In response to an upcoming Vanity Fair piece that examines the impact of Tinder and other apps of its kind on the evolution of dating and romantic relations among Millennials, Damon Linker argues that the promiscuity so often condemned by older generations today is really just the fulfillment of the sexual revolution that began in the 1960’s. In his article for The Week, he notes that there is little difference in the moral thinking and philosophy between then and now. Rather, the reality is that it’s simply easier for young people today to have the kind of promiscuous life previous generations wanted.
To that end, he concludes that “This is the world we made, furnishing it with our mores, our freedom from judgment and consequences…Just because we arrived too late to “enjoy” it as fully as those who’ve graduated from college during the last decade doesn’t make us any less responsible for it.”
Moreover, while he says many in the older generations may find this promiscuous kind of lifestyle where a date is often little more than “copulation with an optional kiss” appalling, “There’s just one problem: In order for this reaction to amount to more than an old fogey’s sub-rational expression of disgust at the behavior of the young, it has to make reference to precisely the kind of elaborate account of morality…that liberals have worked so hard to jettison, in the name of sexual liberation, for the past half-century.”
For Linker, the consequences of that sexual liberation became even more jarring with the birth of his children, now 9 and 13. He says that he wants more for them than what seems to lie ahead. He wants his children to experience something more meaningful than fleeting sexual encounters that might satisfy for the moment but serve less as a replacement for true love and fulfillment than as an inoculation against them.
The problem is that the kind of moral compass and stable standards that such a life requires no longer exist. They were once found in things like religion and other systems of belief, but that sort of thinking was cast aside long ago. As Linker concludes, “‘God? Nature? Won’t the world be better off without those musty old ideas limiting our freedom, hovering over our heads, judging us, weighing on our conscience?’ That’s what we asked. And the twentysomethings of Vanity Fair are the answer. Is it really the answer we were hoping for?”
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. Those beliefs that were cast aside by so many can still be retrieved with ease. Moreover, the benefits they offer, long taken for granted, are becoming more evident as the world drifts further and further away from the anchors they provided.
You see, one of the blessings inherent to a culture that is quickly expanding past the edges of conventional morality is that the middle ground between the two poles becomes ever more visible. With the promiscuity Linker describes epitomizing a culture in which moral virtues are becoming increasingly relative, it is more and more difficult for the sins that used to hide in the shadows to remain there, if for no other reason than they no longer have to.
It is far easier for the world to notice our light when it is mired in a dim existence. As Linker noted, the kind of life that accompanies a world where promiscuity and immoral living are socially acceptable cannot help but leave people with a yearning for something more. So rather than bemoan the decline of cultural morality and long for the days when people had the decency to keep their sinful actions and desires hidden rather than placed out in the open, maybe we’d be better off simply living out the Christian life and waiting with open arms for the day when society realizes their need for what we have in Jesus. And if we do, we’ll find ourselves in good company. After all, that’s what God has done for each of us.