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Fifty Shades of Madness: No Gray Area Here

alice

I can’t say it any better than the Dowager Countess of Grantham: Have we all stepped through the looking glass?

Yes, I’m afraid that collectively, as a culture, we have indeed. We no longer seem to recognize the plainly absurd as absurd. Up is down; out is in; wrong is right; insane is normal.

I have been holding out hope that the rapid descent of our culture into utter madness would be stopped, or at least slowed because enough people would come to their senses and find their backbones. I’m not sure I can hold that hope any longer.

Things that are as fundamental to the human person as being male and female, mother and father, are being jettisoned as oppressive and discriminatory, in favor of bizarre and thoroughly fabricated, convoluted notions of human sexuality. All sense of sacrifice and obligation toward children and their true best interest seems to have also been rejected in favor of the feelings, desires, and “rights” of the adults.

Imagine standing in a crowded stadium full of people, on a bright, sunny day, and being the only one there who knows the sky is blue. Everyone else now insists it’s pink. It’s absurd, but try as you may, you cannot convince anyone of the error of their thinking. You show them what blue looks like, but still they say, “We don’t want a blue sky anymore. We want pink! We say it’s pink, so it’s pink!”

Fifty Shades of Grey has been the latest offering of proof that we have gone completely mad.

A story that is plainly, unabashedly about sado-masachism, rape, and pornography is being hailed as romantic. It’s been offered as a Valentine to the world, and devoured with enthusiasm as though it were fine chocolate. Women look at Christian Grey, a man who is controlling, abusive, selfish, and manipulative — a man who knows nothing at all about love — and they swoon. Because he’s rich and handsome. That is madness.

“Oh, it’s just a book. It’s just fantasy.” What crazy talk! Have we all really forgotten the power of an idea that really catches on and gets gobbled up by the masses? Have we forgotten the kind of influence a book can have on a person, and on a culture?

However the money-machine has packaged and sold it, FSoG is not a love story. Christian Grey does not regard Anastasia as someone to respect and cherish; he certainly doesn’t view her as someone to protect and honor. He uses her and abuses her. He manipulates her into “consenting” to what he wants, so that his every sick and selfish desire can be satisfied. And this, somehow, is portrayed as an adult romance to be gushed over?

Dads, raise your hands: How many of you want your daughter to get involved with the likes of Christian Grey? Well, guess what? Thanks to the phenomenon of the book and movie, you can rest assured that there will be more and more Grey’s out there looking for young women they can easily dominate. The culture is telling them it’s not only alright, but it’s the kind of relationship women really, secretly want.

What are you going to tell your daughter about men like Grey? What are you going to tell her about porn and BDSM? Not comfortable having that conversation, you say? You better get comfortable real fast, because she’s having that conversation without you, with folks who do not have her welfare in mind.

And Dads, what are you saying to your sons about FSoG? Do you want your son to think it’s okay to twist a woman into signing a contract agreeing to be bound, beaten, and raped? Who’s going to tell the guys that that sort of thing is not sexy? Who’s going to tell them it’s NOT love? Who’s going to tell them it’s not how a real man behaves?

Moms, what about you? Would you just be delighted to learn that your daughter was Anastasia? That she was being blindfolded and bound, beaten, and treated like a piece of meat for some man’s selfish pleasure? Is that progress for women? “Mom and Dad, I’ve met the most amazing man. He’s rich and handsome. He had me sign a contract stating he could put me in handcuffs, blindfold me, beat me, and assault me. He says I shouldn’t overthink it. But don’t worry. It’s all good because I consented.”

Would you just be so proud of your son if he treated a young woman that way? Would you brag about him to your friends and rave of his accomplishments? “He’s a sado-masochist! He’s a master of dominance. We couldn’t be more proud of him!”

Scores of women — Protestant Christian women, Catholic women — have bought this garbage and then defended doing so. That is just madness. That is an inexcusable action. Yes, inexcusable. Why? Because “to whom much is given, much more will be required.” As part of the Body of Christ, you’ve been given True Love. You know what and Who love is. You have a duty to be a witness of that love to the world, and to refuse to buy — literally and figuratively — the counterfeit ideas of love, marriage, and sex that come from the pit of hell.

I’ve heard the pathetic rationale — “I probably won’t see the movie, but I read the book and I enjoyed it…it’s really no worse than a lot of other adult romance novels” — and I’m just gob-smacked.

What the heck are y’all reading? If this is run-of-the-mill “adult romance” to you, then you are a big part of the problem. And you have no excuse. You are obligated to know better and do better. You know darn well that FSoG has nothing whatsoever to do with love. You know darn well is pornography. It’s smut. You know it. How can you enjoy that?

Are you living under a rock that you don’t grasp the destructive force of pornography in our culture? How can you in any good conscience contribute to that destruction?

Would you think someone smart for dabbling in a little Ebola? Maybe as long as Ebola took you for a private helicopter ride, and invited you into the Penthouse suite and served champagne? Ooh, the danger, the risk, the glitter… makes it exciting!

