Captain Marvel and the Madness of Power Religion
Podcast: Axe to the Root
Topics: Christian Life, Culture, Doctrinal Studies
Every time someone says, “this is the real problem,” or “this is the real conflict,” it doesn’t say much about the problem or the conflict he is describing – that problem or conflict may be real, and it may not be real. But the truth is, it says a lot about the real worldview of the person saying it.
By: Frank McDonough
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Welcome to Episode 88 of Axe to the Root Podcast, part of the War Room Productions, I am Bo Marinov, and for the next 30 minutes we will talk about movies. Specifically, Captain Marvel. (So, you are warned, there will be spoilers ahead.) Actually, not about the movie so much but about the reactions to it. And specifically, the reactions to it among some churchian celebrities and their followers. I usually stay away talking about movies and literature and art, except in a very general way, as to their place in the Dominion Covenant. You might want to check Episode 49 of the Axe to the Root Podcast, titled “Art in a Covenantal Frame.” Not that I have nothing particular to say about specific pieces of art and literature and movies; I think I do, and I like art and literature and movies and I like to decipher the ethical/judicial meaning of movies and books and pieces of art. My children and I have had many interesting conversations over the years. In fact, those are perhaps our most favorite conversations, given that family reading of fiction remained the most cherished family past time till their late teenage years, and right before the oldest ones went to college. Yes, believe it or not, I kept reading aloud stories and novels to my children long after they could read them on their own. With the youngest now, as she is still at home, we watch movies and sometimes we spent hours discussing their ethical/judicial value. So, there, it is not that I am indifferent to movies and fiction books and I have nothing to say; I just believe that there are others who are better qualified than me to say it in a much more exciting and insightful way.
But this case is different. It’s not that the movie is anything special as artistic value. It is a fine movie, to be sure. Not really a masterpiece of the greatest kind, but not the worst out there. It fits nicely into the larger picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it provides what it was meant to provide: an origin story. The story was consistent with the rest of the cinematic universe, and it was believable . . . well, believable within the context of that universe. I think it did not exploit all the possibilities for a dramatic effect at the point of the protagonist’s conversion; that scene in Maria Rambeau’s house where Carol Danvers learned that the Skrulls were not villains but refugees persecuted by the same empire that sent her to fight them, could have been a little longer, more dramatic, and more fraught with tension, soul-searching, and anger (suppressed or not) at the revelation that one had been lied to. I know that’s what I would do if I was faced with such challenge against the morality of all my beliefs and actions so far. But, then again, women are different from men; it is possible that a woman can make that transition faster than a man, I don’t know. We do see in the Bible women who are capable of making logical conclusions much quicker than men do. Either way, the movie in general was good. Do I want to watch it again? Yes, absolutely. It is enjoyable in many respects and as a whole.
So, what did I like in the movie? Or, let’s be more comprehensive: what did I see in the movie? What was it that made it a good movie, and enjoyable at that, for a person like me who always tries to judge things based on a covenantal perspective?
There were two ethical/judicial themes in the movie, one major and one minor, or, rather, auxiliary to the major one.
The major theme was the individual moral conscience of man (and I use “man” in the Biblical, generic sense, including women in it) vs. the collectivist demands of a militaristic, expansionist empire. The movie starts with Vers: an extremely powerful woman whose body is modified to control and manipulate physical processes down to nuclear level. She can absorb energy in her body and the release it in the form of electromagnetic (photon) blasts. She can go “binary,” which means her body physics can transform into pure energy after which she can basically cut through anything, including space ships. She doesn’t know the source of that power, but what we learn is that that power itself is the source of some pride and self-confidence. However, that’s not the main ethical problem. A worse source of pride is that she is a member – the most powerful member, at that – of the most elite unit of the most elite military of the most powerful empire in the universe, the Kree Empire. Think about being a member of the most decorated special unit of the Navy Seals of the United States. Woohoo, by Jingo, we are the best and we kick you-know-what around the globe! Them ragheads, gooks, russkies, anyone, stand no chance. And, of course, we fight for freedom! I mean, I can’t figure out how my freedom ended up in the mountains of Afghanistan or the sands of Iraq, and I can’t figure out why the more I fight, the less freedom we have at home, but who cares, we really kick ass, man! Proud to be an elite soldier for the greatest empire there is. And the enemies she is fighting are really ragheads: ugly (compared to our heroes-warriors who are all handsome and tall and athletic and a delight to the eye), and their main weapon is taqqiah: able to disguise themselves so as to look entirely like members of our glorious free western civilization, and infiltrate it and build their Dearborns, Michigan in it. I mean, what’s not to make your proud: fighting for this glorious civilization (just look at all our technologies and buildings and how big we are, being the elite of the elite, beautiful beings compared to the enemy, fighting an enemy that is ugly and uses taqqiah . . . and we know what they do to their goats, right? (Or whatever passes for goats among the Skrulls.)
