Recent headlines reminded me of an essay Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote in the January 2017 edition of TableTalk, a publication of Ligonier Ministries. Sproul’s article, “The Revolution that Enslaves,” asked about the most significant revolution we have faced as a nation. As a historian, I automatically thought the American Revolution, which established our constitutional republic, but reading further into Sproul’s essay he made a strong argument that the sexual revolution was the most “far-reaching.”
Dr. Sproul argues that the sexual revolution “has wrought far more changes to the cultural behavior of America than the War of Independence fought against England in the eighteenth century.” The American Revolution was a war fought not to overturn society, but the Patriots fought the Revolution because they believed England had trampled upon their constitutional rights. The American Revolution was a conservative revolution, that is, it was fought to establish constitutional principles and not create a new society as other revolutions such as the French Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution.
On the other hand, the sexual revolution has transformed American society and culture in significant ways. As Dr. Sproul explains:
The most far-reaching, epochal revolution in American history began about fifty years ago and is now reaching its zenith. No war has been fought in terms of military conflict, but this revolution has killed millions of unborn people. Approximately three thousand lives, in fact, will be lost to this revolution before midnight tonight. And this number does not include the revolution’s other casualties. Bodies will be mutilated in the name of “changing” one’s gender. Sexually transmitted diseases will sterilize, leave lasting physical and emotional scars, and even pronounce death sentences on men and women. Young women will get pregnant and be abandoned, leaving them to raise children in fatherless homes. Pornography will warp people’s views of sex and relationships.
This is a consequence of the cultural changes of the 1960s, although this represents the total sinfulness and depravity of mankind. “This sexual revolution is a war that’s been fought not against any earthly king but against the King of the cosmos, the Lord Himself. It’s a war with roots that stretch much further back than the sixties—to Eden, when Adam and Eve joined Satan’s cosmic revolt,” stated Dr. Sproul.
In Western Civilization, the sexual revolution has its roots in the enlightenment philosophies. Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, explains:
The background to this great intellectual shift is the secularization of Western societies. Modernity has brought many cultural goods, but it has also, as predicted, brought a radical change in the way citizens of Western societies think, feel, relate, and reason. The Enlightenment’s liberation of reason at the expense of revelation was followed by a radical anti-supernaturalism that can scarcely be exaggerated.
A large part of this is moral relativism or the idea that there is no truth. As Dr. Sproul explains:
The fruit and fuel of the sexual revolution is widespread moral relativism. Our society has rejected wholesale the very notion of vice—with one exception. The only vice our culture now recognizes is the refusal to join the revolutionaries in their quest for sexual “liberation.” Stay on God’s side, and the revolution will demand that you pay a high price economically and socially.
As a result, we have seen both here in the United States and in Europe the decline of Christianity. Since the 1960s Christianity in the United States has been undermined by the advancement of secularism and liberalism. Even churches have embraced the sexual revolution and some denominations and Christian groups have defended same-sex marriage and other aspects of the sexual revolution.
Christians and denominations who are holding true to God’s Word are often subject to threats and along with that the erosion of religious liberty. Individuals, business owners, churches, organizations who stand for God’s Word are often targeted when they oppose the sexual revolution. In fact, Dr. Mohler argues that “religious liberty is under direct threat.” The sexual revolution is directly challenging the church. “In the face of the sexual revolution, the Christian church in the West now faces a set of moral challenges that exceeds anything it has experienced in the past. This is a revolution of ideas—one that is transforming the entire moral structure of meaning and life,” wrote Dr. Mohler.
Whether it is in ideas, culture, the advancement of technology, the sexual revolution has brought tremendous change to American society. “Historically, as the faith dies, the culture and civilization to which it gave birth die, and then the people die. And a new tribe with its own gods comes to occupy the emptying land,” wrote columnist Patrick J. Buchanan.
The New Testament gospel is about forgiveness—forgiveness for all types of sin. Forgiveness is not needed if sin does not exist (1 John 1:8–10). But Jesus—as well as Paul, Moses, and the other prophets and Apostles—recognized adultery, homosexuality, and other forms of sexual immorality as sin (Lev. 18:5; Matt. 5:27–30; John 7:53–8:11; 1 Cor. 6:9–11). The good news of the gospel is that every sexual sin is forgivable; all that’s required is repentance and faith in Christ alone. But it is one thing to forgive sin; it is quite another to sanction it. To give license to sin is not to free people, but to enslave them.