Since my previous post has concerned the question of fertility, it is important to recall that an accompaniment of artificial contraception has been a huge increase in promiscuity. Separating the pregnancy threat has led to sexual expression becoming less significant and, in many instances, reduces it to no more than a casual activity. Anyone who, like myself, suggests we should be reviewing our attitude towards the mismatch between fertility and need has to be very aware that these side effects are damaging to individuals and to society.
Our society has become very sexualised. We may regret, although we have become accustomed to it, that young, unmarried, people find it quite natural to have casual sexual relationships. Nor is this confined to an unavoidable minority, it can be found among people of good and responsible character. I have twelve grandchildren in the age bracket, and I do not know, and do not wish to know, how they conduct their relationships. That is for their parents. But I am not sanguine.
Marriage breakdown continues at a high rate but, of more concern is the growing fashion for cohabitation – an uncommitted state which has proved substantially more unstable. But in our society I suspect that instability is seen as a virtue. The ability to chop and change is evidence of freedom, is it not? I wonder if the children agree.
But perhaps the children won’t notice, hunched, as we are told they are, over their computers, watching porn. I saw porn when I was a youth. It consisted of single photographs of naked, airbrushed, females in a magazine called Lilliput. I do not think that it did me much harm. But I do know that disgusted fascination is a common response to various forms of sexual activity, taken out of context – at any age. I find it hard to understand how anyone of perhaps 10 years of age could fail to be damaged by such scenes. Nor do I care to imagine what peer pressure demands by way of imitation. Do I take it too far if I suggest that any parent not taking all reasonable precautions to prevent the invasion of porn is, at least indirectly, guilty of child abuse? I read this week that boys and girls are entering puberty at a younger age than former generations. Boys may be showing first signs at the age of 10, and girls a year or two earlier.
I was shocked by the Savile affair. But now I learn that the probable reason for the dearth of investigation of under-age abuse is that it was so common. It may have been taken for granted that the giggling 14 year olds would be flattered, excited and please at the attentions of a glamorous star. What’s the harm in that? Who wants to rock the boat for a little girl who obviously asked for it, and spent next day at school boasting to her friends. O tempora! O mores!
However, were the Church to change her views on the issue of controlling excess fertility, little difference would occur in practice given that the substantial majority, including Catholics, disregard the teaching already. One might even argue that the Church’s view that sexuality is grounded in procreation, and so belongs only to committed marriage, might get broader attention. And she would certainly be in a better position to condemn abortion – right now she appears to be promoting it by outlawing the means to avoid conception in the first place. It surpasses belief that there are still serious Catholic moralists who argue that unprotected fornication is preferable to protected fornication.
But there are those, I am confident, who read this blog, and who would argue that I am wrong. This is the place to say so.