Today, I would like to speak on secularization and sanctification. I request your undivided attention for the next 25 minutes. Wherever we see these days, we see sexual abuse. Almost every other breaking news is about sexual abuse, so and so abused so and so, under so and so circumstances. It started with Hollywood: directors, producers and actors abusing actresses and models; Sports: where team coaches and doctors abusing athletes; Congress: Congressmen abusing interns and staff,Hospitals: Doctors and nurses sexually abusing patients. Music industry: Music moguls raping singers; News media: media moguls abusing their female staff, Schools: teachers sexually abusing children; Universities: professors sexually harassing students; students sexually assaulting each other; Families: men, women and children are sexually abused. Sadly, sex abuse is everywhere.
There are times and places not safe for women. Why is sexual abuse so rampant across our culture? How did we arrive here? We need to see how our view of sexuality has changed over the last century and how we are seeing the consequences of that worldview in our time. Like everything else in life, in all matters of sexuality, there are worldviews in conflict.
In Christian worldview, all sexual activity is confined to marriage between a man and a woman. We read in Hebrews 13:4, Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Marriage is honorable because God established it as the foundational institution of human society. God himself is the foundation for marriage because he performed the first wedding in the garden of Eden between Adam and Eve. God also set the boundaries to sexuality. He said, the marriage bed is to be undefiled. Among others, Senator Al Franken is accused of violating many women. This morning he said, ‘I crossed the line’. I crossed the line, we are crossing lines which we are not supposed to. Who drew those lines in the first place? We believe God drew those lines and when we cross those lines, we violate ourselves and our victims. God created sex and kept it within marriage. John MacArthur wrote, ‘Within marriage, sex is beautiful, fulfilling, creative. Outside marriage, it is ugly, destructive and damning’
So, as Christians, we believe that God himself established the foundation and boundaries for the institution of marriage and sexuality. But our culture has rejected this worldview. It says there are no foundations and there are no boundaries.
Today, let us see how atheism and postmodernism have paved the way for this worldview. First, the secularization of human sexuality with its emphasis on power. We will start with Frederick Nietzsche and Michel Foucault.
Both Nietzsche and Foucault were born in Christian homes, both studied the Bible, both rejected Christianity, both mocked Christian morality, both became atheists, both said human relationships are all about power, both experimented with extramarital sex, both experienced mental breakdown, and both contracted venereal disease – Nietzsche got syphilis and Foucault died with AIDS.
Nietzsche was a German philosopher, born in 1844 and died in the year 1900. Foucault was a French philosopher, born in 1926 and died in the year 1984. Early in his career, Foucault started to admire Nietzsche and his philosophy. He described his discovery of Nietzsche as a great ‘revelation’, a watershed moment in his life. He was heavily influenced by Nietzsche’s notions of genealogy and power. Nietzsche declared, ‘God is dead, we’ve killed him’. Now, human relations are all about power. This worldview is represented by the image of a superman, Ubermensch.
Nietzsche and Foucault became fathers to a philosophy of life called postmodernism. They said, ‘Modernism which emphasize objectivity, rationality, and progress should be rejected; We need a new cultural-social period with no relationship to objectivity, rationality and progress’. Foucault famously said, “Man was invented in the 16th century”. Only in 16th century, did Western society invent a new set of sciences devoid of old ideologies like Christianity. Foucault said that our views of human history, behavior, criminality, sexuality, science and politics should be separated from Bible and Christian faith.
In 1976, Michel Foucault wrote his famous book The History of Sexuality. This book has changed the way our culture had been thinking and talking about sexuality. Foucault said,
“Sexuality is an especially dense transfer point for relations of power”
There is nothing holy about your sexuality.
There is nothing sacred about your sexuality.
There is no God you are accountable to.
Sex is all about power, how power relations work out across individuals.
Postmodernists denied any relation to objectivity. They embraced multiculturalism and moral relativism. They regarded God as a social construction, not a fundamental reality independent of creation. They attacked objectivity in all human endeavors including sexuality. Your sexuality is fluid that changes with time and place. It is something to be expressed, not suppressed. Foucault said, “(Talk about sex reveals) an ever expanding encyclopedia of preferences, gratifications and perversions. It creates a realm of perversion by discovering, commenting on and exploring it. It brings it into being as an object of study and in doing so serves to categorize and objectify those who occupy what has been made into the secret underworld of ‘deviance’. (Understanding the times). Foucault acknowledged that he was a ‘disciple of Marquis de Sade’. We got our word sadism from Marquis de Sade, so you can imagine where Foucault was going with his philosophy and lifestyle. Foucault ended up in a lifestyle defined by sadomasochism.
This postmodernism took the deconstruction of Christian ideals as its mission. It mocked Christian concepts of God, love, marriage and sex. Secular feminists were born out of this movement and they portrayed marriage as a male construction designed to oppress women. Even as recent as 1960s, 90 percent of people were getting married and starting families. Now, it fell down to less than 50 percent and year after year, the number of people getting married and starting families is going down.
