As Western society’s cultural ethos drifts farther and farther from its Christian roots, it becomes progressively more difficult for those of us who still affirm orthodox Christian teachings and principles to have our convictions taken seriously. The issue of non-marital sex provides a prima facie example of the problem.
In a recent Halifax Daily News column, Lawrence Martin waxed near-incredulous that Reform Party up-and-comer Jason Kenney, MP – a healthy 30-year-old man – has vowed to remain celebate until he gets married. This, one infers, strikes Martin as borderline fanatical.
In fact, Kenney, a devout Catholic, is merely honouring the moral teaching of the faith he affirms. There is zero support in Scripture – in either Testament – or in Christian tradition, for any notion that genital sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman can ever be morally adequate or acceptable. However, in this post-“sexual revolution” era, such an assertion seems bizarre and unthinkable to most people, certainly to secular pagans, but also to an alarming proportion of those who call themselves Christian.
Studies in a book written by evangelical scholar Gene Edward Veith Jr., found that: 56 per cent of single “fundamentalist” Christians indulge in sex outside marriage – nearly the same percentage as single non-Christians; that 66 per cent of single Roman Catholics are sexually active; and that 83 per cent of Roman Catholics accept premarital sex. In a 1995 Time-CNN Yankelovich poll of U.S. Catholics, 75 per cent said that non-marital sexual relations are not necessarily wrong.
Say what? Has there been a repeal of God’s law as revealed in Scripture on this issue? Of course not. The Seventh Commandment still reads: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Jesus reaffirmed and amplified this command, saying,: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Despite the fact that a lot of people who profess Christian faith would very much like those inconvenient biblical proscriptions against illicit sex to evaporate and disappear, they haven’t and they won’t. Christian moral principles (thank God) are not subject to the democratic process, notwithstanding some Anglican bishops’ recent brash and heretical claim that: “We wrote the Bible and we can re-write it.”
These are of course hard teachings, especially in our present era. Virtually everyone has friends and acquaintances who are, or have been, in non-marital sexual relationships, or who engage in casual sexual liaisons. Indeed, few members of the baby-boom or younger (post-pubescent) generations have not done some of these things themselves. There is also the modern liberal aversion to making moral judgments about anything. However, the Christian’s exemplar of how to deal with this dilemma is Jesus, who did not mince words when reproving sexual moral failure or fudge what the standard of sexual conduct was to be (“go … and sin no more”).
The desire to be “nice,” “tolerant,” and inoffensive at all costs, or to succumb to guilty sentimentality on this issue, does not reflect the standard Christ set. As Jason Kenny, quoted by Martin, puts it: “What is fashionable and what is meritorious have little in common.”
True compassion and love for others demand acknowledgment of the nature of their sinfulness, along with an unwillingness to condemn the person. We can only apply Christ’s example: love the sinner while hating the sin. Indiscriminate tolerance is not a legitimate option for true Christians. Jesus loves sinners unconditionally, but He is emphatically not tolerant of sin.
The good news of the Christian Gospel is that no matter what their sin is, for the sincerely repentant, there is forgiveness. The problem today is that dominant secular humanism has convinced multitudes that sin does not exist, so there is nothing to repent of.
Concepts of sin and wickedness have become virtually inexplicable to a culture that acknowledges no objective moral compass. When people do bad things or commit horrific crimes, post-modern conventional wisdom describes these acts as “senseless,” or “mindless,” or “random.” Liberals are unwilling to deal with the dark human motives that underlie them. As Carl Jung observed: “We have no imagination for evil, but evil has us in its grip.”