Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Holistic View: Catholic Sexuality (Part 4)

Perversions of the human sexuality more problematic than birth control, such as homosexuality, transsexualism, and pedophilia are growing more and more common, and more acceptable to large segments of society.

Remove one boundary from Christian teachings on sexuality, and the rest must fall in turn, because all Catholic teaching on sexuality (and everything else) is intertwined. Remove the restriction against birth control, and the prohibition on abortion will fall. Accept abortion, and "gay marriage" must also be allowed. And so the process continues, until every perversion of sexuality is legitimized.
Perversions of sexuality such as homosexuality and pedophilia are the ugliest outgrowths of the permissiveness of the modern age. They show a complete and utter lack of disregard for the beauty of human sexuality, and substitute pleasure-seeking for love. 
For the pedophile, the action of intercourse is not self-gift, but about power and lust. The pedophile is someone who cares only about pleasure for himself or herself. The well-being of the child being molested is no concern at all to the pedophile. This focus on self-love (also present in a different form in masturabation) is completely antithetical to  a Christian conception of sexuality, which seeks the good of the other. 
Homosexuality is even more explicit in its rejection of a Christian worldview concerning intercourse. Homosexual acts do not result in mutual self-gift or self-reception. During homosexual intercourse, two people engage in an act which is sterile and medically damaging to both parties. The role of women is discarded by a male homosexual relationship, while the role of men is ignored by a female homosexual relationship. 
Transsexuals (more properly, those who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder) further blur the lines of gender. They suffer from the illness of believing that they were "born in the wrong body." And those who do not seek help for this disorder often mutilate their bodies, out of hatred for the gift of their body God has given them. To transsexuals, sexuality is a curse which they must alter in order to be perfect - with disastrous results.
There may well be very real urges towards these perverse sexual behaviors. Human nature and human sexuality have been corrupted by sin, and as such, they are rife with all kinds of perversions. Homosexual attraction, attraction towards children, and Gender Identity Disorder are indeed possible in a fallen world. And those who suffer from inclinations towards these perversions must be treated with respect and dignity.
But that fact does not mean that they should be considered acceptable. Society does not call some madman who believes that he is the King of England sane. (at least, not yet) A square is not a circle because some claim that it so. Truth remains truth, despite the yammering of the millions who reject truth.
It is not love to let those who remain in darkness continue in their sin. It is not love to tell those who wish to continue on self-destructive paths that their evil deeds are not sins. Admonishing the sinner is not an evil; rather, it is a spiritual work of mercy.
The Church will not allow people to remain in the depths of their own perverse darkness unchallenged. She cannot accept the lies of homosexuality, transexualism, pedophilia, and incest as normal and desirable. And she will preach those truths to any who have ears to hear, and defend those truths with Her very existence.   

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Holistic View: Catholic Sexuality (Part 3)

Widespread acceptance of birth control is the root cause of a host of social ills in our country: promiscuity, divorce, abortion, gay marriage, and a loss of gender identity. And anyone who accepts birth control finds it logically difficult, if not impossible, to oppose any of these other social evils. 
In my last post, I outlined the philosophical reasons why birth control was sinful. It is now time to give a fuller explanation of the dark fruits of birth control.
The link between birth control and promiscuity is easy to explain. If the threat of an unwanted pregnancy is removed from the sexual act, it becomes much easier for a man and a woman to engage in casual intercourse without fear of consequences. It allows men to sleep with women without the responsibility that a child might be conceived, and gives women the illusion of being able to tempt and to seduce men without consequences.
Given the illusion of risk-free intercourse, many more men and women will choose to undertake the sexual act. And since birth control makes pleasure the first goal of sexual intercourse, men and women will seek this pleasure more often, and be more likely to seek to engage in intercourse with multiple partners.
The major disincentive to promiscuity, unlawful pregnancy, is rendered ineffective by contraception. Promiscuity is an obvious consequence of birth control.
The link between birth control and divorce is also easy to explain. I discussed the divisive nature of birth control and how it changes the act of intercourse in my last post. Birth control creates a fundamental divide between a married man and woman; couples who use contraception use each other for sexual gratification rather than desire each other for their own sake. This disconnect is revealed in the skyrocketing divorce rates that came about after the widespread rise of contraception during the sexual revolution.
Also, relationships with children – families – are more likely to survive marital troubles than relationships without children. Children tend to cement a bond between a couple; a married man and a woman are more likely to stay together in times of trouble, in order to keep a stable family. A couple with no children is more likely to split, because the partners have less incentive to hold a relationship together.
But the links between birth control and the others may initially be difficult to see. At first glance, birth control and abortion may seem different from one another. Contraception prevents pregnancy, while abortion terminates pregnancy.  
But in reality, birth control and abortion are two sides of the same coin. They each have the same ends in mind – the prevention of human life from being born and the removal of the “curse” of fertility from the sexual act. 
Abortion is merely “cleaning up” where birth control fails. The failure to prevent pregnancy in birth control is “taken care of” by abortion. And since birth control is often ineffective, abortion is a handy backup to have in case pregnancy ensues.
(Planned Parenthood, which is the chief proponent of birth control in this country, also happens to be the largest provider of abortions in the United States.) 
Acceptance of birth control also removes the major defense against homosexuality and "gay marriage." If intercourse is solely for the purpose of pleasure, as modern society advocates, then very few viable arguments left against homosexuality remain. The defenders of traditional marriage have practically lost the battle against homosexuality if they accept the pleasure premise of intercourse.
Birth control is the foundation of the premise that fertility doesn’t matter in a sexual relationship. It is at the root of the “pleasure principle” in sexual intercourse today. The acceptance of this principle effectively destroys the Christian worldview regarding the nature of sexual intercourse. If only pleasure remains as an end of intercourse, then there is no harm in two consenting adults – of whatever gender – engaging in intercourse of any type. Birth control thus destroys the basis for a logical argument against homosexual acts.
The loss of gender identity in society and calls for women priests are based in birth control, as well. Through contraception, a woman theoretically has the same easy access to sex without consequences that a man has. In effect, the woman who uses contraception to prevent contraception seeking to become more “man-like” in her sexual behavior – she can engage in the sexual act without the fear of pregnancy.
The Holy Grail of feminism, the idea that women have all the pleasures of manhood without any of the consequences, can only achieved only if the role of motherhood is rejected. “Equality” with men, in a feminist’s mind, is in reality sameness. Birth control, with its removal of motherhood and its "evening of the sexes" regarding sexuality, is at the root of this feminist notion. Men and women are rendered "equal" sexually by birth control - and that "equality" logically extends everywhere else, if birth control is accepted.
"Women priests” are a logical extension of this idea of “gender equality.” Divorced from the idea that men and women were created by God equal in dignity but possessing different roles, women priests are merely another measure of the demand for equality among feminists. After all, if women are “equal” to men (translation: the same), shouldn’t they have the same rights as men?
As these examples prove, human sexuality divorced from the plan of God is destructive – and the fruits of birth control are many and awful indeed. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Holistic View: Catholic Sexuality (Part 2)

