The Sexual Revolution and the Do-Nothing Church

“Abandonment of Christian sexual morality is the core of the Church’s self-secularization.”  ∼ Gabriele Kuby, The Global Sexual Revolution

From time to time, the church finds itself with egg on its face because of its failure to speak out in the face of grievous injustices. The Nazi episode, the Civil Rights movement in the United States and Apartheid in South Africa—in each case the church (or at least large parts of it) tried to avert its eyes from evil and resisted facing the truth. “The church” of course is not monolithic, and the heroism of a few could redeem the diffidence and indifference of the many. (And I am using “the church” here to mean the collectivity of Christian denominations, not any one.) But the fact remains that the few faced enormous opposition and resistance even and sometimes especially when they tried to open the eyes of their fellow believers. As Martin Luther King used to say, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It is all very well to recall that the church consists of fallible sinners, but if the Christian church does not reveal to its people any moral insight above others in the face of severe injustice and evil, what claim does it have to be set apart?

The Newest Challenge
We may now be finding the answer to that question, for the church’s present abdication may exceed all others. For all the evils of political movements like Nazism, as well as institutions like segregation and Apartheid, they all acted out of agendas outside the immediate purview of the church itself.

But today the church faces a new and more existential crisis. The threat once again is political ideology, and historically it grew out of socialism and communism and bears many affinities with them. But the new ideology strikes at the heart of the church itself and directly confronts its core mission. While it involves social and political issues that convulse the wider secular society, it also directly attacks and perverts the ministry of the church, specifically marriage, and attempts not merely to neutralize but to usurp the church’s own essential domain of sexual morality. This is not an external evil that the church fails to confront. Like AIDS, it attacks the church’s own defenses and undermines its strength from within.

I am referring to the new radical political ideology that uses sexuality as a claim to political power. While this ideology encompasses much more than marriage (and it began long before same-sex “marriage”), it began its bid for power by attacking and neutering this essential ministry (for some a sacrament) of the church. The church’s first failure therefore was to ignore not an external secular evil—though many secular evils did follow—but an attack on itself that left it helpless in the larger war. The church was hobbled before the war began.

Like all political ideologies, this one also makes claims to control and exercise state power. As such, it should be precipitating another of those perennial clashes of jurisdiction between church and state that have formed defining moments in Western history. But this time the church has conspicuously failed to rise to the challenge. So far, it has produced no Ambrose, Becket, Stanislaus, Fisher, Mindszenty, Wurmbrand, or John Paul. Indeed, the church threw in the towel before the contest started.

Now that the battle against same-sex “marriage” has been essentially lost, we are beginning to see what some also predicted: that this is by no means the end, and that the sexual radicals continue to push on with ever-greater demands and attacks on not only freedom of religion but all freedom, until their control is indeed “total.”

Yet even now, as the radicals move to crush the authority of the church altogether, there is little evidence that the church is waking up.

We hear eloquent complaints about how Christians are despised and marginalized, and how religious freedom is being curtailed. But this has not come out of the blue. In the Western world at least, the issues on which this is happening are almost all sexual. Christians are despised and marginalized, in part, because they refuse to speak out in defense of others who have already been persecuted and marginalized far more than they over similar sexual issues by the same sexual radicals.

Camouflage
Rather than confront the dangers of sexual radicalism, the church appears to be trying to salvage its moral authority by reverting to formulaic and high-profile displays of compassion for “the poor.” This will only dig the church deeper into the hole of public contempt, for this already forms a component of its abdication over the Sexual Revolution. Indeed, it is similar to the ploy that allowed Communism to gain control of much of the world with little opposition. Almost all poverty in the West today is the result of broken families: The poor are almost invariably the children of single mothers. The poverty in history’s most affluent countries does not result from lack of wealth or generosity but from overindulgence in sexual freedom and from governments who exploit that indulgence by turning poor women and children into welfare addicts to increase their own power. Our stubborn refusal to acknowledge this basic fact demonstrates the shallowness of our compassion.

