Saturday, April 29, 2017

What Sex is For

Sex, God has revealed, is for 1) procreation, and 2) uniting, with the natural joy and pleasure which results, husband  and wife until death. The Catechism explains: 

The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.he spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. 

Yet this is just what the sexual revolution has done—Separate just what God never intended to be separated. But because we have been given a free will (Luther was wrong on the bondage of the will), we are free to follow Satan in rebellion against the Father’s plan for sex. So from time to time I post the fruits of so doing on these pages, the latest being a dandy: (and it is composed by a separated brother! Alleluia!)

She Only said “Yes” Once
By Reggie Osborne

I stood on a stage in the church I’d grown up in.  I can only vaguely remember my wedding, but I’ll never forget seeing Allison emerge from the hallway at the back of the sanctuary. Beautiful.

Looking up at me through her veil, she smiled.  She has always been a shy person, so she should have been intimidated by all of those people looking at her.  But this wasn’t her shy smile – the tight-lipped, head-hung, eyebrows-raised smile that meant she was embarrassed.  No, this was a “nothing-else-in-the-world-matters-right-now” smile.

We all stared at her, a couple hundred people in a full sanctuary. But she stared down the aisle at me as if we were the only two people in the room.  I’ll never forget that moment.

Her hair was special.  I’d never seen it like that before.  She was wearing make-up, a small thing, but it stands out in my mind because she wears it so rarely.  I remember the veil.  I remember the dress.

We stood before the pastor, and we went through the motions of the service.  It feels sacrilege to says this, but they were just words at that point.  The promises had already been made.

Finally:  “You may kiss your bride.”

We kissed.  A real kiss…nothing obscene…but not a peck either.  My wife is so shy about showing affection in public, that even to this day we don’t really kiss when we’re out and about.  But we kissed right then and there, with no shyness at all.

And in that moment, on that stage, when we were married, my wife – Allison Lynne Osborne – said, “Yes,” to me.

Before that moment, the answer had always been, “No,” – “no” in my heart and “no” in hers.  “No” in parked cars, in movie theatres, in empty living rooms – “no” to all of those emotions and desires that threaten to sweep away young people in love.  The answer had always been, “No.”

Not anymore.  On, July 28th, 2001, the answer we gave each other before God and everyone was: “Yes.”  “Yes,” until the day that we die.

Yes, I could kiss her.  Yes, I could sleep with her.  Yes, I could steal glances of her in the shower because I think she looks great even after 5 kids. She said, “Yes,” to me, forever.

I wasn’t asking for a one night stand or permission to touch her after a party.  I was asking for forever, and that’s what she gave me.  That’s what I gave her.

She has never had to say it again.  She said “yes” only once.  She meant it to last.  I meant it to last.  It has lasted fourteen years.  It will remain in effect until death parts us.

Last October the New York Times published an article describing what sex education is like for tenth graders now in San Francisco.  A new law requires that teachers give lessons on something called “affirmative consent”.  These children are taught to ask for consent at every point in a sexual encounter.

Do you want to kiss her?  Ask for consent.  Do you want to touch her breasts?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to take her clothes off?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to penetrate?  Ask for consent again.

If that’s too graphic for you, just remember, this is 10th grade material. If it makes you uncomfortable, then just imagine being one of the 15 year-old kids in that classroom who are hearing those words (and many that are far more graphic) with other boys and girls their own age…the same boys and girls they used to finger-paint with in kindergarten.

One student, upon hearing that he needed to check with a girl before touching her in certain places or doing certain things, asked, “What does that mean – you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?”

“Pretty much,” the teacher answered.

Somehow that seemed extraordinarily out of place to this young man, that one would have to pause the progression of an intimate encounter to ask, over and over again, “May I do this now?”

Those aren’t exactly words of passion and romance, are they?

