I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Thursday, June 5, 2014

William Baer, Nineteen Minutes, and the Needed Exodus

CBS News recently reported on the remarkable arrest of William Baer, the father of a fourteen daughter and student at Gilford High School in Gilford, New Hampshire, whose required reading in an English class included what Baer described as being “like a transcript for a triple-X porno movie.”[1] The controversial reading assignment, which served as the grounds of Baer’s complaint, is Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes, which includes an explicit, or perhaps better illicit, description of a sexual encounter between two teens as part of the book’s narrative. In addition to his daughter’s personal exposure to the material, Baer complained, “We had no notice of it whatsoever, no written notice, no verbal, nothing.”
Baer took his understandable complaints to a meeting of the Gilford School Board. The meeting policy allocated a mere two minutes per person for public comments. Pressing for answers and a response from school board members, Baer exceeded the two minute limit; he was repeatedly asked to stop talking. Lt. James Leach, Gilford Police Department’s acting chief, approached Baer, who told Leach, “Arrest me or I’m not going to [i.e., stop talking].” Baer continued, and Leach arrested and booked Baer for disorderly conduct, which could result in an additional $1200 fine.
Beyond the prima facie absurdity of the circumstances surrounding Baer’s arrest, and even deeper than the state compulsorily exposing fourteen year olds to pornographic material, which school officials deemed “thought-provoking and appropriate for the ninth graders,” is the heart of the issue—the state’s gross transgression of God’s institution of sphere sovereignty. Ray Sutton explains, “Sphere sovereignty says that there are three spheres of covenantal government in society: Family, Church, and State.”[2] This plurality of authorities is by God’s ordering of society. And such ordering preserves the necessary “checks and balances,” as we say, to prevent the absolutization of any one sphere’s authority over the others and thereby averts tyranny, which is the most constant threat east of Eden. In terms of sphere sovereignty, the only one which possesses it absolutely and universally over all spheres is the Lord God. This is biblical sociology; this is the divine design for society.[3]
While there are obvious overlaps between these spheres, wherein members of one sphere are also members of the others, the sovereignty, that is, authority, of each sphere is self-contained. Each sphere has certain authority and responsibilities which are mutually exclusive of one another.[4] Concerning children, which are members of both the family and the state, by means of their commitment to government schools, the family possesses the exclusive and moral authority in all matters by God’s ordinance. All legitimate school/teacher authority, then, is derivative from the parents, as schools/teachers stand loco parentis, in the place of the parents, not the state.  In fact, “it may be said that the Bible in speaking of the duties of the state never mentions the work of educating the children of the nation (cf. Ex. 18:22—26; Deut. 1:16, 17; Matt. 22:17—21; Rom. 13:1—7; 1 Pet. 2:13—15).”[5] Therefore, as in the considered case, when the state, through any one of its nearly infinite number of agencies, seeks to hyperextend its sovereignty and transgress its proper divinely ordered boundary, it finds itself in an illegitimate struggle against the invaded sphere, the family, for the crown rights and authority over its members, its children. In our context, “Authority has shifted away from the parent to the state.”[6] More than that, the state is found to be at war with Lord of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel, as their breech of boundary is at once a violation of God’s law-ordinance and the futile attempt to usurp God’s absolute authority over all spheres. It is an expression to the original satanic temptation for man to strive to be like God—absolute autonomy—to be a god unto himself (Gen. 3:5).
At stake, then, is the issue of sovereignty and authority, the divine ordering of society and a state attack right at the very heart of all society, the family. Sutton is therefore well-justified in contending, “the government is privately and publically at war with the family...[the family] is being attacked from all sides. The greatest enemy is the government itself.”[7] In the reported story concerning Baer we have a clear case of the state seizing by force (literally) the authority of the family, and this in the area of sexual morality regarding the children. Correctly, then, Sutton highlights that in the state’s war against the family “sex is one of the areas being attacked,” since the family has a fundamental monopoly on this area.      
Baer’s story is simply one example of a powerful and dark force surging through the undercurrent of our culture. It is an illustration of the secular humanist coup, which is using devious litigation and illegitimate state power and control to destroy the remnants of the once profoundly Christian culture and worldview that nurtured American society for centuries. This present-day assault bears the original subtlety of its source, which knew that in order to control the world one must begin with the destruction of the family (Gen. 3; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:11—15).    
