2231) Sexual Freedom and the Decline of a Culture

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     Everyone knows that the Bible has rules on human sexual behavior– who can do what with who, and when.  We live in a culture where such rules are being rapidly discarded by an increasing number of people who do not believe that the Bible is God’s Word, and therefore, do not look to it for any direction, or, authority over their lives.  Not only that, but many people who do believe in the Bible are blatantly disregarding and disobeying what that Bible clearly says about God’s commands for our sexual conduct.

     So for today’s meditation we will just forget about what the Bible says.  The following article examines sexual behavior from a purely sociological and pragmatic standpoint.  It approaches the issues of sexual restraint and freedom by looking at previous cultures and asking, “What has and has not worked.”  The brief article refers to just one such study, but there have been many studies that have come to the same conclusions.  For another powerful and eloquent example, see George Gilder’s Men and Marriage (1986), first published as Sexual Suicide (1973).


“Sex and Society: What History Tells Us About the Effects of Sexual Freedom”

By Annie Holmquist (adapted), January 27, 2020 blog at: http://www.intellectualtakeout.org


    I had a nagging thought while on my way to work this morning.  It never quite coalesced until I read an article in The Guardian entitledHappy ever after: why writers are falling out of love with marriage.”  Author Mia Levitin put into words what I had been pondering, namely the fact that modern stories avoid the cliché of “boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love-gets-married-lives-happily-ever-after.”

     I should clarify.  The “boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love” part of the cliché is still alive, it’s just the “gets-married” part that is going extinct.  As Levitin explains, modern stories and movies emphasize the feminist side of life in which the woman achieves great heights and saves the world, fulfilling her dreams.  She may opt for a male-female relationship, but only as an add-on ­– like a side of broccoli or Brussels sprouts – in which she can enjoy the benefits of intimacy and companionship while pursuing her dreams without the hindrance of marriage.

     In one sense, I get it.  Writers are always looking for something fresh, so the idea of ditching the happily ever after story-line is appealing.

     On the other hand, there seems to be more at play than simply the quest for an original plot.  The message these stories offer is that while sex is desirable, the constraints of marriage and family on either gender are not.  Supposedly, the more the public can be convinced that intimate delights can be enjoyed absent the responsibilities that accompany them, the better it is for women and society in general.

     A look into the rise and fall of cultures through the ages demonstrates that we are not the first culture to attempt to live without traditional sexual restraints.  Therefore, we can look back and examine what effect such sexual freedom actually has had on previous cultures.  

     In a recent article, Dr. Kirk Durston unpacks Sex and Culturea 1934 book which looks at the rise and fall of societies in relation to their attitudes on sexual freedom.  His analysis offers the following observations:

Effect of sexual constraints: Increased sexual constraints, either pre or post-nuptial, always led to increased flourishing of a culture.  Conversely, increased sexual freedom always led to the collapse of a culture three generations later.

Single most influential factor: Surprisingly, the data revealed that the single most important correlation with the flourishing of a culture was whether pre-nuptial chastity was required or not.  It had a very significant effect either way.

Highest flourishing of culture: The most powerful combination was pre-nuptial chastity coupled with ‘absolute monogamy’.  Rationalist cultures that retained this combination for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area, including literature, art, science, furniture, architecture, engineering, and agriculture.  Only three out of the eighty-six cultures ever attained this level.

     In essence, history demonstrates that the type of society our books, movies, and everyday life promote – the society in which marriage and family are second thoughts and where ambitions, dreams, and “friendship with benefits” reign supreme – is not one which enables a flourishing of culture.

     Instead, a society such as ours which “embraces total sexual freedom” soon comes to ruin:

If total sexual freedom was embraced by a culture, that culture collapsed within three generations to the lowest state of flourishing – which Unwin describes as ‘inert’ and at a ‘dead level of conception’ and is characterized by people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs.  At this level, the culture is usually conquered or taken over by another culture with greater social energy.

     For several decades now, our culture has embraced sexual freedom as a form of liberation for women.  But could this freedom, instead of helping us achieve greater happiness, eventually topple our society?

     It’s a troubling thought that we should seriously consider.


P. S.  All of the studies referred to above were done many years ago, but that does not make them less valid.  Rather, the passage of time is proving their point.  We are now several decades into the ‘sexual revolution’ and even without getting grant money for a study, most of us can see that we are not better off.  By every standard of measurement, this latest experiment at unrestrained sexual freedom is again proving to be a miserable failure. 


Romans 12:2  —  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Psalm 128:1  —  Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16  —  See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.


O Lord, we pray that you give us grace not only to be hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word; not only to love, but also to live your Gospel; not only to profess, but also to practice your commandments; for the honor of your holy name.  Amen.  

–Thomas Becon  (1512-1567)