If you just recently joined my blog, you probably think I’m a man obsessed with sex. I’m actually not. I just happen to be working on a chapter on this topic for a book (Revolting Beauty) so it's on my mind.
As I mentioned a few blogs ago, our culture is steeped in a recreational view of sex. While God intended sex to be enjoyed between married couples alone, our culture has over the last three decades come to view it as a morally neutral activity that can and should be enjoyed however and whenever one wants. This cheapened view of sex is having destructive social and spiritual consequences.
For example, in 1960 just over five percent of children were born to unmarried mothers. In 2005 thirty seven percent were born to unwed mothers. This is a major contributor to the poverty in America as well as the alarming crime and violence rates in our culture, especially among young people. One in five Americans now has a STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). Forty three percent of all marriages now end in divorce. And, ironically, the percentage of people struggling with sexual dysfunction is on the rise, especially for married people. One main reason for this is that porn deadens one’s appetite for real-life sex and introduces an inhibiting pressure to perform like a porn star in the bedroom.
The sexual revolution, it seems, is backfiring.
There are many other destructive consequences of our promiscuity as well, though they're less obvious. I would argue, for example, that our recreational view of sex contributes to the high frequency of depression of our nation. Nine percent of Americans are clinically depressed -- the most (by far) of any nation studied.
There's another non-obvious harmful consequence of our promiscuity I'd like to talk about in a bit more detail, for it shows how interconnected things are (and how we often overlook these connections). To put it bluntly, I'm convinced there's a direct connection between our promiscuity and terrorism. I know this probably sounds insane, but hear me out.
Radical Islamic groups notice that America has a drastic morally corroding effect on every country it influences. This is undeniable. Our brand of capitalism is inextricably bound up with sexually explicit advertising, which they abhor. And we are by far the main exporter of sexually explicit entertainment around the globe.
Consequently, these groups associate the “freedom”America stands for and now claims it wants to export to the rest of the world with its debauchery. And they understandably want to stop this at all costs. So, in the name of Allah, they have declared war on “the great Satan.” (Of course, they also have many other reasons for identifying America as "Satan" as well -- but our promiscuity is one of the major ones).
The majority of Americans can’t fathom why the terrorist groups hate us so much. Since we know we’re "so good," as George Bush stated several years back, most Americans conclude that radical Muslims who hate us must simply be evil. (How we love self-serving black and white categories!)
May I suggest that Kingdom people should not be so puzzled, so black and white, or so self-righteous.
America is not the “holy city set up on a hill,” as our traditional American mythology would have us believe. (See R. Hughes, Myths Americans Live By for a good exposition of this and other popular American myths). As a nation, we have become completely decadent and have, to a certain degree, brought this diabolic aggression on ourselves.
This doesn’t in any way condone the violence or tactics of these Islamic groups. Their hatred and violence is demonic. But so is the perversion of our culture. And in this light we need to expose the self-serving, simplistic fabrication that we are simply “good” and they are simply “evil.” The truth is, we’re both evil!
And all this simply demonstrates one more way in which the promiscuity of our culture is harming us.
As people who have pledged our life to imitating Jesus, we are called to revolt against this promiscuity. But unlike the revolt of the Islamist, we must always remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). Our warfare is not against people, but on behalf of people – including those who are morally decadent as well as the Muslim extremist.
Both Hugh Hefner and Osama Bin Laden are unwitting pawns of the Powers who need rescuing.
We thus “do not wage war as the world does,” nor do we fight with “the weapons of the world” (2 Cor. 10:3-4). We do not fight with hatred and violence. We rather are called to fight this battle by humbly manifesting the beauty of God’s design for sexuality as we purge ourselves of the promiscuity that pervades our culture -- and as we love our enemies.