Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

A Response to Dr. Baskerville’s Faith and Reason Lecture at Patrick Henry College

September 20th, 2013

I still remember her words.  They were parting words of wisdom from a mother from church at the party my parents threw me before I left for college. Internally, I scoffed.  However, it wasn’t long before she would be very right.  “Willie, just because you are going to a Christian college, it doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen.  Be aware and be careful.”  Internally I thought, “that may be true of other Christian schools, but Patrick Henry College is different.”  I had read the material.  PHC was better than all the other Christian colleges that had gone soft.  While people might do bad things at other Christian colleges, of course that wouldn’t really be true at PHC.

My naivete was quickly shaken…  When I arrived on campus I quickly heard the story of how students had smuggled alcohol on campus.  While I could write that off as “the past” there were definite rumors of off-campus students using drugs my freshman year as well.  (For non-PHC readers both activities are in blatant violation of the PHC honor code.)  Shortly after the school year ended, I found out that an unmarried couple attending the school that I was good friends with had had sex that spring semester.  It was the last straw to destroy my naivete in that area of life, and I began to understand reality.

In senior testimonies since then, I’ve heard students talk about struggles with depression, cutting, suicide, cheating, alcoholism, and even struggles with same-sex attraction – just to name a few.  I’ve talked with people desperate to get their family member to PHC to escape an abusive home situation.  I’ve prayed and talked with fellow students struggling with all kinds of things, and for me it has been a place of safety to share the very real struggles I have dealt with.  The reality is that PHC is a place filled with real people struggling with very real problems.  It’s amazing what fellow students will share when you dig below the surface.  I came to realize that the real naivete was to think that there issues PHC students didn’t struggle with or weren’t affected by.  Over time, I was no longer surprised when yet another story was shared of very real problems a student was wrestling through.  When I was no longer shocked by new stories, I was able to help and minister instead.

Numerous situations have shown me the grim reality of abuse and rape.  I’ve helped a homeschool student and pastor’s daughter escape from an abusive home.  I’ve spent hours talking with a mother whose daughter became pregnant from rape while in the military. She has been unable to even get recognition that she was raped from the military, courts, and government even though she carried the child to term.

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When I saw the topic of Dr. Baskerville’s Faith and Reason lecture, I was hopeful. Many young people are rejecting any sexual ethic and embracing license.  A balanced response to the growing acceptance of sexual license would be incredibly helpful.

While some Faith and Reason Lectures have gone over my head, I have learned a lot from many of them.  Dr. Mark Mitchell’s Fall 09 lecture made me think again about becoming a Theory Major, Dr. David VanDrunen’s lecture on the two kingdoms was a thought provoking piece on the role of the Christian in government, and Dr. Anthony Esolen’s lecture my final semester on love and human interaction helped me more than any lecture I have ever heard.

However, in Dr. Baskerville’s lecture, I found a lecture unlike any other PHC Faith and Reason Lecture I had ever heard.

While others have talked about the historical inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and other flaws in the lecture, what struck me most was the way Dr. Baskerville dealt with the issues of rape and abuse.

The lecture is titled “Politicizing Potiphar’s Wife.”  One of Baskerville’s central arguments is that feminism and the new era of sexual license has lead to an increased and speedy criminalization of men over made up crimes.  While there have been horrible incidents of injustice against men, Baskerville takes his argument to an inflammatory extreme and refuses to recognize the injustices that men and the legal system have perpetrated against women as well.

In pages 16-20 of the lecture Baskerville talks about “new crimes and expanded redefinitions of existing crimes – all involving sexual relations.”  What follows are incredible references to rape, spousal abuse, and child abuse which which refuse to recognize that rape and abuse are a problem, and instead vilifies the victim who comes forward.

They play on the fear of sex crimes, but they redefine these politically to include not simply acts but heterodox political beliefs. The reality of the witch hunts thus bears no necessary relation to what is suggested by the inflammatory language and jargon:

  • “rape” that includes consensual relations and in most instances is no more than that;

  • domestic “violence” that involves no violence or any physical contact or threat of it;

  • sexual “harassment” that can mean anything from simple flirtation to unauthorized opinions about morality or politics;

  • “child abuse” that is routine parental discipline, or homeschooling, or concocted altogether to win advantage in divorce court;

  • “bullying” that involves criticism of the homosexual agenda or other differences of belief and opinion;

  • “stalking” that is forcibly divorced fathers trying to see their own children;and much more.

By the end of the second list of the “new crimes” he even manages TO minimize the growing problem of human trafficking.

  • Recreational sex in the evening turns into accusations of “rape” in the morning,even when it was entirely consensual. (This is especially rampant on college campuses.)

