Last night as I was walking out of Mass with my wife, I saw a display case for Lighthouse Catholic Media and picked up a CD entitled “Winning the Culture War,” in which Dr. Peter Kreeft of Boston College presents a fictional conversation between C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape character and his apprentice, Wormwood. They are discussing how to dismantle Truth by politicizing religion, preaching tolerance, and advancing moral relativism.
One quote from Dr. Kreeft that especially struck me was this one:
“The origins of the moral relativism that justifies the sexual revolution is not intellectual, it’s moral. We’re not confused about moral absolutes, we’re afraid of moral absolutes. Our moral relativism is almost wholly sexual; almost no one defends nuclear war or insider trading or oil spills or even smoking. But anything to do with sex is justified, sanctified and glorified. Even murder is justified in the name of sex. Abortion is fundamentally about sex. Feminism, abortion, divorce, cohabitation-all these issues are about consequence-free sex.”
As a millennial, I grew up in the wasteland left behind in the aftermath of the sexual revolution waged by the Baby Boomers and institutionalized as the framework through which to view all future societal progress. I grew up in a world saturated with sex. Sex on TV, sex in the classroom, sex on college campuses, sex on billboards, sex in the magazines in the supermarket checkout line. And the aforementioned doesn’t even qualify as pornography by modern standards.
Dr. Kreeft’s presentation got me to thinking about our culture, and he is absolutely right. Sex isn’t even exciting anymore. There’s no restrictions to give it the thrill it once gave man. We are simultaneously sexualized and sexless. Sex no longer has meaning or significance in our culture, it’s what you do when there’s nothing good on TV. There are all kinds of sexual issues even in marriages today; sexless marriages, sex that seems routine, a chore, a duty, and sex cheapened by addiction on the husband (or wife) part to porn. And it’s not because God made sex boring, but because man’s designs have distorted sex.
Sex in and of itself-the union of man and woman in a powerful bond of intimacy with a teleological end of bringing new life into the world is no longer enough for the masses. No longer does the mere beauty of the male or female form created in the image and likeness of God prompt sexual desire and drive. Instead, we desire distortions and perversions of what is perhaps is nature’s most beautiful act and seek out images, fantasies and entertainment that degrade and debase sex. We can no longer be fulfilled by timeless love stories; no, we need perversion, domination, abuse, “red rooms,” whips, chains and all manner of diversions to make sex “exciting.” We have men in their 20s seeking treatment for impotency because they can no longer get aroused by a present human female (their wife) after years of living in a virtual world of masturbating to pornography. Worse, men can’t even form the relationships to lead to sexual intimacy, because the “hookup culture” has robbed them of any sense of permanence and commitment.
Our Lady of Fatima said more people will go to hell for sins of the flesh than for all other sins. As a young man navigating our culture, I admittedly bought into the lies promoted by the culture. I had sex outside of marriage, I dabbled in pornography. I damaged myself.
When I met my beloved wife, I couldn’t be the complete gift to her that I could have been had I waited, as she did, to make love for the first time to my spouse. I couldn’t, as much as I wanted to, go back and “undo” my past. Thanks to the grace of God, He was able to restore me before I met my wife, lead me back to Him, and make me a gift to my wife.
After we first got married, my wife was still on hormonal birth control because her endocrinologist insisted she be on it as a type 1 diabetic. Once my wife got on my insurance plan, we were able to find a pro-life endocrinologist and OB/GYN and learn NFP.
There’s simply no other way to say this-there is no substitute for the real thing, without barriers. God intended lovemaking to be a total and complete donation of self to your spouse. When we remove the distortions man has put on sex, sex becomes exciting, thrilling, and full of possibility. Contraceptive sex, by contrast, puts conditions on that gift. It says “I give you everything but my fertility because I don’t completely trust you,” and who wants to make love with someone they don’t completely trust without reservation? Contraceptive sex objectifies people. It uses them for our selfish pleasure. By contrast, natural lovemaking gives and receives. The woman receives the man’s sperm and the man receives his wife’s gift of fertility. Our reproductive faculties are not mere products of evolutionary biology, THEY ARE GIFTS GOD HAS ENTRUSTED TO US, TO BE GIVEN TO ONE PERSON EXCLUSIVELY IN A BOND OF LASTING FIDELITY!
There’s a reason everyone says free, natural, self-donating lovemaking is better on every level; BECAUSE IT IS! But more importantly, every act of lovemaking is an expression of the Sacrament of marriage to the fullest extent. When we make love freely within the context of holy matrimony, there is no fear of rejection or unintended pregnancy. There is, however, hope. Hope and possibility that your mutual self-gift, in cooperation with God, transmitted new life.
Even the use of NFP without grave reason distorts God’s plan sex. My wife and I were still learning NFP when we conceived, but the surprise was pleasant. When we learned we were pregnant, we realized we both had wanted a child, and that we really didn’t have a sufficient reason other than selfishness (i.e. when I get this job or make this amount) to delay having children. Not to mention, having to stop in the midst of intimacy to ask “is this a fertile day?” is a real mood killer.
So much of society is missing out on the thrill of sex that is total, complete, self-giving and life-giving. We’ve distorted sex beyond all recognition, and as witnesses to the Truth of Christ, we have our work cut out for us as we seek to invite people to inquire about the source of our joy and hope. We must meet people in the trenches, speak the Truth with love, and pray for the conversion of individuals and conversion of the culture. Everyone deserves to experience the riches of God’s plan for true unencumbered sexual intimacy with a lifelong partner, in Covenant with God, free from man-made perversions. It is, after all, God’s plan for mankind.