Pornography ought to be regarded with greater alarm and more isolation than the Ebola virus because it is far more deadly. It can kill the soul of a person; it will kill a marriage and ruin a family. It destroys lives every single day from the inside out. It’s pure evil.

(Don’t believe me? Believe Ted Bundy.)

But you FSoG fans out there, you’ve lost your minds. You don’t run from this insidious plague. You’re so hypnotized by a glamorous illusion you’re willing to get cozy with it. You pay for the privilege of being infected.

And no, it’s not just your life and your private choice. Your decision to buy the book, see the movie, and defend those decisions has given aid and comfort to the enemy of all our souls, the enemy who prowls like a lion looking for children, spouses, families to devour.

You have become part of the audience for that filth. You’ve helped make it the best-selling, record-breaking hit it’s become. You helped spread spiritual Ebola.

There’s nothing gray or ambiguous about this. As plain as the nose on your face is the fact that FSoG glamorizes an abusive man, portrays him as some twisted sort of romantic idol, normalizes sado-masochism and pornography, and tries to insist that it’s all marvelous because it’s supposedly “consensual.”

A good friend of mine, who’s a Catholic convert and father of 11 children, said it so well:

“There is a line of theological thought (Milton refers to this in Paradise Lost) wherein the first sin committed after the Fall was one of lust. Adam looks at Eve’s nakedness and proceeds to simply take her. Thus at the core of our fallen nature as men is the desire to subjugate and objectify women, rather than nurture, protect, and provide for them. This is why porn is such a grave evil…it is a siren song for men to cast off their hard-won nobility and grace and revert to a default state of depravity.
How much more evil then are materials like “50 Shades”…that teach women that this state of depravity is not only normal…but desirable?”

In real life, Anastasia doesn’t change her abuser. Grey doesn’t transform into a gentleman and become a loving husband. He doesn’t realize how wonderful she is and vow to never hurt her again. No matter how much she “understands him” and no matter how patient she is; no matter how much she thinks she loves him, she cannot turn him into the man she wants. She’ll end up battered, emotionally shattered, abandoned, and possibly dead.

It also has to be admitted that if Christian Grey was a middle-aged, fat, sloppy, ugly man in a crummy neighborhood, no one but no one would be rushing to justify this book or be enthralled by its “romance.” No one would call it anything other than what it is: a perverted tale of a predatory creep and his victim.

Ultimately, the woman most responsible is the author, E.L. James. She spouts the same nonsense about the story being only fantasy, totally consensual between two adults, and not in any way making light of domestic abuse. She’s deluding herself. She’s become wildly wealthy by calling degradation and abuse “romance”, and beguiling all the crowds into accepting madness as perfect sense.

Ms. James and half the world may have gone mad, but I still know vomitous, pornographic trash when I see it. And I’m not so fond of vomit that I’ll sit in it and call it a bubble bath.

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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Marriage is Not a Water Fountain, via Public Discourse

At The Public Discourse, by Anthony Esolen.

Separate Water FountainsFive stars! One of the best pieces I’ve read on the subject of same-sex “marriage” and why opposition to redefining marriage is not analogous to discrimination or segregation. Simply excellent, thoughtful, and solid. Would that this sort of thorough thinking would spread through our culture like a welcome winter flu. We would be healed.

An excerpt:

“Marriage is Not a Water Fountain”

Conjugal Marriage: Not Peculiar, But Universal

“Now, none of these conditions characterizes our efforts to restore and protect the institution of marriage. If anything, they characterize some of our opponents in the debate. Let us see why.

First, the idea that marriage requires a man and a woman is not peculiar to us. It is universal in human culture. Its universality is based upon the obvious functions of the reproductive organs, and the obvious need to propagate the species. We may add, too, that in a multitude of manifestations, wide in variety but recognizably of the same kind, what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman are also universal in human culture. That too is observed and accepted as natural and good, most nobly embodied in the complementarity of marriage, man and woman.

What is peculiar? The idea that there are no such things as manhood and womanhood; that the sexes are empty of significance, except in the sole case of what must then be considered a mere irrational and inexplicable desire: that this particular male must have another male, and this particular female must have another female. We can pretend that a man can possibly marry another man, because we have shut our eyes to what marriage is, and what men and women are.

That means that we have to shore up a lie. Suppose I say, “A marriage by our bodily nature requires a man and a woman. If we think about it for a moment, it also requires a vow of permanence and exclusivity, because marriage involves the time-transcending act that brings a new generation into being.” What about that is not true? When a man and a woman unite in the congress of the sexes, that is exactly what they are doing, even if they try to thwart its natural result. Nothing in human reality is comparable to that act.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/09/13730/

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Ashley Judd Video Mocks Abortion, Rick Santorum: Women of Virtue Need to Raise the Standard

at Catholic Online


The juvenile and malicious video featuring Ashley Judd on the FunnyorDie website (“Rick Santorum Aborts Presidential Campaign”) immediately brought to mind my favorite quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

O, how the lovely have fallen, and what a grotesque crop they’ve sown. Indeed, what passes for womanhood in our society today is nothing but a cheap, crass knock-off of the original; a crude and sloppy hack painting being sold as the masterpiece. The modern-day “feminist” woman foolishly champions faithlessness, promiscuity, contraception, and abortion and she degrades herself in the process. This latest evidence of just how far women have sunk is not only sad, but alarming.

