Creating Our Own Reality
Technology and the media have played a significant role in the triumph of the sexual revolution—specifically in terms of the LGBTQ+ movement—in a variety of ways. One of the things we need to know about the acceptance of this new sexual morality is that most people don't accept it because they've looked into natural law and found it wanting or they've read the great philosophers and have been convicted by their writings. Most people relate to the world much more intuitively than that. We intuit the world around us. We kind of imagine the world to be a certain way.
Technology and the media both play into that in significant ways. Technology, of course, is constantly reinforcing the idea that reality is something we can create for ourselves. We have that notion of virtual reality. Well, what's virtual reality? It isn't actually reality at all. It's reality that we create ourselves via technology.
So there's a broad sense in which we live in a world now where we intuitively think if we can’t create reality from scratch for ourselves, then we can certainly bend it to our will. We're not beholden to the world as given to us; the world is there for us to change. The rules are there for us to beat, if we can, using technique and technology. The media reinforces that in different ways.
One of the things I think is most significant in the development of gay marriage and the idea that gay marriage was social good and socially desirable was the very positive way it was portrayed in things like television shows. Will and Grace comes to mind as a show that gave a very positive presentation of a gay couple.
We live in a world now where we intuitively think if we can’t create reality from scratch for ourselves, then we can certainly bend it to our will.
We are all, to some extent, what I would describe as aesthetic beings. We think in terms of taste, we think in terms of our emotions. When you meet gay people and they're great people, when you see them portrayed as great people on the screen, that shapes the way you think about it. Why would one not want great people to be happy? That's a message that the media has communicated extremely effectively.
For Christians, when we think about the media and technology, very often our minds go to the most corrupting thing out there: internet pornography. Certainly internet pornography plays its role in the transformation of attitudes to sexual morality and to social mores; but in some ways, the most deadly things out there are the things that you don't even notice. The commercials, the sitcoms, the soap operas that present unrealistic views of life which are yet very attractive to us.
The whole LGBTQ+ movement has become deeply enmeshed in those kinds of cultural products that have a very, very persuasive impact on us, not because they intellectually convince us of their cause—they don't even bother trying to do that—but because they emotionally convince us of the correctness of their cause.
Carl S. Trueman is the author of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution.
The sexual revolution is simply one manifestation of a broader culture of what we might call expressive individualism.
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