Can Christianity survive gay marriage?

Rod Dreher, a Christian writer of the Orthodox persuasion,  has written a provocative article for the American Conservative that is getting a lot of attention entitled Sex after Christianity.   He raises the question of whether Christianity can even survive once its assumptions about sexual morality are jettisoned.  The short answer is, of course Christianity will survive.  The gates of hell cannot prevail against it, let alone sexual transgressions.  Missing in this discussion is that Christianity is about Christ, the Gospel, and the forgiveness of sins, not establishing a particular kind of cultural influence.  Nevertheless, Dreher documents a “cosmological” shift that may well diminish the cultural presence of Christianity.  Still, read this article.  We’ve got to talk about it.  Read the whole article, but I’ll post excerpts after the jump.  (And see my thoughts at the end.)From The American Conservative:

In a dinner conversation not long after the publication of American Grace, Putnam told me that Christian churches would have to liberalize on sexual teaching if they hoped to retain the loyalty of younger generations. This seems at first like a reasonable conclusion, but the experience of America’s liberal denominations belies that prescription. Mainline Protestant churches, which have been far more accepting of homosexuality and sexual liberation in general, have continued their stark membership decline.

It seems that when people decide that historically normative Christianity is wrong about sex, they typically don’t find a church that endorses their liberal views. They quit going to church altogether.

This raises a critically important question: is sex the linchpin of Christian cultural order? Is it really the case that to cast off Christian teaching on sex and sexuality is to remove the factor that gives—or gave—Christianity its power as a social force?

Though he might not have put it quite that way, the eminent sociologist Philip Rieff would probably have said yes. Rieff’s landmark 1966 book The Triumph Of the Therapeutic analyzes what he calls the “deconversion” of the West from Christianity. Nearly everyone recognizes that this process has been underway since the Enlightenment, but Rieff showed that it had reached a more advanced stage than most people—least of all Christians—recognized.

Rieff, who died in 2006, was an unbeliever, but he understood that religion is the key to understanding any culture. For Rieff, the essence of any and every culture can be identified by what it forbids. Each imposes a series of moral demands on its members, for the sake of serving communal purposes, and helps them cope with these demands. A culture requires a cultus—a sense of sacred order, a cosmology that roots these moral demands within a metaphysical framework.

You don’t behave this way and not that way because it’s good for you; you do so because this moral vision is encoded in the nature of reality. This is the basis of natural-law theory, which has been at the heart of contemporary secular arguments against same-sex marriage (and which have persuaded no one).

Rieff, writing in the 1960s, identified the sexual revolution—though he did not use that term—as a leading indicator of Christianity’s death as a culturally determinative force. In classical Christian culture, he wrote, “the rejection of sexual individualism” was “very near the center of the symbolic that has not held.” He meant that renouncing the sexual autonomy and sensuality of pagan culture was at the core of Christian culture—a culture that, crucially, did not merely renounce but redirected the erotic instinct. That the West was rapidly re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation was a powerful sign of Christianity’s demise.

It is nearly impossible for contemporary Americans to grasp why sex was a central concern of early Christianity. Sarah Ruden, the Yale-trained classics translator, explains the culture into which Christianity appeared in her 2010 book Paul Among The People. Ruden contends that it’s profoundly ignorant to think of the Apostle Paul as a dour proto-Puritan descending upon happy-go-lucky pagan hippies, ordering them to stop having fun.

In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time—exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.

Christian marriage, Ruden writes, was “as different from anything before or since as the command to turn the other cheek.” The point is not that Christianity was only, or primarily, about redefining and revaluing sexuality, but that within a Christian anthropology sex takes on a new and different meaning, one that mandated a radical change of behavior and cultural norms. In Christianity, what people do with their sexuality cannot be separated from what the human person is.

It would be absurd to claim that Christian civilization ever achieved a golden age of social harmony and sexual bliss. It is easy to find eras in Christian history when church authorities were obsessed with sexual purity. But as Rieff recognizes, Christianity did establish a way to harness the sexual instinct, embed it within a community, and direct it in positive ways.

What makes our own era different from the past, says Rieff, is that we have ceased to believe in the Christian cultural framework, yet we have made it impossible to believe in any other that does what culture must do: restrain individual passions and channel them creatively toward communal purposes.

Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions. . . .

Our post-Christian culture, then, is an “anti-culture.” We are compelled by the logic of modernity and the myth of individual freedom to continue tearing away the last vestiges of the old order, convinced that true happiness and harmony will be ours once all limits have been nullified.Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.

It also remains to be seen whether we can keep Christianity without accepting Christian chastity. Sociologist Christian Smith’s research on what he has termed “moralistic therapeutic deism”—the feelgood, pseudo-Christianity that has supplanted the normative version of the faith in contemporary America—suggests that the task will be extremely difficult.

Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage and, as we have seen, did so decades before anyone even thought same-sex marriage was a possibility. Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of sex and marriage. The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation.

Too many of them think that same-sex marriage is merely a question of sexual ethics. They fail to see that gay marriage, and the concomitant collapse of marriage among poor and working-class heterosexuals, makes perfect sense given the autonomous individualism sacralized by modernity and embraced by contemporary culture—indeed, by many who call themselves Christians. They don’t grasp that Christianity, properly understood, is not a moralistic therapeutic adjunct to bourgeois individualism—a common response among American Christians, one denounced by Rieff in 2005 as “simply pathetic”—but is radically opposed to the cultural order (or disorder) that reigns today.

They are fighting the culture war moralistically, not cosmologically. They have not only lost the culture, but unless they understand the nature of the fight and change their strategy to fight cosmologically, within a few generations they may also lose their religion.

