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Society's Slide Into Sexual Immorality

We are now some 30 years into the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s. What has been the impact on society? What are the implications for the future?

Sex is everywhere. It permeates the movies and the television programs we watch, the music we hear, the magazines and books we read, the talk shows we listen to. Society, it seems, is obsessed with sex.

Perhaps never has society had access to so much knowledge about sex but understood so little about it. Seldom have people suffered so much through sexual ignorance. Recently in the U.S. it was reported that the sexually transmissible diseases, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and AIDS, were the three most commonly reported infectious disorders in 1995.

And now even herpes is back with a vengeance. The British newspaper, The Independent, recently reported that "genital herpes, the incurable sexually transmitted disease that was lost from sight in the shadow of AIDS, is infecting record numbers of people in Britain" (Feb. 2). Experts estimate that "about one in ten women in London carry the virus," and in America "it is estimated that 500,000 people contract genital herpes each year." Nancy Herndon of the American Health Association commented that herpes is much more contagious than the HIV.

The sexual revolution has been with us for three decades. Newsweek magazine documented the sweeping change that began as far back as 1967: "The old taboos are dying. A new, more permissive society is taking shape . . . And, behind this expanding permissiveness is . . . a society that has lost its consensus on such crucial issues as premarital sex, . . . marriage, birth control and sex education . . ." (November 13, 1967, p. 74).

We need to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the eyes of God. The Bible instructs that men and women should abstain from premarital sexual involvement and practice monogamy in marriage. Any sexual conduct apart from the marital union is biblically defined as immoral and sinful (1 John 3:4). Clearly, many modern nations have fallen far short of this godly ideal.

Statistics show that adulterous behavior is out of control. The Kinsey Institute estimates that, during their married lives, 37 percent of American males will prove sexually unfaithful to their wives and 29 percent of American wives will commit adultery (June M. Reinisch, St. Martins Press, New York, 1990, p. 7, 73).

Adultery is family-obliterating behavior that destroys the very heart of society, with devastating consequences for children. According to social critic William Kirkpatrick, divorce is "up 700 percent in this century, with most of the rise occurring in recent decades" (Why Johnny Can't Tell Right From Wrong, Touchstone, New York, 1993, p. 249). He also notes that "the pain of parental divorce is more difficult for a child to overcome than the death of a parent" (ibid., p. 250). An astonishing three in five American children born in 1986 will live with a single parent by age 18.

Equally disturbing developments are the levels of premarital sexual activity and pregnancy in Western nations. How many American teens are engaging in sex? "Data on teenage sexual activity are inexact . . . But most experts in the field agree that somewhere over 60 percent of American teenagers have had sexual intercourse by the time they finish high school" (Lillian B. Rubin, Erotic Wars, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New...

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