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CHRISTIANITY AND THE INVENTION OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN, 1963–1967*

  • SAM BREWITT-TAYLOR (a1)

Abstract

This article argues that the myth of ‘the sexual revolution’, increasingly accepted in Britain's national media between 1963 and 1967, played a central role in causing the real transformation of British sexual culture that occurred from the late 1960s. It also argues that Christian agency played an important role in the framing and the legitimation of this myth. Until 1963, British debates about sexual morality had been dominated by Christian arguments. In 1963 and 1964, the existence of a rapid, widespread, inexorable, secular, and antinomian transformation of sexual mores was prominently proclaimed by Christian commentators, who thought it an inevitable consequence of ‘secularization’, whereas secular commentators usually objected that this narrative was insufficiently evidenced. After its initial discussion in the mainstream media in 1965, the ‘sexual revolution’ narrative was increasingly articulated without explicit reference to Christianity, but it usually retained theologically inspired structural features inherited from earlier religious discussions. In the late 1960s, elite perceptions of inexorable sexual liberalization decisively legitimated rapid decensorship, wider access to the pill, and the reimagination of ‘normal’ sexual behaviour, thereby importantly shaping real popular change. In this way, Christian clergymen made a significant, early, unwitting, and hitherto unacknowledged contribution to Britain's sexual revolution.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Lincoln College, Oxford, ox1 3dr samuel.brewitt-taylor@lincoln.ox.ac.uk

Footnotes

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*

I am most grateful to Matthew Grimley, William Whyte, Alana Harris, Robert Saunders, Otto Saumarez Smith, this Journal's referees, and seminar participants at Oxford University and Plymouth University for their comments on this material, and to Lambeth Palace Library for permission to quote from the Robinson archive.

Footnotes

References

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1 For historiographical overviews, see Brown, C., ‘Sex, religion, and the single woman c. 1950–1975: the importance of a “short” sexual revolution to the English religious crisis of the sixties’, Twentieth Century British History, 22 (2011), pp. 189215 , at pp. 191–5; Cook, H., ‘The English sexual revolution: technology and social change’, History Workshop Journal, 59 (2005), pp. 109–28, at pp. 109–12; Herzog, D., ‘Sexuality in the postwar west’, Journal of Modern History, 78 (2006), pp. 144–71, especially p. 166.

2 J. Robinson, Honest to God (London, 1963), pp. 105, 118.

3 M. Muggeridge, ‘The sexual revolution’, New Statesman, 2 Apr. 1965, p. 527; K. Whitehorn et al., ‘Living with sex’, Observer, 6 June 1965, p. 21; A. Bingham, Family newspapers? Sex, private life, and the British popular press, 1918–1978 (Oxford, 2009), pp. 121–2; H. Cook, The long sexual revolution: English women, sex, and contraception, 1800–1975 (Oxford, 2004), p. 271.

4 M. Collins, ‘Introduction’, in idem, ed., The permissive society and its enemies (London, 2007), pp. 1–40, at pp. 18–19.

5 J. Weeks, The world we have won: the remaking of erotic and intimate life (London, 2007), p. 20; Cook, Long sexual revolution, p. 338; Brown, ‘“Short” sexual revolution’, pp. 194, 212; L. Hall, Sex, gender and social change in Britain since 1880 (Basingstoke, 2013), pp. 153, 163–4; Langhamer, C., ‘Adultery in post-war England’, History Workshop Journal, 62 (2006), pp. 86115 , at p. 110; A. Harris, Faith in the family: a lived religious history of English Catholicism, 1945–1982 (Manchester, 2013), p. 162; D. Sandbrook, White heat: a history of Britain in the swinging sixties (London, 2006), pp. 464–5; N. Yates, Love now, pay later? Sex and religion in the fifties and sixties (London, 2010), p. 152; T. Newburn, Permission and regulation: law and morals in post-war Britain (London, 1992), p. 16.

6 Cook, Long sexual revolution, p. 290; Brown, ‘“Short” sexual revolution’, p. 192.

7 Pace Brown, ‘“Short” sexual revolution’, pp. 196–7. Data from ibid., p. 199. As Hugh McLeod points out, these figures may not be reliable indicators of pre-marital sexual activity in any case, owing to the ready availability of condoms; ibid., p. 196 n. 27.