Christians in the past understood this and always coupled assistance to the poor with reminders about biblical morality. This is the most effective answer to those who say of Christian missions to the impoverished, “It’s a pity … that salvation is part of the package…. If faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.” The faith (among other things) reminded the poor that they too are sinners and have responsibilities.

But displaying cheap compassion for the poor is always more ego- and status-enhancing than the thankless task of attending to their sexual morality. This selective compassion leads to more than self-righteousness. It leads straight to Marxism. To us it imparts the soothing pleasures of moral superiority, and to the poor it offers the quick fix of transferring their status from sinners to victims. But there is always a reckoning to this indulgence in good feeling. Scapegoats must be found to account for the continued poverty and the suffering and social anomie that attends it. If some are exempted from the status of sinners, their suffering and that which they inflict on others must be caused by someone else’s criminality. If the poor are all victims, then “oppressors” must be identified and punished. This is where the Marxism pushes its way in, for it is much more efficient than Christianity at identifying political criminals, collective enemies, and all-purpose “oppressors,” and it dispatches them to the gulag with greater efficiency and fewer qualms.

The Revolution from Below
This is also why pseudo-Christian posturing must likewise give way to Marxism’s successor ideology: feminism. Like Marxists, feminists claim to speak for the oppressed while encouraging the reckless sexual behavior that deepens their poverty and makes them dependent on the feminist welfare apparat. As with the poor, women (and children) have a ready claim to victim status, especially when their sexual practice becomes off-limits to reproof. This is why sexual radicalism grows directly out of economic radicalism: feminism out of Marxism (as Engels understood). Once the sexual practices of either the poor or women (and with the “feminization of poverty” brought about by feminist-encouraged single motherhood these two groups are largely the same) become immune from criticism, then the oppressors can only be men, along with religious believers who continue to uphold the traditional moral norms that obstruct the radicals’ assumption of power. These are today’s equivalents of the “capitalists” and “counter-revolutionaries” of Soviet mythology, or perhaps more aptly the “kulaks”: economically self-sufficient traditional households, who were the first to be eliminated in the Marxist Terror.

The first of the gender criminals were created simultaneously with the single-parent homes and by the same apparatchiks: the Divorce Industry, which has become a high-profit enterprise not only for breaking up families and vastly expanding the welfare rolls, but also for the mass plunder and criminalization of men. Significantly, divorce was also the principal vehicle for enfeebling the church.

The human misery this created in broken homes, fatherless children, and social anomie has already far exceeded anything same-sex “marriage” can foment. The revolution wrought by divorce-on-demand—legal, political, moral, and ecclesiastical—is breathtaking.

First, it brazenly declared (“no fault”) that the public justice system is no longer concerned with … justice.

It was also divorce (not same-sex “marriage”) that constituted the “abolition of marriage” as a legally enforceable contract. It established and codified the supremacy of the state over marriage, over family life, and over the church itself, allowing the state to simply nullify an ordinance or sacrament of the church and then assume virtually total control over families and over the private lives of legally unimpeachable citizens. All this happened without a word of protest from any church.

From there, it was the Divorce Revolution that vastly expanded the mass criminalization of the male population that continues to spiral out of control. It did this in two ways: criminality and criminalization. First, it codified and exacerbated the proliferation of single-motherhood—begun by the Welfare State—and with it an underclass of criminals who are, almost to a man, the sons of single-mothers, and spread it to the middle class. Second, it brought a vast and crushing system of summary expropriation, forced labor, and debt peonage under the guise of “child support” and opened the way for vast numbers of fathers not only to be forcibly separated from their children through literally “no fault” of their own, but then to be incarcerated both without trial and also (reminiscent of the gulag) without any record of the incarceration. They simply disappear. This began today’s mass criminalization of men (and others) under a panoply of new gender crimes—some of which, like domestic violence, are themselves foremost weapons in unilateral divorce.

How did the church respond to this truly revolutionary onslaught against its own sacrament, against its central domain of sexual morality, against the most basic institution of Western society, against the very concept of justice, and against the freedom of legally innocent parents? It said, and continues to say, nothing. The only dialog on this topic that has come out of any church in the two decades since Pope John Paul II was viciously excoriated in the media for even broaching the topic, was the recent fiasco in the Catholic Church over a proposal by Cardinal Kasper that would only exacerbate the problem.

