The Revolution That Enslaves
by R.C. Sproul
What’s the most significant revolution we’ve ever experienced in the United States? I imagine most Americans would say it was the American Revolution, which marked the beginning of our existence as a country. Some might make the case that it was the Industrial Revolution, which transformed our nation into a world power. Yet both answers, I think, are wrong.
The most far-reaching, epochal revolution in American history began about fifty years ago and is now reaching its zenith. No war has been fought in terms of military conflict, but this revolution has killed millions of unborn people. Approximately three thousand lives, in fact, will be lost to this revolution before midnight tonight. And this number does not include the revolution’s other casualties. Bodies will be mutilated in the name of “changing” one’s gender. Sexually transmitted diseases will sterilize, leave lasting physical and emotional scars, and even pronounce death sentences on men and women. Young women will get pregnant and be abandoned, leaving them to raise children in fatherless homes. Pornography will warp people’s views of sex and relationships.
I’m talking about the sexual revolution, which has wrought far more changes to the cultural behavior of America than the War of Independence fought against England in the eighteenth century. This sexual revolution is a war that’s been fought not against any earthly king but against the King of the cosmos, the Lord Himself. It’s a war with roots that stretch much further back than the sixties—to Eden, when Adam and Eve joined Satan’s cosmic revolt.
As we inaugurate a new president this month, the revolution continues, draped in the flag of free speech, free sex, and freedom from oppression. However, the freedom being sought isn’t freedom from unjust civil laws but from natural law and the eternal moral law of God. The freedom embraced is the ungodly “freedom” of moral autonomy, of our trying to be a law unto ourselves, of our raising our fists to heaven and declaring that God will not be Lord over us.
The sexual revolution has the same philosophical roots that fueled Friedrich Nietzsche’s goal of casting off what he saw as the weakness of Judeo-Christian morality. In Nietzsche’s eyes, the morality rooted in the Scriptures kept the authentic individual in chains. In the name of authenticity, of embracing the most basic human drive of the “will to power,” Nietzsche looked for humanity to set itself free from outside moral constraints. Nietzsche was eventually driven to insanity, but the moral insanity he argued for has gained ascendancy in our day. In one sense, the West has accomplished what Nietzsche desired—a “liberation” from God, and evidence for this is the sexual anarchy of our culture. However, such liberation cannot ultimately be accomplished. We’re still accountable to the Lord and will face judgment. Moreover, the freedom found is proving to be no freedom at all, but rather enslavement to the unforgiving demands of the false gods of unrestrained eros and libido.
The sexual revolution is a war that is fought on many fronts. It includes the abuse of “free speech” to legalize the vilest and most explicit forms of pornography. It includes attacking all notions of traditional gender norms and labeling as “hateful bigots” those who want bathrooms segregated by biological sex differences. It involves abortion on demand and the elimination of every restriction on the procedure. It includes making promiscuity the norm and chastity the aberration. It includes elevating homosexuality as a positive good. The human sex drive is now liberated from all forms of oppression that would deny us our inalienable right to pleasure, and sexual pleasure—however we define it for ourselves—is seen as necessary to human happiness and fulfillment.
The fruit and fuel of the sexual revolution is widespread moral relativism. Our society has rejected wholesale the very notion of vice—with one exception. The only vice our culture now recognizes is the refusal to join the revolutionaries in their quest for sexual “liberation.” Stay on God’s side, and the revolution will demand that you pay a high price economically and socially.
Saddest of all, many churches fall over themselves to accommodate the changes wrought by the sexual revolution. Entire denominations are rushing to catch up to the culture. If there’s any sin of which we must repent, it’s the sin of affirming what God has always said about sexual morality. But if we go along with this trend, we’ll have no good news to preach, for we’ll have no sin from which we need the gospel to rescue us. We know that God will still mark the sin, but if the church won’t call sin sin, it cannot call anyone to repent of it and escape divine condemnation by turning to Christ. Sexual immorality and the kingdom of God are incompatible. No person who impenitently violates God’s sexual ethic has any part in His kingdom. If we don’t proclaim this to lost people, they will remain lost.
The New Testament gospel is about forgiveness—forgiveness for all types of sin. Forgiveness is not needed if sin does not exist (1 John 1:8–10). But Jesus—as well as Paul, Moses, and the other prophets and Apostles—recognized adultery, homosexuality, and other forms of sexual immorality as sin (Lev. 18:5; Matt. 5:27–30; John 7:53–8:11; 1 Cor. 6:9–11). The good news of the gospel is that every sexual sin is forgivable; all that’s required is repentance and faith in Christ alone. But it is one thing to forgive sin; it is quite another to sanction it. To give license to sin is not to free people, but to enslave them.