Why It’s Great to Be a Young Catholic

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the young Catholic was obliged to begin any defense of the Church with the phrase, “I know the world thinks Catholicism is old-fashioned, legalistic, and otherwise an oppressive force upon the youthful, budding mind, but in actual fact…” Only then could he move into his apologia, having admitted — and thus avoided — the fact that everyone thought his religion was old, stodgy, and outdated.

It is an interesting turn of events, then, that the world has managed to reach such profound levels of boredom, stupidity, and timidity that the young Catholic is currently in the business of beginning any apologetic with the claim, “I have the answer to this boring, legalistic, and otherwise unsatisfactory modern existence; her name is Catholicism.”

Well then: I have the answer to this boring, legalistic, and otherwise unsatisfactory modern existence; her name is Catholicism, and she makes life in this pagan world hilarious, joyful, and worthwhile. Of course, any “Why I Am Catholic” list can only ever be a shoddy, incomplete way of explaining the one reason anyone is ever Catholic — because Catholicism is true. But nevertheless, there’s nothing quite like a good list.

 

1. Sex, Sex, and Sexy Sex

In case you haven’t heard the rumors, teenagers are rather interested in this whole concept of sex. This interest, judging by the hormones pumping through my body, is a thing that would exist no matter what the state of the culture they inhabit. But what our culture does have is the breathtaking opportunity to take that excitement and either give it life or kill it. I maintain that our culture kills it, buries it, and then tramples on its grave for good measure.

Think for a moment about what we young people are fed: We hear the entire non-Catholic world gravely admonishing us that sex should be safe, like a suburban mom reprimanding the neighborhood kids for riding bikes without helmets. We hear the entire liberal world telling us that sex “really doesn’t matter; it’s just a natural, biological act,” like sneezing and sweating. (These same people, oddly out of sync with their previous “natural, biological” stance, also kindly add that the whole business can be done just as well with another member of the same sex, like studying or shaking hands). The world of pornography says that sex shouldn’t even have to be real; one can just make it a game of vicarious imagination, with all the passion of online chess. Planned Parenthood adds its noble voice to the fray, working hard (and making millions) trying to link our beautiful, youthful excitement to a business of slaughter and genocide — which is very classy on their part, and certainly makes us all want to grab a few condoms and get right to it.

On top of all this, we are bombarded from every side with innumerable voices screaming that sex should be sterilized in foreign countries, displayed on TV, free from moral scruples, taught in kindergarten, performed in groups, improved by various mechanical devices, used among friends, discussed in magazines and talk shows — until sex has been killed, buried, and trampled upon. By the time the average American boy turns 18, sex has been utterly stripped of all beauty, excitement, danger, and passion — and as a result (wonder of wonders!), it has lost any of the intrigue it once possessed. The result is not liberation; it is abject and acute boredom.

In the middle of this clamor — like a solid rock rising above filthy waters — the Catholic Church makes an incredibly radical statement: that sex should be good. Teenagers everywhere perk up. She says that sex is absolutely beautiful — that it is, in fact, a taste of heaven. She says that it is not safe and sterile, but rather that it is so dangerous, so very potent and powerful, that it should only occur between two individuals who have made dire oaths not to run away from it. She says — restating a truth humanity has forgotten — that sex creates life, and that it is mind-blowingly adventurous for this very reason: Two will become one flesh, and that flesh will learn to walk, love, burn with fire for God, die, and spend eternity with Him.

What an age we live in, when it is old Mother Kirk who lifts her beautiful, wrinkled head and reminds her children to have great sex. And what joy it is to be a young Catholic, to live among the bored and the boring, and to see what marvelous — and passionate — light shines through the darkness.

 

2. The Lack of Youthiness

There is a problem with the word “youth,” and it is one of definition. One might say a youth is simply a human being in the position of being young. Our world, however, seems to be of the opinion that these “youth” are alien creatures in need of special attention and pandering, lest they devour their societies in a fit of anarchy. Thus we have politicians clamoring after the youth vote, media making literature and art for the youth, modern Christianity spending time and money on youth programs and events; in short, much attention is paid to what the youth want.

But if the youth are simply human beings in the state of being young, then all they want is exactly what all human beings want: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Sure, they might want it with a more obnoxious passion, and with a painful lack of knowledge, maturity, and understanding — but the desire is the same.

The Catholic Church is one of the few institutions that admits this fact. Where else can a 14-year-old and an 80-year-old receive the exact same teaching, view the exact same beauty, perform the exact same rituals, and be brought into perfect communion with each other, besides at the Holy Mass? Certainly, there are youth groups within the Church — teenage Bible studies, prayer groups, religious education programs, and the like — but in their proper function, they teach the same truths that everyone else receives, and explore the same goodness and beauty that their parents seek.

What a refreshing experience this is — not to be pandered to, coddled, buttered, and told the lie that what we really want is some well-designed websites, smart phones, and porn. How awesome it is to be among my peers and realize that I am not a youth; I am a human being, made in the image and likeness of God, and I am seeking Him like everyone else.

 

3. The Rebellion

Flannery O’Connor noted that “smugness is The Great Catholic Sin.” There are, of course, those Catholics who use the Faith to smugly float above the filth of the world, always too good for it, never under any pressure to touch down. Sometimes that Catholic is me.

But real rebellion does not avoid the world, or simply contradict it. Real, Catholic rebellion is having virtue next to the man who does not. It is to have love, drinking at a bar full of men who know only lust. It is to sow light in the darkness, to throw Hope into this fumbling, despairing world like a Molotov cocktail and to feed its flames with a reckless joy. It is living “in the world but not of the world,” yes — but it is also living in the absolute confidence that the Truth we hold can save the world.

And that, if anything, is why it’s so awesome to be a young Catholic: We will change the world. Not merely as young people — as already noted, we are under no delusions that we are somehow endowed with special youth-powers — but as Catholics. For there is only so long one can hear lies before speaking the truth, or see injustice before administering justice.

To the young Catholic born into a dying age, this feeling of rebellion comes naturally. Think of the March for Life: hundreds of thousands of young people, rebelling into sanity. There is no protest like it, where sheer evil is checked not by anger but by laughter, joy, and beauty. Think of World Youth Day: Millions come, in stark contradiction to a world that claims that the pope is irrelevant, that the Church’s teachings are outdated, and that the Faith is dead. There is no event like it.

G. K. Chesterton summed it up, as he is wont to do: “The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” We choose freedom where so many are born into chains, and thus we know what we’ve been saved from, and we love our rebellion all the more. We can see the contrast: The world is dark, truly, but the light shines all the brighter for it.

By

Marc Barnes is a freshman at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, where he studies English and washes dishes. He has never been in a knife-fight with another man, but he assumes that he would be unfazed by the event. He blogs profusely at Patheos.com and LiveAction.com.

