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Ignoring the owner’s manual

Our bodies are meant to run one way sexually

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It had been a while since I had been forced to go through the early morning routine of starting a car in zero-degree weather. And those recollections reminded me what’s so wrong with our present society’s preoccupation with what it hopefully refers to as “safe sex.”

Armed with both a spray can of ethyl starter fluid and a pair of jumper cables, I was always pretty sure I could conquer those zero-degree mornings that had thickened my car’s oil and discouraged its battery. It worked—after a fashion. The engine always finally cranked. And I was usually on my way. But it was hardly a satisfying experience.

The focus was sharpened one evening when I was putting away my tools and reread the warnings on the spray can. “Not for regular use,” it said. “You can damage the components of your car’s engine through repeated use.”

Ours, I thought, is a starter fluid and jumper cable society. If the internal energy system is kaput, let’s find some juice elsewhere—and fast. We want a quick fix. We need to be on our way.

The freedoms we’ve craved and carried to excess sent their warning signals early—but were ignored.

Certainly it’s that way with our culture’s secular crisis. The freedoms we’ve craved, and carried to excess, faithfully sent their warning signals early—but were ignored. Now the warning signals are bigger, and they occasionally capture society’s attention. The response is all wrong. We haven’t really read the warnings on the can—or, more pointedly, in the owner’s manual.

The secular response to the crisis is always to manage the symptoms rather than to deal with the root issues. I remember, for example, when Planned Parenthood invested extensively in the slogan, “Love Carefully Week.” That was like offering a bandage to someone who had been hit by a Mack truck. It’s fine to show some care for the injured. But it’s also wise to figure out where the trucks are coming from.

Our society has tended to reduce human sexuality to little more than anatomy, biology, timing, and perhaps a few other technical issues. If our ability to manage that eight-cylinder marvel gets a bit out of whack, why, never mind, we’ll just grab our aerosol can and soon be on our way again. What penicillin was to the early rounds of syphilis, condoms are now intended to be to the age of AIDS. Clean needles may also help. Sure, there may be a problem right now. But a little tinkering here and there, and all will be well.

To be fair, there have been a few expressions of concern here and there among some traditionally liberal and progressive voices. For example, not long before its demise, The New Republic editorialized: “The facts are clear. Licentiousness about drugs and sex have put our children at risk, and the more vulnerable of our children, minority and poor children, at greatest risk. … Our cities have not transformed themselves overnight into Sodom and Gomorrah, but they have fast become centers of barbarism.”

I suppose we should be grateful for that. But such warnings from liberal-leaning sources are few and far between. It points us in a direction more helpful than just another aerosol can. But who will be leading the discussion? And who will be setting the boundaries of whatever gets discussed? Anything other than the boundaries God Himself has laid down will lead us only in one huge circle back to the mess we’re trying to escape. I’ve found little evidence there are many folks even with the concerns of The New Republic—not to mention Biblical values.

We human beings are pretty high-powered, finely tuned machines in many ways—not least when it comes to our sexuality. That part of us is many times more specialized and sophisticated than that of a Porsche or a BMW. We’re designed by our Creator to run just one way—God’s way. We too regularly ignore the manufacturer’s specs as we race up and down society’s dirty back roads.

Joel Belz

Joel Belz (1941–2024) was WORLD’s founder and a regular contributor of commentary for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Radio. He served as editor, publisher, and CEO for more than three decades at WORLD and was the author of Consider These Things. Visit WORLD’s memorial tribute page.


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