Perversions of sexual intercourse strip the act of its very meaning and joy, and create bitterness and sorrow among those who pervert intercourse. An act which was created by God to solidify the bond between a man and a woman and to cooperate with God in creating new life is altered by sexual perversions; intercourse twisted from its natural ends separates those who engage in such behavior and is an act of rebellion against God Himself.
The most common perversion of intercourse is birth control (also known as contraception). Millions of people – even millions of Catholics – practice various forms of contraception, and harm themselves and disobey God's law by doing so.  
Very few people understand the deleterious effects of contraception. Even those that do follow the teachings of the Catholic Faith regarding contraception often do not understand the reasons why they do so.
But the philosophical reason why birth control is wrong is simple. Birth control changes the very nature of the act of intercourse for the worse.
For as discussed in the previous post, intercourse is an act of full, free, and complete self-gift between a man and a woman. Both partners give of themselves to each other completely in the sexual act.
Contraception inhibits that free and full gift of self. The gift of fertility is deliberately withheld if contraception of any kind is practiced. Both partners cannot give freely of themselves if they choose to engage in contraception. And each partner in a contraceptive relationship desires each other less, and seeks to use each other for sexual gratification more.   
It is telling that all forms of birth control inhibit desire in some way. Whether through birth control pills, which chemically reduce female (and male) desire, or condoms, which are quite literally barriers preventing direct touch between a man’s genitals and a woman’s genitals, or other forms of contraception - intercourse becomes less enjoyable through the use of birth control in any form.
The joy wrought by intercourse becomes limited to mere pleasure-seeking. Instead of total self-gift between a man and a woman, contraception causes a man and a woman to seize what pleasure they can while engaging in the act of intercourse, and slams the door on the possibility of the completion of a deeper mystery. The very biological purpose of intercourse becomes shameful and a curse to practitioners of birth control; users of contraception attempt to alter biological reality.
(Natural family planning is not the same thing as contraception. Intercourse during periods of natural infertility is not morally problematic. Intercourse during periods of artificially created infertility, as created by contraception, is morally wrong. God created periods of natural infertility in a woman - working with Him, rather than against Him, is not problematic.)
The Bible praises fertility on numerous occasions. Numerous Biblical passages (i.e. Genesis 1:28, Genesis 38:9-10, Psalm 127) praise fertility and condemn contraception.
Another Biblical passage that does not directly talk about contraception per se is nevertheless instructive in revealing the sinister nature of contraception. The story of Ananias and Sapphira, told in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:1-11), shows the harsh penalty for those who seek to deceive God and other human beings - as users of contraception attempt to do. 
Ananias and Sapphira were early Christian converts who sold a piece of land and laid the proceeds from that sale at the apostles’ feet for distribution. A praiseworthy act, right?
But the couple withheld part of the sale price, and attempted to deceive the apostles into believing that they gave them all the money from the sale.
But the Apostles were not so easily deceived. For their offense, they were chastised by St. Peter – and both were stricken dead before the apostles for their deception.
Thepunishment of Ananias and Sapphira for withholding part of their gift of money to the apostles, and presenting it as a full gift is a terrible warning to couples who withhold the full gift of their own bodies from each other. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the representatives of the apostles regarding a mere financial transaction. How much worse is it for a man and a woman to conspire against God and each other, in claiming to give themselves completely to each other through the act of intercourse, while at the same time withholding from each other God’s gift of fertility?
A man and a woman who use contraception lie to themselves and to God through their actions. They lie to themselves by holding back part of the gift (fertility) that is the sexual act. They lie to God by deliberately thwarting God's gift of fertility. And these lies have dire consequences for those who accept them and for society.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Holistic View: Catholic Sexuality (Part 1)

