The Corner

The Sexual Revolution Depends on Big Government

Maggie Gallagher’s and William Duncan’s posts are important reminders about the extent to which the sexual revolution is sustained and empowered by government. While it’s fairly obvious that legalized abortion, no-fault divorce, and — to a lesser extent — the new contraception mandate, create the legal structures necessary to launch a more libertine, self-indulgent lifestyle, less obvious is the extent to which government moves to mitigate the rather dramatic negative cultural and economic effects of that same self-indulgence.

We conservatives spend much time bemoaning the extent to which the “nanny” state is impairing our liberties and taking the place of parents, but when you talk to teachers at inner-city or poor rural school districts, they often say that the nanny state is taking the place of . . . well, nothing at all. Our fatherless kids are being fed breakfast, lunch, and sometimes now even a school dinner, and why not ban Happy Meals if there’s no competent parent around to say “no”? In fact, much of the apparatus of state entitlement is built around the presumption that citizens should enjoy a certain standard of living regardless of their personal choices and conduct.  

If citizens were forced to bear more of the weight of their sexual decisions, would those decisions be different? History suggests the answer is a rather decisive “yes.”

So faced with rising illegitimacy and the resulting intractable poverty (the “stickiness” at the bottom of the income ladder isn’t due to greedy bankers — sorry #Occupy — but to shattered families), do we begin to roll back the “reforms” that facilitate the revolution that is bankrupting us? By no means. Our government pushes forward, full speed ahead, separating sex even further from marriage, separating marriage from procreation, and throwing trillions of dollars at the inevitable (and tragic) cultural consequences.

We social conservatives hold the line on same-sex marriage not because we think it is more destructive than abortion and no-fault divorce (obviously it is not) but because all of these trends are rooted in the same destructive ideological and spiritual impulses that lead us to discard natural law, privilege adult wants over all other values, and erase even our most long-held liberties in the name of sexual desire.  

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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