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Twenty years ago, not one nation on earth had legal same-sex marriage. Now, access to same-sex marriage is increasingly seen as a basic human right. In a matter of less than a generation, western cultures have experienced a moral revolution.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler examines how this transformation occurred, revealing the underlying cultural shifts behind this revolution: the acceptance of divorce culture, liberation of sex from reproduction, the prevalence of heterosexual cohabitation, the normalization of homosexuality, and the rise of the transgender movement. He then offers a deep look at how the Bible and Christian moral tradition provide a comprehensive understanding upon which Christians can build their personal lives, their marriages, church ministry, and cultural engagement.
Dr. Mohler helps Christians in their understanding of the underlying issues of this significant cultural shift and how to face the challenge of believing faithfully, living faithfully, and engaging the culture faithfully in light of this massive change.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
R. Albert Mohler Jr. has been called "one of America's most influential evangelicals" (Economist) and the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement" (Time.com). The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he writes a popular blog and a regular commentary, available at AlbertMohler.com, and hosts two podcasts: The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of many books, including We Cannot Be Silent and The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and on programs such as NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He and his wife, Mary, live in Louisville, Kentucky.
Read an Excerpt
We Cannot Be Silent
Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right & Wrong
By R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Fidelitas Corporation, R. Albert Mohler Jr., LLC
All rights reserved.
IN THE WAKE OF A REVOLUTION
The prophetic writer Flannery O'Connor rightly warned us years ago that we must "push as hard as the age that pushes against you." This book is an attempt to do just that.
We are living in the midst of a revolution. The Christian church in the West now faces a set of challenges that exceeds anything it has experienced in the past. The revolution that has transformed most of Western Europe and much of North America is a revolution more subtle and more dangerous than revolutions faced in previous generations. This is a revolution of ideas — one that is transforming the entire moral structure of meaning and life that human beings have recognized for millennia.
This new revolution presents a particular challenge to Christianity, for a commitment to the authority of Scripture and to revealed truths runs into direct conflict with the central thrust of this revolution. Christians are not facing an isolated set of issues that cause us to be merely perplexed and, at times, at odds with the larger culture. We are instead facing a redefinition of marriage and transformation of the family. We are facing a complete transformation of the way human beings relate to one another in the most intimate contexts of life. We are facing nothing less than a comprehensive redefinition of life, love, liberty, and the very meaning of right and wrong.
This massive revolution is taking place across the entire cultural landscape, affecting virtually every dimension of life and demanding total acceptance of its claims and affirmation of its aims. Christians who are committed to faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God and to the gospel as the only message of salvation must face this unavoidable challenge.
A Comprehensive Revolution
British theologian Theo Hobson has argued that the scale and scope of this challenge are unprecedented. According to critics of Hobson's argument, the challenge of the sexual revolution and the normalization of homosexuality is nothing new or unusual. Churches have always shown the ability to plod their way through hard moral issues before, and so they will again with homosexuality. Hobson himself confessed that he would have agreed with this line of reasoning at one point, but not anymore. For Hobson, the issue of homosexuality presents the church with a challenge it has never faced before.
Why is this such a challenge to Christianity? Hobson has suggested that the first factor is the either-or quality of the new morality. There is no middle ground in the church's engagement with homosexuality. Either churches will affirm the legitimacy of same-sex relationships and behaviors or they will not.
Hobson's second factor is the new morality's rapid rate of success. The normalization of homosexuality — something regarded as "unspeakably immoral" for centuries — has happened at breakneck speed. It has happened so fast that homosexuality is now considered as a legitimate lifestyle, and one that deserves legal protection. Moreover, as Hobson argued, the speed of the new morality's success "has basically ousted traditionalist sexual morality from the moral high ground."
