Recently, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with permission from Pope Francis, broke his silence to address the sexual scandal and the general atmosphere of disintegration in the Catholic church. The Revolution of ’68 was central in his analysis. R.R. Reno wrote the following observation: “The Revolution of ’68 shattered the prohibitions, inhibitions, and stable norms that are necessary to restrain man’s appetites…..it is important to realize that ’68 unchained more than just sexual desire……The enduring content of that historical moment was an imperative of release that ministered to a voracious desire for sensual experience and material consumption.”
I lived through the 60’s as a young man, preparing to be a Lutheran pastor (ordained in 1970). Now in my late 70’s, I praise God for his grace and mercy in my life, giving me strength and confidence to resist the moral tsunami that orthodox believers endured in the late 60’s. I remember well, living through the summer of ’68. I never experienced it as a “summer” of enlightenment, but rather a turning away from a worldview anchored in Scripture. The words of Psalm 2 come to mind. “The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry, ‘and free ourselves from this slavery.'” (Ps. 2:3-4 NLT)
I want to pick up on the phrase from Reno – “imperative of release.” Looking back, I praise God for not embracing an “imperative of release,” but rather gladly submitting to the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus in my life. I can point to at least four aspects of my walk with the Lord that has been consistent, reflecting not release but rather willing submission.
First, submission to the Lordship of Jesus in my life. The words of Jesus in Matt 16:24-25 have been an imperative in my walk with Jesus. It has meant death to myself on a continuous basis. “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambitions, shoulder your cross, and follow me” (Matt 16:24 NTL). Taking up the cross has always meant for me, the death to my sinful self, so that Jesus might reign in my life
Second, submission to the authority of God’s written word. I have always accepted the Word of God as the final authority in my life regarding faith and practice. “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (II Tim. 3:16-17 – Message).
Thirdly, the surrender of my sexual life to the work of the Holy Spirit. I praise God for almost 54 years of a blest marriage to my bride, Judy. I have been a “one-woman man.” To deal with my sexual desires has been a struggle in a such a sexual charged culture. I continue to pray the prayer of Job. “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman” (Job 31:1 NLT).
Fourthly, a whole hearted desire to God’s calling in my life. Now in retirement, in a Senior apartment complex, the desire of my heart is to finish strong for the Lord. I identify with Paul’s farewell words to the Ephesian elders. “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love” (Acts 20:24 NLT).