TIM KELLER: SIN IS THE SUICIDAL ACTION OF THE SELF

TIM KELLER: SIN IS THE SUICIDAL ACTION OF THE SELF


Tim KellerEvery one of our sinful actions has a suicidal power on the faculties that put that action forth. When you sin with the mind, that sin shrivels the rationality. When you sin with the heart or the emotions, that sin shrivels the emotions. When you sin with the will, that sin destroys and dissolves your willpower and your self-control. Sin is the suicidal action of the self against itself. Sin destroys freedom because sin is an enslaving power.In other words, sin has a powerful effect in which your own freedom, your freedom to want the good, to will the good, and to think or understand the good, is all being undermined. By sin, you are more and more losing your freedom. Sin undermines your mind, it undermines your emotions, and it undermines your will.  – Tim Keller (HT/ Stand to Reason Blog)


The Church Effeminate by Stephen C. Perks

Effeminacy in Leadership: More the Effect Than the Cause of God’s Judgment

Reproduced below is a very keen and penetrating analysis of the nature of the deplorable upsurge of effeminacy in the church, with the locus of the phenomenon placed not primarily on its consideration as being the cause of God’s judgment but, conversely, on it, i.e., the phenomenon, as being theeffect.

Recently I was asked whether it would be correct to say that, in the history of the world, whole dynasties and indeed civilisations have foundered on the rock of homosexuality. My answer was that I would not put it this way. Of course I believe that homosexual practices are immoral, and forbidden by God’s law. However, in Rom. 1:21-32 Paul puts it this way: Men turned away from serving God to serving the creature. As a consequence God gave them over to impure passions. Homosexuality is God’s judgement on a society that has turned away from God and worships the creature rather than the Creator. Spiritual apostasy is the rock upon which cultures, including our own, founder, and homosexuality is God’s judgement on that apostasy. This is why homosexuality was a common practice among the pagan cultures of antiquity, indeed is a common practice among most pagan cultures, including now our own increasingly neo-pagan culture. In short, the idea that the toleration of homosexuality is an evil that will lead to God’s judgement is unbiblical because it puts the cart before the horse. It is the other way round. The prevalence of homosexuality in a culture is a sure sign that God has already executed or is in the process of executing his wrath upon society for its apostasy. The cause of this judgement is not the immoral practices of homosexuals (immoral though homosexual acts are); rather it is spiritual apostasy. The prevalence of homosexuality is the effect, not the cause of God’s wrath being visited upon society. And in a Christian (or perhaps I should say “post- Christian”) society this means, inevitably, that the prevalence of homosexuality in society is God’s judgement on the church for her apostasy, her unfaithfulness to God, because judgement begins with the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

This is not a popular message with Christians. It is easy to point the finger at gross sin and immorality, but the church is much less willing to consider her own role in the social evils that blight our age. The spiritual apostasy that led to our present condition started in the church, and much of the debacle of modern society that Christians rightly lament can in some measure be traced to this apostasy of the church as the root cause. And even now the church refuses to take her responsibility for preserving society from such evil seriously and has abdicated her role as the prophetic mouthpiece of God to the nation.

Of course, this does not mean we should not challenge the gay lobby and work to establish biblical morality in our society. We must. But we must also get our priorities right, and I fear that the church has misdiagnosed this problem and got her priorities wrong. The church suffers from the homosexual blight as much as, perhaps more than (with the exception of the media and entertainment world), any other section of society. For most of this century the church has been seeking a female god to replace the God of the Bible. We have had ministers who have thought, acted and preached like women for many years now. The clergy in our age is, on the whole, characterised by effeminacy. The increasing number of homosexuals in the ministry is, I think, both a cause and effect relationship related to this and at the same time a manifestation of God’s judgment on the church. Often, of course, judgement works through cause and effect relationships, because the whole creation is God’s work; it therefore functions according to his plan and will. The church has become thoroughly feminised by an effeminate clergy. Ministry today is directed primarily at women, and ministers have begun to think and act like women, so that Christianity has become what someone has called “lifeboat religion”—women and children first. And the world sees this well enough.

For example, I have been told on more than one occasion by priests and ministers that when they go out visiting members of their parishes if the man of the house comes to the door the first thing he will often say is “I’ll go get the wife.” Vicars and ministers are there to pamper to women and children, or so the world thinks, and this is simply because ministry in the church is so often directed primarily to women and children, not to men. Likewise, I have been told by clergy that now that women are increasingly present in the ranks of the clergy the nature of chapter meetings etc. has changed; now these meetings of the clergy are characterised much less by doctrinal matters and discussion revolves more around “relationship” issues (in other words the meetings have been taken over by a women’s agenda). I have observed the same kind of thing in church meetings. If one brings up doctrinal issues or even serious issues about the mission of the church there is little interest. “There isn’t time now. We’ll deal with this another time” is the usual response, though seldom are such issues dealt with later either. But there is always enough time to consider trivial matters and in particular whether all our “relationships” need more work on them. And yet in most churches where I have experienced this kind of attitude I have not detected serious relationship problems troubling the church. However, there have often been and continue to be prodigious doctrinal problems and problems related to the church’s understanding of its mission in the world troubling these churches, yet these are not even considered worthy of discussion in church leadership meetings. Church leaders will talk endlessly about “relationships” and the like but avoid doctrinal issues like the plague because these are deemed to cause division and hinder “relationships.”

Now at root I believe this is a serious problem created by the feminisation of church leadership. The leadership agenda, which is a masculine agenda, has been replaced by a feminine agenda, which is a disaster for leadership. The church has abandoned the God of Scripture for the cosiness of a female type of deity who does not require church leaders to expound biblical doctrine or act with conviction according to God’s word (both of which are perceived, often correctly, as causing division—Mt. 10:34ff.), but instead requires leaders simply to mother their congregations in a feminine way. This naturally produces effeminate clergymen and an effeminate church. But this is not merely an impersonal cause and effect relationship. God works through second causes in his creation to accomplish his will. An effeminate ministry and an effeminate church is God’s answer to the church’s determination to replace the God of Scripture with a female god; and this crusade against the God of the Bible has been, in its own way, as much a feature of evangelicalism as it has been of the outright liberalism that evangelicals claim to abominate yet so willingly imitate.

