On Monday, November 24, 2014, a three-part fly-on-the-wall documentary about Tatler magazine began on BBC2.

Originally a men’s publication — in a nice way — when it was founded in 1709, it was popular in London’s coffeehouses where wealthy, well-connected patrons could read insider scoops on politics, society and news. It was published thrice weekly until January 1711.

Although a number of bloggers dislike pseudonyms, the Irish politician and writer Richard Steele, founder of the original Tatler, wrote under the name Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire. He is thought to have been the first to popularise writing under an assumed name. This genre was known at the time as ‘characters’. Lord Shaftesbury’s Characteristics of 1711 expanded on the genre.

Pseudonymns helped Steele and his friends gather exclusives from the various coffeehouses where the great and the good met:

Steele’s idea was to publish the news and gossip heard in London coffeehouses, hence the title, and seemingly, from the opening paragraph, to leave the subject of politics to the newspapers,[2] while presenting Whiggish views and correcting middle-class manners, while instructing “these Gentlemen, for the most part being Persons of strong Zeal, and weak Intellects…what to think.” To assure complete coverage of local gossip, a reporter was placed in each of the city’s popular coffeehouses, or at least such were the datelines: accounts of manners and mores were datelined from White’s; literary notes from Will’s; notes of antiquarian interest were dated from the Grecian Coffee House; and news items from St. James’s Coffee House.

Jonathan Swift and Joseph Addison also wrote articles for the journal. Addison and Steele co-founded the first incarnation of The Spectator after Tatler folded in 1711. The Spectator was in print until 1714. It would not be resurrected by another publisher until 1818. It is still in publication today.

Several equally short-lived imitations also took the name Tatler in the early 18th century.

In 1830, the English writer Leigh Hunt revived Tatler but ceased publication that same year.

In July 1901 publisher Clement Shorter relaunched Tatler. It has remained in continuous publication ever since. Initially, it was more of a social chronicle which appealed to men as well as women. Although it is certainly considered a woman’s magazine today, and only published monthly, it features at least one investigative article each issue involving well-known captains of industry or old families. It also covers a variety of social trends, such as the popularity of drugs, specifically, the damage ketamine can inflict on the bladder.

The rest of this post contains adult content.

The June 2014 issue of Tatler, featured in the BBC2 documentary, has an article about ‘flexisexuality’. Sophia Money-Coutts described the phenomenon in her article, ‘Feeling greedy? Now you can have it all’ (pp. 126-129).

The article explains that we have moved on from the 1960s sexual revolution into a new phase where sexual activity has become open and includes same-sex and ambisexual encounters (p. 128).

In one sense, this reads to me as if it were describing the swingers phenomenon of the early 1970s. Each generation thinks it has invented sex. And let’s remember that the youngsters who were letting it all hang out in the late 60s and early 70s are grandparents today. However, their grandchildren are taking what happened then one step further by normalising blurred sexual boundaries.

One 26-year old partygoer told Tatler‘s journalist that she has

had sex with three or four women … 

One encounter, she said, took place after a society wedding (p. 128). The other woman made an overture and

the sex was amazing because, you know, women understand what they’re doing with other women.

We learn why girl-on-girl flings have become popular among under-30s, including adolescents (p. 128-129):

– The personal hygiene is better.

– Women have better manners.

– Party drugs such as ketamine put one in the mood.

– Women enjoy sleeping with a beautiful woman.

– Certain supermodels are at the forefront of this trend.

– Girls at private schools have posters of supermodels on their walls and experiment with their peers.

Men are also welcome to join in now and then. One woman revealed (p. 129):

my husband’s watched both times.

For the most part, the interviewees said that they viewed their ‘sapphosexual’ encounters as a phase one goes through in one’s youth. They get married, have children and resume a normal family life by the time they reach the age of 30.

That said, Tatler found that women friends have stronger bonds than before; it’s not unusual for them to go on holiday together (p. 129).

Tatler also discovered that ‘most men’ did not object to their girlfriends or wives having a same sex fling or relationship (p. 129).

As one 22-year old said of a young bride who had an encounter with her best female friend after the wedding reception whilst the groom looked on (p. 128):

It’s not so a big deal … It’s really not a ‘thing’ if you’re our age and seeing someone [of] the same sex.

I mention this because it is a trend to watch for among young people, probably as young as secondary school age.

Parents, clergy and teachers would do well to ensure that our children understand God’s plan for us as men and women. This is given in the creation story in Genesis.

It is reinforced in the New Testament through Paul’s and Jude‘s letters. Emphases mine below.

Romans 1:18-32:

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[a] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Jude:

7 The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns around them also did evil things. They gave themselves over to sexual sins. They committed sins of the worst possible kind. They are an example of those who are punished with fire. The fire never goes out.   (Jude 7)

24 Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy. (Jude 24)

One cannot help but wonder if children better understood the divine plan for humanity whether so much same-sex experimentation would be taking place today.

Yes, repentance is possible for past transgressions, however, better not to get involved with sin in the first place.

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