The stars of the “choice” universe have gone way, way beyond their worn-out euphemisms and are now embracing shameless mockery. Ashley Judd and crew have made themselves a little video (how clever and funny they are!) that mocks the act of killing babies in the womb. They mock the violence of stopping the heartbeat of a child. Ha ha ha ha!! What a hilarious analogy they’ve drawn by comparing an abortion to Rick Santorum’s suspended Presidential campaign, if you’re someone who finds dead babies and wounded mothers hilarious. Apparently they do.

Babies are meaningless, doncha know. What matters is insulting and smearing the name of a faithful husband and father who happens to believe that every human life is sacred and deserving of protection. He’s a man, and worse, a conservative, Catholic man; therefore, he has no right to any opinion or belief about the legalized baby killing we call “reproductive freedom.” In fact, men have no say whatsoever unless they’re going to pipe up in favor of exterminating babies.

So this is what we’ve come to? This is the present and future of “feminism” in America? Women openly mocking the deaths of their own children; deaths fought long and hard for; deaths campaigned and paid for; deaths celebrated as “freedom” and “rights” for women? I’d say that’s officially the bottom, folks. There’s nowhere lower to sink. That’s as pathetic and wicked as it gets.

So now that we’ve seen the bottom, it’s time to work our way up. Women own this mess, and we must be the ones to correct it, through the mercy and power of God. We have a vile legacy behind us. It’s rooted deeply in the psyche and hearts of our entire culture. Women opened the door and welcomed the enemy inside because he called himself freedom and “choice” and we were stupid and selfish enough to believe it. Now the equilibrium of our society will never, ever be restored until women get serious about raising the level of womanhood in our culture again.

Not only are men the enemy, but children are commodities now. We manufacture them, buy them, sell them, store them in freezers, discard them if we don’t want them, and donate them for scientific study. We do all this because in our minds we own them. They are not persons to us, but property. They are merely “potential” that only will be realized if we so choose. Forget God – we hold the power of life and death in our hands now.

Our children are slaves to our wishes, and when they inconvenience us or disrupt our plans, we kill them and congratulate ourselves for our prudence. Perhaps we go on and on about how difficult the “choice” was for us, but ultimately, we kill them anyway because it was “the right thing to do.”

Yes, oh yes, nobody does delusion better than modern women. Mourning abortion is forbidden; denouncing or avoiding abortion is a betrayal of the collective; abortion “only when absolutely necessary” is wimpy and embarrassing; celebrating abortion, finding humor in abortion, adoring abortion – now that’s what “feminists” do these days! Look how far we’ve come! We don’t need to question or agonize over the “choice” to kill our babies – it’s a good thing. God help us.

I just recently saw the movie “Courageous” and that powerful final scene is still stuck in my head. As Adam Mitchell asked the men in his church that morning, I have to ask a similar question:

Where are you, women of virtue?

Where are the women who will not declare war on their own bodies? Where are the women who will not execute their own babies? Where are the women who will not throw away their purity? Where are the women who will not settle for men who abandon them? Where are the women who will exemplify the unique strengths of femininity, rather than remaking themselves into men?

Where are the women who will confront the lie that says women don’t need men? Where are the women who will model chastity, grace, gentleness, modesty, humility, self-control, and love?

Who will teach our daughters that they are more than a sexy body? Who will teach our daughters that their worth is not in their pretty face? Who will teach our daughters that happiness is not found in promiscuous sex? Who will teach our daughters that purity is not a restrictive idea from the past, but the shield that protects them and provides for their future?

I will.

Who will teach our daughters that a real man treasures a woman, gives his life for her, never violates her dignity, keeps his promises, is honorable in all his actions, and a man other than this is not worthy of her?
Who will teach our daughters that motherhood is not an oppressive burden, but a holy and rewarding vocation?
Who will teach our daughters that the child in the womb is not a parasite or an intruder but a human being whom no one has the “right” to kill?

I will.

Who will show our daughters the strength and blessing found in obeying God’s laws? By God’s grace, I will.
Who will live in stark contrast to the culture that says sex is power, men are the enemy, abortion is freedom, and purity is antiquated nonsense? By God’s grace, I will.

Who will teach them not to despise their virginity? Who will teach them that sex does not equal love? Who will teach them that beauty is fleeting and charm deceptive, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised? By God’s grace, I will.

Who will teach them to guard their hearts by using their heads? I will.
Who will teach them how to say “No” to momentary pleasure and “Yes” to wisdom and self-control? I will.
Who will teach them that even the best career will never surpass the significance of the vocation of motherhood? I will.

