The Reconquista Initiative
Sexual Morality & the Prescience of the Patriarchy
During the last century, one of the most controversial moral documents ever written was “Humanae Vitae”, a 1968 Catholic encyclical which banned the use of contraception among faithful Catholics and reinforced the practice of orthodox Catholic sexual ethics in an increasingly secular world. Of course, at the time it was written—meaning the sexually libertine sixties—the document was widely mocked and disdained, causing a great furor against it from both within and without the Catholic Church. And while opposition to the document was not unexpected, what was unexpected, and what is particularly interesting, is just how prescient the document was in its assessment of what would follow from the widespread acceptance of contraception in Western society. Indeed, consider this quote directly from the document itself:
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue [namely, banning contraception] if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
Now, reading that quote, it truly is fascinating just how correct and how prescient the old Catholic patriarchs who wrote Humanae Vitae were. Indeed, in just a little more than one generation, this document, and the conclusions contained therein, has been thoroughly vindicated.
First, note how marital infidelity has publicly exploded since the advent of contraception and contraceptive abortion, evidenced by no less than the creation of popular websites literally devoted to spreading and supporting marital infidelity, sexual swinging, and spouse swapping. Frivolous divorce has greatly increased as well. And many an average woman now publicly dons the uniform of a whore and often openly acts like a stripper. Furthermore, even general moral standards concerning sexuality—at least when compared to the traditionally Christian standard of sex being bound to the confines of a faithful marriage—have sunk to a very low state of debauchery and depravity. Now you might like the fact that these standards have been lowered in this manner, but that is not the point; the point is that Humanae Vitae—a document written by a religious institution which many progressives regard as the epitome of the patriarchy—was entirely correct that the standards would lower from the Catholic norm when contraception, and last-ditch contraceptive abortion, became widespread.
Second, notice how correct the Catholic Church was when it charged that a man who becomes accustomed to the use of contraception will begin seeing women as little more than pieces of sexual meat for his use. For example, today, with “liberated” women, we have rappers and musicians acting as if the women in their videos are little more than sex toys. Furthermore, the porn industry—where “empowered” women are made to physically pleasure multiple men for the visual pleasure of multiple men—has exploded in ways readily predicted by the writers of Humanae Vitae. And women such as these are so “free” that they allow men to treat them like filth, even though they do not necessarily need to allow this to occur; but, of course, some men are quite happy to treat women in this way given that these women now readily allow men to do so. And yet these issues are not restricted to pornography, for many men now see women as little more than objects for male sexual gratification.
And note that even if someone objects that such treatment of women occurred in the past in the West, the fact is that such behavior was, at that time, understood to be morally repugnant and wrong, even if it was still practiced; indeed, the less savory sexual practices and immoralities were, in the past, done in the shadows and with shame, not proudly done in the open, as it is today. Furthermore, at least in the past, the vileness of some men was checked by the drive to be chivalrous, the unavoidable life-creating consequences of sex, and by the chastity of many women, thereby forcing men to treat women as reality dictated: namely, as the physically weaker sex, but as the sex that bears life and needs to be revered for this sacred act. But today, where many in Western society scorn the culture of life, women are still tacitly treated as the physically weaker sex—for they are—and yet they receive little of the chivalry or reverence that was previously given to them. And this is the consequence of contraception, for it has removed the consequence of sex from the man and has erased the fear in women that she might become pregnant if she has sex outside of marriage; and so now men use women as masturbatory toys and women, who think they are liberated, actually become emotionally and psychologically broken from being used in this way.
Finally, notice as well how the writers of the encyclical were also right about governments being more than willing to push, as well as force, contraceptive methods on the populace once they became accepted in society at large. A person need only think of China’s one-child policy to see the use of this force in effect. And the use of such tactics were employed by other governments as well, whether coercively or through the use of propaganda.
So the claim that Humanae Vitae was a prescient document is hard to dispute. And yet, even given all this prescience, the question might still be asked: So what? So what that some old men were right about what would happen when contraception became widespread in the culture? Well, the ‘so what’ that is important is this: if the patriarchal Catholic Church was right about the consequences that would arise from the social acceptance of contraception, especially given the ridicule that it endured for its position, then this fact gives us some grounds to trust the Church when it tells us about the potential consequences that will arise from other major social and cultural changes, such as the acceptance of so-called homosexual marriage or the decoupling of gender from biological sex. Now, while for some individuals, the degradation of our moral culture in the way that the Church warned about is exactly what they wanted to have happen, and so such people are happy that the Church was right in its prediction. But for those of us who did not wish these changes to occur, and yet who did not listen to the patriarchs in the Catholic Church, maybe, in the future, we should take the pronouncements of wise old Catholic men a little bit more seriously when they warn us of the calamities that will follow once we make a major change to the way that our culture operates.
And so, the long and short of it is this: the Catholic Church, in its encyclical Humanae Vitae, was right in its description of what would follow in the West once the contraceptive mindset permeated our culture, and the fact that such a patriarchal institution was correct should make us think twice before we dismiss the Church’s preaching on other cultural matters. And it should also make us think twice before accepting the prognostications of the academics and intellectuals who oppose the Church concerning the moral slide that our culture will endure once it drops the last vestiges of Christian morality.
Anno Domini 2016 11 16
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam