The categories or topics which fall into the realm of the culture wars are many. We can start from the beginning and pit the Theory of Evolution against Biblical Creationism. Furthermore, did we start with a Big Bang or is the creation narrative told in the Book of Genesis the accurate account? If we move into the topic of sex we can take many side roads to explore. Alfred Kinsey certainly played an instrumental role in lowering inhibitions. The resulting consequences are rampant premarital sex, marital infidelity, divorce, contraception, abortion, and the mainstreaming of homosexuality. How acceptable has this behavior become in our society?
Gallup conducted research from May 8—11, 2014 about morality by asking the question, “Do you believe that, in general, the following are morally acceptable?” Here are some of the results Gallup released:
Birth Control 90%
Sex between an unmarried man and woman 66%
Having a baby outside of marriage 58%
Gay or lesbian relations 58%
Doctor-assisted suicide 52%
Sex between teenagers 30%
Married men and women having an affair 7%
The statement I hear more and more frequently from Christians is that we have lost the culture war. Traditional beliefs are no longer the majority opinion in society and the subsequent consequence is a loss of the freedom of religion. If you don’t believe that freedom of religion is being taken away in the process of the persistent sexual indoctrination, ask the bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple wedding. Ask the businesses being forced to comply with the HHS mandate to provide contraceptives to their employees even though it contradicts their religious beliefs. The culture wars have exacted an immense toll on our country and the ripple effect is only beginning to be seen.
Someone asked me last week, “Where is the Church?” That is an interesting question. Obviously, there have been times when Church leadership has probably failed to teach effectively the fullness of the Truth. There may have been times when the Gospel message was watered down to make it more palatable to the hearers. Human failures in being faithful to the proclamation of Jesus Christ can be traced back all the way to the apostles. This is nothing new. It is also nothing new for members of the Church to ignore the teaching of the Gospel and to reject the moral guidance of the Church. It is called “free will.”
There is plenty of blame to go around for those of us who believe that American society is in steep moral decline. Pointing fingers and accusing others of being the problem will not help us reach a solution as to how we are going to turn the tide. Let’s face the facts. American society has accepted the culture of death as the mainstream of life. It sounds like a contradiction in terms. However, if we look seriously at the Gallup results there is no denying that the statistics point predominantly toward death. Let’s take a look at some of the topics listed above and ask the question, “Is it life giving?”
Birth control may be looked upon as an avenue of freedom to enjoy sexual relations without the “consequences” of a resulting pregnancy. Is it life-giving? Certainly not! It is strategically designed to prevent life from emanating through the conjugal act. This is not freedom. It has simply given license to use people as objects for the purpose of self-gratification. The shocking component of this is that 90% of people apparently agree that this is okay. The resulting promiscuous behavior (made possible by the pill) repeatedly brings heartache and devastation into the lives of many people. The sadness and brokenness is frequently palpable.
Divorce has taken a huge toll on our society. If you have experienced a divorce yourself, or walked the journey of healing with someone else who has divorced, you understand the consequences of this action. There is enough pain and suffering in the process of a divorce to last a lifetime. This does not just impact the husband and wife who are parting ways, but the traumatic and emotional impact on the children is nothing short of heart-wrenching. The bitterness and anger that frequently accompanies the divorce process has a ripple effect on the extended family as well? Is this life-giving? Certainly not! Yet, 69% of people think this is a morally acceptable thing to do.
I was grateful to see lower numbers (though still too high) in regard to the acceptance of pornography (33%) and sex between teenagers (30%). Sexual promiscuity is apparently okay as an adult if you are not viewing pornography. Sex between an unmarried man and unmarried woman is acceptable by 66% of those surveyed. Unfortunately, the lack of commitment and stability that is evident in the “hook-up” culture has some long-term effects for the stability of society. Pregnancy outside of wedlock (58% think it is acceptable), higher likelihood of poverty, and other social concerns are intertwined to the noncommittal nature of these types of relationships. Is it life-giving to have a high percentage of adults engaging in sexual relations outside the bond of marriage? Some would argue that it is. Birth control has obviously encouraged that point of view. Looking at the procreative and unitive component of the Sacrament of Marriage in the context of Christianity would express a very different point of view.
Abortion has been viewed as a major aspect of the culture war since 1973. According to Gallup 42% of respondents think abortion is acceptable. This is something I will never understand. As ultrasound technology continues to improve and we get a clearer and clearer picture into the womb, it is beyond my comprehension as to how society has become okay with snuffing out the innocent life of a child. An ultra-sound guided abortion is what prompted abortion clinic (Planned Parenthood) director Abby Johnson to become pro-life. In her testimony she reveals the horror she experienced as she watched (via ultra-sound images) the baby struggling to escape the suction machine designed to terminate the pregnancy. These images reveal clearly more than a “blob of tissue” or a “fetus”. The jargon or terminology concocted will never conceal the fact that it is a baby present in the womb of the mother. We have allowed the discussion about abortion to be hijacked by those with a very specific agenda. Pregnancy became a disease to be cured rather than a miracle of life to be celebrated. Is abortion life-giving? That seems like a pretty easy question to answer, and yet, 42% are morally okay with this horrendous procedure. How many lives have been lost through abortion? How much heartache and grief has been experienced by the parents after the fact?
It has become politically correct to be in favor of gay and lesbian relations. If a person dares to disagree with this lifestyle, he/she will be immediately taken to task. We not only have to be tolerant of this lifestyle, we have to condone and even celebrate it. If we choose to speak against it as morally unacceptable, we are labeled as engaging in hate speech. The owners of the bakery in Colorado were hauled into court for not compromising their values and refusing to provide a “wedding cake” for a same-sex couple. Business executives and owners have suffered severe repercussions for not embracing and celebrating the gay and lesbian lifestyle. If we look at gay and lesbian relations from the point of view of natural law, it is difficult to even phrase the question, "Is the relationship life-giving?" Some would obviously argue that it is, but if we look honestly at the nature of the relationship and the biological make-up of a man and a woman, it would be very difficult to prove the physical life-giving component of the relationship. However, 58% are okay with that.
What does this mean for today’s Christian? It means that we have allowed our church congregations to blend into society to such a degree that we have faded out of moral relevance. The secular culture is now dictating the moral values of society rather than the Church. Will the Church rebound from this dilemma and once again become a prominent player in the shaping of contemporary culture? I don’t know. One thing is for sure—the road ahead is not a smooth one.
Christians are going to experience a profound shift in what it means to be a follower of Christ. Blending into culture and fading out as a real influence from the Christian moral perspective is no longer an option. It is time for Christians to be a relevant and faithful witness to Jesus Christ. A comfortable Christianity does not exist in modern times. There will be a price to pay for following Christ, and we have already begun to see the beginnings of persecution. If the signs of the times are any indication, we are only in the early stages of a dramatic shift in our lifestyle.
Do you need other examples outside the sexual realm to believe this is happening? What will be the role of marijuana in society as it becomes legal on a more widespread basis? How does physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia impact the value of life? Who ends up determining the value of a life based upon its functionality? Will that be the role of government in making these determinations??
The moral and ethical questions are mounting almost on a daily basis. Frequently, it appears that all viewpoints are welcome into the conversation except those of the Christians. This Gallup poll reveals that we are in for some difficult days ahead. The martyrdom of Christians throughout history shows the price that is sometimes exacted for being a believer. We may have never considered that it could enter our time and location in history, but I think it is beginning to enter upon our doorstep. How will we respond?