  • http://thekingdomtrilogy.wordpress.com Sean McGuire

    It’s an immense responsibility. As a sophomore at Benedictine College, I face the choice everyday to face this task or shrink back from it. I fail constantly, and I will keep failing until the day I die. I’ve been told by a psychology PhD that research indicates the possibility that 60% of human actions tend to get directed by social context. It’s an uphill battle.

    As Mr. Barnes reminds us, though, we have Mother Kirk to prod us into action. The culture of death is doomed. Christ will return, and all the masquerades and orgies of this world will be stripped away. World Youth Day is only a faint rumble of what’s coming.

  • http://marychapman.wordpress.com Mary

    Yes!! “We love our rebellion all the more.” AMEN!

  • http://fumblingtowardgrace.wordpress.com Sarah

    Marc,

    This is by far the best post of yours that I have read. I’m going to share it far and wide. Also, I cannot believe you are only a freshman in college. Amazing.

    God bless you!

  • Andy

    Marc,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I had not read anything of yours before today. However, you have inspired me to become an avid reader. You are witty, insightful and write good solid material. I am excited to see faithful and vibrant young people like you making a stand. I definitely want to be a better young adult as a result.

    P.S. I thought the picture for this article was a brilliant addition to your argument. I think it especially helps men to see the beauty of women in a new light.

  • John Hinshaw

    Yes, Marc. You get it. As Chesterton (and JPII) taught me 30 years ago – this world is an adventure that all men can live with Chivalry. And the great joy of sex is multiplied by the gift of our fertility. That we share in the creation of new souls. And those new souls – our children – Joy beyond words.

  • Peter

    Wow, why am I totally not surprised to find that at the end of this inspiring piece I find that the author is none other than Marc Barnes. Rock on my man, this was one of my favorites.

  • Bobby

    I must say that I am a huge fan of the tenacity in your writing. As a new Catholic, it’s reassuring to see that more and more people are “coming around” to the truth that is Catholicism. Thank you for speaking… er… blogging out for our Faith!

  • Timothy

    Ah, how refreshing. It just wouldn’t be a pro-Catholic post without the bashing of American citizens who are homosexual and American citizens who are pro-choice in favor of recruiting people to their cause–in this case, youth. Judging by how membership in the Catholic church continues to drop in America, I’d suggest a new tactic, but then, you can’t disagree with The Faithful and expect them to consider your point of view, it seems.

    For the record, I am pro-life and I don’t believe the government should have any say in who marries who (gays OR straights), but this tired tactic of taking a stand for your principles while making not-so-veiled swipes at segments of the population that don’t agree with you is just getting old. Your arguments should attempt to CONVINCE people that your viewpoint is correct, rather than REPEL people that might disagree with you, but are interested in the opposing point of view.

  • Jules

    Excellent article. Amusing, true and inspiring. Thank you

  • http://cherrybombcoutour.blogspot.com/ wayne

    This article says that catholicism is true. Im sure the catholic faithful believe that, honestly. But when you take a step back and look at it, you see irregularities. Like the catholic churchs recommendation that people bow to graven images. Even worse is the queen of heaven thing, which angers god. Search ye the scriptures. There is no queen of heaven. Then you have the dogma that only catholics go to heaven. The thing to do is ask Jesus for yourself to show himself to you. Then you will have the answers. thatnks for your time

  • Tom

    Hi Wayne, for us Catholics, the Bible says it: Luke 1:46- 55; Revelations 12:1-8, in addition to our tradidion. The Rosary Rocks! Peace Man.

  • Tony Esolen

    An excellent and joyful article. Congratulations, Marc!

    To your critic above: You have matters exactly reversed. No government can possibly prevent a man from marrying another man. It is nature that has prevented that already. They cannot mate. They cannot, properly speaking, have sexual intercourse. They can do things that mimic coitus, by supplying a poor and pathetic substitute for the missing organ. They can sexualize the normal male-male friendships that have been the bedrock of every civilization. That may be a corruption; but it is not possible for them to engage in a corrupt form of marriage, because it is no form of marriage at all. If I marry two women, that is a corruption; nobody on earth says that I cannot have two wives, but rather that I should not have two wives. But I cannot marry a bedpost, or a dog, or a hyperbolic paraboloid, or a political party, or another man; I cannot mate with something other than a woman. Instead here it is the state that assumes a kind of godlike power, determining, against nature itself and the obvious structure of our bodies, and the obvious need of children for both a mother and a father, that marriage can simply be what it says it will be, by judicial or legislative fiat. If a government can do that, a government can do anything.

    As for the falling number of Catholics: don’t rejoice too soon. Those churches in America that have insisted on traditional doctrine have seen their numbers increase. It’s the Episcopalians and the United Methodists and the ELCA and the PC-USA that are dying, and fast. Compare one diocese with another, or one parish with another, and you’ll see that generally speaking those dioceses and parishes that have fearlessly upheld the truth (and why is it that all of our heresies these days have to do with zippers?) are flush with parishioners and vocations to the priesthood. That includes the religious orders, and such organizations as Opus Dei.

    I don’t like rebuking you, because in my heart I have great sympathy for men who, usually through the neglect or the cruelty of others, are burdened with sexual desire for other men. But you are trying to drive a stake through the heart of the truth that our sexual powers are oriented towards the unique man-woman union that is the cause, whether proximate or exemplary, of new life. In doing so, you will leave us no grounds for opposing the manufacture of children to satisfy the wishes of adults, no grounds for opposing cloning and who knows what other unnatural nightmares some people will try to visit upon us, and no grounds, finally, for the renewal of sexual virtue in men and women, and true, deep, and physically demonstrative male friendship. You show me how one can simultaneously uphold chastity before marriage, and homosexual pseudogamy. It can’t be done. Likewise, find for me one single heterosexual father who, if he were told that there was something simple and natural that he could do to ensure that his son would grow up confident in his manhood, attractive to women and attracted to them in turn, would not do that thing without hesitation? As it turns out, there is such a thing; nor should anybody be ashamed of wanting that great good for his son. Why, then, should we make matters immeasurably more difficult for the boy who doesn’t have that thoughtful father, and is searching out what it means to be a man?

  • Jennie

    Great article Marc that I will share with our new budding youth group.
    As far as the comments made by the gentleman above: catholicism is true, it is the one and only church founded by Jesus Christ over 2000 yrs ago.,”bow to graven images”-Catholics only ask for the intercession of our older brothers and sisters that have gone before us and lived the Truth, and “anger god” because of our love for His Blessed Mother-absolutely not as Jesus gave His Mother to St. John at the foot of the cross, John represented all of His people. Mary is indeed the “Queen of Heaven” )search scripture and you will find the Queen mother always held with high esteem. Finally there are many Catholics who do not live the Truth, and that is the requirement for heaven not “just being catholic” and just “asking Jesus to show himself to you” is what has caused the over 40,000 diffferent churches that exist today.

