I was observing a teacher as she administered a math lesson to some second graders using three-dimensional geometric shapes which she kept in a basket. One of the boys reached in the basket and grabbed some items and began to play with them. “Don’t mess with my junk!” the teacher barked in a half-kidding tone. Titters and giggles erupted from the kids seated at the table and a couple of them muttered under their breath, “she said junk!”
My own children had to educate me about “junk,” which back in my day was referred to as the “family jewels,” and in formal terms is known as “genitalia.”
Any reference to human genitals carries with it a hint of ribald humor, but “family jewels” once denoted something also of value, to be protected and kept from harm. The modern reference of “junk” unfortunately mirrors a societal cheapening of human sexuality which is now regarded as something of fleeting purpose and dubious worth, and in the end, irreverently squalid.
Romantic love is the supreme endowment that sets people apart from their animal cousins. The capacity of man and woman to form lasting bonds of monogamy in a world rife with temptation, and to form a family and create a home in which children grow in the best circumstances possible is a wonderful thing. Sexual pairings that bind committed couples biologically, and continuously renew their emotional ties through intimate contact, provide the richest experiences life has to offer. But these notions have been lost in the popular culture of our age, and are mocked as either prudish or preposterous in the age of shacking up, no-fault divorce, and alternative lifestyles. The physical modesty of children is assaulted and broken down through sex education and continuous streams of obscenity coming from video games, movies, TV, the Internet, magazines, and parents without boundaries or moral values.
Contemporary euphemisms for immoral sexual conduct have softened and blended with the titles once reserved for holy matrimony and nuclear family. “Hooking up” is the fishy term for anonymous sexual liaisons with serial strangers. “Living with” someone has replaced the harsher “shacking up,” alluding to what, in my youth, was called “living in sin.” “Baby mamas” and “baby daddies” were just a few years ago known as “out of wedlock parents,” or “unwed mothers and fathers,” and a few decades ago, “fornicators, sluts, pigs” and “whores.” “Bastard” was the label once assigned babies born outside of marriage. When that term was deemed politically incorrect, they were called “illegitimate.” And today there is no distinction made at all between children whose parents are married and those whose parents are neither married, nor identifiable. The value of marriage and family has been all but destroyed in those populations where nearly 4 of 5 children are born without a daddy in their lives.
As mollifying terms referencing immoral behaviors and situations are used more and more often to appease the demands of political correctness, terminology which refers to the very private and cherished constituents of human sexuality coarsens. Media and entertainment are full of crude references to sex in all its varied forms, and the body parts involved. Nothing is sacrosanct, and the raunchiest terms are applied to those things which should be kept private and reverent while authentically vile and licentious activities are couched in approving language.
The downward spiral from “family jewels” to “junk” is more than just a byproduct of the acceptance of the profane and the desecration of the sacred, it signals an utter disengagement from God. Romantic love is the archetype through which men and women become most like God by becoming co-creators with Him. As human sexual identity has been dissipated through social movements including militant feminism, the recognition of homosexuals as a protected class, the transgender culture, and the normalization of other perversions, the idea that marriage and procreation are the highest of human aspirations has been minimized. As the function of sexuality has been increasingly estranged from God, the high purposes of courtship, romance, and marriage have given way to superficial and cursory bursts of carnal pleasure encouraged by a morally decadent culture. These behaviors inevitably lead to despair as disengagement from godly identity leads to increased depravity, and the individuals caught up in the degenerate culture are little more than dots of debris floating on a sea of meaninglessness and self-loathing.
Words mean things, and the language; the euphemisms of our age, reflect the state of the human spirit and how we regard ourselves and those attributes that are most personal, and should be the most godly. A teacher innocently using the term “junk,” and sending a gaggle of second graders into fits of titters may seem harmless and silly in and of itself, but it’s worth a little cultural self-assessment to try to understand why that which should be held in the highest regard, the “family jewels,” is now given the same title as cheap and dirty back alley rubbish.
by Marjorie Haun 5/11/13