Talking Ourselves to Death: The Sexual Revolution Marches On

Clear your calendar and call your friends – it’s Sexual Awareness Week in Britain. Actually, this is the very first Sexual Awareness Week in British history, and Her Majesty’s government is all fired up to do its part.

Americans will be envious of this special week, of course, and will hate to be left out. After all, inhabitants of the rebellious former colonies will demand to enjoy the special week, and the observance is certain to cross the Atlantic, just like the Beatles.

Just what is involved in Sexual Awareness Week? Well, it seems the main activity will be talking about sex. According to the Times of London – Britain’s most high-brow daily – “The Government wants us all to talk openly about sex this week in order to improve the health of the nation.”

Like America, Britain is experiencing the aftermath of the Sexual Revolution, complete with sexually active children, the breakdown of the family, rising abortion rates, and an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases. So, what is the answer? The British government, joined by the Family Planning Association, has the solution: more talk about sex.

No kidding. They mean this to be taken seriously. The root of the problem is prudery, they say. As Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association explains, “Sex is a normal, enjoyable part of everyday life and should be treated as such.” She continues: “Countries with more open attitudes towards sex have lower rates of unplanned pregnancy and studies show that young people are less likely to have early sex if there is good communication about the subject at home. We are emphasizing that sex is fun and talking is the key to a healthy sex life.”

Talking is the key to a healthy sex life? Who are they kidding? This is an idea which could only have come from a family planning bureaucrat. But these people mean business, and hope for new heights of sexual awareness.

As the Times reports, “Everyone from 16 to 70 is being urged to talk about sex with wives, lovers, friends, and family at least once a day.” Just imagine: Young Steven is to come home from school, put down his books, and ask Grandma about her sex life. In the utopian world of the sexual revolutionaries, this is what passes for healthy family conversation.

The idea of Sexual Awareness Week would be laughable if it were not so plausible as an example of postmodern moralism. Having overthrown millennia of sexual taboos and rejected the Christian moral ethic, the new moralists want even more talk about sex. In their Brave New World liberated from biblical morality, the only answer is more talk.

The fact is, in the wake of the Sexual Revolution we can’t get away from talk about sex. The problem is hardly that we talk too little – we talk far too much. Sex talk and explicit sexual images pervade popular culture to the extent we might wonder if there is anything but sex on the minds of most modern persons. Sex is taught in the schools, sold on the streets, celebrated in our songs, and advertised on our billboards. Without blatant sexual words and images, Calvin Klein would be a pauper, MTV would be out of business, and most pop stars would be speechless.

We cannot get away from seemingly endless sex talk and the artfully suggestive sexual images all around us. Our children have been morally raped by a culture that has stolen their innocence and warped their curiosity. When elementary school students come home talking about “safe sex,” condoms, and dental dams, we know we are in serious trouble.

We are now experiencing what psychotherapist Rollo May called the “banalization of sex.” Stripped of its mystery, sex is just one more topic in the news, one more class in school, one more commodity in the marketplace. Having robbed sex of modesty, all that is left is banal blather about technique and tolerance of all “sexual choices.”

By the time they enter high school, most children know more about sex than their parents knew as they entered marriage. The prophets of the Sexual Revolution divide all humanity into two classes: the sophisticated and the repressed. For the sophisticates, no sexual issue is beyond the pale of proper conversation.

Almost forty years ago, writer A. W. Tozer remarked, “The period in which we now live may well go down in history as the Erotic Age. Sex love has been elevated into a cult. Eros has more worshippers among civilized men today than any other god. For millions, the erotic has completely displaced the spiritual.”

The erotic displacement of the spiritual is at the heart of our cultural crisis. Having rejected God and overthrown the wisdom and regulations of the Christian tradition, modern men and women fling themselves at the altar of false gods, the idol of sexual gratification chief among them. This god offers a garden of sensual delights, but hides the cost of broken lives and ruined dreams.

The late Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin believed the Sexual Revolution is the most dramatic symbol of our radical age. He also knew such a revolution is “pregnant with momentous consequences.” As he warned, “A sex revolution drastically affects the lives of millions, deeply disturbs the community, and decisively influences the future of society.”

The results of the Sexual Revolution are now visible to all who have eyes to see. Sexual diseases – including the specter of AIDS – are now rampant. Some researchers believe fully half of America’s adult population are carriers of some venereal disease. Divorce is pandemic, the nuclear family is in critical condition, and children are having sex at ever earlier ages – all championed by the popular culture.

Britain’s Family Planning Association and Her Majesty’s Health Education Authority think the answer is more talk about sex, in order to overcome prudery and mere snickering. Michelle Misgalla of the association explained, “If sex is treated as a joke, then young people will not realize that it can have serious consequences.”

The humorless joke is the idea that our problem is too little talk about sex. The real problem is we are literally talking ourselves to death through the hole in our souls.