“The death of a culture begins when its normative institutions fail to communicate ideals in ways that remain inwardly compelling,” Rieff writes. By that standard, Christianity in America, if not American spirituality, is in mortal danger. The future is not foreordained: Taylor shares much of Rieff’s historical analysis but is more hopeful about the potential for renewal. Still, if the faith does not recover, the historical autopsy will conclude that gay marriage was not a cause but a symptom, the sign that revealed the patient’s terminal condition.

HT:  Stephen Baskerville

My thoughts:  This argument would suggest not that Christianity will disappear but that culture will disappear.  That is, if cultures are all systems that require the restraint of sexual and other kinds of passions (as even Freud believed) then, yes, we will lose any kind of cultural community and become a society of atomistic individuals.  (Perhaps that has already largely happened.)

If Christianity becomes radically marginalized, having no cultural power at all, perhaps Christianity will have to return to its essence:  Christ, the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins.   Because no matter how much people wish to erase anything that restricts them and makes them feel guilty, if Christianity is true (and it is), the moral reality remains.  It’s like thinking we can destroy nature; nature always destroys us.  Sin kills.  People in a society that give itself over to sin will feel those sins.  The Gospel will become good news again.  Christ will save them.  And, ironically, once the Gospel predominates again in the Church, cultural influence–including the Christian view of sexual morality–may well come back as a byproduct.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • Paul Reed

    Gay “marriage” will make it a lot harder for Christians to function in mainstream society. These new developments in the gay agenda ought to cause great distress to us. Having said that, no-fault divorce was far more disastrous to our cause than gay marriage will ever be. If liberals ever compromised (and they don’t), I would be willing to let them have gay marriage and polygamy in exchange for getting rid of the no-fault divorce laws.

  • http://derekjohnsonmuses.com Derek Johnson

    Is there any cultural comparison where Christianity has existed in a culture of mass sexual immorality? What about Rome at its fall?

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    Yes, it can survive. But many more will fall away.

  • Cincinnatus

    Rod tends to get a bit hysterical about this stuff. I agree with the kernel of his sentiment, ably expressed above by Paul Reed@1: the legitimation of gay marriage will make it more difficult to function in “mainstream” society. Indeed, the fact that gay marriage is being legitimated should be sufficient proof that Christianity already fails to orient mainstream society. (Side note: my wife and I were recently lamenting how few members of our generation–twenty-somethings–attend church with any regularity. Public religion is simply not a relevant consideration in their lives).

    That said, the Church has always existed amidst cultures of sexual irregularity/abnormality/perversity. If anything, the century or two in which bourgeois morality triumphed–itself not necessarily identical to Christian morality, and that may be our mistake–was an exception. Someone already mentioned the pagan Roman Empire. And what about the radical Anabaptist sects of the late middle ages which preached–and exemplified–a “free love” lifestyle? And Luther himself, it seems, wasn’t exactly chaste.

    Sure, gay marriage itself is historically unprecedented. But widespread sexual immorality isn’t. I fail to see how either phenomenon fundamentally challenges the truth or viability of Christianity. It challenges the sociopolitical hegemony of Christianity, which is a very different thing.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I recently read an academic study of the sexual practices in ancient Rome, right at the very time the Christian church was in its infancy.

    Let’s just say that we have SEEN NOTHING of the vile filth and degrading practices that were VERY open and VERY public throughout the Roman Empire.

    The word “shocking” doesn’t even begin to capture just how horrible things were for the first Christians when it came to living in a culture and society as corrupt as ancient Rome.

    Yes, the Church will “survive” … Jesus is still praying for His Church.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Changing sexual mores is a symptom, not the cause, and the greater disease is what is causing people to fall away from “organized religion.” Modern Americans don’t want anyone telling them any of their behaviors are wrong: “Who are you to say?!”

    The gospel holds no interest for people who don’t believe they’re guilty of anything.

  • Patrick Kyle

    After our culture has debased itself serving the idol of sex, there will be a return to the Christian ethic of sex and marriage on the part of many, as the people broken by immorality try to piece together their shattered and empty lives. That kind of sin really chews people up and the culture has no answer except more of whatever is killing you. Meanwhile the church will have to bide its time and remain faithful through what are sure to be some hard years or decades.

  • fjsteve

    No, Christianity will not survive this cultural shift! It will be disastrous. Because we know there are no liberal Christians. Least of all gay Christians. Right guys? I mean, you guys should know this better than most.

    Seriously, though, would it be the worst thing in the world if Christians stopped worrying so much about the kind of cultural influence that manifests in laws and prohibitions?

  • http://www.redeemertheologicalacademy.org Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier

    Dreher writes,

    “In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation.”

    Dreher is fusing together the biblical language of union with the American Cultural Christian language of relationship. It would be much better to drop the language of relationship. Allow me to explain. The American Cultural Christian frames the gospel with this question, “Do you have a relationship with God?” The problem is that everyone has a relationship with God. He is the Creator and we are fallen creation. By nature we have a bad uncommitted relationship with God.

    When we talk about the icon of Christ and the church as a relationship, then we fall into human methods of making that relationship better. Sometimes we “feel” closer to God and sometimes we “feel” distant. When we talk about the icon of Christ and the church as a union, then we proclaim the person and work of Christ who brings us into union with Him. The question is not, “Do you have a relationship with Christ?” Of course you do. He is the Savior and you are the one who is in need of salvation. The right question is this: “Are you in union/communion/fellowship with God?” Christ has come to bring union between the Creator and fallen creation where sin has caused separation. In the language of union, God has brought the two together.

    The language of “relationship” imposes separation and not union. How does one person relate in comparison to another person? There are good relationships and there are bad relationships. In the language of relationship, an individual person decides how to relate to anther person. Do you have a serious relationship? Do you have a life long committed relationship? Do you have an open relationship?

