How to be an American Dissident

When everything is moving at once, nothing appears to be moving, as onboard ship. When everyone is moving towards depravity, no one seems to be moving, but if someone stops, he shows up the others who are rushing on by acting as a fixed point.

—Blaise Pascal

American culture and politics are in a dizzying freefall. This is evident in many quarters. Consider first the freedom of speech, which is one of the five glorious freedoms of the First Amendment. (You should memorize them.) The new head of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, says he doesn’t think free speech is that important, because, after all, some views do not deserve a hearing. A recent editorial in The New York Times dismissed “cheap speech,” as not worth defending either. Rather, it needs to be monitored and controlled by the state. This emanates from the philosophy of critical race theory and the far left in general. While an old-line liberal, such as Alan Dershowitz, will defend everyone’s right to free speech, he is part of a vanishing breed. For many, free speech only furthers the oppression of people of color by white people, especially male heterosexuals. It is merely a ruse for systemic racism to continue. Thus, it must be regulated through speech codes and other forms of repression. 

America’s sexual morality is in radical freefall as well. The sexual revolution of the 1960s threw open the doors to promiscuity, abortion, and the advocacy of sexual aberrations posing as liberation. (Carl Trueman’s insightful book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self explains all this.) I sat at the Colorado state capitol on day recently to testify against a bill that said that unborn human beings have no rights whatsoever. It passed, thanks to Democratic sponsorship and support. It is nothing less than barbaric.

Culture became in increasingly coarsened and tawdry, as expressed in popular music and films. The floodgates of sexual insanity were thrown open with the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. But legal fiat cannot undo divine fact. God designed and defined marriage as between a man and a woman (Genesis 2), a view Jesus ratified as well (Matthew 19:1-6). Now, not only is the idea of marriage marred by manmade mandates, but gender identity has been untethered from biology and the created order entirely. One article claims there are sixty-four genders…and counting. The LGBTQI acronym keeps growing in indecency. Young children are allowed and even encouraged to “go trans,” which produces irreversible damage to their young bodies and souls. March 31, 2022, marked the 13th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility and saw President Biden unveil various pro-transgender policies and said, “Vice President Harris and I affirm that transgender Americans make our Nation more prosperous, vibrant, and strong.” Yes, all people are made in God’s image, but not all sexual choices make for a “more prosperous, vibrant, and strong” America. We must have compassion on those with sexual disorders, but here is no reason to deem those disorders as healthy. 

I could go on, sadly, but the short story is that the fabric of American civilization is unraveling. Our freedoms are being undermined, and freedom is not free. We must fight for it. Traditional sexual morality has been rejected at the highest level of civil government. Children are encouraged to mutilate themselves through “sex reassignment” surgery. And those of us who disagree must be silenced, cancelled, and “rendered impossible” (to steal a phrase from the Communist Manifesto). The capacity for big tech and the civil government to spy on us is extraordinary, and this is exactly what authoritarian governments need to control and punish dissidents. 

But what can we do? How can we resist a culture and politics in moral freefall? How can we protect our families and ourselves from a debauched culture and a growing police state? We must be dissidents—those who think and live differently and are savvy enough to get away with it. Being upset is not enough. We must be intentional and organized in our opposition to the madness. Consider three areas.

First, we need to be knowledgeable take off any rose-colored glasses. Our American system, our founding documents and basic forms of civil government, are strong. Our implementation of them is weak and many leftists want to change the system at its root through activist judges and executive orders. If you could read one book on this (and you should read more), I heartily recommend Rod Dreher’s, Live Not By Lies, which both explains our cultural bone rot and outlines strategies of resistance that are inspired by Eastern European dissidents under Communism. 

Second, prayer is essential. We are fighting a spiritual battle as well as one of flesh and blood. Thus, we pray for our leaders and for ourselves as citizens. The Apostle Paul instructs us:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.

–1 Timothy 2:1-3

We should also pray that the God of the nations overthrows and undermines godless civil governments in his timing. The Psalmist cries out

The Lord is a God who avenges.
    O God who avenges, shine forth.
  Rise up, Judge of the earth;
    pay back to the proud what they deserve.
  How long, Lord, will the wicked,
    how long will the wicked be jubilant. . . 

 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
  a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?

–Psalm 94:1-3, 20

Third, strong parallel cultures need to be set up to resist the madness of our society. We start with the church, which must teach and preach and live the fear of God, holy worship, intelligent and passionate prayer, gospel outreach, and godly citizenship. The message of the Bible is increasingly counter-cultural and threatens the norms of the elites in politics, education, and the media. 