Not only is this a problem in the church now, but because it is in the church, society at large is now feminised and effeminate. We are ruled by women and men who think and act like women. But women do not make good rulers gener-ally. In Margaret Thatcher we had a reverse situation, a women who thought more like a man should think—but the exception does not nullify the rule. I am not making a party political point here, or endorsing any policies; because even then I believe this was all part of the judgmental situation. The world is turned upside down because men have turned it upside down by their rebellion against God. Jean-Marc Berthoud made this point well in his article “Humanism: Trust in Man—Ruin of the Nations,” which I recommend in relation to this topic. We are now ruled by women and boys (Is. 3:4, 12).

But leadership is not feminine. Effeminate leaders do not rule well, either in the State or the church. It is vital that justice is tempered with mercy. But one cannot temper mercy with justice. When mercy is put before justice societies collapse into the idiotic situation we have today where criminals are set free and innocent people are condemned. For example, punishments meted out to motorists for inadvertently driving a little over the speed limit today, even where no danger is involved, are often more severe than punishments meted out to thieves. And a parent can be punished for spanking a naughty child today, even where such punishment is carried out in a loving and disciplined environment and there is no danger to the child; yet one can murder one’s unborn children with impunity. The State even pays for these abortions by providing them on the National Health Service.

This, I believe, is ultimately the result of the feminisation of our culture. It is often thought that feminine rule is more compassionate, more caring. This is a myth that feminist ideology has worked into the popular perceptions of reality in our culture. On the contrary, the feminist culture is a violent culture, a culture that produces abortion on demand and at the same time the demand for the banning of fox hunting. A more perverse situation is hardly imaginable. Ultimately feminism is in practice inherently violent, inherently unstable, inherently perverse, inherently unjust, because it is all these things in principle, viz the rejection of God’s created order, and the consequences of a religious commitment will always work themselves out in practice. Feminism is now working out practically the consequences of its religious vision of society (and it is a religion).

The churches have failed to see this. They have embraced feminism vigorously, and as a consequence have become themselves a major avenue by which feminism has been able to influence our culture. The clergy were involved in feminising the faith and the church well before the feminist movement had become so conscious in the popular perception. And the feminisation of our culture is a major reason for its anarchy and violence. For instance, the result of the feminisation of society has been that men have lost their role in many respects. Feminism has defined men into nothing more than yobbos or effeminates. These are the two alternatives for men in the feminist perspective, though this might not be understood by many feminists, perhaps usually is not, because feminism is naïve and operates not on the basis of reason but on emotion; and this brings us again to the problem of female leadership and rule. Emotion does not lead or rule well. For the feminists, men are incapable rulers; women should rule.

Now we have the rule of women and effeminate men. The effect of putting the feminine virtues into the place of the masculine virtues and the masculine virtues in the place of the feminine virtues has been to overturn the created order. As a result justice is despised and mercy is turned into vice. Leadership is masculine, but it needs the tempering of the feminine virtues. When feminine virtues are in leadership the masculine virtues cannot function; masculinity is made redundant. This is one of the most serious problems facing our society. Feminism has rendered masculine leadership in the church and the nation obsolete, and we are now reaping the spiritual and social consequences of this. Justice is a casualty. Mercy ceases to be mercy and becomes indulgence of the worst vices. Violence, anarchy, disorder, and a dysfunctional society are the legacy of the feminisation of our society, because in this order neither the masculine nor the feminine virtues can play their proper role. The world is turned upside down. Even the “Bible believing” churches are numbed in their apostasy regarding this and many other matters in our society. We have an effeminate church, and an effeminate
society, and therefore God’s answer has been an increasingly homosexual ministry and an increasingly homosexual society. This is God’s righteous judgement on our spiritual apostasy.

The answer is repentance: turning to God and turning away from our rebellion against the divine order of creation. The church must start this. Judgement begins with the church (1 Pet 4:17), and repentance must also. I do not believe we will solve the homosexual problem until we recognise its cause. It is God’s judgement on the apostasy of the nation. Leading the way to that apostasy was the church.

What I have said above is not meant to downplay the seriousness of the homosexual problem, nor its immorality. But we must recognise it as a manifestation of God’s judgment, as Paul teaches so clearly in Romans chapter one. The answer lies with tackling the root cause, while not leaving undone the other things. What is said here is not meant to encourage a lessening of Christian opposition to gay rights by any means; but it is meant to encourage a wider reading of the problem, because it is in this wider reading of the problem that we detect the cause, and hopefully, the solution to the problem.

Furthermore, this issue is not an isolated one. It is all part and parcel of the repaganisation of our society, a trend that the church in large measure has not only acquiesced in but sometimes actively encouraged by her myopic perception of the faith and her practical denial of its relevance for the whole of man’s life, including his societal relationships and responsibilities. While criticism is necessary and vital in the church’s prophetic task of bringing God’s word to bear upon our society, it is not enough. The church must also throw off her own acquiescence in the practice of secular humanism and practise the covenant life of the redeemed community instead if she is to have any effect on our culture. So far, the church, by and large, has shown herself unwilling even to contemplate the practice of this covenant life, and has contented herself with mere criticism at best (though not even criticism of secular humanism or its code of immorality is to be found among many clergymen). Therefore the judgment will continue unabated until the church once again begins living out as well as speaking forth the words of life to the society around her. Only then will she begin to manifest the kingdom of God; and only when the church begins to manifest the kingdom of God again will our society begin to be delivered from God’s judgement.

(Stephen C. PerksThe Church Effeminate, Editorial: Christianity & Society [January 2000])

"In all probability, not a single element of the Wiccan story is true." Repost from the Atlantic

Historically speaking, the “ancient” rituals of the Goddess movement are almost certainly bunk

by Charlotte Allen

WICCA, sometimes known as the Goddess movement, Goddess spirituality, or the Craft, appears to be the fastest-growing religion in America. Thirty years ago only a handful of Wiccans existed. One scholar has estimated that there are now more than 200,000 adherents of Wicca and related “neopagan” faiths in the United States, the country where neopaganism, like many formal religions, is most flourishing. Wiccans — who may also call themselves Witches (the capital W is meant to distance them from the word’s negative connotations, because Wiccans neither worship Satan nor practice the sort of malicious magic traditionally associated with witches) or just plain pagans (often with a capital P) — tend to be white, middle-class, highly educated, and politically involved in liberal and environmental causes. About a third of them are men. Wiccan services have been held on at least fifteen U.S. military bases and ships.

