Liberal Libido

One major difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives are generally more restrained in their sexual behavior.  Liberals are not.  Much of the high-minded talk of liberals about tolerance and open-mindedness really comes down to an attempt to defend their presumed right to what in the sixties was called "free love" and what is now called "hooking up."

Liberals are intent on hiding the consequences of their behavior by characterizing their detractors as small-minded hypocrites.  But the fact is that promiscuity has consequences, some of them lethal.  Liberals ignore these consequences, and this recklessness is a fundamental part of the liberal thinking.

Promiscuity has many consequences.  For one, there is the damage done to the family.  Parents who are devoted to one another make for the ideal family life.  Loving parents convey the values of optimism, safety, and steadfastness to their offspring.  Those who lack these values find it hard to maintain confidence and purpose in their lives.  They will be haunted by the weakness they observed in their parents.

Another consequence is the conflict that arises between the parents themselves and the damage this conflict does both to the parents and their children.  What is lost is a secure sense of the potential for goodness.  It is impossible to live hopefully in a world in which belief in the goodness of life has been replaced by endless casual encounters that demean love.  Unfortunately, some of our nation's leaders have exhibited little sense of loyalty within their own families.

When it was revealed recently that 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter, had taken her own life, the media portrayed it as "the latest in a string of Kennedy family tragedies," as if "tragedy" had arrived mysteriously and without cause or explanation.  Terrible it certainly was, but the word "tragedy" often seems misused in connection with the Kennedys.  The series of deaths and accidents that have befallen the Kennedys can be viewed, at least in many cases, as the result of heedlessness and bravado: the decision to ride in an open convertible; to appear unguarded at an Ambassador Hotel ballroom; to fly at night without proper night certification; and to leave the scene of an accident, and presumably to drive in an unsafe manner, at Chappaquiddick.

Whether it is sexual adventures or a lack of caution in other respects, liberals exhibit a lack of restraint that often ends badly.  Many conservatives, especially when they are young, also fail to exercise caution, but they learn from their mistakes.  What marks liberals as fools is their inability to learn.

Yet another negative consequence of promiscuity is the spread of disease, as took place during the AIDS epidemic, still underway but largely ignored by the liberal media.  An estimated 940,000 people died from AIDS worldwide in 2017, over 15,000 of them in the U.S.  Some of these, of course, resulted from blood transfusions, but the great majority were caused by sexual contact and drug-related infections.  What underlies the AIDS epidemic is, quite simply, an unconstrained and risk-taking attitude toward life.  Whether it is government spending, five-year plans, Medicare for All, or sex in the Oval Office, liberals exhibit this overconfidence, and they, and society as a whole, pay a price for their behavior.

AIDS is not the only disease to have been spread by sexual promiscuity.  The modern world seems to have forgotten that not so long ago, syphilis was a widespread killer.  Syphilis is now curable, but others STDs are not, and other such diseases will certainly arise in the future as a result of sexual experimentation.

Conservatives are not perfect, but the fundamental basis of conservative thought is the idea that one's purpose in this life is to "conserve" and promote what is good.  There are some who believe that monogamy unnecessarily restricts human beings and limits happiness.  Nothing is farther from the truth.  It is only through devotion to a single, lifelong companion that the greatest happiness can be discovered.  It is through conservatism that we gain a path toward a profound sense of purpose and reward.  There are few things in life — certainly not Jeffrey Epstein's Pleasure Island — that match the gratification of seeing one's mate or offspring happy.  Liberals may have flocked to that disgraceful island, but conservatives hold up the ideal of fidelity and devotion. 

Conservatives understand and accept that man is not merely selfish and corrupt, but "small" to boot.  Man is limited in his capacity, and it is dangerous to reach beyond.  The First Commandment was not about murder or theft, but about man's proper "size" — his relationship with a Higher Power.  "I am the Lord, and thou shalt have no other gods but me."  The Greeks were equally explicit: they gave Icarus wax wings so that when he flew too close to the sun, the wings melted, and he fell from the sky to his death.  So also in the Buddhist story of Siddhartha Gautama, whose encounter with sickness, old age, and death shocked him into forsaking his throne and the earthly pleasures attached to it and setting out on a journey toward enlightenment.

In all of these cases, ancient wisdom spoke of the need for humility and self-restraint.  Those are not qualities one associates with recent liberal celebrities.  At the heart of liberal thought lies a deadly flaw: the belief that one is permitted everything "so long as it does not harm another."  Liberals believe they are entitled to behave in whatever manner they choose, but even when they cause no immediate harm, the long-term consequences are not merely harmful; they can be fatal.

All serious spiritual teaching is conservative, and inevitably so because above all it addresses the proper limits to human ambitions.  Liberal thought refuses to recognize these limits, especially as it deals with sexual morality.  JFK's supreme confidence in man's capacities led the nation not just to land on the moon, but also to the brink of nuclear war and on toward the path of unlimited government spending.  Kennedy's heedless policies were an outgrowth of the same liberal conception of man that justified his endless adulteries.  Yet even the smallest act of infidelity — the "lust in my heart" to which Jimmy Carter famously admitted — has broad consequences.

The biblical writer Paul put it forcefully when he wrote that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6.23).  He was not speaking merely of actual death: the spirit and the mind die the moment one worships the gods of lust, greed, hate, or pride, and these gods control the liberal view of life.          

The liberal view of life is inherently heedless and destructive, and with the rise of modern "progressivism," it has become more so.  Most progressive thinkers and leaders now find the biblical injunction against adultery laughable.  Casual "hooking up" has become so much a part of their culture as to be hardly a matter of notice.  And yet the destruction caused by their faithless culture is immense, both for themselves and for the millions who see them as models.

For conservatives, there is a simple alternative.  Understand not just "the wages of sin," but also the second part of Paul's injunction: that "the gift of God is eternal life."  Progressive culture has evolved into a faithless and selfish way of life that pollutes everything around it, but conservatism offers an abundant and rewarding alternative.  Conservatives understand this truth, and it is the foundation of their productive and joyful lives.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

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