayal of womanhood, and male dominance is cruelty and abuse, and should be criminalized. This is simply a lie and part of the stupidity of American culture—reject it and be free.

We hunger for gender differences, and find androgynism to be unsatisfying and even disgusting, while at the same time we are made to feel guilty by our culture for thinking such things. Attempts to force roles on people will never work in the long run, and the feminist message is being rejected as people begin to listen to their heart and follow it, instead of the culture. Small children often understand gender better than many psychologists and lawyers, who have advanced degrees, but are lacking in common sense.[29] Perhaps a child is necessary to tell us that the feminist empress is indeed naked, or at least down to her bra and panties.

As explored above, some feminists would claim that we have entered a new age. We are now supposedly different in fundamental ways from people in the past, so the lessons of history no longer apply. They believe, as discussed above, that masculine and feminine characteristics are simply psychological and behavioral figments of our collective imagination, created by society and by parents. They have a “born-yesterday” approach to history that ignores and trivializes the past, and rejects its lessons because it does not fit with their preconceived notions. But having been conditioned by our culture, and constantly bombarded with messages from advertisements, the media, and government that traditional relationships are abusive, it is hard to go against the grain. Here it is helpful to remember two things: 1) culture has often gotten things wrong—prior cultures also erred, and the current culture’s overreaction in the opposite direction is equally wrong; and 2) human nature has not changed—men are still men and women are still women, just as they were in Solomon’s day.

A reader of the book Enemies of Eros mentioned above made this poignant statement on the Amazon.com web site:

“I have recently been struggling with whether or not I consider myself a feminist. Of course, I love women, after all I am one, and I want the best for my sex, including equality. However, this book eloquently verbalized my internal struggle with feminism, and discussed its far-reaching destruction in conjunction with the sexual revolution. Looking back on my life and the lives of all the women I love, I can now clearly see how feminism has brought layers of degradation upon us, however unintentional, and I can no longer imagine how their philosophy was ever tempting to me.”

Conclusion

Along with the distortions of Gnosticism, asceticism, and bridal mysticism from the past, the feminist doctrines that seek to androgynize us should be rejected. We have considered above how religion and various cultural forces have warped and corrupted our views of sexuality. In other words, we have considered the negative side of the coin. To turn the coin over and consider the positive aspects—how Christianity and sexuality fit together, see the following:

The Redemption of Eroticism
Commentary on the Song of Solomon

Male/female relationships can be corrupted in hundreds of ways, but the answer is not to abandon marriage and the masculine/feminine dynamic, but rather to understand and practice these things correctly, as they are the well-spring from which flow our deepest longings and desires.

God is a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it: at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Romance is the deepest thing in life; romance is deeper than reality.
G.K. Chesterton

Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
The Song of Solomon


[1] Bonnie MacLachlan and Judith Fletcher, editors, Virginity Revisited: Configurations of the Unpossessed Body, University of Toronto Press, 2007

[2] The Knights Templars came to France in 1128 seeking support for their order. At the time they were still a tiny group but with significant political influence given their role in preserving Christian control of the Holy Land. Bernard organized a church council in Troyes to honor them, and Troyes became the European capital for the order. Two years later in 1130 Bernard was successful in having Innocent II appointed Pope, and in the same year Innocent granted Papal recognition and exemption from all secular taxation and control to the Templars.

[3] Pope Eugenius III (1145-1153) was Bernard’s ex-disciple, and it was through Bernard’s lobbying efforts that Eugenius was appointed Pope in 1145. Many believed that Bernard was the real Pope and Eugenius was his puppet; Bernard was thus a man of great power and influence, but who preferred to work behind the scenes. At the urging of Bernard, Eugenius immediately proclaimed a Second Crusade as one of the first acts of his Papacy, and Bernard then crisscrossed Europe, preaching and urging people to get involved.

Many responded to this appeal and the Second Crusade was launched, but it suffered from the same serious problem that had almost caused the failure of the First Crusade, namely the lack of an overall leader who could command respect and enforce discipline among all of the other fractious leaders and troops. The Second Crusade went in three directions at once, and was an unmitigated fiasco. Bernard was blamed for it and he spent the last years of his life dealing with the criticism that was heaped upon him. His answer was that the people of Europe had become too sinful and therefore were not sufficiently worthy of God’s help.

Bernard was thus an interesting, complex, and great man who was at once both an ascetic, living an austere life, as well as being a man-of the-world, heavily involved with politics and power. Prior to 1112 when Bernard joined the Cistercians, the finances of the order were very limited, but shortly thereafter, the Cistercians expanded tremendously. By the time of Bernard’s death, there were over three hundred Cistercian abbeys, many of which Bernard had personally established. The Knights Templar became even more successful. They were reportedly wealthier than any country in Europe at the height of their influence, and contributed extensively to Bernard’s Cistercian ministry.

[4] The story of Peter Abélard and Héloïse is a poignant tale of that time. Héloïse was a student of Abélard, and they soon fell in love with each other. But Abélard could not marry her due to his clerical commitment to celibacy. After discovering their relationship, Héloïse’s guardian sent her to a nunnery and had Abélard castrated. In spite of this, they continued their devotion to each other for the rest of their lives, but without ever seeing each other again. In anguish, Abélard wrote many letters, poems, and songs to and for her, and lived the rest of his life in sorrow over her.

Abélard was opposed by Bernard of Clairvaux, who had long despised his views (that the common people should read and interpret the Bible for themselves). The two of them agreed to a debate, which took place in 1141. But Bernard, who was no match for Abélard, turned the debate into an inquisition and sought to have Abélard condemned and burned as a heretic. Abélard fled, but died soon afterward. He and Héloïse were finally united in death. She died twenty years after him, and was buried beside him.

[5] Kate Millet, Barnard Alumnae, Spring, 1970, p. 28

[6] David Kiersey, Please Understand Me II, Prometheus Nemesis Books, 1998, p. 20

[7] Anne Moir and David Jessel, Brain Sex, New York: Dell, 1989, 1991

[8] Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, New York: Doubleday, 1991

[9] Christina H. Sommers, Reply to Left Wing Media Watchdog Group FAIR, March 15, 1995

[10] Christina H. Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, New York: Simon & Shuster, 1994

[11] Elisabeth Carnell, “Rape Statistics Motivated By Politics, Not Facts,” Critiques of Feminism, www.carnell.com/feminism/rape/rape002.html

[12] Philip G. Davis, Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality, Dallas: Spence Publishing, 1998, pp. 289-290, 398

[13] Ann Scales, Yale Law School Review, c. 1990

[14] Monique Wittig, La Guerillieres, as quoted in “Why Women Need the Goddess,” Womanspirit Rising, p. 277

[15] Andrea Dworkin, Pornography – Men Possessing Women, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989, p. 13-14

[16] Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse, New York: The Free Press, 1987, pp. 186-188

[17] Andrea Dworkin, Pornography – Men Possessing Women, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989, pp. 18-19

[18] Mary Daly, GynEcology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, p. 239

[19] Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relations Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution, edited by Carl N. Deglar, New York: Harper & Row, 1966 (originally published in 1898), p. 62

[20] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, New York: Knopf, 1978 (originally published in 1949)

[21] Kate Millet, Sexual Politics, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969, p. 127

[22] Jessie Bernard, The Future of Marriage, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982, p. 51

[23] Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Writing A Woman’s Life, New York: W.W. Norton, 1988, pp. 17, 130

[24] Karen DeCrow, Letters to the Editor, The New York Times Magazine, May 31, 1992, p. 12

[25] Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, New York: Dell, 1984, pp. 153-55, 230-32, 243-45

[26] Maggie Gallagher, Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage, and Sex, and What We Can Do About It, Bonus Books, 1989, pp. 147-8

[27] Cited in George Rekers, “Fathers at Home,” Persuasion at Work, April, 1986, p. 2

[28] Maggie Gallagher, Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage, and Sex, and What We Can Do About It, p. 151

[29] Genevie and Margolies, The Motherhood Report, p. 302

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Redemption of Eroticism

Song of Solomon

There is only one happiness in life – to love and be loved
~ George Sand

Introduction

Some people question the institution of marriage and think that it an anachronism in today’s society, because they feel that the power of males and females should be made equivalent, and their roles made interchangeable. Furthermore, some people feel that marriage needlessly limits their sexual expression and spoils their erotic fun.

The word “monogamy” has come to have overtones of “boredom,” “straight-jacketing,” “repressiveness,” etc. This type of relationship has therefore been under attack in our culture, and has been declared by some to be dead and buried. Therefore, what follows may seem to be a curious exercise in paleontology – exhuming the bones of traditional male-female dynamics that are said to be fossilized and petrified, but finding they are very much alive and kicking, like Mark Twain’s famous quote, “rumors of my recent death are greatly exaggerated.” Far from being merely a historical curiosity, this type of relationship, properly understood and entered into, provides the most happiness, satisfaction, and stability of any possible form of male-female coupling.

An enlightened return to monogamy is the best thing not only for relational aspects of male-female couplings, but for the sexual ones as well. In other words, marriage has the potential of providing the most satisfying relationship and the best possible sex. Many couples are wondering where the magic went and how they can get it back (or how they can get it in the first place). They want a loving, long-term intimate relationship, they want their home to be a fun and a peaceful haven, and they want sexual ecstasy and fulfillment. Enlightened monogamy is where it can be found.

Art and entertainment, which are expressions of our cultural soul, from time immemorial down to the immediate present have routinely played off this theme. Consider the male-female relationships in the recent movies Waterworld, Titanic, Braveheart, Last of the Mohecans, Dances With Wolves, Indiana Jones, True Lies, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Princess Bride to name just a few. The male-female dynamic is the central drama of life. Many are tired of tiptoeing around these issues, are disgusted with the continual attempts to recast people into opposite sex roles, and are weary of the deception of our society that denies and degrades the positive reality of masculinity and femininity. This is therefore a ringing affirmation of the power and beauty of relationships that are constructed upon a traditional male-female dynamic.

La Belle Dame

With all of the above be said, it must also be acknowledged that monogamy can be and has has often been boring, straight-jacketing, and repressing. This is true for at least three reasons: 1) there have been forces at work in religion and culture that have corrupted sexuality and made it seem evil and/or wrong (see the following for more details: Religion and the Corruption of Eroticism); 2) the sexes are very different and efforts must be made to fully understand and appreciate the opposite sex; and 3) individual couples have destroyed relationships by focusing on their own selfish desires and ignoring their spouse.

The solution for #1 and #2 above is personal education, but #3 requires much more – that we change self-centered ways and start living for our partner. That can be very hard, but also very rewarding work.

What is said here comes from the Bible and from Christian teaching/philosophy. When some people hear the word “Christian,” what comes to their mind is a media-generated picture of a bigoted, small-minded person whose views have no connection with the reality that everyone else experiences, but despite this apparent un-connectedness, they nevertheless want to force their perspective on everyone else. Furthermore they are supposedly anti-fun, and sexual prudes.

Like many stereotypes, this picture is true of some Christians, but as a generalization, it is totally false: 1) Although it may disagree with popular culture at various points, Christianity as a philosophy and a practical guide for living has the widest and most profound answers to the essential questions of life of any philosophy that has ever existed; 2) the notion that Christianity is somehow against women or sees them as inferior is totally wrong. The Bible sees men and women as fundamentally distinct, and having different roles to play – therefore each sex will be superior and inferior to the other in certain areas, but have equal value in the eyes of God; 3) the notion that the Bible is anti-sex is totally wrong – in fact it is quite the opposite.

Many people think of “Christianity and sex” as an oxymoron – two incompatible things. But on the contrary, sex is glorified in the Bible when it is practiced within the boundaries of monogamy. After all, God designed and invented the whole concept of gender and sex – masculinity, femininity, orgasm, and romantic fascination are all of divine origin. Therefore, it makes excellent sense for us to discover God’s perspective and to follow his advice. As indicated above, religion and other cultural forces have corrupted sexuality, and we must therefore put aside “religion” and focus instead on the Bible. Religion is an organized set of doctrines and practices which are a human attempt to reach God, and therefore can be empty and meaningless. However, the Bible is God’s attempt to reach humanity and teach us how to live.

The Bible is a very sexy book in some places and teaches us how to conduct a marriage relationship in ways that result in satisfaction and even ecstasy for both partners. A key portion of the Bible in this regard is the Song of Solomon, a book dedicated to teaching about romance and sex: Commentary on the Song of Solomon

Marriage and the Male/Female Dynamic

Biblical teaching in general and The Song of Solomon in particular calls man and woman back into a loving partnership where the differing strengths and capabilities of each gender are used and enjoyed to the full. The story of the Song of Solomon details the initial delights, trials, separation, and finally the re-commitment of a man and a woman, and makes a number of points about the general nature of male/female relationships, as follows:

  1. Monogamy and long-term commitment is the best and highest form of male/female relationship. It does not, of course, guarantee happiness or satisfaction, but if the partners understand and are committed to each other, it provides the best possible framework for the development of an optimal relationship.
  2. Polygamous or serial relationships are typically unsatisfying, and the partners won’t experience the depth of intimacy and sexual/relational satisfaction that is possible in a monogamous union.
  3. Sexual fulfillment is a very important aspect of the relationship.
  4. God designed sex, and fully approves of eroticism in the context of a monogamous relationship. God is not mentioned directly in The Song, but there is a very interesting verse at the exact midpoint of the original text where the most important theme would be stated, and where God seemingly speaks to the couple. Immediately after the man has sexually taken and possessed the woman, Song 5:1 says, “Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”
  5. Fulfilling romance and sex will not come automatically—they must be cultivated by both partners. Sex can be ecstatic at the beginning of a relationship, but the excitement quickly wears thin unless the relational elements are also present: understanding, trust, care, affection, concern for the partner, etc.
  6. Men and women are different, and have different perspectives and desires. In order to have the best relationship, each gender must understand what the other wants and needs, and must endeavor to meet those desires. The man wants to enter and possess the woman, and he typically desires that she respect and honor him as her leader. The woman wants the man’s long-term commitment, as well as his love, care, devotion, and respect, and for him to appreciate and affirm her.
  7. Problems can and will upset the balance and destroy the union, even in the case of the most attractive and well-adjusted couples.
  8. Forgiveness will restore the union, but if the partners are unfaithful to each other, the resulting jealousy and feelings of betrayal may not be redressable.
  9. Families should be especially concerned with how their children marry, and with protecting their daughters.
  10. Sexual activities are ideally very intimate and powerful, and are potentially the most ecstatic experiences that two people can have.  Therefore, sex must be delayed until the couple is mature enough, and is ready to assume the associated relational and parental responsibilities.
  11. The partners are, in most respects, unable to change each other. It is a mistake to enter a relationship thinking: “I will change him or her to be more like what I want/need.” Such attempts usually backfire and push the partner further away.  Rather, each partner needs to focus on what they can control, which is him or herself, and draw the partner to us, and more to the point, consider carefully the character of the other person before starting a relationship in the first place.

The nature of the relationship between the man and woman in The Song is very different from today’s feministic paradigms of pure equality and interchangeability of the sexes. It presents a view of male/female relationships more along the lines of traditional sex roles. In this paradigm, the male role is primarily that of leader and lover, and the female role is primarily follower and nurturer. This lifestyle recognizes and celebrates the propensity of males to be dominant (i.e., masculine) and females to be submissive (i.e., feminine) in varying degrees.

This means dealing with the dreaded “s” word – submissiveness. This word immediately raises the hackles of some people, to whom the terms “submission” and “traditional marriage” are an anathema, and supposedly represent a return to some kind of relational dark ages. There is, perhaps, no other single word that could so bring a hush to a dinner party or other group and produce such visceral reactions, either for or against it.

But lest anyone think of this as advocating the suppression of women or calling for a universal return to traditional sex roles by government directive, it is important at the outset to disabuse the reader of such notions. Our generation unfortunately tends to associate the word “submissive” with “incompetent” or “less-competent.” In large part this is due to the relative values that our culture has placed on various aspects of life. In contrast to other societies and former generations of Americans who placed a high value on children, family and community, we have unfortunately placed our highest value on careers, financial success, and athletic prowess. We have also trivialized child rearing and are increasingly fobbing the responsibilities off to day-care centers, schools, and other government-sponsored organizations, to our own detriment. Over time this has reduced the worth and value ascribed to feminine things and increasingly caused women to seek status in what were traditionally male pursuits. Everyone needs to see themselves as valuable, and it is hard to feel affirmed if the culture tells you that you are inherently less competent, and that your natural characteristics render you less suitable than others for the society in which you live. Rising above this deceptive propaganda and affirming natural femininity requires considerable insight, as well as a strong sense of direction and self-worth.

In a number of places the Bible explicitly instructs wives to submit to husbands (e.g., Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, and I Peter 5:5). The Greek word used in the Bible for “submission” is “hupatasso,” from “hupa,” meaning “under,” and “tasso,” meaning “to arrange” or “to place.” The word was originally a Greek military term for someone who was placed under the authority of a commander, or one who placed him or herself under such authority. Some Bible scholars have attempted to do away with female submission and indicate that it was never meant to be that way. Their arguments are as follows:

  1. In Ephesians 5:21, Paul indicates that we should submit to each other, and therefore the specific directives on wives submitting to husbands should be ignored and/or downplayed.
  2. The Greek word “hupatasso” should be interpreted as “support” rather than “submit.”
  3. The submission of wives to husbands is purely cultural and done in earlier times, but now that we have supposedly become more enlightened, female submission should be abandoned.
  4. All submissive women are supposedly weak, co-dependent children, in need of psychological counseling.
  5. The Apostles Peter and Paul were misogynist pigs who feared women and wanted to hold them down in whatever way they could. While other parts of their epistles and teachings may be acceptable, we should ignore whatever they say about male/female relationships.

However, all of these arguments fall apart on closer examination:

  1. The Bible does indeed teach mutual submission and humility, but that does not void or negate the specific directive for the wife to submit to her husband. The corresponding instruction given to a husband is to love his wife, not submit to her. Furthermore, there are no exceptions given to the wife’s submission – she is to submit in “all things.”
  2. Interpreting the word “hupatasso” as “support” is a deceptive attempt to redefine the clear meaning of a word, which actually means “to put oneself under another.”
  3. Human nature has not changed — men are still men and women are still women. Like all Biblical teaching, the practical aspects need to be adapted from one culture and era to the next, but the underlying principles are timeless because human nature is timeless.
  4. Submissive women have a strength of character and purpose that feminists do not understand or appreciate. That a wife could be in submission to a man and love it, which many do, is deeply threatening to feminists, because it destroys the entire basis of their argument. This is why housewives were so bitterly attacked and condemned. Any psychological counseling that demands a feministic approach is warped and should be discarded.
  5. The Apostles were certainly men of their times, which are different than ours, but what they said was for the benefit of women, not to keep them down. It is ironic that Paul is called a misogynist even through he is the one who called for mutual submission. Furthermore, female submission is taught in many places in the Bible, not just in the New Testament epistles. It is only the twisted nature of today’s society that sees all types of female submission as evil.

The issue of dominance and submission is, of course, one of the most incendiary topics in our culture; everyone who reads this will, no doubt, have strongly preconceived ideas about it. Some will rejoice and say, “Finally someone is speaking for what I have felt all along!” whereas others will roll their eyes and say, “One more male chauvinist trying to put women back in the kitchen!”

Some will therefore immediately jump to the conclusion that this teaching is “misogynistic,” or “anti-female,” but the reality is the exact opposite. The criticism here is directed not at females, but at the women’s movement. The latter claims to speak for all women, and has an unfortunate penchant for employing censorship, deception, and totalitarian measures to support its agenda. Therefore in feminist eyes, anyone who criticizes the goals or methods of the women’s movement is, ipso facto, a misogynist. But both claims (that they speak for all women, and their dismissal of critics as misogynistic) are, of course, pure hype, because many women have entirely different goals, and consider the women’s movement a serious threat to their own well-being and that of their families. The stereotype of a feminist (e.g., Nancy Pelosi) is a person who is strident, biased, overbearing, and closed-minded, who denigrates male power, despises homemakers, considers abortion rights to be sacred, and wants to inflict his or her vision on everyone else (ironically this is similar in some ways to the media stereotype of Christians mentioned above). Many non-feminists therefore see feminism itself as misogynistic, but nevertheless are willing to let feminists be, if they would be willing to return the favor.

So before passing judgment, it is essential to understand that there is no universal or “one-size-fits-all” Biblical pattern about how leadership should be carried out in marriage. The above texts do not indicate the exact manner or the extent of the submission. Therefore, there is a wideness in what the term “hupatasso” can mean and how it should be interpreted in the case of a given marriage, and it is left up to individual couples to determine what will work for them. In cases with a strong-willed wife and a retiring husband, leadership and power could be in the woman’s hands (as a way of acknowledging the husband’s lack of leadership abilities) or shared in a more-or-less equal way, whereas in the case of a more submissive wife and dominant husband, more of the leadership aspects of the marriage would naturally devolve on the man. In other words, it is wrong for someone to claim Biblical authority when indicating exactly how a wife should submit to her husband, regardless of whether their view is liberal or conservative.

No two couples are exactly alike, but all of us, both liberal and conservative, tend to think that our own viewpoint is normative, and that everyone else should do just as we do. We try though various means to foist our view upon others. But a more reasoned look at the Bible demonstrates that the principles stated allow for latitude in interpretation. It does *not* supply any basis for a conservative to thunder that “all wives belong in the kitchen,” nor does it give a liberal any basis for shrill claims that “absolute equality is essential, and submission is tantamount to wife abuse.”

Therefore, the mental images that we have from the past associated with traditional sex roles do not need to bind us to any specific way of relating to each other, and even less so should the feministic roles of the present. We are thus free within the confines of the general paradigm to construct a relationship that is mutually satisfying, and in which the specifics vary from couple to couple. If God is the creator of all peoples, then His counsel on a topic as fundamental as marriage must surely take in account the normal variations in human reality.

This raises another issue that can be very difficult to grapple with – the degree to which we can alter our own personality and mindset. Can a woman who basically has a submissive orientation change and become more dominant, or vice-versa? Clearly people can change to a degree, but to what degree? Would she want to, and would it make her more happy and fulfilled in the long run? Perhaps, or perhaps not. This is murky psychological territory, and the dynamics differ on an individual basis. For example, if a person with a submissive orientation (male or female) was placed in charge of other people, he or she will probably be miserable and unable to cope. They may even be educated in the techniques of management, but if they have no desire to be there, it will be an exercise in frustration. People can change to a degree, but typically the change is along the lines of their real orientation. Individuals may have repressed their true nature (especially women because of feministic pressures), or may be in the process of discovering it, but once they do so, their psychological orientation shines through, and they will be happiest when they are involved in activities and relationships in accordance with their basic personality.

In his powerful book Please Understand Me, psychologist David Kiersey provides essential guidelines for understanding personality and the degree to which it is mutable.  He uses the analogy of a computer, and indicates that all individuals have elements of both “hardware” and “software.” The hardware is a person’s temperament – a unique composite of the four personality types that makes the person different than others. These were first identified in antiquity as the Sanguine, the Choleric, the Phlegmatic, and the Melancholic, but which Kiersey has renamed: the Artisan, the Guardian, the Idealist, and the Rationalist. Being part of our hardware, temperament is an immutable inborn trait, and cannot be changed even by the individual himself.  However, we also contain elements of software, which is mutable. Kiersey indicates that the software aspect of personality is our character – our behavior and the ways in which we express our temperament.  Character can therefore be changed and improved; it is the element of personality that can be controlled, and for which we are therefore responsible. For example, it is futile for a parent to expect that a child who is sensitive and interested in music and the arts (elements of temperament), can somehow be changed to love athletic competition. But if that same child tends to be moody and selfish (elements of character), the parent can and should try to help the child improve.

Conservatives may state that “most of our societal problems are due to the failure of wives to submit to their husbands,” and liberals may ridicule that statement. The problem with the statement is not that it is false, but that it is only half true. We must include the responsibility of men, and the statement has left out the “failure of husbands to love their wives.” When the latter portion is included, then we do indeed have the major cause of social pathology.

Male/female relationships are complex and nuanced. It is like dancing the waltz in which the man normally leads, but at times he exchanges roles with the woman and she leads, and both of them are needed in order for the dance to proceed. Following are some of the “masculine vs. feminine” elements of the Song:

  • Leadership. Throughout the story the man leads the woman, and the woman expresses a desire for him to take the lead (e.g., Song 1:4, Song 2:3-4), but the woman leads as well (e.g., Song 8:2), and she is not at all shy about expressing her desires. In other words, she submits to him eagerly, but still retains a strong sense of her own identity and personal worth. She also takes the lead at times, and he enjoys having her do so. There is no need for suspicion or resentment because the leadership is bathed in love, and is not a selfish power grab, or a means to get even with each other. There is nothing wrong with female leadership, but there is also nothing wrong with the woman surrendering to her man and encouraging him to lead.
  • Roles. The woman belongs to the man throughout the story, and many of the terms used for the woman depict her as such. She is his “garden,” his “vineyard,” and his “spring.” All of these terms imply that he owns her in a deep and intimate way. Furthermore, she doesn’t resent this or see it as an imposition, rather she views it as being the natural order of things, and the fulfillment of her nature as a woman. She rejoices in belonging to him, and understands that being his spring, garden, and vineyard is a role that she must freely choose for herself. The man sexually takes her, but also regards her as his partner and responsible companion (expressed in the story as being his “sister”), and she clearly relishes both the roles of partner and possession. In the paradox of femininity, the woman “wins” by “losing” – she conquers the man by surrendering to him. She harnesses his energies to serve both her and their children by freely and eagerly giving herself to him. As she submits, she helps him to achieve his basic desires – both to have her, and to sacrifice himself for a great and noble purpose – caring for her and for his family. One of the major problems of all human societies is channeling male aggression in positive directions, so that its young men build the society up rather than tear it down. The only known and reliable way for this to take place is for each man to have a woman, and to dedicate himself to taking care of her and their children. The man is thus infused with a quintessentially masculine desire of protecting, caring for, and leading his family, so that he becomes the “chief of his tribe.”

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. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127:3-5

These roles resonate in the deep yearnings and the romance of our heart — the male desire to be a knight who finds and leads the fair maiden, and the female desire to be the fair maiden who is found and led. These passions are celebrated in thousands of poems, stories, movies and songs, in untold permutations and variations, and are the most common and basic theme in all of art.

  • Positive Communication. The man compliments the woman and her body in very frank sexual terms, and it is clear that he loves seeing and caressing her. She frequently expresses desires to be caressed (e.g., Song 2:6, Song 4:16), and she enjoys his compliments and praise. But the man always expresses this in a noble and poetic way—he is never gross or tasteless, and he always builds her up and makes her feel good about herself. He never belittles her. Likewise the woman compliments the man and makes him feel good about his appearance and his efforts to lead and provide for her. She builds his ego, treats him as her leader, and indicates that she wants to follow him, which is a powerful medicine for a man’s ego and his sense of self-esteem. With such a woman, a man has no need to seek other females.
  • Trust. In contrast to the throwaway relationships of our culture, here the woman gives herself to the man in exchange for his commitment to stay true to her. In Song 8:6 she says, “Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, and jealousy is as severe as the grave.” The woman’s surrender is directly related to her level of trust in the man—how can anyone truly surrender to another person that he or she does not trust? Therefore it is incumbent on the man to be worthy of the woman’s trust.
  • Mutual Surrender and Humility. This type of relationship requires surrender, humility, and maturity from both man and woman, but in different ways. The woman surrenders, allowing the man to lead her. The man must also surrender, but what he must give up is his desire for non-commitment and independence. He must humble himself so that he can truly lead the woman in a way that affirms her and makes her feel loved and cared for. True leadership demands the sacrifice of the leader and the abandonment of self for the benefit of those he leads. In other words, love is a call for both male and female to give up selfish ways, and truly serve and satisfy their partner. It directs them more fully into their own masculine and feminine nature, and thus it is satisfying and fulfilling to both. Mutual surrender creates a self-reinforcing relationship of potentially total trust and deep intimacy. Consider one cinematic example: in the movie Titanic, the highborn girl Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet) falls in love with Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a poor artist from the third class section who had saved her life when she attempted to commit suicide. When the ship goes down, Jack helps her get into a boat and inspires her to live on with visions of what she can do, echoing the theme song of the movie, “My Heart Will Go On.” But there is no place left in the lifeboat for him, and slipping below the waves, he dies in the icy waters of the Atlantic.  Even though they were never married, she takes his last name, calling herself “Rose Dawson,” and in the final scene of the movie she drops her diamond necklace, “The Heart of the Ocean,” into the Atlantic in honor of him. If he had lived, would their love had persevered? Yes – if they would have practiced the principles of The Song. See the following Shania Twain video for a beautiful picture of how this can work: Forever and For Always

Song of Solomon

Regardless of the above statements about traditional sex roles, this is not an attempt to keep women in the kitchen, and it does not presuppose any particular division of labor between men and women. There are several points to be made here:

  1. The type of relationship described in The Song does not dictate any given household work arrangement — that is entirely up to the couple. Assuming that they have children, both man and woman could be employed outside the home with a mixture of full and part-time work according to their financial needs and child care requirements. However, most couples will probably find that the traditional model or a modified form of it works best because, a) it provides the most income and satisfaction for both (the man primarily on the job and the woman primarily at home with the children); and b) it prevents super-mom burnout, where the woman works full-time, and then has to come home, do all of the housework and care for the children as well.
  2. In regard to housework, and women’s perennial complaint that men never do their fair share, it has been found that in homes where the wife is openly submissive, her husband will help her more, because when she adores him and satisfies his needs, he will want to serve her and will be motivated to do so.[1] Men tend to treat aggressive, dominant women as they do other men—as competitors—and typically have little interest in treasuring, cherishing, supporting, or helping such women.
  3. This general form of relationship conforms more closely to the reality of masculinity and femininity, and therefore it will be the most satisfying to the majority of people. Most men are masculine and most women are feminine, to greater or lesser degrees, and approximately 98% of the population is heterosexual. But there are thousands of different forms and variations of these qualities in individuals, and the dynamic of the marriage relationship therefore needs to be adjusted accordingly, as stated above.
  4. The couple in the story enters into their relationship with desire, passion, and joy. There is no dread or fear involved until they start disappointing each other, but after they have forgiven each other and been renewed, the joy and passion returns. In other words, forgiveness is essential, and whatever the exact form that a relationship takes, it is also essential that it be done from joy and desire, and not from fear or coercion.

Marriage has long been scorned and attacked, but it has survived. It is an amazing institution that provides the possibility of companionship, trust, deep intimacy, and intense eroticism. It can also provide children and potentially an ideal environment in which to raise them. However, these benefits are only possibilities, and require the application of the principles described above in order for them to be fully realized.

I am my beloved's and he is mine

All of the above is not meant to trivialize marital problems or to claim that they can be solved simply by reading an essay. Many couples have deep-seated problems caused by years of neglect and/or hurtful behavior which may require much time and possibly outside counseling in order to heal. The point is that the relationship dynamics typified in the Song of Solomon and discussed above are the direction in which couples ultimately need to move, and they should take whatever steps are necessary in order to move in that direction.

Pornography

The production of sexually-oriented pictures and materials is a huge and growing industry, especially through the internet.  With the exception of email communications, sex is by far the #1 internet interest with thousands of web sites devoted to every possible type of kink. Pornography is primarily targeted at males because men are visually oriented, and seek to use women to satisfy their desires for sexual conquest.  It also caters to the male impulse to have sex with multiple women without having to commit to any of them. Women have their own form of pornography, better known as romance novels and soap operas, in which they fantasize about relationships.  In accordance with the female nature of being less visual and more relationship-oriented, pornography for women is largely literary.

Men who have indulged in pornography and especially if they have taken the next steps of going to strip bars and seeking out prostitutes, know that it is never fulfilling and always leaves the individual frustrated and wanting more, like the Stones song I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Pornography therefore is often highly addictive, titillating a person with the promise of satisfaction, but never delivering.  Therefore it can easily become a mental addiction – crack cocaine for the mind – that moves a man away from involvement with a real woman and gets him hooked on unrealistic mental dalliances.

Both the male and female versions of pornography are therefore mental selfishness and uninvolvement that damage relationships, and leads away from true sexual satisfaction, which can only happen in a real male/female connection.

Sexual Satisfaction

Much of the sexual advice in women’s magazines and current sex books urges women to “take control of their sexuality.” But women who wish to satisfy their male partners as well as experience truly great sex and mind-blowing orgasms, would be much better served by giving themselves to their men and letting him take control, because orgasmic sexual ecstasy for the woman requires surrender to the man. Consider the following quote from Dr. Marie Robinson, a woman doctor who specialized in the treatment of female frigidity:

There is a tremendous surging physical ecstasy in the yielding of itself, in the feeling of being a passive instrument in the hands of a man. Your body is stretched out supinely beneath him, delighting in his dominance and responding in further surrender. You give your body and will over to him and are taken up by his passion as leaves are swept up before a wind. One woman described it as “a sensation of such beauty and intensity that I can hardly think of it without weeping.” Another said, “it’s like a mounting symphony, rising in tremendous and irresistible rhythms till your whole being feels as though it has been swept away.”

Orgasm in the woman requires an absolute trust in one’s partner. In sexual intercourse, as in life, man is the actor, woman is the acted upon. Giving oneself up in this passive manner to another human being, making yourself his willing partner to such seismic physical experiences and allowing yourself to be sexually conquered, means one must have complete faith in him. There can be no crossed fingers about such yielding and no reservations in such a submission. There must be a sensual eagerness to surrender, because in the woman’s orgasm, the excitement comes from the act of surrender.

The untrusting woman is frightened of the totality of such an experience, mistrusts her husband’s love, and has to feel that she is “in control” all the time. The trouble with that position is that in a real orgasm, a woman must be out of control, and must willingly, delightedly desire to be so. With his pleasure in mind, she now seeks out more and more those things that please him, and her exploration leads inevitably to the discovery that what pleases him most, outside of his own sensations, is her pleasure and the giving of herself to him. In other words, he is most pleasured when she is most fully surrendered and given over to him and actually desires to be so. This mutual spiraling of feeling ultimately climaxes in her decision to give him the greatest psychological pleasure of all, the total surrender of her body to him and the delights that it can bring.(italics, mine)[2]

In other words, there is a complete congruence between the Biblical directive of female submission, the quality of orgasm that women who practice it will have, and the sexual satisfaction that the man experiences by conquering the woman and inducing her complete surrender to him. Having sex like this on a regular basis binds a couple together with bonds of desire and love in a way that nothing else can—the woman’s surrender generates devotion in the man, and in turn, his devotion provides an environment of trust and acceptance that allows her sexuality to flower. Here is Solomon’s advice to men on the subject of sex:

Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
Proverbs 5:15-19

This passage instructs a man to stop chasing other women and focus on his wife, which is what her heart desires—a man who will focus his entire attention on her. But what is often missed is the corresponding instruction given to women—to freely surrender her body to her man so that he can “always satisfy himself with her breasts, and always be exhilarated with her love.” The magic only happens when both the man and woman both play their parts.

In regard to the erotic possibilities of marriage, consider the following:

To put my cards on the table, I am rather stick-in-the-muddish, and am sold on the institution of marriage, as it might be, if not as it is. This does not mean that I am opposed to having affairs. I am highly in favor of it. I am particularly in favor of having them with one’s wife.

A remarkable fact about marriage, seldom explicitly noted, is that it consists of one man and one woman. That is very sexy, to say the least. What a fantastic opportunity for intricate and delightful sexual experiences. The man and woman have each other all to themselves and their pleasure. They are free in a socially accepted institution to contrive the most exquisite enjoyments for each other. The heights of their pleasure are limited only by their own imagination.

Marriage is an extremely sexy institution. There is no reason one should fail to take advantage of it…Marriage is filled with diamonds and glories. It is literally fantastic in what it could offer, and in terms of what it could be. Before you read further, agree tentatively, to put from your mind the familiar platitudes of what marriage is supposed to be. It is up to you, not another, to define what it shall be.

To be sure, the grim outside world, the society, will try to reach even into their home…with its instructions for suitable, standard, repetitive, routine relations between men and women. To a large extent the contagion of their loathing, centuries later, still infects and emotionally disfigures millions of human beings, depriving them of precious ecstasies.

Very few screen actors (beyond Valentino) convey anything of the simple appreciation of how fantastic women are. To be sure, Valentino could portray the looming dark male menace, dangerous, and intent upon her sexual subjugation, but too, he could exhibit a thrill and delight in holding a woman in his arms. Women were not, to those of his generation, chicks, foxes, and broads. His was a more romantic generation. Women in his day, pale, proud, and beautiful were thought to be worthy prizes, worth capturing and carrying off. Today it is not clear that there is that much point in bothering…It was not known at the time of publication of the book (The Sheik) upon which the movie was based that the author was a woman, and it caused something of a stir when it leaked out. Furthermore this makes clear that the fantasies of men and women tend to be similar, save for the difference in perspective. Men often fantasize adventure and sexual capture, and women do as well. The men think of themselves as doing the capturing, and the women, by some coincidence, are the ones who are captured. There is a set of congruent fantasies! All a husband and a wife have to do is put together their fantasies and get ready for a corking good time!

One of the most beautiful sights in the world to a man is a woman you love in the throes of an orgasm which you have induced in her. There are few things in the world that can so fill a man with a sense of power and joy as seeing his beloved female yielding herself helplessly to him.

When two human beings can give each other such exquisite and mind-expanding excitements, it is natural for them to grow very close. They realize that such a partner is not simply another interchangeable unit of which most of our marriages seem to be composed. He or she is a jewel.[3]

A child conceived as a result of such an incredible and intimate experience will be all the more loved and cherished because the child represents the passion of the parents. He or she is the parents’ legacy, and will go on after the parents have passed away. Furthermore, couples who have a positive marital and sexual relationship will have more desire, energy, and self-sacrificial love to pour into their children.

Christianity and Sexual D/s

What is being presented here is a “D/s” (male dominant, female submissive) relationship dynamic. D/s is the reestablishment of the “feminine mystique” that feminism has tried to tear down. Rather than eliminating the distinctions between the sexes, D/s is a celebration of the differences, in a way that ennobles both men and women and calls both to a higher standard. It is a renewing of the vision of females as princesses and queens, and males as princes and kings with all of the glories and responsibilities that those positions entail. In essence, it is the flowering of our gender and the fulfillment of our sexuality. It is the reestablishment of the true basis for male-female intimacy—the mutual satisfaction of desires in the context of a committed relationship.

To put this in picture form, it is the attempt to enter into and live out in your own way the most powerful and enduring of all human fantasies, that have been celebrated in story and song since the dawn of time, in thousands of variations and permutations—the lord and the lady, the white knight and the fair maiden, the sheik and the dancing girl, Cinderella and Prince Charming, the cheerleader and the football star, Dudley Do-Right and the damsel in distress, Beauty and the Beast, the rajah and his concubine, the Princess Bride and the Dread Pirate Roberts, etc., etc., etc. It doesn’t matter if the man is not built like a line backer, and if the woman is not cheerleader material.  If they are devoted to each, then he will be her Prince Charming and she will be his Cinderella.

The goal is transformation. It is redirecting a man away from being a selfish boor into a white knight, who can fire the romantic imagination and sexual surrender of his woman, and continue to inspire her for a lifetime. It is redirecting a woman from being an inhibited, nagging mom into a passionate, surrendered lover that her man will want to be with, and who has a richness of feminine character that will delight him. D/s is therefore psychological dynamite.

The D/s lifestyle may or may not include a number of sexual practices (e.g., bondage, spanking, forcefulness, oral sex, etc.) and it is entirely up to each individual couple as to what activities they will engage in. However, there is abundant evidence that engaging in sexual practices such as these can dramatically increase the pleasure of both man and woman, along with their level of intimacy and commitment to the relationship, provided that everything is consensual.[4]

Some people will read the above and take offense because they feel that the women are being presented as too submissive and the man too dominant. Others will read it and feel that it is too tame, and will want something deeper and more extensive.[5] The point is to find your own level, not be constrained by cultural dictates, and avoid criticizing others who are at a different level.

In recent years various BDSM groups and web sites have become very popular. The term “BDSM” is a clever contraction of three different but overlapping lifestyles and expressions of sexuality, as follows:

  • “BD” – Bondage and Discipline. The incorporation of physical bondage (tying with rope, scarves, chains, etc.) and various aspects of discipline (spanking, being under authority, etc.) into the sexual and, in many cases, the relational aspects of a relationship.
  • “DS” – Dominant/submissive. The recognition of one partner in a relationship as being dominant (leading, making decisions, directing sexual expression, etc.), and the other as submissive (following, providing feedback, nurturing, and surrendering, etc.)
  • “SM” – Sadomasochism or Sex Magick. The use of pain to give pleasure, where one partner enjoys administering the pain/pleasure (the sadist), and the other partner enjoys receiving it (the masochist).

The BDSM community, while still generally thought of as being “extreme,” has gained some degree of acceptance in contemporary culture. There are at least three reasons for this: 1) it is pan-sexual; it treats hetero-, homo-, and bisexuality as equivalent and equally valid and acceptable; 2) BDSM relationships are often transient; monogamy and non-monogamy are therefore equivalent and equally valid and acceptable; 3) the movement has lobbied for acceptance on the grounds that it tolerates all forms of sexual expression, and is just one more lifestyle choice among many.

Those in the Christian community have wondered if BDSM is compatible with Christianity and the Bible. Following is a Christian critique of BDSM:

  • The Bible does not concur with the pan-sexual approach of BDSM, and indicates that a heterosexual relationship is God’s ideal for humanity.[6]
  • The Bible does not concur with the non-monogamous nature of some BDSM relationships, and marriage is presented throughout as the ideal. There is a plethora of scientific evidence upholding monogamy as being the best and highest form of male/female relationship from many perspectives — trust, affection, personal security, sexuality, and parenting. The thrust of Biblical teaching on marriage is maledom/femsub, and this is offensive to some who insist on the equal validity and acceptability of all forms of sexual expression. But the Bible’s position is that all forms of expression are NOT equally valid and beneficial; monogamous heterosexuality is the best and highest form of sexual expression. This does not justify condemnation for those who engage in other lifestyles, but at the same time we must not encourage people to enter them. Monogamy does not, of course, guarantee any of these positive results. It merely provides the best framework for a couple to achieve them.
  • Aside from the issues of pan-sexuality and non-monogamy, the Bible encourages couples to engage in whatever sexual practices bring them mutual pleasure and fulfillment. In other words, “anything goes” as long as both partners enjoy what they are doing. The “DS” portion of BDSM is probably closest to Biblical teaching, but as discussed above, each couple is unique. Some will have a passion for bondage, submission, and other DS activities, while others will consider them extreme and out-of-bounds. Find your own level.

Conclusion

Nude Woman

The idea here is for the wife to be her husband’s pornography and sex object, as well as his partner and companion. She does this in return for his commitment to dedicate himself to her, and to take delight in their relationship. Is this idea scandalizing? Perhaps so, but it is important to remember that our bodies, minds, gender, and sexuality were given to us by God, who declared them to be good. After all, God was the one who created sex, designed gender, and invented orgasm. Consider the following Biblical passages:

Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4

You will make known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.
Proverbs 5:18-19

My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh, which lies all night between my breasts.
Song of Solomon 1:13

Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies. Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense…You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.
Song of Solomon 4:5-6, 9

Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south. Make my garden breathe out fragrance. Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!
Song of Solomon 4:16

How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, “I will climb the palm tree, and will take hold of its fruit stalks.” Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!
Song of Solomon 6:6-9

Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, come my beloved and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
Song of Solomon 2:17

Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.
Song of Solomon 5:1

Lakewood Chapel

Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away…


[1] Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged, New York: Basic Books, 1977, p. 220

[2] Marie Robinson, MD, The Power of Sexual Surrender

[3] John Norman, Imaginative Sex

[4] For examples of satisfied D/s couples, see the web site www.takeninhand.com

[5] Many are attracted to the “D/s” (Dominant/submissive) lifestyle and to using various BDSM-related practices in marriage, and there are a large number of internet resources on this topic.

[6] A key question here is whether homosexuality/bisexuality is inborn and unchangeable, or learned and mutable. Gay advocates demand that we see gayness as being exclusively genetic and unalterable. However, the current scientific answer is that some are born with gay inclinations, but for many and probably most it is a learned behavior. There are organizations who work with gay individuals seeking to go straight, and depending on the degree of personal motivation, they have demonstrated many cases of successful transformation from homo to hetero.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Commentary on the Song of Solomon

Marriage

Eat Friends! Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers!
~ The Song of Solomon 5:1

Introduction

One of the most basic aspects of human existence is the male/female relationship and the associated issues—marriage, sexuality, parenting, and family life. The family always has been, and always will be the foundational building block of society; as goes the family, so goes the society, for better or worse. God is the designer of the human mind and body. He is the one who created sexuality and the one who gave us our sexual nature. We should therefore expect that He would advise us on how we should live.

The Bible is Christianity’s source book for all of the issues of life. Some subjects are treated in much more detail than others, and many topics require elaboration and further study. Its content was written between 2,000 and 3,500 years ago, so we must consider how these ancient writings apply to our current culture, which is obviously very different from that era. But human nature has not changed, and the underlying principles stated in the Bible are timeless, applying to all people everywhere.

Male/female relationship issues are indeed addressed in many Biblical passages, and tucked away in the middle of the Old Testament is a small book called the “Song of Solomon,” which not only teaches, but truly celebrates romance and eroticism. This book has long been a classic, but throughout history, its content has been spiritualized and allegorized, and therefore its romantic and erotic nature has largely been hidden. This was done for a variety of reasons, but all of them boil down to a discomfort with sexual expression. See the following internet resource for a full treatment of the reasons for this discomfort: Religion and the Corruption of Eroticism

The first chapters of book of Genesis tell the story of the creation of the world. After creating each element, God paused and proclaimed that it was “good.” It is my contention that the Song of Solomon is essentially an extension of the Genesis concepts of the intrinsic goodness of sexuality, along with advice to guide us in its proper expression, so that we may fully realize our potential as men and women and have satisfying and lifelong relationships with the opposite sex.

If God designed human beings to be sexual, and to be capable of eroticism and orgasmic delight in the appropriate context, who are we, and who any religious or government authority, to call these things bad or evil? Let us instead attempt to wash away all of the negative accretions that have tarnished and debased this important part of our essence, and return to the Garden of Eden. That is what The Song of Solomon is all about.

Many have attempted to explain and comment on the Song of Solomon, but most of these commentaries are from an allegorical perspective, and have eliminated the romantic and erotic aspects, which I believe to be the book’s primary meaning. Therefore, the complete text of The Song is included below along with a commentary on its meaning.

Meaning and Interpretation

One of the most basic principles of Biblical interpretation is that the main meaning and significance of any text is found in the plain sense of what it says. If the Song is read without seeking any deeper meaning, it is obvious that this story/poem was written to celebrate romance and sex in the context of an appropriate relationship. The book is essentially a poetic continuation of the type of relational advice that Solomon wrote in his other books—Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The Song, however, was written in poetry and figures of speech, because of the subject of this advice is romance, marriage, sexuality, and eroticism. In other words, Solomon wished to give very specific and graphic sexual advice, but to do it in a tactful and elevating manner, where it would be hidden from the young but understood and appreciated by adults.

Most of the Song consists of dialog between a man and a woman, and issues relating to their relationship. At first reading, the story seems somewhat strange and disjointed, rather like stream of consciousness writing. Another difficulty is that it is not always clear who the speaker is. This role switches back and forth between various individuals and groups, and it is not always possible to determine exactly who is speaking and who is being spoken to. But in most places this can be inferred from the context and content. For example, the line from chapter one, “may he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” is obviously the woman speaking about or to the man. After the figures of speech are understood, and the text is considered, the story flows and makes much more sense.

Many others have attempted to comment on the Song of Solomon and develop a structure for it. Some have seen it as a drama or a musical play, others as an extended allegory, but virtually all of the older commentaries treated the book in spiritual and metaphorical terms, in which the male in the story (“the beloved”) represents God or Christ, and the female represents either the nation of Israel or the church.

In contrast to these, the basis of my interpretation and commentary below is that the story is primarily an extended love and sex poem intended to provide guidance and advice for couples (a “romantic and sexual book of Proverbs” if you will), and it covers various stages and issues in a courtship and marriage relationship. It may well have secondary meanings with more theological overtones, but the primary meaning must be the main focus.

In addition to the differing interpretations of this book, there is also disagreement about the identity of the central male figure. The shepherd boy/man who is the “beloved” in the story is not identified. Many believe that that the male is Solomon himself, perhaps in an earlier and more innocent period of his life.

In my opinion, however, Solomon is not the lover of the woman in the story. He makes several appearances and perhaps tries to woo her in Song 1:4-2:7, Song 3:6-11, and Song 8:11. He flaunts his wealth and power, but she is in love with her “beloved” and remains true to him. Immediately after each mention of Solomon, the woman returns to contemplating her true lover and extolling his virtues. Therefore in this commentary, Solomon is not the male of the story and instead represents a competitor of the man who is the beloved.

The identity of the girl/woman in the story is equally veiled. There is only one reference that further identifies her—she is designated as a “Shulammite maiden” in Song 5:13. This word is the feminine form of “Solomon,” which comes from the Hebrew word “shalom,” meaning “peace.” Therefore, the woman may have been one of Solomon’s maidens from his court, but not necessarily one of his wives or concubines.

Some have suggested that the woman in the story was Abishag, who was a beautiful Shunammite maiden (from the town of Shunem in the Galilee region). Perhaps the use of “Shulammite” to describe the woman was a play on words with “Shunammite.” Abishag became King David’s nurse and servant in the king’s old age, but not his sexual partner. She became further involved in royal politics after the death of King David, and it is possible that the background for the Song was Abishag’s subsequent love for a man other than Solomon.

