In the last few decades we have witnessed a massive moral shift in Western culture, not least in the realm of sexuality. How should we think about it? And how should we respond? To help, Albert Mohler talked with TGC’s Mark Mellinger.
Watch the full nine-minute video to hear Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, explain how in the span of a generation an entire moral understanding was reversed, what Christian faithfulness looks like in our day, and more.
Below you can read an abbreviated transcript with an outline of timestamps from their conversation.
[0:17] How did in the span of a generation an entire moral understanding in North America become reversed? And how did this moral revolution happen so fast?
We’ve never experienced anything like this. . . . And the bottom line is that no part of the culture is going to be left untouched. . . . We haven’t had any moral revolution on this scale in human history.
The first Christian answer is secularization. . . . This could only have happened after modernity had so shifted the worldview of most of the people in what we might would call the industrialized world. . . . That’s made all these changes inevitable.
[2:03] Is sexual identity and gender freedom viewed as the trump card? Is this the highest moral good?
I would almost put it in the reverse: the one thing this culture you can’t do is limit sexual or limit gender expression or sexual expression. I don’t think most people would say, “That is the greatest good.” I think most people would not go so far as to say, “That’s the one thing I’d live and die for, but it’s the one thing you can’t regulate, it’s the one thing you can’t infringe upon.” That’s more or less in writing now.
[3:10] How does sexual expression relate to other topics not obviously related?
It’s because sexual expression and sexual intimacy is so central to human life eventually it will touch everything.
[4:54] What does faithful Christian witness look like in this rapidly changing culture?
The first thing we have to recognize is that Christ established a church. He didn’t establish Christianity; he established a church. And the church is by biblical definition the great counter-culture—it should always be the great counter-culture. And one of the things we’re looking back at is the fact that we were living in an artificial age, an age of nominal and cultural Christianity, an age when the culture at least thought it agreed with us, and needed us, and wanted us, and validated us. And we got pretty accustomed to that.
But the Christian church when it has been depicted in the New Testament and when we see it on its growing edge where it’s found in the world is not found where it’s in cultural comfort but in cultural discomfort. And the church has that great sign of contradiction. It’s going to be the great challenge for us: how to be a truly Christian counter-culture.
[6:01] Should Christians keep the pieces of the old moral understanding or fight for it in the realm of politics? Is this fruitful in our day in age?
Whether or not it’s fruitful, done in the right way, it’s faithful. If we really do love God and love neighbor then we hope for, pray for, and we must strive for a social order that will lead to human flourishing and to human happiness. We don’t believe that’s going to happen by joining in validating this revolution.
We also don’t operate on the false hope that somehow we’re just an election away from national revival or from somehow just one clincher argument from the culture agreeing with us. So it’s a long, persistent faithfulness. There are public policy issues that we’ve got to speak to and we need to speak to them; but we’ve got to speak to them without the triumphalism that has so often, frankly, marked Christians in the public square—and without the hurt feelings and the sense of cultural loss that builds a lot of resentment among Christians. We don’t have any right to be resentful. We weren’t promised the culture.
[7:31] What practical encouragement would you offer younger generations for the coming decades?
I think one word is obviously faithfulness is our goal. Faithfulness is our mandate. We’re not promised success. We’re not promised the culture. We’re instead called to faithfulness. And faithfulness produces opportunities that cultural comfort wouldn’t give us. Faithfulness in this context is going to provide opportunities.