A six year old girl in the Detroit suburbs was kicked off her cheer-leading squad because her mother objected to the following cheer the 5 – 7 year old girls were being taught:
Our backs ache, our skirt’s too tight, Our booties shake from left to right.
Jennifer Tesh, the mother of a six year old on the cheer-leading squad voiced an objection to this cheer. She was informed it had been going on for years and that she should not question it. When she did ,the squad told her that her daughter and she were no longer welcome and she must leave the squad. They further indicated that she could return next year but would be on “probation.”
Here is more evidence of the cultural meltdown of the last few decades. Teaching six year olds to reference their “booty” (i.e. hind parts or buttocks) in a cheerleader chant is not “cute” as some say. It is highly inappropriate and a sexualizing of children.
Sadly, the sexualization of children has been going on for a longtime now in provocative advertisements, sit-coms, the fashion industry, the entertainment industry (especially that portion directed to young teenagers), certain beauty pageants and other settings such as cheer-leading. Many of you on this blog in the past have also told me how difficult it is to buy modest clothes for your children, especially the girls.
Not only are children sexualized, they are also exposed to sexual matters at dramatically young ages. This also is done through themes in movies and music as well as sitcoms aimed at children, and by internet pornographers.
These are very serious matters and surely invoke the Lord’s anger, for he has said, But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt 18:6).
In recent years the sexual abuse of children has reached horrifyingly high levels (1 is too many). It has been usual to lay this at the feet of the Catholic priests, celibacy and the Church. Yet, the truth is that it has also occurred in huge numbers in other settings as well, such as public schools, in the family and at the hands of Internet predators. We cannot overlook the fact that our decaying moral fabric and hyper-sexualized culture contributes to the sinful sickness of the sexual abuse of children and minors. Having six year old girls dance provocatively and reference their “booty” is further evidence of the moral meltdown of our times. It would have been unthinkable a few decades ago for such a thing to happen.
We need to reverence and respect the innocence of children. To encourage and call cute what is essentially lewd behavior is deeply sinful and harmful. Not only does it endanger children and disrepect their innocence, but it also influences an increasing perversion in our culture of the sexual abuse of children.
God bless Jennifer Tesh and parents like her who stand up against what is wrong, who swim against the tide that is flowing to the immoral swamp. She probably has no legal recourse but at least she can say she taught her daughter to do what was right despite the cost.
There has been a tendency in the Church in recent decades to divide out the teachings of the Church into separate and often “competing” realms. On the one hand there are said to be the basic moral teachings that include our duty to worship God, tell the truth, obey biblical sexual norms and the like. On the other hand there are said to be “social justice” teachings that include care for the poor, justice to the worker, the accused, the rightful distribution of resources, respect for racial equity and so forth. That social justice should have separated out into a category is problematic for at least two reasons.
All sin involves injustice for by it we fail to render to God, ourselves and/or others what is due. I will develop this in a moment.
The separation leads to entrenchment and isolation within the Church. Some who are more traditionally minded will tend to speak of those who emphasize the social doctrine of the Church as the “Peace and Justice Crowd” and are offended at their apparent “neglect” of pro-life issues or “fuzziness” on other doctrinal matters. Likewise, the recipients of that title can tend to see themselves as the last bastion of true prophecy and see traditional Catholics as selective in their faith. So both sides have grievances and perceptions that also get mixed in with political viewpoints. The result is entrenched camps, rather than the union which Christ seeks.
I want, then, to take a moment and address the first point particularly. At some level we have to see that all sin is injustice. For example, failing to care for the poor and fornication are both sins and both offend against justice. My ultimate hope is to chip away at the artificial wall separating so-called “justice” matters from other moral realms.
What is Justice? Perhaps the most straight-forward definition of justice is to give to another what is due. The Catechism elaborates this just a bit: Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. (CCC # 1807)
Hence it can be seen how every sin in some way offends against justice. To have idols, to use God’s name in vain or to swear falsely by it, to neglect to pray and worship God, especially on Sunday, is to fail to give God what is due. To refuse to give honor and respect to elders is to fail to give what is due. To refuse to obey lawful authority not only fails to give what is due to them but also offends against others, for it offends against good order. To kill or endanger the life of another is to fail to reverence their life as sacred, a debt which is due to everyone. To bear false witness or to lie is to fail in giving the truth which others are due and on which they depend. To steal is offend against justice by usurping for oneself what is NOT due and to fail to respect the lawful recognition of another’s rightful property. Many other sins and injustices stem from neglecting this command which are too numerous to detail here but on which I have written more here: The Forgotten Principle of Social Justice . To covet or show forth greed is to hoard more than we rightfully need. To the poor and needy is due a care from our excess and to deprive them of this help so that we can hoard is to fail to give what is due.
