Sex As Salvation

Wesleyan University in Connecticut, originally a Methodist college, is embroiled in controversy over one of its courses. Titled "Pornography: Writing of Prostitutes," the course requires students to create their own works of pornography. Worse, Wesleyan is not unique: Across the country colleges like Northwestern, Columbia, and New York University are offering courses in so-called "porn studies." How did undergraduates go from studying Homer to creating pornography? The answer is that sexual liberation has become nothing less than a worldview—a vision of reforming human nature and creating a new society. It's a worldview that begins with the assumption that humans are products of Darwinian evolution, and concludes that our identity is found by delving into the biological, the natural, the instinctual. Especially the sexual instincts. Liberating our sexuality is thus seen as the high road to healing and wholeness. If this sounds overblown, listen to the words of key founders of the sexual revolution. For Margaret Sanger, an early champion of birth control, the drama of history consists in a struggle to free humanity from biblical morality. "Through sex," she wrote, "mankind may attain the great spiritual illumination which will transform the world, which will light up the only path to an earthly paradise." This is nothing less than a vision of salvation through sex. The same quasi-religious fervor motivated Alfred Kinsey, whose surveys have been enormously influential. Kinsey likewise saw history as a moral drama, with science competing against religion and superstition. He spoke as if the introduction of biblical sexual morality were the watershed of human history, a sort of "Fall" from which we must be redeemed through sexual liberation. Another architect of the sexual revolution was Wilhelm Reich, who became something of a cult figure in the 1960s. Reich taught that all dysfunctions are a symptom of sexual failure—and can be cured by sexual release. A book about his philosophy is aptly titled Salvation through Sex. These are the ideas that have filtered down to our college campuses—which explains why even English and art departments are now offering courses on pornography. It's important to realize that the goal of sexual liberation is not merely titillation or sensual gratification: It offers a complete worldview that aims at freeing the inner self from the evils of repression and restoring its original wholeness—and then renewing all society. Of course, these grandiose claims are completely contrary to the facts. Social science has uncovered clear evidence that sexual licentiousness is devastating to any society. The decline of sexual morality in America since the 1960s has produced an epidemic of abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and children born into fatherless homes, with all the attendant social pathologies, such as increased drug abuse and crime. If we want to stand against the sexualization of American culture, it's not enough to express moral outrage. We must fight the battle on the level of worldview versus worldview. And we must be ready to show that true liberation is not about the gratification of our sexual instinct but the satisfaction of our deepest spiritual hunger.


Chuck Colson


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