By Lewis Willis
There are 130 million people in this nation who belong to a church or a synagogue. Their backgrounds, convictions and non-convictions are as varied as the multitude of religious orders to which they belong. As the sexual revolution has spread its influence, to the surprise of many these religious organizations have emerged as a new battleground. Few organizations have escaped the clamor and challenge wrought by those who would change the old order on sexual morality. The main reason for involving religion in this on-going debate is that advocates and opponents are both seeking religion’s stamp of approval for their views. The results of this upheaval are only beginning to appear. However, that appearance, to date, is one that produces shock and dismay.
I have no desire to be indelicate or indiscreet, but I do want to call to your attention some features of the debate now raging and some of the indefensible actions, statements and positions that are emerging. It would appear to me that a reflection of this sort would be helpful in solidifying our thoughts on this contemporary controversy. This, I am persuaded, is an essential thing for us to do as history records that few, if any, influences in denominationalism totally escape the Lord’s Church. It will be to our sorrow and disgrace if we fail to formulate a solid, scriptural base upon which to meet this obvious rebellion against God and His Word.
Definition of this changing religious posture is not easily discerned. Primarily, most of us move within a limited fellowship and it is hardly possible to identify moors outside of that fellowship. We must, then, rely upon those who study such things to understand these changes in the infancy stages of them. I have before me an article from U.S. News & World Report, September 26, 1977, in which the manifestation of this changing attitude is exposed. So, what upheaval has been caused by the sexual revolution?
To meet the layman’s demand for sanction or aid in sexual concerns, the denominations are turning to “sex seminars” or “Marriage encounters,” so that theologists can prescribe answers for problems in these areas. The Catholic Church has a program involving about 100,000 couples a year. As an indication for the inroads of such among brethren, the liberal Southwest Church of Christ in Amarillo, Texas conducted a “Marriage Enrichment Seminar” not too many months ago. Among the sectarians, the advise these couples receive is sometimes unexpected and shocking. A recent survey of Catholic priests in Chicago shows that 40 to 50 per cent of them no longer oppose homosexuality and premarital sexual relationships. Albert C. Outler of Southern Methodist University School of Theology says, “I can’t imagine anyone leaving this school with a knee-jerk reflex that sex is bad, and excusable only in marriage.” How would you like to hear your preacher tell his audience not to concern itself over homosexuality, premarital and extra-marital sexual relationships? And, with most religionists, the “Pastor’s” word is all that is needed to justify a practice.
This movement to sexual interests prompted Martin E. Marty, professor of church history at the University of Chicago, to observe, “Instead of the language of the cross, love and sacrifice for others, we’re getting the message of the new intimacy-do whatever makes you feel good as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.” Situation Ethics, as defined in 1966 by Episcopal theologian, Joseph Fletcher, has been taught in the seminaries and is now being practically applied by his disciples in their counseling sessions. The sanction of the “Church” is given to almost any form of wickedness that the members and the “clergy” engage in to “feel good.” Preachers are telling members that the “anything goes” philosophy is a valid basis in living one’s life. Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2) is an unintelligible language to the ministers of sociology who are disguised as the champions of Christianity. And, most people could care less!
Thus, this new sexualism prompted the appointment of Beverly Messenger-Harris as first female priest to head an Episcopal parish in the United States. The feminist movement touched the compromising, anti-scriptural hierarchy- . of this denomination and they changed creedal policy to accommodate their demands-a move which has brought a major division in their ranks. The gay rights people, encouraged by the successes of the feminists, have launched their campaign and the Episcopalians have ordained an acknowledged lesbian as one of its new female priests. The United Church of Christ, accepting a report suggesting that the Bible should not be the only guide to morality in sex, ordained an avowed homosexual to its ministry. The sexual revolution is spreading its influence and has now made progress in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). An Amarillo Globe News article, October 25, 1977, reports that the General Assembly of the Christian Church, being moved by discrimination and unfairly and unevenly applied sodomy laws applied against homosexuals, passed by a vote of 2,541 to 1,312, a resolution calling for laws to “end the denial of civil rights and the violation of civil liberties for reasons of sexual orientation or preference.” The body then voted to initiate a study by local congregations to work for human and civil rights for homosexuals. These are the descendants of those modernists who left our ranks about 125 years ago so that they could use a piano in their worship!
Passages like Gen. 19:4ff, dealing with the sins of Sodom, and Rom. 1:26-27, defining the sins of the Gentiles, have been assailed by these religious libertarians. They contend “that these passages must be interpreted more subtly to separate the true religious message from the cultural biases of the Biblical period” (my emphasis; LW). These theologians say that an act is right if it is “self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving and joyous.” Basically, they are saying forget the Bible and do whatever you wish-and we will find some means to justify it for you!
Hence, the sexual revolution continues its invasion of religion. And, the leadership is doing nothing to stop it. Instead, they are endorsing the effort. In this, they are like those in Rom. 1:32 “who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 9, pp. 150-151
March 2, 1978