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  • The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims, Part Two

    by Anthony Esolen

    Playboy First Edition cov

    One thing that defenders of the sexual revolution will not understand is that, although the act of intercourse is private (or better be), everything else about sex is public.  I don’t simply mean that people will know that John and Mary are in a “relationship,” horrid denatured word, or that sexual intercourse results in those visible creatures known as children.  It is that our customs and moral directives regarding the sexes and their union determine what kind of people we will be.  They are the language we all must speak.  There is no such thing as a private language.

    No one can decree what a word will signify for those who hear it, or even what it must signify for himself.  That’s not how words work.  Nor is it how symbolic actions work—actions that are, whether we admit it or not, significant.  I put my hand in my pocket; it doesn’t mean anything.  Maybe I’m searching for my car keys.  Maybe my hand is cold.  But if I’m holding a woman by the hand, that means something, the meaning is public, and it’s not ours to determine.  John may rent a house with his brother Bill.  That doesn’t mean anything.  If John rents a house with Sarah, that does mean something, whether they like it or not.  And it has implications.  It denies the necessity of marriage.  It declares, “A man and woman need not be married to enjoy the delights of sexual intercourse.  They may do what we’re doing.  There’s nothing wrong with it.”

    What began fifty years ago as defiance has ended in convention—in a settled language.  It sounds as odd, now, to insist upon purity before marriage as it would sound odd to use the language of the King James Bible for common speech.  “Whithersoever thou goest, I will go,” says Ruth to her boyfriend, and he knits his brows and wonders if she’s been drinking.  That’s assuming he understands the statement at all.  If a young woman says, “I don’t think people should pretend they are married when they aren’t,” her boyfriend may understand the words on that page, so to speak, but their import will escape him entirely.  Is she a prude?  A religious fanatic?

    The language changes; expectations change.  If the language is degraded—if people no longer perceive great differences in meaning, so that, for example, fornication is felt to be just like marriage—then that will hurt people’s ability to read the truth. When everyone goes to the gladiatorial games, the cruel man is one more face in the crowd.  Those who attend will be the worse for it; and they will be more vulnerable to the worst among themselves.

    I am now thinking of another person I know, another victim of the revolution.  For obvious reasons I shall alter the names and some of the incidentals of the case.

    Grace was raised in the Catholic Church, after the revolution.  The word sin wasn’t often uttered from the pulpit.  She considered herself a good Catholic, but that phrase had been drained of most of its meaning.  She believed in the declarations of the Creed, to the extent that she gave them any thought, and she was determined to be nice to people, as Catholics should be.  The whole of the Law and the Prophets, says Jesus, is summed up in the love of God and neighbor; and love means being nice. Grace was a nice young woman. She set her heart on the care of the elderly, and was exceptionally good at her work at the nursing home. When she entered the room, it was as if the curtains had been raised and the windows thrown wide. She was conscientious and patient, never thinking herself too good for the humblest tasks. She is still that way, as her fellow workers have testified to me.

    Grace had the misfortune to fall in love with a terrible man. But who knew?  The revolution had made it hard for anyone to read him—to see how bad he was. He had slept with nine or ten girls; he made up a secret scoresheet on them, which I have seen, rating them for various characteristics. Grace didn’t know about that, but she did know about his history.  Yet what could that mean?  All the boys, except for the homely or the impossibly shy, slept around. Half of Grace’s female friends did, too. He didn’t go to church. Neither did most anybody else. He used pornography. Well, what else is there to watch on television but the sleazy and the sniggering?  His work record was erratic. But is that so out of the ordinary now?  Who says that a man needs to support his wife, anyway?

    They married and had two children. Then the corruption began to bubble over.  I won’t go into the details. One day, in fear, Grace left him and the children; and the real nightmare began. It is a nightmare of law gone insane, of a mendacious judge, of social workers fascinated by the husband and filled with vindictiveness against Grace, of bigotry against the Catholic faith to which Grace returned, of suppressed evidence of the husband’s cruelty, his pathological lying, and his sexual degeneracy. The children were taken from Grace and given to the custody of the husband, who hates them, and whom those same children have accused of abuse. They were forbidden to attend their old school, where their friends and teachers knew Grace and loved her. They were taken out of the community and forced to move with the father, far away.

