The Christian Reformed Church in North America faces a contentious synod in June over marriage and sexuality. Those standing for biblical marriage have organized into the Abide Project. Advocates for inclusion in the CRC recently rebranded into the Hesed Project. Overtures continue to pour in from various classes (regional groups of churches). In March, the eight directors of the various Congregational Ministries came together to speak into the conversation. Their joint statement calls for humility on all sides, saying sexuality is “a massive, complicated mystery.” They said, “With something as complex as human sexuality, we must begin with a humble admission that no matter how much we think we accurately judge the true meaning of Scripture, we only scratch the surface of understanding.” The statement concludes by saying, “we need to begin with the truth, that God is love. This is the foundational truth about human sexuality.”
Lost in this debate is the historical roots of LGBTQ advocacy. Some movements are begun by Christians working out biblical principles that liberate others. Other movements are begun by skeptics who explicitly seek to overthrow biblical principles and exploit others in the process.
Standing against slavery has historically been a Christian movement. Abolitionists William Wilberforce and Sojourner Truth among many others were moved to liberate fellow human beings from bondage because of their strong Christian convictions.
The LGBTQ movement also has a history. It has been infiltrating the church in recent years, but its history is very different than the Abolitionist movement.
A self-proclaimed “godless Jew” who is considered the father of modern psychology, many of Freud’s theories are now widely discredited. His concepts of the Oedipus complex and penis envy did not get very far, but his view of human nature had legs: The primary motivation for all human beings (including children and infants) is sex. Subconsciously, our underlying motivation is sexual from birth. The regulation of sex stifles the person’s primal drive and thus is cause for psychological problems. Since religion placed restrictions on sexuality, Freud’s view of religion was especially hostile. He explained in The Future of an Illusion that religion was a mentally manufactured security blanket for adults to deal with the fears and uncertainties of life. For Freud, God is an imaginary friend in the sky to escape our fears while suppressing our most important desires.
One of Freud’s intellectual successors, Helmut Kentler also believed children were inherently sexual. Kentler’s dissertation urged parents to teach their children that they should never be ashamed of their desires. Believing Nazism emerged from repressed sexuality, Kentler’s goal was to develop a child-rearing philosophy for a new kind of German man. Sexual liberation, he wrote, was the best way to “prevent another Auschwitz.” Throwing off the restraints and boundaries on sexuality would supposedly solve mental and social problems. His now-notorious “Kentler Experiment” was premised on the idea that juvenile delinquency was due to repressed sexuality. For almost 30 years, Kentler’s government-funded experiment placed homeless children with known pedophiles.
In the late 1940s/50s, Kinsey published on his surveys of the sex lives of American adults. He reported that taboo sexual practices were common in America and sexual habits were of a wide variety, including homosexual. Kinsey’s biographers report that he was driven by a desire to overthrow the sexual ethics of his father’s Methodist principles and to justify his own sexual compulsions. For Kinsey, there were no boundaries to sexuality. He is quoted as saying, “The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform.” Among his research team, “Kinsey decreed that within the inner circle men could have sex with each other; wives would be swapped freely, and wives too, would be free to embrace whichever sexual partners they liked,” according to biographer James Jones. His scientific methods would never pass scrutiny today. First, his sample was not representative of the general population. Secondly, he asked leading questions. One was, “When did you start masturbating?” Upon denials of masturbation, he would respond, “Yes, I know you have never done that but how old were you the first time you did it?”
Kinsey’s research involved sexual abuse of children. In tables 30 to 34 of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, he reports observations of orgasms in over 300 children aged from two months up to fifteen years. Kinsey wrote, “It is difficult to understand why a child, except for its cultural conditioning, should be disturbed at having its genitalia touched…” He clearly adopted Freud’s view of sexuality as a primal human motivation from childhood.
Regardless of his methods, Kinsey’s conclusions made him a household name. His reports used scientific language and were influential.
