Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 3, 2000
'Sexual freedom' a toxic delusion
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
In a Commons committee hearing exchange between MP Svend Robinson and two representatives of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 2, openly homosexual Robinson cited references to homosexual behaviours in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as "acts of grave depravity," "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law."
"In other words," Robinson asked Bishop Brendan O'Brien, "gay and lesbian people should never, ever have sexual relations?" O'Brien replied that the position of the Church is that the only sexual activity considered moral, "be it for heterosexuals or homosexuals," is within marriage.
Difficult as it is to imagine for most persons under age 40, the standard of sexual propriety cited by O'Brien was our society's overwhelming moral ethos up until the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s - and not just among Catholics.
A few weeks ago, another confrontation on this topic took place in the nationally syndicated youth advice column Confidentially Yours, co-authored by Ryerson Polytechnic University student Noah Lander.
A reader from Bridgetown, N.S., named Elaine Young challenged Lander on some advice he had given to a young man who had queried about how to take his long-time relationship with his girlfriend to the "next level" - that is, sex.
Young objected to Lander's unqualified assumption that sex is a given in unmarried relationships that last longer than a few dates, and suggested that his column might "at least reflect on all the options, one of them being engagement and marriage."
She further observed that for very young couples marriage would not be a good idea, but, she continued, "if they are too young for a commitment like marriage, then they are also too young to have sex."
Lander replied: "In your opinion, if these young people are too young for a commitment like marriage, then they are also too young to have sex. Don't you think marriage is a larger commitment than sex?
"And with the average age of marriage about 28 in North America, when do you expect people to start having sex? . . . It is my opinion that a healthy attitude towards sexuality is part of a healthy attitude towards life."
MP Robinson and columnist Lander evidently can't conceive of a world where sexual relations are, at least in principle, reserved for the ordered boundaries of marriage. They have plenty of company in our sex-besotted contemporary culture, and that collective cognitive dissonance is a major reason why this society is circling the drain.
Lander's implied notion that sexual continence is somehow "unhealthy," is an aberration of our distempered century. Learning to impose ordered restraint on sexual behaviour was one of humanity's most substantive steps toward civilization. All major religions and enduring cultures have recognized this.
Conversely, societies that don't impose ordered limits on sexual expression may survive in the short term, but they don't advance, and ones that relax existing sexual mores soon suffer sharp decline - ancient Rome and Greece being exemplars.
Family "values," so to speak, enforced by religious principles, cultural tradition, behavioural taboos, and the rule of law, design to keep human sexual expression within healthy boundaries.
A wise bishop friend of mine observes: "The sex act should be the dessert in a multi-course meal that includes veggies and whole grains too - not sensual junk food that quickly becomes addictive and fails to nourish the body or the soul. Balanced sexual meals are only on the menu in traditional, lawful marriage between a man and a woman."
Humanist liberals are philosophically at odds with the traditionally ordered concept of family, which they correctly perceive as an impediment to free exercise of individualism and self-realization. Liberals particularly abhor sexual restraint, but until the mid-20th century they kept running up against biological realities like unwanted procreation and venereal disease as consequential limits on sexual license.
The sexual revolution was facilitated mainly by development of efficient contraception, diminishing ethical resistance to abortion when contraceptives weren't used or didn't work, and increased social tolerance of promiscuity, adultery, pornography and homosexualism. Antibiotics provided a "fix" for venereal disease - or so it was imagined until herpes and AIDS showed up.
That there could ever be licentious sex without consequences was always a seductive delusion. In reality the manifest toxic consequences of "sexual freedom" include: promiscuity, teenage sex, extramarital pregnancy (teenage or otherwise); abortion; sexual abuse of children; various categories of rape; prostitution; pornography; rampant homosexuality; AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; epidemic marriage breakdown; and popular culture's prurient, banal obsession with sex.
These distempers are not the fruits of "freedom," but rather of idolatry.
The only truly "healthy attitude toward sexuality" is an ethic of abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within it.
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