In other words, the sexual revolution has actually turned the tables on Christianity. The Christian church has long been understood by the culture at large to be the guardian of what is right and righteous. But now the situation is fundamentally reversed. The culture generally identifies Christians as on the wrong side of morality. Those who hold to biblical teachings concerning human sexuality are now deposed from the position of high moral ground. This change is not simply "the waning of the taboo." As Hobson explained:
The case for homosexual equality takes the form of a moral crusade. Those who want to uphold the old attitude are not just dated moralists (as is the case with those who want to uphold the old attitude to premarital sex or illegitimacy). They are accused of moral deficiency. The old taboo surrounding this practice does not disappear but "bounces back" at those who seek to uphold it. Such a sharp turn-around is, I think, without parallel in moral history.
The moral revolution is now so complete that those who will not join it are understood to be deficient, intolerant, and harmful to society. What was previously understood to be immoral is now celebrated as a moral good. The church's historic teaching on homosexuality — shared by the vast majority of the culture until very recently — is now seen as a relic of the past and a repressive force that must be eradicated.
This explains why the challenge of the moral revolution poses such a threat to the whole of Christianity and to its position in modern societies. And yet even as we understand this revolution to be a new thing, its roots are not recent. As a matter of fact, the church has seen the sexual revolution taking place turn by turn for virtually all of the last century. What now becomes clear is that most Christians vastly underestimated the challenge the sexual revolution represents.
The Source of the Sexual Revolution: The Secularization of the Western Worldview
The background to this revolution is a great intellectual shift that occurred in concert with the secularization of Western societies. The modern age has brought many cultural benefits, but it has also brought a radical change in the way citizens of today's societies think, feel, relate, and make moral judgments. The Enlightenment's elevation of reason at the expense of revelation was followed by a radical anti-supernaturalism. From looking at Europe, it is clear that the modern age has alienated an entire civilization from its Christian roots, along with Christian moral and intellectual commitments. Scandinavian nations, for example, now register almost imperceptible levels of Christian belief. Increasingly, the same is true of both the Netherlands and Great Britain. Sociologists now speak openly of the death of Christian Britain — and the evidence of Christian decline is abundant throughout most of Europe. That same Christian decline has now come to America.
In 1983, Carl F. H. Henry described the future possibilities for Western societies:
If modern culture is to escape the oblivion that has engulfed the earlier civilizations of man, the recovery of the will of the self-revealed God in the realm of justice and law is crucially imperative. Return to pagan misconceptions of divinized rulers, or a divinized cosmos, or to quasi-Christian conceptions of natural law or natural justice, will bring inevitable disillusionment. Not all pleas for transcendent authority truly serve God or man. By aggrandizing law and human rights and welfare to their sovereignty all manner of earthly leaders eagerly preempt the role of the divine and obscure the living God of scriptural revelation. The alternatives are clear: either we return to the God of the Bible or we perish in the pit of lawlessness.
Regrettably, Henry's warning has gone unheeded and the path of American culture has become more and more secularized. Secular refers to the absence of any binding divine authority or belief. Secularization is a sociological process whereby societies become less theistic as they become more modern. As societies move into conditions of deeper and more progressive modernity, they move away from a binding force of religious belief, and theistic belief in particular.
Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has compellingly portrayed the story of Western society's transition into secularism. In his book A Secular Age, Taylor described the pre-modern age as a time when it was impossible not to believe. In other words, belief in God had no intellectual alternatives in the West. There was no alternative set of explanations for the world and its operations, or for moral order. All that changed with the arrival of modernity. In the modern age, a secular alternative to Christian theism emerged and it became possible not to believe. But during this time theism was still intellectually and culturally viable. But, as Taylor noted, those days are behind us. In our own postmodern age it is now considered impossible to believe.
Significantly, Taylor pinpoints this unbelief as a lack of cognitive commitment to a self-existent, self-revealing God. Secularization is not about rejecting all religion. In fact, even hyper-secularized Americans often consider themselves to be religious or spiritual. Secularization, according to Taylor, is about the rejection of a belief in a personal God, one who holds and exerts authority.
The implications of this worldview shift are massive. For example, in light of these current intellectual conditions, sociologist Mary Eberstadt has noted that "it is surely the case in large stretches of the advanced West today, many sophisticated people do not believe that the churches have any authority whatsoever to dictate constraints on individual freedom."
