Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and megachurch pastor Rick Warren, both speaking at a Vatican conference Tuesday, warned that Christians should not succumb to the current sexual revolution or waver on the Biblical truth about sexuality and marriage.
"Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition, and abortion rights as parts of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems," said Moore in a prepared statement given during the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" colloquium convened by Pope Francis.
"The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy," he continued. "The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure … We see the wreckage of sexuality as self-expression all around us, and we will see more yet. And the stakes are not merely social or cultural but profoundly spiritual."
Moore, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, argues that every culture has recognized that there is something about sexuality that is "more than merely the firing of nerve endings" and that there is "something mysterious here, the joining of selves."
"In the evangelical Christian perspective, this is because there is no such thing as a casual sexual encounter at all, when we are speaking in spiritual terms," he said.
Warren, who said he agreed with much of what was said from the many speakers before him during the three-day conference, focused his message on action steps for the church.
"In many ways, the debate over the definition of life, of sex, and of marriage is, in reality, a question of leadership," said Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life—What On Earth Am I Here For? He continued (in his notes forwarded to The Christian Post) by asking, "Who is going to lead? Will the church follow the crowd, or will the church lead the crowd?"
He explained, "The church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if it caves in to the sexual revolution and fails to provide a counter-culture witness. It is a myth that we must give up Biblical truth on sexuality and marriage in order to evangelize."
Pope Francis declared during the conference on Monday that marriage is by definition a union of man and woman, defying past claims by some that the Church was considering a change in its views on same-sex unions and sexuality.
"It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman," stated the pontiff. "This complementarity is at the root of marriage and family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others' gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of living together."
Francis also stated in his remarks at the colloquium that "marriage and the family are in crisis."
Additional excerpts from speeches below.
Russell Moore: Many would tell us that contemporary people will not hear us if we contradict the assumptions of the sexual revolution. We ought to conceal, or at least avoid, the conversation of what we believe about the definition of marriage, about the limits of human sexuality, about the created and good nature of gender, and speak instead in more generic spiritual terms. We have heard this before, and indeed we hear it in every generation. Our ancestors were told that modern people could not accept the miraculous claims of the ancient church creeds, and that if we were to reach them "where they are," we should emphasize the ethical content of the Scriptures—the "golden rule"—and deemphasize the scandal of such things as virgin births and empty tombs and second comings. The churches that followed this path are now deader than Henry VIII.
It turns out that people who don't want Christianity don't want almost-Christianity. More importantly, those churches that altered their message adopted what Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen rightly identified as a different religion. The stakes are just as high now. To jettison or to minimize a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed to us, and we have no authority to do this. Moreover, to do so is to abandon our love for our neighbors. We cannot offer the world the half-gospel of a surgical-strike targeted universalism, which exempts from God's judgment those sins we fear are too fashionable to address.
Rick Warren (Notes): Paul explained it this way: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – to make her holy... and to present her as beautiful bride to himself, a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or blemish, but holy and pure.
"In this same way, husbands must love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds it, and cares for it, just as Christ does his church– for we are members of Christ's body! It is for this reason that man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and his church! So, each of you must also love your wife as your love himself, and you wife must respect your husband." Eph. 5:23-33 (NIV)
THIS is the deepest meaning of marriage! THIS is most profound purpose of marriage! THIS is the strongest reason marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
No other relationship, including the parent-child relationship, can picture this intimate union. To redefine marriage would destroy the picture that God intends for marriage to portray.
We CANNOT cave on this issue!