The rise of the sexual revolution

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The rise of the sexual revolution

January 12, 2022 -

Dr. Jim Denison and Dr. Mark Turman discuss the sexual revolution and its implications for today’s culture. They discuss how the church’s witness is hurt by its bad example, how biblical morality is going to be persecuted, the implications of the Equality Act, how US laws should legislate certain moral judgments and not others, and how the world’s understanding of sex ultimately leads to harm.

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First, Mark and Jim show why it’s important to have historical context for cultural ideas today. Much of the LGBTQ movement in today’s world is a symptom, not the cause, of the cultural tsunami. To address the root causes, however, the church must start within our own doors and hearts. Since the church abuse scandals, comparable levels of divorce rates, and the acceptance of cohabitation, the church has lost credibility in the eyes of the culture. 

In the case of the new sexual morality, biblical Christians are becoming more ostracized and considered even dangerous for our beliefs. Indeed, while all laws legislate morality in some way, we must get clear on religious freedom and what the State can legislate. 

They unpack how this played out in the legalization of abortion. Jim then elaborates on how civil rights laws protecting minorities are categorically different from those protecting based on sexual orientation, both biblically and under secular arguments, and how the Equality Act poses a serious threat to biblical Christian institutions. 

Finally, they discuss how Christians can respond to today’s sexual revolution following Paul’s model from Corinthians. Jim argues that we shouldn’t take the easy route, but rather we must let our light shine. We have the heroes of Hebrews 11 to inspire us. 

(Correction: Cardinal Francis George first said, “I expect my successor to die in prison . . . .”) not Archbishop Collins.)

P.S. Pre-order The Coming Tsunami today and you’ll be invited to an exclusive, virtual, live Q&A with Dr. Denison discussing whether Critical Race Theory is biblical. Visit TheComingTsunami.com to pre-order and follow the directions on that page to receive your invitation to this book launch event on January 25.

Resources and further reading

About the hosts 

Dr. Jim Denison CVO and cofounder of Denison Forum and a cultural scholar. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy and Master’s in Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

Dr. Mark Turman is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church. 

Transcript

Transcribed by Otter.ai

Mark Turman  00:00

We’re back again with the Denison Forum Podcast and the coming tsunami. Mark Turman here with Dr. Jim Dennison, the founding vision Officer of Denison forum. Jim, how are you today? I’m

 

Jim Denison  00:11

doing well today Mark, how

 

Mark Turman  00:12

are you doing great. Looking forward to the conversation, hopefully we can be helpful to our listeners, we want to thank you for being a part of our listening audience to this new podcast. And want to remind you that Jim’s book, The coming tsunami that we’re discussing, will be coming out on January 25, you can pre order a copy if you’d like at the coming tsunami.com. And we hope you’ll do that. And as well, let us know how this podcast is helping you and how we might be able to address future topics or questions that you might have. We’ll also be having a special seminar on January 25 webinar in which you can participate, ask questions and be a part of the discussion with Dr. Denison, and I as we get to that day, and we hope you’ll participate looking forward to that opportunity with you as well. Dr. Dennison, as am

 

Jim Denison  01:00

I, I’m grateful to be able to have the conversation with you today Mark and be able to kind of drive into some of these issues in ways that we trust and hope and pray will be helpful as we’re seeking to use our influence in these perilous times.

 

Mark Turman  01:10

And that’s really a great way to get into the conversation that kind of the inspiration motivation behind the book, and particularly the first section of the book where we talk about or you talk about the the four earthquakes that have really affected our culture and have coalesced in a particular way, at this point in our culture in our American culture, that we’re really trying to help people to understand, historically and practically, and in a present day tense how we got here and why that’s important. Why do you think Why do you take some time are in this book to trace history and particularly in the the second earthquake relative to the sexual revolution that many of us, particularly, my generation would say, Well, that’s all about the 60s, but it’s really not simply all about the 60s, is it?