  • Brian

    Great post. I’d like to see you expand on this concept as well. I too am impressed that you are so young an author.

    This kind of riffs on the Archbishop Sheen quote:

    “There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

  • Daithe de Paore

    Great if it were true but unfortunately it is not. These are nice words and sentiments but really nothing more.An idealism spewed by Wojtyla all the while he was protecting his pedophile pals and admonishing the world for it’s sins.Catholicism is great and beautiful but also disturbing at times.The Church has lost many generations now and you are not the exception because of your unique insight but perhaps lack of insight. Jesus is our Lord and all sinners feel close to Him.Your sense of belonging to a “church” is one the failings of us Catholics.As a holy Franciscan once said to me “we can be very close to the Church and very far from God”.We should focus on Jesus and not some puffed up ideas about the Church that is catering to a sophisticated tribalism.

    • http://ilfuoconecessario.wordpress.com Paolo

      Daithe, the new covenant is just a question of being delivered and maternity. From the Cross, Jesus made that match:”Here is your Mother…here is your Son”. To quote St. Cyprian:” None can have God as Father if he has’not the Church for Mother”.

  • http://confidentlycatholic.wordpress.com Cherie

    Awesome, Marc! I just started a blog with a group of friends about our lives as young Catholics (it’s the website link above) and I will definitely be mentioning your article. Keep that rebellion going, the world needs to hear this. God bless :)

  • Chris

    I was raised United Methodist. I have been recently interested in Catholicism. One thing that stands out with me though is something called Vatican II. It seems like many Catholics do not like this. What do you think?

  • Cord Hamrick

    Chris:

    I think your question, while it is a great question, could take things a great long way off topic if it were explored in full in this thread.

    I will e-mail you to see if you’d like to discuss this topic, or others, “off line” (Strange phraseology! As if e-mail wasn’t “on line!”). As someone who was raised an Evangelical and served in a United Methodist church immediately prior to my journey into the Catholic Church, I may be of help if you have questions.

    But to answer your question briefly:

    Vatican II was an Ecumenical Council of the Church. Various liturgical changes were authorized in Vatican II (although many more changes have taken place in recent years which were not authorized at all).

    When, in the life of the Church, there are disputed questions about faith or morals, or when a change of discipline is required, a Council of this kind is often the mechanism used to answer such questions definitively or make such changes official.

    (The earliest known example of this is the gathering of the apostles in Acts 15 to decide, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, what rules should be made obligatory upon the Gentiles who entered the Church, and whether circumcision was among them.)

    You say “It seems like many Catholics do not like this.”

    That is somewhat true if by “this” you mean the Council itself; some few rejected the Council or openly disobeyed it in either an “I don’t want changes” kind of way or in a “The changes didn’t go far enough” kind of way. Some very few went into schism over it, even setting up their own popes!

    But a broader group are bothered not so much by the Council and its decisions, but by other changes which took place in the wake of the Council, many of which were contrary to the wishes of the Council fathers and disobedient to them. These are associated with the Council because of the timing, but were not intended by the Council. A great deal of liturgical abuse falls in this category. Also, the post-conciliar confusion, combined with a lot of theological liberals taking over many seminaries at about the same time, caused a particularly severe lack of good catechesis (teaching of the fundamentals of the Christian faith) among young Catholics raised in the decades following the Council.

    Let me note that this kind of factionalism often occurs throughout Church history at the time of a Council, and this kind of confusion about what the Council said and what are we to do about it now likewise is common in the aftermath of a significant Council. It is a known phenomenon over the last 2,000 years.

    Having explained thus far, I hope you won’t mind if I make a gentle suggestion:

    Did you ever read Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis? Do you recall what he said about why, in presenting an overview of the faith and arguments for it, he didn’t go into greater detail about the role of Blessed Virgin Mary in Christian life? That some feel Catholics exceed the proper amount of respect and emphasis, while Catholics feel that to do otherwise is insufficient respect and vaguely cad-like behavior? But C.S.Lewis said he largely skipped this topic because such disputations are not very edifying to the intended audience of the book; namely, someone who has not yet decided “that the virgin’s son is God.” One ought to get first things first.

    I likewise gently suggest to you that while reading the actual documents of Vatican II can be very edifying, doing an autopsy of the various factions who have contentious and aggrieved views about the Council or its aftermath is not terribly edifying for someone who has not yet concluded firmly that Jesus established a visible Church, stewarded by the successors of the apostles and chiefly stewarded by the successors of Peter. I’m not at all saying you must never learn about those things! …but put first things first.

    All the Documents of Vatican II may be found online; you can Google any of the Constitutions, Declarations, or Decrees. Some significant names among them are:

    - Dei Verbum
    - Lumen Gentium
    - Gaudium et Spes

    …but if you find that to be too much reading, then stick with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and spend some time listening to and reading Jimmy Akin, Scott Hahn, John Martignoni, and the other Catholic apologists associated with Catholic Answers, EWTN, and such outlets. I am not saying that you should consider apologists as somehow equivalent to the Catechism! The faith is more than apologetics. But I mention these names because a person with your background will find that these folks in particular “speak your language”; especially since many of them come from Evangelical Protestant backgrounds.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    Hi Marc,

    As a former Catholic, I’d like to point out how dangerous the thoughts of the church are on sex. Any person capable of rational thought should understand that regarding sex from this characteristically prudish stance has contributed to the spread of AIDs and other deadly disease in third world countries where the people simply don’t know any better — because a group of missionaries trying to “help” indigenous people condemn safe sex, and likewise condemn many of the inhabitants to death.

    Not to mention, you debase the celebration of an act as beautiful as sex by saying that same celebration “kills it” and “buries it” — and then go further to suggest something that very nearly equates to pissing on it. Yes, sex is a crucial part of every marriage — so crucial, in fact, that you should be required to have it before deciding on your partner. Physical compatibility is not always something learned.

    Using a high grasp of the English language to spread thoughtless, dangerous rhetoric is the act that should be condemned.

    You’re obviously a highly intelligent person with the capacity for logical thought. Use that capacity to question blind faith and form your own perspective on the world. The moral high-road precedes religion; it’s part of the wiring of our brains, passed down over millions of years of evolution.

    I apologize if I offended anyone.

    • Cord Hamrick

      Devil’s Advocate,

      There are a lot of assertions in your comment, but I don’t see much in the way of argumentation, even though you know you’re posting on a Catholic website and are not, therefore, “preaching to the choir” in the sense of speaking to persons who already agree with what you assert.

      The Church’s thoughts on sex are “dangerous”: Why do you think so? What harms result and how do they derive from the Church’s thoughts?

      The Church’s stance is “characteristically prudish”: How do you define “prudish,” and what makes that a bad thing?

      The Church’s stance has not, in fact, contributed to the spread of AIDS; quite the converse; but what makes you think that a person “capable of rational thought” necessarily agrees with you, when so many clearly intelligent persons over the last two thousand years don’t?

