Friday, July 12, 2013

J.D. Unwin’s ‘Sex and Culture’ and 'The Right Side of History'

Sigmund Freud
In the current culture war over the definition of marriage, same-sex marriage proponents claim that they are on the “right side of history.”

Make no mistake, same-sex marriage advocates are nearing total victory—it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is headed—and they know it.

With each victory comes the reminder that, “To the victor go the spoils.” One spoil of victory is the luxury to craft history’s narrative, which is made easier with the help of powerful media allies. Thus with each victory comes the reminder of the rightness of their cause.

But there is a funny thing about history—those who fail to study it are doomed to repeat it, and those who repeat it often end up on the wrong side of history.

Sex and Culture
The marriage fight is a continuation of the sexual revolution that has gripped Western culture since the 1960s. Briefly stated, the sexual revolution challenges traditional sexual ethics regarding premarital chastity and monogamous heterosexual marriages as the driving force behind the advancement and overall health of society.

Since the revolution began, Western cultures have seen swift cultural changes regarding sex, including the normalization of premarital sex, homosexuality, alternative forms of sexuality and the legalization of abortion.

The revolution began, in part at least, by the rise of neofeminism and the elevation of Freudian thought, which led many to conclude that traditional forms of sexual ethics were the creation of androcentric-religious-dominated rule, which resulted in the subjugation of women and caused psychological harm to those who were forced to suppress non-traditional sexual energy, both of which harmed civilization.

As the sexual revolution enters its sixth decade, few people—outside of religious conservatives—counter this belief. It is simply assumed by many that the sexual revolutionaries have been right all along; that men, and institutions created by men, have perpetuated sexual repression upon the masses in the name of domination and subjugation since the beginning of time.

The new sexual ethic, so the argument goes, is the result of enlightenment, and is thus much better than the old way of doing things.

To the victor go the spoils.

Nothing New Under the Sun
If anyone knows anything about traditional and non-traditional sexual ethics, it’s King Solomon—the poster child for those who call religious conservatives hypocritical in regards to their stance on marriage.

It’s true, Solomon had several hundred wives, but the real student of Scripture understands two truths about Solomon: (1) he once championed monogamous marriage (cf. Song of Solomon; Proverbs 5); (2) his marriages led to a complete breakdown of his family, his nation, and his relationship with God (1 Kings 11).

At the end of his life, Solomon lamented his pursuit for pleasure, saying that it was all folly and a chasing after the wind. What he thought was new and exciting—the result of enlightenment—was really nothing new at all, for there really is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11). Worse yet, Solomon concluded that he fell victim to his own wisdom, precisely because he failed to remember history (vv. 10-11).

This brings us to a startling discovery revealed in the 1934 book, Sex and Culture, written by British anthropologist J.D. Unwin (M.C., Ph.D).

Unwin, who was not a Christian, specifically set out to test the Freudian belief that society is a result of repressed sexual activity. Unwin collected and studied enormous amounts of data covering 86 different societies.

What he discovered was most unexpected: societies that valued premarital chastity and monogamous marriages exuded great energy that culminated in the greatest civilizations. To put it in modern terms, societies that champion “traditional” sexual ethics have always flourished, bar none.

But there’s more.

Unwin also concluded that all great civilizations ultimately suffered great decline in direct correlation to the loosening of sexual ethics. For whatever reason, and without exception, Unwin discovered that all great societies flourished during eras of sexual fidelity, but then they all reached a point when sexual ethics relaxed, resulting in a loss of cultural energy and subsequent decline, bar none.

Finally, Unwin’s research showed that each society entered its steep decline once a complete new generation inherited a tradition which does not insist on traditional sexual ethics as the societal standard.

Could this Happen to the U.S.?
It's easy to believe that the millennial generation is that generation in our society. What began as a relaxing of sexual ethics in the 1960s is coming to full bloom among millennnials, who support gay marriage by a 2 to 1 margin and generally reject traditional sexual values and gender roles.

As millennials take the reigns of power in the coming decades, traditional sexual values will likely become a distant memory, at least as the standard sexual ethic.

Further, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the United States is losing its “cultural energy.” In the 1960s, the U.S. was the world’s number one exporter of goods and services. But since then we have declined. In 1960, the U.S. trade surplus was $3.5 billion. As of 2008, the U.S. had a trade deficit of $2.5 trillion. The result has been a tremendous loss of high wage jobs, record numbers of people receiving government assistance, crippling debt and less than half of the population working full-time jobs.Worse still, America's birth rates are at an all-time low while we kill more than one million unborn children every year.

We have become a nation of self-centered consumers, rather than hard working producers. 

To be sure this is limited anecdotal data and could be coincidental, but it’s difficult to look at the current state of affairs and conclude that American society is on the rise.

Yet, Americans are often told that our technologically advanced society is making us incomparably richer, enlightened, and more advanced than all that have come before.

But according to J.D. Unwin, this group-think mentality is a common fallacy among all great societies.
“Then, convinced that the cultural process is a progressive development and that our own culture is the most developed of all cultures, we assume that every change in our cultural condition is evidence of higher cultural development”(pp.328-329).
In other words, every great society reaches a point when it believes that it is the greatest and most enlightened of all, at which point the steep and inevitable decline begins.

Pride really does come before the fall.

Sophisticated moderns tell us that the progressive changes in our culture, especially the abrupt sexual changes, are the result of higher learning and enlightenment. Therefore, all who stand opposed to these swift changes are on the “wrong side of history.”

To their credit, this has been a successful strategy designed to draw public support to their side . And of course it is successful—everyone wants to be right, even if everybody is wrong.

But Unwin’s study proves that those who stand firm for traditional sexual ethics are, in fact, on the right side of history. It’s indisputable. Societies that cherish sexual fidelity flourish, while those that champion sexual freedoms meet their demise.

The good news is that Unwin also discovered that when great civilizations fall, they have the capacity to rise again, but only when the culture reinstates premarital chastity and monogamous heterosexual marriage as the sexual ethic of the land.

Not all is lost then. Those of us who stand for traditional sexual values must not give up. At a minimum, we can pass this ethic down through our children, grandchildren, and so on, until civilization is ready to return to the right side of history.

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.Ecclesiastes 1:9


  1. Excellent, a well balanced summary. Thank you.

  2. Very insightful. Thank you for writing this, brother!


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