According to Christian author, speaker, and apologist Frank Turek, sex is the problem in America these days, not unbelief. The reason, he says, that people are turning away from God is because they are chasing another religion: sex.
It’s an old religion resurrected — the new religion in America is the religion of sex,” Turek said. “Do you know that every cultural issue we argue over has something to do with sex? Why is that? Huxley said it, it’s our “erotic revolt.” We want sexual freedom.
To support his thesis, Turek quoted the famous words of English author and philosopher Aldous Huxley:
The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom,
OK, so some libertine philosopher admitted his own licentiousness and that of his other elite philosopher friends. Good quote. Questionable application.
With all due respect, I think it is Christians like Turek who are obsessed with sex, at least the sexual behavior of others, simply because it offends them so much that they must find reason to blame it for all sorts of ills.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of people who don’t want God or a particular moral way of living because they don’t want anyone putting limits on their pursuit of sensual pleasures, but to make the blanket statement that this is “America’s” religious problem is a ridiculous, unsubstantiated assertion.
I once read a book by a Roman Catholic scholar who went even further. He posited that the root of the decline of western civilization goes back to Luther the licentious sinner, who left the monastery because he couldn’t control his sexual urges. In this author’s view, that sparked the entire downward course of the West. In the book he sought to show that, after Luther, every new development (downward) in philosophy was just another attempt to rationalize the philosopher’s immorality.
How about that? I never knew we Protestants were all that sexy! The “original sinners” of Western Civ.
At least Turek doesn’t go that far. I still don’t buy his overdrawn rhetoric.
In my own, admittedly anecdotal experience, for every proud, brazen libertine I’ve met who cast off the shackles of religion to shack up with a lover, I’ve probably met a dozen who have been hurt by the church or religious people in one way or another. In fact, I have a rather standard question I ask family members when they warn me as a chaplain that their loved one doesn’t want anything to do with talking about God or faith. “I’ve usually found that people who say that to me have been hurt sometime in their past. Do you know if anything like that happened in his life?” Invariably I get some positive response.
It may even be that some of these people suffered some kind of sexual abuse at the hands of religious parents, family members, or church people. Perhaps some of the folks Turek criticizes as chasing a new religion of sex are actually seeking comfort and the kind of safe intimacy they’ve never known and for which they would never turn to religion to find. For good reason.
Hey, my fellow American Christian leaders and teachers, can we please stop obsessing about the sexual behavior of our neighbors and stop condemning people en masse? Find me one example of Jesus speaking or acting this way toward sexual sinners, and then maybe I’ll consider what you say.
I’m conservative when it comes to things like this, and I am no fan of the openly sexualized culture we live in today. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. But this common evangelical rhetoric that people are “chasing a new religion” and that this is the real reason our churches are empty and the world is in trouble is getting so tired to me.
First of all, I think Mr. Turek and most evangelicals approach this issue the way they talk about so many things. They imagine there was a “golden age” in the past when sex outside of heterosexual marriage was the exception and not the norm. Please.
In fact, a government public health report looking at data going back to 1954 concluded, “Almost all Americans have sex before marrying.” The report also observed, “…there is a common popular perception that most or all of those who came of age before the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s and 1970s waited until they married to have sex, and that it is necessary to revert to the behaviors of that earlier time in order to eliminate the problems of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. However, research has questioned whether such a chaste period ever existed.”
Could we be a bit more realistic about this most basic of human urges and just accept the fact that, as long as there have been rules, people have been breaking them, not only with regard to premarital sex, but in a variety of ways?
Second, increased sexual freedom and the public sexualization of our culture, as I’ve said often before (and like so many other things in modern culture), is the natural result of more personal and political freedom, advances in technology, and increased affluence. Human progress and attainment has led to more personal autonomy. People with more freedom, more mobility, technology that gives them access to heretofore forbidden things, and less tight-knit social structures in their lives will make some of these choices more regularly because they can, and because there are fewer social consequences. It becomes more normal because it is more available and therefore seems more natural.
Frank Turek, you can’t stop that by preaching or making arguments like this.
This is the world we’re in. Furthermore, this is the world God is in. If he is not with sinners, he is not with anyone. And if we just sit back and hurl condemnation on people for doing what comes naturally in a world like this, and don’t build deep relationships, offering them forbearance, kindness, and hospitality — as Jesus did — who will show them life as it could be in a new creation?
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Photo on Flickr by Jason Schlachet. Creative Commons License.