Vatican City — Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday, saying it is destroying the institution of marriage.
Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created "a culture obsessed with sex" that had simply led to a "boredom of sex shorn of mystery."
"Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition and abortion right as part of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems," Moore told a global gathering of leaders from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths as part of the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" conference that Pope Francis convened.
The Southern Baptist ethicist said the sexual revolution appeared to have imposed a new patriarchy that enabled men to "pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha male" for the pursuit of "power, prestige and personal pleasure."
"Does anyone really believe these things will empower women and children?" he asked. "We see the wreckage of sexuality as self-expression all around us, and we will see more yet."
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Outside the conference hall, he said every congregation he knows is seeing the harm caused by "deadbeat fathers" who abandon their responsibilities post-divorce.
Megachurch pastor Rick Warren of California's Saddleback Church said marriage is being "ridiculed, resented, rejected and even redefined" and it is time for the church to be a "proponent of what's right."
"The church cannot cower in silence," Warren told the conference. "There is too much at stake!"
Warren said churches should celebrate successful marriages during services, schedule annual reviews of wedding vows, offer marriage courses and promote marriage via the media.
"The church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if it caves in to the sexual revolution," he said.
On Monday's opening of the three-day conference, Pope Francis said marriage is in crisis and children deserve to grow up with a family that has a mother and a father.
His speech was overtaken by his official announcement that he would visit the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.
The pope stressed that the "culture of the temporary" has led many people to give up on marriage as a public commitment.
"This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable," he said.
This week's gathering, sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and other Vatican bodies, comes only weeks after Francis closed the Synod of Bishops on the family, which was meant to welcome nontraditional families.
Despite initial signals of a more welcoming approach to gay and lesbian Catholics, the final synod report scaled back that language and conservative Catholics said any attempt to soften the church's teaching on homosexuality was a "betrayal."