March 26, 2024

The Sexular Age Won’t Stop Until Christian Schools Aren’t Actually Christian.

The Sexular Age won’t stop until Christian schools aren’t actually Christian. Surely that much is clear now given the zero sum game of our opponents in the furious debate around the Religious Discrimination Act in Canberra at the moment.

News today that the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, is considering doing a deal with the Australian Greens over the legislation should send a shiver down the spine of Christian schools. Greens – and the progressives in the Labor Party hostile to Christianity’s vision of humanity – are lasciviously licking their lips. They’re circling like the pack-dogs they are. Perhaps their motives are pure. But nothing about their campaign so far would indicate.

Or perhaps, more worrying, they are – in their own eyes – as pure as the driven snow. After all it is those driven by ideological purity who can most justify any lengths they go to to gain their victory. Unsullied by any self-doubt or nuance about the perspective of those who disagree (or indeed the freedom of anyone else to disagree) they continue their inexorable march to the battle front (aka the institutions of the West).

So Christian schools’ spines should be shivering.

At least those Christian schools in Australia that still have a spine. You know the ones. The ones that are more than happy to allow any student who comes to them to sign up to be part of the school, but who will still hold firm on the biblical vision not merely of human flourishing, but what it means to be human.

As it stands, the legislation is threatening Christian schools and their freedom to teach not merely the abstract beliefs of the Christian faith (and this goes for other faiths also), but also the behaviours associated with that faith. And specifically, those around sex and gender.

The Greens, and their proxies in organisations such as Equality Australia, must be rubbing their hands with glee as they now have the chance to gut the ethical vision and practice of Christian schools. Which has been their aim all along. Those who love the state as much as such groups do, and seek to shred any mediating institution that does not line up with their vision of life, cannot cope with difference.

Oh the irony. Those who shout “Diversity or bust!” from the rooftops, don’t actually like diversity all that much after all. They never did. And they are getting plenty of help in all of this from the Australian Law Reform Commission which, funny enough, also doesn’t like diversity.

I would say that none of these groups understands “diversity”, but that would not be true. I hear Christian school leaders all of the time say that if only those opposed to their stance as alternate ethical communities could understand what their stance is, and they while they don’t affirm, they do allow students to attend who are gay or trans, that’s not enough for the attack dogs.

No. The schools must submit. They must comply. They must sign up with the vision of human flourishing that has, at its centre, the individuated self, and an identity forged by oneself in celebration of oneself. This is not about permitting students with whom we may not share the same stance. This is about celebration, and affirmation. Or else.

Folks, the idea that we can divorce our beliefs from our behaviours is not the gospel. That much should be obvious from what Jesus said. Time and time again I hear people say “If only you Christians didn’t bang on about sex all of the time.”

Well sorry, that’s what our opponents do. Because it’s a Sexular Age and sex is their gospel. It’s historically true of the leftist, progressive framework and that won’t change. Their own gospel is that the human body is there to do what one likes with, and to say otherwise is to do violence to the person.

Still, we get mealy mouthed statements, dripping in concern from the likes of the Greens. Here are some quotes from The Australian today:

Only one set of interests eh? See there’s your problem! For the Sexular Age, this is a zero sum game. Christian schools need to know that the likes of David Shoebridge, and the likes of Rodney Croome from Equality Australia, don’t need more information about what we believe as Christians when it comes to human sexuality. They know alright. They just hate it. And they are now in a position in the post-Christian, nervous secular age, to push through with legislation that the Prime Minister cannot ignore.

You see, kids are not their primary focus – at least not in terms of discrimination. That’s because they know of no example in Australia in which a Christian school rejects students on the basis of their gender identity or sexual preferences. It isn’t happening, hasn’t happened, isn’t going to happen. But it’s an easy foil.

The real target is breaking down the walls of those pesky alternate ethical institutions in terms of the teaching staff. The fact that the state won’t educate all Aussie students, and that parents are increasingly choosing Christian education as their education of choice, infuriates those who wish to win the hearts and minds of the young.

This is not about discrimination at all. It’s about disagreement. It’s about the fact that Christian schools will welcome all students, while disagreeing with their vision of human flourishing. Christian schools can cope with that in terms of disagreement, and so can their students. Their opponents cannot.

