After a three-year investigation a special committee of the British Medical Association has published its findings in the booklet Venereal Disease and Young People. The report does much more than point out that between 1951 and 1962 the population increased by 6 per cent, but sexually transmitted diseases increased by 73 per cent. It suggests that the “bomb” and fear of world annihilation are partly responsible for a new hedonism in the young who, confronted with the prospect of death tomorrow, hurl themselves into a desperate search for pleasure today.

The committee does not hesitate to affirm that “society as a whole is to blame for the blurring of values and loss of respect for the human personality, not to mention the disregard for Christian principles, which increased promiscuity signifies.” Disapproval is expressed of the idea that pre-marital intercourse is a sensible preliminary to marriage, and this is followed by the remarkably forthright statement: “The maintenance of the Christian ideal of chastity is of the utmost importance not only in combating the sexually-contracted diseases but also in preserving the institution of marriage and the family life.… Anything which debases this is a threat to our society.”

It is argued that venereal diseases are primarily a social and moral problem, to which the key lies in the Pauline words, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” On the subject of obscene literature, the report dryly suggests that many who read Lady Chatterley’s Lover undoubtedly did so “out of less pure motives than an interest in the development of the English novel or in Lawrence’s wish to divest the sexual act of pornographic connotations.”

Great interest and a measure of opposition have been stirred by the ...

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