June 20, 2012 3:04 pm
Most of the material I post here is “scientific”in nature; that is, it cites scientific, psychological and sociological data. I concentrate on such studies because the prejudices of our times assume that quantifiable truth, is the only “truth” there is.
My conviction, however, is that theological and philosophical truths get at the most important realities and do so in the most important way, by founding claims on revelation and reason. This is an excellent philosophical analysis of how contraception has changed our understanding of sex from something sacred to a mere commodity. Read all the installments; they are wonderful.
Contraception has enabled people to treat sex as a low-priced commodity—an item to consume and thereby buildsocial capital. Instead of sacralizing sex as earlier cultures have done, we have mass-produced it. We have disenchanted it by treating it simply as a bodily function leaving the mediation between lovers to pharmaceutical and other corporations. The church has been pushed out of the bedroom, and the pharmaceutical corporation has been invited in its place.
April 19, 2012 12:25 pm
April 3, 2012 7:41 pm
I am honored to have my essay included in this series on natural law. Many of the other contributors are among my heroes and friends. One of my heroes, Alasdair MacIntyre, uses one of his favorite terms in his essay: he writes of “plain persons” and their grasp of morality and natural law in contradistinction to the experts and professional philosophers and their grasp of these matters. A few years ago in Dallas, Alasdair MacIntyre gave a talk entitled “Do plain persons need to be moral philosophers?” When I was asked to give the response to his talk, I was most honored because I consider Professor MacIntyre one of the foremost moral philosophers in the world, and it was a thrill to comment on his work. I felt dreadfully underqualified – I felt like a high school student going up against Larry Bird – until I realized that I did not need to respond as an expert, as a moral philosopher of his caliber, but that I could respond as the quintessential plain person – for that is what I am. After all, I am Janet Smith, daughter of John and Anne Smith; I grew up at 5 Hill Street and went to Home Street School. I could write more, but it is all very plain.
The point I am making here is not merely a flip one – designed to ease us into more serious matters through an attempt at humor. There is a serious point here – natural law is the plain person’s morality – in a sense it is simply plain old common sense. There are profound and sophisticated ways of explaining natural law, but the practice of reasoning in accord with natural law principles, according to the theory itself, is natural to plain persons – that is, natural to all mankind. Natural law holds that many of the most fundamental principles of moral reasoning are obvious, that is, easily known by all. Yet, in spite of the plain commonsensicalness of natural law, it can seem shocking and provocative in many ways, for like natural law, plain old common sense does not command a lot of followers these days and can be shocking when juxtaposed to the values of our times.
March 14, 2012 7:53 pm
This year there was a predictable amount of hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of “the pill.” Many pundits told us that the pill had delivered as promised: Women had become liberated. Sex in the City! Sex in dorm rooms! Sex behind bleachers! Women have it all.
But wait. Now comes word that women aren’t all that interested in sex any more. Their libidos are waning to the point that pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a Pink Viagra: a new pill; a pill that will restore the desire to have the sex that the pill made possible.
Why don’t women want to have sex? Is it because they are so absorbed in their careers? Is it because these careers force women to sacrifice their femininity and males to sacrifice their masculinity and thus the vivifying difference between males and females no longer exists? Why do women need males? Women have everything males have; they can do everything males do; what do males have to offer?
March 13, 2012 8:48 pm
To observe that we live in a society that is suffering greatly from sexual confusion or, if you will, sexual misconduct, is not a novel insight. There is little need to provide a full set of statistics to demonstrate the consequences of the sexual revolution, for who is not familiar with the epidemic in teenage pregnancies, venereal diseases, divorces, and AIDS? Our society has undergone a rapid transformation in terms of sexual behavior, and few would argue that it is for the better. Today, one out of two marriages end in divorce. Six out of ten teenagers are sexually active. The millions of abortions over the last decade and the phenomenal spread of AIDS indicate that our society has serious problems with sexuality. In the last generation, the incidence of sexual activity outside of marriage — with all of its attendant problems — has double and tripled — or worse. We have no particular reason to believe that we have seen the peak of the growth in sexually related problems.
Statistics do not really capture the pervasive ills attendant upon sexual immorality. Premature and promiscuous sexuality prevent many from establishing good marriages and family life. Few deny that a healthy sexuality and a strong family life are among the most necessary elements for human happiness and well-being. While many single parents do a worthy and valiant job of raising their children, it remains sadly true that children from broken homes grow up to be adults with a greater propensity for crime, a greater tendency to engage in alcohol and drug abuse, and a greater susceptibility to psychological disorders.
February 22, 2012 6:34 pm
- Google “unwed pregnancy”
- “Sexual Behavior and Select Health Measures: Men and Women 15-44 Years of age, United State, 2002” by William D. Mosher, PhD., Anjani Chandra, Ph.D., and Jo Jones, Ph.D., Division of Vital Statistics.
- “Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States” by Stephanie J. Ventura, M.A., Division of Vital Statistics.
- “Births: Preliminary Data for 2003” by Brady E.Hamilton, Ph.D.; Joyce A Martin, M.P.H.; and Paul D.Sutton, Ph.D., Division of Vital Statistics (November 2004).
- “Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940–99” by Stephanie J. Ventura, M.A., Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, and Christine A. Bachrach, Ph.D., National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (October 18, 2000).