      Marc’s piece gave some clearly “downer” aspects of the world’s approach to sex as “killing” and “burying” the excitement of the marital act. That seems straightforward; but you take those very same “downers” and characterize them as a “celebration.” Why do you regard separation from one’s sexual partner by sensation-numbing latex barriers, the slaying of one’s offspring, sex sans intimacy, sex sans relationship, sex characterized as mere itch-scratching, violations of the trust of one’s spouse, lonely and depressing addictions to pornography or fetishism, and the rest of the world’s sexual monkey-wrenches to be “a celebration?” (If that’s your idea of a party, I hope you don’t work as an event planner!)

      As for requiring sex prior to marriage: Requiring how? Do you mean to imply that you would pass a law? That you would push for well-funded enforcement? That you believe there’s a compelling state interest in what goes on in our bedrooms?

      You also suggest that you think Marc’s faith is “blind” and does not constitute his “own perspective on the world,” but someone else’s. Why so? What of the very intelligent persons who adopt the Catholic faith as an adult at the end of a long and analytical process of reading history and philosophy and the like, and who lose friends or strain family relationships by doing so? Are they, by doing so, adopting someone else’s perspective on the world instead of their own? After sometimes years of evaluation prior to coming into full communion, is their faith “blind?”

      As for your last sentence: I can’t speak for anyone else; but you needn’t worry about having offended me. I don’t see much basis for any of the thoughts you expressed in your comment, I’m afraid…but they’re not uncommon thoughts, despite that. I’ve heard them often enough before that, at this late, date a really energetic feeling of offense is a bit hard to drum up in response.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    1. Take a look at the recent child abuse crisis. I’m not a psychologist, so I won’t begin to speculate on how the sexual taboo affects a priest’s brain. But the church flat-out refused and CONTINUES to refuse to take the blame for the most disgusting and dangerous sexual crime cover-up performed by any organization in decades.

    The taboo on sex continues to strip gays of their rights as human beings, plain and simple. You may follow your beliefs and convictions, but you have absolutely no right to impose those beliefs and convictions on them. It has no effect on how you live your life.

    2. Prudish: excessively proper or modest in speech, conduct, dress, etc. — the key word here being “excessively,” in that this behavior discourages proper and realistic discourse on the subject.

    3. Show me some numbers that the Christian stance (same stance as the Catholic one) has helped slow the spread of AIDs in third-world countries like Darfur. Do some research and report back if you like what you find.

    Plenty of clearly intelligent people have been delusional over the course of history. The human mind certainly has the ability to ignore its own logic and factual evidence when driven by the drunken power of pure religious emotion.

    4. Moderation wasn’t invented by Catholics. In fact, some of my favorite Catholics hit the bottle a little too hard. Some of my favorite Catholics lose their cool when they find it hard to argue against the inconsistencies of the Bible. Moderation wasn’t invented by Atheists, either. Surely a person who believes in moderation has the right to be one or the other, yes? Surely this massive Wikipedia article (with detailed, accurate citations) does not illustrate hundreds of priests spanning decades and dozens of countries as people who live in moderation? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sex_abuse_cases)

    So here’s the deal: the people who develop disgusting, degrading or harmful stances on sex are people who are disgusting, degrading and harmful. It has absolutely nothing to do with the influence of the godless minority you seem hellbent on turning your nose up against.

    5. On “required”: Way to pick apart a poorly worded statement and count it as a debate point.

    6. Do you know Marc personally? Are you an authority on his spiritual quest? Their faith is blind because they reject science and fact, because they believe they already have the answers. Because they follow the crusader out onto the battlefield to kill and die for the glory of god’s kingdom. Because they believe in a 2,000 year-old story that has no relevance in this era, and they try to impose an outdated and confusing morality on people or burn them at the stake for their transgressions.

    In fact, I have full “faith” in history’s ability to disprove that faith — but my faith is rooted in the scientific method.

    Offended yet?

    • Cord Hamrick

      Devil’s Advocate:

      Nope, not offended yet!

      Re: Item 1: Why correlate the abuse crisis with priestly celibacy, when…

      (a.) …non-celibate groups have an equally bad (e.g. Protestant clergy) or worse (e.g. public school teachers and stepfathers) problem with it, and,

      (b.) …failures of priestly formation by overly-liberal seminaries, insufficient selectivity of candidates, and a corrupt institutional reflex of cover-ups are far better causal explanations?

      But I agree the institutional reflex for cover-up was unworthy of a Mafia crime family, let alone the Church. That reflex has been exploded now, and the reflex of the new policies may even err in the opposite direction, but while it lasted, it was a great evil.

      Also under Item 1, you say,

      The taboo on sex continues to strip gays of their rights as human beings, plain and simple.

      But the marital act is not deemed immoral by the Catholic Church (that’s a gnostic or Manichean heresy). Marital unity and fertility is positively celebrated. It is only such things as masturbation (singly or, in the case of people with Same Sex Attraction Disorder, mutual) and extramarital fornication (with its risks heartbreak and of unstable home lives for offspring) which are discouraged.

      By analogy: “There’s no taboo on driving your car; there is only a taboo on driving 200 miles per hour on a residential street, or across rivers, or in your garage with the door closed, or on filling your tank with napalm instead of gasoline.”

      I do not see that persons with SSAD are “stripped of their rights” by any teaching of the Church. First, the Church doesn’t exercise compulsory power directly, so it would be a government acting in obedience to Catholic teaching, not the Church herself, that did any “stripping of rights.” And the United States government is not overly solicitous of Catholic teaching!

      But supposing they were? One would have to identify the relevant rights. To marry? Any man with SSAD can marry any woman he chooses, if she consents. He cannot “marry” a man for the same reason that he cannot “hear” a scent: The subject-verb combination is by definition applicable only to a certain kind of object, and the choice of an incompatible object causes the sentence, while grammatical, to be nonsensical.

      Re: Item 2, “Prudish”: So it is an excess of caution about modesty which concerns you. Or is it? Are you certain you meant to use the word “modest?” Did you not, perhaps, actually intend to use the word “chaste?”

      But assuming that you really meant “modest”: I do not see that the Church has anywhere stifled discussion about what constitutes modest dress. We can talk about it all day long, can’t we? If I say that young women attending Mass generally ought not to be wearing tight tank-tops and Daisy-Dukes with the word “Juicy” emblazoned across the bottom, and if you disagree with me, aren’t we talking about it? How is “proper and realistic discourse” thus impeded?

      Re: Item 3: Isn’t it perfectly obvious that anyone obedient to the Catholic teaching on marital fidelity will not, in fact, spread AIDS? He can only give it to his wife if he has it; and it he can only have it by his wife or his mother. That’s a pretty limited disease vector; far more limited, in fact, than the myriad vectors available in a culture which fornicates with a secular kind of disregard for marriage, and uses for its protection a latex barrier with a (very conservatively) 1% failure rate.