Hollywood embraced Foucault and his postmodernism. Sexuality has been portrayed on big screens without any relation to marriage. Adultery and fornication are shown as spice of life. All kinds of perversions have been shown just as entertainment and normal human behavior. Graphic sexual violence has been portrayed as power relations described by Foucault.
Many Hollywood actresses are coming out describing the sexual harassments, assaults and rapes they endured in the production offices. Even men were coming out describing how they were sexually assaulted by older men. Hollywood is reaping the consequences of the worldview it embraced. Some postmodernists like Jean-Francois Lyotard went as far as recommending pedophilia, the abuse of children for sexual pleasure. We heard how Kevin Spacey has been abusing teenagers. He is living out Lyotard’s worldview.
Ideas have consequences. Foucault too paid a great price for the worldview he espoused and lived out. He died of neurological complications of AIDS in 1984. A man who preached that there are no foundations or boundaries to sexuality finally ended his life in complete mental breakdown and sexually transmitted disease.
But his philosophy is still alive and spreading around the world. In fact, every social institution embraced this atheistic postmodernism. Our educational institutions, our businesses, our cultural institutions, our political institutions, our scientific institutions, even our religious institutions embraced this postmodernism. This postmodern secularization brought sex outside the marriage. Mark Regnerus is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas, Austin. He wrote the book, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy. He wrote, ‘Cheaper sex has been facilitated by three distinctive technological achievements:
- the wide uptake of the Pill as well as a mentality stemming from it that sex is ‘naturally’ infertile
- mass-produced high-quality pornography
- the advent and evolution of online dating/meeting services.
Three things: Birth control pill, pornography and casual sex: the trinity of illegitimacy. Birth control pill separated sex from procreation. Pornography separated sex from intimacy. Online dating and casual sex separated sex from romance God intended within marriage.
Long before Professor Mark Regnerus, Huxley warned us about throwing our sexuality to the winds of technological change. Aldous Huxley was an English author. He published his dystopian novel Brave New World in 1932. The story is set in London in 632 AF, 600 years after 1932. Note the year, it is not 2532 AD, in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is 632 AF. AF stands for After Ford, after Henry Ford, the father of modern technology. Our culture has removed AD and replaced it with CE, the common era. It does not want to stand in the shade of Christ.
In the novel Brave New World, Huxley presented the World State, a society devoid of love, a society run by pleasure, but a pleasure which is humiliating. In World State, sex and reproduction happen outside the world of marital relationships and affection. The Brave New World, it’s a society where babies are engineered, it’s a society geared towards consumerism. It’s a society where children are conditioned by technology and medications. It’s a society where monogamy is discouraged and forbidden. It’s a society taken over by pornography, It’s a society where ‘everyone belongs to everyone’. They wear contraceptive devices and say ‘I had him’ ‘I had her’. They travel around and have feelies. Feelies are pornographic shows. You will have eight different perfumes in your room, all food and drinks are provided, it is a world where everything belongs to everyone and ‘everyone belongs to everyone’: People hear this phrase, ‘everyone belongs to every one’, 62,400 times by the time they begin their relationships. They keep their sexuality separate from procreation, they consider sexuality is all about pleasure. Sadly, our society is no different. After Al Franken episode, a judge in Ohio posted on Facebook that he had relations with over fifty women. Whatever happened to shame? You see, when we abandon God’s word, we lose shame. We brag about things we should be ashamed of. After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid themselves from God. God called them out, ‘Where are you?’. Adam said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself’. When Adam sinned, there was a sense of shame when he heard the voice of God. Our society removed God and His voice from its conscience, that is why there is no sense of shame. So, these are the the kind of men we are electing to our public offices. They brag about how many women they violated. They think every woman belongs to them. They project their power over women around them. They separate sexuality from procreation and associate it only with pleasure. In the process, they are hurting themselves. As Prof. Mark Regnerus showed in his book, Cheap Sex: The transformation of men, marriage and monogamy, this cultural transformation is hurting both men and women. There is a decline in marriage, millions of men and women are not participating in this lovely institution God established for enjoyment, security and stability.
So, that’s about secularization of human sexuality. With its emphasis on power, it cheapened sexuality and brought disastrous consequences on our society. Now, let us talk a few minutes about Christianity’s sanctification of human sexuality with its emphasis on purity.
With all the bad news, there is still good news. People are getting outraged by these harassments. With all the polarization we see in our culture today, it is still comforting that we agree on at least a few things, such as: Do not abuse children, Do not abuse women.
