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Mohler on CNN: U.S. awash in porn


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–America is saturated with sexual immorality, and the only solution is submitting to God’s standards for sexuality, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told a CNN audience on Aug. 20.

“There is clearly a nation awash with pornography right now, and evangelical Christians are certainly concerned about that,” Mohler said on the cable network’s “God, Sex and Greed” special. “It’s a sign of a culture that is increasingly seeking gratification in all the wrong places. And pornography … is a very glaring and graphic symptom of the problem we face in this country.”

Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., appeared in the opening segment of the hour-long program with author and media personality Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Irshad Manji, author of “The Trouble with Islam Today.” Hosted by Roland Martin, the program focused on America’s simultaneous fascinations with religion, lust and greed.

Mohler argued that despite America’s claims to be open-minded and tolerant, rejecting God’s standards for sex is actually closed-minded.

“There’s no more closed mind than one that claims to be open to everything,” he said. “And that’s where we are in this country, where we talk about tolerating all of these things. But it’s not just tolerating it. It’s really mainstreaming it in our culture.

“Pornography is not just now available on the Internet and then in the old form — in the magazines and books and films and the smutty movie houses and all the rest — it is now on billboards. It is in the shopping malls. It is advertised on T-shirts that kids are wearing. We have absorbed this really into the very heart of the culture, and that’s the most damaging thing.”

Boteach argued that one of the reasons for America’s obsession with sex is the failure of religion to articulate a positive alternative to sexual immorality.

“I think you’re going to find good reasons why marriage actually suits people’s needs better,” Boteach said. “I think you’re going to explain to them that what you want is not some empty night of sex when you feel awful the next morning, but some real night and a healthy connection where you feel fantastic the next day.”

Although Boteach criticized Mohler for being too negative and speaking about the guilt associated with sexual immorality, Mohler countered that guilt is actually a gift from God.

“It is very clear that God had a purpose of making us sexual beings and giving us the gift of sex,” Mohler said. “But He also had a place where that sexual gift was to be exercised, and that’s within marriage. If you feel guilty for having sex outside of marriage, it’s because you’re supposed to. Your conscience is telling you that’s wrong.”

Martin said Christians appear to be hypocritical when they argue that certain sexual acts are immoral yet Christian leaders, like Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, commit those acts. But Mohler countered that it would only be hypocrisy if organized Christianity gave leaders a pass to commit sexual immorality without consequence.

“The one thing we know is that every single human being is a sinner,” Mohler said. “And we should know that even our Christian leaders — even though they are saved by grace — they are also sinners. And that’s why we have to have the controlling power of God’s Word, and that’s why we have to know that there is a rule book we have been given and it applies to all.”

Manji argued that Americans cannot let religious radicals of any faith define sexual immorality. In the 1940s a leader of Islamic radicalism spent time in America and hated it because he viewed men in suits dancing with women in dresses at community events as lustful, she said, adding that similar definitions of lust must be avoided today.

“For some religious fanatics, in fact for a rising number of them, any degree of interaction between men and women is called lust,” she said. “That demonizes decent relationships.”

At the conclusion of the segment, Martin asked the panel whether they believe isolation from the world is an effective way to combat sexual immorality. He cited the example of Ave Maria, Fla., an exclusive Roman Catholic town being constructed that plans to outlaw contraceptives and pornography.

Boteach argued that such a town undermines religion because moral excellence results from situations where people have a choice and choose right.

Mohler said he admired the vision for the Florida town but cautioned that a situation of isolation will not solve the fundamental problem that causes sexual sin.

“The neighborhood of my greatest concern is the human heart, not a piece of real estate,” Mohler said. “And that’s where the Christian message is directed towards how the human heart can be made right with God on issues of money, sex, greed and all the rest.”
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David Roach is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.