In their insightful and balanced posts at First Things, Carl Trueman and Greg Forster offer less optimistic assessments than mine about our future sexual opinions and practices. They are right that in the immediate future, conservatives have no reason for cheer about the return of traditional sexual mores. All signs suggest that further and more exotic sexual explorations will soon be gaining our collective approval. But I disagree with them on another point: I think that even in the absence of a near-term turnaround, a medium- or long-term victory for traditional sexual ethics is all but certain.
Trueman’s negative outlook stems partly from his pessimistic assessment of our moral discourse. In his view, our capacity for honest and civil dialogue has undergone a precipitous cultural decline—a decline so great that it may no longer be possible for us to understand and have a dialogue about the rationality of our ancestors’ more traditional sexual ethics. On one level, Professor Trueman is absolutely right: the demolition of our moral discourse has been tremendous in recent decades, and there likewise are wider cultural trends that will undermine our ability at any time in the near future to take a rational view of sexual restrictions. At the same time, the sentiment of inevitable and long-term decline that has become so popular among conservatives defies a larger body of historical evidence.
Read more at the Public Discourse.