 

Jim Denison  02:04

Now it’s absolutely not unfortunately, I would say for the most part, maybe some positive but mostly negative. No, there’s a trend there. There’s a trajectory that starts back in the 60s and in some ways prior to them that we’re still seeing today. One answer I think, to the question, why is all of this still important to us as if human nature doesn’t change? So what we’ve been tempted by we’re still tempted by what we’ve dealt with in the past we still deal with in the future. I heard Coach Nick Saban, Alabama coach the other day say that the past is the best predictor of the future, that the history how a player’s performed in the past, is his best indication of how the likely perform in the future. And I think he’s right about that human nature just doesn’t change. But there were some seeds planted in the 60s, in the context of what we think of as a sexual revolution, that explain how we got to abortion, how we got to same sex marriage, how we’re now getting to polygamy, and polyamory, how we’re getting to consensual marriage, the idea that anybody of any age, any biological relationship, ought to be able to marry, how we got to Zoo Filia, the endorsement of sexual relations between people and animals. We hear all of that thing that can’t possibly be in the future. But a few years ago, we thought same sex marriage couldn’t be in the future. All of this starts back in the 60s. That’s where the seeds were planted of what we’re now seeing tragically coming to harvest. And even

 

Mark Turman  03:18

earlier than that is your book traces out a little bit some of the philosopher’s that came decades, if not even longer than that, prior to what we saw with the advent of Hugh Hefner, and the establishment of Playboy magazine, and other things that play into this such as birth control, which most people probably don’t realize, arrived about that same time 1860 1960, and was very significant in the way that people started thinking about sexuality, and participating in sexuality. We could even go into conversations about feminism and how that played into it, the Vietnam War, playing into it, and all of those things converging for a particular way. But it’s, it’s helpful, I think, to have that perspective of history, and understand how we got here. So that we’re not just simply reacting to the symptoms of things like same sex marriage, that’s helpful for my perspective, to not just be attacking symptoms, but to also understand causes. As you as you wrote about that, as you think about that, even today, what is your hope in terms of the way we might be able to speak into our culture to reset that trajectory or to change the trajectory?

 

Jim Denison  04:42

It’s a great question, and it’s always too soon to give up on God. Unlike a physical tsunami that can’t be reversed. We’ve seen God over the centuries do remarkable things in Scripture and in human history, to reverse trajectories like we’re describing right now. I think there’s three places I think it starts inside my heart inside my life. It starts with me Being aware of the degree to which the sexual revolution as one example, has affected me, the degree to which I’ve become if I’m not careful, more accepting of them biblical morality than I should be. I’m watching movies in which people sleep together on the first date. I’m watching same sex relationships and Hallmark Christmas movies. Even at this point in season, we’re seeing things that are endorsed by the culture, which I’ve got to be so careful to make certain doesn’t become endorsed in my own heart and mind. In gypsy Smith, a great evangelist was asked how to start a revival, said take a piece of chalk, draw a circle around yourself, get on your knees, pray till everything inside that circles right with God and revival will be upon us. So draw a circle around me, first of all, make certain I’m living in the context of biblical morality myself, that I’m not asking you to do what I’m not doing, I can’t lead you further than I’m willing to go. I can’t give what I don’t have. One of the reasons that churches lost such moral authority in the culture is because of the clergy abuse scandal that has made headlines for so many years now. And it’s so horrendous and horrific on so many levels. But it’s caused us to lose the ability to ask other people to be moral if we’re not being moral. So it starts with me on that point. Second, I need to make certain that people with whom I have direct influence, are also living biblically as best I can. Now I’m thinking about rod Dreyer’s book, The Benedict option and the degree to which we ought not be thinking about the larger culture to the neglect of our own families of our own children and grandchildren, our own youth groups. Mark, I know, you know, the surveys, the numbers here that indicate in a very frightening way, the degree to which Christian young people align with non Christian young people in terms of moral expectations, sleeping together outside of marriage at the same degree divorce rates, being at the same levels, consuming pornography on the same levels. So second, who are the places where I had influenced myself? Where I can be catalyst? Why can be salt and light? And then third, how can my influence make a difference outside my immediate family and friendships? What platform has God given you? What opportunity do you have to speak the truth in love into the context of the moral issues of the day?

 

Mark Turman  07:04

And I think those are all great applications for where people can start making a difference today, particularly in this area of post morality. And it’s it’s always been interesting to me in the conversations we’ve had around the book and around other topics more broadly, that you zeroed in on how coming out of a post truth are aligned with a post truth mentality. It’s application within the I the area of human sexuality, what led you to focus on that area in this book, and also in our broader ministry? Why do you think that’s such a critical area of focus, for Christians to understand and to start to become more redemptive in?

