In his book Evangelical Landscapes: Facing Critical Issues of the Day (Baker), John G. Stackhouse Jr. writes, “Ignorance of the Christian faith in our culture is compounded by an equally fundamental problem: a growing distance between Christian ways of deciding about matters of truth and virtue and other ways of deciding about such things.

“To pick an example both obvious and important, we can look at sexuality…The very way most North Americans decide about sexual issues is not Christian. Who seeks nowadays to investigate all the Bible says about such matters so as to submit to its authority? Who listens attentively to the clergy? Who takes time to seek traditional wisdom?

“Homosexuality has become significant as the latest battleground in the war for sexual freedom, and that war is itself a campaign within the larger revolution in personal liberty…What we need to recognize more fundamentally within our church disputes on this matter and in society at large is that this cultural dispute is not fundamentally about homosexuality but about ethical authority. Who or what is going to say what is right or wrong? The reflexive answer from the man on the street, the woman on the legal bench or the cleric in the pulpit is the same in many cases: a vulgar, shallow liberalism that amounts merely to the bromide that the individual should be free to do what he or she likes as long as his or her freedom does not impinge on another’s.

“When it comes to ultimate matters, then, many of our North American neighbors have resorted either to a secularism that frees one from all religious authority or to a hyper-individualistic ‘religion ala carte.'”

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