So the teacher gave the kids an assignment.  Come up with better ways of asking for consent, ways that won’t seem so awkward and weird.  The fifteen year-olds put their heads together and brainstormed.  They spent their class time trying to invent less awkward ways of asking each other for permission to have sexual experiences.

They wanted to come up with a way of asking, “Can I do this to you now?” without actually sounding like an alien from another planet.  Many of their suggestions were too vague or nonspecific, but finally they settled on one that they could all agree on.

Two simple words: “You good?”

A boy is about to take the top off a girl:  “You good?”

He touches her underwear: “You good?”

Before kissing her body:  “You good?”

Before taking her virginity…before losing his own, he asks: “You good?”

The answer is no.  I’m not good.  You’re not good.  None of this is good.  This is not what sex is for.  This is not what love is for.  We’ve ruined it.

Sex has become so detached from anything meaningful, personal, and private, that Playboy is no longer even bothering to print nude pictures anymore.  People won’t pay for them because every sexual act imaginable can be freely viewed on the internet at any moment. Our most popular TV shows, from Game of Thrones to Two and a Half Men, are full of sex, either explicit or implied.

One generation…two generations, have grown up in a culture where sex means practically nothing on TV and media, and so they’ve actually embraced the idea that it means nothing in real life!  They’ve heard the message and believed it:  “Sex is no big deal”.  They feel totally inadequate and unfulfilled if they aren’t having it.

And we have done such a good job teaching that message, that now 1 in 5 women who attend college for four years say they’ve been sexually assaulted.  Or is it 1 in 7, like the authors of the study tried to clarify in TIME Magazine?  Am I supposed to feel better about 1 in 7, as opposed to 1 in 5?  Is that supposed to comfort me?

Virtually every single major publication in our country, from Sports Illustrated to the New York Times has written extensively on the dangerous places that college campuses have become for young women.  The violence of sex has become so undeniably prevalent in our culture that now governments feel they must act, they must do something – ANYTHING – to teach young people the one truth about sex that should be the most common, basic, intuitive part:  it should be CONSENSUAL.

Think about that for a moment.  We have so RUINED our image of sex that we now have to PASS LAWS requiring teachers to explain to our children that they must be sure someone wants to have sex before they go through with it.

I have worked with youth for 16 years as a leader and a teacher.  I have mentored youth and cried with them when their worlds have fallen apart on them.  I have given them my money, my time, my vehicle, and my home at various points.  And I can tell you this:  in my experience, the number 1 reason why children leave their homes and wreck their lives is a desire for sex that our culture has SCREAMED that they must have.

And their parents see it and warn them and plead with them and try to help them – all to no avail in so many terrible cases, because if there’s anything the culture has screamed at children more than “SEX IS FOR YOU”, it’s “YOUR PARENTS ARE IDIOTS”.

Buried behind each act of rebellion is the personal belief that he or she knows better than the parents who have raised them from birth.  These kids are convinced that they know more about life and sex than their moms and dads.  They are bolstered by their familiarity with sex, a familiarity not based in actual reality, but based on what they’ve seen in movies, music, television, and the internet…what they’ve talked about it in school with their friends after health class.

They are tragically mistaken.  They have overestimated their own wisdom.  They have embraced an understanding of sex that is deliberately deceitful.

Deliberately deceitful.  Adults know that sex is not REALLY like the movies or the TV or the music make it out to be.  The adults that make their money off of selling sex KNOW that their version of it isn’t honest – not in it’s portrayal, and not in it’s consequences.

But those profiteering off of “selling sex” aren’t there to help pick up the pieces when they come home diseased, abused, traumatized, pregnant, or addicted.  The culture isn’t there to help them after an abortion.  It’s not there to help them as a single parent with a baby. “Here’s some food stamps and some government assistance.  Good luck!  Make sure you buy my next song on iTunes or watch my next show on HBO!”

The culture isn’t there to help them with child-support payments for the next 20 years, made to a young lady you don’t even know outside of a one-night stand.  The culture isn’t there to help the young lady who never gets a child-support payment because the father doesn’t love her and could care less about being a real man.