Who will show them what a balanced and harmonious partnership with a man looks like? I will.
Who will teach them to recognize and respect the differences between men and women? I will.
Who will show them the joy and fulfillment of giving themselves completely in marriage to one man? I will.
Who will tell them that freedom is found only on a narrow road and only in self-giving, not self-seeking? I will.

What about you?

Where are you, women of virtue? I know you’re out there, but you’ve got to come out of the shadows. You’ve got to stop being embarrassed by virtue, no matter who laughs or scoffs. You can’t wait for other women to lead the way. You’ve got to be louder than the voices that mock the ongoing massacre of babies in the name of “freedom.” You’ve got to be courageous enough to live a counter-cultural womanhood that testifies to Life.

The history of our civilization is being written right now by women. The abortion zealots have written too many chapters in violence and death.  It’s time for women of virtue to start rewriting the story.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Self-control or Birth control? Contraception is the Wrong Mandate

at Catholic Online


The mandate has come down from on-high, and the pundits and political operatives are gushing as though it’s the greatest gift to women since suffrage or waterproof mascara.  They cheerfully tell us that beyond preventing those pesky “unwanted” pregnancies, this new birth control mandate will finally provide women with the counseling they need to prevent STD’s.

We must be really stupid.  Do women in 2011 really not understand how STD’s are spread or how babies are made?

If it’s information that’s needed, let’s take care of that right now.  Here’s the deal:  Sex makes babies.  Sex often makes babies despite the birth control you’re using.  Very often, sex also passes icky diseases between partners, like an extra little “gift” that may stay with you for life.  You could get a whole lot more than you bargained for from what’s-his-name.

The good news is all of this is completely preventable.  You needn’t risk your health or your future as though you’re playing the wheel in Vegas.  It is amazingly simple to avoid getting a nasty STD or becoming pregnant when you don’t want to be pregnant:  don’t have sex.  (If you’re married, be faithful.)

If you choose to have sex, you are throwing the dice by your own volition and you could very well lose your bet.  Birth control will never, ever, replace self-control.  Birth control can never, ever, compensate for bad judgment.  Birth control is no substitute for respect and restraint.

As to the inane argument that contraception reduces the number of abortions, thereby making it the only truly acceptable paradigm for society, reality says otherwise.  Abortion statistics reveal that the majority of women having abortions were using birth control when they got pregnant.  (Never mind the fact that many contraceptive drugs are abortifacients, and never mind the fact that abortion zealots will admit they consider abortion itself “birth control” of the last resort.  Whatever it takes to make sure no baby is born!)

Contraception is not the antidote to abortion because fertility is not the problem.  The problem is we’ve buried the law of cause-and-effect, along with the moral laws of responsibility, accountability, fidelity, and the code of honor that used to exist among men.

All these things have been buried under a steaming mound of self-indulgent relativism.  Thanks to this infantile fertilizer we’re growing a nation of people who believe wishes are rights, freedom is license to do anything you please, and all that matters is what you want, think, and feel.

Think of it this way:  It’s like selling a pill that eliminates 75% of the alcohol from your blood so it’s “safer” to drive. You’re still not exactly sober, not guaranteed not to crash and hurt someone, but you’re more protected than if you didn’t take the Alcohol Control pill.

Of course, the only right thing to do is to never get behind the wheel when you’re intoxicated, but for heaven’s sake, you can’t expect people to do the right thing!  So instead of requiring people to be responsible and respectful of human life by not driving drunk, you teach them they can have their drinks and car keys, too, with the Alcohol Control pill!  So it’s not as good as sobriety, but it’s better than drinking without it.  It’s protection against car accidents and deaths that is necessary because people are going to drink and drive anyway, so we should provide them with a way to do it more safely.

And when the Alcohol Control pill fails or someone forgets to take it and somebody dies in a car crash, it will surely lead to demand for a more effective Alcohol Control pill and greater access to it.  Then activists groups will be picketing for free distribution of the Alcohol Control pill, along with education about how the A.C. pill works so “user failure rates” go down.

Meanwhile, young people grow up drinking more alcohol more often, caring less and less about the consequences or how their drunkenness might affect someone else.  They damage their livers, kidneys, hearts and brains; they gamble with their health and future; they regard another person’s life with cavalier indifference but as long as they’re not arrested for DUI’s, it’s all good and victory is declared.

Rather than treating alcohol with due caution and respect for its power to harm, people are trained to complain that they can’t drink whatever they want without getting wasted.  Even worse, some party-pooper has the nerve to say they can’t get wasted and drive.

There’s no burden on them anymore to think or act as a mature adult.  The expectation of self-control and accountability are all but wiped out.  Generations are raised to think society has the burden to remove every and all unwanted, unintended outcomes from every activity they choose to indulge in.

That’s exactly where we are with sex and birth control.  The idea that more birth control will reduce “unwanted” pregnancies is a fairytale.  It’s the sexual equivalent of crack cocaine to a sex-addicted culture.  Just gimme more and more sex, and delude me into thinking it’s safe, I’m safe, and nothing bad will happen.

But the people growing up on top of the steaming mound of self-indulgent relativism don’t want to hear any of this.  It’s not that they’re stupid – they just want what they want when they want it with no strings, no consequences, no obligation, no demands.