The only dark spot in her ambition and pride are these recurring dreams – or memories? – that she can’t get rid of. They are certainly part of something deep in her, but since she has lost her memory in an accident several years before, she can’t put the pieces back together. But that’s OK. Her benevolent parental boss – the Deep State . . . I mean, the Supreme Intelligence of the empire – is there to help her get rid of those nightmares. Just ignore them. They only hinder your full potential. You just obey and comply, and you’ll be good. Think Jason Bourne: another story about an individual artificially enhanced in service of an empire, whose bosses are still powerless to destroy the moral conscience the image of God carries with it, despite all the enhancement, special training, and amnesia.
Things go downhill, however, after she is tricked and captured by the enemy. To her surprise, she discovers that the enemy has not taken advantage of her incapacitation to kill her or torture her. They only want to revive her memories. Ironic, isn’t it. Her benevolent government bosses want her to suppress her conscience; the enemies – who should be expected to kill her – want to help her revive that conscience. The proud warrior is confused. To make matters worse, in the ensuing battle, she falls to earth, the original place of her memories (she doesn’t know it yet, but she feels it), and while fighting alone against a host of Skrulls (aided only by a few confused and helpless humans), she gradually comes to discover two things. First, that she had been fighting for an oppressive regime against a victimized people who have been nothing more than refugees from that regime. And, second, she discovers her true identity: Vers is really Carol Danvers, a test pilot for the US Air Force who supposedly died 6 years earlier in a test flight crash with her mentor and instructor Dr. Wendy Lawson – the woman of her dreams and nightmares – who was an engineer for the Air Force, but her true identity was Dr. Mar-Vell, a renegade Kree scientist who was helping Skrull refugees by designing a powerful engine for them to be able to escape the Kree attacks and find a world for themselves to settle in safety. Carol Danvers acquired her powers from absorbing the energy of the explosion from the engine she destroyed after the crash, following the orders of Mar-Vell. So in terms of the ethical conflict between her individual conscience and the collectivist demands of the Empire, the circle is now closed: Carol Danvers returned to take the place of her original mentor.
Her discovery of her true identity brings to light the minor ethical/judicial theme. That theme was present in Vers’s nightmares from the very beginning of the movie, but given her memory loss, made no sense; it was multiple flashes of a girl or a young woman failing at different tasks, from playing in the playground to the ropes course at what seems to be a boot camp; and every time, she stands up and gets back to it again with a look of determination om her face. That minor theme turns out to be the old conflict between individual determination and ambition and the established and cherished social customs, stereotypes, and prejudices. Think of the movie Hidden Figures where the protagonists were looked down upon because they were black and female. Think of Facing the Giants, where the Eagles were considered the underdog by default. The ethical solution to this conflict should be obvious to everyone who has even an ounce of moral conscience: only dedication and hard work can overcome stereotypes and prejudice. After all, this is what modern Christians and conservatives in general tell those who are trapped in the vicious cycle of ghetto poverty: “hard work and dedication will surely help you get out of it, no matter how much prejudice and discrimination you face.” Right? Carol Danvers has lived through it: she has had to deal with every bit of prejudice and discrimination, through all the social stereotypes of what a woman can and can’t do. And she dealt with it through hard work and dedication. You would expect that all Christians and conservatives would cheer for her. (As we will see, that’s not the case.) Unfortunately, having been unwittingly involved in a space conflict much larger than anything she had faced before, she is killed. Or at least that’s how it appears to her bosses on earth, at any rate.
