Strong tides

It’s not news to say that western society has long since left behind traditional Christian sexual ethics. As society has changed and churches have increasingly encountered people who reject the tradition, so churches have attempted to adapt and re-evaluate their tradition. These sweeping changes have created a sizeable distance between society and church.

There are changes in worldview. Tim Challies quotes Nancy Pearcey about why Christians struggle to communicate effectively on the issue of sexuality:

It’s crucial for us to realize that nonbelievers are constantly filtering what we say through a mental fact/value grid. For example, when we state a position on an issue like abortion or bioethics or homosexuality, we intend to assert an objective moral truth important to the health of society—but they think we’re merely expressing our subjective bias.

These huge cultural forces are leading to unprecedented self-anxiety in men and equally difficult but different challenges for women. Here Mary Eberstadt argues that,

Many women are now exactly what feminists say they are: victims — only not in the way that feminism understands. They are captives behind enemy lines, but the enemy is not patriarchy or gender-norming. It’s the sexual revolution itself. And like other people held hostage for too long by a hostile force, these women are suffering from a problem that has had a name for some time. It’s Stockholm syndrome.

In the midst of the struggle for men and women to know what it means to be either a man or a woman, we will in all likelihood read more stories like this one of two young transgendered children. For an excellent article on this do read, Is there a place for the Transgender in the Church? by Melinda Selmys

The knock-on effect will most keenly be felt in the youngest generations who are face incredible pressures. An onslaught of easy to access pornography on one side, they frequently lack the backup they need as their parents whose own moral values lack solid ground are buffetted in a strong cultural tides and do not know what to do.

This article is frankly heart-breaking on so many levels. Here is just one saddening but all-too-true paragraph:

I hate it, knowing stuff like this. I’d prefer to be in blissful ignorance, like my own mum was about my own sexual teenage antics. But I haven’t got that luxury, because my generation simply wasn’t under the same pressures my girl is.

The boys in our day passed around dog-eared copies of Penthouse that an older brother had generously handed over – how tame they seem by modern standards. They weren’t being exposed to high definition images of girls being passed around like pieces of meat, which today is just a couple of clicks away.

There are genuine concerns about what this means for marriage for the next generation, and not just amongst Christians.

And although there are some fighting for marriage and making the case for marriage it seems almost inevitable that new and increasingly complicated family patterns will emerge as this article about sperm donors winning visitation rights suggests.

It remains an important task to say that sexual sin is a dead end, that Jesus talked more about it than you think, or that Romans 1 is relevant to couples in same-sex partnerships and to offer an alternative vision. It has become common for progressive Christians to argue for theological change on the grounds of justice, yet I wonder what is just about letting a generation harm itself? We need to argue not why our view is true as much as we need to show why it is wise, why it is good, why it is more beautiful, why it is trustworthy and within it there is freedom.

Photo by The U.S. National Archives

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