Regnerus: Easy Sex = Deterioration of Marriage

Here is the story.

That proposition is not a new one; as the saying goes, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

But to call sex “easy” doesn’t do the dymamic justice. This isn’t even about dating sites, which exist for every relationship goal from marriage (e-Harmony) to affairs (Ashley Madison). Those, actually, are behind the times.

Oh noes…smartphones have rendered dating sites moot.

If a man doesn’t care about anything morally, all he needs to do is get on Tinder and, in almost any city, will be able to find willing partners for quick “hookups”.

And while pornography is nothing new, the quality and availability of it is. Up until the early 1990s, if you wanted it, you had to either go to a store to buy it or have cable television and subscribe to it.

The World Wide Web has rendered that moot: high-definition porn, for any type of fetish, is available for free and is but a couple mouseclicks away. For many years, the porn industry was the key driver for the technology development on the Web.

Even worse, the industry now is developing “sex robots” that serve as robo-companions.

(Those have been under development for years–and I have long expressed skepticism about the degree to which they will catch on–but, sadly, the market for those is expanding on the margins. For now, they are for rich perverts, but over time they will be more widely available to perverts of lesser means.)

Against this backdrop, Aldous Huxley might have been an optimist.

11 thoughts on “Regnerus: Easy Sex = Deterioration of Marriage

  1. One of my problems with Regnerus et al is the deeply Victorian philosophy of women as the holders of virtue in a society. The idea that women themselves might be corrupt and sinful is not even considered. The problem isn’t cheap sex; the problem is that men and women are sinners living in a society that glories in sexual immorality. Men aren’t waiting, and neither are women. When there is no God, there is no love, only sex, and *that* is the problem. I would argue that the relationship between men and women right now in the church and outside of the church is broken, and, quite literally, all that is left is sex. Also, putting women in the driver’s seat in that way not only won’t solve the problem, but it could end up creating other problems as women could use such a position to manipulate men into doing whatever they want. The background knowledge that women are corrupt and fallen sinful human beings should make us shudder at that idea. Nevertheless, Christian intellectuals continue to make a mess of the American dating scene. We would be better off to go back to 1993, and act as if none of this stuff had never written. I know that is what I do.

    • Still, from what Regnerus is saying here, it appears that he is conceding exactly that: that neither sex is lighting up the world for Jesus in terms of sexuality.

      The women have bought into feminism; the Alpha males have embraced it, punching the Gloria Steinem ticket (“you’ll screw more and enjoy it more.”); the not-so-Alpha types have embraced (a) porn, (b) sexual relationships other than marriage, or (c) some combination of (a) and (b).

      If anything, this pretty much shoots down the whole Victorian paradigm, as both sexes have thrown it out the window.

      The issue is what you replace it with. The Victorian approach is rife with double-standards; the current libertine paradigm is wreaking havoc on society. Short of another Great Awakening, we’re headed for a train wreck.

      • Hopefully the women as saints and men as devils paradigm is permanently at an end. Really the only one that deserves the pure as driven snow is Jesus.

        Just because the women seem weak and soft doesn’t make them good. In fact its good cover for being evil by posing as the vulnerable victim(or are even truly victims). I think the “broken wolves” phenomena is a good illustration of that.

        That’s why Jesus forgave both victims and those who victimize. All alike need salvation for no one but Christ is truly good.

  2. I really do think the whole system is broken. In fact, as bad as the hookup culture was in the early 90’s, there is almost a sense in which I really do think it was better in 1993 than it is today. You didn’t have the mass of free internet pornography that requires people to put filters on their computer. You didn’t have immodesty growing out of control. And, on the Christian right, I Kissed Dating Goodbye hadn’t been published yet, and the imposition of Victorian philosophy was only a twinkle in the eye of the Christian intelligentsia. These factors have caused people to become more selfish, and, with the increase of student loan debt and other factors such as the stock market crash of 2008 which saw huge numbers of male jobs lost and never recovered, it has required people to take less than ideal situations if they are going to marry which they are unwilling to do. Also, I have even seen evidence that “diversity” laws are being used to discriminate in employment. I had a professor who criticized the idea of “white privilege” by pointing out that he has applied for a tenured position at several schools, and he has not even been considered for the jobs he has applied for. The reason they keep giving for not considering him is that he is a white male.

