The Western world is undergoing a sociological revolution (although Pascal Emanuel Gobry argues it is a reaction to the Christian revolution). This will become very clear to us in a generation. Values, ethics and modes of operating and functioning in society are in many areas being transformed and nobody knows what the result will be. No one possibly can. It could be 150 years before things fully play out, as the same Gobry, points out (ironically in this article, he talks of social-revolution. Make your mind up Pascal). In all likelihood it will neither be as good as the revolutionaries claim nor quite as bad as the doom-sayers make out, but that doesn’t make it good or right.
For Christians there are questions of liberty and conscience but quite obviously it is the arena of sexual ethics, practice and identity that grabs all the headlines. Let’s examine some recent evidence:
A mother sends her 11 year old son to school dressed up as Christian Grey from 50 shades of Grey. Her defence is those dressed as James Bond are just as bad or worse, which is not much of a defence. The article clearly implies that plenty of 11 year old children have pretty good knowledge about 50 Shades. That is concerning because while not every child will actually become a spy and kill people nearly all of them will have sex at some point and what they think about sex will be formed (in part) by a film plenty of people are calling abusive.
An American university has expanded the acronyms of sexual identity to 15. The man whose name is on the university would be, I’m reasonably confident, appalled. As Carl Trueman observes,
“The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.”
*As an aside both sides of the straight/gay argument have used the idea of ‘natural’ – traditionalists say male & female are natural, out trot some gay penguins etc.. yet I think this article proves beyond all shadow of a doubt that nature is a very unreliable guide when it comes to sex.*
It will become, if not already, impossible to claim that there are limits to sexual activity. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be attempts to regulate or modify however. Ross Douthat, makes essentially the same point arguing that,
“So our sexual egalitarians don’t want to shut down the party or end the bacchanal. They just want hookup culture to be governed by affirmative consent, for prostitutes to become empowered sex workers, for misogynistic porn to be balanced out by feminist alternatives, for dangerous patriarchal polygamy to give way to safe egalitarian polyamory, and for De Sade’s Justine to find happiness as a submissive protected by her safe words.”
Ironically the new puritans will not be the religious but secular liberal feminists such as those in Iceland who tried to ban internet porn a few years back. Yet humanity shows a profound ability to circumvent the rules when it comes to sex. In Sweden it was made illegal to buy sexual services in an attempt to protect prostitutes. This successfully moved the problem from the street to the internet and the hotel.
Having already lost the broader case about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage and more – the next area the church will have to increasingly contend with will be the pastoral challenges of transgenderism. As it increasingly becomes less taboo and society disconnects the ‘fact’ of gender from the ‘fact’ of self-identity, more and more people will opt for sex-change surgery. This is already happening in Sweden. Yet it will unlikely be the answer they are hoping for.
I haven’t even touched on the subject of pornography, that gets a post of its own. Most of these trends and developments are not new and are most likely going to continue and if Gobry is right, it could be a long time out in the cold for the traditional view. It is unlikely that the traditional view of sexuality will seem plausible to the majority for many years to come. Whatever the accommodations of various Christians, it is unlikely that the majority of Christians will change their minds any time soon. Even if that means history will not look kindly on us, if it even looks at us at all.