A Holistic View: Catholic Sexuality (Part 1)
Catholic teaching on human sexuality provides deep insight into the mystery of the human person, but is horribly misunderstood by most people – even by many Catholics.
Far from denigrating sexuality, as many ill-informed people claim, the Church actually celebrates sexuality. The Church, displaying Her timeless and God-given wisdom, recognizes that sexuality was created for specific purposes by God – and that in order to be fruitful, it must be set within proper limits.
The very idea that God might place limits on sexuality is anathema to a culture that celebrates license and scorns self-restraint. But the limits God placed on sexuality are for our ultimate freedom and joy – and people who embrace those limits are better and happier men and women for their obedience to God’s law.
The act of intercourse serves two purposes. The first purpose of intercourse is unitive – two partners are bonded through the sexual act. The second purpose of intercourse is procreative – creating new life. Neither purpose can be hindered if the act of intercourse is to be acceptable to God – or, for that matter, ultimately fruitful and joyful to the partners engaging in the act.
The first purpose of intercourse, the unitive purpose, is one that most people still accept – albeit in a highly perverted form.
Man and woman are complimentary beings, designed to complete the other. Man and woman are literally united in the marital embrace. In the words of Scripture, through intercourse, “the two shall become one flesh.” (Mark 10:8) That dictum is quite literally proven true in intercourse.
And this union is incredibly joyful. Man and woman were designed by God to be in communion – and when a man and a woman come together, that act of union is incredibly joyful. God designed the act to be that way.
God made clear that men and women were meant to be united from the very beginning of the human race: “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18) The act of intercourse unifies man and woman, both physically and spiritually.
When utilized within its proper perspective, the unity between man and women is the highest of natural actions – a bond that is a reflection of the full communion between one man and one woman.
But there is an even greater mystery inherent in intercourse. 
The natural attraction between a man and a woman becomes quite literally a participation and sharing in the creative activity of God. New life is created by the joyful act of loving union between two partners.
Through intercourse, a man and a woman assist God in His creative activity. The act of union is the way in which the human race survives. The act is designed to bring new life into the world.
Not with every act, of course – not every act of intercourse results in conception. But the gift of life is made possible only through intercourse - and true intercourse can only take place if there are no hindrances to the act. 
The act of intercourse is not to be taken lightly or casually. One should not go willy-nilly about sleeping with whoever he or she pleases. There are grave consequences if intercourse not between one man and one woman.
The twofold purpose of intercourse can only be successfully utilized in an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. As C.S. Lewis notes: “Whenever a man lies with a woman, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured.” Intercourse creates a bond between a man and a woman that changes the very nature of their relationship. Through the act of intercourse, a man and a woman vow fidelity to each other with their bodies.
Infidelity – whether before or during marriage – breaks this exclusive relationship between two partners. The exclusive bond of love that exists between two lovers is cheapened by extramarital sexual acts. And unity between two partners cannot be exclusive when someone enters into a relationship meant to be exclusive with more than one person.
The exclusive bond of love in marriage can only be forged when two partners vow fidelity to each other in front of witnesses – within the bounds of marriage. Only before God, in the presence of His people and before His representative, can a man and a woman vow their love to each other, fully and completely. Only after they vow total fidelity to each other can they confirm their unity physically.  
The Church encourages, celebrates, and sanctifies the unity between a man and a woman within the context of marriage. The bond of marriage, as signified by the wedding bands both partners give each other during the marriage ceremony (in the West, at any rate), is a bond of exclusive and absolute fidelity that one man and one woman pledge to each other. The bond reflects the communion created when two partners vow lifelong fidelity to one another. A marriage is completed when the marriage is consummated - the physical act of intercourse reflects the spiritual unity between one man and one woman vowed during the marriage ceremony.
And this is why the Church speaks so adamantly against offenses against sexuality. The Church takes sexual offenses so seriously not because She demeans the act of intercourse, but precisely because She acknowledges and celebrates the holiness of the marital act.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Poetry Session!

The dawn begins to break, the nightmare ends,
The gushing blood is stopped, the wound now mends.
The lightning bolts which rent a crackling sky,
The inner voices whispering the lie,
The wolf of madness howling at the door,
Their time is done; the nightmare now is o'er!
Now shall my restless spirit be at peace,
And all my doubt and terror swiftly cease,
The hateful haze which struck me nearly blind,
Has left me, leaving but a clearer mind.
Awake, my soul! The demons turn and flee,
Arise, your Master calls you! I AM FREE!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

“Those Whom You Have Given Me”