    If we use the language of relationship to explain the union between Christ and the church, we should not be surprised that the language of relationship is used to explain the union between husband and wife. If we use the language of relationship for marriage, then naturally two men or two women who are in a strong committed relationship qualifies for marriage.

  • John Evans

    Christianity survived the end of theocracy, the end of slavery, the end of racial segregation, and the advent of women’s suffrage. Why is anyone thinking it has suddenly become terribly fragile?

  • trotk

    Rev. Brian -

    Your post seems to me to be simply an exercise in semantics. The problem with the modern evangelical world is not whether the word “relationship” is used, but instead the understanding that the relationship with Christ primarily depends upon the believer’s spiritual disciplines, particularly expressed and understood in the two questions: Do you read the Bible daily? Do you pray daily?

  • Joe

    This is silly, of course the Church will stand. And, in case anyone didn’t read the book – its going to get worse before it gets better. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

    As for functioning in “mainstream” society, yes that will get harder but that is life under the Cross.

  • Scott A MIller

    John@11
    Your examples (theocracy, slavery, racial segregation, etc) are all conditions that were, by and large, antithetical to Christianity. In fact, the fights to end these institutions were mostly championed by Christians. I agree with your point that we should not consider Christianity itself to be fragile. However, your evidence is invalid.

  • Fred

    Your examples (theocracy, slavery, racial segregation, etc) are all conditions that were, by and large, antithetical to Christianity.

    Well, that’s easy to say this side of the issue. But at the time of slavery, there were many “Christian” slaveholders who were convinced that God was on their side.

    If you want to merge Christianity with a particular ideology or stance, sure it’s going to look like the end of the world when your side is losing. There are millions of believers, I’m convinced, who never bought the whole culture war thing.

    I think Dreher is way off the mark. Christianity will survive this just as it’s survived and thrived with regard to many other societal changes. The calling to be salt and light doesn’t change.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Derek asks a great question (#2) that I think he knows the answer to, but I’ll answer anyways. The fact of the matter is that Christianity survived, and conquered, a large portion of Jewish culture where no-fault divorce had grotesquely violated Deuteronomy’s permission of divorce in case the husband finds “uncleanness”–a gross moral violation–in his wife. Christianity survived, and conquered, the Greco-Roman culture where men of means had wives, mistresses, and prostitutes, the Greek culture of the eromnos (boy-lover). the European tradition where the nobility and upper classes felt free to take mistresses, African and Asian traditions of polygamy and mistresses……and it can survive and conquer a culture that not only approves of the (at least mature) eromenos, but also pretends that they can marry their lovers.

    And Dreher? Crossed the Tiber in 1993 and the Dardanelles somewhere between 2002 and 2006. I’m thinking he needs to cross the Elbe or the Rhein and discover the Reformation. His thesis really indicates he’s trusting in men.

  • http://www.hoperaleigh.org Jacob

    @Joe: Amen
    You probably posted the most Biblically balanced post on here.

  • Advocate

    If the church could survive (and even thrive) in Corinth, it can withstand any libertine environment.

  • FlexSF

    In my opinion, the institutions that have raised millions of dollars while facilitating discrimination deserve to not survive. They are institutions of bigotry. They are not protecting anything. They are the messengers of deliberate lies. I hate them!

  • George

    Re: “Can Christianity survive gay marriage?”

    I believe so. My Christian faith has been performing same-gender marriages for more than 40 years. As have the Quakers.

    P.S. To Heck with Mr. Dreher and his anti-gay garbage. He’s been peddling it for way too long, and repeating his nonsense here gives him way too much undeserved credence.

  • sg

    Of all the marriages recorded in Canada since same sex marriage was legalized, 0.3% have been same sex. Seems like a pretty small phenomenon.

  • Joe Canner

    “They fail to see that gay marriage, and the concomitant collapse of marriage among poor and working-class heterosexuals, makes perfect sense given the autonomous individualism sacralized by modernity and embraced by contemporary culture…”

    There’s something very ironic about a point of view that can find a problem with both marriage and the lack of marriage. No matter how many different ways it is stated, I have yet to see an argument against gay marriage that makes a convincing case that it will be bad for either society or the Church.

    What *is* bad for the Church is the negative publicity generated by the Church’s lack of support for even the most basic rights for LGBT folks (see, for example, the book UnChristian by Kinnaman and Lyons). The Church is great at standing up for the “little guy” if he’s unborn, by if he’s gay, forget about it!

  • Grace

    Can Christianity survive gay marriage?

    That is like asking “can Christ’s Gospel, HIS Word survive?” What makes little man think it cannot, or even pose the question?

    Is God all powerful?
    Who created this universe?
    Who created man?
    Who told us that the path was narrow and few there be that enter?
    Who died on the Cross for our sins?

    Has man tried to defy God ALMIGHTY many times, and failed each and every one?

    Homosexual marriage is FAUX meaning, it’s empty, it’s transparency can be seen by those who follow Christ. Those who believe it to be of God, delude themselves, they do not understand Romans 1, but justify themselves, by twisting the very words – their mind has become “reprobate” –

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was fitting.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not proper; Romans 1

    Reprobate Strong’s Greek Dictionary

    adokimos – ad-ok’-ee-mos

    unapproved, i.e. rejected; by implication, worthless (literally or morally):–castaway, rejected, reprobate.

  • http://Www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    First, “Hi Brian. Welcome!”

    There may be a silver lining here. As the Church becomes more visibly distinct from the surrounding culture, it may be able to witness to it with greater clarity and power. Not so much the power to influence the broader culture, but power to touch people with the gospel.

  • thomas

    You “Christianity” is just an excuse for bigotry and hate.