They refuse to hear that sometimes not doing what they want is the only responsible choice.  They reject the reality that their actions have consequences.  They are downright indignant at the idea that they have to exercise self-control and say “no” because the choice at hand literally involves life and death.

Just as alcohol has the nerve to intoxicate the person who drinks too much, sexual intercourse has the nerve to transmit diseases and worst of all, the unmitigated gall to make babies.  The audacity!  (Why, in this day and age, we just shouldn’t have to put up with that!)

And so, sadly, we now celebrate the victory of entrusting our lives and our children’s lives to latex and chemicals rather than modeling a real respect for the beauty of sexual love and marriage, and a sense of honor and modesty.  And when the latex and chemicals fail, we don’t learn our lesson and modify our behavior.  No, instead we head over to the human butcher shop to have our babies exterminated.  We toss aside any reverence for human life.  We attack our children when they show up uninvited (as though they created themselves out of thin air).

There’s no pill for what ails us.  We’ve been given a mandate from on-high, alright, but not a contraceptive one.  It’s a mandate of chastity and love.  We ignore it at our peril.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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My Love/Hate Relationship with NFP: Is It Worth It?

At Catholic Online

Next week is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.  (Do we get thermometer pins?)  Talking about NFP tends to be awkward because it’s so personal and it rapidly descends into the realm of “too much information.”  On the other hand, a little honesty on the subject is long overdue, so here goes nothin’!  And anyway, Danielle Bean started it.  (And God bless her for it.)

I have a real love/hate relationship with NFP.  There are days I’d give anything for another way to live in harmony with my faith and my reproduction.  It’s a great tool for understanding and managing fertility, but it’s not fair to put a pretty ribbon on NFP and sell it as just a shiny, wonderful wedding gift.  NFP requires some real sacrifice, and we should be honest about that without sugar-coating the challenges.

If you’re a healthy woman whose body is great at being pregnant and giving birth, and you & your hubby are thrilled to receive as many children as God wants to give you, then you probably don’t have any complaints about NFP because you probably have no need of NFP.

But what if you’re slightly less than healthy, or you have complications during pregnancy and a pattern of premature labor with every child (like me)?  What if you have serious reasons for not having more children?  (Some of us may wish the Church would come out and define more specifically what qualifies as a “serious reason” but She wisely leaves that for each married couple to discern for themselves through prayer and honest evaluation of their circumstances.  The Church gives guidelines regarding health and finances, but the decision is between the spouses and God.)

If, like me, you fall into this latter category, then NFP becomes a necessity.   In my case, I’m able to take care of my family today thanks to a wonderful drug that is “incompatible with pregnancy.”  Another child for us would have to be a very intentional choice, would have to be well-planned beforehand and would involve some risk for me.  Should we?  Shouldn’t we?  Don’t think for a second that my husband and I don’t wrestle with that decision.  (We’d be thrilled to welcome a new baby.)  You know how often I’ve wished for writing on the wall?  It doesn’t work that way.  So we keep praying and doing the best we can to follow God’s lead.

In the meantime, it means very careful NFP.  It means living by The Chart.  Not much room for spontaneity or surprise romantic interludes.  (Here comes that “too much information” part.)   It means small windows of opportunity for sex.  And don’t think abstinence is only hard on the guys!  Women are hard-wired to want sexual intimacy when they’re fertile, so if you must be diligent in avoiding pregnancy, you have to say ‘no’ precisely when you most want to say Yes!  It stinks!!

Times of abstinence are ideal for finding other ways to connect and be intimate with each other; or to pray together, relax and watch a movie together and above all, to “offer it up.”  When that actually happens, it’s wonderful and rewarding.  But in reality, this is where it can sputter and falter because we’re only human and we’re vulnerable to mood swings, fatigue, and chaotic schedules.  Alas, often those times of abstinence are just, well, uneventful.  That’s life.

NFP can also feel very one-sided.  It’s never the man’s fertility we have to be concerned with; only the woman’s.  It’s not his temperature being taken at the same time every day, or his – ahem – fluids being checked (what am I, a car engine?).  No wife wants to feel like the Gatekeeper.  It’s crummy to have to turn your husband down time after time.  And when it’s your health issues that necessitate all this trouble, well, you feel doubly crummy.

It’s not NFP’s fault it’s so one-sided.  Reproductive biology does not spread the burden equally between men and women.  We may not always like it, but it’s simply a fact that women bear the heavier load (no pun intended).  We’re the ones who get pregnant; we’re the ones who breastfeed.  We’re the ones who deal with weight gain, sickness, complications, exhaustion, loss of freedom, and the pain of childbirth.

The flip side is we’re the ones who get to be pregnant!  How many of our husbands would love to know what it’s like to carry a child inside you and feel the kicks and hiccups and experience the miracle of new life?  I bet a lot of men would love to know how that feels.  But that gift has been reserved for us, ladies.  Along with the ability to feed our children with the most miraculous food God ever designed.  The men have no share in that; it’s all ours.