St. Therese of Lisieux titled the last chapter of her masterwork, Story of a Soul, with the beautiful heading: “Those you have given me.”
This is, in my mind, one of the most beautiful lines in her work. For it reflects an incredible understanding of how human beings should treat each other. Every person that St. Therese met, even those who annoyed her, she treated as a gift from God. Rather than reject those who rejected her, she worked all the harder to be nice to them, and thanked God in joyful gratitude for allowing them to influence her life. We would be wise to follow her virtuous example.
For everyone – those who help us, those who torment us, and those who ignore us – they are all woven into God’s master plan for our salvation. Everyone that we meet affects us in some way – for good or for ill. But if we accept the ill that others do to us as sufferings we must bear, and embrace our crosses, we will find that they too are helping us on our road to salvation, if we allow them to do so.
Every human being we meet is a gift to us. Every human we interact with brings us consolation or suffering. Even those who ignore us (and whom we ignore) are faces we meet on the way to eternity, destined like us to either heaven or hell. Everyone we meet is a potential brother or sister in Christ, and should be treated as such.   
The reverse is true, too. Everyone we meet is changed by our presence, often in ways that we cannot perceive. We, too, are gifts to other people, and should see and treat ourselves accordingly.
We have the power to influence people to follow Christ by our good example. Even a smile to a sorrowful stranger has an impact, which we may not be able to see – but it affect those around us. And the better people we are, the better the chance that we will be able to point them to Christ.
Very few of us understand this power we have, to radically change souls for good or for ill.
As Christians, we are told to “see the face of Christ in all people.” But it is difficult for our limited human minds to do this, with all the obvious imperfections of other humans. Often, I fall into the trap of growing angry towards others who inconvenience me or annoy me. And it is not my place to judge hearts, but I often find myself judging others, despite Christ’s command. And I suspect I am not alone.
Christ warned us to avoid this view of thinking. Instead, he enjoined us to treat others with dignity, as the Scriptures tell us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44)
So it must be for us; we should love our enemies and those who inconvenience us. They are our crosses – and we must embrace our crosses. We must treat those who annoy us as fellow humans, not as enemies.
But we are often blinded by our own self-centeredness into ignoring our influence on people. We tend to see ourselves as “free agents,” without influence on others, and act accordingly - to our own detriment and that of others.  
Therese’s view of people as gifts is far more Christ-centered. Her “little way” is a wonderful way of understanding the role of other people in our salvation. Far from being strangers to each other, we become what we are called to be – servants in Christ, if we chose to do so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Road to Sanctity

St. Thomas Aquinas was famously asked to write a book on the subject of how to be a saint. When asked about the progress of the book, he handed back his book to his questioners.
They found written inside two simple words: “Will it!”
St. Thomas’ simple message shows us that sanctity is possible and attainable – but that it is rarely achieved by self-professed Christians, precisely because most Christians don’t have the desire to achieve it.
For sanctity is not a gift given to a few. It is a constant, lifelong choice to follow God unreservedly, whatever the cost.
This is not to say that sanctity is easy to attain. The road to sanctity leads through years of toil and self-sacrifice. Our stubborn wills, weak and tainted with concupiscence as they are, often resist God’s call to holiness. We have to resist temptation in order to stay on that road.
But at the same time, the road to sanctity can be traveled – by those who wish to attain it.
The shining examples of the saints, who lived and died professing their faith in joy, is a perfect reminder that sanctity is indeed possible for humans to achieve – if they wish to do so.
For the saints were not “special” men and women in their own right, as many seem to believe. They merely made the choices that they and we are supposed to make. They simply chose to follow God’s path for them. If we wish to be saints, we merely have to follow Him.
And God always gives His creatures enough grace to resist any temptation that comes their way. While we are indeed tempted to fall into sin, we are not forced off the road to holiness by external forces. We only stray from that road if we choose to do so.
This fact makes refusal to follow in Christ’s footsteps all the more galling. He set rules for His creatures so that we might be truly happy – and we knowingly resist His will, to our own detriment. Our refusal to follow the path of sanctity is thus a direct affront to God - and a source of misery to us.
When Christ commands us to “be ye therefore perfect,” (Matt 5:48) He is not making a suggestion. His demand that we follow Him completely, as He made us to do, is a command. And He does not command the impossible. It can - and should - be done.
It is our task to become living beacons of God’s holiness; shining examples of sanctity in a world sorely lacking in it. God gave us the tools to do so, he challenges us to do so – and He expects nothing less from us.

Monday, August 22, 2011

On Liberty and License

Ask most residents of any “free world” country the question of whether freedom is a good or bad thing, and they will think that you are crazy. The common response would be: “Of course, freedom is good! Are you out of your mind?”
In many cases, however, freedom – at least the kind of freedom most people consider to be freedom – is a very bad thing.
For not all freedom is created equal. There are two distinct types of freedom: liberty and license, and people often get confused between the two. There is a very important distinction to make between these two types of freedom.
Liberty can be defined as the ability to do what is good and proper. More simply, liberty is “freedom of,” so to speak. It is the freedom to be virtuous, to do what is right without hindrance.  
Liberty is true freedom. In the words of the famous saying, “Freedom is the right to do what one ought.” And freedom is impossible to achieve if one is impaired from doing what is morally right.
The nation of America was founded on the premise of liberty. The First Amendment guarantees the right of Americans to speak freely, to assemble, to petition, to publish, and most importantly, to practice their religion in peace, without government interference.
True liberty does not grant a man the right to be a menace to society. It does not grant a person the right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theater, to found a destructive cult that opposes the social order, and to publish lies and slanders in the press (well, not obvious ones, at any rate). The First Amendment does not give someone the power to do whatever he or she wants – one still must operate within the bounds of a moral order, even under a society that promotes liberty.
License, by contrast, means the ability to do whatever one wants. More simply, license is “freedom from.” It is the freedom from any restraint whatsoever.  
License is false freedom. A total lack of restraint leads to anarchy and chaos, in any society. Imagine a city without traffic lights, stop signs, and policemen. Absolute chaos would ensue.
Now, of course, very few people would argue for complete license – because most people see that there have to be some rules in society. But moral license – the idea that one should be allowed to do and act as he or she pleases – is promoted in society by a host of virulent influences.
Because of these evil influences, modern society is based on the delusion that license is true freedom. Margaret Sanger’s infamous slogan “No Gods! No Masters!” is a perfect expression of the license that pervades our culture. Society rejects God and scorns obedience to any moral or natural law.
The irony is, license essentially enslaves one to sin. A person who cannot refuse his own out-of control desires is a slave, fundamentally unhappy and bound to a dark master.
Moral license leads to divorce, rampant STDs, illegitimate births, and many other societal ills. The fruits of moral license ultimately prove to be a drain on society and enslave their practitioners in a web of sin and sorrow.
But liberty – the true liberty that a Christian worldview provides – is fundamentally freeing. Kept within the boundaries of faith by Christ, the Christian is free to be truly happy as he or she explores the wonders of God’s creation, within the moral bounds which Christ has set. The Christian who follows God's commands is free - in a way which those who are slaves to their own desires can only dream of.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Words of Attraction: Important Distinctions