There is a moral caveat here, however. Dedication, when devoid of a moral compass, can become an unhealthy and idolatrous ambition. While that is not the central theme of the movie, hints of such moral deterioration can be seen in the pre-crash Carol Danvers: she almost looks like she has lost her human face. She acts artificially at times, and some of her responses seem a little too much pre-played. She always acts as if she is there to prove something, or to prove herself. The problem persists and becomes even worse when the “re-born” Vers works for Starforce; she is constantly trying to prove herself against her own commander, and before the Supreme Intelligence. Once on earth, meeting Nick Fury and other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she continues her showing off, and especially showing off her powers. She uses her signature photon blasts a little too liberally, even just to show who she is, and she is not even trying to hide the pride of who she is. “You are a Kree,” Nick Fury says, “a race of noble warriors?” Vers is quick to correct him with prideful emphasis in her voice: “Heroes. A race of noble warriors heroes.” Her ambition may not be necessarily bad, but it always has an unhealthy streak in it, and once she had the power she craved, it was now going much worse. But, as should be expected, returning to her humble beginnings makes her rethink that and reform her moral character. She is now ultimately powerful, having removed the device suppressing her powers, and yet, when her former commander challenges her to one last fight, she replies, “I have nothing to prove to you.” She doesn’t need any showing off anymore, and she doesn’t need a showdown; instead of flying straight for the Kree Empire to finish it off, she commits herself to humbly serve those whom she has persecuted before. Here again, the moral circle is completed, and she has found redemption. From the trailers for Endgame I expected that that moral problem would still be there to haunt her, but I was wrong. Her conversion seems to be complete.
So, this is what I saw in the movie: the ethical/judicial themes. But then again, that’s what I have been trying to train my senses in for the last 25 years: to discern good and evil. That’s what Hebrews 5:14 tells me is the mark of a mature man. And 1 Cor. 2:15 tells me that the characteristic of a spiritual man is that he judges all things: that is, discerns good and evil in all things. So, trying to be obedient to this mandate to be mature, I have been trying to subject all my judgments of everything in the world around me to one and only paradigm: good vs evil. And, of course, the sub-paradigms that follow from it: righteousness vs. wickedness, obedience vs. disobedience, justice vs. injustice, depravity vs. reformation, death vs. redemption, judgment vs. salvation, etc. Anything else in the universe and in human experience is just furniture and background that serves the main paradigm: power, beauty, harmony, efficiency, productivity, intellect, art, health, genetics, ancestry, science, imagination, all these are inconsequential, and in themselves carry no significance. Their only purpose is to be made to serve the Covenant, which means to serve the cause of righteousness and justice. Outside such service, they have no meaning. That’s one way we can detect idolatry: when a religion or ideology tells us that some other paradigm is just as important as the paradigm good vs. evil, and we need to adjust our senses to discern those other paradigms at the same level as good and evil. (For example, the complaint of the Federal Vision movement against Christian Reconstruction was that it was too “woodenly restricted to judicial issues.” According to its ideologues, there were other paradigms that deserved equal attention, like liturgy. Where that led them, we will discuss in a future episode.) You know how atheists and secularists insist that morality is relative and that there is no objective fixed standard for what is moral and what is immoral. They are willing to concede everything else in the Bible – beauty, wisdom, art, literature, even the beneficial effects of monotheism – but tell them that there is a sovereign divine immutable code of ethics, and watch the fireworks. Why? Because, that’s what defines God’s Covenant: the standard for good and evil. Nothing else. It is its very heart. That’s why I have worked to train my senses to always judge everything based on that standard. Including Captain Marvel. And in this, I don’t care about the metaphysics of the characters. They can be women or men, or Vogons, or dancing mushrooms, for all I care. I will still judge the movie based on the immutable code of ethics of the Bible.
There are pagan ways of judging a movie, of course. Or of judging anything whatsoever. These are ways based on paradigms different from the issues of good and evil. For example, ontology: judge everything based on metaphysics (origin, genetics, material structure, etc.). Remember the 1995 movie, The Tuskegee Airmen? That bomber captain, the Texas boy? He couldn’t believe that blacks could fly them planes so well as to save his poor behind from two German Messerschmidts up there. Why? Because they just can’t do it. (To his credit, by the end of the movie, he changed his mind and specifically requested that the Tuskegee Airmen take him to Berlin and back. Redemption means changing your worldview from metaphysics to ethics.) Another pagan paradigm used in such judgments is power: who is given power and who isn’t. Both Communist and Nazi propaganda were obsessed with power; just google Nazi or Soviet propaganda posters and then pay attention to who is depicted as being muscular and tall and strong, and who is depicted as being short and fat, with crooked legs and feeble arms. Any identity politics, that is, any double standard based on any factor different from objective ethics – race, ethnicity, party loyalty, social status, economic status, institutional membership, beauty, intellect, etc. – is pagan by default. (It is for this reason that in 1 Cor. 11 Paul admonishes his readers to wait for each other so that there are no divisions based on such factors; the only allowable divisions are those based on interpretations of the Word.)