      That some folk do not follow the teaching is of course not the fault of the teaching. That government and international organizations seem to go out of their way to culturally undermine the teaching is lamentable, and further proof that one can’t trust bureaucrats to be moral teachers.

      I agree with your statement that “Plenty of clearly intelligent people have been delusional over the course of history. The human mind certainly has the ability to ignore its own logic and factual evidence when driven by the drunken power of pure religious emotion.”

      But in that case I would define the term “religion” rather broadly, focusing on its functions in the life of the adherent: A person’s “religion” is his cosmology, his philosophy of epistemology and metaphysics and ethics, his anthropology, his approach to life’s problems and the problems of the world, his habits for reinforcing and improving his understanding of these truths, and his habits for transmitting those truths to his children and his neighbors.

      That is the kind of definition for “religion” which is required, if one is to include such things as Buddhism and Confucianism and Taoism, which are not Theistic but are still popularly called religions.

      But of course it also encompasses many religions of more recent history, such as Positivist Materialist Monism. Unless I miss my guess, you’re an adherent of that one…and in your comments here you’re exhibiting a fine instinct for bold evangelism, let me say!

      Re: Item 4: Of course Moderation wasn’t invented by Catholics; like all virtues, Temperance was invented by God. But I’m not sure what, in my earlier post, that remark was intended to address. (I keep looking for some use of the word “moderation” in my earlier post, and I can’t find it.)

      I’m sorry to hear that some Catholics lose their cool when dealing with what appear (usually because of a literalistic, fundamentalist kind of hamhanded interpretation which does injustice to the text) to be inconsistencies in the Bible. They ought to know their hermeneutics better than that, and not lose their cool, besides! But Catholic catechesis ain’t what it used to be, and in a fallen world, it’s never what it ought to be.

      You say,

      So here’s the deal: the people who develop disgusting, degrading or harmful stances on sex are people who are disgusting, degrading and harmful.

      …but I disagree. People are good (God says they are “very good”); but they do bad (disgusting, degrading, harmful, or otherwise bad) things. One ought not be disgusted by the person, even if they have degraded themselves or harmed others. (One can legitimately be disgusted by their bad action or erroneous opinion, if it objectively merits the response of disgust. Not all of them do.)

      You also add,

      It has absolutely nothing to do with the influence of the godless minority you seem hellbent on turning your nose up against.

      …to which I must reply, “Huh?” What “influence” are you talking about?

      And, what godless minority? (Or majority? Or single person? Or whole civilization?) And how have I…? Well, you don’t know me, so you can’t be making a personal accusation. I suppose I should ask instead “How have obedient Catholics, in the act of being obedient to the Catholic faith, turned up their nose against some number of, to use your term, ‘godless’ persons?”

      Re: Item 5, “required”: Okay, that’s a fair criticism on your part. You got me; I picked apart your wording instead of making an educated guess what you probably meant, deciding whether I agreed with it or disagreed, and debating it if I disagreed. Sorry about that.

      As my penance, I will return to the original remark, and address the issue. Your opinion, I would guess, is that while a person should not be compelled by the state to have coitus prior to the marriage, they ought to voluntarily do so for some sufficiently long period of time (say, thrice a week for three months) to ensure that their own developed sexual habits are compatible with those of their intended spouse, and if they aren’t, they should abandon the engagement. Is that right?

      If so, then I disagree. Human sexual behavior is extremely plastic initially, and becomes less so, through a process of bonding and habituation, over time. The best way to ensure that couples do not experience heartbreak and children are not raised in broken homes is to forgo sexual activity (especially with persons other than one’s intended) prior to the marriage and, after the marriage, engage in the marital act with enthusiasm and mutual lovingkindness. It is especially helpful to forgo barrier contraception, so as to benefit by the bonding and habituating effects of the hormones and neurotransmitters present in semen and absorbed, so scientists believe, through the cervix.

      Re: Item 6: I do not know Marc personally. (I’d like to; he strikes me as an interesting fellow.) I admit to having projected some of my own story into the discussion: I am one of many Catholics who was not raised Catholic, who found, after much thought, Positivist Materialism to be intellectually less consistent with reality than Christianity in general, and, more recently, other variations of Christianity less consistent with reality than Catholicism. So I became Catholic, despite some unfortunate interpersonal consequences.

      I see that your faith is rooted in the scientific method; this is the Positivist Materialist Monism to which I referred earlier. I think this philosophy is mistaken at the epistemological level; that it starts with a “blind faith” proposition, to wit: “Anything which is real is detectable and quantifiable, and its properties explorable, by repeatable experimentation.”

      Now it just so happens that the veracity of that proposition is not, sadly, detectable, et cetera, through repeatable experimentation. It is a metaphysical assertion, and not susceptible to the scientific method. So it tends to saw off the branch it’s sitting on.

      It is, of course, perfectly true that material things (things which are detectable and quantifiable, and whose properties are explorable through repeatable experimentation) are detectable and quantifiable, and their properties are explorable through repeatable experimentation. That is definitional, because it is a definition of the term “material things.” This observation is not as useless as it sounds: It tells us exactly what the proper province and applicability of the scientific method is. But it also informs us that there are things for which the scientific method is epistemologically useless, and that one of them is the axiom itself…and that there may be others.

      I think I have addressed all the content of your comment that I could address, and no, I’m still not offended. (How could I be? There was a time I held your view, or something not much different.)

      And of course I hope you aren’t offended by what I’ve said, either. We are using reason, in pursuit of what is true (which is the proper object or “end” of reason). This is a noble pursuit, and one which credits the other person with the ability to respond in kind. That shows mutual respect, which is a good thing.

  • Tom

    This is a good article, but I have one small quibble. You say:
    “We hear the entire liberal world telling us that sex “really doesn’t matter; it’s just a natural, biological act,” like sneezing and sweating”.
    If only.
    The problem is that sex nowadays is completely dissociated in the minds of most people from the natural biological consequence, which is pregnancy. This is the result of several decades of brain washing, by babyboomer generated ideas and dogmas, that have nothing to do with biology.
    If you ask most young people the question “what is sex for”, you will either get a blank stare, or some bizarre answer. People speak of pregnancy in terms of “risk”, in the same category as “infections”, as if pregnancy was a disease.
    If only people started to think of sex in the natural way it was created, which is what biology teaches, the way God intended, things may start to improve, it seems to me.

  • Megan

    Great article. I have some reservations about some of it, but on a whole, it’s pretty good.

