I am sometimes lovingly accused of being so lost in my work and family that I don’t know what is going on in the world. It’s as if the Hannah and Carrie from the Authentic Intimacy team knock on the hatch of my “submarine” to tell me about the latest trends and debates.
Within the last few weeks, Carrie and Hannah have kept my inbox full with articles and trends to respond to. Sex has been in the news, debated in government, and the discussion of mom blogs and social media trends. Even within the past 24 hours, people are talking about an 18-year old young woman who Periscoped (this is live-stream video through Twitter) her friend being kidnapped and raped . It makes me wonder, “Has the world gone crazy?” Less sensational but no less important is the growing debate about the harm of pornography.
Within the last month, conversations about pornography have made it to the cover of Time Magazine and been featured in several other mainstream news outlets. Research is demonstrating that porn use has diminished interest in marriage, created an aggressive attitude toward sex, and can inhibit a person’s natural sexual response in sexual relationships. As Time reported, those who once embraced porn are now raising the alarm about its negative effects on sexual response and intimacy.
Another hot news item that caught our attention is research affirming the effectiveness of gay parenting. A recent study measured parenting outcomes of lesbian and heterosexual couples. One article citing this study claims, “The Conservative Argument Against Same-Sex Parenting Just Fell Apart." The study found no difference in physical or emotional well-being.(Take note, the study only looked at a sample of 95 couples in each group and was limited to two women raising children.)
Without a doubt, Hannah and Carrie from the AI team will continue to alert me to news articles, social media trends, and cultural conversations in the days to come. Sexual matters in our world are far from settled. For the seeable future, we will witness raging debates, heartbreaking stories of harm, and conflicting research all revolving around sexuality.
While you may choose to ignore the headlines or, like me, be too busy to notice them, the impact of sexual conversations in our world impact each of us in untold ways. Our children and grandchildren, our neighbors and fellow Christians are living in a rapidly changing moral and sexual climate. This means that each of us has to understand how to understand and react to what is happening in our world and perhaps in our own homes.
There are a lot of places in scripture that seem to reflect the times in which we are living. Revelation, II Timothy 3, and Romans 1 to name a few. The Old Testament book of Judges helps me understand the what I see around me. Judges records a time in which the nation of Israel was in moral and spiritual chaos. Religious leaders like Samson were sexually immoral and filled with pride. One little verse in the middle of the book sums up the problem, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Truly, we live in a time where there is no king. We may have a President and pastors, but there is no spiritual authority which we all recognize. As a result, we have given each other permission to define right and wrong in our own eyes. The highest moral standard appears to be giving each other the right to live according to our own moral compass.
I absolutely believe that those who fight for the rights of LBGT parenting and gay marriage believe they are doing the right thing. Those who fight for free speech and defend pornography believe they stand for liberty. They see great good in protecting people from the oppressive morality of others.
Because we each have a different view of right and wrong, we will also disagree on how we define “health.” We can all agree on certain standards of dysfunction like depression and anxiety, but there is vast disagreement as we further define what health should look like. For example, would we say it is “healthy” for a twenty-five-year-old man to have had a dozen different sexual partners? Some “experts” say yes, others say no. Is it good for a child to have high self-esteem? When does a good self-concept translate into arrogance?
This distinction of how we define health is evident in the pornography debate. Those decrying the impact of porn are most upset because it inhibits the ability to enjoy “normal” sex in relationships. Most of these researchers don’t necessarily care about marriage, they care about sexual enjoyment. If porn limits sexual expression and fulfillment, it’s unhealthy. Their conclusion? Say “no” to porn but feel free to say “yes” to any other sexual opportunity that comes your way.
Am I surprised by the finding that lesbian parents showed no difference in parental outcomes when compared to heterosexual parents? Frankly, no. I have no doubt that many lesbian parents are loving and caring toward their children. In fact, they surely do many things right. I have observed many heterosexual couples that do great harm to their children through verbal and physical abuse, withholding love and neglecting appropriate discipline. Parenting outcomes are dependent on many factors that have nothing to do with sexual orientation or gender. However, what this study did not look at is a child’s view of gender, sexuality and God. Again, this choice is biased by how we define sexual, relational and spiritual health.
Many Christians are willing to follow Jesus as far as their logic will support their faith. As soon as science seems to suggest evolution or research supports sexual experimentation, their faith in an Almighty God is shaken. I am very thankful that God has written His wisdom on creation. Over time, science and research will affirm God’s truth in all things. I have great confidence and faith that in the end, God’s wisdom on sexuality will be proven true in all respects. In the short-run, the wisdom of the world may at times seem logical. We have an enemy whose full-time job is to deceive us. He uses lies to “kill, steal and destroy.” It is at these times that faith means faith - having full confidence in what we cannot see.
God said that it is impossible to please Him without faith. Why? “Because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he reward those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Following a biblical sexual ethic requires faith. If you change your mind every time a new study seems to contradict God, you will be “a double-minded person, unstable in all of your ways” (James 1:8).
AW Tozer writes, “The natural man must know in order to believe; the spiritual man must believe in order to know… The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is not true faith present.”
If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and believe that God Almighty is our King, then you have no choice other than to give Him permission to define morality and health, even if it contradicts cultural wisdom. My friend, don’t be tossed around by what the latest talking head is claiming in the news or what is trending on Twitter. God’s truth and wisdom have stood the test of time. For thousands of years, His followers have found Him faithful. He is a sure foundation.
Forever, O Lord, Your Word will never change in heaven. You are faithful to all people for all time. You have made the earth, and it stands.They stand today by Your Law, for all things serve You. Psalm 119:89-91