A few years ago a pastor named Dale Kuehne took some college students to work in a farming village in Costa Rica—a poor village that lacked electricity and running water. The locals did have a generator, however; once a week, they fired it up to watch a raunchy American television program—Beverly Hills 90210.
Kuehne was shocked to see village teenagers mimicking the behavior of the characters in the show. And he was floored when village men asked him what was wrong with the women who'd come on the trip. "Why don't they want to have sex?" they asked. "We thought all American women want to have sex."
Kuehne relates the story in his new book, Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationships beyond an Age of Individualism. What happened in Costa Rica, he writes, shows how far iWorld messages have spread—and how little the Church has done to engage the iWorld culture.
Kuehne says that we are witnessing in the West the collapse of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Replacing it is a worldview that some call "postmodern individualism," but Kuehne calls it "iWorld."
iWorlders are dissolving long-established boundaries because they believe that people are happiest making their own moral and relational choices—outside of the family, community, and faith traditions into which they were born. And the iWorld promotes a desire for immediate gratification—as illustrated in the huge levels of consumer debt and the tendency to become sexually involved at the very outset of a romantic relationship.
Sadly, iWorlders often unwittingly sacrifice what they want, in the long run—contentment and fulfillment—by succumbing to their immediate desires, especially when it comes to sexual relationships.
Perhaps even more sadly, the Church has done precious little to present to iWorlders a vision of true fulfillment. That's partly because the Church itself has turned a "blind eye" to sexual immorality within the body of Christ. Even worse, writes Kuehne, "is the degree to which the historic orthodox understanding of sexual morality and marriage is being ignored or revised by clergy and laypeople alike."
This has enormous consequences for the Church's ability to be salt and light in a culture suffering from the after-effects and social ills of the sexual revolution. The Church needs to be reminded—and needs to make the case—that "the biblical teaching that limits sexual relations to a marriage relationship between a man and a woman is actually beneficial to all."
And that's exactly what Kuehne does in his book, in a direct, challenging, but ultimately compassionate way. Every human, he says, is on a "never-ending quest for acceptance, love, and fulfillment." But these things can never be found in the iWorld—by asking, "What's in it for me?"
So instead of being subsumed by the iWorld culture, the Church has the "rWorld" to offer. The rWorld understands that God created people for relationships—and that we find our deepest fulfillment in relationship with Him, and in living a life rich in self-giving, not self-satisfying relationships.
And that makes Kuehne's book, Sex and the iWorld, a worthy read.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. *This article originally published on October 5, 2009.