    Dear Devil’s ad,
    1) I have my degree in psychology. Priesthood “taboos” as you call them have little/nothing to do with the child sex abuse cases. Every year, there are several abuse cases with teachers, policemen,etc -who have wives or girlfriends. I did a clinical with social workers and have seen the evidence. Basically, if I follow your stream of logic- occupation is determining the mental health [or sickness rather] of these priests? I would argue that it is not the case. If that was the case, we would see a higher rate of priest abusers than any other occupation and we haven’t. Mental illness crosses all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic borders. The Catholic church is now making much more an effort to solve this problem by working with Mental Health professionals such as myself.
    2) Any good philosophy or point of view can be stretched to the extremes. This argument is not well elaborated. What exactly is your “beef”?
    4) A church, no matter how large or small, is made of people. People always have free-will. It is what makes us capable of loving someone in a hateful situation or hating someone in a loving situation. Unfortunately, sometimes we are not strong enough to love as we ought. We hurt those we love and we hurt our own humanity. That is why we, as Catholics, are given the divine reset button known as “Confession”. We have the chance to admit “Yeah, I screwed up” to the community and to God. Then we are given a penance or chance to show how sorry we really are. I could go into Thomas Aquinas and some of the Catholic authors, but I really don’t think you’d hear me out. Suffice it to say, you are not the first in centuries to make such an excuse. Actually, the first complaints about Christian “moderation” started with the Pharisees attacking Jesus. Matt 11:19
    3) Look at the story of Uganda. Albeit, now they are slipping into multiple partners again and AIDS has surged again, but for a time they were battling it well in comparison with other African countries.

    Let’s take a psychological standpoint- When you make something “safe”, you actually make it more dangerous at times. For instance, seatbelts were installed in cars to make them more safe. However, then people had the philosophy of “Oh, since we are “safe”, we can speed like demons.” Let us suppose for one moment that seatbelts were never invented- then people would be forced to drive at lower speeds for their own safety.
    Applying it to “safe sex”- When you make people believe that sex is “safe” when they use condoms, you make the grave mistake of giving those people a feeling of invulnerability. Condoms break- my brother, a result of this. People poke holes in them in revenge. And they do not prevent STDs! All they do is sometimes prevent pregnancy.
    ***
    As a personal note, I am a virgin and my fiance of seven years is also a virgin. We are to be married in June 2012. There is no greater gift that I can give him as an intelligent and fully aware woman than the gift of my body. So, I want to encourage all you Catholics reading this, that abstinence for many years is possible and totally rewarding even if it is difficult. I haven’t died of being a virgin and I’m not “sexual repressed”. I’ve taken many psych tests and the worst problem I have is slight ADHD.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    Hi Megan,

    1. Congratulations on your degree, and I’m glad to hear the church is making an effort to curb further child abuse. My argument was not that sexual isolation leads to child abuse; it was that the Catholic Church, a body whose authority goes directly to Christ through the infallibility of the Pope in matters of doctrine, had a hand in not only taking zero action in preventing abuse but covered up crimes that were crimes not only in the eyes the state and federal governments, but in the eyes of any one with half a brain.

    These are terrible, terrible stories about people of authority in the Catholic Church taking advantage of that authority. And these stories ALWAYS, without fail culminate in the church directing the offender to move to another parish. They broke not only state law but god’s law, and the church hierarchy refused to turn them into the authorities. I believe Jesus has something to say about that…

    “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:21

    And the church’s legal team continues to plead not guilty in the face of a mountain of evidence. Man up and take responsibility for the actions of your leaders!

    2. Okay, let’s not use the term “prudish.” How about “naive”? I do believe there’s a certain bit of naivety in the idea that condoms don’t protect from STDs (of course they do). Punching holes in condoms? That’s a practice started by religious extremists! And yes, condoms break — sometimes because people haven’t been properly taught how to use them.

    4. I’d like to hear you out on St. Thomas Aquinas, Chesterton, Lewis, Keating, Pope John Paul II, anything that’s in the Catechism, etc. — but I’ve already read them all. Check that — I’ve studied all of them in-depth in junior high, high school and college, and while all make interesting arguments, not a single apologist has ever made a convincing argument to me regarding confession or any other article of faith, history, philosophy or science, for that matter.

    3. In Uganda, the “Lord’s Resistance Army” actually uses religion to justify a campaign of violence and genocide. Gays are harassed, beaten and killed.

    As a psychologist, I assume you went to a secular school that teaches science and the health benefits of sex as a stress-reliever, immunity-booster, calorie-burner, heart health enhancer, pain reliever, self-esteem supplement, prostate cancer risk reducer and sleep aid, among other things. This is a campaign of disinformation that leads with faith-based moral conclusions, not fact. Put your faith in science, young psychologist, where actual work is being done to improve our world.

  • Tom

    “..science, young psychologist, where actual work is being done to improve our world”
    On an other post on this web site there is a discussion about Orwell and double speak.
    Double speak is when meaning of words is changed, compressed to fit an agenda, and to weaken the ability to think critically. It is used by the extreme right and left. Double speak is a form of brainwashing.
    People on the “left” (people that often has never done any science themselves) use the word “science” to mean “moral”. Science is the pursuit of knowledge. That pursuit, and the knowledge gained can be for good, evil or used for evil. Science and morality are two very different concepts. Nazi had brilliant scientists that constructed very evil arms.

  • Julian

    “When women dress immodestly and men despise religion, it is the beginning of the end” – Seneca

  • Daithe de Paore

    Devil’s advocate I was very impressed with the cogency you displayed in your earlier posting with the exception of the last point.I agreed with all of your previous points and I am a beliver in God.Your use of reason is admirable but does have to strictly linked to a non-theist position.Most of the great thinkers in history have been theists of sone description and I cannot for the life of a great atheist thinker.Can you?I think you should read Luigi Giussani has he makes a far more convincing argument than any of the guys you mentioned. You could be making the same mistake that the Author of the article does and confuse morality or moral living with Religion.Religion is a far more human thing than any of this would give you the impression of.I think from the responses that you should be aware that those who disagree with you are not capable of questioning their beliefs and so the dialogue is useless.Not all catholics are this way and I hope you meet other catholics whose faith is strong enough not to only cling to dogmas.

    • John

      @ Dante: “I think from the responses that you should be aware that those who disagree with you are not capable of questioning their beliefs and so the dialogue is useless.”

      Wait, so what DA said is the absolute truth because he/she has reason? Huh? I think you wanted to turn right when you actually turned left.