8 Langhamer, C., ‘Love and courtship in mid-twentieth-century England’, Historical Journal 50 (2007), pp. 173–96, at p. 178.

9 J. Green, All dressed up: the sixties and the counter-culture (London, 1999), p. 86. See also the discussion of the Girton questionnaire in H. McLeod, The religious crisis of the 1960s (Oxford, 2007), pp. 165–6, although some of the activity reported by the cohort matriculating in 1961–2 may have taken place after 1965; ‘Dean's attack on sexual laxity’, Times, 3 Feb. 1964, p. 7; ‘Parents fear moral dangers at Oxford’, Guardian, 29 Dec. 1964, p. 3.

10 M. Schofield, The sexual behaviour of young people (London, 1965), p. 248; G. Gorer, Sex and marriage in England today (London, 1971), p. 30.

11 G. Gallup, The Gallup international public opinion polls: Great Britain, 1937–1975 (New York, NY, 1976), ii, p. 1005.

12 P. Barker and J. Hanvey, ‘Facing two ways: between the 60s and the 70s’, New Society, 27 Nov. 1969, pp. 847–50.

13 Collins, ‘Introduction’, pp. 18–19.

14 Langhamer, ‘Adultery in post-war England’, p. 88.

15 C. Langhamer, The English in love (Oxford, 2013), pp. 38–9, 151, 210.

16 See for example Whitehorn et al., ‘Living with sex’, p. 21.

17 Herzog, D., ‘Syncopated sex: transforming European sexual cultures’, American Historical Review, 114 (2009), pp. 1287–308, at p. 1295. See for examples J. Weeks, Sex, politics, and society (London, 1989), pp. 249–50; Cook, ‘The English sexual revolution’, p. 124; Brown, C., ‘What was the religious crisis of the 1960s?’, Journal of Religious History, 34 (2010), pp. 468–79, at p. 478; Weeks, World we have won, p. 64.

18 Herzog, ‘Syncopated sex’, p. 1295; see more generally D. Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: postcolonial thought and historical difference (Princeton, NJ, 2000).

19 Eisenstadt, S., ‘Multiple modernities’, Daedalus, 129 (2000), pp. 13 ; V. Mackie and M. McLelland, ‘Introduction: framing sexuality studies in East Asia’, in idem and idem, eds., Routledge handbook of sexuality studies in East Asia (London, 2014), pp. 1–17, at p. 3; J. Arnett, ‘The cultural psychology of emerging adulthood’, in L. Jensen, The Oxford handbook of human development and culture: an interdisciplinary perspective (Oxford, 2015), pp. 487–501, at pp. 492–3.

20 Alexander, J. and Smith, P., ‘The discourse of American civil society: a new proposal for cultural studies’, Theory and Society, 22 (1993), pp. 151207 , at p. 156; J. Alexander, The meanings of social life (Oxford, 2003), pp. 3–7, 13–14, 84; W. Sewell, Logics of history: social theory and social transformation (London, 2005), pp. 140–6, 151, 226–8. For this approach applied to sex, see the discussion of ‘collective scenarios’, in Simon, W. and Gagnon, J., ‘Sexual scripts: permanence and change’, Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 15 (1986), pp. 97120 , at pp. 98–9.

21 Alexander, Meanings of social life, pp. 3–4. For British examples of deeply rooted norms, see R. McKibbin, Classes and cultures: England, 1918–1951 (Oxford, 1998), pp. 330–1; S. Szreter and K. Fisher, Sex before the sexual revolution: intimate life in England, 1918–1963 (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 312–13.

22 Sewell, Logics of history, pp. 244–6; Alexander, Meanings of social life, pp. 155–6.

23 B. Czarniawska-Joerges, Narratives in social science research (London, 2004), pp. 3ff.

24 Herzog, ‘Syncopated sex’, p. 1295.

25 Jones, T., ‘Postsecular sex? Secularisation and religious change in the history of sexuality in Britain’, History Compass, 11 (2013), pp. 918–30, at pp. 922–3.

26 C. Brown, Religion and society in twentieth-century Britain (Harlow, 2006), pp. 177–87; Field, C., ‘Another window on British secularization: public attitudes to church and clergy since the 1960s’, Contemporary British History, 28 (2014), pp. 190218 , at p. 213; Kirby, D., ‘Ecclesiastical McCarthyism: Cold War repression in the Church of England’, Contemporary British History, 19 (2005), pp. 187203 , at p. 188.

