The Corner

Two Must-Read Pieces on the High Cost of Sexual License

The first — in The Federalist — is by a self-described gay conservative Democrat who supports gay marriage, and he is unhappy with gay culture:

The problem is that the entire milieu in which gay men’s moral and sexual socialization takes place is so deeply compromised, so bereft of sustainable meaning and protracted monogamous commitment, that marriage in the traditional sense (which is what I believe gay men are trying to achieve in their lives) will be impossible to realize.


Promiscuous sex and drug use are not exceptional or marginalized currents in gay culture. They are an omnipresent force in every register, crook, and cranny of the gay world. The new and disturbing “Poz Me” trend merging in gay culture needs to be nationally discussed. This culture consists in underground online sites where gay men who are HIV negative hook up with men who are not and beg to be “breeded” by HIV-positive men.

I’d urge you to read the entire thing. It’s an unsparing, uncompromising look at a culture in which “43 percent of all gay men in Western democracies claimed to have had more than 500 partners in their lifetime, and 28 percent claimed more than 1,000.” In other words, men are giving in to their desires without restraint, and the result isn’t so much joy and fulfillment as it is loneliness and desperation.

The second piece is in Middlebury Magazine. Written by recent graduate Leah Fessler, it chronicles her own adventures in college hookup culture and her own efforts to study its effects. She found herself “frustrated” that she couldn’t embrace “anti-monogamous ideals,” and — even worse — she discovered that hookup culture hurt. Speaking of one “friend with benefits” she says this:

During the spring of my junior year, I met up with a boy every weekend night. I’d convinced myself that our conversations about Nietzsche meant we were developing something, only to learn months later he “didn’t think of me as a human being when we were hooking up.” My friend Jen (all names have been changed to preserve anonymity) was excited about a boy she’d been seeing for several months until she learned he was also seeing three other girls. Another friend spoke of a guy she’d hooked up with for a semester: he told her he could be “90 percent committed to her . . . just in case something happens, and I want to see someone else.”

While these pseudo-breakups hurt, they weren’t breakups, and that’s what made them so troublesome. Really we only lost the physical nature of the relationship, which we’d attempted to convince ourselves—as our culture regulated—we liked. Worse, we were hiding this guy-related stress, ashamed that such “meaningless” experiences could shake our emotional stability.

Curious about her classmates’ experiences, she decided to conduct a survey. The results were clear:

After interviewing 75 students and analyzing 314 online surveys, I was astounded by female students’ unanimous preferences not for the hookup culture—but against it. Despite having diverse initial perceptions about hookup culture, 100 percent of female interviewees stated a clear preference for committed relationships. And 74 percent of female survey respondents reported that, ideally, they would be in a “committed relationship with one person” at Middlebury.

Further, 91 percent of female respondents presently in a committed relationship with a Middlebury student (or alum) reported to be “very happy” or “happy” with their situation, while a whopping zero percent of those consistently sexually engaged with one person—but who haven’t discussed their exclusivity—said that they are “very happy.” (Eight percent are “happy.”) And fewer than 20 percent of single and sexually disengaged female respondents said they were “happy” with their situation. Only about 35 percent of female respondents (and 44 percent of male respondents) find noncommittal sexual engagements fulfilling in the moment and feel fine about them later. The rest are generally dissatisfied.

Desire-driven “consent morality” is doing grave damage. Indulging in sexual desire without considering the underlying virtue of the relationship or the morality of the desire itself is a recipe for human suffering — leading to the paradox where many of the most sexually-active people are the most heartbroken and most lonely.

For those who understand biblical truth, the notion of slavery to sin is hardly new — and it turns out that redefining sin as freedom doesn’t make the slavery or sorrow any less real. 


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