  • http://Www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    After reading the original article, which makes passing reference to “the death of God”, I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s parable of the village idiot who smashes a lantern and then warns the people that the death of God is not good, liberating news as they suppose, but the descent of darkness.

    P.S. Thomas @28, You say ‘bigotry and hate’ as though they were sins, but Thomas, there are no sins anymore. Moral words will not constrain.

  • http://Www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    After reading the original article, which makes passing reference to “the death of God”, I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s parable of the village idiot who smashes a lantern and then warns the people that the death of God is not good, liberating news as they suppose, but the descent of darkness.

    P.S. Thomas @28, You say ‘bigotry and hate’ as though they were sins, but Thomas, there are no sins anymore. Moral words will not constrain. Read you Nietzsche’s.

  • sg


    What *is* bad for the Church is the negative publicity generated by the Church’s lack of support for even the most basic rights for LGBT folks

    Ah, hysteria.

    Fact is no one has a right to be liked. LGBT folks have the same rights as everyone else. Of course, that isn’t good enough for them. They want to make everyone say that homosexual conduct is all well and good. Well, sorry, it isn’t. Most people wouldn’t give a rat’s rear about homosexual behavior if they just didn’t have to hear about it. Most of us do not want our children exposed to anything suggesting it much less sanctioning it.

  • Grace

    I’ve always found it ‘odd that homosexuals refer to themselves as “gay” when in fact there is nothing gay about it – as the disease which has taken the lives of thousands. HIV / AIDS and all the STD’s which are transmitted as well – some of which cannot be cured.

    Definition for “Gay” spelled backwards, as follows:

    “Yag” – definition

    Noun
    A synthetic crystal of yttrium aluminum garnet, used in certain lasers and as an imitation diamond in jewelry.

    Strange how the word “yag” is defined as an “imitation diamond” – it’s not the real thing, anymore than homosexual relationships, which are not of God.

    Homosexuality is nothing but an “imitation” – the real thing, is what the LORD created, man and woman, husband and wife.

    Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
    Genesis 2:24

    God doesn’t make a provision for a man to cleave to a man as his wife.

    Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
    Genesis 3:16

    God makes it clear, that a woman’s “desire” is for her “husband” not a woman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > The language of “relationship” imposes separation and not union.

    Pastor Kachelmeier (#10 above) always has such great insight.
    I’ll remember next time I hear, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.”

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Lutherans, and other Protestants, do not have a theological anthropology that understands the difference between the individual and the person, and between the person and the nature. The closest they come is what some Protestants call the Doctrine of Man, which—with its jaundiced view of human nature divorces human nature from the divine. Thus you fail to understand the underlying thesis behind Rob Dreher’s article. And failing to understand, you call it hysterical.

  • fjsteve

    Ironic that the voices espousing tolerance are those that come across as the most hateful.

    Tolerance is a one-way street.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    @7 “The gospel holds no interest for people who don’t believe they’re guilty of anything.”

    Indeed.

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    A couple things strike me here.

    The first is that acceptance of gay marriage is not the same thing as jettisoning all sense of sexual propriety. It’s not. The churches in my (heavily gay) area of Houston are filled every Sunday with gay couples and their kids, many if not most of whom would tell you how much differently they are living now than they were years back. Their identity as a Christian – as impossible as it might seem at first blush – really is something that affects them and the way they live.

    How different Christian denominations deal with that in the next few years will be interesting – but I don’t think it means they won’t still be talking about living an upright life.

    Second… While I don’t think Christianity can nor would want to get away from teaching sexual continence as part of its basic message, too often today that part of the message drowns out everything else – part of the reason the priest scandals blow up so big!

    This is not just supposed to be about your uptight grandmother disapproving of everything you do – which is how I think Christians are seen! Rather, it’s supposed to be a revolution in thought and living. Think of Paul in Galatians talking about living in the spirit being a freedom – once you’ve got it, you LIVE it.

    That doesn’t come across to young people at all. In a recent poll, non-Christian young people (the target audience for the future!) most associated Christianity with the term “anti-gay.”

    That’s a failure. It doesn’t mean that Christianity changes its message. But it’s a definite failure in the way the message is being understood.

  • SKPeterson

    Kristofer @ 31 – An interesting point of view. Wrong, but interesting. Apparently the old joke that the Orthodox explain everything as theosis is grounded largely in fact. The problem we Lutherans have with Dreher’s thesis is not that we don’t understand it – it is that his underlying thesis is wrong and we’re pointing it out. Just so we’re clear: Dreher’s underlying thesis is in error, incorrect, off-base and wrong.

    Our Lutheran anthropology is decidedly Ambrosian/Augustinian at its core, so I expect that it would be lost on an Eastern viewpoint on Man. The flawed understanding of the nature of Man on the part of Eastern Orthodoxy is the fundamental dividing line between East and West. However, we do have an anthropology that acknowledges the difference between the individual and the person, and between the person and the nature. Further, I would argue that our view of Man is not jaundiced – it is realistic and Biblical.

    We are divorced from God. Our created natures are now corrupt as a result of the Fall. Our persons are subject to the cleavage of body and soul in consequence. To deny this is then to deny the purpose and work of Christ who in His Person is the only true union of human nature with the divine. It is only out of the work of Christ in His two natures that the restoration of Man can be accomplished. Lutherans then hold to the now/not yet – we are restored, but we are not yet restored. We then come to sanctification which would be, roughly, the Lutheran analog to Orthodox theosis; a process that is begun in Baptism, but only completed through Christ in death and the Eschaton. (my apologies to Chemnitz for the gross oversimplifications of his explanation of the Two Natures.)

  • SKPeterson

    Kristofer @ 31. Regarding my post @ 35. When I say Dreher is wrong, I probably should have said incomplete and missing the point, or that his argument is wrong because it is incomplete and missing the underlying point. He has described a symptom, he has not diagnosed the disease manifesting the symptom.

