The Perennial Temptation: When Sexual “Freedom” is Made the Most Important Thing in Life
What is the downside for a society that prides itself on “sexual freedom” with fewer and fewer margins of restraint? Please permit me to introduce the testimony of Miriam Grossman, a Psychiatrist (an M.D. specializing in matters of the mental world, the “psyche”) who worked at UCLA for some 12 years counseling students at the university campus clinic. She is one the most highly respected doctors today. A Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School says of Dr. Grossman: “You’ve become a household name here at Hopkins psychiatry as the best contemporary example of a good doctor who notices what is happening around her and to her patients and strives to do something about it.”
Doctor Grossman remarks that campus counseling centers are busier than ever and asks, “Why are our kids in such bad shape?” In addition to the pressures of leaving home and of job prospects, Grossman proposes another factor: “I contend that radical social ideologies are also to blame. . . . Radical politics pervades my profession and common sense has vanished. . . . My profession has been hijacked.”
Grossman wrote a book about her patients’ experiences called Unprotected. She explains that “Unprotected tells the stories of college students who are casualties of the radical activism of my profession. These were students who turned to me for help in the midst of crisis. . . . Inaccurate and ideology-driven ‘health education’ misinforms our sons and daughters, increasing their vulnerability. HIV is presented as an equal-opportunity infection. Despite substantial failure rates,” protection is “endlessly enshrined. Young women are led to believe that, like men, they can delay childbearing indefinitely. The emotional consequences of STDs and abortion are downplayed.”
“Students turn in hordes to their campus health and counseling centers. I see firsthand how the politicization of these centers is hazardous and wrong. Hazardous, because our kids are deprived of facts they need to make informed decisions, while risky behaviors are sanctioned. Wrong, because it is unethical to promote a particular social agenda while providing medical or mental health services.”
Grossman laments that while Cardiologists hound their patients about fatty diets and insufficient exercise and Pediatricians encourage healthy snacks and safety helments, she is prohibited in the PC environment from advising her patients about startling risks in undisciplined sexual expression. She speaks of a young woman being devastated by a disease who well understood the benefits of self-discipline in many areas: sports, academics, drugs and alcohol. Grossman asked, “Why was she never told that sexuality is one more area—a major one—where her self-discipline will be well rewarded?”
Six Areas Affected by Hyper-Sexual Expressionism
Though larger society’s talking class is unable to admit it, the socially accepted “throwing caution to the wind” in all matters sexual has led to devastating consequences for many cherished relationships. Rules often vilified as limiting self-expression beg reaffirmation as the necessary guardrails to guide and protect our value as persons. When these protective guidelines are ignored, our personhood is diminished. This can be seen in six areas outlined below. There may be more.
1. Scars of heartbreak and hardening. Young writer Kristen Walker reveals how involvement in the socially acceptable lack of restraint affected her emotional self. She said, “I was never what you’d call promiscuous, but nor was I what you’d call sexually moral. Because of my willingness to give of myself completely to men who weren’t willing to give me the same, I lived a life of heartbreak and confusion. Finally, about four years ago, I noticed that every time I gave my heart away, I wasn’t getting it all back. Every go-round, there seemed to be less and less of my heart to give. I was becoming less open, more guarded, even bitter. I could feel a wall growing around my heart, and it was thick and it was high. I knew that one day, God willing, I was going to have a husband. Did I want him to end up with the leftovers, the dregs? Did I want him to have to mount a high wall to get to my heart?. . . . I have felt my heart heal, and I know that the next time I give myself to someone, it will be on my wedding night, to someone I trust, who has given himself to me in turn.” (Quoted from Marcia Segelstein in Salvo 21, Summer 2012).
2. Loss of healthy developmental space for children when they are burdened with sexual issues before their time. Child psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, mentioned above, writes about the consequences of invading childhood innocence with the sex-education agenda in her latest book, You’re Teaching My Child What? (2009). Dr. Grossman testified to a California Senate hearing in March 2011. She stated: “Children process and integrate information differently than adults and there are facts a child cannot easily assimilate because he or she lacks the tools to do so. The child is immature and can be overwhelmed and confused more easily than adults. . . . For instance, the idea of trans-genderism (8 in 100,000 people) is confusing and frightening to children. Is there really an age appropriate way to discuss this with, for instance, first through third graders? A child is not a miniature adult. It is our responsibility to protect them as best we can from facts and experiences they are not equipped to handle.” Using children as political pawns is demeaning and harmful.
3. The Gift of Friendship is diminished. When relationships are over-sexualized, there is a lessening of the value of friendship across the board. Many less “progressive” cultures continue to encourage and enjoy deep and fulfilling male-male and female-female life long friendships. These are not about sexual things but rather sharing a wider range of life involvements and enjoyments. Friendship is one of the best things in life. Hyper-sexualization makes these types of friendships more difficult.
4. Increased physical harm and social trauma. Ignoring basic Biblical guidelines for the gift of sexuality is correlated with a rise in contracting sexual diseases that diminish personal health. This increases social anxiety, while unexpected pregnancy can bring on social trauma as nature itself puts the pursuit of mere pleasure into a larger perspective.
5. A person’s relationship with God is lessened. Over-sexualizing relationships puts people into a habit of mind that thinks and sees sex everywhere. Uncritical, unrestrained, and constant media conditioning make it only “natural” to become sex-obsessed. A person fixated on an earthly good thing as if it were the life’s main good thing may tend to miss life’s deeper and more fulfilling relationship, namely, knowing God.
6. Singleness is overlooked as an opportunity for deep growth. Singleness can be a period in one’s life, or for some, a life vocation. It should not be wasted, but can be used to pursue and deepen friendships and family relationships, work on personal growth, reach out in service, and most of all, to grow in intimacy with God.
In conclusion, promoting unlimited freedom without the humanizing restraints of moral law (form) is abuse via neglect. Let me end with a powerful observation by Dr. Grossman: “When sexual freedom reigns, sexual health suffers.” Truly Christians need to challenge our culture’s idolatry of sexual “freedom.” Grossman continues: “We are not defined by our urges . . . We are defined by something more essential, uplifting and transcendent.”
Lance Hickerson Forest Home Church (March 2013)