The Unthinkable Has Become Thinkable
- Monday, March 22, 2004
Our culture is inundated—in print and on screen—with the idea that homosexuality is a normal, proper, and healthy expression of “love” between persons. This view has successfully infiltrated our TV sitcoms, magazines, bookstores, and coffee shops, but now we are being told that homosexuality—in either orientation or act—is something approved by God and therefore consistent with biblical morality.
The growing number of proponents of this view tell us that the Bible (rightly understood, interpreted, or translated) does not condemn homosexuality and that it even contains examples of loving, committed homosexual relationships within its pages. We are witnesses of a desperate clamor to move the authority of the Bible to the side of those who claim that homosexuality is an acceptable, God-approved lifestyle.
The call to receive homosexuality as a morally acceptable belief, or belief and behavior,1 is now being heard in the church and by the church. The volume of this call is increasing as is the volume of books that are being produced. A proliferation of literature teaching this “new morality” under the guise of “right understanding” or “proper biblical interpretation” is resulting in the twisting of Scripture, the confusion of many, and the weakening of the church. With increasing vigor we are told that the previous ways are wrong and unenlightened. We are told that the Bible—previously thought to condemn homosexuality—does no such thing and that homosexuals (either in practice or merely in interest) need to be embraced by the church and allowed, if they so aspire, even to hold positions of authority in the church.
This push is evidence of a tragic cultural transformation that has occurred in recent decades—one that pertains to the ethical, to the moral, and to that which is right and wrong. Yesterday’s outrage has become today’s standard. Today, homosexuality, which at one time was morally unthinkable, is on parade before us as normal, acceptable, and—in order to show its authoritative status—unquestionable. Francis Schaeffer wrote,
There is a “thinkable” and an “unthinkable” in every era. One era is quite certain intellectually and emotionally about what is acceptable. Yet another era decides that these “certainties” are unacceptable and puts another set of values into practice. On a humanistic base, people drift along from generation to generation, and the morally unthinkable becomes the thinkable as the years move on.2
Schaeffer, writing in the 1970s, perceptively continued,
The thinkables of the eighties and nineties will certainly include things which most people today find unthinkable and immoral, even unimaginable and too extreme to suggest. Yet—since they do not have some overriding principle that takes them beyond relativistic thinking—when these become thinkable and acceptable in the eighties and nineties, most people will not even remember that they were unthinkable in the seventies. They will slide into each new thinkable without a jolt.3
Schaeffer was not arguing that something is worthy of emulation simply because it was previously done. By itself, Dad and Mom’s conduct, while often qualitatively better and more polite than that of their children observed at the local mall, is not an adequate standard for morality. In fact, the point is that the basis of yesterday’s morality was of such poor quality that it could not prevent its “unthinkables” from becoming “thinkables” in short order. One of yesterday’s unthinkables—the social and moral acceptance of homosexuality in both orientation and act, in both desire and deed—is presented to us today as quite thinkable, and though we are speaking of morality and not the changing tides of fashion, our modern society can seldom tell the difference.
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