 

Jim Denison  07:50

It’s great questions on two levels. First is on the merits itself, the absolute destruction of the sexual revolution, the degree to which it’s destroyed families, the degree to which pornography is just one example is a plague that is now demonstrated medically, psychologically, in terms of psychiatry as well, to be so damaging to society. And so because we want to care for those that God cares for want to love everybody God loves, then on the merits, we want to be speaking biblical truth into the moral issues of the day. But on a larger second level, the sexual revolution. And the degree to which you and I stand against it in the context of biblical morality is causing the culture to paint us now as homophobic, bigoted, prejudiced, narrow minded, discriminatory, and therefore dangerous to society. And the tsunami, I’m describing in the book, this chapter, this earthquake is just one part of a larger trajectory, that is claiming that biblical morality is now outdated, at the very least, is irrelevant, at the very least. And to the degree that it denies people freedom to be themselves, it would be said to express their own sexual orientation, gender identity as they wish, it’s now dangerous to society. We’re being seen in the same way that the KKK would be seen. We’re being seen in the same way that those that advocated slavery would be seen in the context of sexual morality, because our claim that biblical morality oppy followed by all people, is seem to be that countercultural that dangerous to society. There’s this belief that personal authenticity is the path to flourishing. If you believe what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage, if you believe what the Bible says about pornography and lust, if you believe what the Bible says about binary, gender, creation, and gender relationships, then you’re seen as dangerous to the trajectory of the culture.

 

Mark Turman  09:41

So we were kind of moving in that’s a big warning coming out of this book, we’re moving beyond just simply irrelevance where people might people outside the faith people out people who reject biblical morality might say to us, okay, well, if you want to subscribe to those things, and to Take your family in that direction, it seems silly to us, it seems irrelevant seems like the world has become enlightened and move past all of that. But if you want to go over in a corner and live that way by the Puritan go, we appear to be archaic in that way, that’s fine. But we’re really no longer in the category of just kind of being ignored as silly and irrelevant. Now we’ve now we’re moving into this place of, no, you’re dangerous, and you’re particularly dangerous to your children. And we have an interest if not in you in them. And so we’re going to start now characterizing you as dangerous and moving particularly public policy in that direction. Is that where you’re headed,

 

Jim Denison  10:45

and it also affects religious liberty, therefore, very directly, right, one of the many things that Justice Kennedy got wrong when he wrote the majority opinion in the Obergefell decision. 2015 was his claim that those who believed and cherished as he said, religious values in the context of sexuality would be able to continue to do so. And that this would affect them in no fashion at all. What What business is it of yours how I choose to live my own gender identity, my own sexual expression was the claim back in 2015, when same sex marriage was first legalized. Now we know how fallaciously wrong that claim was. Now we know that if, for instance, you’re a florist, who doesn’t want to provide a floral arrangement for a same sex wedding, that’s now in many states seen as illegal. And the fines that you’ll have to pay could put you out of business, right? If you’re engaged in wedding chapels, that more and more, there’s a trajectory in other nations, perhaps someday here, if you’re a clergyman who won’t do a same sex wedding, then your IP, then what you’re doing is illegal. We’re seeing that in Canada, we’re seeing that in England right now, we’re seeing it where of churches won’t participate in same sex weddings, it’s just as though they wouldn’t do an Hispanic wedding or wouldn’t do an African American Wedding, it’s seen in the exact same way. If you’re an employer who won’t provide same sex spousal benefits, then you’re being seen as being as discriminatory, as if you would limit spousal benefits on the basis of race or gender. And so we’re losing sexual in the sexual revolution, we’re losing religious freedom on a level that we’ve not yet seen the ultimate consequence of. But that’s part of where the trajectory is going right now.

 

Mark Turman  12:21

Right, which is, we talked a lot he talked a lot about in this book, The Equality Act. We’ll get to that in just a second. But my mind’s racing in about three different questions at this point. So one of the questions I wanted to ask you relates to the idea of criminalizing what you and I would call sinful behavior. So prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, there were laws on many state books and independent ways relative to sodomy, there were laws against same sex marriage. Speak a little bit to the idea of when Christians need to think of an even advocate for to the degree that we can, that certain sin should be criminalized. And where should it not be criminalized? And in here’s a little bit where my thought process goes. So you and I talk often about issues of abortion and Roe vs. Wade, there’s a lot in the news right now about the Supreme Court hearing cases that potentially could even more highly restrict or even a limb or overturn Roe vs. Wade. Should it be in your opinion that the desire and advocacy of Christians to look at the overfilled decision the way we look at Roe versus Wade and to pursue pray for hope for advocate for vote for people who would? Who would turn that decision over?

