The Sexual Revolution and the Roman Catholic Church

There is 1 Comment

Jim's picture

It’s a hell of a note when priests and prelates of the Catholic church become object lessons in sin. Such men embody the very horror stories they ought to be telling, in gaudy detail, in their own retreat sermons to illustrate the monstrous possibilities of human nature. The majesty of the mystical body of Christ has been radically diminished, replaced by a sort of capillary effect of shame. That shame has been encroaching for years now, a cancer making its way to the heart of the church.

The errors that have caused so much mischief and grief in the Catholic church, however, were not particular to the church alone. Changes in the church were part of a larger shift in America and the world in the past 60 years. Most of the abuse by clergy represents collateral damage caused by the sexual upheaval of the 1960s. The damage is continuing—and it isn’t so collateral anymore.

Before the sexual revolution, Catholics and the broader world stressed responsibility, gravity and adult standards of behavior. Men wanted to act like Gary Cooper or Humphrey Bogart. This was the legacy of the Great Depression and World War II, which formed generations with a sense of mortal consequences. Sex was a serious business. It might well involve the profound consequence of engendering another life. Girls knew how to be careful and how to say no—and how not to get to the point where they would no longer be able to say no.

But then came the turning of the lake, the onset of another world. With the advent of the pill, heterosexual intercourse became frequent and casual and usually inconsequential. The ’60s let daylight in upon sexual magic, then and ever after, by detaching sex from its biological consequence. In case of emergency, there would soon be Roe v. Wade. This was either paradise or a very stupid idea.

Homosexuality never involved the possibility of pregnancy. Now heterosexual intercourse was also liberated. Sex was free to become whatever it liked: recreation, entertainment, lifestyle, identity. This, like the pill, was an evolutionary advance. People could embrace new possibilities of love and self-expression in keeping with their deeper natures, emancipated from the tyrannies of the sperm and egg, the blastulablob, the diapers and the upchuck and the school tuitions. Either that, or it reflected a fatal rebellion against the designs of nature—or, as some thought, of God.