It may come as a surprise to many that the fruits of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s are not anything really new. Western society has faced these issues before with the sexual morality of the Pax Romana. When the Empire began its conversion to Catholicism, this loose morality was defeated precisely because of the acceptance of Catholic teaching. Today, however, is a different story. It is now “en vogue” to have thrown away traditional Christian notions of the sacredness of marriage and adhere to an ancient but “new” standard of marriage.
As mentioned in a previous article, judicially speaking marriage has become a joke. In the last month alone, four more federal judges have ruled bans prohibiting same-sex marriage and polygamy are unconstitutional. Many who fight for the traditional view of marriage may be beginning to wonder what can be done to stop this tide of judicial activism. Over half of the states’ bans have been ruled unconstitutional. It would seem that traditional Christian ethics in America has definitively come to an end. While the US Supreme Court still has not rendered a decision, one should realize that if these judicial decisions are upheld it will likely take decades to reverse them. So what is the practicing Catholic to do?
Firstly, it is important to know how our society, and our judiciary in particular, came to accept the practice of so-called same-sex marriage. This phenomenon arose precisely because of social and political practices that weakened the practice of marriage as covenant. It became more socially acceptable to have sex outside of marriage. In fact, it became so acceptable that minor children began to engage in the practice. This became so prevalent that most prosecutors simply refuse to prosecute minors who engage in statutory rape. What is even more troubling is that prosecutors also fail to prosecute those young adult men who engage in sexual intercourse with minors. Unfortunately, statutory rape laws of the nation have become laws with no teeth. Abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood routinely flout these laws by providing both abortions and contraceptives to minor children without reporting anything to the proper authorities.
The next degradation to the family came with no fault divorce. Some people may not remember this, but there was a time when obtaining a divorce was much more difficult because a party had to prove fault of the other party within a court of law. Obviously, that is no longer the case. One may simply file for divorce because he or she is bored with their spouse. Several notable celebrity divorce cases have proven the problems with the current status of divorce laws.
Secondly, one should look to the early Church as a model since they too had to deal with such practices within the world. The early Church showed itself to be holy; that is “set apart” from the rest of society. Simply, the early believers became a model for others. These families were different from the typical Roman or Greek family. What many advocates of the modern Sexual Revolution fail to realize is that Christian marriage created a situation that actually treated women as equals. In ancient times, women were treated as property. Divorce has always been detrimental to women in both ancient and modern times. When a divorce happened women had no say and had no rights to property and therefore it created a situation in which to make a living was extremely difficult. This was the case for not only women who lived in pagan homes, but even within the Jewish community of the time. Today’s statistics still show that divorce is harder on women than on men. Studies indicate that men typically earn more than women and, as a result, women have more financial hardships as result, especially if they have dependent children. However, Christianity creates a revolution within marriage and for women’s equal rights as shown within St. Paul’s writing; in his First Letter to the Corinthians he states, “A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:4). Here Paul makes a strong point; both husband and wife have equal dignity. Church historian Rodney Stark also agrees with this analysis when he states, “Although some classical writers claimed that women were easy prey for any “foreign superstition”, most recognized that Christianity was unusually appealing because within the Christian subculture women enjoyed far higher status than did women in the Greco-Roman world at large” (The Rise of Christianity, pg. 95).
But what does this ancient history mean for the modern Catholic today? It means that today’s Christian will need to become models every bit as much as their ancient counterparts. This can be achieved in several ways. One approach will be legislation to minimize the harms created by such judicial decisions. The pro-family movement will need to take a chapter from the pro-life movement. Pope Saint John Paul II’s principle of incrementalism is not only for pro-life issues. But certain initiatives will need to take place. Divorce reform is badly needed, but an important question arises, why has it not taken place yet? Many understand the pitfalls no-fault divorce poses particularly for women and children, but little reform has taken place. It would seem that even those politicians who advocate for traditional marriage, that is marriage between one man and one woman, are part of the problem to some extent since many have been divorced and remarried. They see no need for true divorce reform. Efforts should be made to replace those politicians with people who truly do have a traditional vision of marriage. Furthermore, district attorneys should be pressed to do their jobs in prosecuting cases in which flagrant violations of statutory rape are ignored. It has become increasingly obvious that many abortion centers simply ignore the laws when it comes to this. Organizations such as Operation Rescue and Live Action have shown this numerous times. Furthermore, it is not unreasonable to prosecute those 19 or 20 year old men who impregnate girls who are under the age of 18. Prosecutors who fail in this simple task should be voted out of office.
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Finally, Catholics need to live truly Christian lives. One should remember same-sex marriage is not THE problem, but rather a symptom of the problem. A society that does not have a profound appreciation of a Theology of the Body will develop habits that are not only detrimental for the soul, but detrimental for marriage and society in general. Truly Catholic living has the power to change society.
The tide had turned for the so-called Pax Romana when Constantine the Great finally embraced Christianity. It is said that he had a vision where he saw an image of the cross and was told by Christ that it was under this sign he would conquer and unify the Roman Empire. Christianity began to civilize the barbaric pagan practices, including immoral sexual practices. Again, it will be under the sign of the cross that Catholics can reconquer their homeland.
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