27 For theoretical context, see Sewell, Logics of history, p. 257.

28 Brewitt-Taylor, S., ‘The invention of a “secular society”? Christianity and the sudden appearance of secularization discourses in the British national media, 1961–1964’, Twentieth Century British History, 24 (2013), pp. 327–50, at pp. 331–4, 340–4, 349.

29 Mount to Robinson, 13 Dec. 1966, Lambeth Palace Library, Robinson papers, MS 3542, fo. 72.

30 Brewitt-Taylor, “Secular society”?’, pp. 329–30, 343–5. Tellingly, the major counter-example originated across the Atlantic: P. Halasz, ‘You can walk across it on the grass’, Time, 15 Apr. 1966, pp. 32–42.

31 This transformation is described in Weeks, World we have won, pp. 15–20; Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 292–6.

32 Szreter, S., ‘Victorian Britain, 1837–1963: towards a social history of sexuality’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 1 (1996), pp. 136–49; McKibbin, Classes and cultures, pp. 296–7, 330; Grimley, M., ‘The religion of Englishness: puritanism, providentialism, and “national character”, 1918–1945’, Journal of British Studies, 46 (2007), pp. 884906 , at pp. 896–8, 906; C. Brown, The death of Christian Britain: understanding secularisation, 1800–2000 (London, 2009), pp. 9, 170–5; B. Harrison, Seeking a role: England, 1951–1970 (Oxford, 2009), pp. 506–12; Szreter and Fisher, Sex before the sexual revolution, pp. 384–5; Bingham, A., ‘The K-Bomb: social surveys, the popular press, and British sexual culture in the 1940s and 1950s’, Journal of British Studies, 50 (2012), pp. 156–79, at pp. 158, 161, 170.

33 McKibbin, Classes and cultures, p. 330; Collins, ‘Introduction’, pp. 6–7.

34 Martin, J., ‘Structuring the sexual revolution’, Theory and Society, 25 (1996), pp. 105–51, at pp. 106–7; Weeks, Sex, politics, and society, pp. 154–6, 183–6.

35 M. Collins, Modern love: an intimate history of men and women in twentieth-century Britain (London, 2003), pp. 90, 42, 48.

36 Cocks, H., ‘Saucy stories: pornography, sexology, and the marketing of sexual knowledge in Britain, c. 1918–70’, Social History, 29 (2004), pp. 465–84, at p. 469; Szreter and Fisher, Sex before the sexual revolution, p. 113.

37 P. Thane, ‘Family life and “normality” in postwar British culture’, in R. Bessel and D. Schumann, eds., Life after death: approaches to a cultural and social history of Europe during the 1940s and 1950s (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 193–210, at pp. 198–9; Weeks, World we have won, p. 47; Langhamer, English in love, pp. 151, 179.

38 Langhamer, English in love, pp. 3–7, 207–8; Collins, Modern love, p. 90; A. Harris, ‘Love divine and love sublime? The Catholic marriage advisory council, the marriage guidance movement, and the state’, in A. Harris and T. Jones, eds., Love and romance in Britain, 1918–1970 (Basingstoke, 2014), pp. 188–224, at pp. 188–9.

39 Langhamer, English in love, pp. 158–60; Collins, Modern love, pp. 93–4; Szreter and Fisher, Sex before the sexual revolution, pp. 312–13.

40 K. Fisher, Birth control, sex, and marriage in England, 1918–1960 (Oxford, 2006), pp. 111–13.

41 Bingham, ‘The K-Bomb’, pp. 166, 178; Hall, Sex, gender, and social change, p. 146.

42 Weeks, World we have won, pp. 39–47, 55.

43 For this relationship, see Brown, ‘“Short” sexual revolution’, p. 212.

44 L. Colley, Britons: forging the nation, 1707–1837 (London, 2003), pp. 368–9.

45 C. Field, Britain's last religious revival? Quantifying belonging, behaving, and believing in the long 1950s (Basingstoke, 2015), p. 18.

46 Field, ‘Another window on British secularization’, p. 213.

47 S. Green, The passing of Protestant England: secularisation and social change c. 1920–1960 (Cambridge, 2011), pp. 33, 62–5; Brown, Religion and society, p. 183; Pickering, W., ‘The persistence of rites of passage: towards an explanation’, British Journal of Sociology, 25 (1974), pp. 6378 , at p. 63.

