I’ve pondered with you before on this blog (HERE) the disappearance of something we used to call “dating,” wherein a young man would summon the courage to ask a young lady out to dinner or perhaps to the movies. He would do something called getting “dressed up,” go to the young woman’s house, often meet her parents, take her out for the evening, and then return her home at a respectable hour.

Dating was something that one did beginning in late high school or in college. Youth too young to date were often encouraged by adults to meet one another, and so the adults often sponsored dances and other social activities for young men and women to meet, learn to dance, and interact socially. All this was in service of something we used to call “marriage,” a term that has lost any real meaning in the general culture over the past fifty years. It used to mean (and still does in the Church) the lifelong, stable union of one man and one woman for the purposes of having a family and raising children. In the general culture today it really means little more than two (and soon to be two or more) adults consorting for as long as they please, for whatever purposes they please, until it makes them happier to no longer do so.

With the demise of marriage also came the demise of dating, which existed to serve marriage and to provide opportunities for younger men and women to meet and eventually marry.

As I pondered the disappearance of dating with you some months back, I was surprised at the the sad and sometimes bitter or cynical remarks that came in the comments box. Clearly there is a significant undercurrent of bitterness, cynicism, and lack of trust between the sexes. So many young men wrote in, with great anger at times, about how they are treated by young women, who seem to see them as predators and as somehow beneath them.  Many young women confirmed this by describing men as immature and not interested in anything but sex. The overall climate seems to be deeply imbued with a poisonous cynicism and even an open hostility between the sexes.

In a certain sense we see today an age of lost innocence. Gone are the days of idealistic young men and women venturing out to find a spouse, excited at the prospect of marriage, family, and future. Now, because of divorce rates unimaginable fifty years ago, idealism has been replaced by cynicism. And with the explosion of easily accessible pornography, sexual innocence is lost very, very early. Almost no young people these days think ahead to a blissful wedding night and having their first experience of sexual intimacy there.

Yes, it is an age of lost innocence. The word “innocence” is from the Latin  in (not)  + nocens (harmful or noxious). Thus in seeing someone as innocent, we presume that they mean no harm. But in cynical and jaded times like these, fewer and fewer people presume innocence on the part of anyone. A young man can barely take notice of a woman’s beauty, let alone tell her she’s beautiful, without being suspected of predatory sexual advances.  He might even get sued or lose his job if he does so in the workplace. A woman cannot be even subtly flirtatious without fearing significant pressure to go very far, very fast with someone she might just like to get to know slowly.

Almost no one presumes innocence anymore and to do so is scoffed at as naïve. So cynical and jaded have we become, that we even ridicule the notion that there ever was an innocent time when men and women generally observed chastity, and within those safer boundaries, were able to speak more freely of their interest in one another and relate at more subtle levels than all-or-nothing sex.

The loss of innocence and the rise of cynicism have rendered the relationships between men and women hostile, fearful, and fraught with posturing and negotiation.

To be fair, men and women have struggled to get along since the time of the book of Genesis. Many women are in fact very different from most men. Men think differently, often have different priorities, and behave rather differently. But, Holy Matrimony had traditionally been an important way that we bridged the wide gap between men and women, getting them to focus on a shared vision of family and children. The differences might well remain, but with a common goal those differences could become a diversity that added strength to the shared work of family.

In terms of continuing the discussion on the disappearance of dating and on the tension between the sexes, I’d like to share the insights of Anthony Esolen, who has made some very poignant observations. I would encourage you to read his book Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity, which is one of the finest analyses of the demise of marriage that I have seen.

Throughout the book, Esolen (a professor of English at Providence College) gives many examples of poetry and art from the last thousand years that emphasized romance, beauty, and a love that sought union in marriage and family. He writes,

But this tradition is in its death rattle … Why should we have expected otherwise? When men and women [since the sexual revolution of the late 60s] are taught to use other people as objects of sexual excitement … as if they were toys or robots, do we really expect that they should all at once see the beauty and the nobility of the other sex? … Today popular musicians do not sing lyrically about a woman’s beauty or man’s courage. Instead they whine and grunt like animals … and have almost nothing kind to say to one another …

The sexual revolution is essentially a lonely one … The sexual revolution isolates. The man says to himself, “I will have this woman now, because it is convenient, but I’ll make sure she doesn’t press things further.” The woman says to herself, “I’ll let this man have his way, because he’s weak and I can manipulate him.” Each one says, “We must make sure that no third person [i.e., a baby] intrudes upon this arrangement”… And if that third person does intrude, he may well be dispatched with cold steel … and his remains be deposited in a bag labeled “biohazard.”

[Young people] also see a world that is vile at every turn—one in which, even before puberty, most children will have pored over things which people of past generations not only had not seen, but could not have imagined, for their squalor and perversity. [It is] a horrible world in which children are precocious and adults childish and selfish. This is the world of the sexual revolution. [Young people] see it … and feel powerless to do anything about it. So the corruption spreads …

Boys now in high school and college do not ask girls out for dates. They can’t. There’s no “language” for them to use … If he says, “I’d like to take you to a movie,” what does that imply? In a more innocent time, it meant that he’d take the girl to a movie, and he might be brave enough to put an arm around her shoulder, or even steal a kiss. In a more innocent time, the kiss itself would be a delight. To walk home with the girl he likes best, holding her hand, would thrill him to the core of his being. A blushing kiss at the front door might’ve been the stuff of dreams; sweeter by far than anything that the bored addict can glean from a hundred pages of body parts.

The bad language has driven out the good. So the boy … dare not kiss her with any passion or hold her hand or give her a warm embrace. All those actions have now lost their old meanings, and have become mere preludes to sexual congress. Therefore we hardly ever see them. Boys do not give girls flowers, or write poems for them. They do not court them. Girls do not present themselves to be courted.  If they tease boys, it isn’t [seen] as innocent flirtation. [Things] that were supposed to bring people together, have wrought  mass alienation. The evidence is there for all to see, or rather not to see … I do not see boys and girls flirting in a childlike way, or kissing, or holding hands, or bowling at the alley, or dressing up for one another, or giving valentines to one another. At Yale, Valentine’s Day is “celebrated” by “Sex Week,” complete with the sale of sex toys and “how-to” presentations by prostitutes. [A certain play which I won't mention by name on this blog] features spoiled and corrupted college women who cry out for their independence from predatory males by shouting the vulgar name for their private parts. Anger, resentment, self-promotion, immodesty, cruelty, callousness, perversion; try now asking that girl over there what her name is and whether she will go with you to the ice cream social.

The whole of the sexual revolution has been a colossal failure and has brought untold human misery (Excerpts from Chapter 4).

This is a powerful analysis and I have found its truth more and more in my discussions with younger adults today. Even those who do not want to adopt these attitudes find them so pervasive that they don’t know how to break out of the stifling, lonely system and find love again. I am in the perplexing position of knowing many remarkably beautiful women—ones whom I’d have asked out on a date in a minute back in my youth—who are almost never approached for a date. Many young women today are also, frankly, not all that interested in marriage or family. They have careers, etc. and live in a culture that no longer looks askance at having children without marriage. So who needs men (at least as husbands)? Or so the thinking in the wider culture goes.

Our culture has gotten very sick, very quickly. And the sexual revolution and radical feminism have been the poisons we’ve swallowed.

Esolen makes the following observation about our culture:

No culture is perfect—far from it. But all healthy cultures reward virtue and punish vice, encourage what is noble and beautiful and discourage what is base and tawdry, promote liberty, and restrain license. [Every young man] must now dwell in a perverse anti-culture in which his attempt to practice the demanding virtue of purity meets less than approval. It meets snorts of disdain and ridicule. In a healthy culture he would not be alone, and it would not be hard for him to meet a young lady of similar mind. Married men and women, in a healthy culture, would take upon themselves the cheerful task of bringing such boys and girls together in those innocent and lively pastimes that are the seedbed of sexual attraction and love; in dances and concerts, and parties attended by everyone from toddlers to grandparents hobbling on their canes (p. 54).

Again, this is all so true. And we in the Church have also gotten out of the work of uniting the next generation. We have to do better.

Here’s a cynical song on marriage from the anti-culture.

130 Responses

  1. Jas says:

    What a horrible song! I had to purge it by listening to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”. All better :)

  2. JuneT71 says:

    I think this is excellent. It describes in a short way my thoughts on dating as a whole. As a single, never-married woman well past 35 – I have never really been on a “date” in what is now the “old-fashioned” way. While I have lamented this many times, I am grateful that I haven’t had to struggle with much of the pain regarding the Sexual Revelation in my personal life. I pray for men and women who desire matrimony in the intended form – it must be very difficult to find.

    • ZMalfoy says:

      I had thought I was the only one. Seriously, I’m 34, never really been on a proper date. I suppose I thought the fault was mine– too shy, too introverted, too-high-standards. . . but, I guess maybe not. . .

    • Brian says:

      I’ve been on a few, but they were very rare, never married, etc., at 46, and what this article is about, no wonder I’ve been so frustrated. We play by a different set of schooling, no time like the present to be vocal and speak ones mind in this regards… Sure, we don’t sleep around or do the hook up scene, we also don’t get the fiasco and misery that comes with it as well. Better to be single then stuck in some dysfunctional relationship, or what have you call it these days.

  3. Collingwood says:

    Humanae Vitae was right. We are in the middle of a great experiment, testing whether a contracepting nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. Look at Europe, which refuses to reproduce in great enough numbers to sustain itself. We are not far behind.

  4. Missy says:

    Thank you, Father, for this great blog post. In 2 weeks we will begin our 6th year of homeschooling. This is a great encouragement. Every year, I re-think, “Am I really doing the right thing?” And I keep going, even though it would be so much easier to just give up & give in. So, thank you, because what you wrote gives me strength. I do see the demise of culture & beauty everywhere, even on kids’ shows. It’s so sad. It also reinforces my decision to make my children only attend a college that’s listed in the Newman Guide. People say it’s too sheltering to do that, but I can only hope that it’s what God wants.

    • Eileen says:

      Missy – God bless you for trying so hard to raise your children right. I am sending our daughter off to the University of Dallas in a few weeks, which is something of a miraculous development. UD is a college on the Newman list, and I hope and pray that our lovely and innocent child can blossom into a confidant and classically educated young woman there. God can answer prayers.

  5. Maria says:

    ‘There will be dificult times in the last days ..’

    http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=62&bible_chapter=3 ; while w emay not be quite in the last of the last days 9 Lord alone knows ! ) , it would not be bad for persons to be ready and willing to deal with some of these and that might need spiritual warfare and deliverance !

    Good thing is , there is more out there in the baove now a days – deliverance ministry , exorcism , curse breaking – seems nonCatholics esp. more into the latter ; have wondered if the blessings contained in every Hail Mary , at every Holy Mass and so on have protected Catholics from the direness of the need to some extent ; then again , being blessed with more , our potentail for the reverese too there !

    Feast of St.Clare today – with the charism of silence ; when silence might have been used as a sort of weapon, women might have a tendency to undo same through talking – thus, going against the Word even !

    That leads to both parties , sort of falling into the idolatry of selfish ways , at times, adding to the idolaty of all the noise from media /other sources etc : , leaving persons , with the scourge of not being able
    to say / hear what need to be ; thus the ever present pattern of the consequence of idolatry – what gets used as false gods , in opposition to God, is what the enemy would use , to bring pain !