    This kind of situation often finds the man barely making $24,000 a year from two jobs with a huge amount of debt trying to keep his head above water working a job that is not even in the field he got his degree in, while women can often be making upwards of $50,000+ a year with one job. Women often say that they will require that a man get a “real” job or a “respectable” job before they will even consider marrying them [of course, “real” and “respectable” as defined by the woman]. Aside from the fact that this completely depersonalizes marriage, and turns it into a matter of an individual’s socio-economic status [not to mention the materialistic nature of it], it also means that more and more and more women will have to give up this notion or else remain unmarried. They may not like it, but we live in a fallen world. That makes them miserable. Indeed, an OPC pastor friend of mine who said that the situation is simple. Feminism promised women that if they had what men have, and men were put in the position of being stay at home dads, that women and men would be happier. As it turns out, it has made both men and women miserable.

    I think the biggest mistake in all of this is the Christian intelligentsia trying to make women the holders of virtue, as men simply will not take it. When women start judging men, men judge and insult women right back, and it just divides them. With feminism already dividing women and men, it simply makes the situation much worse. This quote from Thomas Sowell is very well said:

    Back in my old neighborhood, there was a special contempt for the kind of guy who was always trying to get two other guys to fight each other. Today, it is considered a great contribution to society to incite consumers against producers, tenants against landlords, women against men, and the races against each other.

    I think we as Christians should be taking a different tactic. One of the biggest problems of “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment” is that it destroys the natural build of relationships to the point of marriage. Especially combined with Victorian philosophy, it turns women into gods who get to impose their will on men without ever getting to know them. Because the first date always has marriage on the mind, and you usually don’t know someone on the first date, you can end up judging the individual on the basis of their socioeconomic status or some other factor that comes up offhand. Christian dating websites can often exacerbate the problem. In my mind, that building of the relationship through dating is critical precisely because you get to see them from all angles. You get to see who they are as a whole person, and not just isolated bits and pieces. More than that, I would like to see a Christian society where we actually *help* meet other people’s needs. Instead of writing a guy off as a “looser” because he doesn’t have a “respectable” job, and struggles financially, how about you get down on your knees and pray that he find a better job or that his situation improve? How about you help him to get a better job if you have skills in that area? If you have an in where you work, why not find a way to put in a good word for him at the place where you work so he will be able to get a better job?

    I think the apostle Paul sets the agenda well in the book of Philippians:

    Philippians 2:1-11 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    This text says that exaltation comes from humility in seeking to meet one another’s needs. However, the modern dating culture in the church says that needs are a sign of sin and weakness, and those who have them should be disregarded when it comes to loving them. Even when it comes to sin, we want forgiveness when we are paying consequences for our sins, but we are so loathe to forgive someone else of their sins, and will ultimately hold it against them when it comes to deciding who our mate will be…even if we would not want that same sin held against us if we were in the same situation. We all have needs and we all have sins. In my mind, the question is not a matter of who has what, but of loving others and looking after their needs. In my mind, Christian singles need to really hear the lesson on humility that Paul teaches here in the book of Philippians. If Christ loved Christians in the same way Christian singles love one another, I dare say there wouldn’t be anyone on the face of the planet who would ever be saved. And yet, getting single Christian men and women to stop bickering with one another, and actually do what Paul says in that text is like pulling teeth. I fear it will end up with many Christian singles old and alone, and wondering what happened.

    • Adam, I’m not sure I would consider 1993 such an idyllic time. At least it wasn’t for me; I was entering my mid 30’s and faced considerable pressure from family, friends and church regarding my singleness. Yes, that may have been before I Kissed Dating Goodbye and what became known as “marriage mandate” theology, but the Quiverfull movement and “True Love Waits” were gaining steam and placing added pressure and legalistic burdens on Christian singles. And while Internet porn wasn’t a problem at the time, cable and video porn certainly were.

      You have some great points regarding the economic situation and expecting women to be the holders of virtue. I graduated from college in the early 1980’s during a severe recession and facing $2,500 in student loan debt. I had trouble finding work after graduation and initially had to take a deferment on repaying the debt. It took some years to pay it off. Today’s students face even higher amounts of student loan debt and difficult prospects finding work paying well enough to move out of their parents’ home and also pay off their debt.

