This is about more than just a narrative of influential men abusing their power - we're in a real mess. What we're seeing is the natural outcome of a culture embracing a rotten, hedonistic ideology. Because of the sexual revolution from the 1960s, our concepts of truth and beauty are so far beyond perverted, it's almost impossible, as a society, for us to see how horrid our sins really are.
TARGETING ALL MEN
We can see a theme emerging as the headlines keep breaking: it's not just men who are to blame, it's their maleness. It's being suggested that men are out of control by virtue of their chromosomes and something drastic needs to be done about it. Ultimately, taking the Catholic perspective here, it's not that masculinity is toxic - it's the culture.
The point is easy to illustrate: look at the television shows we watch, our movies, music, advertising, and even the people we see walking down the street. In many ways, we are - quite literally - surrounded by sex. Matt Purple, managing editor of The American Conservative, describes this problem from the view of a young adult coming of age in a corrupt environment:
We Millennials grew up in a post-Moral Majority world, one where the culture war had seemingly ended or at least given way to a firm armistice. It was a place of sexual laissez-faire, where colleges were teakettles of carnal experimentation and pornography was only a click away. But it was also our place. We survived it, settled down in it, and even took away good memories from it, some exquisite and others bawdy, but all proof that the aftermath of the Sixties wasn’t quite as apocalyptic as many made it out to be. There is both value and delusion in such nostalgia, but the fact is that almost no one desires to annihilate completely the social order in which he was raised, and least of all conservatives. ... Those boozy dates and flirtaceous encounters were what the young had. Subject them to the fires of revolution and you may lose something you didn’t realize was dear. ..
If you want a case of cultural whiplash, try growing up with scantily clad pop stars frolicking across MTV, music that slathered sex in catchy beats and bubble gum, the female body used to sell everything from cheeseburgers to animal rights, the president behaving like a slattern—all of it defended as normal in our brave new world of liberation—only for the same cultural arbiters to abruptly do an about-face and declare much of it sexist and taboo.
We see here a recognition of how the libertine excesses of modern culture are perverting the young. Additionally, there's the point that some of these evils are actually welcomed and cherished, which we should find even more disturbing. (But do we?)
The temptation to ignore the last things in life in favour of the lusty things is not unique to our age.
|Nicolas Poussin's The Adoration of the Golden Calf (National Gallery, London: 1634). The painting depicts the debaucherous scene from the Book of Exodus when Moses descends from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. This painting is actually more tame than a similarly themed piece by the same artist entitled A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term. Both works are examples of what happens when man surrenders to his fleshy appetites instead of maintaining his fidelity to God.|
There's a famous account of sexual immorality recorded in the Book of Exodus, as God sends Moses down from Mount Sinai to confront a people whose licentiousness has exploded in the absence of their prophet:
And the people seeing that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, gathering together against Aaron, said: Arise, make us gods, that may go before us: for as to this Moses, the man that brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has befallen him. And Aaron said to them: Take the golden earrings from the ears of your wives, and your sons and daughters, and bring them to me. And the people did what he had commanded, bringing the earrings to Aaron. And when he had received them, he fashioned them by founders' work, and made of them a molten calf. And they said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and made proclamation by a crier's voice, saying: Tomorrow is the solemnity of the Lord.And rising in the morning, they offered holocausts, and peace victims, and the people sat down to eat, and drink, and they rose up to play (Exodus 32:1-6).
Of course, the kind of "play" we read about here is a reference to the sexual impurities of the people of Israel, which started first with the sin of idolatry, led by a man who failed as a priest. At the return of Moses, Aaron repents, yet God still hands out His just punishment. Centuries later, we find the Old Testament report of David falling into the sin of adultery:
In the mean time it happened that David arose from his bed after noon, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and he saw from the roof of his house a woman washing herself, over against him: and the woman was very beautiful. And the king sent, and inquired who the woman was. And it was told him, that she was Bethsabee the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Urias the Hethite. And David sent messengers, and took her, and she came in to him, and he slept with her (2 Samuel 11:2-4).
Eventually, David also sees the error of his ways, so he repents and turns back to the Lord. In both cases, we have examples of men, in positions of power, surrendering to their fallen natures and misusing their authority. We also see how abandoning God's plan leads to destruction. Saint Jude, for example, briefly alludes to this when highlighting the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah in his epistle:
As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 1:7).
What should be noted, after falling into sin, is that we need to reorder our lives according to God's will, otherwise there is no real progress for man - only death. That's why the answers we'll see to the recent wave of sex scandals will fail, because God won't be the final end - He won't even be in the picture.
HOW TO STOP THE SEX-TSUNAMI
The solution sounds simple enough, but it won't be easy. First, we must acknowledge that this isn't a masculinity problem, this is a sin problem. That may sound like an over-simplified analysis, but unless we boil it down to this fundamental point, with intellectual sincerity and faith, our culture will only end up worse off than it is right now. Just getting to the starting point will be its own challenge, considering how long we've let our libidos run the show. Another important point we shouldn't lose sight of here is that the real enemy is the devil.
THE REVOLUTION IS BROKEN
This is where we'll briefly reflect on the nature of the sexual revolution. The embrace of this philosophy was a catastrophic blow to the soul of our civilization. At the heart of the revolution is the separation of the marital act from God's original design. According to the new order, the idea of "saving sex for marriage" is an antiquated notion fit for the moral scrap heap of Modernism. In the 20th century, things like fornication, contraception, and abortion were transformed from sins into sacraments. The underlying purpose, with its Marxist and Masonic messaging, was designed not only to break down families, but to destroy souls. And what better way to accomplish this than by tempting us with such a seductive idea: free love - which is never truly free and never actually love. This is obviously appealing to many, and easy, but our destruction is born out of the acceptance of the lie. Just as the serpent tempted our First Parents, we too are easily manipulated, in such clear and simple ways, exposing just how selfish and weak we really are. If we truly valued a rightly ordered masculinity, we wouldn't have harassment hashtags and the deeply damaged men and women we see in the news and in our own lives.
