One man was exposed for sexually exploiting minors. Thousands of men were exposed for seeking affairs through a website. And an entire national organization continued to be exposed for barbaric practices toward unborn (and born) infants. And that’s just this week.
Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle, adultery website Ashley Madison and the abortion industry of Planned Parenthood have not occurred in a vacuum. They are the logical extension of the society we have created and cultivated.
In The Abolition of Man, one of his most prophetic pieces, C.S. Lewis saw the same thing happening over 70 years ago.
And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests1 and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
Our culture demands certain virtues, but it removes and mocks the very means by which those virtues are developed.
We oversexualize young girls and are horrified when men see them as sexual objects.
What Fogle, and others connected with him, did is morally repugnant and blameworthy, but it is also tragic. He drank too deeply from our poisoned cultural cistern.
Have you ever shopped for little girl’s clothes? At an earlier and earlier age, their clothing is inappropriately sexual. Those who lament this development are deemed “prudes” and “sexually-repressed.”
We rightly condemn those who treat children as merely sexual objects, but we tolerate and even condone those who do so partially—without ever realizing the latter leads to the former.
We lampoon monogamy and marriage and are shocked when men commit adultery.
Today, affairs are glamorized. Divorce is normalized. And the enjoyment of sex is rooted purely in temporary pleasure, not deeply committed joy.
Very rarely do you see monogamy celebrated or even acknowledged as a worthwhile option. So why are we so surprised thousands of men, married or not, sought to find the ever elusive pleasure derived from casual sex?
Almost universally, the Internet has told the men exposed by the Ashley Madison hack, “It serves you right.” But this same Internet will also continue consuming pornography and imagining the enjoyment of the very lifestyle it criticizes.
We sacrifice everything for sexual freedom and are mortified when those sacrifices show up on undercover videos.
This is the end result of our casual disregard for human life. The Planned Parenthood videos and the horrors of Kermit Gosnell are not the exception to the rule, they are the logical extension.
These crimes have revealed the ugly truth behind the rationale for abortion. It is absurd to argue personhood is determined solely by location and the preferences of another. Yet, this is where we are left with the current abortion laws and logic.
How can you be surprised that someone would kill a child just outside of the womb, when they have been conditioned to believe, contrary to their own medical education, that just a moment earlier, when the child was inside the womb, it was only a “tissue”? The atrocities are the direct result of the dehumanization of life in the womb.
But the roots and branches of abortion tragedies also extend to and intertwine with the cases of Fogle and Ashley Madison.
If children are sexual objects, then they can be sacrificed in order for us to maintain our sexual freedom. If the only thing we expect from sex is pleasure, any children that result can be discarded.
As abortion doctors cut out the pieces of unborn children from the wombs of women, they also cut out the chests of men (and women).
Ruben Navarrette Jr., a writer for Daily Beast, considered himself pro-choice, but the Planned Parenthood videos have made him reconsider his position.
The words of his wife has also stirred reflection. She told him:
These are babies that are being killed. Millions of them. And you need to use your voice to protect them. That’s what a man does. He protects children—his own children, and other children. That’s what it means to be a man.
He may be a man, but Lewis is right—culture has taken his chest. Navarrette is a man fighting to regain the chest that has been ripped from his body.
Allow me to rephrase Lewis a bit for our current circumstances.
We laugh at chastity and are shocked to find the sexually exploitive in our midst. We are constantly feeding the sexual appetite of young men and bidding them “be faithful.” We demand consequence free sex and are appalled when we see what we deem “consequences” have faces that are being sliced open.
These children have faces that will continue to be ripped apart until we realize we have chests that have already been removed.
The follow-up post “Can We Blame Culture for Our Choices?” deals with the discussion over the relationship between culture’s influence on our lives and our personal responsibility.
Does a corrupt (or corrupting) society offer men (or women) an excuse for their poor behavior?
1. When Lewis speaks of chests and the removal of it, he is using symbolic language, much the way we speak of heart. We use heart to symbolize love and other emotions. When he talks about the chest, he is speaking about the part of us that produces virtue and trains our emotions.
UPDATE: Since it was asked in the comments, if you are curious as to where Josh Duggar is in the piece, I was unaware of his involvement with Ashley Madison when I first wrote this piece.
I did not leave him out because he contradicts the message. In fact, I believe his involvement is the perfect example of this. Despite what he professed to believe, his actions demonstrated that he felt sex should be used merely for his personal enjoyment—regardless of the potential consequences to his victims, his wife, his family, his employer and his faith.
UPDATE 2: Some have critiqued the post for focusing too heavily on men. My appropriating Lewis’ language of “men without chests” and drawing from Navarrette’s piece about the challenge his wife gave him, does not mean, therefore, that none of the points are applicable to women.
Still others of you believe this article allows men escape personal responsibility by simply blaming culture or society for their choices, or worse yet, blaming the victims—”it’s your fault you dressed like that.”
One post does not and cannot contain all that I’ve written on a topic or published on this blog, particularly one as broad as our sex-saturated culture and the repercussions involved.
I have written on this topic and directed it more toward women in these two posts: Fifty Shades of Magic Mike: The Pornification of Women and The Bachelorette: Emotional Pornography?.
I also had four women last week share their views on abortion and challenge the ideas held by many of their fellow females—What Pro-Gospel Has to Do With Pro-Life, I Am Woman, I Am Pro-Life, Hear Me Roar, Choose Life and Life Abundantly, and Being Pro-life is the Ultimate Pro-Choice Stance.
In terms of the second accusation (and the first to some extent), I wrote the follow-up post on the connection between culture and the individual. But to sum up my position, I believe it is possible to critique a culture without absolving members of their responsibility.