As our culture sinks deeper and deeper into its own self-created sexual chaos, many of us in recent months and years have rightly been concentrating our energies against its sensual excesses. And yet, at the same time it is imperative that we not neglect the other aspects of our faith, even as we continue to fight for sexual beauty, fidelity, and goodness. We must still give generously and sacrificially to the poor, putting their needs above our own. We must continue to support racial justice at every opportunity, recognizing that the historic gospel is a message of reconciliation and love. We must stand for peace and oppose the warmongering of modern nation-states. We must reject the excesses of consumerism and property accumulation. And we likewise must continue to be stewards of the natural world, given to us by God in Genesis.
To be sure, I am just as outraged as anyone else about the debauched ideals and power grabs of the sexual liberation movement. On literally a daily basis I am appalled at the speed of our multi-decade slide into base physical indulgences. But as we make our daily choices about how to deploy our (admittedly finite) time, we must not allow our culture and its problems to make our energies one-dimensional.
Why not? The reason why we must not let the culture force us into a one-dimensional mindset has nothing to do with the way in which the culture perceives us. In fact I couldn’t care less whether the culture’s main impression of us is that we are sexual killjoys. What I do care about is that the Christian church be healthy and stable. So the reason why we should be deploying our energies more diversely in areas like poverty relief, environmental protection, and the rejection of consumerism is not so that the culture will welcome us more readily into its halls of power. Instead, it has everything to do with the well-being of our own faith and social mission – who and what we really are as Christians. For the sake of the health of our Christian faith, we must not allow ourselves to become boxed in the way the culture wants us to be. Much better, in my mind, is for the Christian church genuinely to flourish in its gospel mission than for it to be conforming to every latest whim in the culture.
We must not, in short, allow our fight against this culture’s sexual chaos to cause us to neglect some of the other historic social missions of Christianity. Yes, the collapse of sexual standards is a threat to the well-being of the Christian church. Yes, we must oppose that collapse and stand for a marriage culture of fidelity, children, and moral goodness. But at the same time there are other things besides sex that we ought to be doing. The most important of these is that we must continue to be loving and generous to all persons, including the poor.