Now, as a way of going into greater depth I would like to take the sixth commandment and sexual morality and look at how it relates to justice. I do this because I think, of all the sins, sexual morality is the most divorced from notions of justice when it is discussed. I want to explore for a moment how sexual immorality is a violation of justice as much, if not more, than any other sin.
Let’s take the fornicator for example. I am going to define fornicator here as one who willfully engages in pre-marital heterosexual activity. As we have discussed before “fornication” can mean other things but, for the sake of discussion, let’s limit it as I have suggested. How does the fornicator sin against justice?
They sin against their own body which does not in fact belong to them. Hence a double injustice occurs. Scripture says, Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body (1 Cor 6:18). The Same passage also says of our bodies Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Cor 6:18). Hence the fornicator fails to give due reverence to their own body, and also fail to give due reverence to God whose temple the body is. Further to use something in a way that does not correspond to the wishes of the owner is a failure of justice. God has “purchased” our body and as owner is offended by fornication, to fail to respect his wishes is to fail to give him what is his due as the true owner of our body.
The Fornicator is unjust to the married, and to all who depend on marriage by harming marriage. Sexual intercourse is a joy, a pleasure and a right given to married. In sharing a common pleasure accessible only by means of marriage the married couple is strengthened in mutual affection and drawn to deeper unity. But when the unmarried start usurping the rights of the marriage bed they undermine an important motivator and unifying factor for marriage. Since this pleasure, meant to be restricted to the married state, is now commonly appropriated by the unmarried we see that marriage is in decline. High divorce rates are combined with declining marriage rates. When promiscuity is rampant marriage is harmed. Any study of current statistics on marriage will see how seriously marriage and family have been impacted by, among other things, rampant promiscuity. Scripture speaks of promiscuity as a sin against justice due the institution of marriage: Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Heb 13:4). Hence reverence is due to marriage and to fail to give due reverence is a sin against justice and against the married and all who depend on its strength as an institution.
Fornicators are unjust to those with whom they fornicate. They do this by tempting another to sin and by thus taking advantage of the weakness of another. We have a duty to protect one another from unnecessary and avoidable temptation. Others have a right to expect us to act in uprightness and truth toward them. To lust after another and exploit their weakness is an injustice toward them no matter how consenting they may seem. There is also the difficult to measure pain caused by broken hearts: those who have been used as sexual objects then discarded, those who have been betrayed, those who have paid a heavy price for their own transgressions. Scripture says: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong another or take advantage. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you(1 Thess 4:1-6). Hence notice that the passage says we should not wrong another person by taking advantage of them in this matter.
The Fornicator sins against the wider community by helping set loose many social factors that tax the community or nation. Promiscuity brings venereal diseases, AIDS, teenage pregnancy, abortion, unwed mothers left to raise their children alone. To contribute to these negative social factors is unjust to others who must pay for the fornicator’s irresponsibility.
The fornicator is unjust to Children. The biggest losers in the explosion of promiscuity is children. Fornicators first put children potentially at greater risk of abortion. Most fornicators claim that such is not the case since they use contraceptives (a sin in itself). But contraceptives routinely fail and it is demonstrable that higher rates of promiscuity have corresponded to higher rates of abortion. Hence fornication endangers the life of children. We have a duty to respect their lives and not endanger them. Secondly the fornicator sins against children by potentially and likely subjecting them to an irregular family situation: absent and/or irresponsible fathers, children unjustly deprived of a complete family, mothers raising children alone, strange visitation rules, etc. It is reported that the leading cause of poverty in this nation is single motherhood. We have already seen above how fornication and promiscuity have affected the divorce rate and this too harms children. Children are due something better than the poisonous climate which most of them have to inherit today. It is an injustice that we subject them to this. It is interesting that right after teaching against divorce in Mark 10, Jesus taught the disciples to let the little children come unto him and not hinder them. (cf Mk 10:1-16)
Well, other things could be mentioned, but allow these to demonstrate how sexual morality is in fact a matter of justice. It is linked to questions of giving what is due, to matters of poverty and distribution of resources, to care of children, education and so forth.