So come to think of it, maybe all this one-sidedness presents another perspective that gets overlooked.  All this woman-centeredness means that a husband who loves his wife must really love her as St. Paul described, and give himself up for her.  He must really tame his own desires in light of her body and her needs.  He must truly prefer her above himself.  It forces him to acknowledge the wondrousness of her co-creator status with God, and treat her with appropriate reverence.  No longer is his wife merely his source of physical satisfaction, but she becomes someone that, dare I say it; he should be in awe of.

And then, this perspective should also compel women to behave accordingly!  It should make us ever mindful of the miraculous ability we possess, which was given to us by our Creator with intention and generosity.  God chose us to be co-creators of life with Him!  It ought to give us a holy pause regarding our bodies and how we treat them; while every man is a temple of the Holy Spirit, only women are “temples” of new souls.  Yes, it is an awesome weight, and in difficult times can feel like a “burden.”  But has an awesome gift ever come without an awesome obligation?  To whom much is given, much will be required.

I’d say that’s the real treasure NFP offers and this is why I love it.  Like a pair of eyeglasses, NFP helps correct our vision of each other and our physical love.   NFP is worth the “cost” because some things are sacred – like sex.  And people are sacred – like my spouse.

Love is never sterile or “preventative.”  Love is self-giving and sacrificial.  By definition, that means it is not easy or always convenient.  NFP requires selfless love that honors the other and reveres life because marital lovemaking is life-generating.

While our contracepting counterparts are swallowing pills, snipping body parts and aborting babies in order to “free” themselves of the worry of an unplanned pregnancy, we are implored to treat our bodies and each other differently.  While the world separates love from sex, we are called to love that brings life.  If more of us lived that way, then maybe those contracepting counterparts would see the blessing of living a holy sexuality.

So after careful reflection, I think I’ll keep my chart and thermometer, thank you.  It’s worth the trouble after all.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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They Say Marriage is a Dying Institution: What’s Really Dying is Love

at Catholic Online

The pronouncement came from actress Cameron Diaz and psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow last week:  marriage is a dying institution.  It is an old tradition that has now overstayed its welcome and should be thrown out the back door.  It doesn’t suit us or our world any longer.  So they say.

Dr. Ablow gave a detailed analysis of the reality of marriage and the reasons why it should and will soon disappear from society.  His eulogy for the cornerstone of civilization as we know it was depressing to say the least.  (I could envision him walking up to the casket in order to smack the dead body upside the head and say, “Good riddance, ya lousy thief.  You shoulda died a long time ago.”)  He suspects the reason marriage doesn’t suit us now is because it never has.

Marriage, he says, takes so much from us.  It is “a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people.”  “As a healer, I can’t help looking askance at anything that depletes energy, optimism, mood and passion to the extent that marriage does.  It is, without a doubt, one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation.”

Yikes.  When and how did marriage become such a terrible thing?

First he calls the government’s involvement in marriage a “colossal mistake.”  He insists government “should have no role in marriage, whatsoever.” “Laws should exist, instead, that simply commit parents to financially support their biological children.”  Forget about parents making a home for their kids; forget about forging a family for them; forget about showing them what it means to keep promises and put someone else first.  Forget about commitment, fidelity, honor, security, and all those other foundational virtues.  All that’s necessary is financial support, and I guess you’re off the hook entirely if your kids are adopted.

Surprisingly, Dr. Ablow agrees (unintentionally, I think) with the Catholic Church regarding his second reason marriage is dying:  oral contraception.  Whether he meant to or not, he illustrated that the Church has been right all along:  contraception corrodes marriage.  Sex is meant to be both procreative and unitive and when you separate the two, disaster ensues.  Of course, Dr. Ablow put it differently: “Once human beings understood that they could express themselves emotionally, romantically and sexually without necessarily creating multiple families and perilously diving their assets, the psychological pain of living without sexual passion (even by choice) was significantly intensified.”

I’ll rephrase:  Once people realized they could have sex with a different person every night with much less “risk” of making a baby, therefore less “risk” of disrupting their life and losing their assets, they soon found no reason at all to remain faithful to anyone, including their child.  All that mattered was lessening their “psychological pain” and increasing their sexual passion.  Pleasure trumps everything.

What a pile of sand.  No wonder the foundation of the family – marriage – is crumbling.

Conspicuously absent from Dr. Ablow’s bruising verdict that marriage is passé was even the slightest mention of love.  He speaks passionately about passion, sex, good feelings, physical attraction, freedom, the hassle and expense of divorce, but has nothing whatever to say about love.  So it’s no surprise he comes to the same self-serving conclusions as Ms. Diaz and every other prognosticator spreading doom and gloom about marriage.  Marriage surely is doomed to failure without love.

I’m not talking about being “in love.”  I’m talking about Love.  And guess what?  Love is hard work.  And that’s good!  We self-absorbed humans need daily, plentiful opportunities to look beyond ourselves and stretch our sacrifice muscles so that, with time, we learn how to love.  We have to learn how to love when the good feelings have vanished.  We have to learn how to love when the passion has chilled.  We have to learn how to love when there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for us.