Many come to Wicca after reading The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess(1979), a best-selling introduction to Wiccan teachings and rituals written by Starhawk (née Miriam Simos), a Witch (the term she prefers) from California. Starhawk offers a vivid summary of the history of the faith, explaining that witchcraft is “perhaps the oldest religion extant in the West” and that it began “more than thirty-five thousand years ago,” during the last Ice Age. The religion’s earliest adherents worshipped two deities, one of each sex: “the Mother Goddess, the birthgiver, who brings into existence all life,” and the “Horned God,” a male hunter who died and was resurrected each year. Male shamans “dressed in skins and horns in identification with the God and the herds,” but priestesses “presided naked, embodying the fertility of the Goddess.” All over prehistoric Europe people made images of the Goddess, sometimes showing her giving birth to the “Divine Child — her consort, son, and seed.” They knew her as a “triple Goddess” — practitioners today usually refer to her as maiden, mother, crone — but fundamentally they saw her as one deity. Each year these prehistoric worshippers celebrated the seasonal cycles, which led to the “eight feasts of the Wheel”: the solstices, the equinoxes, and four festivals — Imbolc (February 2, now coinciding with the Christian feast of Candlemas), Beltane (May Day), Lammas or Lughnasad (in early August), and Samhain (our Halloween).

This nature-attuned, woman-respecting, peaceful, and egalitarian culture prevailed in what is now Western Europe for thousands of years, Starhawk wrote, until Indo-European invaders swept across the region, introducing warrior gods, weapons designed for killing human beings, and patriarchal civilization. Then came Christianity, which eventually insinuated itself among Europe’s ruling elite. Still, the “Old Religion” lived, often in the guise of Christian practices.

Starting in the fourteenth century, Starhawk argued, religious and secular authorities began a 400-year campaign to eradicate the Old Religion by exterminating suspected adherents, whom they accused of being in league with the devil. Most of the persecuted were women, generally those outside the social norm — not only the elderly and mentally ill but also midwives, herbal healers, and natural leaders, those women whose independent ways were seen as a threat. During “the Burning Times,” Starhawk wrote, some nine million were executed. The Old Religion went more deeply underground, its traditions passed down secretly in families and among trusted friends, until it resurfaced in the twentieth century. Like their ancient forebears, Wiccans revere the Goddess, practice shamanistic magic of a harmless variety, and celebrate the eight feasts, or sabbats, sometimes in the nude.

Subject to slight variations, this story is the basis of many hugely popular Goddess handbooks. It also informs the writings of numerous secular feminists — Gloria Steinem,Marilyn FrenchBarbara Ehrenreich, Deirdre English — to whom the ascendancy of “the patriarchy” or the systematic terrorization of strong, independent women by means of witchcraft trials are historical givens. Moreover, elements of the story suffuse a broad swath of the intellectual and literary fabric of the past hundred years, from James Frazer’s The Golden Bough and Robert Graves’s The White Goddess to the novels of D. H. Lawrence, from the writings of William Butler Yeats and T. S. Eliot to Jungian psychology and the widely viewed 1988 public-television series The Power of Myth.

In all probability, not a single element of the Wiccan story is true. The evidence is overwhelming that Wicca is a distinctly new religion, a 1950s concoction influenced by such things as Masonic ritual and a late-nineteenth-century fascination with the esoteric and the occult, and that various assumptions informing the Wiccan view of history are deeply flawed. Furthermore, scholars generally agree that there is no indication, either archaeological or in the written record, that any ancient people ever worshipped a single, archetypal goddess — a conclusion that strikes at the heart of Wiccan belief.

IN the past few years two well-respected scholars have independently advanced essentially the same theory about Wicca’s founding. In 1998 Philip G. Davis, a professor of religion at the University of Prince Edward Island, publishedGoddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality, which argued that Wicca was the creation of an English civil servant and amateur anthropologist named Gerald B. Gardner (1884-1964). Davis wrote that the origins of the Goddess movement lay in an interest among the German and French Romantics — mostly men — in natural forces, especially those linked with women. Gardner admired the Romantics and belonged to a Rosicrucian society called the Fellowship of Crotona — a group that was influenced by several late-nineteenth-century occultist groups, which in turn were influenced by Freemasonry. In the 1950s Gardner introduced a religion he called (and spelled) Wica. Although Gardner claimed to have learned Wiccan lore from a centuries-old coven of witches who also belonged to the Fellowship of Crotona, Davis wrote that no one had been able to locate the coven and that Gardner had invented the rites he trumpeted, borrowing from rituals created early in the twentieth century by the notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley, among others. Wiccans today, by their own admission, have freely adapted and embellished Gardner’s rites.

In 1999 Ronald Hutton, a well-known historian of pagan British religion who teaches at the University of Bristol, published The Triumph of the Moon. Hutton had conducted detailed research into the known pagan practices of prehistory, had read Gardner’s unpublished manuscripts, and had interviewed many of Gardner’s surviving contemporaries. Hutton, like Davis, could find no conclusive evidence of the coven from which Gardner said he had learned the Craft, and argued that the “ancient” religion Gardner claimed to have discovered was a mélange of material from relatively modern sources. Gardner seems to have drawn on the work of two people: Charles Godfrey Leland, a nineteenth-century amateur American folklorist who professed to have found a surviving cult of the goddess Diana in Tuscany, and Margaret Alice Murray, a British Egyptologist who herself drew on Leland’s ideas and, beginning in the 1920s, created a detailed framework of ritual and belief. From his own experience Gardner included such Masonic staples as blindfolding, initiation, secrecy, and “degrees” of priesthood. He incorporated various Tarot-like paraphernalia, including wands, chalices, and the five-pointed star, which, enclosed in a circle, is the Wiccan equivalent of the cross.

Gardner also wove in some personal idiosyncrasies. One was a fondness for linguistic archaisms: “thee,” “thy,” “’tis,” “Ye Bok of ye Art Magical.” Another was a taste for nudism: Gardner had belonged to a nudist colony in the 1930s, and he prescribed that many Wiccan rituals be carried out “skyclad.” This was a rarity even among occultists: no ancient pagan religion is known, or was thought in Gardner’s time, to have regularly called for its rites to be conducted in the nude. Some Gardnerian innovations have sexual and even bondage-and-discipline overtones. Ritual sex, which Gardner called “The Great Rite,” and which was also largely unknown in antiquity, was part of the liturgy for Beltane and other feasts (although most participants simulated the act with a dagger — another of Gardner’s penchants — and a chalice). Other rituals called for the binding and scourging of initiates and for administering “the fivefold kiss” to the feet, knees, “womb” (according to one Wiccan I spoke with, a relatively modest spot above the pubic bone), breasts, and lips.