48 Gallup, Great Britain, 1937–1975, i, p. 545; Brown, Death of Christian Britain, p. 192; Kirby, ‘Ecclesiastical McCarthyism’, p. 188.

49 Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, p. 328.

50 For the interwar assumption, see McKibbin, Classes and cultures, p. 330. For a 1960s example, see E. and M. Eppel, Adolescents and morality (London, 1966), p. 6.

51 ‘Faith and morals’, Times Educational Supplement, 9 Nov. 1962, p. 607.

52 E. Chesser, Is chastity outmoded? (London, 1960), pp. ix–xiv.

53 Collins, Modern love, p. 173; Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 283–4.

54 McLeod, Religious crisis, pp. 84–99.

55 P. Ferris, ‘The technology of faith’, Guardian, 28 Oct. 1962, pp. 22–3.

56 A. Lunn and G. Lean, The new morality (London, 1964), pp. 132–3; Ferris, ‘Technology of faith’; C. Driver, ‘The morality of Harry Williams’, Guardian, 22 May 1963, p. 9.

57 Quaker Home Service, Towards a Quaker view of sex (London, 1990, facsimile reprint of revised 1964 edition), p. 45.

58 Roodhouse, M., ‘Lady Chatterley and the monk: Anglican radicals and the Lady Chatterley trial of 1960’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 59 (2008), pp. 475500 , at p. 491. See for examples ‘Yes, Christians ought to read it’, Daily Mirror, 28 Oct. 1960, p. 7; ‘Attempt to portray sex as “something sacred”’, Times, 28 Oct. 1960, p. 6.

59 G. Carstairs, This island now (London, 1962), p. 50.

60 Hampshire, J., ‘The politics of school sex education policy in England and Wales from the 1940s to the 1960s’, Social History of Medicine, 18 (2005), pp. 87105 , at p. 100; E. Chesser, Unmarried love (London, 1965), p. 20.

61 Qu. in E. Patey, Young people now (London, 1964), p. 31.

62 Gallup, Great Britain, 1937–1975, i, p. 700.

63 Cook, Long sexual revolution, p. 286; M. Proops, ‘TV doctor's amazing sex talk’, Daily Mirror, 15 July 1963, p. 24.

64 Savage, M., ‘Against epochalism: an analysis of conceptions of change in British sociology’, Cultural Sociology, 3 (2009), pp. 217–38, at pp. 222–3; Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, pp. 344–5. See for examples R. Hoggart, The uses of literacy (London, 1957), pp. 65–6; F. Zweig, The worker in an affluent society (London, 1961), p. 209.

65 Middleton, S., ‘“Affluence” and the Left in Britain, c. 1958–1974’, English Historical Review, 129 (2014), pp. 107–38, at p. 109.

66 M. Jarvis, Conservative governments, morality, and social change in affluent Britain, 1957–1964 (Manchester, 2005), pp. 30–2; Ministry of Education, The youth service in England and Wales (London, 1960), pp. 15–19.

67 See for examples A. Barton, ‘Rough justice’, Guardian, 10 Apr. 1965, p. 8; ‘Violence without motive’, Times, 4 Aug. 1964, p. 9.

68 Bingham, Family newspapers, pp. 118–20.

69 Qu. in S. Maclure, ‘Teenage morals in an age of uncertainty’, in S. Maclure et al., Teenage morals (London, 1961), pp. 4–10, esp. pp. 4–5.

70 D. Eccles, ‘Foreword’, in ibid., inside cover.

71 Ibid., p. 2.

72 Ibid., p. 3; Maclure, ‘Teenage morals’, p. 10; G. Gorer, ‘Anthropologist’, in ibid., pp. 11–13, at p. 13.

73 W. Watson, ‘Sociologist’, in ibid., pp. 19–21, at p. 19.

74 L. Weatherhead, ‘A nation in danger’, Times, 20 Sept. 1961, p. 13; for a summary of responses, see A. Vidler, ‘Religious belief today and its moral derivatives’, in W. Niblett, ed., Moral education in a changing society (London, 1963), pp. 78–95, at pp. 81–2.

