Culture First, Then Laws

Dr. Al Mohler in his book  We Cannot be Silent, spends a chapter chronicling how the homosexual agenda gained traction through the latter part of the 20th century. He begins by noting that in 2004 eleven states voted to ban gay marriage. In all eleven cases the referendums passed with not less than 66% voting in favor of banning gay marriage. Compare this to 2012 where four states voted to ban gay marriage and in all four cases the vote failed. He also notes that in 2008 most polling data indicated a vast majority of Americans were opposed to gay marriage. By 2014 the polling data had changed dramatically with many being open to gay marriage as morally neutral or even a good thing. Add to this the Supreme Court’s decision in the summer 2015 and one can see that gay marriage and indeed the whole gay agenda has taken hold in America.

Mohler is not ignorant of the many compromises prior to the gay movement that set the stage for where we are at today. Still, the magnitude of the moral shift along with speed of the shift is striking. In less than fifty years, America moved from a country where sodomy was immoral and where same-sex marriage was unthinkable to a country where many accept sodomy and same-sex marriage as a moral right. How did this happen?

The answer is interesting. Mohler explains how the gay movement decided not to try to change laws, but rather to change the moral landscape and then use laws to stamp their morality with approval:

In After the Ball [a pro-homosexual strategy book published in 1989], Kirk and Madsen [the authors] set out a program that, in retrospect, was likely even more successful than they had dreamed, largely because it focused on changing the culture, rather than just changing the laws…They demanded far more than legal recognition. They demanded that American society embrace homosexuality as a normal sexual experience and view same-sex relationships on par with heterosexual marriage. [Emphasis Mine]

Mohler goes on to recount how homosexuals worked to change public opinion concerning sodomy through what essentially amounts to a massive PR campaign. They did not seek to change laws. Instead they sought to change the minds of professors, movie stars, journalists, psychiatrists, psychologists, students, pastors, and judges. One good example of how drastic this change has been is that in the 1970s same-sex attraction was a form of mental illness. We have now arrived at a place where those who believe same-sex attraction is wrong are mentally ill. In almost any field, from sociology to medicine, from movies to law, from clothing to churches, the gay revolution has been successful. Sodomy has been normalized. To speak against it is to speak against the cultural norm. Most of this happened without the help of the courts. Here is Mohler’s summary of the connection between culture and the courts for the gay agenda:

At every point along the way, the approach was to use the courts as a means to extend the cultural gains already occurring in the larger society. 

The reason the gay agenda worked was because culture, or perhaps more clearly, society, changed first, then the laws followed giving a stamp of moral approval to the cultural changes.

I am not opposed to changing laws. The Christian witness must extend to the courts and legislative bodies around the country. We should be speaking prophetically to law makers, judges, and politicians. We should also be raising up Christian men who will work in these places to bring about better laws. But sweeping changes, such as the gay movement has seen over the last fifty years, does not come primarily through courts or laws. It comes from changing the minds of people “on the ground” if you will. How can the church do this? I will address that in a later post.