There is a rush of books out at the moment decrying the decadence and disintegration of our modern Western culture. Ross Douthat’s The Decadent Society is an objective look at the root causes and types of decadence and where it might be leading. Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self  examines the philosophical roots of modern atheistic selfishness. The Madness of Crowds by Englishman Douglas Murray is a secular take on the crazy state of our society while  Ralph Martin’s A Church in Crisis analyzes how the rot has crept through the Catholic Church during Pope Francis’ papacy. Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies pushes the envelope and makes us confront the result: the looming threat of a globalist surveillance state.

All of the books at least touch on the sexual revolution, but there doesn’t seem to be much more than the usual Christian wringing of hands over the problem. The situation is complicated and is rooted in the fact that we are living through a revolution of philosophy, technology and culture the world has never seen before. I have just finished my next book Beheading Hydra: A Radical Plan for Christians in an Atheistic Age and have explained the philosophical roots of our present crisis. That is for another blog post, but the technological roots for the crisis are simple: the invention of artificial birth control. For the first time in history, human beings are able to turn off the baby machine. Of course there have been forms of contraception before the pill, but they were crude and ineffective. The pill changed everything.

The ramifications of this invention have been huge. One of the results has been not only the ability to turn off the baby machine, but to turn it on with ever ingenious new technologies. Now having a baby is a choice just like not having a baby is a choice. Through surrogacy, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments anybody can have a baby. The effects of this on traditional marriage, traditional sexual behaviors, the understanding of sexual morality and indeed the whole concept of what it means to be a human being have been disastrous.

The simple and most profound result is that the human race is now totally confused by the whole business of sex and procreation. We are completely lost and no one has the answer.  The Christian leaders have thrown in the towel and thrown up their hands. Simply saying, “Don’t do that because the Bible says you shouldn’t” or “Don’t do that it goes against church teaching!” doesn’t work. People quite understandably say, “That was then. This is now. Things have changed” and they’re right. Things have changed. Our grandfathers would warn our fathers not to “Do it” because they might get the girl into trouble or pick up a nasty incurable disease. If our dads warned us in the same terms our generation said, “It’s ok Dad. She’s on the pill and we have penicillin now.”

The leaders in society take the Freudian view that society (and especially religion) shouldn’t be restricting sex anyway. It’s just a natural urge therefore “give everybody plenty of sex education as young as possible and make sure they have contraception and know about abortion if they need it. End of story. Let’s move on. Problem solved.”

But of course, this doesn’t really solve the problem because sex is more complicated than that. We might pretend that it is no more significant than playing tennis…”If you have a good partner you’ll have a good game.” But the broken relationships leave broken hearts and broken lives. I’ll never forget the tears of a girl who was once in my youth group who said after the fourth time a man she was living with broke up with her. She said, “I feel like I’ve been divorced four times. Each time I lost not only my boyfriend, but all my friends. When we went separate ways I got left out.” The effects of the sexual confusion are all around us: homosexuality and transgenderism are all a search for our true selves, but have we found who we really are?

Socrates said, “Know Thyself” but do we truly come to know ourselves simply through our sexual desires? If this is so, then we are no more than our sexual desires. This is a gigantic philosophical problem which goes right to the heart of our humanity. Are we really no more than our sexual urges? If so, for all the talk of progress, this is not progress. This is not the confident upward ascent of the modern man. This is a descent. If I am no more than my sexual urges I am reverting to the gorilla.

The church has always taught that a proper understanding of sex and proper behaviors regarding sex is vitally important. Unfortunately most of the time there has been no explanation of why. In fact there has not even been an attempt at an explanation. No one has even tried. I say “no one”. Pope St John Paul II did a good job with his catechesis on the theology of the body–trying to link sex with human identity, but it was not heard or received by most people. Instead Christians simply kept repeating the same old prohibitions based on Biblical or church authority backed up with threats. The threats are now meaningless. Your reputation will be spoiled? Nobody cares if you’re sleeping around. In fact, they wonder why you’re not if you’re not. The girl will get pregnant? She can have an abortion. You’ll get a disease? Well, don’t be too trashy and sleep with dirty people.

So what is the point of Christian morality? Because sex is linked with who we are. A sexual act is the beginning of our lives. To be frank, my life began in a grunt of pleasure and an explosion of ecstasy when my mother and father made love. At the moment of conception I began. Therefore sex is the start of me. Furthermore, if we are to know ourselves we can only do that through a relationship with another person. I cannot truly know myself though endless introspection. It is by being acknowledged and affirmed by another that my existence and identity are validated.

It is interesting that the old King James version of the Bible says that “Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived.” The Hebrew word is “yada” which means “to know” but also means “to reveal”. In a sexual relationship we reveal ourselves to another person. We know them and they know us. The process of this knowing is gradual and requires great trust. That’s why marriage is between one man and one woman for life….because that level of deep trust demands loyalty and faithfulness. It also demands a whole lifetime.

Sex is the focus of this intimacy and this is why marriage is the proper context for the sexual act. Furthermore, anything other than marriage either destroys or distorts this intimate knowing.

What is the price of free sex? In the end it is the destruction of the human person. There is a sad self fulfillment in the Freudian view that sex is just a natural urge and that we are no more than the sexual urge. By behaving that way it has come true. The opportunity for self knowledge and therefore for maturity and growth as a human being is destroyed, and when that is destroyed humanity is eventually destroyed.

Where does it lead? It leads to broken hearts, broken homes, broken lives. It leads to lonely souls turning to the bottle, to drugs and to the gun. It also leads to the strange sterility in our society in which romance has died, marriage has shriveled, families are shrinking and eventually to the demographic winter–in which we won’t need to worry about over population because people will simply stop having sex because it has become meaningless, and if not sex no babies and if no babies no future for the human race.

If you think I am exaggerating check out the demographic winter.