Category Archives: Contraception
Every once in a while a prominent person writes a moving article about how he or she has awoken – albeit too late – to the false and tragic promise of the sexual revolution. Readers nod their heads in sober agreement, wondering to themselves if such public displays of repentance might have an effect on the broader culture. But then someone else, some diehard feminist, invariably writes a piece in which she defiantly affirms her liberated life trajectory, however filled that life might be with misery, emptiness, and regret.
This cycle has been replayed over the past few days. In the British Daily Mail A.N. Wilson admits that despite his warm embrace of the sexual revolution as a youth, he is now appalled at its consequences. The proliferation of abortion as birth control, divorce, family breakup, and sexually transmitted diseases belies any claim that western society’s great fifty year experiment has been a boon for the pursuit of happiness.
Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinon Poll conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very happy to very unhappy.
In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very happy’, and the figures are falling.
More than half of those questioned in the GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with only a quarter of singles.
The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings…. [A]s the opinion poll shows, most of us feel at a very deep level that what will make us very happy is not romping with a succession of lovers.
But in the New York Magazine Elizabeth Wurtzel offers a different perspective on all of this. It’s not that she disputes the facts. Her own life experience, though crowned with literary success, has largely been one of personal failure, misery, and loneliness, as she herself describes it.
I am committed to feminism and don’t understand why anyone would agree to be party to a relationship that is not absolutely equal. I believe women who are supported by men are prostitutes, that is that ….
For a while after my first book came out, I went home with a different man every night and did heroin every day—which showed my good sense, because the rest of the time I was completely out of control. Even now, I am always in love—or else I am getting over the last person or getting started with the next one. But I worry about growing old this way. Because of divorce, dating never ends for anybody … But I don’t think I really want to be going to the new P. T. Anderson movie and Mission Chinese with someone new when I’m 85. And I don’t think anyone will want to be doing that with me. I am lucky: I run, and Gyrotonic sessions three times a week have kept me in the same shape I have always been in. But age scares me….
Maybe I should have been wiser. But the only way I could have was to have been a completely different person, along the way probably becoming a different writer, most likely a lousy one. I am fortunate to have been well paid for an almost pathological honesty, and the only way I am able to write that way is by being that way. It has been worth it—of course it has been—because there is a higher price attached to rare attributes than common ones.
Still, I wonder if I ever will be okay after this last year. I don’t live anywhere, have not had a home for too long, and the physical estrangement is psychically debilitating. I used to be a happy person who had a lot of fun—even depression did not keep me from being a happy person who had a lot of fun… I feel sick. There is a gap between me and everyone, like a perforated box of polluted air is separating me from people: The space from me to anyone who might understand how lousy I feel seems vast. I am harsh and defeated, and I never thought I would describe myself in either way. The list of things I can’t be bothered with goes on forever. The list of things that bother me goes on forever.
“I have lost my life,” she admits. Still, she is defiant: “this story has the best possible ending, because I am telling it.” The pursuit of happiness may have landed her in the desert but at least her life is her own, her great self-expression.
At the Gospel Coalition Bart Gingerich warns in “The Millennial Generation’s Acceptable Sin” that the sexual revolution has become nearly as defining among young Evangelicals as it is among Americans at large, with anywhere from 44-80% of unmarried Evangelicals in the ages of 18-29 having engaged in what Russell Moore explains we should continue to call fornication – sex outside of marriage. Gingerich concludes with the warning that the church minimizes this problem to its own destruction.
Beware your acceptable sins—they are the ones that will kill you. When a society caves in to one particular sin and twists the gospel to defend it (e.g. the antebellum South with slavery) that vice will become a canker on the soul and will eventually bring it to ruin.
We are called to purity by virtue of the gospel’s claim on our lives. We also owe it as a service of charity and truth to demonstrate to a society lost in its revolutionary liberty that there is indeed another way. If Wurtzel’s defiant despair tracks the unrepentant life of Judas, Wilson’s repentant hope points us to the restoration of Peter.
The old American cliche is that you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube; and it is usually a metaphor used to suggest that it is impossible to turn the clock back in matters of public behaviour and morality. Actually, you know, I think that is wrong.
Wilson detects a backlash among the younger generation, a refreshing desire among some young people to do better than their parents, perhaps even to rediscover the wisdom of the past.
Our generation … got it all so horribly wrong. We ignored the obvious fact that moral conventions develop in human societies for a reason. We may have thought it was ‘hypocritical’ to condemn any form of sexual behaviour, and we may have dismissed the undoubted happiness felt by married people as stuffy, repressed and old hat.
But we were wrong, wrong, wrong.
Two generations have grown up — comprising children of selfish grown-ups who put their own momentary emotional needs and impulses before family stability and the needs of their children. However, I don’t think this behaviour can last much longer. The price we all pay for the fragmentation of society, caused by the break-up of so many homes, will surely lead to a massive rethink.
At least, let’s hope so.