A Failed Revolution and an Opportunity for the Gospel
In a provocative recent article in The Atlantic, journalist Helen Lewis asks, “Was the sexual revolution a mistake?” She then quotes Louise Perry, author of “The Case Against the Sexual Revolution:” “Liberal feminists and trans activists may do their best to deny this, but it is still true that only one half of the human race is capable of getting pregnant, and — failing the invention of artificial wombs — this will remain true indefinitely.”
Reality is haunting the abandonment of human dignity known as the sexual revolution. Abortion not as a tragic rarity but an essential cultural artifact, a kind of rite central to a woman’s “empowerment;” no-fault divorce laws; easy access to chemical birth control; the profusion of pornography; the detachment of sexual intimacy from relationship; and an attitude of forced hilarity and urbane nonchalance toward promiscuity — these things have led to profound social dysfunction. As Kay Hymowitz writes in City Journal, the sexual revolution “helped midwife a number of the nation’s most troubling domestic problems: the glaring number of single-parent families, legions of fatherless children, and the related ills of inequality, poverty, achievement gaps, and men MIA from the workplace and family life.”
There has been another consequence, as well: the many who acknowledge too late that they are more than their bodies. Christine Emba, in her book “Rethinking Sex,” puts it this way: “harrowing dates and lackluster [sexual] encounters” have led to depression and trauma.
These things all point to a truth as old as Genesis and as new as the Dodgers’ disastrous honoring of blasphemous men dressed in hideous makeup and calling themselves “nuns:” God designed men and women for intimate, monogamous, covenantal relationships, for sexual union that both celebrates and deepens the unique, complementary bond between one man and one woman within marriage.
The proof is all around us. The scientific evidence is clear, as documented in “Hooked: The Brain Science on How Casual Sex Affects Human Development,” written by medical doctors Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush. Another M.D., Stephen Willing, has written a thorough series of articles titled, “The Top Ten Myths of the Sexual Revolution,” which he introduces with a bold and crisp critique: “The sexual revolution has been an unmitigated disaster for individuals and society, and it is built upon a foundation of lies.”
It is here that Christians should find opportunity to bring their Savior into the picture. We live in an era of sexual addiction, promiscuity, and confusion. From the debasement of indiscriminate sexual encounters to the celebration of sexual deviancy, our sex-enmeshed culture is drinking the polluted water of immorality and finding it nauseating. While many continue to herald radical sexual autonomy — “As long as I consent and use protection, so what?” — in moments of quiet reflection, the void left by “person-less sex” cannot but haunt the heart.
It is into this cavern of grief and bitterness that followers of Jesus can enter to offer the living water that is our Lord. This means making ourselves available to those we see around us, asking gentle questions as simple as, “How are things going?” or “You seem kind of down today. Is everything okay?” Inviting relationship through showing concern can lead those in need to open up about their disappointments and sadness. Of course, this is not limited to issues of sexuality, but it often is. Consider: A major study found that “teenagers who engage in casual sex are more likely to suffer from depression than their peers who don’t engage in casual sex.” The kid next door slouching by with a furrowed brow might need more than a casual wave.
We are also duty-bound to fight sexual exploitation. The lies of pornography, human trafficking, and the abortion industry, and ready access to all kinds of contraception and abortifacient drugs merit legislative resistance as well as constructive Christian help. Not to engage in the fight to defend those used in these and other nets of deceit and squalor is to abandon them to despair. And that is little more than turning one’s back not just on them but on their Creator.
As society confronts the realities of how lies about sex have led to immense suffering, believers in Jesus need to be ready not with a smug sense of satisfaction (“Didn’t we tell you this would happen?”) but humble compassion. We, too, were once “dead in our trespasses and sin, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12) but now have been redeemed through the death and resurrection of the Lord of glory. To the walking wounded, this is a message too good not to tell.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.