This may be true, but the church cannot abdicate its responsibility for Christian truth-telling in a postmodern age. The secular conditions make it more challenging and difficult, even seemingly impossible at times. Our culture is growing more and more resistant to a God — any god — who would speak to us with words such as "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not." The fact that Christians enter every conversation as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are bound by biblical revelation means that society will label us as the intellectual outlaws — breaking the rules of engagement by appealing to a personal Creator and divine authority.
Yet explicit Christian truth-telling is the church's reason for being. As Peter wrote, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). The God of the Bible has sent his church into the world to tell the truth about himself — about his laws and commands, about his grace and love, and most important, about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The American Sex Revolution
Today we are witnessing nothing less than a total revolution in sexual morality. And a moral revolution is dramatically more important than mere moral shift. Moral shifts happen all around us and can regularly result in positive cultural transitions. For example, as someone who grew up in the 1960s, I can remember positive, comedic depictions of drunken behavior on television. But Otis the benevolent drunk on The Andy Griffith Show would be impossible to present in the mainstream media today. This is due to the important shift in moral judgment concerning alcohol and drunk driving. A successful anti–drunk driving campaign has turned what was thought in the 1950s to be a minor indiscretion to what is now understood, quite properly, to be a major crime. The eventual heightened criminalization and moral sanction against drunk driving was the result of a society coming face-to-face with horrible damages caused by drunk driving.
This kind of moral change happens on any number of issues, but in a way that can be absorbed within the general moral trajectory of a culture. In other words, moral change generally takes a rather long period of time, and in a way that is consistent with a culture's moral commitments.
A moral revolution represents the exact opposite of that pattern. What we are now experiencing is not the logical outworking of the West's Christian-influenced teachings on human sexuality, but the repudiation of them. This is a fundamentally different type of moral change and represents a challenge that is leaving many Christians confused and befuddled, some angry and anxious, and others asking hard questions about how the church should respond in such a time of crisis.
All this has to be put into the larger context of changes that have transformed the way most people in Western societies think. The moral revolution is part of a seismic shift in Western culture that has occurred during the last two centuries. In that span of time vast social changes have transformed the way people in advanced industrialized economies live, relate to one another, and engage the larger world. If that sounds like an overstatement, just consider the fact that at the beginning of the twentieth century most Americans lived in a rural context as part of an extended family and with a range of geographic mobility that was generally confined to a very small area. The idea that human beings would be flung coast to coast in an advanced economy and that work would be transformed from the tilling of the soil to what is now described as "knowledge work" is something that would have been inconceivable. These cultural transformations have uniquely impacted the family, which has been stripped of many of its defenses and separated from the larger context of kinship and the extended family.
An article in Bloomberg Businessweek about changing patterns in the American diet also demonstrates how moral revolutions can take place so quickly. As the authors explained, "cultural shifts don't happen overnight. They build slowly — a sip of coconut water here, a quinoa purchase there, and suddenly the American diet looks drastically different than it did 10 years ago." Indeed, most of us can recognize this just by looking at our own dinner tables.
But now imagine that same process expanded into the realm of morality and the major issues of life. In truth, the same kind of process has taken place. Just as changes in the diet take place without often being perceived, the same is true of the vast shift in morality that is taking place all around us — and we cannot say we were not warned.
Writing back in 1956, Pitirim Sorokin sounded an alarm about what he called "the American Sex Revolution." Sorokin, the first professor of sociology and later head of that department at Harvard University, was a moral prophet. As a member of the intellectual elite at Harvard, Sorokin represented the mainstream moral understanding of America at the time, and he was profoundly alarmed at the sexual revolution he saw taking place all around him.
Among the many changes of the last few decades a peculiar revolution has been taking place in the lives of millions of American men and women. Quite different from the better-known political and economic revolutions, it goes almost unnoticed. Devoid of noisy public explosions, its stormy scenes are confined to the privacy of the bedroom and involve only individuals. Unmarked by dramatic events on a large scale, it is free from civil war, class struggle, and bloodshed. It has no revolutionary army to fight its enemies. It does not try to overthrow governments. It has no great leader; no hero plans it and no polit bureau directs it. Without plan or organization, it is carried on by millions of individuals, each acting on his own. As a revolution, it has not been featured on the front pages of our press, or on radio or television. Its name is the sex revolution.
