A lot of us have been thinking the last couple of days about how our culture came to be where it is. The religious freedom piece may be the most important, but for now I want to focus on how our society came to believe that homosexual activity and changing one’s gender are perfectly natural activities worthy of praise. As I see it, there are two main catalysts.
- Modern Individualism
We are living in the age of Peak Enlightenment, when the modern focus on the self is approaching its climax. Western individuals can hardly be more obsessed with themselves and their rights, and we are now learning how such narcissism may do real harm to themselves and others. Society will continue to disintegrate as individuals wrangle over whose rights, freedoms, and dignity should be respected and whose must not be.
The Enlightenment taught us to follow the thoughts and desires of our autonomous selves. What started out as the Pursuit of Reason eventually devolved into the Pursuit of Pleasure, with ever more exotic attempts to find our true selves. But people who start with themselves can never find who they truly are, so it’s not a surprise to see sexual immorality give way to homosexual activity (Rom. 1:21-27) and now even gender reassignment.
We must compassionately pray for those people who are caught up in Peak Enlightenment. Politically and culturally they seem to be winning, yet they know in their hearts that their lives are not the way they’re supposed to be. They may say that they are staying true to their real self, but they don’t understand who or what that might be. They are lost, and as such, need our love rather than scorn.
But modern individualism alone won’t lead to homosexual practice and gender reassignment. It must be combined with a Gnostic view of the human body. Only people who think their body is merely a shell for their true, spiritual self would attempt to have sex with a person of the same gender or attempt to surgically change the gender of their body to match the supposed gender of their soul. You can’t have an LGBT movement without a full dose of Gnosticism.
This is a blind spot for many Christians. Some push back when I explain why we need a robust appreciation for creation. They fear that too much talk about the goodness of the physical world will distract from their appreciation of heaven. It doesn’t, as I explain in Becoming Worldly Saints. Here I just want to say that their singular focus on the spiritual plays right into the hands of the sexual revolution they are trying to stop.
We can’t consistently explain why homosexual activity is wrong if we can’t emphasize the goodness of the human body, and we can’t consistently do the latter unless we emphasize the goodness of creation. Our bodies are not just temporary residences for our souls. They are vital to the real us, and their gendered expressions will be raised on the last day.
A consistent defense of heterosexual marriage must resist the heavenly preoccupation of Gnosticism. You can be so heavenly minded you’re of no earthly good. Worse, you can be so heavenly minded you do earthly bad.
Picture by Oakland Local. Used by permission. Sourced via Flickr.