The Sexual Secularization of Our Society
Bryan J. Weaver and Christopher H. Wisdom
In the second decade of the twenty-first century, one out of every two marriages in America now ends in divorce. One out of every five Americans has contracted or will contract a sexually transmitted disease in his or her lifetime. January 2013 marked the fortieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which legalized abortion on demand and brought with it the scourge of four decades of wrongful death for over 60 million unborn American children. And in the year 2012 there were more deaths of American soldiers by suicide (349) than in combat (229)—and that during a time of war.
How have we come to this place in our culture, whose previous history embraced (at least outwardly) the sanctity of marriage and of human life? The history of modern Western thought bears witness to the determination by certain major social thinkers and leaders to rationalize immoral sexual behavior and project it onto a universal canvas. During the last 125 years, the agenda of the Western cultural elite has entailed the reversal of Christian ethics and its impact on intellectual and social life, making desire the final criterion of morality. Nietzsche, Freud, Wilde, Mead, Sanger, Kinsey, and Foucault are but a few of the progenitors of modern Western thought. And if you dissect the thinking of such intellectual notables regarding morality, you will note the common thread of sexual license. They deliberately chose ideologies and lifestyles that cast aside moral decency and embraced the exigencies of sexual misbehavior.
Christianity, for Nietzsche, was at its end, especially in terms of its intellectual respectability. Since his declaration that God was dead in his book The Gay Science (1882), only the shadow of Christian morality remained. Many of these intellectual and cultural elites, following Nietzsche, began debunking religion, especially Christianity, during the early decades of the twentieth century. Following the rise of Nietzsche’s philosophy, biblical morality began to be seen as the culprit in any cultural suppression of desire.
Kinsey and Freud
Or take the research of Albert Kinsey, published in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Alfred C. Kinsey and others, 1948). According to the Kinsey Institute, “Kinsey sought to accumulate ‘an objectively determined body of fact about sex’ (p. 5, Male) that readers of the reports could use to make interpretations that fit with their understanding of ‘moral values and social significances’ (p. 5, Male)” (see http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/ak-data.html). By formally interviewing numerous human subjects and studying all manner of human sexual behavior (whether moral or immoral from a biblical perspective), Kinsey purportedly amassed “an objectively determined body of fact about sex.”
But as the late professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, Cornelius Van Til, observed, “It is fatal for the Reformed apologist to admit that man has done justice to the objective evidence if he comes to any other conclusion than that of the truth of Christian theism” (Defense of the Faith, 3rd ed., 1967, p. 145).
Why then did Kinsey reach such errant conclusions about human sexual behavior? Because, as Van Til notes,
A “fact” does not become a fact, according to the modern scientist’s assumptions, till it has been made a fact by the ultimate definitory power of the mind of man. The modern scientist, pretending to be merely a describer of facts, is in reality a maker of facts. He makes facts as he describes. His description is itself the manufacturing of facts. He requires “material” to make facts, but the material he requires must be raw material. Anything else will break his machinery. The datum is not primarily given, but is primarily taken. (Common Grace and the Gospel, 1972, p. 4)
Consider also Sigmund Freud’s book, The Future of an Illusion. In it he attacks religion by perversely imputing sexual motivation to the infant’s desire for its mother, its fear of its father, and its projection of those fears and need for protection onto a god, which the developing individual has supposedly created out of psychological necessity (S. Freud, The Future of an Illusion , in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 21, p. 24, at http://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/The-future-of-illusion/pdf/view).
By contrast, Christian theistic ethics teaches that guilt is the natural result of any transgression of the moral law (James 2:10), and that the work of the law is inherent in every human being (Rom. 2:14), so that guilt has its roots in the moral real world (John 3:20–21). The intellectual life of a thinker is not hermetically sealed off from his moral life; instead, it turns out that the intellectual life is a function of a person’s moral life (Rom. 12:2–3; Heb. 5:11–14). Apprehension of the truth can only take place when the clamoring of the passions has died down (James 4:1–8). The thoughts of the mind, when expressed, are thus like windows to the soul (Matt. 15:18–20; Rom. 8:5–8).
