In The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher discusses the way Christian teaching on marriage came as a revolutionary alternative to the exploitation of women in the first and second centuries. From page 198:
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.” Chastity—the rightly ordered use of the gift of sexuality—was the greatest distinction setting Christians of the early church apart from the pagan world.
UPDATE: Since writing this article, Steve Turley has offered a response to me, what he called “a critique of the critique of the critique.” Since he has further clarified his position and identified possible points of misunderstanding, I asked Steve if he would be okay with me sharing his response below following my original article. Steve kindly gave his permission. Scroll down to read his response.
The critics of The Benedict Option seem to range from those who are rattled at how modest Dreher’s proposal actually is (“hey, what’s so special about TBO approach when this is what the church has always been saying?”) to those who assume that Dreher is advocating some type of paradigm shift from cultural engagement to retreat. The former critics can at least be given the credit of having understood what Dreher is saying, which cannot be said of the latter group.
Steve Turley’s problem with The Benedict Option is nuanced and thoughtful, while still generally falling into the second category of critics.
Was John Calvin a Nominalist or a Realist? Does this question even have meaning? What were the primary influences of this theology?
Last year (or was it earlier this year?) I published a three-part series addressing these questions and exploring the nominalist roots of John Calvin’s theology. Here are the links to my articles:
In Chapter 2 of The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of some of the factors that have contributed to the West’s spiritual decline. In his historical narrative there were five landmark events that played a pivotal role in this process. He summarizes these as follows:
“In the fourteenth century, the loss of belief in the integral connection between God and Creation—or in philosophic terms, transcendent reality and material reality [he is talking about Nominalism vs. Realism here.]
The collapse of religious unity and religious authority in the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century
The eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which displaced the Christian religion with the cult of Reason, privatized religious life, and inaugurated the age of democracy
The Industrial Revolution (ca 1760-1840) and the growth of capitalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
The Sexual Revolution (1960-present).”