It is important for us to reconnect matters than have often been divided out. This will assist both sides of this artificial division to speak a common language again.
That said, it is a true fact that some matters of sin and injustice are clearer than others. Whether or not to fornicate or have an abortion are pretty cut and dry. Either you do it or not and it is clearly identified as wrong. But how to best care for the poor is a matter over which reasonable people differ. Likewise, determining exactly what is due to the poor or exactly what is most just is not always certain. But that we should care for the poor is a matter of justice, the same justice that demands we reverence God, honor elders and those authority, not kill or endanger others lives, refrain from illicit sexual union, speak the truth, and not succumb to greed.
To be just is to give to God and others what is due. This is so across the board and is not a truth of only some of the commandments. The Church speaks a common language of justice that does not simply appeal to one side of the political debate or exist in one sector of the Church. God’s law is the expression of his justice and we are called to that justice in every aspect of life: Justice enhanced by charity and mercy.
This video series looks interesting and that Fr. Corapi may be trying break down the artificial barriers too. Looks like a big crowd at the event!
Author’s note: I am away this week preaching a retreat for priests in Connecticut. I may post some new material this week but I also thought in my absence to re post some of my older articles that some newer readers may have missed. Here is one I posted back in Sept 2009:
When I was in high school back in the mid-1970s catechism in the Catholic Church was at a low point. I remember making a lot of felt banners with slogans like “Gather as God’s People” and so on. We also had a lot of “rap sessions.” Now back in the 1970s Rap Music was unknown. So what was meant by a “rap session” in those days was an informal discussion usually conducted in a circle with issues that interested young people. Now a teacher may have tried to guide the discussion, but usually we teenagers dominated the discussion. We often tweaked the teacher by bringing up controversial issues and then taking exotic or extreme positions, meant to shock. We were playing the teacher. But since relevance was so highly touted in those days and adults seemed desperate for us to like them, we played the system and we played it well.
Point is, I learned very little in religious education in the 1970s. We were largely on our own in terms of learning doctrinal and especially moral issues. Among the issues critical to teenagers is sexuality. We got little or nothing in terms of instruction about that. Most of us had some awareness that there were teachings against premarital sex but why it was considered wrong was vague to us. We just sort of figured the Church had “hang-ups” and was in general “hopelessly out of date.” Our parents too were from a different, more repressed time, so what did they really know? Or so we thought. The generation of the 1960s just before us had blown the roof off everything. They were hip and free. Most of us took our clues from them. After all, when you’re a teenager, you usually look for the more permissive opinions.
Through most of this the Church was silent. Not, officially, but at the local parish level little was really done to counter the sexual revolution that had taken place a mere ten years earlier. I really regret that no one ever took the Scriptures and read me what God had written. I figured there was nothing wrong with premarital sex since God had only said not to commit adultery. I wasn’t married and so couldn’t break that, or so I wrongly thought. I just figured the prohibitions against premarital sex were hang ups of adults and clergy. But that God had something to say directly to me was never shown me. I think it would have made a real difference in my attitude had I seen premarital sex forbidden by God, right there in black and white, in the Bible. But it was not until years later, in the seminary, that I was finally shown such texts.
I would like to exhort teenagers and young adults to be familiar with what God teaches about pre-marital sex (or fornication as the Bible calls it). I would also like to admonish adults who are parents to be sure to teach their children what the Scriptures say about sex and sexuality. To that end, I have a attached a PDF document (see below) which summarizes about a dozen New Testament texts wherein God speaks clearly to the questions of sexual morality, in particular pre-marital sex. As I have noted, the Biblical word “fornication” is the word that corresponds to what we call today “premarital sex.” Hence, “Fornicator” means one one engages in premarital sex. There are a very few places in the Scriptures where the word fornication (in Greek Porneia) is understood to mean sexual misconduct in general. But usually fornication simply means premarital sex since there are other terms for adultery (moichao); and homosexual acts (arsenkoites). The passages in the PDF document all treat of fornication (premarital sex) and in each case God spells out very clearly that God it is wrong and a serious sin. Please share these texts:
But why does God say it is wrong? Is he just trying to take away our fun? No indeed. But God is trying to save us a lot of pain and to protect and dignify marriage. Consider some of the following reasons that God’s teaching makes sense:
To Protect Marriage and Family – Sexual intercourse is a gift given to the married. God wants to strengthen marriage with a special gift that only the married enjoy. It is a great pleasure and thus helps make marriage attractive. It also draws the spouses to each other frequently and helps to knit them together in a stronger bond because of a shared joy. But the unique and restricted place of marriage for this pleasure is essential. If this pleasure is made available by a culture before or outside of marriage then marriage is both delayed and threatened by infidelity. Notice how much weaker marriage has become in a promiscuous time such as ours. Thus God wants to strengthen marriage as his first reason to limit sexual intercourse to marriage.
To Protect Children – Children are also protected by God’s prohibition of sex outside of marriage. Obviously children need and deserve to be conceived in an environment that is stable, committed and loving. Marriage prior to engaging in sexual intercourse is a matter of justice and premarital sex is injustice. Children conceived outside of marriage are at high risk for abortion. And, although it reamins true that it is good when life is chosen over abortion, it must be admitted that Children in single parent families are raised in irregular and less than ideal settings. God wants to protect children from all this. And don’t tell me that contraception can prevent all this. Contraceptives have a high failure rate, aside from being immoral. Notice that abortion has gone up, not down since contraceptivces have become more widely available. Likewise, out of wedlock births have gone up, not down since contraceptives arrived on the scene. God wants to protect children and give them the best.
To Protect the Individual – God wants to protect individuals from all sorts of ills. Promiscuity brings all sorts of woes: sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, broken families, single parenthood, broken hearts, objectification of women, abortion, adultery, Children without both parents, and on and on. God loves us too much not to tell us the truth and insist we live it.
So, another post that is far too long. I’ll end. But spread the word! God loves us and wants to save us some mileage. If you struggle with sexuality, don’t despair of God’s mercy. But don’t call good what God calls wrong. Repent, try to stay chaste. If you fall, get back to confession and start again. In the end, the truth will set us free.
Here’s a video from Archbishop Fulton Sheen recorded back in the 1970s. Sadly it never made its way to my catechism class. But the video sparked my reflection and memories this evening as I post. In it he explains the need for boundaries and rules. I post here only an excerpt. The full 29 Minute video where he goes on to talk about sexuality is available here: Bishop Fulton Sheen on Youth and Sexuality
Among the measures of mature manhood that God Himself sets forth is faithful, stable, committed marriage. After observing, It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen 2:18) God says ….A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two of them shall become one flesh. Thus God indicates an essential description of manhood. This is what a MAN does. Three things are taught here:
A mature man recognizes that it is not good, not healthy, for him to remain alone and unattached. Thus he sets himself about looking for a wife in a suitable and serious manner. In ancient culture marriages were usually arranged, but in our culture that duty falls on the man himself. But a man, if he is a man, prepares himself for marriage, or perhaps for the priesthood or religious life. He is serious and steadfast about it. This may mean finishing college and embarking on the beginnings of a career but in the end he will accept the truth that it is not good for him to remain alone and unattached. In the recent past dating was usually understood as a time wherein one searched for a spouse. Today many see it “just for fun.” Marriage is postponed indefinitely. Many young men are not serious in searching for a spouse. Instead they “play the field” and use women sexually. They avoid commitment and drift from relationship to relationship. Some “father” children and still do not accept responsibility. They are not men, they are boys. For boys play. “Boys will be boys,” after all. Sadly many women allow and facilitate this immature and immoral behavior. But God is clear, a man (rather than a boy) accepts that it is not good for him to remain single and unattached and he respectfully seeks a wife.
Having properly sought a wife he marries her and leaves his parents to establish a home. In other words he actually gets married. He does not just shack up (cohabitate), or form a so-called “committed relationship.” He does not endlessly postpone marriage. He is serious about the summons that God has given him to make a lasting commitment to a wife, or as a priest or religious brother. He “settles down.” He actually commits his whole life to his wife promising to remain faithful to her unto death. This is what God says a man does.
A man clings to his wife. That is to say, a man works hard to preserve unity with his wife. He manfully addresses any threats to that unity. “Cling” is actually a very strong word. It means to stick like glue. A man says to his wife, “Honey if you ever leave me I’m going with you.” Too many men are passive husbands. Too often it is really the wife who works hardest to preserve the marriage. Very often when there is trouble in a marriage it is the wife who initiates a call to the priest or marriage counsellor. And if the husband comes at all the wife has to drag him. But a real man does not passively sit by as his marriage becomes strained. He addresses issues, cherishes his wife and works hard to preserve union with her. This is what God says a real man does. He has committed to his wife and to God and he is faithful to that commitment even when it is hard. He remembers that he committed for better or worse. And when worse comes he does not run, he stays and addresses the issues, seeks out necessary resources and takes leadership in restoring harmony to his marriage. God says a man clings to his wife. This is what a man does.
It is true that women have a role in all these matters. But this article is directed to men. A man doesn’t whine and say, “But what about the wife?!” He just does what he is supposed to do and does not point fingers. He accepts his own responsibility. Yes, there are men who have worked hard to preserve their marriage and the wife still walked away. Our culture has granted far greater possibilities to women. This is not bad in itself but it sometimes creates even greater strains on marriage. But in the end, I am convinced that if men are real men as God has tasked them, if they were more serious about seeking a wife, marrying her and clinging to her, we would have far fewer divorces.
Remember now, this is a blog. I could go on forever and make lots of other distinctions and explore all the “yes-buts!” What I intend is to start a conversation not anticipate every possible objection, cautionary detail or requested distinction. You, my dear readers are invited to do that in the comments.
So here is what a God says a real man does. How say you?
I preached this topic among others recently at the Feast of the Holy Family. Here is an excerpt from that homily that covers some of the things I have written here. Enjoy also some Christmastime photos of my parish:
Legalization of Same Sex Marriage in the Nation’s Capital
Archdiocese Remains Committed to Serving Poor
Satement of the Archdiocese of Washington:
Today the District of Columbia joined a handful of states where legislatures or courts have redefined marriage to include persons of the same sex. Since this legislation was first introduced in October, the Archdiocese of Washington opposed the redefinition of marriage based on the core teaching of the Catholic Church that the complementarity of man and woman is intrinsic to the definition of marriage. However, understanding the City Council was committed to legalizing same sex marriages, the archdiocese advocated for a bill that would balance the Council’s interest in redefining marriage with the need to protect religious freedom. Regrettably, the bill did not strike that balance.
The Archdiocese of Washington and Catholic Charities are deeply committed to serving those in need, regardless of race, creed, gender, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. This commitment is integral to our Catholic faith and will remain unchanged into the future.
Religious organizations have long been eligible to provide social services in our nation’s capital and have not been excluded simply because of their religious character. This is because the choice of provider has focused on the ability to deliver services effectively and efficiently. We are committed to serving the needs of the poor and look forward to working in partnership with the District of Columbia consistent with the mission of the Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Washington includes over 580,000 Catholics in the District of Columbia and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s. In the District of Columbia, there are 40 parishes, 21 Catholic schools and 25 corporations established to serve the community.
A generation has passed since the publication of the boldly pastoral and prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae which upheld the ancient ban on the use of artificial contraception. Perhaps no teaching of the Church causes the worldly to scoff more than our teaching against artificial contraception. The eyes of so many, Catholics among them, roll and the scoffing begins: Unrealistic! Out of touch! Uncompassionate! Silly! You’ve got to be kidding!
The Lord Jesus had an answer to those who ridiculed him in a similar way:
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ” ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But time will prove where wisdom lies.” (Matt 11:16-18)
Indeed, times DOES prove where wisdom lies. Some forty or more years after widespread acceptance of contraception set in how have we done? Perhaps it is best to review some of the “promises” that contraceptive advocates made, then review the prophecies of Paul VI. Then lets review the record, looking at the “fruits” of contraception.
The Promises of the Contraception Advocates:
Happier Marriages and a lower divorce rates since couples could have all the sex they wanted without “fear” of preganancy.
Lower abortion rates since there would be far fewer “unwanted” children.
Greater dignity for women who will no longer be “bound” by their reproductive system.
More recently contraceptive advocates have touted the medical benefits of preventing STDs and AIDS.