      As for women being keepers of virtue, I’d rather not return to those days. And that might be impossible anyway. Modern women, even Christian women, can be pretty forward. I remember attending a dance one time and a woman who claimed to be a Christian placed herself against me in such a position that it was plainly obvious what she wanted. I had to excuse myself and get out of the situation.

      As for the “old and alone” part, I think about that a lot, especially now that I sometimes get the senior discount without asking. I’m definitely not getting any younger, that’s for sure. I recently began updating my will and realized that if my sister dies before me, my next of kin is an 87-year-old aunt in Maine who is the only living sibling of either of my parents. After that my oldest first cousin, who turns 60 next year, is my next of kin. And I seem to be no closer to marriage than I was in 1993. That’s scary.

      • You have some great points regarding the economic situation and expecting women to be the holders of virtue. I graduated from college in the early 1980’s during a severe recession and facing $2,500 in student loan debt. I had trouble finding work after graduation and initially had to take a deferment on repaying the debt. It took some years to pay it off. Today’s students face even higher amounts of student loan debt and difficult prospects finding work paying well enough to move out of their parents’ home and also pay off their debt.

        That is going to be a perfect storm for the ladies, particularly those who graduate with lots of student loan debt. And the ladies will be the ones carrying the lion’s share of that debt, because they are the ones who are getting the bulk of the degrees now.

        Unless she is going into a profession that pays well–i.e. medical practice, and even they don’t really start making serious money until they are in their late 20s/early 30s–those loans are going to be worse than boat anchors. For them, it will be like trying to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent while wearing a 100-pound backpack.

        As for women being keepers of virtue, I’d rather not return to those days. And that might be impossible anyway. Modern women, even Christian women, can be pretty forward. I remember attending a dance one time and a woman who claimed to be a Christian placed herself against me in such a position that it was plainly obvious what she wanted. I had to excuse myself and get out of the situation.

        They can be forward, but more than likely what you are going to see is that this sort of thing will remain under the radar. You have two different faces of the woman in church: (a) the pious, heavily-involved, regular attender who wonder where all the good men are; and (b) the debt-ridden, porn-surfing, hookup-seeking gal who is dissatisfied with the nice guys in her venue, as none of them measure up to her high standards.

        The problem is that the Church tends to ignore the amount of (b) among them.

        • No doubt. It is going to take Christian singles working together to get out of this mess. However, given the nastiness I have seen between single men and women, I don’t think that is going to happen. It is a sad thing to see. But, I don’t put the blame on women. I just don’t think women are seeing the problem as quickly as men are. I don’t know why that is, but it is the case. I really put the blame on intellectuals on both the left and the right. Singles certainly must bear their share of the blame for listening to them and going along, but, in the final analysis, this whole scenario shows why it is that simply following someone because they are charismatic and intelligent is a bad idea – from student loans clear through to courtship.

      • singleman,

        Just for clarification, I am not saying that 1993 was “idyllic.” I am saying we would be better as Christian singles to go back to that time long before intellectuals got involved in this, and made things worse than what they already were. As Dr. Sowell says, intellectuals always want “solutions” to “problems,” when, in reality, what you really get are tradeoffs. There will always be sexual immorality in the church. That will be the case until the end of time when God finally destroys sin. Hence, what we need to have is the most tolerable position that puts the most restraint on people’s sin. Plus, only an intellectual would think that you destroy the false intimacy of the hookup culture by destroying the true intimacy that dating singles had with one another. I look back on phrases like “inappropriate intimacy” with scorn, especially since the things it described had nothing to do with anything in scripture. Of course, in the absence of true intimacy, false intimacy becomes even more tempting. There is a reason why this “problem” was not “solved.” People engage in sexual sin such as hookups for a variety of different reasons, and hence, trying to reduce them down to one reason or another is a bad idea. In fact, you can make things even worse by doing so. But, then again, it is hard to convince intellectuals of that when they have made a fortune off of these ideas.

  3. Amir, I figure you’ve seen Karl Denninger’s take on Regnerus.

    Denninger says that Regnerus hasn’t considered changes in the legal environment surrounding marriage (most notably no-fault divorce) which have made marriage a much more risky proposition for men. Not to mention what’s been happening in many colleges in the way accusations of sexual assault are handled.

    • Regnerus would probably agree with that being a contributory factor. However, the cheapening of sex has definitely been a major driver in this.

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