Near the end of David’s life, Solomon’s brother Adonijah had attempted to be crowned as king, but he had not received his father David’s blessing. Adonijah organized a coronation party for himself, but his party was rudely interrupted by the shouts of another gathering hosted by King David to crown Solomon as king. All of Adonijah’s guests slunk away in fear and embarrassment. Adonijah later stupidly compounded his error by asking Solomon for permission to marry Abishag, the former royal nurse. A marriage to Abishag, who was a royal “concubine,” would have brought Adonijah closer the throne, and reflected his frustration that he did not receive the royal mantle from his father.

Solomon forgave Adonijah for his first indiscretion in attempting a premature coronation, but not the second one of asking to marry Abishag. Solomon had seen his half-brother Absalom almost overthrow their father David’s kingdom, and he was not about to allow such a thing to happen again. Therefore, he ordered that Adonijah be killed.

There is no further mention of Abishag after the incident with Adonijah, but she may well have married another man. In his later years, Solomon was perhaps fascinated with Abishag’s love for this man and her rejection of the wealth and influence that could have accrued to her if she had been his wife/concubine and stayed in his court. Perhaps he was feeling jaded with all of his women—Song 5:8 indicates that he had sixty wives and eighty concubines at the time. In any case, if Abishag had married a man other than Solomon and was happy with him, Solomon could have been inspired by and used that relationship as the foundation for the story when he wrote it.

Some may ask, why would Solomon, the great king and expert on romance and sex and one of the wisest men who have ever lived, write a song/poem in which he was not “the beloved” and the central male figure? The answer lays, or may lay, in considering his life and his other writings, especially the book of Ecclesiastes, which he probably wrote near the end of his life. Ecclesiastes has an overall tone of despair and regret. Solomon was a man who had seen it all, done it all, and still wasn’t satisfied; the book explores his reaction, as well as providing clues to understanding the Song:

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” What advantage does man have in all his work that he does under the sun?

A generation comes and a generation goes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.

I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had home-born slaves. I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.

Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:1-8, 2:1-11

Solomon was distressed that he could not “get any satisfaction,” and his frustration was compounded by the fact that even though he had more resources than anyone else before or after him, he still wasn’t happy. What else could he do? Once he had taken all of those women as wives and/or lovers, and had children by them, he was trapped by his own pride and libido. Despite his incredible wealth and power, like everyone else, he was stuck with the family he had, and with the situation which he himself had created.

As he considered his life, Solomon seems to have regretted some of his decisions, particularly concerning women, marriage, children and parenting. He had a huge harem, which is a common male fantasy—what could be better for a man than having many hot and nubile women who are all eager to be his love and sex slaves? From 10,000 feet this would seem to be the ideal life, but the reality was quite different. The Bible doesn’t give us any details, but based on what we know about other harems of history, Solomon had all of the same distressing and unresolvable problems: vicious cattiness, intense competition, lack of love, and high levels of jealousy and political maneuvering covered by deception. Often this led to civil wars and other forms of conflict between the progeny of the women, with the Biblical story of Absalom and Amnon discussed below (both of whom were Solomon’s brothers) serving as a powerful example. Many of Solomon’s wives were political marriages from surrounding areas and came as part of treaties and peace agreements. Thus, they had little or no loyalty to Solomon, and possibly some were never able to sleep with him or even see him. These women were like birds in gilded cages, admired from a distance, but up close they were bitter and felt betrayed.

One of the most significant verses in Ecclesiastes is in the last chapter, where Solomon says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come; when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them,’ and when the clouds return after the rain.” Solomon undoubtedly wrote these words from a deep sense of personal crisis and failure – he was supposedly the wisest man on earth, but had failed with his own family. The crises are not identified, but they were probably a combination of the intractable political, familial, and marital problems that took place at the end of his life, when he had the least amount of energy to deal with them — when the clouds returned after the rain. As Rose Kennedy said, “If you screw up your family, then not much else matters.”

For all of his sexual variety, Solomon apparently did not have a woman who truly loved and cared about him, and therefore sex may have been purely copulation, where the relational elements—love, affection, and devotion—were entirely missing. Thus, he may well have written the Song as a catharsis, as the realization dawned on him after he had already married a number of women, that this was not the best way to live.

In my opinion, the unidentified male in The Song is “every man” and the female is “every woman.” Looking at the book from this perspective, Solomon was trying to help people avoid the problems that he had experienced, and to provide wisdom and counsel as to how best to carry on a marital and sexual relationship for both male and female.

Sex has always been a subject of intense interest, but in contemporary society where it is used to sell many things, it is often thought of as being cheap, crass, shameful, trashy and mercenary. But the intent here is for a romantic and sexual relationship that is high and holy in addition to being intensely erotic. Is such a thing possible? It is my contention that this was God’s intention from the beginning, and that the Song of Solomon was written to tell us how to achieve it. See the paragraphs below for more information on The Song: Authorship of the Song of Solomon, The Life and Times of Solomon, and Secondary and Hidden Meanings in the Song of Solomon, as well as the following internet resource: The Redemption of Eroticism

Individuals involved in the story

The Woman – the Shulammite maiden/girl/woman.

The Man – the shepherd boy/man.

King Solomon.

The Daughters of Jerusalem or Zion – a group of other maidens/women, perhaps maids of the king, or his wives and concubines.

Other groups (soldiers, citizens, queens, concubines, villagers, and guests).

Meaning of various terms used in the story

Beloved – the man in the story.

Come in to – sexual intercourse.

Embrace – the man caressing and hugging the woman, and possibly penetrating her.

Fountain, Spring, Well, and Water – the woman and her body, referring to her capability to refresh and renew a man.

Fruit – yield, benefits, and food; “choice fruits” means satisfaction, including sexual satisfaction.

Garden – the woman’s body, referring to the fact that she is beautiful, pleasant, and possessed by the man.

Gazelle or Young Stag – A virile male buck who chases down and ruts with a doe, and a symbol for the male.

Hind or Doe – A female deer, and symbol for the female.

Little Foxes – problems, issues, and temptations that over time destroy a relationship.

Love – in the context of this story this may mean sex, but probably refers to the total romantic and sexual relationship of the couple.

Mountains and Hill – the high points on a woman’s body when she is lying on her back, i.e., her breasts and mons.

Vineyard – the woman and her body, referring to her capability to satisfy a man in various ways.

Wine – the actual drink as well as a symbol of total romantic/sexual satisfaction and fulfillment.

The above terms have obvious meanings when the text is considered. But other terms are less definitive and may not necessarily apply in the exactly the same way every time they are used. Furthermore, some terms may be meant in a literal rather than a figurative sense, and we have no definite way of knowing which one the author intended (perhaps Solomon was being deliberately coy). For example, the woman says at one point, “Sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.” The “raisin cakes” and “apples” could refer to the literal foods, to a specific romantic or sexual activity, or both. The following list consists of speculative terms in the story, and possible meanings for them.

Aloes – a spice, meaning unclear.

Apples – possibly a reference to the male or the male member.

Balsam – an ingredient in anointing oil, or possibly semen.

Calamus – a spice, meaning unclear.

Cinnamon – a spice, meaning unclear.

Doves – a reference to the woman’s eyes, perhaps fluttering eyelashes like the wings of a dove.

Figs and Fig Tree – meaning unclear.

Frankincense – a spice, meaning unclear.

Henna Blossoms – unclear, although women often used henna to decorate themselves both for beauty as well as for erotic enticement.

Hill of Frankincense – probably the woman’s mons.

Honeycomb and Honey – sweetness, meaning unclear.

Lebanon – possibly fertility.

Lily of the Valley—a common flower of the field, and may also refer to a crocus, meaning unclear.

Lovesick – possibly aflame with sexual passion.

Mountains of Myrrh – probably the woman’s breasts.

Myrrh – a spice; this word is used fairly often without a clear-cut meaning that can be applied to all instances. In some places it may refer to semen.

Nard and nard plants – a spice, meaning unclear.

Oils and Purified Oil – meaning unclear, although it may refer to the man or woman anointing the other in a romantic/sexual way.

Pomegranate – possibly a symbol of female fertility and/or male virility.

Raisin Cakes – meaning unclear.

Rose of Sharon – a flower from the coastal regions of Israel, meaning unclear.

Saffron – a spice, meaning unclear.

The Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon, painting by He Qi

The Song of Solomon

Chapter One

1:1 The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

The best Song of all the ones that Solomon wrote or collected (he supposedly wrote 1,005 songs and perhaps selected this as the best one to include with his other wisdom writings of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes).

1:2 “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!

The woman expresses her desire to her beloved to kiss her passionately. She may at this point be in the tents or the camp of Solomon, who has taken an interest in her, and she is dreaming of her man.

For your love is better than wine.”

She tells him or says of him, “Having a love relationship with you (probably also romance and sex) is better than anything else.”

1:3 “Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, your name is like purified oil; therefore the maidens love you.”

The woman compliments her beloved’s appearance and heritage, and tells him that other women are attracted to him also.

1:4 “Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers.”

Solomon is also attracted to the woman and has brought her into his tent to consider adding her to his harem. But the woman is more interested in her true love, and expresses a desire for him to lead her and run away together.

“We will rejoice in you and be glad; we will extol your love more than wine. Rightly do they love you.”

The chorus (the daughters of Jerusalem) praises the beloved and his love for the woman (perhaps as opposed to Solomon’s lust for the woman).

1:5 “I am black but lovely,

The woman reflects on her own appearance. It doesn’t make any difference what her skin color is. As a girl, she could be black, white, or any other color, but she is still beautiful and desirable.

O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar,

She could be dark-colored (the “tents of Kedar” were made from the hair of black goats).

Like the curtains of Solomon.”

Or she could be a variety of other colors and shades.

1:6 “Do not stare at me because I am swarthy,

White or light-colored women were usually valued more highly than dark-colored ones.

For the sun has burned me.

I have been outside too much without any covering (perhaps meaning that I have been working in the fields or have been too careless with my appearance and femininity).

My mother’s sons were angry with me;

Her brothers were angry that she didn’t take better care of her appearance. Family members would try to protect their daughters and sisters, and look out for them.

They made me caretaker of the vineyards,

So her brothers disciplined her and gave her other responsibilities. Perhaps the responsibilities are caring for or serving other women (vineyard=woman), so that she would learn beauty and femininity from them.

But I have not taken care of my own vineyard.”

And therefore she has not been able to take care of her own body and beauty as well as she should have.

1:7 “Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where do you pasture your flock, where do you make it lie down at noon? For why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?”

The man is a shepherd, and the woman wants to know where he is during the middle of the day (during the rest period) when no one else is around him. Then she can take her veil off and show him her face, and they can be more intimate with each other (women at that time would veil themselves in the presence of male strangers). She wants to spend time with him, rather than just watch him from a distance and from a crowd of others.

1:8 “If you yourself do not know, most beautiful among women, go forth on the trail of the flock and pasture your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.”

The man (or possibly the chorus) compliments the woman and tells her that she can easily find him – just follow the trail. If the woman doesn’t find him, then he will be able to find her.

1:9 “To me, my darling, you are like my mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.”

Solomon or the man tells her, “you are my woman and you belong to me, even in the midst of all of the other women.” Another possibility is that he tells her that she is like a mare running loose in a group of stallions and being chased by them, and he is attracted by the thought of chasing and capturing her in the same way.

1:10 “Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.”

The man (or Solomon) compliments the woman’s jewelry.

1:11 “We will make for you ornaments of gold with beads of silver.”

The chorus tells her that they can make more jewelry for her. Perhaps the woman will wear erotic jewelry to please her beloved.

1:12 “While the king was at his table, my perfume gave forth its fragrance.”

The woman is sitting at the table with Solomon and was sexually attractive to him because of her scent and her manner.

1:13 “My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh which lies all night between my breasts.”

The woman thinks of her man or tells him or that she would enjoy embracing and possibly making love to him all night. Perhaps she is thinking this when she is in Solomon’s tent, and this is what causes her to appear seductive and attractive to Solomon as well.

1:14 “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.”

The woman indicated that that her beloved is like refreshment in the dessert (like flowers in an oasis). Engedi was a remote oasis, so perhaps this is alluding to getting away to a private place for romance. The reference to “henna blossoms” may also refer to the custom of women decorating their hands and feet with henna for her man’s pleasure as the women (the vineyards) do in Engedi.

1:15 “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves.”

The man tells the woman that she is extraordinarily beautiful. Both the man and woman repeatedly compliment each other throughout The Song, emphasizing the important of frequently verbal blessings—telling your partner how beautiful and special they are, and using words to build your partner up. The one receiving the compliment is thus encouraged to become beautiful and special.

1:16 “How handsome you are, my beloved, and so pleasant!

The woman compliments her man’s appearance and his manner with her.

Indeed, our couch is luxuriant!”

The woman tells her man how lovely their bed is and how ideal it is for love and romance; she could also be referring to how wonderful their relationship is.

1:17 “The beams of our houses are cedars, our rafters, cypresses.”

The woman expresses appreciation for the house that her man has built or will build for her and the materials used to make it. She may be contemplating their life together in the future. Alternatively, this may represent the wealth of Solomon that the man will one day inherit or become one with.

Chapter Two

2:1 “I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.”

The woman indicates that she considers herself to be so beautiful and attractive that she herself is a flower. She expresses self-confidence in her own attractiveness, in her femininity, and in her worth as a feminine woman.

2:2 “Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens.”

The man (or Solomon) tells the woman that she is much more beautiful and attractive to him than other women.

2:3 “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,

The woman indicates that her man (in contrast to other men) “bears fruit,” i.e., is lovely, attractive, and profitable in contrast to other men (other trees) who are not fruit bearing. A fruit tree in a forest would be rare and would stand out and be obvious.

So is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down,

The woman feels protected and sheltered by his love and possibly enjoys being under him in a relational and sexual sense.

And his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

She enjoys the benefits of what her man produces for her.

2:4 “He has brought me to his banquet hall,

The man prepares a banquet for the woman (i.e., an entire life or relationship and not just one simple piece of fruit), or perhaps the man builds a house for the woman where they will feast together. Alternatively, she may be in Solomon’s banquet hall, but thinking instead of her true lover, or perhaps that the true lover will one day become Solomon, and have Solomon’s wealth and power.

And his banner over me is love.”

She enjoys belonging to the man; taking his name and his identity and surrendering her own. This is a powerful phrase, because in seven words it summarizes the concepts of male possession of the woman tempered by love and care, as well as her desire to be possessed in love.

2:5 “Sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, because I am lovesick.”

The woman indicates that she is longing for the man in either a romantic or a sexual way. The “raisin cakes” and “apples” may have a specific romantic or sexual meaning, or may simply refer to the woman’s desire for food to sustain her and her excitement as she contemplates his love for her.

2:6 “Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me.”

The woman indicates that she wants to be lying down with her man’s left hand under her head and his right hand caressing and fondling her.

2:7 “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you do not arouse or awaken my love until she pleases.”

Physical union should be entered into only when the pair is ready to be responsible for their union. When a gazelle (male) takes a hind (female) they will produce offspring, and so a couple must not have intercourse until they are ready for the associated responsibilities of relationship and parenting.

2:8 “Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills!”

The woman hears her man coming and anticipates him searching for her until he finds her. Perhaps he is pursuing/chasing her, or she may simply be anticipating his homecoming.

2:9 “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag

The woman indicates that her man is virile and strong, and that he desires to have her.

Behold, he is standing behind our wall, he is looking through the windows, he is peering through the lattice.”

The man is interested in her, comes to see her, and is wants to see what she is doing. This may refer to his desire to understand her mind and know what she is interested in, and/or him wanting her to follow him and to be caught up with his desires – to be inside her.

2:10 “My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.’”

The man leads the woman and makes plans to be together and do things with her. This may include plans for their wedding.

2:11 “For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.”

The man indicates that it is time to get out, build, do things.

2:12 “The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.”

The man indicates that the flowers are blooming, and it’s time to get out and see them. “Pruning the vines” may be a reference to caring for their current financial needs, making sure that they are prepared for the future, or perhaps an in-depth consideration of their relationship (in preparation for marriage?). The “voice of the turtledove” is the singing of birds, and may be a reference to their wedding.

2:13 “The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!”

The man indicates that they should go out and enjoy themselves, and he desires to lead her in an exciting romantic and sexual relationship. The “vines in blossom” may be a reference to her body and its loveliness, and a call to marriage. However, the marriage ceremony itself is not described.

2:14 “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway, let me see your form, let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely.”

The man indicates that when they are alone in a “secret place” that he wants the woman to undress for him and show him her body and perhaps for her to tell him that she belongs to him. This may be a reference to their honeymoon.

2:15 “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”

The man (or perhaps the woman) indicates they need to eliminate and/or deal with the little irritations and problems that over time can destroy a relationship, so that the vineyards – plural (i.e., possibly the lives of both the man and the woman) will continue to bloom and be attractive.

2:16 “My beloved is mine, and I am his;

The woman indicates that he belongs to her and she belongs to him. This probably means that they are now married.

He pastures his flock among the lilies.”

The woman indicates that the man kisses and intimately caresses her on an ongoing basis and maintains the love relationship through the normal daily events. “Pasturing his flock among the lilies” could refer to some form of sexual caress. On the other hand, this could mean that after the honeymoon, the man now returns to his occupation, and their life flows back into normal channels.

2:17 “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.”

The woman indicates that she wants her man to take her like a stag would take a doe. She wants him to make love to her all night, until it starts getting light outside. Thus she may be stating a desire for their romantic and sexual activities to continue and grow stronger after the initial excitement of the marriage is over, and married life has begun (perhaps by making love all night rather than just for a brief time).

The “mountains of Bether” are rolling hills southwest of Jerusalem and refer to the woman’s breasts and/or body, and the stag (the man) mounting it.

Chapter Three

3:1 “On my bed night after night I sought him whom my soul loves. I sought him but did not find him.”

The woman wanted her man for both companionship and sex. Perhaps he is spending a lot of time away from her and she wants him back again.

3:2 “I must arise now and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares. I must seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him but did not find him.”

The woman looks everywhere for him.

3:3 “The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, and I said, “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”

The woman asks other people if they have seen her man.

3:4 “Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held on to him and would not let him go

The woman is desperately in love with her man.

Until I had brought him to my mother’s house,

She brings him home to meet her mother because she is so proud of him.

And into the room of her who conceived me.”

The woman wants her mother’s blessing on their relationship, perhaps so that she also will conceive children by her man, and so that she herself will become a mother.

3:5 “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you will not arouse or awaken my love until she pleases.”

Physical union and marriage should be entered into only when the pair is ready to be responsible for their union. When a gazelle (male) takes a hind (female) they will produce offspring, and so a couple must not have intercourse until they are ready for parenthood.

3:6 “What is this coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all scented powders of the merchant?”

Contrast is made here and later with the wealth of Solomon vis-à-vis the simpler lifestyle of the man and his woman, but that the latter are wealthy in a way that Solomon is not and perhaps never can be, because of the depth of their relationship.

3:7 “Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon. Sixty mighty men are around it, of the mighty men of Israel.”
3:8 “All of them are wielders of the sword, expert in war. Each man has his sword at his side, guarding against the terrors of the night.”

Solomon’s guard is necessary because he has so much treasure and so much to lose. In contrast, the man and woman don’t need that kind of expensive protection because the most valuable thing they have is their love and relationship, and no one can take that away from them.

3:9 “King Solomon has made for himself a sedan chair from the timber of Lebanon.”
3:10 “He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, and its seat of purple fabric, with its interior lovingly fitted out by the daughters of Jerusalem.”

More details on all of the expensive accoutrements that Solomon has. The reference to his fancy couch may be in contrast to the simpler couch that the woman mentions in 1:16 above. Solomon’s couches where he would make love to his women were much fancier than the man and woman could ever afford. Alternatively, this could be seen as what the man (the beloved) will eventually become or inherit.

3:11 “Go forth, O daughters of Zion, and gaze on King Solomon with the crown with which his mother has crowned him on the day of his wedding, and on the day of his gladness of heart.”

Solomon had many weddings. He eventually collected seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Perhaps the idea here is to tell people (i.e., “the daughters of Zion”) to carefully compare Solomon’s happiness and “gladness of heart” with that of the man and woman in the story, and then choose for themselves that which is better.

Chapter Four

4:1 “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are!

The man again admires the woman’s beauty, encouraging her to be beautiful for him.

Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;

The man enjoys seeing his woman veiled – the veil causes him to focus on her eyes and to imagine what the rest of her looks like.

Your hair is like a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead.”

The woman’s hair is very long – all the way down her back. Also, the woman has her hair down, which would be a reference to her sexual availability and desire to make love to him.

4:2 “Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes which have come up from their washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young.”

The man compliments the woman on her beautiful, white, and healthy teeth – none of them are missing. He even includes a sexual reference when complimenting her teeth.

4:3 “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely

The man compliments the woman on her lips which are reddened with some form of ancient lipstick, as well as her lovely mouth for kissing and caressing.

Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate

The woman is, perhaps, blushing behind her veil at this frank and erotic description of her body.

Behind your veil.”

The man compliments the woman’s face behind her veil which he can’t see and is therefore hidden and mysteriously attractive.

4:4 “Your neck is like the tower of David, built with rows of stones on which are hung a thousand shields, all the round shields of the mighty men.”

The shields indicate coins and jewelry that the woman is wearing representing her dowry, and that she belongs to the man. She may be nude and wearing only a veil and jewelry for his pleasure, because in the following verses he compliments her breasts, and then indicates that he will make love to her.

4:5 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies.”

The woman is probably nude at this point and the man indicates that the woman’s breasts and are for his pleasure (he is the gazelle) as well as possibly for nursing the children (fawns) that they will have.

4:6 “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.

The man indicates that he will “go his way” on the woman, on her breasts (the mountain of myrrh), and her mons (the hill of frankincense). He indicates that he will make love to her all night until the morning comes.

4:7 “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you.”

The man indicates that the woman’s body is totally beautiful and lovely.

4:8 “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, may you come with me from Lebanon

Lebanon may be a metaphor for fertility.

Journey down from the summit of Amana, from the summit of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.”

The meaning of this is unclear, but may mean that the man wants the woman to travel with him and to have some type of experience together, which could be romantic/sexual adventures or games that they play. The four references to “mountains” may also refer to sexual exploration of her body.

4:9 “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.”

The man indicates that he is aroused by the woman, by the way she looks at him and wears her jewelry. He appreciates how she makes herself sexually attractive and available to him. The “sister” and “bride” refers to the fact that the woman is both his companion as well as his wife and sex partner (perhaps sex object).

4:10 “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!

The man is smitten with the woman’s beauty, and perhaps with the depth of her sexual surrender to him. He compliments her on their wonderful romantic and sexual relationship and what a lovely companion she is. See 4:9 for a description of the “sister and bride” references.

How much better is your love than wine,

The man indicates that love, romance, and physical union with her is better than anything else.

And the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices!”

The man indicates that the charms of his woman are better than all other women and their attractions.

4:11 “Your lips, my bride, drip honey;

The man indicates that he loves kissing the woman and sucking her lips.

Honey and milk are under your tongue,

The man indicates that he enjoys deep kisses and exploring her mouth with his tongue.

And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.”

Perhaps this means that her garments are perfumed and smell fresh like the cedars of Lebanon. However, if Lebanon is a reference to fertility, perhaps he is saying that the perfumes on her garments remind him of their sexual encounters.

4:12 “A garden locked is my sister, my bride,

The man indicates that the woman’s sexual favors are only available to him, that he is her sole partner. See 4:9 for a description of the “sister and bride” references.

A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.”

The man indicates that he is the only one who can enjoy the garden of the woman’s body and be sexually refreshed from her spring. She is reserved for him.

4:13 “Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, henna with nard plants,”

The man indicates that the woman’s body is sweet to possess and partake of and that she is a source of great sensual pleasure. The reference to pomegranates could indicate that the woman is fertile, and the reference to henna could mean that she had decorated her hands and/or feet for him.

4:14 “Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense. Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.”

The man celebrates the woman’s sexually intoxicating appearance and aroma.

4:15 “You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon.”

The man indicates that the woman is his “water of life” and the source of sexual refreshment. The water is both flowing (a stream), and still (a well) possibly meaning that the woman is both sexually active and passive in this experience. The “streams from Lebanon” may refer to the fact that the source of sexual refreshment is also related to fertility and the conception of children.

4:16 “Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south. Make my garden breathe out fragrance,

The woman wants to employ everything she can to make herself and her body attractive to the man. In other words, she uses her creativity to make herself sexually appealing and desirable, so that her body “breathes out fragrance” for him.

Let its spices be wafted abroad

She wants to make sure that he senses her efforts.

May my beloved come into his garden

The woman identifies her body as belonging to the man (she is the garden, and the garden belongs to him), so that her beauty and body are for his benefit.

And eat its choice fruits!”

The woman wants the man to take her fully and enjoy every aspect of her body and sexuality, and their relationship.

Chapter Five

5:1 “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;

The man has penetrated the woman and taken possession of her. But here again the man balances his taking of her body and her belonging to him (his garden), with the relational and partnership aspects of the marriage (his sister and bride).

I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam

Myrrh and balsam were ingredients used in preparing anointing oil. This may mean that the man has “anointed” the woman’s womb.

I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.”

The man states that he has been fully satisfied with the sexual experiences and has enjoyed her body to the fullest. The references to honeycomb, honey, wine and milk are unclear, but may represent the totality of her sweetness and his satisfaction, and may possibly indicate that he has impregnated her.

“Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”

God encourages both the man and the woman to enjoy each other and make full use of the sexual aspects of their relationship. This verse is at the central point—the high point of the story.

5:2 “I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking:

The woman is asleep, but her man is awake and trying to get her attention.

‘Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my perfect one!

He may be outside the house, knocking on the door and wanting to be let it, and/or this may be a metaphor for him wanting to enter the woman and asking her to sexually surrender to him.

For my head is drenched with dew, my locks with the damp of the night.’

The man is outside the house and has been drenched with dew, but alternatively this may mean that he is sexually aroused.

5:3 “I have taken off my dress, how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet, how can I dirty them again?”

The woman is already in bed and asleep and doesn’t want to get up to let him in. This is a metaphor for her not wanting to surrender to the man, making excuses, and pushing him away. It may well be a reference to an ongoing and persistent problem with the couple which threatens to drive them apart, as later verses would seem to indicate. The following section alludes to a common problem in marriage where the man wants sex more than the woman does.

5:4 “My beloved extended his hand through the opening, and my feelings were aroused for him.”

The man is outside the door trying to open the lock – a metaphor for caressing the woman and penetrating her with his fingers; eventually the woman is aroused by his actions.

5:5 “I arose to open to my beloved;

The woman finally gets up and lets her husband in the house – she prepares to surrender.

And my hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.”

She works the lock of the door to try to open it. She may have perfume on her hands, or the liquid myrrh may be a metaphor for caressing his member.

5:6 “I opened to my beloved,

The woman opens the door to him, i.e., she sexually surrenders herself.

But my beloved had turned away and had gone!

The woman had initially rejected the man, and had taken so long to come around that the man had interpreted her lack of interest as rejection of him and had left her (or at least had left the bed).

My heart went out to him as he spoke

The woman did not mean to reject the man.

I searched for him but I did not find him;

But the man has gone.

I called him but he did not answer me.”

The man feels that the woman has rejected him and has left her (physically and/or psychologically). The woman calls the man to return and possess her again, but he doesn’t respond.

5:7 “The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, they struck me and wounded me;

Others (or perhaps the woman’s own conscience) discipline the woman and instruct her that she should have made herself available to her man.

The guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me.”

Perhaps a reference to the woman’s feeling that she should have removed her clothes for the man rather than pushing him away.

5:8 “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, as to what you will tell him: for I am lovesick.”

The woman wants to let the man know that she still loves him and wants him to have her. She involves other people in finding her man and helping to restore their relationship.

5:9 “What kind of beloved is your beloved, O most beautiful among women? What kind of beloved is your beloved, that thus you adjure us?”

The other people that she talks to (perhaps her girlfriends) are concerned about the woman and want to know if the man really loves her, or is just using her.

5:10 “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.”

The woman tells the others that her man is both handsome and wonderful.

5:11 “His head is like gold, pure gold;

This may be a reference to his facial appearance, or the woman may be indicating that the man has a good head on his shoulders; that he thinks and plans for them and has created a lovely environment for them to live in.

His locks are like clusters of dates, and black as a raven.”

The woman indicates that the man has nice looking hair.

5:12 “His eyes are like doves beside streams of water. Bathed in milk, and reposed in their setting.”

The woman indicates that her man’s eyes are calm and that he is not violent or abusive.

5:13 “His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, banks of sweet-scented herbs. His lips are lilies dripping with liquid myrrh.”

She indicates that her man is a good lover and kisser, and may indicate that he doesn’t have bad breath (myrrh was an ancient remedy for breath problems).

5:14 “His hands are rods of gold set with beryl; his abdomen is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires.”

She indicates that her man is valuable, and possibly indicates that he is strong and in shape.

5:15 “His legs are pillars of alabaster set on pedestals of pure gold; his appearance is like the choice cedars of Lebanon.”

She indicates that her man has a noble and attractive appearance and demeanor.

5:16 “His mouth is full of sweetness

She indicates that her man says nice things to her.

And he is wholly desirable.

She indicates that she loves all of his aspects.

This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

The woman indicates that she wants her man both as a husband, lover, and as a companion. That is the kind of man he is (i.e., he wants her for a relationship and not just for sex). This extended series of flattering descriptions of the man that the woman makes to her girlfriends are another indication of the value of positive communication.

Chapter Six

6:1 “Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?”

The others ask the woman where her man could be found, how they could be restored, and where he wants the relationship to go.

6:2 “My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of balsam, to pasture his flock in the gardens and gather lilies.”

The woman indicates that her beloved has returned to her (to his garden).

6:3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, he who pastures his flock among the lilies.”

The woman indicates that they still belong to each other and will restore all aspects of their relationship. The meaning of the phrase “pasture his flock among the lilies” is unclear, but may mean that the man has resumed sexual activities with the woman.

6:4 “You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling, as lovely as Jerusalem, as awesome as an army with banners.”

The man returns to the woman and again begins to reflect on her beauty and her character. The references to the cities of Tirzah (meaning “delight”) and Jerusalem may mean that the man considers the woman as his “city” and his “territory.”

6:5 “Turn your eyes away from me, for they have confused me;

The man indicates that the woman is bewitching him with her loveliness by making eyes at him.

Your hair is like a flock of goats that have descended from Gilead.”

The man indicates that he loves the woman’s long hair that runs all the way down her back. Many of the following comments and compliments by the man are repeated from before, and the implication is that he is rededicating himself to pursuing and possessing her as his original wife, and to renewing their romance and sexual relationship.

6:6 “Your teeth are like a flock of ewes which have come up from their washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young.”

The man again compliments the woman on her beautiful, white, and healthy teeth – none of them are missing.

6:7 “Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate behind your veil.”

The man again compliments the woman’s face behind her veil which he can’t see and is therefore hidden and attractive.

6:8 “There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number;”

This may be the number of wives and concubines that Solomon had when the story was written.

6:9 “But my dove, my perfect one, is unique: she is her mother’s only daughter. She is the pure child of the one who bore her. The maidens saw her and called her blessed, the queens and the concubines also, and they praised her, saying,”

The man indicates that there are many other attractive women that he could have had. But he has chosen his woman, and that she is the one who will truly belong to him.

6:10 “Who is this that grows like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun, as awesome as an army with banners?”

It is unclear who is speaking here. It may be man who is impressed with how the woman has grown throughout their relationship, in beauty, sexual attractiveness, wisdom, and strength. Alternatively, this could be the woman admiring her man, and amazed at how he has matured into her lover and leader. The fact that it is unclear may mean that it applies to both man and woman.

6:11 “I went down to the orchard of nut trees to see the blossoms of the valley. To see whether the vine had budded or the pomegranates had bloomed.”

These three sets of verses are obscure, but may indicate the following: the man indicates that he had gone to check out other women (the orchard of nut trees, and the blossoms of the valley) because he has been disappointed in his wife. This is the common problem and complaint of women that men are not faithful, or as faithful as they should be.

6:12 “Before I was aware, my soul set me over the chariots of my noble people.”

The man indicates that during this process or evaluating other women that he had imagined himself as possessing a number of them. “Before he was aware” indicates how quickly his mind had gone off in pursuit of other women, and how easy it would be for him to fall into that trap if he does not exercise self-control.

6:13 “Come back, come back, O Shulammite; come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!” “Why should you gaze at the Shulammite, as at the dance of the two companies?”

The others encourage the woman to return to her man, and man decides that what he really wants is his original woman. The question about “gazing at the Shulammite as at the dance of the two companies” may be a rhetorical question and be restated as “why should you look at your own woman when there are so many others who will dance and present themselves to you?” The answer is that the man’s original woman will be better for him not only from the standpoint of doing the right thing, but also because she will be a better partner because they have already established trust.

Chapter Seven

7:1 “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter!

The man reappraises his wife and begins to compliment her body again. He likes her feet and enjoys seeing them bare. The woman is probably nude (dressed only in sandals?) or wearing diaphanous/transparent clothing here, as shown below.

The curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an artist.”

The man compliments the woman’s hips and feminine shape.

7:2 “Your navel is like a round goblet which never lacks mixed wine;

This may be a reference to her navel or to her vulva/vagina, and the sweetness of caressing and entering it.

Your belly is like a heap of wheat

The meaning here in unclear, but it may mean that the man admires the woman’s pubic hair.

Fenced about with lilies.”

A reference to her legs or hips.

7:3 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.”

The man repeats his earlier compliment about the woman’s breasts, and indicates that they and are for his pleasure (he is the gazelle) as well as possibly for nursing the children (fawns) that they will have.

7:4 “Your neck is like a tower of ivory, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon, which faces toward Damascus.”

The man compliments the woman’s white neck, her deep eyes, and her lovely nose.

7:5 “Your head crowns you like Carmel, and the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads; the king is captivated by your tresses.”

The man indicates that the woman’s hair is so long and beautiful that she would captivate any man.

7:6 “How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms!”

The man indicates that he is totally delighted with the woman’s body.

7:7 “Your stature is like a palm tree,

The man indicates that the woman’s body was made to be climbed and mounted by him.

And your breasts are like its clusters.”

He will grab and hold her breasts like a cluster of dates.

7:8 “I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree,

The man states that he will climb on top of his woman.

I will take hold of its fruit stalks.’

He will take hold of the woman, possibly by her breasts.

Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,

The man wants the woman’s nipples to be enlarged like ripe juicy grapes.

7:9 “And the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!”

The man wants to kiss her deeply and repeatedly.

“It goes down smoothly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep.”

The woman indicates that she is ready for the man to take her in whatever way is pleasing to him, and that they will make love and fall asleep together.

7:10 “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.

The woman indicates that she now truly belongs to the man, and that his desire to possess and love her has been renewed. In Song 2:16 she states “My beloved is mine and I am his,” placing her desire before his. In Song 6:3 she states “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” placing his desire before hers. Here she states “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me,” indicating that she has fully surrendered. In other words, there is a progression in her thinking throughout the story. She begins with putting her own desires first (he is mine and I am his); then she moves to putting his desires first (I am his and he is mine); finally as they have come through rocky times and survived together and she has come to trust him more deeply, she can focus totally on him and his desire for her (I am his and his desire is for me).

7:11 “Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages.”

The man indicates that he wants to renew the adventures that he and the woman had experienced when they were first married.

7:12 “Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine has budded, and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.”

The man indicates that he wants to explore the woman’s body (his vineyard) and have intercourse with her in the morning as well as in the evening. This may be more than sexual activity and may refer to exploring new ways of maintaining romance and companionship together.

7:13 “The mandrakes have given forth fragrance; and over our doors are all choice fruits,

The woman indicates that she has been exploring new things as well, and has obtained various kinds and type of aphrodisiacs (mandrakes) to enhance their enjoyment of each other. The mandrakes may also refer to her creativity or for her desire for pregnancy and children.

Both new and old,

The woman indicates that she will apply her creativity to their relationship and lovemaking, and they now have many ways and techniques available to them, both old and new.

Which I have saved up for you, my beloved.

The woman indicates that she has dedicated herself to exploring, preserving, and refreshing him in the manifold ways that a woman can give herself to a man. The reference to the “choice fruits over their doors” may indicate a number of lovely elements of their relationship which they are already making use of and have been for some time.

Chapter Eight

8:1 “Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother’s breasts.

The woman wants the man for an intimate companionship, i.e., not just sex or romance.

If I found you outdoors, I would kiss you; no one would despise me, either.”

The woman wishes that she could kiss her man in public (like a sister and brother, as married couples in that society were not permitted to display affection in public).

8:2 “I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me;

The woman would bring her man back home again to her mother, who taught her how to be a wife and lover. Perhaps the woman desires to see if her mother has any additional advice for her in becoming a great wife.

I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.

The woman wants the man to have her and enjoy her in her parent’s home. Perhaps the thought here is that her parents have accepted him. The meaning of the “spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates” is unclear but possibly refers to a special treat the woman has for the man.

8:3 “Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me.”

The woman indicates that she wants to be lying down with her man’s left hand under her head and his right hand holding and caressing her.

8:4 “I want you to swear, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not arouse or awaken my love until she pleases.”

This may be a reference to the man to take the woman’s sexual desires into account as well as his own, and not forcing her.

8:5 “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?”

The woman depends on the man for a variety of things in life. “Coming up from the wilderness” may refer to growing up from childhood into maturity.

“Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth.”

“Being awakened beneath the apple tree” is probably a reference to their initial lovemaking. The man and woman may be reflecting on their life together beginning at birth and continuing down through the start of their relationship to the present.

8:6 “Put me like a seal over your heart,

The woman wants the man to dedicate himself and his heart totally to her.

Like a seal on your arm

The woman wants the man to dedicate his strength and/or commitment to her, possibly in a public and visible way.

For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol;

The woman indicates the consequences of infidelity, that once it occurs and trust is broken, it is impossible to reverse (i.e., it is like death and the grave).

Its flashes are flashes of fire,

The woman indicates that once jealousy starts, the fire starts to burn and it will eventually consume everything in their relationship.

The very flame of the Lord.”

The woman warns the man that he has made a vow and a commitment to her, and that God will judge him if he betrays her.

8:7 “Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it;

The woman indicates, however, that trials and problems cannot terminate love.

If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.”

The woman indicates that her love can never be bought, and that any attempt to do so would be scorned.

8:8 “We have a little sister, and she has no breasts;

The woman now becomes concerned for other members of her family, to make sure that they are aware of the lessons that she and her man have learned. A sister “with no breasts” is a girl who is not yet ready for marriage. This may be because she is too young, but in the context, it is more likely that the girl “has no breasts” because she is psychologically immature and doesn’t understand and/or appreciate the dynamics of male/female relationships.

What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?”

The woman wonders how the family will handle things when a man comes to ask for her hand in marriage. In that day families were concerned with protecting the virtue and future of their daughters and sisters.

8:9 “If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver;

If the sister is righteous (a wall) and waits for marriage before she gives her body to her husband, then the family will honor and adorn her (build battlements of silver on top of what she already has).

But if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.”

If the sister is a loose woman and opens herself to many men (a door), then the family will restrict her and keep her at home and under control (barricade her with planks of cedar), until she learns.

8:10 “I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers. Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.”

The woman indicates that she was virtuous and married her man, and therefore her breasts (representing her sexuality) were employed in the right way. Therefore she and her husband together found peace in their relationship.

8:11 “Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon. He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers; each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

The vineyard at Baal-hamon is probably a reference to all of the women that Solomon had (he literally had extensive vineyards at Baal-hamon, which means “place of a multitude”), as well as to the impersonal nature of his relationship with his women. In a large harem the women are rarely seen by the man, and kept under the care of others (the caretakers). The women were there not because of love, but because of money and power, and because of strategic alliances that Solomon had entered into, such as he did with the daughter of Pharaoh; hence the reference of silver (money) for fruit (relationship and sexuality).

8:12 “My very own vineyard is at my disposal;

The woman indicates that she wants to keep her body and present it to her real lover and king – her own husband.

The thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit.”

The woman indicates that Solomon can keep his money, and that she has something better.

8:13 “O you who sit in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice–let me hear it!”

The woman asks that others couples (men who possess their women – their gardens), to speak up and let people know how male/female relationships should be conducted, so that she in not alone in giving this advice.

8:14 “Hurry, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.”

The woman ends this love poem with a plea to the man to hurry and sexually take her. Note that the reference here is to all of the spices, not just one or two. The idea may be that the woman is using all of the romantic, sexual, and wifely techniques that she has learned through the years to attract and please her husband.


Authorship of the Song of Solomon

We do not know exactly when this work was written or who its original audience was, although it was likely addressed to the Israelite nation at large. But it is fairly certain that The Song was written by King Solomon himself, the greatest and most powerful king in Israel’s history. Following are evidences for this:

  • The book opens with a statement of authorship—“the Song of Songs which is Solomon’s” meaning that he wrote it and that it was his best song.
  • Solomon also wrote Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are classed as “wisdom literature.” The book of Proverbs also contains the writings of others authors: King Hezekiah (ca. 715-687 BC), a descendent of Solomon, commissioned a man to collect Solomonic proverbs for chapters 25-29; a man named Agur was the author of chapter 30; and a man named Lemuel authored chapter 31. Solomon may also have used other sources in addition to writing proverbs of his own, but there is no reason to doubt Solomon’s authorship of chapters 1-24. A careful reading of the Song would conclude that it is of the same genre as Proverbs, albeit in poetic form, as some of the same euphemisms used in the other Solomonic writings are also used here. For example, Proverbs 5:15-23 contains advice to young men, telling them to avoid prostitutes and the wives of other men, and have sex with their own wife instead:

My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding that you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and smoother than oil is her speech. But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, or you will give your vigor to others and your years to the cruel one. Strangers will be filled with your strength and your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien; and you groan at your final end, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and you say, “How I have hated instruction, and my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors! I was almost in utter ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?

The terms “water,” “cistern,” “well,” “spring,” “fountain,” “hind,” and “doe,” all of which refer to a woman and to her body in the Proverbs text above, are also used in The Song.

  • The Song generally comes from the Solomonic period in history and was included in all versions of the Torah, in the section known as “The Writings.” Some scholars have disputed Solomonic authorship for the wisdom writings, especially Ecclesiastes, citing linguistic anomalies. However, the dispute is not convincing enough to cause any serious doubt. All other factors, including evidence of authorship in the text itself, as well as long-standing Jewish tradition, points to Solomon being the main author/compiler of all three works.
  • The rabbinical opposition to a literal interpretation for the book, as described above, would also argue for its authorship by Solomon himself, who along with King David, his father and the author of most of the Psalms, were the two most highly respected kings in the history of Israel. If the book were written by a lesser figure or by an anonymous scribe, its acceptance into the canon of the Torah would then have been much less certain.

The Life and Times of Solomon

Solomon (ca. 1007-927 BC) was the king of Israel at the apex of the nations’ power, and the son of its best-loved ruler—King David (ca. 1085-1015 BC). Solomon had total supremacy, and his reign encompassed long periods of peace and prosperity lasting for 40 years (his name is from the Hebrew word “shalom” meaning “peace”). Reputedly, he was one of the wisest men who had ever lived, as well as one of the wealthiest—enormous quantities of gold came to him. He also had one of the largest harems of history—seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, and had a huge ego to match.

In contrast to his wealthy son, Solomon’s father David had rarely been secure in his rule, and his many enemies and difficulties had driven him to desperate prayer in order to seek God’s help. David had been humbled by his many suffering which in some cases were self-inflicted. The Psalms are a record of his intense search for God, and for a relationship with the Divine—no one before him in history, let alone a king of a nation, had ever expressed the hurts, pains, insecurities, and distresses that David poured out. Here are two examples from the Psalms:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest… I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax – it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, my tongue cleaves to my jaws, and you lay me in the dust of death… Yet you are he who brought me forth from the womb; you made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon you I was cast from birth, and you have been my God from my mother’s womb.
Psalm 22

O God, you are my God; I shall seek you earnestly. My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary, to observe your power and your glory. Because your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in your name.
Psalm 63

King David was also a talented musician and the national worship leader. He is the author of the 23rd Psalm, a statement of his dependence on God, and one of the best loved and most famous poems of all time. He was also deeply concerned for the poor and for the welfare of his people; his writings continually state the necessity for personal righteousness and social justice for those who would worship God and who would be leaders. This was almost unheard of for a ruler in antiquity. The following is from Psalms 10 and 41:

O Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.

How blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. The Lord will protect him and keep him alive, and he shall be called blessed upon the earth.

In contrast, Solomon grew up in a palace without having to face the trials of his father. Solomon began his reign in devotion to God, and by humbly asking for wisdom, possibly because his mother Bathsheba was not a queen or one of David’s royal wives. Rather, she was a wife of another man whom David had killed in order to have an affair with her, and Solomon was therefore a “love child”; much younger and less connected than his royal brothers. But after Solomon had a firm grip on power all fears and hesitation were forgotten. As his wealth and influence increased he became arrogant, self-absorbed, and distant from God. He debased the worship of Jehovah in order to allow all of his foreign women to retain their religious customs, for which he was strongly criticized. This also had the practical implication of requiring high taxes to support the royal court and the lavish lifestyle that Solomon demanded and provided to all of his women and their children. Like many absentee husbands, Solomon undoubtedly felt compelled to spend large amounts of money in order to buy peace in his house, and I Kings chapter 4 indicates how the entire economy of the country was focused on providing for Solomon’s court. Unlike his father David, none of Solomon’s writings (Psalm 72, Psalm 127, Proverbs 1-24, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon) express personal humility or longings for God. Rather they are all advice literature, written by a wise man who considered himself to be wise.

There is a cloak of silence over the end of Solomon’s reign, and the number of his children is not recorded, but with his many wives and concubines, the total certainly must have been huge. Each of his women would have attempted to protect and promote her own children, causing potentially intense and deadly conflict, as was the case in his father David’s succession.

The Bible extensively details such problems in the lives of David’s other children. Prior to the story of Adonijah discussed above, Amnon, David’s firstborn (the son of his wife Ahinoam) fell in lust with and eventually raped his half-sister Tamar, (daughter of David’s wife Maacah). When David failed to punish Amnon for the rape, Tamar’s brother Absalom took matters into his own hands and murdered his half-brother. Becoming estranged from his father David and encouraged by others with their own agendas, Absalom eventually led a revolt, almost seizing the kingdom in a power grab, but wound up hanging from a tree by his hair, and being run through with a sword.

If the last days of Solomon were anything like those of his father David, who had only eight wives in contrast to Solomon’s hundreds, the royal palace must have been a place of jealousy, power struggles, treachery, fear, greed, and hatred. The following words that Solomon wrote provide a hint of the relational problems that the king had to deal with:

And I discovered more bitter than death, the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are chains.
Ecclesiastes 7:26

In contrast to the many wives of David and Solomon, Saul, the first king of Israel, had only one wife, although he had concubines as well. Despite his other problems, Saul was apparently a good father, and all of his children were loyal to him. His son Jonathan, the heir to his throne, had a deep friendship with David, his father’s rival. But in spite of Saul’s hatred toward David and his severe criticism of his heir, Jonathan was faithful to his father unto death—all except one of Saul’s sons died with their father in battle.

David did not follow Saul’s marital example, and despite David’s political popularity, his family life was a shambles. Solomon had seen and lived through what had happened to his father, but no doubt felt that he was wise enough to handle the situation—bad mistake. He discovered, as have many others before and after him, that marital and family problems are the hardest and most intractable of all. Toward the end of his life, issues with his wives and other problems in the realm began to fester. The great king was then beset by both internal and external rebellions at a time when his age had weakened him. He died in a climate of political doubt and unrest, where the people were weary of his high taxation and heavy-handed rule, and were eager for change.

After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam came to the throne, and ironically, Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammonite woman, and therefore not a Jewess. Solomon had apparently selected and declared Rehoboam to be his successor, hoping to avoid the sticky succession problems that had occurred at the start of his reign. There is no indication as to why Rehoboam was selected or how the other royal offspring were treated, but all the people came together to make Rehoboam king, indicating that Solomon had given the royal mantle explicitly to him. However, it seems that the father failed to give his son any advice on how to handle the politics of the transition.

Prodded by Jeroboam, an ambitious man who had long been an enemy of Solomon, the people immediately appealed to the new king for relief from their heavy tax burdens. Being politically immature and not sensing the depth of the unrest, Rehoboam haughtily rejected the people’s request, which led to a disastrous revolt in which the nation was permanently split into two parts. Solomon, reputedly the wisest man in history, thus failed to properly instruct and prepare even his own sons, and educate them on the political realities of ruling.

Secondary and Hidden Meanings in the Song of Solomon

Biblical texts, especially from the Old Testament, may very well contain secondary meanings. However, these typically emerge from the primary meaning and plain sense of the text, and are not in conflict with it. Therefore, attempts to spiritualize and allegorize this story should be questioned. For example, consider the following verse from Song 6:7-9:

Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, “I will climb the palm tree, and I will take hold of its fruit stalks. Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!”

