It seems every week there is another accusation and admittance of sexual misconduct. It is discouraging, disheartening, and disgusting to learn the men we welcomed into our homes through television and movies were doing these things.
On a personal level, I think these stories should come to light. Men who violate women should face justice and be held accountable.
But as these stories develop and new stories are told, we must remember these are fruits of much bigger and deeper problems. And if these are the fruits, Christians have a responsibility to identify the roots, specifically the root. But if we are going to do that with honesty and integrity, it will also require self-examination.
Degraded view of sex
The sexual revolution in America changed the country’s understanding of sex. It claimed to free sex from the puritanical chains of religion. A secular understanding of sex does not elevate it; it degrades the act.
By God’s design, sex is a beautiful act that brings intimacy, unity, and oneness. A secular understanding concludes that sex is for mere pleasure or even entertainment.
By God’s design, sex is selfless because it is the giving of oneself. In culture, sex is selfish because it is a thing to be taken for one’s benefit.
This is proven every day in the porn industry. Sex in the porn industry is a charade, an abominable caricature. But those who participate in it, and by participate I mean those who view it, have as equally a degraded understanding of sex as do the men whose names are plastered in headlines across the country.
The men guilty of sexual assault and those (men and women) who use porn see it as a means to an end. And that end is pure, unadulterated selfishness.
That is the degrading nature of culture’s understanding of sex. God designed it to be a diamond, precious and cared for over a lifetime. Culture makes it the Cracker Jacks box at a baseball game, cheaply bought and discarded when its purpose is served.
Degraded view of women
Once sex is degraded to an act of simple pleasure, the vehicle for that pleasure is naturally degraded as well. I want to be nuanced for a moment here: There are female predators, and they should be held accountable for their actions. There are male victims of sexual assault, and we should pray for their healing and fight for their justice. But the vast majority of predators are men, and the vast majority of victims are women. Due to the limited space of a blog, I am writing with the majorities in mind.
When God created woman, He created her as the helpmate to Adam. She was so lovely, so treasured, Adam responded by composing a song to celebrate her.
Throughout Scripture, God exemplifies how women are to be cherished and loved. First Peter even goes so far as to say if a man does not show honor to his wife, God will not even hear his prayers.
Now contrast that with the view that a sex-obsessed culture creates for women. On the one hand, culture says women should be treated equally to men. This is a good and true view. But on the other hand, our sex-obsessed culture says women’s primary purpose is sexual in nature. As the degraded view of sex is seen in porn, the degraded view of women is clearly seen in advertising.
What does a woman in a bikini have to do with selling a hamburger? Nothing. Yet, how many commercials or billboards have been filled with that image? Further, consider the clothing companies putting young girls in as little clothing as possible in the hopes of selling a pair of blue jeans. Their message isn’t, “Come purchase our quality denim.” Instead, it is, “Lust after this girl, and come into our store for more.”
Degraded view of men
Over the last few years, I have heard innumerable conversations about how culture has attempted to emasculate men and redefine manhood. It is widely accepted that manhood, especially a biblical view of manhood, has been lost in our culture; I believe it is connected to the degraded view of sex.
Because sex is degraded to be for mere pleasure, and women are vehicles for it, this reduces men to be base creatures who are driven by sheer desire.
This message, pushed by marketing, entertainment, and the culture-at-large, has taught men that not only is it acceptable, but it is preferable for men to be this way. Shows and movies with male characters portraying this view are never reprimanded but celebrated. Very few, if any, alternatives are presented.
According to the mass messaging of culture, men should ascribe to two pursuits: success and sex. And in the typical message, the two are one in the same.
God’s design for men is so much higher, so much bigger. Men are to be providers and protectors. They should not just care for women but be a source of encouragement, peace, and safety. Men should lead and serve, in equal measure.
That is true manhood.
Degradation of God
A degraded view of sex leads to a degraded view of both men and women. But these are still not the root cause of the sexual problems faced by our culture. The true root is a degraded view of God.
For this, Christians cannot blame culture. The world has always and will always hate God. The blame for a low view of God lies squarely on the shoulders of people who claim to be Christian but live as the world. Recent surveys reveal “the percentage of Christian men viewing pornography is the same as that of nonbelievers (33-50%). That article also states 35% of born-again Christians believe sex outside of marriage is “morally acceptable,” further exemplifying a degraded view of God’s standard is rampant in America’s congregations.
How have those who profess to be Christians in America fallen to such a low view of God? Barna research reveals only 34% of Christians claim to read the Bible on their own. Beyond that, only 35% actually attended church in the last seven days. How can we claim to know God or believe we have an accurate understanding of Him if we do not read the Book He wrote or sit under teaching grounded in it?
We must now ask, what is the answer? We reverse the order.
Christians must first examine our understanding of God. If our view of God is small, our view of sin will be also. But if we have a biblical understanding of the might and majesty of God, our lives will reflect it.
Once we have a biblical understanding of God, we should pursue a biblical understanding of ourselves. Men will understand their proper role and women theirs. Only when these are understood and applied will there be a biblical view of sex.
We cannot attempt to reform culture and call it to repentance until we experience that reform and repentance ourselves.
Editor’s Notes: This is the first of a three-part series about a Christian’s response to our country's recent sex scandals.