How do sexual mores affect a civilisation? Here are two books that closely examine the worldwide historical link between sexual promiscuity and civilisational collapse.
Amidst a mild internet debate, I made a Google search regarding the connection between sexual freedom and societal health throughout history. In the back of my mind was an essay I had recently read under recommendation, titled The Fate of Empires, authored by Sir John Glubb.
Under one heading, Glubb describes aspects of the Arab decline, as described by historians of Baghdad in the early tenth century. The historians despised the degeneracy of the times in which they lived, featuring the laxity of sexual morals.
They commented disapprovingly upon the powerful influence of popular singers over young people, as their erotic songs resulted in a decline in sexual morality. Obscene sexual language became increasingly common, to a degree that would not have been tolerated in earlier years.
Glubb also noted that the increase in the influence of women in public life has often been associated with national decline. I later discovered that, in his second essay (Search for Survival), he elaborated that the prominence of women seemed to coincide with a desire of some men to imitate women (this may coincide with an increase in homosexuality).
He observed that this ‘reversal of the sexes,’ in which men try to be women and women men, seemed to be a sign of decadence, i.e. societal decline. [It is well worth reading both essays for a broader picture. Glubb’s second essay is particularly expressive regarding the role and importance of women in society.1]
Throughout Time and Space
With these ideas in mind, I soon stumbled upon the name J.D. Unwin and his book Sex and Culture. In this 600+ page work, Unwin summarises ten years of his relentless research as an Oxford social anthropologist.
He writes as a rationalist, with no indication of being religious, and examines data from 86 native cultures and civilisations — from the ancients onwards (e.g., Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Romans, Polynesian societies, Indian tribes, etc).
Unwin’s goal was to identify the relationship between sexual liberty and the flourishing of cultures. Flourishing is measured in terms of art, engineering, architecture, literature, agriculture, etc.
Certainly, there is much to be studied. The ancient Greeks were no stranger to homosexuality and paedophilia, and the Romans would gradually lend themselves to self-indulgence, political corruption, adultery, homosexuality, sexual orgies, live sex acts in theatre, brutal sports, family deterioration, and moral laziness — all reaching a climax with their destruction. Unwin described four “great patterns of human culture.” Namely:
Zoistic – does not practice any form of prenuptial chastity. Self-focussed on daily life, wants, and needs. No interest in understanding nature. A ‘dead’ or ‘inert’ culture.
Manistic – does not practice prenuptial chastity (or maintains limited practice). Holds superstitious beliefs and/or special treatment of the dead to cope with the natural world.
Deistic – prenuptial chastity is practised. Attributes the powers of nature to a god or gods.
Rationalistic – uses rational thinking to understand nature and make daily decisions. Emerges when a society has been deistic for long enough to appreciate “a new conception of the power in the universe, based on the yet unknown” that is the result of a widening scope of understanding of the natural.
Unwin also divided degrees of sexual restraint into two key categories — prenuptial (before marriage) and postnuptial (after marriage). Prenuptial degrees included:
Complete sexual freedom
Irregular/occasional restraint – cultural regulations which require occasional periods of abstinence
Strict chastity – remain a virgin until marriage
Postnuptial categories included:
Modified monogamy – one spouse at a time (association can be terminated)
Modified polygamy – men can have multiple wives (a wife can leave her husband)
Absolute monogamy – only one spouse for life (or until death)
Absolute polygamy – men can have multiple wives (wives cannot leave)
Increased sexual constraints always led to the increased flourishing of a culture. Increased sexual freedom always led to the collapse of a culture three generations later.
Data revealed that the most significant correlation with cultural flourishing was whether prenuptial chastity was required or not.
The highest flourishing cultures entailed prenuptial chastity and absolute monogamy. Rationalist cultures that retained this for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area (only 3/86 cultures ever attained this).
When prenuptial chastity was no longer the norm, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations.
Within three generations, a culture that embraced total sexual freedom would collapse into a dead/inert culture. This culture is usually then conquered by another with greater flourishing.
The full effect of a change in sexual constraints is not realised until the third generation (about a century — approximately 33 years per generation, after the initial generation has died off).
Randy Alcorn writes that historian Arnold Toynbee similarly concluded that a society’s creative energy is connected to its sexual self-control, which is directly linked to national strength and accomplishment. Alcorn writes,
“Toynbee’s research indicated that of history’s twenty-one greatest civilizations, nineteen perished from internal moral corruption, not external enemies.”
The Modern West
Durston notes that, interestingly, the West is now in a position to test the conclusions that Unwin arrived at. Unwin published his book in 1934, and the West’s sexual revolution occurred throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Since then, we have rapidly moved from prenuptial chastity to prenuptial sexual freedom, and from absolute to modified monogamy. He writes that:
“The inherent nature of the human organism, however, seems to be such that these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. The reformer may be likened to the foolish boy who desires both to keep his cake and to consume it. Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation.”
C.S. Lewis writes, similarly,
“Though the “right of happiness” is chiefly claimed for the sexual impulse, it seems to me impossible that the matter should stay there. The fatal principle, once allowed in that department, must sooner or later seep through our whole lives.
We thus advance toward a state of society in which not only each man but every impulse in each man claims carte blanche. And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart, and will — one dare not even add “unfortunately” — be swept away.”
Unwin predicts that after one generation, a significant decline in culture sets in and becomes apparent. This “having your cake and eating it too” phase would have ended in the early 2000s (at the latest) — now we are seeing the consequences.