It is hard to seriously consider another interpretation for the above text, as it obviously refers to a sexual act that the man performs on the woman. However, there are a number of secondary interpretations that are generally valid and appropriate to some parts of the story, as follows:

  • Marriage is used throughout the Bible as the main paradigm for the relationship between God and his people. In the Old Testament, God is the husband and the nation of Israel is his bride, but in the fuller and more complete revelation provided by the New Testament, Christ is the husband, and the church (i.e., the people of God from all over the world) are the bride. In the book of Revelation part of the imagery used to describe entering heaven is a wedding feast—the marriage supper of the Lamb and the consummation of the relationships between Christ and the church. The intense admiration and love exhibited in the story represents the love of God and Christ for us, and the love that we, as the bride, should return to him. The erotic aspects of the story may also be symbolic of the delights of heaven, which are as yet future and unknown:

Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered the heart of man, what God has prepared for those who love him.
I Corinthians 2:9

For now we see as in a glass dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also am now fully known.
I Corinthians 13:12

From the Book of Revelation we are told that at the end of the world there will be something akin to a wedding feast, and from our human perspective, this involves three of the things that we desire most — intimate relationships, good food, and sex.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
Revelation 19:7-9

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:1-2

  • Some of the verses have been applied to Christ directly, for example Song 2:1, “I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley,” and Song 6:10, “Who is this, that grows like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun, as awesome as an army with banners?” Alternatively, they could be seen as applying to God’s people (Israel and/or the church), as these are attributes of the woman.
  • Solomon represents the seductive allure of what the world has to offer—wealth, power, and unrestrained sexuality, and he may very well be a metaphor for Satan, who is the false Christ, and who attempts to use the things of the world to twist and pervert people, and lure them away from God. Christ is the shepherd lover—“the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep.” He does not offer all of the glitz and glitter that Solomon (Satan) does, but he offers something better—an everlasting love relationship with the Lord of the universe.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul; he guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23

Therefore, the question is whether the Shulammite maiden (the people of God), will resist the attraction of Solomon (the world and Satan), and save herself for her true lover (Christ), who will satisfy her in ways that Solomon with all of his riches never could. This interpretation flows out of the ideas expressed above in which the Song was written by Solomon as a personal catharsis.

  • A variation on the prior paragraph would see Solomon in this story not so much as figure of temptation, but rather as the fulfillment of Christ, either in heaven or at his second coming. In other words, the appearances of Solomon throughout the Song may represent the beloved (the man in the story) as he ultimately will be and become at the end of time; transformed from the poor shepherd boy into the king and ruler of all. But in my opinion, this interpretation does not square with the text of the Song in which the woman turns away from the king and back to her beloved.

I am not at all diminishing secondary interpretations of the story—they make it more powerful and meaningful. But prior to considering any secondary interpretation, the primary meaning of the text must be stated and explored. Furthermore, secondary meanings lose their power and cogency if the primary meaning is ignored or repressed.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

The Darwinian Emperor is Naked

The Emperor is Naked

Darwinism in Distress

Introduction

Most people are familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s classic children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes, which is a tale about authorities and their beliefs – how the public can be coerced into believing what the authorities wish them to believe, what happens when the beliefs are shown to be false, and how even the most intelligent people often remain in denial and persist in holding on to untruths even after they are exposed.
This story could very have been written with Darwinism in mind, because the latter is a perfect example of this phenomenon in action. Darwinism is a scientific theory which was seriously questioned from the time it was first proposed in 1859, and despite its seeming hegemony, it is now slowly being discarded as both doubtful and unscientific. Here is a summary of how an increasing number of scientists currently view it:

It is now approximately half a century since the neo-Darwinian synthesis was formulated. A great deal of research has been carried on within the paradigm it defines. Yet the successes of the theory are limited to the minutiae of evolution, such as the adaptive change in the coloration of moths, while it has remarkably little to say on the questions which interest most, such as how there came to be moths in the first place. [1]

Nevertheless, like the emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, secular authorities in science, academia, and government continue to promote Darwinism, and to attack those who have pointed out its many fallacies and failings. They have done so very successfully, so questioning this theory may seem like committing scientific heresy. Many scientists and non-scientists have entertained and expressed serious doubts, but if the authorities say it’s true, then it must be so; or is it? If the authorities say that Darwinism is a fact, then surely someone, somewhere, must have fully verified it; or have they?

One of the main reasons for the acceptance of Darwinism is that it is often conflated with and thought to be the same thing as evolution. Since evolution is a well-established biological concept universally accepted as scientific fact, the public has been trained to think that opponents of Darwinism are religious Luddites who ignore facts in order to blindly hold onto their faith.

It is therefore important to understand that the words “evolution” and “Darwinism” have very different meanings. The word “evolution” denotes changes and mutations in populations of organisms, so that, for example, moths of the same species in different environments have different colorations.  Any change in an organism that makes the organism more viable will be reflected in its offspring, and therefore in the organism’s gene pool.  Such small, incremental changes are often referred to as “micro-evolution,” and are brought about by the following factors: environmental changes, mutation, time, chance, and survival-of-the-fittest.  Darwin’s discovery of evolution on the Galapagos Islands is an excellent example: he noticed that the finches on one island had larger and stronger beaks in order to crack the tougher nuts there – a clear illustration of the micro-evolution at work.

Micro-evolution thus includes the concept of “limited common descent,” which is the idea that particular groups of organisms may have descended from a common ancestor, such as the current varieties of dogs and horses. In contrast,  Darwinism, which is also referred to as “macro-evolution,” is the belief that all higher life forms evolved from lower ones (i.e., “universal common descent”), strictly based on the factors mentioned above. It seeks to address the much larger question of how and why moths and all other organisms came to exist in the first place.

Macro-evolution alleges that all life presumably came from simple single-celled organisms swimming in the ocean.  This begs the question, “Where did the single-celled organisms come from?” Technically, the question of how life supposedly came into being from non-life is known as “abiogenesis” and is treated by Darwinists as a distinct topic. But as they typically allege that there was no designer or creative intelligence, they must also explain how life could possibly have come from non-life, so abiogenesis is therefore an essential aspect of macro-evolution, and will be treated as such in this document.

Micro-evolution is an easily observable phenomenon. Like Newton’s discovery of gravity by supposedly having an apple fall on his head, micro-evolution is an obvious characteristic of biological systems once you consider them. But that is not the case with macro-evolution. The latter is illogical and non-intuitive – it doesn’t make sense that something could spontaneously come from nothing. Nevertheless, Darwinists continually comingle micro- and macro-evolution in their attempt to support Darwinism and attack Creationism. A typical example:

An attack on evolution, the most thoroughly authenticated fact in the whole history of science, is an attack on science itself. [2]

Living things are always in a micro-evolutionary flux, and it is possible that a population of one species of an organism could evolve sufficiently that they could be classified as another species.  However, as we shall see later, there are severe limits on how far these changes can go, given only time, chance, mutation, and natural selection. Micro-evolution is therefore not an issue in debate – finches on one island may develop larger and stronger beaks than those on another island to be able to crack the nuts which they eat, but they are all still finches.

Incidentally, Darwin himself was in distress for most of his life. As he states in his autobiography, he was apparently quite sadistic as a child, and later developed severe physical and psychological problems:

“In the latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of shooting, and I do not believe that anyone could have shown more zeal for the most holy cause than I did for shooting birds. How well I remember killing my first snipe, and my excitement was so great that I had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the trembling of my hands. This taste long continued and I became a very good shot” (1958, p. 44). [3]

Darwin stated that his health problems began as early as 1825 when he was only sixteen years old and became incapacitating around age 28. He was an invalid from the age of 30. Dozens of scholarly articles and at least three books have been written on the question of Darwin’s illness. The current conclusion is that Darwin suffered from several serious and incapacitating psychiatric disorders, including agoraphobia.  It is characterized by fear of panic attacks (or actual panic attacks) when not in a psychologically safe environment, such as at home. Darwin, as is common among agoraphobiacs, also developed many additional phobias — being in crowds, being alone, or leaving home unless accompanied by his wife. Colp (1977, p. 97) concluded that “much of Darwin’s daily life was lived on a rack which consisted of fluctuating degrees of pain” that was sometimes so severe that Darwin called it “distressingly great.” Darwin’s many psychological or psychologically-influenced physical health symptoms included severe depression, insomnia, hysterical crying, dying sensations, shaking, fainting spells, muscle twitches, shortness of breath, trembling, nausea, vomiting, severe anxiety, depersonalization, and seeing visual hallucinations (Barloon and Noyes, 1997, p. 139; Picover, 1998, p. 290; Colp, 1977, p. 97; Bean, 1978, p. 573). The physical symptoms included headaches, cardiac palpitations, ringing in ears (possibly tinnitus), painful flatulence, and gastric upsets—all of which commonly have a psychological origin (Pasnau, 1990).

Diagnosis of the cause of Darwin’s mental and physical disorders include parasitic disease (Chaga’s disease—caused by an insect common in South America), arsenic poisoning, and possibly even an inner ear disorder (Picover, 1998, p. 290; Pasnau, 1990). However, all of these causes have largely been refuted. Colp noted that “behind these symptoms there was always a core of anxiety and depression” (1977, p. 97). Some speculate that part of Darwin’s mental problems were due to his nagging, gnawing fear that he had “devoted his life to a fantasy”—and a “dangerous one” at that (Desmond and Moore, 1991, p. 477). This fear was that his theory was false and there was, in fact, a divine Creator. Others, including Darwin’s own wife, argued that his mental problem stemmed from guilt over his life’s goal to refute the argument for God from design (Bean, 1978, p. 574; p. 28; Pasnau, 1990, p. 126). Most of the psychoanalytic studies have argued that his problems were a result of his repressed anger toward his tyrannical father and “the slaying of his heavenly father” by his theory (Pasnau, 1990, p. 122). [4]

In addition to all of his health problems, Darwin was concerned about the tenuousness of his own theory, and provided a criterion which, if true, would demonstrate that it was a sham:

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” [5]

In this document, we will consider only science and logic in evaluating Darwin’s theory of macro-evolution; religious or theological objections will not be raised. Furthermore, the goal is not to disprove Darwinism or prove Creationism, as proofs one way or the other are not possible. Nevertheless, the scientific and logical evidence against Darwinism is overwhelming, and readers will hopefully consider the evidence with an open mind.

Problem #1 – Irreducible Complexity

In earlier times organisms were thought to be simple blobs of organic matter. For example, the eminent biologist, naturalist, professor, and physician Ernst Haeckel, who was a contemporary of Darwin, called the cell a “simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon.” But as biochemists have gradually unraveled the actual mechanisms employed by cells to perform all of their functions (nutrition, waste elimination, defense, repair, reproduction, movement, etc.), an astonishing and mind-boggling complexity has been revealed (the above quote demonstrates how spectacularly and incredibly wrong scientists can be). At the cellular level there are many intricate pieces of “machinery” that all need to be operational before the cell can survive, and even before it can exist in the first place. In many cases this complex machinery involves many “parts” and “sub-assemblies,” all of which are necessary for the cell to function; so how could these mechanisms which need to properly connect and operate with each other have come about purely by time and chance? On your garage floor, you may find a few bolts lying around and pieces of a carburetor, but not only must the carburetor work, you also must have valves, pistons, cam shafts, and so on, and each of these sub-assemblies must be properly attached to each other and tuned in order to make an engine that will actually run.

My own undergraduate degree was in biology, and I recall pondering this issue many years ago in my collegiate biology classes. But it remained for Michael J. Behe to comprehensively state it in his book Darwin’s Black Box – The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution and to demonstrate the nonsensicality of Darwinism.

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced by slight, successive modifications to a precursor system, because any precursor that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.

However, even if a system is irreducibly complex, one cannot definitely rule out the possibility of an indirect, circuitous route. But as the complexity of an interacting system increases, the likelihood of such an indirect route drops precipitously. And as the number of unexplained irreducibly complex biological systems increases, our confidence that Darwin’s criteria for failure has been met skyrockets to the maximum that science allows. [6]

Behe begins by considering a simple machine – a mouse trap – and points out that it consists of several subsystems, all of which must be assembled and functional before the trap will work (wooden base plate, bait holder, spring, hammer arm, and holding bar).

Mouse Trap

Even though a mouse trap seems to be very simple, it actually involves a fair amount of thought and engineering:

  • The spring must have enough tension in it to kill the mouse, but not so much that it pulls off the base plate.
  • The other elements must be securely attached to the base plate, which in turn must be substantial enough to hold them in place.
  • The trip arm must be of sufficient gauge not to bend or break under the tension of the spring, but loose enough so that it will let go when the mouse takes the bait.

Cellular mechanisms are millions upon millions of times more complex than a mouse trap, and likewise have many interacting parts and sub-assemblies. Therefore, they are also irreducibly complex.  Some have noted that even if an entire mousetrap is irreducibly complex, it still could provide limited functionality even if only partially assembled.  But the key difference between a mousetrap and a cell is that the latter requires many complicated parts necessary for both survival and reproduction – if a cell cannot both survive and reproduce then it could never have existed in the first place, and could not have served as a basis for macro-evolution.

In the above-mentioned book, Behe discusses four examples of the many that could be cited: the cilia (a hair-like structure that beats and allows a cell to move or to move the air); the clotting ability of blood; the internal structure and transport capabilities of cells; and the cell’s disease fighting capabilities. It is beyond the scope of this paper to go into a lot of biochemical detail (read the book), but here is one example from Behe:

Just like a house has a kitchen, laundry room, bedroom, and bathroom, a cell has specialized areas partitioned off for discrete tasks. These areas include the nucleus (where the DNA resides), the mitochondria (which produce the cell’s energy), the endoplasmic reticulum (which processes protein), the Golgi apparatus (a way station for proteins being transported elsewhere), the lysosome (the cell’s garbage disposal unit), secretory vesicles (cargo storage areas), and the peroxisome (which helps metabolize fats). Each compartment is sealed off from the rest of the cell by its own membrane… Counting membranes and interior spaces there are more than twenty different sections in a cell.

The cell is a dynamic system; it continually manufactures new structures and gets rid of old material. Since the compartments of a cell are closed off, each area faces the problem of obtaining new materials… Although some compartments make some materials for themselves, the great majority of proteins are centrally made and shipped to other compartments. The shipping of manufactured proteins between compartments is a fascinating and intricate process.

Let’s consider how one of the many proteins in the cell are made, in this case a protein that is used in cell’s garbage disposal unit – the lysosome. [Proteins are the building blocks of the cell; there are approximately two million different ones in the human body, and it is thought that there are more than ten million in all of nature. Proteins consist of amino acid molecules that are stitched together into long, tinker-toy-like chains of between 100 and 35,000 elements.] We’ll call this protein “garbagease.” The first step is to make a copy of the section of the DNA that codes for garbagease. This copy, called messenger RNA or just mRNA, is made in the nucleus, and then floats over to a nuclear pore. Proteins in the pore recognize a signal on the mRNA, the pore opens, and the mRNA floats out into the cytoplasm. In the cytoplasm the cell’s “master machines” – ribosomes – begin making garbagease using the information in the mRNA, assembling amino acids into a long chain. The first part of the growing protein chain contains a signal sequence. As soon as the signal sequence forms, a signal recognition particle (SRP) grabs onto the signal and causes the ribosome to pause. The SRP and associated molecules then float over to an SRP receptor in the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and stick there. This simultaneously causes the ribosome to resume synthesis and a protein channel to open in the membrane. As the protein passes through the channel into the ER, an enzyme clips off the signal sequence. Once in the ER, garbagease has a large, complex carbohydrate placed on it. Coatomer proteins cause a drop of the ER containing the garbagease and other proteins to pinch off, cross over to the Golgi apparatus, and fuse with it… Within the Golgi an enzyme recognizes the garbagease protein and it undergoes several transforms as it moves through various stages. In the final compartment of the Golgi, clathrin proteins gather together in a patch to create a vesicle. Within the clathrin vesicle is a receptor protein that binds to the garbagease and pulls it in before the vesicle buds off and leaves the Golgi. On the outside of the vesicle is a v-SNARE protein configured for garbagease that matches a t-SNARE on the lysosome. Once docked, other proteins fuse the vesicle to the lysosome, and the garbagease has now arrived and can be put to use… Every second of every day this process happens uncounted billions of times in your body… and because the cellular transport system requires at a minimum three separate components to function, it is irreducibly complex. [7]

Note a few of the many questions that the above description does not cover, which require even more complex cellular machinery and communication systems: How does the lysosome know that it needs more garbagease? How does it signal the nucleus that more of the specific protein garbagease is needed and start the DNA to mRNA replication process? How does the lysosome dispose of the old garbagease and correctly position the newly delivered stuff? How does the cell keep a supply of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, always available for the ribosomes to use in constructing new proteins? The irreducible complexity of cellular systems is so great that the notion of these mechanisms coming into being through small gradual steps is absurd.

Dr. Behe also did a comprehensive search of all of the articles on Darwinism published in major scientific journals, as well as textbooks on the subject since 1984. Although thousands of pieces have been written and published, he did not find even a single article that seriously examined and/or proposed how the biochemical machinery of a cell could have evolved in gradual increments.

The search can be extended but the results are the same. There has never been a meeting, or a book, or a paper on details of the evolution of complex biological systems. [8]

Articles and books on macro-evolution speak of it as simply being an inevitable characteristic of living organisms, but no one in the 100+ years since Darwin’s time has ever been able to explain how it actually could have happened in detail, at the biochemical level.

There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Imagine that you are an engineering student seeking to learn how to build a bridge. Upon opening your text book you read, “Bridges have appeared in many places because of the evolutionary advantages to humans gained by having bridges over rivers and canyons.” But when you look for details such as “How do I actually go about building a bridge?” the textbook has nothing to say. The fact that no one has been able to propose an evolutionary explanation for how a cell could have actually come into being is not surprising given the incredible and irreducible complexity of the cell’s machinery, but nevertheless it is a damning indictment of Darwinism.

Problem #2 – Spontaneous Generation and the Origin of Life

In 1952 a young graduate student at the University of Chicago named Stanley Miller carried out what became one of the most famous evolutionary experiments of all time. He created a laboratory environment of flasks containing water vapor, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen, all of which were presumably present at the time that the earth was being formed. He then subjected these components to “lightning” in the form of sparking electrodes. After a week Miller saw that a tar had built up on the side of flask, and when he analyzed the tar, he found traces of amino acids, the building blocks for proteins.

Darwinists immediately trumpeted these finding to indicate that abiogenesis is possible – that life can supposedly be created from non-life.  A number of researchers subsequently spent their careers in an attempt to flesh out Miller’s experiment and take it to the next level. They had some initial successes, such as discovering that almost all of the naturally occurring amino acids used in protein construction could be “spontaneously generated.” But they ran into what were eventually acknowledged as insurmountable obstacles, such as the fact that amino acids do not simultaneously link themselves into protein chains, because the presence of water inhibits the linking process. In other words, an insoluble catch-22 was encountered – a cellular environment is required before the cell can exist. Reflecting on the decades of struggle, Klaus Dose, an origin-of-life researcher, made this bitter and pessimistic statement:

More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth, rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance. [9]

Thus, there is a huge and seemingly uncrossable chasm between protein precursors and a functioning cell, and researchers have spent many fruitless years trying to figure out how even one protein chain could be spontaneously generated, let alone the complex cellular mechanisms described above. Stanley Miller’s experiment therefore succeeded in demonstrating micro-evolution, but decades of subsequent research have failed to show any evidence for macro-evolution. Essentially, this experiment demonstrated that if you throw scrabble letters into a tornado, you may find that a few stray words were accidentally formed, but that is an exceedingly far cry from having a book such as Darwin’s On the Origin of Species created by accident.

Problem #3 – Mutations

Mutations are genetic changes in populations of organisms, which are caused by a variety of environmental, or in some cases, intentional human factors. The Marvel comic book and movie series X-Men is based on the notion of human mutation, with mutants supposedly having super-human powers.

While this may make for interesting entertainment, it is purely fictional. Almost all actual mutations are negative, and result in the weakening of the organism, such as sickle-cell anemia in humans. The cases in which mutations have been beneficial are typically where the genetic changes are controlled and directed (e.g., the development of hardier and more disease-resistant crops), and would therefore be considered to be “genetic engineering” rather than “mutation.”

Sickle-cell anemia is an interesting case study in Darwinism, as it has been extensively investigated, and is one of main examples used to teach biology students about evolution. It is a genetic condition caused by a gene mutation. The altered gene is the one used as the template for creating the protein hemoglobin (the component of red blood cells used to transport oxygen throughout the body), and it results in a corrupted hemoglobin molecule. The altered hemoglobin in turn causes red blood cells to be misshapen and ineffective in transporting oxygen, resulting in anemia – a lack of oxygen throughout the body. Sickle-cell anemia mainly affects black people, but is much more prevalent among blacks in the tropical regions of Africa than in other parts of the world. This is due to the prevalence of malaria in those same areas, a disease that attacks and destroys red blood cells, which also results in anemia. Malaria is caused by a microbial parasite and is spread by bites from the anopheles mosquito. The mosquito becomes infected with the malaria parasite by biting a person with the disease and ingesting tainted blood, and then passes the parasite on when it bites the next person, causing a perpetual cycle of infection.

Malaria is often fatal in children, but individuals with sickle-cell anemia are less affected because the malaria parasite cannot properly connect with the misshapen hemoglobin, and it is then more easily destroyed by the body’s defense systems. This is a clear example of evolution and survival of the fittest at work – individuals with the sickle-cell condition are more likely to survive and therefore pass the condition on to their progeny; thus, the prevalence of sickle-cell anemia among African blacks. However, this is another instance of micro- rather than macro-evolution; it is simply a change in the human organism in response to environmental conditions, and not the emergence of any new species.

Once the nature and behavior of the malaria parasite became known, scientists began to develop drugs to combat the disease. The drugs were initially successful, but they eventually became ineffective. Was that because the malaria parasite somehow grew smarter over time? No – rather it was because a few of the parasites had small genetic differences that rendered them immune to the drugs (the drugs were formulated to attach to a certain molecular configuration on the surface of the malaria cell, but some of them had a slightly different configuration which the drug could not attach). With virtually all of the other parasite cells being killed off, the different ones continued to survive and reproduce, conveying their genetic immunity for that drug to their offspring, in yet another example of micro-evolution in action.

But even though some anti-malaria drugs have quickly become ineffective, the sickle-cell condition continues to provide protection as it has done for thousands of years. Why? It is because the malaria parasite can become drug resistant with only one difference in its cell wall structure (there are upwards of a trillion malaria parasites in a diseased person, making the likelihood of a few of them having a difference relatively good). But for the malaria parasite to overcome resistance to the sickle-cell condition would require two to three simultaneous changes in specific places on the malaria organism to attach to the corrupted hemoglobin molecules. Despite the uncounted gazillions of malaria cells in the history of humanity, such an evolutionary change has apparently never happened. In other words, the malaria parasite has not been able to evolve its way over the sickle-cell barrier.

Sickle-cell anemia and the malaria parasite thus demonstrate the severe limits of mutation: if the malaria parasite has been unable to simultaneously effect two or more genomic changes which would enable it to successfully survive in humans with sickle-cell condition, and it has had the entire of human history to do so, then how could mutation possibly account for the development of new and more sophisticated organisms? To cite a railroad example, if mutation is struggling to make a few switches in the track layout and even the changes it does make are mostly destructive, how could it possibly account for the construction of the railroad stations and the track itself?

These conditions also demonstrate the blindness of evolution. Darwinism is random and therefore there is no such thing as “evolutionary progress” or “upward movement.” Evolution knows nothing of goals or striving for them. All of these elements of the human spirit have been anthropomorphically attributed to Darwinism, but that is a fallacy – we are not automatically growing better due to evolutionary mechanisms, and given the fact the mutations are mostly negative, we may actually be getting worse. In contrast to the hype about Darwinism being progressive and leading us “onward and upward,” the sickle-cell mutation is devolution – a genetic corruption that creates anemia, a bad condition, but which is kept in play because of the prevalence of the malaria parasite, which is worse (i.e., from the perspective of the blood defensive systems, it’s better that a bridge is burned down to stop the enemy, rather than the city being attacked and sacked).

How often does random mutation produce a “beneficial” change like sickle-trait? By studying the DNA of many human populations, scientists have concluded that this particular mutation has arisen independently no more than a few times in the past ten thousand years, and possibly only once.

Since there are so many more ways to break a machine than to improve it, that is the kind of task at which evolution excels. Like throwing a wad of chewing gum into a finely tuned machine, it’s relatively easy to clog a system – much easier than making the system in the first place. [10]

Limiting the investigation of mutations to the malaria parasite is perhaps insufficient when considering the implications for Darwinism. Viruses mutate at a much higher rate, and should also be considered. The source of the AIDS disease is the HIV virus which has also been intensively studied, so let us consider that evidence as well:

Because of the difference in mutations rates for viruses, HIV has actually experienced about ten thousand times as many mutations as would a comparable number of malaria cells. The very many copies of HIV in the world would be expected to contain almost every kind of imaginable mutation. And what has all of that evolution of HIV wrought? Very little. Although new stories rightly emphasize the ability of HIV to quickly develop drug resistance, and although massive publicity makes HIV seem to be an evolutionary powerhouse, on a functional biochemical level the virus has been a complete stick-in-the-mud.

HIV has killed many people, fended off the human immune system, and become resistant to whatever drug humanity could throw at it. Yet through all that, there have been no significant basic biological changes to the virus at all. With a few apparent exceptions, HIV enters its target cells of the immune system by first binding tightly and specifically to one of the many kinds of proteins on their surface… A hundred billion mutant viruses later, HIV continues to do exactly the same thing, and to bind in the same way. If a mutant version of the virus developed the ability to enter other kinds of cells by binding to other kinds of proteins, it might replicate more effectively and thus out-compete its siblings. That hasn’t happened. Neither has much happened at a molecular level. No new gizmos or basic machinery. There have been no reports of new viral protein-protein interactions developing in an infected cell due to mutations in HIV proteins. No gene duplication has occurred leading to new functionality. None of the fancy tricks that routinely figure in Darwinian speculations has been used by HIV.

But what of its ability to quickly evolve drug resistance and evade the immune system? Doesn’t that show that Darwinian evolution is very powerful? Isn’t that a sophisticated maneuver? No. It turns out that HIV uses the same modest tricks that malaria uses to evade drugs – mostly simple point mutations to decrease the binding of the drug to its pathogen target. In other words, the biochemical structure of outer wall of the HIV virus can vary dramatically, making is very hard for drugs to “locate” and attach to the virus, but the internal payload is essentially the same.

The bottom line: despite huge population numbers and intense selective pressure, microbes as disparate as malaria and HIV yield similar minor evolutionary responses. Darwinists have loudly celebrated studies of finch beaks, showing modest changes in the shapes and sizes of beaks over time, as the finches’ food supplies changed. But here we have genetic studies over thousands upon thousands of generations involving trillions upon trillions of organisms, and very little biochemical significance to show for it. The evidence strongly suggests that this is all that Darwinism can do.

Incidentally, the results with HIV also shed light on the topic of origin of life on earth. It has been speculated that life started out modestly, as viral-like strings of RNA, and then increased in complexity to yield cells. But the extremely modest changes in HIV throw cold water on that idea. In 1020 copies HIV has developed nothing significantly new or complex. Extrapolating from this research, such ambitious Darwinian early-earth scenarios appear to be ruled out. [11]

But how can the studies on malaria and HIV going back only fifty years or so give us any real data on Darwinian evolution, which presumably took millions of years?

Time is actually not the chief factor in evolution – population members are. In calculating how quickly a beneficial mutation might appear, evolutionary biologists multiply the mutation rate by the population size. Since for many kinds of organisms the mutation rate is pretty similar, and the waiting time for the appearance of helpful mutations depends mostly on the numbers of organisms. The bigger the population or the faster the reproduction cycle, the more quickly a particular mutation will show up. The number of malaria and HIV cells in just the past fifty years have probably greatly exceeded the number of mammals that have lived on the earth in the past several hundred million years. So the evolutionary behaviors of these pathogens in even such a short time as half a century gives us a clear indication of what can happen with larger organisms over enormous time spans. The fact that no new cellular protein-protein interactions were fashioned, that mutations were incoherent, that changes in only a few genes were able to help, and that those changes were only relatively (not absolutely) beneficial – all of that gives us strong reason to expect the same for larger organisms over longer time periods.

Scientists routinely extrapolate from what we see happening now to what happened in the past. The same laws of physics that work here and now are used to estimate broadly how the universe developed over billions of years. So we can also use current biology to infer generally what happened over the course of life on earth. Since we have no new protein-protein interactions developing in 1020 cells, we can be reasonably confident that, at the least, no new cellular systems needing two new protein-protein interactions would develop in 1040 cells – an estimate of the total number of cells that have ever existed, and therefore in the entire history of life on this planet. The principle we use to make this extrapolation – that the odds against two independent events is the multiple of the odds against each event – is very well tested. [12]

See Dr. Behe’s book, The Edge of Evolution – The Search for the Limits of Darwinism for a comprehensive discussion on what macro-evolution can and cannot achieve.

Anthropomorphic stories and movies with animals speaking and acting like people are commonplace (“Ice Age,” “Over the Hedge,” “Kung-Fu Panda,” etc.) Darwinism has likewise been anthropomorphized with human passion for the underdog, success against all odds, and quasi-spiritual desires for upward progress. However, just as the combination of martial arts and Panda bears may be a cool idea for a movie but in reality are a fictitious oxymoron, so it is with Darwinism and upward spiritual progress. The combination is simply wishful thinking that has metastasized into a religion.

Lynne Margulis, the Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, has issued a challenge to Darwinists to name a single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet. She said, “Neo-Darwinism, which insists on the slow accumulation of mutations, is in a complete funk… History will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as a minor 20th century religious sect.” [13]

The movie Terminator is another variation on the mutation theme. In that film a robot is somehow created by other machines and sent back through time to try to kill a woman who will supposedly give birth to the man who in the future will lead the fight against the machines and crush them. The theme of the movie is preposterous, but I love it nevertheless, partly because the story is done so well despite the ridiculousness of the premise.

I can accept the possibility that a nuclear war could take place in the future as was the case in this movie, and even that the war could somehow be triggered by super-intelligent computers. But that these machines could then by themselves figure out who the leader of their human enemies was and where he grew up, design several generations of terminators first with rubber skin, and eventually with human flesh over a robot skeleton (played in the movie, of course, by Arnold Schwarzenegger), and then develop a time-travel machine capable of sending the terminator back into the past – yeah, right. Darwinism requires a similar leap of pure faith.

Problem #4 – The Fossil Record

Darwinism indicates that higher life forms (e.g., mammals, apes, and humans) evolved from lower forms (reptiles, fish, insects, bacteria, and so on). Many organisms have left a fossil trail, and if Darwinism is true we should expect to find fossil remains of the entire range of transitional forms. We should expect to find “repti-mammals,” “fish-tiles,” and so on. However, that is not the case. Many fossils have been unearthed, including species that are now extinct, but there is only meager evidence that there were any transitional forms, or that one species ever evolved into another. Paleontologist and Darwinist Niles Eldredge describes the problem:

No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. Assiduous collecting [of fossils] up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change – over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all of the prodigious changes that have occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that is how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution. [14]

The record does show that there have been evolutionary changes in various species though the ages, and in some cases the changes have been substantial. An example is the dog: a dachshund and a huskie look very different, but both are obviously dogs and can interbreed. It is not clear how many different breeds of dogs have evolved versus those that may have been a part of an original design, but all dogs share common characteristics that we could refer to as “doggyness.” However, this again is micro- rather than macro-evolution at work – all dog breeds are still dogs, and cannot interbreed with cats.

In 2006 a team of scientists discovered a fossil of a marine creature that seems to be a cross between a fish and an alligator.  It was named Tiktaalik meaning “fresh water fish” in the Innuit language, and was thought to have had both lungs and gills.  The fossil was dated at 350 million years old, and has been widely touted by Darwinists as the transitional form between fishes and reptiles.  But since that discovery, another finding was made in the limestone quarries of Poland of ancient tracks and toe marks made by marine animals (some form of large lizard), which were dated as being 18 million years prior to the Tiktaalik fossil. If four-legged marine animals existed 18 million years earlier, then Tiktaalik can’t be the transitional fossil it has been claimed to be, and the Darwinist transitional evidence has collapsed. Here are a few quotes from Darwinists demonstrating their concern:

“We thought we’d pinned down the origin of limbed tetrapods. Now we have to rethink the whole thing.” [15]

“This forces a radical reassessment of the timing, ecology and environmental setting of the fish-tetrapod transition, as well as the completeness of the body fossil record.” [16]

“These results force us to reconsider our whole picture of the transition from fish to land animals.” [17]

Further examination of Tiktaalik’s fin showed that it was not connected to the main skeleton, so could not have supported its weight on land, which would be necessary for a land creature. In a similar way Darwinists had high hopes for the Coelacanth fish after fossils of it were discovered. However, when a living Coelacanth was found in 1938 (which incidentally was essentially identical to the fossils), the fins turned out not to be used for walking but for maneuvering while swimming.

The extinct bird Archaeopteryx, and the pterodactyls of the dinosaur era, have also been cited as transitional forms between reptiles and avians, but even with those creatures there is no evidence of transitional forms between them and other birds or reptiles. In many cases animal species have changed over time (micro-evolution), but have stubbornly retained their basic genetic identity. Like the animals of today, Archaeopteryx, Tiktaalik, the dinosaurs, the trilobites, and other extinct life forms suddenly appear in the fossil record without precedent, and then die out without any evidence of transition into other species.

John McDonald, a geneticist from the University of Georgia, states this problem in specific scientific terms:

The result of the last 20 years of research on the genetic basis of adaption has led us to a great Darwinian paradox. Those [genes] that are obviously variable within natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those [genes] that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many, if not most, major adaptive changes apparently are not variable within natural populations. [Emphasis in original] [18]

Darwinists have long been troubled by the lack of fossil support. In the 1940s, the geneticist Richard Goldschmidt, struggling with Darwinism, proposed the “Hopeful Monster” theory, which stated that suddenly, and for reasons unknown, new species of organisms suddenly appeared on the scene (perhaps a reptile egg once hatched and a bird came out?) That theory as such didn’t take hold, but it was later replaced by a more comprehensive theory by Niles Eldredge (quoted above) and Stephen J. Gould, who were also concerned about the lack of fossil evidence for Darwinism.

It had been known that micro-evolution proceeded at a somewhat faster pace among small isolated populations. So Eldridge and Gould hypothesized that that the rate of macro-evolution (assuming that it occurs in the first place) is not static. While normally said to take millions of years, it supposedly can, for reasons unknown, dramatically speed up at times. So the periods during which the transitional forms developed (fish to reptiles, reptiles to mammals, etc.) were said to be times when the rate of evolution was so rapid that little or no fossil remains would have been preserved. Gould realized that he needed to have a much more scientific-sounding name for his theory, and that a title such as “Hopeful Monster” would never do. So he christened it “Punctuated Equilibrium.” It is on this basis that Darwinists claim that the fossil record “demonstrates the reality of Darwinism.”

So strictly due to time, chance, and environmental factors, and with no supporting evidence whatsoever indicating how or why this would have happened, the rate of macro-evolution somehow dramatically sped up at all of the convenient times so that all of the transitional forms, a key to the entire Darwinian theory, are conveniently missing from the fossil record. How can a serious scientist, or anyone else for that matter, actually believe such rubbish? The only way is if you have a religious conviction that Darwinism must be true, and therefore grasp at any straw to fill the gaping holes in the theory.

Problem #5 – Human Fossils

The origin of life is a significant topic, but even more significant in the minds of many is the origin of man. Given the fact that many fossils of ancient humans have been discovered that differ in some ways from modern man, these have been trumpeted by Darwinists as evidence of macro-evolution (Neaderthal, Cro-Magnon, Java man, Peking man, etc.) However, the opposite is true – a close look at hominid fossils actually refutes Darwinism.

Macro-evolution posits that evolutionary development proceeds from the simple to the complex, so that earlier forms of primates (app-type animals) were the ancestors of modern apes and humans. Supposedly a precursor ape (Pithecanthropus) evolved into a variety of other species (Homo habilus, Homo erectus, Homo africanus, etc.), which ultimately produced our species, Homo sapiens. If macro-evolution is true, we should find primate precursor fossils, followed by various forms of early humans, and finally contemporary man. In other words, hominid fossils with a homo sapien morphology should never appear in the fossil record before those that are supposedly ancestors. The problem is that *many* “archaic” homo sapien fossils have been discovered which have been dated by evolutionsts to the same period or earlier than the earliest known hominid fossils. Here is an example from Richard Leakey, a Darwinist, and the son of Louis and Mary Leakey who worked in the Olduvai Gorge in Kenya:

Before skull 1470 was discovered, the volcanic strata above where the fossil was found, the KBS Tuff, had already been dated at 2.6 million years ago. Since skull 1470 was found below this tuff, Richard Leakey estimated its age as 2.9 million years. Shocking about this fossil was its large cranial size (about 800 cc) and its very modern morphology, which includes high doming and thin cranial walls. The skull was so different from what evolutionary theory would predict that Richard Leakey said, “Either we toss out this skull or we toss out our theories of early man. It simply fits no previous models of human beginnings.”

What is disconcerting to evolutionists is that 1470’s cranial capacity is well within the range of modern humans. That 1470 is not a unique specimen is shown by the fact that other fossils of the same age have been found with close affinities to 1470. For example, KNM-ER 1590 [also from Kenya] consists of dental and cranial fragments from an immature individual, but the skull capacity is as large as 1470. Hence, in adulthood it would have been even larger… Not only does skull 1470 qualify for true human status based on cranial shape, size, and thickness, there is also evidence on the inside of the skull of a Broca’s area, the part of the brain that controls the muscles for producing articulate speech in humans.

Recent fossil discoveries in Australia reveal a condition that defies evolution as an explanation. Two populations were living side by side in relatively recent times. One population had a very modern morphology, and the other has a Homo erectus-like morphology. The erectus-like fossils include… the forty Kow Swamp individuals (first discovered in 1977 and dated at about 10,000 years ago), and the Cossack skeletal remains (discovered in 1972 and dated to about 6,500 years ago). We can sense the evolutionists’ bewilderment as they write about these fossils. Jeffrey Laitman (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine) mentions fossil authorities who speak of the “extreme disparities” found between these groups, and Richard G. Klein declares that the range of variation is “extraordinary.” [19]

The problem of the many such “reversals” in paleoanthropology is such that there is now no agreement on a line of descent. [20] How then can scientists persist in arguing that hominid fossils demonstrate Darwinism? There are several reasons:

  1. Hominid fossils have been discovered with smaller brain sizes than the average for contemporary humans, and it was originally thought that a smaller brain automatically meant less mental capacity. However, it is now known that brain size is not nearly as significant as brain organization, and that contemporary humans exhibit a large variation in brain size with little to no effect on intelligence. Ironically, Neanderthal skulls have a larger cranial capacity than the contemporary average, despite having a more “savage” appearance. [21]

  2. Many “mistakes” have been made in the way that the evidence has been presented. For example, the morphology of Neanderthal skeletons (of which many have been found) demonstrate a “hunched over” appearance, which has been ascribed to their more “prehistoric” and “simian” nature. However, it has now been demonstrated that Neanderthals as cave dwellers developed rickets caused by lack of sunlight and vitamin D. This caused curvature and disformed bones. [22] Another example is Ramapithecus, a supposed ape-man fossil: for many years David Pilbeam (Harvard University) had convinced his fellow paleoanthropologists that a fossil known as Ramapithecus was a hominid. This assessment was almost universally accepted even though it was based on the flimsiest of fossil evidence. Later, when Pilbeam found more abundant fossil evidence it became obvious that Ramapithecus had nothing to do with human origins. In explaining where he and the paleoanthropology world had gone astray, he said the following: “Theory shapes the way we think, even perceive data… we are unaware of many of our assumptions.” “Conflicting visions of these [evolutionary] human ancestors probably say more about our conflicting views of ourselves than about the actual fossil data.” [23]

  3. The desire for wealth, fame, and popularity, or simply the desire to support and maintain their own scientific bias has led some paleoanthropologists to intentionally slant their interpretations. An excellent example of this is Eugene Dubois, whose team discovered the historic Java man. Dubois went to Indonesia in 1891 with the expressed intention of finding the “missing link” between apes and humans. His team found a skull cap, and then a year later and 50 feet away they found a modern human thigh bone, which Dubois claimed to be from the same skeleton. He then loudly announced that he had found the missing link and called it Pithecanthropus (ape man). Dubois understood that the scientific world was hungry for evidence, and it was from this discovery or a skull cap and a thigh bone that many of the evolutionary representations, school books, and museum exhibits were made of ape-like humans. Then Dubois hid his fossil for over 20 years to prevent others from examining and potentially discrediting it. Dubois had also failed to provide any geologic information about the fossil (he had not been there when it was found, and the exact strata it was taken from was not recorded).So during the period 1907-8 another and much larger and better organized mission to Java was undertaken, known as the Selenka-Trinal Expedition, in order to find more conclusive evidence. It was the brain-child of the German evolutionary zoologist Emil Selenka and his wife, who led after her husband died, and it was the first paleological expedition to include experts from different academic disciplines (botany, zoology, geology, etc.) Along with eighteen specialists, the expedition hired seventy-five locals. Extensive digging was done, forty-three crates of fossils were returned to Germany, and the authors produced a 342-page report, published in 1911. But virtually no one has ever heard of it, because it completely contradicted Dubois and Java man. No pithecanthropus-type fossils were found, but many modern animal remains were discovered in the same strata, showing that Dubois’ dating was completely wrong. The summary of the report apologized to the reader, because what they had hoped would be a corroboration of Dubois’ work instead seemed instead to debunk it. So the report was conveniently buried. Now it is generally acknowledged that the Java man skull cap was from a modern human. [24]

  4. In at least one case there has been outright fraud. This was the Piltdown Man Hoax of 1908-15 in which a human skull was combined with an orangutan jaw with the teeth filed down in order to fit (the place where the skull would normally connect with the jaw was broken off to hide the deception). It is not certain who perpetrated this, but the main individuals involved were Charles Dawson, Arthur Woodward, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the well-known Jesuit priest who later attempted to comingle Darwinism with Christianity. The hoax was eventually discovered and reported in 1953, but it was not until 1982 that the lower jaw was tested and determined to be from an orangutan. Such was the desire of scientists to find actual evidence for macro-evolution, that it is said that over five hundred doctoral dissertations were based on the Piltdown fossil. It took 38-74 years to fully reveal the fraud, and in the meantime it had been repeatedly used along with Java man and other fossils to depict Darwinism as a fact. [25]

By no means does the above infer that Darwinists or any other scientists are generally dishonest in their research. But like everyone else, scientists operate within a frame of reference, and typically seek to incorporate new findings into that frame, as stated above by David Pilbeam. It is often said that science is self-correcting – when new evidence is found contradicting existing theory, the existing theory is modified or discarded. This is true of virtually every scientific theory except Darwinism. Why? Because Darwinism forms the philosophical and theological basis of humanism, the religion of many people. Discarding Darwinism essentially means that God must exist and have created the cosmos, and this is unacceptable to humanists. It would also require many with advanced degrees to admit that they were wrong, which would also be unacceptable.

So what do we make of all of the fossils that are truly human but in some ways different from humans of today, such as Neaderthal and Cro-Magnon?  They are evidence of micro-evolution at work, in this case with people.

For those interested in more information on paleoanthropology, see Marvin Lubenow’s book, Bones of Contention.

Problem # 6 – the Age of the Earth

The current estimate of the earth’s age by evolutionary geologists and biologists is around 4.5 billion years. How was this value determined?

In the nineteenth century physicists calculated an age based on the estimated time it would take a molten earth to cool. Others based their calculations on the salinity of the oceans. On these bases a figure of between 20 and 400 million years was estimated, with most feeling that a lesser value was the most realistic. However, that was too little time for macro-evolution to be reasonable, and a much older date was needed.

In the early twentieth century radiometric dating was developed. This dating method is based on the fact that there are different isotopes of elements present in geologic material. For example, all carbon atoms have 6 protons (the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element – hydrogen has 1, oxygen has 8, gold had 79, etc.) Normal carbon atoms also have 6 neutrons, so the “atomic weight” of normal carbon atoms is twelve (C12). However a small number of carbon atoms have two extra neutrons, making the atomic weight of those atoms fourteen. C14 is a naturally occurring isotope of carbon, but C14 atoms are radioactively unstable and will “decay” and eventually turn into nitrogen atoms. Although it is impossible to predict when an individual C14 atom will decay, the amount of time for larger samples is relatively constant. Physicists have calculated the “half-life” of C14 at 5,730±40 years, meaning that after that period has passed, one half of the C14 in the original sample will have decayed into nitrogen. If the amount of C14 in the original sample is known, and if the current amount of C14 can be measured, then the approximate age of the sample can be determined.

Living organisms contain significant amounts of carbon, but rocks do not. However, rocks do contain other radioactive elements that likewise decay into other elements. There are several radiometric dating methods used: uranium to lead, potassium to argon, rubidium to strontium, and samarium to neodymium. But all of these radiometric dating methods have the following problems:

  1. How much of the measured material was there when the rock was formed? No one was there to test the rocks when they were originally formed, and therefore assumptions are made which may be completely unwarranted. For example, when a sample of the lava rocks from the 1986 Mt. St. Helens eruption were tested ten years later with the potassium-argon method, the calculated age was 350,000 years, even though the creation date of the rock was 1986. Lava flows from the eruption of Mt Ngauruhoe in New Zealand created rocks with an age of less than 50 years, but dating those rocks with the potassium-argon method returned an age of 3.5 million years, the rubidium-strontium method returned 133 million years, the samarium-neodymium method returned 197 million years, and uranium-lead returned 3.9 billion years. [26] Dating rocks from other areas have the same huge disparities. For example, the dating of basalt rocks from the Grand Canyon with the potassium-argon method returned an age of 1 million years, the samarium-neodymium method returned 916 million years, the rubidium-strontium method returned 1.1 billion years, and the uranium-lead method returned 2.6 billion years. Even more distressing is that the lava flows on both at the top and the bottom of the canyon, which according to evolutionary geologist would have been formed at different times, return a similar relative age. [27]

  2. How much have rocks been “contaminated” with either the loss of material, or additional material added? Rocks exist in an open system and are subject to water and other environmental conditions that may have added material or leached it away. There is no way of knowing how much a given rock have been contaminated.

  3. Is the radioactive decay rate actually constant? Physicists have measured half-life of various isotopes under a variety of conditions, and have found them to be essentially unchanged by heat, pressure, or electrical/magnetic fields. However, there is evidence that decay rates may have changed. For example, tests of uranium in granite from New Mexico returned an age of 1.5 billion years. But the same uranium decay produces helium, and only 6,000 years worth of helium was found. [28]

For those interested in more information on radiometric dating and its issues, see Harold Slusher’s book, Critique of Radiometric Dating.

Given these serious problems of radiometric dating, how can it be used, and how are the radiometric clocks calibrated? The general method is to first determine what geological period a rock layer should belong to.  Following is a chart of the evolutionary geological periods:

EraPeriodEpochMillions of Years AgoSupposed Characteristics
ArchaeozoicPre-Cambrian 4,500Oldest rocks
ProterozoicVendian Sturtian 3,800 – 610Origin of life
PaleozoicCambrian 570Origin of Vertebrata – “Cambrian explosion” – invertebrate phyla & algae abundant
 Ordovician 505Invertebrates dominate seas. Trilobites dominant
 Silurian 435Invasion of land by arthropoda & trachaeophyta
 Devonian 405Abundant terrestrial life – bryophytes, club mosses, insecta, age of fishes and origin of amphibians
 Carboniferous 360Forests of tree ferns, age of amphibian, origin of amniota, origin of coal fields
 Permian 290“Great Dying” > 95% of marine invertebrates extinct. Pangaea supercontinent & Tethys sea
MesozoicTriassic 250Gymnosperms dominant, origin of dinosaurs, continents adrift
 Jurassic 215Age of dinosaurs, origin of avians, breakup of Pangaea
 Cretaceous 135Massive extinctions, origin of angiosperms & colonial insects, N America & Eurasia separate, S America & Africa separate
CenozoicTertiaryPaleocene

 

Eocene

Oligocene

Miocene

Pliocene

65

 

55

38

25

5

Mammals and avians, N & S America join, continents assume modern positions
 QuaternaryPleistocene

 

Holocene

3

 

0.4

Age of humans, cycles of glaciation

If, for example, a rock layer being investigated was previously dated or presumed to be from the Cambrian period, then a value in the general range of the Cambrian age is needed.  A series of rock samples from that layer are tested until one or more is returned that fits into the desired period. Samples with ages outside the desired range are deemed to be contaminated or have other issues, and are discarded.  The geologist or paleontologist can therefore obtain the age range that he or she is looking for, and the entire system is constructed on these geological assumptions. However, the problems with this approach are legion. In many cases fossils, both human and animal have been found in the “wrong” layers, which has caused many hand-springs to be done in order to explain why. A typical example was previously discussed in regard to human fossils.

Support for a young earth vs. an old earth

One of the more serious challenges to this entire geological scheme was the 2013 discovery of soft tissue from the inside of a triceratops horn. Triceratops were vicious dinosaurs that were said to live in the Jurassic period, and supposedly became extinct 65 to 135 million years ago. But when material from inside the horn was soaked in a solution, scientists were amazed to find that it contained unfossilized bone cells, with no evidence of mineralization. Furthermore, when specimens of the triceratops bone were sent for carbon dating, a significant amount of C14 was discovered, and the age was returned as 22,000 to 41,000 years. If the bone was actually 65 million or more years old, then no C14 would have remained, and the tissue would have been petrified. [29]

There is much scientific evidence supporting a relatively young each (in the range of thousands of years) rather than the billion year range claimed by Darwinists. Here are a few examples:

  1. Erosion and the lack of sedimentation in the deep-ocean floor.  The land surface of the earth is constantly being eroded by water falling as rain, and washing sediments into the riven and ultimately into the ocean.  The average pace of erosion and the lowering of the land surface is currently estimated as 61 millimeters per thousand years.  However, at that rate the North American continent would have eroded flat to sea level in 10 million years in contrast to the Darwinists claim of the earth’s age at 3 to 4 billion years.  Even reducing the average rate of erosion to 1 millimeter per thousand years would mean the continent at sea-level in 623 million years.  The erosion rate is even higher in mountain regions, with rates around 1 meter per year in the Himalayas.