Hutton effectively demolished the notion, held by Wiccans and others, that fundamentally pagan ancient customs existed beneath medieval Christian practices. His research reveals that outside of a handful of traditions, such as decorating with greenery at Yuletide and celebrating May Day with flowers, no pagan practices — much less the veneration of pagan gods — have survived from antiquity. Hutton found that nearly all the rural seasonal pastimes that folklorists once viewed as “timeless” fertility rituals, including the Maypole dance, actually date from the Middle Ages or even the eighteenth century. There is now widespread consensus among historians that Catholicism thoroughly permeated the mental world of medieval Europe, introducing a robust popular culture of saints’ shrines, devotions, and even charms and spells. The idea that medieval revels were pagan in origin is a legacy of the Protestant Reformation.

Hutton has also pointed out a lack of evidence that either the ancient Celts or any other pagan culture celebrated all the “eight feasts of the Wheel” that are central to Wiccan liturgy. “The equinoxes seem to have no native pagan festivals behind them and became significant only to occultists in the nineteenth century,” Hutton told me. “There is still no proven pagan feast that stood as ancestor to Easter” — a festival that modern pagans celebrate as Ostara, the vernal equinox.

Historians have overturned another basic Wiccan assumption: that the group has a history of persecution exceeding even that of the Jews. The figure Starhawk cited — nine million executed over four centuries — derives from a late-eighteenth-century German historian; it was picked up and disseminated a hundred years later by a British feminist named Matilda Gage and quickly became Wiccan gospel (Gardner himself coined the phrase “the Burning Times”). Most scholars today believe that the actual number of executions is in the neighborhood of 40,000. The most thorough recent study of historical witchcraft is Witches and Neighbors (1996), by Robin Briggs, a historian at Oxford University. Briggs pored over the documents of European witch trials and concluded that most of them took place during a relatively short period, 1550 to 1630, and were largely confined to parts of present-day France, Switzerland, and Germany that were already racked by the religious and political turmoil of the Reformation. The accused witches, far from including a large number of independent-minded women, were mostly poor and unpopular. Their accusers were typically ordinary citizens (often other women), not clerical or secular authorities. In fact, the authorities generally disliked trying witchcraft cases and acquitted more than half of all defendants. Briggs also discovered that none of the accused witches who were found guilty and put to death had been charged specifically with practicing a pagan religion.

If Internet chat rooms are any indication, some Wiccans cling tenaciously to the idea of themselves as institutional victims on a large scale. Generally speaking, though, Wiccans appear to be accommodating themselves to much of the emerging evidence concerning their antecedents: for example, they are coming to view their ancient provenance as inspiring legend rather than hard-and-fast history. By the end of the 1990s, with the appearance of Davis’s book and then of Hutton’s, many Wiccans had begun referring to their story as a myth of origin, not a history of survival. “We don’t do what Witches did a hundred years ago, or five hundred years ago, or five thousand years ago,” Starhawk told me. “We’re not an unbroken tradition like the Native Americans.” In fact, many Wiccans now describe those who take certain elements of the movement’s narrative literally as “Wiccan fundamentalists.”

AN even more controversial strand of the challenge to the Wiccan narrative concerns the very existence of ancient Goddess worship. One problem with the theory of Goddess worship, scholars say, is that the ancients were genuine polytheists. They did not believe that the many gods and goddesses they worshipped merely represented different aspects of single deities. In that respect they were like animistic peoples of today, whose cosmologies are crowded with discrete spirits. “Polytheism was an accepted reality,” says Mary Lefkowitz, a professor of classics at Wellesley College. “Everywhere you went, there were shrines to different gods.” The gods and goddesses had specific domains of power over human activity: Aphrodite/Venus presided over love, Artemis/Diana over hunting and childbirth, Ares/Mars over war, and so forth. Not until the second century, with the work of the Roman writer Apuleius, was one goddess, Isis, identified with all the various goddesses and forces of nature.

As Christianity spread, the classical deities ceased to be the objects of religious cults, but they continued their reign in Western literature and art. Starting about 1800 they began to be associated with semi-mystical natural forces, rather than with specific human activities. In the writings of the Romantics, for example (John Keats’s “Endymion” comes to mind), Diana presided generally over the woodlands and the moon. “Mother Earth” became a popular literary deity. In 1849 the German classicist Eduard Gerhard made the assertion, for the first time in modern Western history, that all the ancient goddesses derived from a single prehistoric mother goddess. In 1861 the Swiss jurist and writer Johann Jakob Bachofen postulated that the earliest human civilizations were matriarchies. Bachofen’s theory influenced a wide range of thinkers, including Friedrich Engels, a generation of British intellectuals, and probably Carl Jung.

By the early 1900s scholars generally agreed that the great goddess and earth mother had reigned supreme in ancient Mediterranean religions, and was toppled only when ethnic groups devoted to father gods conquered her devotees. In 1901 the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans excavated the Minoan palace at Knossos, on Crete, uncovering colorful frescoes of bull dancers and figurines of bare-breasted women carrying snakes. From this scant evidence Evans concluded that the Minoans, who preceded the Zeus-venerating Greeks by several centuries, had worshipped the great goddess in her virgin and mother aspects, along with a subordinate male god who was her son and consort. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s archaeologists excavating Paleolithic and Neolithic sites in Europe and even Pueblo Indian settlements in Arizona almost reflexively proclaimed the female figurines they found to be images of the great goddess.

The archaeologists drew on the work of late-nineteenth-century anthropologists. A belief that Stone Age peoples (and their “primitive” modern counterparts) did not realize that men played a role in human procreation was popular among many early British and American anthropologists. Female fertility was an awesome mystery, and women, as the sole sources of procreation, were highly honored. This notion — that hunter-gatherer societies couldn’t figure out the birds and the bees — has since been discredited, but “it was very intriguing to people mired in Victorianism,” according to Cynthia Eller, a professor of religious studies at Montclair State University, in New Jersey, who is writing a book on the subject. “They wanted to find a blissful sexual communism, a society in which chastity and monogamy were not important,” Eller says. It was the same general impulse that led Margaret Mead to conclude in the 1920s that Samoan adolescents indulged in guilt-free promiscuity before marriage.