    There are credible accusations of abuse by the father.  I have looked through a notebook he kept and inadvertently left behind, after he moved away. It is filled with drawings of sadism, and worse. There is a blasphemous drawing of Satan, born in a stable and laid to rest in a manger.  There are drawings of naked women, always penetrated from behind. There is a drawing of a girl begging her father to give it to her. There is a sick cartoon portraying father-daughter incest. All this was ruled inadmissible by the court.  “It’s art,” the father claimed.  Note the parallel degeneracy of that field of significance.

    Can it get worse?  Oh yes, much worse.  Grace has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting for her children, who desperately want to be with her and not with the father they hate and fear.  She pays child support—the father is a bloodsucker, unemployed at the time of the breakup. His legal fees were paid by the state. He is now in an adulterous relationship with another woman; the court forbade Grace from proceeding with a divorce. That doesn’t matter to the court.  What’s a little adultery, when more than a third of children are born out of wedlock?  If the judge threw a party, how many people attending would have also been guilty of finding a sexual partner before the formalities of divorce had been concluded?  He and she now have a child of their own. Well, that does happen. The “stepmother” is jealous, and treats Grace’s daughters badly. Not nearly so bad as the father treats them. One day recently he threw a ten year old girl out of the car in the middle of a city and forced her to find her own way back home—three miles. Should she have gone to a policeman?  She is terrified of policemen, because they have sided with her father before.

    I have read pages written by the elder daughter. They are chilling, not just because of the sickness and evil of the father, but because of the innocence she’s already lost. She has heard obscenities hurled at her all her life long.  She is living in a sewer, and the smell of it is on her, and there’s nothing she can do about it.

    I hear the objections, “There have always been wicked men!”  Yes, certainly. But their wickedness used to be kept partly in check by social expectations—by the language. I had a bad uncle who kept his wicked habits to himself, so nobody knew anything about it till much later, and though one of his children was clearly hurt by it, the other three got through more or less intact. For it is one thing to be bad; it is another to be known and despised as bad, and that raises the cost of wickedness considerably. Then too the sexual revolution has allowed us to gloss over bad behavior, as if sin were not sin. But that is like glossing over skin cancer with rouge.  The cancer remains.  Sin eats away at the soul of the sinner.  Grace is a good woman, but if she had been born in her parents’ time she would likely have been a better woman, just as it would be healthier, all things considered, not to live beside a polluted river.

    Worst of all, the revolution has brought complete chaos.  Her evil husband fits the nauseating phrase, “the new normal.”  Her children suffer the consequences.  Multiply them by millions.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • jacobhalo

      Thank you for your excellent piece. You mentioned sin not being preached from the pulpit. Since Vatican II, you never hear about mortal sin, hell, the devil. You don’t hear about the abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage. These issues must be addressed. About 10 years ago, I began attending the Latin mass. It was like going back to pre-Vatican II. The pastor addresses the above issues. The shepherd must keep his flock in line. Today, priests talk about God’s unconditional love. God’s love is conditional. You must obey his commandments. If God’s love was unconditional, there would not be a hell. The church needs to give more discipline to its members.

      • ChrisPineo

        The sinner who turns his love away from God places his own conditional love before God’s unconditional love. The sinner must chose to love God in each and every moment, otherwise he signs with the devil and takes upon passage into hell willingly. Discipline is a matter of personal sacrifice, if you have never worked out until you throw up, you have no concept of discipline or the necessary application of pain to the betterment of self and the avoidance of hell.

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    • Dennis

      I think this piece is quite exaggerated. Mr. Esolen takes one terrible case and says this is the new normal? No, it’s not the new normal. The new normal is bad, but it isn’t this bad. Even the members of today’s society, deviant by the standards of sixty years ago, can recognize the evil in the story the author tells. This piece doesn’t help traditional Catholics make a case, it makes us sound shrill and out of touch with reality.

