The Decline in Sexual Morality
During the last several decades, there has been a significant decline in sexual morality in our country. Many factors have contributed to this decline. One of the major factors was the sexual revolution that took place during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The sexual revolution, which was heavily promoted by the news media and the entertainment industry, was designed to encourage sexual encounters between unmarried adults and to encourage young people to acquire sexual experiences at increasingly earlier ages. Another factor contributing to the decline in sexual morality has been the explosion of sex scandals involving public figures, including politicians, sports heroes, and entertainers.
The most recent example of the decline in sexual morality involves another celebrity who has engaged in highly immoral behavior without any obvious consequences other than the pain he has brought to his own family. University of Louisville Basketball Coach Rick Pitino, who describes himself as a good Catholic family man, has recently admitted he had sex on a table in a restaurant with a woman who was not his wife. The only good news is that the affair took place after the restaurant had closed. The woman claims Pitino raped her, but the only witness, one of Pitino’s assistants, claims the woman was a willing participant. To make matters worse, the woman became pregnant, and Pitino gave her $3,000. The woman claims Pitino gave her the money so she could have an abortion. Pitino says he gave her the money so she could buy insurance.
The University of Louisville's contract with Pitino allows him to be fired for cause for acts of “moral depravity” or for being dishonest with the university. The University of Louisville, however, does not want to lose one of the nation’s best basketball coaches, so it is looking the other way. Dr. James Ramsey, President of the University of Louisville, issued a statement praising Pitino for being a role model for countless young people and a positive influence on the community. Dr. Ramsey said he was “saddened and disappointed” by Pitino’s conduct, but he added Pitino has done the right thing by admitting his mistake. He added, “We hope this closes this chapter; we’re ready to move on.”
The August 24, 2009 edition of Sports Illustrated contained an article about the Pitino sex scandal. The article quoted a University of Louisville student as saying, “As long as [Pitino] can coach a basketball team, I don’t care what he does on the side.” The last sentence of the article said, “Pitino’s behavior has put moral issues in play, but come November the scoreboard measures only points.”
For eight years, Pitino was the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, the university where I received my undergraduate degree. I am an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan. I met Pitino on several occasions, and I thought he had a huge ego, but he seemed like an honorable person. I was crushed when Pitino announced he was resigning his position at the University of Kentucky to become head coach of the Boston Celtics. Now, I am thankful he is gone. If Pitino had engaged in the conduct he has now admitted while the coach at the University of Kentucky, I hope he would have been terminated. The conduct Pitino has admitted demands serious consequences—not a mild slap on the wrist.
In today’s environment, I suppose it is unreasonable to think Pitino’s present employer, the University of Louisville, would do anything more than it has done. After all, Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, continues to be very popular and to have many admirers despite his numerous sexual escapades, including his admission he had sex with a young White House intern in the Oval Office. Clinton has had numerous extramarital affairs, and at least one woman has accused him of raping her. Clinton taught the young and old alike new ways of having sex without calling it sex. By his example, Clinton has personally done more to promote sexual promiscuity than any other major politician in my lifetime.
There are, of course, many other examples of public figures who have contributed to the decline in sexual morality in our society. Among politicians, Republicans, who like to talk about family values, are just as guilty as Democrats. Within the last few months, two prominent Republicans—South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign—have admitted extramarital affairs. Both Governor Sanford and Senator Ensign had been mentioned as possible candidates for President of the United States. The media is much harder on a Republican who gets caught with his pants down than it is a Democrat. Moreover, it is much more difficult for a Republican to survive a sex scandal without damage to his political career. Perhaps this is fair because the Republicans are usually the ones preaching about the need for morality and family values. The Democrats don’t talk much about morality, which protects them against charges of hypocrisy when they engage in immoral conduct.
Many other celebrities, including movie stars, athletes, and musicians, are poor role models for young people. It is customary to hear about celebrities who are engaging in premarital or extramarital affairs and having children out of wedlock. It is highly unusual to hear about a celebrity who is actually attempting to serve as a positive role model for young people.
It is almost impossible to read a novel or to watch a movie or a television program that does not include sex scenes involving people who are not married or who are married to someone other than their sexual partners. Our children are being taught from an early age that this type of conduct is normal and acceptable. Parents who want to teach different values to their children are facing an uphill battle.
Some churches have even contributed to the decline in sexual morality. In an effort to be open to and accepting of all people, some churches are afraid to use words like “sin” or to discourage conduct that has become generally acceptable in today’s society. The goal is to make everyone feel good about himself or herself.
The net effect of the decline in sexual morality is that we now live in an “anything goes” culture. There are no longer concrete rules about what is right and what is wrong. There is no shame anymore. We now accept, ignore, or quickly forget about conduct that was once totally unacceptable. I realize, of course, that many of the things I am discussing have always existed to a greater or lesser extent. The difference is that people who engaged in this type of behavior in the past were discreet because they knew society would not approve of their conduct. Today, society does approve, and there is no shame. Anything goes. Everyone is doing it. Let’s have some fun.