75 Carstairs, This island now, p. 51.

76 B. Wootton, ‘What would Lord Reith say?’, Guardian, 16 Dec. 1962, p. 9.

77 A. Halsey, ‘Another island’, Guardian, 17 May 1963, p. 7.

78 G. Carstairs, ‘People bite professor’, New Society, 30 May 1963, pp. 23–4.

79 Ibid., p. 24.

80 ‘How the U. S. sees Britain's “barrage of frankness about sex”’, Evening Standard, 21 Mar. 1963, p. 7. See for examples ‘Are virgins obsolete?’, New Statesman, 4 Jan. 1963, pp. 8–9; Bingham, Family newspapers, p. 120; Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 283–4.

81 F. Mort, Capital affairs: London and the making of the permissive society (London, 2010), pp. 332–3.

82 J. Freeman, ‘A time for austerity’, Queen, 25 Sept. 1963, p. 67; qu. in Mort, Capital affairs, p. 332.

83 ‘Refuge for illegitimates’, New Society, 19 Dec. 1963, pp. 19–20.

84 See for example W. Young, ‘VD and doctors’, Guardian, 11 Mar. 1964, p. 20.

85 Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, pp. 340–3.

86 Brown, Death of Christian Britain, p. 9.

87 E. James, ‘Robinson, John Arthur Thomas (1919–1983)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography. See for examples ‘I believe, or not as the case may be’, Private Eye, 5 Apr. 1963, p. 7; M. Furlong, ‘The bishop of Woolwich’, Punch, 20 May 1964, pp. 732–4; Flanders and Swann, ‘All gall’, At the drop of (another) hat (1964); J. Gould, Can't buy me love: The Beatles, Britain and America (London, 2007), p. 346; K. Mouat, ‘Theological striptease’, Oz, 1 Feb. 1967, pp. 13, 17.

88 J. Robinson, ‘The debate continues’, in D. Edwards, ed., The Honest to God debate (London, 1963), pp. 232–75, at p. 232n.

89 Robinson, Honest to God, p. 105.

90 E. James, A life of Bishop John A. T. Robinson (London, 1987), p. 169.

91 J. Robinson, ‘Our image of God must go’, Observer, 17 Mar. 1963, p. 21.

92 Robinson, Honest to God, p. 105.

93 Ibid., p. 118.

94 Ibid., pp. 116, 120–1.

95 J. Robinson, Christian freedom in a permissive society (London, 1970), pp. 49–50.

96 J. Robinson, On being church in the world (Harmondsworth, 1969), p. 8; Robinson, Christian freedom in a permissive society, pp. 130, 240; J. Robinson, The new Reformation? (London, 1965), pp. 51–2.

97 Robinson, Honest to God, pp. 130–1. This assumption was famously challenged by Michel Foucault's History of sexuality (London, 1978); Collins, ‘Introduction’, 34.

98 Robinson, Honest to God, p. 104.

99 See for example Weatherhead, ‘Nation in danger’, p. 13; contrast Robinson, Honest to God, p. 117.

100 Ibid., p. 105.

101 Martin, ‘Structuring the sexual revolution’, p. 132; Robinson, Honest to God, p. 115.

102 Todd, S. and Young, H., ‘Baby-boomers to “beanstalkers”: making the modern teenager in postwar Britain’, Cultural and Social History, 9 (2012), pp. 451–67, at pp. 451–3.

103 D. Fowler, Youth culture in modern Britain c. 1920–c. 1970 (Basingstoke, 2008), p. 173; Mitchell, G., ‘Reassessing “the generation gap”: Bill Haley's 1957 tour of Britain, inter-generational relations, and attitudes to rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1950s’, Twentieth Century British History, 24 (2013), pp. 573605 , esp. pp. 576, 585.

104 A. Marwick, The sixties: cultural revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c. 1958–c. 1974 (Oxford, 1998), p. 75.

105 J. Green, All dressed up: the sixties and the counterculture (London, 1990), p. 86.

106 Marwick, The sixties, p. 466; Collins, M., ‘The pornography of permissiveness: men's sexuality and women's emancipation in mid-twentieth-century Britain’, History Workshop Journal, 47 (1999), pp. 99120 n. 1.