    This problem is even more acute when considering flat land surfaces that show little evidence of erosion.  For example, Kangaroo Island off the coast of Australia is very flat, and the fossils and rocks have been estimated to be 160 million years old based on radiometric dating.  How could this surface exist for 160 million years and not be eroded into the ocean?

    A related issue is the depth of sedimentation in deep seas.  It is estimated that the amount of sedimentation carried into the ocean is approximately 24 billion metric tons per year, but the average depth of sediment on the ocean floor is less than 400 meters.  If the oceans are as old as claimed by Darwinists they would contains sedimentation that would be miles deep. [30]

  2. Decay in the earth’s magnetic field.  The magnetic field of the earth is generated by the molten metal in the earth’ core, and is important for protecting organisms from solar radiation.  The fields are growing weaker over time at the rate of approximately 5% per century, and archaeological measurements indicate that the magnetic field was 40% stronger in 1000 AD than it is today.  Projecting the rate backward means that the maximum age of the earth is 10,000 to 20,000 years, as stronger magnetic fields would have destroyed the earth.  Darwinists respond by claiming that the field is self-sustaining, and propose a theoretical “dynamo” model, but the model contradicts the laws of physics in similar manner as their answer for issues with the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    It has been observed that the magnetic field of the earth has reversed several times (molten lava may contain iron oxide crystals which will align in the direction of the magnetic field of the earth and then harden after cooling).  Darwinists do not have a workable answer for this observation, but it is well-documented. [31]

  3. Helium in radioactive rocks.  During the radioactive decay of uranium, helium is produced.  Helium is a very light and noble gas, so it defuses and escapes into the atmosphere.  When drilling deep into the Pre-Cambrian granite of New Mexico, rocks containing uranium and helium were unearthed, with the amount of helium surprisingly large.  The helium leakage rate is known, so the rocks could be ancient.  Given the amount of helium, the age is estimated at 4,000 to 8,000 years.  Furthermore, the amount of helium released in the atmosphere should be much larger than it is if the earth is billions of years old. [32]

  4. Carbon-14 content in fossils, coal, and diamonds.  As previously stated, the half-life of C14 is 5,730 years, and none would remain after several hundred thousand years.  But C14 has been detected in many ancient fossils, in samples of coal, and in diamonds that are supposedly hundreds of millions of year old.  When the decay of the earth’s magnetic field is considered, the amount of C14 in older samples would have actually been less.  A stronger magnetic field would have offered more protection from solar radiation and therefore would have reduced the amount of radioactive carbon in nature.  Therefore, using current levels of C14 results as a baseline for dating would return ages that are too old. [33]

  5. The amount of salt in the ocean.  If the world’s oceans have been present for billions of years, they would be much saltier then is currently the case.  Large amounts of salt are dumped into the oceans each year from rivers, glaciers, and atmospheric dust.  Salt is also removed by natural processes, but the net effect is greater salination each year.  If seawater originally contained no salt (a hypothetical assumption), and if the oceans were salinated at the current rate, then today’s levels would be reached in approximately 42 million years. [34]

  6. DNA in ancient bacteria. In 2000 scientists extracted bacteria from salt crystals, which were dated at 250 million years old. To their surprise, they found that the DNA in the bacteria was still intact, and even more surprising was that the DNA was very similar to modern bacterial DNA. In other words, the bacteria DNA should have shown significant mutations, but did not. [35]

Problem #7 – The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

It has long been an aphorism that “nothing happens without something causing it to happen.” This is true in all fields of endeavor, for example, Franklin D. Roosevelt was quoted as saying “If anything happens in politics, you can be sure that it was planned.” Physicists have observed that this is also a basic characteristic of nature, and have expressed it in the second law of thermodynamics, which states that “all systems tend toward minimum energy and maximum randomness.” That means everything tends to run down and fall apart, unless some external agent applies the energy to get things moving again and brings order out of chaos.

Darwinism, however, requires an “uncaused cause” and demands that the incredible complexity, a small part of which was described above, somehow came from disordered chaos with no intelligence supplying the energy or directing the effort. Thus, it is completely at odds with the second law, one of the basic principles of nature, and Darwinists have done many handsprings to try to explain and get around this problem. They have posited, for example, that energy was somehow added, but where it came from or what the organizing force was, is a mystery. Others have indicated that living organisms somehow override the 2nd law and are supposedly “self-organizing.” Despite the Darwinian failures at the biochemical level, computer models and philosophy are used to support this concept, but these are unconvincing and still require huge leaps of Darwinian faith. Still others who are not strictly Darwinists have speculated that the organizing energy and intelligence came from an alien race, but that answer simply puts the question a step backward – where did the alien race come from, and how could they have evolved? Bottom line – there is no satisfactory Darwinian explanation.

It is at this point that probabilities are often introduced. The odds against evolution are said to be a “trillion gazillion” to one, but somehow that one chance supposedly came up. In the section above on mutation we have seen that micro-evolution is the best that Darwinism can do. But perhaps another analogy is needed: if you had a stack of boards, nails, asphalt, paint, and sacks of cement sitting on an uninhabited island, how many millions of years will it take for those materials to evolve into a Wal-Mart complete with a parking lot and painted signs? Suppose we limit the result to having the foundation dug out and poured, and the framing for the building and the roof completed. Is there one chance in a billion gazillion that even this could evolve into existence? Barring a human mission or a miracle from God, we all know what will happen – far from a Wal-Mart or even the shell of a building appearing by accident, the pile of materials will get blown around into a disorganized mess and will eventually disintegrate – the best you would get is a few boards leaning against each other.

Some will immediately object to my above phrase “we all know what will happen” by pointing out “we don’t know what will happen.” That is true – we don’t know what will happen in the future, and no one can prove that a Wal-Mart cannot evolve into existence from the primordial ooze. But that objection misses the point, which is that the automatic appearance of a Wal-Mart via evolution/mutation is absurd, and that an unbiased observer seeing one would immediately conclude that it was constructed by an intelligent agent.

Others may object to my analogy that boards, nails, and cement are non-living and therefore could not evolve. My response is that even a single celled living organism is more complex than a Wal-Mart building, and therefore even farther beyond the possibility of coming into being by accident.

Nevertheless, some evolutionists believe that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is irrelevant in the case of biological systems:

The one man whose speculations have received the most attention (even acquiring for him a Nobel Prize in 1977) is Belgian physicist Ilya Prigogine, who advanced the idea of “dissipative structures” as a possible source of new complexity in nature. He postulated that when systems somehow are “perturbed” to a “far-from-equilibrium” condition, as a result of a large influx of external energy which produces an inordinate amount of internal energy dissipation, then certain “structures” might be generated. An example would be the generation of storm cells in the earth’s atmosphere by incoming solar heat.

An increase in organized complexity is not the same as a decrease in entropy (disorder). The second law applies only to entropy; it says nothing at all about organized complexity as such. How such “dissipative structures” could possibly produce organic evolution (i.e., create organized complexity from nothing) is completely unknown. Such systems as proposed by Prigogine in no way contradict the principle of entropy but rather are illustrations of entropy working overtime. The Harvard scientist, John Ross, comments: “There are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems… There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium phenomena the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.

The more common rejoinder to the apparent creation/evolution conflict is simply to dismiss it as “irrelevant” based on the incorrect belief that entropy only increases in so-called “isolated systems” – that is, systems closed to any external organizing energy or information. Typical of this is a paper by Edward Wiley and Daniel Brooks who speculate (without proof, either biological or mathematical) that evolution is inevitably produced in a biosphere increasing in entropy, through the mechanisms suggested by Prigogine’s non-equilibrium thermodynamics. However, evolutionist Roger Lewin, reviewing their paper, calls their speculations mere “heuristic formulations” and then cites Prigogine himself as being mystified by it. “I see how you can do this with molecules, but I don’t see how you can do it with species. I don’t understand the extrapolation.”

Open systems still have a tendency to disorder. There are special cases where local order can increase at the expense of greater disorder elsewhere. One case is crystallization where “order” is created simply due to the underlying molecular structure of the substance, and the other case is programmed machinery which direct energy into maintaining and increasing complexity, at the expense of increased disorder elsewhere. Living things have such energy-converting machinery to make the complex structures of life. The open systems argument does not help evolution, because raw energy cannot generate the specified complex information in living things.

Undirected energy just speeds up destruction. Just standing out in the sun won’t make you more complex — the human body lacks the mechanisms to harness raw solar energy. Similarly, undirected energy flow through an alleged primordial soup will tend to break down the complex molecules of life faster than they are formed. It’s like trying to run a car by pouring petrol on it and setting it alight. A car will run only if the energy in petrol is harnessed via the pistons, crankshaft, etc., and supplied through a controlled feed mechanism.  All of these components have to exist prior to the gas being supplied. [36]

Problem #8 – The Tenuousness and Balance of Life

As the mysteries of the cosmos have been unraveled, many scientists have expressed wonder at the delicate balance that is necessary for life to exist.

The laws of science, as we know them, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and electron… The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely tuned to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would have exploded… It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers that would allow the development of any form of intelligent life. [37]

Thousands of factors are necessary for life to exist, from all of the realms of science physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, and biology. Here are a few examples:

  1. Water, which is one of the basic elements of life, is an amazing substance, and it is virtually impossible to image life without it. Unlike most other liquids water can dissolve many solids and carry them in solution; the few others that have the same capability are either strongly acidic or basic, and therefore unsuitable as a basis for life. Furthermore, unlike almost all other liquids, water expands when it freezes, making ice lighter and insuring that it will float rather than sink. If ice was heavier than water, the ocean bottoms would be filled with it, and life as we know it would not be possible.

  2. Planets like our Earth are exceeding rare in the universe. Most regions of galaxies are hostile to life – areas close to the center or in the spiral arms of typical galaxies have very high doses of X-rays frying them, and areas that are too far from the center lack the ability to form elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. Furthermore, Earth is just the right distance from the sun – if we were closer like Venus we would boil, and if we were farther away like Mars we would freeze.

  3. The earth’s core is made of largely of metal, and produces a magnetic field that protects the surface of the planet from harmful outer space radiation. The Earth is not too big which would result in a crushing gravitational force, and not too small which would cause instability. The moon has also been found to be necessary – stabilizing the earth’s tilt, and thus moderating seasonal swings of temperature. The Earth is therefore finely tuned for life to exist.

  4. The chemical bonding properties of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements which are the building blocks of DNA, proteins, sugars, fats, and other substances necessary for life, which are rare occurrences in the cosmos on the rare planet Earth, are the biochemical basis for life, and it is inconceivable that other elements and molecules could take their place.

  5. There are thousands of factors that make life possible and pleasant on Earth: the cycling of water between bodies of water and clouds that provide rain, cleansing the atmosphere, and regulating temperature; the ozone layer which helps block harmful UV radiation; the color of vegetation is green, at a frequency that is easiest and most relaxing to the eyes; and many, many others.

  6. Both animals and humans have complicated feedback mechanisms to keep things in balance, and scientists still do not fully understand how memories are stored and recalled.  Neuroscience still has no idea about how human consciousness actually works.

In view of the overwhelming and crushing evidence for the complexity and fine tuning of nature, and therefore for an intelligent designer who made it happen, how is it feasible for a reasonable person to continue in the belief that all of this was a lucky accident? What can a Darwinist do except put his head in the sand and mutter: “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts!” But wait – isn’t that what Darwinists claim that Creationists do?

Problem #9 – Love, Purpose, and Destiny

When we reach humans Darwinism has yet another serious paradox. The Darwinian world is cruel and cold with no inherent ethics or morality. The only real ethic is survival of the fittest, and we are supposedly just intelligent animals, duking it out. As Richard Dawkins, one of the most vocal spokesmen for Darwinian, said:

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

Yet we humans, who are supposedly the product of Darwinism, are desperate for love, purpose, justice, and destiny. Studies with both human and primate babies have shown that those who are ignored and do not receive love will die or have serious psychological problems. The presumption of morality is also basic – kids may argue about the rules of a game, but there is an a-priory assumption that rules exist, and therefore the notion of good and evil is a basic concept; having a conscience is seemingly an instinctual part of human nature. All of us live in an unseen, but nevertheless very real, moral environment that deeply influences the way we live. The specifics of the environment varies, of course, from individual to individual and group to group, but some type of moral environment is part and parcel of being human. Simon Blackburn, a Cambridge philosopher, wrote:

[Our moral environment] determines what we find acceptable or unacceptable, admirable or contemptible. It determines our conception of when things are going well and when they are going badly. It determines our conception of what is due to us, and what is due from us, as we relate to others. It shapes our emotional responses, determining what is a cause of pride, or shame, or anger, or gratitude; what can be forgiven and what cannot. [38]

We also have dreams of immortality, and much of our art and music is inspired by thoughts and visions of God and heaven. If we are simply the products of time and chance – of stray molecules somehow coalescing on a cold, impersonal rock, then how could such powerful desires and moral compunctions have ever developed in humans?

Darwinists try to demonstrate that all of human behavior just developed from nothing, but that is a very poor explanation because the only operative factors in Darwinism are time, chance, mutation, and survival of the fittest. Trying to explain all behavior on this basis is an incredibly hard sell, and after listening to what Darwinists say, one comes away thinking, “If this theory is so popular, why are the explanations for it so poor and ridiculous?”

As previously indicated, my undergraduate degree was in Biology, and I recall a college class where we studied how Darwinian theory could account for complex human behavior and desires, such as thought, philosophy, ethics, religion, and self-sacrifice. It was a “good college try,” but the reasoning and conclusions were completely silly and laughable. It was as if a brilliant scientist was trying his best to explain and defend his position that the moon was actually made of green cheese.

The notion that we are simply animals does come in handy at times as a means of explaining or excusing human behavior, especially as related to sex. But the questions remain: how can you get intelligence from non-intelligence, love from robotic indifference, morality from blind amorality, and purpose from meaninglessness? Answer: you can’t; Darwinism is a myth.

Support for Darwinism

Like the townsfolk in The Emperor’s New Clothes, we can see that the ruler is naked, but then we hear voices of influential people around us admiring his sartorial splendor. Even though the emperor’s bare butt is clearly visible, on hearing these voices we may wonder, “Am I missing something, or is there a problem with my eyes?” In the story, it took a little boy – someone who had the honesty and the clear vision to say out loud, “The Emperor doesn’t have any clothes on!” People then began to admit, “Hey! The kid is right!”

But even though Darwinism is on the rocks, it is still accepted as valid by many and perhaps even by the majority of scientists. If the theory is so lame, why is that still the case?

Part of the reason is that scientists, like everyone else, typically accept as fact what they were taught in school. Darwinism has been, and in most American schools, still is being taught as fact, rather than as the fallacious theory that it is. As Arthur Schopenhauer said: “There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.”

The mandate in public schools to teach Darwinism as scientific truth was not an accident, but a deliberate policy directive by the educational establishment. They understood very well that early inculcation of concepts in children would be hard for those children to reverse, as the above Schopenhauer quote indicates, even if the concepts are completely false.

Furthermore, very few have either the inclination or the means to re-verify what they have been taught, such the equation E = mc2 or the distance between the earth and the sun. Darwinism is likewise assumed to be true. The presumption is that in our modern scientific age, since Darwinism is taught as scientific truth, someone, somewhere must have verified it. The fact that no one has been able to do so, or even to seriously propose how it could have happened, would come as drastic shock, if that fact was generally known.

Kids eventually grow up, and those who now fill the science positions in academia, industry, and government have thus been made to drink deeply of the Darwinian cool-aid by the western public education systems. Like everyone else, they have been taught that Darwinism is true, and opponents of it are simply religious obstructionists. In addition to that, their positions often depend on conformity with the institutions they work for. Hence they have strong incentives for not rocking the boat.

It is therefore not enough to simply state arguments against macro-evolution; we also need to consider what Darwinists would say in support of their theory:

Support #1 – Darwin’s Arguments from On the Origin of Species

While Darwin could not, of course, provide any conclusive evidence for his theory, he did advance essentially five arguments in favor of it, and they are one of the main reasons for the success of his book. But before examining them we need to understand that Darwin, who was not a theologian and apparently not very knowledgeable about the Bible, was not targeting Creationism, especially as we know it today. Rather, his target was a popular conception of his time known as “The Great Chain of Being.” This was the idea that the universe and creation were “perfect,” that each organism was static, that each had its place, and therefore change, extinction, and/or ruinous competition were not possible and/or could not part of the system.

Here are Darwin’s arguments:

  1. Descent from a common ancestor better accounts for the natural grouping of organisms. Common descent does better when compared to the Great Chain of Being, but not to Biblical Creationism, which states that organisms were created “after their kinds.” Both Darwinism and Creationism are in agreement that there are natural groupings of organisms, so this is not an effective argument for Darwinism.

  2. Evolution accounts for the proximity of similar species or variations to each other. Again, there is no real difference here between Darwinism and Creationism. If God created life, then he obviously created it with the capability of micro-evolution, so it is natural in either system that evolved versions of organisms would be in relatively close proximity to each other. Therefore, this is also not an effective argument for Darwinism.

  3. Progression in the fossil record. The fossil record indicates that oldest organisms such as single-celled animals were the most primitive, followed by invertebrates, mammals, etc. However, there is no disagreement on that point between Darwinism and Creationism. In the latter, the simplest organisms were created first, followed by the more complex, so it is logical in both systems that the fossil record would be progressive.  This is also not an effective argument for Darwinism.

  4. Design Defects and Rudimentary Organs. This argument is considered in detail below.

  5. Competition in nature where one species or organism can displace another demonstrates cruelty. This is a biologically specific argument of the general question, if God is good, why is there bad? This argument is an effective against the Great Chain of Being, but not against Creationism, and is also considered in detail below.

Support #2 – Design Defects and Rudimentary Organs

One of the main ways that Darwinists have tried to challenge intelligent design is by pointing out that there are defects in various organisms; if the designer was truly intelligent, then supposedly no defects would have been tolerated. Taking his cue from Darwin, this argument has been championed by Brown University biology professor Kenneth Miller:

Another way to respond to the theory of intelligent design is to carefully examine complex biological systems for errors that no intelligent designer would have committed. Because intelligent design works from a clean sheet of paper it should have produced organisms that have been optimally designed for the tasks they perform. [39]

However, this is a very unconvincing argument for a number of reasons:

  1. Just because we see what looks to us as flaws in the design of an object, how can we then claim that there was no designer, and the object just evolved? The term non-sequitur (from the Latin “does not follow”) was coined to represent such attempted leaps of logic. Using Miller’s reasoning one could, for example, conclude that the Edsel automobile was the product of Darwinian evolution.

  2. This argument attempts to psychoanalyze the designer. How can we know what the designer’s motives and reasons were for any given biological subsystem? Perhaps the designer purposely introduced flaws or “planned obsolescence” (i.e., death) into the design of nature (see the paragraph below), and/or perhaps there are reasons why the design had to be made in the manner that it was; fully appreciating the reasons requires a much more complete understanding of biological systems. To use an analogy from the software industry: it is often the case in complex software systems that a new developer will question the wisdom of the original design team because he or she does not understand all of the requirements and implications that had to be addressed, or the environmental limitations that had to be taken into account.

  3. This argument assumes that scientists know what the optimal design of an organism could and should be. Given the fact that there are many biochemical mysteries still remaining to be unraveled, and that Darwinists cannot explain the evolution of even one biochemical system, they should avoid the presumptuous arrogance of thinking that they can pontificate on optimal design.

Yet another variation of this objection is indicating that some biological features seem to have no useful function at all, such as the rudimentary eyes of cave animals. Vestigial organs are often cited for this argument, like the tonsils and the appendix in humans. But many organs that were once thought to be evolutionary leftovers were later shown to have a distinct purpose and function (e.g. the tonsils), and even if the vestigiality of an organ could somehow be proven, it is at best a poor argument. Again, Darwinists should avoid pontifications which they will later regret.

Support #3 – Competition and Cruelty

This argument assumes that if God created the world and that he is good, why is there so much bad? From the biological perspective, the question could be phrased, if God is good, then why is nature cruel, why do some organisms prey on others, and why have some organisms become extinct? An intelligent designer would supposedly have created only “good” organisms that would not need to prey on others in order to survive.

This is essentially a moral and theological objection rather than a scientific one, but it suffers from the same issues mentioned above, namely that we are capable of understanding and judging the methods and motives of the designer, which we are not. However, there is another comprehensive answer to this question from the book of Genesis, which tells us that the original creation was good but it was corrupted by the fall of man into sin, selfishness, and evil.

It was indicted at the beginning of this document that no religious arguments will be presented. But as Darwinism here raises a theological issue, a theological response is appropriate, as follows:

The Biblical book of Genesis provides a comprehensive answer to this question, telling us that the original creation was good, but was corrupted by the fall of man into sin, selfishness, and evil. The Bible does not provide us with specifics on exactly what impact that event had on the world in general, but it provides hints that God altered nature in drastic and fundamental ways. Before the fall the first man and woman lived in a paradise where painful labor, economics, and even death were unknown. But afterward Adam is told that: “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you return to the ground, because from it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19

Eve was likewise rebuked and told that childbirth would become “painful labor” for her. These consequences involved immense changes in the natural world that are not fully described, but nevertheless explain why there is bad in the world even though God is good.

Nature was further altered in dramatic fashion by the flood of Noah, which resulted in much human and animal death. Unlike Darwinian-based philosophy where people can “do what they will”, the Bible indicates that are divine consequences for human behavior, which can potentially affect nature as well. The Bible also indicates that one day nature will be restored: “The cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:7-9

Support #4 – Homologies

Anatomists and physiologists have long noted that various organs and appendages in different species seem to have the same basic structure. For example, a whale’s flipper is similar to a human foot. This similarity is interpreted as evidence that species have evolved, and that the flipper has evolved into a foot. The fact that all life is ultimately cellular and based on DNA, and that all varieties of DNA use the same coding scheme for building proteins is also taken as evidence of universal common descent.

Sequencing the human genome (i.e., determining the nucleotide sequence of all human DNA) was completed in 2000, and the DNA of many other organisms has been sequenced as well, allowing organisms to be compared at the genetic level. When the structure of human and chimp DNA are compared there are remarkable similarities, and even regions in the DNA of both that are said to have “mutated” in the same manner. This would seem to be strong evidence that both chimps and human came from the same ancestor. But even though the DNA’s are similar, the homology arguments are just speculations (Darwinian faith in action) – just because the DNA of two different organisms are similar does not prove that they came from the same ancestor. An even if they did, Darwinists must still explain how an ape can turn into a man using only the factors of mutations and natural selection.

Rather than “universal common descent” what makes much more sense is “universal common design.” Just as homologies can be interpreted as evidence for Darwinism, they are an equally strong evidence for intelligent design – that the designer used a common pattern not only for DNA and the cell, but also for various organs and appendages as well. The designer adapted the designs for the environment in which the species would live – the whale in the ocean and the human on land. Therefore, the similarities between chimp and human DNA were not necessarily caused by one evolving into the other, but rather because the designer used similar DNA structures for both.

Another version of the homology argument which was first cited by Darwin and is still being repeated, is that the there is a progression in the complexity of various organs from the lower and more primitive species to the higher. For example, many organisms have eyes, but the visual capabilities of organisms increase as you move up the chain of life. Darwinists explain these improvements by continually alluding to the “evolutionary advantages” provided by the improved capabilities, the implication being that individuals of a species which had better eyes would be more likely to survive, and pass the genetic improvements on to their offspring. However, Darwinists just assume that macro-evolution happened; there is never any explanation of how these changes could actually have taken place at the biochemical level, and how one form of an eye could have actually evolved into another.

It is like asking for an explanation of how a personal computer works; rather than getting a detailed description of the operating system software, the motherboard, and the other components, you are told: “just connect the monitor, mouse, and keyboard to the back of the computer, plug it into a wall socket, and turn it on.” Such detailed documentation could, of course, be provided for a personal computer, but in the case of Darwinism such documentation doesn’t exist.

This second homology argument is also excellent evidence for intelligent design – the designer wanted to provide capabilities such as vision to various organisms, and then improved on the basic design in the higher species.

Support #5 – Philosophical Objections to Intelligent Design

Darwinists cite several philosophical objections to intelligent design, primarily from the English philosopher and skeptic David Hume:

  1. Hume observed that the design which is present at all levels in the cosmos does not prove that God exists, or that the cosmos was created by a supreme being. But that is an empty argument because it is impossible to prove either the existence or the non-existence of God, and likewise both Darwinism and intelligent design cannot be proved or disproved. Given that proof one way or the other is impossible, we must instead seek what is reasonable. Intelligent design is reasonable, whereas Darwinism is not. Furthermore, the concept of intelligent design does not require that the designer be identified and named.

  2. Hume stated we must be able to observe the design process to definitively conclude that the world was intelligently designed. This is another empty proof-type argument. For example, we do not need to observe automotive designers at work in order to reach a reasonable conclusion that a car was designed as opposed to evolving from spare parts. Furthermore, the fact that we may consider a given car model to be “a piece of junk” means that we object to the way that the car was designed, not that it came into being by accident (although an angry car owner may express his frustration in that manner).

  3. The nineteenth century Anglican pastor and naturalist William Paley was the first to comprehensively state the case for intelligent design in his book Natural Theology. Paley compared the cosmos to a watch, which like Behe’s mouse trap example above, is irreducibly complex, and thus requires an intelligent designer. Richard Dawkin’s book The Blind Watchmaker claims victory for Darwinism; that science has supposedly finally demonstrated that there is no need for a designer, and therefore God doesn’t exist or is irrelevant. However, breaking out the champagne was premature – Darwinism may have triumphed in the sense that it is being taught much more than Creationism, but that is not the same thing as actually being true. Dawkins never addressed Paley’s irreducible complexity argument, and it remains as one of the fatal flaws of Darwinism.

Support #6 – Complexity Theory

Briefly, this theory states that complex structures are said to be “self-organizing” and the cell supposedly is a potential example. The problem with this theory is that it is entirely mathematical, and implementations of it are computer-based models with all of the inherent potential fallacies of such models. While initially popular, the theory has accumulated a number of opponents who have pointed out that although the computer models generate nice graphics, the theory itself is essentially “fact-free” and can be morphed into demonstrating whatever the model creators wish to demonstrate. The bottom line is that the theory does not provide any real-world answers to complex biological objects such as the cell. Complexity theory is similar to the evolutionary criticisms of the 2nd law of thermodynamics discussed above.

One of the more popular minority views called “complexity theory” or “self-organization,” has been championed for decades by Stuart Kaufman, currently of the University of Calgary. The use of the term “self-organizing” can be a bit confusing because all of biology is profoundly self-organizing. But that’s not what is meant here; self-organization theorists use the term in a more general way… But it’s completely unclear how this concept would apply to evolution… Some very simple rush-hour traffic patterns are self-organizing, but self-organization does not explain where complex carburetors, steering wheels, and all of the other physical parts of a car came from, let alone how “cars could be manufactured merely by tumbling their parts onto the factory floor.” [40]

Support #7 – Redefinition of Irreducible Complexity

Michael Behe originally published Darwin’s Black Box in 1996, and ten years later came to print with another edition. During that period, much more of the biochemical complexity of life has been revealed, so the arguments for intelligent design have grown stronger and Darwinism correspondingly weaker. Of course, Behe’s book attracted a lot of negative attention from Darwinists who have repeatedly attempted to discredit his central argument, the irreducible complexity of the cell. Behe points out that the best way to discredit the design argument would be to demonstrate how cellular systems could have evolved at the biochemical level, but despite the huge financial and status incentives that would accrue to the individual or group doing so (probably an automatic Nobel prize), no one has as yet done it. The problem for the Darwinist seeking to grab this brass ring is the overwhelming complexity of life, which is much more overwhelming at the molecular level than it is at the visible levels.

Nevertheless, attacks on irreducible complexity have been attempted by Robert Pinnock in his book The Tower of Babel, as well as by Kenneth Miller, the biology professor mentioned above. Essentially their argument is to redefine irreducible complexity to better fit with Darwinism, and to claim that Behe’s original definition tried to prove that cellular systems could not have evolved. Since it is not possible to prove that Darwinism is a fallacy, then intelligent design can safely be ignored and Darwinists can breathe a sigh of relief (non-sequitur proof arguments seem to be a perennial favorite of Darwinists). But a close reading of Behe’s definition (quoted above) does not attempt to prove the impossibility of macro-evolution, nor do I attempt to do so. He merely states that biological systems are so complex that the concept of macro-evolution is not reasonable, and therefore Darwinism is not believable.

Behe points out that even a strident Darwinist such as Richard Dawkins admits that the cosmos appears to be designed – the first page of Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker has this statement: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Since Darwinism claims that life was an accident, the onus is thus on the Darwinist to demonstrate that design can be generated without a designer.

Darwinists have urged their fellow scientists to resist the spread of intelligent design, but the actual criticisms have been lame attempts, picking at nits, or simply repeating old Darwinist canards which boil down to: “Life just evolved. We don’t know how or why, and we have no real evidence for it, but we have PhD’s in biology, so trust us.”

Support #8 – Young Earth Creationism

A major reason for the success of Darwinism has been its insistence on the separation of church and state, and accusations that teaching any theory of origin other than Darwinism is teaching religion as opposed to pure science. They have done a good job in convincing people that Darwinism is not religious, which, of course, is a fallacy.

Another reason for its success is that it targets proponents of a “young earth” who believe that our planet and possibly even the cosmos itself is less than ten thousand years old.

Because of its insistence on a young earth, this version of Creationism (referred to herein as “YEC”) has a number of problems, such as the following:

  1. The “red shift” or Doppler effect phenomenon of the light coming from distant stars suggests that the cosmos is much older.
  2. The fact that given the immensity of the universe, light reaching us from remote stars would have taken much longer than ten thousand years.
  3. In some places on our planet there are sedimentary and other geological layers that seem to be much older.

YEC proponents are typically Christians who interpret the first three chapters of the Biblical book of Genesis as indicating that the creation of the cosmos took place in a literal seven-day period of time. The explanations given by YEC scientists for the above issues typically suggest that the planet and the cosmos have “the appearance of age,” and this apparent age is essentially an artifact. They have also exposed the invalid assumptions made in the radiometric dating of rocks. This process measures the amount of radioactive material remaining in a rock, and therefore requires that the original amount of this material be known, which is

Darwinists, who are typically humanists and/or atheists, have ridiculed this theory, and have accused YEC proponents of trying to make science fit the Bible. Using the separation of church and state, and the secularization of western society as leverage, they have largely succeeded in the media and political wars to:

  1. Eliminate the teaching of Creationism in public schools.
  2. Claim that religion (i.e., Christianity) is essentially incompatible with science.
  3. Portray people of faith as ignorant obstructionists in order to marginalize them.
  4. Use their influence to censor opposing view and enforce conformity. For examples of this type of bigotry in action, see Ben Stein’s movie Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed.

But YEC is not the only creationist theory. There are “old earth” creationists of various types who accept an older age for the earth and the cosmos.

Furthermore, the intelligent design movement which seeks to remove religion and theology from the debate, has become very popular. Proponents of intelligent design indicate that a designer/creator was necessary to bring the world into being, but the identity of the designer/creator is not specified, and therefore the theory does not concern itself with religious or theological issues. Thus, intelligent design fits within the church/state barriers that have been erected, so proponents are seeking to oppose the Darwinian monopoly and tear down the walls that Darwinists have created in science education.

Support #9 – The Scientific Necessity of Darwinism and the Nature of Scientific Study

Scientists typically are uncomfortable with the possibility and the notion of miracles – events that are inexplicable given the current laws of science. Experiments must be capable of being controlled in the lab and be repeatable, so that a scientist’s work can be acknowledged and confirmed by others. Furthermore, today’s scientists grew up during the period when western society has become almost completely secularized/Darwinized, and therefore they typically want to avoid anything that smacks of religion in their work.

Since Darwinism and Creationism/intelligent design are the only significant theories for the origin of the cosmos, the former would therefore seem to be the more “scientific” because by its very nature it excludes all references to God. Scientists may therefore feel more comfortable with it. However, thinking that Darwinism is more scientific is a fallacy for several reasons:

  1. The origin of life is not something that can be studied by scientific means. Although a scientist may study issues related to the origin of life, the origin itself cannot be studied in the lab because it was an historical event. Unlike experiments, events are not repeatable, and by their very nature cannot be studied experimentally. Therefore, the origin falls within the realm of history rather than science, and this is true regardless of which theory a scientist believes in.

  2. Given the historical nature of the origin of life and bias of scientists against religion, there is a tendency among some to ignore issues related to the origin because “science cannot speak to those issues.” In other words, the problem of how cells came to be is beyond the realm of science, and therefore is glossed over in order to focus on how they supposedly evolved afterward. The “big bang” is treated a similar fashion – the universe as we know it supposedly came into being because a large amount of matter was collected in one place and then exploded, creating all of the galaxies and solar systems. But the question is rarely if ever asked, “How did all of that material get together in the first place?” Because that question is beyond the realm of science to answer, it is typically ignored, which is simply placing one’s head in the sand. Others (typically non-scientists) speculate that life originated from aliens visiting the planet. But that speculation does not solve the core issue either – if life came from aliens, then where did the aliens come from?

  3. When scientists study something very complex they will often simplify or consider only a few aspects of the subject being studied. This is often necessary in order to come to grips, and to develop their theories. But the theories developed may then be of little value because they do not do justice to the complexity of what was being studied.This has happened repeatedly in psychology and is in large part responsible for the many revolutions in its history. For example, Freud’s “Oedipus complex” theory which stated that all human neuroses are the result of early sexual conflicts, was developed on the basis of studying only a few troubled individuals (including Freud himself). This theory has long been abandoned, but in the meantime people’s “street” views have been dramatically affected (the theory was propounded by supposed experts with PhD degrees, and therefore must be true, right?) Freud’s major work was psychoanalysis, but years later in a study on the effectiveness of various therapies, Hans Eysenck contended that in many cases psychoanalysis was ineffective, and patients may have better off with no treatment. [41] Another example from psychology is behaviorism, a movement that limited the study of people to their “behavior.” After all, behavior is the only thing actually observable and therefore capable of being studied in a lab environment. Theories and inferences about human nature were then proposed on this simplified view which ignored elements not capable of being studied, such as spirituality and higher thought.Even though some aspects of behaviorism remain, that movement in psychology was eventually swept away by the “cognitive revolution.” Thomas Kuhn’s immensely influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (one of the most cited works in the history of science because of the controversy it generated), pulls away the curtain on this process and demonstrated how “paradigm shifts” in science actually occur. Far from the popular concept of science being “self-correcting,” Kuhn indicated that many scientists stay comfortably within the current paradigm of their field, and their experiments are largely intended to establish and buttress it. That process occurs until a few individuals become troubled about one or more limitations with the paradigm. This discontent continues until a tipping point is reached where the older paradigm is discarded by most scientists in favor of a new one. A new norm is then established and science returns to business as usual until the next theoretical crisis.

  4. Bias and comfort with any theory should be unacceptable in science because scientists should be dealing with truth, rather than trying to prove what is politically correct, what they or their bosses want, or what they are paid to prove. Unfortunately, that is the ugly reality of the way that science usually works. Like everyone else, scientists typically start with a bias and then seek evidence that will further establish and protect that bias, rather than seeking what is true and adjusting their biases as necessary (the punctuated equilibrium theory mentioned above, as well as Eugene Dubois’ Java Man debacle are good examples of this facet of human nature). This process is documented in books such as When Wish Replaces Thought by Stephen Goldberg.A related problem is that scientists are usually more interested in their careers and in doing what their organizations dictate, rather than in trying to establish what is actually true (you get fired and have to find another job if you don’t do what the boss says, or what your sponsors are paying you to work on). Scientists need to earn a living like everyone else, and therefore most are not engaged in basic research for which there is little financial reward. However, if a scientist could somehow demonstrate that Darwinism was true, it would make him or her instantly rich and famous. But there is much less of a paycheck for working on the intelligent design side of the fence, with few, if any, grants available.

  5. People may be uncomfortable with the idea of divine creation, but if God exists and created the cosmos, then it does not matter how people feel about it. Furthermore, divine creation does not mean that the world or reality is any less scientific. Matter and energy operate by the laws of science, but if God created matter and energy, then he also created the laws of science. Furthermore, what are now classed as “miracles” may actually be actions that are obeying higher laws of science that we do not yet understand because they are beyond our current observational capabilities. It is often the case that an action seemingly breaks a lower law because it is obeying a higher or different law, like gravity being overcome when we catch a falling object.For example, the only way a person sees anything is by the retina collecting photons of light that reflect off surfaces, and conveying the resulting image to the brain. But what if the object we are trying to “see” is smaller than an individual photon of light? The electron microscope was developed for just this reason; electrons are smaller than light photons and therefore can be used to resolve smaller objects. The internal structure of the cell only became visible to us after the invention of the electron microscope. Prior to that invention the organelles of the cell appeared as fuzzy blobs, like pixelated computer images. But what if there are particles much smaller than electrons that we have no current way of detecting or controlling? Perhaps what we refer to as “soul” or “spirit” may actually be composed of such particles, which in turn, obey laws of science that we do not yet understand because they are beyond our current ability to detect and analyze.

Support #10 – The Theological Necessity of Darwinism

Believers in Darwinism typically reject God and therefore are usually humanists or atheists. Although humanism/atheism does not have any religious trappings and therefore may not seem like a religion, it is one nevertheless, as it is a belief system about the nature of God (i.e., there is no God or that he is irrelevant), and therefore about the nature of man. In other words, everyone has a belief system, and therefore everyone has a religion. As Lynn Margulis’ quote above indicated, Darwinism is essentially a religious sect.

One’s personal theology is the basis of his or her worldview; it is the basis by which he or she evaluates the most significant issues of life. But regardless of which religion/theology a person identifies with, all thinking individuals need to have an explanation for the basic questions of life, all of which flow out of the origin issue: where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going?

Many people dislike the idea of God because they want to be “the captain of their own fate,” and to do whatever they desire without a God who will judge them and hold them to account. They may also have rejected God for a variety of other reasons, but regardless of the specifics, they do not believe in a personal God. However, they still need an explanation for the origin of the cosmos, and that is where Darwinism comes in; it provides the metaphysical and theological foundation for humanist religion – that we are simply the product of time and chance, that we define our own morality, and that we are accountable to no one. Darwinism is what allows humanists to have an intellectual level of comfort with their chosen belief system. Hundreds of books have therefore been written by humanists/Darwinists in an attempt to prop up their theology, and defend their worldview.

This is the major reason why Darwinism has not been discarded, because it is a theological and philosophical necessity for its adherents. This also explains why many prominent and otherwise intelligent people hold so tenaciously to Darwinism despite its questionable nature, and why even intellectuals grasp at every possible straw to keep the theory going. Darwinists have thus become exactly what they accuse creationists of being: Luddites who try to make science and reality fit their theory.

Most people have a very hard time admitting they are wrong about anything, especially something as deep as their core worldview. Those who are wealthy and powerful are even more unwilling to admit mistakes, and typically are also the most arrogant and unwilling to admit that they could ever be wrong. Many museums and academic institutions are bastions of Darwinism, and for them to admit that the theory is bunk would be committing intellectual suicide. Despite the bankruptcy of their theory, Darwinists must therefore continually grind their axe, and Creationism and intelligent design must be attacked so that students will continue to be inculcated into the desired world view, because if public opinion reaches the tipping point, people will eventually realize that the Darwinian emperor is naked. Darwinism will then be discarded, defenders of the theory like Richard Dawkins will be mocked as educated idiots, and entire intellectual basis of many of the most powerful and wealthy people and institutions in the world will be shaken to the core.

Here are a few quotes from Richard Dawkins and responses to them:

  • Quote: Isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?
  • Response: I totally agree. Why not take off your Darwinian blinders and really see the world?
  • Quote: I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
  • Response: I am also against that type of religion. Darwinism is a religion which teaches exactly that – to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
  • Quote: Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.
  • Response: That is exactly what Darwinism has done – over time it has established powerful and intolerant religious institutions which have tried to turn false evolutionist belief into unshakable truth.
  • Quote: Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
  • Response: This is exactly what faith in Darwinism has accomplished – forced people to accept, believe, and waste their time supporting a theory that is patently false, and where the evidence is almost completely against the theory.

Conclusion

Despite its prominence, Darwinism is essentially the belief that somehow, someday, in some way, scientists will be able to make 2 + 2 = 5.

Most children’s books containing the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, depict the emperor in a dressing gown, or at least in his underwear for the sake of modesty, as in the picture above. However, the Darwinian emperor is naked, and his bare posterior is waving in the breeze for all who have eyes to see.

But there have been many instances in world history where truth has been concealed for the sake of those in power, such as during the rule of Stalin in Russia and Mao in China. America and the west are democracies and supposedly free from political and educational tyranny, or are we? Will Darwinism be exposed for the fallacy that it is?


[1] M.W. Ho and P.T. Sanders, “Beyond Neo-Darwinism – An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution”, Journal of Theoretical Biology #78, 1979, p. 589

[2] Ashley Montagu (Princeton University) on the back cover of the book Science on Trial by Douglas Futuyma

[3] Nora Barlow, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882 NY: Norton, ed. 1958

[4] Jerry Bergman, Quotes in the web page are from the following: Ralph Colp Jr., To Be an Invalid: The Illness of Charles Darwin Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1977; Thomas Barloon and Russell Noyes, Jr., “Charles Darwin and Panic Disorder” JAMA 277(2):138-141, 1997; Clifford A. Picover, Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen NY: Quill William Morrow, 1998; W.B. Bean. “The Illness of Charles Darwin.” The American Journal of Medicine 65(4):572-574, 1978; R.O. Pasnau, “Darwin’s Illness: A Biopsychosocial Perspective.” Psychosomatics 31(2):121-128, 1990; Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, NY: Warner Books, 1991; https://www.icr.org/article/was-charles-darwin-psychotic-study-his-mental-heal

[5] Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1872), New York University Press, New York, 6th edition, 1988, p. 154

[6] Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box – The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, 2006, pp. 39-40

[7] Ibid, pp. 102, 107-8

[8] Ibid, p. 179

[9] Klaus Dose, “The Origin of Life: More Questions than Answers” Interdisciplinary Science Review #13, 1988, p. 348

[10] Michael J. Behe, The Edge of Evolution – The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, Free Press, 2007, pp. 26, 149

[11] Ibid, pp. 138-9, 155.

[12] Ibid, pp. 153-4.

[13] C. Mann. “Lynn Margulis: Science’s Unruly Earth Mother”, Science # 232, 1991, pp. 378-81

[14] Niles Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin, Wiley, NY, 1993, p. 95

[15] Palaeontologist Jenifer Clack, University of Cambridge, UK; in: Curry, M., Ancient four-legged beasts leave their mark, ScienceNOW Daily News, sciencenow, 6 January 2010; https://sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2010/106/2

[16] Niedzwiedzki, G., Szrek, P., Narkiewicz, K., Narkiewicz, M. and Ahlberg, P., Tetrapod trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland, Nature 463(7227):43–48, 2010; https://nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7277/pdf/nature08623.pdf

[17] Palaentologist Per Ahlberg of Uppsala University, Sweden; in: Fossil Footprints Give Land Vertebrates a Much Longer History, ScienceDaily, 8 January 2010; https://sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107114420.htm

[18] John F. McDonald, “The Molecular Basis of Adaptation” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics #14, 1983, p. 93

[19] Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention, 1993, p. 153, 162-3; Richard Leakey, “Skull 1470”, National Geographic, June 1973, p. 819

[20] Marvin L. Lubenow, “Reversals in the Fossil Record: The Latest Problem in Stratigraphy and Evolutionary Phylogeny”, Creation Science Quarterly 13, March 1977, pp. 185-90

[21] Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention, 1993, p. 82

[22] Ibid, pp. 150-2

[23] Ibid, p. 24

[24] Ibid, pp. 86-99, 113-19

[25] Ibid, pp. 39-44

[26] Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions, https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/radiometric-dating-problems-with-the-assumptions

[27] Ibid

[28] More Bad News for Radiometric Dating, https://www.cs.unc.edu/~plaisted/ce/dating2.html

[29] Mark Hollis Armitage and Kevin Lee Anderson, “Soft sheets of fibrillar bone from a fossil of the supraorbital horn of the dinosaur Triceratops horridus,” Acta Histochemica, doi: 10.1016/j.acthis.2013.01.001, 2103

Alexander Cherkinsky, “Radiocarbon Analysis Report,” The University of Georgia Center for Applied Isotope Studies, August 14, 2012.

[30] Erosion and the lack of sedimentation in the deep-ocean floor; https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/articles/am/v7/n4/ECP-Vol2-pp881-884_Sea-Floor%20Sediments.pdf

[31] Decay in the earth’s magnetic field; https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-for-creation/5-rapidly-decaying-magnetic-field/

[32] Helium in radioactive rocks; https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/6-helium-in-radioactive-rocks/

[33] Carbon-14 content in fossils, coal, and diamonds; https://answersingenesis.org/geology/carbon-14/7-carbon-14-in-fossils-coal-and-diamonds/

[34] The amount of salt in the ocean; https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-for-creation/9-very-little-salt-in-the-sea/

[35] DNA in ancient bacteria; https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/antibiotic-resistance/10-dna-in-ancient-bacteria/

[36] John Ross, Letter to the Editor, Chemical and Enqineerinq News July 7, 1980, p. 40; Edward Wiley and Daniel Brooks, Victims of History – a Non-Equilibrium Approach to Evolution; https://creation.com/the-second-law-of-thermodynamics-answers-to-critics

[37] Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 10th Anniversary Edition, New York, Bantam Books, pp. 129-30

[38] Simon Blackburn, Begin Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics, Oxford University Press, 2000

[39] Kenneth Miller, “Life’s Grand Design.” Technology Review, Feb-Mar, 1994, p. 29

[40] Michael J. Behe, The Edge of Evolution – The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, Free Press, 2007, p. 159

[41] Hans Eysenck, “The Effects of Psychotherapy: An Evaluation” Journal of Consulting Psychology, October 1952, 16 (5): 319–324

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Problem of Evil

Turtle Upside Down

How can God be good if there is so much bad?

Introduction

Around 300 BC the Greek philosopher Epicurus stated the following:

If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to, then He is not omnipotent.
If God is able, but not willing, then He is malevolent.
If God is both able and willing, then where does evil come from?
If God is neither able nor willing, then why call Him God?

This succinct statement of the problem of evil has come to be known as Epicurus’ Paradox, and for those who are struggling with the God of the Bible, this issue is one of, if not the major stumbling block. Of course, the problem of evil is not unique to Christianity/Judaism – every religion must face it. The humanist/atheist will explain that because there is no God, the universe is amoral by nature. After having stated this they supposedly can relax because their religion seems to provide a simple answer for this perplexing question. But they have the same problem in a different form – if humanity is simply the accidental product of time and chance, existing in an amoral universe, how would humans have ever have developed a conscience distinguishing between good and evil? Why would good and evil even be an issue? That is a much more difficult dilemma to resolve and humanists need to be taken to task for it, but here we will focus on the problem of evil in the context of Christianity.

The Bible teaches that God is omnibenevolent (all-loving), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (all-powerful), but the problem of evil calls all of these into question. If we take the Bible to be true, then we must confront Epicurus’ paradox and answer it. This topic and area of study is so important that a special name has been given to it – Theodicy – and it is especially important in our current intellectual climate in which humanists and atheists routinely state that God in general and Christianity in particular are a danger to society, and perhaps even the chief danger (e.g., Christopher Hitchens in god Is Not Great, Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and Sam Harris in The End of Faith). This claim is rather silly given the horrendous human rights record of humanistic/atheistic regimes (the Communists in Russia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, and the Germans under Hitler) where more people were tortured and killed than in all of the other wars of history combined. Atheist claims are also well-countered in books such as David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions, but IMHO, it also necessary to state your Theodicy in a summary form. All of the ideas that follow come primarily from two sources: The End of Christianity by William Dembski, and The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis; what follows here is essentially the “Cliff Notes” version of those books – please read them for a fuller appreciation of this subject.

The Origin of Evil

Where did evil come from? Pantheists would say that God contains elements of both good and evil (He is not omnibenevolent, and is impersonal and/or detached). Gnostics would say that God is good but sometimes is defeated by Satan (He is not omnipotent/ omniscient). Communists and socialists claim that capitalism, corporations, and the profit motive are the source or evil. But the Bible states that the source of evil is wrongful desires of the human heart. Every person is therefore a potential source of evil. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. These are the things which defile the man.
Matthew 5:19-20

But if everything that God created was good, how did things go bad? God gave humanity a free will capable of making moral choices, and with that grant came the possibility of choosing evil instead of good.


The essential element of Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden was getting her to distrust God – to believe that He was holding back on her, and screwing her out of something that she and Adam should rightfully have had. Satan, speaking through the serpent, certainly helped plant those doubts in her head and egged her on, but it was Eve herself who made the choice to pick the fruit, and it was Adam’s choice to eat it. In an act of rebellion they disobeyed a divine command, and declared that they no longer trusted in the goodness of God.

Some would see Adam and Eve’s disobedience as a small thing – a tempest in a teapot – but it was a rebellion nevertheless. As the quote from Jesus above indicates, the spirit of rebellion metastasizes like a slow-growing cancer. A few years later Adam and Eve’s oldest son Cain became the first murderer in history. After losing out to his younger brother Able, Cain killed him in order to get even. A baby seems to be so innocent, but Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were all at one point babes in their mothers’ arms.