We have to be reminded what love actually is:  Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Did you see where it said love is passion, or love is easy, or love is physical attraction?  Me neither.  Did it say love is a good feeling?  Nope.

That doesn’t mean that the love of a husband and wife should be devoid of good feelings, or that the spousal relationship should be tepid and boring.  Emotional barrenness is not inevitable and certainly not God’s plan for spouses.  But like all of life there are changing seasons; there are highs and lows; there are easy times and trying times; there is happiness and sadness – you get the idea.  Those who head for the door when they aren’t feeling it anymore will never reap the rewards of love.

Dr. Ablow says, “The third reason marriage is a dying institution is because it inherently deprives men and women of the joy of being ‘chosen’ on a daily basis.”  (Here again, marriage is a thief stealing something precious from us.  Sheesh.)  Well, boo hoo.  So none of us should have to feel obligated to stay if we don’t want to anymore?  If we don’t feel especially “chosen” this week, we should be able to leave in search of someone who will stroke our ego?

I don’t want the guy who won’t hang around through the tough times.  I don’t want the guy who’s going to split when someone prettier and more tingly with excitement over his greatness comes along.  I want the guy who has the steel to stand by me, keep his vows, and honor his commitment particularly when it doesn’t feel good.  I want the guy I chose when I promised to forsake all others.

And by the same token, I want to be the woman who does the same for her man.  That means I’m gonna have to learn how to love, and it’ll be painful at times, because Love will entreat me down off my throne and smash my selfishness to bits.  But only little by little, day by day.

I also want the guy who will choose to love me when I’m not very lovable.  I want the guy who will keep walking with me through the hard times, being faithful through the empty times because he believes that Love will breathe on us again and the delights of passion will warm us again, even if more mellow than when we first began.  (Like a good wine, Love ages sweetly.)

I want the guy who wants to learn to love, because he values Love and knows that Love is the reason for living.  If that sounds like a greeting card cliché to you, too bad.  Love is the end-all and be-all.

The sad state of marriage today has nothing to do with it being outdated or confining or passion-killing.  It has everything to do with people who are no longer willing to love each other because they no longer understand what Love is, nor do they know Who Love is.  It has everything to do with people being slaves to sexual desire and desecrating the beautiful gift of sexual love that brings forth new life.

No, Dr. Ablow, marriage is not a dying institution.  What’s dying is our respect for each other and our reverence for human life.  What’s dying is our willingness to sacrifice, to serve, to remain steadfast, to keep our vows.  We are weak with self-gratification and a toddler’s attention span.  We have no faith that deserts can bloom, ice can melt, storms will pass, and wounds can heal.  What’s dying is our love.

Dr. Ablow concludes, “It’s only a matter of time now.  Marriage will fade away.  We should be thinking about what might replace it.”  Marriage is in serious jeopardy, no doubt.  If it dies, it will not be due to any inherent defect of its own but because we have ceased to try to conquer our defects.  It will be because we gave up the struggle of love.

With what, exactly, shall we replace Love?

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Human Beings or “Sexual Beings”? Battle Over Planned Parenthood is About More than Money

There’s much more than a budget at stake in this battle over Planned Parenthood.  The horrifying abortion statistics and the hundreds of millions of dollars are certainly bad enough, but the choice before us as a nation goes much deeper than simply who gets federal funding.  It is actually about us; it is about two radically, fundamentally different ideas about who and what we are as people.

In a nutshell:  are we human beings or “sexual beings”?

Planned Parenthood knows that to maintain their bloody cash cow of abortion they have to win over the next generation of young people to their counterfeit idea of freedom and happiness (though they surely don’t believe it to be counterfeit) that says unconstrained sexuality is the pinnacle of life.  The only antidote to their warped thinking is the truth of the dignity of the human person, real human freedom and happiness that is proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

The Church has a great deal to say about man’s sexuality and none of it is dismissive.  The Church rightly understands that a person’s sexuality is an integral part of their identity and humanity – the key word being “humanity.”  We are human beings with a sexual component to our nature.

More accurately, we are embodied souls!  The distinction people want to draw between the body and the soul is a fantasy.  Our eternal soul is what makes us human!  “The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit.”  (CCC 364)

“The union of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body; i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.”  CCC 365

Our sexuality is an essential part of our humanity but it is not the summit of our lives.  That is where Planned Parenthood starkly disagrees.

PP sees people as sexual beings, not human beings.  To them the sexual nature is King.  It rules over everything and must be served, rather than serving the good of the person.  Their doctrine says unrestricted sex is required for happiness; the epitome of personal fulfillment is only found in sexual gratification.