There is a very subtle distinction to make between three common terms to describe the physical attractiveness of a person – one that is rarely made.
The words sexy, pretty, and beautiful are often used interchangeably. But there is a world of difference between the three terms – and great peril results from not drawing a distinction between them.
I will attempt to make a distinction between these three terms.
Sexy can be defined as arousing or appealing to the sexual appetite of another. 
Pretty can be defined as possessing naturally physical pleasant qualities. 
Beauty can be defined as possessing goodness in a physical sense. Someone that is physically beautiful possesses some measure of visible goodness. Beauty is the physical manifestation of virtue.
It is very possible for each of these three levels of physical attractiveness to exist simultaneously in a person. It is also possible for only one of these levels to exist in a person. They are not mutually exclusive but nor are they necessarily found in a person.
I may be aroused by a woman who I do not consider attractive or possessing virtue.  I may notice a girl is “easy on the eyes,” but am not sexually attracted to her nor see physical goodness in her. And I may see virtue in a woman who I do not find visually attractive and who does not arouse my sexual appetite.
Ideally, of course, a person who is seeking marriage should find all three in the person he or she is seeking to marry. Certainly at the very least, the person should see beauty (on some level) in his or her spouse.
But the three terms do not have the same meaning, and should never be confused with one another, as they often are.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Poetry Session!

I think men often need reminders that if we really wish to follow Christ, we must often take the painful path...

A Darker Road

I see Your body straining on the cross,
And yearn to bear with You Your weighty road,
And long to join You, paining in your loss.
God, grant that I make walk a darker road!
A path of painful thickets, thistles, thorns,
That road make mine, though I am frail and weak,
That I may bear mens' hatred, jeers, and scorns,
And learn to suffer ill and still stay meek.
The via dolorosa that You walked,
Let every step I take with Yours combine!
As You were mocked by men, may I be mocked,
And may my cross decrease the weight of thine!
The torment of the valley makes it sweet,
To bear Our cross in pain and joy, complete.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Code of Manhood

Look deep within any man, and you find a set of rules by which he lives and dies. Men live and die by a code of manhood.
But different men live by different codes of honor. Christian men live by a code of honor that promotes moral virtue and inner strength. Hedonist men live by a code of honor that encourages “manly prowess” and ignores – and indeed laughs at – traditional male virtues.
Society shapes the code of manhood that most men follow. When a society is virtuous, manly virtues such as self-restraint, courage, chivalry, and honor are encouraged by society. In a strong and morally grounded society, men tend to adopt a code of honor that upholds virtue. These virtues led to the growth and rise of civilization – hence the rapid growth of the Roman republic.
But when a society is morally corrupt and decayed, manly virtues disappear, and decline results. Rome during the period of the barbarian invasions was a sick society, where true manhood was cast aside in orgies of pleasure-seeking. Roman collapsed because of its abandonment of the code of true manhood.
Like the Romans of barbarian times, we live in the throes of a cultural miasma. The culture today is diseased – and as a result, manhood is a rare phenomenon in modern society, and often mocked by cultural elites wherever it is found.
In modern America, the male code of manhood dictates that manliness results from physical prowess, from looks, from muscles, from how many women one can bed. A code of manhood that expects unmanly actions of its practitioners is the order of the day.
The stark truth is, of course, that those who sleep with a host of women don’t have the guts (and if only males were reading this, I would be much stronger in my condemnation) to commit themselves to one woman. Men who fail to live virtuous lives, in the last analysis, fail to be true men.
But the prevailing expectations for men demand behavior that excludes virtue entirely. It is incredibly difficult to be a man when men today are bombarded with the message that pain-free pleasure is the highest good.
A new cult of manhood is needed – one that encourages strength of will and character, one that promotes virtue instead of immorality, one that inculcates respect for femininity instead of denigrating it as only a source of pleasure. In other words, a cult of manhood that encourages men to be men, rather than slaves to animalistic pleasure.
But men rarely become what they should be without proper example. To foster a code of manhood, a culture of Christian virtue is needed - for that is the culture best suited to encourage true manly virtue.
In other words, culture needs to become truly Christianized into one that will encourage a true code of manhood.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Physical Attraction and Marriage