      • therese

        I do agree that it is the new normal. the new normal that this woman grew up like most of us who grew up post vatican 2 in parishes never hearing about Satan. she didnt recognize that her husband was not a good man. in the past a woman would have known that the pornography, the history of past sexual encounters was a red flag. in addition the society would have stood up and defended her. In this current world the innocent faithful spouse does face the possiblity of losing the children. the husband has more money and money equals power, he can get better lawyers than she.
        in no fault divorce the judges dont care who is commiting adultery.
        even those spouses who continue to consider themselves’ catholic” , after they have ran off from their spouse of their youth, parent of their children , can kid themselves that ‘after all God is love” and he ‘Understands”, that I ‘need to be happy” in choosing a new adulterous partner. Dennis you think this is exaggerated , Consider yourself blessed then that you have not experienced the HELL that so many of us Catholic married spouses have. the hell when your spouse runs off and the liberal priests who should be defending the bond of matrimony instead encourage divorce and discord by accepting it. rationalizing it. Only talking about “tolerance” . never about the reality of satan and Sin. Reality is seeing that satan is alive and has infiltrated the church.

    • Raindropsdi

      I feel there were a few glaring missteps in this article. One, if two men take it upon themselves to dwell together, I believe it is naive to think that no one would think nothing of it. Not these days. Also, if a man and woman were to do the same, but some detail of their lives was known making it a sensibly commonly held notion that it was platonic….you can see where I’m going, right?
      The other thing I’m wondering about, is why would the court take children away from a perfectly good mother, and award custody to a sexually deviant father? I’ve worked with and in the legal system, and this seems almost outlandish. To be sure, bad things do happen to innocent people (ie Jesus), still…

    • hombre111

      As usual, a good article by Dr. Esolen. I am not sure if the brutal husband should be used as an example of the “new normal.” Rather, the new normal is what I see in my quiet neighborhood. A guy moves into the house across the street with his girlfriend. After a couple of months, bored, she moves on. A young man, his “fiancee,” and another young woman move next door. The woman around the corner is a single mom, and a screamer. Down the street another young man and his “fiancee” move into a house together. I don’t know if they moved out, but now there are two other women in the house and a bunch of kids.
      My sister teaches fifth grade. Less than half of the kids are in a “traditional” family. For the rest, it is a complicated story of half-brothers and sisters, a live-in boyfriend, and whatever else.
      So, what will be the long term consequence of all this. From my perspective, it can’t be good.

      • Adam_Baum

        Interesting. You observe a variety of social pathologies, many of them imagined by Humanae Vitae, a document you described in the last day or so as “bad catechesis”. Interesting.

      • Jamie

        I think you’re just seeing the usual “outsides” of what Tony is describing. You don’t find out what’s really going on in these houses until the police get involved.

    • Tim

      This story doesn’t appear to be “the new normal” or to relate to the sexual revolution. One of the many effects of the sexual revolution has been to imbue women and children with more power. If this man has abused his children, why does he have custody? If he “hates” them, why has he taken them under his wing? If the mother can spend “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on legal fees, how could this man get away with what he is accused of doing? I suspect there’s more to this story.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

      Yes, I understand everyone’s disbelief. My wife and I have a mental file, titled, “You Thought It Was Bad — You Didn’t Know How Bad It Was.” I could have added more. I have RESTRAINED myself in this piece so as not to jeopardize the innocent involved. There are other items that are much more chilling which I’ve withheld. Want a motive for the husband? MONEY. Lots and lots of it. Want a motive for Child Protective Services? Fear of being exposed — CYA — and sheer vengeance. Look, I have SEEN that notebook. I have SEEN the daughter’s writing. A good Catholic judge — not within a thousand miles of this case — has told me that “family law” is a morass. Shall I go on? You folks should remember — I teach young people for a living. I meet about two hundred of them every year, or more. I get to know them pretty well; many of them confide in me. Now then — who is so naive here as to believe that porn use doesn’t scorch the soul? And who is so naive now as to think that porn use isn’t now ubiquitous? If your teenagers are in school, they have by now looked at things that many of us who lived through the already curdled seventies could not have imagined, for sheer human degradation. Not as bad as I’m making it out to be, really? And it is not the case that a third of children in the US are born out of wedlock? I was just today driving with my son in Halifax, and right next to the science museum for kids was a cabaret — the same building — with a big sign out front, “Pimp N Ho” Party. Oh, I know well that human beings have always been sinners. Anyone want to tell me that the people of Halifax even 20 years ago would have put up with that sleaze? I think my analogy with the gladiatorial combats is apt. I’ll bet that Christians were called killjoys and prudes for wanting to end that savagery.

