Church, Sex, and Society
The power of any society is a function of the unity of belief among its members. For nearly 2,000 years, being a Catholic was an all-or-nothing proposition that demanded the believer's assent to all the Church taught. However, by the end of the 1960s the cafeteria Catholic emerged, nibbling here and there among Mother Church's teachings. No longer expected to accept it all, many Catholics feel free to disregard what doesn't suit them.
The unity of belief that marked Catholicism for two millennia has disappeared, taking the power of Peter's Chair with it. Of all the Church's teachings, none is more widely ignored than her condemnation of contraception.
The event that changed everything for Catholics, the Second Vatican Council, ended in December 1965. In June 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that opened the way to marketing oral contraceptives. A revolution in chemistry freed man from the designed purpose of his lust and a revolution in faith loosened the cultural reins restraining it. One revolution changed human life as it was known from the beginning; the other changed Western culture as it was known for twenty centuries. Despite their enormous historical significance, looking back, it's hard to decide which of the two is the less appreciated.
Today, the genies they released are converging to eliminate the free exercise of religion in America. The Church's present weakness hasn't escaped the Obama administration. It is cynically exploiting the disconnect between the Church's teaching and a voting bloc called "Catholic," thereby freezing and isolating Church leadership and others who recognize the wisdom behind the Church's teaching.
Although few want to hear it, contraception and the mentality it engenders are corrosive evils. Like pornography, contraception cheapens sex. Our culture no longer respects sex as a power capable of producing human life. Instead, for too many, sex is either a hobby or a tool to get what they want from others.
Trivializing sex trivializes marriage, which in turn degrades women and families. Destroy the family, and society is sure to follow. In a superb article, Douglas Farrow demonstrates how contraception leads directly to demands for same-sex marriage. Obviously, once divorced from reproduction, any imaginable sexual union can claim marriage's legal perquisites.
Less obvious and far worse, insisting that the state sanction relationships on the basis of pleasure rather than purpose subjects marriage to political redefinition. This further subordinates the family to politicians, judges, lawyers, and a host of others.
Traditionally, marriage was understood to exist primarily for the production, care, and education of the next generation. Farrow quotes Pope Leo XIII, who little more than a century ago taught that the family was "older than any State[,]" with "rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State." By demanding that the state redefine marriage, proponents of same-sex marriage, wittingly or not, demand that all families surrender their historic independence and rights.
That is precisely the kind of selfishness you'd expect from people who see nothing in sex beyond their own gratification. Obama's mandates simply follow their logic. To them, normal human reproduction is an STD, something to be disposed of with murderous technology. How dare the Church stand in their way?
It was the Catholic Church that dared to introduce the world to reverence and respect for women. Now, fifty years after her own revolution, the Church, unable to rally the faithful to support her teachings, is reduced to seeking political consensus to turn away the mandates. Effectively muzzled, her leaders are too feeble to stand on the rock of her two millennia of wisdom and enlighten an increasingly debauched and benighted mankind. Their weakness is a disaster for us all.
The toll of our debauchery is all around us. Drive by any middle school to see how degraded tomorrow's mothers are. These children, like most of us alive today, never knew a time when babies weren't preventable. Why shouldn't a girl give herself away to gain the things a child craves? It'll be years before she realizes what she's done to herself.
By then, after a series of recreational couplings, perhaps she'll settle down with a boy who grew up on pornographic fantasies. When they encounter the day-to-day realities of adult life, neither will find the "fulfillment" he or she sought, but only a dreary sense of emptiness and loss. Eventually they'll divorce, leaving more fatherless children to repeat this cycle, while two more adults grow old seething with rage, resentment, and guilt.
Contrast this with their ancestors' view of married life. Marrying for the purpose of having children, they understood that life is sacrifice. "Fulfillment" wasn't part of their vocabulary, but husband and wife discovered from the imperfections of their beings the completion and perfection of new life rising from their marriage bed. They saw their responsibilities to their children and to each other through to their deaths. To such people, masturbation was synonymous with pointless behavior. Today it is the purpose of "marriage."
The tides of history often wash through our lives transparently, leaving us like fish incapable of noticing the waters surrounding us. It's only when we strike an occasional rock that we are shocked into seeing how far we've drifted. If we are wise, we will climb the rock and regain our bearings.
For two millennia the Church understood the perils of sexual self-indulgence and inflexibly held her faithful to a standard that protected them and, by extension, the larger society from the beast that lurks inside us all. The social wreckage that's washing up around us began the day the Church started to relax her grip.
Today the beast freely prowls our media, streets, schools, homes, and yes, our churches. By surrendering our self-restraint, we've become crippled and proportionately incapable of freedom. Into the midnight voids of our own souls comes a nightmare state bringing the compassion of a pimp and the chains of the slave driver.
In the course of 200 years, the Revolution learned that murder makes martyrs. Today, the Revolution mounts its final assault. It no longer needs to shoot priests on the altar or march them to the scaffold. It can simply force the congregation to pay for its own destruction.