Back in the 1970s, acclaimed psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a classic book, Whatever Became of Sin? Menninger said that although our society has dropped the sin category, sin remains, and our failure to identify sin as sin has made dealing with it even more difficult.
Well, the great man was only partly right. While some behaviors are no longer called sinful, there’s a growing list of behaviors that government officials now consider to be socially destructive, and thus, subject to what are called “sin taxes.”
Maryland, for example, wants to raise sin taxes on smokeless tobacco to the same level as it does on cigarettes — currently two dollars a pack. In other states, revenue-hungry legislators have proposed new sin taxes on things like ammunition, soft drinks, and even espresso.
Whether “sin taxes” really deter undesirable behavior is debatable. And they don’t seem to be helping government budgets: according to Citizens Against Government Waste, of the 57 state excise tax increases between 2003 and 2007, only 16 met or exceeded revenue projections.
Still, the number of sin taxes is increasing, perhaps because legislators simply want to be on record as opposing the “sins” of alcohol, smoking, and even sugary drinks!
It’s odd, though, that despite this feeding frenzy, nobody is proposing to tax an activity that nearly every previous generation saw as truly sinful and harmful to society: sexual promiscuity.
In fact, the word “promiscuity” is no longer uttered after the word “sexual” in polite company, although the word “freedom” certainly is. And we actually celebrate sexual promiscuity.
Take just the recent example: Georgetown Law student and “reproductive rights” activist Sandra Fluke became a hero to many by demanding that Georgetown University violate its religious convictions and pay for her birth control.
So, now the Sexual Left not only excuses sin, they want us to actually subsidize it.
Here’s the problem: Sexual promiscuity is still a sin. If we can’t tax it, at least don’t make us pay for it! I say this not just because the Bible says it is wrong — indeed, God designed sex — but only to be enjoyed within the safety and sanctity of marriage.
I say this because all the evidence says it’s wrong, too. There’s a sobering new book out by doctors Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush, along with Stan Guthrie. It’s called Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America’s Sexual Culture Does to Young Women. According to Girls Uncovered, an estimated 19 million cases of sexually transmitted infections occurred in the year 2010. Think of it, about half occurred in 15- to 24-year-olds, even though they only represent about 25 percent of the sexually active — read: promiscuous — population!
The infections include HPV, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, and 18 more STIs. Many can produce intense physical pain, scarring, the risk of infecting others, as well as cancer or sterility.
Now folks, if that’s not sin, what is? But our society seems determined on distracting us with “sin taxes” and pseudo-sins while actually subsidizing the real kind. God have mercy on us!
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.
Publication date: April 2, 2012