Saturday, September 15, 2018
Do you recall?
Tony Esolen was the one who raised this question first but it should be asked of us over and over again. Why and how has our culture become so obsessed with sex? We identify ourselves by our desires, we define that identity not by anatomy but by desires even when the two conflict, and we speak of those desires in the crudest, most base, and vulgar terms.
When did we begin encouraging our children to experiment with their sexuality, to test their identity and see if it conflicts with their anatomy, and to think of themselves on the basis of desire and not in terms of lifelong marital bonds between husband and wife?
When did we embrace as sanity the idea that gender may be fluid and that a man who thought himself a woman or woman who thought himself a man was living in the land of reality instead of fantasy or delusion? When did we think it was not child abuse to begin feeding hormones to pre-pubescent children to prevent their anatomical bodies from reaching sexual maturity?
When some complain about the feminization of Christianity, part of that complaint has less to do with what is feminine than it has to do with the constant preoccupation with gender, sexual identity, and the normalization of all kinds of sexual desire. When did being a man (not just having male anatomy) become something so offensive or at least suspect?
Think of what it has done to our children and grandchildren to grow up in a culture which is so saturated with sexual talk and vulgarity. Think of what it has done to the very idea of chaste and decent lives? Think of how all of this ends up shaping our children with a moral compass and an expectation of life that is barely a generation old.
The truth is I don't want to know all of this kind of stuff about anybody. I don't want this to be the identifying feature of every relationship and friendship. I don't want this to be the single mark of our every conversation. It is not because I am a prude but because this inflates sexual identity and desire beyond what it was meant to be and in the process devalues us as people and makes every sexual desire normal and, worse, makes consent alone what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior.
I recall an age in which children grew up as children -- without having adult desires and preoccupations thrust upon them to rob them of their childhood. I recall a time in which humor was not automatically vulgar, when nudity was not presumed, and when sexual deviation was not a bigger and louder topic than conventional identities and relationships. I only wish my kids and my grandchildren could enjoy such freedom. For the result of it all is not liberty but captivity, not freedom but servitude, and not happiness but anxiety. Friends, how could we have moved so far so fast without stopping to consider what all of this preoccupation with sex, gender, crudity, and vulgarity has done to us and is now affecting us? If for this reason only, we should slow things down and give new consideration to the outcome of this all before it is too late.