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A culture of inverted sexuality.

Catholic Insight came across the following reflection in a circular letter sent around by Father Tony Van Hee, S.J., the priest who witnesses to the prolife cause on Parliament Hill in Ottawa year after year.

It presents the main points of an essay by Patrick F. Fagan of the Heritage Foundation in Washington called "A Culture of Inverted Sexuality", subtitled, "Contraception has begotten a trend which might be characterized as the 'homosexualization' of heterosexuality". It appeared in the November 1998 issue of The Catholic World Report. It chronicles how "[c]ontraception has radically changed the social function of the sexual act" in North America and Western Europe. We have followed Fr. Van Hee's quotes and summaries but added some subtitles.

Mr. Fagan begins his essay as follows:

"It is impossible to look at the changes in our culture over the last few decades without realizing the extent of the changes wrought by the new sexual mores. The thesis 01 this essay is that the strength of the present homosexual movement and the other radical sexual movements is rooted in these changes.

Twentieth century

"Major changes in thought on the nature of the sexual act began in the latter part of the 19th century, gathered steam in the early part of this century, and achieved a significant breakthrough in 1930 with the breakdown of the unified tradition of Christian religious-moral teaching on the nature of the sexual act.

"By the late 1940s American married couples were contracepting in growing numbers. By the 1960s the children of these contracepting couples became the leaders of the sexual revolution, rejecting the need for marriage as the context for the sexual act--a rejection logically based on their experiences. By the 1970s the next generation had enshrined a 'woman's right to choose' abortion, thus making it legally possible to be rid of the natural fruit of the sexual act. A generation later, in the 1990s, we have seen the rise of the homosexual-rights movement.


"All of these gradual 'slouchings towards Gomorrah' are the natural byproduct of the severing of the sexual act from the prime end of that act, and from its fundamental natural function: the begetting of the child. That severance changes the focus of the sexual act and in doing so changes the adults who so act, both in their own psychological dispositions and in their interpersonal relations. From being ultimately 'other focused,' sexual mores become 'self focused'; from extroversion, sexual affairs move toward introversion; from hetero-focused they become auto-focused.

"If one severs the possibility of reproduction from the nature of the sexual act, then it will be difficult to deny the 'right' to engage in legally sanctioned sexual activities to those (homosexuals and others) whose sexual act always precludes the begetting of a child.

"If homosexuals further argue that they are deprived of an equal right to the pursuit of pleasure--which they say they cannot derive from heterosexual acts--their argument takes on still more force.

Consequently many Protestant churches and government bodies have begun to conclude that homosexuals have a 'right' to sanctioned unions: to same-sex 'marriages'. Under the changed sexual mores that now dominate our culture, it is difficult to deny the persuasiveness of their argument..." (p. 56).

The power of the sexual act

The thesis of this essay is not new, Mr. Fagan goes on to say. It is anchored not in any religious doctrine but rather in a natural-law understanding of the power of the sexual act. For countless generations, wise men have recognized the ability of sexual attitudes and activities to orient or disorient not only the individual, but the whole of society. The present disorientation and dysfunction of our society, and of the individuals who people it, was predicted by many people who anticipated the widespread acceptance of contraception. The accuracy of their predictions gives their underlying insights a serious claim to validity.

We can find similar messages coming from many different quarters. For example:

"Theodore Roosevelt wrote, 'Birth control is the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement'." ['Culture of death' is, therefore, truly an appropriate description.]

Sigmund Freud--no friend of religion--and Mahatma Gandhi are also quoted, warning of the dangers of contraception. (For Gandhi, see Catholic Insight, June '99 issue.)

The author continues:

"Notice, by the way, that all of the social and psychological disorders described above [but not included here for brevity's sake]--the broken homes, the child abuse, and so forth-are present within the 'heterosexual culture.' While it is true that the 'gay' subculture shows even higher levels of dysfunction on comparable issues, the culture of sexual inversion is not confined to homosexuality. Among heterosexuals, too, the transformation of sexual activity into a self-absorbed process--sustained by no commitment to children or to a spouse--has produced disastrous social and psychological results...."

