As I observe the world around me, I see a common thread… the willingness to do anything it takes to create ones own “reality” and live by ones personal “truth”. Pollsters do it to win elections, pseudo-scientists do it for win grant money, and Christians do it to gain favor from the world. The term that describes this practice is “Procrustean.”

Where does this term come from? It comes form Greek mythology in a figure named Procrustes.

Procrustes was a host who adjusted his guests to their bed. Procrustes, whose name means “he who stretches”, was arguably the most interesting of Theseus’s challenges on the way to becoming a hero. He kept a house by the side of the road where he offered hospitality to passing strangers, who were invited in for a pleasant meal and a night’s rest in his very special bed. Procrustes described it as having the unique property that its length exactly matched whomsoever lay down upon it. What Procrustes didn’t volunteer was the method by which this “one-size-fits-all” was achieved, namely as soon as the guest lay down Procrustes went to work upon him, stretching him on the rack if he was too short for the bed and chopping off his legs if he was too long. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, fatally adjusting him to fit his own bed.

This is akin to what I see happening today. Like Procrustes, anti-Chrisitan leaders have determined the shape to which the Church must conform, they have lured the Church into their comfortable bed with the promise of acceptance, and once trapped She has been robbed of Her Divine beauty in Christ and stretched and chopped to fit this idolatrous shape. We have become the Procrustean Church.

This method of shaping the future through manipulation is what some call a Procrustean Solution.

Procrustean Solution is the practice of manipulating facts to fit a preconceived container or agenda.

To fully understand how this applies to the Church, here is a helpful definition as it applies to statistics.

In a Procrustean solution in statistics, instead of finding the best fit line to a scatter plot of data, one first chooses the line one wants, then selects only the data that fits it, disregarding data that does not, so to “prove” some idea. It is a form of rhetorical deception made to forward one set of interests at the expense of others. The unique goal of the Procrustean solution is not win-win, but rather that Procrustes wins and the other loses. In this case, the defeat of the opponent justifies the deceptive means.

In other words, when a pollster wants to reach a specific goal (i.e. Elect a politician, persuade a public vote, etc..), they determine ahead of time how they can reach that goal and then pick the data that best fits their narrative.  This practice was effectively employed by the communists and the Nazis to influence public opinion.

For a Procrustean advocate, the end always justifies the means.

This radical Procrusteanism is found also among those who believe social justice in the absolute. Anything that does not guarantee an equal result is deemed the enemy of justice. For example, statistics show that children raised in a traditional two-parent home, one father and one mother, have certain advantages over children raised in single parent/no-parent home. Thus, for some, the traditional biological family is the enemy of social-justice. So argues Joe Gelonesi.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

So if the two-parent family is the source of inequality, it must be abolished and/or redefined. The article concludes.

From this realisation arises another twist: two is not the only number.

‘Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,’ says Swift.

It’s here that the traditional notions of what constitutes the family come apart. A necessary product of the Swift and Brighouse analytical defence is the calling into question of some rigid definitions.

‘Politicians love to talk about family values, but meanwhile the family is in flux and so we wanted to go back to philosophical basics to work out what are families for and what’s so great about them and then we can start to figure out whether it matters whether you have two parents or three or one, or whether they’re heterosexual etcetera.’

In these two examples from Pollsters and Social-Justice Seekers, we can see the genesis of the Procrustean Church.

  1. Agendas are set by groups who want God’s Church destroyed.
  2. Data is selectively chosen by pollsters to fit the new narrative.
  3. The masses are persuaded by slick marketing and bullying tactics.
  4. The natural facts are rendered impotent by emotional pleas manufactured to titillate the heart.
  5. Anyone who holds a divergent viewpoint is vilified so that no rational argument can penetrate the Procrustean induced hatred.

The changes we see around us do not reflect the natural progression of God’s Church, but rather a corruption designed and engineered by those who hate Her. Once aware of the agenda, I pray the power of manipulation is broken. I pray all my brothers and sisters will return to the hope of the one Gospel and the truth of Jesus Christ. I pray we will once again embrace the Church as our real inheritance in Christ.

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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