When examining sexual mores throughout history, one discovers that adultery, polygamy, misogyny, rape, occult prostitution, homosex, gender confusion, pedophilia, pederasty, infanticide, etc. were not aberrations, departures from traditional morality. In point of fact they formed the bedrock of what is truly traditional sexual morality.
As with all problems, we can blame this largely on the Fall (Gen. 3). Once man was cut off from the Source of Life and locked himself in his own ego-box; once he was left to parse reality through the self-referential lens of his own fallen, fallible and finite mind; once his divine nature was exchanged for the filthy rags that necessarily invited the wrath of God; once the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve were sold unto slavery to the dark prince of the air (Eph. 2:1-4), it shouldn’t surprise anyone that all hell would break loose. (Correction: that all hell should try and break loose. In His mercy, God has shot the world through with grace. And this — what theologians call common grace — has kept things from being as bad as Satan would have them be and as man is capable of being. That particular infinite nightmare is being held at bay until hell is finally stocked with the devil and his proteges, both demonic and human.)
It is only as Christianity has taken root and been cultivated over generations that the genie of lust, pride and power has been bottled enough for the “Ozzie and Harriet” ideal to finally emerge: covenantal, conjugal (from the Latin “join or yoke together”) marriage between a husband and a wife (only yesterday it seems it would have been redundant to name the two parties) featuring romantic love, complete equality and mutual submission (with male headship), a commitment to sexual and emotional faithfulness “until death do us part” and the awesome potential to create and then nurture and raise new human beings created in both the image of God and their parents.
More than a few scholars credit this harnessing of libidinous energy (particularly on the part of men) and the normalization of conjugal marriage and the nuclear family as the key foundation for a healthy, flourishing culture; that when these absolutes are tinkered with or — worse — discarded, that culture is doomed. (One of the best books on the subject is The Family and Civilization.)
Tragically, the western world has been chipping away at this cornerstone for some time. The sexual revolution of the 1920’s, crescendoing in the 60’s, was a major blow to the bottle. Ditto the tsunami of no-fault divorce laws that swept over our nation in the 1970s (by corey jefferson). The current move to redefine marriage and normalize homosexuality (and a raft of other impulses that “destroy the binary” and make fluid gender and sexual identities) is the third blow.
Three strikes and we may well be out.
Personally, there’s no question in my mind that the genie’s bottle is on the verge of being shattered. And what is sobering — chilling in fact — is that there has never been a society in history that has recovered once the genie has been rereleased. (Matt. 12:43-45)
I can’t remember the source of the original quote (T.S. Eliot?) or even its exact words, but the sentiment went something like this:
It can take a millennium to lay a foundation stone of the Kingdom into the earth – but only a generation for any culture to see it lost.