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Facing Down a Moral Revolution

with Al Mohler | September 19, 2016

How do Christians live as a cultural minority? Dr. Al Mohler explains that the dissolution of Christianity in our culture began long before the 60's, and we are reaping what was sown. There is a moral revolution that is reshaping Western civilization, and Christians need to own their part in it. Now, Dr. Mohler says, we need to get used to a whole new way of being faithful.

Show Notes and Resources

Audio MP3 version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration (19.5 MB)
Video version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration
Two Ways to Live

How do Christians live as a cultural minority? Dr. Al Mohler explains that the dissolution of Christianity in our culture began long before the 60's, and we are reaping what was sown. There is a moral revolution that is reshaping Western civilization, and Christians need to own their part in it. Now, Dr. Mohler says, we need to get used to a whole new way of being faithful.

Show Notes and Resources

Audio MP3 version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration (19.5 MB)
Video version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration
Two Ways to Live

Facing Down a Moral Revolution

With Al Mohler
|
September 19, 2016
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: More and more, do you find yourself feeling out of step with the culture around you—with your neighbors and your friends?  Al Mohler says that’s not surprising.


Al: The culture is not playing along with us anymore. So, we must be theologically awakened by Scripture to understand that our calling has never been to stand on the top of the church and yell at the community: “Behave!”  It is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and call upon sinners to believe.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, September 19th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. If, indeed, we are living in a culture that is drifting away from a biblical understanding of the world, how does that affect how we live?  We’re going to explore that today with Dr. Al Mohler. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.

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Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. You know we started 2016, back in January, with Dr. Russell Moore about how Christians live as a prophetic minority in the culture we’re living in. I think it’s time we revisit that subject because it feels like, since the beginning of the year, we are in an even darker place than we were when we started.

Dennis: Yes; and I just want to let our listeners know who these broadcasts are for. If you’re on a journey, trying to decide what you believe about some of these urgent issues we’re facing today, this is the right broadcast for you to be listening to. We’re going to take on some of the most difficult, thorny issues in our culture today. We’re going to attempt to do it with the love of Christ, the truth of the Scripture, and do it in a gracious way; but at the same time, equip you to know where you stand—as a single person, as a husband, a wife, a mom, a dad, a grandparent—and how you don’t bend in the wind of the culture.

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And that’s really our passion here, Bob. I really want people to know where they stand and how they stand on the Scriptures; and they don’t need to be apologizing for it. Our guest on the program today is nodding his head. Dr. Al Mohler joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Al, welcome back.

Al: Dennis, it’s great to be with you.

Dennis: It’s great to have you. You know, many of our listeners know Dr. Mohler as the President of The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Why don’t you explain to our listeners why you start the book called We Cannot Be Silent reminiscing about a hurricane that hit where you lived and something you and your grandfather experienced after it.

Al: Yes; you know, I look back at boyhood and recognize it’s more distant in history but not in memory. Growing up in Florida, we had recurring hurricanes. Most of them came by without much damage, but I remember being sent to bed one night as a hurricane was blowing.

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As a little boy, I woke up and, with my grandfather, went out in the front yard. There was a large boat in the front yard. I can still remember, as a little boy, thinking, “Something massive had to have made that happen.”  It had come off of a trailer some distance away and had floated down off the trailer and come down, driven by wind and water, into our front yard, where it had finally moored itself over against a tree. We’re not talking about a small boat here—we’re talking about a big vessel that just got picked up. I can still remember thinking, “Something big had to have happened.” 

That’s the way I think a lot of Christians feel—when they look at the newspaper, they watch television, they have a conversation, they hear their child come home from school—and they’re listening to that conversation. They recognize: “Wow!  Something big has happened.”  It’s something bigger than we thought when we saw it coming. What I’m trying to explain is a moral revolution has completely reshaped—and is even now reshaping—

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—not only Western civilization, but our local communities.

Bob: And we so often look to the ‘60s as the genesis of that moral revolution. Is that the right place to look? 

