A sure-fire way to put insecure persons on the defensive these days is to suggest that they’re not “open-minded” enough about sex. Most people have been conditioned by liberal-humanist indoctrination to be utterly phobic about any sort of “repression,” especially sexual repression. In a 180-degree reversal of the Christianity-informed sexuality ethic that served Western culture admirably for 2,000 years, it is now widely regarded as “unhealthy” and even “neurotic” to restrain one’s sexual instincts and desires. Chastity has gone from being a virtue to a form of dysfunction.
Actually, this liberal rhetorical bullying is simply a variation on the sort of the lame persuasion tactics randy adolescents have tried on teenage girls since time immemorial.
The ability to temper, discipline, and restrain our biological sexual desires and drives is one of the most significant human qualities distinguishing us from animals, as well as one of the indispensable foundation stones of civilization. It is also banefully possible for highly successful civilizations to lose sight of this truth and go into rapid and precipitous decline; ancient Greece and Rome being salutary examples. Post-modern Western society is already teetering over the same degenerate precipice.
Nothing undermines the character and moral fiber of a social culture more effectively than the jettisoning of sexual order and restraint as a consensual ethic. Unhappily, our culture has been doing just that for the past 60 years or so, and especially since the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 1960s – largely enabled by the birth control pill, followed by demoralization on abortion.
As for God’s outdated view of sexual morality, viewed even from a totally pragmatic perspective, if people obeyed God’s revealed laws and restricted sex to the marriage bed, a vast number of the social distempers of our time could be eliminated or at least minimized: AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease, pornography, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies and abortion, the betrayal and heartbreak of adultery, most divorce, broken homes and the traumatic collateral damage they wreak on children, and the toll of personality disorders that participation in illicit sex takes on people in general, especially in adolescence. A recent study of students at a small-town of Nova Scotia high school found that more than 50 per cent of female students were taking oral contraceptives.
Christian teaching, which I affirm to be objective, authoritative truth, holds that all genital sexual activity outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman is wrong, period. No one’s opinion, individual or democratic, will ever change God’s mind on that, because it is a truth based in His immutable, created order.
Nevertheless, in the current philosophically and morally disordered cultural climate, it is considered “repressive” and “extreme” to speak a word against easy sex, or to advocate that chastity – virginity, abstinence, celibacy – has any possible merit. One of the greatest tragedies of all is that sexual intimacy, one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity when exercised within its divinely ordered context (see the Song of Solomon), has become something banal and routine – just a “natural” bodily function, like scratching an itch or going to the bathroom.
Disordered expression of sexuality is a denial of our human uniqueness, and a one-sided reversion to our animal component. Bruce Holbrook, Ph.D., notes in his book, The Stone Monkey, that “humans, unlike animals, have a moral dimension to their physical health. If they follow civilized sexual mores, they do not contract venereal disease. If they do not, they sicken and die …. Human society cannot function the way monkey society does … humans are physically programmed to be deterred from sexual promiscuity.” Holbrook, by the way, is a Taoist, not a Christian fundamentalist.It is impossible to separate sex from morality. Every successful civilization, culture, and religion has recognized this. If they hadn’t they never would have become successful in the first place. Civilization is essentially imposition of a social structure to prescribe and regulate what sort of behaviour is acceptable and tolerable and what isn’t, and a breakdown of sexual mores has historically signaled the imminent collapse of particular civilizations, as in ancient Greece and Rome. I am skeptical that our civilization will prove any more resilient.