Darrow Miller and Friends

The Exorbitant Price of Our New Sexual Norms

The revival of pagan culture has restored pagan sexuality as the sexual norm. Damon Linker, Senior Correspondent at the Week magazine, recently wrote an article titled “What Religious Traditionalists Can Teach Us About Sex.” He lays the blame for the erosion in sexual norms on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and then the continuing revolution in the first decade of the 21st century.

For an ever-expanding number of people born since the mid-1960s, the sexual world is radically different. Sex before marriage is the norm. There is comparatively little stigma attached to promiscuity. Masturbation is almost universally a matter of moral indifference … birth control is available everywhere, and it can be used without stigma. Out-of-wedlock pregnancy is becoming increasingly common; and for women who become pregnant and don’t wish to carry the baby to term, the pregnancy can be terminated. Divorce, meanwhile, is common and considered perfectly acceptable to most people.

Most of this was true a generation ago. More recently, we’ve also witnessed the rapid-fire mainstreaming of homosexuality and the transformation of the institution of marriage to accommodate it. But that’s not all. Thanks to the internet, pornography has never been so freely available and easily accessible. Websites like Ashley Madison facilitate extramarital affairs. Others help people find various kinds of “arrangements,” from traditional prostitution to a more informal exchange of financial support for sexual services. Smart-phone apps put people (gay or straight) in touch with each other for no-strings-attached hook-ups. Then there’s the push to normalize polyamorous (“open”) relationships and marriages, a movement that seeks to remove the stigma from adultery and even positively affirm the goodness of infidelity.

The West has largely abandoned the notion of revelation from the Creator. With that jettison comes also the loss of a transcendent vision of human sexuality. We have redefined marriage and the family. All that is left is sensation.

“Do what feels good as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else” … except now we don’t care if it hurts someone as long as it feels good.

“Do what feels good as long as it is with consenting adults” … except it no longer needs to be consenting and it no longer needs to be adults.

“Do what feels good as long as it is with humans” … and now some are proposing we toss aside that constraint as well.

What Damon Linker is describing should not seem shocking. It’s merely the new norm in a universe with no objective metaphysical and moral reference points (read “Judeo-Christian worldview”).

And these behaviors have consequences. People are, after all, human beings. No matter what people say or how they act, they are not simply soulless, mechanical plumbing fixtures. As a friend of mine has noted, you can protect your body, but not your soul, with a condom.

University of St Thomas Philosophy Professor, Dr. Rachel Lu writes of some of the consequences coming from the sexual license described above:

Conservatives have issues with our sexually libertine culture. Abortion isn’t the only problem with it, just the worst one. The killing of hundreds of thousands of babies annually is a pretty massive “con” to sexual liberation. That’s hard to top (so to speak).

But there are plenty of other problems too. I could just rattle off a list: divorce, single motherhood, spreading HIV, pornography addiction, falling marriage rates, falling birth rates, campus “rape cultures,” teenaged girls who kill themselves after a porn star debut that they thought they could handle. Or, I could refer you here and here for more thoughtful reflections on how much we harm our young people by pretending sex never does. But the bottom line is that people nowadays are having a really hard time putting their love lives in order and, yes, our sexually libertine culture deserves some blame.

In the Modern and Post-Modern cultures it is the individual, and not the family, that is important. Little thought is given to family formation; there is an anti-natal and anti-maternal mind in these cultures. There is a “hostility to fertility.” Any more, the only sexual sin is to be pregnant!

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a writer-entrepreneur living in Paris, concludes that for the modern, “the only way to lead a truly free and human life is to lead a contraceptive life … The uncritical way in which contraception is described as ‘health care” seems to imply that pregnancy is a disease [not a normal life’s process], to be avoided at all costs.”

But, in reality, what can be more unhealthy and unnatural than artificially manipulating a major organ system in order to reverse its normal function? It defies all reason to believe that we can just “turn off” the reproductive system without consequences. And, it seems that many of the same folks that are screaming against reproduction in humans are the ones who are the busiest at insisting (rightfully) for the protection of natural habitat and all natural functioning of lower animal life forms. For all of creation outside humanity they seem solicitous. Only for humans do they pursue their constant, relentless drive to manipulate. They would stifle a basic natural function of the body. They seem to think nothing of the consequences of drastically affecting the whole culture of family and propagation of our species.

Societies break down, de-civilize, when the sacredness of marriage and modesty is replaced with “good sex.” The family is the foundation of any society. Strong families contribute to both understanding our human identity and to strong societies. Broken families too often lead to a struggle over personal identity, a languishing of the soul and the breakdown of societies. This is a horrible price to pay for both individuals and societies.

– Darrow Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).