The Christian View of Sex
January 1998By Janet E. Smith
Janet E. Smith is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dallas. This article, which won First Prize in the 1996 Amy Writing Awards competition, was originally published in the May 1996 issue of The Family in America, a newsletter put out by the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois. It appears here in adapted form.
To observe that we live in a society that is suffering greatly from sexual confusion or, if you will, sexual misconduct, is not a novel insight. There is little need to provide a full set of statistics to demonstrate the consequences of the sexual revolution, for who is not familiar with the epidemic in teenage pregnancies, venereal diseases, divorces, and AIDS? Our society has undergone a rapid transformation in terms of sexual behavior, and few would argue that it is for the better. Today, one out of two marriages ends in divorce. Six out of 10 teenagers are sexually active. The millions of abortions over the last decade and the phenomenal spread of AIDS indicate that our society has serious problems with sexuality. In the last generation, the incidence of sexual activity outside of marriage with all of its attendant problems has doubled and tripled or worse. We have no particular reason to believe that we have seen the peak of the growth in sexually related problems.
Statistics do not really capture the pervasive ills attendant upon sexual immorality. Premature and promiscuous sexuality prevent many from establishing good marriages and family life. Few deny that a healthy sexuality and a strong family life are among the most necessary elements for human happiness and well-being. While many single parents do a worthy and valiant job of raising their children, it remains sadly true that children from broken homes grow up to be adults with a greater propensity for crime, a greater tendency to engage in alcohol and drug abuse, and a greater susceptibility to psychological disorders.
These realities touch every realm of life. They affect peoples ability to relate to friends and family; they affect peoples ability to do well at their studies and their jobs; and they affect the whole of society, which needs stable and secure individuals. Those who do not experience love from family and friends tend to seek any semblance of love they can find and thus become involved in illicit sexual relationships and the cycle starts again. The multiple varieties of abuse of sexuality and the grievous consequences of such abuse are not only damaging the current generation, they are threatening to ruin the chances of future generations to live happy and fulfilled lives.
Twenty years ago, when the sexual revolution was in full swing, many argued that it would liberate men and women from the repressive view of sexuality pervasive in society; people would be free to make love to those whom they loved without the strictures of marriage. Many pointed to Christianity as the source of sexual repression. But the Christian view of sex is looking a lot more like wisdom. Christians no longer need to offer apologies for their insistence upon sexual morality, for their insistence upon reserving sex for marriage. Some in high public places are now beginning to counsel abstinence before marriage and to extol faithful monogamous marriages. They have begun to see these as practices of great practical wisdom.
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