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The Benedict Option – Part 4 (final)

posted May 16, 2017, 10:13 AM by First Baptist



I’ve been reviewing this book by Rod Dreher. Per some of the feedback I’ve received, not everyone agrees with some of his conclusions or recommendations.


That’s okay; neither do I, but I think it’s good to be challenged in our thinking. And I certainly agree with his premise that the culture has become more hostile toward biblical Christianity in recent years. That alone forces us to think differently about how we live & minister.


The last two chapters are very powerful. Here’s how Dreher sets it up:


“None of [my suggested strategies] will work, however, unless Christians think radically different about the two most powerful forces shaping and driving modern life: sex and technology.”


Chapter 9: Eros and the New Christian Counterculture


The book is worth reading for this chapter alone. I’ll share a series of quotations, then summarize the author’s suggestions.


“Sex is a divine gift that, if cherished properly, becomes a source of joy, abundance, and flourishing – of the couple and their community. But if we use sex in a disordered way, it can be one of the most destructive forces on earth.”


“Sexual practices are so central to the Christian life that when believers cease to affirm [biblical teaching] on the matter, they often cease to be meaningfully Christian. It was the countercultural force of Christian sexuality that overturned the pagan world’s dehumanizing practices. Christianity taught that the body is sacred and that the dignity possessed by all humans as made in the image of God required treating it as such.”


“Gay marriage and gender ideology signify the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because they deny [the Christian understanding of what it means to be human] at its core and shatter the authority of the Bible.”


Author’s suggestions:


1.      Don’t water-down biblical truth on sexuality in order to attract young people.

2.      Affirm the goodness of sexuality.

3.      Moralism is not enough; teach that sex is part of our submission to & life with God.

4.      Parents must be the primary sex educators.

5.      Love & support unmarried people in the church.

6.      Fight pornography with everything you’ve got. Pornography makes it impossible for men to form normal relationships with women.


Chapter 10: Man and the Machine


Highlights include:


“Online technology, in its various forms, is a phenomenon that by its very nature fragments and scatters our attention like nothing else, radically compromising our ability to make sense of the world, physiologically rewiring our brains and rendering us increasingly helpless against our impulses.”


“We think our many technologies give us more control over our destinies. In fact, they have come to control us.”


“Technology is not morally neutral. [Instead, it] is a worldview that trains us to privilege what is new and innovative over what is old and familiar and to valorize the future uncritically. It destroys tradition because it refuses any limits on its creativity.”


“The most radical, disruptive, and transformative technology ever created is the Internet. At the neurological level, the brain refashions itself to conform to the nonstop randomness of the Internet experience, which conditions us to crave the repetitive jolts that come with novelty. The result of this is a gradual inability to pay attention, to focus, and to think deeply.”


Suggestions for Christians:


1.      Practice digital fasting as an ascetic practice.

2.      Take smartphones away from kids.

3.      Limit the amount of technology used in worship.

4.      Teach children to do things with their hands.

5.      Question progress.


My Conclusion


The book is well-written and thought-provoking. Not everyone will agree with the author’s pessimistic outlook with regard to the American church. Nor will everyone agree with his prescription for what the church needs to do. However, it seems undeniable that our culture is moving very rapidly away from Christian values & beliefs. This makes The Benedict Option an important book.


Note: If you’re not inclined to read Dreher’s book, there’s an excellent 57-minute interview with him conducted by Issues, Etc., a Lutheran organization. You can find the interview either on iTunes or the Issues, Etc. website.



Pastor Dan