I’m almost finished reading an illuminating series of essays by Pope Benedict XVI collected in a book called A New Song for the Lord. He writes: “Nowadays one trains for all kinds of skills with enthusiasm and persistence, and in this way record performances in many areas are possible that were once deemed inconceivable. But why does it seem so outlandish to train for real life, for the right life – to practice the arts of denial, of self control, and of freeing ourselves from our addictions?”
And I would add that this sounds especially outlandish in the realm of sex.
I call it the Bloodhound Gang mentality. The Bloodhound Gang is a band that some years ago sang, “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” The idea is almost laughable, but for the fact that large swaths of humanity accept it as modern common sense.
[tweetthis]So often behind the agenda of moral relativism lies the desire to indulge libido without any restraint.[/tweetthis]
Songs like this, backed by the media and even mental health professionals, have fostered the notion that sexual restraint is inherently bad for us – and many of us have believed them. But does this make sense? We encourage self-restraint all the time: don’t hit your sister, share your toys, don’t eat the whole cheesecake.
These, and a great multitude of other restraints, are considered normal and healthy. But why do people cry “pathology” as soon as someone suggests restraint for the sexual appetite?
It’s certainly true that a puritanical and repressive approach to the sex drive is not healthy. No one (I hope) wants to return to the days of deafening silence about sex when the sight of a woman’s ankle could cause scandal. But is unrestrained libido the answer?
Our society has come to champion sexual indulgence as a right. And we wonder why molestation, rape, abortions, “fatherless” children, adultery, divorce, pornography, and STDs are rampant. Could it be because human beings, both men and women, are behaving like animals?
When push comes to shove, do some people really believe “we ain’t nothin’ but animals”? If a woman says of her date, “He was an animal,” we know immediately what she means: he did not respect her as a person; he treated her as an object to satisfy his own instincts. If we “ain’t nothin’ but animals,” where’s the problem?
Take this behavior to its extreme. Suppose a man forcibly indulges his “animal instincts” with a woman. What makes this a crime? Bloodhounds can’t be charged and prosecuted for sexual misconduct. The very words “crime” and “misconduct” indicate a moral order, a meaningless concept for animals. And this is precisely the point.
So often behind the modern push to equate human beings with animals lies the subtle or not-so-subtle agenda of moral relativism, the rejection of a moral order to which all are accountable. And so often behind the agenda of moral relativism lies the desire to indulge libido without any restraint – that is, the desire to behave like animals when it comes to sex.
A world that teaches “chickens are people too” is inevitably a sexually confused world. When we raise animals to the level of human persons, we’re not really dignifying animals, we’re debasing ourselves. And one of the first human mysteries to be debased in the animals-are-persons and persons-are-animals worldview, as the above song points out, is sexuality.
Although biologically similar, the joining of man and woman in “one flesh” is worlds apart from the copulation of Fido and Fidette – at least its meant to be! Fido and Fidette are merely following an instinct intended to continue their species. Man and woman are meant to be loving one another in the image of a life-giving God, something impossible for a being ruled by instinct.
Because of the effects of original sin, we often experience our sex drives acting upon us as if we were animals. But if we are ever to find happiness, we must, with the help of divine grace, raise our behavior above – far above – what the muskoxen and jackassess are doing on the Discovery Channel.
Image: Creative Commons.