There are two extremes to be avoided when it comes to understanding the role of physical attraction in marriage. The first extreme is to overvalue the importance of physical attraction. The other extreme is to discount the role of physical attraction altogether.
The truth lies in the middle of these two extremes. Physical attraction is important to the success of a long term romantic relationship. But it should not be the only – nor indeed the most important – qualification for a successful marriage.
Physical attraction serves two purposes in marriage – one obvious, the other not.
The obvious reason why physical attraction is important is that the main purpose of marriage, that of creating and raising a family, is rendered very difficult if no physical attraction exists between the partners. Most relationships start and are held together in large part due to natural attraction between a man and a woman. If this element of mutual attraction between the two partners is lacking, than marriage will be rendered very difficult.
If either partner in a relationship is not attracted to the other on a physical level, than the partnership should not exist.
I wouldn’t want to marry someone who wasn’t attracted to me – in all aspects, including the physical aspect. I want to be desired by my future partner – in every way imaginable. And I would expect that my future wife would demand no less of me.
Attraction between both partners in a marriage, ideally, should exist on all levels – physical, spiritual, and emotional.
The second way in which physical attraction should exist between the partners is more subtle.
Physical beauty tends to reflect goodness. Physical beauty – true physical beauty – tends to reflect inner virtue.
Goodness shines from virtuous people. The more virtuous a person is, the more physically attractive the person will be.
Not all the time, in all people, of course. Some evil women are very pretty, while some virtuous women are outwardly ugly in appearance. (Note that I am distinguishing the terms pretty and beautiful – I will explain the difference between the two in a separate post.) But over time, physically attractive men and women who live evil lives outwardly show the effects of their character, while physically unattractive men and women who live virtuous lives show forth their true character. Outward virtue tends to reflect inner virtue. Outward ugliness tends to reflect inner ugliness.
A common objection to this point is the "beauty" of movie stars and models and the stereotypical standards of attractiveness that modern society foists on a credulous public. But in reality, these products of modern society are airbrushed and staged and made up to the point that they bear little resemblance to actual men and women. (And if you don’t believe me, look at pictures of the stars – without makeup. It’s a rather – eye-opening experience.)
Of course, this is not to say that physical beauty is the only part of marriage, or even the most important part. Moral virtue should be the first thing one should look for in a potential spouse. Other important qualifications for a successful marriage include: shared beliefs, shared interests, finances, family. (The list could continue indefinitely.)
Besides, physical beauty exists in many people. But a person can only marry one person, unless death releases one party from the partnership.
Natural attraction can arise in many people. Marriage is a complete and exclusive bond between a man and a woman. So mere physical attraction cannot and should not be the only factor in choosing a mate.
A person seeking a spouse should choose a mate who possesses some level of physical beauty (whether in voice, in looks, etc.). But he or she shouldn’t make it his or her first priority.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Paradox of Christianity

The whole of Christianity, at its heart, is paradoxical. As Christians, we believe things that seem on the surface to be nonsensical. But upon close inspection, these seeming contradictions of Christian thought are mysterious paradoxes, which are keys to understanding truths that speak to the very essence of human existence.
Christians are called to be joyful, but are also warned not to expect happiness in this life. We are given a whole host of wonderful gifts by God – but we are asked to sacrifice these good gifts if we wish to be truly happy. We are commanded to take up the yoke of Christ, for as he tells us: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt 11:30) - yet at the same time we are asked to “take up our cross” (Luke 9:23) and follow Christ – wherever He might lead.
The list of seeming contradictions in Christianity could continue indefinitely.
These paradoxes are not mere curiosities of the Faith; they are woven throughout the very fabric of Christianity. Our faith is built on the giant paradox of Christ. The all-powerful God proved willing to take on mortal flesh and become a human being so as to redeem us. He literally took on our sins so that we might be saved from our own frailties and folly.  
These fundamental paradoxes of Christianity are hard for our limited intellects to accept. After all, who would want to experience the pains of suffering and self-sacrifice except masochists and crazy people?
But Christian paradoxes reveal deeper wisdom. Self-sacrifice helps us to better appreciate the gifts we have been given, and suffering gives us the opportunity to strengthen our wills and to become more Christlike.
But the deeper wisdom of Christian paradoxes is often rejected by modern society, which laughs at and preaches against the very notion of self-sacrifice and which shudders at the mere mention of suffering. The leaders of society, entrenched in positions of authority and cultural influence, are too often loath to accept the spirit of self-denial and self-giving that the Christian mindset would entail.    
It is for this reason that the supposedly learned and wise often scoff at the Church. They are comfortable – and indeed, too narrow-minded – to accept the paradoxes of Christianity which humbler and more simple men can accept. The mysteries of faith are often too deep for the minds of educated elites to comprehend, while the simple can humbly accept and embrace them, even if they do not fully understand them.
It is thus paradoxically true that: “God chose what is foolish in this world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in this world to shame the strong." (1 Cor 1:27)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Are Protestants Christians?

