Many of are familiar with books and movies whose plots revolve around central characters finding themselves trapped in a world where nothing behaves quite as they expect. Perhaps Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass might be the classic examples of this in children’s literature. But this is a standard plotline in many other works. From Franz Kafka’s The Trial to The Matrix series of movies, dystopian confusion is a hardy perennial of our culture.
Yet this phenomenon is no longer confined to the fictional products of our day. For many people, the Western world in which we now live has a profoundly confusing, and often disturbing, quality to it. Things once regarded as obvious and unassailable virtues have in recent years been subject to vigorous criticism and even in some cases come to be seen by many as more akin to vices. Indeed, it can seem as if things that almost everybody believed as unquestioned orthodoxy the day before yesterday—that marriage is to be between one man and one woman, for example—are now regarded as heresies advocated only by the dangerous, lunatic fringe.
Nor are the problems confined to the world “out there.” Often, they manifest themselves most acutely and most painfully within families. Parents teaching their family traditional views of sex find themselves met with incomprehension by their children who have absorbed far different views from the culture around them. What a parent considers to be a loving response to a child struggling with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria might be regarded by the child as hateful and bigoted. And this is as true within the church as it is within wider society. The generation gap today is reflected not simply in fashion and music but in attitudes and beliefs about some of the most basic aspects of human existence. The result is often confusion and sometimes even heartbreak as many of the most brutal engagements in the culture war are played out around the dinner table and at family gatherings.
Carl R. Trueman | Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution (Wheaton: Crossway, 2022), 19–20.
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