    Thank God that our Lord and His saints and angels are poweful ; enough caring ministries and persons too trying to guide and help young people , through prayer ,concern , sharing about power of sacraments and scripture , such as in this blog ( thank you for same )
    to get persons to be persevering and patient , warning off from minefileds !

    Doing it for the Lord, with the focus and trust , that He can use occasions to help persons and the precious little ones to get to know His love and power at ever deeper levels , for ever widening circles – if enough can take that in, may be a modified format of ‘ arranged marriages’ without the long drawn out dating might even serve the needs of our times better !

  6. I Like The Church Fathers says:

    This was a thoughtful column, Monsignor.

    What’s remarkable about “That’s the Way I Always Heard it Should Be” is that it comes from the very beginning of the feminist/sexual revolution. It expresses the growing cynicism towards marriage that was characteristic of the time and it presages the dissolution of traditional marriage/courtship that occurred in subsequent decades. It’s a profoundly cynical, depressing song, yet it so effectively captures the dysfunctional spirit of the age.

    “…we in the Church have also gotten out of the work of uniting the next generation. We have to do better.”

    Indeed. Whatever happened to Church-organized dances? They used to be commonplace; now they no longer exist. Nowadays, it seems the only social functions the Church organizes are dinners that are generally attended only by the geriatric set and a few families with young children. If an individual church doesn’t have the resources to stage a dance, then why not do it on a diocesan level?

    Some in the Church may object that contemporary pop/dance music is too sinful to be played in a Church-sponsored event. This is true. However, contemporary pop music need not be played to have a good dance. Theme dances are popular these days. Swing dancing is popular. The music of swing bands of the ’30s and ’40s isn’t particularly sinful [although I suppose some ultra-traditionalists might disagree] and it has some appeal to people of all generations. ’80s theme dances are also popular. A lot of the pop music of the ’80s, while it was “cutting edge” at the time, often seems downright innocent when compared to the pop music of today.

  7. Laura R. says:

    How swiftly the feminist poison began its chilling effect. Carly Simon’s album featuring this song was released in 1971. Now our culture is three generations hence, and THIS song seems sweet to the ear! Our language for courting is gone. So what is a mother of daughters to do? My husband and I model a living, loving relationship to them on a daily basis; they live surrounded by the multi-dimensional reality of love; i.e. it’s not just flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day! They grew up with great memories of “daddy-daughter” valentine dances in order to inform their persons of what to expect from a date. Now we are trying, along with our other parochial high school parents, to give them some innocent, group social encounters, just like in years past. Still, there is suspicion between the sexes, as you pointed out. I see that the next phase of our community-standing-against-this-cultural-storm must include more specific, counter-cultural formation about our childrens’ chances of making a family – also 50%, but with THIS 50% being able to be encouraged and fortified, unlike the poorer 50% representing the divorce rate.
    I recognize, as a parent, this approach has a clinical aspect to it, and I can only hope that some of those innocent encounters, the glance, the touch, will be able to be experienced by my girls. It would be quite a grace to be able to affirm these experiences to my daughters, but this comment’s echos are from so many years past to THIS lonely present social precipice.
    I usually suffer in silence with regard to this topic, and am in the process of DOING something to change my community’s dynamic for the better. Thank you for giving me a forum in which to verbalize what my husband and I are actually doing currently to carve out ages of innocence for our daughters. Now, to find them spouses if this is Our Lord’s will for their vocations! Please God, if it be your Holy Will! Yes, prayer and “partnering” with Our Lord for the good of our children and our community is a mainstay in our lives. How can Our Good Lord refuse a parent’s request like this one, even as we walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death!!

  8. . . . all for Jesus says:

    +As I read this sharing by the Monsignor today . . . I was reminded of the dear wife of a Godly deacon in our home church . . . the mother of several children . . . who . . . when earnestly seeking from the LORD how to live . . . in loving GODLY peace . . . and seeking how . . . NOT . . . to be tempted to despair when coming into contact with the . . . so tragically disordered . . . varying from slight to terrible degrees of suffering . . . portions of life in this world we live in . . . received the Holy Guidance from the Sweet Spirit of our Holy GOD to . . . “constantly lift UP her eyes and look UP to heaven” . . . whenever the difficulties of life threatened to disturb her peace and the flow of the . . . Love of GOD . . . imparted in and through her life to others . . .

    Below is a beautiful example of a wonderfully . . . “Catholic” . . . view/perspective . . . of a truly heavenly minded soul . . . St. Pope John Paul II . . . whose holy soul was . . . and is . . . Thanks Be To GOD! . . . eternally looking . . . UP . . . (who lived here on earth through gravely troubled times beset with massive attempts at destruction of all GOD holds dear and precious for mankind and through the horrors of horrendous wartimes) . . .
    ________________________

    +“And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the LORD: Be it done unto me according to Thy WORD …” -Luke 1:38a+

    “On 25 March 1984 in Saint Peter’s Square, while recalling the fiat uttered by Mary at the Annunciation, the Holy Father . . . (Pope John Paul II) . . . in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world . . . who had been . . . “convoked” . . . beforehand . . . entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the . . . IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY . . .
    ________________________

    ‘O Mother of all men and women . . . and of all peoples . . . you who know all their sufferings and their hopes . . . you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil . . .between light and darkness . . . which afflict the modern world . . . accept the cry which we . . . moved by the . . . HOLY SPIRIT . . . address directly to your Heart.

    Embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples.

    In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated.

    We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of GOD!’ Despise not our petitions in our necessities. …

    Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of CHRIST, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of Himself to the Father:

    ‘For their sake’, He said, ‘I consecrate Myself that they also may be consecrated in the Truth’ (John 17:19).

    We wish to unite ourselves with our REDEEMER in this His consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in His Divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation.
    ________________________

    The power of this consecration LASTS for all time and embraces all individuals, peoples and nations. It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken, and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history.

    Internet link; http://www.ewtn.com/fatima/apparitions/third_secret/fatima.htm

    . . . in dedication to the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. . . all for Jesus+

  9. Aimee M. Cooper says:

    I just finished watching the HBO series “Rome,” about the rise of Caesar in pre-Christian, pagan Rome. It was filmed to be very true to life, including in-your-face sexuality and violence (I covered my eyes and ears a lot while watching). Everything about it was so like today’s world, it was almost unsurprising. Or I should say, everything about our world today is in reversion to what humanity was like before the grace of Christ came to enlighten and set people free. Sad.

  10. one annoymous says:

    Thank you Msgr. for your candid truth in this article and many others. Like the devil, an abuser never wants the truth revealed.

  11. Suzana says:

    I have been encouraging my young children to attend the means of formation offered by Opus Dei. There are separate activities for both boys and girls, later evolving to separate activities for men and women, that each encourage the development of the whole person and embraces our uniquely masculine and feminine characteristics as a gift from God. Through these activities and others organized independently by families, my children have an opportunity to meet other like-minded boys and girls who share similar values. This is especially valuable as the children grow up together and enter the dating world. A dating world actually exists for them. I know several couples who met as young adults through activities associated with Opus Dei.

  12. Ed says:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism_(contemporary)
    Wikipedia has a good article on “Cynicism(contemporary)”. Studies have proven that cynicism is bad for your health and increases your chances of developing dementia. Cynics have a general lack of faith and hope in the human species and basically think that most people are motivated by greed, ambition and materialism. Cynicism is described as a form of “jaded prudence”. Christians should not be cynics “But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”(1Thessalonians 5:8)

    • I Like The Church Fathers says:

      “Cynics have a general lack of faith and hope in the human species and basically think that most people are motivated by greed, ambition and materialism.”

      Catholic theology holds that, as a result of original sin, most people are indeed motivated by greed, ambition and materialism and that most of them are going to eternal damnation as a result.

  13. Patrick says:

    This is a fascinating topic. I think it’s partly because men have been robbed of the incentives that used to inspire more interest in dating. You might be looking through a nostalgia-fueled time machine when you see so many beautiful girls who just can’t get asked out on dates and what is wrong with these young men. It’s not really radical feminism that’s the problem, but the mundane, every-day feminism. Like Chesterton said, when you are considering bringing someone into your house, it’s important to know his criminal history but much more important to know his philosophy. These girls most likely don’t believe a wife should be obedient to her husband. They probably believe in some kind of “mutual submission.” They most likely don’t believe in the “marriage debt.” They think that’s a patriarchal anachronism from the days when marital rape was legal. What that means in practice, from my perspective as a young man, is marriage is 1. an endless negotiation to reach a compromise you’re not happy with but don’t care enough anymore to keep “negotiating” and 2. begging for sex. Women are good at eliciting sympathy, but I don’t have much sympathy for them. They’re almost all feminists who don’t believe they owe men anything and want everything on their own terms, and almost every voice, even traditionally-minded ones, agrees with them and asks what’s wrong with these young men?? The incentives have fundamentally shifted. Men are attracted to the now-scorned image–scorned even by traditional women–of an adoring wife who brings her husband coffee while he reads the morning paper. Is that realistic? Was it ever? Maybe not, but it was an ideal that appealed to men, and it’s completely gone today. Women aren’t like that. You can see it in their eyes. So I have no sympathy for the poor girls who can’t get a date, and I would hold the every-day feminism they believe in responsible.

    Apart from that, I personally never was explicitly taught “how” to date a girl, and I never really absorbed it through cultural osmosis. I knew how to do it technically–I asked a girl to go the prom with me, for example. But it wasn’t really a fun or exciting thing. It was just a vaguely embarrassing going-through-the-motions for something that I didn’t really believe in or understand, but that’s what you did when you went to the prom.

    I read Esolen’s recent piece about the lack of graciousness in our culture. He’s a good writer and makes good points, but I think he’s kind of living in the ivory tower. He teaches Renaissance Literature and watches 60-year-old tv shows. It sounds like he lives in the Shire and “there are strange folk about” and “rumors of strange happenings abroad.”

    • a catholic psychologist says:

      Most males, say, 50 years old and younger, have very little understanding of christian male virtue—chivalry, if you will. Esolen performs an essential service to the christian community in describing what it is that christian culture is aiming at. A ship needs a navigator as well as a captain. It is up to bishops, fathers, and teachers to implement the vision in the emotional/moral/spiritual formation of the young. Without a clear vision, like that put forth by Esolen, there is little chance that any coherent change will occur.

      • Patrick says:

        That’s probably true. That could be why it looks like hobbit-talk to me. But when I think of chivalry, well, I don’t really think of chivalry because I do equate it with hobbit courtesy. But when I think of make virtue I think of the rangers and Aragorn splitting Orc heads, etc.

      • I Like The Church Fathers says:

        Chivalry is, of course, a noble virtue, but it would be foolish to think that chivalrous behavior will make young men successful in today’s dating/mating world.

        Young men today are becoming increasingly aware that young women are simply not attracted to polite, “nice” young men. They are attracted to the school quarterback – someone who is good-looking, confident, athletic, cocky, irreverent, etc. Such men often do not treat their wives and girlfriends well, but that does not stop young women from falling in love with such men.

        A man who tries to behave in a polite, respectful, “chivalrous” way is more likely to be regarded by young women as an old-fashioned bore.

        • Texas Mom says:

          That rather proves the point of the stifling cynicism among us I know plenty of young women who actually expect chivalry mostly because they have fathers who are chivalrous. Instead of blaming, we should all be the people God has called us to be and see the good in others.