 

Jim Denison  13:54

It’s a great question when it comes to the Lego legalizing a legislating morality right at the end of the day. And

 

Mark Turman  13:59

you know, my whole adult life I’ve had people tell me you can’t legislate morality, but in fact, almost all law has to do with morality in one way

 

Jim Denison  14:08

or another. Absolutely. Does the Lord wear a seatbelt is a legislating morality, speed limit laws are legislating morality on some level laws are exactly that. And yet we live in a secular democracy, where the word God nowhere appears in the Constitution, right where the Founders intended a kind of separation of church and state that wouldn’t endorse one specific religion. Its freedom for religion, freedom of religion, freedom from religion. And so at the end of the day, if I don’t want just as an example, for Buddhists, to be able to enforce some particular ascetic discipline on my kids in school, if I don’t want Muslims to be able to enforce the five times a day that they pray as required for my kids in school, I understand the argument that I ought not to be able to enforce a state sponsored prayer, as I might write that prayer. If you’re going to have state sponsored prayer, well, it’s going to look Mormon in Utah it’s going to look Buddhist in Hawaii, it’s going to look back Just in Texas, right? And so at the end of the day, it really is a sliding scale, isn’t it? It really is a slippery slope in terms of what were to legislate morality for not to do so we don’t legislate against adultery. Even though the Bible absolutely categorically forbids adultery, even though the consequences of adultery are damaging on so many levels. I don’t see anybody trying to advocate for laws that would make adultery illegal,

 

Mark Turman  15:23

although we had those laws in some ways in our past, right. Yeah. But we’ve decided that that’s not a particularly useful role of government to, to criminalize adultery, even though we would clearly say it’s enormously damaging.

 

Jim Denison  15:42

It’s a great example of what we wish were different than it is right. So in America, the answer to the question historically has been in the context of state’s interest. laws are enacted when the state believes it has a compelling interest in doing so. In utilitarian sense, the greatest good for the greatest number right is basically the idea. While even though I might have an objection to seatbelt laws, the greatest good for the greatest number is that seatbelt laws are going to be legislated because it’s in the state’s interest to do so. Now, that is what got us in many ways to abortion, to discovering a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. According to seven justices, back in 1973, they thought it was in the state’s interest to protect the welfare of pregnant women to be able to give them the right to make choices that the state should not legislate, they felt that was in the state’s interest to do so. It was decided in 2015, it’s in the state’s interest not to legislate in the context of gender relations relative to marriage. Now, whether the state to make the same decision with polygamy is yet to be seen 50 to 100,000 Muslim polygamous families in America, it’s estimated, because in Islam, as you know, a man can marry up to four wives. So as I’m told in America, he’ll marry the first wife legally. And the next three and civil ceremonies down in the mosque or the Islamic center. They’re practically polygamous relationships, even though legally there’s only one wife, right? And so the argument is, well, what business of the state to discriminate against Muslims in that way? Is it in the state’s interest to legislate against polygamy as they chose it not to be in their interest to legislate against same sex relationships. That’s typically I think, where the legal arguments run, it is in the context of state’s interest relative to legislating morality. Now, at the end of the day, because we’re not talking about things to which the Constitution speaks clearly, and specifically, it’s going to be a public opinion matter. It’s going to be a judicial opinion matter. It’s going to be as the culture changes, and the Supreme Court and the judicial process chooses to catch up with it, the legislators choose to catch up with it. At the end of the day, the process, moving out of state’s interest and out of settled public opinion, begins to make these decisions. And we’re going to see how that comes out, relative to religious freedom in the context of sexual freedom. That’s the issue we’ve not faced before in American history. And that’s part of what causes the tsunami we’re describing right now to be so real,

 

Mark Turman  18:06

right, which manifests itself in a big way, as you describe in the book around the Equality Act. So people can read the book, they can get a better sense of what the Equality Act is, but give us the thumbnail overview of the Equality Act. And where you understand that that legislation to stand relative to Congress today, as best we know it,

 

