“Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.” (Jer. 6:15).
Part of what happens when societies turn away from God is that they become ashamed of the wrong things, and the things that really ought to be considered shameful become normal. And this has happened because America and the (formerly) Christian West have been systematically groomed. If you read any of the literature on abuse and sexual abuse in particular, you will know that perpetrators groom their victims. Small lines are crossed to establish new codes of loyalty, secrecy, and normalcy. A predatory youth pastor allows boys from his youth group to binge on soda and pizza and candy and then maybe they watch a movie that’s a little off color if they promise not to tell their parents: secrecy, indulgence. Then maybe there are video games that have a bit of foul language, maybe some indecency, brief nudity — again let’s not tell the parents: a little more secrecy, a little more indulgence. Then maybe after soccer night, they all go back to his place for pizza and movies, but showers turn into a naked towel-popping fight. Innocent locker room stuff? What is normal? Excitement, secrecy, loyalty, fun — all the lines are being blurred, on purpose, minimizing the danger. The boys are being groomed.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Eph. 5:11-12).
It’s worth pointing out that Paul says that we must take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness and that it’s shameful to even talk about what immoral people do in secret. And at the same time exposing those works of darkness means talking about them in a certain way. But we live in a world that is constantly talking about the works of darkness in another way, in a normalizing way. The Come Back of Lesbian Film was a headline in my Twitter feed just this morning. Also just this morning: the Time Magazine Twitter feed heralded this line: Marriage with Robots? Experts say it’s really coming. Notice the very careful rhetoric of the Time’s link: “Marriage” is a word full of meaning (or used to be), and who can be against marriage? But of course there is NO SUCH THING as marriage between humans and robots. That’s a laughable farce. This is not even a possibility. What they are actually talking about is SEX with robots. And even that is really giving them too much. What they are really talking about is masturbation with high-tech gizmos. But that headline would never fly; it’s much too gauche. But furthermore, when they say “robots,” what they are also really talking about is high-tech porn. A “fully functioning” (of course not really) “anatomically-correct” robot is not a real woman (or man) but is like the high-brow Hellenistic porn of yesteryear, cloaked (ha!) in the respectability (read: normalcy) of art and science.
But the second line in the Time link is also carefully chosen, particularly the appeal to authority: “Experts.” Who goes against the experts? Who do you think you are? Well of course everything rides on which “experts” we’re talking about. I can give Time Magazine a list of Christian and biblical “experts” who’d be more than happy to fill them in on the long term adverse affects of sexual individualism and pornography on teenagers, adult singles, families, marriages, etc. But of course those “experts” would be summarily rejected as fundamentalists, tyrants, bigots, backward, and so on.
But the thing to notice is that Time and many other “information outlets” are busy grooming the American people. Most of Time’s headlines are full of fairly normal links and articles. And then here and there, we have a headline seeming to cast — what ought to make ordinary people blush and turn red with shame — in some kind of pseudo-intellectual respectability. And buried in the rhetoric is an offer of secrecy and loyalty and new forms of normalcy.
Related, National Geographic recently ran a special issue on “Gender,” featuring a young boy dressed up as a girl on the front cover with the quote: “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy anymore.” Apart from the obviously appalling use of the comma, the real play is an appeal to your pity. Hypocrisy is bad, pretending is bad. The boy in the picture doesn’t look particularly nice or happy. It’s the finest of National Geographic’s condescending colonialism. Look at this rare breed of human we found out there in the wild. (Nevermind that this little boy has been treated like a lab rat and has been “doctored” in the worst ways.) Don’t you feel bad for this endangered species?
Here’s the play: first you pity them and feel sorry for them, then you protect them, then you celebrate them. This is exactly what has happened with homosexuality already in our culture.
And now we are at the point where Christians are nervous about saying that homosexuality is a disorder out loud, in public. Many folks know they would lose their jobs to say such a thing. But it’s the truth, and the fact that you know you can’t say so out loud means that you have been muzzled. You have been gagged. You are not free. You are a slave. But, make no mistake: homosexuality is a human disorder. It’s a sickness, a mental, spiritual, moral disorder. What practicing homosexuals need is therapy, counseling, repentance, and of course love. But when a man full of cancer comes in to the oncologist, the oncologist must love the man in the truth. This is why you want the best possible health care. You want to know the truth. This is what the tests are designed to do: to give us the best available information about what is going on inside the body.
But Christians have gotten to the point where they are embarrassed and ashamed about what the Bible actually says. It says that at the heart of every sinful disorder is willful rebellion against God. Original sin is inherited from your father Adam and it rages in every one of us, but the really offensive thing that the Bible says is that you have freely of your own volition chosen to indulge those twisted desires. You have chosen to do evil, and it is your fault. Everyone of us has, and so we have all fallen shamefully short of the glory of God. To say that National Geographic has just featured sexual abuse on its front cover as a normal thing to discuss at dinner is to break the code of silence. To say it out loud is to defy our cultural Masters. And right now, the fact that Christians have not completely flipped out about this “special issue” and the fact that Time Magazine can casually link to a brief story about “marriage with robots” only serves to further demonstrate that we have been thoroughly groomed. We’ve been groomed for decades with movies and television, and the fact that many Christians are tired of talking about it, tired of the “culture war” is another element of the same point. You’ve been groomed. You’ve been silenced. The Masters know they can get away with it, and the Christians will just shrug their shoulders and sigh and go along with it.
A generation ago, sodomy was a criminal offense in many states and homosexuality was a mental disorder (already down graded from sinful abomination), and now it is proclaimed from the highest court in our land that it is a fundamental human right to celebrate this abomination as “marriage.” We do not know how to blush anymore.
The answer to all this is not panic or despair. The answer is to do exactly what Paul says to do. He says to walk as dearly loved children in imitation of Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us (Eph. 5:1). To turn to Christ is to turn to child-like innocence. To turn to Christ is to be given your innocence back. That’s what forgiveness in Christ means. Satan is the accuser and he brings your shameful things to mind. He reminds you of the things you have done, the things that have been done to you, the things you have watched, the things you have thought about, and he says that once your innocence is lost it is lost forever. But that is a lie. The truth is that Jesus was born into the shame of this world in order to undo it. He was born in a shameful situation. He endured the shame of rejection and isolation and loneliness. He truly didn’t fit in. There really wasn’t anyone like Him, who could really understand Him. And He was betrayed by His friends. He was lied about. He was falsely accused. He was slandered. He was mocked and paraded before the crowds in shame before He was finally nailed to a Roman cross, the most shameful way to die. And there strung up naked and dying with His final breath, He announced, It is finished.
It is finished. That is the answer to the accusations that cause you shame, the lies that tempt you to give up trying to be pure, trying to be holy, to give up believing that in Christ you are innocent and without any shame. Shame is a gag order, but the righteousness of Christ sets you free.
This is the answer to the shameful things being paraded on our streets and in the movies and in our social networks. As dearly loved, innocent children we are called to expose them to this light. We come with the light that shined on us in our darkness. This is the light that restores hearts and minds. It heals the numbness that develops when we give in to sin. It teaches us to feel again, to love again, to hope again.
Christ is born; Christ has died; Christ lives again. Shame gives in to the silence and apathy of despair and allows the darkness to creep in, blurring the lines, twisting the truth. And then it seems hopeless. But Christ is the Light. He shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.