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“Let’s Not Be Silent”: A Review of Albert Mohler’s New Book on the Sexual Revolution

October 28, 2015

In the midst of the deafening, gale-force winds of the spirit of the age, someone has stood up, cleared his throat, and said, “We cannot be silent.”

We Cannot Be Silent, the title of Dr. Albert Mohler’s newest book, represents decades worth of academic and cultural engagement by one of the leading lights of our time on the topic of the sexual revolution and its consequences. While all the world seems bent on appeasing the sexual revolutionaries, Mohler, in Churchillian fashion, has fired a shot across the bow and issued a call-to-arms to the church.

Sounding the Alarm

Mohler begins his book by likening the effects of the sexual revolution to the effects of a devastating hurricane. In many ways, we are living in the aftermath of a massive moral and cultural storm that has hit in three waves: the sexual revolution beginning in the 50’s and 60’s, the subsequent gay rights revolution, and the ongoing transgender revolution.

With same-sex marriage now legal in all 50 states, churches and Christian communities are still trying to sort out how to respond properly with the gospel. And in the mean time, the hurricane siren is blaring, warning of the impending destruction coming in the wake of the ongoing transgender revolution.

“[T]he transgender revolution, even more than the movement for gay liberation, undermines the most basic structures of society” and undercuts “any understanding of human identity based in the Christian tradition, the trajectory of Western civilization, and the worldview that has shaped today’s world” (69). According to Mohler, “the transgender revolution represents one of the most difficult pastoral challenges this generation of Christians will face” (69).

If this sounds apocalyptic to you, it is because Mohler intends it to. Our situation is indeed dire, and we need to heed the alarm.

Ideas Have Consequences

How did we get here?

Ideas have consequences, said philosopher Richard Weaver, and Mohler shows us just how consequential they can be. Supreme Court appointments matter. Books can change the world. Mohler understands these currents and undercurrents at work in the world and demonstrates his singular ability to confront them.

Mohler showcases his omni-competence when he sets each wave of the sexual revolution in its legal, moral, cultural, societal, and religious context. For instance, in his second chapter, Mohler identifies four 20th-century advances as the culprits that led to the eclipse of marriage in Western Civilization—birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation—citing along the way the political commentators, cultural elites, court cases, and influential books that have shaped the world where those realities are commonplace. Mohler’s vast literary knowledge is on full display in the endnotes, where J. Gresham Machen, The New York Times, and Flannery O’Connor appear side-by-side. The bibliography alone deserves its own Amazon Wish List.

A river is formed from many tributaries. Mohler has traced the sexual revolution upstream and provided us with an aerial map of the landscape. One particularly noteworthy tributary is the evangelical church’s silence in past generations on cultural shifts like no-fault divorce. Mohler does not want that to be the epitaph of our generation.

The ongoing sexual revolution is a war with many fronts. But Mohler demonstrates what it looks like to push back—not by dismissing opposing ideas outright as non-threats, but by seeking to understand their presuppositions, strategies (see especially Mohler’s chronicle of the gay rights strategy on pg. 36ff), and worldviews. And then he engages them head-on.

We need to know how we got here. And then we need to chart a way out.

But There Is Hope

After rehearsing the rise of each wave of the sexual revolution, Mohler turns his attention to another revolutionary force—the Word of God. And here, planting his flag, he finds hope. After giving a thorough biblical-theological overview of sex and marriage, Mohler issues this clarion call: “Christians must look each other in the eye and remind one another of what is now required of us—to speak the truth, to live the truth, and to bear witness to the truth whether we are invited to the White House or treated as exiles. The rest is in God’s hands” (151).

But should Christians attend a same-sex wedding? Are people born gay? If a transgender person gets saved, should they undergo surgery to change back to their birth gender? Mohler knows that these questions are where the rubber meets the road, which is why he devotes an entire chapter (chapter 10) to answering these and dozens of other pressing questions. His answers are pastoral, practical, and Christ-centered; and they demonstrate that there is indeed hope in the Gospel.

We Cannot Be Silent

LGBTQQ2IA. Transgenderism. PGP’s. In the face of these and other confusing concepts, we might be tempted to remain silent. But God is not silent. He has spoken, and therefore we cannot be silent. Mohler has given the church an example of what it looks like not to be silent. We Cannot Be Silent belongs on the shelf of every Christian who wants to give voice to their conviction that, while the revolutionaries may have won some battles, Jesus Christ is still Lord over the cosmos—including over human sexuality and marriage—and he will ultimately be victorious.

Let’s not be silent.

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