Jim Denison  18:27

absolutely, I would call it the so called Equality Act, I would say it’s very much a miss named description. But nonetheless, what’s called the Equality Act as passed the house twice. 2017 2019 It now stands before I believe the Judiciary Committee of the Senate. If it were to be approved by the Senate, President Biden has already said he would sign it. What it essentially does is amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, if I were to stop right there, I would say to you now, this could be thin ice and it could be people that would be unhappy with what I’m about to say. But I myself do not believe that individuals in America should face discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. I believe that gay couples deserve to have the same access to medical care, right as, as opposite sex couples,

 

Mark Turman  19:15

they should be able to get a job. That’s why they should be able to have health care. That’s right. They should not be thrown in jail, whether agree

 

Jim Denison  19:24

housing, discrimination, all of that absolutely agree that that’s the case. Now, what makes the Equality Act different, however, is it explicitly forbids any reference to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act? So what that would mean in practice is, as one example, had an attorney describe it this way in a consultation I was participating in with a Board of Trustees. Let’s imagine that you’re faith based university, that you have a transgender student who wants to play on the women’s volleyball team. You refuse to allow her to do that based on your religious convictions. She files a suit, a judge issues an injunction if you don’t obey the injunction, somebody goes to jail. As the Equality Act currently stands, it criminalizes what is seen as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, even for those that do so because of settled religious conviction, there is no carve out for religious position for religious belief. And that’s unprecedented in American history,

 

Mark Turman  20:27

which, which, just on the face of it sounds like a Supreme Court case in the making. Absolutely, it

 

Jim Denison  20:33

will go to the Supreme Court. And both sides seem to think Mark that it will be overturned by the Supreme Court, right, that it will be found to be unconstitutional when it gets there. So why is it but the

 

Mark Turman  20:42

pain of who’s going to suffer? And what consequences would Christians Christian organizations Christian universities possibly incur on the journey there,

 

Jim Denison  20:53

and we’ll be financing the the entire process to get from here to there, and we’ll be on the wrong side of the law for all the years it takes to get there. It’s not just relative to criminalizing in the context of the judge’s injunction. Now, this starts moving in all sorts of directions now to faith based organizations risk losing government grants. For many of them, it can be a quarter to a third of their operating budget to do so. Well, the NCAA decided that faith based organizations can no longer participate in their sporting programs, like

 

Mark Turman  21:21

like we saw, you’ve written about this, it’s in the books written in other articles as well about when when Liberty University made it into the old Roberts or robbers made it into the sweet 16, the sweet 16. And there were public outcry is coming out of USA Today, right saying that a university like this should not be allowed to participate.

 

Jim Denison  21:43

That’s right NCAA should be censoring them, well, the inside of a lease of private organization, they could do that tomorrow, right? We need the equality, which is

 

Mark Turman  21:49

a step further targeting a particular university, a particular team is now a step further from the NCAA moving its tournaments, or moving its events out of locations where they didn’t agree with the policy of a state or community

 

Jim Denison  22:04

Exactly. So and these are all private organizations, they don’t need the Equality Act to do this. And so really, the part that the Equality Act plays in the larger narrative is as a description of an a symptom of a larger movement. The reason the Equality Act exists, is it is believed by a majority in the House, and a significant percentage of the Senate and a person a significant percentage of American population that my unwillingness to do a same sex wedding is as discriminatory as if I were be as if I run willing to do a black wedding. As if I were unwilling to do a Latino wedding, they see this in exactly those same terms. And if I appeal to religious conviction to be able to do this, I’m just like the KKK appealing to a misreading of Scripture to burn crosses and somebody sharp

 

Mark Turman  22:49

so let’s let’s let’s just say set out a little bit, because it seems I don’t know how we would characterize them, whether it’s the LGBTQ community, specifically, or we look at the organization glad. But it seems like they have adopted exactly the strategy that civil rights activists were using in the 50s and 60s.

 

Jim Denison  23:12

It’s exactly right. Many of the civil rights activists have been unhappy that they’ve done that, right. And they’ve co opted the movement as they have, but they have taken that exact policy forward. But

 

Mark Turman  23:20

But this at this core issue of trying to raise sexual preference, sexual orientation, to be on par with race. That’s right. Speak about that a little bit, and how Christians need to understand that those are not on this, they are not the same thing. They’re not the same thing biblically. And in other categories, as well, but explain that a little bit, because this is really at the core of how Christians need to understand this and be able to speak to this, that it is not the same thing as race and racial discrimination.