      • Ladasha says:

        “Chivalry is dead, and women killed it.”
        -Dave Chappelle

    • Maria says:

      Had to both laugh and be almost shocked at the perceptions and expectations ;

      hope the foucs changes to cute , cute babies , walking around rocking them and seeing The Mother , with The Baby Jesus on her shoulder ( or rather Joseph ) ..each of us , in a spiritual manner there ..
      praying for generations past and to come …. seeing how The Father sees ecah of us , like the little ones ..

      a few nights of taking care of the baby when the wife is tired and you have left a life long memory

      ‘ submit each other unto The Lord ‘ who came for His children and The Bride ..

      Your honesty and focus on values seems to indicate that you are a good hearted guy who needs to be the father of some good kids – even if that means you might get the coffee only one in a while ;
      in the excitement and marvel of gazing eyes and wide smiles, that would seem like a very minor issue !

      People change and learn too and inspite of moments of pain , might look back to say – it took all that , to be detached enough from the passing world , to want to get to know The Lord , even at baby level !

    • Dave says:

      As a man who has been married for 23 years, the statement “These girls most likely don’t believe a wife should be obedient to her husband. They probably believe in some kind of “mutual submission.” seems to be missing the point. In my experience, this is not an issue if the woman knows that she is loved and cherished – if she knows that you have her best interests in mind more than your own. If a woman is more concerned with her place in the pecking order, then by all means steer well clear, but not all faithful Catholic young women are like this. In general, if a person is more concerned by what they can GET out of marriage than by what they can GIVE, they are probably too immature for marriage.

      Jesus is our model – He loved the Church so much that He laid aside the privileges of Godhead, a sacrifice we can not even imagine, and went to His death on the Cross. Our task is to do the same for our wives.

      There are good young women out there…I have met some of them…but Msgr. Pope (and you) are right that the cultural milieu has poisoned everything with a cloud of suspicion and cynicism.

      • Connie says:

        Well said, Dave! “In general, if a person is more concerned by what they can GET out of marriage than by what they can GIVE, they are probably too immature for marriage.” YES. As a young woman in her twenties who is very happily married to a loving, faithful Catholic man- YES. Marriage is about giving. We’ve only been married a year, but we dated for 5 years (in the traditional, Catholic sense- had to finish school and get decent jobs before marriage). There was a lot of peer pressure to cohabitate, etc. but we didn’t give in. We definitely learned about sacrifice during those 5 years, and it was worth it. We have been incredibly blessed.

        • Patrick says:

          Yes, I’ve heard that advice before. It sounds like good advice, but it shouldn’t be used to prevent discussion of what one can reasonably expect from marriage. You basically can’t expect an obedient wife who recognizes the marriage debt conceptually. For 99% of women those two simple points are viewed at best as an amusing expectation and at worst as a misogynisic attack on all women.

      • Patrick says:

        I really don’t mind that. I don’t mention it because its always discussed, that a husband is supposed to lay down his life for his family, etc., and nobody has a problem with that. But if you say a wife is supposed to be obedient and render the marriage debt, all kinds of rhetorical spinning immediately ensues. Precisely because women don’t recognize these simple attributes of a wife. It’s not complicated. There are probably multiple reasons for the decline of dating and skepticism of marriage. In the aggregate, in my opinion, one of those reasons is that men’s honest hopes and expectations aren’t considered important. They’re considered amusing and ridiculous expectations or misogyny. So that attitude takes hold in the female half of society and we’re confused and wonder what is wrong with these young men. Nothing’s wrong with them. They make an accurate judgment call that video games, etc, are literally more attractive than the every-day feminists. They would rather play video games than try to kiss a girl, because women as a whole have intentionally reduced the sum total of feminine beauty in the world by like 90%. But we still just try to figure out “what’s wrong” with these youn men. If women were modest, demure, non-competitive, submissive, acknowledged obedience and the marriage debt as obligations, we’d probably find pretty quickly that young men have more interest in dating.

        • Dave says:

          Yeah, Patrick, we may not agree 100% on every detail, but it is true that most women act more like men nowadays. Even if their physical beauty is intact, their demeanor and attitude would scare any sane man away from marriage. However, with the amount of domineering and/or unmotivated men who treat their women like crap, I don’t blame women for being hesitant either…and here we come to the heart of the problem – there are simply not very many holy people in the world at this time. It is hard to find them, even in Catholic circles.

          • Patrick says:

            What women are hesitant? The OP is about women being unable to go on dates because men evidently just aren’t interested in dating. But why? What’s wrong with these men? They take all kinds of stupid, dangerous risks for things they care about even a little. For “bragging rights” they will sometimes literally risk their lives. But they won’t ask girls out. So what’s wrong with them? Nothing. They’re basically the same as they’ve always been, just as willing to take risks, just as willing to look like fools for something they care about. It’s women who have changed. In dating, women are like sellers and men are like buyers. The product is remaining on the shelf and everyone keeps asking what is wrong with the buyers instead of what is wrong with the product or the seller. They appeal to men’s sense of responsibility and try to shame them into buying a product they just aren’t interested in. Men aren’t interested basically because women aren’t interesting. That’s the big picture problem, in my view. I’ve approached two women for dates in the past long while because only those two stirred me up enough inside. It was their femininity. They were reasonably fit and pretty, but were not beauty queens. One was walking the track at the gym in a denim skirt and had a very feminine vibe so that I couldn’t resist talking to her. (Note: I didn’t end up asking either one out because they weren’t Catholics, one was Orthodox and one was pentecostal protestant). I’m fairly good-looking and a good number of women who are objectively better looking than that girl are interested in me. I sometimes will ALMOST talk to some of them, or feel a motivating desire for them, but it is almost never enough to provoke me to approach them to chat. I disagree that there are a lot of domineering men, but I agree that there are a lot of unmotivated men. The way to motivate them is to present something they actually desire instead of telling them to ask out unattractive women out of a sense of duty. In my opinion.

        • Jackie says:

          Any man who requires his wife to be demure,submissive and acknowledge obedience and the marriage debt as obligations isn’t looking for a wife but a doormat.Thankfully he won’t find to many women conforming to his requirements.

          • Patrick says:

            If a woman doesn’t intend, on principle, to bring a man his morning coffee she should just say so or make it clear with her attitude beforehand. Like all the other unmotivated men I won’t ask her out or talk to her, and no harm done. I’ll just go back to my drinking/fighting and looking for a doormat to cleave to.

    • Christina says:

      Realize something, in a culture that is constantly telling women that they are only good for sex, it is quite disconcerting to hear a man saying he is concerned that the women will submit to him sexually. There is a second part to that scripture, that a man should love his wife as Christ loved the church, laying down his life for her salvation.

      Both sexes fall short – everyone who lives in the world is effected by the world. That includes your views on the “proper” role of a woman.

      • Dave says:

        Christina, I agree. If I were a woman, I, too would fear a man who is interested in knowing whether I planned to submit to him or not, and whether I’d swear to be sexually available, come hell or high water. Marriage is about giving. Generally, a wife will be available and glad to follow the husband’s leadership as long as the husband is loving her and sacrificing for her as Christ does for the Church. Sex is an act of love, not a product to be dispensed. Honestly, as a married man, there are many times when I’d be interested in sex, but it has to be foregone for her good, because she’s tired or any number of other reasons. At other times, she makes herself available even though it is a sacrifice for her. Marriage entails mutual sacrifice for the spouse’s good, for the children’s good, for the family’s good as a whole.

        That said, it is good for a couple to discuss these subjects before the marriage to make sure they are roughly on the same page.

      • Patrick says:

        All I ever hear about is the second part. Usually it’s used to neutralize the first part. It’s not the “proper” role of women. It’s a simple thing, but the comments in response tend to illustrate the point.

  14. Sue Korlan says:

    One of the things that I noticed fill in the gap that used to belong to dating is the group outing. Young people get to know each other very well through spending time with a large group of people and getting to know all of them well. After a while a pair of them realizes that the other person is the kind of person they want to spend the rest of their life with. When I lived in a house with a fair number of members from the People’s Republic of China, this seemed to be the way they did things, too.

  15. @TBOG_ says:

    nice post and responses. church focuses too much on “thou shall not” versus “thou shall”. moreover, most do not provide practical settings in which Christians can learn to age-appropriately interact, enjoy themselves, learn about the the opposite sex, etc., possibly even finding a partner in a God-filled setting. Too often services, messages, practical activities, and so forth are so out of touch with daily life that there is little carryover after you leave the parking lot, with the assumption that somehow, by the time you become an adult you will learn all things necessary. Jesus comes to the church, heavy laden with many challenges to bring us rest, insight, wisdom, knowledge and he knew how to party too (the right way).

    • a catholic psychologist says:

      I disagree with the idea that the Church focuses too much on the “thou shall not”. Having listened to over 2080 sermons, (52 weeks x 40years since I graduated from college) I can count on one hand in parish churches the number that mentioned even obliquely prohibitions of fornication, pornography, the Pill, etc.. (I suspect Msgr Pope’s parish would be an exception.) Once a year we hear about abortion (which is good) but in general my view is that the central cultural challenge of our time is not emphasized in the pews. The reasons for this are many, (and discouraging) and not to the point here. What Esolen has masterfully done is show in print what was the common patrimony of Christian culture that was in place for hundreds of years. It was always buttressed by the “thou shalt nots” of the commandments. What will be needed for a restoration of this culture is for intact families to send children to safe schools to complement the formation of good character traits in chastity, and in college to cultivate the intellectual virtues. In my professional experience, the cultural change will occur when fathers return to raising their sons in christian virtue, and have these virtues reinforced in the school.

      • Janice says:

        In reply to the Catholic psychologist I would say you are probably correct about not hearing enough “thou shalt nots” in sermon’s. I do hear it a little more than the average at our parish, but not enough. I sometimes long for more of these sermons but they just never happen. There was one priest, however who did do this but got so many complaint’s for being “too negative”, that I think he basically gave up or I should say, toned it down. I’ve talked to other people and they long for something of substance.

      • Eileen says:

        I have been told that priests will not touch the ‘third rail’ issue of abortion from the pulpit because SO MANY women in the pews have had them. It is a raw wound, unacknowledged by most, and it festers for the poor souls. Abortion was, and is, the backstop to the cultural changes described here, but our youth, jaded and lacking in innocence as they are, know that abortion is wrong. There is hope for our future in this.

  16. Marion R says:

    So what are we going to do about it?

    I am tired of reading this sort of belly button looking.

    If you’re reading these comments I challenge you to post suggestions for positive, affirmative– by which I mean pro-active, not politically correct– responses people can make to this crisis.

    p.s. “raising awareness” gets a score of 0.

  17. Paul H says:

    This is a great post, Father. I was listening to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys recently, and thinking, wow, what refreshing innocence this song portrays compared to music and culture today! And yet was it really all that long ago that it was written and recorded? (Actually, one could interpret this song as expressing a desire for pre-marital sex, but given the mention of marriage later in the song, I don’t see it that way.)

    Here are most of the lyrics:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older
    Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long
    And wouldn’t it be nice to live together
    In the kind of world where we belong

    Know it’s gonna make it that much better
    When we can say good night and stay together

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
    In the morning when the day is new
    After having spent the day together
    Hold each other close the whole night through

    The happy times together we’ve been spending
    I wish that every kiss was never ending

    Oh, wouldn’t it be nice

    Maybe, if we think and wish and hope and pray
    It might come true
    Baby, then there wouldn’t be a single thing
    We couldn’t do

    We could be married
    And then we’d be happy

    Oh, wouldn’t it be nice

    You know, it seems, the more we talk about it
    It only makes it worse to live without it
    But let’s talk about it

    Oh, wouldn’t it be nice

    • Rob says:

      During the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination last November,
      I was reminded just how much the country changed in its aftermath. We simply have never been
      the same. And for me that is sad and profoundly disconcerting.

