Today in my Byzantium and the Islamic Empire class, we were discussing the effects of the early church's repudiation of the value of sex for anything other than procreation, and its effects on society (we were looking at it from Muhammad's perspective in the 7th century, but that's not important here). My professor asserted that the teaching contributed significantly to the devaluing of women for many centuries, and the subsequent lower status that females had. Based on this assertion, an interesting thesis popped into my head, though I'm not sure if it has been argued elsewhere or not. I agreed with the professor, and going a step further, I believe that the sexual revolution of the 20th century and the philosophical change toward sexuality that has occured has swung the pendulum the opposite direction. That is, the "sex as a commodity" approach that sociologists speak of amounts to a repudiation of sex in a similar way, but this time it does so to the suppression and detriment of all non-married people.
Obviously, I'd have to tighten this thesis up quite a bit, and I haven't developed it very much. I do see an alarming trend in our culture, where sex within marriage is not given higher status than sex outside of marriage. If there is no philosophical difference between the two, the results are disastrous, with children being born out of wedlock, sexually transmitted diseases running amok, and marriages breaking down constantly.
Thus, my basic argument is a descriptive one, and would therefore require a lot of sociological and historical data to back up. At this point, I just want to throw it out there to see what everyone thinks. Is the liberal view of sexuality in our culture leading to devastating consequences? If so (which I think the answer is clearly yes), then is the ultimate consequence the devaluing of humanity in general? I think the answer to this is also a yes. When we no longer care about illegitimate child rates, divorce rates (broken homes with children), and sexually transmitted diseases killing thousands, then I think we have lost a large degree of human dignity and worth.
Let me know what you think.