The culture isn’t really “there” at all.

“Culture” is an abstract thing, an illusion that tells us how we should think and feel.  It’s built through actors, actresses, singers, rappers, advertisements, porn-creators, and the like who glorify sex outside of marriage as if it’s some penultimate experience to achieve.  And when the illusion is stripped away by the cold realities of life on the other side of these sexual experiences, these kids are left to try to piece together a life that’s been gutted by a society more concerned about the dangers of “censorship” than the dangers of the culture we’ve fostered.

And the proposed answer to all of these problems is: education.

“We just have to teach them about contraception.  We just have to teach them safety.  We just have to do a better job handing out condoms.  We have to do a better job making abortions available.  We have to increase social support programs.  We have to come up with medication for the diseases and vaccines and protocols for treatment.”

It’s like running around with a garden hose trying to put out a fire that’s burning your entire house down.

We have ruined sex.  We have taken what was sacred and made it casual, pretending that is won’t hurt us.

We ought to mourn what we’ve done, but instead, we glory in our own shame.  We boast about the sexual revolution as if it were an accomplishment.  We mock those who believe that it belongs only to marriage, where consent has been given and relationships rest in promised exclusivity.  We laugh at the happily married couples who have never known another partner as if they somehow “missed out” on all the fun.

What fun?  Step out of your little world and look at what this trivialization of sex is doing to our people!

Let me pose to you the same question that those kids came up with in San Francisco…a question, by the way, that no one’s ever asked in a porn scene:  “You good?”

Sexual violence dominating college campuses: “You good?”

19 year-olds with three abortions:  “You good?”

Pornographic websites becoming the main source of a child’s first sexual experience:  “You good?”

Sex addiction being a real and tragic thing: “You good?”

No…I’m not good.  Excuse me while I go throw up.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why Fr. Martin is Causing Scanal

Let us now review the scandalous assertions in the above video of Fr. Martin's talk:

1. On the “unique gifts” the LGBT “Community” brings to the Church. The problem here is that the focus of Church teaching and pastoral activity is the human person and not any “community.” It is the human person who receives pastoral aid and affirmation from the Church. The USCCB’s 2006 document on “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination” teaches that persons experiencing same-sex attraction should not be encouraged “to participate in ‘gay subcultures,’ which often tend to promote immoral lifestyles.” Now Fr. Martin mentions Our Lord's’ own focus on each person he encounters in his public ministry. So, isn’t the Church correct to focus on the person with same-sex attraction and not the “category” of “LGBT community”? The gifts of compassion, forgiveness, and perseverance to the Church Fr. cites are all gifts of  specific individuals, not coming from a global “community” experience or as a direct consequence of one’s sexual attractions.
2. “People [and Groups] Have a Right to Name Themselves.” This documents a persistent, deep confusion about homosexuality—do attractions and emotions give rise to our identities? Are we our longings and feelings? Do our feelings, which change, define us, or are we called to define them in accord with a clear understanding of our God-given sexual identities as either man or woman rather than “gay” or “straight” Though in Pope Francis' view Satan would have it otherwise, Catholics must not give in to the ideologies of orientation and gender. Relativizing sexuality into “sexualities” is a distortion of the truth, and the Church makes this clear in her teachings and, hopefully, her pastoral practice.
3. “Almost all the [Church] firings in recent years have focused on LGBT matters.” Where is the evidence, Father? Rather, people can be fired for a variety of reasons that relate to public scandal in the Church, handled discreetly unless the fired employee seeks publicity. So, ask instead—who seeks publicity when terminated after giving public scandal, and why?
4. “Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person—the part that gives and receives love—is ‘disordered’ in itself is needlessly cruel.” Wow. Is the homosexual inclination the part of a person “that gives and receives love”? Do homosexual sexual acts (sodomy, for example) count as giving and receiving love? The acts are “intrinsically disordered,” and the inclinations are “objectively disordered,” according to the Church’s teaching on the natural moral law. Is the terminology needlessly cruel, or quite needfully accurate? It needs explanation, not elimination. Fr. Martin argues that groups have rights to their own terminology and names, which should be accepted as a sign of respectful listening to that group Why must the Church do away with the terms that convey the inconvenient truth that certain sex acts and certain inclinations are not ordered toward God’s plan for human sexuality?

Monday, April 17, 2017

On Universalism

From time to time one runs across posts which endanger evalggelization and the Gospel message, a sign of the diabolic. I just encountered one such today, the heresy of universalism--the belief that "everyone will eventually be saved no matter what. Universalism is a heresy because it is a half truth. Christ did die for all, but the universalist only holds on to that part of the truth. He denies the other half of the full truth, that not everyone will accept that grace and therefore some will go to hell.
It is a  heresy because unversalism is not based on clear thinking or logic or the authority of Church teaching or the catechism or the Sacred Scriptures, for there is no support anywhere for universalism in the Catholic faith. Instead it is based on people's feeling that "God is too loving to send anyone to hell."
The effects of universalism on the church are catastrophic. If everyone is going to be saved, then why bother to go to Church? If everyone is going to be saved there is no such thing as mortal sin. If everyone is going to be saved there is no need for evangelism. If everyone is going to be saved there is no need to feed the hungry, become a priest, build the church and become a saint, let alone work for peace and justice....
Should you doubt the heterodoxy of universalism, I recommend Professor Ralph Martin's externsive study of the question here.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Praise the Lord! I Agree Tom!

The Catholic Charismatic Movement Is Alive and Bearing Fruit

 April 05, 2017
As a longtime fan of Karl Keating and the work of Catholic Answers—I often turn to as a resource in my own parish ministry—I was disappointed by Karl’s recent critique of the Catholic charismatic movement, Ever Heard of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal? The article seemed dismissive of the Renewal without offering strong arguments against it.
Karl places the Catholic Charismatic Renewal within the context of “enthusiastic religion,” which he described as “the distrust of religious truth unless confirmed by the emotions.” Yet including the Renewal with “enthusiastic” heretical movements such as the Montanists, Donatists, or Albigensians is a false comparison. The Church rightfully condemned these heretical movements, but the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has enjoyed the support and recognition of the hierarchy and faithful theologians for decades. Furthermore, one would be hard pressed to find any serious writing or teaching from leaders of the Renewal promoting “distrust of religious truth unless confirmed by the emotions.”

Emotion as an asset

Does the Renewal incorporate an emotional response to the work of the Holy Spirit? Yes, and why shouldn’t it? We were created as emotional beings, and Scripture is full of appeals to the heart, not just the head. As Benedict XVI clarified in Deus Caritas Est, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
Such a personal encounter will evoke an emotional response. Can emotions be misled or manipulated? Certainly! Then again, so can the intellect. There have been far more heresies rooted in intellectual error than emotional imbalance.

Papal support

Karl did briefly mention the support of Paul VI and John Paul II for the Renewal, but within a very limited scope, concluding that “the popes never went much further than that.” However, the Renewal has enjoyed the support of all of the post-conciliar pontiffs. The Vatican has hosted several international gatherings of the Renewal and will host the fiftieth anniversary celebration this summer. Prior to his election, the future Benedict XVI gave a very supportive description of the Renewal in The Ratzinger Report:
In the heart of a world desiccated by rationalistic skepticism a new experience of the Holy Spirit has come about, amounting to a worldwide renewal movement. What the New Testament describes, with reference to the charisms, as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit is no longer merely ancient, past history: this history is becoming a reality today. . . . It is evidence of hope, a positive sign of the times, a gift of God to our age. It is a rediscovery of the joy and wealth of prayer over and against theories and practices which had become increasingly ossified and shriveled as a result of secularized rationalism. . . . As I have already said, like any other reality entrusted to human beings, it too is exposed to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and exaggeration. But it would be dangerous to see only the risks and not also the gift offered by God.
Pope Francis has continued this papal support of the Renewal through several addresses to regional, national, and international gatherings. It is particularly telling that the last three popes have maintained the same priest as the preacher to the papal household: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, a Charismatic who has written extensively about the place of the Renewal in the spiritual life of all Catholics.

The glossolalia

It is true that none of these popes mentioned their support for speaking or praying in tongues (glossolalia), and this practice has long been a lightning rod for criticism of the Renewal. But it’s also one of its most misunderstood aspects. In The Interior Castle St. Teresa of Avila wrote of her experience of strange prayers of jubilant praise that rise up from the soul, and her hope that God would give that gift to all. This seems to echo St. Paul’s desire that “I would like all of you to speak in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:5). Arguments against glossolalia that rely on the experience of the apostles at Pentecost (where the gift of tongues allowed visitors to Jerusalem could all hear the gospel in their own language) fail to note that here Paul refers tongues as private prayer language as well.

A fruitful participation 

The fruits of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal also speak to its lasting value. If not for the Renewal, there would be no Franciscan University to host the Defending the Faith conferences at which Karl has frequently spoken. (Read Let the Fire FallFr. Michael Scanlan’s memoir of rescuing the university from bankruptcy and closure through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Charismatic Renewal.) The modern Catholic apologetics movement, in which Karl has been a key figure, would certainly be less robust. And despite the Renewal’s nature lending itself more to spirituality than theology, its members do not suffer from “disinterest in intellectual rigor.” Many within the Renewal actively engage their faith through study and intellectual pursuit. Some of the Church’s best minds today, including Scott Hahn and Peter Kreeft, have been involved with the movement themselves or have defended it.
It is true, as Karl notes, that the Renewal in the United States has experienced a decline over the last twenty years. I believe some of this has been the result of criticism from “traditional” Catholic groups that focus only on cases of excess or error. You will certainly encounter some strange people at a Charismatic gathering, but many of them were strange before their involvement in the Renewal. There will always be people pushing the boundaries and living a life out of balance; this is not unique to Charismatics.
I also believe that there are many more people who have been impacted by the Charismatic Renewal who have moved from the periphery of church life into the heart of their parishes. They bring with them their Charismatic spirituality but have stopped using certain catch phrases. I’m one of those people. I haven’t been to a Charismatic prayer group meeting for many years, but I still pray in tongues in my personal prayer time, still pray for healing of the sick, and still believe that God can speak to me personally. And I am not alone: today the Renewal can be found in more than 230 countries with more than 160 million members—that’s roughly 13 percent of all Catholics. It is still on the rise in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

A place in the current conversation

I respect that the Renewal never appealed to Karl. However, I disagree with his assessment that it was “a wrong turn.”  At the heart of the Charismatic Renewal is a call to a personal encounter with Jesus and ongoing discipleship through the power of the Holy Spirit. I think that we can all agree that those are worthy pursuits.
Although our faith is rational, it must also transcend mere intellectual assent. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, “My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4).
Bishop Robert Barron provides an insightful commentary on this while discussing the growth of the Church in Africa—a place where the Charismatic Renewal is still going strong. As Bishop Barron states, “The reason a supernaturally oriented Christianity grows is that it is congruent with the purposes of the Holy Spirit, and also that it presents something that the world cannot.” I for one am convinced that what the Church needs most right now is not a better argument but demonstrations of the love of God manifested through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Libido Redux Explained

