Bionic Mosquito writes about a book titled “Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution”, by Carl R. Trueman.
Modern culture sees the world as raw material to be shaped by human will. Trueman sees technology as having played the biggest part in this change. As noted earlier, is technology to be considered just another necessary but insufficient precondition, or was it the sufficient condition that enabled the ideas of the aforementioned thinkers to be put into effect?
Technology reinforces the idea of “individual.” In almost every way today we can individualize our experiences – music, news, videos, recreation. Again, the individual is placed at the center of his reality. The world is seen simply as “stuff,” to be molded and shaped according to the will of the creator – the modern individual.
We are the ones with power, and we are the ones who give the world significance.
Technology is the addition, the rise of something that gives the individual power and authority. On the other side is the collapse of traditional external sources of authority and identity. Trueman offers three examples to demonstrate this reality.
First, the Reformation which fractured the Church in the West. Institutional unity was lost, and with it the Church’s claims to authority. Nations could choose the direction of their faith. Eventually, the choice would be individual – completely upending who had power in the relationship: the priest or the parishioner.
Religion, family, nation. Once, the answer to the question “Whom am I?” would have been “I am Carl Trueman, a Christian and the son of John, English by birth. Today, almost every one of these traditional identity markers is subject of ridicule and derision.
Without these external markers of identity, we turn inward; as Trueman puts it, institutions are no longer authoritative places of formation, but of performance.
Trueman then goes to the loss of sacred order. Cultures have traditionally justified their moral orders by appealing to traditions rooted in sacred order. Moral codes have authority because they are grounded in something outside of, or beyond, this immediate world. God, for example, or natural law, or the Tao, or created order, or the Oracle at Delphi. You get the idea.
Arguments based on the authority of God’s law or the idea that human beings are made in the image of God no longer carry any significant weight in a world devoid of the sacred.
Instead we have arguments based on the authority of the inner self – creating myself in my own image. Using my self as the yardstick by which I measure…myself.
Why has this played out so explosively in the realm of sex?
Once the authorizing of the inner psychological space happened, it was perhaps inevitable that sex would become more and more significant. Sexual desires are among the most powerful inner feelings that most human beings experience.
The deepest of the inner self, the most powerful feelings of the inner self. Hence, the most important manner by which one can express his inner self. Historically it has been moral codes regarding sex that have been the primary focus across most societies. Therefore, such codes are also the most important codes to kill.