The Wedding Feast vs. Table Scraps
The Wedding Feast vs. Table Scraps
By John Mallon
Last year I did some work for an organization that deserves much more attention than it's getting. The organization, which I mentioned in my last article is the Population Research Institute of Front Royal, VA. Their mission statement, as stated on their website (http://www.pop.org), is "The Population Research Institute (PRI) is dedicated to stopping human rights abuses committed in the name of family planning, and through research and education to dispelling the myth of overpopulation."
Yes, overpopulation is a myth. Around the turn of the 19th Century an Anglican Minister named Thomas Malthus wrote an essay that became famous and actually influenced Charles Darwin. In a nutshell Malthus believed that human reproduction would out-pace the planet's ability to sustain and feed the people of the earth.
The alarmist predictions of Malthus have been proven wrong time and time again, yet this idea was revived in a book called The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich in the 1960s. Variations of the theory are put into practice by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The West is obsessed with contraception and the notion that children are something to be avoided at all costs or, when "wanted," seen as instruments of self-fulfillment. We cannot help but think the obsession with imposing these attitudes to the developing world is a salve for a conscience nearly moribund from opposing our most noble human instincts.
For over two decades PRI has been warning of this very crisis now coming home to roost if Western nations continued in their irrational anti-natalist policies, and Chicken Little alarmist "family planning" measures. At the root of much of this artificial alarm has been the more hidden agenda for "consequence free" sex, pushed under the rubric of "reproductive health" and sexual and reproductive rights."
Needless to say, sex is a very powerful motivator and the push has been on for decades to mow down anything that stands in the way of the agenda that wants official moral sanction of sexual pleasure in any and all forms. This process, by its nature moves sex from being a selfless act of self-giving and sacrifices to a selfish act free from any and all responsibility.
Two major impediments to this agenda is any form of traditional religion, all of which place sexual activity in the context of marriage, defined as between one man and one woman bound in love and a freely chosen life-long commitment. Love as always, seeks to flower in fruitfulness and in marriage does so uniquely in the form of children which forms a family, the fundamental source of society and social stability.
This of course, for the sexual ideologue, is the second impediment which is the possibility of offspring resulting from sexual encounters.
The sexual ideologues have succeeded in creating a Catch-22 on which they base many of their arguments. They point to the fact that many modern families are failing as proof that the traditional family system does not work or is inadequate to modern realities.
But the truth is, families are failing precisely as the result of the destabilization created by the sexual ideologues. Not to give them credit, of course, Christians see this turn of events in modernity as the result of larger forces at work in history, namely Original Sin and general widespread concupiscence.
Also at work is a false opposition between science and faith since the Enlightenment.
In the generation, commonly called the "Baby Boomers," during these forces have accelerated promoting an unfortunate individualism and many people past childbearing age now contemplate the prospect of growing old alone. This sad prospect among the faithless, only fuels arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Perhaps the greatest joys and comforts amid the increasing aches, pains and discomforts of old age are children, particularly grandchildren. The tragedy of a life lived chiefly for oneself is that in the end that is all you are left with. This is one Christian definition of hell; the fruits of one's life ratified for all eternity: either the love of God and neighbor and the generosity of giving life to others, biologically or spiritually, resulting in an eternity of love in its ultimate fulfillment; or the opposite: the fruits of one's selfishness confining one to eternal darkness and solitary confinement. I recently heard quote that said "A man wrapped up in himself is a very small package."
Sexual pleasure divorced from all its incumbent responsibilities and sacrifices is also necessarily divorced from all it joys. Joy and pleasure are not the same thing. In fact pleasure for its own sake is often tragic, pathetic substitute for joy. St. Thomas Aquinas said, "No one can live without joy. That is why a man deprived of spiritual joy goes over to carnal pleasures." (Summa Theologica, IIa-IIae, 35.4 ad 2).
Sexual activity is not an end in itself, it leads somewhere and points to things beyond itself. Sexual activity always has consequences. In a happy, healthy marriage it leads to deeper union of husband and wife strengthening the marital bond in security and stability and flowering into a family which requires great security and stability based on love and commitment. Ultimately it points to union with God in Heaven and the consummation of all things in the Beatific Vision.
Outside of the marital bond there is a tearing, and sundering of the soul because nothing is being ratified, it is not the seal of a covenant but a theft and a lie, instead of unity there is greater alienation and loneliness, and a despair of the stable permanence for which the heart longs because the empty promise disappoints. Outside of marriage there is no home being built in the bed just a reminder of a terrible transience of a loveless life, nipping at the table scraps instead of being seated at the banquet of love.
Mallon is Contributing Editor for Inside the Vatican magazine.