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An excellent debate went on at The Week last week (h/t to director Jeremy Boreing for sending it to me). The issue was sex.

In a civilized and considered essay, senior correspondent Damon Linker declares, “The culture war isn’t really about culture, and it never has been. It’s about sex.”

Welcome to sexual modernity — a world in which the dense web of moral judgments and expectations that used to surround and hem in our sex lives has been almost completely dissolved, replaced by a single moral judgment or consideration: individual consent. As long as everyone involved in a sexual act has chosen to take part in it — from teenagers fumbling through their first act of intercourse to a roomful of leather-clad men and women at a BDSM orgy — anything and everything goes.

All of our so-called cultural conflicts flow from this monumental shift — and the fact that some of our fellow citizens (religious traditionalists and other social conservatives) are terrified by the new dispensation.

Linker goes on to say that, while he feels comfortable with modern sexual liberty and appreciates its relief from “sexually inspired suffering, shame, humiliation, and self-loathing,” he has also come to appreciate that some traditionalist critiques of the situation are worth considering. The gains of the sexual revolution are clear: “It’s fun! It feels good!” But it may be that traditionalist fears that promiscuity threatens the stability of society and the welfare of children have merit.