Sexuality and Cultural Decline

Posted by TJ on 1/8/2023Tags: Church, Culture, Sex, TheologySexuality and Cultural Decline

Over the Christmas/New Year break, my brothers-in-law and I were discussing aspects of cultural decline here in the west. One of my brothers-in-law brought up a book he had recently been reading which discusses the fact that most instances of cultural decline were accompanied by sexual promiscuity, debauchery, and confusion. This has led to me doing some ruminating.

It’s difficult, sometimes, to say what are causes and what are effects. In the case of cultural decline being associated with confused sexuality, I’d posit that there’s a bit of both cause and effect going on. As our culture abandons Godliness and Biblically grounded moral principles, God gives up our culture to our lusts and desires.

I am going to quote at length Romans 1:18—32, to which I am alluding above. I recommend reading it in its entirety. This is the New King James Version. All emphasis is mine:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

There’s so much that could be said about that passage and how it relates to what we see around us today (for instance, I would like to do some writing about the last three sometime, which I think are very prevalent in our culture right now, “unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful”), but for this article, I’m going to focus on God giving a people over to sexual immorality as inspired by the conversations I mentioned.

I think it’s a given among anyone interested in reading something I’m writing, that if Romans 1 is part of a cultural map, then, “YOU ARE HERE” is plastered right there in the, “God gave them over to a debased mind” section. So I won’t spend much (or any, probably) time trying to convince you we are. One only needs access to any news of late to see it.

I will instead just talk practically about the relationship of sexual debauchery and cultural decline.

The Standard

Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 gives us the starting place for the plum line of God’s design for sexuality. God made Adam. He didn’t want Adam to be alone, he created him to have a life-long companion. And so He created Eve and blesses their “one flesh” union. And He commanded these first love-birds to be fruitful and multiply (have lots and lots of sex), and take dominion over the earth.

God created sex, and he created it for the intimate relationship of a husband and wife. And if that weren’t enough for us, he also gave us an entire book of the Bible to tell us about sexual love (Song of Solomon). God’s design is clear, and it is good. God made sex to be used properly, rightly, and joyfully within marriage.

God also created the sex drive (both male and female, but I’ll be talking mostly of the male drive since that is what I’m familiar with). The sex drive is not something that is wrong. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s not something to be put aside and not considered (the Apostle Paul speaks to this when he says don’t burn [with passion] but get married [to fulfill it]).

Sex, sexual drive, intimacy are all very good things that God created for us to enjoy and take pleasure in. It is to find it’s fulfilment in the one flesh relationship of a husband and wife. That’s the standard set forth in the scripture.

Controlling the Passions — The first real test in self-control

The sex drive is, in my estimation and 30 years of living with mine (puberty at 11 and I’ll be 41 in a couple of days, which I understand is a bit early for males, but that when it started for me) one of the strongest drives placed in man. It is unquenchable and very difficult to tame. Even when controlled and tamed, it is a life-long struggle to stay away from sexual sin. It never ends and one must never for a moment take for granted that they are in control of these urges.

As I’ve said, when in the context of marriage, this is one of God’s great gifts to man. But when much is given, much is also required. Namely, in the case of sexual drive, no small amount of self-control. One must gain mastery and maintain mastery over the sex drive if one is to amount to much in life. That’s just a fact.

If Godly wisdom and training has been taking place in a young child’s pre-pubescent life, the adjustment to living with sexual urges will be much easier. But, regardless, the real test of one’s ability to exercise self-control comes upon young boys. When a society is governed by God’s rules and God’s values and morals, there are many societal helps and peer pressures to aid here, not to mention the biblical counsel, wisdom, and discipline of Godly parents.

But less and less, we are not living in a society that values sexual self-control. In fact, lack of sexual self-control is expected in the young. Multiple sexual partners during adolescence and before marriage is expected. The consequences have been ruinous and deleterious to our society as a whole.

What’s the cause? What’s the effect?

This leads us again to ask, what is the cause and what is the effect? Is our societal lack of sexual self-control caused by our society beginning to largely abandon Godliness? Or is our abandoning Godly principles causing sexual chaos?

I’d like to suggest they are one and the same. When we abandon Godly principles, one of the first to go is those pesky sexual guide rails which prevents us from experiencing whatever pleasures we want whenever we want, and with whomever we want.

All this leads to a break-down of self-discipline and self-control. I posit that learning to controls one’s sexual urges immediately is part of what leads to a more self-disciplined life. The reasons for God’s morality can be multi-faceted. And I think that when one learns to master that very strong drive at a young age, it positions that person to be in a far better position of self-discipline throughout all of life.

Why is cultural decline and sexual debauchery so closely linked together? I would say because cultural decline is caused, in part, by a people who have no self-control.