“The World” here is defined in contradistinction to “the Church.” The fundamental difference for present purposes is that the Church recognizes the authority of God’s commandments respecting sex while the World follows its desires regardless of God’s commandments. People do not divide neatly in the World and the Church, but at the same time the distinction is more than theoretical. I am sure that there are atheists who eschew sexual whateverism and, for their own reasons, promote faithfulness within loving dual gendered marriage as the only ethical expression of sexuality; but I cannot think of a single person I actually know who fits this category today. The vast majority of those who remain unmoved by the sexual and ideological revolutions of the last century are the religious–and most major religions (including at least Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Judaism) have historically spoken with virtual unanimity on the subject. Buddhism, of course, considers liberation from all desire and attachment the ultimate goal, and it therefore has perhaps an even less permissive stance towards sexuality than the other major religions.
While the nearly unanimous consensus of the world’s major religions is so strong an argument in favor of traditional sexual morality as to be, in my judgment, very nearly conclusive, I do not insist on traditional sexual morality for present purposes. What I insist on is that people must attempt to comply with a moral and philosophical system that is dictated by reason and conscience and not by desire. Desire must bow to Right (“as God gives us to see the right”), not Right to Desire. To the extent that a rigorous and conscientious atheist regulates his sexuality by the morality that seems to him correct and yet denies the authority of God’s purported commandments, he is outside the Church but also outside the World. Continue reading →
To many modern minds, including the minds of most people my age (thirties) in the Western world, it is practically inconceivable that there might be any legitimate rationale for inculcating a preference for heterosexual marriage over any other expression of sexuality, including homosexual marriage. This preference is the historical status quo, but it has been so dramatically rejected in the last 75 years (and especially the last 15) that, for many today, the whole business of disapproving sex for any reason other than nonconsent is wholly alien, bizarre, and even evil–a thing to be dismissed with a word: “Victorian,” “repressive,” “culturally insensitive,” etc. But can it be so easily dismissed? Where did the tradition of disapproving expressions of homosexuality come from?
Is it, as many moderns imagine, entirely irrational, evil, and indefensible? Continue reading →
If at that supreme hour, the wedded pair, dazzled with voluptuousness and believing themselves alone, were to listen, they would hear in their chamber a confused rustling of wings. Perfect happiness implies a mutual understanding with the angels. That dark little chamber has all heaven for its ceiling. When two mouths, rendered sacred by love, approach to create, it is impossible that there should not be, above that ineffable kiss, a quivering throughout the immense mystery of stars.
Sex is getting cheaper. The pill de-babied and the sexual revolution de-institutionalized and a-moralized sex; it is now much less constrained than ever before by marriage, mores, or maternity. Accordingly, it has settled in our society’s wild realm of personal choice and preference. Whether this has been a good or bad change is arguable, but it seems everyone could agree that we’d expect to see more sex as a result of the falling price. Slash prices and consumption increases. Remove the fence and the amusement park is overrun.
But that hasn’t happened. Surprisingly, just the opposite has occurred: Americans are having less sex. Continue reading →
I watched Trump’s inauguration address along with, according to him, trillions of other people. I was pained by the vitriolic rhetoric and us-versus-them mentality, and then I wasted an hour sinking deeper into misery scrolling through other people’s responses to the event. (See our very liberal, very smart friend’s response to Trump here.) Some were funny. Some were depressing. One, however, really scared me.
I can’t be sure that the post was real, but the woman’s confusion and fear seemed to be viscerally genuine. She wrote that she had been trying to have a baby and had just been to the doctor and been told she was pregnant. She was overjoyed—until she realized that it was Trump’s inauguration day. “Now I’m torn,” (and I paraphrase), “I don’t want my baby associated with that horrible man, so I’m considering getting an abortion.”
I was floored. I am not pro-Trump; I remember telling my husband through tears late on Election Night, “you PROMISED me he wouldn’t win!” as if it were his fault. With David, I understand the fear and pain and worry about the future of the country when someone counter to your views gains political preeminence. But even if we’d elected Big Brother or Hitler or even Dracula to be president, I would never consider having an abortion just because the announcements coincided. Maybe it’s my stubborn Irish heritage, but I could never concede the fight like that: he may have won the presidency…
But I will win the war.
I’m not talking about a partisan war, or even a political one. I’m talking about the fight for goodness, morality and human rights. Women, especially, have a superpower in the war we are all fighting—but it’s not one we generally think about. Continue reading →
My daughter, you are no longer a baby. This is impossible to me. You are more than a year old right now and I marvel at how big you’re getting. You were trying to stand in an ice cream bucket the other day—giggling as it fell over again and again—an ice cream bucket that we could bathe you in when you were just born. Your growing feet and toes are the foundation for the past miracles of standing and your first, tottering steps—and now for running, jumping, climbing the stairs at the playground outside, and the endless enjoyment as we play “this little piggy” while you sit (and sit, and sit, and waaait) on the potty. Your increased size is paralleled by increased ability and comprehension. Dad and I are amazed every time you show some new understanding: a new sign, a new animal sound, a new mimicry. The other day I told you in pre-dinner end-of-day frustration, “I’m tired, too, but soon Daddy will be home and then we can bug HIM.” You looked at me seriously… and then signed “bug” (as in insect).
I’ve experienced the double blessing of watching myself grow next to you. People joke, “She’s getting so big! And so is Alsina!” Oh ha ha. I’m eight months plus two weeks pregnant, and things have definitely changed dramatically. Moving my bulk around is a huge commitment, and sometimes I wake up at two am half off the bed—having, apparently, decided halfway that it wasn’t worth the effort of getting all the way up to go to the bathroom. It’s not just a big belly added on to the front of my normal frame, either: I can’t even get pre-pregnancy pants up around my ankles, much less my now-herculean thighs, and pre-pregnancy blouses have the same issue around burgeoning… other places.
“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents . . . .” Malachi 4:6
We are parents to a 15 month old girl named Zina, with another’s anticipated arrival in less than two months. Before Zina joined us, we had a miscarriage. (Perhaps Dia will someday post some of her thoughts about that difficult experience.) Over the three years of our marriage, we have had our hearts turned to our children—and to our parents. We have more fully joined the drama of the generations: more than before, we recognize that we are participants in a circling narrative of birth, parenting, marriage, and death that stretches vastly beyond our lives’ short timelines in either direction.
I wish I knew more about my ancestors. Their hopes, their dreams, their hobbies, their passions and preferences and personalities. I’m sure that I figured in some of those hopes and dreams, in some shadowy way. Dia recently wrote about how people in earlier ages, to a much greater extent than we, pinned their hopes and the very meanings of their lives on the prospect of posterity to continue their legacy, to carry on their memory and their way of life, to continue to build the cathedrals when their hammers and their bodies were spent. Continue reading →