10 Things You Should Know about the Sexual Revolution

Nov 30, 2020 by

by Carl R Trueman, Crossway:

1. It has been a long time in the making.

One of the mistakes Christians tend to make is assuming that the sexual revolution was something that happened in the 1960s as part of the general loosening of conventional morality which that decade witnessed. In fact, it is of much deeper and longstanding origins. We can tend to miss this because we focus on the phenomena associated with the sexual revolution—for example, widespread changes in attitude to premarital sex, homosexuality, and abortion. What we often fail to realize is that these phenomena are actually symptoms of deeper changes in society, particularly those associated with what it means to be a fulfilled human being. The sexual revolution rests on the idea that fulfillment is a matter of personal, psychological happiness and anything which obstructs that—specifically traditional sexual codes—is by definition oppressive and preventing us from flourishing. And that psychological construction of human purpose stretches back at least as far as Rousseau and the Romantics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The sexual revolution is simply one manifestation of a broader culture of what we might call expressive individualism.

2. It has complicated roots.

As implied above, the roots of the sexual revolution are complicated. First, we see the psychologization of the self in the hands of Rousseau and the Romantics. Then we have the sexualization of psychology—the notion that our sexual desires and their physical satisfaction are the most basic things about us—at the hands of Sigmund Freud and his followers. Next we have the politicizing of sex by the New Left whereby oppression is reconceived not so much in economic terms as in psychological terms. The stage is thus set for debates about sex, one of the most personal and intimate of human realities, to become the most public issue of our day.

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