It Comes Down to Morals

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Dec 14, 2008 10:05 PM
In yesterday's New York Times, columnist Charles Blow bemoaned the decline in dating and the rise in "hooking up."  One reason for the phenomenon, he notes, is what he delicately calls "relaxing values" over the years.

Then, today, an ABC piece discusses the rise of "sexting" -- that is, girls emailing sexual images of themselves to boys in whom they're interested.  Unfortunately, of course, the pictures often get a distribution wider than the girls intended.  The upshot of the story is that great embarrassment can result.

Both pieces are emblematic of the fundamental trouble in today's discussions about teenage sexuality -- that is, the complete absence of any sense of a moral compass.  Could it (gasp!) be that some behavior is, quite simply, wrong?  Not just a matter of "relaxed values" or embarrassment, but actually a matter of morality?

Until our culture is able to come to some sort of consensus about whether it's wrong for teen boys and girls to treat sex as a recreational sport with no deeper inherent meaning than a game of tennis, the sorts of behavior that Blow and the ABC piece discuss are going to continue, and perhaps worsen.  So then the question becomes whether there are enough Americans who are willing to risk being "uncool" and "old fashioned" enough to actually advocate behavioral standards for young people informed by ethics and values.  Let's hope so.