  18. Gonzalo T. Palacios says:

    As usual, Monsignor’s article is inspired by the Holy Spirit! I wish you write again on the same subject from the perspective of our Mother at the moment of the Annunciation: that’s when the real revolution began. Gonzalo T. Palacios, Ph.D. Philosophy, Prince George’s Community College, Largo, MD

  19. Marianne says:

    All is not lost. Today we celebrated with a young woman who became engaged this Saturday, and for the first time, was kissed by her intended. They had agreed that they would wait – just to kiss – until they were engaged. They wanted to be free to get to know each other without the strain of sexual temptation.

  20. annaincalifornia says:

    Gosh, I always thought I would marry my soulmate. I grew up believing the
    Cinderella story. Sigh!

    Now all I do is try to accept Gods will for me…and be content being single.
    Its a good thing being single…for the kingdom, right? And even if I burn with
    passion and longing, where would I find someone to marry and fall in love with me?
    Sigh!

    Thank you, Monsignor for bringing to light the real reason for my loneliness.

    • Jas says:

      “where would I find someone to marry and fall in love with me?”
      This is what I have thought from the beginning, but it is because I was born ‘defective’ and, Prince Charming aside, always figured ‘normal’ was at least expected. “would I be but a burden” I always thought, or rather, used to think. Sharing life’s burdens, this happens when two are made one and the Lord sustains. I do not know God’s Will for me. But if He wills I survive the coming surgery I will not stop asking. What I see in society, in my simplistic eye, looks like the idol of utility has many in the grip of reciprocal fear and mistrust. Only God can break this. May we grow in virtue and His Will be done. I still pray for you, please pray for me? God bless you.

      • annaincalifornia says:

        Oh yes! You are on my prayer list, Jas! God bless you and your upcoming surgery, hope that goes well and smoothly.
        Your friend via Monsignor Pope’s blog – anna

        PS I’ve been meaning to ask, but I hope its not too personal….is your name really Jas or is it short for Jasmine.
        ?

        • Jas says:

          Lol! It is James and I’m 46. Hello! :) Just my abbreviation to a common name. Advances in tech are good but things have gone wrong before. Not too worried either way, trust in and loved in Christ. Thanks for your kindness and prayers! God bless!

          • annaincalifornia says:

            Hello, James AKA: Jas. And I’m 44. God bless! You are a kindred spirit.

            • Jas says:

              I like Jane Eyre, too… Wuthering Heights seems too dark, anti-Christian message maybe, and depressing. It appears you had a celebration day recently, yes? Happy Birthday! God bless!

  21. annaincalifornia says:

    Ouch, Patrick. Some of us ladies would like to meet a gentleman who believes
    in forever marriage and respecting women.

    • Patrick says:

      Women initiate more than 70% of divorces so even in secular society you’d have a pretty good chance of a forever marriage if you didn’t end it yourself. Respect is harder to quantify. But from what I’ve seen, I don’t really think women want respect as much as chemistry. Chemistry for whatever reason seems to come at least partly from disrespect. Like in Jane Eyre, the guy she really wanted was married, disrespectful, burned down his castle and his wife committed suicide. He was old and blind and she still wanted him more than that respectful missionary guy who had put a roof over her head and helped her find a job and everything. I got all that from the movie, so I don’t know how closely it follows the book.

      • I Like The Church Fathers says:

        This is a good point, Patrick.

        The Bronte sisters’ novels are an insightful window on female desire. Wuthering Heights is similar to Jane Eyre. The female protagonist in the former is inexorably drawn to Heathcliffe, a dark, morose, brooding, impolite, young man with a distinct cruel streak. She chooses him over the polite, chivalrous, but ultimately boring Edgar Linton.

        • Dave says:

          Not all women are like that. Yes, if a woman is more attracted to the impetuous “bad boy” type, then steer well clear. They are poisoned by the culture or have a major personality flaw or trauma to deal with. There is a tendency for people to be like that today. Our titillating culture leads us to expect thrills and glamour at every moment, but I think it is a mistake for singles to put the whole other sex into a basket, when there are plenty of exceptions.

          • I Like The Church Fathers says:

            “They are poisoned by the culture or have a major personality flaw or trauma to deal with. There is a tendency for people to be like that today. Our titillating culture leads us to expect thrills and glamour at every moment”

            OK, but the Bronte sisters wrote their masterworks back in the 1840s, long before the current cultural slide into vulgarity and decadence. Their female protagonists’ choice of the “badboy” can hardly be ascribed to our modern culture of titillation.

            The hard truth is that women are naturally drawn toward the “badboy” type. It is the role of the institutions of a healthy culture to steer young women away from such men. Indeed, healthy traditional cultures imposed a lot of restrictions on female choice that would seem draconian today. As a result of feminism and the sexual revolution, women are now free to “follow their hearts” and to make their own mating choices free of restraint. Sometimes this works out, but often it does not, leading to divorce, single motherhood, spousal abuse, loneliness and many other unpleasant outcomes.

            This is why all this talk about making men more chivalrous is missing the point. There is no point in making men more chivalrous if women are just going to ignore them and chase after irreverent and exciting gigolos.

            • Dave says:

              “The hard truth is that women are naturally drawn toward the “badboy” type.”

              As a general tendency, perhaps. I am not altogether sure. I would venture to say that women are attracted to confidence and drive, and that perhaps the “badboy” types project more of it than other men. Of course, it is false confidence, more like bravado, that one often sees in men today, but I think you are right that the meek do not inherit the Earth, at least as far as natural female attraction. The trick is to have confidence (in the Lord) and I think there are plenty of women who would be attracted to a confident, virtuous man. At least I hope so…

              • I Like The Church Fathers says:

                Thoughtful comment, Dave. Thanks.

                There are a lot of secular dating coaches for men out there today who argue that the key for men in today’s dating world is indeed to exhibit “bravado”. They say it doesn’t matter whether said bravado is backed up by anything of substance; women will be attracted to men who show “bravado”, regardless of whether it’s real or fake.

                So, in today’s world, the message to men is that they need to fake it, use deception and turn themselves into something they’re not in order to be successful with women. This strategy may result in greater success with women, but it is surely sinful. It’s no wonder that in such an environment a number of Christian men seem to be opting out of dating altogether and are [consciously or otherwise] agreeing with St. Paul that “it is good not to touch a woman” [1 Cor. 7:1].

                • Dave says:

                  Well, apparently the comment format discourages long discussions by shrinking the font to the point where you need a magnifying glass, but I thought your comment very thoughtful, too. It is all about appearances today, isn’t it? Masks. For both men and women. I have even heard a woman remark that “I want everyone to think I have it all together.”

                  As a man who is quietly, but not overtly, confident, I strongly sympathize. I was blessed enough to find an intelligent, beautiful woman that was attracted to me despite my rather meek nature, but it is a disadvantage. On the other hand, only a discerning, intelligent woman will be able to see through the outward masks that men wear to see the reality – the heart, and that’s the kind of woman you want to find anyway.

                  I’m not sure if any women are reading our discussion, but if so, a word of advice – look past the overt displays of bravado and look into a man’s heart. A man can be confident without having a strutting gait and an attitude of superiority. Indeed, such bravado often masks the reality that there is little substance.

            • Kithri says:

              “The hard truth…..bad boy type.”

              Wow, let’s lump 50% of humanity into a single type! It is more true that “some” women are drawn to bad boy types. Me, I run the other way.

        • Dave says:

          Not all women are like that. Yes, if a woman is more attracted to the impetuous “bad boy” type, then steer well clear. They are poisoned by the culture or have a major personality flaw or trauma to deal with. There is a tendency for people to be like that today. Our titillating culture leads us to expect thrills and glamour at every moment, but I think it is a mistake for singles to put the whole other sex into a basket, when there are plenty of exceptions.

        • . . . all for Jesus says:

          +I’m a published author . . . and I find it very strange indeed . . . how twisted and distorted your perception of Jane Eyre is Patrick . . . very unlike the character presented to her readers by Charlotte Bronte . . . the author of the book “Jane Eyre” . . . upon which at least two movies . . . (that I know of) . . . have been based . . . Jane is presented to Charlotte’s readers . . . AND MOVIE AUDIENCES . . . as a . . . disciplined . . . devout . . . caring . . .compassionate . . VERY MORAL . . . sensitive soul . . . orphaned as a child . . . whose extraordinarily beautiful GODLY soul’s character was forged . . . during her childhood and youth . . . in the crucible of suffering wanton cruelty . . . first at the hands of her aunt and cousins following her loving uncle’s death . . . which family then abandoned and sentenced her to a sadistic perverse horror of a school . . . where children were victimized . . . and coldly brutalized . . . Jane being one of them . . . some to death . . .

          Suffering . . . often . . . in souls of GOD’s children in whom “goodness” is paramount . . . can quite naturally deeply sensitize the soul to the suffering of others . . . and Jane’s rapport with her employer . . .Mr. Rochester . . . who also had suffered . . . terribly . . . in his past . . . and was continuing to profoundly suffer . . . through the discovery . . . and continuing reality . . . that he had been dishonestly duped into marrying a . . . GROSSLY . . . unchaste bride . . . which bride had rapidly descended into the . . . COMPLETE MADNESS OF INSANITY . . . (which insanity was part of generations upon generations of her family heritage) . . . is very understandable . . .

          And just to keep the record straight . . . the character . . . Mr. Rochester . . . did NOT burn down his estate mansion . . . his gravely dangerously mad wife . . . of whom he took careful and compassionate care for years . . . finally succeeded in her insanity in one of her . . . SEVERAL. . . attempts to burn down the house . . . and in her madness died in the process . . . This is . . . NOT . . . and was never presented in the book as a . . . “suicide” . . .

          And I find the attitude . . . from what appears to be a coldness and very real bitterness of the heart . . . that you expressed in your above statement Patrick . . . that just because one is aged and blinded through tragedy . . . they should be forsaken and left unloved . . . utterly repugnant . . . a real sadness . . . and a cause for genuine concern re the state of your soul . . .

          “Looking diligently, lest any man be WANTING to the GRACE of GOD; lest any ROOT of BITTERNESS springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled.” – Hebrews 12:15

          . . . all for Jesus+

          • annaincalifornia says:

            Thank you and well said “all for Jesus”. I’m hoping you are a male, so that
            my faith in men is restored!

            Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all things!!

          • Patrick says:

            You should get rid of all those ellipses. Re: Jane Eyre. I only saw the movie version at a hotel and wasnt paying much attention. I just remember Rochester being disrespectful and mocking Jane and the missionary being respectful and proper.

            • L Almaraz says:

              “I only saw the movie version”. I feel you only see the world in the same manner. Yes, the world we lived in is very much like Father has written about in his article. But here is (in my humble opinion) the crux of the matter. It is a man’s world…it has always been a man’s world by virtue of God’s command that man should be over the woman. Deep in her being, woman is incomplete without man. She needs him as a mate (physically) or as a spouse of Jesus (spiritually). You might think that is simplistic of me, but that is what I see. Until man returns to what God called him to be with his spouse, the world will not change. Woman will always follow! Since most men for the past century have become “bad boys” instead of godly men, women begin following and falling for such men. It was man who changed the culture for the worse, and women begin to absorbed herself in that bad culture. Who set up the Woodstock festivals! Men. Who were overdosing on drugs and parading bad boys bands. Men. I am sorry to be so harsh, but, it falls on you guys to change the world for the better. Woman will follow you into whatever world you provide for her. For the good of the future, please take your rightful place as God intended.