Also raised in a strict Methodist household, Hugh Hefner credited Kinsey with sparking his interest in throwing off the repressive mores of sexual behavior and viewing humans as sexually expressive creatures. Hefner published Playboy magazine beginning in December 1953. Playboy featured both thoughtful articles alongside provocative images. This gave self-respecting men justification for subscribing. Sales soared. By 1956, Playboy was selling over a million copies every month, bringing sexuality and nudity into popular culture like never before. This not only lowered the public standard of decency but brought what was once for the privacy of the bedroom to highway billboards and TV screens. Moreover, Freud and Kinsey’s view that sexuality is the primary function of human beings morphed from an idea in the academy into saturating media and the expectations of pop culture. This philosophy would permeate the stories now told on pages and screens big and small. Sexual motivation is tapped to sell everything from cars to Reese’s Easter eggs.
Hefner’s empire maintained appearances as a community of sexual liberation, but the reality was dark. Playboy is the subject of a new documentary detailing the toxicity behind the sexual freedom image. Former girlfriends and employees share stories of abuse and rape, kept quiet by threats and intimidation.
By the time the birth control pill entered the marketplace in 1960, the Freud, Kinsey and Hefner influence had reached a critical mass. The notion that one’s identity is found in sexual expression was in play. With the pill, the dam broke, “Forever altering the relationship between sex and reproduction,” as marriage historian Stephanie Coontz said in her book Marriage, a History. With procreation and childbearing now divorced from sex, the pill “allowed the sexualization of love to spill over the walls of marriage.” The path was open for people to live as sexual beings without responsibility or consequence.
With sexuality divorced from procreation and marriage, sex became an end in itself, for recreation and expressing the essence of human identity.
By 1969, a Time Magazine cover story featured “The Sex Explosion,” saying “an erotic renaissance (or rot, as some would have it) is upon the land. Owing to a growing climate of permissiveness – and the Pill – Americans today have more sexual freedom than any previous generation.”
Almost simultaneously with Time Magazine’s story, a New York city gay bar was raided by police, but for the first time the patrons fought back. Now known as the Stonewall Rebellion, it is marked today as the beginning of the modern gay movement. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the official listing of mental disorders. As of 1994, even sexual addiction is no longer a mental disorder.
If you trace the ideas about self and sexuality that are prevalent today, their sources are officially against religion. Freud, Kinsey and Hefner were deliberately attempting to overthrow the Christian standard of sexuality as the holy union between husband and wife. Each of their views justified sexual exploitation in the name of sexual liberation.
Not only are the sources of the sexual revolution anti-religion but the ideas themselves are geared to a nonreligious worldview. To this day, religion is a major factor in people’s views of LGBTQ matters. Approval of both homosexual sex and same-sex marriage is highest among the nonreligious and lowest among the most devoted believers. Additionally, data analysis shows support for same-sex marriage increases with frequency of pornography use. The more someone uses pornography, the more likely they are to approve of alternative sexualities. The anti-God philosophical foundation for same-sex marriage is the same as that of pornography. Again, sexual liberation is a disguise for sexual exploitation. The multi-billion dollar porn business frequently profits from rape and human trafficking.
The sexual revolution with its LGBTQ manifestation is an anti-faith movement with anti-God motivations. As the 1969 Time Magazine article explained, “Western eroticism, unlike the Oriental variety, has not been a relatively uncomplicated, simply hedonistic matter; it began in defiance of Christian law and has remained strangely and often unconsciously tied to what it sought to oppose.” This is why Hefner “feels compelled to sanctify his hedonism in thousands of words of ‘philosophy.’” Believers must recognize that some ideas and movements originate from biblical principles and have godly goals that liberate neighbors. Other ideas and movements originate from rebellious impulses with godless goals that exploit neighbors. If God’s love is “the foundational truth about human sexuality,” then we must outright reject the godless ideas that have a veneer of liberation but lead to exploitation. Let’s have discernment to see the tree for its fruit.