Fallout of the Sexual Revolution
Time Magazine unveiled its “Person of the Year” in December. Its choice is at once unconventional but not at all surprising.
In a tradition dating back to 1936, the publication has historically selected a person who makes significant news during the past year. This year, Time has named “The Silence Breakers”—women and men who have spoken out against sexual assault and harassment.
Like many of you, I’ve been following the news of the last few months with a mixture of shock and disgust. Each day has seemed to bring with it the downfall of another celebrity or high-profile individual. The shock hasn’t been so much the fact that this is happening, but that it’s as widespread as it is, and includes so many household names.
But of the many difficult and glaring questions stemming from the burgeoning sexual harassment and assault scandals of 2017, one rises above the rest:
How can a culture horrified by sexual assault not also be horrified by its root cause?
The answer to that question lies at the heart of the current crisis.
To be sure, licentiousness, sexual perversion and abuse are not new phenomena. For those of us of the Judeo-Christian persuasion, both the Old and New Testaments are replete with stark reminders of the dark consequences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and other forms and degrees of personal violation.
Indeed, from the time of Moses to the Middle Ages, from the era of “Mad Men” right up to modern day, a compromised sexual ethic has always harmed both women and men, broken families, decimated childhoods, taken down leaders and left countless individuals in a dizzying state of despair.
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me,” said a young Benjamin in The Graduate, the Academy Award-nominated 1967 film. In response, Anne Bancroft, the actress who plays the older seductress, just laughs off Dustin Hoffman’s rebuff.
So did everybody else.
But by mocking, marginalizing or even criminalizing good and honorable principles, is it any wonder that we’ve produced morally deficient people? In fact, what we’ve done is deprive people of the very tools (moral clarity, a commitment to respect others) that even secular sociologists suggest are most likely to lead to a healthy and thriving adulthood.
In essence, abuse by omission.
If we want to live and work in a society of morally responsible adults who respect both women and men, we need to first equip ourselves and the rising generation with morally clear principles. It is well beyond time to reconsider not only what we’re teaching our young people about sexuality, but what we’re not teaching them, too.