"Let's rethink sex" by Christine Emba

November 30, 2017

Today’s Must-Read Think Piece is by Mark Hemingway at the Weekly Standard, who analyzes a surprising column by Washington Post writer Christine Emba called, “Let’s Rethink Sex.” No, it’s not the kinky free love piece you might expect.

Ms Emba has dared to exhibit a rare (and in the media, often professionally fatal) intellectual honesty in asking why we’re suddenly seeing so many powerful men accused of so much sexual harassment – I might add, mostly liberal men from liberal enclaves such as Hollywood, Silicon Valley, NBC and PBS, who have long postured as feminists. Looking beyond the easy answer (“All men are rapists and monsters”), she admits that maybe there was a downside to the sexual revolution that tore down all the old traditional values regarding sex.

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Ms Emba is extremely careful to avoid tripping the Twitter outrage trigger over “victim shaming” by hinting that women’s behavior or fashion choices might be even partly to blame for making these men see them as sex objects. Instead, she gingerly suggests that maybe society took a wrong turn when it started treating sex as a meaningless, animalistic physical pleasure you can access on any street corner though a hookup app, instead of a form of deep, shared intimacy between two loving, committed partners. Also that the removal of moral judgements and the debasing of sex into a meaningless commodity gave these powerful men the idea that they didn’t need to behave any better around women than bulls do around cows. Note how many weasel words she employs (“might, could be, possibly, theory”) to describe this obvious time-proven truth without stepping on a PC landmine:

“…Now could be the time to reintroduce virtues such as prudence, temperance, respect and even love. We might pursue the theory that sex possibly has a deeper significance than just recreation and that ‘consent’ — that thin and gameable boundary — might not be the only moral sensibility we need respect.”

She sounds like Dr. Seuss trying to explain basic morality to five-year-olds: “Maybe sex isn’t something that comes from a store. Maybe sex, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

As Hemingway points out, she's actually admitting that "conservatives were right all along about sex." When she says that “society” has done this, she doesn’t seem to realize that there is a huge section of American society, especially religious believers of all faiths, who never followed the “Anything Goes” train off the rails. It might be the prevailing attitude in liberal industries such as entertainment, fashion, publishing, and as we’ve recently seen, politics; but to many Americans, it’s always been repellent. And the industries that mistook hedonism for freedom have never stopped mocking and attacking those who refused to go along.

Before you rush to the comments section, I’m well aware that many people who profess religious beliefs have fallen short of their own standards. The difference is that people who sincerely hold traditional moral values and fail to live up to them call that “sinning,” and their response is remorse, repentance, seeking forgiveness, and asking God to help them overcome their sins. They know humans are not perfect and can fall short and succumb to temptation. But they see their sin as a weakness to be ashamed of and overcome, not a fun cheap thrill to be celebrated.

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This is my beef with those even in the faith community who claim that churches that don’t adapt to the looser moral standards of the Tinder generation will die out. Studies have shown that the much-ballyhooed decline in membership among mainstream conservative church denominations has been offset by growth in conservative non-denominational churches that tend to be even more traditionally Bible-based. The numbers suggest that most believers understand that it’s not the mission of churches to tailor their teachings to the base desires of the young and ignorant. It’s the job of churches to teach the young eternal truths, so they’ll no longer be ignorant.

Nice to see that the Washington Post is finally letting a little of that concept creep into its pages.


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Comments 1-5 of 36

  • Clara Herrin

    12/20/2017 12:12 PM

    It's all well and good to stand on the principals as set forth in the Bible and taught in most Christian homes, however, as I have observed in the church I attend these principals seem to be conveniently ignored. Many of the young women of child-bearing age come to church dressed in skin-tight skirts that leave nothing...and I mean nothing to the imagination. They parade around as if it doesn't matter that they are 'advertising' and their husbands don't seem to mind, either. Even I have difficulty looking away...and for completely different reasons. Men may be sneaking a peek for the obvious reasons, however, I'm trying hard not to look. I confess that I'm embarrassed for them...to appear in late pregnancy in skin-tight clothing is really not a beautiful thing to do. There should be more discussions about how women dress in church. In Sunday School this past Sunday there was a huge emphasis on how young men can hold on to their...yes, I'm going to say it...virginity. How about girls and women doing what they can to avoid tempting their counterparts to the brink of disaster.

  • Ellen Hoffman

    12/05/2017 09:32 PM

    I was raised by a "feminist" believing family. It was drilled into my head that women are no different then men and they are just discriminated against. My mother was angry at how "unfair" life was for women. I am a woman and I joined the Navy, ending up in the nuclear power industry. It didn't take long for me to figure out that everything I had been taught was wrong. There is no way men and women think alike. I was outnumbered 500 to 1. Unless I am an unusual female there are huge differences. I became a born again Christian after 2 years of being treated poorly. We were all 18 year old children with raging hormones. I know about sexual harassment personally. I learned early on, what I wear makes a difference. Oh, how I wish I was taught to respect and love the differences. When that happens both women and men are more happy. Love and respect are the keys to a good foundation.

  • Richard Carl Gremillion

    12/04/2017 12:24 PM

    Well said. I love the Episcopal Church, but had to leave it when they chose to let the world change them, rather than be the change that Christ intended for the church to be for the world. Yes, the ancient mores are based in Biblical values, but interestingly are also based in the lessons of the ages. Aboriginal tribes that had no access to the Bible still enforced monogamy and prohibited premarital sex, not because of Holy Scripture, but because the ages and generations before them learned and taught them that a culture of free sex just didn't work, and that the survival of the tribe depended upon committed heterosexual monogamous relationships. Yes, I know that someone will point out the obscure exception to this statement, but as a general rule, most aboriginal cultures were monogamous and heterosexual.

  • Barbara Meade

    12/04/2017 11:50 AM

    In a search for a home church, I found one that believes the Bible and that there are absolute right and wrongs. In order to be popular many believe in gray areas as not to offend the congregation. Right can only be right and wrong can only be wrong. In areas of morality, even murder by abortion become a matter of personal choice.

  • Nancy D Willprecht

    12/03/2017 11:55 PM

    Right on!And the ones who do not believe this will have to answer to God.