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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
In the film, Demolition Man, the year is 2032. The characters of John Spartan (played by Silvester Stallone) and Lenina Huxley (played by Sandra Bullock) are about to have sex having known each other less than a few days. John Spartan in fact is only a day or two living in this “brave new world” having been cryogenically frozen as punishment for manslaughter, back in 1996.
To the confusion of Spartan, Huxley asks him to put on a Virtual Reality headset. Spartan is unaware he is about to have “sex”. As both begin to reach orgasm, Spartan pulls off the headset and begins a rant that what they were doing was not real sex. In this version of the future, to keep STDs at bay, sex is done exclusively by V-R except for the rejects of society who live in the city sewers.
Rewind to 2002 and the real world, a male Catholic called Richard, played by me, is trying his best to act out the role of a secular atheist male with no Catholic or family history. He sees himself as liberated from the truth and love offered him by his family and Church.
Richard is in a worse state than the “Prodigal Son” when in his rebellion, since the latter we are told used his own inheritance. Whereas Richard finances this life through the State, using the student loan the UK government has given him to study 100 miles from home. This is where he meets “Anne.”
Within a few days Anne tells Richard she loves him and a year-long relationship ensues that is eventually ended by Anne. Pre-marital sex begins almost immediately but the inner life of Richard is beginning to already experience difficulties regarding this.
It is clear he has what has been looking for: Anne is a talented student, funny, caring, chatty and down to earth. She “ticks most boxes” and yet an inner struggle is present straight away, with Richard’s body, mind and soul altered forever.
Condoms are used each time. The most sensitive area on the male body is being wrapped in a man-made rubber fibre. For the duration of being sexually active and afterwards, the genital and lower-abdomen area feel tight and uncomfortable. The lack of scientific research means this is more a “hunch” but Richard feels a chemical imbalance has entered his body.
Richard notices too, that in the act of having sex, he can smell the rubber. Every time he smells it his lower abdomen pulls tight. Wearing rubber gloves brings him out in rashes too. Would it not be reasonable to think, that were he rubbing man-made fibres vigorously on sensitive parts such as the mouth or nose or eyes, that toxins would enter and create imbalances?
There is a change in mental health too. Although mental health issues were present already since eating marijuana as a 16 years old, a gulf exists between Richard’s inner longing for romantic love and lots of children, and this secular model he is playing out. This despite being in a loving relationship.
This realisation properly surfaces when playing a love song by Nick Drake called “Thoughts of Mary-Jane.” A deeply idealistic and romantic soul though Richard has, he cannot stop the tears as he listens, since his innocence and idealism has been exchanged for a lie. But it is the accompanying confusion that perpetuates this, since this is everything that had been proposed by Hollywood and the romantic poetry Richard had consumed since a pre-pubescent as the way of achieving inner-happiness.
Later reading of St John Paul II’s theology of the body, albeit a superficial reading, gives some confirmation to these feelings. As with the characters in the novel “Brave New World,” Richard has been prioritising sex over love. The model of love proposed in the media is a version that is rooted first and foremost in sexual pleasure and has no roots in Truth.
As the relationship comes to an end in, Richard is desperate to re-enter the Catholic Church. He goes to a priest for Confession who has a reputation as a very strict Confessor. The priest listens as Richard recounts his relationship and the lack of love he feels in his heart. The priest is gentle.
The priest asks Richard if he received the Eucharist at all whilst in this relationship. Not knowing Church teaching, the answer is yes. The priest bends over as though in pain, like he has just been stabbed in the stomach and asks that if Richard decides to have sexual relationships outside marriage, that he refrain from having the Eucharist. I get absolution and begin a new life in Christ.
It remains the mission of the Church to posit a positive view of marriage and family and the pro-life movement, that will attract others. For example in the March for Life rally in Birmingham, England, in 2015, a young woman seeing the joy and happiness of the people on the march, decided to cancel her forthcoming abortion. She brought her baby to the rally the year after, thanks be to God in Christ Jesus.
Submitted by R. F., England