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The Lost Sheen of Sexual Purity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

During the 2011 Comedy Central Celebrity Roast for Charlie Sheen, Jon Lovitz toasted the event with a great one-liner: “How much coke has Charlie Sheen snorted? Enough to kill Two and a Half Men!”


The double entendre was too rich to ignore. Sheen the boozing, schmoozing, womanizing drug addict was at an all-time low, at least personally. His now ex-wife filed domestic violence charges against him on Christmas Day one year. Sheen was self-destructing before the public’s eyes, and he was still playing it up as victory. He even ended up killing his lucrative leading actor gig on CBS, a raunchy TV sitcom which upended family views, and fully relinquished any interest in pretending to promote something wholesome viewing for the whole family.

By the way, judging by the current Nielsen ratings, most people aren’t watching TV that much anymore anyway. With Iphones and Internet abounding, plus Netflix and Hulu for all the good shows, Americans don’t have a reason to sit at home and watch spoiled Hollywood types ruin their lives or our imaginations. More importantly, though, the trash that TV is made of today simply does not interest the viewing public.

So, Charlie Sheen announced to the world that he is HIV positive. No, he does not have AIDS, since the trifecta drug cocktail now exists to stall the infection turning into the life-threatening disease. So much for “Winning!” The bad-boy play-boy has found out what so many other bad boys find out when playing with fire: you get burned. Sexual license isn’t liberty, and licentiousness has led to more pain and hurt for Sheen. How could he not see this coming?


For conservatives, and the country at large, there’s more to this Hollywood headline than a half-contrite actor coming clean about his health. Sheen represents the lost sheen once accorded to sexual purity. Even during the Bush Administration, sex education placed a value on young people who refused sex before marriage, who stayed celibate until they found their life-partner. Nowadays, these commitments are mocked, derided as stuffy, old-fashioned, or “not progressive.” And there we have Charlie, the wrecked, wretched actor who made us all laugh and cheer as his every step, whether on stage or in the street, ridiculed everything, all while he seemed to get away with it: “You can’t hurt me!” he guffawed during the Comedy Central roast. “Hell, even I can’t hurt me!”

Now he is HIV positive. The rebel who never did any good now finds – or at least should know by now -- that doing good is about more than acceptance from one’s elders or conformity to one’s culture. Sheen wanted to sleep with anyone he could pay, and now he’s paying for it. Not just from the blackmail he’s shelled out to keep his HIV status secret, but the severe alternations to his life which he must reckon with.

The reasons for marriage transcend tradition. It’s about life, more than about surviving from day to day, but thriving now and for the future. Currently, conservatives lament the untold attacks on life and liberty, acutely represented by Charlie Sheen and his gruesome, publicized fall from wealth and fame. They also lament the deprivation – and depravity -- against faith and family. Adherence to the divine, and respect for strong families, men and women marrying to have children and building community, have never faced such unprecedented assaults and ridicule. Left-wing secular forces have effectively dismantled these time honored legacies in part because for so many years, pro-family advocates have defined their staunch support for family an open opposition against licentious behavior based on tradition.


Traditions come and go, and they are hitting hard against a wall of license, fueled by fun and frolic at the touch of a finger. Government subsidy and anti-conservative propaganda, from the schools to the cinemas, have further weakened the argument by tradition. No one should be surprised, then, that so many young people have diminished or rejected “traditional” marriage and old-timey morality. “I’m not into that old, smarmy nonsense,” young people will chide. Millennials acknowledge that they do not believe in marriage. People jump into the threesome hook-up culture without considering the fallout.

Yet the consequences for alternative sexual behavior still hit hard. Safe sex is more than covering up before you sleep with someone you don’t know. It’s about ensuring a lasting fulfillment with one person, a life-long commitment which ensures that you will live a long life, and one worth living. It’s covering yourself by staying true and fulfilled with one person. Sexual purity is the must fun, too, as poll after poll has shown that faithful, married couples enjoy the most fulfillment. “HIV is a hard, three letters to absorb,” Sheen acknowledged. If he had absorbed the legacies of sexual purity, marriage, and family, he wouldn’t have ended up in this mess.

It takes a man, not “Two and a Half Men” to admit as much. Sheen’s preeminence in the press can work for pro-family, pro-marriage forces worried about these timeless institutions. Perhaps his personal revelation will restore the sheen on marriage and family in America.


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