I know… I know… “I’m tooooo busyyyyy to reeeeead anything morrrrrre.”
No, not this time. You should pay attention to this one.
Here is something, frankly, alarming and precisely zero surprise at all.
For a while I’ve been ranting about the massive demographic sinkhole that is about to open up under the Church. Here is another aspect to consider.
Not just the Church.
At kirkdurston.com (rummage a little on his site – he has an organized mind) there is an article which invoked the studies in a somewhat dated 1934 book, but still useful, Sex and culture [electronic resource] by Joseph Daniel Unwin, a 600 page summary of his 7 volumes of studies.
Unwin examines the data from 86 societies and civilizations to see if there is a relationship between sexual freedom and the flourishing of cultures. What makes the book especially interesting is that we in the West underwent a sexual revolution in the late 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s and are now in a position to test the conclusions he arrived at more than 40 years earlier.
I have prepared a 26-page collection of quotes from his book that summarize his findings; but even that would leave you with a significant under-appreciation of the rigour and fascinating details revealed in data from 86 cultures. Here are a few of his most significant findings:
Effect of sexual constraints: Increased sexual constraints, either pre or post-nuptial, always led to increased flourishing of a culture. Conversely, increased sexual freedom always led to the collapse of a culture three generations later. [Do the math!]
Single most influential factor: Surprisingly, the data revealed that the single most important correlation with the flourishing of a culture was whether pre-nuptial chastity was required or not. It had a very significant effect either way.
Highest flourishing of culture: The most powerful combination was pre-nuptial chastity coupled with “absolute monogamy”. Rationalist cultures that retained this combination for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area, including literature, art, science, furniture, architecture, engineering, and agriculture. Only three out of the eighty-six cultures studied ever attained this level.
Effect of abandoning prenuptial chastity: When strict prenuptial chastity was no longer the norm, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking also disappeared within three generations. [Listen to young people and the Left.]
Total sexual freedom: If total sexual freedom was embraced by a culture, that culture collapsed within three generations to the lowest state of flourishing — which Unwin describes as “inert” and at a “dead level of conception” and is characterized by people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs. At this level, the culture is usually conquered or taken over by another culture with greater social energy. [Nĭménhăo!]
Time lag: If there is a change in sexual constraints, either increased or decreased restraints, the full effect of that change is not realized until the third generation. (Note: I’ve added a clarifying footnote at the end of this article. See footnote #13)
The history of these societies consists of a series of monotonous repetitions; and it is difficult to decide which aspect of the story is the more significant: the lamentable lack of original thought which in each case the reformers displayed, or the amazing alacrity with which, after a period of intense compulsory continence (sexual restraint), the human organism seizes the earliest opportunity to satisfy its innate desires in a direct or perverted manner. Sometimes a man has been heard to declare that he wishes both to enjoy the advantages of high culture and to abolish compulsory continence. The inherent nature of the human organism, however, seems to be such that these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. The reformer may be likened to the foolish boy who desires both to keep his cake and to consume it. Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation. [Certainly this is evident in some sectors of the Church.]
Unwin found that when strict prenuptial chastity was abandoned, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations of the change in sexual freedom. [NB] So how are we doing as we enter the second generation since our own sexual revolution at the end of the 20th century? [Ask James Martin, SJ. He’ll tell you that we’re doing just fine.]
Summary of where our culture is going, given Unwin’s findings
For the first part of the 1900’s, mainstream Western culture was rationalist and experienced enormous technological advances — from horse-and-buggy to cars; from hot air balloons to supersonic flight and spacecraft landing people on the moon; from slide rules to computers. Unwin’s three main predictions — the abandonment of rationalism, deism, and absolute monogamy — are all well underway, which makes the ultimate prediction appear to be credible … the collapse of Western civilization in the third generation, somewhere in the last third of this century.
Bishops, especially, and priests. QUAERITUR: What is your role in this?
He brings in the studies of Mary Eberhard on the rise of Mass killings, suicides, etc.
Her research indicates that increased sexual freedom led to the decimation of the family, which resulted in the loss of family identity, which produces Eberstadt’s ‘primal screams’—a massive increase in mental health issues, mass killings, and the rise of extreme identity groups at war with each other … all symptoms of a society rapidly spiraling into collapse. This appears to have greater explanatory power than Unwin’s psychological suggestion, although the two may actually be closely related, given what Eberstadt shows.
Both Unwin and Eberstadt provide substantial evidence that a sexual revolution has long-term, devastating consequences for culture and civilization. As Unwin states, “The history of these societies consists of a series of monotonous repetitions,” and it appears that our civilization is following the same, well-travelled road to collapse.
There is a lot of food for thought here.