Archaeological expeditions even in the latter half of the century bolstered the notion of a single goddess figure from antiquity. In 1958 a British archaeologist named James Mellaart made a major find: a 9,000-year-old agricultural settlement that once housed up to 10,000 people at Çatalhöyük, one of the largest of several mounds near the modern-day town of Konya, in southern Turkey. Mellaart unearthed a number of female figurines that he deemed to be representations of the mother goddess. One was a headless female nude sitting on what appears to be a throne and flanked by leopards, with a protuberant belly that could be interpreted as a sign of pregnancy. The Çatalhöyük settlement contained no fortifications, and its houses were nearly all the same size, seemingly implying just the sort of nonviolent, egalitarian social system that Goddess-worshippers believe prevailed. Çatalhöyük became the Santiago de Compostela of the Goddess movement, with hundreds of pilgrims visiting the settlement annually. The enthroned nude is a revered Goddess-movement object.

Mellaart’s conclusions were bolstered by the work of the lateMarija Gimbutas, a Lithuanian-born archaeologist who taught at the University of California at Los Angeles until 1989. Gimbutas specialized in the Neolithic Balkans. Like Mellaart, she tended to attach religious meaning to the objects she uncovered; the results of her Balkan digs were published in 1974 under the title The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe. In 1982 Gimbutas reissued her book as The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, and she began seeing representations of the Goddess, and of female reproductive apparatus (wombs, Fallopian tubes, amniotic fluid), in a huge array of Stone Age artifacts, even in abstractions such as spirals and dots.

In 1993 Ian Hodder, a Stanford University archaeologist, began re-excavating Çatalhöyük, using up-to-date techniques including isotopic analysis of the skeletons found in the graves. “Your bones reflect what you eat, even if you died nine thousand years ago,” Hodder says. “And we found that men and women had different diets. The men ate more meat, and the women ate more plant food. You can interpret that in many ways. A rich protein diet is helpful for physical activity, so you could say that the men ate better — but you could also argue that the women preferred plant food. What it does suggest is that there was a division of labor and activity” — not necessarily the egalitarian utopia that Goddess worshippers have assumed.

Hodder’s team also discovered numerous human figurines of the male or an indeterminate sex, and found that the favorite Çatalhöyük representation was not women but animals. None of the art the team uncovered conclusively depicts copulation or childbirth. Hodder, along with most archaeologists of his generation, endeavors to assess objects in the context of where they were unearthed — a dramatic change from the school of archaeology that was in vogue at the time of Mellaart’s and Gimbutas’s excavations. He points out that almost all the female figurines at Çatalhöyük came from rubbish heaps; the enthroned nude woman was found in a grain bin. “Very little in the context of the find suggests that they were religious objects,” Hodder says. “They were maybe more like talismans, something to do with daily life.” Furthermore, excavations of sites in Turkey, Greece, and Southeastern Europe that were roughly contemporaneous with the Çatalhöyük settlement have yielded evidence — fortifications, maces, bones bearing dagger marks — that Stone Age Europe, contrary to the Goddess narrative, probably saw plenty of violence.

Lynn Meskell, an archaeologist at Columbia University who has published detailed critiques of Gimbutas’s work, complains that Gimbutas and her devotees have promoted a romanticized “essentialist” view of women, defining them primarily in terms of fecundity and maternal gentleness. “You have people saying that Çatalhöyük was this peaceful, vegetarian society,” says Meskell. “It’s ludicrous. Neolithic settlements were not utopias in any sense at all.”

The research of archaeologists like Hodder and Meskell has sparked heated rebuttals from Goddess theorists. “We know that even in the West most of art is religious art,” says Riane Eisler, the author of the best seller The Chalice and the Blade(1987). “Don’t tell me that suddenly these are dolls. Give me a break! You have a woman at Çatalhöyük sitting on a throne giving birth, and you want to call it a doll?” In her introduction to a new edition of The Spiral Dance, Starhawk — who is working on a film about Gimbutas — complains about “biased and inaccurate” academic scholarship aimed at discrediting her movement. Perhaps the most painful attack, as far as many Wiccans are concerned, came last June, with the publication of Cynthia Eller’s The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory. In 1993 Eller had published a sympathetic sociological study of feminist spirituality, Living in the Lap of the Goddess, which many in the movement put on their required-reading lists. Her recent work thus carries a tinge of betrayal, inasmuch as it puts her firmly in Hodder and Meskell’s camp. Eller points out that almost no serious archaeologist working today believes that these ancient cultures were necessarily matriarchal or even woman-focused, and most do not interpret any of the things unearthed by Mellaart and Gimbutas as necessarily depicting goddesses or genitalia.

Despite their ire, both Starhawk and Eisler, along with many of their adherents, seem to be moving toward a position that accommodates, without exactly accepting, the new Goddess scholarship, much as they have done with respect to the new research about their movement’s beginnings. If the ancients did not literally worship a mother goddess, perhaps they worshipped her in a metaphoric way, by recognizing the special female capacity for bearing and nourishing new life — a capacity to which we might attach the word “goddess” even if prehistoric peoples did not. “Most of us look at the archaeological artifacts and images as a source of art, or beauty, or something to speculate about, because the images fit with our theory that the earth is sacred, and that there is a cycle of birth and growth and regeneration,” Starhawk told me. “I believe that there was an Old Religion that focused on the female, and that the culture was roughly egalitarian.”

SUCH faith may explain why Wicca is thriving despite all the things about it that look like hokum: it gives its practitioners a sense of connection to the natural world and of access to the sacred and beautiful within their own bodies. I am hardly the first to notice that Wicca bears a striking resemblance to another religion — one that also tells of a dying and rising god, that venerates a figure who is both virgin and mother, that keeps, in its own way, the seasonal “feasts of the Wheel,” that uses chalices and candles and sacred poetry in its rituals. Practicing Wicca is a way to have Christianity without, well, the burdens of Christianity. “It has the advantages of both Catholicism and Unitarianism,” observes Allen Stairs, a philosophy professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in religion and magic. “Wicca allows one to wear one’s beliefs lightly but also to have a rich and imaginative religious life.”

“Diotima Mantineia,” age forty-eight, is the associate editor of the Web site The Witches’ Voice, found at witchvox.com (she would not divulge her real name, partly because she lives in a southern town that she believes is unfriendly to neopagans). She summed up her feelings on the debunking of the official Wiccan narrative this way: “It doesn’t matter to me how old Wicca is, because when I connect with Deity as Lady and Lord, I know that I am connecting with something much larger and vaster than I can fully comprehend. The Creator of this universe has been manifesting to us for all time, in the forms of gods and goddesses that we can relate to. This personal connection with Deity is what is meaningful. For me, Wicca works to facilitate that connection, and that is what really matters.”


Charlotte Allen is the senior editor of Crisis magazine and is a contributing writer for Lingua Franca. She is the author ofThe Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus(1998).


Illustration by Robert Zimmerman.

Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; January 2001; The Scholars and the Goddess – 01.01; Volume 287, No. 1; page 18-22. 

Relativism gone to seed.

It seems that the seeds of relativism, sown a century before, found root in the era immediately following the second world war. In comparison to the totalizing philosophy of Nazism and Communism, relativism must have felt like a breath of fresh air. By now it is clear that relativism leads to the same authoritarianism as its nemeses, and is just as capable of crushing the human spirit.

What Difference Can One Person Make? (William Carey)–from Frontline Fellowship.

Full source here.

It’s impossible! It can’t be done! Don’t be ridiculous – what difference can one person make?

Have you ever encountered those kinds of reactions? Anyone who embarks on a challenging enterprise – especially those determined to end legal abortions, eradicate pornography, establish a Christian school or Christian Teacher Training College, stop the ongoing slave trade in Sudan or work for national Reformation and Revival – will encounter those people who seem to believe that they have “the gift of criticism” and “a ministry of discouragement!”

Should Christians be Involved in Politics?

Then of course there are those who maintain that Christians shouldn’t even be involved in social issues at all! When you tell them of the abortion holocaust or the pornography plague they mutter that “all we can do is pray”, “just preach the Gospel” and “it’s a sign of the last days!”

We often suspect that such attitudes are motivated more by laziness and cowardice or a selfish desire to shirk responsibility and hard work than anything else. Certainly those people who resort to such superficial excuses are being disobedient to the clear commands of Scripture: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27); “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37); “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8); “Rescue those being led away to death” (Proverbs 24:11); “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19); “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17).

Those who maintain that Christians shouldn’t be involved in social or political issues display their ignorance of both the Bible and church history.

If you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the immensity of the task before you or discouraged by a seemingly never-ending series of obstacles and opposition, frustrations and failures – take heart! The man whom God used to launch the modern missionary movement faced all this and much, much more.

Launching a Reformation

Undereducated, underfunded and underestimated, William Carey seemed to have everything against him. He was brought up in abject poverty and never had the benefit of high school. Carey’s formal education ended in junior school. Yet, at age 12 Carey taught himself Latin. Then he went on to master – on his own – Greek, Hebrew, French and Dutch! He became professor of Bengali, Sanskrit and Marathi at the prestigious Fort William College in Calcutta (where the civil servants were trained). Carey and his co-workers started over 100 Christian schools for over 8 000 Indian children of all castes and he launched the first Christian College in Asia – at Serampore, which continues to this day! Carey finally succeeded in translating the Bible into 6 languages and New Testaments and Gospels into 29 other languages!

Mission Impossible

Carey’s achievements are all the more astounding when you consider that his bold project to plant the Gospel among the Hindus in India was completely illegal! By an act of the British Parliament it was illegal for any missionary to work in India. For the first 20 years, Carey’s mission to India had to be carried out with ingenuity and circumspection, until at last the British Parliament – under pressure from evangelical Members of Parliament such as William Wilberforce – reversed its policy and compelled the British East India Company to allow missionaries in India.

Carey was considered a radical in his day. He boycotted sugar because he was so intensely opposed to slavery and sugar from the West Indies was produced with slave labour. Carey also took the extremely unpopular stand of supporting the American War of Independence against Britain.

He was also subjected to vicious criticism and gossip. Under the extreme heat and in abject poverty, initially with daily dangers from snakes, crocodiles and tigers in a remote and mosquito ridden jungle house, Carey’s wife, Dorothy, went insane. She would rant and rave about the imaginary unfaithfulness of her husband and on several occasions attacked him with a knife. She was diagnosed insane and had to be physically restrained with chains for the last 12 years of her life. The Carey’s also lost their 5 year old son, Peter, who died of dysentery in 1794. Every family member suffered from malaria, dysentery and other tropical diseases – frequently.

Carey’s first co-worker squandered all their money and bankrupted the mission forcing William to work on a plantation to provide for his malnourished family. In their first seven months in India the Careys had to move home five times! And although Carey wrote home, to family and mission society, frequently – it was 17 months before they received their first letters! One of these first letters from the Society criticised Carey for being “swallowed up in the pursuits of a merchant!”

Somehow, while often sick, holding down a full time secular job surrounded by domestic turmoil, with an insane wife screaming from the next room, Carey mastered Bengali and Sanskrit and by 1797 the New Testament was translated into Bengali and ready for printing. Carey had also established several schools and was preaching regularly in Bengali. However, after seven years of tireless toil in India Carey still did not have a single convert!

How did William Carey manage to maintain such a productive schedule while having to endure all these crushing disappointments, the endless distractions, the undeserved criticisms, the physical ailments and the heart breaking tragedies? How did he manage to persevere and to keep on keeping on without even the encouragement of a single convert to justify all his effort and sacrifice? To understand what motivated this most remarkable man we need to look back at what inspired him in the first place.

A Vision of Victory

One of the most influential sermons in world history was preached on 31 May 1792 by William Carey in Northhampton, England. Carey’s sermon literally sparked the greatest century of Christian advance. It marked the entry of the English speaking world into missions. Since that time English speakers have made up 80% of the Protestant missionary work force.

The text of this historic sermon was Isaiah 54:2-3:

“Enlarge the place of your tent and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings. Do not spare, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes! For you shall expand to the right and to the left and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make desolate cities inhabited.”

The theme of his sermon was summarised as:

“Expect great things from God!
Attempt great things for God!”

Yet, riveting as the sermon was, the result was initially indecision. Carey was considered “an enthusiast” (a fanatic) and an embarrassment – because “he had a bee in his bonnet about missions.” But Carey persisted until, five months later, 12 Reformed Baptist ministers formed the “Particular (Calvanist) Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathens.”

What inspired Carey’s landmark book “An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens” and this prototype pioneer missionary society was his eschatology of victory. William Carey was a Post-millennialist who believed that God who commanded His Church to “make disciples of all nations” would ensure that the Great Commission would ultimately be fulfilled.

“The work, to which God has set His hands, will infallibly prosper . . . We only want men and money to fill this country with the knowledge of Christ. We are neither working at uncertainty nor afraid for the result . . . He must reign until Satan has not an inch of territory!”

Time and again, in the face of crushing defeats, disappointments, diseases and disasters, Carey reiterated his unwavering optimistic eschatology:

“Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, and the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on that sure Word, would rise above all obstructions and overcome every trial. God’s cause will triumph!”

And Carey’s faith was most certainly vindicated. The years of hard work and wholehearted sacrifice were graciously rewarded by God. Carey’s ministry literally transformed India.

