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Competing Worldviews: Why They Matter

The conflict between America's two predominant worldviews is made most apparent in their respective views of sex and sexual morality.
Published Feb 22, 2012
Competing Worldviews: Why They Matter
The term, "worldview" is used frequently today but what do we actually mean when we use this term and what does it matter? A worldview is ultimately one's explanation of reality: "Where do we come from?" "What has gone wrong with the world?" In other words, what accounts for the problem of evil and suffering? And, "What are the answers to these questions?" In the end everyone has a worldview whether they realize it or not. There is a way in which they understand the nature of humanity and the world.

There is a struggle underway in American culture and it is ultimately a battle between two competing worldviews or explanations of reality. These two perspectives are the secular humanist explanation versus the biblical explanation of reality. The former is man-centered while the latter is God-centered.

The conflict between these two worldviews is made most apparent in their respective views of sex and sexual morality. The secular humanist argues that sexual morality is an artificially constructed concept that is unfairly foisted upon society by religious institutions primarily and other "unenlightened" moralists. The Humanist Manifest II, drafted in 1973 condemned, "intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures that unduly repress sexual conduct." The Manifesto went on to say that "individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire." This position appears most often under the label "liberal" but it is ultimately the secular humanistic worldview.

Of course, the assumption of secular humanists, which was inherited from the Enlightenment, is that human nature is basically good and that it is society that distorts the individual's innate innocence.

Conversely, the biblical view of reality regards sex as something more significant than merely an animalistic urge or a morally-neutral proclivity. Christians believe that sex is the consummation of a deeper relationship that binds men and women together for life in a relationship of mutual respect and satisfaction - a relationship that ultimately serves as the foundation for the whole of society: family.

The Bible regards sexual intimacy as a complex and multi-faceted experience that integrates a man and women psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and biologically - meaning procreative. The Christian view does not discount or diminish the pleasures of sex but instead ennobles the sexual passion. Finally, Christians view human nature as possessing noble virtues, being made in the image of God but with a natural inclination to selfishness and sin.

It is for these reasons that the Bible calls for restraining sexual desires to the exclusive relationship of monogamous marriage - this unique relationship that offers emotional, psychological and physical security in which true sexual freedom can be experienced.

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Unfortunately, it is the secular humanist view that has achieved consensus in American life and culture and that brings us to the pressing problems of our day with regard to family dissolution, out-of-wedlock birth, promiscuity, sexually transmitted disease, abortion and the unprecedented proliferation of pornography and child sexual abuse - all of which have become serious [and costly] social problems in the last four decades. The degeneration of these former principles has naturally led to the legitimization of homosexual behavior and now same-sex marriage. This is the logical result within a culture in which individuals are "permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire."

The consequences experienced in the last four decades should serve as convincing condemnation of the secular humanist worldview. Sadly, the Church still remains largely sidelined in this battle - seemingly ill-equipped to respond with a persuasive and convincing defense of God's truth related to all of life. The absence of an adequate response only further marginalizes the Church and its message.

This is why the Christian worldview is so important for Christians to apprehend and be able to communicate in the marketplace of ideas as we confront these competing moral perspectives.

One of the best arguments in defense of the Christian view of reality that I have recently read was actually written by a self-proclaimed agnostic. In his book Why America Needs Religion: Secular Modernity and its Discontents, Guenter Lewy, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst offers a balanced and rational comparison of these two competing worldviews. While not writing as a Christian, he grasps the principles revealed in Scripture and their beneficial relationship to all of life and society better than most professing believers!

However, what a group of Evangelicals recently wrote is true, "To propose that securing civil virtue is the purpose of religion is blasphemous. To deny that securing civil virtue is a benefit of religion is blindness." While social reform is not the principal aim of Christ's coming, these "benefits" will nonetheless be realized when the truth of God's revelation is consciously applied to every sphere of life and culture. If Christ is Lord then He is Lord over all and our responsibility is to press His lordship into every sphere of reality. This is not to be a coercive action on the part of Christians but rather subversive. We constantly challenge false worldviews by publicly testing them against their apparent and predictable results and then displace them through effective persuasion pointing out the truth's apparent and predictable benefits. The truth works while efforts based upon a false assessment of reality will inevitably and always fail to achieve their original intent and likely do a lot of damage in the process. The secular humanist approach to sexuality is a prime example.

This is what we mean when we say "worldview" and this is why it matters. False views of reality, or worldviews, are those pretensions spoken of in 2 Corinthians 2:5 that "keep people from a knowledge of God" that we are charged with "tearing down." The simple fact is; you can't argue for or against something you don't understand.

S. Michael Craven is the Founding Director of the Center for Christ & Culture, a ministry of the national coalition for the protection of children & families. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to recapture and demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources and other works by S. Michael Craven visit:
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.

© S. Michael Craven


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