Costly Tolerance -- By: Timothy Shaun Price
JBMW 14:2 (Fall 2009) p. 71
A Review of R. Albert Mohler Jr., Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance. Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2008.
University of Aberdeen
R. Albert Mohler Jr. opens Desire and Deceit with a story from J. R. R. Tolkien. In this story, which takes place in 1941, Tolkien writes a letter to his son John about marriage and human sexuality. In this letter the elder Tolkien pointed to many truths of human sexuality that remain vitally relevant today. Tolkien’s primary purpose is to explain to Michael the pitfalls that are present in a sexually charged society. Because of his keen insight into the role of sexuality in society, Tolkien’s characters embodied honor, valor and character—virtues which are often lacking in contemporary writing. Mohler uses this introduction to demonstrate how Tolkien’s understanding of sexuality differs from most people’s today.
In chapters 2-3 Mohler uses this introduction to examine a Christian and secular view of lust. For the secular view, Mohler contends with the writings of philosopher Simon Blackburn. Blackburn wishes to buck the trend of viewing lust from a negative viewpoint, which he believes is rooted in Christianity, and he wants his readers to accept the reality of lust as a part of the human makeup. Against Blackburn, Mohler argues that Christianity alone is able to explain why lust is deadly. In chapter 3 Mohler counters this secular view of lust with a Christian view as found in Joshua Harris’s book, Not Even a Hint. Whereas Blackburn does not place moral praise or blame upon lust, Harris views lust as an inherently sinful action: “Lust is to want what you don’t have and weren’t meant to have” (19). Mohler’s purpose in this chapter is to demonstrate lust is not the result of biological evolution that is a reality of humanity, but is a result of the Fall. Within this context sex in marriage is viewed as a good gift of God but is subject to countless distortions because of sin. Mohler ends this chapter with a paradigm in which Blackburn views lust as a virtue, and Harris sees it as a vice. Mohler then adds that lust is not only a vice, but “it is a sin that ignites yet other sins” (25).
In chapters 4-5 Mohler deals with how pornography has affected marriage. He argues that pornography has two distinct influences in today’s society. First, it is easily accessible and has become incorporated into the cultural mainstream. Pornography saturates advertising, entertainment, the internet, and a host of other mediums. Second, pornographic images are now celebrated as a good in many sectors of society. To these Mohler adds a third facet that is a result o...
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