Philosophy, Sex and the American Decline

I suspect you’ll see the title as hinting that I’m going to talk about the subject of philosophy, perhaps a little bit about the act of sex, and then talk a little more on how these things might contribute to the “strange” idea that America is in a decline. Is it a moral decline? An educational or financial one? Perhaps he’s going to go on about how a bad philosophy of sex has contributed to the decline of traditional American values over recent times.

To be honest with you, I have no interest in talking about how traditional American values have declined because of an unlawful use of sex. This doesn’t mean that I lack civic interest in the subject (indeed, I’ve argued about this many times before), but really that at the heart of whatever our moral decline may be, there lies a bad philosophy of many a things – of life, of sex, of person(s), of society and structure, and uniquely (though not new), a bad philosophy of self.

Consider the differences between two ethical philosophies that touch on the subject of human nature: Natural Law and Naturalism. Natural Law acknowledges nature has a supernatural intelligence backed behind it, while Naturalism fundamentally rejects this point. God holds a chair of ontological significance in Natural Law to which Naturalism places Nature (with a capital “N”) on the chair in His place. For philosophers, Naturalism is the view that only the material is the real.

The Natural Law tradition holds that sexual powers (such as procreation) are teleological, and that they are for something; not to be confused as instrumental powers that can be objectified and manipulated, but that they have a meaning behind them, with design, intention and purpose. Naturalism can not see how nonmaterial properties such as “right” and “wrong” apply to material things, so we should not be surprised by their rejection of the previous point that was just made.

As a matter of fact, naturalists may regard the biological sector of human sexual nature as the only true or considerable way of looking at the problem. For instance, looking at the risk of pregnancy, the pathway to STD’s, safe sex, and so forth. However, the natural law enthusiast is quick to recognize that there is another side of human sexuality that isn’t being addressed: the girl feeling wronged for her experience with a “Friend with Benefits,” to the point of crying or even committing suicide. The young man who doesn’t want to enter into the gates of adulthood out of fear or resentment.

J. Budziszewski, a natural lawyer and professor at the University of Texas, confesses that if we to treat both sides seriously we must look at them as they are [1]. To treat the human sex problem as a heart problem, to not remove sex from personal identity or most importantly, from its design.

Moving On

Recent events have made this issue more and more centralized in the public forum. The effects of the sexual revolution are finally catching up to us; new arguments and new books abound for those who fancy a position in this debate*. June 26th shows the advent of American government sanctioning same-sex marriages. Earlier that same month Caitlyn Jenner debuted on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. In recent times, a leaked video from the Center of Medical Progress caught Planned Parenthood (twice) admitting to the distribution and profit of fetal organs.

To no surprise, I am a stronger holder of the view that it is the Christians who have conquered history. Better put, it was Christ who won the keys to the future and will one day liberate His people and this earth. It’s why Paul in the book of Romans said, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:22-23).

Christians ought to engage and debate and dialogue with the public forum not for the sake of making the population at large conceding to their guilt and condemnation. Do you recall what Paul said about arguments to the church of Corinth? “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Interestingly (Christians look!), arguments seem to have a deeply embedded Gospel orientation.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6). 

As for the aforementioned recent events that have taken place, don’t mistake this as a purely Christian call for action. In my experience, some Christians ought to keep their mouth shut rather than act. I say that not as a principle of derision, but that ignorance mixed with passion or perhaps determination may breed unnecessary polemical results.


*A fun project for some: on Google search for a quote made by Voltaire on reading bad books – I think it’s fitting for what I’ve said here. He made the comment in his Philosophical Dictionary (1764).


About Steven Dunn

A believer of the Gospel; a broken mind being reformed in grace.
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