How then did human guilt come into the real world? Romans 1:18–19 declares how man, the creature of God, having willfully sown the seeds of rebellion by rejecting God’s self-revelation seen in creation (and especially in man as the image of God) has reaped a harvest of vain thinking, a foolish heart, and debased sexual behavior. Romans 1:21–25 highlights how such rejection of divine revelation leads to moral reprobation:
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
As Van Til elsewhere asserts,
It need be no matter of surprise to the Christian that non-Christian scientists are, at bottom, fighting for their purely man-centered interpretation even when they engage in “open-minded” and “neutral” description of facts. Scripture informs us that all men are sinners and seek in all that they do to suppress the basic truth of their responsibility to their Creator. They always have an “axe to grind.” To say this is not to charge men with a lack of the surface honesties and sincerities of civilized life.... It is only to be concerned with the deepest controlling motives of men and to interpret these motives in accordance with Scripture. (The God of Hope: Sermons and Addresses, 1978, p. 242)
The Two Ultimate Alternatives
There are thus only two ultimate alternatives: either the thinker, activist, or leader can subject sexual desire to truth or he will subjugate truth to sexual desire. If a person is dominated by desire, i.e., Eros, then that desire will be the surest explicator of his thought. The turning away of the mind from truth to carnal, distorted passions does not mean the mind stops functioning; it only means that the mind will not perceive the truth. After laboring in this abyss, the mind will choose disorder over order, carnality over spirituality, and falsehood over truth, and will create for itself idols in an attempt to usurp the rightful place of a beneficent Creator. As Paul wrote in Romans 1:28, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”
Van Til comments:
This is, in the last analysis, the question as to what are one’s ultimate presuppositions. When man became a sinner he made of himself instead of God the ultimate or final reference point. And it is precisely this presupposition, as it controls without exception all forms of non-Christian philosophy that must be brought into question. If this presupposition is left unquestioned in any field all the facts and arguments presented to the unbeliever will be made over by him according to his pattern. The sinner has cemented colored glasses to his eyes which he cannot remove. And all is yellow to the jaundiced eye. There can be no intelligible reasoning unless those who reason together understand what they mean by their words. (Defense of the Faith, 1967, p. 77)
The sexual secularization of our Western culture is a fundamentally dishonest game in more ways than one. As the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, has shown, the real death wish of the West is its persistent desire to engage in sexual liberation, and not in chastity. Truth was an early victim in Margaret Mead’s 1928 controversial best seller, Coming of Age in Samoa. The issue for Mead was sex, sex disconnected from the norms of Christianity. Coming of Age in Samoa, with its portrayal of idyllic sex beneath the palm trees, proved to be as accurate as a Shakespearean play. What was purported to be a ground-breaking anthropological study of Samoan culture turned out in reality to be a massive rationalization of immorality.
The fact of the matter is that large numbers of the progressive trendsetters in Western society are radically dissatisfied with the traditional sexual mores of their culture and are looking for an opportunity to justify their violation of Christian sexual ethics. Historic Christian theology has always claimed that one of the results of lust is the darkening of the heart (Rom. 1:21). Hatred of God is another. In his Confessions, Augustine grasps the significance of the apostle Paul’s teaching on this serious matter. He writes, “Thy law is written in the hearts of men, which iniquity itself effaces not.”
So this intellectual and sexual rebellion rages on in our day, but the final epitaph has not yet been written. In this decadent culture of immorality, death, and self-destruction that we are witnessing in our time, let us remind ourselves, then, of the words of the apostle Paul: “But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.… But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:15–16). If we have the mind of Christ, then let us determine in our minds that we will not be conformed to this world of secularized sexual sin, but that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may approve what is the holy, perfect, and acceptable will of God (see Rom. 12:2).
Rev. Weaver is a Navy chaplain; Rev. Wisdom is an Army chaplain. Both are OP ministers. They quote the NASB (updated version). This article was written against the backdrop of ongoing issues involving women and homosexuals in the U.S. military. New Horizons, May 2013.