Al: Well, it’s the right place to look for a lot of the arguments you hear today. There is no doubt that a lot of what is going on today—what you hear at the Supreme Court or you might hear from just someone in conversation at the mall—that’s a conversation you can track right back to the ‘60s. But there was a revolution that began long before that happened—that [the ‘60s] was kind of like the eruption of the volcano—but the actual energy was being pent up over time. This moral revolution really began to take shape in the last part of the 19th century and in the first part of the 20th century in places that most Americans were sight-unseen and didn’t recognize what was going on; but we’re now reaping what they sowed.

Dennis: You say that Christians are kind of the first ones to pick up their stone and want to throw them at the homosexual movement for “changes” that we see in the culture.

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You’re saying, “No; we need to go back and own what we’re responsible for here, as followers of Christ, because we have been complicit in what’s taking place here.” 

Al: Well, we certainly have been. When you think about the LGBT revolution—which is the greatest challenge, morally and even in terms of religious liberty that we have faced in our lifetimes, here in the United States—we have to recognize that the door was opened for that by things that we were not so alarmed about but should have been. For instance, the contraceptive revolution that happened that separated sex and reproduction. You can’t have a sexual revolution without that. A lot of American evangelicals—they think of contraception as a non-significant issue. Well, just realize that the people who paid for the development of the pill—just to make that very clear—they did so driven by an agenda of moral revolution. They wanted to facilitate severing of reproduction and sex so that people could have sex without having babies. Most American evangelicals were asleep at the switch on that.

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The second big thing was the divorce revolution. When we think about the damage that same-sex marriage is going to do in the lives of children—and I think that’s very real—we have to recognize that far more children will have their lives damaged by divorce. We’re talking, there, not as a close call—we’re talking about multiple millions and millions of American children, and now children grown to be adults, whose lives were irreparable harmed by divorce. We take that for granted. The no-fault divorce revolution didn’t happen in the United States until the early 1970s. Evangelical Christians were not as concerned about marriage, then, as we should have been. That’s one of the reasons why we have less credibility to talk about it now.

Dennis: We didn’t protect marriage when we should have. We should have upheld the marriage covenant and the sacred nature of the promise two human beings make; but instead—to the point of your book—we were silent.

Al: We were silent. And just think about this—so, now, the same-sex revolution comes along / same-sex marriage, and says: “Marriage can be redefined so that it’s no longer a man and a woman. 

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“It can be a man and a man or a woman and a woman.”  Now, that is, morally speaking, ridiculous.

But let me tell you why it has traction—it has traction because, throughout virtually all of human history, marriage was understood as the union exclusively of a man and a woman; but it was with those words, “‘…’til death do us part.” The revolution that we accepted, just tacitly back during the 1970s and the 1980s, was that you can redefine marriage from being a permanent covenant, until death, with eternal meaning—because it was created by God—of monogamy and exclusivity. “No; we can change that into a temporary contract for as long as you want to be married, rather than until death do us part.” That revolution was required long before you could possibly have same-sex marriage, and it’s piggy-backing on some of the very same arguments.

Bob: Well, and the stories we have told ourselves in film, and in books, and in song, for generations, about what love is has defined it all purely in romantic terms—

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—so that you can understand why, when somebody says, “Well, if I love my boyfriend / if I’m a male and I love my boyfriend, why shouldn’t I be able to get married?” because that’s all love means to them is: “I have a feeling today, and I should be able to act on it.” 

Al: That’s right. We’ve reduced love to an emotional state of transient endurance that is to be measured by its intensity rather than by any objective, moral norm.


Dennis: There are moms/dads listening to this broadcast / there are single people, who don’t understand where this battle was originally fought and lost. Ultimately, it was lost around the concept of a worldview—the culture basically has moved us to a secularized version of a worldview that leaves God out.

Al: Well, absolutely. You know, we didn’t have to think about worldview until we were confronted with worldviews different than our own. Bob and Dennis, you can remember the name, Francis Schaeffer. What Schaeffer would do would be to pick up Time Magazine or something like that and say: “What makes this make sense to people?  

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“It’s because their most fundamental assumptions about reality are different.” 

What we’re looking at is the fact that most of us lived in communities where the people around us thought in, more or less, Christian terms. They operated out of a, more or less, Christian worldview, even if they were not believing, regenerate, born-again Christians. Well, that’s what’s so shifted now—we cannot assume that virtually anywhere—given the influence of Hollywood, the influence of successive academic movements, the trajectory of the larger culture around us.

