November 23, 2014

Rick Warren Challenges Christians to Resist the Sexual Revolution

“The Church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if we cave into the sexual revolution and if we fail to provide a counter culture witness,” warned Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church at this week’s Humanum conference. The interreligious, international conference sponsored by The Vatican brought together over 30 religious leaders and scholars to reinvigorate marriage and family life by sharing wisdom from their various traditions. Notable speakers included Pope Francis, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, The Rt. Rev. NT Wright, Dr. Russell Moore, and Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Although some Christians are yielding to the sexual revolution, Warren emphasized the temporal nature of all revolutions, trends, and cultures. “The only way to always be relevant is to be eternal,” he said. Further, “the debate over the definition of life and of sex and of marriage is in reality a question of leadership,” and the Church must lead rather than follow, Warren explained.

For the Church to lead in these matters, she must be grounded in God’s Word, and what it says about marriage. The pastor pointed to Mark 10:6-9 as “the owner’s manual for marriage,” where Jesus gives “convictions about marriage that are unchangeable, incontrovertible, and unmovable.” The Bible is clear that gender matters, God created sex for procreation and connection within marriage, the marital union is a unique relationship between one man and one woman, and marriage is permanent, Warren stated. All of these truths, he continued, “are disputed, debated, and denied today … But a lie doesn’t become a truth and wrong doesn’t become right and evil doesn’t become good just because it becomes popular. Truth is truth.”

In addition to knowing what marriage is, we must understand what marriage is for, Warren said, as “you cannot value something [if] you don’t understand its purpose.” The most important among the many purposes of marriage is “for the reflection of our union with Christ … [which] is the strongest reason why marriage can only be between a man and a woman,” he stated. God intended marriage to be a picture of His relationship with the Church, and only marriage between a man and woman can accurately illustrate this relationship.

Warren encouraged pastors and priests to actively celebrate and promote marriage in their congregations by sharing testimonies of healthy marriages, honoring long-married couples, and highlighting the benefits of married life. Preserving a marriage is so important that couples should sacrifice financially to get counseling if necessary, and choose friends who will encourage them to fight for their marriages.

In addition to promoting marriage within the local church, “we have to tell better stories about marriage and about sex,” using various media, he said. Right now, Warren explained, the “lies that are being perpetuated in our culture are told over and over and over and people simply believe them because they’re not being questioned.”

Affirming the truth about marriage and sexuality will not be easy, the pastor admitted. “If you stand courageously for the truth, you’re going to be attacked. You can count on it.” Despite popular opinion, Warren said, “it is a total myth that we must compromise and give up on biblical truth and marriage in order to evangelize,” pointing to Saddleback’s consistent growth while abiding by traditional Christian teaching.

Although compromise is not an option, Warren said Christians must “show grace to the struggling … [and] be patient to the doubting.” In matters where “God’s Word is clear,” the pastor concluded, “we must not, we cannot, back up, back down, back off, backslide, or just give in. The Church must never be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by applause, frustrated by problems, debilitated by distractions, or intimidated by evil.”


14 Responses to Rick Warren Challenges Christians to Resist the Sexual Revolution

  1. Paul Hoskins says:

    Warren is occasionally wrong, but not this time. We have to keep our standards high. The lower the culture, the more the decent people stand out.

  2. Kyle says:

    Wow, that’s blunt, RW – “If you stand courageously for the truth, you’re going to be attacked. You can count on it.”

    When have I ever heard Joel “Smiley” Osteen say anything like that?

    Any Osteen fans, please feel free to correct me on this, with any links to an Osteen book or sermon where he speaks about being persecuted for the truth. Whenever I’ve tuned in to any of his sermons, all I heard is the “God thinks you are SO special” routine, over and over. If there is more substance to Osteen, please enlighten me.

  3. FW Ken says:

    Bill Warren’s talk at the Humanum was a keeper. He has done great service to all Christian bodies and others who recognize the importance of strong families to having a strong society.

    My fantasy is that Pope Francis will invite him and Rabbi Sacks to be expert observers at the Synod on the Family next year.

  4. Nick Porter says:

    Speaking the truth in and out of season…..

  5. Joe Monte says:

    Oh there is so much to comment on…

    Not 20 years ago Evangelicals were teaching that the RC Church would give rise to the Antichrist (the Pope) and now they are sharing a stage.

    The ‘Sexual Revolution’ is not a rebellion against God, it is some people telling other unqualified people to not poke their noses into others’ personal lives. It is also incumbent upon me to believe that these people are pure in their personal, secret lives.

    About this immoral archetype what is their moral ideal? Themselves? The Duggars? Creflo Dollar? Do men in the ministry get to marry or not? How can (allegedly) straight and chaste people have any say as to how we conduct sexual relationships? What are the track records of some of these institutional heads regarding sexual abuse of minors? Would Rick Warren leave his kids in the care of a Catholic Priest? Would you, gentle reader?

    • Orter T. says:

      The problem is that Christianity in America has lost her voice when it comes to sexuality and marriage. Rick Warren is simply encouraging the church to reclaim its teachings on these matters so that the church can become the conscience for society and culture rather than embracing it. And yes, that means the church itself needs to begin with cleaning up its own act.
      And as for partnering up with the Catholic Church, hard times creates unique partnerships–in this case what Protestants and Catholics have in common is greater than what they do not.
      And as for unqualified people poking their nose into the lives of others–that is out of a desire to give the others the opportunity to choose how they will spend all of eternity.