Given that, one would expect that Christians would meet Captain Marvel with approval. Not that the movie is an overtly Christian movie; but it does meet the criteria for covenantal content by making ethics its center; and it resolves ethical problems in the right way, and demonstrates redemption.
But that was not the case.
Over the last several weeks, after the release of the movie, I had the sad opportunity to read quite a few comments and articles on the movie, all from Christians, that blasted the movie for its perceived ideology. In none of these comments or articles did I ever see a single ounce of covenantal – that is, ethical/judicial – approach; in fact, I could swear that the authors of all these comments and articles had formed a cabal to blast the movie based on every single worldview available to mankind today, just not from a Biblical worldview. Among those comments I read things like this: “For a woman to become a hero, she needs to become a man.” Or this: “The idea of a woman saving men is unnatural, and that’s why Brie Larson’s character is so awkward and unnatural. She almost never smiles. And she is artificial.” (Like, that’s exactly what she is trying to portray in Vers, right?) Things that makes you shake your head in disbelief and put you in a quandary: What are these people talking about, and how exactly did they see that in the movie? Another one, based on perceived power dis-balance (and we will shortly get to that paradigm of power): “Men are portrayed as weak in that movie.” Where do these people get all this nonsense? (We will see shortly.)
The most popular one I have seen was published on the Desiring God Ministries web page, titled, “Behold Your Queen: The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel,” by someone Greg Morse. I usually don’t read Desiring God’s website: the quality is quite low, the worldview is limited to a few topics, and the so-called “gospel” they present is truncated to the level of a mystical religion, just as R.J. Rushdoony said in his Foundations of Social Order. But this article caught my eye because of the bombastic claim in it: “the real conflict” in Captain Marvel. You know, like there are false conflicts that other people are worried about, but the author has discovered the real one, so he is telling us what it is. You should know, every time someone says, “this is the real problem,” or “this is the real conflict,” it doesn’t say much about the problem or the conflict he is describing – that problem or conflict may be real, and it may not be real. But the truth is, it says a lot about the real worldview of the person saying it. And since worldviews are informed by religions, what Greg Morse actually did is not so much tell us about the “real conflict” in Captain Marvel, but about his own real religion. So I decided to read that article to find out what Greg Morse’s real religion is. And, by implication, to discover what the real religion of Desiring God Ministries is. It is always helpful to find out what god exactly it is that people desire.
Greg Morse does not mince words. He is quite open about his religion. Here is his assessment of the “real” conflict in Captain Marvel, in Greg Morse’s own words:
As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women.
The great drumroll of the previous Avenger movies led to this: a woman protecting men and saving the world. The mightiest of all the Avengers — indeed, after whom they are named — is the armed princess turned feminist queen, who comes down from the tower to do what Prince Charming could not.
Am I nitpicking? It is a movie after all. I wish it were. Instead of engaging the movie’s ideology as mere fiction, a fun escape to another world, we have allowed it to bear deadly fruit on earth. Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men. Cinderella trades her glass slipper for combat boots; Belle, her books for a bazooka. Does the insanity bother us anymore?
OK, before we get to the real part, he knows what he is going to say is nonsense, so he starts with a cheap emotional appeal: “How far have we come from the days we sought to protect and cherish our women.” He is not asking the women what they would consider “protecting and cherishing.” If he had asked them, he might have found a quite disturbing fact: women actually loved the movie. I am yet to meet a single woman who thought that the movie undermined the call to protect and cherish our women. Looks like, even before we get to the “real” conflict, Morse’s problem is his own problem, of a man who just doesn’t care what women think and say. “I am going to protect you and cherish you my way, and I won’t care what you think or want.”
