Inaugurating a New Sexual Revolution
Robert Colquhoun FAITH MAGAZINE July-August 2013
Robert Colquhoun, Campaign Director of 40 Days for Life in the United Kingdom, argues for a reallocation of the Church’s resources in favour of chastity education.
The Fallout From the “Swinging Sixties”
Callum Brown’s book The Death of Christian Britain challenged the conventional belief that secularisation was a process that started with the Industrial Revolution. It noted the importance of the 1960s sexual revolution in the secularisation of Britain. Brown states: “As historical changes go, this has been no lingering and drawn-out affair. It took several centuries – in what historians used to call the Dark Ages – to convert Britain to Christianity, but it has taken less than forty years for the country to forsake it.
Doctors must discover the illness of their patients before they provide a cure. Likewise, Christians must discover what has led to the rapid de-Christianisation of our nation before we can propose a successful evangelisation plan and implement it. A N Wilson recently wrote an article deploring the terrible effects of the sexual revolution for his generation, acknowledging how much misery had been spread and how the damage done had appalled him.
Other writers have suggested landmark events for the transition in cultural and religious practices for our nation. The abortion legislation of 1967 was a decision of colossal consequences. Philip Larkin had said that sex began in 1963. The Lady Chatterley’s Lover controversy marked a major watershed in standards for our nation.
''The scandals that have arisen from the clerical abuse of minors have undermined the Church’s moral authority to teach on sexual ethics. However, the Church would betray her mandate from Christ to preach the Good News if she failed to speak on this matter.''
The effects of the sexual revolution are all around us today. The traditional understanding of marriage is being redefined in legislatures around the world. We have nearly 200,000 abortions every year in this country. Just under one in two marriages end in divorce. We have 800,000 children living without a father figure in their life. Contraception is widely used, even among practising Catholics. Sexually transmitted diseases have reached epidemic levels as young people have contracted chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. According to Family Safe Media 42.7 per cent of Internet users have viewed online pornography. The problem of the sexual abuse of minors is widespread. Operation Yewtree has disabused the media of the illusion that child abuse is confined solely to the Catholic Church.
Perhaps most shockingly the NSPCC has recently highlighted the problem of children being sexually abused by other children. More than 5,000 children were reported to police in England and Wales as abusers in the last three years. From the 1960s onwards powerful voices in our culture have propagated the myth of “free love” without consequences: the notion that anything goes provided “we both consent to this and we aren’t doing anybody else any harm”.
Actually, when stories like those referred to above come to the fore it is clear that the sexualisation of our society is far from being a victimless phenomenon.
The actress Raquel Welch, now 72, has lamented the free sex ethos that has wreaked havoc on marriage and family life. She once said: “Seriously folks, if an ageing sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad. In fact, it’s precisely because of the sexy image I’ve had that it’s important for me to speak up and say: Come on girls! Time to pull up our socks! We’re capable of so much better.”
In short, we have reached a crisis regarding the meaning and the purpose of love, marriage and sexuality in our nation. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, has stated that Christians have failed in their attempt to present a beautiful vision of marriage and family life. He states: “It could be argued that the Church herself is in part responsible for this in that we have failed, since the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s, to explain attractively and imaginatively the alternative vision of life and love that Jesus has taught and which he promises is the true way to human happiness and eternal life.”
In terms of its rapidity and far-reaching consequences, the fallout from the sexual revolution might be considered analogous to the fallout from Henry VIII’s divorce crisis for our nation. Britain is now considered post-Christian, and the sexual revolution has helped to facilitate the country’s de-Christianisation more than any other factor. For young people today, if they have an “issue” with the Catholic Church, in an overwhelming number of cases, the issue will be about sexuality and marriage. In short, misunderstandings about Church teaching on sex are a major reason why young people are not more involved with their faith. The sexual revolution has provided a crisis in the transmission of faith.
The Church’s Response to the Sexual Revolution
The scandals that have arisen from the clerical abuse of minors have undermined the Church’s moral authority to teach on sexual ethics. However, the Church would betray her mandate from Christ to preach the Good News if she failed to speak on this matter. The sins and failures of her members – some of them very prominent – in this regard should spur the Church to repentance and renewal. Rather than lapsing into shamed silence the Church should redouble her efforts: she should direct her attention to this area and should allocate substantial resources to sex and relationships education, to dynamic programmes that meet the complicated pastoral challenges in the field of sexual education in order to provide young people with a healthy vision of human sexuality.