 

Jim Denison  23:57

So glad you did that, because that’s really the core of the argument here. We’re being it’s being claimed that I’m just like a white supremacist, wanting to advocate for slavery on biblical terms. Well, no one would say I have to be able to have religious freedom, protection to be able to do that, right. So they’re saying, Well, then why do I have religious freedom protection against doing a same sex wedding or allowing a transgender student to play on the volleyball team they see it is exactly the same kind of thing. It’s the it is not the same thing for three different for three reasons. The first is biblical. Biblically, it’s clear in Scripture. Now rejoice to be able to say this a Galatians three says there’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. We’re all Abraham’s seed heirs according to the covenant. The Bible makes it crystal clear that race is in no sense a category in the context of sin, that there is no sin associated with being Anglo, or being black or being Hispanic or Asian, whatever a race might be. That God created all of us that He loves all of us equally. He celebrates our diversity. He rejoices in our diversity. You look back in Scripture and you see how God uses people of all sorts of races and ethnicities to advance his kingdom. And so the idea that the Bible treats race as it does sexual orientation, gender identity is categorically on true. on the merits, what we’re talking about in the context of same sex marriage, for instance, is a chosen behavior, a chosen decision. Now I can take a parentheses there, if I could, science has not settled and I think never will settle the degree to which sexual orientation is nature or nurture, the degree to which this is genetic, or the degree to which is conditioned by experience. And by circumstance, I don’t know that we’ll ever get to that solution. But even if we can see that a person is, let’s say, same sex attracted by virtue of their genetic makeup, even if we say that they can choose whether or not to act on that behavior, right black person can choose whether or not to act as a black person, right? A Latino can choose whether or not to act as a Latino. And so there’s categorically a difference here in the context of freedom of will, relative to one’s racial, inherited nature as it were. And so that’s a second piece has to do with the degree to which there’s a freewill piece inside all of this. And then a third level is, as we’re trying to make the analogy between the two, there are outcomes relative to racial minorities that categorically do not exist in the context of sexual orientation, gender identity outcomes. For instance, we have known over the years, and it’s still tragically the case today, that many people in America who are racial minorities are underprivileged, financially. Now we can have a long conversation about that, and the theory, the reasons why that is the case. But it is the case, that is not true in the same sex population. In fact, there have been studies demonstrating how same sex partners typically are 30 to 40% wealthier than the opposite gendered partners tend to be, while one can make anecdotal arguments for discrimination on the basis of housing, and employment, that sort of thing. If you look at Tim Cook, the head of Apple, who is himself, obviously, publicly gay men, it’s hard to make the claim that one cannot succeed in this culture, on the basis of gender orientation, sexual identity. So a lot of what the civil rights movement of the 60s was trying to accomplish was pushing back against issues that don’t exist in the context of sexual orientation, gender identity, they’re very different outcomes, because a very different issues.

 

Mark Turman  27:25

And I think this is absolutely the one of the core issues that Christians and particularly pastors, leaders, others need to really get their mind around is the categorical difference. Because this is the argument that is being touted from various angles and voices. And, you know, my pastor used to say that this is the devil strategy, that, that he will try to popularize a sinful behavior and glamorize it. And then, as we’ve talked about, normalize it within the culture. And now as your book points out, moving to the place of criminalizing and idolizing those that disagree. Yeah, criminalizing those of Christians that disagree, and that don’t only this, it can be really overwhelming to think about. But I know it’s, it’s your belief that we are really standing at a pivotal moment in history, because of how these tidal waves, or how these earthquakes and their tidal waves of consequences are converging at this moment. But it’s not as you said at the beginning of this podcast is it’s always too late or too early to give up on God. You mentioned rod Dreher, his book a little bit ago. There is something about us that when we look at this in our culture, we do kind of want to run away and isolate ourselves and Christians at times have done that various groups have done that. Why isn’t that the strategy you think we should take? We know that we’re called to be salt and light. But drear argues that at some point, we just have to kind of withdraw and let the culture wear itself out or run amok to it’s finally come to an end. And we’ll come back in and try to help things get rebuilt. Why wouldn’t we start moving in that direction now, in your opinion,

 