Right here, a real man could just stop Morse in his tracks by retorting, “Why don’t we first listen to our women, if we are going to really cherish them? And when was that time when you sought to protect and cherish them? How did it work? If you were so good at it, why do our women today ignore your emotional appeal? Could it be that you failed? 200 hundred proven sexual predators among the leadership of the Southern Baptist churches alone over the last 20 years, and 700 victims of their violence and abuse . . . and those are only of whom we know. Who knows how many were out there in the other denominations that were never caught or exposed? How many of those predators were truly disciplined and how many were protected by their celebrity status? Does that sound like protecting and cherishing our women? Or does it sound like your idyllic days you sought to protect and cherish your women are simply a figment of your imagination and a propaganda pitch? May be that’s why our women want what that movie offers them in a fiction form. The truth is, your idyllic days never existed; you never cared about our women. You only pretend to care about them when something else that you really cherish is at stake.”
I am digressing here. But from Morse’s words, we know what exactly is at stake. It is power. Or, rather, the distribution of power in the society. Listen to his language: “The mightiest of all the Avengers . . . the armed princess . . . seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men.” See that? In the three sentences where he introduces his “real” conflict – as he sees it – he repeats four versions of “power”: mighty, armed, empower, strong. There is nothing about ethics, good and evil, redemption, moral conscience, etc. It is all about power. Or, more precisely, power given to the wrong kind of person. And that wrong kind of person is not defined by their ethical or covenantal status before God, but by their ontological, metaphysical essence. Power is given to women in that movie, you know. But by right, power doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to us men, so that we can protect women. We are supposed to keep women weak, otherwise how could we protect them? You give women the power to protect themselves, and the world goes upside down.
Greg Morse’s issue is nothing unusual. It’s just that the manner of some men is upon him: men who feel intimidated when a more powerful man is at the same party as them. They feel excluded, worthless, meaningless, by comparison. Now imagine what happens when there is a powerful woman around. That must be the end of the world. Or, at least, it is the end of those good old days when people like Greg Morse cherished and protected our women. But now that the women are becoming powerful, Morse can’t cherish them and protect them.
Some may not like my sarcasm, but it is well-deserved. If your cherishing and protecting women is predicated upon keeping women weak and preventing their empowerment, logically, your real agenda is not cherishing and protecting them. And what is more important, your religion is not the Biblical faith. It is something else. It is the religion of power. Greg Morse’s take on what the “real” conflict is reveals his true religion: it is a religion of power. Issues of justice and righteousness are not a real conflict to him. Only power is. Who is allowed to be powerful and who isn’t. Beyond that, no conflict is real.
We shouldn’t be surprised, of course. For the last 100 years – or may be 200 years – the religion of power has been the main religion of the American churches. From its wholehearted support for slavery in the 19th century, through the equally wholehearted support for the segregation in the 20th century, to the equally wholehearted support today for whatever unjust policies the political parties advocate, the leadership of the American churches has always been obsessed with power and enamored with power. And not just the leadership. The vast majority of church-goers just love power, and their practical and political ethics always revolves around the concept of keeping their particular identity tribe in power. Even the issue of salvation is often tied to political power; Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas has repeated multiple times now that those who don’t vote for Trump are not saved. And, guess what, despite the glaring heresy in his statement, not a single soul at the Southern Baptist Convention has raised a voice of concern over Jeffress’s ideology, let alone call for his resignation, excommunication, or separation from the Southern Baptist Churches. Jeffress is a man of influence, after all, and influence is power; who cares if he spouts obvious heresies? Modern ecclesiology also revolves around power from beginning to end: the ethical and judicial issues of the Law of God are of very little concern; what is always important is the protection of “authority” (that’s the pet name for institutional power). The modern doctrine of local mandatory church membership is power religion at its finest: you are not a real Christian unless you submit under the institutional power of other men.
When it comes to treatment of the weakest and the least among their own congregations, the religion of power is, again, on full display. We as Protestants like to talk about the sexual abuse scandals among the Roman Catholic clergy, but our own churches have been full of the same, if not worse. But that’s not the worst of it; it’s not just that the victims have been abused, they have also been silenced by means of institutional power. “Do not bring public accusations, you will ruin the life of that man.” Because the life of a powerful man is worth more than the life of a defenseless victim. Sexual abuse is not the only instance of power religion in practice; financial abuse is another one. Just recently, when the students at Jon MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary demanded information about some seemingly false claims about the Seminary’s accreditations, MacArthur’s answer was that they should shut up, because it was not their business to know. (Despite the fact that they are the ones paying.) Just shut up and leave everything to men in power, you peasants. Everyone should know and be satisfied with their stations in life.