Transforming a Nation

When Carey stepped ashore at Calcutta in 1793, India was in a terribly degraded state. If an infant was sick, it was assumed that he was under the influence of an evil spirit. The custom was to expose sick infants to the elements – perhaps hanging them up in a basket. Near Malda Carey found the remains of a baby that had been offered as a sacrifice to be eaten alive by white ants. At the Sagar Mela where the Ganges river flows into the sea, Carey witnessed how mothers threw their babies into the sea to drown, or to be devoured by crocodiles. This the Hindus regarded as a holy sacrifice to the Mother Ganges!

Carey undertook a thorough research into the numbers, nature and reasons for the infanticide and published his reports. He presented several petitions to the government until, in 1802, infanticide was outlawed. This marked the first time that the British government interfered directly with religious practice in India. It set a precedent for the abolition of other practises.

Hinduism had an extremely low view of women. It was often stated “In Hinduism there is no salvation for women until she be reborn a man.” Her only hope lay in serving men in complete subjection. Many female babies were smothered at birth. Girls were married as young as 4 years old! Widows were perceived as bad omens who had brought about the deaths of their husbands. Widows were also seen as an economic liability. Bereaved widows had to shave off all their hair, remove all jewellery and were forbidden to remarry – but were required to cohabit (niyogo) with her deceased husband’s nearest male relative. Tremendous pressure was exerted on the widow to submit to Sati or immolation – to be burned alive on the funeral pyre of her husband. Amongst the Weaver (Kories) caste, widows were buried alive.

So because of the Hindu practise of Sati, children who had lost their father would also lose their mother and be orphaned at the same time.

The Hindu practise of polygamy compounded the problem. On one occasion Carey documented 33 wives of one man burned alive at his funeral. On another occasion an 11 year old widow was burned on the funeral pyre of her husband!

Lepers were rejected by their families and society and burned alive. Hinduism taught that only a violent and fiery end could purify the body and ensure transmitigation into a healthy new existence. Euthanasia was also widely practised with those afflicted by other sicknesses. The infirmed were regularly carried out to be left exposed to cold and heat, crocodiles or insects, by the riverside.

Carey fought against these and many other evils – including child prostitution, slavery and the caste system. He publicly criticised the government for inaction and passivity in the face of murder. He organised public debates and spoke out and wrote often on these atrocities. At first he met with official indifference. The Indian Supreme Court in 1805 ruled that Sati had religious sanction and could not be questioned.

A Pioneer for Freedom

Carey established the first newspaper ever printed in an oriental language, the Samachar Darpan and the English language newspaper Friends of India. Carey pioneered mass communications in India, launching the social reform movement, because he believed that “Above all forms of truth and faith, Christianity seeks free discussion,”

Carey was the first man to stand up against the brutal murders and widespread oppression of women through female infanticide, child marriage, polygamy, enforced female illiteracy, widow burning and forced euthanasia. He conducted systematic research and published his writings to raise public protest in both Bengal and England. He educated and influenced a whole generation of civil servants through his lectures at Fort William College. Carey fought against the idea that a woman’s life ceases to be valuable after her husbands death. He underminded the oppression and exploitation of women by providing women with education. He opened the first schools for girls.

It was Carey’s relentless battle against Sati – for 25 years – which finally led to the famous Edict in 1829 banning widow burning.

Carey was also the first man who led the campaign for a humane treatment for leprosy and ended the practise of burning them alive.

Carey certainly had a comprehensive view of the Great Commission. He ministered to body, mind and sprit. Carey introduced the idea of Savings Banks to India and made investment, industry, commerce and economic development possible. He founded the Agric – Horticultural Society in the 1820’s (30 years before the Royal Agricultural Society was established in England). He introduced the steam engine to India. He pioneered the idea of lending libraries in India. He persuaded his friends in England to ship out tons of books to regenerate and reform India.

Carey also introduced the study of Astronomy into India. He saw that the prevalent astrology with its fatalism, superstitious fears and inability to manage time had terribly destructive consequences. Hinduism’s astrology makes us subjects – with our lives determined by the stars. However the Christian science of astronomy sets us free to be rulers – to devise calendars, identify directions, to study geography and to better plan our lives and work.

Carey was the first man in India to write essays on forestry. Fifty years before the government made its first attempts at forest conservation, Carey was already practising conservation, planting and cultivating timber. He understood that God had made man responsible for the earth. Carey was also a botanist who cultivated beautiful gardens and frequently lectured on science, because he believed “all Thy works praise Thee, O Lord.” He knew that nature is worthy of study. Carey pointed out that even the insects are worthy of attention – they are not souls in bondage but creatures with a God given purpose.

William Carey was also the father of print technology in India. He introduced the modern science of printing, built what was then the largest printing press in India and devised the fonts. In 1812 a devastating fire destroyed Carey’s warehouse with his printing presses, paper stock and manuscripts representing many years of work. Even in the face of this catastrophe Carey praised God that no lives had been lost and quoted Psalm 46: “Be still and know that the Lord is God.” He resolved to do better translations than the ones that were now ashes and consoled himself “Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

“However vexing it may be, a road the second time travelled is usually taken with more confidence and ease than at the first,” declared Carey, He quoted Isaiah 61:1-4 and trusted God for better printing presses and more accurate translations – a “phoenix rising out of the ashes.”

Not only was Carey hit by the fire, but deaths in each of the seven missionary families at Serampore. Carey himself had just buried a grandson. Carey also had to endure unjust and unbalanced criticisms from young new missionaries who actually split from the Serampore Mission; and slanderous accusations from the Mission Society in England, as well as an earthquake and a flood. One of his sons Felix, also caused much embarrassment when he backslid, adopted a lavish lifestyle and began drinking heavily. Ultimately Felix came back to the Lord and became fully committed to the mission.

Yet, despite the controversies, calamities and conflicts, William Carey’s monumental achievements outshine all his critics. He was a dedicated Christian whom God used in extraordinary ways to launch the greatest century of missionary advance, to translate the Scriptures into more languages than any other translator in history and to save literally millions of lives by his compassionate social action and tireless labours.

We need to follow his example by ministering to body, mind and spirit and persevering through all disappointments and opposition with an unshakeable faith in God’s sovereign power.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Mennonite Quarterly Review

No story of an Anabaptist martyr has captured the imagination more than the tale of Dirk Willems.
Dirk was caught, tried and convicted as an Anabaptist in those later years of harsh Spanish rule under the Duke of Alva in The Netherlands. He escaped from a residential palace turned into a prison by letting himself out of a window with a rope made of knotted rags, dropping onto the ice that covered the castle moat.