  • Tom Hering

    Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage … (Dreher)

    Interesting to consider everyone they’re losing the fight to:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/27/new-conservative-lobbying-push-for-gay-marriage/2117315/

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Having grown up a fundamentalist, and having spend twenty years as a confessional LC-MS Lutheran, I can state without equivocation that Lutherans and other Protestants do not have a well-developed theological anthropology. The fact that you did not address the question I raised serves as a wonderful illustration. “What is the difference between the individual and the person? Between the person and the nature?” Here are some other related questions: “Why is God three persons in one nature?” “Since God is three persons in one nature, how is it that humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, yet the duality of the union of male and female becomes one flesh?” Once you have thought through those questions, you’ll be in a position to understand how homosexuality is not simply a moral failing, but an offense against the Christian cosmology.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    @10: Dreher cited the “classical Christian teaching”. He could just as well have used the term “ancient”, although I would be so bold as to state that the term “original” serves just as well. As to the term relationship, Dreher could have used the term “union”, although then he would have been dismissed as focusing on theosis. The general consensus of the ancient church fathers—which does not include people like Tertullian, who died outside the church—the general consensus is that the common human nature is shared by both male and female persons, who were formed for union with each other and for union with God. This is the teaching of scripture, and the universal witness of the ante-nicene church fathers.

  • Grace

    Katy 34

    “That doesn’t come across to young people at all. In a recent poll, non-Christian young people (the target audience for the future!) most associated Christianity with the term “anti-gay.”

    That’s a failure. It doesn’t mean that Christianity changes its message. But it’s a definite failure in the way the message is being understood.”

    Katy, homosexuality is not Biblical. There is no slick way to state its compromise or Biblical stand to homosexual marriages, or relationships, when they will listen to nothing less than, ….. “I was born this way” – This is their swan song, this is their argument.

    The problem is;

    There is no way to communicate to those who have chosen a path of homosexuality, if that’s what they want – it is not what you claim “a failure” – it is mans sinfulness who chooses to follow his OWN DESIRES, rather than submit to the LORD.

    We have commenters on this blog who argue for homosexuality. They know what Romans 1 states, it’s not a secret, but they have chosen to take the path of the so called “I was born this way” mantra, which negates what the bible teaches.

    TO those who accept and choose homosexual lives, they have made their choice. It’s not a failure on the part of Christians, it’s turning their back on God. Failure is all too often attributed to the messenger, le the recipient stand by and scoffs at the warning.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    @10 If you don’t like the term “relationship”, perhaps you would prefer the term “communion” instead. Although in the vernacular they are considerably different, theologically the meaning is pretty much the same.

  • sg

    “This is not just supposed to be about your uptight grandmother disapproving of everything you do – which is how I think Christians are seen!”

    This is so goofy.

    Media and pop culture portray Christians falsely. Gullible young folks fall for it. And fools baldly state, “which is how I think Christians are seen!”

    No truth. No interest in truth. Only perception and perception of perception.

    Theatre of the absurd.

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    sg: I made a rather extensive comment, in which I tried to be both thoughtful and respectful.

    You pulled one line out of it and declared my comment “goofy” and “absurd.”

    And that’s fine. But the next time you’re wondering why people with differing views can’t engage in constructive discussions on important topics, please remember how you treat those who try.

  • Grace

    Katy @ 43

    “You pulled one line out of it and declared my comment “goofy” and “absurd.”
    And that’s fine. But the next time you’re wondering why people with differing views can’t engage in constructive discussions on important topics, please remember how you treat those who try.”

    Hold on Katy – your comment was “goofy” I pulled out two paragraphs and posted regarding them at 40.

    It is you Katy, who needs to consider how you treat the Word of God.

    Katy at 34 “This is not just supposed to be about your uptight grandmother disapproving of everything you do – which is how I think Christians are seen! Rather, it’s supposed to be a revolution in thought and living.”

    That doesn’t come across to young people at all. In a recent poll, non-Christian young people (the target audience for the future!) most associated Christianity with the term “anti-gay.”

    So Katy, everyone: Who is “everyone” ? – who is “most” ? – do polls trump God’s Word? – or is it that the majority, (whoever that is) trumps God’s Word? – “most associated Christianity with the term “anti-gay.” – That’s not just absurd but ignorant. Homosexuals want their sexual desires to be made legal, as in faux marriage. That isn’t an “uptight grandmother” moment Katy, that’s anyone, no matter age understanding the Bible and what it means. The PSUSA and ELCA crowd and others, think it’s just great to march with those who are homosexuals and their beliefs. God’s Word trumps the homosexual rebellion.

    Forget your “grandmother” moment, it makes no sense, and reflects a sophomoric tone!

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    Grace: I was responding to sg, not you.

    I had not responded to your comment yet because I was still giving it some serious thought.

    However, since you jumped the gun, got it wrong, and then insulted me in the process, I will forgo an answer, seeing as how you are merely looking a=for an excuse to pounce.

    Perhaps you’ll have better luck with your next comment, since you made such a mess of this one, huh?

  • JEH

    Oh, but I do have an uptight grandmother who disapproves of everything I (people) do!

  • Kristofer Carlson

    @44 Grace has a point, which is that Christianity is not seen in terms of the Gospel message, but in terms of a restrictive moral code, a code that they can’t live up to, but nevertheless want to impose upon everyone else. The world does not hear the message of Gospel, but only of law. They do not hear about God’s love and mercy, only about His willingness to condemn and to punish. The world has enough law; what it needs is Gospel, and that is what Christians aren’t giving them. So go ahead and condemn the homosexual if you wish, but don’t pretend that you are being Christian when you do so.

  • Grace

    Katy @ 45

    Grace: “I was responding to sg, not you.