107 Yates, Love now, pay later?, p. 80.

108 McLeod, Religious crisis, p. 163. G. Tindall, ‘Magazine morality’, Guardian, 21 Oct. 1966, p. 8.

109 Bingham, Family newspapers, pp. 219–21.

110 J. McAleer, Passion's fortune: the story of Mills and Boon (Oxford, 1999), p. 258.

111 Brown, C., ‘The “unholy Mrs Knight” and the BBC: secular humanism and the threat to the “Christian nation”, c. 1945–1960’, English Historical Review, 127 (2012), pp. 345–76, at pp. 349–50. For examples, see J. Priestley, ‘Random reflections on sex’, New Statesman, 23 Aug. 1963, pp. 222–4, at p. 224; A. Miles, ‘Verdict on the leaders of tomorrow’, Daily Express, 2 Dec. 1963, p. 25.

112 For an overview see McLeod, Religious crisis, pp. 83–90.

113 There was already a considerable Christian tradition of asserting the secularization narrative. Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, pp. 337–43.

114 J. Wren-Lewis, ‘The passing of puritanism’, Listener, 30 Jan. 1964, pp. 175–6.

115 R. Lloyd, The ferment in the church (London, 1964), p. 102.

116 D. Rhymes, No new morality: Christian personal values and sexual morality (London, 1964), pp. 19, 29–30.

117 James, Life of Robinson, p. 78.

118 Rhymes, No new morality, pp. 19, 29, 46, 48.

119 Ibid., p. 51.

120 See for examples ‘Ease sex “code”, says canon’, Daily Mirror, 11 Mar. 1963, p. 10; ‘Canon seeks new moral code’, Daily Express, 11 Mar. 1963, p. 11; ‘Summary of the news’, Church Times, 15 Mar. 1963, p. 3; Lunn and Lean, The new morality, p. 133.

121 ‘Note of fear from noisy moralists’, Times, 26 Feb. 1965, p. 7.

122 D. Goodhew, ‘Introduction’, in idem, ed., Church growth in Britain: 1980 to the present (Farnham, 2012), pp. 3–22, at p. 19.

123 P. Howard, Britain and the beast (London, 1963), p. 55.

124 G. Bentley, God and Venus: an essay on sex (London, 1965), pp. 4, 9.

125 G. Bentley, ‘The new morality: a Christian comment’, in R. Sadler, ed., Sexual morality: three views (London, 1965), pp. 33–61, at pp. 39–40.

126 See for examples ‘Morals: bishop tells of church's neglect’, Daily Express, 5 July 1963, p. 5; ‘The defenders’, Daily Express, 9 Sept. 1963, p. 8; ‘Morality: “Army” general hits at new evils’, Daily Express, 1 Nov. 1963, p. 16.

127 Harris, Faith in the family, pp. 159–69.

128 Newburn, Permission and regulation, pp. 18–19.

129 J. Pilger, ‘Face to face’, Daily Mirror, 29 Nov. 1965, pp. 16–17.

130 Weeks, Sex, politics, and society, pp. 253–4; ‘Refuge for illegitimates’, New Society, 19 Dec. 1963, pp. 19–20; ‘Sex and young people’, New Society, 30 Sept. 1965, p. 23.

131 G. Godber, The health of the school child, 1960 and 1961 (London, 1962); qu. in E. Eppel, ‘The adolescent and changing moral standards’, in Niblett, ed., Moral education, pp. 112–37, at p. 117.

132 R. Fletcher, ‘A humanist's decalogue’, New Society, 2 May 1963, pp. 17–20, at pp. 19, 17.

133 A. McGlashan, ‘Sex on these islands’, Encounter, July 1963, pp. 100–4, at p. 101.

134 Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 286–7.

135 A. Comfort, Sex in society (London, 1964), pp. 99–101; Weeks, Sex, politics and society, p. 253.

136 A. Comfort, ‘Of lustinesse’, Guardian, 30 July 1965, p. 7.

137 M. Laski, ‘Facts of life’, Guardian, 25 July 1965, p. 3.

138 Whitehorn et al., ‘Living with sex’, p. 21; W. Young, Eros denied (London, 1965), p. 13.

139 Chesser, Unmarried love, pp. 25–7.

140 ‘Symposium’, Penthouse, Mar. 1965, pp. 11–14, at p. 12.

141 D. Sandbrook, Never had it so good: a history of Britain from Suez to the Beatles (London, 2006), pp. 106, 433ff, 517ff.