Seeing him escape, a palace guard pursued him as he fled. Dirk crossed the thin ice of a pond, the “Hondegat,” safely. His own weight had been reduced by short prison rations, but the heavier pursuer broke through.

Hearing the guard’s cries for help, Dirk turned back and rescued him. The less-than-grateful guard then seized Dirk and led him back to captivity. This time the authorities threw him into a more secure prison, a small, heavily barred room at the top of a very tall church tower, above the bell, where he was probably locked into the wooden leg stocks that remain in place today. Soon he was led out to be burned to death.

Some inhabitants of present-day Asperen, none of them Mennonite, regard Dirk as a folk hero. A Christian, so compassionate that he risked recapture in order to save the life of his drowning pursuer, stimulates respect and memory. Recently Asperen named a street in Dirk’s honor.

  1. John S. Oyer and Robert Kreider, Mirror of the Martyrs [Good Books, 1990], p. 36-37.

Sandusky is not only guilty, he's wrong | A repost from the Catholic World Reporter

The CWR Blog
If Sandusky would have lived 2000 years ago, he would not have been found guilty of anything.
June 27, 2012 11:10 EST

There is no doubt that Jerry Sandusky is guilty, the real question is why? Why is it that we, here and now, would send a man to prison for molesting boys? Why is the public reaction one of both deep disgust and quite visceral anger? Just canvass a few opinions about what people would like to be done to punish Sandusky if they were the judge.

But why? What is the cause of this deep disgust? This seething anger?

There is only one cause: Christianity. We still have minds, consciences, and hearts, and hence a legal system, historically formed by Christian moral principles. There is no other reason. Allow me to explain, beginning first with the “that” of his guilt.

Jerry Sandusky has been declared guilty of 45 of 48 counts of child sexual molestation. The coaching hero of Penn State used his status to draw in young boys through his Second Mile charity, “a statewide, nonprofit organization for children who need additional support and who would benefit from positive human contact” (so the website maintains). The “positive human contact” Sandusky had in mind occurred in locker rooms, motel rooms, his basement, and who knows where else. He molested (at least) one of his adopted sons.

This is 2012. Turn the historical clock back 2000 years, and find yourself in the pagan Roman Empire before Christianity arose, i.e., before the Christianization of the West. In Rome, as in ancient Greece, homosexuality was completely acceptable. To be more exact, homosexual activity was frowned on (but not very diligently) when it occurred between two free-born men, but it was cheerfully affirmed between a master and his slave, and even more, a man and a boy between the ripe ages of about 12 to 17—just the target age of Sandusky. The man generally presented himself as a kindly benefactor to the boy, taking him under his wing, so to speak, and (in return for sexual favors) helping him up the social ladder. Just like Sandusky.

If Sandusky would have lived 2000 years ago, he would not have been found guilty of anything. He would not even have been noticed. His actions would have been entirely unremarkable. There would have been no disgust, no anger. The verdict would have been innocent, and in fact, the notion that he was guilty of anything would have been unintelligible.

There is one and only one reason, 2000 years later, that Sandusky is guilty now. Unlike everyone else around them, Judaism rejected homosexuality, including man-boy sex. Christianity came from Judaism, and carried that moral rejection forth amidst the pagan Roman Empire, the Greek East, and everywhere else its missionaries roamed in search of converts. Today, there are about 13.5 million Jews, but over 2 billion Christians. Christians are demographically responsible for carrying forth the Judeo-Christian moral view, and with it, the moral disgust and anger—and guilty verdict—at what Sandusky did.

That is the why of Sandusky’s guilt. Our consciences, our minds, our hearts, our legal system in America have been formed by Christian moral teaching about sexuality. Subtract Christianity from history, and we would be back in Rome. In pagan Rome, Sandusky would be innocent.

To make the point even more pointed, no other attempted modern substitute for Christianity could find Sandusky guilty without surreptitiously borrowing from Christianity.

Thomas Hobbes’s invention of modern natural rights, set forth in the mid-17th century, declared that by nature there was no right and wrong, just or unjust; all moral and hence legal rules were artificial.

Utilitarianism declares that morality must be reduced to what provides the greatest pleasure for the greatest number—not exactly a strong defense against pedophilia.

Darwinian evolutionary ethics doesn’t distinguish between right and wrong; notions of right and wrong are simply effects of ingrained responses that are somehow calibrated to the survival of a particular human population. As long as that population continues to breed successfully, particular sexual actions are not “condemned” by natural selection.

Democracy itself can’t rescue us. The notion that the majority determines the moral outlines of the legal system doesn’t help much, given that the majority of Greeks and Romans affirmed Sandusky-like behavior, and since we ourselves are in a period of secularization with the Christian moral hold on society becoming ever-weaker, it is unclear how long our majority will continue to feel either anger or disgust. Many things used to fill us with moral disgust—e.g., abortion—which we now regard with a live-and-let-live attitude, or even affirm as a right.

Freud thought that the desire for incest was natural, so there’s little help there either. Contemporary psychologists following Freud, don’t talk about something being wrong, but about the ill-effects of repressed desires. Sandusky’s defense was toying with the possibility of getting him declared not guilty through claiming he had a mental disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Even the stern philosopher Kant would be of no service. He tried to root morality in the so-called categorical imperative:  “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” Here’s the problem: if I’m an ancient Greek or Roman, I want everyone to affirm pedophilia. I want it to be universally accepted. A modern pedophiliac wants the same thing—just ask the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

So we’re back to—or backed into—the conclusion that the only reason Sandusky is guilty, the reason we feel anger and disgust, is the historical influence of Christianity in forming our consciences, our minds, our passions, our laws. Christianity is “guilty,” we might say, of finding Sandusky guilty.

But again, here’s the problem. Our society is being successively and successfully de-Christianized. The moral formation is wearing off rapidly. Now that we’ve answered the why of Sandusky’s guilt, we’ve got one more question to ask: How long will we continue to feel guilty?

Here’s the solution. We must recognize that Christianity was and is right. There is something fundamentally, morally disgusting about a man who would sexually molest boys, whether anyone happens to feel moral outrage or not. It is not just disgusting, but evil, wherever and whenever it occurs. It was evil in Greece, whatever the Greeks felt about it. It was evil in Rome, whatever the Romans believed. It was evil when Catholic priests did it, who had every reason to know it was evil.

And it was evil for Sandusky. Christianity is right. Sandusky is guilty.