Jim Denison  29:27

and I think Dre was right on one side of this. And it’s back to what we discussed before, we do need to make certain that we’re paying sufficient attention to our own kids, to our own grandkids. And if we have to pull them away from culture to do that, then we have an argument now that maybe we haven’t had in the past. I’ve been an advocate of public schools my entire life. But now we’re at a case where for my grandchildren, it’s more likely than ever, that in the public schools are going to be taught what we think of as LGBTQ activism. They’re going to be taught perhaps critical theory on some level, they’re going to be dealing with issues there that I just really don’t want them to have to deal with as first graders, second graders and so forth. And so on one level, there is perhaps a pulling back to preserve what’s left to preserve the remnant as it were. But on the other side, and this is where I would disagree with the Benedict option at its conclusion, we’re called to be salt and light, regardless of how dark the room is, or how necessary the salt is. In fact, the darker the room, the more obvious the light, the more necessary, the light. One could argue that the Roman Empire, first century Roman emperor was decadent on a level we have not yet experienced in America, right. And yet, here’s Paul going out into that empire. Here’s Paul taking the gospel to the Gentile world and ultimately being beheaded for doing so I remember,

 

Mark Turman  30:37

having just recently come through an educational program, doctoral program where we talked about the decadence of Corinth, the ancient city of Korea,

 

Jim Denison  30:47

and the Corinthian is meant to commit sexual immorality, right and

 

Mark Turman  30:50

was basically synonymous with prostitution. And much more than that, yes. And here comes the Apostle Paul and his team bringing in this message of Jesus and ultimately bringing in its implications for their lives, and particularly for their sexual lives. Long, significant conversation in the Bible around this in First Corinthians six and seven, Paul makes this interesting statement that sexual sin is unique. And as David garland down at true at seminary at Baylor said, what Paul is at least driving, it’s one of the more challenging passages of scripture. But what he is driving at is is, is that there is no such thing as casual sex, that our sexual capacities and our sexual orientations are given to us by God and reached to the very depths of the essence of who we are, we see that reflected you and I’ve talked about this before, we see that reflected in the fall of man in Genesis three. And some of the things that immediately emerge out of that relative to shame and covering that that our sexual reality in orientation is is is not surfaced to us. And we all sense that very deeply. But when Paul comes into Corinth, he comes in with a message that redeems their understanding of sexuality. And in in their case, they didn’t see it as oppressive, they saw it as beautiful. They saw it as there’s a completely different way to look at sexuality and to see it as something sacred rather than is something mundane.

 

Jim Denison  32:33

That’s the digression that we have to go with this. I love something Ryan Anderson said Not long ago, in the Wall Street Journal, we’re not asking for the right to be wrong here. We’re not asking for the world to do a carve out for us to let us be this anachronistic sort of puritanical kind of folk that just want to raise our kids differently than everybody else

 

Mark Turman  32:49

silly over here in this corner, and yeah, left to ourselves and just be left to ourselves kind of be

 

Jim Denison  32:53

Amish as it were. And that sort of sense. The reason we want to keep advocating for biblical morality is that’s the best way to live your life. The stats are clear on across the board. We’re talking about, for instance, in pornography, something like 70% of those that that are actors in the pornography industry have been abused at some point along the way. 85% want out, sex trafficking, relative to pornography is an epidemic. So we’re standing against pornography, not because we’re being puritanical, but because pornography is so damaging for those that engage in the industry, we’re standing against it because of the mental effects because of the psychological effects for marriages for families. One attorney recently said that more than half of the divorces that he’s been involved with in his career, were directly influenced by pornography. So what we’re wanting to do is come forward and offer biblical morality because it’s best for the people that we’re doing this for, I’ll tell you, Mark, it would be so much easier for you and me to pull back to withdraw, to say, you know, I don’t want to be called homophobic

 

Mark Turman  33:54

and just say, hey, leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone. Leave us alone.

 

Jim Denison  33:57

Exactly. I could find some carve out some way to do that. Maybe I could pull back into some kind of commune sort of a medieval kind of monastic sort of a lifestyle or something and just kind of let it go. I don’t want to be called discriminatory and bigoted and prejudiced and narrow minded. I get nothing out of this. I’m not angry at LGBTQ individuals. I’m not angry at people advocating the equality. But I’m called by God to give what I’ve received, I’m a beggar helping beggars find bread. The Bible has changed my life for the good. And I’m commissioned and privileged to share that good news with the world. We’ve got to recapture that sense of why we’re advocating the morality that we are not to be haters, but to be lovers. That’s critical to the future for us

 

