Columnists > Voices

Outing a fraud

Protesters are taking on Kinsey with "subtle, high-brow tactics"

Issue: "UN: Kofi's crisis," Dec. 18, 2004

When Alfred Kinsey's books The Sexual Behavior of the Human Male (1948) and The Sexual Behavior of the Human Female (1953) came out, they were a cultural bombshell.

Was it really true that from 67 percent to 98 percent of all men, depending on social class, and 50 percent of all women had premarital sex? That 50 percent of men and 26 percent of women had extramarital affairs? That 37 percent of all men have had at least one homosexual experience? That 10 percent of all men are homosexual? That only 6 percent are exclusively heterosexual, the vast majority being somewhere on a bisexual scale?

Kinsey's reports, based on thousands of interviews, created a new definition of "normal." Before, most people had thought just sex between a husband and wife was normal, with everything else being either perversions or just plain wrong. But according to Kinsey's statistics, premarital sex, homosexuality, and adultery are all normal. Traditional sexual morality is what is "unnatural."

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People made the fallacy of confusing "is" with "ought." They confused "norm" as a moral standard with "norm" as a statistical average. Many Americans felt free to abandon traditional morality in favor of Kinsey's liberating outlook, which, after all, was "scientific."

Add the invention of the birth control pill, which hit the market in 1960, and the sexual revolution was underway.

Now Hollywood has released a new movie, Kinsey (rated a strong R), which celebrates the life and contributions of the great man. With strong performances from Liam Neeson in the title role and Laura Linney as his equally experimental wife, the film is already picking up Oscar buzz.

Extremely graphic, the film shows Kinsey's own sexual history, as he gets in touch with his homosexual side and takes part with his eager research assistants in his Institute's group sex movies-all in the name of science. Although at the end the movie has Kinsey realizing that his strictly physiological view of sex can leave human casualties and that he has failed to factor into his equations not morality but "love," the film depicts the scientist as a cultural hero.

According to the movie, Kinsey helped people throw off the restrictions of Christianity (caricatured in Kinsey's harsh, moralistic, and unloving father). The movie ridicules the sexual ignorance and repression represented by the 1950s, from which Kinsey has delivered us, though the movie never explains how the 1950s could be so sexually repressive while at the same time giving Kinsey so much data that the population was rutting like weasels.

But clearly, the Kinsey movie and the attempt to bring back his ideas is a salvo in the culture war. What should Christians do about it?

In the past, Christian activists have picketed movie houses, staged pray-ins, and tried to organize boycotts against particularly ungodly films. But the unintended consequence of this kind of direct action has often been to give the movies more publicity and bigger audiences than they otherwise would have been able to muster. That is clearly what happened, for example, with The Last Temptation of Christ. Recently, the makers of Saved!, which ridicules teenage Christians, were reportedly disappointed that Christian activists ignored the movie, whereupon it sunk into box-office oblivion.

Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America are dealing with Kinsey with what a Washington Post story called "more subtle, high-brow tactics." The groups are putting out the scholarly evidence that Kinsey was a fraud.

For example, 25 percent of the people he interviewed for his study were prisoners. Another 5 percent were male prostitutes. And 100 percent were people who volunteered to talk about their sex lives, something most people in the late 1940s and 1950s would be reticent about doing. In other words, Kinsey employed no sampling to ensure that his data accurately reflected the population.

Most disturbing is Kinsey's study of the sexual activity of children, as young as 2 months old. The descriptions of trying to bring them to a state of sexual release can only be child abuse.

"For those who think of people of faith as poor, uneducated, and easy to command, I'm sure it would be amusing to see people praying outside of theaters," said Kristi Hamrick of Focus on the Family. "But we want to have a serious intellectual conversation about who Kinsey was and what he did."

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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