Those of you who have been following this blog have probably noticed that I frequently interchange the words Christian and Catholic in my posts.
This is not carelessness on my part. It is deliberate. For Catholicism and Christianity are one and the same, and I treat them as interchangeable. Roman Catholicism is the faith founded by Christ, and its teachings are those set forth by Christ. All other types of “Christianity” do not possess the authentic teachings of Christ in fullness – and their followers cannot be considered true Christians.
It is for this reason that I do not consider Protestants true Christians. (There, I said it!)
This is not to say that I believe that Protestants don’t believe in God or Christ. They do, and many Protestants have love and reverence for the person of Christ, and honestly believe that they are doing His will.  
But to be a Christian, one must follow the teachings of Christ completely – the actual, full body of Christ's teachings, and not merely a part of them. And Roman Catholics are the only people who follow Christ’s teachings as He set them forth 2000 years ago. Protestants, despite their laudable belief in Christ and in the validity of Scripture, only profess and believe the truth of Christ’s teachings in part, and not in whole.
Christ demands complete allegiance of his followers. He laid out a firm body of teaching for His followers – and He demands that they fully accept the teachings and guidance of the one true Church that He established. And humans are not free to pick and choose which teachings of His we wish to follow. He demands our full and complete love and attention – and will not be satisfied with anything less. Only those who follow Christ's faith - i.e. - Roman Catholics who believe in and practice the teachings of the one true Faith - are worthy of the name Christian. 
It is for this reason that Christ states: "Not everyone who calls to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 7:21)  Many who claim to follow Christ – many who even believe that they are following Christ – do not in actuality follow Him. St. Cyprian's famous dictum "Outside the Church there is no salvation" remains just as true today as it was 1700 years ago.
This does not mean that all Protestants are condemned to Hell. But it does mean Protestants cannot truly and completely follow Christ so long as they remain Protestant.
And in that sense, Protestants cannot truly be called Christians.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Poetry Session #2

God never stops seeking our conversion as long as we are alive, no matter how often we reject Him. And if we wish to have our stubborn wills broken, He will break them. In that spirit, I present this poem:

Break Me, Lord!

Break me, Lord! My soul still flees Thee:
Still it burns yet spurns to see Thee.
Track me ‘cross ten thousand miles
Stalk me to the tropic isles.
Run my soul down until it stops
Pursue it ‘til at last it drops
Too faint to run, too tired to flee
At last at rest fore’er in Thee.

So close to You, yet so far still!
Shatter me! Smash my stony will!
I cower from You, still You come,
Catch me quick so I succumb!
 Go after me with all your speed
Your chasing, Lord, I sorely need.
Although I scorn You and displease
Always pursue me! Never cease!

 Hunt me through fire, briar, and storm,
Hunt me through ice, rain, chill, lukewarm,
Let loose Your hounds of heaven swift
To catch this fool who spurns your gift.
And when I’m caught, spur me to chase
Others who run the same fool’s race.
Break me, burn me, beat me down
Till I receive Your heavenly crown!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Principles

Intelligent men often cannot agree on the most basic of matters. Irreconcilable opinions are common in debates, where both sides do not change their opinions in the slightest.
Why do people’s opinions rarely, if ever, change? Are people just too stubborn to change? Or is there something deeper underlying their stubbornness?
Both of these answers are correct, in a way. Quite literally, it’s a matter of first principles.
First principles are the starting points in every person’s argument. They are the assumptions on which people base their opinions and thought processes.
Often, two first principles of people are diametrically opposed. Thus, while two separate arguments may be completely logical, they are often based from different starting points – and thus logical arguments often come into conflict with one another.
Any successful debater must logically address the first principles of another person’s argument in order to win a debate. Ignore the first principles of an argument, and the argument still stands. But a house without foundations cannot stand. Similarly, an argument which has illogical first principles cannot survive under close scrutiny.
But first principles are a core of people’s beliefs – and even if they are proven to be illogical, many people will still cling to them. Most people will vehemently defend their core beliefs – many, even, with their lives.
This is why conversion – in a religious, political, or intellectual sense – is so rare. People are unwilling to give up their core beliefs – even if their initial premises are proven to be completely illogical. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Darwin's Case Against Homosexuality

WARNING – there is clinical discussion of sexual terms in this post.   
One of the most boldfaced lies of the pro-homosexual movement is that arguments against homosexuality are solely based on irrational religious beliefs. Many who support traditional marriage foolishly allow the proponents of homosexuality to get away with this nonsensical claim.
But from a purely Darwinian standpoint, homosexuality is self-evidently a disorder.
Sounds crazy? Read on.
Let’s first examine Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
The University of Berkeley definition of natural selection is: “Differential survival or reproduction of different genotypes in a population leading to changes in the gene frequencies of a population.”
Translated into simple English, this means that individuals better suited to survive and reproduce pass on their genes more readily.  In other words, from a Darwinian standpoint, individuals who exhibit a greater capacity to survive and reproduce are more “successful,” and have a greater influence on the genetic makeup of a species.  
(As a purely enjoyable aside, does this mean that traditional Catholics who do not engage in birth control are superior to those who use birth control, in Darwinian terms?)
With this definition in mind, consider these simple facts about homosexuality:
1.       Homosexual acts are medically dangerous.
This rather obvious fact is violently disputed by many in the homosexual community. But the facts are plain. Simple human biology shows that the human reproductive organs were developed to accommodate heterosexual and not homosexual acts.
There are many reasons why this is so – I will only list a few of them:
1)      The female vagina has multiple layers of protective tissue (specifically, what is known as squamous epithelial tissue) that protect against the transmission of diseases. The mouth and the anus have fewer layers of tissue that protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
2)      Ejaculation is an immunosuppressant – meaning that the immune system’s defenses are lowered at the point of ejaculation. In heterosexual relations, this allows sperm has time to enter and fertilize the female egg. In homosexual relations, ejaculation serves no fruitful purpose – and allows sexually transmitted diseases the opportunity to spread in places where there is little protective tissue.
3)      Tearing of sensitive tissue not designed to withstand repeated trauma often occurs as a result of non-vaginal sex.
(It should be noted that heterosexual acts of oral sex and anal sex, and other forms of non-vaginal sex, also carry the same risks.)
Behaviors commonly practiced by many homosexuals, such as anal sex and fisting, carry with them even more medical dangers. I have also not listed the mental issues associated with homosexuality, which are numerous and severe. See the links at the end of this article for more details.
Here are four of the many medical conditions that spread rapidly as a result of homosexual activity (I have linked to medical sites for each one. For more links to the negative consequences of homosexual behavior, see the links at the bottom of the article):  
·         Proctitis
·         Syphilis
·         Hepatitis C
·         HIV

