The speed takes your breath away! Never in the history of the world has a culture and its values concerning sexuality shifted as fast or as drastically as they have in America in the last fifty years. I’m not saying there hasn’t been immorality far worse or equivalent to America’s in other parts of the world, but never before has a view of sexuality in a nation moved as fast and as far in as short a passage of time. Fifty years ago we were a nation we would hardly recognize today.
In this chapter I want to chronicle this radical shift in our understanding and perspective of sex and reveal the truth about human sexuality.
Here are some revealing statistics about the shift. In the 1950s about 5 percent of girls and about 10 percent of boys in high school were sexually active. Fast-forward five decades and as many as 70 percent of girls and 80 percent of boys are sexually active during high school. Today, 50 percent of all women under thirty cohabitate prior to marriage. The divorce rate in the middle of the twentieth century was in the single digits. Today it hovers around 50 percent. These rapid changes in behavior didn’t just happen in general society; they have also occurred in the Church.
In 1969 we shifted into the “no-fault divorce” gear of cultural change. Longstanding legal protections of marriage were being run over or ignored. By 1996 evangelical Christians’ divorce rate was 4 percent higher than the national average. All of this has resulted in the stunning shift inside the Church regarding sexuality, marriage, and family.
The statistics that track the speed of change are staggering. For example, in 1987, 75 million people rented a XXX porn video. Five years later, that number had rocketed to 490 million rentals of the most graphic porn. By 1996, the rentals reached 665 million. Pornography is being produced around the world, but the center of consumption is here in America. We distribute more than anyone else.
Recent estimates note that at least 150 new XXX porn videos are created each week. Once the internet exploded they stopped counting rentals. The hidden nature of these activities makes precise figures hard to come by, but about 40 percent of men in America visit porn sites regularly. And the percentage of women who do is increasing rapidly. Not long ago I had a conversation with a friend who is a sex therapist, and she said, “For the first twenty-five years I had no women in my sexual counseling. Now 30 percent of all the people I see for sexual addictions are women.”
The numbers I’ve just mentioned are overwhelming and are often reported a bit higher or lower depending on the metrics used in the studies. My point here is very simple: we have witnessed a dramatic shift in our culture. Like the frog in the water-filled pan on the stove, we finally realize we’re in a boiling environment and may feel helpless to get out.
This is when we begin to see signs of the “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach invading the Church. I read an article in WORLD magazine describing a panel discussion at a Bible conference about sexuality and the Church. One of the participants, a professor from an evangelical school, seemed to be proposing a dangerous form of compromise. It was as if she was saying, “It’s fine in church to stand up and talk about God’s ideal for sexuality in marriage and all the rest, but the fact of the matter is we know people in their twenties and early thirties are not going to be sexually celibate. So, at the church what we need to do is say, ‘Yes, there is an ideal but we need to provide contraceptives in Bible churches so when people disobey the damage will be a little bit less.’”
Now think about that thought process. In other words, the Spirit of God living in Christians no longer has the power to help us obey God, so let’s violate one command so maybe we won’t mess up on another one.
Chip Ingram, Culture Shock: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Divisive Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on the book: Culture Shock, by Chip Ingram
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Culture Shock, Lesson #1
Whatever Happened to Right and Wrong
How Did We Get into This Mess?
Culture Shock, Lesson #2
Culture Shock, Lesson #3
Culture Shock, Lesson #4
Culture Shock, Lesson #5
Culture Shock, Lesson #6
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.