Anglican turn-about

One of the public functions of religion is to shore up society's adherence to the natural moral law. When the institution of religion caves in on a moral issue, the other institutions (family, education, government, and the marketplace) cannot be expected to maintain the societal defenses.

The family-planning movement, the vehicle for the advancement of contraception, had its roots not only outside of Christianity, but among groups that were quite actively hostile to Christianity. The attack on Christian tradition was already well advanced early in this century. By the same time, the birth-control movement recognized the need to achieve some sort of religious sanction--and had even acquired a primary target for its lobbying efforts. In 1919 the Anglican divine C.K. Millard wrote in The Modern Churchman:

"Although many Malthusians [followers of population controller Thomas R. Malthus, Anglican parson and economist, 1766-1834] are rationalists, they are well aware that without some religious sanction their policy could never emerge from the dim underworld of unmentioned and unrespected things and could never be advocated openly in the light of day. To this end birth control is camouflaged by pseudo-religious phraseology, and the Anglican Church is asked to alter her teaching. Birth controllers realize that it is useless to ask this of the Catholic Church but as regards the Church of England, which makes no claim to infallibility, the case is different, and discussion is possible."

If a single date could be identified as marking the historical break from the Christian consensus on traditional natural-law principles of sexual morality--if one desired to highlight the West's very first official step down the slippery slope--then August 15, 1930, must be chosen as that unhappy date. That was the day when the Lambeth Conference of the Church of England, by a vote of 193 to 67, approved a resolution which read in part:

"Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood,...and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used...."

With that vote, the traditional moral unity of Christendom on this issue was broken.

On human life, 1968

Just as the acceptance of contraception in 1930 was a turning point on sexual morality in Western society, so the rejection of Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Letter on Human Life in 1968, opposing contraception, was a turning point within the Catholic Church, all of us deceived by Satan "disguised as an angel of light" (1 Cor 11:14), like our earthly mother Eve eating the forbidden fruit because it" was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and...desirable for the knowledge that it could give" (Gen 3:6,22).

The author of the essay concludes:

"The current public debate on homosexuality...can be expressed in fairly simple terms. If heterosexual people cannot take on the responsibilities implied by heterosexuality, how can they ask the homosexually inclined person to take on the burden of his struggle for chastity? If the heterosexuals distort the relationship between man and woman at its most intimate level, through their decision to avoid begetting new life, how can they reasonably ask those who are oriented differently to resist their own particular temptation to distort their own lives?

"In fact, the mainstream of 'heterosexual America' today is now perilously close, in its attitudes and its orientations, to matching the symptoms that lie at the very heart of the homosexual affective disorder: the inversion into the self. The United States has created a culture of rejection, which is incapable of providing the antidote to the homosexual culture. Heterosexuals cannot affirm the sexual humanity of husband and wife while (at the same time) denying its fruit. The child-fearing, child-rejecting heterosexual community cannot but affirm the homosexual in his more complex cry for acceptance and love. Heterosexuals who insist on arrested sexual development for themselves cannot help but condone the same behaviour when it is exhibited among homosexuals.

"The massive social and psychological disorder we see all around us is not the making of the 'gay community.' Our current problems--including even the 'gay rights' movement itself--arose as a result of disorders that first became prevalent among heterosexuals. If we want to take the mote out of our 'gay' brothers' eyes maybe we should first remove the beam from our own. If we are to develop the attitude of love and affection that is central to helping members of the 'gay culture' overcome their inversion, then we Americans must first recover our understanding of the relationship between love, sexuality, and permanent commitment to spouse and children. We must first acknowledge the children each of us has been called to 'co-create' and to love, and we must show our love both for those children who are already in this world and for those who may yet come to be. Otherwise, if the two inversions--heterosexual and homosexual--continue to compound each other, the future is bleak indeed--especially for children, and for the society those children will be capable of building."
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Jul 1, 1999
Previous Article:The Battle for Normality.
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