    I had not responded to your comment yet because I was still giving it some serious thought.

    However, since you jumped the gun, got it wrong, and then insulted me in the process, I will forgo an answer, seeing as how you are merely looking a=for an excuse to pounce.”

    One can respond to whomever they like, this is not a ‘private conversation venue. Perhaps you didn’t know that, but now you do.

    “Perhaps you’ll have better luck with your next comment, since you made such a mess of this one, huh?”

    No mess Katy, but I can see where you would have thought so, after stepping in your own :lol:

  • Grace

    Kristofer @ 47

    “Grace has a point, which is that Christianity is not seen in terms of the Gospel message, but in terms of a restrictive moral code, a code that they can’t live up to, but nevertheless want to impose upon everyone else.”

    Who cannot believe in Christ, or be delivered from sin? One doesn’t have to wallow in sin because they are helpless, God gives us an ESCAPE.

    So go ahead and condemn the homosexual if you wish, but don’t pretend that you are being Christian when you do so.

    I don’t have to “condemn the homosexual” they Word of God does, Paul speaks bluntly of their deeds. Have you not read Romans 1?

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was fitting.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not proper;
    Romans 1

    A REPROBATE MIND is a mind void of conscience, it has been seared and no longer looks at evil, as evil………but goes along as in verse 28 “And even as they did not like to retain GOD in their knowledge, GOD gave them over to a REPROBATE MIND.

    There are two passages of Scripture that are pivotal in understanding God’s power and deliverance from temptation and sin, … IF … one wants to be “escape”

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
    1 Corinthians 10:13

    Those who believe God, and believe that HE can and will deliver us from “temptation” will stand on the promise of this passage. God does not lie, nor does he deceive us.

    The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
    2 Peter 2:9

    God knows our weakness, HE also knows, without a doubt who the “godly” are. That is a sobering thought. Who are the “godly” ? If the “unjust” are those who go their own way, disregarding the Gospel, relying on their own strength, they have no chance.

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    @Grace:

    I am not following… If you knew you were responding about the sg comment rather than your own, why did you speak in first person about sg pulling the quotes? It just doesn’t…

    Never mind.

    I come here – and to many sites like it besides – to make little observations and ask a lot of questions. I am always delighted at how much I learn and how many people are willing to discuss issues in a respectful and engaging manner.

    If you are here for other reasons, I don’t think you will find any time spent talking to me well-spent.

    I wish you the best in whatever you are trying to accomplish with your comments.

  • kerner

    Katy:

    Welcome to this blog. I haven’t had time to comment much for a few weeks, but the discussions are usually pretty good. There is at least one Rice grad here regularly. Maybe he knows a short cut across the campus. There is also one gay person who is always up for a good debate. However, please stay out of my soup. I am more of a chicken noodle kind of guy ;)

  • sg

    @43

    I only found the one line goofy and absurd. You think what the media tells you to think.

    Check out Dr. Veith’s post on those who graduate from Christian high schools. The media won’t be telling you that because it puts Christians in a better light. They aren’t going to touch facts like those.

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    Thanks,@Kerner: Haha, thank you! I might need to find that Rice grad. So far, I’m enjoying everything I read here – despite that bristling back and forth I entered into. I love to read well-considered thought, even if (especially if?) it’s not exactly the way I think.

    @sg 52: Actually, only having one line that is goofy or absurd might be fairly good for me…

  • tODD

    Katy (@53), I don’t know why we’re talking about Rice, but yeah, I’m the guy who went there. Hi!

    And don’t worry about commenter Grace here. She’s like that.

    So what brought you here?

  • Pingback: Can Christianity Survive Gay Marriage? - White Horse Inn Blog

  • Grace

    NBA center Jason Collins comes out: ‘I’m black. And I’m gay’

  • SKPeterson

    So, Grace @ 55 – will the NBA survive?

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, while I otherwise couldn’t possibly care less about this NBA thug in particular or, in general, about who’s gay and who’s not in the celebrity world, the coming-out of a professional athlete does raise some interesting questions about masculinity, athleticism, etc.

  • Grace

    SKP @ 56

    “So, Grace @ 55 – will the NBA survive?”

    I’m sure they will.

    Sin abounds, it will continue until the LORD comes back

    1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
    2 Timothy 3

    Obama loves Planned Parenthood, many people embrace homosexuality and all other un-Godly acts. God’s Word has warned us as to what is to come, none of us should be surprised.

    Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
    Matthew 7:14

  • Grace

    Cincinnatus @57

    “the coming-out of a professional athlete does raise some interesting questions about masculinity, athleticism, etc.”

    I don’t see homosexuals as having ” masculinity” as an attribute, meaning; they really aren’t “masculine” at all.

    Same-sex marriage was outlawed on December 16, 342 AD by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans. This law specifically outlaws marriages between men and reads as follows:

    “When a man marries and is about to offer himself to men in womanly fashion [quum vir nubit in feminam viris porrecturam], what does he wish, when sex has lost all its significance; when the crime is one which it is not profitable to know; when Venus is changed to another form; when love is sought and not found? We order the statutes to arise, the laws to be armed with an avenging sword, that those infamous persons who are now, or who hereafter may be, guilty may be subjected to exquisite punishment.” (Theodosian Code 9.7.3)

  • Rick

    Oh please, the question is dumb. My faith survived the legalization of state-run lotteries, the legalization of casinos, the coming legalization of pot, and the inevitable legalization of gay marriage. As a Christian, I can find certain things questionable while, as a citizen, realizing that people have rights. If my neighbors are into the occult, I’ll have profound problems with their lifestyle, while also realizing they can do conventional things like drive a car, buy a house, and get legally married, and also realize that being an occultist is not illegal. How is that different than homosexuality?

