The myth of “happy hookers” enjoying their trade does not match reality.

Bad ideas and bad theology always have bad consequences. For example, the following ideas were once largely held by the educated:

1. Jews are Christ killers.

2. Heretics must be burned to insure purity of doctrine.

3. Blacks are inferior.

These ideas had tragic consequences, not only because of the direct actions of Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen, but also because of the inaction of millions of citizens who passively accepted the concepts. Today we know well the results of holding such beliefs—and the ideas have been thoroughly discredited. Society is very touchy when anyone states ideas even slightly like these. It should encourage us that bad ideas can be stamped out and society at large can grow in sensitivity. Yet, strangely, other bad ideas are afloat in our culture, some largely accepted and others sharply challenged. For example, in the area of sexual ethics:

1. Premarital sex is inevitable, and recreational sex everyone’s prerogative.

2. Incest is not wrong when done out of sincere love.

3. Prostitution is a harmless, often lovable profession stigmatized by regressive Victorians.

Some would immediately object to putting these ideas in a class with racism and the burning of heretics. Perhaps so, but the results are brutal enough. Each idea has its victims:

In the case of premarital and recreational sex, victims include thousands of pregnant junior and senior high girls, aborted babies, welfare mothers, and families intertwined in a web of tragedies often lasting for generations. Yet, remarkably, when the news media comment on these tragedies and discuss what to do about pregnant girls, one suggestion never comes up. No one calls simply to reverse the cultural mandate that urges girls to rid themselves of their virginity as if it were acne. It takes an unusual teenager to buck the trend and withstand our culture’s blatant provocation. On TV, sex is presented as highly intriguing—but only if it is between unmarried people.

On the other hand, the statement about incest presents a more hopeful picture; that is, not every bad idea presented by a fringe group will inevitably be accepted. Incest has its obvious and thoroughly innocent victims, so the idea is not faring well in this country. A few trial balloons were raised last year in articles suggesting that incest in a loving relationship might have its values. But those articles were quickly criticized by secular professionals. And even though NAMBLA—the North American Man/Boy Love Association—joins gay marches and lobbies for repeal of laws prohibiting sex with children, most Americans are finding such ideas repugnant.

We have heard a great deal in the past year about the victims of incest and the complex tragedies of their lives—tragedies that extend into adulthood. The evidence is so clear that child victims are enormously damaged on many levels that the trial balloons in favor of incest are being shot down.

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