Christians Must Be Discerning amid an Increasingly Secular Culture
The New York Times is profiling a movement called “fictosexuals.” These are people who consider themselves married to a fictional character, whether a doll, a character in a video game, or a similar “person.” One person who “married” a doll wants us to know that as artificial intelligence and robotics allow for more profound interactions with the inanimate, the number of “fictosexuals” is likely to increase.
In other news, Google has launched an “inclusive language” function that warns writers to avoid certain words and phrases that “may not be inclusive to all readers.” It will prompt you to change “mankind” to “humankind” and “policeman” to “police officer,” for example. I wonder if one day I will be prompted to change “same-sex marriage” to “marriage equality” and “sex change operation” to “gender affirmation therapy” as such euphemisms normalize a “personal truth” culture.
Speaking of normalizing behavior once considered immoral, my hometown Dallas Morning News informs us that a local town’s embrace of LGBTQ “Pride” will “show [us] how to do things right” as a “perfect example of community leaders looking farther down the road than how to get a few books banned from the library.”
As the NFL draft approaches tonight, yahoo!sports tells us about a tight end who “could be the first NFL player with same-sex parents.” And celebrity Megan Fox reports that her transgender “brave child” has “chosen this journey for a reason.”
How we got here
The so-called “sexual revolution” could be dated to 1953 when Hugh Hefner began popularizing and normalizing pornography. In 1983, videotape moved films (including pornography) out of theaters and into private homes. In the late 1990s, pornographic films began to be distributed on DVD. Tragically, the internet has now made pornography an epidemic available to every cellphone in America.
Meanwhile, birth control pills were legalized in 1960, allowing couples to have sex outside of marriage without fear of pregnancy. Helen Gurley Brown’s 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl encouraged single women to be sexually active. The decade saw a rising movement protesting the Vietnam War and promoting rock music, the use of drugs, public displays of nudity, and complete freedom of sexual activity.
The Stonewall Riots of 1969 were a galvanizing event in the movement for LGBTQ rights. The intentional strategy that ensued first normalized LGBTQ behavior through popular culture (the TV show Will & Grace was a major contributor) and continues today through Pride Month, the promotion of LGBTQ characters on TV and in movies, and a concerted effort to make such relationships commonplace.
The next stage was legalizing same-sex marriage, beginning in Massachusetts in 2004 and culminating with the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision. As Chief Justice John Roberts warned in his Obergefell dissent, this effort has since moved to legalizing polygamy.
Now advocates are stigmatizing those who disagree as homophobic, prejudiced, and discriminatory. And our culture is moving toward criminalizing such disagreement through the so-called Equality Act and similar legislation.
The urgency of discernment
My point is that evangelical Christians must be discerning of secular culture on a level unprecedented in American history.
Never before have prime-time television shows (and even commercials) normalized LGBTQ behavior as they do today. Never before has pornography been as ubiquitous or as widely accepted as it is today. We are even seeing movements to normalize and legalize prostitution (“sex work”) despite the fact that 89 percent of prostitutes urgently want to escape prostitution.
“Sex positivity” endorsing “all forms of sexual expression between consenting adults” has entered the cultural lexicon alongside such euphemisms as “marriage equality” and “gender affirmation therapy.” It is difficult to engage popular culture on any level without being forced to confront unbiblical sexual morality. Our children and grandchildren are growing up in a society that seeks to indoctrinate them with its secular “values” on a very intentional level.
If you’re like me, right now you’re wishing there was an “off-ramp” you could take to escape the cultural collisions of our day. But we discover a better way from an easily overlooked detail in the New Testament.
A surprising choice
Acts 28 tells the story of the Apostle Paul’s voyage to Rome. After spending three months on the island of Malta, he and his entourage “set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead” (v. 11). These were Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus and Leda who were considered to be the gods who protected seamen.
Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Luke to include this detail?
Imagine Saul the Pharisee setting foot on a Gentile ship, especially one that displayed such idolatrous figures. But Paul the apostle has learned to use his fallen culture to advance God’s kingdom. He has traveled on Roman roads to Roman cities and employed the Greek language to share God’s word “in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:20) while ultimately writing thirteen of the New Testament’s thirty-nine books.
In the context of today’s article, the apostle would encourage us to balance two priorities: “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18) while using the culture where we can (1 Corinthians 9:22) to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
For example, the New York Times “fictosexuals” story is an opportunity to share the fulfillment God brings to those who are married to “real” people within his blessing. The Google “inclusive language” story is a chance to endorse the biblical equality of men and women (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28) while exposing the deeper narrative that seeks to normalize immorality.
A game we should all play
A good friend of mine plays a game with his children when they watch TV called “spot the lie”: they compete to be the first to recognize when something is said or done that is unbiblical. He is teaching them to be not paranoid but discerning.
We should do the same with our children and with our souls.
NOTE: When our culture seems more and more antagonistic toward our faith, how do you respond? When we’re labeled intolerant or narrow-minded or even dangerous, the way we respond speaks volumes about what we truly believe. And we’ve been given both instructions and precedence on living fruitfully in an anti-Christian culture. That’s one reason I encourage you to request your copy of our latest book, How to Bless God by Blessing Others: Words of Wisdom from the Early Church to Christians Today. Copies are selling fast so be sure to request yours soon.
Publication date: April 28, 2022
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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