Great essay here, by Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College.
Topic under consideration: “Let us consider the one form of sexual behavior that almost nobody defended before the sexual revolution, and that almost nobody opposes now: fornication.”
Key point: “And yet what we are talking about is deeply destructive, because it is fundamentally mendacious. When we lie, we harm not only those we deceive. We harm ourselves. If we continue in this deception, we become hardened liars, in the end perhaps deceiving no one but ourselves.”
Longer quote, then go read the essay:
It will not do to say, “As long as people are honest with one another, fornication is all right.” The point is that they cannot be honest with one another in that situation. The supposed honesty of detachment, or deferral, or temporizing, or mutual hedonism, only embroils them in a deeper lie. The body in the act of generation says, whether we like it or not, “I am reaching out to the future, to a time when there will be no turning back.” The body, naked to behold in love, says, “There is nothing of mine that I do not offer as yours. We complete one another, man and woman.” Such affirmations transcend the division between the private and the public. They are therefore only made in honesty by people who are married—who have acknowledged publicly that they belong forever to one another and to the children they may conceive by the marital act.
Bottom line: the widespread acceptance of fornication has resulted in America (and most other 1st world countries) becoming a nation of liars. The foundational lie is the one we tell ourselves. Get in the habit of lying to yourselves, and you become effectively immune to the truth.
The next short step, as memorably stated by Pontius Pilate, is to ask: Truth? What is that? And so the entire world is deconstructed into sawdust, full of sound and furry but signifying nothing. Start with the lies you tell yourself and your prospective partners, end up swallowing lies that enable, but ultimately crush and consume, your life.
The readily identifiable lies are just the visible symptoms: Life isn’t so sacred; animals are people, too; justice is something you vote for and hand over to a government for execution (in the many senses of that word); the enemy isn’t really human, so we don’t have to bother about what we do to them; suffering is the worst thing that can ever happen to a person, therefore all is justified in ending it; the ends justify the means.
Related thoughts, expressed in a previous post, here.
How do we avoid concluding that one simply cannot trust an unrepentant fornicator? By noting that humility demands that we can only very cautiously trust ourselves?