There’s no point in dying the death of a thousand cuts, by the way. Either Christian schools take a stand on this issue – which is not merely about freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, but freedom of association. Carl Trueman makes the point in a First Things article:

The anthropology of modern Western society is fundamentally incompatible with a Christian doctrine of man. Failure to see this and then try to argue that codes of sexual morality are negotiable and can be subordinated to pastoral strategies of love and affirmation is to contradict central tenets of the Christian faith.

Christian pastoral strategy cannot be developed in isolation from Christian anthropology. Both the question of sexual identity and the politics that surround it are not primarily concerned with sexual behavior. They are actually about what it means to be a human being.

Do you get that? Incompatible. And guess what? Our opponents in this also recognise this. And, sadly, for the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, he will not be able to square this circle. The PM is a decent and honourable man, and he wants to avoid the culture wars. But they are unavoidable. He is in a party room that has Greens-level hostility towards the Christian position on sex, while he as many in the Liberal/National Party coalition who either hold to an opposite view to his party’s left wing, or who hold strongly to freedom of association.

Trevin Wax, writing at The Gospel Coalition, makes the point that the struggle that has swept up schools is part of a bigger, more protracted philosophical divide:

the focus is on anthropology, the nature and destiny of humankind. What’s a human being? What does it mean to be made in God’s image? To be created male and female? Do we receive our identity and purpose or do we create identity and meaning for ourselves?

The church that will be relevant in the days ahead will not make peace with reductionist visions of humanity that downplay the significance of the human body and eliminate a transcendent telos.

And I would say the same for the “school that wishes to stay relevant”, at least in terms of any meaningful understanding of what it means to be Christian. If schools think they can roll over on this and still contain the kernel of the gospel, they are mistaken. And that goes for the religious centre of faith-based schools that have open employment options already, as well as for parent-controlled Christian schools that have a boundary of Christian staff in every role.

And if you think for one minute that you can have staff that are committed to a vision of human flourishing that is antithetical to the gospel vision, yet who can keep that to themselves, then you are kidding yourself. No pedagogy is every so discreet as to draw a distinction between school hours and the rest of your life. Christians don’t believe in compartmentalising their ethics.

And if you’re a school leadership team in a parent-controlled school, and you’ve already got teachers saying that they will agree to only promoting the school’s gospel-focussed vision of humanity, but that they don’t personally believe it themselves, then your walls are already breached.

If that’s your school, and you’ve turned a blind eye to that, then you are going to experience the pain of a Chinese finger trap, in which it’s easy to go in one direction, but painful and bloody, and nigh on impossible, to go back the other way. And you’d better believe the Federal Government won’t sully or raise one of its own soft, battle-shy fingers to help. You’re on your own.

As I say elsewhere:

It’s not just Mac’n’Cheese versus Cordon Bleu. It’s Mac versus Windows. It’s about two different operating systems. And that’s much harder to turn around. 

So choose your diet. Choose one. Don’t think you can have a morsel of Cordon Bleu, before wolfing down on some Sexular fast food in order to satisfy your stakeholders who hold to a different position. (govt/secular parents).

But here’s what you can’t do. Must not do. You must not ever assume that those who champion the Sexular Age are ever sated with the body count that they achieve. This is a zero sum game. It’s a matter of hate-filled homophobia versus a future of light and love and diversity. In other words a gospel issue.

Which gospel are you going to align with? Is the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is fulfilled in the resurrection body on the final day, on which all of us affirm and rejoice in the fact that we are not our own, but that we were bought with a price by the blood and ransom of Jesus (an event we remember this week at Easter)?

Or is the gospel of You Do You. The gospel of the Sexular Age? The gospel of humans choose an identity and purpose for themselves beyond all natural law and all transcendent realities?

And whose praise do you want? The praise of those who have no great love for you anyway, if you roll over on this? Or the praise of the One who, even in your schools lose accreditation or find themselves on the receiving end of a well-orchestrated media campaign, strive to hear “Well done good and faithful Servant”, from the only fully compete human who ever lived?

If you want to hear more about my thinking on this, check out this Dual Citizens Youtube discussion with David Ould.

Written by

stephenmcalpine

There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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