The angel Lucifer had done essentially the same thing ages before. He also rebelled against God and so became Satan, the Devil, and the great enemy. But even though they were tempted by Satan, Adam and Eve made the choice, and therefore God held them and the human family responsible.

—————————————————————————————-

Why can’t we have heaven on earth right now?

Some may ask, “Why do we have to wait? Why can’t we have heaven on earth right now?” The answer is that suffering and death were not a part of the original plan; they were and are God’s response to human evil, because of His justice. The Apostle Paul explains:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it… We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now… For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it… For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18-25

God knows that “all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and therefore he is the only being in existence who is truly worthy of ultimate kingship. Nevertheless, he invites us climb the mountains with him, and that is why he is so concerned with justice and morality; sin cannot be tolerated because like a poison gas it pollutes his kingdom and renders us unfit to be there and to act as his representatives. Lucifer, the great angel of the morning, was tempted by God’s power and sought to overthrow him. Thus Lucifer became Satan, the great enemy, who is the source of the lies, conspiracies, and temptations with which the earth is filled. God will not permit any “little satans” in his heaven to trash it as Satan has done to our world.

Why does God allow Satan and evil to still exist?

Some may ask, “If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he just crush Satan now? Why allow evil to flourish?” IMHO, the answer lies in the fact that without struggle there is no glory. Stories are always based on some form of conflict, and without conflict there is no victory. As Frodo says to Sam at the end of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings:

I fought for the Shire and the Shire has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger; someone has to give them up — lose them — so that others may keep them.
The Return of the King

We are forgiven and made free only by the blood of Christ, and if our trust and hope is truly there, we can assured of being able to one day stand before God and enter heaven to live with him. As Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in and put on the glory of which Nature is only the first sketch. For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature. Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of us will still be alive… There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The True Conspiracy

Conspiracy Theory

It is the greatest art of the devil to convince us he does not exist
~ Pierre Charles Baudelaire

In the 1997 movie Conspiracy Theory, Mel Gibson played a mentally unhinged cabbie named Jerry who lived in a world of conspiracy theories, where a shadowy “they” were supposedly behind everything significant that happened. The “they” were variously said to be:

  • The US government.
  • The communist party.
  • The Italian, Chinese, and Japanese mafia.
  • Islamic/Arab militants.
  • The CIA, NSA, MI 5/6 and/or other clandestine government groups.
  • Multinational corporations.
  • Labor unions.
  • Fraternal groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Trilateral Commission, the Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA), the Bilderbergers, the Club of Rome, the Fabian Socialists, Yale’s Skull & Bones Society (OTSB), the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the Knights Templar.
  • Financial organizations such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and Morgans.
  • Global organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union.
  • Religious organizations such as the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.

Jerry is a pitiful figure, and represents the way that many people feel about those who advocate a conspiratorial view of history. People in general think that conspiracy theorists are kooks. Unfortunately, many of them have been wild-eyed prophet-types, who made dire predictions about the immanent collapse of civilization and/or the end of the world, and whose message was simplistic, ignoring all nuances and large swathes of reality. Such people may attract the gullible, but are ignored by thinking individuals, even through what they say may contain a few kernels of truth.

The same phenomenon is now also taking place from the opposite end of the political spectrum, with many wild-eyed haters of America claiming that that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy carried out by the Jews and the US government. This is despite the fact that all of the 9/11 participants were radical Muslims, and that al-Qaeda claimed credit for it.

Indeed, the problem with the Jerrys and their conspiracy theories is that no group or set of groups is powerful enough and has enough money and influence for serious people to believe that “they” are able to pull all or most of the strings in society and government over an extended period of time.

  • Despite the fact that many Marxist dictatorships continue to exist, communism has lost most of its historic allure and influence as people have come to understand its oppressive and totalitarian nature.
  • The mafia is often on the run.
  • The Islamic/Arab militants, despite their intense hatred of Jews, do not yet have the financial, technical, and military assets necessary even for the conquest of Israel, let alone the rest of the world.
  • The US government and associated governmental groups are subject to continual journalistic and political attacks from all sides by those who love to trash and discredit it.
  • Corporations, unions, and financiers are powerful but also limited in their influence by market economies, democratic institutions, consumer activists, and the politics of the countries in which they operate.
  • Fraternal organizations struggle with leadership squabbles, financing, and varying opinions over long-term strategy and tactics, as leaders come and go.
  • Globalist organizations such as the UN and the EU struggle with the fact that they are often completely irrelevant.
  • The power base of the Catholic Church has been reduced to the one square mile of Vatican City.

When considering this subject, it is important not to over-generalize about organizations, and to avoid sensationalism and shoddy research. For example, in the recent past Freemasonry and the Knights Templar have been cited as being major conspiratorial elements in Scotland and later America, as depicted in the movie National Treasure. But despite its cachet and romantic appeal, this connection is not supported by documentary evidence—the early writings of Scotch Freemasons make no mention of any connection with the Knights Templar or any of their supposed treasures. Freemasonry is large and decentralized, and as such it cannot truly be spoken of as an “organization” in the typical sense; no one person or group speaks for all Freemasons.

Furthermore, when we investigate the individuals allegedly involved in so-called conspiracies, they are often shown to have made mistakes, operated from mixed motives, suffered setbacks, and had less power and influence than was ascribed to them. They are merely human after all. When considering conspiracy theories, the following quote comes to mind: “Be careful of ascribing to cunning and strategy to that which can be equally well-explained by ignorance and stupidity.”

Most of the individuals throughout history who managed to gain significant power were ultimately cast aside, often during their own lifetimes. Alexander the Great died of drink at the age of thirty-three after conquering much of the known world; Julius Caesar was assassinated; Hitler overreached himself through greed and stupidity and ultimately committed suicide in his Berlin bomb shelter; Mussolini and Ceausescu were strung up and shot full of holes; Stalin, possibly the worst monster of all, died in his bed after a life of imposing his cruel and Orwellian vision of communist socialism on Russia, but was discredited a few years later after his deeds were publicized; and so on. Nations and empires have lasted longer, but all of them since the time of Nimrod and ancient Babylon have failed to achieve world-wide power. The last comprehensive attempt at complete world conquest was carried out by the forces of Islam in the seventh through the eleventh centuries, and they also came up short of their objective.

The cinematic Jerry was thus misguided in thinking that everything was a conspiracy. But within the movie it turned out that his central fears were accurate. There actually was a conspiracy, albeit on a smaller scale, that had deeply affected his life. Thus there are two mistakes we can make about conspiracies: 1) thinking that everything is a conspiracy where an unknown “they” control everything, and seeing hidden evil under every bush; or 2) ridiculing the notion that conspiracies exist. Just because everything is not controlled by hidden forces does not mean that nothing is. Reality lies somewhere in the middle, and much of the political history of the world has been and is being shaped by a variety of conspiratorial forces operating behind the scenes.

Here are several sobering facts about conspiratorial forces in contemporary America:

  • Almost all American Secretaries of State and Secretaries of War/Defense since the time of Woodrow Wilson (1912-1920), as well as a number of presidents, members of congress, and others who have deeply influenced American political policy were and are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). These men and a few women also have various connections through the Trilateral Commission, the RIIA, the Skull&Bones, the Bilderbergers, Rhodes Scholarships, Freemasonry and others. Despite the huge presence and influence of CFR members at the top level of American government, very few Americans have even heard of the CFR or know anything about its history and goals. Why? Because, like similar organizations, it is almost never mentioned in the media. The CFR is “hidden in broad daylight.” It is a public organization that publishes the journal Foreign Affairs, and most of its members would probably dispute any allegations of conspiracy – supposedly it is merely a forum where foreign policy options can be debated and considered. The fact that many significant individuals belong to an organization does not necessarily mean that the organization is conspiratorial, or even if it is, that all of its members are involved. But the questions remain: What are the real goals and activities of the CFR? Why is it that that only certain top political, media, business and union individuals are invited to join? Why is the media silent about this organization? How has the silence been achieved, and how and why is it being maintained?
  • The establishment of the Federal Reserve system and the constitutional changes resulting in the Income Tax (two of the most influential elements of governmental financial control over the populace) were achieved by self-admitted conspiratorial forces in government (Frank Vanderlip, Paul Warburg, Nelson Aldrich, and others under the influence of the Rockefeller and Morgan banking establishments in the Jekyll Island cabal of 1911).
  • Many American newspapers, news magazines, and older television networks (New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc.) have largely abandoned any creed of journalistic objectivity, if, indeed, they ever had any, and have become shills and panders for liberalism (i.e., socialistic statism), feminism, and gay rights. These organizations all have censors that limit controversial content on those key subject areas to a trickle—just enough to avoid being totally one-sided, so that they can claim to be “bipartisan.” The same bias can be demonstrated in many national groups who have a huge impact on American life, for example, the National Education Association (NEA), The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Public Radio (NPR), Planned Parenthood, Hollywood, the American Historical Association (AHA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Trial Lawyers Association. All of these organizations are blatantly pro-liberal, and the only thing hidden is the extent of their support. Ironically, many are owned, operated, and/or led by people with CFR, TC, RIIA, and Bilderberger connections as described above.

    An excellent example of this bias at work is the gallons of ink that have been dedicated to exposing and excoriating pedophilia in the Catholic Church, compared to the virtual silence in the major media regarding the UN sex-for-food scandal, where UN workers were provided with young girls in exchange for distributing food that had been provided by member nations. Didier Bourguet, a UN staff worker in Congo and the Central African Republic, enjoyed many 12-year-old girls, and as a result was convicted of pedophilia in France. His lawyer excused his actions on the basis that he is simply doing what other UN staffers do, but who has ever heard of this man, and why not?

    Similar to this is the case of Charles Rust-Tierney, the former president of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU, who was indicted for viewing, in the judge’s words, “the most perverted, nauseating, and sickening type of child pornography I have ever seen.” The images included the sexual torture of children under 12 years old, set to a song by the band Nine Inch Nails. Ironically, Tierney was a youth sports coach who had worked with and helped kids as well as mental patients, but who also advocated unlimited access to pornography. That story was also buried. The media covers what they want to cover, and hides what they want to hide.

    Planned Parenthood (PP) is an organization dedicated to providing abortion services, and receives federal funding in the millions to do so. It was recently revealed that they have been involved in sex trafficking, giving advice to pimps on how to obtain abortions for their rings of girls, and many financial irregularities. Based on what they have done, the story of this sordid group should be on the front page, and the media should be hammering them into a pulp. But the major media is largely silent, and you have to go to the internet and alternative news sources to get the full story. Through its founder Margaret Sanger, PP has had a long history of providing public school sex-ed curriculum which has been one of the major factors in the epidemic of teen pregnancies and abortions. Being the major player in the abortion industry, PP has thus used its influence in sex education to tap the pockets of US taxpayers, and has profited in the hundreds of millions it has generated by killing babies. It strong financial position has also allowed it to hire lobbyists at many levels to protect its gravy train. In the wake of the recent scandal some members of Congress have attempted to defund the organization, but Nancy Pelosi, the house minority leader, says that attacks on PP are “an attack on women.” More recently, the Susan Koman Breast Cancer foundation decided to stop giving donations to PP, but after being hounded by a huge outcry from PP-controlled assets they unfortunately backed down.

    NPR has become another huge embarrassment. They are a liberal mouthpiece funded by the federal government which claims to be neutral, but whose hypocrisy was recently exposed. An undercover group claiming to be from the terrorist organization the Muslim Brotherhood, posed as a potential NPR supporter, and offered them $5 million. The head NPR fundraiser was shown on video agreeing with the statement that Jews “control all of the media in America” and he trashed Christians, Republicans, and the tea party movement as “dangerous, gun-toting, racist, xenophobes.” It remains to be seen whether they will also be defunded, but it is probably best not to hold your breath.

  • Most American presidential candidates from both parties are depressingly similar to each other, and have been so since the days of Woodrow Wilson. Even some of the most dim-witted among us have noticed that both the Republican and Democrat parties are controlled by a political elite, especially at the top of the power pyramid. There have been exceptions, of course, e.g., Calvin Coolidge, Barry Goldwater, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan (and both of the latter were largely controlled by the establishment). Why do we always tend to get CFR-types like George Bush (both father and son), John Kerry, and Al Gore, from both the Democrat and the Republican Parties? Why do we continually have political newbies like Jimmy Carter (unknown governor of Georgia but also Trilateral Globalist), Bill Clinton (unknown governor of Arkansas, but also Rhodes Scholar and CFR member), and now Barack Obama (totally unknown senator from Illinois, but also from Columbia University and Harvard Law) who seemingly comes out of nowhere and are thrust into prominence by major media organizations and large amounts of insider money? Obama is an excellent example: he was a one-term US Senator with very almost zero political experience, but a smooth talker.

All of us naturally take sides, and often become very passionate about attacking the opposition, as well as defending and excusing the behavior of those on “our” side. The liberal hatred against George Bush was so intense and visceral, as was the conservative hated of Bill Clinton, that we are often are blinded to what these men actually did. Deception was such a large part of Clinton’s nature that it built up a huge frustration and a desire on the part of liberals to be able to accuse conservatives of lying about something, hence the continual liberal hyperventilation over Bush’s motives. Bush then involved America in an unnecessary and stupid war in Iraq, causing many to see him as a shill for American military contractors and oil companies. He therefore squandered the patriotism generated in the aftermath of 9/11, and the squander led to Obama’s lopsided win over McCain in 2008.

The competition for power between R and D is always intense, and there are certainly real differences between the party leaders (e.g., Clinton’s support for gay marriage, vs. Bush’s opposition to it). Many are only able to see the world through red or blue lenses, but if we are able to take the colored glasses off, perhaps there is not as much difference as we think. Clinton sent troops in Bosnia (with no liberal outcry whatsoever), and he was the one who ordered the Black Hawk Down disaster in Somalia, whereas Bush sent the troops into Iraq and was pounded relentlessly. The bottom line is that on issues of power and globalism, which are the ones most important to the CFR and related insiders, both men had somewhat similar policies.

After the 9/11 attacks there was a huge outburst of American patriotism and renewed support for conservative initiatives, but Bush and the Republicans never capitalized on this, and instead launched a war in Iraq following the invasion of Afghanistan. Why? It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that before Bush started this war, it would eventually become another Vietnam, and that despite the fact that they voted for it, Democrats would use it to continually attack and discredit Republicans, which they did relentlessly and ad-nauseum. Bush essentially painted a huge “kick me” target on his own butt. Is is possible that the Iraq War was sponsored and encouraged by Bush’s advisers at least partially to trash conservatives, and thus destroy their political capital and their ability to make significant changes, e.g., replace liberal judges by conservative ones, and reduce the socialistic tilt of America? These are exactly the kind of political games played by the elites, who use the battles between the political parties to both conceal and implement their agenda.

One of the most influential philosophers of the nineteenth century was Georg Hegel, who developed the concept of dialectics—that politics and history is essentially the struggle between opposing forces. When one of the forces wins, another force arises to contend with it, and so on. Many leaders studied Hegel, and Marx based his theory of class struggle on Hegel’s concepts. The decline of royal power and the growth of democracy that took place starting with America in 1776 created new dialectical opponents—a total sea-change in how power was acquired and exercised. Even before those days some degree of deception was required in order to convince key people that the ruler was ruling on their behalf, but this became a much larger challenge for those craving power in democracies. Unlike a dictatorship, power in a democratic country is constrained in many ways: constitutions create competing power groups, elections allow the public to replace unwanted leaders, public opinion can be a significant factor, and so on. Insiders seeking to gain and maintain power in a democracy had to develop new and much more sophisticated strategies to get their way without the common people realizing what was happening.

The Iraq War is an excellent example of Hegelian dialectics at work. The war became a dialectical distraction—a way to influence public opinion against conservative positions by conflating and commingling them with all of the suspicions about war mongering and the supposedly evil American motives in Iraq. Without the Iraq War, Barack Obama would probably never have been elected, and we would not have had the government bailouts and especially the universal health care initiative which Obama sponsored, which has long been a goal of liberal socialists, especially those at the top, who continually crave more government control. If you think that this is “conspiratorial overreaction,” first see the movie Wag the Dog.

Is it possible that Bill Clinton, George Bush (both H and W), John Kerry, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama are all on the same side, when it comes to the support of globalism? Bush was in favor of NAFTA and amnesty for illegal aliens, Kerry loves the UN, and Al Gore is busy trying to enlarge the power of globalist environmental groups with his global warming campaign. The real issue we are facing in America is therefore not Democrat vs. Republican, but rather, the power of the state vs. the power of the family and the individual. We therefore need to look beyond the label and see what a politician truly stands for.

All of this suggests that both political parties are controlled by higher forces, and indeed, there is much evidence that identifies exactly who these top individuals and their organizations are. In America they are the “eastern establishment,” the same men and their descendants from the Rockefeller, Morgan, and Warburg banking and industrial firms:

  • They used their control over Woodrow Wilson to create the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Despite the word “Federal” in the name, the Federal Reserve System is privately owned by the banks that control it, and the New York district has the major influence.
  • They have controlled both political parties since 1912. In the early days their control was more tenuous, allowing for occasional ideological opponents such as Calvin Coolidge to be elected. But the last election in the US where there was a true difference between the candidates was in 1964 when Goldwater ran against Johnson. Goldwater was destroyed by a huge outpouring of negative media attacks funded by insider groups. Also consider that of the last six US Presidents, three of them came out of total obscurity (Jimmy Carter–ex-governor of Georgia, Bill Clinton–ex-governor of Arkansas, and Barack Obama–an unknown one-term senator from Illinois). All of these were brought to prominence and then elected almost entirely by the support of insider groups. Ronald Reagan would seem to be an exception. He was first elected in 1980 because of the wholesale contempt that Americans had developed for Jimmy Carter and his socialistic and globalist policies, as well as his foreign policy failures and giveaways. But despite the implementation of some of Reagan’s “supply-side” economic policies, and the economic growth that America eventually experienced, many of the initiatives discussed during his campaign never happened, and he was steered away from them by his advisers. During the Reagan years the insider strategy was “containment.”
  • They have taken billions from their oil and banking empires and created private trusts and foundations. The money in these trust funds is tax-sheltered, and the earnings are used to fund a variety of organizations, which have then carried out the initiatives described above. The foundations of Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller (the latter of which there are over 200) have had a huge and largely undisclosed impact on American society by funding selected programs in academia and government. Like the CFR, these organizations are hidden in plain sight, and rarely, if ever, appear in any news story. The programs funded by these organizations are almost entirely devoted to globalism, socialistic statism, and other initiatives designed to make Americans more politically pliable (i.e., dumb us down and make us poor). H. Rowan Gaither, a former president of the Ford Foundation and a member of the CFR, made this revelatory statement about the goals of his foundation: “Everyone here at the policy-making level [in the Ford Foundation] has had experience with directives from the White House. We operate under those directives, and the substance of them is that we shall use our grant-making power so to alter our life in the United States that we can be comfortably merged with the Soviet Union.”
  • They use public funding (i.e., taxpayer money) whenever possible to implement their agenda. The strategies required to control the government are very expensive, as they involve running the major media outlets as well as government bureaucracy. Because of the huge expenses involved, insiders typically seek to have their agenda funded by taxpayers (e.g., public funding for Acorn, NPR, and Planned Parenthood), who then kick back monies and provide campaign donations and/or favorable media coverage when needed. An excellent example of this was congressman Barney Frank who in the early 1990s got his gay lover Herb Moses a position at Fannie Mae, the federal lending agency. Frank and Moses then went on to set and implement the policies that led to the Fannie Mae meltdown and subsequent bailout, and all the while providing Frank with thousands in campaign contributions.
  • They passed the income tax legislation, also in 1913 under Wilson’s aegis. This was done under the guise of providing war funding for the government, but people may nevertheless wonder why insiders such as the Rockefellers and Morgans would want a federal income tax in place, as it would presumably hit them the hardest. But as previous indicated, they had created trusts and foundations to shelter their assets. The true purpose of this legislation was therefore to preserve the power of the existing insider groups by preventing new companies and individuals from amassing similar fortunes and effectively being able to compete with the establishment.

The establishment has thus bought into and co-opted the existing political parties, and through their ownership and control of the media they have largely been able to set the parameters of the dialectical debate. Americans thus spend their energies fighting on issues of lesser significance, and elect leaders who routinely disappoint them, such as Barack Obama (it was said that Obama was given the nod for the nomination instead of others like Hillary Clinton because he was more pliable and therefore would more readily follow the script laid out for him by his handlers).

Individual candidates are not preordained by the establishment. Typically the most gifted, well-spoken, and tenacious individuals duke it out with each other, and the winning candidates are then co-opted and “handled” by the political system. But at the same time, insiders look for certain characteristics and tilt the playing field in favor of the individuals they most desire, as was done in the cases of Carter, Clinton, and Obama. If the insiders effectively control both parties and can select the candidates they desire, then they can sit back, watch the election results, and then put in place handling mechanisms to control whoever wins the election. It must not be thought that the President or members of Congress are mind-controlled Manchurian candidates, although that is not outside the realm of possibility. From the insider’s perspective there is typically no need to go that extent. Control over the President is exercised subtly, by advisers and by entrenched forces in the State Department and other agencies, and is focused primarily on the issues that the insiders consider to be important, in particular globalism, domestic socialism, and power.

Control over the top leadership is subtle, but very real. Even if a US President wanted to take a non-globalist course (e.g., to defund the UN) he would probably be unable to do so because these forces control not only the leadership positions, but also the many layers of bureaucracy below, which have sometimes subverted the policies of those at the top. The President and other leaders also have to be cautious of the huge media machine that can easily be turned against them, as was done to Bush, Quail, and others. Journalism has long been replaced by bare-knuckles advocacy, and the days are long gone when the major media actually covered the news. In today’s world, most the major media outlets (Reuters, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, etc.) decide what the news will be by deciding what they will cover, and issues that they have to cover are slanted and spun. For example, they have focused on the Catholic pedophilia scandals and on stories where homosexuals were mistreated, and ignored stories such as Obama’s forged birth certificate (imagine that the president was white and Republican with a forged birth certificate-the press would hound him relentlessly). An even more recent example is the recall election of Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, who took on the unions. After Walker demolished his opponent in a landslide with a ten point spread, the major media characterized Walker as “surviving” the recall attempt, and then dropped the story.

Thus it is very hard even for a President to go against what his advisers are telling him. It has been suggested that Kennedy was assassinated because he wanted to stop the war in Vietnam, which was then deeply desired by insiders, both to extend American influence and to sell war material. Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s successor, immediately expanded the war. Johnson was described by friends and fellow politicians as motivated throughout life by an exceptional lust for power and control. His biographer Robert Caro observed, “Johnson’s ambition was uncommon—in the degree to which it was unencumbered by even the slightest excess weight of ideology, of philosophy, of principles, or of beliefs.” Is it true that the kind and caring Democrats were actually warmongers who started the Vietnam War? Surprise, surprise.

Characteristics of Conspiracies

People complain that in discussing conspiracies we are often missing many facts, and that the story is not completely clear. In some cases that is a fair criticism because “investigative journalists” may simply be stirring the pot to sell books and to increase their own influence. However, as indicated above, there have been and continue to be conspiratorial forces at work. The fact that information is lacking is the unfortunate nature of a conspiracy—insiders do not want the public to know what they are doing and often go to great lengths to conceal their actions. It is similar to ferreting out corruption in a corporation or a union—you can easily obtain information that a company or union wants you to know, but it can take a long time and a lot of digging to discover what is really going on. It can be even harder to reveal conspiracies in government because the top people have virtually unlimited protective resources available to them, and often use them to devastating effect if they wish to do so, as Bill and Hilary Clinton did in an effort to cover their many tracks (e.g., the death of Vincent Foster).

The best writers on conspiracy have done a lot of research, so that to the extent possible, they can reveal actual facts of the conspiracy, and keep their inferences and suppositions to a minimum. This research takes time and access to documentation that may not be available, or may not be discovered until years or even decades later. When we think of power-hungry individuals, the name “Hitler” typically comes to mind. But prior to 1943, Adolf Hitler was admired by many, and his downfall came because of his own stupidity and overconfidence–simultaneously trying to make war on multiple fronts. Evidence was available earlier, but Hitler’s evil reputation was only fully exposed after he fell from power, and our knowledge of the Holocaust only began when allied soldiers found the death camps and saw the ovens and the stacks of bodies in Dachau, Auschwitz, and elsewhere. What if Hitler had been smarter and more careful, like Stalin in Russia, who killed many more of his own people (over 20 million Russian peasants) than the Nazis killed in the Holocaust (6 million Jews)? Stalin was more of psychotic monster than Hitler, yet people in general know less of him, because he was smarter and preserved his power and his secrets much better than Hitler did. Historians only began to fully understand the depth of the disaster that Stalin promulgated in Russia years afterward. Stalin fooled the West for decades, and the full story of what he did to Russia in the 20’s and 30’s came out only after his death in 1953. Another example closer to home is the Jekyll Island conspiracy mentioned above, in which the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax policies were conceived. The corresponding legislation was passed in 1913, but the conspiracy was not fully documented and revealed until 1952, long after insiders had taught the “official version” of the story and the public had absorbed it, making it virtually impossible to change the public’s mind.

The establishment presentation of history, as promulgated by our public schools, is that history was a series of “accidents,” with wars, slavery, and conflicts largely being caused by evil capitalists, and institutional religion. But history is always written, interpreted, and controlled by the winners. What is the organization that has the largest current impact on the teaching of history in the US, and where did it come from?

The American Historical Association (AHA) was founded in 1884 by Andrew Dickson White, who was a Yale Bonesman. White traveled to Germany where he studied under Hegel and other statists in the Prussian university system. He later founded Cornell University and served as its president for fourteen years, announcing that Cornell would be “an asylum for Science—where truth shall be sought for truth’s sake, not stretched or cut exactly to fit revealed religion.” White wrote the two-volume book the History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, which has been largely discredited,[1] but, nevertheless, formed the intellectual basis for the mistaken notion that Christianity and science are continually opposed to each other, and that science has been repeatedly held back by religion. Like Cornell University, the AHA was created by White to perpetuate his ideas and to impose his own intellectual straight jacket on academia. The companies that write textbooks for our public schools are likewise owned and run by insiders with the same agenda. As George Orwell wrote, “He who controls the past, controls the present; he who controls the present, controls the future.”

The reality is that there are individuals in all societies who crave power over others, and if they are clever and ruthless enough, they will tend to rise to the top. The average person who goes to work, pays taxes, raises kids, and listens to the news every night, has little conception of the passion that those at the top of society have for power.

The craving for power cuts across all ethnic and racial lines. The same desire for control that motivated LBJ also motivates black dictators like Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Chinese like Mao, Cambodians like Pol Pot, Arabs like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, Hispanics like Chavez in Venezuela, and so on. Are there leaders in Europe and the US who are equally power-hungry? Of course, but due to democratic political systems, individuals in those nations need to conceal their desires, and become much more clever and deceptive in trying to reach their goals.

Barack Obama is an excellent example of contemporary political deception in action. He had virtually no political credentials or experience, and was a one-term senator from Illinois who missed most of the roll-call voting. His entire background was that of a community activist; his pastor Jeremiah Williams hates America and was a great embarrassment during Obama’s campaign; his best friends are communists and social activists such as Bill Ayers, former member of the Weather Underground; he was born in Africa, and his Hawaiian birth certificate was forged, making him technically ineligible to serve as a US President; and despite statements to the contrary, he is more Muslim than Christian. Nevertheless, he has been able to cover up his background with platitudes, the major media have ignored and suppressed most of the negative stuff, and the fact that he is black generated a large sympathy vote. But if we examine what he has done or tried to do, then his true colors are revealed: huge bailouts of federal agencies and auto makers to support unions, followed by federal takeover of the companies; billions of tax dollars to support Acorn (a community activist organization dedicated to electing liberal democrats); increases in the size of the federal bureaucracy; universal health care that threatens to bankrupt the country; forced unionization proposals; cap-and-trade environmental taxes; support for Muslim initiatives and retreating from the support of Israel; higher taxes for all; etc.

Edward Klein in his book, The Amatuer, has captured Obama’s essence-a smooth talker and vicious campaigner who excels at oratory and has a Messianic complex, but who is clueless when it comes to actually running the country; by his many mistakes and stupid moves Obama has gained the nickname “Bungler-in-Chief.” However, he has an important advantage over other presidents–when he is criticized he or his supporters can claim that the opposition is purely racist. This also helps explain the huge opposition from the establishment media toward conservative blacks and women. The establishment believes that they own the black and female vote (all blacks must support Jesse Jackson and all females must be feminist), so a conservative black or female is a serious threat to them. Herman Cain, a black conservative, was trashed with sexual allegations, and despite a strong debate showing, Michelle Bachman was dismissed by continually comparing her to Sarah Palin.

If we understand that those in power are some of the most intelligent and driven among us, that they will stop at nothing, and that the chief goal of those who have achieved power is to stay in power, then we can start to open our minds to hidden history, because these individuals are prepared to use every means at their disposal available in the society they live in, to defeat their enemies (who are often equally intelligent and rapacious) and stay in power. When we begin to understand who controls our history, we will start to question many of the “facts” we have been taught in the public schools and the media, and discover that much of it is slanted, agenda-driven, and in some cases, consists of outright lies.

Kitty Werthmann, a woman who grew up in pre-WWII Austria, provides an interesting perspective on how socialistic government uses deception and the “frog in the pan” approach to gain power:

What I am about to tell you is something you’ve probably never heard or will ever read in history books. I believe that I am an eyewitness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history. We elected him by a landslide – 98% of the vote. I’ve never read that in any American publications. Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.

In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25% inflation and 25% bank loan interest rates. Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs. My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily. The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party were fighting each other. Blocks and blocks of cities like Vienna, Linz, and Graz were destroyed. The people became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide what kind of government they wanted.

We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933. We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living. Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.

Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler. We were overjoyed, and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed. After the election, German officials were appointed, and like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service. Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.

Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang “Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,” and had physical education. Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail. The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free. We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.

My mother was very unhappy. When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination. I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing. Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler. It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.

In 1939, the war started and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death. Women who stayed home to raise their families and didn’t have any marketable skills often had to take physically demanding jobs more suited for men. Soon after this, the draft was implemented. It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps. During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys. They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines. When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, I have seen that most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat. Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.

When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers. You could take your children ages 4 weeks to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, 7 days a week, under the total care of the government. The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.

Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna. After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full. If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.

As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80% of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families. All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing. We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables. Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands. Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control. We had consumer protection. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the live-stock, then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.

Next came gun registration. People were supposedly getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long afterwards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily. No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.

Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.

After World War II, Russian troops occupied Austria. Women were raped, preteen to elderly. The press never wrote about this either. When the Soviets left in 1955, they took everything that they could, dismantling whole factories in the process. They sawed down whole orchards of fruit, and what they couldn’t destroy, they burned. We called it The Burned Earth. Most of the population barricaded themselves in their houses. Women hid in their cellars for 6 weeks as the troops mobilized. Those who couldn’t paid the price. There is a monument in Vienna today, dedicated to those women who were massacred by the Russians, but the full story of how Hitler and German socialism destroyed Austria has never been fully told.

After America, there is no other place to go.

But even though we may acknowledge the presence and the impact of conspiratorial forces in America and elsewhere, they do not control everything, nor do they even attempt to do so. Indeed, these groups intentionally remain at the top (federal) level, and usually avoid local politics in order to hide and obscure the perception of total control. They may also avoid local politics because it is not necessary to get involved there; most of the real issues of power are debated, decided, and controlled at the top, and localities must submit to federal directives. Furthermore, if they attempted control at all levels, then it would be much harder both to achieve control as well as conceal it. The few who become interested and take the time to investigate and report on them can then typically be dismissed as conspiracy nuts.

In keeping with the Fabian Socialists, whose logo is the turtle, these groups move slowly and carefully. They are willing to suffer occasional setbacks and develop containment strategies, so long as things ultimately move in the planned direction, toward more global and centralized control. These included initiatives such as NAFTA, universal child care, limitations of state’s rights, and the submerging of US sovereignty to organizations such as the UN and the World Court.

Reality is thus much more complex than either what is currently taught in public schools on the one hand, and by simple conspiracy theorists like Jerry on the other. There is no alternative to careful, exhaustive research, carried out with an open mind. Perhaps the most accurate general statement that can be made is: Conspiratorial groups have had significant influence on many historical events, and the causes of many of the significant events shaping our world are partially or wholly hidden.

Conspiracies Not Directly Related to Power and Money

Conspiracies are typically related to money and power. But there are other chains of events, which, to many, seem to have conspiratorial overtones. For example, the 1993 fire bombing of David Koresh and his Branch Davidian followers in Waco, Texas; the destruction of the Oklahoma City Federal building in 1995; and the Columbine school shootings, which have generated a number of copycat attempts.

In the wake of Columbine, many have wondered to what extent the rise in teen rebellion, pregnancy, abortion, suicide, drug abuse, and other pathologies since the 1960s have been due to a conspiracy to eliminate all aspects of religion from the public forum. Public schools are militant in disbarring any hint of religion from classrooms; ACLU lawyers are desperately trying to stop states from allowing the teaching of Intelligent Design as an alternative to the theory of evolution in public schools; the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was recently removed from office merely for wanting to retain a statue of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse; and so on. It is truly ironic that American public schools are teaching girls to put condoms on boys and refusing to teach sexual abstinence, all in the wake of hard evidence that such activity encourages sexual experimentation and teen pregnancy, while at the same time prayer is forbidden, and students are even disallowed from giving speeches where they thank God.

Under current law in a number of states, Planned Parenthood can perform abortions on minor girls without even notifying the parents. Furthermore, if the abortion is botched and the girl is injured or dies, a not uncommon occurrence, there is no legal recourse because abortion providers have been given sovereign immunity. Thus a movement that on the surface seems to be purely ideological may very well be motivated by a quest for money and power, because the money helps them stay in power, and to continue imposing their ideology.

Anti-Christian attacks in public schools are, of course, only one aspect of the intense culture war against America’s heritage of limited government, free-enterprise, strong defense, and traditional families. There is a comprehensive effort aimed at redirecting American society away from its roots:

  • Feminists want to eliminate all distinctions between males and females. The CEDAW initiative (Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women), which seeks to criminalize all expressions of male/female differences and to destroy any hint of male dominance, is the latest feminist attempt to resurrect the failed ERA (Equal Rights Amendment).
  • Child advocates want to reduce the power and the rights of parents and transfer them to the government.
  • Homosexuals want to have homosexuality be taught as a normal and healthy sexual orientation, and groups such as NAMBLA want the age of consent to be lowered.
  • Sex purveyors want prostitution and pornography to be completely legal and available to all.
  • Environmental activists and fringe groups such as PETA want animals to have human rights.
  • Race-baiting groups want reparations and more affirmative action.
  • Immigrant-rights groups want more open borders, sanctuary cities, and benefits for illegal aliens.
  • Globalists and left-wing ideologues want to give away more American power and sovereignty to international groups.
  • Lawyers want to create more victimology and less personal responsibility so that new and profitable ways of suing other people can be invented.

Is this enormous upheaval and reinterpretation of the traditional laws of America a conspiracy? If so, it is being carried out on a very large scale by diverse groups, each with their own agenda. One of the most important tools in unraveling conspiracies is asking the question, Cui bono—who benefits? Certainly lawyers and government bureaucrats, as well as other recipients of government money – groups such as Jesse Jackson’s PUSH organization. But interestingly, virtually all of the above-mentioned groups are interlocked politically and support each others’ programs. All of them, along with their lawyers, belong to and primarily support one American political party. As befitting the intolerant nature of these groups, who are interested in toleration only when it applies to their own views, this party has political litmus tests on its key issues. You cannot, for example, be a Democrat, have the support of the party, and run for national office without being pro-abortion.

However, this is not meant as a partisan attack on Democrats. The Republican Party has had a reputation of supporting the rich at the expense of the poor. It has also been a political gathering point for various conservative groups, but the national leadership has often betrayed their base by supporting and enacting legislation more in keeping with the Democrats. For example, the Republican Richard Nixon was supposedly a conservative, but was instead a Keynesian (statist) in his economic policies and made an abortive attempt to foist wage and price controls on the country; George H. Bush came in office with the pledge, “Read my lips—no new taxes,” but then raised taxes. Republicans have also been accused of being the “party of war,” because of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But many democrats, such as LBJ, have been equally militant.

It must be understood that support for “free-enterprise” or capitalism does not mean unqualified support for corporations. Some corporations have been just as evil and oppressive as bad government, and indeed have at times acted together. Europe, for example, is largely “corporatistic” with the companies often linked to the government. Unfortunately, that is a necessary survival strategy for European corporations because of the huge employment expenses that are paid by the companies, and the control that the government has to either enrich or ruin individual firms. Thus the pressure to get in bed with the government in order to survive is almost irresistible. In Latin America large companies have often kept wages low and working conditions poor in order to increase profits and retain power over their employees, and have done so with help from government insiders who received bribes and kickbacks in return. People have therefore come to equate the word “capitalism” with “oppression.” Unions have likewise been both good and bad. They have been necessary at times to balance corporate power and protect workers from management greed and indifference, but in many cases they have outgrown their usefulness, and serve simply to retain power and privilege, as well as reduce the ability to deal with non-productive workers.

We must stifle the impulse to simplify the debate into sound bites, such as “capitalism=bad, socialism=good” or vice-versa. All societies that have ever existed have been a mixture of these economic systems. But it also must be understood that the continual pressure on government is toward the left end of the spectrum, toward more control and more spending, because people are always demanding benefits for themselves at the expense of others. Socialism has a long history of ruining societies—Argentina is an excellent example—and the same problems are rampant in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and elsewhere. The Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway) are often cited as places where socialism has “succeeded,” but the comparison is unfair because there are very few minorities in those countries, and the Scandinavian people in general have a history of relatively high personal productivity. Nevertheless, in recent years those countries have shifted to a more capitalistic approach because the combination of extremely high taxes and the associated low job growth have strangled their economies, and caused many of the top people to leave for America and elsewhere. As one of my relatives put it, “Scandinavia is a great place to live if you are retired, but getting a job is very hard.” Most of the businesses started there are sole proprietorships because of the incredibly high costs of hiring and retaining employees.

The reason that free-enterprise must be supported is that it is only way that societal wealth can be generated, and it fosters personal initiative and self-responsibility, which are essential elements of a successful society. A free-enterprise system can also be caring, and it provides both government and private support for the poor and disabled. This is in contrast to socialistic systems where individual responsibility and initiative is minimized, and government control is all-important. Such systems tend to create dependency and poverty.

So what can be done?

If you truly wish to stand against the tide, what you do will depend upon your own desires and calling. Here are some thoughts:

  • Take your political blinders off and start reading what the other side says about your favorite politicians and positions. Reading on all sides of an issue is essential for understanding what is happening. You will, for example, discover that the Democrats have important points to make about compassionate government – education, care for the sick and elderly, reigning in irresponsible corporations, etc. and likewise the Republicans have important points to make about the need for self-responsibility, limited government, low taxes, the need to control national unions, and so on. Having a balance between compassion and responsibility is essential. However, also be aware that the continual political tilt is in a socialist direction, which will be negative for America, just as it has been a disaster in every country where it has been comprehensively implemented.
  • If you automatically pull the lever for one party or the other, stop it, and start getting educated about the candidates and the issues. Support and vote for candidates that are pro-family, pro-free-enterprise, pro-limited government, pro-self-responsibility, and have a good balance between being caring and responsible. Ignore what they say and watch what they do. There is constant pressure on all politicians to provide taxpayer dollars for a thousand purposes, which is why our government is mired in astronomical debt, and our currency is constantly inflating and loosing value. We need politicians like Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who can stand up to both lawyers, corporations, and unions.
  • Run for office, hopefully for the right reasons.
  • Pray.

The True Conspiracy

Despite the interlocking political nature of the groups mentioned above, it can still be hard to think of all of this as conspiratorial. But there is an individual of great power who has a strong interest in the success of all of the above initiatives. He has enormous resources, intense cravings for control, and has been around since the dawn of humanity. Furthermore, his goal is to attack and destroy humanity in any possible way that he can. His name is Satan, the Devil. He is the ultimate conspirator and the father of conspiracies.

Satan is not “a force of nature,” “a principle of evil,” or some vague theological concept. He is a real individual, but a spirit and not human. At some point in the unknowable past God created angels—spiritual beings without bodies—but who nevertheless have personality and intelligence. Satan’s original name was Lucifer, the angel of light and the son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12-22). However, he rebelled against God, and brought many other angels along with him in his rebellion (according to Revelation 12:4, one third of the angels followed him). These became the demons, a huge host over which Satan is the absolute dictator. Angels and demons thus have the same basic nature and differ from each other only in their allegiance, their morality, and their intentions.

In every age, Satan and his legions of demons have developed conspiratorial strategies based on the then-current social and political climate to create as much human misery, animosity, war, suffering, addiction, disease, and hatred as possible. Tactics have, of course, varied through the centuries, but from the demonic perspective, what the tactics are is unimportant; the only thing that matters is that people are enslaved. In Satan’s world the end always justifies any and all means. Demonic strategies have therefore been seemingly contradictory at times: oppression and abuse of some groups, indiscriminate/unhealthy freedom for others, and both at the same time. That should be expected, as part of the demonic goal is to create confusion, despair, and mistrust, especially in the most intimate relationships (husband-wife, children-parents, and man-God). Satan is thus the ultimate conspirator, and the quintessential power behind the throne. Jesus identifies his nature, calling him “the father of lies” (John 8:44), and “the thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). In his book Faust, Goethe’s Mephistopheles is a devil, but also honorable and dashing. The real devil, however, is totally evil and corrupt, and seeks to destroy and consume even his friends. He is the essence of selfishness, and uses his power to first attract, and then to devastate; tempting people to do wrong, and then accusing and kicking them after they have fallen. The names of Satan reveal his nature: Abaddon (the destroyer), Accuser, Adversary, Beelzebub (lord of the flies), Beliel (wicked and worthless), Deceiver, Dragon, God of this age, Murderer, Ruler of this world, Son of perdition, Serpent of old, and others.

Every human has a spiritual component, and the ability to be influenced by spirits, both for good and for evil. Exactly how this works we do not know, but we can be enticed, either by our own desires or by suggestions from spirits. This is why the Bible warns us about dabbling in the occult, and forbids mediums and fortune tellers, because when we enter the spiritual world, we have no idea what is truly happening. If we cannot even understand and fully grasp the world we can see, how could we possibly understand the spirit world which we can’t see? Demons will masquerade their true nature, appearing as “angels of light” in order to enter a person and gain control of them. However, a person can test the spirits by sensing how they are being led. The message from the Spirit of God initially seems like bad news because it will lead you to give up pride and place and serve others, with the rewards coming later. By contrast, the devil offers immediate gratification, and his marks are pride, selfishness, and rebellion. A good portrayal of this is the movie End of Days in which Gabriel Byrne plays Satan. At one point where he is contrasting his way to God’s, he says, “Me – I don’t do guilt.” It is only later, after we have been hooked that we realize that we have been deceived and trapped.

An invisible but nevertheless intense and deadly conflict is therefore taking place around us all of the time, with people being the target and battleground; it is a war for the souls of men. The demonic strategy is always to corrupt a person in any way possible (although some individuals are already bent on rebellion and therefore have little need for demonic temptation). Satan is unable to create any new desires in us, so he has to rely on the existing ones to get us hooked. Desires for experience can become an addiction to drugs, a friendly drink with the guys can become alcoholism, earning money can become envy and greed, sex with a marital partner can be replaced by unfaithfulness. We can be corrupted in thousands of different ways and permutations. Sex is perhaps the human desire with the most demonic possibilities. God created us as sexual beings and called it “good,” but marital sexuality is often derided as dull and boring. People supposedly need some form of illicit sex to have any real excitement. Consider that the vast majority of pornography is related to non-marital sex (adultery, affairs, swinging, pedophilia, rape, etc.)

Many scoff at the notion of a literal devil, just as they scoff at God. Secularists believe that anything unseen and beyond the natural world is fictitious. But nevertheless there are unseen forces acting on us, and we do not understand how they work. As Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going.” (John 3:8).

Given the extensive evidence for the reality of demonic and angelic spiritual forces, why should it be such a stretch to accept them as equally real? The reason that this stretch exists is not because evidence is lacking. The reasons are twofold: 1) a willful refusal to believe, because a person is wedded to another philosophy or religious system; and 2) a demonically-inspired spiritual blindness that keeps a person insulated from spiritual reality.

In the movie The Matrix, Morpheus put it this way: “You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind… The Matrix is a system and that system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Jesus gave us even more insight: “The sower sows the word. There are some who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.” (Mark 4:14-15) Even more powerful is this: “But though he had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.'” (John 12:37-40) “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me… If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 14:6 and 8:31-32)

There are many ways and paths that people take in attempt to find God, meaning, and fulfillment. But all of them except Jesus are a mirage. This is why Christianity is continually discredited, as it is Satan’s goal to keep as many people away from Jesus as possible.

Christianity as a Conspiracy

An increasingly popular view being pushed by secularists is that Christianity was an elaborate conspiracy, carried out by Jesus and/or his disciples. This idea is not new, and was the explanation given by the Jewish Sanhedrin, the first enemies of Christ, for his resurrection. In order to evaluate that possibility we must consider the characteristics of conspiratorial groups:

  1. The purpose of a conspiracy is typically to benefit the conspirators, providing them with wealth, power, or both.
  2. The planning, the actions, and even the identity of the conspirators are kept secret, because revealing them before the appropriate moment would lead to public censure and approbation. In some cases, the conspirators will give themselves secret names so that even other insiders do not know the identities of the leaders.
  3. The more elaborate secret groups have hierarchies—layers within layers of influence (CFR, Illuminati, some Freemasonic groups, etc.) People in the outer layers often know nothing about the true actions and goals of those at the top, and they may think of and defend the group as merely a harmless mutual aid society.
  4. The group usually has some type of “hidden wisdom” that is gradually revealed only as a member commits him- or herself and begins to climb the ladder to the higher levels.

Contrast the above to the characteristics of Christianity:

  1. Rather than gaining power or wealth, Jesus was crucified as a common criminal and his disciples were persecuted. Instead of conquering enemies and taking the resources of others, Jesus said, “pray for your enemies, and do good to those who persecute you.” Instead of seeking wealth, Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…because where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” When Jesus was crucified, all of his disciples fled, feeling abandoned and betrayed. They were also in danger of attack by the Sanhedrin, and in despair, they left to return to their homes and previous occupations. It is only after the resurrection of Christ that they became fully convinced of his power. There were not merely one or two Jesus sightings, rather many saw him and attended his ascension. Peter later wrote, “For we did not follow cunningly devised tales when we told you of the power of Christ—we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” John wrote, “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at, and handled with our hands, concerning the Word of Life…” Far from gaining wealth and power, most of the apostles later suffered some form of martyrdom.
  2. The teaching of Jesus was done completely in the open, to vast crowds, and in the Jerusalem temple, right under the nose of the Sanhedrin. At times he taught his disciples in private, but much of that teaching was recorded in the Gospels for all to read.
  3. There are no hidden hierarchies in true Christianity. The Pope is the leader of only the Roman Church, and many Christians do not acknowledge his leadership or even listen to what he says. There are, of course, leaders within the church, but the Bible indicates that are all are capable of becoming “kings and priests to our God.”
  4. There is no “hidden wisdom” in Christianity to which only an adept has access. For Christians, the Bible is the only accepted word of God, and everyone can read and consider it for themselves. The Bible is, by orders of magnitude, the most widely read and published book in human existence. It is so far ahead of any other book that the best seller statistics don’t even mention it.

In The Tomb of Jesus, a recent television show, James Cameron attempted to prove that a recently discovered tomb in Jerusalem was where Jesus and his family were buried. However, the only real evidence is the name on the ossuary, “Jesus, son of Joseph,” and those names were very common at the time of Christ. But if the disciples somehow avoided the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb and stole his body in order to fake his resurrection, why would he then be buried in a box with his name on it, and with his family buried around him?

Other theories have been advanced, that Jesus merely swooned (somehow after being severely beaten, being nailed to a cross, and then having his side pierced with a spear), or that the disciples somehow stole and hid his body. But none of these can account for the stories of the resurrected Christ, his effect of the disciples, and the subsequent enormous impact that these former fisherman had on the world.

The Papacy has often been described as a conspiracy, and in the past that was true. After the Edict of Milan in AD 313, the emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion. In a few short years church leaders went from being hunted down and slaughtered, to position of power and having access to large sums of money. It is at that point in church history that the Papacy and power struggles within the church truly began. The Papacy was maintained because of the desire of people for a visible and human spiritual leader, and the desire persisted even when the leader was not spiritual. For much of its history, the papacy thus represented a corruption of Christianity rather than a model of it. In contrast, there were no conspiracies and no attempts at secular power at the beginning—Christians were on the run, and suffered waves of persecution for three hundred years, until the time of Constantine. See the article Criticism of the Church for more information.

Satan especially loves to gratify the desires of those who lust for power. Therefore, it should not be surprising that human history is filled with war, treachery, deceit, and corruption, especially of those who have clawed their way to the top of society. Attacking Christ and the church is what Satan does, in any possible way that he can. It is ironic that he tries to accuse Christians of conspiracy and deception, when he, himself is the ultimate conspirator and the father of lies, but so it is — “all is fair in love and war, and this is war.”

A Conspiracy Retrospective

The first thing that captured one’s attention upon entering the conference suite were the huge windows which looked out into the absolute awesomeness of deep space. Brilliant stars sparkled like diamonds on a field of dark azure, and a network of suns like the rings of Saturn slowly rotated around an unseen point at the center. The windows of the suite somehow extended above the ceiling and below the floor, which created the eerie and unsettling impression of floating unanchored through the cosmos.