There is a particular power to Sorokin's use of the word revolution. In a way most of us cannot even conceive, Sorokin knew how revolutions happened and the carnage they often left in their wake. Born in Russia, Sorokin was condemned to death by the last emperor, Czar Nicholas II. Escaping that death sentence, he later served as private secretary to the interim government that was in place after the death of the czar. Sentenced to death once again, he was eventually exiled by Vladimir Lenin — an event that prompted his move to the United States and eventually to Harvard University. In other words, Sorokin used the word revolution to make a point that no other word would convey. Even in 1956, he saw the world being turned upside down; he saw the sexual revolution coming in full force.
Excerpted from We Cannot Be Silent by R. Albert Mohler Jr.. Copyright © 2015 Fidelitas Corporation, R. Albert Mohler Jr., LLC. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 in the Wake of a revolution, 1,
2 it didn't Start with Same-Sex Marriage, 17,
3 from Vice to Virtue: how did the homosexual Movement happen?, 33,
4 the impossible possibility of Same-Sex Marriage, 53,
5 the transgender revolution, 67,
6 the end of Marriage, 85,
7 What does the Bible really have to Say about Sex?, 101,
8 religious liberty and the right to Be Christian, 119,
9 the Compassion of truth: the Church and the Challenge of the Sexual revolution, 133,
10 the hard Questions, 153,
A Word to the Reader, 179,
About the Author, 213,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There comes a time where courageous people has to stand up against what is wrong, no matter what the consequence. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. think homosexuality and same-sex marriage is one example of such issues that Christians have to stand up against. Mohler wishes to show historically what has led to this shift in our culture. Mohler does this first by pointing readers to 60s and 70s — the sexual revolution. Mohler then traces through it highlights the various shifts that cumulates in what has happened in our generation finally — the call for equality in same-sex marriages. What Mohler does in this book is to honestly bring to light the agendas of the LGBT community. He quotes their strategies and plans and shows how they have achieved what they have today. Mohler also very courageously talks about his own change in some stance over the years. Mohler is rightly to be credited for how he has humbly stated, in writing what he has wrongly held that homosexuality is a choice, and that they have the ability to choose their orientation. Mohler has now believes that they may not have the ability to choose, but there still remains a responsibility for us to not to follow our sinful inclinations. Here is a lengthy quote from this book what on he said about this issue: “We must also recognize that we have sinned against homosexuals by speaking carelessly about the true nature of their sin. I indict myself here. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, as a young theologian I was invited to speak at a conference of evangelical leaders and thinkers as the movement toward gay liberation was first taking organized shape. At that time, evangelicals were sure the element of choice was the central issue behind the sinfulness of homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle. Thus, we felt the moral and theological obligation to deny the notion of a homosexual “orientation” and to insist that homosexuality was, in every case, freely chosen without regard to any predisposition. For this, I must apologize to the homosexual community, including a host of Christians who have struggled to be biblically faithful even as they have struggled with same-sex orientation. ... I now know that a more mature, faithful, and consistent biblical understanding of human sexuality affirms that the fall has so impacted human existence that every single one of us has, to one degree or another, a fallen sexual orientation. Most Christians testify that their fallen sexual orientation is directed toward the opposite sex. Still, no Christian with a heterosexual pattern of sexual interest is free from sin or free from uninvited erotic impulses, interests, and thoughts. Nevertheless, these uninvited thoughts do not acquit us. The Bible makes clear that we are always responsible for our sinful acts, even condemning us for our sinful thoughts.” Mohler ends by highlighting some issues that Christians and churches have to think about in handling this issue. I thought this section was especially thought-provoking and will help christians think hard about it. Mohler also ends by answering some of the questions raised regarding the christian’s stance towards homosexuality. Regardless of whether you agree with the observations and conclusion of Mohler, you will find helpful materials on the movement and planning of how the homosexual movement has come to where it is today. Rating: 4 / 5 Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
