“With promiscuity as a norm and even a commodity, no wonder it’s hard to draw the line between ‘tolerable’ and ‘criminal.’ “
Child prostitution is on the rise in cities all over America. Los Angeles police estimate that in their city alone, more than three thousand boys and girls under fourteen are involved, and for New York City the figure is even higher: as many as twenty thousand juveniles under sixteen are wandering the streets, and a substantial percentage are full- or part-time prostitutes. Most of these children are runaways from broken homes. From all across the country they stream into the big cities (especially New York), where pimps, child molesters, and racketeers enslave them in the name of providing food and lodging.
Of course, most people view all of this as a tragic waste of human lives. What is most appalling is that the victims are the very persons who most need society’s protection—our young children. But despite the problem’s urgency, Time reported recently, there seem to be “no easy answers or ready remedies.”
Apparently, the real problem is that we’re trying to play both ends against the middle. On one end, we’re outraged at child prostitution, child pornography, rape, and mass sex murders. On the other end, we wink at adultery and fornication (“extramarital sex” and “premarital sex” sound more congenial, and even infanticide isn’t quite as unsettling when it becomes “abortion”). It’s a bizarre line we want to draw: “On this side promiscuity is a crime—on that side it’s all right.” But how can we be so sure where to draw the line?
One thing is clear: we’ve been tolerating more and more promiscuity in what we consider acceptable sexual behavior. Aside from legalizing abortion, pornography, adultery, and fornication, we’ve practically made promiscuity a part of the gross national product. Already it sells everything from thumbtacks to typewriters. With promiscuity as a behavioral norm and even a commodity, no wonder it’s so hard to draw the line between “tolerable” and “criminal.” Even when we’re faced with an unmistakable evil like child prostitution, we say, “We don’t know how to deal with it.” Isn’t there a link between “criminal” and “tolerable” promiscuity?
If we’re going to talk about what makes for promiscuity, then naturally we need some clear-cut ideas on what makes for propriety—we need a sexual standard. Now, it seems obvious that this standard can’t be mere vox populi or the latest psychological fad. Of course, the common man and the psychologist may have their opinions. But their opinions have sown the seeds for promiscuity and its bitter harvest, child prostitution. What is the value of their opinions? If we want a sexual standard, let’s listen to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (whom the world’s scriptures variously call God, Allah, Jehovah, and so forth).
Lord Krsna has always said “no promiscuity,” so that’s the way it has to be. At the same time, in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that He looks favorably on sex that accords with religious principles—sex between married people who want to raise children in God consciousness. Sex for procreation within marriage, as devotional service to God, may seem out of tune with today’s trends, but that doesn’t mean it is undesirable or unhealthy.
In fact, historically it’s clear that whenever people have looked upon self-realization and realization of God as life’s real goal, sex crimes have been virtually nonexistent. We may note that for nearly all the people of ancient India, prostitution and even more ordinary varieties of illicit sex were unthinkable. But that wasn’t because these people were artificially repressing themselves. They simply had no taste for promiscuity. They were experiencing a higher taste—spiritual happiness, the taste of self-realization. Serious social reformers can inquire into this higher taste, which alone can replace the lower taste of promiscuity. In the spirit of “Physician, heal thyself,” people who want to do something about sex crimes might do well to find out about self-realization—and get the higher taste for themselves.