      • Joe Monte says:

        I appreciate your response, Orter. I’m glad you see that the church(es) need to examine themselves first. But, until that happens should they be as entrenched in the culture wars as they are?

    • Claus von Stauffenberg says:

      YOWZER ! Desultory exposition ? I was unable to parse this confusing, rambling, incoherent discourse. Can someone help?

  6. JCL says:

    Warren is right! One big problem here is the pastorate’s willingness to be agents of the State for performing marriage ceremonies. In Germany, one must ALWAYS be married by a civil clerk. If not, the marriage is not recognized legally. So in Germany, believers have two ceremonies: a quick, secular civil ceremony at city hall and a traditional religious ceremony before family and friends. The State has its license and the church has its binding promises before God. That is the way it should be done in the United States. This would permit churches to teach and act correctly about marriage because pastors will be free of their duties as agents of the State.

  7. modoccus1 says:

    The biggest problem in the cultural wars is that we allow the post-Christian hedonists to define the terms of the argument.

    Since the cultural revolution of the 60s most of those “human rights” issues is about making this abrogation of responsibility to posterity a “human right” because moral censure of irresponsibility to posterity infuriates the secular hedonist.
    The social revolution of the 60s was about the baby boomers rejecting the traditional responsibility of each generation to posterity; they wanted to remain irresponsible and carefree overgrown adolescents in the pursuit of hedonistic self.

    Marriage just don’t work like they used to. The natural gender differences between men and women will be profoundly incompatible with each other in the post-Christian hedonistic culture of the self. In this environment, there will generally be only short term “relationships”

    The censorial disapproval of traditional American culture to children born out of wedlock relates to this Christian ideal: that foremost of all children’s rights is to have responsible, committed parents with the mature understanding that the meaning, purpose, ultimate happiness and fulfillment of life was found in something much larger than the pursuit of the self. When young people got married in this environment, same incompatible features of gender become very complementary to the commitments to God, family, church, and community.

    It’s not war against women or “rights,” it is war against the responsibility to posterity in the pursuit of the hedonistic self, in which the children suffer enormously. This violation of human rights for the most innocent and helpless members of the human family far exceeds all other human rights issues in the West. They are dehumanized to the extent that if that gruesome late-term abortion technique were used to dispose unwanted puppies by veterinarians, the outrage would be enormous.

    The argument should be framed ” The violation of human rights for the most innocent and helpless members of the human family far exceeds all other human rights issues in the West

  8. modoccus1 says:

    Marriage is a religious, cultural institution thousands of years old, with variations in different cultures that made lifelong commitment to posterity for conjugal privilege. Rights and privileges always go with responsibility: the right and privilege to drive on the road goes with responsibility of respecting traffic laws for the safety of others.

    Well, how else? In all human history, except the last 150 years, per capita income for the masses was less than $500 per capita, and there was no way that society could afford irresponsible reproduction adding to the load of human suffering, particularly when living at the edge of subsistence the survival of these children was very poor.

    This culture war is between that sense of traditional responsibility versus license of post-Christian hedonist abrogating responsibility to posterity and dumping the resulting problems on the rest of society..

    Here is a way to force them to recognize the central issue with this thought experiment:

    If you don’t like the restraint of religious culture how about a secular approach? As Benjamin Franklin put it, “your right to swing your arms in the air ends where my nose begins. “ When your “liberty” infringes on another’s rights you’re taking license. Breeding irresponsibly and dumping the resulting problem on rest of society is taking license against posterity as well as against society.

    An alternate enforcement of personal responsibility being done with implantation of long-term contraceptives at puberty of both sexes unless bond is posted that pays for any “accident”

    This contraceptive stays in place until financial arrangements are made that will support child-rearing if separation takes place. In other words prepaid alimony through insurance, which would be quite costly for high-risk people.

    Who needs marriage?

    To the degree that post-Christian hedonism has become the personal operating philosophy, large segments our society would likely depopulate under this regimen of enforced personal responsibility.

  9. R Stone says:

    There s a great difference in sexual leniency in todays culture of anything goes and the very close relationship of those brides of Christ that are walking in His love, given freedoms that most people could not handle because they are not living for Jesus and souls. But of course Warren is not talking about that here, he is talking about the culture of sex promiscuity and I believe it s a good message, but not one shoe fits all by any means.

  10. R Stone says:

    You won t be able to win this sexy generation without some kind of sex appeal, because after all God is very sexy Himself, His Spirit is so loving, kind, giving, just as the best Lover. But that doesn t mean to give liberty as license to lust, but I think the church system and those caught in it, do not know Jesus Christ as intimately as He would like… as His intimate bride,

  11. theflowerfades says:

    It is good to take a stand but I have a few questions. Why was Mark 10:5 left out where divorce was allowed under the Torah (which is for all purposes inspired and given by God? It seems to me that divorce is permitted, but not approved. The ideal is what we should strive, pray, and fight for, but ultimately not all marriages will make it. After all we are told be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. But of course all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Moreover what about when Paul discusses the terms of of marriage between a believer and an unbeliever where an unbeliever should be allowed to leave (1 Corinthians 7:15)? I understand this as leaving after the marriage ceremony. This is certainly pertinent today given the rise of interfaith marriages. Finally, “marriage is permanent”…this means earthly life-long, right? Jesus also says later that we shall be as angels in heaven neither in marriage nor being given in marriage (Mark 12:25). Just checking.

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