Beyond the church, we must conserve the historic American ideals through counter-cultural education. We cannot expect state schools to teach traditional values or the American vision; rather, they usually undermine them by teaching LGBTQ perspectives, even encouraging children to go trans. State education is largely lost to leftism, but valiant parents can influence school boards and participate in education; valiant teachers can refuse to drink the leftist cool aid. Some character schools are worthwhile. Better yet, let a thousand flowers bloom through home schooling—which is exploding—and Christian schools at every level. We ought to think beyond the next election cycle (as important as that is), but in terms of the next and distant generations of God-fearing, America-loving people. This will cost us time and money. It is worth it.

The hour is late. Much is at stake. Keep your hand to the plow, your heart aglow with a truthful faith, and your will centered on making a difference, come what may. Dissidents we must be.

Please Don’t Say or Think This: “Let’s Take Back America”

While watching a political documentary I shall not name, one Christian said that if enough evangelicals would register and vote, we could “take back the nation.” I started expostulating so loudly to my wife that my dog Sunny went over to her and climbed into her lap. He was even shaking. 

Now, I wasn’t angry at my wife or at my dog. I was angry with the rank idiocy of this statement. Here’s why:

First, evangelicals are not in agreement on the significance of issues or on who best represents their views. For example, black, Hispanic, and white evangelicals tend to vote differently. 

Second, this is America, not a theocracy. If you are a Christian and a citizen of the United States, you have the religious liberty (for now) to organize, contribute, and vote your conscience under God and before man. But so do other religious believers and those of no religious beliefs. So, we don’t “take back” the country from anyone. We never had it to begin with, despite the Christian influence on the country. If we mean that we want Judeo-Christian values to have more influence, then good. But skip the “take back” language, please. 

Third, the language of “taking back America” may concern non-Christians who think that Christians who get their way politically will put others in jeopardy in one way or another. But if we support the Constitution and the rule of law, that will not happen.

Fourth, there is a lot more to reforming and renewing America than winning political battles. In many races, both major candidates are debauched and it turns out (again) to be the lesser of two evils, which is also the evil of two lessers. Further, even good laws only go so far to improve society. Much must be done in the pre-political or non-political realms. As a Washington insider once told me, “There are a lot of dead bodies floating downstream by the time they get to Washington, DC.” He meant elected officials!

There is nothing wrong with educating and mobilizing Christians in politics. There is plenty wrong with “taking back America.”

The Real Slippery Slope: Logic, Fallacy, and American Decline

Logic warns the wary of many fallacies. Everyone should master this canon of error—or you will be mastered by it. A logical fallacy is a typical way in which arguments go wrong through sloppy reasoning. Let me cite a few examples before turning to issue at hand—the slippery slope from same-sex marriage to significant changes in sexual ethics.

False dichotomy is a common and cunning fallacy. An either/or condition is set up. One must affirm either A or B, not both A and B, and not neither A or B. A proper dichotomy works like this:

You are either with Christ or against him. This covers all the available options. The condition is exclusive: Christ or not Christ (Matthew 12:30; John 14:1-6).

Here, though, is a false dichotomy:

We should not defend the gospel; we must preach the Gospel.

This is a false dichotomy because the Bible calls us to both defend gospel and to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15-16).

Another popular fallacy is argumentum ad hominem, or argument against the man. Instead of critiquing someone’s argument for traditional marriage, an opponent instead attacks the traditionalist’s character and motives. Some claim that denying same-sex marriage means one hates homosexuals and lesbians. This response gives us two fallacies for the price of one.

  1. The person’s character is attacked, rather than the force of his argument. This is a glaring case of argumentum ad hominem. Even if the critic hates homosexuals and lesbians (and no one should), that does not, of necessity, undermine his argument, since his argument may work independently of his motives.
  2. The false dichotomy is claiming that you either (A) support same-sex marriage or (B) hate same-sex couples.

I have introduced two classic and chronic fallacies. May we avoid them! Another fallacy feeds on itself. Meet the false charge of fallacy. Those pumped up by the power of logic may hyperventilate at the prospect of proving someone wrong through uncovering a lethal fallacy. Sometimes the difference between a fallacy and a valid form of reasoning is subtle. Consider the slippery slope.

As a fallacy, the slippery slope errs by wrongly stipulating the implications of ideas: if A, then B, then C. We always slip down the slope into the abyss. “If you do this, then that will happen, and, God help us, the other thing will happen, which is horrible!” So, the slippery slope also contains a reductio ad absurdum argument. Let me illustrate.

