I consider it a spiritual and moral imperative that defenders of Orthodoxy expose the ideological foundations, heretical views, and the negative consequences indicative of those who look to reshape, reform, or simply recommend a false presentation of Christianity.
An example of one such person is David Sessions, who covers Religion for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and is the founding editor of Patrol Magazine.
In his defense, Mr. Sessions is more of a doubter than a believer; but on the surface, he is somewhat ambiguous about his unbelief.
Earlier this year, I had a revealing exchange with Mr. Sessions, who grew up part of a Conservative Christian community and now spends a majority of his professional career writing scathing critiques against the mainstream church. I pulled the following exchange directly from Patrol’s webpage comments section, in which a few of the regular readers started voicing concerns about Session’s radical views toward essential core doctrine – specifically his unapologetic promotion of fornication over chastity.
“It’s difficult to end the virginity cult without getting rid of the whole “doctrine” that premarital sex is sin, and that remains an shibboleth no one can challenge in public.” – David Sessions, “What It Will Really Take To Bring Down the Cult of Virginity” Patrol, January 31, 2013
JMJ – Are you condemning us evangelicals for calling sin, sin because of the bad consequences?
Adam – what do you call people who claim to be part of a religion but don’t seem to believe in any of its core doctrines? Not knowing you personally, this might be an overgeneralization, but Patrol spends far more time challenging and criticizing core Christian doctrines than affirming or explaining them. In the Catholic Church, such people are called “heretics.” It seems sad to me that a “religion writer” for a major publication like Newsweek/The Daily Beast wouldn’t bother grappling with the actual Christian doctrine of chastity before exhorting his readers to jettison the doctrine en masse.
AC – (David) Sessions writing about Orthodoxy is like Luther writing about the Jews….he is a typical progressive journalist that looks to control info & grossly misrepresent his opponent….it’s people like him, writing on Religion for major publications, that will bring about the persecution of orthodox Christianity, or at least drive us underground.
C.M. – David, my point was that the individual and sociological damage done as a result of permissive attitudes towards sex is far greater than anything resulting from the supposed repressive approach of evangelicals. In other words, your potential solution may be worse than the problem.
Mark – You seem to leave out (not surprisingly) the data that shows that premarital sex leads to depression, other forms of sexual deviancy, STD’s, unplanned pregnancies, etc. Sociologists and counselors would agree that pre-marital sex isn’t a positive force in the lives of teens and young adults. To offer no solution other than “Those other guys are wrong” is unfair and uninformed.
T.H. – So when Paul said to “flee fornication”, what the heck did he mean? You are totally disregarding the Biblical witness.
K.K. – Christians should simply go ahead and “responsibly” sleep around before marriage? You’re losing creditability
AC – David is just showing his true colors…he’s been holding back….this is what fringe-Christian/lib-progressives do….They write convoluted, confusing essays that go nowhere while planting little seeds of disdain for Christian essentials/absolutes that run contrary to his radical social agenda….this is the real David!
David Sessions – I’m so much worse than that, AC. If only you knew!
AC – David, you have a 2-fold agenda, I believe one comes from a ‘good’ place while the other comes from too much brain-washing on the other side….sounds like you went from one extreme to another.
Your ‘good’ side wants to reach out to the wounded youth who have grown-up part of a repressive, legalistic, controlling family-church dynamic. Your ‘bad’ side wants to bring down/disparage any remnants of Christian exclusivity/ morality (that does not violate the golden rule).
This is all fine, it’s (Patrol magazine) your gig ….but I think many of your readers are confused…they think you’re merely defined by the former agenda…..while the truth is you have fully embraced the later.
You’re smart enough to know that you fall so far outside orthodoxy that you’re barely a Christian….While my agenda is to expose all liberal Christians as falling too far outside Christianity to be considered a voice that is rightly viewed as an insider merely providing constructive criticism…. You have embraced the role of an outsider looking to take Christianity down or more accurately….making us look stupid.
David Sessions – This is actually not too bad a guess. I do want to “reach out” to Christians, but not to “save” them from repression or legalism or whatever. I just think it’s important to remain in dialogue/debate with all kind of people, even after you’ve rejected their beliefs. I’m not trying to pose as an insider, though I have a certain appearance of being one thanks to spending most of my life as an evangelical. Nor do I want to “bring them down” from the inside or the outside. I want to respect them, debate them when I believe their ideology is wrong or destructive, and expose them (in my role as a reporter) when they are committing abuses or crimes through religious institutions.
I see it quite simply: a lot of people in my world (non-believing “secularists” or liberals or whatever) has no contact with actual religious believers, and think of them as a monolithic bloc to be opposed. I freely admit that I oppose many of the political implications of some Christian beliefs, and there are a number of orthodox/mainstream Christian doctrines I believe are deeply wrong. But overall, I take a friendly position toward religion; I think discussion, debate and interaction is healthy for all of us whenever we have enough common ground for it.
AC – I don’t know David, from what I’ve read, and checking out a few of your tweets, I think you’re too immersed in progressive liberalism to actually take ‘a friendly position toward religion’
Photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC (Creative Commons)