Currently I am reading Carl R. Trueman’s brilliant unpacking of our contemporary social morass in his book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. This mind-bending unravelling of the nature of modern identity in the West is a “must read”. However, I just want to reflect on one chapter: Chapter 8 – The Triumph of the Erotic. In this chapter Trueman explores how Surrealism, inspired by the likes of Marx but particularly Freud, made a concerted attempt to destroy Christianity via the means of a sexual revolution.
The author traces how this process has worked in what he describes as the “pornification of mainstream culture.” We see this in more recent times through the rise of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine in the 1960s through to explicit sexual acts in mainstream television and films in the 2000s. There has been an increasingly overt wearing down of the old sexual morals. What was once hidden in dark places is now celebrated out in the open. As he points out, in today’s context Hefner looks conservative. Now porn in every aspect our culture is the norm.
The author then goes on to look at the implications for violence particularly towards women, and the impact of this revolution on the feminist movement as a whole.
My precis is brief and insufficient, however, the question this chapter raises for me is, how do we protect our children from this inescapable onslaught? In some ways contemporary society must resemble the situation of the early church in a pagan environment in which the culture was etched into every aspect of daily life. How do you grow up faithful to the gospel in such an environment?
Here are some thoughts, but I would love readers to add their contributions as well. For the church, this is a communal issue in which community must play a crucial role in the response:
- Nurturing faith must be a parent and church’s highest priority. Faith is both the foundation for protection but also the restorer when failures occur.
- Modelling within the family and church is key: what we say, what we watch, how we respond to the inappropriate must always be consistent with our faith. Children watch our every move and are expert at detecting hypocrisy.
- Nurturing responsibility is also important. Age-appropriate steps in trust and responsibility are essential. Teaching strategies in reading and watching and choosing what to read and watch is essential.
- Many of the practical parenting ideas given (by a variety of programs) with regard to the internet are helpful, but ultimately children need to be responsible for their own choices and action.
These are just a few broad ideas. But Carl Trueman is right when describes this as an assault. The “pornification of our society” is an attack on faith, the family and the church. There are many who see these as outdated institutions. Therefore, we must be prepared to defend these institutions vigorously and passionately with the welfare of the most vulnerable foremost in our mind.