Planned Parenthood has a gripe with the sexual ethics of young people. It’s not that those ethics are too loose: It’s that they’re too strict.
Yes, really. On PP’s Facebook page for teens, they’ve linked to an MTV video calling on teens to quit expressing disapproval of promiscuity. The speaker (a purported “sexpert” named Francisco) urges them to “stop the slut-shaming.”
“A lot of people define slut as someone who has too much sex or too many partners,” Francisco complains. “But according to who? The slut fairy?” He goes on to suggest that “slut,” far from being an epithet, should be a term of empowerment:
But did you know that some people use slut in a positive way? They use it to define a woman who is confident in her sexuality and being the sexual being that she is. I personally think there’s a little bit of slut in all of us. So embrace it! … ‘Slut’ should only be used for good.
(For more, click here.)
talking to adults, especially parents, they insist that they’re not encouraging
teen sex, merely accepting its inevitability and trying to prevent some
undesired consequences. When they’re talking to teens, they talk like the real
Planned Parenthood — devoted to spreading the gospel of sexual pleasure uber
alles, stripped of moral significance and devoid of meaningful restraint. This is, after all, the same group that claims that HIV-infected people have an absolute right to hide their status from their partners. (See “Sex, Lies and Planned Parenthood.”)
But enough about PP. What’s more interesting is the trend (if that’s the right word for it) that upsets them: The persistence, and perhaps even strengthening, of anti-promiscuity attitudes among young people. Others have noted these, too, albeit not much more happily than PP: A Salon article dubbed Millennials “Generation Scold.” (See Heather Koerner’s Boundless post “Millennials Are So ‘Judgmental’ About Promiscuity.”) And counter to PP, which sees the attitudes applied only toward females, they’ve noted that men, too, increasingly can face disapproval: “Player” generally is not a compliment.
Like Heather, I’m not sure about how universal this trend is. While it’s real, so is the hookup culture, and they coexist in tension. But if the PP worldview were right — if sex really had no more innate moral significance than the participants chose to grant it — then by now there should be no major disapproval of promiscuity left among people under a certain age, much less disapproval that is, in some respects, growing. They’ve had generations of Americans indoctrinated in the teachings of the Sexual Revolution for half a century. If all the sexual standards of the past were merely matters of social convention and religious oppression in a pre-Pill age, imposed on us with no foundation in human nature, surely by now we should be past disapproval of any sexual activity.
That hasn’t happened because PP isn’t right. Sex inherently means something very important. And we inherently know it, on some level. To the extent there’s a rise in opposition to promiscuity, it’s not grounded in a biblical understanding of sex and marriage. It’s not even a coherent moral worldview; it’s inconsistent and confused and distorted in many ways — often seeking untenable compromises like, “Sex is OK within a ‘committed relationship.'” Yet underneath it all, there are some healthy instincts. There’s a sense that sex means something more, something different, than what they’ve been told. They can’t always articulate it, but they have an idea that the “sex-positive” attitudes proclaimed by the likes of PP don’t enhance the value of sex, but cheapen it.
There’s opportunity for Christians in this. More people’s ears may be open to us than we think. We have a great contribution to make on this subject — a deeper, richer, truer understanding of love between man and woman than anything the world can offer. We shouldn’t shy away from talking about it. Someone out there may be just waiting to hear it — even if they don’t know it yet.