But what filled and transfixed one’s vision outside the windows was a gigantic vortex hanging in space, slowly spinning and inexorably sucking all nearby matter into its maw. Concentric circles within the vortex spun at different speeds and in opposite directions. Each circle was a different shade of ultraviolet, and glowed like reflected black-light. Flashes and eruptions on the surface of the vortex were occasionally seen, which in reality were lightning bolts of captured energy thousands of miles long, as this black hole at the center of the galaxy continually exerted its massive force in attempting to crush and pull everything into itself, down its throat, and into the mystery beyond.

Staring at the vortex was dangerous for its hypnotic effects, but when one’s attention could be wrenched away from the scenes of deep space just outside the windows, the next thing the eye focused on was the richness and opulence of the suite. A large conference table carved from mahogany with seating for fifty occupied the area, and exotic carved chairs with leather and brocade seats surrounded the table. Each place was set with gold plates and crystal glasses, and the middle of the table was filled with bottles of spirits and covered platters of steaming food. The walls were paneled with teak and encrusted with precious stones, and the entire section behind the head of the table was a large fireplace with a huge fire burning in it.

Paintings and tapestries covered many of the walls. At first glance they seemed to be some form of garish modern art, but on closer inspection, they were progressive scenes of terror, with people being tortured and then ripped apart limb from limb. The barely recognizable body parts were thrown in heaps like garbage, with cubistic worms and other insects crawling through the slime and ooze. It was as if the painting Guernica was redone over and over in increasingly violent and revolting forms by a crazed and demented surrealist. Surmounting the fireplace was the strangest picture of all—a large painting done in a serpentine swirl of angry red tones. It was a depiction of a couple engaged in an intimate and openly erotic embrace, kissing and hugging each other. They seemed to be deeply in love, but the woman was about to kill the unsuspecting man with a silver spike—she was La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Even stranger was the fireplace fire: it seemed to be fueled by a number of burning souls—agonized faces periodically appeared in the flames, and a faint cry was audible when one approached it.

This suite had been the site of many former discussions, but the current meeting was to be of the greatest significance, involving the most powerful and important members of the establishment. They gradually arrived and took their places around the table, and the assemblage of threatening individuals and raw ego was intimidating. A few chatted, but most stared at each other with a hostile arrogance laced with caution. Finally the Chairman of the Board arrived—a tall and powerfully built, Big-Brother figure with black hair, fiery eyes, a curling mustache, and a face that was both sensuous and utterly ruthless. He was followed by four scantily dressed females. The Chairman sat down in the seat at the end of the table near the fireplace with his groupies standing behind him, and everyone fell silent as he took the place of authority.

“All of you know why we are here,” said the Chairman. “Time is growing short, and the end will soon be at hand. We have won many battles, but the war still hangs in the balance. WE MUST WIN THIS WAR! Nothing else is of any importance. Are all of you with me?”

The faces around the table nodded their assent. “I said,” the Chairman bellowed, “ARE ALL OF YOU WITH ME?”

The entire group shot to their feet in a fawning display of sycophancy—”YES, MASTER, WE ARE ALL WITH YOU, MASTER!”

The Chairman was snorting traces of a reddish-yellow powder from his nose, and his lips curled in disdain. “Bow down and adore!” he barked. Everyone immediately got down on the floor and prostrated themselves. His females knelt around him kissing his feet, and even the fire in fireplace rose until it was a solid wall of flame. After a few minutes of silent worship, he gave the order, “Now, sit down!”

Everyone around the table resumed his or her seat, their powerful egos cowed by the figure at the head. Spirits were poured from the bottles, and everyone began to drink to the Chairman’s health. Then the food was served. The dishes were all meat prepared in various ways—some crunchy with phalanges and metatarsals included, and others where the meat was so well-cooked and succulent that it fell off the femur and humorous bones. The crowd around the table was ravenous and ate noisily. Then the plates and platters were cleared off, another round of drinks was poured, and everyone looked to the head of the table.

Holding his glass of mixed spirits, the Chairman circled the room with his eyes, his piercing glance testing each face. Then he said, “I will personally rip apart and feed to the flames any of you that is not with me.” Several inadvertently stared at the Chairman’s powerful hands and claw-like fingers. He had gotten their full attention.

“As you know,” the Chairman continued, “We are here to consider and decide on the strategy and tactics we will adopt for the final phases of the war. You were told to consider and bring your ideas to this meeting. So, what is your counsel?”

Everyone was silent for a moment, and then a male named Malus rose to his feet. He was dressed in black leather with black riding boots, and even his lips, eyes, and teeth were black. His voice was a sneer: “Our existing policies have served us well. Creating emperors, kings, and dictators, and then corrupting them has kept many in bondage and has delivered many souls to our table. We should continue these policies until the end.”

Malus sat down and a tall austere male stood up. He was dressed in a clerical collar, and was the head of the religious studies department. With his priestly appearance he looked strangely out of place in this high-powered gathering. “I agree with Malus,” said the cleric, whose name was Ecclesiasticus. “We should definitely continue our existing policies of political tyranny. We must also continue to create new fake religions and give angelic visions to dupes who will lead people astray. Also, we need more toleration, and ecumenicalism — toleration of anything except truth about the enemy. But let us not forget the corruption of the top church leadership. That has been one of our most important and fruitful efforts in creating frustration, hypocrisy, despair, and anger.”

“Yes!” shouted an ugly pig-like male named Odio, who jumped to his feet. “Let the hatred flow! We need to create more rage, more unprovoked attacks, and more animosity between people.”

“I am with Ecclesiasticus,” said the female sitting next to the cleric, who was one of his assistants, with orange hair and black lipstick. “We need to combine more sorcery and witchcraft with mainstream religion, and we need more crystals, magic, and wild paganism.”

“Don’t forget me!” chimed in a slinky female named Meretrix. “We still need to provide plenty of sexual entertainment, fornication, infidelity, pornography, and adultery.”

“I’ll drink to that!” echoed Dionysus, a riotus, obese male with a crown of ivy on his head. “We will invent new liquors and drugs to keep people inebriated.”

A chant, like an ancient engine being cranked to life, started and was taken up all around the circle: “Ouro, Ourobor, Ouroborin, Ouroborindra!” The chant seemed to unleash a powerful spirit of lust and rage that spread around the room like wildfire. Some of the members began fighting with each other, and expensive dinner jackets were ripped to pieces. Others grabbed their neighbors and began forcing them down on the floor, and Odio seized Ecclesiasticus in a revolting embrace. Several males took Meretrix, ripped her clothes off, threw her on the table, and climbed on top of her.

The Chairman sat and watched this explosion of uncontrolled ferocity and rape with an evil smile, enjoying the scene, but then he noticed one individual, dressed in a white suit, was still sitting at the table shaking his head. “This will never work,” the white-suited individual said quietly.

“STOP!” the Chairman yelled. The fighting immediately ceased and the participants in the gang rape crawled off the table, pulled on their shredded clothes, and sat down again, still shaking with lust.

“Messeh, what is your concern?” asked the Chairman.

The figure in the white suit rose to his feet. “Sir, we need all of the others, but Malus is completely wrong in suggesting that we can merely continue our old political policies.”

“What?!” yelled Malus, who had been one of those on the table. “Sit down before I break you in half, you piece of…”

“Enough!” bellowed the Chairman. “You have had your say. Now sit down and shut up!” In a fit of lust, anger and dark hostility, Malus glared at Messeh, who stared back at him with vicious reptilian eyes. Malus sat down and Messeh continued.

“There will still be opportunities for dictators and tyranny, and we should take full advantage of them. But we must not underestimate our enemy. He will help humans create free societies where they will choose their leaders. Power will be dispersed and it will be harder for a single man to control everything, and therefore for us to control society through him. Therefore we need to become much more subtle and clever. More than ever, we need the help of Decipio here.” Messeh pointed to a male sitting across from him, with slick, oily hair, an expensive suit, and tasseled loafers, who was the head of the legal department. Decipio nodded and gave everyone a huge smile.

Messeh continued, “Make no mistake, in the days to come humans will create new societies where they can elect their leaders. Therefore we will need to build groups that can secretly control elections, so that it doesn’t matter which side wins. We also need to help the humans invent things like socialism and propaganda so that they can create governments that are based on lies—loving and caring on the surface, but in reality are run for the benefit of those at the top. They will take the human’s money and resources without their knowing what is happening, and use to to enrich the leaders and keep them in power.”

Malus, who was still spoiling for a fight, jumped up again. “How will you do that if people are allowed to make their own choices?”

Messeh gave a contemptuous glace at his opponent. “You are so stupid—why are you even in this group? It would be fun to have you as my pet fish—that is all you are good for.” Malus went berserk, and taking a switchblade out of his pocket, he jumped on the table and attacked his hated enemy. No one stopped him as everyone wanted to see a fight. But Messeh was ready with his own knife, whipping it out of his jacket as Malus jumped at him. He dodged Malus’ blow and the two of them squared off against each other, with yellow smoke coming out of their nostrils. Again Malus lunged, but Messeh parried the stroke. Using the other’s momentum Messeh pulled him close, and then buried his blade to the hilt in Malus’ chest, ripping it up and down. The Chairman laughed as Malus screamed. His body burbled and shook, and then collapsed into a pile of ooze on the rug. Raising his glass to congratulate Messeh, the Chairman said, “Thank you for the after-dinner entertainment.” Then he clapped his hands sharply. Servants came, rolled up the rug, threw it in the trash, and replaced it with another.

Meanwhile, Messeh cleaned his knife on a napkin and put it away. When the servants had finished their work he continued: “As I was about to say before I was so rudely interrupted, controlling public opinion is simple. We will create news organizations and media that will deceive people and tell them what we want them to hear. People will then be even more deceived because they will think that they are being educated. We will create a society of educated idiots.”

Cupiditas, a serious-looking female dressed in a business suit and the head of the psychology department, stood up to join the discussion. “Messeh is correct—with such governments we can control the education of young humans. Public education must be mandatory for all. Then we can eliminate all teaching about our enemy in the schools, and can have prayer stopped. We can dumb the children down, get them to have early sex, and promote drugs, alcohol, and abortion on demand. Think of all of the babies that we can kill!”

A wave of enthusiasm swept over the group, and several jumped up to shout their support for more abortion. Then Cupiditas continued: “This will also allow us to do things that we have wanted to do for centuries—to pollute the relationship between men and women, and turn them against each other.”

Homosaphus, a strange looking female with long black hair, red lipstick, and high heels spoke up: “I have always wanted to bring back the god Molech so that people will kill their own babies, and I love what you are saying. But how can we achieve this? What is the plan?”

“We will use the selfishness of men to turn women against them, and drive it home with the influence of government, public education, and the media organizations that Messah mentioned,” replied Cupiditas. “Unfortunately we can’t *make* people do what we want until they turn their wills over to us. But as we have done since Adam and Eve, we can tempt and influence them, and create a culture that is based on our values. Our goals are the same as they always have been—to get people into hell so that we can feed on them. However, our tactics must change with the times. The old Molech was a statue made of brass, but the new Molech will look like a medical center — how is that for deception! The ancient people burned their babies as a sacrifice for better crops or victory over enemies; modern people will kill their babies for reasons that are even more selfish — to save money and keep their lifestyle.” The Chairman smiled wistfully, as if inspired by an old memory, and Messeh stood up again.

“Cupiditas has presented our general strategy and some of the tactics for the future,” said Messeh. “But make no mistake, the enemy will also be at work, and our precious education systems and abortion mills will be under attack, so we must make every effort to defend them and discredit the attackers. However, we must also remember that most humans are like sheep; they are selfish and will follow whoever leads them into selfishness. We will make women want to be like men, and men like women, and use the power of government to make people accept it. Think of all of the divorce, unhappiness, and confusion we can create, and all of the destroyed families that this will generate! And with new human advancements in technology, we can have them produce songs and movies filled with filth from hell. We will have many new ways of contaminating humans in order to gain control over them, and using their vices to enslave them.”

Homosaphus raised her glass and shouted, “Long live Sodom and Gommorah!” She was actually a cross-dressed male, wearing a short skirt over hairy legs, and sporting a beard. “We also need more weird sex, and sex with animals. Then we can create new sexual diseases!”

Cupiditas smiled at Homosaphus, but then looked contemptuously at a figure across the table dressed in a military uniform. “Vitium, our record of demon possession has, for the most part, been a dismal failure. Why have your tempters done such a lousy job even after we have provided them with so many excellent resources?” she demanded.

“My army will be ready whenever necessary,” snapped Vitium, who was the overlord of a host of demons. “We make every effort and use every opportunity to possess, oppress, confuse, and enslave humans. You and the others are responsible for developing the training programs, and perhaps this time around you will do a better job.”

“The problem is your lousy management,” sneered Cupiditas, reopening a perennial wound. She was very much aware that those at the top would be consumed and replaced if they didn’t produce results, and she wanted to make sure that any blame would be placed on the other side of the table. “We have lost far too many souls to the enemy, and when we develop better programs, I want the penalty for tempter failure made even more severe.”

“Certainly,” replied Vitium coldly. “I will lash my minions harder. But I want equal penalties for poor training and program development, which were the real reasons for our lack of success. The problem is that you, as the director of PyOps, are totally incompetent. I am looking forward to consuming you myself when your ignorance and stupidity are fully exposed.” Smoke started coming out of Cupiditas’ ears, and she was about to jump over the table like Malus and attack her adversary. But her associate Callidus, a male in a white lab coat sitting next to her, wisely restrained her, knowing that Vitium would tear her to shreds in a fight.

“I…I think your ideas are brilliant, Cupiditas,” said Callidus. He was desperately trying to calm the powerful female down, while at the same time sucking up to her. “Listen…for decades I have wanted to find a way to make humans believe that everything came about by accident. We will develop the theory of evolution, and your public education programs will allow us to force this theory on everyone and make it the only theory that can be taught, so that people will ridicule the enemy.”

“But Callidus,” asked the individual sitting next to him. “That theory doesn’t make sense. We know that humans are dumb, but how will you get them to believe what is against the laws of science?”

“Simple,” replied Callidus. “As Messeh said, people are like sheep. When enough rich and influential ones of them believe and promote a lie for a long period of time, then it becomes the truth, and most will not even think to question it.”

“Yes,” said Messeh. “All of this will allow us to achieve one of our main objectives since the dawn of humanity—to make people believe that both we and our enemy don’t exist. If we can achieve that, we will have won a major victory.”

The Chairman looked around the room and smiled. “Anything we can do to harass, pervert, infect, defile, and destroy humanity is also an attack on our enemy. It will also result in more humans in hell and therefore more food for our table. This is a good plan. Let’s do it!”

How can we protect ourselves from the conspiracies of Satan? Resist him and hold on to Jesus.


[1] See the article, The Mythical Conflict between Science and Religion, by James Hannam, http://www.bede.org.uk/conflict.htm, for more information on the deceptive nature of White’s arguments, how they have been debunked, and why, despite the bankruptcy of his claims, they continue to be made in schools and the media. Another interesting article is The Myth of the Flat Earth, by Jeffrey B. Russell, web.archive.org/web/20040717084200/, and www.id.ucsb.edu/fscf/library/russell/FlatEarth.html

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Feminist Theology

Feminism

The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.
~ Roseanne Barr

In attempting to construct a comprehensive philosophical worldview, foundational feminist thinkers such as Elizabeth Davis in The First Sex, 1971; Merlin Stone in When God was a Woman, 1976; Riane Eisler in The Chalice and the Blade, 1986; the anthology Womanspirit Rising; and others, created a theology (or “thealogy” as it is sometimes called) and a religion to embody their desires, in which “god” is replaced by “goddess.” Female goddesses have been around for millennia, but in most cases they were subservient to their male analogs. However, the goddess of today, variously called “Isis,” “Ishtar,” or “Sophia,” supposedly supersedes any male god. Wicca, the feminist religion, was founded in the 1950s, and the genesis of goddess concepts coincided with the development of feminism. It has also coincided with the development of the homosexual movement, and a large percentage of Wiccans are also said to be lesbians. Mary Daly, a popular feminist ex-academic, insisted that a woman who refuses to engage in lesbianism is merely a “token woman.”

A history of mankind was developed to explain that original human religion was the worship of a Mother goddess, and that goddess worship, along with women, have been savagely suppressed down through the centuries. According to this hypothesis, societies of the remote past were matriarchal, worshiped the goddess, and lived at peace with the environment. In some accounts, such as that of Davis mentioned above, the first males were mutants, and subordinate to females. Women were said to have created all of the meaningful elements of civilization before men even arrived on the scene. Furthermore, these societies were socialistic utopias—there was no private property, no masculine competitiveness, and no social hierarchies. Everyone had what they needed, there was no hoarding of wealth, and all things were shared.

But tragically, these societies were crushed by evil, male-led tribes who conquered the defenseless socialists and enslaved them. These malicious patriarchal groups, culminating in the Roman Empire, then invented Christianity as a means of denigrating women and holding them down. Through the centuries, the church has violently suppressed goddess worship, supposedly killing millions of witches, who, in reality, were innocent goddess-worshipers, and keepers of the ancient flame.

Today, these destructive forces are said to have run amok to the point that they are supposedly in danger of destroying the entire world. The crisis in western civilization is allegedly a sign that the male god’s reign is ending, and the goddess is waiting to lead us into a New Age of peace and harmony. We must therefore jettison patriarchy and all of its supporting institutions: male-god religions, monogamous families, and all male-based hierarchies of power. If we fail to do this, we may be facing the end of civilization and life on the earth.

The feminist theological agenda is therefore focused on environmental alarmism, the destruction of Christianity, the magnification of female politicians and female power, and the replacement of capitalistic economic systems with various forms of socialism and environmentalism.

Feminist Defense of Historical Fantasies

Defense for this worldview comes primarily from art historians, who, in their examination of ancient artworks, often state their confidant interpretation of what an object means, in the same manner that evolutionists have created pictures of hairy ape-men based on a few ancient bones. For example, the Venus of Willendorf figurine of a pregnant female, and similar ancient objects were often touted as being Mother-goddess statues, even though they may also have been fertility figures, good-luck charms, dolls, or even ancient pornography. No one knows for sure.

Despite intensive investigations and huge research funding, hard historical and archaeological evidence has eluded feminist scholars. They have desperately searched for any scraps of evidence for ancient matriarchies and socialistic, egalitarian societies in order to support their theories. For a while, hope was placed on Catul Hayuk in Turkey, on ancient Malta, and on the Minoan society of ancient Crete, all of which were thought to be matriarchal. However, as these areas were more fully explored, feminist hopes were dashed, as it has turned out that these societies were much more patriarchal than our own.

On Crete, for example, goddess devotees made much of a few pieces of artwork that seemed to depict males and females functioning in an egalitarian manner. The Minoans may have indeed treated women better than did surrounding nations, but there is a mountain of ignored evidence that the Minoan culture was in actuality a “chiefdom society,” led by men, with females being subordinate to males, as was typical in ancient times.

Like the Minoans, Celtic society was supposedly more egalitarian than others, but close examination reveals that in general, males had much more control over females than today, and the Celtic objects of worship were phallic rather than female. The Gnostic Cathars were also said to treat men and women equally, but the Cathar leadership positions were exclusively male, and Cathar women functioned more-or-less as nuns in the Catholic Church, without being cloistered. Thus there is no evidence whatsoever for ancient female-controlled or even gender-egalitarian societies.

In reading the above-mention “thealogy” books, one is struck with the thought that perhaps this is bizarre science fiction about an imaginary Amazonian world, but the authors are, in all seriousness, attempting to present these fantasies as history. One is also struck by the huge scholastic effort expended to grind their ax, and to desperately prop up their passionately felt concepts.

Feminist Defense of Socialistic Utopias

The next element that must be defended by feminist scholars is the concept of ancient, prosperous, socialistic utopias, free of property rights and male competitiveness. Absolutely no evidence of such societies has ever been found, and how a socialistic, female-led society, either ancient or modern, could ever have survived, let alone prospered, is never explained or even seriously considered. As discussed below, there have been a number of societies throughout history with a socialist economic base, and all of them have failed. It is ironic that the concept of ancient socialistic matriarchies was developed only in the comfort of contemporary American academia, for which all of the buildings were built and the salaries paid for by a free-market economy.

Europe and especially France have been filled with radical socialistic thinkers since the French revolution of 1789. They generally believed that a utopia could be created if private property were abolished, all goods and services were somehow divided equally, the church and Christianity was eliminated, and morality was self-defined. For decades throughout the nineteenth century, Paris was the capital of leftist thinkers, which despite the complete failure of the French revolution to produce Liberty, Equality, or Fraternity, continued their collectivist dreams. When the Bolsheviks seized power in the October revolution of 1917, the French communists were their biggest cheerleaders, but fortunately for the French, they were spared a similar takeover, and therefore never had to actually live under communism, as did the people of Russia and China. Having never experienced the reality of a truly socialistic government, they could not believe that communist dictators, such as Stalin and Mao, had become the monsters that they were, killing millions of their own people and creating a society of systemic oppression.

The French communists closed their eyes and refused to accept the fact that their ideas were misguided, and this unwillingness to consider the consequences of one’s ideas is also typical of feminism. Betty Friedan, whose 1963 book The Feminine Mystique helped to launch the feminist movement, was far from the bored and frustrated housewife that she portrayed herself as being. Forty years later she told the real story[1] that she had been a member of the Communist Party since 1942, and had attended numerous rallies and meetings where strategies and plans for dumbing-down and attacking American society were discussed and implemented. It is well-known that one of the main anti-American communist strategies was the destruction of the family in a variety of ways, including the breakdown of marriage.[2]

The study of socialism has demonstrated that, contrary to being utopian, all societies based mainly on socialistic principles have been failures, from the early American experiments under William Penn, which almost wiped out his nascent colony, to the communist/socialist tyrannies of Russia, China, Romania, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and others. The major products of these societies have been authoritarianism, oppression, misery, and death. The only place where socialism has truly succeeded is in the context of capitalism, in which it is subordinated to a free-market economy. Juxtaposing the words “socialist” and “utopia” creates perhaps the ultimate oxymoron.

It is instructive to consider why socialism creates failure and how this issue bears on the male/female dynamic. Just as feminism runs aground on the hard reality of male/female differences, so socialism runs into other hard and unchangeable realities of human nature.

The first hard reality is that the redistribution process of socialism requires a human authority. At the beginning the authority may actually be benevolent, or at least believe themselves to be. But sooner or later the ferocious and unceasing nature of the competition for power changes things. Contrary to being fair, the authority’s real goal becomes the maintenance of its power, and the redistribution process will be used for that purpose, and subverted to serve the goals of the authority. This requires that the populace continually be deceived as to the authority’s real goals. Socialists continually accuse capitalist systems of being unfair, but which is more fair—being able to gain success through hard work, or by having to become an insider and kiss up to the authority? As Winston Churchill said, “the vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings, whereas the virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”

The second hard reality is that people care most deeply about what they consider to be “theirs.” In other words, private property is inevitable, and far from being evil or wrong, it is the essence on which a successful economy and society is built. The same holds true in male/female and family dynamics; people are jealous, and care more about their own spouses and children than those of others. This is right and good, because no one else will love a child the way his or her parents will. This is not to say that humans are incapable of caring for others and the community, just that responsibility for their own family and property come first. Furthermore, the wealth provided by a capitalistic society provides funding for welfare, poverty relief, and other community-related initiatives, that would otherwise be unaffordable. It is America, more so than any other nation on earth, which has given vast sums for disaster and poverty relief, and is the most charitable nation in history. The wealth necessary for this liberality has been generated by our predominantly free-enterprise economic system.

Feminist Defense for the Abolition of Marriage

Along with socialism, the abolition of marriage is the other key element in the feminist prescription for utopia. Marriage is said to restrict women by subjecting them to maternity and the control of a husband; females would thus be better off if they were single, could move from one relationship to another, and had easy access to abortion to free them from the bother of raising children. Such a utopia would be the true emancipation of women, and in America, this became the “free-love” movement of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Free-love means being able to easily move from one partner to the next, and no-fault divorce laws were quickly passed to accommodate this demand for increased freedom of choice. What is more American than unfettered choice? We often assume that all problems can be solved by removing restrictions and providing more choices.

However, contrary to emancipating women, the free-love movement simply created an enormous host of poor and embittered single mothers, who engaged in sex with one or more men and got pregnant. The women were then abandoned by their male partners, who, exercising their freedom of choice, moved on to younger and more nubile women. The character Jenny in the movie Forrest Gump is a typical example of this trend. These women with children then found it harder to attract male attention, as a man entering a relationship with her would have to support another man’s child.

A little-reported, but profound statistic is that of the households below the poverty line in today’s America, a staggering 90-plus percent are headed by single females. Indeed, in the United States, the poverty problem is the problem of single female-headed families, many of which were created by the free-love movement and the Great-Society welfare initiatives. There should be a huge outcry from these women and their families against the feminists, lawyers, and politicians who created these conditions. Unfortunately, these people do not understand the true causes for their misery, and how they have been screwed over by the system.

Feminist Defense of Matriarchy

Next, the question of matriarchy must be considered. The main authority cited by feminist writers, and one of original unwitting popularizers of the fictional Amazons, was J.J. Bachofen, who wrote the book Das Mutterrecht (the “Mother-right” or “Mother-law”) in 1861. He believed that all civilizations pass through a matriarchal phase, and cited literary evidence from a number of ancient Greek-related societies to make his point. But in keeping with his romantic roots, he picked only the few pieces of evidence that supported his perspective and ignored the rest. The timing of his book was also unfortunate, in that it appeared just before comprehensive archaeological studies were begun, and which ultimately demolished the entire thesis of his argument. Nevertheless, contemporary feminists have adopted Das Mutterrecht as one of their seminal texts. However, Bachofen’s ironic conclusion was that the ultimate and best condition of societal development is patriarchy. The English translation of Das Mutterrecht, done by a feminist organization, is therefore abridged, and the translators simply left out the parts that were inconvenient to their theories. Feminism’s seminal text on matriarchy is thus a deceptively abridged version of a discredited book.

Anthropology has decisively shown that no matriarchies exist anywhere in the world, nor is there any evidence that any true matriarchies have ever existed in the entire history of humanity. Given the innate biological and psychological differences between males and females, it is highly unlikely that a matriarchal group could ever have begun or survived for any period of time. As the anthropologist Stephen Goldberg states in The Inevitability of Patriarchy,

There has never been a society that has failed to associate authority and leadership with men. No anthropologist contests the fact that patriarchy is universal. Indeed, of all social institutions, there is probably none whose universality is so totally agreed upon.[3]

There have been matriarchal elements in many societies, such as the worship of female gods, and occasional powerful queens. Some societies and groups have matrilineal elements, such as inheritance and property rights being passed through the female side. But a detailed examination of past societies reveals that in general, men ruled and dominated women much more completely than in the western world of today.

Feminist Defense of the Persecuted Goddess Worshipers Theory

Finally, the assertion of a continuous thread of secret goddess worshipers who have existed throughout history, and have periodically been ruthlessly suppressed by evil, patriarchal Christians, must be addressed. As in the case of previous assertions, this one is also a complete fabrication. There have been cultures that included the worship of goddesses as part of their religious milieu, but virtually all of these were ancient (e.g., Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt), and there has never been any sustained thread of goddess worship from the ancient past. Given the universality of patriarchy, the worship of female deities should be a rare occurrence, and that is indeed what the historical and archaeological evidence demonstrates.

The idea that females could and should be superior in power to males, and that the goddess should rule over the god, is a very recent concept. The French Revolution of 1789 and the English/German Romantic movement of Shelley, Goethe, and others set the stage, but this was not fully stated until the middle of the nineteenth century. The first to write of this was Jules Michelet, the frustrated French revolutionary, who was a contemporary of Bachofen, and who was deeply involved in the occult. He wrote his influential book La Sorcière (“The Sorceress”) in 1862, one year after Das Mutterrecht was published. He asserted that women are “natural sorceresses,” and that magic and the occult is the religion most natural to females. Michelet could thus be considered the inventor of “white witchcraft,” which in the twentieth century blossomed into neo-paganism and Wicca. Ironically, Wicca was also founded by a man—Gerald Gardner—and did not come into existence until the 1950s.

Many strains of magic have existed throughout history—hermeticism, kabbala, tarot, divination, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, etc. But magic and the occult were historically the preserve of men, with women involved typically in peripheral ways. Michelet attempted to demonstrate that the long traditions of magic were actually secret goddess worship rituals, performed by powerful women. These women were then supposedly persecuted by insecure men, who saw goddess worship as a threat to their dominance. La Sorcière was undoubtedly one of the main sources for Matilda Gage in her 1893 book Women, Church and State, in which the nine million burned witches statistic was first concocted.

Conclusion on Feminist Theology

Feminist theology and history is thus fantasy and deception, with no religious, historical, or anthropological foundation. Philip Davis in his book, Goddess Unmasked, sums up the evidence against it, which is devastating:

Not a single [ancient society] provides clear evidence of a supreme female deity; not a single one exhibits the signs of matriarchal rule, or even of serious power-sharing between the sexes; not a single one displays social egalitarianism, non-violent interpersonal and interstate relations, and ecological sensitivity which we have been led to anticipate. In each of these cases, the story of the Goddess is a fabrication in defiance of the facts.[4]

One would think that goddess worshipers would be distressed that their religion is based on concocted fallacies and lies. However, these individuals “feel” rather than “think,” because thinking is largely logical, left-brained, and therefore male. Feminists subordinate thinking beneath feeling when there is a conflict between the two. As Philip Davis indicates:

Virtually none of the Goddess books deals directly with factual challenges to their story. Instead, we are most likely to encounter one or both defenses to the Goddess: the irrelevance of men and their opinions, or the irrelevance of truth itself.[5]

Thought and logic (i.e., evidence and arguments that demonstrate the fallacies and deceptions of feminism) is a-priori misogynistic and anti-female, and can thus be safely vilified and ignored. In the future, if feminists can gain a sufficient plurality in congress, it will be criminalized as hate speech. Lies on behalf of feminism are tolerated and even encouraged because of the overriding importance of imposing their vision on society. Thus, doctrinaire feminists exist in their tightly-wound ideological cocoon, protected from truth, which, if allowed to penetrate, would shatter and destroy their worldview.

When a political movement defines “choice” not in terms of what people do and want, but what they would do and want if society didn’t oppress their Secret Selves [i.e., whatever the movement wishes to have, if reality was entirely plastic, and morality was completely fungible], then there is no way to check ideology against reality… In this way, essentially authoritarian political philosophies can be disguised, even to those who hold them, as democratic and caring… As one very nice radical feminist cheerfully proposed to me in a debate, “We don’t even have the language yet to describe what society will be like when men and women truly participate equally in both public and private realms.”[6]

Despite this elaborate framework, and perhaps because of its indefensible nature, the feminist/goddess/Wiccan movement does not insist on agreement with its theological tenets. In keeping with its roots in Romanticism, people can believe whatever they want to believe—the important thing is agreement with basic feminist principals. Some worship the goddess Isis, others seek communion with “Sophia” (supposedly the world spirit of wisdom and mother earth), and yet others approach from a purely humanist/atheistic viewpoint, ignoring all gods, goddesses, and spirits. The latter engage in feminist worship rituals merely for the engendered feelings and associations. The movement also reaches out to those in the traditional religions of Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism, where goddess theology is dismissed out of hand, but who have been instrumental in the production of gender-neutral Bibles, the elimination of references to God as “he,” and the complete reinterpretation or dismissal of all biblical passages having to do with the submission of wives to husbands.

The Feminist Political Agenda

Some reading the above would say, “Yeah, we knew all the time that feminist history and theology was pure nonsense and made-up myth. So what? These women are just trying to tell a story and have their own dreams. Give them a break!” Also, as previously stated, feminism is a broad movement, and there are many who would consider themselves to be “feministic” without buying into its entire program.

Nevertheless, contemporary thinking about male/female issues has been deeply influenced by radical feminists. If they had kept to themselves, few would have issues with them. The problem is that they are not content with simply doing their own thing. Rather, they want to foist their views on everyone else.

The purpose of going to such great lengths in portraying ancient matriarchal utopias is, quite explicitly, to use them as models for contemporary social reform… This statement of the necessity of belief [in feminist history and theology] is almost creedal; Goddess books, accordingly, should be seen as professions of faith, and their authors as neopagan evangelists.[7]

Feminists did not study the past in order to gain insight about ancient societies. Rather, they already had a series of preconceptions firmly in place, and then attempted to twist the past to conform to their beliefs, so that they could use history as one more political weapon. On the back cover of one edition of Elizabeth Davis’ book The First Sex (which claimed that women were created first), is the statement, “The present intolerable world situation…cannot even begin to ease until the basic argument [of this book] is accepted by all schools and universities.”

Given the fact that females in general are still interested in traditional female pursuits, many women balked at the feminist message, as Friedan’s quote above suggests. Feminists therefore formed political pressure groups, such as NOW (National Organization for Women), and eventually they infiltrated and enlisted the aid of government and the media to censor contrary views and coerce women into their way of thinking, by a constant drumbeat of negativity and scorn heaped on femininity and homemaking. Claiming to speak for all women, the women’s movement generated confusion, fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and depression in the lives of many women who in their heart wanted to devote their lives to their husbands and children, but have been told by society that such a desire is debased and worthless.

To the extent possible, the women’s movement has become totalitarian, with government mandates; day-care funding; Title X subsidies for Planned Parenthood in the hundreds of millions; radical protections for abortion clinics (the use of RICO statues against abortion protesters); abortion for teens girls without parental knowledge or consent; legal fees paid to the ACLU by the government; Title IX legislation requiring equal funding for male and female sports programs; politically-correct requirements on the research earning federal support; elimination of the military restrictions on women in combat; intense pressure on every significant all-male institution to admit women; and departments in most print and broadcast media organizations dedicated to censorship and the elimination of content questioning feministic thinking. Feminist groups in congress attempt to control and dictate all legislation affecting women and families. Some western countries, such as Sweden, have gone so far as to financially penalize families where the wife stays home to raise her children. Norman Mailer noted that the words of radical feminists, “while extreme, even extreme of the extreme, are nonetheless the magnetic north for women’s lib.”[8] Bottom line – feminism is the most bigoted, coercive, and totalitarian of all contemporary religious movements.

Understanding feministic theology helps us understand a number of trends in contemporary society, such as:

  1. The quasi-religious nature of extreme leftist environmental groups such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
  2. The bending of virtually all public school science teaching toward environmental concerns, the constant focus on and guilt over how society is supposedly trashing the planet, and the totalitarian push for the acceptance of global warming theory in spite of substantial evidence to the contrary.
  3. Continual efforts to socialize society and increase government influence.
  4. Continual attempts to degrade men and especially while males.
  5. The renewed push for ERA-style initiatives (the current legislation is known as CEDAW) that will eliminate all gender differences, with severe penalties for gender-biased statements, just as racial faux-pas by whites are currently treated.  A related initiative known as the “Paycheck Fairness Act” would establish a new government agency to record the compensation amounts for each individual and criminalize companies that compensate males more than females.

Divorce and abortion are the sacraments of feminism, and supporters of the women’s movement will fight to the death to preserve no-fault divorce and Roe v. Wade. Yet these represent a deep betrayal—a deliberate trashing of oath and life, which should be held in high regard. They represent a profaning of that which should be holy. Radical feminists are thus more misogynistic than men. However that is not strictly true, as feminism has attempted to redefine the word “misogyny” from “hatred toward women” to mean “anyone who opposes feminist thinking.”

Male Participation in Feminism

It also must be noted that the problems of feminism are not simply “those #$@ women” — it is equally a male issue. Male support may come from men who feel that women can be just like men and should be given that opportunity, from the gay and transgendered community, or from those who have been cowed by the continual braying of the feminist media. However, there is a darker side: virtually all special protections for girls and women have been removed on the theory that males and females are now equivalent and thus no protection should be necessary.

This plays into the “f*ck em and forget em” mindset of many men. It is the bachelor dream of sex with no commitments, no kids to worry about, with a fresh woman who can be had for much less than a prostitute (in addition to being more expensive, prostitutes are often jaded and carry a much higher AIDS/STD risk). The fact that there are no longer many familial and societal protections means that scoring on females is relatively easy. Why would a man want to get married if he can easily use one female and then move on to the next? The government has now been cranked up to go after deadbeat dads, but as long as he uses a condom (and puts it on correctly), packs her off to the abortion clinic, or leaves town quickly enough, why worry?

As Christina Hoff Sommers documents in her book, The War Against Boys, the public education system, led by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and various elements of academia have targeted boys in an attempt to emasculate them. Young men are, as Andrea Dworkin stated, “future harassers and rapists” and therefore efforts must be undertaken to feminize and neuter them, and produce men who are compliant and amenable to female supremacy. Drugs such as Ritalin are commonly given (it was even suggested by one feminist educator with a doctorate that drugs be given to all boys to reduce male aggression). Principals are suspending boys who simply draw pictures of violence, and even the game of tag has been outlawed in some elementary school districts as being “too rough.” Forget about dodge ball. At the same time girls are being encouraged to play rougher sports such as ice hockey and football.

Despite desires to turn males into household helpers and child-care providers, men typically react in exactly the opposite way. Contrary to eliciting more care from men toward women, feminism encourages the opposite—more male coarseness and disposable relationships—using women and dumping them. “If a woman is a bitch, then I might as well treat her that way,” is how men have effectively been taught to think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is sad that in our “modern times” with so many advances in technology, that we have actually regressed in our understanding of the most basic and crucial societal issue of all – the male/female dynamic.


[1] Betty Friedan, Life So Far, 2000

[2] Arthur Koestler, et al., The God That Failed, Columbia University Press, 2001

[3] Steven Goldberg, The Inevitability of Patriarchy, William Morrow, 1973, pp. 31-32

[4] Philip G. Davis, Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality, Spence Publishing, 1998, pp. 83-84

[5] Ibid., p. 85

[6] Maggie Gallagher, Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage, and Sex, and What We Can Do About It, pp. 149-50

[7] Philip G. Davis, Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality, Spence Publishing, 1998, p. 87

[8] Normal Mailer, Prisoner of Sex, New York: Primus, 1971, p. 47

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Criticism of the Church

If you say that the history of the Church is a long succession of scandals, you are telling the truth, though if that is all you say, you are distorting the truth
~ Gerald Vann

To a large degree, the Bible and the church have been lumped together in people’s minds and the frustration that some have felt with the actual “institutions of Christianity” have made them question and throw out the church, the Bible, and even Christianity itself. Many of the criticisms are overblown, but the church does have things to answer for. Here are some examples:

  • For centuries the Catholic Church was a secular political power that vied with other governments for control and supremacy. Thus its mission to care for the spiritual needs of people was continually compromised by the political ambitions and concerns of its leadership. It was once called the “Holy Roman Empire” but people joked that this was a complete misnomer—it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.
  • At times the Vatican engaged in targeted assassination attempts against its political enemies, such as the attempt to kill Queen Elizabeth I of England in the early part of her reign because of fears that she would declare England to be Protestant and suppress Catholics.
  • The church has called for wars, for people to “fight for God, and against heresy,” especially during the Crusader period (1095-1270). The Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in southern France in the thirteenth century was a sad example of this. However, it must also be understood that during the Crusades, Muslims were the main intended enemy, and Europe in the Middle Ages was rightly fearful of being totally overrun and conquered by Islamic forces. The desire to defend themselves and retake lost territory from their Muslim enemies therefore resonated with virtually everyone.

The Muslims themselves set the pattern for holy war in the years after the death of Mohammed in 632. For the next 400 years they attacked many countries, conquering and then ruling over them. These included Iran (Persia), Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Armenia, Balkan territories, and Spain. Many Christian areas such as Hippo, the home of Augustine in North Africa (in what is now the country of Libya), were wiped out by Islamic forces. The Muslims in Spain attempted an invasion of France in 732 that was repulsed by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. They also took Sicily in the 820s, and in 846 they attacked Rome and desecrated the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. For centuries the Castillian people of Spain revolted against their Muslim overlords, and finally were victorious in 1492, the year that Columbus set sail for America.

The Crusades were thus an attempt to redress the brutality of the Islamic conquest, and retake territory that had been lost. The Crusades are often used to paint the church and Christianity as evil, especially by extremist Muslims such as Usama Bin Laden and by western-bashing liberals. However, such Muslims are entirely hypocritical on this issue, justifying their own conquest and excusing the killing/subjugation of other peoples by claiming that jihad is commanded by Allah, but when the people who are attacked defend themselves and strike back, it is purely evil. Atrocities were committed by both sides and especially bad was the wholesale slaughter of the civilian population in Jerusalem when the Crusaders finally took the city in 1099. But the atrocities performed by Muslims are rarely, if ever, admitted. For example, the inhabitants of the Templar fortress of Safad were massacred in 1266 after being promised that they would be spared if they surrendered. Even worse was the total massacre of every man, woman, and child when the Muslims retook Antioch in 1268. After the city fell, the gates were ordered shut and every inhabitant of the city was hunted down and slain. It was the worst atrocity performed by either side in the entire Crusader era, and it was committed by Muslims.

  • The appointment of popes often resulted in a power struggle with different political factions lining up behind one candidate or another. In the past Cardinals were often appointed on the basis of political favoritism and payoffs, and would sometimes pay large sums in order to obtain their office. In return they would normally be able to collect and keep a portion of the offering from the churches in their area of dominion – like buying a Burger King franchise. Therefore becoming a cardinal or a bishop was sometimes perceived in strictly crass financial terms as being a investment rather than a spiritual responsibility.
  • At times the church engaged in nefarious and disreputable fund-raising schemes, such as simony (the sale of spiritual benefits or offices for money), and indulgences (getting oneself or another person out of hell or purgatory in exchange for payment to the church). At times the church even sold indulgences to priests allowing them to keep wives and/or concubines. The accumulation of wealth unfortunately became a goal that led to further corruption and cynicism. Some Protestant churches and televangelists in our day, such as Jim Bakker in the 1970s, have also been guilty of this.
  • Some religious leaders and groups have used twisted versions of Christian teachings to claim prophetic gifts and demand absolute obedience from their followers. These include the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the “Moonie” cult; Children of the Way; David Koresh of the Branch Davidians; the People’s Temple, where the messianic leader Jim Jones led his followers to drink cyanide in a mass suicide; and others. While such groups malign the reputation of Christianity, most Christians do not consider them to be Christian at all.
  • In many societies women were treated as chattel and second-class citizens, and at times in the past the church has taught or at least encouraged this. In many cases Bible verses were taken out of context in order to justify such treatment. However, this issue is much larger than just the church; how people are treated is governed by the generally prevailing attitudes in each society. The church can certainly influence attitudes, but there are also many other factors at work. It must also be said that throughout its history, the church has generally attempted to elevate the status of women in various cultures, and the progress that women have made in the last century is largely due to Christian influences.The Bible teaches that men and women are of equal worth, but it rejects the notion that they are equivalent or interchangeable. It therefore recognizes the reality that there are fundamental physical and psychological differences between the sexes that have been there from the beginning.
  • The church has had many sexual scandals down through the years, from the early popes to the twentieth-century preacher Jimmy Swaggert. The Catholic Church is now struggling with the issue of pedophilia in the ranks of their priests, as well as the bishops who protected them and moved them from one parish to another. Underlying this scandal are other systemic problems—the high percentage of homosexual priests, along with declining number of applicants to the priesthood.
  • Some contemporary churches and ministries have promoted what came to be called “the health and wealth gospel” which treated God as a type of spiritual vending machine—if one puts in the correct amount of offerings and good works, one would supposedly get good health and financial benefits automatically provided in a tit-for-tat manner. This is essentially a modern form of indulgences. Christianity is therefore viewed by some as a means of financial gain—a guaranteed investment and annuity program for those who choose to participate.A similar problem is known as “easy believism” or “cheap grace.” It is the notion that all a person has to do is say the correct prayers and believe the right things, and then that person will be all set for eternity. Supposedly once that has happened it does not matter what a person does, and he or she is free to live life in any way that feels good. The Bible does teach that God’s grace is a free gift and cannot be earned (it must be received by faith), but it also teaches that people will be judged on the basis of what they have done and how they have served others. In other words, belief and faith are absolutely necessary as a starting point for a relationship with God, and no one is worthy enough to enter heaven on the basis of one’s own personality or good works. On the other hand, belief and faith are meaningless if they do not reform our character and affect the way that we live. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.”
  • Some liberal churches have tried to rewrite the Bible in order to make it gender-neutral, or to modify it in other ways in order to change teachings that they disagree with. Others have dispensed with the Bible altogether and their churches have essentially become clubs.
  • On some occasions Biblical teaching has been used as a general excuse for the exploitation of the environment in irresponsible ways, such as the wholesale slaughter of the buffalo in early America, or the clear-cutting of forests. Blame is assigned because the Bible gives mankind dominion over the natural world. But this is a distortion of Biblical teaching. The Bible teaches that human beings are stewards of the world and its resources, and therefore responsible for how we use them. Therefore, destructive and irresponsible uses of the environment are wrong according to the Bible, and developing reasonable policies to provide a healthy environment is appropriate and necessary. However, the Bible rejects the notion fostered by some environmental and religious groups that animals are equal to people, and that eating meat or using animal products is wrong.

The church, like all organizations, is made up of fallible humans who, in some cases, have done many bad things. It demonstrates the reality of Jeremiah 17:9—“The heart is deceitful above all things… who can understand it?” God’s continued presence and blessing is dependent on the lifestyle and behaviors of those who call on His name, and God is not a respecter of persons. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6.

A study of church as well as secular history alerts us to two opposing dangers: 1) the more that power is centralized, the greater capacity there is for corruption, exploitation, and abuse, as in Lord Acton’s dictum, “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is true for all authority, civil as well as ecclesiastical; and 2) when the church is marginalized society suffers because civilization requires morality, and morality requires divine authority.

These conflicting ideas are abundantly illustrated in the history of the Church and most glaringly in the Papacy of Rome. There were a few good leaders down through the centuries since the Papacy began in the aftermath of Constantine’s Edict of Milan in AD 313. But there were only a few points of light in a general sea of darkness. For centuries the Papacy controlled much of northern Italy—a region known as the “Papal States.” Ironically, the best thing to happen to the Vatican was the loss of the Papal States, which were taken by Napoleon in 1815, restored for a few years, and then permanently lost in 1929. The Vatican remained a sovereign state, but was reduced to it current one square mile of territory. It was at this point that the Catholic Church reluctantly returned its spiritual role, and ultimately regained the respect and authority that it had lost.

Keys of St. Peter

A study of the popes can be very depressing because of the excesses and almost unbelievable hypocrisy demonstrated by many of the so-called Vicars of Christ. Following is a brief chronology of some of them:[1]

  • To be a Christian in the early days of Christianity often meant hardship and persecution, and sometimes death. The Jewish leaders arrested Christians beginning around AD 37 (the apostle Paul, author of many NT writings, had originally been a persecutor of the church), and the secular Roman leaders followed suit. Roman emperors from Nero (AD 54) through Diocletian (AD 305) persecuted Christians with varying degrees of intensity. But the next emperor, Constantine (313—337), completely reversed course and Christianity was eventually made the official religion of the empire under Constantine’s successors. He did this because he saw himself as the great political unifier and desired to use Christianity to unify the entire empire.

    It is said that the apostle Peter died in Rome, but if so, he came there at the end of his life. Therefore, he was not the first “pope” in the sense that the word is used today. There were church leaders (“bishops”) who led the church in Rome throughout the third century, but at the time Rome was just one church among many. Furthermore, there was no formal hierarchy of churches or leaders, as that would have never have been allowed by the apostles; they were very much aware of the potential problems with centralized and autocratic leadership. Roman society was largely non-Christian, and until the time of Constantine, the church had an uneasy relationship with the government.

  • Sylvester I (314—335) presided over the church during the sea change brought about by Constantine’s edicts that Christianity was to be an accepted religion. Wealth in many forms (tax revenues and abatements, land holdings, farms, buildings, silver and gold, and so on) began to flow into the church of Rome.
  • Damasus I (366—384) came to power as pope by hiring a group of thugs to forcibly depose his rival Ursinus and throw him out of Rome. He renounced his wife and children when assuming the papacy, but engaged in what became a long-standing tradition with popes—having affairs with ladies. He was known as “the matron’s ear tickler,” and enjoyed entertaining in the Vatican, but strangely, he wrote on the virtues of virginity and indicated that “intercourse was defilement.” St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin producing the Vulgate version (the standard Catholic Bible used for centuries afterward), was Damasus’ secretary of affairs and strongly disapproved of the pope’s romantic activities. In the year 378 the pope was finally charged with the crime of adultery and tried before a synod, but the emperor stepped in to stop the trial. Despite his sexual adventures, Damasus was canonized as a saint after his death.
  • Siricius (384—399) the pope after Damasus, swung to the opposite pole on the issue of sexuality (these swings were frequent from pope to pope). He was against sex altogether, and felt that married priests should put away their wives. Even sex in marriage was “immorality.” St. Jerome, who was still involved in church affairs, felt that the pope went too far and he wrote against these policies. For his efforts he was later banished from Rome. Siricius also excommunicated Jovian, a monk who was critical of fasting and celibacy, and who had the audacity to suggest that the Virgin Mary had lost her virginity when she gave birth to Christ. He also condemned the Bishop of Naissus for teaching that Mary had other children after Jesus (which the Bible clearly indicates).