              • Patrick says:

                You’re pushing the same malarkey as all the other everyday feminists. Trying to get men to do the same work without the same incentives. Get them to assume head of household responsibilities with no head of household privileges. Get them to vow their lives to women with no expectation of obedience or rendering the marriage debt. Because surely women will follow, it’s how they’re made, right? But more than 70% of divorces are initiated by women. The old rule taught to girls was, “No sex or related stuff until marriage.” My rule is no marriage until a promise of obedience and rendering the marriage debt.” I would MUCH rather remain single than vow my life to a feminist.

            • Jas says:

              It’s good! When you have time you ought to check it out. Say, I lack the intellectual capacity of those trying to help you but, If you get married, your first duty is protector, not simply in worldly terms but in spiritual. You choose to love and serve another child of God, equal in dignity, on the journey toward Heavenly Glory together. If blessed with children, all the more and you labor together out of love. The world says ‘burden’ and ‘responsibility’ but these are blessings from God. I’m not one to give advice but, please pray on this? Look at what you’re willing to give and not so much what you’ll get? In my prayers. God bless!

      • GRD says:

        You mean that “respectful” missionary guy who explicitly told her that he didn’t love her and just wanted to use her as a tool in his work? Goodness, what woman wouldn’t jump at such an offer? :-)

        You’re missing something major if that’s your take on “Jane Eyre,” Patrick. I sincerely hope for your sake that you figure it out.

  22. Therese says:

    I have been in discussions about this for 14 years with my high school students. They don’t understand how to change it. The younger high school teachers don’t know how to help them change it. I worry for my own children and their spouses, for my grandchildren growing up in this mess.
    And I can’t stop crying about the children in Iraq.
    Hope seems to be well-buried at the moment.

  23. MikefromED says:

    I don’t say that this contradicts what Msgr Pope is saying but I would like to note the widespread existence of dating organisations. These must show a demand for this kind of thing and at the same time highlight the decline of more traditional methods of dating. One thing about modern disco dancing is that you don’t exactly dance with anybody in particular and the music is so loud that how could you engage your dance partner in conversation, anyway.
    I also note the changing attitude to weddings by ‘soaps’, at least in the UK. I don’t watch any of these soaps but the impression I get from headlines in TV listing magazines is that most weddings on soaps now involve a disaster of some kind or other. When soaps first started, a wedding was a grand occasion and a happy one.
    I’ve just started reading Diane Moczar’s “Church Ascending” in which she describes the way in which the Church influenced culture up to the time of the Protestant Reformation. She starts off by describing how hard it was for Christians living in the Roman Empire before the Edict of Constantine. It’s beginning to look more and more like Christians in the West will living like those early Christians had to. I’m not here so much referring to the lions as to the way in which those Christians had to stand out against the cultural mores of the time.

  24. Jim says:

    I am actually amazed that the fella in the illustration above is wearing a blue three-button suit. Now, there is something that has disappeared!

  25. Crowhill says:

    If he is pinning the modern sexual catastrophe on “using one another as objects” then I think he has missed the mark in an effort to use words and phrases that resonate with Catholics (cf. Humanae Vitae, etc).

    The real problem is the continuing effort to erase distinctions between the sexes. That is the crucial error.

  26. Katherine M says:

    I am married now, but when I was attempting to date prior to meeting my husband, it was very difficult. I can’t even say it was an age thing with the men I dated – I dated ones my own age at the time that were very immature, and I dated older men that didn’t have it together either. I feel like God truly blessed me with my husband because at the rate I was going with trying to date, I really thought I would never get married. He wanted to date and do the whole thing properly. We still enjoy our dates to this day, where we actually dress up and he gets to see me put together. I think in our case having similar interests and working in the same field (emergency medicine) worked majorly in our favor. I had attempted to date several men who didn’t understand my field and I felt very much alone when trying to relate to people about it. Everyone is different, though. Sometimes two totally different people make a great match; sometimes people with many similar interests make a great match. Thanks for posting this, it’s a great post and really gets a good discussion going. I have always appreciated your blog posts and they give me much food for thought.

  27. Kirsten Jarrell says:

    Makes me understand why peoples used to arrange marriages for their kids. My daughters are 7, 6 and 1. I am already praying that God will prepare good men to be their spouse OR call them to the religious life. I want them to have happy marriages with honorable men of God but those options are dwindling. We live in a small town. I even have one unmarried sister who is 36. She is dating someone seriously but he isn’t Catholic. There aren’t any devout men her age in our community. One of my sisters met someone on catholicmatch.com but even that hasn’t turned out wonderfully. My youngest sister is married to a non-practicing Christian. My husband converted after we married but doesn’t practice either but he’s a good man just in need of spiritual guidance. I don’t foresee this situation getting any better as long as our culture continues on this path. My on ly hope is that there will be a resurgence of virtues to go against the older generation with non. No kid wants to be like their grandparents right?

  28. R in Indiana says:

    Today, I heard the most interesting story on the radio about the great reduction in the number of men working since the 1950s. I believe it was a story on All Things Considered from NPR, but it may have been WAMU’s Diane Rheim show. We’ve discussed the lack of marriage and the children born out of wedlock, but I’m wondering if we can also correlate the lack of men working with the sexual revolution. If men can satisfy their desires without making a commitment and few repercussions, where is the incentive to build a career and be a good provider or to move beyond adolescence? I think it would be difficult to directly tie these two events, but I bet a good case can be made that without the incentive of finding a good woman, a man’s desire to work or to build a career could be limited.

    • Agreed, a lot of connections here. I recommend George Guilders book “Men and Marriage” which develops what you have said.

      • Paul H says:

        I think that there may be a lot of truth to this too. Before I was married, I didn’t feel very motivated to work hard and make a lot of money. I even quit one job with no immediate prospects of another job, and took about six or eight months off, because I knew I had enough savings to live on for a little while, and I was just tired of working at that job. But now that I am married, I would never consider doing something like that, and I have a lot more motivation to work hard and make money to provide for my family.

        • R in Indiana says:

          Paul, We are living in interesting times. While I think there are many good things that have happened, I keep wondering at what cost. I am certainly a child of this revolution, and I was taught that I could do anything, and I have, including turning traditional gender roles upside down with my husband being a stay-at-home dad. Women are told that we need a career to be fulfilled, and to be honest having people tell you that you are doing a good job, and rewarding you is fun. However, in the long run unless I am doing something for love (e.g. a vocation such as teacher, nurse, doctor), what do I have to show. I spent 15 years at a company, and after a shake-up, I realized that I may as well not have been there. At the time what I was doing seemed important and even urgent. However, no one remembers or cares. Yet when I spend time with my children disciplining them or encouraging them, I am building both our relationship and a person for the future. Now that is worthwhile work–even doing the dishes, cleaning house, and cooking are more important than the job I had because I am doing it for love. I’m finally turning my world right-side up again and I am now the stay-at-home mom. I have recently heard more bloggers discussing this, and I suspect that we may have a mi ni-revolution, as we see women choosing the best over the convenient. However, the world is loud and tempts us with things that are passing away.

        • R in Indiana says:

          Paul, We are living in interesting times. While I think there are many good things that have happened, I keep wondering at what cost. I am certainly a child of this revolution, and I was taught that I could do anything, and I have, including turning traditional gender roles upside down with my husband being a stay-at-home dad. Women are told that we need a career to be fulfilled, and to be honest having people tell you that you are doing a good job, and rewarding you is fun. However, in the long run unless I am doing something for love (e.g. a vocation such as teacher, nurse, doctor), what do I have to show. I spent 15 years at a company, and after a shake-up, I realized that I may as well not have been there. At the time what I was doing seemed important and even urgent. However, no one remembers or cares. Yet when I spend time with my children disciplining them or encouraging them, I am building both our relationship and a person for the future. Now that is worthwhile work–even doing the dishes, cleaning house, and cooking are more important than the job I had because I am doing it for love. I’m finally turning my world right-side up again and I am now the stay-at-home mom. I have recently heard more bloggers discussing this, and I suspect that we may have a mi ni-revolution, as we see women choosing the best over the convenient. However, the world is loud and tempts us with things that are passing away.

      • R in Indiana says:

        Thank you! I will have to look it up.

  29. Nate says:

    Our society is completely broken. Those who find a faithful Catholic spouse are blessed beyond words. And if they are able to raise their children to be practicing adult Catholics, it is simply a miracle.

    None of this should be a surprise. This is exactly what the Gramscians strove for and they succeeded.

  30. jones says:

    Sad but true…perhaps a young generation will grow jaded with the modern world and rebel towards virtue by seeking truth, love, God.

  31. Janice says:

    Wow, this makes me feel really sad. There is a lot of cynicism and mixed feelings here. I remember that idealistic feeling about finding a man I could love and marry when I was younger, and the interesting thing is, my parent’s were not particularly happily married, but that did not deter me which demonstrates, I think, that many of us in the face of what we view as unhappiness, dissatisfaction in others marriages, did not prevent us from going ahead and getting married. What is even more distressing is seeing your grown children “live out” the “new” lifestyle of cynicism, living together, premarital sex, wanting to teach their children all about how to protect themselves from getting pregnant but refusing to offer abstinence as one of those options. So I ask myself, how is this all going to turn out. If they see that type of lifestyle, how is it going to be for them when they grow up? So, yes there is a kind of sadness that this topic brings up. Thank you Monsignor for writing this post, it is thought provoking to be sure.

  32. Fr Brendan says:

    Professor Esolen laments that “the boy … dare not kiss her with any passion.” Nor should he! Maybe the professor knows and assumes the norms of Catholic moral teaching in this area, but his use of the word “passion” is a bit dangerous, I think.

    • What norms do you refer to? I agree that the professor may engage in a bit of a flourish her, hyperbole if you will. But I am unaware of any Church regulation that forbids kissing. Part of the context in which Esolen speaks is that older context that had enough boundaries in place that young people could kiss without it being able to “go anywhere.” To some degree I grew up in that sort of setting, a kiss would be just a kiss and couldn’t go anywhere for lots of reasons, including the fact that I was on her father’s front porch and if things went any further the shotgun would poke through the window! :-)

      • TeaPot562 says:

        Thanks,Msgr. Pope: The mental picture of you sitting near the front porch with a shotgun in case the daughter’s date gets out of hand is priceless!
        TeaPot562

  33. RA says:

    Incentives change and both sexes respond according to their natures.

    Once upon a time, a man could work hard and be mostly assured that his wife was going to stand by him til death did them part. Which gave him the incentive to produce sufficient economic surplus to support her and their children.

    Today, when most women can find their own provisioning, they don’t have as strong an incentive to find a provider. Hence they won’t give that hard working man the time of day. Most women give their best and most fertile years to their schooling, their careers and their cads, then when they hit the wall and their biological clock is ticking, they expect the hard working man who suffered silently all those years to be there and wife them up. And if he turns out to be a bore, they feel free to kick him to the curb after a few years and a couple of kids, extracting his cash while kicking him out of the house. Even so-called “Christian” women do this.