So that’s what we got by keeping women weak: their devaluation and objectification. And certainly not their cherishing or protection. So the days Morse fantasizes about have never actually been. But that’s OK to Morse; it’s not really a real conflict. Power was still in the hands of the right people. That led to injustice, of course, at a grand scale, but injustice is a rather lesser conflict, or no conflict at all. Not the “real” one, for sure.
Morse says that we have allowed the ideology of the movie (as he imagines that ideology, revolving around power) to “bear deadly fruit on earth.” And that “deadly fruit” is, what do ya think? It is “empowering little girls everywhere to be strong like men.” Ya know, “deadly fruit” as in thousands of empowered little girls roaming around the planet murdering tens and hundreds of millions? Last time I checked, those tens and hundreds of millions were murdered by men under ideologies that actually agreed with Greg Morse on women’s station in life. The patriarchal monarchical empires of Europe in the early 20th century gave WWI. The notoriously machistic Nazi regime gave us WWII. (The Nazis didn’t even accept women as members of the Nazi Party, nor did they allowed women in government positions. The Nazi view of the place of women was quite the same as Morse’s.) Modern persecution of Christians around the globe is mainly done by Muslims, and we know their view of the place of women in the society. So what “deadly fruit” is Morse talking about, again?
The real deadly fruit is that of his own ideology. As the church believes, so the world goes, even the unbelieving world. So when the church and its leaders are committed not to the Biblical faith but to a power religion (even if it is under a thin veneer of Christian theology), we should expect the world and its leaders to be committed to the same power religion, with our without the veneer. We should expect, therefore, to see Morse’s religion replicated in the world around us, and especially in the governments and their policies around us. In Christendom, the official transition to religion of power as the official policy-making ideology of governments started with Napoleon: “There are only two forces that unite men: fear and interest.” While in the 19th century, governments were still a bit shy to display that religion openly, that shyness disappeared with WWI; it was a war entirely fought based on the concept of who has more power, not on what the right thing to do was. Stalin continued the same obsession with power over ethics (we wouldn’t expect a professed atheist to worry too much about ethics, would we. When in the 1930s, Stalin was asked by the French socialist Pierre Laval for an advice on how to win the Pope to his side so that he could win the hearts of the French Catholics, Stalin’s reply was short: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” The Nazis’ obsession with power is well-known; one just needs to watch Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda movie about Hitler, The Triumph of the Will, to get a grasp of how obsessed they were with power. In fact, that’s the very defining feature of all totalitarian regimes; other dictators have also been quite open about their addiction to power. Think Mao, “Politics comes out of the barrel of a gun”; and indeed, politics in the world today is almost entirely predicated on who has the bigger guns, not on who shows a greater level of service and help.
Perhaps all these examples seem a bit too abstract to you. Well, then, look at American politics in the last several decades, and especially in the last couple of years. And no, not only the leftists, that is, the Democrat Party. The other leftists – the Republicans – are entirely obsessed with power. Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been based solely on the paradigm of power and who wields that power. “Make America great again” is not about making America the moral leader of the world again, a nation that uses its wealth and power to oppose dictators, help the oppressed, welcome the stranger to share in its greatness, and generally use its blessings from God to bless others. It is about a constant anxiety that others out there may be taking advantage of us in some nefarious ways, so let’s overpower them and show them who’s the boss here. It is “greatness” based on power, not true greatness based on service and moral leadership. It is the psychology of a sociopath who would rather live alone and rejected by all just to make sure he doesn’t do something by mistake to benefit or empower other people than himself. This is power religion in its ultimate madness, in its American version. The constant warmongering and gloating over our ability to inflict death is another example; think Ted Cruz, “I don’t know if the sand in the desert can glow in the dark, but we will find out.” It’s in the South Carolina’s conservative evangelical booing of Ron Paul when he laid out his principle of foreign policy: “Do unto others as you want done unto you.” That’s a heresy under the religion of power; we do unto others according to our might, not according to your outdated ethical code of Semitic desert shepherds of 2,000 years ago. It’s in the worship of police. It’s in the calls for shooting women and children at the border whose “crime” is that they want to find safety. Our civil government at every level has abandoned its function to protect justice and has turned into an arena of competing powers – and that is only because those who profess to be “Christians” have made the religion of power their true religion, abandoning the cause of the Gospel, while paying lip service to the Gospel.
