In the “revolution” for sexual freedom, Chesterton suggests we ask the question, from what we are seeking freedom. To that we might add, “And is what we are doing actually bringing us into greater freedom?”
A sure sign that a community is breaking down is that it relies more heavily on its officials to keep the peace rather than the community making sure that nothing nefarious is going on. I could not get in trouble as a kid much as I may have wanted to. Our neighborhood was so tightly knit that if I dropped a penny on the way home my parents would have received three phone calls that “little Johnny was throwing money all over town.” This is one of the reasons I became a priest. Why bother being bad? I couldn’t get away with it anyway.
That neighborhood has changed dramatically. Today if you would call many of the parents on the street and tell them that their kid was spray painting graffiti on someone’s house you would first be met with refusal (not my kid) and then anger, “How dare you! What did you do to cause my child to have to spray paint Mrs. McDonald’s house?” A that point the police move in, not because the community is stronger and so can bring them in, but because it is beginning to fail; it must bring them in. It is weak.
In our new sexual freedom, we have seen, from professional sports, to college campuses, high schools, celebrities, politicians, and now even Joe and Mary down the street, not the community holding up standards and keeping individuals responsible, but more and more bringing in the state to make people responsible for their actions. This is not a sign that we have more freedom, more respect for each other, or that we are more empowered, or that women are better respected, or that we have less to hide, or even that we are, as a whole, happier, but that we are less empowered and so must rely on the big stick.
Granted, there have always been persons who were not able to be kept in check by the community. That is why there are police forces and soldiers. When society is healthy, these services are there to protect our freedoms, not enforce them.