Friday, November 10, 2006

The Revolution That Shot America in the Foot

The Anchorage Daily News published this in "Compass" on its editorial page on 8 November, 2006 under the title "Sexual Revolution Came at High Cost." This version has been edited slightly and some references added.

The “sexual revolution” has been part of life in American society now for a century, more or less, and it is worth asking ourselves whether this revolution has made our lives better or worse.

I should get to the confession part right away: I was a willing participant in the sexual revolution. Like many in my generation, I was a willing pawn in the struggle to divorce sex from marriage.

But today, I have discovered that the sexual revolution has costs. And today, I find myself on the other side of the barricades. I have become a counterrevolutionary.

The sexual revolution promised low-cost sexual access. Changing social mores, effective contraceptives, and abortion on demand provided unprecedented sexual access outside of marriage; access purchased before only at the risk of disgrace, forced matrimony, or responsibility for children. Today, the goal of widely available sexual access unregulated by marriage has largely been attained.

But now that the revolution has matured, we should ask whether it is worth the costs – and whether society can continue to pay its many costs.

One obvious cost is the dramatic rise of sexually transmitted diseases. Today, one in five Americans has an incurable sexually transmitted disease, and one in four is within sight. A large number of these will die early. Others will unwittingly infect healthy partners and innocents. The economic, emotional, and social costs are high.

After decades of wishful words in the popular media, we now find that the group that consistently reports the highest physical and emotional satisfaction from sex is comprised of men and women faithfully married to one another. (See Sex in America: A Definitive Survey p 131). It seems that the reality of the revolution does not match the gild with which its promoters paint it. Decreased pleasure from sexual union outside of marriage is, counter intuitively, a cost of the revolution.

Increased divorce rates are another cost. Most who cohabit and those who engage in extra-marital sex are significantly more likely to divorce. The dissolution of a marriage is expensive to adults economically and emotionally. It is especially so to children -- even for decades after the death of the marriage. It is even expensive to society at large.

There is an economic manipulation cost of the revolution. The acolytes of the revolution play on our sexual desires for their economic gain. Whether they produce pornography or sexually charged films, or sell products with the advertising aid of partially clothed men or women, they enrich themselves at our expense. We readily open our wallets to them as they twitch their strings.

Anthropological studies have concluded that societies regulating sexual freedom within the bounds of marriage have consistently been the most creative and expansive. Conversely, those that allow the greatest sexual freedom decline. These studies suggest that we allow this revolution to continue at the cost of cultural creativity and cohesiveness.

Finally, many of the ills of society today – increased crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, children killed in the womb, homelessness, and more – can be traced in large measure to the breakdown of the American family. And, the breakdown of the family can be linked in large measure to the sexual revolution. While there may be no straight line connection between a specific social ill and the sexual revolution, what thinking person could seriously suggest there is no connection whatever?

While adults continue to pay some of the costs of the sexual revolution, it is America’s children who are paying the highest price for it. Without effective voice, and unable to understand the forces that batter them, they do not cry out. If we could really hear their pain, we would retreat with broken hearts to the morality that our grandfathers understood.

The God of the Old and New Testaments laid out a simple morality that works. Our American society was originally built on it. It protects the weak, builds strong families and provides a joy that soars far above the transitory pleasures and drama of the lifestyle pandered by today’s puppet masters of sexual revolution. The pattern does not call for perfection, only repentance and turning away from sin to follow the God who hears and saves.

I regret my own part in the sexual revolution for a number of reasons. I will say this much: I have come to believe that the sexual revolution has shot us individually and as a society in the foot, and maybe in the gut. It is time for the sexual revolution to end, and the counter revolution to begin.

A particularly well written and well documented book that covers this and other subjects related to marriage is Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in a Postmodern Society by Glenn T. Stanton.

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