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Posted on: Sunday, January 27, 2019
Originally preached as one of Fr. Nagel's homilies.
Elise is a six-year old who lives with her grandmother, and whose mother had a baby with someone other than Elise’s father. ‘I hate it when my Mom comes home with her new baby and her new boyfriend. Why do I have to live with my grandma? Why doesn’t my mother love me? Why does that baby get to live with her, and I don’t?’ she asks.
Bethany’s husband Joe is a pornography addict. He lost interest in her and their children. He divorced her. He moved in with another woman and no longer has any interest in the faith she thought they shared. 'Earning a living and supporting and caring for the kids is tough,’ she said, 'I don’t know what I would do if my parents hadn’t moved closer to help me.'
Tom’s mother was married and divorced twice. Neither of these men was Tom’s father. Tom has one half-sister. Neither of his mother’s husbands was her father, either. Tom had never really had a relationship with his father. Tom married a woman named Genevieve, whose mother and her first husband adopted a child. Later they decided to have another child through anonymous donor conception. That was Genevieve. When Genevieve was eight, her mother and her husband divorced. The husband wanted shared custody of the adopted child but not of Genevieve.
Those are some scenarios from the beginning of Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s book, The Sexual State, about the costs and casualties of the Sexual Revolution. I thought about them this past Tuesday at the March for Life in Olympia. The marchers always walk to the steps of the capital by going past the supreme court. On the steps of the supreme court are the pro legal-abortion counter-protesters. As I walked, I thought, “Here is the existential experience of our society – the fundamental conflict buried beneath so many other tensions that undermine our peace. Only here it’s out in the open with all the shouting, bitterness, and anger, while most of the time the consequences of the Sexual Revolution are fiercely silenced or ignored. I felt compelled to preach about that situation today.
The world says the Sexual Revolution has been a great success because it has given all of us, especially women, more freedom, autonomy, and sexual pleasure. But there is another side to the story that is rarely heard or admitted. Elise, Bethany, Tom, Genevieve, and all their millions of companions, in addition to the aborted children, are the losers in all this supposed freedom and pleasure.
Roback Morse says the Sexual Revolution is built on three ideologies: First, The Contraception Ideology, which says we can separate sex from childbearing. This ideology claims that there’s no happy life without sex, so sexual activity without a baby resulting is an entitlement. Contraception insures this right is available. But since, in fact, we can’t actually have unlimited sexual activity over the long haul without babies resulting, every contraceptive culture must have legal abortion to protect the delusional promise of the ideology. They must, and always do, go together. That’s the hard truth Pro-Lifers need to grasp. It’s why there’s so little real movement on their cause.
The second ideology at the root of the Revolution is the No-Fault Divorce Ideology that separates sex and children from marriage. If people want to join these things together, great, but there is no expectation they should. Two unspoken assumptions with this ideology are, first, children don’t need steady relationships with their parents. The kids will be fine as long as their parents – or one parent -- is happy. Second, adults don’t have any serious responsibilities towards their children beyond doing them no physical harm. The emotional happiness of a parent trumps the emotional well-being of the child.
The third Ideology is the Gender Ideology that Pope Francis regularly attacks. This states that all differences we observe between men and women are socially constructed and we can deconstruct them without any social harm. In fact, if we don’t, it’s an injustice. This goes beyond the just demand for equal opportunity, dignity and respect for women to saying that men and women are interchangeable and sexual difference doesn’t matter because it doesn’t really exist.
The unifying principle of this revolution is that adults have the right to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. The problem is that all three ideologies are based on lies -- fantasies, that, in fact, do hurt others. Sex does produce babies. Children do need their parents in order to be healthy, men and women are different in important ways. But to protect these lies, our society does everything possible to silence or ignore the victims of the revolution because the Sexual Revolution is the core value of our society. The state reinforces the Sexual Revolution by its laws and the media with its films, songs, and shows. Just try publicly questioning any of these ideologies and see what happens. I get more nasty e-mails and letters when I give a homily questioning these ideologies than all the other homilies put together.
Given our fallen human nature there will always be suffering when it comes to creating children and families. No philosophy will be perfect, certainly the Christian culture the Church created wasn’t. But these days we only hear of its sufferings, not its virtues. And we hear little about the victims of the Sexual Revolution because it sort of works for the upper middle-class people with college degrees who run society.
But what about everybody else? Who listens to them? They’re often small, powerless, or poor. And I’m not only talking about the thousands of children who are aborted each day. I’m talking about Elise, Bethany, Tom and Genevieve. I’m talking about the children who are pawns of lawyers and who wonder if they’re responsible for their parents’ divorce, and the involuntarily divorced father driven from his home, who lives in a spartan apartment, seeing his kids every other weekend, and the woman who didn’t want an abortion, but was afraid her husband or boyfriend would leave her if she didn’t have it. They may not even know they’re victims of the Sexual Revolution. They’ve never heard of it. They just know they are hurting, but don’t know why and haven’t connected the dots: that the Christian Sexual Revolution of the first century AD accepted adult suffering for the sake of children, while the Secular Sexual Revolution of the 20th century requires that children suffer so the adults can be happy.
