The Clinton scandals have taught us much more about ourselves than about William Jefferson Clinton. It is as though America woke up one morning and saw a different face in the mirror—like Dorian Gray looking at his portrait—and suddenly realized its own character had drastically altered.
No matter what your view of the impeachment trial, one thing is clear: This is not the America we once thought it to be. The values that historically shaped our country's moral consciousness have been shattered. Two-thirds say the nation's chief law-enforcement officer committed perjury—but so what? It was only covering up a sexual relationship.
The boomers grew up during the sexual revolution, which taught "that sex is at the core of our identity and that sexual self-expression is critical to personal authenticity," writes Katherine Kersten of the Center of the American Experiment. "To suggest that sex has a moral component—to make value judgments—is to impede life's central task of unfettered 'self-actualization.' "
This is not a mere "loosening" of sexual morality, it is a sea change, the embrace of an entirely new moral philosophy—and one exceedingly resistant to rational critique. In the past one might have challenged a moral point through reasoned argument, appealing to commonly accepted standards of right and wrong. But today, as I have discovered lecturing on campuses, young people have never been exposed to moral philosophy, but are indoctrinated instead into a perspective that treats morality as one of many strategies for self-development.
The upshot is that rational arguments no longer work. So how do we make a difference? How do we affect moral sensibilities? A few years ago over lunch, my friend ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more