Some complementarians claim that if churches allow women to be senior pastors, they open the door to accepting homosexuality. Since most evangelicals—at least twenty years ago, when my wife was writing much on this topic—do not accept homosexuality, then they should reject women as senior pastors as well. But for evangelicals with a high view of biblical authority and a respect for classical methods of biblical interpretation, there is no danger of any slope to slide down, since it is obvious that while the Bible records many women leaders favorably, it never endorses any homosexual activity.

However, some ideas have consequences that may not be foreseen or that may be denied by sheer willfulness. Defenders of same-sex marriage often say that concerns over polyamory or incest are reactionary and those that are worried about this commit the slippery slope fallacy. However, the slope is there, the sliding is underway, but the slippage may be overlooked. Consider the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.

According to the judges, no state may deny the right to same-sex marriage. The legal reasoning was tortuous and unsupportable, as the dissenting opinions stated. But we must go deeper. The idea behind the ruling—and behind all support for same-sex marriage—is that marriage is a socially constructed and purely human institution. Monogamy is merely a cultural and legal tradition whose cultural hegemony sputtered for years and is now ending. There is no reason why marriage should not be same-sex. In fact, to claim otherwise is to absolutize a relative and historically contingent institution. The same reasoning supported slavery, denied women the vote, and endorsed Jim Crow laws.

Given this standpoint, there is no reason to privilege couples only as constituting marriage. That would be two-ist and unfair. Therefore, by the same reasoning used to establish same-sex marriage, we must allow for polyamory. This is an open category which so far has meant marriage arrangements of at least men and women. (I have not yet heard of marriage arrangements of multiple men or multiple women.) A man has already sued to have two wives. A 2015 academic book by Ronald Den C. Otto is entitled In Defense of Plural Marriage. Amazon.com says this about it:

With over half of Americans now in favor of marriage equality, it is clear that societal norms of marriage are being quickly redefined. The growing belief that the state may not discriminate against gays and lesbians calls into question whether the state may limit other types of marital unions, including plural marriage. While much has been written about same-sex marriage, as of yet there has been no book-length legal treatment of unions among three or more individuals. The first major study on plural marriage and the law, In Defense of Plural Marriage begins to fill this lacuna in the scholarly literature. Ronald C. Den Otter shows how the constitutional arguments that support the option of plural marriage are stronger than those against. Ultimately, he proposes a new semi-contractual marital model that would provide legal recognition for a wide range of intimate relationships.

Once the traditional and God-ordained definition of marriage is breached, the floodwaters come rushing in. If love is love, and if any consensual erotic association should be deemed moral and be authorized by the state, then the logical implication is that the new sexual revolution will not end with same-sex marriage. The next step will be polyamorous marriages. Nor could there be a principle forbidding consensual incest or pedophilia. If you think pedophilia is different because the child is too young to give consent, you do not understand the deepest issues.

Breitbart.com posted a piece called “Inside the Sick, Secret World of Bestiality Forums.” The story is about BeastForum, a popular website trafficking in all manners of perversion. I will give no details. But if the animal is not hurt, and the human is not mean, why not practice bestiality? Given present trends, bestiality could emerge from the dark and dirty underside of American culture and move into the spotlight of our polymorphic perversities. (The Mosaic Law made bestiality a capital crime.)

Some will slide down this slope without fear, perhaps stopping shy of bestiality or a step before. Or perhaps not. But if one wants to apply the moral brakes, he or she needs a rational justification for stopping. I am not saying that most who deny traditional marriage will slide all the way down; but without an objective moral authority to tell us the nature of sexuality and to give the norms for sexual behavior, there are no such moral brakes.

However, if one who accepts same-sex marriage also opposes polyamory, incest, pedophilia, or bestiality, that person must face the full force of this reductio ad absurdum argument:

  1. If same-sex marriage is moral, then any consensual sexual arrangement (involving marriage or not) is moral.
  2. Same-sex marriage is moral.
  3. Therefore: consensual polyamory, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality are moral.
  4. But (3) is absurd, since these acts are immoral.
  5. Therefore, it is false that same-sex marriage is moral; it is immoral. This is by reductio ad absurdum.

One may not like this argument, but if the premises are true, then the conclusion must follow. I leave it to my readers to show that one or more of the premises are false.

When traditional moral authority is razed, then the unthinkable becomes thinkable, the illegal becomes legal, and the immoral becomes moral. This is the real slippery slope, and we are on it as a society.

May everyone—from politician to pauper, from professor to farmer, from all races, of all ages—hear the Word of the Lord:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:12-19).