March 7th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Behind Malcolm Turnbull's pitch for green votes

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The Costello question that refuses to go away

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: China's spending spree: our sovereignty at risk

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Targeted spending needed to promote Australian jobs

NEW ZEALAND: Kiwibank goes from strength to strength

QUEENSLAND: Premier Bligh calls snap election

PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY: Shooting the messenger undermines democracy

HEALTH: Labor's campaign against doctors' private practices

UNITED STATES: The nightmarish cabinet of President Obama

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: UN whitewash of China human rights abuses

GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM: What to do with Guantánamo detainees?

SPECIAL FEATURE: The agnostic who took on Darwin and Dawkins

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Sexual suicide of Western society

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Social websites harm children's brains - top neuroscientist / Conspiracy theory? / 'Right to die' can become a 'duty to die'

Euthanasia and dementia sufferers (letter)

Wilson Tuckey I (letter)

Wilson Tuckey II (letter)

CINEMA: Stylised miniature of feminist mythology - Revolutionary Road

BOOKS: ATTILA THE HUN: Barbarian Terror and the Fall of the Roman Empire, by Christopher Kelly

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Sexual suicide of Western society

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, March 7, 2009
How much more abuse can we take as a culture before society can no longer function or continue, asks Bill Muehlenberg.

The dramatic erosion of marriage and the explosion of out-of-control sexuality are not without their devastating consequences. Many acute observers have noted this.

In 1968, Will and Ariel Durant warned in their important book The Lessons of History: "The sex drive in the young is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group."

Although the sexual revolution took off in the mid-1960s, other social commentators had made similar warnings earlier on. In 1956 Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin put it this way:

"This sex revolution is as important as the most dramatic political or economic upheaval. It is changing the lives of men and women more radically than any other revolution of our time.... Any considerable change in marriage behavior, any increase in sexual promiscuity and sexual relations, is pregnant with momentous consequences. A sex revolution drastically affects the lives of millions, deeply disturbs the community, and decisively influences the future of society."


And back in 1927, J.D. Unwin of Cambridge University made similar remarks: "The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilised unless it has been completely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs.

"Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy.... Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development."

But these warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and our moral decline is now in full flight. Consider four recent stories which appeared in the media within days of each other. Any one story alone reveals a culture in crisis, but taken together they show a West on a slide to sexual suicide.

The first concerns the 13-year-old English father who was just 12 when he conceived the child. He and his 15-year-old girlfriend are now parents, but seemingly clueless as to what all this entails. And now it turns out that there is a question as to who the real father actually is. Evidently, two other young boys (14 and 16) are now claiming to be the father.

The second example of sexual insanity concerns two lesbians who successfully sued a Canberra IVF doctor for creating two babies instead of one. The case actually has had three stages, one sane and two outrageous. In 2007, the lesbian pair sued the doctor, claiming they only wanted one child, and that two would damage their livelihood (even though their combined income is more than $100,000).

In July 2008, the ACT Supreme Court rejected their claim, but an appeals court last week reversed the decision, and ordered the doctor to pay the lesbians $317,000 in compensation. The lesbians have now said that having two children damaged their relationship.

Then we have the case in America of an unemployed single woman who already had six children by IVF, but wanted more, and continued having the treatment. She has now just given birth to octuplets. The 33-year-old California woman is unrepentant. "This is my choice to be a single parent," she said.

It's hard to know who is being more reckless and irresponsible, the woman or her IVF doctor. The same doctor recently implanted a 49-year-old woman with seven embryos, and she is now pregnant with quadruplets.

One can understand those in the IVF industry who are motivated to make money, regardless of the consequences. But ask any normal family, and they will tell you that even one child can be a handful for a mum and a dad. But 14 children for a single mum?

Our last story is closer to home. This one involves the growing trend of rental agreements in which some men are taking advantage of the rental crisis by placing online ads which offer women free rooms in exchange for sex.

Sydney's Sunday Telegraph explains, "The zero-rent ads, targeting desperate women looking for somewhere to live, are becoming increasingly common on popular "share house" rental websites. Although there have been numerous complaints about the ads, which some website users have dubbed "offensive", they do not breach policy guidelines for sites such as

One ad, for a Melbourne townhouse, offered "free rent for someone special". It said: "Instead of rent, I am looking for someone to help me with certain needs/requirements on a regular basis."

Further commentary on these four stories is superfluous. They pretty much speak for themselves. And they indicate a culture which is losing its way big time, and which has lost all bearings concerning things sexual or things moral.

The sad thing is, our wiser, saner and more moral forebears had provided plenty of warning about these things, as already noted. But we have chosen to ignore such warnings, and now each passing day seems to bring out another horror story of sexual insanity.

Indeed, as G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, "A society that claims to be civilised and yet allows the sex instinct free-play is inoculating itself with a virus of corruption which sooner or later will destroy it. It is only a question of time." He is worth quoting at length:

"What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping.

"The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago."

We are today witnessing the bitter fruit of allowing sex to become a tyrant. Each day new headlines testify to the fact that when we abuse the wonderful gift of sex, we abuse ourselves and our neighbours.

The question is, how much more abuse can we take as a culture before society can no longer function or continue. One suspects that we will find this out quite soon.

- Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures in ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at:

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