1943 was the year the pamphlet Christian Behaviour, which would later become Book III of Mere Christianity, was published. How much have our ideas and opinions about sex changed over the past 73 years? The following snippets from Chapter 5, Sexual Morality, seem to demonstrate that in some ways things haven't changed very much (i.e. "...for the last twenty years..."), yet in others our culture has changed dramatically. What do you think?
“Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else abstinence. Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it is now, has gone wrong…The biological purpose of sex is children…if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
Everyone knows that the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence. Starving men may think much about food, but so do gluttons; the gorged, as well as the famished, like titillations.
[You] and I, for the last twenty years, have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that only if we abandon the silly old…idea of hushing it up everything…will be lovely.
They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still a mess.
There are people who want to keep our sexual instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistence.
[The] devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so “natural”, so “healthy”, and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour…Surrender to all our desires obviously leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment and everything that is the reverse of health, good humour and frankness.
[Many] people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) it is impossible…Faced with an optional question on an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can…It is wonderful what you can do when you have to.
If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual…[There] are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church is far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”
Please don't be a "cold, self-righteous prig", read the book, don't wait for the movie.
Have a little hope on me, Roger