      • ChrisPineo

        In defending what we know is good nothing matters but that we stood up when called upon. You felt the call and stood with your pen as a sword ready to do battle. The fray looks a mess, from these comments, but you jumped in anyway. Honor to you.

    • Ben Evans

      This story doesn’t add up. Why were the kids taken away from their mother if she’s such a good mom? And this certainly is not the “new normal”. Look at all the consorts men had in the OT, in the monarchies until recently, even in the Church. By those standards, we are much more stable and responsible today. I have a hard time believing these children are being abused while their mother spends that kind of money on legal fees. A court psychologist would be involved in evaluating the kids. Canadian courts are even more sensitive to child abuse than our courts here in the US. Something is not quite right about this story.

      • guest

        In my experience, even if a psychologist evaluates it doesn’t mean that a court will be impressed to change its preconceived ideas. One of my sons has had much the same experience in reverse. Family law is a sewer of ideology, perjury, and mutual back scratching by the professions involved.

    • withhope

      This is not exceptional – would that it were. At least two-thirds of the females I know are ‘survivors’ of sexual abuse, whether by adults or peers who thought, ‘that’s what you do…these days.’
      If you doubt the ‘new normal’, this should give further pause for thought:
      Benjamin Wiker’s ‘Architects of the Culture of Death’

      Theodore Dalrymple on the ‘Frivolity of Evil’
      Benjamin Wiker’s ‘Architects of the Culture of Death’

      Theodore Dalrymple on the ‘Frivolity of Evil’
      http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_4_oh_to_be.html
      http://www.melaniephillips.com/the-real-lesson-of-the-jimmy-savile-scandal
      http://frontpagemag.com/2012/lori-handrahan/the-justice-departments-child-porn-problem/

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    • FGA

      Quite simply, a “good mother” (of father for that matter) does not walk out on children in danger.

      That you have nothing but the best intentions I have no doubt, however, there is so much evidence proving the harm caused by the so-called sexual revolution that I find it both sad and disheartening that this is the best you can provide. If this is how we are defending traditional values it is no wonder that we are losing the battle.

    • Jamie

      I’ve always thought that Tony would love the south side of Chicago–the Irish Catholic side–as an interesting study in males. If you need more evidence for your thoughts above Tony, and how truly “normal” they have become, drop in. Not to this house, nor the house of my good brother, thank God, but pretty much any other. Porn, gambling, drink, drugs, sloth, violence, fighting, adultery and an overall petulance and whininess about participating in family life–it’s everywhere. It’s so normal that the south side women continue to marry these men, thinking that they just how men are.

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    • Stef

      Look to Covenant House for more proof of what Dr. Esolen describes. Thousands of children on the streets who flee from this very situation. One would have to live with his head in the sand not to see the decay within our society. There is hope — the mercy of our God if we but only ask for it & return to His path for living.

    • AvantiBev

      I believe you Professor Esolen. I have worked for 17 years in a law office that does what is euphemistically referred to as “Family Law”. I have seen it all including good men hurt by false accusations of child sexual abuse; though now our judges have gotten wise as to when moms suddenly “discover” this. I have seen men and women do unspeakable things to each other, their kids, their parents and even their little pets. I have seen women who used cyber space like a singles bar in which to commit “online” adultery. Kids who catch on with how to play their parents against one another. Girls and boys who feel they have been tutored in the transitory nature of love and so begin to experiment with their own bodies since rules and vows were made to be broken.
      Now in Illinois the family law attorneys are drooling over the $$ to be made as the new gay civil unions prove as transitory as the heterosexual “contracts” have been.

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