The intellectual mood of our time could be best described as self-congratulatory. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was taken as fact that liberal democracies would sweep the globe. There was even a legitimate school of thought which believed we were witnessing “the end of history as such”. No more history, just one long march of inexpressible bliss as we reach “universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” The disasters of Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan suggest otherwise.
This self-satisfaction can be seen where religion is concerned. It is consigned to the history books, one of those weird things people used to do, like drowning witches or putting people in stocks, and the advancements of the age are ours and ours alone. We have once and for all delivered the final blow to Christianity and discovered things which have never been discovered.
As an example, watch Bishop Barron pour scorn on the glee of Christopher Hitchens and his ilk who believe they have realised the violence of the Old Testament is terminal to Christianity and anathema to Jesus’ message. As Barron argues, this problem has been puzzled over since the very beginning of our religion.
St. Augustine Discussed Contraception
Our approach to contraception, abortion, and sex is also not pioneering. When St. Augustine was writing, contraception was widely used. It’s not some genius idea of our time. We woefully underestimate the intelligence of the people of antiquity but they had worked out how babies were born and acted accordingly to prevent it.
St. Augustine said that couples
who use contraception “are not [husband and wife]; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame.” Clement of Alexandria wrote
-“the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted.” Clearly, our liberal thinkers were not the only people to try and liberate sex from the demands of procreation.
All we have done is ally our technological advancement with our culture of death to make contraception efficient and easy. The sexual revolution was not a revolution – it was a regression, a return to paganism, and the fruits are rotten.
Abortion is Not New
St. Augustine also wrote against abortion. As the Catechism teaches, Augustine saw sex as being solely for procreation and as a way for a couple to partake in the creation of God. Therefore, abortion was a perverse and violent disturbance of this moral good. He wouldn’t have been writing about these things if it wasn’t a widespread practice.
We seem to think that because we are so technologically proficient this somehow makes what we are doing is new. It’s just the same tired, old ideas repackaged for the shiny, sparkling edifice of Western capitalism. Sex is pleasurable and having children is difficult and so people will always find ways to try and have their cake and eat it.
The ideas behind the sexual revolution were muddled and wild, of liberation and oblivion but by throwing off the constraints of Christianity morality we became slaves to sin. The trick they try and pull is to try and argue that this is somehow different to all the arguments that have come before. It’s not.
Even Transgender is Not a New Issue
One of the new things the liberal media and thinkers are working themselves into a frenzy over is transgenderism, the supposedly groundbreaking idea that sometimes we are born in the wrong body and a man may actually be a woman.
We have been subject to much admonishment for not being trans-friendly enough as a society as we are ‘educated’ on the differences between gender and sex. Oh, brave new world! Well, neither brave nor new because who was writing against this practice in the 5h Century? That man St. Augustine again.
Talking of “public effeminates” walking around with “anointed hair, whitened faces, relaxed bodies, and feminine gait” he said that they “defiled the earth and outraged the heaven.” Whilst Augustine was writing against the Galli
, priests who castrated themselves for the Great Mother, the current trend seems to be those worshipping the god of self, or perhaps science, oh mighty science which explains everything and makes everything possible.
The point is not to deride transgender people, and as Catholics we should always have our arms open to any who wish to bring their broken souls to the feet of Christ, but to show what we are up against is not new to modernism, nor should we let the liberals think they have reinvented the wheel. All of these sins have existed throughout human history.
The battleground will always be within. What we do now, though, is denying this battle, denying right and wrong, and validating every passing whim and desire the average human experiences.
It Is Revolutionary to be Catholic
The key is to avoid exceptionalism. When presented with these arguments as somehow being new and exceptional we should say no. We should tell our interloper, they are arguing the same arguments the Christian has faced since the Resurrection of Our Lord. People like to feel they are original and cutting edge but the truly revolutionary thing, at the moment, is to be Catholic.
Secondly, we should avoid exceptionalism in our own thinking, too, for by thinking we are up against an exceptionally dark and immoral time we will tend towards despair. When all is said and done, Jesus rose from the dead. Having an awareness that we are facing what all our ancestors before us have faced might hearten us, might ready us for battle, and give us the fortitude to go out and proclaim the good news of the Gospel.
Ronald Reagan said
, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” The same applies to Christianity – it must constantly be fought for. The Devil is tireless in his attempts to propagate his calumny and confusion and so we need to respond with a consistent defence of the truth. Casting your eyes back over history shows this battle has always raged and it’s our time to carry the torch of Jesus’s resurrection.