Friday, August 01, 2008

40 Years Ignored--But Correct

The landmark encylical Humanae Vitae is 40 years old. When not derided, it is ignored.

But the predictions contained within the text cannot be dismissed lightly--largely because they have come to pass.

Mary Eberstadt reminds us of those:

Let’s begin by meditating upon what might be called the first of the secular ironies now evident: Humanae Vitae’s specific predictions about what the world would look like if artificial contraception became widespread. The encyclical warned of four resulting trends: a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments

Hmmmmn. So what actually happened?

In the years since Humanae Vitae’s appearance, numerous distinguished Catholic thinkers have argued, using a variety of evidence, that each of these predictions has been borne out by the social facts.

Yah, they were Catholics who connected the dots. But the dots were put on the white-board by secular scientists from a number of disciplines: George Akerlof (economics), Judith Wallerstein (psychology), Blankenhorn, James Q Wilson, Kay Hymnowitz....

To this list could be added many more examples of how the data have grown and grown to support the proposition that the sexual revolution has been resulting in disaster for large swaths of the country—a proposition further honed by whole decades of examination of the relation between public welfare and family dysfunction (particularly in the pages of the decidedly not-Catholic Public Interest magazine). Still other seminal works have observed that private actions, notably post-revolution sexual habits, were having massive public consequences; Charles Murray’s Losing Ground and Francis Fukuyama’s The Great Disruption come especially to mind.

Some, of course, argued (with Paul Ehrlich; remember him?) that "overpopulation" would soon cause mass starvation and death. Ehrlich postulated in 1968 that the End of the World would arrive in the 1980's.

Their intellectualoid successors are AlGore & the Green Movement, who posit that it will not be 'starvation,' but 'resource-deprivation.' Make no mistake: the Eco-Freaks are just as anti-human as Ehrlich & Co.--and just as wrong.

How wrong was Ehrlich?

Less than half a century later, these preoccupations with overwhelming birth rates appear as pseudo-scientific as phrenology. Actually, that may be unfair to phrenology. For the overpopulation literature has not only been abandoned by thinkers for more improved science; it has actually been so thoroughly proved false that today’s cutting-edge theory worries about precisely the opposite: a “dearth birth” that is “graying” the advanced world

....if you want to call it "advanced."

As to [HV's] claim that separating sex from procreation would deform relations between the sexes and “open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards,no less than the Feminazis have demonstrated that, yes indeed, that has happened.

From Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem to Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer on up through Susan Faludi and Naomi Wolf, feminist literature has been a remarkably consistent and uninterrupted cacophony of grievance, recrimination, and sexual discontent. In that forty-year record, we find, as nowhere else, personal testimony of what the sexual revolution has done to womankind.

...Woman’s chief adversary is Unreliable Man, who does not understand her sexual and romantic needs and who walks off time and again at the first sashay of a younger thing.

So say the Feminists. See, for example, this from Ms. Gottlieb in The Atlantic:

Gottlieb writes as one who played by all the feminist rules, only to realize too late that she’d been had. Beneath the zippy language, the article runs on an engine of mourning. Admitting how much she covets the husbands of her friends, if only for the wistful relief of having someone else help with the childcare, Gottlieb advises: “Those of us who choose not to settle in hopes of finding a soul mate later are almost like teenagers who believe they’re invulnerable to dying in a drunk-driving accident. We lose sight of our mortality. We forget that we, too, will age and become less alluring. And even if some men do find us engaging, and they’re ready to have a family, they’ll likely decide to marry someone younger with whom they can have their own biological children. Which is all the more reason to settle before settling is no longer an option.”

It is no surprise that men are not complaining.

Forty years later, the evidence is in. As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver observed on Humanae Vitae’s thirtieth anniversary in 1998, “Contraception has released males—to a historically unprecedented degree—from responsibility for their sexual aggression.” Will any feminist who by 2008 disagrees with that statement please stand up?

This is hardly limited to typical male-female relationships; but the militant homosexual movement was actually fired up by the Anglicans, in 1930.

By giving benediction in 1930 to its married heterosexual members purposely seeking sterile sex, the Anglican Church lost, bit by bit, any authority to tell her other members—married or unmarried, homosexual or heterosexual—not to do the same. To put the point another way, once heterosexuals start claiming the right to act as homosexuals, [that is, to enjoy sterile sex], it would not be long before homosexuals start claiming the rights of heterosexuals

Eberstadt finds that it is not only the feminists and secular sociologists who question the Pill--now even a high-level Baptist has come to endorse Paul VI's language.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, observed in First Things in 1998 that “in an ironic turn, American evangelicals are rethinking birth control even as a majority of the nation’s Roman Catholics indicate a rejection of their Church’s teaching.” Later, when interviewed in a 2006 article in the New York Times Sunday magazine about current religious thinking on artificial contraception, Mohler elaborated: “I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the Pill. . . . The entire horizon of the sexual act changes. I think there can be no question that the Pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and within marriage to a separation of the sex act and procreation.”

Baptists are not in the habit of echoing Roman Catholic thought, by the way.

Eberstadt is not kind to the Contracepting Catholics, either.

...many Catholics complain about the dearth of priests, all the while ignoring their own responsibility for that outcome—the fact that few have children in numbers large enough to send one son to the priesthood while the others marry and carry on the family name. They mourn the closing of Catholic churches and schools—never mind that whole parishes, claiming the rights of individual conscience, have contracepted themselves out of existence. They point to the priest sex scandals as proof positive that chastity is too much to ask of people—completely ignoring that it was the randy absence of chastity that created the scandals in the first place

And she connects a few more exceptionally tragic dots:

In fact, the disgrace of contemporary American Catholicism—the many recent scandals involving priests and underage boys—is traceable to the collusion between a large Catholic laity that wanted a different birth-control doctrine, on the one hand, and a new generation of priests cutting themselves a different kind of slack, on the other.

It is important to remember that the Church defined homosexuality as "a grave disorder," a term which can be applied to contraceptive sex just as fittingly. As pointed out above, once the grave disorder of sterile sex is 'normalized,' the logical result is 'normalization' of the other. After all, "it's all just sex," right? (By the way, Eberstadt also mentions porn in the essay....)

Thus, US Dioceses who flatly and flagrantly ignored the Vatican's instruction NOT to ordain homosexuals did so following precisely the Rules of Sexual Revolution which were the antithesis of Humanae Vitae.

But as a friend of mine said yesterday about aircraft accidents, "you cannot win when fighting Nature."

And he never thought he'd be echoing Pope Paul VI.


Billiam said...

Very good post Sir! Thoroughly on the mark!

Karen said...

So, when did the wonderful era where men respected women occur? What evidence to have from actual humans that men as a group ever thought of women very highly? Please, don't quote novels or poems; fictional and fantasy women don't count.

Dad29 said...

Well, Karen, if novels and plays don't count as a reflection of reality (to a greater or lesser degree) then there's not much point in education, eh?

And, of course, you've chosen to use "group" terms ("Men/Women") instead of what really counts, which is "A man" or "A woman." It's a good trick; Marx used it to great effect in a slightly different context.

But maybe you'll recognize Biblical (non-fictional) characters such as Ruth, Sarah, or the Mother of God--who were treated with respect--as was Mary Magdalene post-conversion.

In the final analysis, respect for any woman derives from her equality with any man as a child of God.

Thus, neither the Agnostic, Secularist, nor Atheist Societ(ies) can make "respect" happen.