The Brave New iWorld

How the world has changed (. . . and there’s no going back)

by Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D., the Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College

Christianity has always been counter-cultural; the daily challenge for followers of Christ is to be in and not of the culture. At no time is this more challenging than at the moment of cultural transformation. Now is such a time.

We live in the wake of a fundamental cultural transformation. For millennia we lived in what I call the tWorld (traditional World), otherwise known as Western civilization. While any label that seeks to explain 3,000 years of history is a simplification, I believe it is useful for the purpose of this essay. The tWorld was the product of Judeo-Christian theology informed by Greek and Roman philosophy. In the tWorld the Ten Commandments came to be seen as normative for individuals and society.

Using parts of the Bible as a reference point, cultures came to construct clear boundaries surrounding marriage, family, and sexual relations, even if they were unevenly enforced. Moral hypocrisy could exist because of the existence of a common moral consensus. Christianity informed this world and its followers were informed by the tWorld. As the numbers of professing Christians grew, the Church struggled with cultural complicity. Paul’s pastoral letters are filled with examples of Christians who look more like the world than followers of Christ.

But the tWorld is passing and is being replaced by what I call the i(ndividualistic)World, or, iWorld. And we are the witnesses of this transformation. Examples illustrating this shift are everywhere because the entire culture is changing. The institutions of marriage and family as we knew them are becoming increasingly counter-cultural institutions. The iWorld’s conception of sexual ethics dispenses Christian sexual ethics to the dustbin. The current cultural transformation is so profound that Christianity as we know it is becoming an endangered species.

Read more in the book, Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationship beyond an Age of Individualism, by Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D.

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