“We Cannot Be Silent” is Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr’s 183-page call to evangelicals to stand for biblical morality, using not only Christian apologetics as his method of operation, but also well-crafter, logical arguments. While Mohler’s focus is American in nature – its history, culture, and court decisions – the principles contained have broad, global application. When the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this past summer 2015, many Americans were upset – even disgusted – by the Justices’ ruling. One of the points Dr. Mohler drew out was that “heterosexuals did a very good job of undermining marriage before the culture forces began advocating for the normalization of same-sex relationships and the legalization of same-sex marriage” (p.31). Mohler suggests this undermining of morality was accomplished via the advent of birth control and contraception, divorce, and cohabitation (sex outside of marriage). Birth control, because it allowed people to engage in sex outside of marriage without much fear of unwanted pregnancies; no-fault divorce, because it has allowed couples (and society) to undermine what a marriage commitment truly is; and sex outside of marriage, because it allows people to “try it before you buy it” mentality. The most insightful, inspiring, and encouraging chapter, in my opinion, was the ninth: “The Compassion of Truth: The Church and the Challenge of The Sexual Revolution”, beginning on p.133. I love America and the freedoms, opportunities, and advances it provides. Yet, as Dr. Mohler explains, one pitfall with cultures that become more industrialized and technologically advanced, “theism retreats and the public space becomes increasingly devoid of theological conviction” (p.133). As we watch events unfold and morality change before our eyes, Dr. Mohler says, “the new morality of a post-Christian culture frees us from our delusional confidence that the people around us…are somehow Christians – or will at least act like Christians”. Continuing, Mohler writes, “We have fooled ourselves into believing that our neighbors are fellow believers, even when they have…no active sign of Christian discipleship” (p.135). In essence, the modern-day sexual revolution has been the result of several years of moral decline in American culture, not just one summer day in 2015. This is a punch in the gut because I am part of that culture of moral decline. I’ve heard Dr. Mohler speak in person on two separate occasions, and have listened to him via podcast and radio on several other occasions. He is a well-spoken and learned man, and he will likely receive a significant amount of back-lash from the public for this book. He writes as well as he speaks, and I highly recommend this book for your reading bookshelf. I give “We Cannot Be Silent” 5 stars out of 5. I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All opinions are mine, and I was not forced to provide a positive review.
Al Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Mohler has a daily podcast called The Briefing. He also writes on albertmohler.com. He has also written a book titled He is Not Silent, which addresses preaching in a postmodern world. If you have never read or listened to anything by Dr. Mohler, I would suggest listening to The Briefing. Dr. Mohler regularly provides clarity to issues that are pressing in the culture. In We Cannot Be Silent, he does just that! He provides clarity to multiple issues in our day that are pressing. Dr. Mohler addresses the many problems that are prevalent in our day and within the cultural revolution. He addresses things such as contraceptives, divorce, sex outside of marriage, same-sex marriage, and the sexual revolution. Dr. Mohler looks at the cultural and examines our decline on multiple fronts. From who the Church has engaged in the public square, to how the family engages in the home, Christians have failed to be involved. Dr. Mohler has provided in the last chapter of this book 30 questions that may be asked within the growing sexual revolution, this chapter is really helpful so the reader can process the information given in this book. Dr. Mohler shows how the church has been silent on many of these issues, rather than being vocal for what God says in His Word. Since God is not silent, the Church should not be silent. Why should you read this book? 1. Dr. Mohler shows the importance of addressing these issues that are now found in our culture. Individuals are affected, families are affected, and lives are at stake. The Cross of Jesus Christ matters. 2. Dr. Mohler values life. He doesn’t just value it here on earth, but hereafter. This life is short, are we prepared for eternity? 3. The church has been silent on multiple issues. This book will be a challenging work for some of us. Books like this are great to help us rethink and refocus what we are doing with are lives.