Ezra Klein is on to something.
Klein, the editor of the news and opinion website Vox, which leans decidedly progressive-Left, recently wrote a piece detailing his growing realization about the shocking prevalence of sexual harassment and assault that women (and men) suffer in our culture, which is just now beginning to fully come to light in the public square after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke earlier this month.
What’s startling about Klein’s piece is the candor he displays. For a progressive, this level of honesty on a social issue is nothing short of a thunderbolt:
There is a pervasiveness to sexual assault in America that defies the word “problem.” When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.
Perhaps we need to do more than try to root out the worst abusers. Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.
“Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.” This is exactly what social conservatives have been shouting from the rooftops for decades. But in the public square, they have been consistently shot down as, at best, hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch with modern sensibilities, and at worst, trying to control women’s bodies.
How did we get here? Let’s quickly review some indisputable facts of our country’s history. With every passing year since the early 1960’s, our culture has seen a steady progression of permissiveness of sex outside of marriage. What was once considered a societal taboo slowly but surely became more and more accepted. As television, movies, and popular culture crossed one line after another, much of society followed along, creating what is now known as the Sexual Revolution.
What has this revolution wrought in our society? Many things, of course, but with regard to our personal lives, it chiefly brought us widespread acceptance of contraception as a way to have consequence-free sex with whomever we wish, and when that fails, to abort the baby that is conceived. Contraception and abortion are thus upheld as paragons of freedom and autonomy by those who think that the Sexual Revolution finally freed women from the slavery and repression of pregnancy and childbirth. In effect, women are now as “free” as men to sleep around as much as they want without consequences.
But are women now happier as a result? Klein answers this for us:
Last week, the hashtag #MeToo took over social media. Virtually every woman I follow, on every social platform, no matter the industry or walk of life they came from, shared stories of harassment, abuse, and worse. I read searing tales from reporters and techies, chefs and yogis, civil servants and mountain climbers.
This is the cold reality that progressives must face. What if the revolution that created the perceived “freedom” of consequence-free sex for women unwittingly turned those very same women into objects of sexual pleasure for men? If there is no consequence to sex, what’s the big deal about it, anyway? Logically speaking, what is the difference between shaking hands with someone and having sex with them? If sex is merely a social transaction, why are women so instinctually protective of giving themselves away? Most men don’t seem to have that same instinct, so shouldn’t women be the same? Isn’t this about equality between the sexes anyway? If women now see sex as transactional through their celebration of contraception and abortion, why can’t they give it to men as a favor if men who are in positions of power want it in return for a promotion at work?
This is the kind of sexual psychology that has taken root in our culture as a result of following the Sexual Revolution’s line of reasoning to its logical end. As Klein so aptly put it: “When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.”
Unfortunately, progressives like Klein still fail to see the connection between unattached sex and a sexually entitled culture. For them, it seems as though something in our culture has suddenly gone terribly awry, as if they have been blindsided by the pervasive reality of sexual sin. For believers, however, there is nothing new to see here: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In other words, sexual sin has been occurring since the beginning of time, and it will continue unless people turn from their wicked ways and instead seek God’s ways and His salvation.
The problem for progressives is that they can never appeal to a higher law in order to promote virtuous behavior; they must instead resort to begging and cajoling the culture into behaving in accord with vague, politically correct rules that society has deemed acceptable, and if that doesn’t work, to legislate virtue. “There are efforts to change this culture through both law and regulation,” Klein says. He then rehashes his support for the enactment of a “yes means yes” law that would codify the establishment of verbal consent before any perceived sexual contact takes place between two individuals.
Instead of getting to the root causes of societal problems, which is our only hope of solving anything, Klein predictably defaults to the progressive line of thinking, which is to avoid root causes for fear of offending someone and instead offer bromides about laws and regulations that must be enacted. So let’s avoid that trap. What is at the root of why sexual harassment and assault occur?
It is because some men do not respect the dignity of women, and instead see them as an object of sexual desire that they have a right to use in order to satisfy their own desires. But what if more boys were taught from an early age that the context for the full expression of human sexuality is within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman, as Christianity and other religions do? If this teaching were to be taught consistently throughout childhood and young adulthood, it would substantially increase the amount of gentlemen in our culture. Gentlemen treat women with respect, the kind of respect that inherently knows how to avoid looking at women with lust (see Matthew 5:27-28), the kind of respect that would never even consider making unseemly sexual comments in their company, much less harassing or assaulting them. This kind of respect can only develop when sexually exploitive media is avoided like the plague, and self-discipline is honed through the example of the saints in Scripture and throughout history.
When boys and young men are instead mostly left to their own devices, they naturally give in to their broken human nature and rebel against our Creator’s plan for human sexuality (see the third chapter of Genesis). The results of this negligence have become an absolute nightmare—a culture filled with boys in men’s bodies and wounded women with tragically low standards, a culture that continues to writhe in the putrid, pervasive muck of vile pornography that clogs the internet, sexually exploitive mainstream TV shows that fill the screens of living rooms every night, and the depressing normalcy of cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, contraception, STDs, abortion, and yes, sexual harassment and assault.
Progressives like Klein seem to finally be realizing the extent of this nightmare. Do they, and do we, have the courage to embrace our Creator’s plan and fight for sexual purity in our own lives and those of our children, thereby serving as a witness to truth and spreading this truth to a broken culture in desperate need of healing?