This week's episode on the need for boldness in the face of the bullying from those who oppose the moral truth of the Word, Stand or Fold, has picked up a life of its own. In the wake of its popularity, I started thinking more about how we got here. How did we get to the point where sexual immorality, especially homosexuality, is more accepted than Biblical truth even by many who claim to be Christians?
One of them I addressed in the program is that we're not teaching the Word as truth. I don't believe this is intentional nor do I believe that those doing the teaching deny the truth of Scripture. It's that we use the language of fiction to teach about real events and real people. Talking about Bible characters and teaching Bible stories makes it seem like morality tales not much different than Aesop's Fables. They're just stories that didn't really happen. That's what we're conveying without really meaning it. Younger generations raised in the church don't have the grasp of Biblical reality that they needed to go out into a hostile world.
However, I think I understand something as I've looked at the issue from another angle. At the beginning of the heat on water being turned up, we didn't take it seriously. Our cultural frog was cooked because even when we noticed the water getting warm, we never believed it would ever get hot enough to boil. It took decades to get here. Evil is more patient than we are. As a whole, the church isn't very good at seeing how things play out in the long game.
The decline started a long time ago, the 50's to be more exact. It started with that piece of fiction known as the Kinsey Report and the publication of Playboy. These two launched the normalization of sexual immorality into popular culture. Kinsey especially with its almost scientific sounding work and the pushing of homosexuality as just another acceptable part of human sexuality. (The report also pushed pedophilia as normal and children as young as infants as sexual beings). Most of the church ignored these events as the culture of the time didn't as openly embrace either of these, although Playboy did make several ripples in the social fabric.
Starting with these two events, those who embraced these ideas pushed them into the forefront through entertainment. Over time, resistance was worn down. When Ellen Degeneres came out as a lesbian, there was a small furor but not much. Her show only got cancelled because it lost its charm when it became all about her being gay. The humor was stripped from it. Then came shows proclaiming that not only was homosexuality normal, gays were cooler than everybody else. Queer Eye for The Straight Guy was about a group of gay men fixing a clueless straight man. People ate it up.
At the same time, morality standards were dropping in other areas. In the 90's, the Federal Government's standards on obscenity were no longer enforced. At a time when the internet was just beginning to explode, the graphic nature of pornography went wild. Twenty plus years later, it's embedded so deep in our culture that we may never be free of its influence.
And what was the church doing when we could have done something to stem the tide? Ignoring it. Not like today when we're afraid to deal with it because of the hate mail and fear of losing people but because we didn't see the danger. The prevailing attitude of the day was that this was so obviously wrong that we didn't need to say so. Everyone sitting in the pews knew homosexuality was wrong. They knew that sex outside of marriage and porn was wrong. Why insult their intelligence by telling them what they already know?
And that's precisely the problem. Certainly, most of the people in church in those days did know that. Most of us assumed that what wasn't being said in church was being said at home. It obviously wasn't. The later generations never heard it and were more easily swayed from the truth of the Word. People who never really got that the Bible is history and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit were more easily deceived by the messages the world was sending. Add in the absurd idea that loving someone means supporting everything they do, and we have our current problem. So when we ask, "Why are people surprised when we believe what Christianity has taught from the beginning?" we need to consider that they may actually have never heard it before.
We need to always be bold preaching the Word, now more than ever. Fearless preachers and Christians can always make a difference when empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit. The truth of God's Word will not change no matter how much anyone might want it to. Our call to be gentle and bold must be fulfilled. The bullies and the hateful are here. Those who call evil good and good evil are more powerful than ever. We can't change what has already happened, we can only be faithful today.