The reality is—living in a place like Little Rock or Louisville no longer ensures that the people living next to you begin with the understanding that truth is anything other than relative, that understand that life is anything more than what you can make of it, or understand that human beings are anything more than evolutionary accidents.


A worldview is that which explains what makes the world make sense to us. For Christians, that starts with Scripture: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  It begins with who we are—

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—as human beings made in the image of God—and follows all the way through the entirety of Scripture. Our responsibility is to think consistently, as Christians. What we’re beginning to understand is that our neighbors are more and more thinking consistently, as non-Christians.

Dennis: And they are leaving God out of the center of that worldview. So, they are replacing Him with me: “I am the center.” 

Al: Well, if God’s not going to be at the center of our universe, who else would qualify but ourselves?  I mean, that; in other words, yes—you’re exactly right. What’s scary is that makes perfect sense to so many people in our society.

Bob: So, if that’s the new majority report and if a biblical worldview is increasingly a minority report, do we just batten down the hatches and prepare for a whole new way of thinking and living, as Christians? 

Al: Well, to the last part of that; yes. We’re going to have to get used to a whole new way of living and thinking, as Christians, if we’re going to be faithful. You know, Bob, I love the way you asked the question; because: “Where does this leave us?”

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I think it leaves us dangerously close to the Book of Acts.

You know, I look at this and I’m thinking, “Well, that’s exactly where Christianity began.”  Christianity didn’t fall into the midst of a culture shaped by the Christian worldview. It emerged when the operational paganism of Rome was the worldview of the age. I think this is not something we would have wanted—it’s not something we asked for or prayed for—but it is the challenge we now face.

Dennis: There are three thoughts that occur to me. I want you to just respond to me, if you would. This is kind of bold; but I think, put very simply, we need to be challenging one another to confirm what we believe the Scripture clearly teaches about these issues—of same-sex marriage, of transgender and gender issues that are taking place in our culture, about divorce.

Secondly, we need to be passing on our convictions and training our children to know how to think from the Bible, instead of to the Bible. They need to come out of the Scripture and have convictions to know how to stand.

12:00

 

Then, thirdly, I think every family—and that’s why I like what you just said about this is compared to the Book of Acts—every family ought to be on a mission.

Al: Absolutely.

Dennis: We ought to be the salt and the light of the culture in marriage and family. They are in the center of the bull’s eye. That provides either a scary place to enter into or an exciting, electrifying place to join God in what He wants to do in transforming people’s lives through Jesus Christ.


Al: The way I would put it is this: “If we were raising our children—let’s say Christian parents in the 1950s in so many communities in America—we could tell them: ‘Here’s what you are going to do. You’re going to be confronted with the gospel of Jesus Christ. When, as we hope, you become a believing Christian, you’re going to take your place in this society, as morally-upright people; and what you’re going to do is to try to preserve the moral uprightness you’re going to find in society.’” 

Everybody in the 1950s knows what marriage is. No one is confused to think that marriage is a woman and a woman or a man and a man.

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Divorce is not prevalent—it’s very hard to even get one. You’re not going to make partner at a law firm if you’re divorced / you’re not going to make partner in a law firm if you’re not a member of some recognized church; because that’s what all decent human beings do, as citizens, back then.

Well, we’re not raising our children for that anymore. We’re raising our children to say: “If you’re going to be a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re going to be subversive in a culture that is moving in exactly the opposite direction. You’re not going to be those who come to adulthood in order to fit in the larger society as moral examples. You’re going to stand out as the great moral exception.” 

If you believe that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and a woman—not just because of culture and tradition—but because God made us in His image and gave us marriage for His glory—and if you believe that everything starts and ends with the question: “Is there a God; and if so, what does He require of us?” we’ve got to raise counterrevolutionaries, Dennis. I think that’s what many parents haven’t thought / Christian parents haven’t thought they were doing.

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They’ve got to raise gospel insurrectionists.

Bob: I think there was a strategy—that I grew up, thinking, “This was how you fight against the culture—you fight with moral supremacy. You fight with self-righteousness, and you use shame, as a tactic, to try to get people back in line. All of that—

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: —we’ve learned: “That’s not how you advance the gospel in this culture.” 