142 See for examples ‘Morals: the second sexual revolution’, Time, 24 Jan. 1964, pp. 42–7; ‘Sexplosion’, Christian Century, 29 Jan. 1964, pp. 136–8.

143 Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, p. 331.

144 For context, see Collins, ‘Pornography of permissiveness’, p. 99. The Pirelli calendar was not a magazine.

145 B. Inglis, ‘Sex and society in the sixties’, King, Winter 1964, pp. 11–15.

146 Ibid., p. 15.

147 P. Phillips, Contesting the moral high ground: popular moralists in twentieth-century Britain (Montreal, 2013), pp. 110–16; I. Hunter, Malcolm Muggeridge: a life (London, 1980), pp. 219–20; New Statesman, 2 Apr. 1965, p. 517.

148 Muggeridge, ‘The sexual revolution’, p. 527.

149 Whitehorn et al., ‘Living with sex’, p. 21, and Observer, 13 June 1965, p. 21.

150 K. Whitehorn, Selective memory: an autobiography (London, 2007), pp. 3, 12–13.

151 Whitehorn, et al., ‘Living with sex’.

152 Robinson, Honest to God, p. 119.

153 P. Mortimer, ‘Living with sex’, Observer, 6 June 1965, p. 21.

154 Robinson, ‘Living with sex’.

155 See for examples B. Alan, ‘Afterthought’, Spectator, 30 Apr. 1965, p. 581; ‘Lessons for writers’, Times Literary Supplement, 29 June 1965, p. 331; ‘Break-through for birth control’, Economist, 29 May 1965, p. 1036; M. Tippett, ‘The BBC's duty to society’, Listener, 26 Aug. 1965, p. 302; ‘Dreams and responsibilities’, TLS, 30 June 1966, p. 575; C. King, ‘The British press: a Financial Times survey’, Financial Times, 25 July 1966, p. 1; T. Szamuely, ‘S*x behind the curtain’, Spectator, 12 Aug. 1966, p. 200.

156 Marwick, The sixties, p. 466.

157 See for examples Mortimer, ‘Living with sex’, p. 21; ‘Mere anarchy or new freedom?’, Guardian, 7 Oct. 1967, p. 1; Weeks, Sex, politics, and society, p. 249; see for example ‘Tories will campaign on law and order’, Observer, 1 Feb. 1970, p. 1.

158 C. Peters, ‘The sex revolution’, TLS, 30 June 1966, p. 577.

159 L. Grant, Sexing the millennium: a political history of the sexual revolution (London, 1993), pp. 85–6.

160 M. Drabble, ‘The sexual revolution’, Guardian, 11 Oct. 1967, p. 8.

161 P. Larkin, Collected poems: edited with an introduction by Anthony Thwaite (London, 2003), pp. 146, 207.

162 A. Bingham and M. Conboy, Tabloid century: the popular press in Britain, 1896 to the present (Oxford, 2015), p. 155; Bingham, Family newspapers, pp. 121–2.

163 K. Waterhouse, ‘The cool four million’, Daily Mirror, 29 Nov. 1967, p. 14.

164 People, 14 Apr. 1968, p. 1; qu. in Bingham, Family newspapers, p. 122.

165 News of the World, 28 Sept. 1969, p. 14; qu. in Bingham, Family newspapers, p. 122.

166 Sun, 22 Nov. 1969, p. 2; qu. in Bingham, Family newspapers, p. 122.

167 Eppel and Eppel, Adolescents and morality, pp. 14–18.

168 Chesser, Unmarried love, pp. 11–21.

169 ‘Playboy panel: religion and the new morality: leading liberals of the clergy debate the church's role in today's sexual revolution’, Playboy, June 1967, pp. 55–78, at p. 56.

170 Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, p. 347.

171 Sidenote to J. Wilson, ‘What kind of morality?’, Guardian, 25 Oct. 1967, p. 8.

172 ‘Priests and prophets of permissiveness’, Guardian, 12 Oct. 1967, p. 9.

173 As it has seemed since: Szreter and Fisher, Sex before the sexual revolution, pp. 48–9.

174 As Timothy Willem Jones observes, this forgetfulness is also a feature of later historiography: Jones, Sexual politics in the Church of England, pp. 6–7.

