Two articles on separate issues of sexual morality written by Catholics came to me today (January 18, 2013) via the internet. The regular news review of the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), a society dedicated to upholding orthodoxy in Catholic higher education, arrived in my email with a link to an article by Catholic theologian John King at the website Catholic Moral Theologyconcerning the deleterious effects of modern pornography prevalent via the internet. My Facebook friend and like-minded acquaintance Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), meanwhile, posted a link on my Facebook wall to his recent online Crisis magazine article, “Yet More Christians Silenced in Europe…and America.” Writing under a black and white photo of Third Reich Wehrmacht soldiers goose-stepping, Ruse therein discussed recent European Court of Human Rights decisions upholding “decisions of British courts that had decided homosexual rights trump the rights of Christians whose faith teaches them homosexuality is wrong.” Taken together, the two articles indicate how bizarre celebration of homosexuality in the modern world even as other sexual phenomenon outside of lifelong marriage between a man and a woman remain subject to legitimate critique.
King’s article surveyed the disturbing conclusions of various writings on the ubiquitous, accessible nature of internet pornography. King cited, for example, Pamela Paul’s book Pornified: How Pornography is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. Paul’s research had shown, among things, that 75-77% of males had downloaded internet pornography and 70% of 18-24 year-old males visited porn sites monthly, with over half of all spending on the internet estimated as being related to sex.
Such pornography viewing had made pornography addiction, infidelity, and risky sexual behaviors among the internet-related problems treated most frequently by mental health professionals. Exposure to pornography also altered outlooks, as only 39% of men who engaged in heavy pornography viewing during a six-week experiment affirmed the statement “marriage is an important institution” as opposed to 60% of men who engaged in no pornography viewing during this period. Men, and women, exposed to pornography were also significantly less likely to want to raise a daughter. Men and women, though, had differing estimations of pornography, with 58% of women judging pornography as demeaning to women as opposed to only 37% of men, and 47% of women believing that pornography harms a relationship, as opposed to only 33% of men.
So far, though, no one like King or Paul has apparently suffered any repercussions for reiterating and refining longstanding objections to pornography due to its objectifying and promiscuity-promoting nature, whether expressed in secular or theological terms. Not so with those who would continue to show traditional disapproval of homosexuality. Ruse’s article references not just the legal defeats of a British marriage registrar and a counselor who lost their jobs for their refusal to condone homosexuality as a condition of their work, but also the now nationally-known withdrawal of Pastor Louie Giglio from President Barack Obama’s second inauguration after his condemnation of homosexuality in the 1990s became known. Yet as Ruse and I both know from the research of our common acquaintances at the Christian conservative Family Research Council (FRC), where Ruse’s wife Cathy is a legal analyst, homosexuality entails numerous destructive effects. FRC‘s copious and well-documented material concerning homosexuality’s harm to personal health and societal well-being in terms of homosexual “marriage” and adoption are available online for anyone to consider.
Given the various negative consequences of these two sexual phenomena outside of the critical social institution of marriage, questions arise why they have such disparate social treatments today. In free societies, pornography largely remains an often frowned upon matter of private adult autonomy while the global homosexual movement is increasingly gaining acceptance of its agenda as a civil rights issue demanding public approval. While pornographers like Hugh Hefner in the Playboy Mansion have historically been content with being unhindered by otherwise disapproving individuals in a “live and let live” libertarian legal regime, Ruse writes that modern homosexuals will brook no such agreement to disagree, but rather “want Christians” (and all others) “prostrate before them and before the law.”
Ruse’s article in the end indicates the reason for these differing demands for autonomy and approval. “What we know,” he writes,
is this. No matter how many Christians they persecute and prosecute, no matter how much society tolerates or even celebrates their sexual proclivities, no matter how many Gay-Straight Alliances are foisted upon our public schools, none of that will still in them the nagging feeling that what they do in bed is unnatural, and their attraction to their own sex is morally wrong. That nagging voice will never go entirely away.
Homosexual demands for public approval thus manifest a vain, twisted effort to achieve public moral compensation from society for private behavior that simply cannot be right. Falsehood cannot coexist with freedom, as the latter will expose the former. Thus advocates of a false agenda must suppress freedom with force.
Pornographers like Hefner, in contrast, revel in a natural (at least in principle), physically attractive human sexuality, pursued albeit outside of the proper boundaries of marriage’s all-encompassing love and life-giving possibilities. Hefner is not ashamed of his heterosexuality, although he should be ashamed of its exploitation. Disregarding traditionally recognized mores, Hefner is perfectly happy to validate the old adage that sex sells.
As Ruse and others have noted, however, demands for approval of homosexuality entail as a corollary an infringement of the autonomy of those who rightfully refuse such approval. Giglio’s decades-old comments prompting his withdrawal from the Obama inauguration already then warned of an “aggressive agenda” that has only become more angry, authoritarian, and aberrant in the ensuing years. Showing charity and compassion to homosexuals, hating the sin while loving the sinner, calm demurral, along with all other such responses indicated by Giglio’s statement to “lovingly but firmly” oppose homosexual demands, will no longer be acceptable in lieu of outright submission. In the future, individuals such as parents who in the past had been not so concerned with pornography or other forms of nudity but deeply disturbed by homosexuality will met with social condemnation for such a prioritization of sexual sin.
Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has described Gilgio’s experience as manifesting a “new Moral McCarthyism” with respect to approval of homosexuality. While liberals claim to be “pro-choice” with respect to abortion, a claim becoming increasingly suspect in the latest debate over Obamacare‘s contraception and abortion mandates, liberals will allow of no such choice concerning approval of homosexuality. As with Obamacare, liberals will use pressure to force many people to accept something fundamentally unwanted. Ultimate fulfillment of the sexual revolution’s “genital liberation“, as described by the Bill Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, centered around the twin pillars of approval of homosexuality and mass, publicly-financed abortion on demand, demands aggrandizement of the state just as much as any other leftist agenda. Far from being libertarian, the modern homosexual movement is actually state-centric in nature.
Ruse offers the hope that the homosexual movement’s “madness one day shall pass” in a distant future. In “happier and saner days” to come, “people will marvel at how… did the tiniest of minorities — no more than 2% of the population — get in a position to silence the beliefs and punish the practices of hundreds of millions?” Ruse’s image of jackbooted, goose-stepping soldiers, though, recalls that in past totalitarian movements of Socialism and National Socialism militant minorities have been able to cajole and cow confused majorities into approving of, or at least acquiescing in, pernicious agendas actually not in the majority’s interest. There is now nowhere to run, only a hard fight ahead.