What were some of the concerns and predictions made by Pope Paul VI? (All of these are qutoes from Humanae Vitae)
Consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity (Humanae Vitae (HV) # 17)
A general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. (HV # 17)
Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection. (HV # 17)
Who will prevent public authorities from…impos[ing] their use on everyone. (HV # 17)
So, forty years later, who had the wisdom to see? The World or the Church? Well lets consider some of the data:
The divorce rate did not decline. It skyrocketed. Divorce rates soared through the 1970s to to the 1990s to almost 50% of marriages failing. In recent years the divorce rate has dropped slightly but this may also be due to the fact that far fewer people get married in the first place, preferring to cohabitate and engage in a kind of serial polygamy drifting from relationship to relationship. The overall divorce rate despite its slight drop remains high, hovering in the low 40% range. Contraceptive advocates claim that divorce is a complicated matter. True enough. But they cannot have it both ways, claiming that contraception would be a “simple” fix to make marriages happier and then, when they are so horrifyingly wrong, claiming that divorce is “complicated.” Paul VI on the other predicted rough sailing for marriage in advent of contraception. Looks like the Pope was right.
Abortion rates did not decrease. They too skyrocketed. Within five years the pressure to have more abortion available led to its “legalization” in 1973. It has been well argued that, far from decreasing the abortion rate, contraception actually fueled it. Since contraception routinely fails, abortion became the contraception of last recourse. Further, just as the Pope predicted sexual immorality became widespread and this too led to higher rates of abortion. It is hard to compare promiscuity rates between periods since people “lie” a lot when asked about such things. But one would have to be very myopic not to notice the huge increase in open promiscuity, cohabitation, pornography and the like. All of this bad behavior made more possible by contraceptives also fuels abortion rates. Chalk up another one for the Pope and the Church.
The question of women’s dignity is hard to measure and different people have different measures. Women do have greater career choices. But is career or vocation the true source of one’s dignity? One’s dignity is surely more than their economic and utilitarian capacity. Sadly, motherhood has taken a real back seat in popular culture. And, as the Pope predicted women have been hypersexualized as well. Their dignity as wives and mothers has been set aside in favor of the sexual pleasure they offer. As the Pope predicted many modern men, no longer bound by marriage for sexual satisfaction, use women and discard them on a regular basis. Men “get what they want” and it seems many women are willing to supply it rather freely. In this scenario men win. Women are often left with STDs, they are often left with children, and as they get older and “less attractive” they are often left alone. I am not sure this is dignity. But you decide who is right and if women really have won in the new morality that contraception helped usher in. I think the Pope wins this point as well.
As for preventing STDs and AIDS, again, big failure. STDs did not decrease and were not prevented. Infection rates skyrocketed through the 1970s and 1980s. AIDS which appeared on the scene later continues to show horribly high rates. Where is the promised deliverance? Contraceptives it seems, do not prevent anything. Rather they encourage the spread of these diseases by encouraging the bad behavior that causes them. Here too it looks like the Church was right and the world was wrong.
Add to this list the huge teenage pregnancy rates, the devastation of single parent families, broken hearts and even poverty. The link to poverty may seem obscure but the bottom line is that single motherhood is the chief cause of poverty in this country. Contraception encourages promiscuity. Promiscuity leads to teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy leads to single motherhood (absent fatherhood). Single motherhood leads to welfare and poverty. Currently in the inner city over 80% of homes are headed by single mothers. It is the single highest factor related to poverty.
Declining birth rates are also having terrible effects on contracepting cultures. Europe as we have known it is simply going out of existence. I have written on that before HERE: Contraception is Cultural Suicide! Europe’s future is Muslim. They have huge families. Likewise here in the USA white and African American communities are below replacement level. Thankfully our immigrants are largely Christian and share our American vision. But for the Church the declining birthrates are now resulting in closing schools, parishes, declining vocations and the like. We cannot sustain what we have on a population that is no longer replacing itself. Immigration has insulated us from this to some extent but low Mass attendance has eclipsed that growth and we are starting to shut down a lot of our operations.
Conclusion: Time will prove where wisdom lies. What have we learned in in over forty years of contraception? First we have learned that it is a huge failure in meeting its promises. It has backfired. It has made things worse, not better. Marriage, families, children have all taken a huge hit. Bad behavior has been encouraged and all the bad consequences that flow from it are flourishing. Most people seem largely disinterested in this data. Hearts have become numb and minds have gone to sleep. I hope you are not among them and that you might consider this information well and share it with others. Time HAS proved where wisdom lay. It’s time to admit the obvious.
