I lived through the sexual revolution. The TV shows of my childhood showed couples sleeping in separate beds; now I can see sexually graphic content on broadcast networks. Pornography was found in magazines in quick stop stores; now, pornography is available on my phone (that's weird even to type). We were taught "The Pill" would liberate women because pregnancy would no longer be a consequence of sex. Plowing through old sexual boundaries, we sought to set ourselves free from the rules of our parents.
Has the sexual revolution made us healthier souls? Have we created a better culture?
The deluge of sexual harassment stories tells us something about the soul of our culture. Powerful men assume the sexual revolution means every woman wants to be groped. Women use their sexual power to advance their agendas and careers. "He said, she said" is a daily headline. Is every accuser sharing his or her story for pure reasons? Probably not. Are the number of accusations telling us this is a widespread problem? Probably so. We have the freedom to say "yes" to sex; did we give up the freedom to say "no?"
Sexual attractiveness has become the way we determine a person's worth. We socialize our children early to be sexual for success. We dress our young daughters in a way that prefigures an image we believe they must have. Girls are quickly sorted by body type and measured against an unrealistic Barbie standard. Boys are quickly challenged to "prove" their manhood, either virtually or in reality.
Women now are expected to stay youthful and endure enhancements. We no longer bless a woman for looking her age; instead, we expect a 30-year-old to look 16, and a 60-year-old to look 40. Men are not held to same standard. An overweight bald man (Harvey Weinstein) can be seen with a beautiful woman and the comment is, "Man, is he lucky," not, "Boy, is she settling." This is glaringly unfair.
We now insist children choose a sexual preference long before their bodies or brains have developed. Though psychologists and neuroscientists tell us our sexual preference remains fluid well into our 20s, we lock third-graders into an identity to legitimize adult debates.
When we make everything about sex, we narrow ourselves to be less than God made us to be. Contrary to Freud, God never intended humans to be defined solely by sexual identity. The fallacy of the sexual revolution is satisfying a physical appetite is more important than having a healthy soul.
God's great gift of sex is two becoming one. Sex is never just about the joining of bodies; it is about vulnerability of the soul. God designed sex to cement commitment, to open feelings, to focus thoughts and to guide decisions. That's why God knew sex needed the glue of marriage and marriage needed the power of sex. When marriage and sex dance together, it is like coming home to place both familiar and joyous, exciting and safe. Sex like this makes your soul healthy.
Like all revolutions, the sexual one set us free, but offered no guidance to what happens next. Sex escaped the shadows, but we are still people who are selfish and self-centered. Sex as an act of giving oneself to another who gives themselves is considered antiquated. Romance is replaced by "Fifty Shades of Grey."
I'm not pretending to be one without sin. I certainly have been tossed around in the sexual revolution and have the scars on my soul to prove it. In a time where the creators of the revolution are themselves facing condemnation, we need to hit pause and ask: Do we have healthier souls? Have we created a better culture?
Pause also and ask, "What would our world be like if we tried sex the way God designed it?"
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church.
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