Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 12:36 pm | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Randy Alcorn: Warning, This Column Is X-Rated

What is it with our obsession with human sexuality and the consternation it presents?

Sex sells. Just ask the folks who produce Viagra or Internet pornography. The more lurid or unusual the sexual behavior, the greater is the interest. The media predictably go into hyper drive over the sexual escapades of celebrities like Tiger Woods or politicians like John Edwards. The various issues involving homosexuality fill the news. Ultimately all the attention is about sexual behavior that both fascinates and disturbs the public.

Randy Alcorn
Randy Alcorn

The obsession with human sexuality and the concomitant consternation it arouses present curious contradictions. Sexuality is as natural to the human species as is hunger and thirst, and judging from the burgeoning growth of human population, there aren’t too many folks who aren’t actively engaged in it. Yet, certain consensual sexual activity and any popular culture that openly depicts human sexuality are regarded as grave threats to civilization.

So grave that we have increasingly allowed government to establish and maintain standards of sexual decency. For example, the Federal Communications Commission, intending to maintain the erection of broadcast decency and to prevent the penetration of civilization-ending immorality into American society, stiffened the penalties for broadcast indecency following the infamous Janet Jackson breast-baring episode during a Super Bowl halftime show. To the profoundly prudish, this incident provided indisputable evidence that the underpinnings of American society were being publicly unfastened by unprincipled broadcasters groping for audience share by appealing to the prurient interests of the morally susceptible.

The protection of children is often the primary justification for determining decency standards. Continuous efforts to expand federal government censorship of broadcast media, including cable, satellite TV and radio, are typically justified by concerns for protecting children from indecent content. Theoretically, exposure to Jackson’s nipple could cause irreparable damage to the psyches of children, but continual exposure to savagely homicidal video games will not. Is viewing a naked body more dangerous to the mental health of children than is their viewing a body being hacked to bits?

Censorship is always an arbitrary undertaking, whether conducted by government or by parents, but in a free society parents are the rightful censors for children, not government. While parental censorship restricts only the children’s freedom of choice, government censorship restricts everyone’s freedom of choice. And government is too easily influenced or controlled by narrow interests and ideologues. It is folly to trust transient elected officials or busy-body bureaucrats with our freedom.

Congregations of theocratic conservatives whose flaccid thinking often renders logic impotent have used government to impose subjective morality on the nation through expanded censorship and untenable restrictions on sex education. The latter denies teenagers access to condoms and insists on sexual abstinence. Sexual abstinence, however, is simply unnatural. American boys and girls reach puberty in their early teens but typically do not marry until their mid- to late twenties. Thrust this hard reality into the tight confines of moral certainty, and it is ludicrously unrealistic to expect these young people, who are at the peak of their libidos, to forgo sex for a decade or more. Celibacy may be a virtue to some, but it is aberration to others.

The entire frame of reference of sexual morality in America is screwy. Americans insist on tolerating the charade of a sexual probity based on antiquated religious moralities selectively applied. Ancient moralists condemned homosexuality as a threat to society because it depressed birth rates that needed to be high to offset high infant mortality rates, but for the same reason had no issue with polygamy.

Today, however, polygamy is an immorality condemned by law. Yet, in most states a man or woman can legally have multiple sex partners, even have children by them, but if he or she is married to more than one of these partners simultaneously it is illegal and immoral. Sequential multiple marriages, however, are OK, as long as each is preceded by an official divorce. Is child welfare any more threatened by polygamy than it is by divorce? It depends on the parents.

Sexual commerce is another issue where the seeds of senselessness are ejaculated. It is not illegal for adult couples to have consensual sex, even if one of them bought the other flowers and a dinner. But, if after sex one of them pays the other cash for the act it is criminal prostitution.

The arguments against prostitution include economic victimization, psychological aberration and disease.

Essentially moralists are contending that those who do not share their ideas of morality must be maladjusted, or victims of economic destitution whose sexual practices threaten public health. But, if prostitution is employment of last resort, the same could be said of any job people take rather than endure abject poverty. And more disease is spread by unclean hands than by genitalia.

The fundamental founding principle of America is freedom, but self-righteous ideologues have been recalibrating that principle to fit a narrow definition based on personal, anachronistic ideas of morality. If adult freedoms are restricted to screen society from possible exposure to everything that moralists consider indecent, our freedom is forfeit.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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