When I read for the first time Pope Paul VI's 1972 “Smoke of Satan” homily, I was intrigued by his reference to the human sex drive as one way Satan can seek the ruin of souls. The sexual decadence of popular culture—in music, television, and videos—is only the most obvious manifestation. But let us consider from the standpoint of Catholic moral teaching the evils of fornication, adultery, cohabitation, divorce, bearing children outside wedlock and homosexual sex. Controlling these sins, living chastely, is a basic Catholic moral value. But I blog on these because, even as the social and economic results from these practices becomes ever more obvious and serious, priests and laity seem determined to ignore talking of them. No parish today seems willing to admonish or rebuke someone because of sexual misconduct, this in spite of the reality that it is precisely these sins that are wreaking havoc throughout society.
Just what are social consequences of uncontrolled libido? For starters, the explosion of single-parent homes is having overwhelming consequences on society, economy, and politics. The rise in cohabitation and no-fault divorce have left scores of fatherless children on the ever-growing welfare rolls and increases crime and substance abuse throughout local communities. These evils are now bankrupting taxpayers and future generations with huge national debt that is due in no small part to welfare spending and the offshoot of crime and social instability, while driving the federal and state governments to more severe measures to satisfy their need for revenue.
What of our universities?  They are plagued by a “hook-up” culture that dominates campus life, while relegating learning to second place. One could make the argument that libido dictates learning too, with indoctrination in not only sex education but sexual political ideology through courses like “queer studies,” that sees all knowledge as sexual-political grumbles.
The oppressive side of this libidinous culture is now becoming too visible to ignore in the face of years of denial, as the inescapable outcome of lustful indulgence is absolutism, plainly seen in a political agenda pushed by the same sexual radicals who promote the hook-up culture. The response of the Church to all this has been silence. Now in turn, Christians find themselves being accused of “hatred” and “bigotry” and threatened with punishment for criticizing the homosexual agenda by the same lobby of radicals. As Martin Niemoeller warned of a similar ideology, no one speaks out for us because we did not speak out for others. Catholic Supreme Court Justice Alito has also weighed in on this.
Truly diabolical is this: because many do not control the sin, it controls them. And--by refusing to internalize divine revelation, and instead redefining it with expressions we find safer to deal with, we let the sin recruit us as its proxies. We join witch hunts against those who would choose the Lord.
Any Catholic should know what constitutes fornication and adultery, because the Bible reveals it. “Fornication” and “adultery” are biblically defined sins committed by two people and punished by God and the moral sanctions of the community. The moral crisis the Body of Christ faces at present is not imprecise or unsound doctrine. Her failing now is lacking the courage to apply its doctrine in the face of a defiant and politicized sexual immorality. Why do pastors now dance round the timeless sins that infest every congregation and the most critical sins that threaten to overwhelm our society? The answer is that they are frightened. All too few priests, professors, parents and catechists give evidence of wanting to touch the subject of sexual sin,
Christianity will survive the Devil’s attack on souls via the libido, though in what manner remains a great mystery.
If the Church Militant has lost its will to witness to the meaning of sex in our congregations, then how does the faith retain any practical meaning in our lives? It borders on hypocrisy to protest that Christianity is being banished from the public square,” when we have not the stomach to defend against violations of God’s law, whether stemming from our ecclesiastical or secular institutions. Abandoning this duty leaves us vulnerable not only to the increasing social chaos we are now seeing,, but also to those who will step in and regulate it for their own purposes, imposing criminal penalties and rationalizing their measures by invoking various alternative, usually politicized theologies.
Perhaps it is also time to can the socially obligatory mealy-mouthed “No one wants to return to the bad old days when.,” and realize that open-ended libido puts us on a trajectory that will only spread chaos, ruin more lives, destroy our freedom, and weaken our civilization, until we summon the courage to speak the truth. As Paul VI observed:
…So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: "An enemy has done this." He is "a murderer from the beginning . . . and the father of lies,"[Jn 8:44] as Christ defines him. He undermines man's moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities, so that he can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations….

No doubt Pope Paul would agree that the Church does not have to change with the times.., be sifted like wheat, and that the present occupant of the Chair of Peter needs to be the “rock” that Christ mandated him to be. OREMUS.