White Paper #2: Our Cultural Moment

Recently, Rev. Dr. Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC, wrote an article for World Magazine online titled, “We live in confusing times: the progressives can’t keep their story straight on sex and gender.” It is very much worth reading because Kevin assimilates many of the messages the LGBT advocates push here and there. Indeed, what the article points out is both the very confusing and irreconcilable differences that exist in the modern sexual messaging.

Here is a short list of other online articles, each of which adds a brick to the overall sexuality structure:

I found these articles in one day. A single day cannot pass without just as many and more articles pushing, defending, advocating or decrying the ubiquitous sexual messaging. What is clear enough is there is no real clarity to be found in our culture regarding sex and gender. We are living in the fruit of expressive individualism, post-Christian and post-modern thought and the abandonment of those ideas and institutions that has carried the West.

In must the church step. My denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, commissioned a group of pastors and scholars to do a study paper on human sexuality. It can be found here (abbreviated AIC, hereafter). It is biblical, pastorally sensitive and widely accepted in our denomination. The authors summarize the modern sexual messaging in five statements that read as if they are being spoken by an advocate:

The oppression of the past. In the past, ancient cultures surrounded sex with all sorts of taboos. In general, sex outside of marriage was forbidden in order to control women, to help men protect their daughters and wives as their property. 

The need for authentic expressionIn modern times, however, we have come to believe in the freedom and rights of individuals, including the right to love whomever we choose in a consensual relationship. Science has shown us that sex is a healthy thing and a crucial part of one’s identity. It is also a human right, and therefore we will only thrive and flourish as human beings if that right to choose is equally available to all people. 

The fight to love whom we want to loveOver the past century a number of brave individuals—usually women, gay, and transgender persons—have heroically stood up to the oppressive culture and said, ‘This is who I am! Don’t let anyone tell you who you can or cannot love!” Many of the early heroes of this movement were marginalized and many died for their willingness to challenge the cultural elites. 

The hard-won rights of today. But today we have a culture that affirms the right to have sex outside of marriage, to conduct same-sex relationships and include them in the legal institution of marriage, and to allow people to choose their own genders. In all these changes we are forging the first human society in history which is sex-positive and in which all persons can live as equal sexual beings. 

The continual dangerDespite these great accomplishments, most places in the world, and many places in our own society, still resist this healthy culture of sexual freedom and justice. Indeed, there are those who would try to turn back the clock and roll back these rights. Under no circumstances must we allow regressive forces—the foremost of which is religion—to take this away from us again. 

The bottom line (35), “This modern moral story about sexuality creates a plot-line of a struggle between courageous heroes and bigoted oppressive villains—all toward a  happy ending.” Happiness is the goal.

The modern sexual narrative is driven largely by people seeking to be happy and thinking expressing their individualism in sex is the way to get there.  “If you want to use sex for the development of new human life, that’s an option and your choice, but it’s not the primary reason people have sex.  Rather, sex is for individual fulfillment and self-realization” (AIC, 34).  In a word, “happiness.”

Among the bulk of the present young generations there’s been an abandoning of the church. In this way, finding true and lasting joy in our created sexuality is impossible. In its place, many are turning inward and seeking happiness in self-expression.  As a result, we are witnessing the success of the Freudian paradigm—happiness through sexuality.

Just a sample of the evidence of this carnal pursuit of happiness:

  • Centenary University in New Jersey just announced a master’s degree in “Happiness Studies.”
  • The intersection of happiness and sexuality is seen in Lady Gaga’s song, “Born this way” in which she equated being gay, bi-, lesbian or transgender with being black or white… “I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way!”

The Gender Unicorn is a case in point.  The “Gender Unicorn” is a soft and friendly picture created by the Trans Students Educational Resource group to be used in schools at the lowest levels.  It teaches a “fractured” view of human sexuality and identity.  According to the dogma behind the Unicorn, now, when it comes to sex and gender, each person has five (5) decisions to make:

  1. What gender identity will I take: male, female, neither, both?
  2. What gender expression will I make?  How will I live this out?
  3. Who am I physically attracted to: boys, girls, both?
  4. Who am I emotionally attracted to: boys, girls, both?
  5. Will I live consistently with the sex I was born with?

With the Gender Unicorn, there are sex-ed courses of instruction for high schoolers, elementary school–even three year olds. Mark Bauerlein in his excellent book, “The Dumbest Generation Grows Up,” reports having taken his child to music camp at a school in Vermont, he was sitting with other parents waiting for a particular workshop to end. While he waited, he heard a 30-something choral teacher leading a song with 5-7 year-olds that had this chorus, “It doesn’t matter who you love.” He writes:

“I peered through the small window in the classroom door and saw her clapping and singing and swaying back and forth with the kids repeating the refrain with a kindly maternal glee, everything about her posture, countenance, motions and voice reinforcing the warmth of the message.”

Recently on an NPR podcast “Embodied,” host Anita Rao in the podcast titled, “Parented: Raising A Gender-Expansive Kid,” lamented that she was guilty of perpetrating the gender binary problem with her nephew.  (“Gender binary” refers to the male-female distinction.) She said it was not by denying him the opportunity to try on lipstick or a headband but by not offering them to him. Further, she calls organizing our experience using gender is “limiting at best and harmful at worst.” Why? She reports (with no empirical evidence) gender binaries are not helpful for kids exploring who they “are.” 

Further, she interviewed a family in Raleigh, NC, whose daughter just decided to be a boy.  At some point the daughter (still believing she was a boy) asked her dad how to dress like a man and he said affirmingly, “However you dress is how a man dresses.”  This child is 14.  She has a 5 year old brother who is willing to correct people when they don’t follow the pronoun change of his big sister.  A five-year old correcting people.

Another part of the podcast recorded a conversation between an adult and a 6 year old boy—who had decided that when people called him a boy it made him sad but now that people call him a girl he’s happy because, “Now I feel happy that they understand.” He was asked about his favorite thing about being transgender.  He said, “I’m myself now.”  Ten years later, the same host interviewed the same boy because in a week he was going to get puberty blockers.  Here’s what he said,

“A lot of trans people, people who want this can get a blocker because it can block the wrong puberty…so that I don’t grow a beard and my voice doesn’t deepen…and I can grow some breasts and I can go through the puberty I want to go through.”

The program closes with advice from the 16 year old about so-called trans youth, “Hearing what they need is the most important thing ever and simply just using their preferred name and pronouns.” I can’t tell you the number of times I heard the word, “happy” in that podcast.

This fractured view of human sexuality, driven by the pursuit of happiness is united only by one thing: choice.  The highest good in today’s sexual narrative is choice: “I get to choose and no one can tell me otherwise.” With a prior commitment to personal happiness this makes sense. But of course we can see how problematic this is for young people. Think about that fractured view of sexuality and identity: what if they choose wrongly?  The current cultural indoctrination says authentic humanity depends on them making the right choice: that is a lot of pressure.

But what is the right choice?  It isn’t what is historic or traditional.  It isn’t what Mom and Dad and Nana or the pastor says.  So is it: What feels good?  What is accepted by friends or on TikTok or by Lady Gaga (or whoever is popular)?  And, how on earth is a teenager, with a dozen and a half years of life—whose sexuality is under hormonal assault anyhow—supposed to make an informed decision about his or her sexuality?  

  • These facts don’t matter for two reasons: Happiness is all that matters. And our culture is telling them that it is their right to make and theirs alone.

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