Moral Mess

Today at school I was asked what one of our middle school girls should do: a neighboring lesbian couple have had a baby by artificial insemination, and they would like the girl to babysit for them. I’m sure every reader has a modern moral nightmare within their own circle of friends and family. The worst one I know is of an old friend whose daughter became a lesbian, moved to New England and got ‘married’ and then announced that her partner was pregnant using sperm donation from her eighteen year old brother.

This week we’ve seen the cops raid a Texas ranch where a Mormon polygamist has set up. They marry young teenaged girls, and expect to have sexual relations with them. What is peculiar is that, at the same time, our secular society is busy sexualizing children as fast as possible. It seems that it is okay for teenagers to have recreational sex, and if that happens between teenage girls and older fellows (say college age) this is all ‘just good fun’. But throw in religion and suddenly it all becomes sinister.
Also this week features the news of the ‘man’ who is pregnant. The reporting on this incident is curiously non judgmental. The tone is, “Well, by golly! Who’d a thunk it!” It is assumed that the lesbians should be allowed to marry, that they should be allowed to have a sex change or a partial sex change, and that the hybrid monster that has been created should be allowed to bring a child into the world if they wish.
The secular world should stop to think it through. Surely, if it is okay for teens to have recreational sex, and if it is okay for a lesbian to become a ‘man’ and then to have a baby, if it is okay for homosexuals to marry, then why on earth should it be wrong for Mormons in Texas to have umpteen wives? Why on earth should it be wrong if they want to have wives who are only fifteen or fourteen? If sex with teen girls is okay for college guys on Spring break, why should it be wrong for Mormon guys living on a ranch in Texas?
People will say, “Come now, its different. These girls in Texas are being brainwashed into having sex at an early age.” Uhh… that’s exactly what the secular teen culture is doing all the time. Fantasy romance novels, teen magazines, and movies and television shows assume teen sex is the norm, and teens admit to being under great pressure (especially teen girls being pressured by older guys) to be sexually active at an early age.
Is the problem with the Mormons in Texas that they are polygamous? Why should that be a problem? How is Texas Mormon polygamy any different than the promiscuous behavior of a good proportion of modern American men–behavior which society considers ‘normal’? How is their polygamy essentially any different from the ‘sequential monogamy’ of modern divorce and remarriage? Come now, there is no difference at all. 
The only thing that remains is the fact that they are religious, live on a ranch in Texas and have poor dress sense. 
If people are offended by polygamy they must ask why it is necessarily offensive. Is it wrong just because it is distasteful to some? That is no reason for a thing to be right or wrong. There are many things distasteful that may be morally good (like those holy water bottles shaped like the Blessed Mother with the crown that unscrews) Is it wrong because “nice people don’t do that” We used to say that about sodomy and lesbianism. Is it wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong? Tough one. We could find pretty many Bible verses that seem to support polygamy.
In fact, the only way out of the moral mess is to listen carefully to the Catholic Church.  Only the Catholic Church has had the courage and sense and authority to teach the true meaning of human sexuality. The only sanity that remains in this most insane moral mess is to learn about the Theology of the Body. Only then can humanity begin to make sense of the moral swamp into which we have drifted.
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  • It is so easy to take shots at Catholic moral teaching. Who can come up with something that stands up any better?

  • As a non-Roman Catholic I heartily affirm this post. One of the things that I most appreciate about Roman Catholicism is her willingness to spit in the eye of zeitgeist of our age. Other Christians should definitely listen to the voice of the Roman Catholic church on sexual matters as far as I’m concerned.

  • So how do you counsel someone who is being asked by the lesbian neighbors to have their child babysit?

  • As Madame Pompadour might say, “apres artificial contraception, le deluge.”What was the Arnolfini Wedding doing in RCIA tonight?

  • An excellent post, good Father!

  • I said the girl’s parents should deal with the issue–telling the lesbians they did not consider their home to be a suitable place for twelve year old child.The Arnolfini wedding was there as part of our discussion of the sixth commandment and Catholic sexual teaching.

  • I’m finding the mass media’s gleeful reporting of the FLDS ranch raid hypocritical and bloodthirsty. The godless having sex underage and pre-marriage? That’s one of our fundamental rights in the USA! But when “religious freaks” do it? It’s open season.Warren Jeffs is no doubt guilty of all he’s accused of. The details emerging about the ranch in Texas don’t bode well for the innocence of the men at this compound, either. But the greatest crimes recited by mainstream journalists seem to be that these FLDS kids couldn’t watch TV or surf the net and that the women had a dress code. I guess if you focus on the petty differences then you don’t confront your own prejudices about the religious — any religious.