Al: The closest heresy for most evangelical Christians is mere moralism. So, here is the question: “What would buy us off?  What would make us happy?”  There are far too many Christians who would be happy if their neighbors behaved; but behaving people are going to go to hell because “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23].” 

Bob: Yes.

Al: Behavior is important—we understand that. The Christian worldview also explains you shouldn’t expect people to behave better than their beliefs. So, we’ve got to get back to the gospel as the only message of salvation.

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The only rescue we have is what God has done for us in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and call upon sinners to believe.

Dennis: And Al, I think one of the mistakes we have made—and I’ve admitted this on this radio show before—we have stood on top of the church steeple—not obviously [literally]—but we have thrown stones at people who don’t think like us, don’t believe like us, and, as you just pointed out, don’t behave like us. So, we have shamed homosexuals / we have shamed those who struggle over issues of sexual identity. As a result, the church has not been a safe place for someone who wants redemption, for someone who wants forgiveness, for someone who wants to be reconciled to his God / his Redeemer.

Al: As a matter of fact, what is shame?  You know, theologically, shame can be a problem; or it can be a very good thing. Shame can be just what you insinuated—which is just someone feeling guilty because we fall short of our neighbor’s expectations—that shame didn’t get us anywhere.

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And you’re exactly right—we’ve given ourselves to that calculus far too many times.


But there is another shame that’s redemptive. That’s the shame of the sinner who, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, go and hide themselves. The church should be the place to say: “What that shame is telling you is: ‘You need a Savior. Oh, and by the way, there is not a single human being who has not felt that shame—

Bob: That’s right.

Al: —“’or should not.’” 

Bob: Yes.


Al: “And what is that shame telling us?  That shame is telling us that, by God’s grace, we come to know our need for a Savior. That’s why I want to tell you about Jesus. Then, let me tell you—God has a better plan for our lives than we have for ourselves. That includes our sex lives, our moral lives, our marriages, the way we raise our children, the way we respond and upbringing; and economics; and politics; and society at large.” 


But you can’t start there and get back to the gospel. You’ve got to start with the gospel and, then, get to what Christ would require of us.

Bob: Dennis has heard me share this illustration before, and it’s one I heard from Tim Keller—who said that, years ago in New York, a woman came forward at the end of the church service and said:

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“Dr. Keller, I’ve been coming here several weeks. I’m interested in, maybe, becoming a member at Redeemer Presbyterian.”  She said: “I’m a lesbian. I’m just wondering, ‘Would I have to give up my relationship with my partner in order to join the church here?’” There was a crowd around, waiting to see how Tim Keller was going to answer this question. He smiled / he said, “I think you’re asking the wrong question.”  She said, “What do you mean?” 

He said: “I think the question you need to be asking is, ‘Who do you think Jesus is?’  Do you believe He is who He says He is?  If you don’t think He is who He says He is, then, the other questions really don’t matter; but if you think He is who He says He is, that’s going to have implications—not just for your relationships / it’s going to have implications for every aspect of your life—as it has for me. But if He is who He says He is, you don’t have any option but to deal with those implications.”  He took her back to what must be the foundational issue—the issue of the gospel.

Al: Oh, absolutely.

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And there is no other place for us to start—we should have known that all along. We didn’t ask for this cultural moment, but we’ve got it.

Bob: Yes.


Dennis: And to that point, let’s say a listener just tuned in, maybe, halfway through the show. They’ve picked up that we’re talking about some delicate issues here; but in the midst of it, maybe, they’ve been made aware of their shame—that they are broken, they are sinners, they’ve fallen short of God’s glorious ideal, they’ve broken the Ten Commandments, they need a Savior.

Al, would you just walk somebody through that?  I’ve got to believe, right now, there are those listening who need the same Savior we’ve found. And by the way, I just want to say to you, as a person, if that’s you—we’re not a bunch of arrogant guys sitting around this studio, pointing our finger down at you. No; we’ve found Christ, and He works—He’s alive / He’s not dead. It’s what we celebrate at Easter—He defeated death, and He offers eternal life to anyone who will believe.

19:00

Al: Absolutely. The gospel starts with a God who “so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life [John 3:16].”  It begins with God making us in His image and God holding us accountable for our sin. The Bible is very clear—it diagnoses who I am and who every listener is—we are sinners: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23].”  We’ve done things we ought not to do. We’ve not done things we ought to do.

