Moderating the sexual revolution

Yesterday, I riffed on James Taranto’s post regarding whether the sexual revolution bell can be un-rung.  I don’t think we can go back to the way things were before — time does, after all, run forward, not backwards — but I do think we are still in a position to moderate its worst excesses.  With that in mind, I looked to the way the staid, even repressive, Victorian era followed upon, and was a reaction to the licentious rapacity of the Georgian period.

Taranto provided more food for thought, because he published an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who spoke not only about ObamaCare but also about the sexual revolution.  I think Dolan’s thoughts are a nice complement to my ideas about re-elevating sexual morality to a public virtue (emphasis mine):

What about the argument that vast numbers of Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about sexuality? Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? “Do we ever!” the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. “I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie.”

For this he faults the church leadership. “We have gotten gun-shy . . . in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.” He dates this diffidence to “the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the church can do is become more and more like everybody else.”

The “flash point,” the archbishop says, was “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reasserting the church’s teachings on sex, marriage and reproduction, including its opposition to artificial contraception. It “brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’ We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.”

Without my having raised the subject, he adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do. . . . After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?’”

Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. “They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it. . . . But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us.’”

That hunger is the beginning of the Victorian revival.

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Comments

  1. says

    “We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.””

    Because you confused contraception with having children. If people hadn’t tried to make contraception and having 9 children mutually exclusive, you wouldn’t be in this situation. Then again, if the Catholic Church hadn’t been infiltrated by the Left, they wouldn’t be this way either.

  2. Mike Devx says

    I seem to be in the middle of the road on this one.  Or maybe my (former) liberal tendencies are showing themselves here…

    I have no problem with everyone enjoying lots of mutually beneficial and enjoyable sex, and I’ve got no problem with contraception at all (as long as you pay for it yourself, Ms. Fluke).  I do have a big problem with abortion, however.  Make a mistake on your contraception, or forgot or be lazy, and you’ve started a human life – so do the adult and responsible thing, birth the child, and raise the baby as its parents, or give it up for adoption.

    I’d suggest that lots of sex within a monogamous relationship is by far the best way to go.  Even if you’re a “serial monogamist”, commit yourself to a spiritual relationship with one person, as well as the merely physical one.  I humbly suggest you’ll enjoy *everything* more!

    I realize rules are made to be broken, that there are exceptions to every rule.  There must exist some couples whose  relationship can thrive while being “open”, meaning each person is free to have sex and deep relationships with others.  But again I’d humbly suggest that the vast majority of us are NOT among those exceptions, and we’re not as “special” as we’d like to think we are.

    For the vast majority of us – and that almost definitely means ME, and that almost definitely means YOU – that kind of “cheating” on a deep relationship will destroy the relationship.

    But my impression of the Victorians is that they’d decided that sex itself was sinful and shameful.  Now, they had plenty of little kids running about, so they didn’t avoid it; but perhaps they viewed sex as a necessary evil.  Perhaps they viewed themselves as consistently falling short of their standards – their public mores.  Or do I have the wrong viewpoint on Victorian sexual morality?

  3. JKB says

    I remember reading quite a while ago, probably in the Daily Mail, that quite a few young women in Europe are turning to Islam.  It was speculated for the morality.  Given how bad Islam overall is for women, I would think if Christianity was to reinvigorate their structure, they might be able to save many of these young women from abuse or even murder.  A strict structure that affirms women as individuals while forgiving of past transgressions and future failures to meet standards.  Seems I remember reading about a guy, who lived I think 2100 years ago, who very much embraced such concepts. I forget, I guess it’s all ancient history to most.

  4. says

    Islam makes converts for the simple fact that if you don’t convert, there’s something called a sword headed for your neck. Tends to be very convincing for people without religious faith in abundance: they are not Jews and lack a faith to sustain them.

  5. Mike Devx says

    > I remember reading quite a while ago, probably in the Daily Mail, that quite a few young women in Europe are turning to Islam.  It was speculated for the morality.  Given how bad Islam overall is for women, I would think if Christianity was to reinvigorate their structure, they might be able to save many of these young women from abuse or even murder.

    The young women in question are still in rebellion against their traditional society.  That includes Christianity.  They have been programmed to be actively hostile to Christianity.  So in their need to locate moral authority, they will look almost ANYWHERE ELSE first.  Only in the end, when desperate, might they turn to their grandparents’ Church, their grandparents’ religion, for hope and solace and the authority they seek.

    When you’ve been propagandized since you were a tiny child – by your educational institutions – that something is evil and worthless and harmful, you’re not going to turn to it as a young adult.  When your parents have already been through that same propaganda mill – the educational institutions – you’ve got little hope.  It takes a few generations – I would guess three – for the propaganda effort to reach full fruit.  That is the state of affairs in anti-Christian Europe.  It’s been three generations.  They’re lost.

     

  6. Danny Lemieux says

    “The young women in question are still in rebellion against their traditional society.  That includes Christianity.  They have been programmed to be actively hostile to Christianity.  So in their need to locate moral authority, they will look almost ANYWHERE ELSE first.”

    And, sadly, they often learn too late that there are real monsters in the world of Islam:

    http://islamizationwatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/are-female-peace-activists-routinely.html

  7. says

    I talk to some people and a lot of old time martial artists or sports competitors often told me that the reason they started their training was because of hero idolization, personal protection, or winning competitions. I always tell them that I started training because 9/11 taught me that there were evil people that needed killing. And that it was better to do it yourself, to train yourself to take that kind of opponent on, than rely on somebody else, the government, to do it for you. Because obviously the government’s just going to shoot your plane down. That doesn’t really benefit you, if you are on that plane.

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