  • Demands for access to workplaces, universities, the military, and other previously male venues (accompanied with equally strident demands to engage there in female-only activities, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding) invite accusations of sexual “harassment” against the men when relations inevitably develop (and often turn sour), regardless of who initiates them.

  • Cohabitation and “no-fault” divorce are demanded to liberate women from“patriarchal” marriage but quickly generate accusations of male abandonment(even when the woman ends the marriage), as well as domestic “violence” and“child abuse,” in order to procure custody of children and the financial awards they bring.

  • The proclaimed right to raise children outside wedlock and without fathers to protect and discipline them soon turns into demands to prosecute adolescents and even children for “bullying” one another and eventually for more serious matters.

  • Defiant declarations that women do not need men for financial support quickly give way to demands to arrest and incarcerate without trial men who do not provide women with adequate income in the form of alimony or child support.

  • Assertions that women do not need men for protection soon produce hysterical outcries for intrusive police powers, innovative punishments, and expanded penal institutions to punish ever-proliferating and loosely-defined forms of “violence against women,” even when no physical contact or threat of it is involved.(Homosexuals are now mimicking this strategy.)

  • The demanded right to engage in homosexual acts and public sexual displays translates almost automatically into the power to arrest or otherwise stop the mouths of preachers, “bullies,” and anyone else who objects or ridicules or offends the “feelings” or “pride” of homosexuals.

  • Demands to legalize prostitution feed hysteria to find and prosecute unnamed“sex traffickers.”

While he may have a point with some of these crimes, there is no evidence, context, or qualifications.  The incredibly dismissive discussions about situations where very real crimes occur damages his case, and makes one wonder if he believes there are any legitimate sexual crimes against women.  Some of his points would be worth spending time to explain and discuss in a balanced manner.

He finishes his lists of “new crimes” with this fascinating statement.

Radical ideology has thus transformed our government into a matriarchal leviathan that operates like a massive, bureaucratic version of… Potiphar’s wife. We have not eliminated a “gender stereotype,” as we were promised; we have merely politicized it – in this case that of the temptress, the seductress who lures men into a“honey trap” by offers of pleasure before springing a trap that today can mean decades in prison.

In Baskerville’s construct where the state is a willing participation in the sexual liberation movement’s incarceration of men, a movement which he argues has produced its own gulags, the crimes are minimized, the system is completely rigged against men, and victims are ignored and maligned.

The “new crimes” are referred to as “quasi crimes”, “vague but opprobrious terms”, “open-ended terms like “abuse” and “exploitation””, “…the crime is often defined subjectively”, and “undefined new crimes.”  Perhaps the best reference is the statement, “Until recently, no one had ever heard of most of these crimes and even now no one really understands what they mean because no definition exists.”  I’m sure the legislators who have spent time defining these crimes, and the courts that interpret those definitions are all equally in the dark about the meaning of these crimes.  Every reference to these crimes is one which minimizes their significance.

People the state, rightly or wrongly considers a perpetrator, he universally refers to as victims of the state.  He accuses the state of incarcerating “vast numbers of men and some women who have no inkling that they are committing a crime.”  “Convictions and high conviction rates are presented as goals to be pursued for their own sake.”  “Proceedings are rigged.”  “Yet the accused are given no equivalent advocate-witnesses to testify for them.” “…makes fair trials impossible for those actually accused of belonging to these categories. Accusations quickly become available as weapons to be used in personal and political vendettas. Patently false accusations are processed because they rationalize budgets of feminized and sexualized law-enforcement agencies by turning law-abiding citizens into safe, nonviolent criminals for female and homosexual police persons to arrest.”  Every reference to the convicted and accused is that they are victims, and every reference to the injustice of the court system is in reference to those who are accused.  The idea that there may be injustices in the court system against those who have been the victims of abuse and rape does not even enter the lecture.  He has no place for those acts as real crimes, and, saddest of all, in this lecture the victims of abuse and rape are not victims but participants in the injustice.

This leads to the saddest category, his description of the victims of abuse and rape.  The marginalization of these crimes, and the unbridled defense of those who commit them do quite a bit to put victims of abuse and rape in a difficult position.  Painting victims as being complicit in a government effort to incarcerate men on the basis of “new crimes” makes it harder to come forward.

On top of that, Baskerville continues to describe “the accuser” as one whose sense of feeling offended makes the accused guilty by definition.  He then makes the most damaging accusation against the victims of abuse, or “accusers” as he likes to call them.  “Accusers can profit financially by their accusations, by looting the accused, even without supplying any proof of a crime.”

