Whether a paradigm-shifting social action is”reform” or “rebellion” depends on what side you are on – the point of view of the participants.
Reform sounds more civil. Rebellion sounds, well, rebellious.
We’ve had several mega-event “reform-rebellion” examples throughout history. The ministry of Jesus Christ was, in hindsight, a reform. Its objective was to reform the excessively legalistic attitudes of the Sadducees and Pharisees and their sympathizers by introducing what God intended all along: An attitude of grace and forgiveness for sinners. Some Jews accepted the concept, most did not. To those who accepted, it was reform. For those who rejected, Jesus represented rebellion against the law of the Jews.
The Reformation is another example. Martin Luther and other who promoted reformation in the 1500’s intended to reform the Catholic Church, to force the Church to renounce its corrupt practices and return to the essentials of the faith. The reformation snowballed into a rebellion against the Catholic Church, and became the protestant revolution. Today protestants called it reformation. Catholics consider it a rebellion against the Church.
A couple of decades later, another mega-event occurred, this time in England. On the coattails of the Reformation, the Church of England separated from the Catholic Church. This was more of a rebellion than it was a reform in anyone’s book. The elite in England did not appreciate the Catholic Church dictating who could marry or divorce whom. So they jettisoned not just the doctrine of the limitations on marriage, but the entire Catholic Church and reverted to their separate and distinct Church of England.
Was the US Civil War “reform” or “rebellion?” At the time, that depended on which side you were on. The South saw the north turning the screws on the slavery issue. They may have considered the North rebelling against the South's livelihood and economy. The North saw the south as rebelling against the authority and unity of the nation. Retrospective history labels the North as the reformers and the South as the rebels.
So what should we call the jettisoning of moral standards today? Are those who promote gay marriage, abortion, and legal protections of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender behaviors “reformers” or “rebels?”
If they are reformers, what are they reforming back to? What is the wayward behavior they are reforming? Traditional morality? Was there ever a time when overt lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender behaviors were the norm? No! They are reforming behaviors “back” to nothing that has ever existed before. The behaviors they are promoting have never been sanctioned by any religious system or legitimate national government. So no, it is not “reform.”
If they are rebels, what are they rebelling against? Traditional morality. Religious values. Their parents and grandparents. And God. They are rebelling against all things holy and sacred. This is every bit as much a “rebellion” as the Protestant “reformation” turned into, the creation of the Church of England turned into, and the rebellion that fomented the Civil War. Except instead of merely turning back several decades or several centuries of established social, religious, or political norms, this new cultural revolution is erasing multi-millenia of social and religious norms.
I am no prophet, but I would guess that this sort of rebellion against God will not stand. At least I pray not. I will be on God’s side on this one. The consequences of this rebellion will not be pretty.