News headlines are full of the latest in a series of sexual abuse scandals, this time of the abuse of gymnasts by USA Gymnastics coaches and at least one doctor. Sexual abuse and assault are continuing to happen, and continuing to be covered up on an institutional scale. Despite more awareness and education programs aimed at protecting against abuse, it seems as though no complete reform in society has occurred from the many sexual abuse cases exposed in recent years.
Sexual abuse is a direct result of disrespect for the dignity of human life and the culture of death. The culture of death promulgates contraception, divorce, sex and violence in the media, pornography, abortion, euthanasia, rape, human trafficking, pedophilia, bullying, and sexual abuse and assault. All of these evils try to destroy the image and likeness of God in humanity. The culture of death puts immediate gratification of lust and unhealthy desires ahead of the rights of other human beings, and is responsible for the prevalence of sexual abuse and assault in America today.
America has disregarded the value of human life for decades, beginning with the rise of artificial contraception. Contraception insidiously opens the culture to disrespect for human life, by removing openness to life from the sexual marital act, and saying no to assisting God in procreation. It becomes easier to treat one’s spouse as a sexual object, an object of pleasure, instead of respecting their life-giving potential in fertility. Contraception removes responsibility from the marital act. So many Americans are open to, and using, contraception without realizing how it fundamentally strikes a blow to the heart of their union, and to the fatherhood and motherhood imprinted in their bodies. Its use started America on a path of further disregard for life and human dignity.
Contraception leads also to increased premarital sex, which is almost universal in America. A 2002 survey from the National Institutes of Health shows that by age 20, 75% of those surveyed had premarital sex, and by age 44, 95% of people had. Sex outside of marriage further decreases our responsibility to each other, without the life-giving bonds of the marriage vows. This used to be unacceptable in society, but in the past 60 years it has become common. Sex is now acceptable completely outside of any semblance of a relationship, or pretense of love, with one-night stands and hook-ups casually occurring. On TV, there are many jokes about not knowing even the first name of the person slept with last night, and about how the 3rd date is the standard time at which a new couple first has sex. Loss of the respect of the importance of marriage to society results in people losing respect for the sacredness of their bodies, and the sacredness of the wedding vows, a bond for life before God.
Pornography is a major factor in the continuing sexual abuse crisis. Pornography dehumanizes women and men, because those who watch it are objectifying the people involved by using them to attempt to fulfill an unholy fantasy. It shows only the animal act of sex divorced from the sacredness of the human person and the true and lasting bonds of marriage. Also, watching one form of pornography can lead to increasingly darker pornographic fetishes. The “actors” in pornography are also being brutalized and brutalizing each other, even though they are consenting at least in part to the performance. “Hot Girls Wanted” is a 2015 documentary about how the pornography industry attracts young girls to the business, and shows absolute evils lurking for vulnerable young people with a dubious ability to consent. Shown from the perspective of young women in pornography, one can see the darkness that has overcome them in the guise of money and adventure. This important documentary, produced by Rashida Jones, shows how akin pornography is to human trafficking. It is incredibly disturbing to watch, but is an important tool with which to wake America from its apathy. Rape, sexual abuse, human trafficking, and pedophilia follow from the degradation of pornography.
Children are becoming sexualized at increasingly young ages. TV shows and books with a teen audience have shown drug use and sexuality for years. Hollywood marketing attempts to sexualize younger and younger children, in a way that should be criminalized. For example, in the 2014 movie “Horrible Bosses 2,” a character played by Jennifer Aniston suggestively describes a sex fantasy involving 14-year old boys. In the movie, this is a moment where the audience is expected to laugh. Many more examples are easily found in the mainstream entertainment industry. Sexualization of children thinly disguised as humor has demoralized society and led to sexual assault and abuse. This is a total act of objectification where even children are seen only as sex objects without any thought to their welfare or human dignity.
Education of children, parents, educators, and volunteers has helped with awareness, but there is much work still to be done. Activism, advocacy, and boycotts help, but are not fixing the problem. Victims of abuse are not always taken seriously, especially when the accused perpetrator is powerful and wealthy How is healing possible for those brutalized by rape, sexual assault, and child abuse, and how can we fix our broken and jaded culture so that people are protected from those who would seek to dehumanize them for their own immoral pleasure?
A strong argument for healing can be found in the Church’s teachings, and in Scripture. God knows what will heal America, and his laws are good for us and for each other.
The culture of death must be rejected in even the least form, and we must repent and change our minds and hearts. Everyone needs to do this, because everyone has sinned. Once we take responsibility for our own transgressions, however small they seem to be, healing can begin. We need to pray for forgiveness for ourselves, and the conversion of others. Pray for the protection of the vulnerable, and the conversion of those who are doing harm or thinking about harming others. Reject the culture of death. America can no longer allow its morality to decline, or our problems will only increase. Reject contraception, pornography, abortion, and euthanasia-evils that destroy the dignity of every human being. Stop allowing media corporations to sexualize youth through TV, the internet, fashion, and marketing. Pornography could not survive if no one watched it. For those in addiction to pornography, seek help. Bring the problem into the open through a good Confession, and a support group, and just keep trying to change, even when it is hard.
When we turn to God in a spirit of repentance, he will heal our land and rid us of evildoers who take advantage of the vulnerable for their perverse sexual pleasure. He promises this to us in His holy scriptures: “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)