  • Grace

    Rick @ 60

    Homosexual marriages are a “detriment” to our Public schools to name just one. Homosexual faux marriages will enable teachers to unleach, and teach their sexual orientation to our children. In many schools it has already occured. But once same sex marriage becomes the law, it will empower homosexuals to teach that which is against God’s Word.

    If homosexual marriage is legal, then so is it legal to teach what it is to our children. That’s a big step for the homosexual community – it’s already being done in some schools around the country.

    Not every family, or single parent can afford to send their child to a Christian school.

  • Rick

    Grace: Then are you opposed to occultists getting married? If not, why not?

  • http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com John W. Morehead

    Christianity survived rethinking positions on race and interracial marriage. The church in America is currently rethinking the place of evolution in creation and in understanding the creation stories (at least in some quarters). Once that is resolved it will survive that too. It is not a matter of liberalizing per se, but of various factors like findings in history, science, cultural studies, sociology, etc. providing a need for the church to rethink her doctrinal perspectives. We will see how sexuality plays out, but hopefully it will be done with increasing concern for civility and self-critical reflection.

  • mountainguy

    wow, a quote about two self proclaimed christian emperors criminalizing homosexual activities (at least to a certain extent). I dont think we may take Grace’s voice as representative of the whole christian conservatives, but with such a jump from quoting Romans 1 to quoting roman emperors… well, judge by yourselves.

  • tODD

    MountainGuy, you said (@64):

    I dont think we may take Grace’s voice as representative of the whole christian conservatives…

    Yeah, please don’t.

  • Tom Hering

    It is not a matter of liberalizing per se, but of various factors like findings in history, science, cultural studies, sociology, etc. providing a need for the church to rethink her doctrinal perspectives. (@ 63)

    If the church needing to rethink doctrine because of findings in history, science, etc. isn’t the very definition of liberalizing, I don’t know what is.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    @49 The bible condemns homosexuality. It also condemns adultery, and all manner of sexual sin. But interestingly, homosexuality did not make the list of the seven abominable sins. What do I make of that? Why the focus on homosexuality, and not the pet sins of the modern era—pride, sloth and gluttony. That last especially: every super-size your order? Every go out to eat and discover that your eyes are bigger than your stomach? We sometimes say we hate the sin but love the sinner, but we don’t—not really. We hate the sinner for their sin; we judge them and condemn them. And yet Jesus did the opposite. To the woman taken in adultery, He not only failed to condemn her, but sent her away forgiven. Yes He told her to go and sin no more, but that is what He says to all of us. Do we obey? And when we disobey, is not God faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of our shame? Why then can we not do the same for those whose besetting sin is different from our own. Is the plank in our eye no less troubling than the splinter in theirs? Are we not to view ourselves as the chief (or first) of sinners? If so, how dare we condemn our brothers and sisters for their lesser failings?

  • EJ

    Interesting read and I love all the comments. I used to be strongly against gay marriage, but have shifted by views recently. I don’t believe that you can legislate morality, neither should you try. I like the point Joe makes (Comment 22). If marriage is good for society, then it is good for all society. Just because people you don’t approve of the way someone lives their life, doesn’t mean that you make it illegal.

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    @tODD (54): Hello… I wrote a blog post about how I tend to get lost cutting across the Rice campus.

    What brings me here is, um… I’m a lesbian with a Master’s degree in Theology. learning is more fun than having answers…

  • Grace

    Katy @ 69

    “What brings me here is, um… I’m a lesbian with a Master’s degree in Theology. learning is more fun than having answers…”

    All too many people study, but they don’t learn. They have degrees, but they don’t understand. There is no reward as in, “fun” when what you end up with is …………..!

    theology – definition
    1.The study of the nature of God and religious belief.
    2.Religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed: “Christian theology”.

    Which “theoloogy” ? Buddha, the many gods of religion? Or a bundle of other cults and religions.

    Christian Theology isn’t negotiable, except with those, who see God turning a ‘blind eye to sin. Then there is the ‘all paths lead to God, which is false, if you believe in the Bible.

    Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
    2 Timothy 3:7

  • Grace

    My post @ 70 should read:

    “Then there is the ‘all paths lead to God, which is false, if you DO NOT believe in the Bible.”

  • tODD

    Katy (@69), ah, I see that post now. Gotcha. I graduated from Rice 15 years ago, and I got lost on campus when I visited a while back — they’ve added a ton of new buildings! Actually, several tons, probably.

    Anyhow, I meant more: how did you come to find this blog? Google search? Crawling Patheos links? Just curious. Most of the regular commenters here are either Lutherans (like the host, Dr. Veith), or somehow affiliated with Patrick Henry College (where Dr. Veith works).

    Not that one has to be either to converse here. I just always wonder how people find their way here.

    How long have you lived in Houston?

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy Anders

    Grace @70: It was a program at a Catholic seminary. I struggle a lot with faith and… doubt. Someday it will all make sense…

    tODD @72: I’m sort of all over Patheos these days. Mostly reading, but once in a while throwing in a comment. Headlines tend to pull me onto different blogs here and sometimes I stay :) … I’ve been in Houston all my life, basically. Just been getting lost at Rice the last couple of years.

  • Sven

    Christianity will survive just fine.
    Just look at the Southern Baptists. Their denomination was created explicitly in the defense of slavery. Well slavery is now gone (and wildly unpopular) in the US, yet the Southern Baptists go on.

    Same-sex marriage is a much smaller issue than Heliocentrism, slavery, abortion, and the many other cosmological and philosophical conflicts that have divided Christians over the years.

  • Stephen

    Katy,

    I hope you stick around. It’ll be fun.

    Now, let’s be honest, what is “lesbionics?” (Did you catch that? Couldn’t resist).

