If one wishes to understand the predicament our society currently is in, I would recommend reading C.S. Lewis’s classic work, The Abolition of Man. The book is a collection of lectures Lewis gave on the problems he saw in modern education. He was particularly alarmed about the ways in which it was undermining belief in objective moral truths, and the danger this posed to society.
The first chapter of the book has the strange title, “Men Without Chests”. Lewis saw that modern education was subtly teaching people to view moral questions as being mere statements of feelings that are entirely subjective, with no connection to truth. It was also leading people to deny that human feelings can be true or false, depending on whether they conformed to objective values. These two trends would have the inevitable effect of producing “men without chests”, unable to have genuine feelings that connected them with trancendent realities. To Lewis, this reductive subjectivism was very dangerous for individuals and society. He said that “Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism”, and we would become little more than “trousered apes”. Even worse, “The practical result of [this] education… must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.”
All this came to my mind when reading an article from the Washington Post, entitled “How to break free from monogamy without destroying marriage”. This morally corrosive piece depicts a married couple who, because the wife was feeling “faintly bored”, have decided to have open adulterous affairs, while still considering themselves to be happily married. It features a repellent person who has founded a website to facilitate such sins. And it contains a plethora of half-truths and outright falsehoods about the state of marriage and even Biblical teachings on adultery.
But what really struck me were two quotations in the article that carried much deeper meanings than, no doubt, the speakers intended. After somehow convincing her husband to consent to what she called “ethical non-monogamy”, the adulterous wife put the following in her online profile to entice other adulterers:
“I’m into building deep and loving relationships that add to the joy and aliveness of being human.”
You couldn’t ask for a better example of a self-delusive statement by a person who unfortunately has been taught that there are no objective moral truths that have meaning beyond her momentary subjective feelings. Without that essential connection, there are no boundaries, no limits, and both words and feelings lose their real meaning. “Being human” is equated with, in essence, the worship of self.
The second is from an anthropologist who works, not coincidentally, at the Kinsey Institute (yes, an institute dedicated to the study of sex, founded by the bizarre and evil Alfred Kinsey). Speaking about modern rejection of the notions of monogamy and chastity, she said:
“That’s all sliding away from us. We’re… returning to the way we were millions of years ago.”
Yet further evidence that “progressive” morality actually means reversion to pre-moral, primitive, animalistic behavior — “trousered apes” with an internet connection. Our society has now destroyed sexual complementarity, fidelity, permanence, and fertility, leaving only selfish pursuit of pleasure — yet they still dare call their arrangement “marriage”.
This very sad article truly shows what happens when society brings up men and women “without chests”. And yet, there is a very interesting point alluded to in the article. The adulterous couple declined to identify themselves by their real names, and they don’t intend to tell their children about their arrangement. Somewhere, deeply buried beneath the narcissism and hedonism, is a truth that refuses to be silenced, that calls these poor people back to the truth that they are unwilling, or unready, to face. The truth about human nature and human love can never be extinguished. There is always hope.