MTV’s Video Music Awards show on Sunday was, as per usual, geared to a very young audience. Viewership in recent years has plummeted but it remains a top-rated cable show in the 12-34 target demographic.
For years Trojan condoms has sponsored the show, and sex is the text and subtext of every performance and speech. This is not new. The VMAs have been sexually explicit since they began in 1984. The dozens of female buttocks that were presented for viewing pleasure on Sunday were mostly just reminders of how downright scandalous and unbeatable Prince’s 1991 on-stage orgy was.
This year’s show featured four Rihanna performances and a lengthy Beyonce performance, all of which included moments of impressive stagecraft along with the now-requisite presentations of notably expanding bootays. Kanye released a video that featured a lengthy workout from Teyana Taylor, a woman my mother would describe as “well-built” but the rest of us would just describe as “hottttt,” that culminated with her transformation into a cat-woman hybrid complete with cat face and tail. There were sheep involved, too.
But the bestiality promotion was the most outre portion of the evening. Madonna’s lacy stockings and garter belt at the first VMA seem quaint now and undoubtedly preferable to sex with Jocelyn Wildenstein or yet another greased ass twerking robotically while someone sings the latest feminist anthem.
Alicia Keys spoke-sang an invocation for the Video Music Awards ceremony that began, “If war is holy, and sex is obscene, then we got it twisted in this lucid dream.” One could do a worse job summarizing the illiterate sex cult to which our country and culture are slavishly devoted. Setting aside the war component, the idea is that sex is never a problem, only considering any aspect of it “offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved” or “abominable, disgusting; repulsive” is.
It was in the middle of the VMAs that the New York Post published the truly sickening story of disgraced former politician Anthony Weiner sexting with a woman who is not his wife, including sending her photos of his covered erect penis next to his young son. Weiner is married to Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin. His habits of sending sexually graphic photos and messages to women he’s not married to have already cost him his career as a leading Democratic member of the House of Representatives. He attempted a political comeback by running for mayor of New York City in 2013. His continued sexting habits at that time forced him to hold an apologetic press conference with Abedin. He lost with less than 5 percent of the primary vote.
Despite the fact that he ruined his political career and damaged his marriage, he kept sexting. His wife announced on Monday that she was separating from him. Given the nature of the latest pictures, his relationship with his son is even more in danger than it already was.
Twerking Hard Or Hardly Twerking
The demise of a prominent marriage already laid low by sexual infidelity is sad news. It was also political news, for a variety of reasons. The separating spouses are prominent political players who are quite close to the Clintons. Former President Bill Clinton officiated their wedding, for example. Weiner’s infidelities are a politically disadvantageous reminder of how both Clintons handle Bill’s habit of cheating on his wife and the damage that cheating has caused to so many.
The Washington Post published a piece headlined “11 ways to think about the Anthony Weiner-Huma Abedin split,” most of which were political and none of which were even mildly thought-provoking.
The problem isn’t just the Washington Post’s, or any other publication’s, inability to discuss sex outside a political contest. Our naked public square leads to surprisingly impotent discussions of sexual ethics.
We’ve replaced — or attempted to replace — complex norms governing sexual behavior with simplistic, if opaque and frequently conflicting, bromides about consent and love. We indoctrinate pre-teens into the sex cult using the catechesis of entertainment. We give them little more guidance than “Buy Trojan condoms” and “Only yes means yes and even then it might not.”
The prudes who have been overthrown taught such regressive norms as “You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus rather famously said about that commandment in his Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
My catechism explains the meaning of that commandment: “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.”
That’s the short version. There’s a longer explanation that tells us “Your heart, your lips, and your whole body are to be chaste and to afford no occasion, aid, or encouragement to unchastity.” We’re told that we’re also to rescue our neighbor if he is in danger of falling into unchastity. If we could have prevented a wrong and instead acted like it was no concern of ours, we’re just as guilty. “In short, everyone is required both to live chastely himself and to help his neighbor do the same.” The catechism says that marriage is more important than any prominent office and shouldn’t be treated with contempt.
This guidance about how to live sexually is provided for everyone because, left to our own devices, we are all capable of gross sexual sin. Our nature is to use others for our own gain, to avoid the consequences of our entanglements, to despise the gift of sexuality. We are naturally gluttonous, undisciplined, violent, and ungrateful.
The reason why the moral traditionalists talk about guarding sexual behavior is because they know sex is a wonderful gift that becomes dangerous when misused. It can wreak havoc on people’s emotional and physical well-being, produce children who are estranged from their parents, and leave victims in vulnerable positions. The marital norms of fidelity and devotion and permanency may seem antiquated, but they’re for the benefit of men, women, and the children that men and women conceive as a result of their sexual union. The new sole norm of “consensual” isn’t bad, but it is wholly inadequate to deal with the complexity of sexual beings and the power of sexuality.
Everybody’s Dogmatic. Not Everybody Knows They Are
We’re more than 50 years into a sexual revolution that continues to roil.
As Mary Eberstadt has ably shown in her new book “It’s Dangerous To Believe,” and written about elsewhere, the sexual revolution view competing with that of moral traditionalists “is not a nihilistic worldview. To the contrary: It embraces an alternative orthodoxy and a well-developed body of beliefs. The fundamental impulse leading to the penalizing of moral traditionalists today is not libertarian. It is instead neo-puritanical — that is, it is aimed at safeguarding its own body of revealed and developed truths, and at marginalizing, silencing, and punishing competitors.”
This new religion has fervent adherents and strict dogma, but it’s also true that the doctrines are still being formed. Now that marriage has been redefined away from sexual complementarity, the project to redefine the sexes themselves is moving forward. The doctrines governing biological reality, monogamy, polygamy, beastiality, pedophilia, and other issues will continue to be debated in councils and forums.
Everyone is dogmatic about sex. Some are more honest about that than others.
Many elites in society seem eager to replace previous generations’ sexual norms with the new religion’s. Before they do, they should consider that important things are lost when narrowing the meaning of the commandment against adultery to something only about consent or deeming it meaningless altogether.
Note the meaning of the commandment cited above. It’s not just about what you’re forbidden to do but also about what you are encouraged to do. You can’t keep the commandment against adultery by sexting pictures of your junk to women you’re not married to. But you also don’t keep the commandment unless you love and honor and cherish your spouse. “For marital chastity it is above all things essential that husband and wife live together in love and harmony, cherishing each other wholeheartedly and with perfect fidelity.”
Before we mock the three-hour VMA twerkfest or Anthony Weiner’s latest scandal, let’s first consider our own hearts and actions to our neighbors. Are we living chastely, not just in deed but in how we speak and what we think? How much time are we spending gawking at pictures of people we’re not married to or coveting someone we’re not in a relationship with? Are we speaking well of our husband or wife to our friends, or are we complaining about them? Are we helping our neighbors live chastely? If we are married, are we truly cherishing and honoring our spouse? Are we keeping our vows?
And are we absolutely sure the bleak twerkers of the VMAs should be the sexual ethics sherpas we choose to guide pre-teens into a post-chastity hellscape?