You know, that’s the easiest I think for us to understand in theory, but we also have to understand that what that does—is create an impossible break in our relationship with the very God who made us. That’s where that shame comes from—it’s telling us we need to be made right with God.

Yet, the gospel points us to the fact that God solves this problem. He reestablishes the relationship with those who have sinned against Him by sending His own Son who lived a perfect life—perfectly fulfilled the Law that we broke—then, who went to the cross and died in our place. He, literally, shed His blood for the payment for our penalty.

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The Father recognized His sacrifice on our behalf in full by raising Him from the dead on the third day—that’s what we celebrate on Easter Sunday morning.

And then, God declares that salvation comes to all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. So, yes; the Apostle Paul, in Romans, Chapter 10, says, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”  That’s why we declare the gospel, “the good news”—that every sinner may be forgiven his or her sin and be made right with God by what God has done for us in Christ.

How does that become real for us?  We believe in Christ—in His death, burial, and resurrection / we believe He died for us. We confess Him as Lord, and we repent of our sins.

Dennis: He died for us; and as a result, we are declared, “Not guilty,” and we are called “children of God.” 

Bob: You know, on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, we’ve got a link that says, “Two Ways to Live.” It outlines just what we’re talking about here—

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—the choice that’s in front of every person: “How am I going to live my life?  Am I going to live it with me in the center and with my wisdom guiding how I live, or am I going to live it with God in the center and with His wisdom directing how I live?”  I’d encourage our listeners: “Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click that link, and look at the choice that’s in front of you and ask yourself the question: “How am I living?  Who is at the center of my life?”  There is no more important question that a listener can deal with today.

And while you’re on our website, get a copy of the book that Dr. Al Mohler has written, called We Cannot Be Silent. It covers a number of the themes we’re talking about this week. There is, also, available on our website a video message from Dr. Mohler—he spoke recently at our 40th anniversary celebration for FamilyLife. The message there was profound, and we wanted you to have a chance to see what he shared with us. 

22:00

I know our Legacy Partners are already aware of this message, because we sent out a special notification to them about this recently. This would be a good message for you to watch with your teenagers. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and look for information about Dr. Mohler’s book, We Cannot Be Silent, and for the link to the message that he shared with our staff recently. Let us know what you think of his message after you’ve had a chance to watch it.

Now, we have a couple of people we want to wish a special “Happy anniversary!” to today. One of them is my brother-in-law, David Alaback. He and my sister-in-law, Linda, live in Tulsa, Oklahoma—listen to FamilyLife Today on KCFO. They are Legacy Partners. Dave and Linda: “Happy anniversary!” to you guys.

Also, Eric and Megan Martin are celebrating seven years together on this date. Megan is just in the other room, taking notes on today’s program: “Happy anniversary, Megan!”—to you and Eric.

Megan: Thank you.

23:00

Bob: [Laughter] We are all about anniversaries, here at FamilyLife. We think anniversaries are a big deal and that they ought to be celebrated. This is our 40th anniversary as a ministry, and we’ve been celebrating all year long by reflecting on how God has used this ministry so that more, and more, and more anniversaries are celebrated every year. We are The Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries.

And you guys make that possible—our Legacy Partners [and] those of you who support this ministry, from time to time. You have made everything we do possible through your financial support of FamilyLife Today. We want to say, “Thank you for your partnership.”

We also want to encourage you—if you are not a Legacy Partner or if it’s been a while since you made a contribution—why don’t you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation, online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY?  I had a friend who told me that what they were doing was in honor of their anniversary—they are giving a dollar for every year they’ve been married. I thought that was a nice idea; huh?  So, you can do that today.

Whatever donation you make today, we want to say, “Thank you,” by sending you our 2017 FamilyLife calendar.

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It’s all about how you can make your home an embassy and how you can live as an ambassador for Christ. That’s our gift to you when you make a donation today. Again, thanks for your financial support of this ministry.

Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk more about the way things are shifting in our culture and how we live, representing Christ well, in the midst of that shift. Dr. Al Mohler will be back with us tomorrow. Hope you can be here as well.

 

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

 

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