Liberalism & “Free Love”

If you want to write an article about love, you are faced with an apparently hopeless task.  Hardly any word occurs more often in songs, magazines, films, advertising, etc. It becomes more meaningless and empty because it is constantly being talked about without being thought about. In fact, the term “love” is usually understood to mean the opposite of its actual meaning. A fate that is unfortunately shared with many other important terms nowadays, for example, “freedom”, “justice” or “mercy”. It seems absurd: Christians, who strive to understand love correctly and act accordingly, are accused by the mainstream of being loveless and ruthless. At the same time, the mainstream often acts against love when it pretends to defend it.

You can see this, for example, in public Christian pro-life prayers: On the one hand, you can see peaceful Christians who pray for pregnant women in need and want to save lives. On the other hand, you often can see hateful extremists who scream and insult the praying, while some of their heart-decorated banners bear sayings such as “Love instead of hate” or “Can love be a sin?” The slightest spark of common sense is enough to realise that something is wrong here. The next day, however, you can read in the mainstream media about bitter, old, fundamentalists on the one side and young, relaxed, cool adolescents with soap bubbles and balloons on the other. Long story short: the term “love” is still present, but its meaning has apparently changed fundamentally.

The modern understanding of love can be traced back to the age of Enlightenment, especially to philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The idea arose of total independence of the individual from the natural and supernatural order, that is marriage, family, state, people, church and God. This liberal philosophy does not believe that man is necessarily involved in these orders and has certain duties and responsibilities to meet. As a consequence individualism emerged. Fast forward to today, the prevailing opinion is that everyone can do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm anyone else.

This has tremendous consequences for all human thinking and acting, including the idea of love: It is reduced to a changeable feeling without reason and limits. After all, everything is just about “feeling good” in a certain moment, regardless of the consequences for yourself, your neighbor, the community or God. Therefore love does not have to be aligned with an objective general good. The change in its meaning is fundamental: Love is no longer associated with a willingness to suffer and sacrifice. But it can serve as a justification for any act, however immoral, only to achieve the greatest possible benefit for yourself. The originally high ideal of love, as expressed in numerous prayers, songs, poems or works of art over many centuries, is thus turned into its opposite.

This change led to “free love”, the central concept of the “sexual revolution” of the movement of 1968. Under the catchphrase “free love”, the “liberation” of sexuality from all religious, social or legal rules and norms and thus the social acceptance of all sexual tendencies or practices were demanded. On the one hand, this demand originated in the socialist and feminist movements of the 19th century, with authors and activists such as Stephen Pearl Andrews, Victoria Woodhull, and Emma Goldman. On the other hand, psychoanalysts and sexologists of the early 20th century, such as Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Magnus Hirschfeld or Alfred Charles Kinsey, developed the theory of the renunciation of sexual desires and its supposedly negative consequences for individuals and society.

Sexuality has been removed from its context of marriage and procreation and thus separated from all duties and responsibilities. Today we see the long-term negative consequences of this idea: contraception, abortion, hookup culture, high divorce rates, pornography, etc. But is there a way out?