Becuase of these illnesses, studies have shown that the life expectancy of homosexuals is lower than that of heterosexuals.
Studies cited by homosexual activists declare that homosexuals live 1.2 years less on average than heterosexuals, while other studies, most famously cited by Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute (a defender of traditional marriage), declare that homosexuals live 20 years less than heterosexuals.
Predictably, homosexuals often claim that any discrepancy in homosexual life expectancy is because of discrimination, repression, and paranoia on the part of heterosexuals, who oppress the gay population and refuse to allow them to marry. This fails to take into account the many medical difficulties inherently associated with homosexual activity.
It is clear that people who practice homosexual acts shorten their lifespans by doing so.
2.       The Darwinian theory of natural selection argues that the test of the success of a species is to spread the species. As the Wikipedia entry for natural selection states: “Modern evolutionary theory defines “fitness” not by how long an organism lives, but by how successful it is at reproducing.” Homosexuality, from a Darwinian standpoint, is clearly a disorder. Homosexual acts cannot produce offspring – so gay men and women effectively remove themselves from the gene pool by remaining homosexual.
Many claim that homosexuality exists in animals, and cite this as a justification for homosexuality in humans. But even assuming this claim to be true, the behavior of animals is certainly no justification for homosexuality in humans. Animals which do engage in homosexual behavior cannot propagate. Animals, like humans, eliminate themselves from the gene pool if they engage in strictly homosexual acts.
Homosexuality negatively affects the survival and reproductive capacity of its practitioners. Therefore, from a Darwinian standpoint, homosexuality is a disorder, which prematurely kills off those who practice homosexual acts, and which eliminates homosexuals from the gene pool.
Note: Homosexuality was originally classified as a disorder in the original Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the official list of all mental disorders), but was eliminated from the DSM-IV due to political pressure by homosexual activists. (This, too, is disputed by the homosexual community.) Activists are now trying to eliminate Gender Identity Disorder, more commonly known as transgenderism, from the newest version of the DSM, the DSM-V, slated to come out in 2013.
Helpful links:
Homosexual sites:
Neutral site (cited by anti-homosexuals):
Anti-homosexual sites:

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Irony of Tolerance

It is one of those bizarre truisms of human nature that those who accuse people of horrible conduct are often themselves guilty of the very deeds they accuse other people of.
This quirk of fallen human nature is also true on a societal level. Most notably, it is present in the case of tolerance.
Tolerance has become one of the primary virtues – perhaps THE primary virtue – in secular society. The public school system and prevailing culture indoctrinate people into believing that people must tolerate each other’s race, creed, sexual behavior, etc. In other words, kids are taught to accept differences in these traits as normal.
(Notice the false moral equivalence between race, creed, and behavior. Differences in behavior, belief, and genetics are placed in the same category – ignoring their fundamental differences! One can control behavior and beliefs, but not genetics – a fact which "tolerators" ignore.)
Opponents of “tolerance” recognize that some behaviors cannot be tolerated. They believe that acts which directly oppose the social order, such as homosexuality and abortion, cannot be tolerated if society is to survive.    
So far, everything is simple. The party of tolerance is opposed to the party of self-restraint. Upon first glance, the debate between these two camps seems like a simple clash of two coherent ideologies.
But then a curious fact asserts itself. The party of tolerance cannot tolerate the party of self-restraint, and demands that it be silenced completely.
The proponents of anti-cultural acts proclaim themselves as the champions of free speech and civil liberty – and turn around and demand the silence of those who oppose them.
The ACLU - self-proclaimed "defenders of free speech" - demanding that any hint of religion be expunged from secular society is perhaps the most delicious example of this irony. But the phenomenon is everywhere: homosexual rights activists, abortion advocates, and their acolytes in the news and entertainment industries completely ignore studies and arguments which undercut their positions. They instead decry defenders of traditional values as irrelevant bigots, who deserve no voice at all.
The hypocrisy of those who perpetrate this bait-and-switch is breathtaking. To proponents of “tolerance,” it is clear that all opinions are tolerable, but some opinions are more tolerable than others.
It is perversely ironic that the advocates of tolerance are the least tolerant of people. Those who demand that everyone’s voice be heard will not hear any opinion but their own.
And their voices, shrieking into their own darkness, demand that other voices be silenced, until only their cacophony remains.