    “The first is that acceptance of gay marriage is not the same thing as jettisoning all sense of sexual propriety. ” – Katy @ 34

    I’d call that wise if only it weren’t so obvious. This is what some refuse to acknowledge. They fail to see that anyone seeking marriage is seeking to have their lives ordered in a very specific way, a way that conscience tells them they ought to follow. It involves a number of things in this regard, not least of which are things that lead to peace among neighbors, things like lifetime commitment and a putting away of a number of old behaviors, the kind that would take others for granted and place themselves at the center of everything.

    Anyway, we could use a lesbian around here. And the Law is all about what is useful to the neighbor (1 cor 6:12 – the heart of the clobber verses). And really, what heck are lesbionics? And who/what have you studied in theology?

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    The church will survive and not by changing. It will survive because Christ her groom has already won and actively preserves her.

  • dust

    Perhaps the communist soviet union and china are good examples?

    Am not an expert but didn’t they all but outlaw orthodox Christianity? The state sanctioned versions were allowed to “worship” in the open, with state approved preachers and priests, but more traditional faiths were driven under ground?

    My guess is since it didn’t work there, ultimately it won’t work here?

    cheers!

  • Katie

    The Law of Retribution says that when a society commits atrocities, EVERYONE is punished, not just those committing the atrocities. Yes, God will always have His Israel. But as our society begins to morally decay we will all pay the temporal price–whether it’s a skyrocket in mental illness, child abuse, STD’s, crime, drug abuse, or whatever–everyone will feel the pain this brings. When the government fails to punish evil, sin abounds even more. We can try to hide behind our own walls and teach our own children to live according to God’s will, (And I’m doing just that) but they will still grow up in a world that is much different than what we knew growing up. It’s not the Church’s job to punish evil, Her job is to forgive sins. And yes, the Gospel does thrive under persecution, but no one ever asks for that…it’s too painful! ;)
    Come, Lord Jesus, com quickly.

  • http://bereanobserver.blogspot.com Bob Wheeler

    We genuinely mourn the loss of Western Civilization. The church will undoubtedly survive, but it will have to go through a painful sifting process. Too many church members today are content with simply being comfortable middle class Americans, and they are dying off, and their churches will disappear with them. This means that in the short run American Evangelicalism will see a drastic reduction in numbers, perhaps almost completely disappear from sight. Eventually, however, the true church will emerge (not what is known today as “the Emerging Church”). It will consist of house churches made up of committed believers. It will be thoroughly orthodox in theology, although not necessarily recognizable as a traditional denomination. It it is then that the world will see what true Christianity is — a praying, worshipping community ready to suffer for its faith.

  • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

    The real problem that Conservative Christianity has had with its surrounding culture is not the disagreement that exists, it is the methods of influence it has relied on. For a long time, Christianity has exercised an attempt to dominate over culture through legislation. What we are seeing with the cultural acceptance of same-sex marriage is a double rejection of Christianity. The rejection we think of first is that of rejecting Christian sexual mores. But the primary rejection here is Christianity’s attempt to rule over culture. When the two are bound together in the public’s perception, the fair-minded people will naturally reject Christian mores because they correctly oppose domination by any single group.

    Christianity can exert a far greater influence over culture by holding to its traditional sexual mores while seeking to change culture through trying to respectfully persuade rather than trying to legislate morality. Unfortunately, in the minds of many conservative Christians, their moral opposition to the acceptance of same-sex relations is not satisfied by speaking to those in society as equals. And it isn’t until influencing culture by speaking as equals that Christianity can provide an effective witness in today’s world.

    IMO, Conservative Christians should support society’s acceptance of same-sex marriage while opposing the sexual practices (see http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2012/05/should-christians-support-gay-marriage.html).

  • http://bereanobserver.blogspot.com Bob Wheeler

    Curt,
    The problem with this argument is that the political process, by its very nature, involves someone trying to impose his agenda on the rest of society. That is the very nature of political activism, whether left, right or center, Occupy Wall Street, Move-on.org, or the Tea Party. The Republican and Democratic parties exist for the sole purpose of seizing power and forcing society to conform to their standards through the legislative process. That’s just the way government works.
    The question then become, why should a traditional Judaeo-Christian perspective be excluded from the process? Why should everyone else have a say about what our nation’s laws should be but us? And what should Christians do when they witness systemic injustice in society? Support the perpetrators as equals?
    The abortion issue was particularly acute and remains deeply troublesome, but we have probably lost that battle as well. In order to get a democracy to behave righteously you have to change hearts and minds, and that can only be done through evangelism. The only thing that will save America now is a major revival. The problem is that the church has failed in its primary task, the Great Commission, and we are seeing the bitter fruits in our society.

  • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

    Bob,
    Comparisons are a tricky business. For example, would we compare one group that tries to ban evangelism in public with the group that is trying to make legal to evangelize? Would we say that both groups are trying to impose their views on the other?

    that is the issue here only it is same-sex marriage rather than evangelism. If the group that wants same-sex marriage to be legal wins, it does not stop heterosexuals from how they participate in marriage. But if those heterosexuals who want to ban same-sex marriage manage to win the legal battle, it does stop homosexuals from participating in marriage the way they want to.

    Thus, I don’t think your statement that this battle is over comparable groups vying for power is valid. Rather it is one group that wants to participate in marriage the way they want vs the other group that is trying to restrict them.

    The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we want to dominate society. It isn’t a fixed cost that someone will dominate that is unless one or more groups plan to be aggressors. And if we try to dominate, we will not be able to tell why someone is rejecting what we say. That is will it be because they are rejecting our claim to rule over them or are they rejecting the Gospel. We can only do disservice to the Gospel if we bind our desire to dominate with the Gospel message.


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