As predicted, absolute monogamy has been replaced with the modified version, with those who practice life-long commitments in marriage becoming the minority. Deism is rapidly declining, as the concept of God is pushed away from government, education, and the public sphere.
In its place rises the superstitious manistic culture, as well as early signs of a non-religious zoistic culture (the lowest of Unwin’s categories). And finally, rational thinking has been largely replaced by post-modernism, featuring scepticism, relativism, post-truth, an appeal to feeling, sophistry, etc.
Evidence of the West’s decline is readily identified. We see increases in children born out of wedlock, millions of babies aborted annually, every letter in the LGBT+ acronym rejects science and the observable nature of man and woman, the definition of marriage has been taken apart, identifying as non-religious has increased, and the concept of anarchy has grown in appeal. In the eyes of many, sexual freedom is synonymous with the liberation of women. Sex is desirable and liberating, while marriage and family are not.
Given the living realisation of these predictions, it seems inevitable that, somewhere in the last third of this century, we will see the collapse of the West. Naturally, we want to believe we are the exception. Unwin describes this as ‘pardonable egocentricity’, and a position that flies in the face of data which reveals a monotonous and regular pattern of decline.
It’s not too difficult to believe that the West will only get more depraved. Indeed, Sigmund Freud (considered a key root in the revolution‘s formation) emphasised the role of sex as a primary force in human behaviour, and Alfred Kinsey (dubbed ‘the father of the sexual revolution’) suggested that incest and paedophilia could benefit children. The reality is that we’re well on our way to collapse. Ruth Graham states, “If God doesn’t judge America, He’ll owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” Sexual hedonism will destroy the West, or at least accompany it as it plummets downward.
One can certainly throw in some criticism along the lines of ‘correlation does not equal causation.’ Unwin doesn’t pretend to know why sexual freedom has a direct link to cultural collapse, though he does make suggestions, but the fact remains regardless of the why. Durston directs readers toward Mary Eberstadt’s research, connecting identity and well-being to growing up with sizable immediate and extended family, and the decimation of the family with the recent sexual revolution. Her research indicates that increased sexual liberties led to the destruction of the family, which in turn resulted in the loss of family identity, which produces ‘primal screams’ (e.g., mental health issues, mass killings, extreme identity groups).
Of course, the Christian Scriptures are plainly against adultery, fornication, sodomy, prostitution, incest, and all other forms of sexual deviance. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities that were sexually depraved, and God destroyed them. Sexual immorality was widespread in ancient Babylon. Cult and temple prostitutes were common. Wicked or negligent kings of Israel or Judah would lead their people in sexual immorality. It’s easy to argue that King David and King Solomon would ruin the united monarchy due (at least in part) to their lack of sexual self-control.
Sexual immorality (namely adultery and prostitution) is used as images of idolatry and a rejection of God’s covenant relationship. The prophets warn Israel and Judah of their future destruction, which would result from their sin and continual rejection of God. Durston writes that although God’s laws regarding sexuality may restrain us from some immediate pleasure, they “protect us from enormous long-term suffering while maximizing our long-term flourishing.”
Jonathan Doyle et al. identified sixteen facts-based reasons for sexual integrity (i.e., prenuptial abstinence and postnuptial faithfulness). These included the ideas that sexual integrity ensures gender equality, preserves marital relationships, increases satisfaction in sexual relationships, is essential for manhood, is basic to successful fathering and strong families, helps prevent violence against women, reduces child abuse and exploitation, prevents the pornographic exploitation of women and exploitation of men, lowers rape and homicide rates, helps prevent prostitution and sex trafficking of women, is essential to prevent sexual exploitation on the internet, is essential in the media and workplace, and safeguards human health.
Chastity, not sexual liberty, is the sign of a culture thriving.
 To further pique your interest, Glubb writes: “Women are the guardians of the national future by the dedication with which they bring up their children. When women neglect small children to earn a double salary for the family, there is grave danger of injury to the next generation… Men should venerate women for their noble and selfless service. Women, in their turn, would do better not to descend from their high estate.”
We need your help. The continued existence of the Daily Declaration depends on the generosity of readers like you. Donate now. The Daily Declaration is committed to keeping our site free of advertising so we can stay independent and continue to stand for the truth.
Fake news and censorship make the work of the Canberra Declaration and our Christian news site the Daily Declaration more important than ever. Take a stand for family, faith, freedom, life, and truth. Support us as we shine a light in the darkness. Donate now.
4,500 people took to Adelaide’s streets in the highly successful fifth annual Walk for Life. An astonishing address and personal story by Brian Ottinger of his post-abortion healing brought hope for real change for men, women and children.
The most obvious issue is this: if you are going to spend $100 million on ads for a highly watched television event, you would think that getting the core message of Jesus out there would be paramount.
It’s a contradiction that lies beneath the surface of our moral conversations. It’s never talked about or discussed (at least not in public). And yet, this contradiction is corrosive: it upends the view of universal morality and human rights that nearly every secular person takes for granted.
It’s concerning that a public broadcaster like the ABC can so readily dismiss their responsibility to protect children from adult content. They need to ensure that station IDs actually mean what they say.
The first Never Again is Now event powerfully championed the cause of Judeo-Christian values in combatting antisemitism. Headlined by Scott Morrison in Sydney, the event is just the beginning of the movement to reclaim Australia’s soul.