  • I understand the point you are trying to make about morality and relativism, but we’re talking about guys in their fifties with teens. Kindly approach that more delicately eh?

  • I think this is the best post you have ever written. In Pope JP11 we had a Pope who was not afraid to expand on Humane Vitae and make it accessible for us through the Theology of the Body, along with Christopher West, who has made it even easier to grasp, especially for young people. Can`t you take a 3 month Summer sabbatical with your family, and do a UK speaking tour on this subject ?

  • JP Eleven?

  • Application can be tricky. What of this, Father? The parents tell the lesbian couple that the daughter could babysit in THEIR home (the Catholic family). Making the distinction would allow the opportunity to calmly explain Catholic moral teaching, and still allow the daughter to provide a service, approaching a work of mercy if not there already.

  • Yeah, that`s right, JP eleven.

  • Forgive my grammatical trangression. That should be “calmly to explain.” I hate split infinitives!

  • My neighborhood in Massachusetts is being settled by lesbians on a mass scale. Lesbians are really into marriage you know? Anyway, I have a feeling I’ll be pondering this one sooner or later.I’m not sure that I really evaluate my neighbors on whether or not they drink heavily, are gluttons, or have oral sex. So I am not sure I should worry so much about lesbians. That doesn’t mean I’ll go out of my way to have my daughter hanging out with them, but I am not sure I should go bonkers if she has a friend with two mommies either. Over the course of her life she will probably have friends with flawed parents. And for the record, I am flawed too, even if straight.

  • Marcus said it better than I could. And I’ll take it a step further. Maybe, just maybe, those neighbors who happen to be lesbians are more merciful, more loving, more charitable people (and parents) than some of the other folks on the block. Not necessarily. But just maybe. It’s a possibility.Steve

  • Steve and Marcus, I’m not sure you get the point. We’re not saying all lesbians are horrid, nasty people who wear leather jackets and wear black lipstick and yucch we don’t like them.That’s just a sentimental judgement, and the sort that our Lord condemns.I’m saying that lesbians pretending they’re married are living a lie. That’s not what marriage is, and I don’t want my children to see that very plausible lie and be taken in by it.The fact that they are nice people, good neighbors, compassionate folks who have super pool parties and send their neighbors Christmas cards makes the lie even more insidious.

  • Father, with due respect, in the couple’s eyes, it’s not a lie at all. They believe (one would assume) that marriage is a lifelong committment of a loving, monogamous couple, a committment that involves respect, support, love — all the things that many, many couples (religious and nonreligious alike) intend when they get married. And from a legal standpoint, in at least a few U.S. states and other countries, they ARE married (though I realize the legal issue isn’t the real quetion here). So I don’t understand how this becomes an “insidious” lie. It’s not the version of marriage that you wish to expose your children to, and I respect that. But the two same-sex couples that my young son has met are not, in my eyes, perpetrating a “lie,” at least not as far as I can tell. The couple down the block (straight or gay) who are horribly unloving in private but just fine when in public — they are much more involved in an unhealthy lie. Now you might argue that the gay couple’s consciences have been poorly formed, but in that case, I would suggest that they’ve chosen to define what is moral, and what is important, differently than you or the Church. That does not make them liars. (If disagreement with Church teachings made someone a de facto liar, or complicit in an “insidious” lie, everyone in your town who does not believe that the Sabbath needs to be observed in a special way is also involved in an insidous lie.) So again, you obviously have a right not to have your kids babysit this couple’s child, or to uphold the couple as great role models. That’s clearly your right. But to claim that they’re involved in some great lie is disingenous. Steve

  • This is a very interesting conversation. Thank you for your comment.I did not mean to suggest that the lesbian couple are themselves perpetrating a conscious lie. I accept your point that they believe they are doing something in good faith, and given their definition of marriage (one which you seem to subscribe to as well) they are not lying.It all rests on the definition of marriage doesn’t it? The definition of marriage that the church upholds (and which is the definition upheld by the vast majority of all human beings at all times and at all places) is that marriage is a legal and binding contract between one man and one woman for mutual support and procreation.This definition is not based on my opinion or even only on the scriptures, nor only on the teaching of the Catholic faith. This is something written in natural law and upheld by universal consent of the human race at all times and all places.The ‘lie’ I am talking about is not a conscious untruth on the part of these two lesbians, but a deeper, more pervasive untruth within the definition of marriage and a culture that upholds a false definition of marriage. It is this deeper lie within the culture, and evidenced by the lesbians down the street, that I do not wish to validate.