From PP’s website come these insights into their thinking (emphasis mine):

“We are all sexual. We are sexual from the day we are born until the day we die. Our sexuality affects who we are and how we express ourselves as sexual beings.
Our sexuality includes:

  • our bodies, including our sexual and reproductive anatomy
  • our biological sex — male, female, or intersex
  • our gender — being a girl, boy, woman, man, or transgender
  • our sexual orientations — straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual

The ways we experience and express our sexuality include:

  • our desires, thoughts, fantasies, sexual pleasure, sexual preferences, and sexual dysfunction
  • our sexual behaviors — the ways we have sex including masturbation

Even though we spend our lifetimes as sexual beings, it’s normal to have many questions about sex and sexuality.
Many of us find that sexual pleasure is one of life’s most rewarding experiences.
It helps us create connections to other people and it helps us enjoy our world.”

Only “sexual beings” would find sexual pleasure one of life’s most rewarding experiences.  Human beings would say the most rewarding experiences are things like parenting, a loving marriage, professional and vocational service to others, serving God, honing their talents and skills, giving of themselves sacrificially for someone else, etc.  It is not sex that helps us create connections to other people, but love, which seeks the good of the other person.  It’s the practice of love, faith, patience, humility, temperance, and generosity that help us enjoy our world, and not sexual pleasure, which is merely self-seeking.

In the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s report “Stand and Deliver: Sex, health and young people in the 21st century” (by “young people” they mean anyone between age 10 – 24), they portray “comprehensive sexuality education” as the answer to nearly every societal problem all over the world. They state repeatedly that “young people are sexual beings.”  Sexual empowerment is what will free young people from poverty and open the doors of opportunity, while ensuring they develop satisfying and pleasurable sexual lives.

Obviously, their curriculum of empowerment and fulfillment does not include the concept of chastity; nor does it say anything about selfless love.  PP cannot comprehend that anyone would freely choose to live a virginal or chaste life or that such a life could bring immeasurable joy and satisfaction.

Chastity to them is a fetter of oppression and ignorance, since they insist it’s through sexual exploration that a person comes to know who they are.  People are “sexual beings” so they must order their lives around their sexual desires.  Abstinence is then absurd; the risks and consequences of sexual activity are unavoidable, and you needn’t even try to avoid them if you don’t want to.

For example:  IPPF has a booklet – directed at young people living with HIV – called “Happy, Healthy and Hot.”  (The twisted immorality of that title pains me to write.)  It is replete with silhouette images of young people in a variety of embraces, including same-sex couples.  The message of the booklet is clear:  you can and should still have an unrestricted, active sex life while living with HIV.  Pleasure is paramount.

“Young people living with HIV have the right to decide if, when and how to disclose their HIV status.”  “Some countries have laws that say people living with HIV must tell their sexual partner(s) about their status before having sex, even if they use condoms or only engage in sexual activity with a low risk of giving HIV to someone else.  These laws violate the rights of people living with HIV by forcing them to disclose or face the possibility of criminal charges.”

“Young people living with HIV have the right to sexual pleasure.”

“Improve your sex life by getting to know your own body.  Play with yourself!  Masturbation is a great way to find out more about your body and what you find sexually stimulating.”

“Some people have sex when they have been drinking alcohol or using drugs.  This is your choice.  If you want to have sex and think you might get drunk or high, plan ahead by bringing condoms and lube and putting them close to where you usually have sex.  That way you won’t forget them in the heat of the moment.”

“Sometimes people choose not to have safer sex.  If this is something you and your partner agree to, then it is your choice.  It is not always possible to talk to your partner(s) about or to practice safer sex – for example, maybe you know that your partner will get angry or aggressive, or you don’t have access to condoms or a safe place to have sex.”

Let’s see if I can sum all that up:  You are entitled to conceal the fact that you have an incurable, life-altering disease from any sex partner(s), and any law that compels you to inform your sex partner(s) violates your rights.  You have the right to transmit the disease to your sex partner(s).  Play with yourself!  Pleasure is your right!  Sex while drunk or high?  Go for it!  Just try to plan ahead and have condoms within reach.  That should take care of everything.  Got an aggressive or hot-tempered partner and you don’t dare ask him to use a condom because he might get perturbed?  Have sex anyway and forget the “safe” part.  Sexual pleasure comes first!

Is all of this really how we want to define ourselves and our sexual nature?  Is there not more to us than self-centered, slavish, animal sexuality?

The Catechism offers a wealth of teaching on the beauty and dignity of the human person.  Our male and female sexuality is to be embraced and cherished, for it is good and holy.  It is highly integral to who we are.  The tool by which we gain the proper understanding of our sexuality is chastity.

“Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.  Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.  The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.”   CCC 2337

“Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is “an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.”  CCC 2344

“Chastity is a moral virtue.  It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.”    CCC 2345  “Chastity is the form of all the virtues.  Under its influence, chastity appears as a school of the gift of the person.  Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of the self.”  CCC 2346

“Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom.  The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.  “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint.”  CCC 2339

We are not “sexual beings” as Planned Parenthood presents it.  We are human beings – embodied souls – with a sexual aspect of our nature that is powerful and beautiful.  By mastering our passions and respecting the inherent dignity of each human person, we find the true freedom that brings with it true happiness.  If instead we enslave ourselves to sexual gratification, we degrade our humanity until we lose it altogether.  The choice is ours.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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