    I grant there are women who aren’t like that. But have to say they are really, really hard to find…

    When a man sees the divorce wreckage all about him, when one or more of his father, his older brothers, his male relatives and his friends get their clocks cleaned in the courtroom, when his own dating efforts often land him in the “friend zone” at best, when he sees “man up and get married!” get translated to “man up and save the bad girls by marrying them!”, when he knows he will never get her best, it is very dang hard to feel the incentive to marry. When they’re not feeling the need to ready themselves for marriage, then it becomes easy to slack off and to not work as hard as they did before. So sure, go ahead and hurl invective at those “slackers”, but very few people who denigrate these men actually take an honest look at the state of the incentives they are responding to.

    When I find younger men contemplating marriage, I counsel them to vet their prospective wives well. Be very diligent about it because in today’s society, the only force that will hold a woman to her vows is between her ears, such sufficient force exists almost nowhere else. Hence he needs to find out how she was raised, find out what she’s got in head before he puts a ring on her finger.

    This is the evil of no-fault divorce: it has made divorce far too easy and it is well known that when children are involved, women initiate nearly 70% of divorce petitions. Reagan called signing the no-fault divorce law the greatest mistake he ever made. We cannot hold men accountable without also holding women accountable.

    We’re not done seeing the end of this.

  34. RM says:

    I’m not so sure previous generations were as virtuous as we would like to think. I’ve met many people of my grandparents generation who had children out of wedlock, including my own parents. Additionaly, I don’t think the vocabulary for modern vulgarity is a product of our time. A lot of it was inherited too. Indeed prostitution is the worlds oldest profession, or one of them at least. I also question how much the old Catholic and Christian culture contributed to abortion. It was such a shame to have a child out of wedlock, children were labeled bastards, women were sent away in shame. Could we blame them for wanting to ‘get rid’ of the child in order not to face such shame? Why did the church not treat them with true charity and understanding. Chastity and marriage are the truth of God’s meaning for sex, but I don’t think the sexual revolution bares all the blame fir out current situation. I’ve heard it preached that God brings good things from the bad, but Christians haven’t always shown that they understand that. They lose sight of their sinfulness looking down on those who fall. There is no Chastity without Charity or Compassion.

    • I wonder if you read the article or just jumped to the comments. Your points are noted in the article. However, any simple reference to statistics will show that whatever your personal perceptions, previous generations, though far from perfect have a better track record in getting people into marriages, keeping families together and dis-incentiving promiscuous behavior. Perfect? No But far better than our own time

  35. Sarah in WA says:

    I’m 29 and have been happily married for five years. Our story — meet in college, date, fall in love, start careers, get engaged, marry in the Church, start a family, make a home — should be typical, but we know it is not.

    Sometimes people ask me why it worked for us, when it seems like our peers can’t get it together. I usually cite some combination of these reasons:

    1. We were both raised Catholic, and therefore had a common basis for belief, moral values, and religious practice.

    2. We felt loved by our families, both of which were functional and intact for the whole of our youth. Neither of us had to cope with the pain of neglect, abuse, divorce / remarriage, an uninvolved father, an uncaring mother, or other overwhelming family stress.

    3. Our mothers are both highly educated and capable women (mine has an M.S. and his a PhD), but they both intentionally prioritized family over careers and personal pursuits.

    4. We received our primary sense of morality and work ethic from our fathers, both of whom were immigrants to America. Though our dads came from two different cultures, both had a particular mentality about dignity, work, and providing for a family. It was hugely influential.

    5. Neither of us were raised as indulged children of affluence, and we didn’t expect everything to immediately fall into place or look picture-perfect. We both expected to make sacrifices, experience setbacks, and work hard.

    6. We met each other early (age 20), before either of us had been tempted to cynicism by the overall dating situation.

    Yes, the general situation out there is a disaster. Many young people are already deeply scarred and mistrustful before they even hit the dating scene. I am deeply concerned about the setting my children will face in 15-20 years. As a parent, I can only do my best to provide a similar upbringing to the one we both received, so my kids will at least have a decent foundation.

  36. Ian G says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope:

    I read your posts with interest and appreciation, but in this case I have a particular criticism where I think you’ve taken an approach that may be counter-productive.

    I agree that the world is a mess today with regard to sex, our culture’s understanding of marriage, and (often) relations between the sexes. And I agree that the past gives us good resources for thinking about what’s wrong with our culture and what we might do differently (I’m a historical theologian; I spend most of my time trying to convince people to take the ideas of the past seriously). And finally, I agree that American culture, prior to the sexual revolution, did not have the same egregious problems we have today. My criticism is that the 1950s were not, for that reason, innocent or ideal, and it’s detrimental to Catholicism to latch on to any particular period in history as though it were. My point is basically the point made by Flannery O’Connor in ‘The Church and the Fiction Writer’: human beings aren’t innocent, and attempting to portray them as innocent is either sentimentality or obscenity. Our society gives us the latter; your depiction of mid-20th century America as innocent gives us the former. Both are unreal.

    To make that point, let me draw attention to the fact that, as I understand it, the dating relationships you describe are not part of the general human culture prior to the sexual revolution, but are one particular moment in the history of American courting practices – a moment that was made possible by the rising affluence of the middle class in the mid-20th century, which allowed movie theatres, ice cream parlors, family cars, teenagers with extra spending money, etc., to be common things. 50 years before those circumstances, courting looked different; 50 years before that, it probably looked still more different. There’s nothing particularly important about dating among pre-sexual revolution courting practices; it’s simply the last courting practice before the revolution, and thus the one that seems to us to most nostalgically represent that world.

    Because dating was simply one moment in a long development of courting practices, it probably wasn’t looked on as particularly innocent at the time: from what I understand, for example, a girl who kissed on the first date (as you describe) would have been considered loose. Yes, that standard of immorality sounds incredibly innocent by comparison to what we see today. But that doesn’t mean it was innocent or was thought to be so – merely that it lacked the particular problems we have today.

    When we look at other relational aspects of the pre-sexual revolution world, we find that it was not, in fact, very innocent. Pre-marital sex rates were not as high as they are today, but they were high. The great study of early-20th century Italian American Catholic culture in New York, “The Madonna of 115th Street,” explains that the culture demanded that boys be sexually aggressive and girls be defensive – violently, if necessary – to win the boys’ respect. It was a very complicated situation to navigate, and girls who failed to meet the standard, however penitent, were treated very badly by society. The 1950s weren’t innocent and they weren’t perfect; and whatever their virtues and vices, they were one step along the way to what we have today.

    As I said, I agree with most of your description, and my criticism amounts to a very specific point: that we shouldn’t claim the mid-20th century was innocent simply because it was more innocent than our culture in particular matters, however damaging those matters are today. By all means, let’s look back and ask what we could be doing differently; but nostalgia for the 1950s doesn’t gain us very much, I think. First, because we can’t recover that world; we can only try to shape our world for the better, which may mean drawing some lessons from mid-20th century dating, but not trying to replicate it. Second, because we shouldn’t risk confusing the Catholic message as to the meaning, beauty, and dangers of human sexuality with one particular moment and one particular ideal in American history, as though it had captured the message perfectly. The Church has something encouraging and something critical to say about every time and every place. Nostalgia is ultimately unreal, and there’s nothing unreal about Catholicism.

    Thank you for your generally excellent posts.

    • Your reply seems to have a lot of all or nothing thinking. My point is not, all or nothing or focused on one period etc. You might also read the book by Esolen which is what my remarks are focused on. He samples from many periods of Western History. I’m just writing a blog post but I do not make the point you critique.

      I am not nostalgic as you insultingly state. I grew up in those times of which I write and I know they were not sinless. Neither am I confused or confusing the Catholic message (frankly bow dare you). You ought to avoid the use of diminishing and and dismissive argumentation such as these tactics. I do not need to be schooled by you in these matters. There is no need to ridicule your opponents or accuse them of violating Catholic teaching, or talk down or patronize; just state you own point of view. Again, avoid all or nothing thinking and categorizing me or others. I have been writing on topics like this for over five years and if you want to sit in your fancy university setting by gosh then you go and read everything I have written on the topic before you label me. In other words do your research, before you make such sweeping and general conclusions about me being nostalgic, and suggesting I am at variance with Catholic teaching, etc. Either you don’t know what you’re talking about or you’re throwing stones.

      I make it clear as does Esolen that there is no perfect culture. That point is very clearly stated in my post, very clearly.

      • Ian G says:

        Dear Msgr. Pope: I appreciate your reply, and I will attempt not to do the things you list. I will certainly be a better thinker and interlocutor if I can avoid them. Thanks again for your posts.

      • James says:

        Although I don’t think you were latching on to any particular time period, the 50′s were certainly better in comparison to today, but at the same time the so called “greatest generation” were the generation that failed to pass on the tradition and morality.

        The fighting men of that time period after world war 2 kept the brothels in Europe overflowing. Then they came back to their wives to raise the hippy generation, one of the most effeminate generations in history. In the end, it was the so called “greatest generation” that started the ball rolling on the sexual revolution. I will not take them as my example, I will take the Catholic faith as my example and her saints and doctors. Humanae Vitae, Casti Connubii, Arcanum. These encyclicals are what lay the groundwork for true and proper relations between the sexes.

        • Why is is that so many comments here seem to think that I or Esolen are idealizing the 1950s when the article clearly states “No culture is perfect, far from it”. I can only presume the commenters are engaging in all or nothing thinking and then projecting that on to me, or Esolen. Come on y’all lets have a little more sophistication. The article is clear. And i have written a LOT making the same point that you are making here James. Namely, that while we surely crossed a critical point in the late 1960s, the rot was surely underway long before since revolutions do not come from nowhere. Indeed, depending how far back you want to, the 1920s, the 16th century with Descartes, the 15th century with the nominalists, or the Garden of Eden, there is no ideal age. But the fact is we clearly have a mess on our hands, today, and some of the mess, whenever it started, has come to full flower just now. Were the 50s and early 60s perfect? Of course not,and that is stated CLEARLY in the article, CLEARLY. But it remains a fact that most people then did not call shredding babies choice, or “celebrate” a man sowing his seed in the anus of another man or promote other related absurdities,and that was better than now, even if not perfect, which is CLEARLY stated, it the article, CLEARLY.

          • I Like The Church Fathers says:

            “or “celebrate” a man sowing his seed in the anus of another man”

            Ick! Monsignor, you’re hurting my virgin eyes!

          • . . . all for Jesus says:

            +Because of man’s fallen sin nature . . . inherited from our long-ago corrupted sinful grandparents Adam and Eve . . . this deadly sin nature has been part of every single person born upon the face of this earth . . . (except our Holy Mother Mary and our Blessed Saviour . . . Jesus Christ . . . God Incarnate) . . . but the corruption of a virulent infection of evil in our nation . . . and throughout the world today . . . is once again spiraling . . . waaaaaaay . . . out of control . . . even as it did in the 1940’s when the growing infestation and infection of evil in Europe and Japan . . . erupted . . . in World War I and World War II . . . a state of affairs that was NOT a fact of life in the 1950’s or even in the 1960’s . . . when later in that decade the internal . . . open attack . . . on the Judeo/Christian faith and morality standards of centuries . . . appeared on the world scene . . . but we need to keep the Faith strong . . . GOD is still in control . . .
            __________________________

            For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. – Ephesians 6:12
            __________________________

            THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES . . .

            “All human things are liable to perpetual changes. We are to rest on God’s providence, and cast away fruitless cares.” – Bishop Richard Challoner

            Chapter 3 . . .

            #1 To every thing there is a season, and a TIME to every purpose under the heaven:
            #2 A TIME to be born, and a TIME to die; a TIME to plant, and a TIME to pluck up that which is planted;
            #3 A TIME to kill, and a TIME to heal; a TIME to break down, and a TIME to build up;
            #4 A TIME to weep, and a TIME to laugh; a TIME to mourn, and a TIME to dance;
            #5 A TIME to cast away stones, and a TIME to gather stones together; a TIME to embrace, and a TIME to refrain from embracing;
            #6 A TIME to get, and a TIME to lose; a TIME to keep, and a TIME to cast away;
            #7 A TIME to rend, and a TIME to sew; a TIME to keep silence, and a TIME to speak;
            #8 A TIME to love, and a TIME to hate; a TIME of war, and a TIME of peace.
            #9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
            #10 I have seen the travail, which GOD hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
            #11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his TIME: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that GOD maketh from the beginning to the end.
            #12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

            #17 I said in mine heart, GOD shall JUDGE the righteous AND the wicked: for there is a TIME there for EVERY purpose and for EVERY work.”
            __________________________

            GOD is still in control . . .

            . . all for Jesus+

          • Patrick says:

            I think it’s partly a way to deflect criticism of the present culture and partly to avoid having to think about just how dark it has become, which is very unpleasant to think about: “Yeah, it’s not great out there, but even back in the golden age of the 40s and 50s things weren’t as great as people seem to think they were. So we’re not as bad off as people say (translation: please please please don’t let it be as dark as it seems and as I know in my bones it is).

    • Ladasha says:

      Amazing post! I know you are right about dating. People are freaking out that the youth have given up on dating. But is it really that bad? Modern dating has been around less than 100 years. I wonder if our modern dating is what is causing all the failed divorces.

  37. shadowfax says:

    I confess I have never understood the kind of suspicion and cynicism between the sexes mentioned here, but I have certainly seen it in action. Some of my most orthodox Catholic women friends view their husbands with the suspicion that they might be “using them.” (I have known their husbands for a very long time–they don’t appear to be complete jerks, and these women friends cannot give me any good reasons for their feelings of suspicion) It would never in a million years occur to me to suspect my husband of such a thing. Is he perfect? Of course not. But he’d be sick to his stomach at the thought of using me like some object–sexually or otherwise.

    As a general rule, I find that in life I get respect in roughly the same amount that I give it. I’ve always tried to respect those around me, men and women alike, even when I disagreed with them. With the exception of a few jerks and sociopaths I’ve run into, I get the same kind of respect back. Even from people who have completely different world views than I do and who probably disapprove of some of my life choices (six kids?! the sheer carbon footprint no doubt scandalizes more than a few)

    Happily married for 23 years with six kids—totally agree with the poster who said there are going to be problems any time a person is more worried about what they are getting out of a marriage than what they are giving to it. My husband brings me coffee in bed some mornings, and I bring him coffee in bed others. We are both very grateful to each other for these acts of kindness. I cannot even imagine a marriage in which we kept track of such things, tit for tat. Or in which we demanded that certain services be performed by the other. When two people are in love, the other person’s happiness is more important than their own.

    I believe there is such a thing as the marriage debt, but I also think that when you truly love the other person, it never feels like paying a debt, even when you might not start out in the mood for it. If only all debts were so much fun to pay!

    The more people agonize over their place and their role or their potential spouse’s place or role, the less they are probably ready for marriage. My husband and I row together and pick up where the other one leaves off. Trying to fit another person into a pre-determined box objectifies and dehumanizes. You cannot truly encounter somebody on a deep level if you are busy worrying about whether they know their correct place. We are not perfect people by any means, but we are living proof you don’t have to be perfect to build a really happy marriage together.

    We are not going to fix the world, but I do hope that simply by being happily married and raising our family the best way we know how, we will help our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances be just a little less cynical about the other sex—as well as about marriage.

    • Patrick says:

      You mention the marriage debt as if it’s a slightly strange belief that someone could reasonably disagree with, but that’s not true. It’s completely irrational and very obviously wrong not to believe in the marriage debt. And yet that’s true of most women. When someone is always encouraging you not to worry about the details, even when the details are few and incredibly simple, well-grounded, and easily verified, you’re getting scammed. You’re not agreeing to what you think you’re agreeing to.

    • Patrick says:

      You didn’t mention obedience. I’m guessing you believe in mutual submissiveness?

      • Jas says:

        1 Cor 7:4

      • shadowfax says:

        My reply to that question is this: I believe in the kind of marriage in which the man respects the woman so much he would never give her a command to be “obeyed” and the kind of marriage in which the woman respects the husband so much that he never feels the need to.

        The only kind of situation in which I can treally imagine my husband giving me an order would be an emergency–he sees imminent danger of which I am not yet aware and doesn’t have time to explain the details, “Take the kids and get out NOW.” And yes, I’d do it in a heartbeat because I trust him and his love for us completely.

        The man would lay down his life for his family, and he’s been there for me when the chips were down in ways I can’t even begin to verbalize. He has no need to command me or demand my “obedience.” That kind of attitude and relationship dynamic is for the weak. My husband strong and manly–he has won my heart with his strength and has no need to “command.”

        To each his own, but I’ve been around the Catholic block and know more than a few husbands who like to “command” and demand this kind of obedience from their wives. Not a single one of them is in a happy marriage, and not a single one of them commands the kind of respect from their wives that I have for my husband. I know this because their wives have told me. Far from being the spiritual heads of household and bringing the families closer to God, the lack of respect and love of the spouses for each other are having some very negative effects on their children’s emotional and spiritual well-being. Oh yes, they demand the marriage debt, too, and their wives give it to them but don’t enjoy it.

        I don’t know about you, but my husband really enjoys having a wife who is so happy to pay the marriage debt that he never has to demand it from her.

        • Patrick says:

          None of that conflicts with anything I said. I simply don’t believe the IF you do such and such, you don’t need to worry about anything. It’s a scam. It’s a lie. A way to put men on the treadmill for life with no actual assurances. And like I’ve said a few times already, women initiate more than 70% of divorces. Maybe you’re just unfamiliar with the facts on the ground and the danger for men in marriage. Feminism has really wrecked things. The unhappy marriages you’re contrasting yours to are intact and most likely happier than the feminist marriages I’ve seen crash and burn. Producing anecdotal evidence from one dreamy marriage in a comment section doesn’t contravene the Catholic principles. The fact that you’re the only woman in this comment section to kinda-sorta affirm the marriage debt and obedience, and that you supposedly have a dreamy marriage, if anything confirms my idea.

      • shadowfax says:

        Just to clarify–these wives I mention who have husbands who demand “obedience” are about the furthest things from feminists you can imagine. Stay-at-home mothers to the last one of them, who completely depend on their husbands to provide for them financially. Most of them have more than 6 children, homeschool, and are very serious about their Catholicism. Thoroughly decent women.

        Marriage is not a matter of do A, B, and C, and voila! happiness. Human beings are not objects that can be plugged into some sort of algorithm to produce the desired end. Happy marriage demands far more than that. It demands nothing less than a total giving of yourself for the one you love.

  38. Jas says:

    I don’t know if he covers it in his book but one thing, I think, has made things worse than ever, this lacking of “language”, and that is young folk’s dependence on social media. I don’t participate, prefer phone or face to face, but I’ve seen it and it saddens me … they sit in the same room texting, checking their ‘status’ in, what seems to me, a synthetic world, entrapped and exploited. Also, what my folks would (and I) consider porn seems permeate nearly everything on the internet. TV is almost all about exploitation, too. Is it any wonder that so many would have unrealistic expectaions, or none at all, when senses are so blunted, consciences nearly deaf and blind? There is hope and healing, though, in Christ and His Holy Church. I’m not condemning anyone or the use of any means of communication, just expressing what I think has made the ‘revolution’ run from bad to worse. God bless all! Oh Clement, oh Loving, oh Sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us….

  39. . . . all for Jesus says:

    + “And JESUS answered him: The FIRST COMMANDMENT of all is, Hear O Israel: the LORD thy GOD is one GOD. And thou shalt LOVE the LORD thy GOD with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. – Mark 12:29-30

    And the SECOND is like to it: Thou shalt LOVE thy neighbour as thyself. There is NO other commandment greater than these.” +

    +Loving holy kindness . . . generosity of heart . . . care for others as ones self . . . sensitivity to individuality, strengths, weaknesses, blessings, needs, successes, failings, health and infirmities . . . healthy understanding of the changing needs and realities . . . which occur during the ongoing growth and maturing of souls . . . singly and in togetherness . . . healthy love, appreciation and concern of . . . EACH . . . one (male and female) . . . for the other . . . as GOD’s children and uniquely individual persons created in the Image of GOD . . . appear to be completely missing in all your communications Patrick . . .and . . . loving GOD . . . ? . . . well . . . He doesn’t even seem to exist in your universe . . . where . . . me . . . me . . . me . . . appears to be the narcissistic center upon which all must revolve around . . . serve . . . please . . . and agree with . . . and where a wife’s personhood must be ditched at the door . . . and your abject loathing re . . . “mutual submission” . . . about which . . . the sweet counsel and direction from the Holy Spirit is revealed in the below Sacred Scripture . . . Wow! . . .

    “Being subject ONE TO ANOTHER, in the FEAR of CHRIST.” – Ephesians 5:21

    It is really only when we have the HOLY CROSS . . . + . . . of Genuine LOVE firmly in place . . .

    + Loving the LORD Jesus Christ as our First Love+ . . .

    . . . being the vertical beam of the Cross of Christ within the living heart our souls . . . which beam bridges the gap from Heaven down to earth . . . from GOD to mankind . . . and back again . . . and

    +Embracing the Love of Our Neighbor (which includes family/spouse/children)+

    . . . being the outstretched horizontal beam of the Cross . . .+ CENTERED, SUPPORTED AND SUSTAINED BY THE VERTICAL BEAM + . . . that we are enabled to grow and mature in the great Holy Kindness of the Gift of real, MARVELOUS, genuine love . . . and are able to share it on . . . and make a GODLY marriage . . . and all relationships . . . whatever the level of involvement . . . really work . . .

    And . . . GODLY . . . “obedience” . . . a word you seem to be quite taken with Patrick . . . is-and-always-has-been . . . in reality and in Truth a. . . FRUIT . . . of . . . genuine holy love . . . “Forced” . . . obedience through imposition of an attitude of entitlement . . . (and a not-marvelous-in-the-least . . . definite misinterpretation . . . of Holy Scripture) . . . is nothing but . . . servitude . . . and a ghastly . . . unholy . . . slavish . . . hellish . . . way to live . . . for anyone involved in such a relationship . . .

    In the Holy Catholic Sacrament of Marriage . . . there are THREE persons who are involved in the marriage union . . . and all it pertains . . . for life . . . the bride (as the handmaid of the LORD) . . . and the groom (as a servant of GOD) . . . are united together . . . in-and-with. . . their LORD . . . in the marriage covenant . . . and the precious Holy Gift of GOD given to all . . . that sacred Gift of free will . . . is . . . NEVER . . . meant to be dismissed or discarded as trash . . . nor should it ever be represented as a nothing . . . a throw-away . . .

    “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take the water of life freely.” – Revelation 22:17

    . . . all for Jesus+

  40. Patrick says:

    You’re saying the same thing as all the other everyday feminists: “Trust me, just trust me, IF you do such and such, you don’t have to think about obedience or the marriage debt. Just don’t even think about it.” But it’s easy to see that obedience and the marriage debt doesn’t exist in most modern marriages, and more than 70% of divorces are initiated by women, who, like you, predictably blame men for women’s lack of obedience.
    It’s a scam. I say: “Just affirm the obvious, simple, Traditional, Scriptural truths of obedience and the marriage debt instead of trying to evade and obfuscate.” It’s not complicated.

    • I’m not sure whom you are addressing in this comment.

    • shadowfax says:

      Or maybe, just maybe, I’m seen enough unhappiness result from the kinds of attitude you express in your comments that I hope to encourage you to think differently about relationships and marriage.

      Marriage matters, and happy marriages are much better for children and society. Some of us who have been married for a while have learned a few things along the way. You can take it or leave it–ultimately you are the one who will have to lie on the bed you make.

      As for me, I’m over and out–I have a husband and six children to tend to.

      • Patrick says:

        I’ll leave it, thanks. Because intact marriages, even the suboptimal ones, are way better than the ones destroyed by feminism. And because I’d much rather have an imperfect marriage than get gutted in a divorce and have my kids taken away. And because the men who share your point of view are always unable to command my respect. And because the men who are able to command my respect and are as happily and successfully married as you, say essentially the same things I’m saying here. And because what I’m saying is simple Catholic teaching, which everyday feminists like yourself are very interested in avoiding and altering. It’s dishonest and evasive, which is a red flag for “you’re getting scammed.” Maybe you don’t understand how bad things have gotten. It’s easy to get into an echo chamber where your personal experience becomes disconnected from actual reality.

  41. Just me says:

    Msgr. Pope,

    Great article! I just have one question and comment. It is about your line: “I am in the perplexing position of knowing many remarkably beautiful women—ones whom I’d have asked out on a date in a minute back in my youth—who are almost never approached for a date.”

    I am curious if by “beautiful” you only mean physical beauty? I am good friends with a lot of wonderful priests and one thing I always notice is that when we discuss these types of things (culture, dating, marriage, youth, etc.) they seem to always focus on a woman’s physical aspects. I think this is partly because of men generally being more “physical” than “emotional.” I have to admit that it does always rub me the wrong way, especially coming from a priest, because it seems like a woman’s looks (“remarkably beautiful”) is the only reason or, at least, the main reason one would want to date them. That is, you (as would many other men, I believe) say, “remarkably beautiful women” rather than, “remarkable women” for example (or wonderful, remarkably interesting, etc.). I am not saying that I think it is wrong to acknowledge and be attracted to a woman’s beauty, but when it is said as you said it, it makes it seem that the her looks alone determine whether you would ask her out or not. Of course, I’m sure that is not the case. As a woman (and a woman who has struggled with her self-image as so many women do), it is hard for me to hear you make that statement because it in some way confirms that the only thing men are interested in is a woman’s appearance. I hope you don’t misinterpret what I am trying to say because my lack of being able to express it well. And I am not trying to accuse you, but perhaps just be open with you so you can be sensitive to this particular insecurity of some women. Thanks, Msgr.!

    • I hear your concern. Yet I also sense you want to live in an unreal world where people have perceptions and feelings that rooted in philosophical perfection and notice or give any emphasis to physical appearance etc. The fact is that there is such a thing as physical beauty and while there is a wide range and personal quality to how beauty is perceived, this is such a thing as beauty. And beauty attracts. I’m sorry, that’s just the way things are. Of course your use of the word “only” implies all or nothing thinking on your part. But I am not engaged in that sort of thought. There are other types of beauty to be sure, than physical beauty. And men do actually look for other things than merely physical beauty. But honestly, physical beauty is important to men when it comes to initiating interest and then dating and marriage, though it is not the “only” thing. I’m sorry if that pains you, its just the way things are. So yes, I was talking essentially about physical beauty in the sentence you cite. Beauty in the old days would have meant that a physically beautiful woman would have many suitors at her door. Not so now, and it seems strange to me, almost as if nature has taken a holiday. And that is the point of the sentence. not that physical beauty is the “only” thing that matters.

    • Patrick says:

      Good looks are important. A big part of that is fitness, ie not being overweight, which is an aspect of beauty that is alterable. Also having long, healthy hair, which is possible for a lot of women. Also having a demure, non-competitive-with-men, gentle, submissive attitude and air about her, which can be cultivated. All of those things increase a woman’s attractiveness, even if not her natural good looks. A lot of good-looking women are unattractive because they lack some of those alterable traits, even if they have a perfect facial structure, etc. Unfortunateky, feminism encourages the “strong [ugly], independent [unattractive] woman” trope so that most women are significantly less attractive than they would otherwise be.

  42. Kath says:

    Wow, there are a lot of men posting here that really do not like women. By like I mean like – to enjoy women, to engage with women as sisters, as persons made in the image and likeness of God, as potential friends, not as a category. Lots of bitterness and blaming going on. There is simply no point in going about all of this analysis of the reasons for the great divide, or pointing fingers or blame on movements or generalizations about women and men, if one is not willing to look hard at the mote in his own eye and ask God for help in removing it. It is up to each one of us to find our own lost innocence, and we can only do that with God’s help. Otherwise, all of this talk talk talk analysis blame bitterness is the devil’s work, not Christ’s.

    • Kath says:

      To clarify, I shouldn’t have said “a lot of men.” And Shadowfax, you’ve got your head on quite straight, I must say :-).

      • annaincalifornia says:

        Yes, and I will stand up for Jas (aka: James) who is a true gentleman.

        • Patrick says:

          You mean Jas who you thought was a girl until he told you he’s actually male?

        • Patrick says:

          Something else: it occurred to me that since you define Jas as a true gentleman, maybe the reason you haven’t found anyone is that you’ve set up as your gentleman ideal a man you’re not actually attracted to. Since the ideal gentleman in your book is a little effeminate, and since women are attracted to masculinity, you’ve maybe spent your life lookin for a “gentleman”( i.e. an effeminate man) who also attracts you (ie is masculine). Which is literally impossible. Maybe you should accept that you’re actually attracted to men who don’t really believe in respecting women.

      • Patrick says:

        Of course there’s a point to it. Otherwise why would Mons. Pope write the article in the first place? I don’t think any if the women posting here understand the reality of what we’re facing. I don’t think they want to because they enjoy the situation and don’t see anything wrong with it, because they’re everyday feminists.

        • Patrick says:

          And maybe because its more convenient just to say, “I’m perfect just the way I am! I’ve heard it all my life! But what is wrong with all these useless, lazy young men?”

  43. David says:

    Men and hunters, and women are gathers – as an evolutionary rule. You may note that “stalking” has been criminalized….which affects hunters, not gatherers. So the natural male behavior to pursue women they are interested in is now “Only if they are interested.” No problem – if only men could read women’s minds. There are no complaints from women who WANT that particular male attention, whether stalked or not. The problem isn’t loss of innocence, as father seems to suggest (that’s another symptom) of the greater problem – the re-definition of the sexual roles, which criminalizes male attention to women…among other things. I agree with him on the damage caused by feminist agenda. The picture above says it better than I ever could.

  44. Tony says:

    Dear Monsignor Pope: Thank you for your kind words, and for your perceptive and encouraging article. If anyone is interested, I’d like to re-open the discussion, because I believe that every one of the commenters has made valid and important points, all of which need to be considered.

    I speak now as the father of a daughter who has never been asked on a date, and as the professor (and friend) of many young people of both sexes who are trying to follow the moral law and also trying to find happiness in what used to be the ordinary things in life. But they don’t know how. There is no “language” for it. Or maybe we can say there is no “skill” for it. Imagine a Dark Ages in which the know-how to plow a field has been lost. You can’t simply tell people to go out and plow the field, because you’ve heard that fields used to be plowed. A thousand little things have to be in place before you can go out and do that. How do you get the stumps of the trees out? What should the soil look like? How do you make the furrows straight? Where do you get the iron for the plowshare? How do you turn ore into workable metal? What kind of draught animal will you need? How do you “make” a bull into an ox? When do you do it? How do you stanch the wound? What do you feed it?

    You see what I mean. It’s all been lost. You cannot talk without a shared language. Now, we can argue all day long about which sex was corrupted first, men or women. At this point it does not matter, because you cannot corrupt one sex without corrupting the other. This is the single thing, though, that the modern woman has been taught, since girlhood, that she must never admit; and this is a severe problem. The men are corrupt, and the women are corrupt; the men are ready to admit their corruption, but the women have been taught that they are victims merely, and that if they ever admit to a weakness or a sin, they are “betraying” their sisters and all that the feminists fought for. In other words, their feminism is a real block against self-examination.

    Let me tell a story, before I suggest the first step towards a remedy. I was teaching a course in Renaissance poetry (Edmund Spenser), and that pretty much means that I was teaching a course in love poetry. There was in that class a deeply disturbed young man who liked to flaunt his homosexuality. Everybody treated him with kid gloves, because he was not wholly responsible for his disruptive behavior (his father had shot himself in the head when the boy was nine years old, and his mother had gone on to marry another man, whom the boy detested). But one day he pressed the issue, demanding to know why I believed that a man could not marry another man. The students were all watching intently. “You have no reason,” he said.

    I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I moved the argument backwards a couple of steps. I said that the real problem was that people had got it into their heads that their bodies were their own, to dispose of as they pleased. That was absurd: “You did not create your body; you did not design it; you cannot even, on your own, sustain it in existence. Nothing in this world is yours simply to do with as you please. To believe that is to believe the lie that Satan tells himself at the bottom of Hell: I am my own.”

    That day I “lost” half of the women in the class. For the rest of the term there was a wall of ice between them and me: they would not greet me, would not really listen to anything I had to say.

    Now for the remedy. The remedy is a powerful dose of humility. The first step is to consider, without mercy to oneself and without qualification or ironical reserve, all of the virtues most characteristic of the OTHER sex. For women, this would imply a frank acknowledgment that without men, the very buildings where they work, the roads they drive on, the cars they drive, and so on, would not exist. For men, this would imply a frank acknowledgment that without women, men would lazily and recklessly live in caves … This should take a long time, this first step. The second step is to consider all of the VICES most characteristic of YOUR OWN sex….

    After many months have passed, people might be chastened well enough to go on to the third step, to consider the vices of the opposite sex, and then to the last step, to consider the virtues of their own sex. But I doubt that people would even get so far. Gratitude and shame might have cleared their heads by then.

  45. Patrick says:

    I think that remedy is good for women, but men should do pretty much the reverse: 1. Recognize the virtues of actual men which everyone from the pope on down undermines, devalues, qualifies and dismisses. 2. Recognize the vices of women which everyone from the pope on down protects, qualifies and dismisses. 3. Recognize the vices of men which everyone from the pope on down points out on a regular basis. 4. Recognize the actual virtues of actual women, such as submissiveness, gentleness, femininity, which everyone from the pope on down undermines, devalues, qualifies and dismisses.

    That way men can understand that what women do to “make a house a home” etc, they do for women, and what men do to contribute to a home, they do for women. And men can look with clear eyes and see that 99% of women don’t care what men actually desire, enjoy, and care about, and say consciously, like me, I’d rather remain single than marry one of these pieces of work. Then if he encounters someone worth it he can ask her out. Because the difference is men are pretty much ok with living a casual life in a cave. Like a lot of men I’ve been tempted by the hookup, casual dating, and serial monogamy scene, because its basically a more reliable way today than marriage to somewhat satisfy what you care about emotionally and sexually.

  46. Patrick says:

    Reading your book I mean

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