Tel Aviv, Gay Rights and the Boy Scouts
by Dan Juster, Director, Tikkun Ministries International
In a very brief period, as far as cultural history is concerned, we have seen a vast value shift in the Western world. Why did this happen and why do those who maintain the classical, moral and ethical values of the Judeo-Christian ethic appear to be losing the culture wars in spite of all the evidence supporting our positions? Why do I believe that the only hope is massive national revival?
Tel Aviv Named World's Best Gay City
A recent poll found that Tel Aviv is the world's most popular destination among gays and lesbians by a large margin. In fact, the Tel Aviv municipality's Ministry of Tourism has been actively courting gay tourists for some time now. In addition, Israel is at the forefront of increasing legal gay "rights and equality" issues in the Middle East, Asia and even world-wide. This seems incredible given the fact that the Jewish nation gave the world the Judeo-Christian ethic!
From 1956 to 2013
My father died in 1956. Were he to return to the United States today, he would be unable to comprehend the change. Aside from the issue of racial and ethnic civil rights, it is difficult to point to any great social progress from a Biblical perspective. What social regression have we seen since 1956? Here is a brief list.
1. Then, the great majority of marriages lasted a lifetime; now, half of all marriages end in divorce. Then, the majority of black children were raised by intact families with a mother and a father.
2. Then, sexual relationships were delayed until marriage; now, most young people and young adults have sexual relationships before marriage. They often have many partners. They live together before wedlock or reject marriage altogether. Contrary to commonly held opinion, statistics show that those who engage in these behaviors are much more likely to divorce.
3. Now, forty percent of children are born out of wedlock; seventy percent of black children are born out of wedlock. This is devastating to the character and prosperity of the generation being raised. Long term bonding is missing! Recently, news reports stated that the greatest predictor of prosperity is being born to and raised in an intact family with a father and mother. 98% of young people so raised do not end in poverty.
4. Now, the number of children killed through abortions each year is astronomical. In 1956 it was illegal and rare indeed.
So what has caused all this social regression? A culture switch from a Biblically-based worldview and ethic to a secular worldview and ethic (or should I say "anti-ethic") has been a primary cause. This is well catalogued in the great book by the late jurist Robert Bork, Slouching Toward Gomorrah.
The Push for Gay Marriage and the Boy Scouts
The latest and greatest social change being fostered among us is same-sex marriage. Proponents of gay marriage argue that it does not affect people who want to be in a committed heterosexual marriage. Superficially, this seems true. However, it ignores the deeper question:
What happens when the culture at large no longer gives lasting marriage and fidelity between one man and one woman, a unique and special status in society?
The answer: further erosion in our cultural-ethical fiber.
The most recent manifestation of this trend is the Boy Scouts. Until now, after fighting all the way to the Supreme Court and winning, the Boy Scouts have resisted having gay scouts and scout-masters. They argued that the Scouts' goal was to build character in young boys and young men which included a unique respect for marriage and family. The Court ruled that, as a private non-profit organization, this was their right. Yet there is now enormous pressure for the Scouts to change their policy, at least on a local level. Many scout organizations are tied to churches. They want to maintain their very significant church support, while at the same time keeping corporate sponsors that have now adopted a non-discrimination policy that includes avowed gays, including gays who do not pledge fidelity to one relationship! Why have corporations adopted such policies for giving? Because they see which way the cultural wind is blowing and are concerned for their bottom line. They think profit favors their support of gay rights.
Explaining the Cultural Shift
This great cultural shift started in the anti-God humanism of the French Revolution in the 1790s. It was given momentum in the naturalistic philosophies resulting from Darwinism and the "Evolution without God" arguments that followed. Finally this was expressed in the critical approaches to the Bible that saw the Scriptures not as God-breathed, but a merely human product. Slowly many denominations made accommodations, so that today they merely seek to add some sacred value to the dominant cultural trends of our societies. Most of this remained under the surface until the explosion of cultural change in the '60s and '70s.
So I ask, why do we continue to lose the battles in the culture war?
Firstly, it is because in our society the culture formation elite is king. In 1956 that elite was not unified around an anti-Biblical worldview. Movies such as the "Ten Commandments" and "Ben Hur" demonstrated sympathy for Biblical values among at least some of the elite. This was also seen in early television. However, the elite today is now largely unified around an anti-Biblical worldview. The culture formation elite includes today's establishment in education and media, both news and entertainment. The population initially resists the influence of this elite, sometimes with anger. Yet, the great weight of their constant advocacy and slanting of information, year after year, eventually shifts the mainstream culture in their direction. The older generation rejects gay marriage but the children ask, "Why can't we be more tolerant?" They have been well conditioned by entertainment media. Then Christian parents send their ill-prepared and impressionable young people to secular universities where liberal values are preached as truth.
What is seen in media is unquestioningly taken by most as reality. The depth of reasoning and education has declined and dumbed-down media consumers are conditioned to the portrayal of reality presented. One conservative television news station or a number of internet news alternatives have nowhere near the culture formation influence of mainstream media and education. So in terms of social direction, it is not the politicians who rule. Their time in the sun will fade. The culture formation elite is the real ruler of the society. Again and again we can trace our cultural directions to this elite.
The Jesus Movement and Culture Formation
There was a positive movement in the '70s, the Jesus movement, but this movement proved to be culturally ineffective. Why? Largely because those who were won to Yeshua were not given a vision of the Kingdom beyond personal salvation and fellowship in the life of the churches. They were not discipled to be agents of change within their culture. The result today is that many of our young people are not discipled and are leaving the churches in droves since the church seems irrelevant, especially after their university experience.
So How Can I Be Optimistic?
I am optimistic because those who are now the cultural elite will lead our Western nations to bankruptcy - both economically and morally, and this will prepare the way for a great revival. I believe this will happen because millions of people are in prayer throughout the world. Never have so many people been involved in 24/7 prayer movements! The leaders of these prayer groups are unlike the leaders of the Jesus Movement. They have a different theology. They are dedicated to culture formation. In addition, most are committed to the salvation of the Jewish people. When today's secular elite is revealed to be bankrupt and revival floods the earth, the present culture formation elite can be swept aside and replaced. Let us prepare for the young people who will be part of this. The effect will be massive internationally and also in Israel.
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