  • http://ilfuoconecessario.wordpress.com Paolo

    Devil’s advocate, you noticed:”not a single apologist has ever made a convincing argument to me regarding confession”. Confession, the properly existential sacrament, is the touchstone for holiness (A.Von Speyr). The Johannine face-to-face- encounter between light, grace, and darkness, the sinner, is a teology of confession, of dropping all defenses. The sinless Lord’s Handmaid, who opens up everything before the Lord and puts it at His disposal, embodied the most perfect attitude before God. I remember a fact in the St. John M. Vianney’s life. When he had an encounter with some Sorbonne’s mild molders, requesting faith’s assumptions, he told them before to confess. Obedience is the innermost characteristic of Christ in relation to the Father, but also the innermost characteristic of the feminine Church in relation to Christ. Obedience in the Marian-and Josephine, Johannine Church to the Lord and in the Lord to the Father in the Spirit, both, the Lord and the Spirit being the promises of the Father. In this sense, “Nemo venit ad me nisi Pater meus traxerit eum” (by means of the Spirit, mutually poured out at the Calvary from the Heart of the Son: you could remember? The Son origins eternally from the Heart of the Father, Eve from Adam, the Church from the open Heart of the Victime). This therefore has to be ( better, this is let to be) the primary achievement , the mystical dimension of our complete defenseless spiritual life, the trial of our obedience, alleluia!

  • Daithe de Paore

    PAOLO, with all due respect what you wrote will have as much effect on Advocate as a recipe for making cornflakes.You use a religious jargon which is alien to the experience to the one you seek to show another way.I humbly(not really!)submit this article.If advocate reads it I think it might go a little way to help him understanding what confession is supposed to be.Most Priests would not have a clue of this as they see themselves as important in it all.

    http://www.traces-cl.com/oct05/eucharist.html

    This stresses the relational reality that is the touchstone of both the main sacraments.

  • John

    Marc Barnes said: “(These same people, oddly out of sync with their previous “natural, biological” stance, also kindly add that the whole business can be done just as well with another member of the same sex, like studying or shaking hands).”

    I’m new to this site, so I’m not sure what your stance on same sex is so I’m unsure if you mean having sex with your gender is more difficult (anal for male and maybe a dildo for women) or that loving and/or having sex with your gender is frowned upon.

    I don’t discriminate or have anything against homosexuals since my own brother is one. Actually, even if he wasn’t gay I would still accept that demographic for who they are. I always and I’ll always will. I just worry about his safety and his heart — I have found myself more protective of him than he is of me. (And I’m the younger of the two!)

    • Cord Hamrick

      John:

      Fair enough. The stance of this site is that of the Catholic Church, which is extremely nuanced and balanced, and thus easy to demagogue by taking bits out-of-context and inflating them to disproportionate emphasis.

      The quick version, found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, goes something like this:

      Chastity and homosexuality

      2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

      2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for, most of them, a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

      2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

      There are a lot of concepts found here which are sadly foreign to or misunderstood by most folk educated by modern state-run schools, even good ones: “disordered,” “natural law,” “tradition” (in the special sense referring to “Sacred Tradition,” or the “traditions of the apostles”), “affective complementarity,” “sexual complementarity,” “uniting one’s difficulties to the sacrifice of the cross,” and “chastity.”

      So, while the above is the authentic teaching of the Church and thus supported by this site, it may be that the passage, thick with so many “terms of art,” may be as opaque to the average reader as a complex circuit diagram is to, well, me.

      But I call your attention to the passage which reads,

      They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.

      It sounds to me like that’s your approach with your brother, and even with others within that demographic. I respect that entirely.

      The only part of the teaching of the last 2,000 years with which I suspect you’d disagree is the part stating that sexual attraction (specifically, as opposed to affection, friendship, and other forms of love) towards a same-gendered person represents a disorder of human sexuality insofar as it does not lead a person towards a procreative expression of sexuality, or a unitive bond supportive of married childrearing.

      (This is a high-falutin’ way of saying: When two men feel sexual attraction towards one another, this attraction isn’t promoting the original intent of human sexuality, which is to make babies and to help the moms and dads of those babies remain emotionally bonded so that babies are raised in a loving two-parent home with live-in, blood-relation role models of both genders. Any evolutionary biologist will tell you that that’s what these things are for. Human sexuality can be used for different things, in the same way that the Mona Lisa can be used as a chalkboard, or Michelangelo’s David for a boat-anchor, or a Ferrari can be hitched to a trailer and used to pull a coal-car. But these are far from ideal uses when the thing itself is so beautifully designed for its core purpose.)

      It follows from characterizing same-sex attraction as a disordered attraction that the best thing to do is not to identify oneself with it (as if one were nothing more than a walking sexual preference) or give it control of one’s life. But beyond a certain point, it is not even healthy to give it excessive negative attention; that is, to fight it in some kind of anguished and self-flagellating way. (This, believe it or not, can actually emphasize learned habits because of the role of dopamine receptors in the “reward center” of the brain).

      Rather, the healthy approach is to sidestep it in pursuit of other things: To let one’s life be about something else, something worthy and life-enhancing, and thereby give the disordered desires no prominence.

      The objective is to get to that point that a long-dry alcoholic or porn-addict reaches where he doesn’t ever call himself “cured” — he knows he could slip anytime — but he’s consistently avoided “using” for decades on end, and he knows his “triggers” and how to avoid them, and thus, on most days, he walks confidently about his life working on other things.

      Anyhow, I’m glad you’re protective of your brother. (Hey, what’re brothers for? And beyond a certain age, older/younger doesn’t make such a big difference.)

      • John

        Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I do disagree calling those who identify as gays/lesbians having a same sex disorder. As what you’ve posted I understand why teachings see it as a disorder (they can’t procreate with each other), it’s just I don’t see it that way, as well as same sex couple not being able to child rear. How do you view this particular issue?

        • Cord Hamrick

          Well, John, with respect to child-rearing, I cannot give an “official” view because I am unaware of one having been articulated.

          So I can only answer your questions by offering some of my own musings on the topic. I hesitate to do this because (a.) my own thoughts are not yet fully-formed, and (b.) your original question was about this site, which suggested you were asking for a sort of official editorial stance; and I gave in reply the teaching of the Catholic Church, which is even more authoritative. So I worry that my musings might be mistaken either for the editorial view of this site, or worse, some kind of official articulation of Catholic orthodoxy. That is not the case, although hopefully I am not, accidentally, saying anything which contradicts anything the Church has taught.

          With that caveat in place, here is my tentative view: Every human child has certain unalienable rights, which are theirs intrinsically as part of their inherent human dignity, which is itself the gift of God.

          For this reason governments do not give or take away human rights; that is impossible. Governments and other people can recognize and defend, or fail to recognize and defend, or even actively violate your rights, but the rights are inherent. They are not the government’s gift; they can likewise not be revoked by the government.

          Among these rights are the right to life, which begins at conception and ends at natural death. But for a child, another inalienable right is the right to mothering and the right to fathering and the right to, well, for want of a better word, I’ll call it “family-ing.”

          These rights place a burden upon other persons. Rights normally cannot do that: I cannot say that I have a “right to a free television set” because that would mean I had the right to take your money or your labor from you.

          But the relationship of mother to child and father to child is different in its essence, to draw very lightly upon philosophical terminology. The father owes the child fathering by an obligation deeper than any contract, and likewise the mother owes the child mothering by an obligation deeper than any contract. And they both owe the child a “family-ing” by an obligation deeper than any contract.