    The great Christian writer and philosopher St. Augustine of Hippo also lived during this time. His book, The City of God, is still a classic, but on the subject of sex he was completely aligned with Siricius. He wrote in his Soliloquies, “Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downward as the caresses of a woman, and that physical intercourse which is part of marriage.” In one of his sermons he warned, “Husbands, love your wives but love them chastely. Insist on the work of the flesh only in such measure as is necessary for the procreation of children. You must descend to it against your will, for it is the punishment of Adam.”

  • Innocent I (401—417) was perhaps the first true pope in the sense that he was the first to claim that the see of Rome was superior, and had authority over all of the other churches.
  • Leo the Great (440—461) continued and expanded on the superiority of Rome, and repeatedly proclaimed that the apostle Peter, who had been “given the keys to the kingdom,” was the first pope, and therefore all popes in Rome had the authority of Peter. Through his energy and efforts Leo greatly increased the power and influence of the papacy, thereby setting the pattern for its later claims. He was also the first pope to claim the right of torturing and executing heretics.
  • Gelasius I (492—496) was the first pope to be designated as the “Vicar of Christ” and wrote that there were two powers in the world—the church and the state (centuries later forming the basis for the eventual discussion of this issue in the U.S. Constitution), but that the church was more important because it was concerned with eternal and not merely temporal matters. Gelasius was known for his personal holiness and sense of justice.
  • Anastasius II (496—498) was pope when St. Remigius (St. Remy) baptized Clovis, the greatest of the Merovingian kings. It has been alleged that Remigius, acting on the authority of Anastasius II—or one of the later popes such as Hormisdas—bound the church to the support of the Merovingian dynasty as Stephen II did with the Carolingian rulers several hundred years later. St. Remigius spoke thus to Clovis at the latter’s baptism in 496, “Your posterity shall nobly govern this kingdom, which will give much glory to the Holy Church. It shall inherit the Empire of the Romans. This nation will not cease to prosper so long as it follows the path of truth, but decadence will come upon it with vices and bad customs. For, in truth, it is in this way that all kingdoms and nations have fallen into ruin.”
  • Symmachus (498—514) who had a pagan background, was charged with unchastity, adultery, and the misuse of church property, and was called before a synod for trial. The first time he refused to give evidence; the second time he did not appear at all; and the third time he argued that, as pope, no human court could judge him (this was a legal defense that later popes would also use). Because his election had been disputed, another pope also had been given authority (Lawrence) and there were effectively two popes at the time. Symmachus therefore spent much time creating documents to bolster his own case, and to prove that the pope could not be judged by any man. He, too, was canonized after his death.
  • Vigilius (537—555) was an ambitious man who came to power by overthrowing the existing pope Silverius who had recently been elected. When the emperor desired that Silverius receive a fair trial, Vigilius stage-managed it and arranged to have the ex-pope shipped off into exile, where he died several months later. But Vigilius had a number of problems of his own: he was later arrested by the emperor over political and doctrinal issues, but after agreeing to recant, he changed his position and waffled several times. This eventually led to his being excommunicated by a church council in Rome, and being placed under house arrest, where soon afterwards he died. The conduct of his papacy brought much public shame on the institution.
  • Gregory the Great (590—604) was a man of great piety and energy who became pope after the city of Rome had been repeatedly sacked and plundered. He served as both head of the church as well as the civic leader of Rome, and attempted to shield the city from the ravages of the Lombards, who continued to attack and plunder the city. Gregory was considered to be the greatest pope of the Middle Ages, and was perhaps the greatest ever. He was an energetic leader who brought hope to Rome as well as the church. However, he returned to the policy of celibacy, although the richer bishops could purchase the privilege of keeping their wife or concubine by the payment of an indulgence. Gregory also wrote a number of books on sexual behavior, and especially on the penalties that should be ascribed to various sexual activities and sins. For example, a man must not enter the church after having intercourse with his wife unless he first washed himself, but the sex had to be for procreation only and not for pleasure, otherwise it would be a sin and the man could not enter the church at all. “Unnatural intercourse” in marriage was especially condemned, and coitus interruptus was a worse sin than fornication or adultery. Anything that prevented conception meant that the sex was just for pleasure, and therefore evil. Gregory’s books and his obsession with sex led to a long series of debates and theological discussions through the years over the proper punishment for various sexual practices.
  • Zacharias (741—752) and Stephen II (752—757). These popes cut a very significant deal with Charles Martel, who defeated the Muslims at the Battle of Tours in 732, and his son Pepin III (the Short), the rulers of France. Pepin II (the Fat and Charles’s father) had seized power and defeated the Merovingian king of France, and then in 679 he assassinated Dagobert II, supposedly the last of the Merovingian line. Therefore they had the power of the kingship but not the title, and Pepin II and his son Charles Martel—who never called themselves kings for fear of public reprisal—felt a need to legitimize their rule. Rome, meanwhile, was still troubled by the Lombards, and so during the years of 751—754, the two sides negotiated a deal in which the pope anointed Pepin III, the son of Charles Martel, as the King of France in return for military assistance in eliminating the Lombards. The latter were soundly defeated by 756 and their northern territories in Italy were given to the Papacy. Thus the Papal States were founded, which formed the basis of papal power, and for the next thousand years this territory continually involved the popes in the politics and wars of Italy and Europe. From that point on, the defense and rule of the Papal States became the cornerstone of papal policy and interest. Furthermore, Pope Stephen II declared through a solemn vow that no other ruling family could ever be recognized in France. The Carolingian dynasty was thus established, and Charles (later Charles the Great or Charlemagne), the son of Pepin III, became its greatest king.

    The grant of the Lombard territory to the church of Rome was strongly protested by the Emperor in Byzantium, but at that time a document appeared supporting the right of the church of Rome to rule over territory and to be the preeminent church in Christendom. It was supposedly written by the emperor Constantine in the fourth century and became known as the Donation of Constantine. However, this document was later shown to be a complete forgery.

    A quote from Stephen II indicated that he knew of or had seen the Shroud (later known as the Shroud of Turin); “Christ had spread out his entire body on a linen cloth that was white as snow. On this cloth, marvelous as it is to see… the glorious image of the Lord’s face, and the length of his entire and most noble body, has been divinely transferred.”

  • Paul I (757—767) and Stephen III (768—772). These popes were political appointees by factions in Rome and were challenged by opposing popes appointed by other factions. The creation of the Papal States in 756 set off a murderous rivalry for control of them, resulting in violence, betrayal, and judicial murder until Charlemagne came to the throne, crushing resistance to the pope’s sovereignty, and confirming papal rule over northern Italy. Most of the popes of the late ninth and tenth centuries were all selected by the warring families of Rome, for whom murder, rape, and theft were the order of the day.
  • Boniface VI (896), Stephen VI (896—897), Romanus (897), Theodore II (897), John IX (898—900), Benedict IV (900—903), Leo V (903—904). Most of these popes were appointed through the influence of the Spoleto family who ruled Rome for parts of this period. Agiltruda, the Duchess of Spoleto, was a powerful woman from this family, and she was instrumental in the rise and fall of a number of the above popes. Boniface VI ruled for only fifteen days and then was poisoned by her and replaced by Stephen VI. Stephen, a madman, conducted a most unusual trial: he had the body of Formosus, the pope who had preceded Boniface, exhumed from the grave. The corpse was then dressed in papal vestments and put on trial for crimes against the Spoleto family (Formosus had led an army that had formerly freed Rome from the power of the Spoletos). The corpse was found guilty, several of its fingers were cut off and given to Agiltruda, and it was dragged through the streets of Rome and thrown in the Tiber. But the “cadaver synod,” as it came to be known, caused an uprising against Stephen VI, and he was thrown in prison and strangled. Agiltruda then had Romanus appointed pope but got tired of him after four months and installed Theodore II, only to tire of him soon afterward as well (both Romanus and Theodore died in mysterious circumstances).
  • Sergius III (904—911), Anastasias III (911—913), Lando I (913—914), John X (914—928), John XI (931—936). Two women, a mother and daughter combination (Theodora and Marozia) who were mistresses to the popes became very influential in having all of the above popes appointed. When Marozia was fifteen years old she became the mistress of Sergius III, who was forty-five at the time. Their son became Pope John XI, and Marozia’s grandson became Pope John XII. She also had great and great-great grandsons who ascended the papal throne. Anastasius III, Lando I, and John X were all selected through the influence of Theodora. John X was the bastard son of Lando (who was a notorious womanizer) and became Theodora’s lover. After Lando’s death, Theodora used her influence to have John X become pope so that they could continue their affair with greater ease.
  • John XII (955—964) was the grandson of Marozia and could reasonably be compared to the Roman emperor Caligula. After his death a series of charges were posthumously filed against him as follows: “He perjured himself, breaking his oath to the Great Emperor. He stole the treasury of the popes and fled to Rome’s enemies, was deposed by the Holy Synod and replaced by Leo VIII. Then the apostate returned to Rome, evicted Leo VIII, cut off the nose, tongue, and two forefingers of the Cardinal-Deacon, flayed the skin of Bishop Otger, cut off the head of Notary Azzo, and beheaded sixty-three of Rome’s clergy and nobility. During the night of 14 May 964, while having illicit and filthy relations with a Roman matron, he was surprised in the act of sin by the matron’s angry husband who, in just wrath, smashed his skull with a hammer and thus liberated his soul into the grasp of Satan.” John XII was sixteen (some say eighteen) when he became pope and he appointed ten year-old boys as bishops for pranks; the people that he appointed as church officials were all morally and spiritually corrupt like himself. He gambled with parishioner’s offerings and used the papal treasury to pay off his gambling debts. He was bisexual and was accused of running a brothel out of St. Peter’s as well as maintaining a harem in the Lateran palace; there were complaints of nuns and female pilgrims to Rome sometimes being abducted and forced to serve as his sex slaves. He was alleged to have committed incest with two of his sisters and one of his father’s concubines, and it is said that whole monasteries spent days and nights praying for his death. When he was called to stand trial for charges against him he excommunicated his accusers and ignored them, telling them that as pope he was above all human justice. He died at age twenty-four at the hands of an angry husband, whose wife he was in the process of using. The papacy of the tenth century is therefore sometimes referred to as the “papal pornocracy” run by the “whores of Rome” (Theodora and Marozia).
  • John XIII (965—972) was the son of John XII, and he continued in the same pattern as his father, committing incest with his nieces and the concubines of his father, maintaining the harem that his father had established in the Lateran palace, and living like a sultan. He dined off gold plates and drank from jeweled goblets while being entertained by dancing girls.
  • Benedict VI (973—974) was the illegitimate son of a monk, and he made a policy of taking foreign ladies who came to Rome from France, England and Spain, seducing and raping them, and keeping them in Rome as courtesans.
  • Boniface VII (984—985) was described as a “horrid monster” by Pope Silvester II, and the synod in Rheims characterized him as “a man who in criminality surpassed all of the rest of mankind.”
  • John XVIII (1003), Sergius IV (1009 -1012). John XVIII was born Giovanni Fasanus—which means “cock” in Italian. He was poisoned after a few months in office. Sergius IV was given the nickname “Bucca Porci” meaning “Pig’s Snout.”
  • Benedict VIII (1012—1024) came to power by assassinating Sergius IV. The Archbishop of Narbonne accused him of “simony, assassination, usury; of disbelieving the Eucharist and the immortality of the soul; of employing violence to obtain the secrets of the confessional; of living in concubinage with two of his nieces and having children by them; and by using the money received from the sale on indulgences to pay for the Saracens invasion of Sicily.” Bishop Beno accused him of “many vile adulteries and murders,” and an attempt was made to take him to Lyon to face charges, but Benedict resisted this, using the typical papal defenses.
  • John XIX (1024—1032). John came to power when the Tuscolani family took over Rome. In 1027 John received a visit from King Cnut (Canute) of England who came to Rome on a pilgrimage, who came because “I heard the from wise men that St. Peter the Apostle has received from the Lord a great power of binding and loosing, and bears the keys of the kingdom of heaven; therefore I deemed it useful to seek his patronage before God.” John XIX was typical the tenth century popes, but for Cnut, the pope was not a leader, a reformer or an example of holy living. Rather, he was simply the guardian of the holy mysteries. This was to change in the next century, but provides insight into how the papacy was viewed in the tenth century.
  • Benedict IX (1032—1048) after John XIX died his twelve-year-old son Theophylact was made pope and became Benedict IX. He was one of the worst if not the worst pope ever. It was said of him that “as a child on the chair of St. Peter, he grew up in unrestrained license, and shocked the dull sensibilities of a gross and barbarous age by the scandals of his daily life.” It was also said that the child-pope “manifested a precocity for all kinds of wickedness.” He was bisexual, sodomized animals, ordered murders, and dabbled in witchcraft and Satanism. One observer wrote that “A demon from hell in the disguise of a priest has occupied the chair of Peter,” and St.Peter Damian said, “That wretch, from the beginning of his pontificate to the end of his life, feasted on immorality.” It was also alleged that, “in woods and remote places, he was accustomed to invoke evil spirits, and by necromancy to work woman to his lust.” Like his predecessors, he lived in luxury like a sultan in the Lateran Palace. Meanwhile his brothers ruled the city of Rome as if they owned it, and the result was a crime wave that filled the streets with robbery and murder. A writer named Gregorovius described the situation thusly, “All lawful conditions had ceased… Only an uncertain glimmer falls these days when the Vicar of Christ was a pope more criminal than the Emperor Elagabalus.” Benedict also hosted lavish homosexual orgies in the Lateran palace, and by the time he was twenty-three, his conduct was so appalling that an effort was made to strangle him at the altar during a Mass. This attempt was unsuccessful, but in 1044 he was deposed for a time and Silvester III bribed his way to the papacy. But Sylvester’s moral standards were similar to Benedict’s, and Benedict soon returned and regained his power. Then, in a strange turn of events, he grew tired of the papacy, and planned to marry his cousin, the daughter of Girard de Saxo, who had stipulated that Benedict had to give up the papacy if he wanted her hand. So Benedict sold the papacy to his godfather John Gracian for 1,500 pounds plus Peter’s pence—the tribute from the Church in England—for life. But Benedict’s prospective bride turned him down, and he went back to the Lateran palace and turned it into a brothel in order to generate income. Benedict was finally driven from Rome in 1048 and died in obscurity. Dante and others believed that in Benedict IX, the papacy had reached its lowest ebb, and in his Inferno, Dante consigned Benedict, along with a number of other popes to the lowest circle of hell.
  • Leo IX (1049—1054) was, along with other popes of his era, a reformer who sought to redeem the papacy from the sordid depths into which it had sunk. In his short years in office he made whirlwind tours to the capitals of Europe to preach against simony (the sale of church offices for cash), lay investiture (the selection of monks, priests, and bishops by secular rulers in order to control the office and the associated revenues), and clerical marriage. Leo was also able to enforce his policies, and began disciplining bishops and priests, and eliminating the age-old system of payment for church offices. He also gathered around him a group of leaders who were also interested and intent on reform. Leo was also the pope under which the Great Schism took place between the Western church of Rome and the Eastern church of Constantinople. Relations had declined over a long period of time, and in 1054 the Pope and the Patriarch excommunicated each other.Leo desired to have the church return to the policy of celibacy for all priests, most of whom were married. It was reported that during the consecration of priests at that time, they were asked four questions: “Have you sodomized a boy? Have you fornicated with a nun? Have you sodomized any four-legged animal? Have you committed adultery?”
  • Gregory VII (1073—1085) was a very short man, possibly a midget, who nevertheless was one of the most energetic and determined of all of the popes. He had a mystically exalted view of his office and his views were proclaimed in a document known as the Dictatus Papae which contained twenty-seven maxims on the pope’s power and authority. These were far-reaching and exceeded anything that had come before, for example: 1) the Pope can be judged by no one, and that no one may be condemned while he had an appeal pending in Rome (this created a field day for the lawyers at the time); 2) the pope is supreme over all bishops, and therefore his legates take precedence over all others, regardless of their rank; 3) all princes and rulers (and everyone else as well) must kiss the pope’s foot; 4) the pope is “inerrant,” he can never be in error about any pronouncement throughout all eternity; 5) a duly ordained pope is automatically made a saint by the merits of St. Peter (very hard to swallow considering the behavior of the tenth century popes); and 6) the pope has the power to depose emperors and can absolve subjects of their allegiance to wicked rulers (the definition of “wicked” was not fully spelled out). The last maxim was especially bold, and Gregory based it on the permission granted by Pope Zacharias and Stephen II to Pepin III to depose the Merovingian kings of France, assassinate Dagobert II, and establish the Carolingian dynasty. In other words, the pope could unilaterally perform actions such as these whenever he felt that it was in the best interest of the papacy and the church.

    Gregory apparently believed that it was not a good thing for people in general to read the Bible, as this might provoke thought and therefore lead to heresy. He also attempted to impose celibacy, and in 1074 he deposed all married priests. His efforts led to the separation of large numbers of husbands and wives, and the latter often had to turn to prostitution to support themselves; some of the abandoned women committed suicide. However, Gregory had a female adherent in the person of the Countess Mathilda who often accompanied him; it was rumored that he had a long-standing affair with her, and therefore his strictures against marriage were seen as being hypocritical. In 1076 a group of Italian bishops, led by the Bishop of Pavia, excommunicated the pope for separating husbands and wives and consequentially favoring licentiousness in the clergy over honorable marriage. The Council of Brixen in 1080 condemned Gregory for “sowing divorce among legitimate spouses.” He ultimately had a confrontation with the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, and though a series of circumstances was able to make Henry do penance to him; Henry stood for three days in the snow dressed only in a hair shirt before Gregory would receive him (Gregory was used to this sort of thing, as he practiced self-flagellation). Henry was resentful at this shabby treatment and later attacked Rome. Gregory managed to cobble together a defense using Norman troops, but once the battle with Henry was over, the Normans sacked Rome. Gregory was blamed for this and forced to flee; he died in exile.

  • Urban II (1088—1099) was the pope who was instrumental in promoting and organizing the first crusade. Urban traveled across Europe preaching the crusade and drew a tremendous response. The Muslims had set the pattern for holy war in the years after the death of Mohammed in 632, by conquering Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Armenia, and Spain, and then moving into eastern Europe. The Moors (Spanish Muslims) had overrun Spain and attempted an invasion of France in 732 which was repulsed by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours, but they continued to threaten Europe, conquering parts of Hungary and Bulgaria and threatening Constantinople, the seat of the Roman empire, which they later conquered. The Saracens (Muslims from North Africa) overran Sicily in the 820’s and held it for many years. They also took and held parts of southern Italy and in 846 they attacked Rome, desecrating the graves of St. Peter and St. Paul, and stripping them of all of their riches. Therefore the Muslims were passionately hated and despised, and the call of Urban II to liberate Jerusalem from the infidel stirred passions all over Europe.

    There had also been much movement of peoples over the preceding decades, and wars and skirmishes had become endemic, as local lords in many places fought each other for dominance. Therefore the church in Burgundy and Aquitaine had begun movements known as the Peace of God and the Truce of God in an attempt to halt and moderate the violence of the aristocracy. Urban saw the crusade as a way of creating a long-standing peace and truce by redirecting these military energies against the real enemy, and he proclaimed indulgences (pardon from divine punishment) on all who went to fight from a pure heart. Urban’s slogan for the crusade was Deus vult, (“God wills it”). He also put the property and families of the crusaders under the protection of the church, and exempted them from jurisdiction of the secular courts.

    Despite the almost universal appeal and enthusiasm for this venture, the first crusade often teetered on the brink of disaster, because there was no central leader to make decisions and enforce discipline. Each crusading group was led by its own lord, but they frequently quarreled and at times almost came to blows. The fact that they were able to fight their way through Turkey and Syria, and succeeded in taking Jerusalem in 1099 was almost a miracle.

    The curia or papal court of officials was also founded in Urban’s day, as the burden of legal cases multiplied because of the Dictatus Papae of Gregory VII. It had, of course, existed in various forms under previous administrations, but Urban organized and expanded it. The curia was essentially a bureaucracy which grew and took on a life of its own, as bureaucracies are wont to do. It was said that the only saints venerated at Rome were Albinus and Rufus, silver and gold; “Blessed are the wealthy, for theirs is the court of Rome.”The issue of clerical celibacy was more-or-less also settled in Urban’s time. At the Council of Piacenza in 1095, clerics passed a resolution finally outlawing the marriage of priests, and it is said that some of the wives were sold into slavery. Urban then introduced the cullagium which was a sex tax, and allowed a priest to keep a concubine if he paid the requisite annual fee. The next several popes were all hard liners against any form of sexual activity.

  • Paschal II (1099—1118) was a former monk intent on reforming the church. In 1111 he made a very unusual offer to Henry V, the emperor at the time. If the state would renounce it claim to appointing bishops, and permit free elections, the church would renounce all of its regalia—land, property, and income derived from the state, and would then live on voluntary ties and offerings (along the lines of how churches in America exist now). However, when these terms were read, the princes and bishops rioted, and refused to even consider the deal. Paschal was thrown in jail until he gave up his proposal.
  • Honorius II (1124—1130) was also a would-be reformed who attempted to impose celibacy on the church in England, and sent Cardinal John of Crema as his papal legate to denounce that practice of concubinage among the priests. The Cardinal duly assembled a council in London, and against much opposition, tried to pass a canon threatening the demotion of all clergy in England who would not give up their wives or concubines. Then he celebrated a mass and the assembly dispersed. But the English clergy followed him, and after a suitable period burst into the place where he was staying, only to find the Cardinal nudatus usque ad unguem—naked to his fingernails, in the company of a courtesan in a similar state of dishabille. After raising a toast to the Cardinal, they left him to continue his ministrations. The Cardinal was then sent back to Rome with a letter to tell the Pope to put his own house in order.
  • Anacletus II (1130—1138). Anacletus was appointed at the same time as Innocent and they struggled for power. Anacletus had been a cardinal in the vein of John of Crema, and had several children by his own sister. He took his own concubine with him whenever he traveled as a papal legate.
  • Innocent II (1130—1143). Innocent was supported and elected as pope through the influence of Bernard of Clairvaux, and he repaid the favor by designating the Knights Templar as a papal order in 1130.
  • Eugenius III (1145—1153) was the ex-disciple of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who also died in 1153. Many claimed that Bernard was the actual pope and that Eugenius was merely his lackey, because the former made virtually all of the decisions. Bernard had also been heavily involved in promoting the election of Innocent II in 1130.Bernard joined the Cistercian monastic order in 1112 at the age of twenty-two. Only three years later at age twenty-five he was appointed the abbot of a new Cistercian monastery in Clairvaux, but his energies and contacts led him far beyond the monastery. The Knights Templar had been founded in 1118 (some say earlier, 1111-1114) by Hugues de Payen, a nobleman from the court of Champagne, for the purpose of defending pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. They were strongly supported by Bernard, who in 1128 organized a church council at Troyes to honor them and gain papal support (which was given later by Innocent II, no doubt in partial repayment for Bernard’s support), and Bernard himself drew up their charter and the instructions for member of their order based on Cistercian monastic regulations. Significantly, the order was exempted from taxation and all secular control, and was answerable only to the pope. Until the order was wiped out, Troyes was a strategic center for the Templars, and was also the home of Chretien, the most significant author of grail romances and tales of chivalry. There are a number of interesting connections relating Bernard to the Templars, as follows:
    1. One of the original nine members of the Knights Templar was Andre de Montbard, who although younger in age, was Bernard’s uncle. After the death of Hugues de Payen, the first Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Andre de Montbard became the Grand Master, tightening the familial connections between the Knights, the Cistercians, and Bernard.
    2. The Count of Champagne (the liege lord of Hugues de Payen and Andre de Montbard) is said to have had a conclave concerning Jerusalem in 1104 in France. He then traveled to the Holy Land and remained there for several years. In 1114 the Count was said to have considered joining the Knights, but decided against it, and then donated the land on which the Cistercian monastery in Clairvaux was built and of which Bernard was made the abbot in the following year at the young age of twenty-five.
    3. Prior to 1112, the finances of the Cistercian order were very limited, but shortly thereafter the order expanded tremendously, and by the time of Bernard’s death, had over three hundred abbeys, many of which Bernard had personally established.
    4. Bernard became an enthusiastic cheerleader for the Crusades, and spent much of his time from 1128 onward trying to gain support for sending additional troops and material to Jerusalem for the support of the Crusaders and the Templars. It is therefore possible that some kind of deal was struck whereby financial resources from Jerusalem were send to Clairvaux for the furtherance of he Cistercian order, and in return Bernard essentially became the European mouthpiece for the Templars and the Crusades. However, the Cistercians were a very popular monastic order (it was said of the Cistercians that “they had the only secure path to heaven”), and many people of wealth made large donations to them.
    5. The Templars venerated Bernard, took his “bridal mysticism” concepts and melded them into their version of chivalry.
    6. When Pope Eugenius III proclaimed a Second Crusade in 1145 (almost certainly under the urging and direction of Bernard), the latter went all across Europe, preaching and urging people to get involved. He received a large response, but the Second Crusade suffered from the same serious problem that had almost caused the failure of the First Crusade, namely the lack of an overall leader who could command respect and enforce discipline among all of the other leaders and troops. The Second Crusade went in three directions at once, and was an unmitigated fiasco. Bernard was blamed for it and he spent the last years of his life dealing with the criticism that was heaped upon him. His answer was the people of Europe had become too sinful and therefore were not sufficiently worthy of God’s help.

      Bernard was an interesting, complex, and great man who was at once an ascetic, and lived an austere life (at times), and also a man-of the-world, who was heavily involved with politics and power. His writings reveal that he had a high sense of the holiness of God, and like many of his era, believed that sexual activity corrupted people. His veneration for the Virgin Mary bordered on obsession, and he wrote many sermons on the Song of Solomon, denying that they had any human or erotic content, and indicating how all believers (men and women) needed to become female (a receptive vessel like Mary) and to become the literal bride of Christ. Thus he developed his doctrine of bridal mysticism which has greatly troubled Catholicism since his time (see the commentary on the Song of Solomon). Bernard could also be very arrogant and spiteful, especially when his religious views were challenged. The philosopher and theologian Peter Abelard lived in the same era and conducted his famous romance with his young fourteen-year-old female student Heloise around 1118 (Celestine III, a later pope, was also Abelard’s student at the time). Abelard became enamored with Heloise, and when she became pregnant he disguised her as a nun and brought her to his family where they were secretly married. But the truth leaked out and Heloise’s family had Abelard castrated. He became a monk and she became a nun, but they continued to write long romantic letters to each other, and she burned with passion for him. Their letters and Abelard’s thoughts on theology and sexuality were later published and became very popular. Abelard’s teaching was opposed by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who took exception to his application of logic to Biblical interpretation. Abelard believed that the Bible should be approached using reason and logic (which is the approach that is more-or-less universal today), but Bernard believed that the authority of the Scriptures had to be accepted purely by faith, and that only religious authorities had the ability of reliably interpret them and expound on their meaning. Abelard invited Bernard to a debate, but the latter turned the occasion into an inquisition of Abelard, who was discredited and left society to become a monk. Nevertheless, Bernard was in general a man of integrity, and was canonized as a saint soon after his death.

  • Alexander III (1159—1181), and Celestine III (1191—1198). Both Alexander and Celestine tried to relax the church policy on marriage and sexuality, but encountered opposition from those who felt that this would place a grave stain on the church.
  • Innocent III (1198—1216) had a legal background and was witty, sharp, pious, as well as arrogant. Like Gregory VII he had an exalted view of his own position, and attempted to restore papal power in areas where it had declined, such as in the papal states and in relationships to secular powers. With his background in law he worked to organize and enunciate the beliefs of the church (e.g., the doctrine of Transubstantiation was first defined during this time). Another major theme of his papacy was the suppression of heresy. The swings back and forth between asceticism and sexual repression on the one hand, and freedom and sexual license on the other had created groups who began to “theologize” their desires and to transform existing beliefs in new ways. The Cathars of southern France and Spain were Innocent’s prime target, and illustrate this tension very well. They were Gnostics who believed in dualism (equally powerful “good” and “bad” gods/forces). They had also become disgusted with the worldliness of the Catholic clergy and were ascetics, giving up wealth, meat, and sex because these were from the world, and therefore evil according to Cathar doctrine. It was their apparent devotion and spirituality which made the group appealing to people in contrast to the some of the French clergy who were wealthy and debauched. Innocent first attempted to convert the Cathars, but when they ignored his appeals he finally called for a crusade against them in 1209, which over the next 35 years virtually wiped them out.
  • John XXI (1276—1277), Nicolas III (1277—1280), Martin IV (1281—1285). These popes were, in some ways, a return to the tenth century. John XXI was criticized for “moral instability,” Of Martin IV it is said that he took to his embrace his predecessor’s concubine. From this time also comes a story of the Bishop of Liege who was deposed in 1274. He supposedly had seventy concubines, some of whom were nuns, and sixty-five illegitimate children. He had boasted in a public banquet that in twenty-two months he had fathered fourteen children. St. Bonaventure, a close friend of Innocent V, compared Rome to the harlot of the Apocalypse, drunk with the wine of her whoredom. “In Rome,” said Bonaventure, “there is nothing but lust and simony, even in the highest ranks of the church. Rome corrupts the prelates, the prelates corrupt the clergy, and the clergy corrupt the people.”
  • Celestine V (1294) and Boniface VIII (1294—1303). Celestine V was a true holy man who desired to reform the church, but he ran into opposition from virtually everyone and soon resigned. He was replaced by Boniface VIII who quickly returned to the old ways. Boniface was a bisexual who kept a mother and her daughter as his mistresses, and went after young boys as well, and claimed that sex with anyone is “no more of a sin than rubbing your hands together.” Boniface was also reported to have said that the Eucharist was “just flour and water,” and some said that he was an atheist. He also promoted his relatives and offered indulgences to anyone who would fight against the Colonnas, the family of his arch-rivals. Eventually he went mad and committed suicide, and his body was later dug up and burned as a heretic. Boniface declared that 1300 was the “year of jubilee” and thousands of pilgrims descended on Rome and enriched the papal coffers. Dante wrote his book The Divine Comedy about the jubilee celebration, and compared the traffic arrangements in Hell to the arrangements made for the movement of pilgrims in Rome. He also assigned Boniface to the lowest circle of hell in his book, Inferno.
  • Clement V (1305—1314), Benedict XII (1334—1342), Clement VI (1342—1352). During most of the entire fourteenth century, the papacy moved to Avignon, France because of the power and influence of the French court. This was later known as the “Babylonian Captivity” and was a disaster for the church, as it exposed and made public many anti-papal feelings. Most of the popes during this era were totally worldly, with little or no regard for the true mission of the church. Clement V was most famous for the inquisition of the Knights Templar, which was begun in 1307, and concluded with the burning at the stake of Jacques de Molay, the Templar Grand Master in 1314. However, Clement was merely a pawn in the hands of the Philip IV, the French king, who instigated this and forced Clement to cooperate. As with other inquisitions, captured Knights were tortured and forced to confess to a wide range of fantastic horrors. Clement was also a great entertainer, spending thousands on grand balls and dinners. In order to raise cash he expanded the “incest indulgence,” allowing closer relatives to marry if they paid a fee. He also created an indulgence for divorce. It was said that Jacques de Molay cursed Clement and King Phillip from the flames before burning to death; both the pope and the king died later the same year.

    Benedict XII was an ex-inquisitor of the Cathar heresy, involved in many incidents of torture and sexual inquest. He was accused of being “a Nero, death to the laity, a viper to the clergy, a liar, and a drunkard.” Petrarch, the Renaissance poet described him as an unfit and drunken helmsman of the church. Petrarch supposedly had a beautiful sister who the pope fancied, and Benedict offered Petrarch the office of cardinal for her. The poet refused, but Benedict bought her from another brother. The popes, in Petrarch’s description, therefore “abhorred lawful wives, but loved unlawful whores.” Others describe Benedict as weak and dissolute, scorned by his licentious court. The poet Alvaro Pelago wrote, “Wolves have become the masters of the church.” Petrarch described the papacy at Avignon as “the shame of mankind, a sink of vice, a sewer where is gathered all of the filth of the world. There God is held in contempt, money alone is worshiped and the laws of God and man are trampled underfoot. Everything that breathes is a lie: the air, the earth, the houses, and especially the bedrooms.” Avignon was, in Petrarch’s words, “The fortress of anguish, the dwelling place of wrath, the school of error, the temple of heresy, once Rome, now the false and guilt-ridden Babylon, the forge of lies, the horrible prison, and the hall of dung.”

    Clement VI continued the prior policies and was reported to have said, “Before me, no one had any idea how to be pope.” He enjoyed the wealth and his perquisites of office, and got along well with the secular powers around him. He is also reported to have said, “If the King of England wants his ass made a bishop, he only has to ask.” Clement lived in luxury, and was said to have bought forty different type of gold cloth from Syria. He also had many women to attend him, and prostitutes were so plentiful that it is said that Clement began taxing them. A deed of sale has been discovered showing the papal offices buying a brothel, and notes that the purchase was made, “in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Petrarch describes Clement as, “An ecclesiastical Dionysus,” and that Avignon was “swept along in a flood of the most obscene pleasure, and incredible storm of debauch, the most horrid and unprecedented shipwreck of chastity.” In 1348 the Black Death struck Avignon, and three-quarters of the population died, over sixty-two thousand in a period of three months. Clement isolated himself and survived the plague, but people blamed it on him and the sins of the papacy. When he died people celebrated.The Avignon period finally ended in 1417, but not before there were popes in both Rome and Avignon as well as a third pope who had been chosen to replace the others who then refused to step down. All three popes excommunicated each other, making the problems in the church painfully visible to all.

  • Nicolas V (1447—1455). After the debacle of the three popes at the end of the Avignon era, a church council had finally settled the situation, had deposed or secured the resignations all three popes, and had elevated Martin V in Rome as the surviving pontiff. From that point on the unilateral power of the pope and his being above the reach of human judgment was curtailed, and the power of the popes over secular rulers was much more limited. In 1440 the scholar Lorenzo Valla proved that the document the Donation of Constantine which many popes had used as the foundation of their secular power was not written in the fourth century, but rather was an eighth century forgery. Meanwhile, when the popes returned to Rome after a century in Avignon they found the papal buildings and facilities in shambles and in great need of reconstruction. Nicolas put all of his energies into encouraging art and rebuilding Rome, and called his new buildings “sermons in stone.” In 1450 he celebrated another jubilee, again bringing many pilgrims to Rome and money into the papal coffers. Despite problems such as the outbreak of plague which lined the routes into Rome with corpses, the jubilee was a huge success.
  • Pius II (1456—1464). Before he became pope he was a writer of erotic and pornographic plays and stories, such as his play Chrysis and his novel Lucretia and Euryalus. It was said that he fathered twelve illegitimate children. He also tried to restore marriage to the clergy, because at the time many local people would not accept a curate without a concubine, as they were concerned about having their wives debauched. But the effort to eliminate celibacy was never fully implemented.
  • Sixtus IV (1471—1484) his real name was Francesco della Rovere and he was the uncle of pope Julias II who came later. He built many structures in Rome and was the pope who built the Sistine Chapel, and decorated it with paintings demonstrating the power of the papacy which ironically was on the decline. Along with this came a revival of interest in everything from ancient Greece and Rome, and subtle theological shifts were made to show that Christianity was not the enemy of the Greek, Roman and even ancient Egyptian gods, but rather the fulfillment of them. Alexander VI later had a painting commissioned showing the mysteries of Osiris as a type of the saving work of Christ.

    Sixtus was also heavily involved in political machinations regarding control of the Papal States, started wars against Florence, Ferrara, and Venice, and then continually shifting allegiances between them. He planned the murder of Lorenzo and Giuliano de’Medici during High Mass at the cathedral in Florence, which did not succeed, but the result was a bloody war between Florence and Rome. Sixtus was also very crass in regard to sexuality. He built a brothel in Rome and taxed prostitutes, increased the “mistress” tax on priests who kept them, and it is said that he was bisexual and enjoyed sodomy. He also inaugurated the Spanish Inquisition in 1478, and appointed Tomas de Torquemada to be the grand inquisitor of Spain which resulted in the torture and death of many innocent victims. It was said of Sixtus that he, “embodied the utmost concentration of human wickedness.” Sixtus was even hated in Rome—when he died the papal apartments were ransacked and the chaplain had to borrow a cassock to cover the pope’s corpse.

  • Innocent VIII (1484—1492) continued where Sixtus left off. He made peace with Florence using his illegitimate children to create alliances (this idea was greatly expanded during the reign of Alexander VI), and then began hostilities with Naples. He had several concubines and it was said of him—“Eight wicked boys born, and just as many girls, so this man could be entitled to be called Father of Rome.” It was also said of him that, “His Holiness rises from the bed of harlots to bolt and unbolt the gates of purgatory and heaven.” Franceshetto, one of his sons, was said to roam the streets at night breaking into people’s houses and raping any woman that took his fancy. Innocent was also very concerned about heresy. He also urged a crusade against a Christian sect known as the Waldensians, offering indulgences as a reward for killing them. He also wrote the preface for the book Malleus Maleficarum—the Witches’ Hammer, a handbook for searching out and punishing witches, and he gave the authors, two Dominican monks, authority to function as inquisitors. To benefit his patron Lorenzo de’Medici, Innocent made Lorenzo’s fourteen year-old son a cardinal (he would eventually become Pope Leo X).
  • Alexander VI (1492—1503) became Pope in 1492, the same year in which Columbus set sail. His actual name was Rodrigo Bogia, and he grew up in Spain. It was said that he committed his first murder at the age of twelve, and had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children in his homeland (one of these became Pope Innocent X). He was a clever and vindictive man who managed to gain control of a large number of benefices, bishoprics and abbeys, which generated a large income, and he later bartered these to win the papal election and for other political gains. When Savonarola, a would-be reformer of the church, criticized him, Alexander had him burned at the stake.

    As a young man and a cardinal Alexander seemed to have a penchant for scandal, but due to the lax times in which he lived it did not affect his later rise to the papacy. For example, in 1460 where he was the honored guest at a christening party, men were excluded and only women were allowed to attend. This story soon spread far and wide, and in the future, Borgia was more circumspect in his scandals. In 1461 he met the Roman beauty Vannozza Catanei. Borgia was said to have already slept with her mother and sister, but he had a life-long relationship with Vannoazza, and she bore him Cesare, Juan, Lucrezia, and Jofre. To cover up the relationship he had her installed in Venice and arranged for another man to “marry” her.

    When Innocent VIII died he “bought” the papacy, using much of the property and benefices that he had acquired earlier to buy off the cardinals, who were under no illusion as to what they had done. Cardinal Giovanni de’Medici, the future Leo X, said to another cardinal, “We are now in the clutches of perhaps the most savage wolf the world has ever seen. Either we flee or he will, no doubt, devour us.”

    Like previous popes, Alexander kept mistresses and concubines and it was said that there were sometimes nude dancing girls in the Vatican during and after Mass. After Vannozza became older, Alexander took another mistress, Giulia Farnese, and made her brother Alessandro a cardinal (he was nicknamed “Cardinal Petticoat,” and later went on to become Pope Paul III). Alexander had Giulia immortalized in a painting where she posed as a bare-breasted Madonna, and she became known as the “Bride of Christ,” and the “Pope’s Whore.” He also appointed his son, Cesare Borgia, as a cardinal, and Cesare was also his military enforcer, maintaining control and suppressing rebellion in the Papal States. Cesare was a clever, ruthless, greedy, and violent man, and there are many illustrative stories about him and his father. Here are several examples:

    1. Alexander had originally groomed Cesare for a career in the church, and his brother Juan as a military leader. But Cesare murdered Juan in order to take the position for himself. It was also reported that he would stand on the balcony of the Vatican and after a group of criminals were forced into a pen underneath his window, he would shoot them for fun with his sister Lucrezia at his side. It is thought that Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince, his famous treatise on power politics, about Cesare Borgia.
    2. Lucrezia, the pope’s daughter by Vannozza, was reputedly the femme fatale of the Renaissance, and on several occasions the pope used her to secure political alliances. After her first marriage, the pope decided that the alliance that had been engendered with her husband was unnecessary. So he and Cesare arranged for a divorce so that they could marry Lucrezia to someone else to secure another coalition. The divorce was authorized by the pope on the grounds that she was still a virgin, but at the time she was six months pregnant. She bore a son that was first claimed to be that of a lover, then Cesare’s, and later that of the pope himself (either Juan or Cesare had the supposed lover murdered just in case). Lucrezia went on to be the wife and consort of a third man, after her second husband was strangled to death by Cesare.
    3. Cesare and his father at one point were discussing how they should reward a mercenary leader of one of their armies who had helped them suppress a rebellion in a particular city. They finally decided to assassinate the man and name the city after him. Dead bodies of men who opposed them, or had offended Alexander or Cesare would periodically be found floating in the Tiber River. The historian Thomas Tomasi wrote, “It would be impossible to enumerate all of the murders, the rapes and the incests, which were every day committed at the court of the pope. Scarcely the life of man could be long enough to register the names of all of the victims murdered, poisoned, or thrown alive into the Tiber.” Machiavelli wrote, “The Italians owe a great debt to the Roman church and its clergy. Through their example we have lost all true religion and have become complete unbelievers. Taken as a rule, the nearer the nation dwells to the Roman Curia, the less religion it has.”
    4. There is an interesting fictional story in The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas in which the pope and Cesare arranged for two of the wealthiest men in Italy to become cardinals and invite them to the Vatican for dinner. Then they poisoned the new cardinals and attempted to seize their entire estates. This may be based on the truth, as Alexander made a law that the estates of cardinals reverted to the papacy after death, and it was reported that would poison cardinals after they had purchased their offices so that he could quickly sell the offices again.
    5. Cesare was a sexual fiend, having sex with scores of women, and contracting syphilis in the process. It was said that he would sometimes have his women killed after having sex with him.
    6. Pope Alexander VI died in 1503 at the age of 72. It was said that he was in good health, but died soon after eating dinner, and it is likely that he accidentally drank wine from the wrong glass which had been poisoned. His body swelled up after death, turned black, and quickly began to putrefy and to ooze foul smelling liquids. The body swelled up so large that it would not fit into a coffin, and instead it was rolled up in a carpet. After Alexander’s death Cesare was quickly thrown out of power, and died soon afterward.
  • Julius II (1503—1513). His actual name was Giuliano della Rovere, and during his reign he was completely concerned with power, prestige and territory (however, he was also a patron of the arts, and hired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine chapel during his tenure). He had been defeated in the papal election of 1492 by the money and the alliances that the Borgias had made, and some of Cesare Borgia’s military adventures as well as Alexander’s political machinations during his papacy had been directly related to suppressing and dealing with della Rovere. So when the latter became pope as Julius II after the death of Alexander, he was mainly concerned with revenge as well as strengthening his grip on power.

    He was known as “Il Terrible” because of his extreme militancy, his volcanic spirit, and his homosexuality. It was said that he carried a stick with him to hit anyone who annoyed him. He spent most of his life in armor leading the papal armies in fighting, and when Michelangelo made a sculpture of him, Julias said, “What is that under my arm?” “A book, Holiness,” replied Michelangelo. “What do I know about books? Make it a sword instead!” yelled Julias. Erasmus wrote a satirical sketch about him, in which he appears after death before the gates of heaven and asks St. Peter for admittance. Peter didn’t recognize him, so finally Julias held up his papal keys. Peter examined them, shook his head, and said, “Sorry, these don’t fit anywhere in this kingdom.”Martin Luther visited Rome in 1510, and saw for himself the greed and utter corruption of the papacy. His complete disgust with the Vatican, along with the sale of indulgences by papal representatives in Germany, were the main reasons for his criticism and ultimate break with the Catholic Church. He, along with other religious leaders began the movement that was later known as the Protestant Reformation.

  • Leo X (1513—1521) had been a cardinal as a child, and although he did not exhibit as many of the excesses of his immediate predecessors, he was known as the “gay pope.” When he was elected it was said that he was suffering from chronic ulcers on his posterior. He loved parties and gave a number of masked balls at which it was said that young boys would emerge from puddings.
  • Hadrian VI (1522—1523) was a reformer bent on cleaning up the Vatican. He dismissed many members of the Curia, and caused astonishment by celebrating Mass every day. He also tried to rebuke Luther and exert his authority over the Reformation but at this point it was too late for dialog, and the die had already been cast.
  • Paul III (1534—1549) was known as Cardinal “Petticoat” because he had sold his sister to Alexander VI. It was also said that he poisoned his mother and niece to gain the entire family inheritance, and he had several affairs which included incest in his own family. However, the primary aim of his papacy was to advance the Farnese family. The request of Henry VIII, King of England, for an annulment of his marriage had been received, but had been denied, and Henry had responded by going ahead with his own plans. Paul excommunicated Henry, but the latter, after researching the chastity of the clergy in England and finding many examples of priests living with wives, concubines and whores, excommunicated Paul and made the entire church of England Protestant. Paul then went after Lutheran Protestant heretics in Germany and had many of them tortured and killed.
  • Julius III (1550—1555) was a strange man who appointed his teenage monkey keeper as a cardinal, and treated him as a son. He also loved onions which he had delivered to the Vatican by the cartload.
  • Paul IV (1555—1559) was an ex-inquisitor originally appointed by Paul III. He was very much against heresy in all forms and started a document called the Index of Forbidden Books which listed all books that were banned and could not be published or read. These of course included all of the Protestant works, but ironically it also included a document written by Paul IV himself during the reign of the prior pope. This document delineated the sexual behaviors and practices of the bishops and the Curia in Rome and had been leaked to the Protestants. The index later included the works of Machiavelli and Dante. Paul was suspicious of everyone and was a tyrant during his pontificate. Prior to this time few people were literate and books had to be copied by hand—most of the copyists worked for the church. But with the invention of the printing press it got increasingly hard for the church to control what could be published and disseminated. Also the reformation opened large areas of Europe that were no longer under the sway of Catholicism, and the seamy underbelly of the papacy began to be revealed; the Roman Church became known as “the whore of Babylon.” The Protestant opposition and condemnation of the Catholics led to a reform movement in the Catholic Church called the Counter-Reformation, which was an attempt to redress and atone for its sins. Ironically, one of the leaders of the Counter-Reformation was Francis Borgia, the great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI.
  • Pius IV (1559—1565) was petitioned very strongly by the Council of Trent in 1560 to allow clerical marriage in the hope of curbing sexual misdeeds in the clergy. But Pius responded by saying that “celibacy or virginity is better than marriage, and celibates are in a state of perfection. Anyone who says otherwise is a heretic.”
  • Gregory XV (1621—1623) and Innocent X (1644—1655). It was during these years that Catholic armies, heavily financed by the papacy, fought Protestant ones and were successful. The Counter-Reformation initially seemed to be victorious, but as time went on, Protestantism became more entrenched in Europe, as the pope no longer had the power to dictate policy to secular leaders, and political considerations became more significant than obedience to the pope. The Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648 ending the Catholic/Protestant conflict known as the Thirty Years War. Innocent fulminated against it because it solidified Protestant positions, but he was ignored.
  • Urban VIII (1623—1644) was pope during the Galileo debacle. Galileo was one of the most respected scientists in Italy, but he defended the scientific position of Copernicus who said that the earth goes around the sun rather than the earlier belief that the sun went around the earth, which was considered theologically correct. Therefore Galileo was arrested and forbidden to teach or publish. However, Galileo often did not help his own cause because of his own arrogance.
  • Pius VI (1775—1799) was the pontiff during French Revolution. This was an extremely agonizing time for the papacy, because the Vatican and the ancient regime had been tied together in many ways for a thousand years, since the time of Pepin and Charlemagne. The government of France was bankrupt, and the wealthiest people were the bishops, so the government declared that all of the church property now belonged to the state. All of the excesses of the church in France over the centuries were now called to account. Churches and monasteries were ransacked, church leaders were sent to the guillotine, and under the influence of atheistic philosophers such as Voltaire, the government declared that France would be a totally secular state. Pius watched all of the happen in horror, and finally he joined in a league against France which backfired when Napoleon came to power, invaded the Papal States, and took most of the territory away from the Vatican.
  • Leo XII (1823—1829) was pope in the aftermath of Napoleon. He was a rather severe man who created a large espionage network to hunt down people involved in public immorality (theaters, etc.) He also condemned Bible societies, and persecuted Jews in Rome.
  • Pius IX (1846—1878) declared that popes were “infallible” in matters of faith and morality, and was also the pope to declare in 1854 that the Virgin Mary had been “immaculately conceived,” and was therefore without sin, not only in her birth but also in her life. In support of this Pius also strongly supported the concept of “the perpetual virginity of Mary.” He had the longest reign of any pope in history: thirty-one years. Like Leo XII before him, he opposed Bible societies and was against the freedom of the press. His name in Italian was “Pio Nono,” and therefore he was often lampooned by calling him “Pio no no.” It was during his time that the Papal States were lost and a republic founded in Italy. Subsequent popes were very hostile to the Italian state and tried to influence Catholics to refrain from voting in elections.
  • Pius XI (1922—1939) wrote Casti Connubii, redefining Christian marriage and condemning contraception. He wrote that the Catholic Church “must stand erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain.” He and other popes were strongly urged to drop their objections to contraception but did not do so because they would then have to admit that the papacy had been wrong for centuries.In 1932 Pius ordered German Catholics to drop their resistance to Hitler, and shocked Catholics around the world when he backed Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, although he later retreated from his support of Il Duce. He also negotiated a deal with Mussolini in which the church formally gave up control of the Papal States in return for the establishment of Vatican City in Rome as a sovereign territory. The church also received a large sum of money in exchange, which was invested and produced a great increase in papal wealth.
  • Pius XII (1939—1958) worked tirelessly for peace and against Hitler after he understood what the motives of the Fuhrer really were. His public policy was neutrality for which he was heavily criticized, but he endeavored to help the victims of the war, especially Jews, and when the Nazis occupied Rome in 1943, Pius opened the Vatican to Jewish refugees, granting them Vatican citizenship and smuggling them to other countries. Israel Zolli, the chief Rabbi of Rome, was so impressed by Pius’ actions that following the war he became a Roman Catholic and even took the Pope’s first name as his own when he was baptized. Hitler once said of Pius, “he is the only human being who has always contradicted me and who has never obeyed me.” Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary in 1942, “It’s a dirty, low thing to do for the Catholic Church to continue its subversive activity in every way possible and now even to extend its propaganda to Protestant children evacuated from the regions threatened by air raids. Next to the Jews these politico-divines are about the most loathsome riffraff that we are still sheltering in the Reich. The time will come after the war for an over-all solution of this problem.”

