The pressure is on. It is on those holding a traditional, orthodox understanding of morality as described in the Bible and understood by Christians for 2000 years. I refer to sexual ethics. For two millennia, the followers of Jesus have universally understood the Bible as setting forth the sanctity of sex within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman. Any and everything besides that was regarded as sin. Because the Judeo-Christian worldview profoundly shaped the modern Western World until the mid-point of the last century, the sexual mores of society, if not its practice, mirrored those of Christians.
All of that began to change with the social foment of the Sixties. A generation of youth reacted strongly against what it perceived as the hypocrisy and injustices of the “Establishment” and the systems of power it had built. Anything that smacked of “tradition” was thrown under the Revolution-bus, including classic virtues and mores.
One of the first to go was the Judeo-Christian view on the sanctity of sex within marriage. It wasn’t difficult tossing over since part of the hypocrisy youth rebelled against was their parents’ saying sex outside marriage was wrong, but their frequent affairs and a growing pornography market. So the Sixties saw the Sexual Revolution, its climax being 1967’s “The Summer of Love” in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. There, so-called casual sex was re-labeled as “free love.”
The Sexual Revolution continued long after hippies cut their hair, put on shoes, and took up jobs as engineers and sales-people in the consumerist economy they had previously railed against. The Revolution continued pressing against the barriers of sexuality western society had held for centuries. After crashing through the wall against sex between any consenting adults of the opposite sex, the Revolution pressed on and crashed through the fence against homosexuality. Then, with a full head of steam, it rammed through walls against a series of sexual practices long considered deviant and perverse. Triumphant in its campaign to replace the traditional Judeo-Christian ethic with an “If it feels good, do it” rule, the Sexual Revolution kept going by redefining gender, the very nature of what it means to be male and female. It has now moved way beyond what people DO. It is going after what people ARE, indeed, what it means to be human. And that gives us a clue as to who and what is behind the Revolution.
Doubly troubling to Christians seeking to remain faithful to the historic Faith is how the Revolutionaries have moved from begging tolerance for their beliefs to insisting that everyone agree with them. When they had little power, they merely asked to be left alone, that those who disagreed with them would at least respect them and their rights. Now that they are ascendant and sit in seats of power, they demand compliance with their views. Dissent is not allowed. The tolerance they once begged for, they do not show. The immorality they demanded has become a morality they enforce.
All that might be expected from an increasingly secular society. What is surprising is the growing segment within the churched of North America and Europe that has taken on the task of sweeping away the traditional Christian sexual ethic and replacing it with one in lock-step with the world. They claim support for this by saying Christians must love their neighbor.
Indeed we are. But does loving our neighbor mean condoning sin? Is it loving to ignore what God says just because the world doesn’t like it? Or is it loving to agree with God and seek the good of our neighbors by tactfully affirming what He has said? Methinks the latter way is the route of Biblical love. It is the way Jesus chose, and we are to be like Him.
Let’s be clear. If sin is not real, Jesus came in vain. That He came is proof sin is real. His death proves the consequences of sin are ruinous. Sin must be a big deal to God, or Jesus would not have come to endure all He did. Think about that.
We help no one by telling them what God calls sin isn’t wrong. It is far more loving to tell them the truth and point them to Christ.
Love is not license.
An illustration may help. A mother tells her seven-year-old daughter one chocolate chip cookie is enough because dinner is in an hour. Her daughter wants three cookies and begins to beg. Love means saying “no” to the pleading because while the daughter’s desire is real and strong, the mom knows it would not be good for her. Simply stated, giving the daughter what she wants would NOT be loving.
God created us with sexual desires that are to be contained in the covenant union of a man and woman in marriage. All sex outside of that ultimately damages us. We may not see that damage immediately, but it is happening and accumulates over time. Love means seeking to save people that damage, even when they think they know better and demand the three-cookies of sexual sin.
The problem of people wanting to turn the love of God into a license to sin is not new. It was something false teachers in the earliest church dealt with. In Jude 3 and 4, we find this –
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. [Jude 3–4 NKJV emphasis added]
What prompted this article is the growing cadre of so-called Progressive Christian pastors and leaders who have capitulated to the pressure to sell their spiritual birthright for a worldly bowl of pottage. Out of a desire to align with the world’s recent revamp of sexual ethics, they have thrown over Biblical morality for the latest pronouncement of what’s acceptable.
The Apostle Peter warned of those who turn love into license in 2 Peter 2 when he wrote –
When they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; … For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” [2 Peter 2:18–22 NKJV]
Peter not only describes the error of false teachers but also speaks of the impact of that error on those who heed them when he says, “the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.” Though Peter did not know today’s Progressivists, the Holy Spirit inspired him to pen words perfectly applicable to what we see today.
To any Progressive Christian who may have read this far, I ask you to consider this –
IF Jesus died for sins, what sins did He die for? It seems to me your removal of sexual immorality as sin because it’s “unloving” to call it sin is a rule that logically would have to apply to ALL choices people make. Once you make ever-changing social norms the basis of morality rather than the unchanging standard of God’s Word, what is sin becomes a moving target, and the Cross of Christ ends up meaning nothing – as some honest Progressives now claim. Why bother calling yourself a “ “Christian” when there is nothing of The Gospel left in what you believe?
Last: There is another dimension to all this I’ll turn to next time in the article “Dangerous Leaven.”
Lance is the founding and lead pastor of Calvary Chapel Oxnard where he has served since 1982. Lance & David Guzik co-pastored the church for six years before David planted a church in a nearby community.
Lance & his wife Lynn were married in 1980 and have three adult children and five grandchildren. Lance loves teaching the Bible, History, and Leadership. He holds Masters-of-Arts in Biblical Studies and Ministry.
Lance serves as a chaplain for both the Oxnard and Port Hueneme Police Departments and enjoys backpacking, wood-working, working out, gardening, home improvement projects, reading, and graphic design.
The popular Communio Sanctorum: History of the Christian Church podcast can be found in both audio and video at the Into His Image website along with a growing inventory of Lances teaching.