When we would sit down for our evening meal, my dad, who was an old Leatherneck, would often say, “Well, you see what you fought yourself to.” His combat metaphor was meant, I think, to impress on us the idea that dinner was a reward for doing our duty. It was, however, a metaphor that failed to inspire every time my mother served liver and onions.
To those who fought in support of the sexual revolution in the sixties and seventies, we can now say: “Well, you see what you fought yourself to.” They were expecting prime rib. They got liver and onions.
The sexual revolution took place within the context of a major cultural shift. Gains were certainly made, but history suggests that much was also lost. The ideal of social, political and economic equality that fueled the sexual revolution was entangled in the practice (or malpractice) of “sexual freedom.” Women mistakenly believed that their liberation required them to be as sexually irresponsible as the men they disdained.
Now, generations later, the sexual tsunami generated by the social earthquake of the sixties is still wreaking havoc. Sexual irresponsibility (and the disrespect that inevitably accompanies it) has become the norm. Daily life has become sexualized. Preteen girls dress (to borrow a term from Bel Mooney of The Daily Mail) like “minihookers” on their parents’ dime and with their encouragement. “Girls as young as four,” psychotherapist Susie Orbach has written, “have been made bodily self-conscious and are striking sexy poses in their mirrors which are more chilling than charming.”
What must today’s grandma – who joined the sexual revolution in 1970 because she was angry about being objectified by men – think about that? Consider this: in the wake of the sexual revolution (since 1975), the pornography industry’s revenues have grown a thousand percent, almost entirely by objectifying women. We now live in a culture where women’s bodies are exploited by a sexualized media for commercial gain. In that what they call liberation?
Another consequence of the sexual revolution has been the breakdown of the family. According to the CDC, 41 percent of all U.S. babies are now born to unmarried women. For many women, this has not led to equality but to a permanent underclass status, as they raise children without a father’s help or financial support. It is even worse in the black community, where 72 percent of babies are born to unwed mothers, a fact that columnist George Will called the “biggest impediment” to progress among African Americans.
Just prior to his first term, President Obama addressed the problem this way: “We need fathers to realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”
Mooney writes that many young women were “conned by the talk of freedom into abandoning all self-respect. The sad thing is young women today are still being conned – victims of the pervasive sex industry which uses ‘liberation’ as a mask for degradation.”
The sexual revolution has harmed women, devastated families and sustained an industry that objectifies young women’s bodies for money. But it has also done something else. It has, quite unexpectedly, devalued sex. The act of sex was once considered sacred by cultures around the world. Now it has been trivialized as a commodity, an article of trade, a plaything for pre-teens. The result will eventually be a generation with a diminished interest in sex.
The only way – as unpopular as it might be – to restore to sex its profound meaning is to restore it to its proper place in God’s order; to keep it in a place where it is cherished, treasured and protected; that is, to reserve it for marriage.
First published in The Coldwater Daily Reporter, July 12, 2014