When I finished the lecture and Baskerville’s description of the new sex crimes, the first thought that came to mind was,does hearing this lecture make it harder for the victims of abuse and rape to come forward and pursue justice?  It didn’t take much thought to realize the answer was an overwhelming, Yes.  When one is painted as an active participant in an injustice simply for accusing someone of a sex crime, the likelihood they will stay silent when abused skyrockets.

It was only a couple months ago that I saw these negative stereotypes of victims play out.  Four months ago, a friend filed a lawsuit in which she claimed that a very prominent man in her community abused her.  Everyone who interacted with her recognized her as someone who is professional and credible.  However, when I shared a couple of articles about the case and my support for her during a very tough time, the response from a number of men was incredible.  People who didn’t even know my friend vilified her for bringing the case, and I was attacked for supporting my friend.  Interestingly, their arguments could have come straight from an advance copy of this lecture, had it existed.

The immediate discrediting, vilification, and ridiculing of my friend is something far too many victims face when they come forward.  Perpetuating incredibly one sided views of sex crimes, perpetrators/accused, and victims/accusers does not help the pursuit of justice when crimes are committed.

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Helpful Sources

Showing God’s Love to Homosexuals

December 5th, 2012

This summer, a website popped up entitled Queer at Patrick Henry College which is purportedly by Patrick Henry College students and alumni who talk about their struggles as a homosexual in the christianhomeschooling, and PHC communities.  When I originally saw the website a month ago, I thought it was part of an SEO attack similar to the SEO attack on Rick Santorum because of the large number of posts celebrating LGBT history.  After the website created a facebook page the school administration responded by trying to force the website to shut down, and blocking the website on the school’s network.

My initial thought is that this is an ironic response from a school which prides itself in teaching a Classical Liberal Arts education, one where students read books by people with whom they disagree in order to better understand and engage them.  Responding to criticisms of being narrow-minded by censoring a website seems to contradict PHC’s typical approach to teaching students to think for themselves.

The administration’s response also raises an issue that my generation is going to have to figure out as a result of the increasing size of the homosexual community.  How do we as the church interact with the homosexual community?

One camp says homosexuality is a sin and must be condemned.  This approach can quickly condemn the sinner for their sin.  Supporters of this view point to verses like I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10 for support pointing out the seriousness with which God takes this sin.

We should not condone or excuse homosexuality.  However, as Christians we should show God’s love and grace to everyone, including homosexuals.  The idea of loving the sinner but not the sin should apply to everyone.  While Paul does say that homosexuals (along with people who commit a number of other sins) won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven, two verses later he goes on to show the beauty of the gospel.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This is the beauty of the gospel.  The gospel saves those of whom it could once be said “they will not inherit the kingdom.”  The cross is the great leveler, and all who have faith in Christ can come to faith.

Following the I Timothy 1 passage where Paul condemns homosexuality, comes one of the most beautiful descriptions of the power of the gospel to redeem the chief of sinners.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful,appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 1:12-14)

If the gospel is powerful enough to save anyone, do our interactions with the homosexual community reflect that?  Wouldn’t that require us to show God’s love and grace to them as we interact with them?

Would a homosexual feel welcome in one of our churches? Probably not.  Can we blame them? Tragically not.  But how can we reach those who, as a result of our actions, expected to be condemned instead of loved when they came to our church?  I am not suggesting we should accept sin, but we should be willing to show God’s love to sinners.

Ironically, we understand the necessity of this much more readily when it comes to the other important social issue for evangelicals: abortion.  Murder is regularly condemned in the same breath as homosexuality, and sacrificing infants is vehemently condemned in the Bible.  Yet the pro-life movement has learned the importance of showing love to those who have abortions, and even those who perform abortions.  We understand that we must love those who have abortions, and seek to show them that God’s love can forgive them even for aborting their child.  We understand that we must love those who perform abortions, so they too will understand the love of God and be open to listening to us. We understand this…in the abortion context.  For some reason we don’t understand the importance of doing the same thing to those struggling with homosexuality.

Imagine if we believed in loving homosexuals like we do the mothers who have abortions.

In closing I would encourage you to read the stories of two prominent Christians who chose to love homosexuals without condoning their lifestyle.  The first tells how the head of the SBC in Oklahoma overwhelmed Soulforce with love when they decided to picket his church.  The second tells the story of a gay person giving Rich Mullins a lift.  I would encourage you to read these articles and ask yourself what would a gay person think if they interact with you?  Would they see God’s love through you, or would the be condemned by you?

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This article is not written as a condemnation of my Alma Mater, or those involved in the situation there.  I learned a lot through my time at Patrick Henry College, and I deeply appreciate Dr. Farris and the school leadership for the investment they continue to pour into students at the school, as well as their activism on many important issues.  The recent situation simply presented an opportunity to address an issue that Christian conservatives should continue thinking about.

 

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia