2015, Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court and the “Love is Love” movement. What do all these things have in common? This was the year that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across all 50 states. A watershed moment in the “love is love” movement to be sure. Many conservative Christians would likely point at this decision as the moment the culture in America turned on a dime. In the next five years we would experience a rampant normalization of homosexuality and of transgenderism as well, not just in adults, but also in kids.
A pervasive movement to allow five-year-old children the freedom and right to choose their own gender has reached a fever pitch as well as evidenced by the case of James Younger in Texas. Part of this movement entails the demonization of any parents that would stop such “forward thinking” in the mind of their six-year-old little boy or girl. To intervene, to counsel, to seek help for their children is now seen as abusive rather than loving. Love is now grounded in affirmation, not truth. But only a specific type of affirmation; after all, if a child is devoted to his or her religion at a young age they must be liberated! They have been indoctrinated against the type of affirmation that a truly “loving” society requires. The cry of the gay pride movement comes full circle: “Love is Love, who are you to tell me who I can and cannot love?”
After the Supreme Court decision in 2015 I remember reading an article from a conservative pundit that predicted the new social justice movements of the left following the seeming victory of gay pride. The author indicated a movement towards transgenderism, which had already been normalized to an extent. After all, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) augmented their classification of Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Dysphoria in DSM-5 which was released in 2013. This prognostication was not a surprise to me, however, his next one was. He indicated that pedophilia would follow closely behind. In my ignorance, I refused to believe that to be true.
Fast forward five years and Netflix has released a French film called “Cuties” on their streaming platform. According to the Netflix summary, the film is a story about “Eleven-year-old Amy (who) starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free spirited dance crew.” By free spirited, they mean sexual. A dance crew of children bent on twerking, grinding and erotically dancing for adults. I couldn’t even make it through watching this one scene (https://twitter.com/MaryMargOlohan/status/1303908536553017349?s=20) that Mary Margaret Olohan tweeted out on September 9th. Simply looking at the title on Netflix should be cause for alarm. How is a movie about an eleven-year-old’s dance crew rated M for mature because of sexuality?
Numerous reviews point to the hyper-sexuality that Amy (the main character) views in media as the impetuous for her desire to blossom into womanhood at the age of 11. She wants to prove she is not a child anymore, and it seems, the film makers had the same goal. After all, if a six-year-old can choose their gender why can’t an eleven-year-old choose when to discover their sexuality? In an age where child sex trafficking occurs rampantly across the globe the cognitive dissonance of a film such as this is deafening. The movie, which could have gone a variety of directions chose to glorify hyper sexuality and the sexualization of young women rather than condemning it. Perhaps they could have used a similar premise to point to the disquieting nature of our cultural sexual mores and their deleterious effects on children. To the film maker’s credit, she indicated in this YouTube clip that she was not trying to glorify pedophilia but to point out the dangers of hyper-sexualization (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8dsjAoazdY). That said, one must wonder if a point about hyper-sexualization could have been made without hyper-sexualizing the 11-year-olds in the movie itself. But I digress.
What is the point to all of this? Is this article a review of the film Cuties? No, it is simply to ask the question, how did we get here? Many thought the culmination of the “love is love” movement occurred in 2015, how are we now stumbling into pedophilia? This insidious movement was started without the grounding of objective morality decades ago in academia, and as with many of these movements, those on the outside failed to diagnose or engage with it properly.
The very premise of the love is love movement rests on the flawed principle of self-definition. The statement “love is love” seeks to explain love by invoking love and as anyone who passed fifth grade should know trying to define a word by using the word itself is nonsensical. Some might say, “well what’s the harm in that, we all know what love is.” The harm is in this retort itself. The assumption that what I mean by love is the same as what you mean by love when we say the phrase “love is love” is itself a danger to society. This “love” has been defined as THE GOOD, and love, without external factors guiding its direction, is itself the moral compass of our current society. But this self-definition of love comes from a deeper place that has led us down this river of self-involvement. The progressive societal movement from the late 1930s is reaping its ideological fruit today. As I have considered how we allowed our culture to devolve into a state where pedophilia is now something which can be debated publicly, I discovered four concurring tributaries that have joined together to make this river possible. The love is love movement is a result of these tributaries joining forces in the 80s and 90s in academia. I firmly believe that it is our duty to seek to understand these four areas so that we may understand how to properly fight against the future “love” movements (polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality etc.).
Since the 1940s we have seen an amalgamation of Psychology, Sexuality, Philosophy, and Politics creating this behemoth. All of these streams flow from the headwaters of naturalism (an atheistic view) and the result is what morality, psychology, sexuality and philosophy ultimately join to make without supernatural influence. To understand where we are currently and where we are going we must first understand where we have been and how we have arrived at this troubling place where Cuties is a movie that is made at all, let alone a movie with a following that lauds its progressivism.
In the late 1940s a term was brought about to cater to an individual’s base desire to feel fulfillment. It was called self-actualization. Prior to this it was societal norms and expectations that set roles for people. Men went to war; women were at home. Men and women were different both functionally and societally. By the 1970s, this philosophy of self-actualization had met head on with American culture. The sexual revolution happened in the 60s (more on that later), and homosexuality was removed from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) as a mental disorder in 1973. Because of Postmodern philosophy, mental disorder could not be something that went against the grain of societal norms or morality. As long as you did not hurt others and you fulfilled yourself, it was seen as a good thing. This continues to change the way we view psychology. Self-Actualization is the belief that what a person really needs is to look within themselves and find within them that which would truly be fulfilling. This idea endeavors to say to the individual that what matters most is your feelings about who you are, not the expectations of others. A philosophy bent on using individualism against itself to curb behavioral critiques in the culture.
Coinciding with, but not completely related to, this desire to self-actualize was the glorification of sexuality. Specifically, as it pertains to the act of sexual intercourse. For the first time in American history (not world history) sexuality was separated from commitment, relationship, and love and seen as a tool for liberation and pleasure. Pornography would rise rapidly in the 60s and 70s. Women would seek to use sexuality as power and men would use it for exploitation and pleasure. Sexuality became a tool, rather than a result of a monogamous and loving committed relationship intent on building a family. Thus, the idea of sexual behaviors and appetites being governed by archaic and patriarchal morality was abandoned.
Also coinciding with these came an increasingly naturalistic view of humanity. Even within evolutionary philosophy up to this point it was common to see humanity as a “higher creature.” More highly evolved but also more morally astute and worthy of life. However, in the 1980s Carl Sagan and Ingrid Newkirk shifted that ideology to seek to put humanity on the same level as animals. Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA once stated,
“Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals.”
Carl Sagan added,
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”
So, what does this have to do with how we got here? If morality is subjective and naturalism is the proof of morality, then simply saying “I was born this way” changes the conversation. These two factors, sexual liberation and self-actualization coupled with the naturalistic philosophy of causal determinism means that appetites of any sort cannot be condemned since one is not free to choose otherwise. Thus… love is love. Love has been equated then to a base impulse. “I was born this way” is supposed to set the argument at rest. However, being “born this way” can only be constrained by a cultures moral standards, and as those standards get eroded, any base impulse that a person is born with will ultimately be seen as “right” and “good” because it is “natural.”
It is in this realm that we find our fourth and most polarizing sphere of influence, the one that cements these ideologies and beliefs in the culture . . .
You find sexual liberation, combine that with self-actualization and the fact that natural proclivities — especially sexual ones — are inherently good because they are “natural” and you get a political platform that redefines tolerance as not simply accepting people, but condoning behavior that in the past has been seen as categorically evil. If you fail to do this, you have violated this person’s primary right to self-actualization.
There used to be guards on this sort of behavior. Children were off limits because they were too young to understand. But even that is now a vestige of systemic “past systems of oppression” (See Critical Theory vs Critical Thinking). If I deny my four-year-old the right to decide she is a boy instead of a girl I have violated her ability to self-actualize at a young age and thus, am abusing her. If my nine-year-old son falls in love with a thirty-year-old woman the same logic can be applied so long as the moral framework from years past can be broken down. This progression of self-actualization, liberation and naturalism is always progressing seeking to encourage people to move further into themselves. This progression is already moving from transgenderism to polyamory and polygamy, and if the film Cuties and its supporters are any indication the train will continue to run down the path to pedophilia. It cannot help itself. “Love is love” as a mantra, without the guidance of objective external moral factors will inevitably lead down this path.
We have been told in the past, “no no, we promise, the train will stop here.” It never does.
As Christians we are called to be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) on the earth. The salt preserves and the light exposes. The “love is love” movement moves down the tracks, and without Christians remaining bold in their morality we will lose our saltiness. Without Christians continually calling out immorality for what it is we will allow the darkness to expand. However, we must also engage wisely.
Arguing whether a thing is “natural” or not misses the point. A person can have a natural proclivity to steal, that does not make stealing good. A person can be born as an aggressive and violent person, that does not excuse violence. A person may be born with a proclivity to find young people attractive or the same sex attractive or want to experience sexual intimacy with multiple partners but that does not make any of those things moral. Curbing our appetites is part of being human and it is a necessary struggle for the Christian (Romans 7 and 12) as well. Do not fall into the trap of arguing genetics. Genes were a part of the fall just as much as lying is part of the fall. Creation itself is broken (Romans 8:22). Without objective morality based on Judeo-Christian ethics our world will continue to devolve into the trap of self-definition and naturalism. It is our job, as Christians, to challenge that de-evolution and to offer a better way, a supernatural way that keeps our children safe and makes God the definition of love and not the other way around until Christ returns.