by John Horvat II | What determines if something is moral today is not the nature of the act but the degree of consent to it. This single shift has done much to destroy traditional morality. Perhaps the greatest victory of the Sexual Revolution was to create the illusion that any sexual relationship outside marriage is acceptable as long as it is consensual. (images: . Credit: Ahn Young-joon/ AP)
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal brought home just how our attitudes about sexual relationships have become dangerously trivial and mechanical. It showed how we have lost the sense of decency, morality, and shame.
The article reported on new apps that allow those who engage in casual relationships to tell each other what level of intimacy they would like to practice. The uConsent app, for example, is a digital way for people to give their consent to avoid misunderstanding or legal action afterward. The app has no other purpose than to facilitate acts once deemed immoral and sinful.
It is not so much the app that is shocking but the callous way in which it is presented. It assumes universal promiscuity on all social levels is the norm. The conservative business journal validates the practice by reporting on the app like any other new product or transaction. The same article gives guidelines for determining consent while engaging in relationships almost as if giving advice on how to avoid catching a common cold.
Thus, the hook-up culture is accepted by everyone, not just Hollywood or rock stars. Even the establishment’s staid paper now publishes news reports that fail to question the propriety of such harmful trends. The nation’s business and political leaders should be moral role models. Instead they treat casually the moral destruction of what is left of Christian civilization.
The Abolition of Objective Moral Standards
This can happen because the concept of morality has changed. What determines if something is moral today is not the nature of the act but the degree of consent to it. This single shift has done much to destroy traditional morality. Perhaps the greatest victory of the Sexual Revolution was to create the illusion that any sexual relationship outside marriage is acceptable as long as it is consensual.
The consequences of this conclusion are enormous. Our hypersexual culture exerts immense pressure on people to conform to this norm. Sexual relations have thus gone from procreational to recreational activities open to all. As long as consent is obtained and no one is hurt, anything goes.
The Demise of Decency
This has led to the demise of decency since nothing is considered grossly improper and offensive anymore among consenting adults. It has destroyed social norms since everyone must accept this behavior lest they be deemed judgmental by criticizing what others have agreed to do among themselves. Those things that were once whispered about with shame are increasingly accepted openly without question.
This is especially true in the current political climate of polarization. Opposing parties are looking for ways to expose the indecent acts of opponents. They are finding this harder to do since the nature of the act no longer causes a public outcry. Lack of consent, however, still does.
Thus, newspapers, websites and magazines now carry stories that were once reserved to the tabloids. Even prostitution can dominate the headlines and is accepted as long as it is consensual. Today those accused of adultery or aberrational behavior do not deny their acts but justify them as consensual.
#MeToo Will Fail
This lack of moral standards has prepared the way for the #metoo movement and ensures its failure. Many have suffered from sexual abuse. This needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Immoral behavior, harassment and indecency are always wrong.
However, the #metoo movement is not about a return to decency or morals. It conserves the right to promiscuity with consent. No one is talking about going back to restraint and objective standards of morality. Most of those involved find nothing wrong with the casual consensual sexual relationships that can set the stage for abuse.
The problem is compounded by the fact that we have created a society of consent, in which the least signal can lead to unintended acts. So the more promiscuity there is, the more the idea of consent itself is clouded and being disputed. Hence, the need for apps.
And yet so sacred is the right to unlimited promiscuity, that four states—California, New York, Connecticut and Illinois—have passed laws that require schools to teach students what affirmative consent is. Everything is done to facilitate unrestrained sexual relationships. Even the introduction of apps is designed to make the matter effortless and mechanical.
Doomed to Fail
The tragedy is that such lack of restraint by its very unbridled nature will sooner or later lead to coercion. Unrestraint accepts no limitations. When all teach when yes means yes, they abandon the only foolproof remedy: no means no.
Thus, the #metoo movement will never resolve the problems it claims to address. It is a recipe for disaster. Unless it denounces the hook-up culture, it will merely reduce consensual promiscuity into acts of mechanical consent.
By failing to uphold the standards of decency and morality, it throws down the natural barriers that hold back the unbridled passions and prevent #metoo from happening. It perpetuates the myth that consensual promiscuity brings happiness. This is continuously proven false by the countless irregular relationships that ruin lives, families, and communities.
Return to a Moral Order
The only definitive solution is a return to a moral order that naturally regulates the passions and prevents abuse. There was a time not that long ago when sexual relationships outside marriage were frowned on as immoral. They were sinful because they abused the God-given primary purpose of such acts—procreation. Shame was attached to those with loose morals.
That time is gone, and we are paying the price. Everyone is talking about abusive sexual relationships and harassment, and yet they throw away the natural safeguards that prevent this abuse. No one is talking about the real issue of the nature of acts. Until this happens, #metoo is doomed to fail. No app will remedy the situation.
John Horvat II is the Vice President of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and the author of the recent book Return to Order.