It is obvious now that waves of young Evangelicals (not to mention everyone else) swarm to modern ideas (or ideologies) of sexuality and marriage. This is a sad reality, one made even more unfortunate because these people rarely seem to understand the vision their leaving behind. They know the obvious features of the boringly named “traditional view”—e.g. anti-LGBT stuff—but as far as I can tell are completely unfamiliar with the deep issues.
This is in part simply a tragedy of the age. We live in a time when people think that your big ideas about the world (i.e. philosophy or doctrine or worldview) don’t really matter. All that matters are the flash points on controversial issues. Do you agree with abortion? Gay marriage? #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, or #AllLivesMatter? No one cares whether all of your beliefs fit together into a big picture. Big pictures are for nerds, or academics, or people who don’t get the real world. All that matters is what you think individually about all the issues. As G. K. Chesterton put it, everything that you believe matters except for what you believe about everything.
This very sad and very unchristian perspective has been bad for the Church. It’s led us to focus on the specific issues, whether gay marriage or divorce or transgenderism, and neglect the big picture so much that most people both inside and outside the Church have no idea what the big picture might be. They know some specific arguments against gay marriage, or divorce, or whatever, but they’re mostly unconnected. There is no simple and complete vision of marriage and sexuality holding it all together.
Because of this, it is much easier for people to see the “rules” as arbitrary, just pointless restrictions imposed by God because He said so. Even some Christians willingly take this route. They may happily tell you, “There is no reason to say homosexuality is wrong except that God said so.” This is, I strongly believe, terribly wrong. It is a great way to destroy the “traditional view” if we wish to do so, of course. It is also a great way to create frustration and antagonism with those who disagree with us. But it is an awful way of understanding Scripture and the Christian worldview.
To an extent, I want to make reversing this situation a lifelong project of mine. As I see it, the flashpoint questions about sexuality are symptoms of much deeper issues that cut to the heart of a Christian view of life, the universe, and everything. Getting these wrong will ripple into waves which will wreak havoc on wider issues of morality, ethics, and the future of the human race. I would like to safeguard against that if at all possible.
Toward this end, I will be making a series of posts addressing the threat and laying out as simply as I can the big picture of the Christian “traditional view” of sexuality as a solution. Some people who have been particularly beneficial to my understanding of these things are C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Alastair Roberts, Peter Leithart, N. T. Wright, and even Alice Linsley. I will not quote them much because I’m not aiming to show off my reading or sound smart. My goal is to present and persuade for the average Joe and Jill, and so almost everything will be in my own words, except for the best lines that I can’t beat. Even so, I want to refer all my readers to these people. They’re smarter, better read, and usually more clear, witty, and/or eloquent than myself, so they’re worth it.
In the first post, having raised the question, I will also give a very brief outline of my argument, which will work from the everyday ground up.
- Rightness is real: There is such a thing as right and wrong, even a right and wrong that transcends all cultures. It matters what we think about right, how we decide what is right, what we think right means, and how we are supposed to know anything about it.
- Mating is moral: Sexuality is a moral issue. Even though some people think it’s purely preference or neutral, almost everyone draws a moral line somewhere. This line is more important than people realize, and it makes all the difference where and how we draw it.
- Choice isn’t the center: Whether they know it or not, most people today center their beliefs about sexuality around the concept of “choice,” the two big components being consent and individual expressions or preferences. Logic will show that while consent is necessary, it’s never enough, and that expressions and preferences are prone to twisting in ways that make them unhelpful as guides to sexual morality.
- Creation is the cornerstone: In contrast to the paradigm of choice, the Christian understanding of sexuality is based on a theology of creation in the context of Trinity, communion, covenant, redemption, and Christ. A beautiful glory arising from unity made of difference is at the heart of a Christian worldview, one which begins within God Himself and moves outward and downward into every sphere of human relationships, most fully and beautifully in what has been called “Christian marriage.”
- Deconstruction is destruction: If we continue on the route of taking down all classical moral sexual norms in favor a paradigm based on human self-liberation, sex itself will fall apart. Sexuality and marriage will both die, leaving something new and hardly human in their wake. The individual human is the god of the new sexuality, but once humans are gods they cease to be human. The abolition of sex will be the abolition of man.
- Faithfulness is the future: The new paradigm won’t work, but the old Christian view is time-tested. Our world today may not like it, but it never stopped working. If human sexuality, and therefore sexual humanity, is to have a future, it will be a future of faithfulness to the “traditional view.” Some things may change, but the one core, creational vision of sex shared from Moses to myself will stand at the heart of any positive future.
This is the sketch of my argument. I don’t know if it will persuade anyone, but I will be developing it in detail, and I hope it will be helpful. The next six posts will give the full arguments of each point.