The New Gender Crimes
The precedent and modus operandi established in divorce law created a plethora of ever-expanding new gender crimes that no one understands because they have no definition and are constantly being “redefined” to fit more men (and some women): rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child abuse, bullying. A few years ago, no one had ever heard of “sexual harassment” or “sex trafficking,” partly because these matters were described using plain English (prostitution, child labor). Today, they are described with ideological jargon that is flexible enough to include almost anything and anyone, because the purpose is not to control crime but to promote an authoritarian ideology by criminalizing a class of politically defined “oppressors.” One need only compare the similar methods of Bolsheviks and feminists describing their own criminology. First, Cheka leader Martin Latsis explains how to exterminate a category of people using criminal accusations:

We are not waging war on individual persons. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. During the investigation, we do not look for evidence that the accused acted in deed or word against the Soviet power. The first questions you ought to put are: To what class does he belong? What is his origin? What is his education and profession? And it is these questions that ought to determine the fate of the accused.

Compare the instructions of influential feminist Catherine MacKinnon, who advises national legislatures on how to punish men who fit a certain profile:

Instead of asking did this individual commit a crime of battery against that individual, the court would ask did this member of a group sexually trained to woman-hating aggression commit this particular act of woman-hating sexual aggression? … The testimony of other women…would be central: How does this man treat women sexually? … We might have learned whether pornography…was part of the defendant’s training…

Homosexualists, whose agenda and methods grew directly out of the feminists’, today are simply laying claim to the same status: liberation from the status of sinners and with it immunity from criticism. This is why they too demand criminal penalties for their critics: “homophobia,” “transphobia,” “hate crimes,” “hate speech,” conversion therapy—all are now criminal to various degrees and becoming more so. But where the church’s moralizers could compromise its principles on women’s sexual morality by averting its eyes and invoking weasel words of acquiescence in the vilification of men, the conflict with homosexuality is too glaring to avoid and has provoked direct confrontation. But now the church cannot prevail against the homosexualists, because for half a century it has been surrendering its defenses to their feminist allies in a futile effort at appeasement. Today the church is too thoroughly emasculated to defend itself, its mission, or those who languish in prison as the victims of true oppression by sexual neo-bolsheviks.

With the proliferation of gender crimes, the malefactors were at first mostly men, who are an easy target for accusations, mostly fabricated, of rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual this and sexual that. But it did not stop there. While women were used to criminalize men, children came to be used to criminalize parents of both sexes, with similarly fabricated accusations of ill-defined “child abuse.” Then children in turn themselves became subject to quasi-criminal accusations of the latest nebulously defined gender crime: “bullying.”

As homosexualists entered the game, the accusations were extended to religious believers: “haters,” “bigots,” “homophobes” and the ubiquitous (if mostly non-existent) “violence.”

This might be called the Niemoeller syndrome: “First they came for the socialists…”

Renewed Complacency?
Now we have some breathing space with the election on Donald Trump. But this will not last. The sexual radicals are using this time to regroup and they will attack again. This is what they did last year in Poland. Though the conservative Law and Justice party won a huge electoral mandate for, among other things, stronger measures against abortion, their legislators were cowed into retreat by black-shirted mobs of feminist street activists using methods reminiscent of the “salami tactics” that brought Communism to power after the War. Even after defeat of the abortion measure, growing leftist mobs continue to be dominated by militant feminists.

In the US, the anti-Trump demonstrations (“Women’s Marches”) are likewise dominated by feminists. (Why “women,” precisely?) Revealingly, they have no concrete grievances or specific claims to “oppression”; only open-ended demands for sexual “empowerment”—the goal of all radicals to assume political power and use it to control other people and punish political opponents.

Now therefore is the time, not for renewed complacency but for action.

Stephen Baskerville

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Stephen Baskerville is Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College and past president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. He holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and attends an Anglican parish in Virginia. His most recent book The New Politics of Sex: Civil Liberties and the Growth of Governmental Power is published by Angelico Press.

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