175 Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 292–3.

176 P. Thompson, ‘Labour's “Gannex conscience”? Politics and popular attitudes in the “permissive society”’, in R. Coopey et al., eds., The Wilson governments, 1964–1970 (London, 1993), pp. 140–1.

177 Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 288–90.

178 A. Leathard, The fight for family planning: the development of family planning services in Britain, 1921–1974 (London, 1980), p. 139.

179 ‘Family planning association’, House of Commons Debates, 4 May 1964, vol. 694, cc. 880–1, c. 881.

180 ‘Prevention as cure’, New Society, 11 Feb. 1965, p. 3.

181 S. Brooke, Sexual politics: sexuality, family planning and the British left from the 1880s to the present day (Oxford, 2011), p. 175; Leathard, Family planning, p. 135.

182 See Leo Abse's comments in ‘National Health Service (Family planning bill)’, House of Commons Debates, 17 Feb. 1967, vol. 741, cc. 935–1020, c. 961.

183 Ibid., c. 996.

184 Gallup, Great Britain, 1937–1975, ii, p. 1005.

185 Leathard, Family planning, p. 144.

186 Cook, Long sexual revolution, p. 295.

187 Ibid., p. 293.

188 Brown, ‘“The unholy Mrs Knight”’, pp. 351–5. H. Greene, The third floor front: a view of broadcasting in the sixties (London, 1969), p. 101.

189 Ibid., p. 103.

190 A. Aldgate, Censorship and the permissive society: British cinema and theatre, 1955–1965 (Oxford, 1995), p. 147.

191 Ibid., pp. 5, 151–2.

192 J. Trevelyan, What the censor saw (London, 1973), p. 19.

193 Ibid., title page; qu. Aldgate, Censorship and the permissive society, p. 5.

194 D. Sutherland, Offensive literature: decensorship in Britain, 1960–1982 (London, 1982), p. 2; Barker and Hanvey, ‘Facing two ways’, p. 848, table 2.

195 Collins, ‘Pornography of permissiveness’, p. 103.

196 Ibid., p. 100.

197 Cook, Long sexual revolution, p. 271.

198 Collins, ‘Introduction’, pp. 18–19.

199 Brown, ‘“Short” sexual revolution’, p. 212.

200 G. De Groot, The sixties unplugged (Basingstoke, 2009), pp. 218ff; Langhamer, ‘Adultery in post-war England’, p. 107.

201 For this transformation, see Cook, Long sexual revolution, pp. 292–5.

202 For the long post-1960s sexual revolution, see Weeks, World we have won, pp. 14–22, 57–63.

203 Brewitt-Taylor, ‘“Secular society”?’, pp. 340–4.

204 For early modern context see N. Cohn, The pursuit of the millennium: revolutionary millenarians and mystical anarchists of the middle ages (London, 2004), pp. 148–51, 176–80; M. Weisner-Hanks, Christianity and sexuality in the early modern world: regulating desire, reforming practice (London, 2000), pp. 65–6; Grant, Sexing the millennium, pp. 23–28, 39–40.

205 Brooke, Sexual politics, p. 148.

206 Pace Brown, Death of Christian Britain, p. 176.

207 Pace Brown, ‘“Short” sexual revolution’, pp. 193–5.

208 Herzog, ‘Syncopated sex’, pp. 1298–9; McLeod, Religious crisis, pp. 1–2.

209 Herzog, ‘Syncopated sex’, pp. 1295–7, 1300–1; Leong, L., ‘Asian sexuality or Singapore exceptionalism?’, Liverpool Law Review, 33 (2012), pp. 1126 , at p. 15; C. Brown, Religion and the demographic revolution: women and secularisation in Canada, Ireland, UK and USA since the 1960s (Woodbridge, 2012), p. 134.

210 Alexander and Smith, ‘New proposal for cultural studies’, p. 156; Alexander, Meanings of social life, pp. 3–5.

* I am most grateful to Matthew Grimley, William Whyte, Alana Harris, Robert Saunders, Otto Saumarez Smith, this Journal's referees, and seminar participants at Oxford University and Plymouth University for their comments on this material, and to Lambeth Palace Library for permission to quote from the Robinson archive.

CHRISTIANITY AND THE INVENTION OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN, 1963–1967*

  • SAM BREWITT-TAYLOR (a1)

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