By now there are no easy answers. We’re so tangled up in these false ideologies and their fantasies that they now seem normal and living without them seems impossible. Our kids are increasingly fragile, anxious, and depressed. Partly this is due to all the screens, social media and internet. But it’s also due to the Sexual Revolution catching up with us. For the past few decades we’ve survived on the leftover social capital of the traditional era, but now marriage and families have reached the critical point. Things are starting to fall apart. Let’s have a conversation about what we’re doing – a conversation that admits the real costs of the Sexual Revolution and all the people who are destroyed or made miserable by it.
In the Gospel Jesus came to His home town and shocked them. He announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” And His own people grew angry when they learned he was talking about them and tried to throw Him off a cliff. In the face of our own suffering, Jesus, through His Church’s teachings, proclaims to us today the same liberty to the victims and captives of the Sexual Revolution. Is He the Messiah, or are we also going to try to throw Him off the cliff?
Posted on: Wednesday, March 29, 2017
by Doug Mainwaring at publicdiscourse.com on March 2017.
This world does not need men to selfishly take whatever we want, especially if the price is the welfare of our children. Our children don’t need superheroes—just quiet, unsung, ordinary, everyday heroes who answer to the name “Daddy.”
When I was taking my first few steps out of the closet in the late 1990s, a guy who called himself Tex offered me a short version of his life story over drinks at a Dupont Circle bar. The conversation took an unanticipated turn: he explained that his current partner had moved halfway across the country, leaving behind an ex-wife and kids. Tex would sometimes answer the house phone (this was before cell phones) and would hear a small voice cautiously ask, “May I please speak to my Daddy?” This was his partner’s eight-year-old daughter calling from somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Tex said that it troubled him deeply that his partner’s daughter had to ask permission of a stranger in order to speak with her daddy.
When I think of this little girl, my thoughts drift to folks like Alana Newman and others who have anonymous sperm donors for fathers, many of whom have daily asked that same question in their hearts. May I please speak to my Daddy?
When I started speaking out about the dangers of same-sex marriage for children, I found it difficult to get proponents of genderless marriage to engage in intellectually honest one-on-one discussions. Then I realized: at least half the people who wanted to clobber me with bumper sticker slogans were products of broken marriages.
In early 2013, following my participation in a panel discussion, a young man accused me of being unfair to gays, lesbians, and their children. So I took a chance and asked him point blank: “Did your parents divorce when you were a child?”
He was a little stunned by the personal question, but he answered, “Yes.” The smugness left his face.
“Did you live with your mother?”
“Did you see much of your father?”
“No. I almost never saw him.”
“Did you miss him? Did you wish you could be around him more?”
“Yes. Of course,” he answered, with a bit of wistfulness.
“Did your parents’ divorce increase your happiness—or your sadness?”
“So your parents dismantled your home and set up two new structures that put their needs first, not yours. In fact, they were structures guaranteeing your continued unhappiness. You learned to live with it, because as a child you had no control whatsoever over their actions, but these new structures weren’t necessarily built with your best interest in mind.”
“Well, no. I didn’t get to vote on the matter. I was a kid.”
“Exactly. So why would it be different for children of gays and lesbians who are denied either their father or mother? Do you really think two moms or two dads is exactly the same as having both mom and dad around to love and care for you? Seriously? Would having an extra mom around the house really have satisfied you, or would you still have an unanswered yearning in your heart for your Dad?”
“Then why would you want to condemn other children to be fatherless? Or motherless?”
He got it. He didn’t like it, but he got it—and then he walked away. I have no idea if he changed his mind, but at least he had finally actually heard and listened to an opposing point of view—one that resonated with him.
As I walked away, I thought to myself, “To be intellectually honest, I can’t keep speaking publicly against the dangers of genderless marriage without also simultaneously speaking about the objective evil of divorce for kids.” Divorce is an exponentially larger, far more pervasive threat to children than the prospect of gays raising children without moms and lesbians raising children without dads. I sighed. There is a lot to undo and set straight.
The Prodigal Dad
After my wife and I had been divorced for a few years, it was not unusual for her to call and ask me to drive to her house because our youngest son was out of control. When I would arrive, I found turmoil. He had gotten angry about something, and that had triggered a rage completely disproportionate to the issue. He would yell and scream and kick, then isolate himself in his bedroom. No trespassers allowed. It was gut-wrenching to witness this. Thankfully, he would calm down after a while and return to normal.
His rage would, in turn, trigger discussions with my ex-wife. What were we going to do about his behavioral problem? Did he require medication? Did he need to be spanked? Did he need psychological help?
After this happened a few times it became abundantly clear to me exactly what he needed. Our son did not have a behavioral problem. He needed just one thing: he needed his parents to get back together and to love each other. The slicing and dicing of our family had thrust unbearable stress on this four-year-old’s tender psyche. His Dad and Mom were the culprits responsible for this, yet we were approaching this as if it were his problem.
Our little boy bore no blame, but I sure did.