          Now these rights are not well-recognized or well-articulated in our nation’s laws because at the time those laws were written, the Natural Law foundations of our country had advanced in their understanding of human rights only enough to be able to articulate those rights of adults which are normally violated by other adults and which require defense by the government. But society was already sufficiently solicitous of children that no-one thought of articulating the rights of children very deeply; furthermore, the obligation of the mother and father was so blindingly obvious to the average person as to be invisible as a political issue…”hidden in the eye of the sun,” so to speak.

          So those rights are inadequately described and recognized and defended in our law as a consequence; they are nevertheless intrinsic to humanity and their absence in the laws of any nation represents an oversight.

          Now in a fallen world it happens that a child may be an orphan, or that either his father or mother will die before he is grown. That is accidental, or “misadventure”; it doesn’t constitute a crime against that child’s rights.

          But if one or more adults conspire to deprive the child willfully of the fathering or mothering to which he is rightfully entitled, then that is a violation of the human rights of the child.

          That is the principle; how might it work out in practice?

          Because every child has an unalienable right to mothering and fathering, certain other things necessarily follow, such as the right of any child to know the identity of his biological father and mother. Anonymous sperm donations, without any option for the child to break the seal at will, ought to be illegal.

          Likewise, the creation of life-forms with the capacity for human-level sentience and self-awareness (persons) in the laboratory wherein the process of creating those life-forms makes it impossible to identify the “mother” or the “father” ought, for the sake of the child’s rights, to be prohibited by law.

          In the absence of a father, there ought to be a male legal guardian to provide fathering; in the absence of a mother, there ought to be a female legal guardian to provide mothering; the person providing fathering and the person providing mothering (whether they are biological parents or legal guardians) ought to together form a stable family.

          The usual way to encourage this in human law is through civil recognition, and sometimes even economic preferences given to marriage. (Because of cultural changes in the last 10 years, I must specify: Heterosexual, sexually exclusive, marriage, either lifelong or lasting, at minimum, until the kids start having kids.)

          If it is found that civil recognition of marriage of this kind violates the separation of state and religion (we must keep in mind that marriage is a cultural and religious artifact, not a recent creation of the state, and a sacrament in the Christian faith, on a level with baptism and clerical ordination; it is consequently beyond the power of the state and not subject to alteration by it), then the term “marriage” could conceivably be dropped and the preferences confined to any male and female raising at least one child who voluntarily enter an enforceable contract of romantic exclusivity and property-sharing with, say, a minimum duration ending when their eldest child attained his/her majority. (But this is bordering on the very speculative.)

          We also ought to recognize that mothering and fathering are easier when the person has a blood-relationship to the child. There are wonderful stepfathers, naturally; my God Himself had a carpenter foster-father and probably learned his foster-father’s trade. But the statistics are unambiguous: Abandonment and abuse and neglect of a child by stepfathers is many many times as frequent as it is for biological fathers.

          And we ought to recognize that biology helps create families in ways we are only just beginning to realize. For example, neurotransmitters and hormones in seminal fluid (absorbed, scientists believe, through the cervix) create “bonding” responses in the brain of a woman.

          It wouldn’t be surprising to find that the huge upsurge in divorces over the last 60 years or so is not, after all, the result of relaxed laws so much as the absence of this bonding caused by the use of barrier contraceptives — with the laws changing pace to keep up with the less-well-bonded marriages produced thereby.

          I give all this background to say: I have no desire to deprive a child of the only parents that child has known, even if those parents happen to be a pair of lesbian women. I of course do not deny the existence, however rarely, of long-term stable homosexual partnerings. I do not deny that there could be a pair of gay men who would make, overall and taking one thing with another, as good a set of surrogate parents for an orphaned youngster as many heterosexual couples longing to adopt that same youngster. All that is granted.

          But note that tough cases make bad law, and if you spend all your civilization’s energy fighting uphill against statistics, you’ll probably have an exhausted and unhealthy civilization.

          So it is worth recognizing that a gay couple making better adopted parents than any of the available straight couples, while not impossible, is possible in much the same way as a woman basketball player being a better NBA draft than all the available men that year. It can happen. But it’ll be beyond rare. It’d have to be a bad year for male draftees, no Michael Jordans to be found; or to apply the analogy, all the heterosexual couples would need to have negatives sufficient to outweigh the gigantic positive represented by their ability to provide mothering AND fathering AND family-ing.

          And in any event, the intent to provide a child with two daddies, but no intention at all to attempt to give the child a mommy wed to a daddy, might constitute an intentional deprivation of the child’s rights to mothering and fathering and family, if there were any reasonably decent heterosexual couple looking to adopt.

          (And there generally are. In the U.S., bad adoption practices made adoption so difficult, and the waiting lists so long, that couples began adopting from China and Russia and elsewhere in such numbers than those countries began to pass laws to limit overseas adoption.)

          I do not, by the way, think that most of the gay couples who have adopted see this sufficiently clearly to be accused of any kind of selfishness in their decision to adopt. Quite the contrary; they inadequately appreciate the importance of the thing they are not going to be able to give the child, and furthermore are being selfless and generous in taking on such an obligation. They deserve credit for such good intentions, and their unawareness of what the child may be deprived of is not their fault, for they are surrounded by a culture which inadequately appreciates the child’s rights.

          So I am in no way trying to disparage their intentions; I am however saying that a better understanding of the objective reality of the child’s human rights would have led many of them to forebear adopting, in favor of (equally selflessly and generously, but more informedly) trying to help get the child adopted by a heterosexual couple.

          Those, John, are some musings on the topic. Again, I point out the half-formed nature of them. They are incomplete. Of course one could imagine scenarios where applying the above principles would be tricky in the extreme. For example: Man and woman marry; they have a child; woman divorces husband and moves in with lesbian partner; man marries another woman; child custody granted to man, with visitation, but then man dies: Who now has custody? I would say the biological mom, because of the blood-tie. Naturally! But some would say, “Waitaminute, Cord, that’s the lesbian mom, isn’t it? Aren’t you violating your own principles?” And in that case I’d answer, well, no, I’m not, because I don’t hate people with same-sex attraction, even when they act on it, and my intent wasn’t to keep kids away from folks with same-sex attraction at all costs or anything like that, but rather to, as much as possible, protect the rights of the child. Keeping the child with the biological mom will do that best (all other things being equal).

          Tough cases would likely, as usual, make bad law. It’s a fallen world without perfect choices, only choices between different levels of cost and benefit. None of the principles articulated above would change the fact that life, sometimes, stinks.

          But I would like to see the unalienable rights of children understood better, and specifically understood to include mothering, fathering, and family-ing.

  • Paul Thomas

    Ever think that the reason they are interested in sex, Hate Volience etc is the church taught them all about when they where supposed to protect then all God little childern does mean that they could rape beat childern

MENU