The End of Courtship

| December 21, 2000

The End of Courtship

For me, sex education started when I was about 8 years old. Playground comments, discussions with my mother and classroom lessons at school contributed to my learning. As I got older, I found it lacking. I felt that more openness about contraception and safe sex practices would lend itself to a healthier society.

Leon R. Kass, a professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, has a somewhat different view. Writing in the conservative journal The Public Interest, Kass says, 'True sex education is an education of the heart; it concerns itself with beautiful and worthy beloveds, with elevating transports of the soul. The energy of sexual desire, if properly sublimated, is transformable into genuine and lofty longings--not only for love and romance but for all the other higher human yearnings.'

However, Kass argues, when it comes to love and sex, many young people today are nervous predators and anxious trophy hunters. He laments the high divorce rate, attributing it to a lack of courtship rituals, the sexual revolution, and increased sex education. And he laments the lack of time and energy spent on remedying marital failure.

Kass writes that society needs a different kind of revolution. 'Real reform,' he suggests, 'would require a restoration of cultural gravity about sex, marriage, and the life cycle. The restigmatization of illegitimacy and promiscuity would help.' Meanwhile, he sees the growing numbers of people who steadfastly refuse to marry as an ironic sign of hope, in that they acknowledge they are too 'immature, irresponsible, and cowardly' to commit.
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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