It’s been 52 years since the “Summer of Love”. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The Sexual Revolution undermined authentic love. Today, society encourages promiscuity, pornography, contraception, and abortion. Alternative forms of marriage and divorce are now common place. This mind-set degrades women, disrupts families, and disregards children. It perverts marriage and human sexuality as well. Time for a new “Summer of Love”.
The late 1960’s was a tumultuous time. I do not know anyone personally who attended either of these events. My father was serving our country in the United States Army (and had no problem standing up to any fellow soldier who questioned his values when it came to chastity). Needless to say, I was not raised to view this virtue haphazardly.
Times Were Changing
Methods needed to be updated. The old fashioned, chivalrous practices of courtship, marriage, and conjugal love had faded. They were soon replaced with the immediate pleasures of free love, with sex and cohabitation (and other acts contrary to the status quo). Eventually, new ideologies developed concerning human sexuality. These quickly permeated into the social landscape. This is not to imply that all of the world’s problems concerning sexual immorality (and its devastating effects) began during this period. However, it demonstrates that little effort was made to control the flow. Research proves that the Sexual Revolution had a horrendous effect:
“Sex education was not a topic of major concern before the sexual revolution began in the United States and Europe. The abandonment of traditional constraints on sexual behavior gave birth to the terms “free love” and “free sex.” The underlying expectation was that greater sexual freedom would lead to greater happiness. However, the sexual revolution has brought an avalanche of social and health problems.”
This new way of thinking and acting bolstered many of this generation. Feelings of liberation and empowerment became revered and celebrated. Traditional and conservative values were attacked, mocked, and repackaged. Not much has changed since.
A Church Willing to Take Risks
On July 25, 1968, Pope St. Paul VI released Humanae Vitae (HV). This provided a response to a disordered form of sexual behavior. The encyclical begins:
“The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.
The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings, (HV, 1).”
Our late Holy Father paid a price for his courage and willingness to address such a hot topic during this period in history. Many were disinterest in living in accordance with long held teachings and beliefs concerning love, marriage, and intimacy. People wanted more control over their sexual lives and bodies. They felt the Church had overstepped her boundary. The fact is that the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church and reminding the faithful (and the world) of our roles as sexual beings, created in the image and likeness of God.
Not all rejected this act of reiteration and authority on the part of the Church. However, some did. There were many reactions. Some listened, while others ignored. Some protested (Declaration of Königstein) and others left (reminiscent of John 6:66).
The Three Components of the Sexual Revolution
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, author of The Sexual State, expressed the three components of the Sexual Revolution: the contraceptive ideology, the divorce ideology, and the gender ideology. These factors have led to approval on current issues such as “abortion is a backup to contraception”, “children don’t really need both parents”, and “the sex of the body is insubstantial, and can be changed at will.” The ongoing abuse of societal norms continues to contribute to major problems concerning marriage and family, with children paying the biggest price.
Today, children live in a culture of death, where human life is reduced to a commodity. In addition, they are taught to embrace a life deprived of a mother or a father. Finally, they are deceived in matters concerning their sexual identity. The motto is “Anything goes!”. Personal opinions outweigh objective truth. This poses a great challenge to those who disagree. They must tolerate everyone and everything. If they refuse, they are demonized and labeled as ‘insensitive’ or ‘bigoted’.
Called to Tolerate (or Something More)?
In the Gospel, Jesus said, “…As I have loved you, so you should also love one another”, (John 16:34). Jesus did not call us to tolerate, but to love. And the form of love Christ commanded is agape love. Tolerance is based on feelings. Agape love is an ‘act of the will’. This love mandates one to tell another what they need to hear. Not simply what they would like. Some may refer to this as ‘tough love’.
We love others despite what they do and say; even to us. Agape love is the highest form of love. It is also the most daring. One must accept the fact that a friendship or relationship may be severed as a result. It is easy to go along in order to get along. But, that is not our role as Christians. Jesus never condoned sin. He never compromised love. Neither should we.
Preserving the Ways of Old
We marvel at works of antiquity still present in our world. The pyramids, the Parthenon, the statue of David, the Pietà, and others. We are captivated by the Sistine Chapel. Patience was practiced and perfected while creating these masterpieces. The artist (and builders) appreciated the image in their minds before they celebrated them in reality. Chastity creates the reality of love.
We must practice self control and master of our sexual gifts. Chastity accomplishes this. Pope St. John Paul II articulated this beautifully in his Theology of the Body:
“This gift, together with love and chastity, helps to identify in the sum total of married life that act in which, at least potentially, the spousal meaning of the body is linked with the procreative meaning. It leads to understanding, among the possible manifestations of affection, the singular or rather the exceptional significance of that act: its dignity and the consequent serious responsibility connected with it… The virtue of conjugal chastity, and still more the gift of respect for what comes from God, mold the couple’s spirituality to the purpose of protecting the particular dignity of this act, of this manifestation of affection. In it, the truth of the language of the body can be expressed only by safeguarding the procreative potential.”
The new “Summer of Love” cultivates respect for the dignity and sanctity of our bodies. Not corrupt them for the sake of vanity and pride. Chastity revives God’s plan for man, woman, and marriage. The “virtue of conjugal chastity” upholds our moral responsibility as sexual beings. Sexual intercourse is meant to be unifying and procreative. Always open to life. These elements of marital love, intimacy, and the human family are among the highest treasures we possess. We must always remain faithful to them and lead others to do likewise.