Mark Turman  34:39

because we we ultimately believe that what the Bible is teaching us what Christ modeled for us is the way human beings thrive. That’s right. It’s the way we flourish. And if we don’t believe that, then we should give it up ourselves. That’s right. But we also as Christians called to be salt and light called to not only love God with all of our hearts soul Mine is strength but to love others as we love ourselves, we have a compelling obligation for that reason. And I just as we have these conversations, I keep going back to what I remember Peter talking about in first Peter when he’s trying to prepare Christians, for the challenges, the difficulties, the persecutions and sacrifices that they could possibly be asked to make, that it would in some ways, be easier to just walk away and to go hide ourselves. But we would be forfeiting our mission, and our calling from God to love well, but in doing that, we have to be thinking about in preparing for the possibility that we will be one of those people that will suffer or that will be sacrificed, we could be one of those people that is being fined by the government. While these issues play themselves out, or even imprisoned at times, it’s happening all in other places around the world, there’s no reason why it won’t or can’t happen here, ultimately, given the direction that our culture is going.

 

Jim Denison  36:07

That’s absolutely right. Archbishop Collins some years ago said I expect to die in bed he was at that time a cancer patients who did die of cancer said I expect to die in bed, I expect my successor to die in prison, I expect his successor to die a martyr in the public square, his successor will then pick up the broken pieces of society, as the church has done so often in the past. So that was his expectation.

 

Mark Turman  36:27

I you know, I just, I referenced that quote, in a family conversation over the weekend, and it did not generate a lot of comfort. Because it generates both angst and and hope, especially when you get to that part of, of the church coming back in to be that redemptive force. But as, as is sometimes the case, in a season of history, the culture is determined to try to, to pursue itself as far as it can go to the destruction of many lives, and oftentimes to the detriment, at least for a season, to Christians trying to be salt and light in that. And that is in many ways, what happened to Jesus. And he told us that that could be very much what happens to us. I think it’s what Paul’s talking about to the Philippians when he says that we are to be a part of the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. And we shouldn’t be alarmed by that. We obviously are not eager for that. We’d love to be living in a day of revival and restoration and seeing 1000s of people in our culture coming toward Christ and biblical morality. But that may not be what we get to see. We can pray for that awakening in that revival. But it may not be in our time.

 

Jim Denison  37:50

At the end of the day, we have to choose to speak the truth in love and do so in a spirit of grace and courage that the Lord will empower us to have. This is ultimately a spiritual conflict. Right? As Ephesians six said, Our battle is not against flesh and blood. The Bible makes it clear that the natural man doesn’t understand the things of God because they’re spiritually discerned. My wife told our boys all the time, they were growing up lost people, like like lost people. So did I. Right, so did you. Yep. All of us apart from the grace of Christ are right there at that same place. And so what we want to avoid is that I know you know, this is the martyr side on one that says, I, I’m willing to run toward being persecuted, I’m willing to do things that will cause me to be persecuted. The Bible says, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, not persecuted, just to be persecuted. I know some people that run to the edge because that on some level meets some need of theirs or helps their organization to get more clicks and that sort of thing. And so that’s the ones on the other side is to avoid the cost of our convictions. And obviously, neither of those are the place where we want to be, we want to be speaking the truth in love. And if at the end of the day, as the Apostle said to the Sanhedrin, we must choose God over man, if we have to come to that place, then God gives us the grace, the courage and the conviction to do so. Peter told us that we were to honor the Emperor Paul told us we were to obey the authorities, Peter was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded. Because they wouldn’t do that. When the Emperor told them to stop preaching the gospel, obey your highest authority, be good citizens, by just in the martyr said that Christians make good citizens. And they also said, My People die well. So at the end of the day, we’re going to be good citizens, to the degree that we can also be citizens of the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom on earth. And we’re going to do so in a way that speaks the truth in love, knowing that the consequence of that may be earthly suffering that leads to eternal reward. And God gives us the grace and the courage to choose wisely if we have to come to that place.

 

Mark Turman  39:47

That’s a good good word for us. Reminds me of what we read about in the the hall of heroes and the book of Hebrews chapter 11. Yeah, and we don’t know what side of that we may in up on, but we’re called to be faithful. Whatever the case. Thank you for the conversation today, Jim, and we look forward to continuing in our next podcast as well remind you to if you have a chance to share this podcast with others to rate us that’ll help people find this new podcast. And remember if you’re interested in reading the coming tsunami, you can pre order a copy at the coming tsunami.com Thank you for being a part of this story today.

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