One of them recorded the continuing drift towards a liberal permissive approach: the researchers reporting that both men and women were having more sexual partners on average, and so on.
The second was about the shocking levels of abuse of children by children.
John Humphrys on the Today programme raised the question, almost dismissing it as too silly to ask, as to whether there could be any link between the two sets of data.
The researcher being interviewed was equally dismissive of the idea, saying that her research (on adult attitudes and behaviours) was really reporting simple common sense things, like the easing of attitudes towards divorce, homosexual behaviour and so on.
I disagree. I think there is a link.
Further, I think that fact that Humphrys and his interviewee dismissed the idea as almost risible is part of the problem.
The current ideology is that:
- Consenting adults may do just as they please, and it is nobody else's business;
- As long as no harm is done, people may pursue whatever sexual pleasures they wish;
That is clearly pretty incoherent as a philosophy.
Neither of those assumptions stands up to scrutiny. Both 'consent' and 'adult' are terms that could usefully be interrogated; as could the notion that consent is the only criterion for moral sexual behaviour.
But it is the second assumption that I think is the more dangerous.
As long as no harm is done…
But how do we judge? My thesis is that the second report, of children abusing children, shows that harm is being done. It is being done because we have lost the foundational truths of human sexual behaviour: that it is ordered towards reproduction and faithful monogamous relationships between one man and one woman; that we find this difficult, and therefore virtues like modesty are important to cultivate, as are societal attitudes that approve of marriage and child-bearing, and disapprove of extra-marital sex.
Thus, on my understanding, any sexual behaviour outside married love, open to children, does harm.
Contraception, masturbation, pornography, adultery, fornication, and every other aberrant behaviour all contribute to a society in which our children will grow up so disturbed, confused and miseducated that they turn on each other.
Can I prove that? No.
I interpret the evidence according to my pre-existing beliefs. But precisely the same is true of those who would argue that I am wrong. Can they prove there is no link between the two sets of data? No: but their pre-existing beliefs preclude that conclusion.
Mine are based on the wisdom of centuries and above all the teachings of Christ and his Church. What theirs are based on is rather harder to discern, but their beliefs have no objective superiority to mine.
And whilst neither may be provable, ultimately, mine at least have a good predictive track record, unlike theirs.