Once in a while my girlfriends and I get to talking about guys we’ve dated and the problem of pornography. Msgr. Pope discussed the main issue in his post about internet pornography, but I want to take the discussion a step further and explore some other places where porn lurks.
Pornography: material that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement (Merriam-Webster)
A few years back I was dating a “nice Catholic boy” and one afternoon we were watching TV and he picked up a fitness magazine that had recently come in the mail. As he was thumbing his way through, he got to a page featuring a topless woman, arms strategically crossed across her chest.
“Now that’s nice!” he said.
I snatched the magazine, rolled it up, and smacked him over the head.
“What was that for?” he asked, surprised by my reaction.
I had to explain to him that while the female body is beautiful, this woman had unfortunately sold her body to the fitness magazine. (I wonder how much she thought her beauty was worth?) Now he was seeing a very intimate view of her that he had no right to, and the most respectful thing he could do would be to not take advantage of her vulnerability.
He thought I was overreacting.
In college, I dated another “nice Catholic boy” who informed me that he and some friends had gone to Hooters for dinner. The thought of scantily-clad waitresses leaning over the table to set down their steaming plates of hot wings was very upsetting, and I tried to explain my concern. It centered around the fact that as I was making an effort to dress modestly he decided to get around that barrier by pleasing his senses on women who voluntarily dressed immodestly.
He passed the situation off as “no big deal.”
Gentleman: Yes, these are big deals and no, we are not overreacting. It is very hurtful to be in a relationship with someone who does not respect your womanhood, your beauty, or your mystery.
Here is what I would ask:
1) pray for purity of heart and mind
2) cancel subscriptions to magazines featuring erotic pictures or advertisements of any kind
3) don’t go to Hooters (or other bars and restaurants featuring scantily-clad women)
4) call your friends out on this “small stuff” and support each other in respecting women
(Yes, we women have unhealthy fantasies of our own which I will address in a future post.)
When I was first ordained the Internet was not yet a reality. But in these past twenty years it has surely exploded on the scene and it has become a dominant force in many people’s lives. Much of it’s effects have been good. Information flows more freely, and communication worldwide is almost instant. Remarkable “communities” of sorts have set up and ordinary people, showing great creativity can reach a worldwide audience. Remarkable really.
But one of the darker sides to the Internethas been the easy availability of pornography. As a priest I have had to help people who have fallen very deep into a kind of bondage around Internet pornography. There is a kind of addictive effect that sets up for many.
More than merely compulsive, Internet pornography is quite addictive to many. The difference between compulsion and addiction is that compulsiveness is a kind of “steady” bad habit but addiction requires more and more of the thing to satisfy. The many who struggle with addiction to pornography indicate that they cannot stop and that they need more exotic materials as time goes on. Stranger and stranger, deeper and deeper they go. Soon many find themselves drawn even to illegal sites featuring underage subjects and even children. This is usually where the law catches up with them.
Be very careful about your Internet habits. The danger of pornography on the Internet is that it is so easy to find, just a few clicks away. There is also the illusion of privacy. In the old days one had to walk into an “adult bookstore” and interact with people in order to get the products they desired. Today there is an illusion that viewing such materials is completely private. It is not. Do not be fooled. EVERYTHING you do on the Internet is public. Extensive records of your browsing habits are stored not only on your own machine but also out on the Web. New government laws now forbid the erasure of e-mails. There are newer laws coming in to effect each year requiring search engines such as Google and Yahoo to disclose browsing habits of individuals to law enforcement officials under certain circumstances. Those who routinely visit illegal sites are easily known to law enforcement officials who routinely monitor such sites. The main point is THERE IS NOTHING PRIVATE ABOUT THE INTERNET. When we are online we are out in public.
So be very careful about the Internet. Not only is pornography sinful, it is also very addictive to many and leads them down a very slippery slope. It demands more and more of their time. It devolves into stranger and more exotic appetites and often causes people to stray into unnatural and even illegal attractions. Addictions are also very hard to break once they are acquired. Don’t just avoid pornography, flee from it (cf 1 Cor 6:18). Take it from a priest who has had to help people deal with some very sad consequences. Pornography is not a “victimless” crime. It has many, many victims: broken lives, broken hearts, broken marriages, lost jobs, lost freedom, lost innocence. Share this message with others!
Here is a sobering video that elaborates on the addictive quality of Internet pornography: