Couple and sunset
Couple and sunset

How Human Sexuality Impacts a Culture

In the past two weeks I have noticed there has been a great deal of press on issues regarding human sexuality. For instance there was an article in The New York Times on the exploding rates of sexually transmitted diseases. The article indicated that at any given time, there are an estimated 110 million sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Dr. Gail Bolan, the director of sexually transmitted disease prevention at The Centers for Disease Control describes it as “epidemic.”

Then there was an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage.” It had an interesting subtitle: “When Women Don’t Insist on Waiting, Men Behave Badly.” The first paragraph of the article said:

Kevin, a 24-year-old recent college graduate from Denver, wants to get married someday and is “almost 100% positive” that he will. But not soon, he says, “because I am not done being stupid yet. I still want to go out and have sex with a million girls.”

He then shares his strategy and how you should treat a woman.

With the death of Hugh Hefner, there have been many articles written on how he was at the vanguard of the sexual revolution. There was much criticism over how the “playboy” perspective sees women as nothing more than sexual objects.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein has been prominent in the news over allegations from a growing number of young actresses accusing him of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

An obvious truth is that when we deviate from God’s plan for sexuality, it renders a devastating impact on our culture.

Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley points out how most of the major social problems in America are caused by or fueled by the misuse of our sexuality. Take a look at the consequence of teen pregnancy, addiction to pornography, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, the psychological and physical effects associated with rape, sexual abuse, incest, and all sexual addictions. Perhaps most significant, when you include adultery, which often leads to divorce and the breakup of the family, you can see how out-of-control sex can have far-reaching, damaging consequences to our society.

Stanley asks a great question. If we could eliminate all of these sex-related social ills from our society, imagine the resources we would have available to apply to the handful of issues that would remain.  

I also stumbled upon a most curious study from 1934.  Prominent scholar J. D. Unwin published a book, Sex and Culture.” To complete this book, Unwin spent many years closely studying 86 civilizations. His findings startled many people, including Unwin himself, as all 86 demonstrated a direct tie between absolute heterosexual monogamy and the “expansive energy” of civilization. In other words, sexual fidelity was the single most important predictor of a society’s ascendancy and strength.

Unwin carried no religious convictions and applied no moral judgment.

“I offer no opinion about rightness or wrongness,” Unwin said. “In human records, there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a completely new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial sexual restraint.”

Without a doubt, civilizations flourish when demonstrating premarital sexual restraint, faithfulness and fidelity in marriage. For Roman, Greek, Sumerian, Moorish, Babylonian and Anglo-Saxon civilizations, Unwin studied hundreds of years of history to draw upon, finding no exceptions. These societies flourished culturally and geographically during eras that valued sexual fidelity. Inevitably, sexual standards would loosen, and the societies would subsequently decline, only to rise again when they returned to the more rigid sexual standards.

Unwin seemed at a loss to explain the pattern.

“If you ask me why this is so,” Unwin comments, “I reply that I do not know. No scientist does…You can describe the process and observe it, but you cannot explain it.”

After reading Unwin’s book, Christian author Phillip Yancey offered this:

Unwin preached a message that few people want to hear. Without realizing it, though, Unwin may have subtly edged toward a Christian view of sexuality from which modern society has badly strayed. For the Christian, sex is not an end in itself, but rather a gift from God. Like such gifts, it must be stewarded according to God’s rules, not ours.

Christianity teaches there is a divinely established moral order, and we as human beings just cannot decide for ourselves what is moral. When we choose to defy God’s moral order, there is a price we must pay.

If a culture or civilization is no more than a composition of thousands or millions of families, it would stand to reason that each family’s teaching and treatment of sex is an important ingredient in not only the family’s foundation, but also in the foundation of the larger civilization.


Much of today’s blog is taken from Richard’s book, Wisdom: Life’s Great Treasure which can be found on our online bookstore and Amazon.com.

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