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A Review of Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex

It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon,
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It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.   (Psalm 100:3)

Every now and then, we encounter a book that’s so hopelessly daft, so irredeemably wrong in its ideas that a reviewer hardly knows where to begin. That description applies to Judith Levine’s Harmful to Minors.

So why review this book at all?

Because it sheds light on the absurd core of the humanist worldview: the idea that we are whatever we condition ourselves to be, and can live in a society which will be whatever we engineer it to be.

Learn to see it in its extreme forms, as in this book, and you’ll be able to see it elsewhere, deeply permeating American life. In its subtler forms, disguised as worldly wisdom, pragmatism, public education, or even neoconservatism, it’s everywhere we look.

This is the worldview that opposes the Christian faith, the Faith that is the only answer to it. This is Satan’s original con game, first pitched to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “Ye shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5).

A Feminist Rant

Judith Levine is a hyperfeminist, unmarried (but “in a relationship for 11 years”), with no children (p. 236). A former flower child, she still rhapsodizes over the 1960s — particularly the summer of 1967, when she, then 14 years old, longed to be ravished by her summer camp counselor, who was 26 (see “Summer of Love,” Today she wants “gay marriage,” group marriage, and anything else that would undo the family and undermine Christianity (see her article, “Stop the Wedding! Why Gay Marriage Isn’t Radical Enough,”

Wading through her ponderous tome — approximately 95,000 words — I wondered just what kind of world Judith Levine would like to live in. There would be no families in it, no church, no Jesus Christ, no hope of an afterlife, no salvation. Not much of anything, beyond the hedonism of the moment. After about 50,000 words of this, it gets downright depressing. I am so glad I don’t have to car-pool with this woman.

Her Message

Here’s her argument, in brief.

Sex doesn’t harm children, but trying to protect them from sex does.

It’s amazing, the things you can say about children when you’ve never had children of your own. In fact, she says, “erotic pleasure is a gift and can be a positive joy to people at every age” (p. 138 — emphasis added).

The only evidence she adduces for this astonishing assertion is drivel like “Touch is good for children and other living things” (p. 178) and a few references to some “meta-analysis”-type studies (that is, studies of other people’s studies) by Bruce Rind — a Temple University academic who has for years been crusading for the decriminalization of pedophilia, which he calls “intergenerational consensual sex.”

There is no such thing as a pedophile. To make this point, she disqualifies as a pedophile any adult who also has sex with other adults, incest (which, by the way, is built into the normal nuclear family, she says on p. 27) and any adult who gets the child’s “consent” first (“sexual contact with a child does not a pedophile make,” p. 26). However, there is a streak of pedophilia in all heterosexual males, she alleges on p. 29.

So if sex is good for children, and the pedophile is an imaginary monster, why should anyone want to protect their children from sex?

It’s all part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, of course, orchestrated by Christians and conservative Republican politicians “trying to fortify the nuclear family by fomenting suspicion of strangers” (p. 44), and trying “to abolish erotica” (p. 35). J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy created the myth of the homosexual sexual predator, and only later “began painting that menace red” (p. 31).

Along the way, she buffets us with all manner of dreary claptrap, from old chestnuts like the Kinsey lie that homosexuals make up 10% of the population (p. 92) (the Census Bureau says it’s just under 4%) and abstinence won’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (all of chapter 5), to newfangled howlers like “pornography doesn’t hurt the viewer” (p. 149). Anyone who reads the whole thing deserves either a medal or a good thrashing.

If you wade on to the end, you will be advised that adults should encourage very young children to initiate “sex play” among themselves (p. 188-189), even to the point of allowing “consensual fondling” in the classroom (p. 194). You’ll also be lectured on the benefits of “great sex without intercourse,” also known as “outercourse” (p. 198). This is an excellent thing, Ms. Levine says, because in addition to being pleasurable, “Dismantling the intercourse model also undermines the presumption of heterosexuality” (p. 197).

Getting It Perfect

By now this is probably getting to be as disgusting to my reader as it was for me. But before I move on to larger issues, I should mention that Harmful to Minors is graced by an enthusiastic foreword by the former Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Joycelyn Elders. You remember Dr. Elders. After 15 months on the job, she was forced to resign in disgrace when her remarks about the benefits of masturbation outraged the public. Compared to Judith Levine, Dr. Elders is a prude.

To sum up, this volume is a brief for a society built on complete sexual anarchy. Not for a minute does Levine imagine that it might not work.

Levine looks at the world and sees poverty, injustice, disease, and violence, never suspecting that human nature in a fallen world is inherently depraved. The fact that 5,000 years of recorded history fail to show us even one society that has eliminated any of these problems suggests nothing to her. The human race, including all the world’s best thinkers up till now, has had five millenia to apply its ingenuity, its wealth, and its coercive power to the perfection of human nature, and has come up empty. That does not deter Ms. Levine from thinking she’s finally hit the nail on the head.

Those who’ve fallen for Satan’s con game respond to centuries of disappointment by saying, “We may have slipped up last time, but this time it’ll be perfect!” They never learn. This time we’ll get it right; this time we’ll be as God.

And this is what we’re up against as we try to carry out the Great Commission, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even when they don’t flatly reject the Gospel, the worldly-wise are so busy pursuing their current can’t-miss version of Utopia that it’s all they can do to listen for an hour on Sunday.

The Lord commissioned us to preach to them, not try to sort them out. God will do the sorting, and God will do the saving. As for the future of Creation, that matter, along with the salvation of our souls, was settled when God’s Son died on the cross.

Learn to recognize the con game when you see it, whatever name it bears; and don’t fall for it.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at

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