When one opens his heart to a woman and prepares to consecrate the Sacrament of Matrimony the third set of challenges they must overcome together (the first being lust and the second being the mutual selfishness of the future spouses) is a seemingly endless routine of diocese-mandated seminars, classes, and meetings. It is enough to tempt one to try to find an agreeable priest and a handful of witnesses in order to arrange a quick elopement. Alas (or perhaps thankfully) the chances of that are almost nonexistent.
So, one is resigned to sit through TOBIT classes (where unmarried speakers are paid to lecture future couples on how wonderful their bodies are), counseling with sponsor couples (theoretically, a much-needed good idea), and NFP classes (where you are taught to plot graphs on the female cycle despite the fact that there are purchasable mini-computers that will do the hard work for you). The process is not without its merits and there are many items that are there specifically to learn from past mistakes (more on that in a moment), but when there are deficiencies… Boy, Howdy! There are deficeincies.
So, with this said, I’m sure those reading are wondering… Where does the Vigilante stand on so-called NFP now that he is preparing for marriage? Considering that a mere three days ago the infamous sexual revolutionary Hugh Hefner met his eternal reward, what better time could there be to tie in my very strongly-held view on NFP with the American Sexual Revolution?
Part 1: The Myths of Era-ism
There is an ongoing myth that refuses to die in the popular consciousness: That the decade of the 1950s was (if you are on the political right) a pure upright time of perfection, decency, greatness, and the United States at its finest that was shattered instantly by the onslaught of the “dirty g**damnn hippies”; or (if your leanings are far to the political left) that it was a backwards mini-era where McCarthy and an American gestapo-like organization named the “John Birch Society” could lynch anyone as a communist until the Beatles and the flower power of Rock ‘n Roll liberated society from this backwards existence.
What both these ahistorical fantasies ignore is what was going on in the households of regular, everyday, and newly TV-induced Americans who possessed at-the-time unprecedented luxuries at their disposal. In the post-WWII world, gone were the days when a father was forced to parent his son or watch the consequences of not doing so. Gone were the days when a man would return from work to gather his children around the fireplace to pray and read the Bible as a family. Gone were the days when men could amuse themselves with fruitful hobbies and give good examples to their children to combat the old adage, “an idle mind is the playground of the devil”. The television was the new hobby, the new altar, the new parent, and the new reality of this decadent time. A man could work during the day, hit the bar with his buds, and return home to his couch where his wife was sure to have cooked him his dinner; and she would dutifully deliver it to him as good loving wives always had done. The difference between this man and generation before him was that he now had all the benefits and less than half the work.
Why did he have to do any cooking or cleaning? That was a wife’s duty! Why did he need to instill an example of religion in his children through example? That was why he sent his kids to sunday school. Why would he need to ever play with his children? They had friends at school didn’t they? Why did he ever need to learn how to discipline his kid or understand his wife’s womanly feelings? They could both take the back of his hand if they ever got too annoying.
And spiritual fatherhood? You mean like priesthood? Well, good old “Father O’Insert Irish Name Here” has got that covered. He’s good with young boys. Why, he’s even taken a liking to our little Tommy…
The age of Western greatness had ended, it was buried on the battlefields of 1914-1918. The time of Western Man’s fight for survival was finished. He was now to take his place in a hell of his own choosing, as a breathing vegetable.
Is it any wonder, then, that pornography would catch on like wildfire among such males (or males raised by such males) when made commercially available and socially acceptable? In the Parable of the Sower, Christ demonstrates that plants sown will not prosper unless the ground is made ready. In 1953 the ground was quite fertile for Hugh Hefner to launch the project that would make him a household name.
Pictured: A Playboy subscriber and his family
The sexual revolution had begun. It would take root in the 1950’s with pornographic magazines, under-the-table abortions, and the underground homosexual culture that festered beneath the all-too-perfect image. But it would not achieve a substantial victory until a new twisted perversion of human science (already a cliche in that century by that point): the poison commonly known only as “the pill”. Woodstock did not destroy the bonds of marriage in the average conservative house of the 1960s. The men of such houses were already convincing their wives to poison their wombs, knowing and caring nothing of St. John Chrysostom’s denunciation of this exact thing.
Pope Paul VI would issue the much-needed Humanae Vitae, only to find from the negative backlash within the church that he had been far too late. The smoke of Satan had indeed penetrated the Church. Then Pope John Paul II years later gave a series of talks that would later be known as “Theology of the Body”. It was in the debate over these works that the true deficiencies of marital understanding and teaching among Catholics – both past and present – would be revealed.
Unfortunately (?) this post ran longer than I expected, so I will conclude with Part 2 as soon as I can.