If we as Christians cannot adequately understand and teach with confidence what we believe, why we believe it and how our faith can transform lives then we need to consider whether we are fit for mission. Marriage, young people and evangelisation are the three areas that constitute the future of the Church. The issues that directly concern those who are the future of the Church must be reflected in the allocation of the Church’s material resources.
If dynamic growth is to take place, Church leaders must be committed to a generous allocation of material resources to confront directly even the most contentious social challenges of the age. If generous amounts of financial support were allocated to help fledgling pastoral ministries, and – bearing in mind that financial resources, while necessary, are neither the only nor the most important means at the Church’s disposal – if these issues really and truly became the focus of our petitionary prayers, I believe that many congregations would be overflowing rather than dwindling. Certainly in parts of the United States a more forthright proclamation of all aspects of the Good News, including the challenging area of Catholic sexual ethics, has led to renewal and growth.
What is Already Out There?
The challenge of the Gospel in 21st-century Britain is to present the vision of love and life that leads to fulfilment. The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, has called us to be a creative minority to change the world. Paul VI said the world listens more to witnesses than to teachers, and if they listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses.
There is a vast array of pastoral programmes that can provide exciting and effective responses to the problems associated with the sexual revolution. Below, I present just some of the most successful pastoral programmes that are providing a beautiful vision of the Church’s teaching on love, marriage and sexuality.
Rachel’s Vineyard is a post-abortion retreat ministry, helping women find hope and healing around the world. The healing weekends offer a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where God’s love and compassion can be experienced on a profound level. It creates a place where men and women can share, often for the first time, their deepest feelings about abortion. Overall, it is a place of reconciliation. Participants, who have often experienced deep anger towards themselves or others, experience forgiveness. Peace is found and lives are restored.
Jason Evert has been giving talks on chastity for more than a decade in the US. His humorous and thought-provoking presentations have helped young people to see sexuality as a gift, with sex as something worth saving for marriage. He has written more than 10 books on love, sex and marriage and has provided excellent catechesis for teenagers on the theology of the body. This powerful ministry has helped many young people decide to value and make strong decisions about their sexuality, inspired to live for greatness and iving romance without regret.
40 Days for Life is a locally organised community initiative encouraging Christians to pray for an end to abortion. Prayer vigils are organised outside abortion centres and community outreach is conducted, taking a positive and upbeat pro-life message to all parts of the community. As a result of the initiative, more than 7,500 lives have been saved from abortion; 33 abortion facilities have closed; crisis pregnancy centres that offer real choices for life and for unborn babies have flourished; previously uninvolved church communities have become active in supporting the pro-life cause; new leaders have emerged in the pro-life movement; and a whole variety of newcomers have got involved in pro-life activities.
Birthchoice is a franchise of medical crisis pregnancy centres based in California. They exist to give encouragement, comfort, information, options and hope to young women who are pregnant. They provide an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a warm body to hug and a place free from judgment where you can share your concerns with caring medical professionals who have helped thousands get through difficult circumstances. A leading abortionist stated that if their model of crisis pregnancy centres went national across the US, it would provide one of the biggest challenges for the abortion industry.
Courage is the Catholic Church’s only pontifically approved ministry which is specifically committed to providing spiritual support for persons with same-sex attraction. It supports those who are striving to live chastely, offering help to grow in understanding with others towards living more fully the Church’s teachings. The group aims to foster a spirit of fellowship in which people can share their thoughts and experiences to ensure that nobody faces the problems of homosexuality alone. This helps individuals to live lives that may serve as good examples to others with homosexual difficulties, to be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in celibate Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining holistic and life-givingchaste relationships.
These pastoral programmes have in common the presentation of one aspect of the Good news that God presents to us about life and love. Sex was created to be open to life. But when sex is turned from this important purpose it often leads to death. Thus the very thing that causes life has now become the source of death for millions, simply because of the refusal to follow God’s plan. Let us find simple and dynamic ways to present God’s plan for love and life in a way that is credible and appealing to our contemporaries.
Lifesitenews.com, Aging Sex Icon Raquel Welch: Contraceptives Shattered Marriage, the ‘cornerstone of civilisation.’ May 12, 2010-11-15