Regardless of the sins, foibles, and abuses of power of past church leaders, it must also be kept in mind that other rulers at the same times did similar things and much worse. The difference was that leaders of the church, the supposed human representatives of Christ, should have lived up to a much higher standard. Some popes and church leaders, such as Pius XII and Hadrian VI, did set a high standard, and there were many reform movements throughout church history. But sadly most popes demonstrated their own sinfulness in gross displays of hypocrisy.

The concepts of chivalry, as enunciated by Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Mallory, and others had likewise attempted to elevate the conduct of knights and men-at-arms, but like other reform movements these were only partially successful. Some men were deeply moved and became great examples of chivalry, but many disobeyed and/or ignored their own code of ethics.

Whenever we consider historical kingdoms and past political entities it is very hard for us as twenty-first century westerners to be able to place ourselves back in the societies of the past and appreciate the issues and the problems that they had to deal with. This is true for at least three reasons:

  1. The abundant and diversified economies of the western world of today provide us with goods and services that were unknown in that day, and required much more time and energy to produce (e.g., consider the difference between buying a hamburger at McDonalds with having to slaughter a cow, butcher it, cook it, etc.; it also assumes that you had a cow in the first place).
  2. Unlike today, the efforts of most people who lived prior to the nineteenth century were focused on sheer survival, with little time for leisure or education. Prior to the invention of the printing press in 1450, relatively few people owned books.
  3. The political stability present in America and to a lesser extent Western Europe was far from the reality of most people throughout history. This point is especially telling. In America, we have the luxury of being able to criticize and lampoon our political leaders because of the inherent stability of the political systems of our country, and the fact that there are few enemies in the world who could seriously damage us. But this was not so in the past, and people accepted and even expected authoritarian leaders who demanded unquestioning obedience because the peace provided by authoritarian leadership was almost always (rightly or wrongly) thought to better than the chaos of no leadership.

Corruption in the church as well as western secular society was gradually reduced by a series of factors from the late 1200s through the early 1900s that brought about a complete sea-change in the way that political power was exercised in the western world, as follows:

  1. The Magna Carta (the “Great Charter”) was signed by King John of England in 1215 under duress when London was forcibly entered by English nobles demanding his submission. The charter limited the power of the king and gave his subjects many rights. However, there was extreme distrust between the two sides, and many of the specifics of the charter did not become reality until centuries later.
  2. The Protestant Reformation became widely popular because of the utter spiritual depravity and apostasy of many popes, especially those of the Renaissance era (Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, and Julius II). Much of the Protestant growth was fueled by the invention of printing press in 1450, which for the first time in history made possible the wide dissemination of written materials.
  3. The American Declaration of Independence launching America as a separate nation, and the publication of The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (which explained the principles of a market-based economy, and is one of the most significant books ever written), both took place in the year 1776. The cornerstone of America was in its constitution, delineating three branches of government and limiting the power of each branch, and thus insuring that no one person or entity could gain total control. It also required that political leaders be periodically elected by the people, thus creating a democracy (republic) in lieu of the monarchies that existed in Europe. These principles were eventually copied by many other nations.
  4. The Papacy lost its political power and ultimately all influence over territory when the Papal States were finally surrendered (the current structure was finalized in 1929). This led to the papacy regaining much of its spiritual authority and to some of its finest hours, such as Pius XII’ support of the Jews in World War II.
  5. The morality and ethics of the society were based on Biblical and Christian concepts, providing a foundation for personal freedom (elimination of slavery, private property rights, etc.), which ultimately led to economic freedom (anyone can start their own business). It is significant that the first book printed after the invention of the printing press was the Bible.
  6. Freedom of the press allowed books to be produced that could be critical of existing power structures.
  7. The economic freedom of America and later Europe led to the growth of the middle class, and a larger number of people who were educated, who could afford education for their children, and who had sufficient leisure time to become knowledgeable of and involved in political events. Furthermore, the increasing wealth and the size of the potential customer base led to the growth of news media and organizations who then had a market for their products, and who began investigating and reporting on political corruption and high-handedness, making it increasingly difficult for people in power to get away with misdeeds. This has not, of course, stopped the power elites in America and Europe from attempting to control people and use them for their benefit, but it has required that this work be done in secrecy with expensive media campaigns to hide the facts. Even so the truth is sometimes revealed, and corrupt politicians and business/union leaders are brought to trial.
  8. The power elites have responded by gaining control of most if not all of the newspaper, television, school textbook, and media-related companies in an attempt to control what people read and think. But the growth of the internet where virtually anyone can publish material and such mediums as talk radio have to some degree blunted the impact of this control.

But even though both chivalry and the church failed in many cases to achieve their moral goals and high standards of behavior from all of its adherents, does not invalidate those standards, or lessen the need for such things. Just because we fail to hit the target does not mean that targets should be dispensed with. However, contemporary western society has, in general, attempted to do just that, and has reached the place where it has rejected the idea that there is and should be a fixed set of standards.

Today’s society has, to a large degree, forgotten the foundations of its freedom and has reached the place where it is attempting to reduce and ultimately eliminate the moral base that was and continues to be an essential part of its fabric. It is now thought that morality is essentially fungible and should be dispensed with (for example, resisting abstinence-based sex education and giving condoms to teenagers with the reasoning, “they are going to do it anyway.”)

This is taking place in many levels of society. It is not our purpose to provide a comprehensive analysis of this topic, but perhaps an example would be helpful: the National Education Association and the teacher’s unions in America have been continually pushing for a concept known as “outcome based education,” in which there are no grades or standards, (grades are said to be damaging to the egos of those who do not fare as well). This is essentially an attempt to socialize education and pull everyone down to the same level, and it provides an excellent insight into why parents are abandoning public schools in droves, and why we need educational vouchers to permit parental choice (these are, of course, strongly resisted by the NEA and the teacher’s unions).

As Allan Bloom, a university professor who has taught and observed several generations of college students, so ably describes in his book The Closing of the American Mind, much of our society (at least government, media, and higher education) have completely accepted the notion that everything is relative, and that there are no fixed absolutes. Following is a sample of his thoughts:

On the relativity of truth:

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2 + 2 = 4.

The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight for them, but a moral postulate. The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness… is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger. The study of history and culture teaches us that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecution, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.

On student behavior:

Openness has driven out the deities leaving only a speechless, meaningless country… Students now arrive at the university ignorant or cynical about our political heritage, lacking the wherewithal to either be inspired by it or seriously critical of it.

Young Americans have less and less knowledge of and interest in foreign places. In the past there were many students who actually knew something about and loved England, France, Germany, or Italy… Such students have almost disappeared, replaced at most by those who are interested in the problems of Third World countries and in helping them to modernize. This is not learning from others but condescension and a disguised form of a new imperialism.

On male/female relationships:

In the past it was understood to be the woman’s job to get and hold the man by her charms and wiles because, by nature, nothing else would induce him to give up his freedom in favor of the heavy duties of family. But women no longer wish to do this, and they consider it unfair according to the principles governing us… And no matter what women hope, nothing else can effectively make most men share equally the responsibilities of childbearing and child rearing. The divorce rate is the most striking symptom of this breakdown… Nobody is sure who is to make the advances, whether there is to be a pursuer and a pursued, and what the event is to mean. They have to improvise because roles are banned, and a man pays a high price for misjudging his partner’s attitude.

And here is where the whole business turns nasty. The soul of men—their ambitious, warlike, protective, possessive character—must be dismantled in order to liberate women from their dominion… But this effort must fail because in an age of individualism, persons of either sex cannot be forced to be public-spirited, particularly by those who are becoming less so.

On parenting:

Parents do not have the legal or moral authority that they had in the Old World, and they lack self-confidence as educators. There is nothing left of the reverence toward the father as the symbol of the divine on earth, the unquestioned bearer of authority… The dreariness of the family’s spiritual landscape passes belief… The delicate fabric of the civilization into which successive generations are woven has unraveled, and children are raised, not educated… People sup together, play together, travel together, but they do not think together. Hardly any homes have any intellectual life whatsoever. Educational TV is the high water mark.

Summary:

Thus what is advertised as a great opening is actually a great closing. No longer is there a hope that there are great and wise men in other places and times who can reveal truths about life.

Picture a thirteen-year-old boy watching MTV. He enjoys the liberties hard won over the centuries by the alliance of philosophic genius and political heroism, consecrated by the blood of martyrs; he is provided with comfort and leisure by the most productive economy in the history of mankind; science has penetrated the secrets of nature in order to provide him with the marvelous and lifelike sound and image reproduction he is enjoying. And in what does this progress culminate? In orgiastic rhythms, the joys of killing parents and policemen, winning fame and wealth by imitating drag-queens, and so on. In short, life is made into a nonstop, commercially prepackaged masturbational fantasy.[2]

This is a powerful indictment of the forces in our society that are pushing us further toward an amoral relativism and against religion, such as feminism, the entertainment industry, the gay rights movement, public education, the teachers unions, and so on. These influences need to be opposed and redressed so that the foundation of our society, the moral and spiritual values of our people, is not destroyed.

Explaining, teaching and inculcating morality and ethics is one of the key things that the church is, or should be, all about. When we are confronted with the failures of the past, the point is therefore to understand what went wrong and to fix the failures so that we can become more “right” as Bloom indicates above. This of course requires that we engage religion rather that trying to legislate it out of existence, and it must be an informed religion that rejects the errors of the past.

It must also be remembered that the church (meaning individual believers as well as Christian institutions) has been the greatest source of good and of unselfish love in the history of the world. Even during the times of the church’s greatest weakness, evil, and confusion, there were still many who quietly served God without fanfare or recognition, and continue to do so. Many businesses have been launched with the concept of not merely making a profit and providing desirable goods or services, but also enabling their employees to make a good living. Most of the world’s hospitals, and the bulk of charitable work to the poor and the needy, were and are being carried on by the church and organizations related to it. Furthermore, the church has inspired thousands to reform their own lives and to serve others in the name of God. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.”

The missionary work of the church has sometimes been criticized on the grounds of prejudice and insensitivity, but missions have likewise been a huge source for good. In the 1850s Hudson Taylor sailed to China and founded the China Inland Mission, and was one of one of the first missionaries to enter the inland provinces. He wore the same clothes and ate the same food as the Chinese people did, in an effort to identify with them. He survived wars, sickness, disease, and lootings, and his first wife and several of his children died in China – all of this he suffered for the sake of Christ and for the Chinese people. But he persevered and by the end of his life there were around 800 missionaries and health care workers, and some 125,000 Chinese Christians. He died in 1905, before the communist takeover of China, and the following years saw the brutal suppression of the church by Mao and the communists, and the imprisonment and execution of many of its leaders. With all of the persecution and oppression, it was thought that the church had ceased to exist, but now that communist power has waned and the society has become more open, it is estimated that there are perhaps 80 million Christians in China. They are Hudson Taylor’s legacy, and the spirit of his work lives on.

Saint Patrick of Ireland is another excellent example. He almost single-handedly brought Christ to Ireland in the fifth century, to a people who were ready to hear what he had to say and responded to it. Celtic Ireland, consisting of many small tribes and inspired by Druidism, was a cruel and hard world of savage drunken conflict and gods that ate people. The Irish were constantly fighting each other, and in battle they would strip themselves naked, daub on blue paint, drink alcohol until they almost passed out, and then run howling and shrieking to kill each other and their enemies. Their religion was one of hidden taboos that once broken would curse a person for life, so the ideal for a man was to die young and in battle. Patrick was able to show them the holy mystery of Christ, the revelation of God that heals and transforms, but without compromising their Irishness, or turning them into something that they were not, and he was the first person in recorded history to oppose slavery and slave trading.

Patrick devoted the last thirty years of his life, from roughly his late forties to his late seventies to his warrior children, that they might “seize the everlasting kingdom” with all of the energy and intensity that they had lately devoted to killing and enslaving one another, and seizing each others’ kingdoms.

Patrick’s gift to the Irish was his Christianity, the first de-Romanized Christianity in human history, a Christianity without the sociopolitical baggage of the Greco-Roman world that completely inculturated itself into the Irish scene.

With the Irish, even with their kings, he succeeded beyond measure. Within his lifetime or soon after his death the Irish slave trade came to a halt, and other forms of violence, such as murder and inter-tribal warfare, decreased.[3]

Following is a portion of a Celtic warrior-poem call the Breastplate of Saint Patrick, a cri de cour of how the kingdom of heaven can be seized and entered. It goes far beyond simply meeting people’s practical needs; it touches the heart and the soul, which is what Christian life and missions are truly all about.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven,
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightening,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and near,
Alone and in multitude.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there will come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise.

I arise today
Through the power of the Creator of Creation.

Billy Graham’s Prayer For America

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!


[1] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners—A Short History of the Papacy, Nigel Cawthorne, Sex Lives of the Popes, and E.R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes

[2] Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

[3] Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Accuracy of the Bible

Bible

The grass withers and the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever.
~ Isaiah 40:7-8

For a long time it has been fashionable to trash the Bible and treat it as nothing more than a collection of folk tales that have no basis in history or reality. The impetus for this came originally from liberal scholars who rejected the Bible’s authenticity. This was done despite the fact that the Bible is the most accurate and comprehensive literary work from antiquity in existence, supported by hundreds of geographical place names and archaeological discoveries.

“Archaeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradiction to the Bible. On the contrary… there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars that have become codified into ‘fact’ over the years, but that archaeology has shown to be wrong.”
Dr. Paul McRay, leading archaeologist from the University of Chicago

Few if any historians question the authenticity of Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, written around 50 BC despite the fact that the earliest known manuscript is from one thousand years later (around AD 900), and even from that date there are only a few copies in existence. The writings of Plato and Aristotle (400 – 300 BC) are even more tenuous, with the earliest known copies being from the middle ages, around 1,500 years later. In contrast, the Dead Sea scrolls, dated from from 200 – 50 BC, contain portions of almost every Old Testament book. The New Testament is much better supported, with fragments dating from around AD 130, within eighty years or so of when they were written, and there are thousands of early copies. Support for the Bible is therefore orders of magnitude better than any other ancient work. Given this level of credibility, it would seem that critics should approach it with humility rather than hubris. So why is it trashed and treated as myth?

People can believe whatever they wish to believe, but if, for example, the stories of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Israel are treated as factual (and there is much evidence that they were), then one is compelled to accept that the God of Israel is also real and factual, and that is unacceptable to many critics. Ideological opponents of the God of the Bible therefore seek to disparage it.

The main virtue of our era is “toleration,” and like all words that are used in the context of power, its meaning or connotation has been altered to suit the purpose of those in power. Whereas the word originally meant “live and let live,” and “agree to disagree,” the word has now come to mean that “all views are equally valid.” Therefore it is is no longer politically correct to think that your view is right and others are wrong—you must instead acknowledge that your way of thinking is simply one way among many. Furthermore, there are no longer such things as “right ways” and “wrong ways”; all systems of philosophy and ethics compete for attention at the same level, at least theoretically.

At first blush, this can seem like a good idea—history is filled with people who had their own own ideas about truth and led many astray. If truth is relative, then we won’t have to put up with endless arguments about which way is right, because they are all potentially right (or wrong). If there is no overarching “truth” then truth is whatever you want it to be. That may seem like a cool way to think and live, but the problems with the relativity of truth quickly become apparent:

  1. The arguments about which way is right are not stopped—they are simply moved to another level. Truth is then defined and manipulated by those with the most power and influence. This is illustrated by appeals to “bipartisanship,” which sounds so kind and generous, but typically means: “be reasonable – do it my way”. As Alan Bloom indicates, “Openness, as currently conceived, is a way of making surrender to whatever is most powerful, or the worship of vulgar success, look principled… this seeming openness is actually a great closing – the closing of the American Mind.”[1]
  2. Human nature has not changed. People have always and will always attempt to bring others in line with their way of thinking. Politics has always been and will continue to be a battleground.
  3. Relativity is a concept championed by the romantic movement which places feelings above logic, and American thinking is heavily steeped in “romanticism,” which is an essential element of our postmodern culture. Logic is not abandoned, but it is subordinated below feelings when the two come into conflict (postmodernism is by nature consistently inconsistent). Nevertheless, logic rears its ugly head above feelings, because all ways cannot simultaneously be valid. For example, God cannot be fundamentally personal and impersonal at the same time. If God is personal, he may be perceived as being impersonal at times, or vice-versa, but his fundamental nature has to be one or the other, or some combination of the two. Furthermore, all ways are not equally beneficial, and do not lead to positive outcomes, even though such thinking is politically incorrect. So the relativity of truth is ultimately nonsensical and can only be accepted by a suppression of logic and a suspension of disbelief.
  4. The relativity of truth leaves us completely at sea, with no grounding for ethics beyond how we feel. The only objective rationale that we have is the laws of the state, and as law evolves, they are simply the product of the personal feelings of those with the most power and influence. Therefore they have no more intrinsic validity than our own thinking, other than the force and backing of government and those in power.

We are therefore in need of a “gold standard” against which to measure our personal philosophies, and that is what the Bible is—a word from God, our creator, that transcends our personal feelings and provides a guide for our thinking and ethics. Of course, a series of objections will immediately be raised:

  1. The Bible was written by men, so how can it be a word from God? The answer is that the Bible is validated by the fact that Jesus Christ used it and commended it to us as God’s word.
  2. How can we trust that Jesus was who he claimed to be—the divine Son of God and a part of the Godhead? We can trust it by his life and ministry, the miracles that he performed, and especially by his resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.
  3. How can we trust that these things actually took place as described? We can trust them because of the multiplicity of witnesses to these events, and the fact that these men then abandoned fame and fortune in order to dedicate their lives to telling others about what they had seen.
  4. How can we trust that the Bible in its present form has not been corrupted, and accurately conveys the message as it was originally seen, heard, and recorded? That issue is covered in detail below.

Accepting the Bible as the gold standard means that absolute truth exists, which breaks apart the foundation of postmodernism, the philosophy of our culture. But so be it—human culture has always been wrong in one direction or another, and our current culture is no exception. “Let God be true, and all men be found liars.” Romans 3:4 Postmodernism is simply one more philosophical system that will eventually be washed away.

Even among those who acknowledge the Bible as God’s word and the standard for life and behavior have many disagreements about the meaning and interpretation of various texts. There is a central unity of truth in the Bible, but also many peripheral issues that are open to debate, so we must approach it with humility and with an open mind. It is also inevitable that we will view the Bible from our own cultural and historical perspective, and it is very hard to break out of that mold and see things through the eyes of those for whom the texts were originally written. We must put our own views and biases aside and seek to honestly come to grips with what the text truly means. But many of the current attacks on the Bible are not based on honest seeking, but rather on deception. As in politics where debaters often ignore the issues and instead seek to slur the character of their opponent, so critics have treated the Bible, painting it with a black brush regardless of the facts. This is especially true of the current spate of attacks from books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Da Vinci Code, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, The Templar Revelations, Rosslyn—Guardians of the Secrets of the Holy Grail, and others. Here are some of the items presented as “facts” in the above books, and the truth:

  • Claim: The Bible evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.
  • Reality: The books of the Bible were written over a sixteen-hundred-year period, from around 1500 BC to AD 100. The Old Testament books were collected into what the Jews called the Torah (the first five books of the OT known as the Pentateuch) and the Tanakh (all of the OT books – however, the word “Torah” is often used in place of “Tanakh” to represent the entire OT).

The canon of the OT (the list of approved books) was completed by the time of Ezra, who lived in the fifth century BC. The New Testament books were written in a much shorter period of time, from AD 40 to 100, and all of them were in use by the early Christian era (AD 100-150).

Naturally these books had to be copied by hand, using the technology and writing implements of the times. But regardless of their age, both the Old and New Testaments are very well supported by copies that were rigorously compared. Jewish copyists of the Torah/Tanakh, had word and letter counts for each text to ensure that the copies were accurate, and the copies were made and kept with great care (a Torah scroll was a priceless object). Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1948, the oldest versions of the Old Testament were from the tenth century. The Dead Sea scrolls were therefore a very significant find, because they were a thousand years older, and contain portions of almost every Old Testament book. While there were minor differences in spelling and word usage, amazingly, there was not even one change that altered the meaning of the text of any OT passage in the entire Dead Sea scrolls. Therefore during a one-thousand year interval there were no significant changes to the text.

The New Testament documents are especially well supported, more than fifty times better than any other writing from the same period.[2] There are approximately 5,000 Greek copies alone dating from as early as AD 350, and many more fragments that date back as far as 130. As indicated above, this is from a relatively short period of time from when they were originally written. Minor variations have appeared in various versions, but none of these variations has produced any substantive changes. The ancients were much more careful then ourselves even with the spoken word, because many agreements were oral. They were even more careful with writings, of which there were very few.

As in the case of most books, the authors collaborated and relied on others for information and editing. For example, both the OT books of Psalms and Proverbs are the work of several authors. In the NT, Mark was a close associate of the apostle Peter, and Luke indicates that his work was the product of careful research. But having multiple people involved in the writing/editing process does not invalidate the contents of a book, rather it strengthens it because it has been reviewed by more than one pair of eyes. The assertion that large portions of the New Testament documents have been rewritten or replaced by substitute parts is simply wishful thinking.

Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars mentioned above are used in Latin classes, but as Thomas Cahill points out in his book Desire of the Everlasting Hills, the Old and New Testaments are virtually the only ancient documents that are still widely read by the public. A child can read and understand most of the Gospel accounts, which is a testimony to both their simplicity and power.

Some anti-Christian scholars have stated that the New Testament is essentially myth. In his book Atheism: The Case Against God, George Smith says, “As one moves from the earlier to the later gospels, some of the miracles become exaggerated.” He cites as evidence Mark 1: “all were brought to Jesus and many were healed”; Matthew 8: “many were brought to Jesus and all were healed”; and Luke 4: “all were brought to Jesus and all were healed.” The problem with this analysis is that the Gospels writers did not use the words “all” and “many” in a clinical sense. Mark 1 states: “All the country of Judea was going out to him (to John the Baptist), and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River…” It is clear that Mark is talking in general terms, and did not mean that every single person in Judea and Jerusalem was baptized by John. It is also clear that even in the Mark account, considered to be the oldest, Jesus healed many people and thus performed hundreds of miracles; George Smith’s argument is thus reduced to a quibble. Furthermore, all of the Gospels culminate in the resurrection, the greatest miracle of all. If the resurrection is a lie, then none of the other miracles matter. But if the resurrection is true, then all of the other miracles are believable, because the resurrection demonstrates that what Jesus said about himself was true—that he was the Son of God.

Another typical objection is the one stated by historian Archibald Robertson: “We are witnessing the progressive growth of a legend.”[3]. But the Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:3-8, recorded a creed of the early church that was based on eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. Various scholars have dated this creed to a few years after the crucifixion of Christ,[4] much too quickly for a mythology or legend to have been developed.

Contrast this to the miracles supposedly performed by Muhammad. In the Quran Muhammad is presented as an ordinary man, both by himself and his contemporaries.[5] The miraculous acts he was said to have done, such as his ascension to heaven from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, come from the Muslim Hadiths (“sayings”). These were additional oral traditions, collected and written one to two hundred years later, and thus constitute a hagiography of Muhammad, rather than an eyewitness account as in the case of the Gospels.

The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written during the period of AD 40-75, with the letters of Paul also being composed during the same era. The Gospel of John and Revelation were probably written later (or written earlier and edited and published later), perhaps during the period 80-100. Many of the NT writings including the Gospels were known to early Christian leaders such as Ignatius (?-110), Polycarp (70-155), Iranaeus (125?-202) and others because they quoted from various NT documents in letters that they wrote. Thus, there is direct evidence of the NT documents being used by various far-flung churches between AD 100-150, around sixty years after the they were written.

It is certainly true that the Gospel writers borrowed from each other, used a variety of sources, and that some degree of editing was performed. But this was not done in an atmosphere of conspiracy and power struggles, as some suggest. The early Christian church was constantly persecuted and on the run, first by the Jewish authorities beginning around AD 37, and then by various Roman emperors until the Edict of Milan issued by Constantine in 313 which legalized Christianity and finally halted government-sponsored persecution.

In regard to the process of how books were chosen to be included in the NT, this was done over time and as churches and church leaders developed a consensus. The criteria for selection were: 1) known authorship by an apostle of Christ or a close associate; and 2) harmony of teaching and doctrine.

The letters of Paul were being copied and passed around to various churches by AD 100, and by AD 115 Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, had already accepted the current four gospels as we have them today. For the most part, the churches had settled on the books they considered to be authoritative and canonical by around AD 200 (indicated by Origen and other church leaders). There were disagreements on the books of Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, and Revelation, but these disputes were settled by the middle of the third century. The official canon of Scripture for the western church was declared at the Councils of Hippo in AD 393 and Carthage in AD 397 (the Roman Catholic Church did not officially adapt the current NT until the Council of Trent in 1563). But as indicated above, even these Councils basically recognized the same twenty-seven NT books that had been considered to be canonical by the churches since around AD 250 – the same NT that we have today.

Contrast the process of the development of the NT canon with that of the Quran. Muhammad was illiterate, and therefore ordered his followers to memorize what he said the angel Gabriel had told him. In the years following his death in AD 632, written versions of the Quran appeared with a number of differences between them. The Caliph (follower of Muhammad) and ruler at the time was Uthman, and he appointed a small group to decide which version would be authoritative. Uthman’s version was promulgated and all other versions of the Quaran were burned. He was later assassinated in AD 656.

  • Claim: The Gospel writers disagreed on the ordering of some of the events in Jesus life, and also on a number of details such as who was present at certain events, what was said, etc. Also, there is much material that is included in some Gospels but not in others. This invalidates them as authoritative accounts of Jesus’ life and work.
  • Reality: The Bible in general is extraordinarily accurate in its depiction of events in their historical, geographical, and cultural settings, and so it is with the Gospels. Unlike the Gnostic “gospels,” which were written between 100 and 300 years after the events that they supposedly portrayed, all of the Biblical Gospels were penned by individuals who lived during the time that they wrote about. These accounts are the recollections of the life and times of Christ by four men who were either apostles or close associates of Jesus, and they represent what each writer saw at the time or gathered from first and second-person sources. Furthermore, as is true of all writings, each author had their own unique perspective and intended audience, and each one focused on the things that were most significant in his view. They did not bind themselves to record every single event or to place all of the events in the actual chronological sequence in which they occurred. This is similar to obtaining accounts from multiple witnesses for a trial. Different eyewitnesses may describe the same events differently and in a different order, and may mention different details, but that does not invalidate their testimony. A group of people who all see the same event will nevertheless have different perspectives, and may seemingly disagree on some of the minor details. So it is with the gospel accounts.

The gospel authors clearly intended that what they wrote was to be taken literally, as things that they and others had truly seen, heard, and experienced. Luke begins his writing as follows: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-3) Peter wrote: “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Much has been made in recent years of the supposed power struggles for supremacy among the disciples/apostles. The Gospels do not hide the fact that these were very human men with egos and tempers, and who at times had to be rebuked. This is one of the amazing things about the stories of the Bible; most of ancient literature is fairly one-dimensional, casting its characters as either heroes or villains, but even in the OT, the Bible stories are of “real” people, warts and all. King David, for example, is a great leader, but who also had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, and then has her husband killed in an attempt to hide his involvement. The Gospels are the same —Peter is the brash and eager disciple who sometimes puts his foot in his mouth, and who discovers that he is not the courageous hero that he thought he was (e.g., his denial of Christ).

But there was nothing like what would be considered to be a true power struggle among the disciples because there was no money, property, or power at stake to struggle for. To be the most prominent among them meant you had to be a servant-leader, not a warrior or a politician. Jesus repeatedly tells Peter “If you love me then you will feed my sheep.” Becoming a follower of Jesus was thus a humbling prospect, and many of Jesus’ followers gave up wealth and property in order to follow him. Furthermore, it guaranteed that you would be a target for arrest and persecution, which is exactly what happened in the days of the early church. The only reason that a reasonable and intelligent man would want a position like this is if he was totally convinced of what he believed, and understood that the rewards for his work would primarily be eternal rather than temporal. Although there were personal rivalries and occasional clashes of ego and perspective, the early church was, in general, very united in purpose, and the notion that one or more of the gospels were written by some disciples to discredit or seize power from others is pure hype.

All writings are the product of human effort and are therefore biased to some degree by the author’s perspective and point of view. But some writings are much less biased than others because the author’s have attempted to minimize it by showing all sides of the characters and the issues which are the subject of the text. Thus the Gospels show Jesus as a human who gets hungry, tired, and in need of divine reassurance. The apostle Peter is likewise shown as real, with both his strengths and weaknesses revealed, and there are many other similar examples.

  • Claim: The Council of Nicea in AD 325 voted to make Jesus divine. Previously he was viewed as purely a moral prophet.
  • Reality: From the very beginning Jesus was viewed by the church as being both human and divine. The main purpose of the Council of Nicea was to consider and decide on the teaching of Arius, who promoted a new belief that Christ was a created being and therefore not fully divine. The Council overwhelmingly rejected the views of Arius by confirming the existing doctrine of Jesus’ dual divine/human nature, and the Council did not invent any new teaching. The Nicene Creed, which was written and voted on overwhelmingly at the conclusion of the Council (and still in use today), restates in summary form what Christians had believed about the nature of Christ since the beginning. The Creed states in part, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God…of one Being with the Father, and through him all things were made.”

The New Testament confirms Jesus’ divinity in many passages, for example, John 1:1, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8-10, and II Peter 1:1; the words of Thomas to Jesus after the resurrection were: “My Lord and my God.” Jesus’ humanity is evident in so many places in the Gospels that it is ludicrous to claim that he was not human. It was only after the end of the first century, long after Jesus resurrection and the death of the apostles, that Gnostics and other groups claimed that Jesus was either purely human or purely spirit.

  • Claim: The emperor Constantine is the one who forced the church to adopt the current books of the New Testament at the Council of Nicea in AD 325, and he promulgated a new Bible with different or modified gospels.
  • Reality: It is important to understand Constantine’s motives in enacting the Edict of Milan and attending the Council of Nicea. The Roman Empire of his day was coming apart at the seams, and rightly or wrongly Constantine saw Christianity as a means to reunify and pacify the Empire under his rule. It is alleged that he became a Christian at some point in his life, but his actions to stop persecution and support Christianity were primarily motivated by political concerns.

Constantine was concerned what this religion he had selected as the unifying force of his empire was all about. Thus he presided at the Council of Nicea, and tried to moderate the strong views of the participating bishops (his concern was undoubtedly whether their disagreement would provoke a wider societal split). But he did not vote, and had little or no influence on the theological issues being debated. Thus, the notion that Constantine promulgated a new system of beliefs is completely false.

Many, if not most of the bishops who attended the Council had assumed leadership in the church prior to Constantine’s edicts legalizing Christianity and therefore had done so at the risk of their lives. Christians and especially Christian leaders had routinely died for their faith in Roman arenas for over two hundred years. Such men would certainly not have caved into any major shift about the core of what they believed, and for which they had risked their lives.

Furthermore, the selection of books that would make up the Bible was not an issue at the Council of Nicea. As indicated above, the OT canon had been settled by around 400 BC, and the NT canon by around AD 250. Constantine, who came on the scene many years later, had absolutely nothing to do with this process. We have existing portions of the New Testament that predate Constantine, and it would therefore be known if changes had been made by him or others following the Council of Nicea. Constantine’s only request was to ask the bishop Eusebius to make fifty copies of the books that were considered to be the authoritative Scriptures, and these copies included all of the current Old and New Testament books.

  • Claim: The Gnostic documents such as those discovered at Nag Hammadi were wrongly suppressed by misogynistic patriarchal church leaders.
  • Reality: The Gnostic documents were written around AD 150-350 and were therefore composed a hundred years or more after the other books of the New Testament. One of the key criteria used for selecting the books that make of the New Testament was whether a book was authored by an apostle or an apostle’s associate, and therefore composed when original sources who could verify the details were still alive. All of the original disciples and apostles were long since dead by the time the Gnostics documents were written. Furthermore, the latter portray a view of Christ and his teaching that was vastly different than that which is presented by the New Testament eyewitness accounts, all of which were written and in the hands of the church by AD 100. They are simply the work of a group with different religious concepts, and with their own ax to grind; thus they do not supply any “new light” on the Biblical gospels.

It is the Gnostic documents which are poorly supported rather than the NT gospels. For example, the Gospel of Mary was a pseudepigraphal work written anonymously around AD 200 and then ascribed to Mary Magdalene. There are only a few surviving fragments, and even among these there are significant differences in the text. Furthermore, the theology expressed in the Gospel of Mary and other Gnostic writings is totally at odds with the Bible. For example, Jesus is quoted as saying, “All natures, all formed things, all creatures exist in and with one another and will again be resolved into their own roots, because the nature of matter is dissolved into the roots of its nature alone.”

The Gnostic “gospels” have relatively little to say concerning Christ’s life, and typically consist of sayings and/or philosophical speculations. Therefore they would not have been considered worthy of serious consideration for inclusion even if they were composed centuries earlier. Therefore these documents were rightly rejected by the church, and this rejection had nothing whatsoever to do with misogyny or patriarchy.

  • Claim: Constantine and his successors converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a propaganda campaign to demonize the sacred feminine.
  • Reality: There has never been a time in the history of humanity where any group or society has been a matriarchy, pagan or otherwise, so the notion that Constantine or anyone else converted society from matriarchy to patriarchy is completely false. Anthropology has decisively shown that no matriarchies exist anywhere in the world, nor is there any evidence that any have ever existed in the entire history of humanity. Given the innate biological and psychological differences between males and females, it is highly unlikely that a matriarchal group could ever have begun or survived for any period of time. Discredited works such as the 1861 Das Mutterrecht (the Mother-Right) of Johann Jakob Bachofen, who first discussed the Amazons (a purely fictional group), have been the major source text for feminist theologians.

Feminist theology teaches that the first societies in the distant past were utopian socialistic matriarchies based on “cooperation and peace with the environment” and goddess worship. These societies were then supposedly overthrown and destroyed by evil patriarchal groups who denigrated women and invented Christianity as a means of holding them down.

Today, these destructive forces are said to have run amok to the point that they are supposedly in danger of destroying the entire world. The crisis in western civilization is said to be a sign that the male God’s reign is coming to an end, and the Goddess is waiting to lead us into a New Age of peace and harmony. We must therefore jettison patriarchy and all of its supporting institutions: male-god religions, monogamous families, and all hierarchies of power. If we fail to do this, we may be facing the end of civilization and life on the earth.

The feminist theological agenda is therefore focused on the marginalization and destruction of Christianity and the replacement of capitalistic economic systems with various forms of socialism and environmentalism.

In order to support these theories, feminist scholars have desperately searched for any archaeological scraps of evidence for ancient matriarchies and socialistic, egalitarian societies. Focus has been placed on areas such as the Minoan society of ancient Crete, and Catul Hayuk in Turkey, which were thought to possibly be matriarchal. However, the search has been in vain, because as we look back at societies prior to our own, we see more patriarchy rather than less.

There certainly have been matriarchal elements in many past societies, such as the worship of female gods, e.g., Isis and Ishtar, and occasional powerful queens such as Semiramis, Cleopatra, and Queen Elizabeth. Some societies and groups have matrilineal elements, such as inheritance and property rights being passed through the female side. But a detailed examination of past societies reveals that in general, men ruled and dominated women much more completely than in the western societies of today. Feminist theology is thus pure fantasy and deception with no historical or anthropological foundation whatsoever. Furthermore, the current freedom available to women in western societies has primarily been due to the influence of Christianity and Christian thought, which ironically is the very thing that many feminists are attempting to destroy.

  • Claim: Leaders of the patriarchal male church were so threatened by the power of women that they considered women to be an enemy, and labeled goddess worship and the sacred feminine as unclean.
  • Reality: There were many women involved in the early church at multiple levels, and the claim that male leaders in general were threatened by women or considered them to be the enemy is preposterous.

It is true, however, that goddess worship and the sacred feminine were thought of as unclean, but not because men were threatened by women. The real reason is that these religious beliefs were and are simply one more form of false pagan idolatry, and therefore not in accord with the true nature of God. For example, the Bible condemns the worship of Baal, a male god, as well as Astarte, a female goddess.

Actual goddess worship (not merely revering women such as the Virgin Mary, or the veneration of small household idols by ancient women to protect themselves and their children) has been relatively marginal throughout history. Even during times when goddesses were worshiped, such as Isis in Egypt and Ishtar in Babylonia, male gods were also worshiped, and were almost always more significant and superior in power and authority. Ancient societies in general were thoroughly male dominant.

Wicca dates from the 1950s, and it was not until the women’s movement of the 1960s and following when the concepts of feminist theology and the concomitant conspiracy theories mentioned above were invented and promulgated.

Furthermore, the actual source of church policy and practice involving the “loathing of sex,” the “unworthiness of the body,” and the resulting “fear of women” was largely Gnosticism itself, and the ideas of Plato upon which they were partially based. The Greek philosopher Plato, circa 400 BC, believed that the heavenly form or archetype of all things was the ideal, and that earthly things are only shadows of the heavenly, and therefore inferior. Gnosticism borrowed this concept and taught, among other things, that only the spiritual aspects of a person were good, and the body was evil. This meant that sex, and especially the female body, was from the “dark side.” Gnostic theology also espouses “dualism,” which is notion that God and the devil are essentially equal in power and constantly battling each other for supremacy. Christians never adopted Gnosticism, because it is simply one more form of false belief, and the dualistic concepts of Gnosticism are contrary and antithetical to the God of the Bible. However, the Roman Church unfortunately allowed some of the Gnostic anti-sexual overtones to creep in through Augustine and the ascetics, with many negative consequences, such as the teachings that sexual pleasure is tinged with evil, sex is for procreation only, birth control is wrong, priests must be celibate, and that women are a temptation that must be avoided if a man would be truly spiritual.

The Cathars, who lived in the Languedoc area of southern France, were perhaps the most historically significant Gnostic group. They were typical Gnostic dualists believing in an equally powerful “god” and “devil.” They also believed that sex was sinful and a man who truly desired to serve God could never engage in it. Instead, they accepted sodomy as a replacement for heterosexual union. Catharism was hostile to maternity and family, and pregnant female followers were told that they carried demons in their bellies, making the religion unattractive to women (and men), especially for those who understood what the Cathars actually taught (many did not, and thought of it as essentially another form of Catholicism). The Cathars also practiced flagellation and self-mortification, and did not eat meat on the grounds that it came from animals that required sexual intercourse for the purposes of reproduction. However they did eat fish, not realizing that they also reproduce in a sexual manner.

However, a person could be a nominal Cathar follower and avoid committing themselves to all of the strictures of the faith. The Cathar religion was divided between a small minority of perfecti (the “perfect ones”) who had pledged themselves to celibacy, to the dietary rigors, and who had passed through a ritual laying on of hands by the Cathar leadership, and the vast majority of credenti (“followers”). Only perfecti were considered to be members of the Cathar Church, and many credenti became perfecti only on their death-beds to avoid what they considered to be the unpleasant aspects of Catharism. Thus, despite their undesirable beliefs and practices, the Cathar religion was attractive to many, especially those who despised the Catholic Church for its worldliness and money-grubbing, as the Cathar preachers were poor itinerants who did not demand tithes and had no church buildings.

It is often alleged that the Cathars were medieval feminists, with men and women sharing power in all areas, and that the Catholic Church attacked them for that reason. Both of those assertions are also untrue and are likewise the product of contemporary feminist myth-making. It is true that the Cathars were more egalitarian, that perfecti could be either male or female, and that there were significant number of female perfecti. However, the Cathars had an episcopal structure similar to the Catholic Church (i.e., bishops and deacons), and females were not allowed in those positions, nor were they allowed to perform the ritual functions of the church leadership. Furthermore, preaching by female perfecti was very rare, and they functioned in more-or-less the same way as nuns did in the Catholic Church except they did not live in cloisters.

The Roman church was concerned with the growth of this heresy and became jealous of the popular appeal of the Cathars, as well as being stung by their accusations of the worldliness of the Catholic leadership. After a number of attempts to convert them to Catholicism, in 1213 Pope Innocent III began the Albigensian Crusade in an effort to stamp the Cathars out; for thirty years they were pursued and eventually hounded to their death.

Even though the Catholic Church was largely successful in eliminating this Gnostic group, the resentments caused by their vicious actions created even more hatred against Catholicism, and the echoes of that hatred have persisted through the centuries. And despite the Christian rejection of Gnosticism, the Roman church was heavily influenced by the Gnostic idea of the evil of the body and other material things.

The church thus created many tensions and problems for itself, but the notion that the major threat was the power of women and goddess worship is not accurate.

  • Claim: The Gnostic writings indicate that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus and/or had a sexual relationship with him.
  • Reality: In no place do the Gnostic writings ever claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, that they had children, or even a sexual relationship. The Gnostic text that is frequently quoted from the purported Gospel of Philip alleges that “Jesus loved Mary more than other women” and “more than the disciples,” and that “the disciples resented Jesus for expressing affection to Mary.” Consider this: if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had actually been engaged and/or married, why would the disciples express concern or jealousy over his being affectionate with her?
  • Claim: The Gnostic writings indicate that Jesus gave Mary Magdalene authority over the church, and that Peter resented this.
  • Reality: No such statements exist—this is pure fabrication. In no place does Jesus give Mary Magdalene authority over the church, and the concern that Peter actually expresses in the Gnostic writing is that the Gnostic concepts being expressed by Mary are “strange ideas.”
  • Claim: Jesus supported female power and wanted women to be leaders in the same way and in the sense as men are.
  • Reality: This is false. Jesus affirmed the worth of women and taught that in the eyes of God that women are of equal value to men. But despite Jesus’ revolutionary teachings on love and the responsibilities of power, he consistently upheld traditional sex roles. He did not condemn female leadership, but did not encourage it either, and allowed for a dynamic where women would lead and use their gifts, but to do so in the context of traditional male/female paradigms. There are many examples of this: the disciples that Jesus chose were all male; when speaking to the woman at the well he asked her to “go and call your husband”; his acceptance of Mary anointing and kissing his feet; and so on.

In their writings, the Apostles upheld the same balance—affirming the value and worth of women and encouraging them to use their talents and gifts, while maintaining that men should be servant leaders.

Furthermore, the paradigm used consistently throughout the Bible is God as the husband, and the people as his bride in the Old Testament, and Christ as the husband, and the church as his bride in the New Testament.

  • Claim: Jesus must have been married because it is inconceivable that he could have been a Rabbi and remained single.
  • Reality: Jesus was not a Rabbi in the formal sense. He was called “Rabbi” because of the respect that people accorded him, but was never formally confirmed or appointed as such. Furthermore, although it was expected that a Rabbi would marry, there are a number of examples of celibate Jewish religious leaders, such as John the Baptist and Paul the Apostle. Therefore, the notion that celibacy is inconceivable for a Rabbi is historically incorrect.
  • Claim: The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in great detail by many historians.
  • Reality: The only “historians” who claim this are the writers of the books described above. No bloodline of Christ can be documented because it does not exist.

Here are a few examples of other inaccuracies and distortions from the above mentioned books[6]:

  • Claim: The Priory of Sion was founded in 1099 by Godfrey of Bouillon, the first crusader king of Jerusalem.
  • Reality: This makes for a good story, but the organization was actually founded in 1956 by Pierre Plantard, a Frenchman who was obsessed with the idea of becoming an occult master and generating a lineage that extended back to the Merovingian kings of France. He wrote a number of fake documents and surreptitiously placed them in various libraries to substantiate his claims regarding the Priory of Sion. However, Plantard himself backed off from the assertion of the 1099 date, later stating that the start of the organization dated to the mid-1700s. Then Plantard was implicated in the death of a French official who was supposedly a member of his organization, and during the trial he was subpoenaed to give testimony. On the witness stand he admitted that he made up the entire story. Plantard died penniless in 2000.

Godfrey de Bouillon, the crusader leader and first ruler of Jerusalem in 1099, was continually doing battle to maintain and expand the tenuous foothold that the crusaders had gained in Israel, and he died within one year of their victory. The Knights Templar, which according to the Priory documents, was supposedly a sister organization to the Priory of Sion, was not founded until sometime during the period 1113—1118 during the reign of Baldwin II, Godfrey’s nephew.

The related story of the Bérenger Saunière is referred to in several of the above books, and Dan Brown named one of the central characters of The DaVinci Code after him. Brown was heavily influenced by the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and the name “Leigh Teabing,” another of Brown’s central characters, is an anagram of the surnames of Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, authors of HBHG, who ironically sued Brown prior to the release of the DaVinci Code movie.

As recounted in HBHG, Bérenger Saunière was a priest in the small Languedoc town of Rennes-le-Chateau, from 1885 until his death in 1917. Despite being paid only a small income, Saunière spent large amounts of money rebuilding his church and constructing a tower dedicated to Mary Magdalene. The church has statues of demons and other arcane sculptures, and the tower has many elements of kabbalistic symbolism. The Merovingian rulers were deeply involved in the occult, and Saunière may have secretly abandoned Catholicism and decorated his church in an attempt to identify with them. Saunière may further have believed that the Merovingian dynasty was descended from Mary Magdalene, because one of the coded messages he left in the tower dedicated to her was the following: “TO DAGOBERT II KING AND TO SION BELONGS THIS TREASURE AND HE IS THERE DEAD.” Dagobert II, one of the last of the Merovingian heirs, was assassinated by Pepin the Fat, his prime minister, which effectively ended the Merovingian dynasty of French kings.

However, there is controversy about Dagobert II and the Carolingian conspiracy to seize power from the Merovingians. Some allege that the story of Dagobert’s assassination was a legend created by the Merovingians in an attempt to discredit the Carolingian usurpers, although this is questionable due to the fact the Merovingians were already in decline. Historians also question the existence of a bloodline descended from Dagobert. He was said to have married a noblewoman named Giselle de Razes, and had a son by her (Sigebert IV), after he returned to France, and that this son was hidden from the Carolingians and raised in the Languedoc in the area of Rennes-le-Chateau, which is the same place where the mystery of the Abbé Bérenger Saunière supposed took place at the end of the nineteenth century. Plantard claimed to be descended from Sigebert IV. However, others deny the existence of both Giselle and Sigebert.

The source of funds used by Saunière for rebuilding his church is another mystery. Soon after coming to Rennes-le-Chateau, Saunière supposedly found ancient documents and possibly others treasures hidden under the church’s altar, and it was said that he sold these for large sums. The documents and/or treasure were supposedly placed there by members of the Knights Templar following the destruction of their order in 1307, or from the Cathars who were wiped out in the Albigensian crusade and fought their final battle on the slopes of the mountain fortress of Montsegur in the Pyrenees near there in 1244.

Another, more prosaic explanation for the construction money, is that Saunière “trafficked in masses” (i.e., he said masses for pay), for which he was later prosecuted by the church. He advertised in religious magazines and journals, and this generated a large income that would perhaps have been sufficient to pay for all of his building efforts.[7] After he was prosecuted, his income dropped precipitously and he died penniless.

Another little-known fact is that the Saunière stories were embellished and publicized by Noel Corbu who bought property in the area, opened a restaurant, and needed a gimmick to create publicity.

  • Claim: During 300 years of witch hunts the church hunted down and burned at the stake an astounding five to nine million women. These were supposedly worshipers of the “sacred feminine” and secretly passed their concepts of goddess worship from mother to daughter. Therefore they were persecuted and killed in a war of extermination by the forces of patriarchy.
  • Reality: This is a stock feminist lie, similar to their assertion that one in every four female college students are raped. Scholars have estimated that from 1400 to 1800 (400 years) a total of 30,000 to 80,000 people were victims of witch hunts, and a significant number of these were men. Furthermore, many of the victims were not sought out as a group to be eliminated, but rather were reported by other women (and men).

There has never been a long-standing coordinated pogrom against goddess worshipers, and never very many goddess worshipers who would be the target of such a pogrom in the first place.

  • Claim: The Shroud of Turin was painted by Leonardo Davinci.
  • Reality: Leonardo maintained detailed notes about all of his works but never once mentioned the Shroud. As indicated previously, the first documented exhibition of the shroud was performed in 1355. During the following years the Shroud was shown publicly in Lirey, France, at the church built by the owner of the Shroud and was shown numerous times afterward. Leonardo was born in 1452.

[1] Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind Simon and Schuster, 1987

[2] F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Intervarsity Press, 1972

[3] Archibald Robertson, The Origins of Christianity, International Publishers, 1954

[4] Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians. A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 251; Fee, Corinthians, 723; Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 35. Reginald H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 11.

[5] See, for example, Sam Shamoun, Muhammad and Miracles: Analyzing Muslim Arguments for Muhammad’s Supernatural Feats, www.infolink-islam.de/Main/Responses/Azmy/mhd_miracles.htm

[6] For more information on these and related topics, please see Richard Abanes, The Truth Behind the DaVinci Code, and Amy Welborn, Decoding the DaVinci Code.

[7] Smith, Paul, Source of Saunière’s Wealth—The Real Truth, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id62.html

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment