Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Shock Therapy

A recent posting (Shock Therapy) on the Japery tells a powerful story.

FT, The Public Square - While We're At It
“Oh, not that old line again.” Such is the frequent response when the claim is made that the demolition of the marriage-based family really began with the widespread acceptance of artificial contraception and its separation of sex from procreation. Now, however, “that old line” is getting new and more respectful attention. Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands has been receiving well-deserved praise (see review, FT March). The author is W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, and he connects his argument to the question of contraception in an article in the ecumenical magazine Touchstone, “The Facts of Life and Marriage: Social Science and the Vindication of Christian Moral Teaching.” He notes the well-orchestrated opposition to Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on human sexuality, Humanae Vitae, and contends that current scholarship debunks the opponents and underscores the prescience of the Pope in foreseeing the consequences of contraception. From the Bible through the Didache and the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers, Christians were unanimous in affirming the integral relationship between love, sex, and openness to new life. The first break in the tradition came with the approval of contraception by the Church of England in 1930. All these years later, Wilcox is encouraged by a changing scholarly consensus on marriage and family, but also by a rethinking of contraception among Christians. “There is a new openness among Evangelical Protestant scholars and leaders to the truth and wisdom of the ancient Christian teaching against contraception. Among others, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary professor Harold O. J. Brown, and Evangelical theologian J. I. Packer have raised serious concerns about the moral permissibility and social consequences of contraception.” He quotes Mohler who wrote in these pages: “Thirty years of sad experience demonstrate that Humanae Vitae [correctly] sounded the alarm, warning of a contraceptive mentality that would set loose immeasurable evil as modern birth control methods allowed seemingly risk-free sex outside the integrity of the marital bond. At the same time, it allowed married couples to completely sever the sex act from procreation, and God’s design for the marital bond. . . . Standing against the spirit of the age, evangelicals and Roman Catholics must affirm that children are God’s good gift and blessings to the marital bond. Further, we must affirm that marriage falls short of God’s design when husband and wife are not open to the gift and stewardship of children.” The radical destabilizing of sexual morality in recent decades, Wilcox notes, has had devastating consequences for the poor, for whom all of life, including family life, is precarious. This, he says, is the moment for Christian scholars and leaders of all kinds to take the lead in proposing a better way. “We must make it crystal clear that the church’s commitment to the poor requires nothing less than a vigorous proclamation of the church’s true and beautiful teaching about sex and marriage. In other words, we must make it clear that the preferential option for the poor begins in the home.”

1 comment:

Fred said...

Wow! "we must make it clear that the preferential option for the poor begins in the home.”