Don’t abuse a child: We got this from a Christian worldview. Do you know in ancient Greece, boys were courted openly and publicly? Older men sought boys at public places like gymnasium, they brought presents for the boys, they developed relationships with the boys. The Greeks looked at pedophilia as normal part of developmental process. We don’t call it pedophilia, we call it a sin, a horrible sin against a child and bring those men and women to justice. The other day Ivanka Trump said, There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children. How did this transformation happen? Because we left Greek hedonistic paganism and adopted Christian biblical morality. We no longer follow the pagan gods of sexual pleasure like Eros or Cupid, we follow Lord Jesus Christ, the God of holiness. Ivanka Trump is echoing the words of Jesus who said, ‘But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea’. (Matthew 18:6)
Eminent psychologist James Hillman once said ‘We are all Christians, whether we like it or not’. Because whether we realize it or not, over the last two thousand years, we have absorbed moral values from the Bible. Postmodernists like Lyotard have recommended pedophilia. You see, we don’t need to study history of philosophy to realize that atheism leads to sexual uncleanliness. Apostle Paul warned us in Romans chapter 1, when we reject the Creator God, we descend into sexual impurity and become slaves to our own lustful passions. Then we reap the consequences, we ruin the very foundations of human civilization like marriage and family.
Just believing in the existence of God is not going to make us holy. Even great saints battled with the lusts of the flesh. They described their battles with flesh like Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 7 and Augustine in his famous book Confessions. Famous Christian philosopher Augustine of Hippo: He lived between 354 to 430 AD. He wrote Confessions, a work of 13 books. Imagine writing an autobiography in 13 volumes! That’s what Augustine did. He wrote Confessions, the first Western autobiography ever written and one of the great masterpieces of Western literature.
In Book VIII of Confessions, Augustine wrote about his addiction to sex. He described lust as a slavery: as chains of lust that bind his will. Let me read a passage from Book VIII of Confessions. “The enemy had my power of willing in his clutches, and from it had forged a chain to bind me. The truth is that disordered lust springs from a perverted will; when lust is pandered to, a habit is formed; when habit is not checked, it hardens into compulsion. These were like interlinking rings forming what I have described as a chain, and my harsh servitude used it to keep me under duress. A new will had begun to emerge in me, the will to worship you disinterestedly and enjoy you, O God, our only sure felicity; but it was not yet capable of surmounting that earlier will strengthened by inveterate custom. And so the two wills fought it out – the old and the new, the one carnal, the other spiritual – and in their struggle tore my soul apart”
Please note those words: ‘Disordered lust springs from a perverted will, when lust is pandered to, a habit is formed, when habit is not checked, it hardens into compulsion’.
Pick it up and Read
Augustine was imprisoned to sex. Lust became an obstacle, preventing him from surrendering his will to God. He was lying to himself that he had intellectual uncertainties about God. But the real problem was his addiction to sex. He famously said, ‘Grant me chastity and self-control, but please, not yet’. How did Augustine get freedom from his addiction? He heard a voice saying, ‘Pick it up and read, pick it up and read’. He opened his Bible and started to read Romans chapter 13.“11.And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.12. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.13. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
After studying and following this passage, Augustine got freedom from sin. By putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, he got liberation from sexual addiction. Just ask yourself, Would Jesus do what I want to do to this person? Augustine titled Book VIII, Pick it up and read, and, Book IX: The New Man.
Freedom from Sex Addiction: Wake up, Clean Up, Grow Up
In Romans chapter 13, Apostle Paul gave us three things in this passage of scripture: Wake up, Clean up and Grow up.
First, Wake up: The Lord is coming soon, don’t spend your time in slumber.
Then, Clean up: Remove the works of darkness from your life, put on the armour of light.
Don’t spend your life in rioting, drunkenness, strife, envy and carnal deeds.
Finally, Grow up: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, don’t feed your flesh, feed the inner spiritual man on the Word of God. For Augustine, his search for God and God’s search for him have come together when he submitted his will to Lord Jesus Christ. Our true maturity in faith come when we submit our will to Lord Jesus Christ.
When you wake up, clean up and grow up, you can live a life of victory, a life free of sex addiction. Apostle Paul wanted to pay any price to put on the character of Christ. Augustine wanted to pay any price to put on the character of Christ. Recently I heard on the news that someone paid 450 million dollars for a painting of Christ. The most expensive painting ever sold! At Christie’s auction in New York City, this painting of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was sold for 450 million dollars. What price are we willing to pay to embrace the real Christ God painted before us in His Word?
There is hope:
So, today we have seen secularization and sanctification. Atheism brought secularization with its emphasis on power, a superman as its dominant figure. Christianity brought sanctification with its emphasis on purity, a tender Savior as its dominant figure. Secularization cheapens sexuality whereas sanctification elevates it. In Christianity, essence precedes existence. In postmodernism, existence precedes essence. It leaves empty and hopeless, so called Post-Nietzschean nihilism of the 20th century. In Christianity, marriage is an illustration of our hope in Christ. The Church is the bride of Christ made holy by His precious blood. It is waiting for a heavenly wedding. Christian sanctification in that way has given us hope in Christ, our bridegroom.
Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for your Word. Help us live by your Word. We pray for our society so broken by sin and its consequences. We pray that you open the eyes of the lost to see you as their Savior and Lord. In your precious name we pray, Amen.
Holy Bible, King James Version
Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy By Mark Regnerus
Augustine’s Confessions By St. Augustine
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John MacArthur.
The Bible Exposition Commentary, Warren W.Wiersbe