It must be granted, however, the anonymous CBS reporter that authored the story did a reasonably good job at masking his or her biased bend toward the school board’s decision, actions against Baer, and resulting policy changes. The bias is nevertheless apparent.
The reporting of the story was rather straight forward and seemingly objective. The reporter’s input and details constituted 173 words of the story’s total word count of 306. The school board’s comments were given 43 words; Leach, the arresting officer, was given a mere 30 words, while Baer was allowed 60 words to express his position in the controversy. Granting the allegedly long monologue that Baer gave at the meeting, though, the reader can easily sense that the reporter omitted the crux of Baer’s problems. The bulk of Baer’s account that the reporter included consisted primarily of details surrounding the arrest, which strategically diverts the reader’s attention from the heart of the matter, the state’s tyrannizing of the parents.
Similarly, the reporter shared that the Gilford School Board sent CBS a statement “explaining it has revised its policy for letting parents know about books being read.” With this the reader is postured to hear what so far seems like a reasonable response and redress on the school board’s part. Thus the school board’s statement begins, “The district will take immediate action to revise these policies to include notification...” If honest, the average reader, which would be only skimming the story, would admit that he has already jumped to the next paragraph, believing that the board had made accommodations for parental notification and participation options. The rest of the school board’s statement is, for this writer, more shocking and controversial that the prescribed book that started the struggle.
The statement goes on to say, “...that requires parents to accept controversial material rather than opt out” (!!). So, the school board is taking immediate action to change its notification policies not to allow parents to exercise their God-given authority and prerogative but to notify them that the state has utterly ripped that authority from their hands, leaving them no option but to shut up and obey—its tyranny! If the last several decades have not made the point painfully obvious, Cornelius Van Til announces it for those slow of heart: “If then we want a God-centered and truly Christian education, we will have to break away completely from the education philosophy that surrounds us [i.e., state education].”[8] This radical—fascists—declaration of the Gilford School Board evidences that American Christians are at an inflexible point in their history, which will demand an absolute and exclusive decision: Who will be lord over my family, Christ the Lord or Caesar as lord? Despite how subtly written, the CBS story covering Baer’s situation sends a warning that this decision entails higher stakes with every day that passes.
In a final stroke of propagandizing prowess, the reporter concludes the story with two brief sentences about Baer. Lest the reader walk away from the report confused who the real “bad guy” is in this tale, we are told “Baer was charged with disorderly conduct. If convicted, he could be fined up to $1200.” It is as if the reporter said: Remember all you parents of even marginally traditional families and values, it is a crime against the state to stand on your God-given crown rights over your children’s moral education and sexual purity!
            Christians, who still allow the public education’s statecraft and humanistic religion to indoctrinate their children, are often outraged to learn of the painfully obvious attacks on their family’s values, which are ground into their kids’ minds daily. However, granting how overt and open the enemy is on this front, it reminds me of the idiot that wants to sue R. J. Reynolds for his lung cancer, after a lifetime of smoking no-filter cigarettes; like the lady who screams “Look out!!” after she backs into your car in Walmart’s parking lot! The point? It’s over-time to get our children OUT—it’s time for an exodus!   

Berkhof, Louis and Cornelius Van Til. Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1990.

CBS News. “Dad Arrested for Complaining about Girl’s School Assignment.” CBS Interactive Inc. (May 07, 2014). As found at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dad-arrested-for-complaining-about-daughters-school-assignment/ (accessed May 22, 2014).

Sutton, Ray. Who Owns the Family: God or State? Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1986.

[1] CBS News, “Dad Arrested for Complaining about Girl’s School Assignment,” CBS Interactive Inc. (May 07, 2014), as found at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dad-arrested-for-complaining-about-daughters-school-assignment/ (accessed May 22, 2014). Unless otherwise noted by citation, all quotes and references to the story is taken from this article.

[2] Ray Sutton, Who Owns the Family: God or State? (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1986), 20.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Louis Berkhof and Cornelius Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1990), 29.
[6] Sutton, Who Owns the Family?, 15.

[7] Ibid., xxiii.
[8] Berkhof and Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education, 3.

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