Acknowledging that we're fighting sin is just the beginning. Next, we must repent. We must, on a societal level, reject the false promises of holding promiscuity in esteem and valuing people as playthings. What this ultimately means is a mass exodus out of the wasteland of the revolution, returning home - as prodigal children - to our God and Catholic values.
The revolution is broken, so we need to rebuild, and we can start by looking at the most basic element of why people are so special. In the very beginning, as Sacred Scripture tells us, while God was putting order to the universe, He set man apart from the rest of creation in a unique way:
And He said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done (Genesis 1:26-30).
No other creature was endowed with such privilege, to be made in the likeness of God. Gaining a more thorough understanding of this concept brings the whole of Catholic teaching - in all matters of life - sharply into focus. If you get this, you get just about everything.
From the beginning, the relationship God intended for men and women was complimentary in nature, making itself known through our bodies and minds. Pope St. John Paul II examined this deep integration in a series of lectures and talks that came to be known as the Theology of the Body:
The words of Genesis, "It is not good that the man should be alone" (2:18) are a prelude to the narrative of the creation of woman. Together with this narrative, the sense of original solitude becomes part of the meaning of original unity, the key point of which seems to be precisely the words of Genesis 2:24. Christ referred to them in his talk with the Pharisees: "A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Mt 19:5). If Christ quoted these words referring to the "beginning," it is opportune for us to clarify the meaning of that original unity, which has its roots in the fact of the creation of man as male and female. . . .
Corporality and sexuality are not completely identified. Although the human body in its normal constitution, bears within it the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact, however, that man is a "body" belongs to the structure of the personal subject more deeply than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female. Therefore, the meaning of "original solitude," which can be referred simply to "man," is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity. The latter is based on masculinity and femininity, as if on two different "incarnations," that is, on two ways of "being a body" of the same human being created "in the image of God" (Gn 1:27) (Pope St. John Paul II: General Audience - November 7, 1979).
In the Theology of the Body, the pope delves into God's plan for the human race as defined by its masculine and feminine natures. When everything is rightly ordered, that is to say, following God's blueprint, we find harmony and balance. The Lord always meant for the marital act to bring couples into a closer, intimate union - not for them to be exploited. Maybe that's why breaking up is so hard to do, when the primary focus of a relationship starts and ends in bed and out of wedlock. This disharmony is not only rooted in lust, but also in pride - in the idea that we know better than God.
A NEW HOPE
The way to withstand the tide of impurity from the world is with prayer and the gifts provided by God through the Catholic Church. Spend quality time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Go to Confession and Mass - and go often. Pick up the Rosary on a daily basis, imploring the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
The virtues to counter the ills of the sexual revolution are Humility, Purity, and Chastity. In Humility, we learn that God set out His precepts, not to put us in shackles, but to save us from the dangers that come when we exceed our boundaries. Through Purity, we can rise above our lower inclinations and claim our place above the animals in the right order of Creation. Through Chastity, we elevate ourselves, and others, by recognizing and respecting the beauty and power God has blessed us with in our sexuality.
To the disciples of the sexual revolution, any form of chastity is a cardinal sin. The Evil One apes God in this way, turning vice into virtue. But when we examine what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about chastity, we break that illusion and restore a genuine equality between the sexes:
2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.124
2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. the alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.125 "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.
For a man to practice the virtue of chastity, then, is to embrace the fullness of masculinity. When faced with a challenge, he is meant to rise to the occasion and overcome whatever obstacle is in his path. As Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his book Life of Christ:
There is a law written across the universe, that no one shall be crowned unless he has first struggled. No halo of merit rests suspended over those who do not fight.
Archbishop Sheen was referring to the struggle our Saviour was born to face in order to redeem mankind. It's an apt description for all humanity, too, with the realization that our temptations are opportunities to win salvation. Authentic masculinity demands that men accept the challenges of the flesh, trusting in Christ to give us the strength to succeed, as St. Paul writes in his second epistle to the Corinthians:
[T]here was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Perseverance - guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit - is what defines the success of a man - and his failures. Masculinity isn't toxic in the eyes of God, it's the essence of what it means to be a man. Satan knows and despises this, and through the political left, he wants to destroy it. Living by the tenets of the sexual revolution plays into the devil's hands; it's the easy and free path to pleasure and hell.
This is why we have certain politicians telling us they're raising their sons to be "feminists," in order to escape the pressures of "a particular kind" of "damaging" masculinity. Others suggest we need to have fewer men in politics to solve the problem of sexual harassment. Lowering that example to a more shameful level, there's one politician who went as far as to suggest that people should vote for her because she doesn't have male genitalia.
If you go back how many years, ideas like these would be written off as absurd caricatures of political correctness. Now, these Marxist talking points are where the bar is being set as the standard of virtue. These so called "progressives" just don't get it: you can't move humanity forward by forcing us in the wrong direction.
The problem is, these solutions are misguided because they only propel us further away from God instead of bringing us closer to Him. Allegations of sexual misconduct, proven or not, shouldn't be weaponized - that only offers opportunities to destroy people instead of delivering justice. We should also be wary of immersing ourselves in the scandals, lest we fall into our own sins, whether that's with gossip or pride. Worst of all, these shouldn't be a cue for government intervention. No state can solve these problems, only Christ can.
When men - and women - reject the narrative that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a defining characteristic of what it means to be a man, then maybe Western Civilization will get back on course. When we come back to God, maybe we'll start getting somewhere.