For quite a few years Jennifer Morse has been saying that if sex is separated from man-and-wife marriage, committed relationships, and procreation, and if it is reduced to a consumer product, it will lead to the weakening of a free society. One of the places she argues this point is in her 2005 book, Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-Up World. I don’t agree with everything in this book, but Morse makes some outstanding ethical and social points in it. For example:
The sexual revolution has been disappointing because it has been profoundly anti-social. By uncoupling sexual activity from both of its natural functions, procreation and spousal unity, we have capsized the whole natural order of sexuality. Instead of being an engine of sociability and community building, sex has become a consumer good. Instead of being something that drives us out of ourselves and into a relationship with others, our sexual activity turns us inward on ourselves and on our own desires. A sexual partner is not a person to whom I am irrevocably connected by bonds of love. Rather, my sexual partner has become an object that satisfies me more or less well. I call this modern approach to sexual behavior ‘consumer sex’” (p. 61-2).
“…The view I laid out in the first section [of this book] is an outline of an alternative view: human sexuality is about building up the community of the family, both through bringing new children into being and through unifying the spouses in heart and soul as well as body.”
“I believe this difference in world view is at the heart of the culture wars. One side believes the meaning of human sexuality is primarily individual. Sex is primarily a private activity; the purpose of sex is to obtain individual pleasure and satisfaction. The alternative view is that sex is primarily a social activity. The purpose of sex is building up the community of the family, starting with the spousal relationship and adding on from there” (p. 63).
“Sexual activity can be destructive of community if people become focused inward, exclusively on their own desires, rather than on the building up of the community of the family” (p. 115).
Morse is right on here. A consumer view – a narcissistic view – of sex is ultimately bad for people and society in more ways that we might realize (I’ll come back to this in a later post). The biblical view of husband, wife, marriage and family is not a straight-jacket, boring, or old-fashioned way of life; it is a way of life that benefits and blesses other people – and society as a whole!