And that’s the way they treat women, as well. Because women are weaker, and whoever is weaker, must have no voice in a world of powers. And certainly don’t try to empower women: if they have been created weaker, that must be for a purpose, so don’t try to empower them; you will tilt the balance of power. That’s Morse’s “real” conflict.
Unfortunately for Morse, this is not going to end well for him and his ilk. Obsession with power, and worship of power, always ends badly in the Bible, and those who crave power end up victims of the same power they craved. Jesus warned the disciples that they should not succumb to the temptation of resorting to power to deal with the enemies of the Gospel (Luke 9:55-56), and when Peter did resort to power, Jesus gave Him the Biblical principle: “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.” In Revelation 17, that principle is applied to the Apostate Church, the Harlot that is Babylon: she rides on the Beast (which is the political power), but then the Beast turns around and tears her apart; in fact, the very horns of the Beast (symbols of power) are those who are said to hate the harlot and eat her flesh and burn her with fire. Whatever your eschatological position on Revelation may be, at least this one is sure: an apostate church is a church that rides on the Beast (power) and eventually gets destroyed by that same power.
Perhaps this is one of the reason, or the very reason why the church in America has lost so much of its influence in the society, and has been impotent to preach the Gospel with true spiritual power. The more the church has relied in the Beast to sustain and carry it, the more the Beast has been turning upon her. We like to blame Satan, the world, the liberals, the Democrats, the millennials, the feminists, Hollywood, the mythical “cultural Marxism,” but in reality, it is our own worship of power that has destroyed our witness, and has turned the society over to idols. And we have been on the losing side. God said to Israel in the Old Covenant: “You want to worship the gods of the nations? I will put you under the law systems of the gods of the nations, to see how you like it.” He might be saying the same to the church today: “You want to rely on political power for self-preservation? I will put you under that political power to see how you like it.”
So if, Morse wants to see where the real deadly influence is, it is not empowering the weakest in our society. It is in his obsession with power .
Empowering the weak is actually the Biblical standard. Including the women. Women are created physically weaker, that goes without saying, and the Bible says it. But there is no law against empowering them. Their weaker state is not something we should uphold as a religious standard. To the contrary, we should teach our girls to overcome their weakness and indeed, be as strong as men. Because some day a man may approach them with evil intentions, and they need to be prepared to inflict as much pain and destruction on the criminal as to make him abandon his evil intentions. This is real cherishing and protecting our women; keeping them weak so that some men can feel important is selfishness, not cherishing and not protecting. Women should be taught to fight, and they should be taught, as much as possible, to break skulls for God. Or spaceships, why not?
Greg Morse, with his obsession with power, is on the losing side of history. On the winning side of history is service: those who are powerful, using their power not to establish their own importance, but to empower the weak: widows, orphans, foreigners, the poor, and, of course, women. That’s why he and his ilk are losing the cultural war in America, and the feminists are winning it. The reversal will come only when the church reverses its view of power, and outdoes the enemies of God in empowering the weak. As long as we as a church are obsessed with the distribution of power, we will be on the losing side.
Matt. 25:34-46 continues to be a valid warning to all of us, especially to those who claim to be professing Christ: Whatever we do to the weakest among us will determine what will be done to us on the final day. And that’s the truly real conflict in Greg Morse’s article.
The books I will assign for reading this week is Frank McDonough, Sophie Scholl. Read and remember: women can be stronger than men. So strong as to bravely go where no man has gone before, and lay down their lives where no man dared to. And men who want women weak in order to look strong themselves are not really strong; they are selfish weaklings. A strong man is a man for whom empowered women are not a threat to his own masculinity, and he is still capable of cherishing and protecting them.
In your prayer and givings, remember Bulgarian Reformation Ministries, a mission organization committed to building the intellectual foundation for the future Christian civilization in Eastern Europe. We are not obsessed with distribution of power. We empower all, especially the weakest among us. Visit BulgarianReformation.com, subscribe to our newsletter, and donate. God bless y’all.