“What is sex?”
If you were to ask this question to 100 different people on the street, you would likely get 100 different answers (and a lot of strange stares).
Sex has become both commodity and identity in today’s culture. It is considered merely physical, yet almost otherworldly metaphysical. It has been reduced to merely a casual function, yet also expanded to hold the greatest levels of prominence and achievement.
What is sex? To look at what our culture proclaims, and our society embodies, we would have to say… we don’t know.
Beginning in the mid-20th century, sex was defined as the key to freedom. No longer was sex to be considered a taboo subject or held within any kind of relational confines. Sex was up to the individual as an expression solely of what that individual wanted sex to be – as long as no one got hurt.
But did no one get hurt?
Looking back over the past 50 plus years of The Sexual Revolution, one can certainly see that once out of its cage, the animal grew exponentially and in ways previously unforeseen. In some ways this was good. Rather than being treated as a monster, sex was seen as what it is – a gift (though without a recognized Giver).
Sadly, however, not all of the implications were this innocent. Sex-related content has become more accessible than ever and is now the go-to marketing strategy for everything from clothing to hamburgers. Even the colossal kid-friendly Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are now backlit by scantily clad women on a not-so-subtle Victoria’s Secret billboard.
We have built the idol of sex exceedingly tall, lit it extravagantly, and grown used to its form.
The Sexual Revolution sought to set the “caged” animal free. But as any pet-owner will tell you, without a fence, an animal is actually in more danger not only from predators, but from itself. Freedom, in many ways, can lead to an even greater kind of slavery.
Sex has sold, but what have we bought?
We continue to produce mass-market media that utilizes women as objects, skin as the almighty attention-holder, and carefree sexual advances resulting in consequence-free consensual relations.
We have a culture of look, but don’t touch; touch, but don’t hurt; hurt, but don’t care; care, but don’t take responsibility.
With sexual scandals becoming the norm in newspaper headlines and social media feeds, we are starting to see a pattern. A light shining so bright on such a gargantuan idol has produced a great shadow – and much is being done in that dark.
Issues of sexual misconduct, predatory acts, harassment and addiction are being revealed at a dizzying rate. From sports arenas to the halls of government, late night talk show hosts to early morning family-friendly journalists, it seems the shadow of the sexual revolution’s idol is leaving less places to hide as the light reaches its pinnacle. In a world with no fence, we sense something is not being protected.
Ex-porn stars are turning the tide against the multi-billion dollar industry exposing its predatory debasing of women, unsafe practices and life-altering effects of addiction. Science proves and displays the humanity of the unwanted pre-born. Poverty-stricken areas are marked by the uncommon number of single-parent families (particularly from male-abandonment) resulting from what was sold as consequence and carefree sex.
The Sexual Revolution is hitting a wall. It is being exposed, and what the light is revealing is quite telling.
The Bible’s ancient refrain is that seeing something as pleasant to the eye, good to the taste and supposed to make one wise is not always what it seems (Gen. 3:6).
From a Christian worldview, we understand the Bible says that God gave sex to be a good and beautiful expression of love within the covenant bonds of marriage between one man and one woman for life. That is not only what the Bible says; that is the plumb line with which it corrects every deviation.
Sex has boundaries. Those boundaries are not to keep people out and oppressed, rather to be rightly included and flourishing for God’s glory and their good.
Sex is a beautiful animal, but it needs a fence. Something is worth protecting.
With every scandal and vicious malpractice of sexual conduct that comes to light, the alarm resounds, “Sex and sexuality are important!” Sex is not our toy. It is God’s tool. He gave us the borders of a beautiful garden, and within it, everything flourishes. Outside, it dies.
This is a time for the church to do two things.
First, we need to repent of our own sexual brokenness – all of us. We have used sex for entertainment, swept divorce and adultery under the rug and heeded the call of free sex with our eyes and ears more than we would like to admit. We are wrong, and we need to return to God.
Second, we need to recognize opportunity. In the past, offering ideas such as virginity, celibacy or abstinence until marriage were looked on as foolhardy. Monogamy, perseverance and fidelity were labeled oppressive. Any attempt to deny a sexual impulse was shouted down as psychological tyranny.
But in the acidic wake of a sexual revolution that promised much clarity, yet has delivered more confusion, these ideas are beginning to be seen as more viable and even healthy.
People are beginning to be open to new ideas about sex – even if those ideas turn out to be age-old wisdom.
More sexual scandals will unfold, and we should wrap our arms around those who bravely expose with light what is carried out in the shadows. Let us be consistent in upholding God’s gift of sex within the garden of marriage between complementary man and woman for life. Let us fill our minds and eyes with what is good, pleasing, right and true.
In so doing, may a broken world whose well is running dry be guided to the source of living water. Like the woman at the well (John 4), may our society find honest truth, gentle compassion, and an invitation to hope in Jesus Christ.
Is this the end of The Sexual Revolution? Maybe.
Perhaps it’s the beginning of something much greater.