October 1, 2015

The Taboo Iceberg and SSM

I have really benefited from reading Dale Kuehne’s book Sex and the iWorld, in fact I often reference it when dealing with the complexities that the SSM debate is throwing up. And it would be remiss of me to fail to note that my recent blog posts on this have stirred up some reactions.

Kuehne has some pearler lines, including a list of the three taboos of our modern West that have pretty much replaced the Ten Commandments when it comes to social engagement.

In my scribblings (I was rubbish at Art and stick figures remain my modus), I thought the following might illustrate the issue for us more clearly in what we are going to have to deal with to argue convincingly into the culture on sexual ethics (not just SSM):


I think we can chip away at the tip of the iceberg (and that tip has got any number of sexual ethical matters on it), but the underlying 90 per cent remains unchanged.  Hence as Western culture drifts more and more into its original pagan roots, the battles will become increasingly more difficult.

Kuehne makes this observation:

“I call these “taboos” because they are regarded by our culture as primary rules of social engagement.  They are taught to us by society from an early age and reinforced through our life.  If you want to get along in the iWorld (by that Kuehne means the “individual-centred” world – Ed), adherence to each of them is essential.  We still talk in somewhat reverential terms about the Ten Commandments, but we break them with impunity and save for two or three, they are infrequently enforced or punished by government. These three iWorld taboos, however, command a much greater respect, and they are reinforced daily in schools, the workplace, the media and so forth. If the government can’t or won’t reinforce them, then citizens will.  Indeed, the first taboo is the basis for the creed of political correctness.” (p71).

It’s the lack of traction that the Christian position has in the culture on the three taboos (indeed there is often an implicit acceptance of them), that will stymy our efforts on SSM.  Of the 80 per cent of Australians that sit in the middle on SSM (the 80 per cent that the two more forthright sides of the debate are trying to win over), it would be fair to assume almost all hold those three taboos, because that’s the water they swim in! Insofar as we fail to tackle those three taboos and expose them as fallacies, we will fail to convince the culture that the traditional perspective on marriage matters.  Yes we should speak clearly and urgently about why SSM is a poor parody of marriage (which I believe it to be), but the iceberg under the water will sink our arguments every time.

Now you may think that is defeatist.  I don’t.  I still believe that the ramifications of where our culture is headed over time with sexual ethics will come back to bite it, and when it does we will find that many people will look to God’s people for wisdom, for recovery, and most of all, for a better vision of what life is about. The church needs to be ready for this.  It seems clear to me that most of those who disagree with my perspective in the last few posts, don’t have a problem with what I believe about SSM, but simply about how we will tackle it.

And I would add in conclusion, I think religious freedom, and freedom of conscience are the matters we should be going to the wall on at the moment – in the public sphere at least.  Will SSM affect marriage. Yes.  Will it have ongoing consequences for the vulnerable. Again, Yes, but maybe not in ways we can anticipate.  Can we address it effectively and efficaciously without first tackling those cultural taboos?  To that I would give a resounding “No”!

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