Broken Marriage? It’s Complicated…

I hear all the fuss, alarm and outrage about same sex marriage, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it becomes, because the issue of same sex marriage did not simply materialize out of thin air. Marriage has been disintegrating in our society for the last forty years, and practically everyone is to blame.

Very few of us have been able to grasp the enormous significance of the invention of the contraceptive pill. Sure, there were means of artificial contraceptives around since ancient times, but suddenly in the 1960s a girl just popped a pill and sex didn’t lead to babies. We call the ensuring social events the sexual revolution, but we have still not realized just how far reaching and revolutionary the results of the pill are.

The pill meant that babies was separated from sex. The public began to regard sex in a different way. It was for enjoyment, then it was only for enjoyment. If that was the case, then anything goes–any sexual pleasure becomes legitimate. If sex was not for babies, then why should it be limited to marriage? If sex was not for babies, why should it be  only between a man and woman? If sex was not for babies, then why should it be a sign of faithfulness between a man and woman? While Christian preachers may have tried to uphold the marriage rules and the old sex rules, a younger generation didn’t see why it mattered.

The old guys used to warn the young guys, “Don’t do the dirty or you’ll get a girl in trouble and you might get the clap.” The young guys replied. “No I won’t. She’s on the pill, and there are antibiotics.” So without any better argument (other than “the Bible says you  shouldn’t”) the old guys learned to shut up and let things be.

We may complain about same sex marriage, but for the last forty years Christians of all traditions have quietly gone with the flow and compromised on just about every “pelvic” issue. Divorce and re-marriage? Catholics and non-Catholics treat it now as a regrettable, but for the most part a perfectly respectable option. Fornication? “That’s what people do. No big deal.” Co-habitation before marriage? Most of the couples who come to me to be married in a Catholic church are living together. Masturbation? “That’s not really a sin. No more than scratching an itch.” Porn? “It’s adult entertainment.” Adultery? “You don’t understand honey! She didn’t mean anything to me. It was only sex.”

Why are all these attitudes commonplace not only in the world, but in the Church? The last comment is most telling: “It didn’t mean anything. It’s only sex.” And that’s the problem. Because of artificial contraception sex doesn’t mean anything. It’s only sex. In other words, it’s only a very enjoyable past time.  The whole thing is adult entertainment.  Read More.


  • mary jo anderson

    Sobering but true. Christians made the mistake teenagers make–they do not see the far reaching consequences when they ignore their parents admonitions. Similarly, Christians –especially Western Christians–could not see the generational consequences when they winked at the Church’s admonitions–Casti Connubi and Humane vitae. The tendency to rely on science to mitigate the consequences of “free love” ( Pill prevents pregnancy, abortion in case of contraceptive failure, penicillin for Syphilis) lulled Christians into believing that if consequences are controlled, no harm is done, so why is the Church so uptight? 50 years later, Catholic college students view same sex pairs as a matter of “fairness.”

    One additional thought: The devaluing of sex has ushered in the devaluing of women. The holiness of womanhood has become nothing but a commodity: The Feminine body is now open for commercial trade–IVF, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, surrogate wombs. In Eastern Europe teen girls sell their eggs to IVF farms, in India poor women rent their wombs, and in China lactating women sell their milk to wealthy adults who believe it will enhance their health. It adds another layer of understanding to Revelations 12:4.

    • avalpert

      Who knew prostitution became a commodity in the last 50 years – everyone before that was pure as snow.

      It must be hard work staying in such blanket denial of the real world.

      • Tom Lewis

        Scientism, the savior of mankind.

  • Kal

    I can’t help but feel that the whole LGBT craze (along with those of abortion, contraception[obviously], pornography and other sexual perversions) can be traced back to the creation of the Pill. I wish we hadn’t opened this box like Pandora did. (Mary, ora pro nobis)

    • Christian LeBlanc

      Exactly so. And like Pandora’s Box, all the bad will get out before the good can be restored.

  • Brian Niemeier

    Thank you, father. Apologetics against SSM proponents has its time and place, but Christians need to confront our cooperation with the family’s decline.

    I acknowledge my own guilt and repent of any thoughts, words, or deeds that support the anti-marriage zeitgeist.

  • James

    What few people understood at the time was how much worse the Pill (along with the IUD) was than what came before it.

    Contraception has been around since ancient times, and Catholic couples have used it since ancient times, despite Church teaching.

    But the Pill is different. With a condom, for example, the couple remains aware that sex can lead to pregnancy. They are aware that what they are doing is unnatural. They are aware that pregnancy is a possibility. They are not damaging their bodies. They want sexual pleasure without responsibility. They are sinning, but at least they are enjoying it.

    With the Pill, however, the dangers are hidden, especially to the man. The Pill violently alters the woman’s endocrine system to put her body in an unnatural state. It decreases sexual desire. It makes sex less “sexy”. Women are not informed of these dangers and men are generally unaware or, at worst, unconcerned. There is always something wrong, but neither man nor woman knows why.

    What is far more dangerous than the physical effects of the Pill, is the sociological consequences. Look at Pill advertisements. The woman’s fertility is pathologized: Sterility is healthy, fertility is bad. Suppressing fertility is “responsible”. This is why so many women stay on the Pill and hormonal BC despite the side effects—society teaches them that fertility is something bad and fearful and to be suppressed at all cost.

    Take this to broader society and we can see how the idea that sterility = health has played out in our view of women’s bodies and in our view of marriage. Why are photos of healthy women “photoshopped”. Why is divorce so common? Why do some commentators hold out that gay marriage is an “ideal” marriage—a completely sterile union without distinction between the spouses?

    None of this would have been possible had society not seen women’s fertility as a disease needing a “Pill” to “cure” it.

    • Christian LeBlanc

      Yes. The Pill is different. It changed the West’s worldview of sex, marriage, children, work, self, adulthood, economics, art, music, you name it. In a mere 50 years it’s caused an existential crisis in the the West, which the West probably will not survive.

    • Tom Lewis

      Put a face on who made the pill, and who promoted its development.

      Gregory Pincus was an American physician, biologist, and researcher
      during the 20th century. Early in his career he began studying hormonal biology and steroidal hormones, but his first breakthrough came in 1934 when was able to produce in vitro fertilization in rabbits.

      In 1953, Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick confronted Pincus with the idea of creating an oral contraceptive. He sought out Searle, a pharmaceutical company, about funding for their plan. Searle’s initial reaction was ‘no’ because it jeopardized his company due to the austere birth control laws. Despite the fact that Searle had no intention of creating an oral contraceptive,

      Frank Colton, a chemist at the company, accidentally developed a type of one. Pincus was allowed to have samples of the drug for his research and in 1957 The Pill was released as a treatment for gynecological disorders.

      Finally, in 1960, it became FDA approved and by 1963, 1.2 million women were using it. Although Searle was originally reluctant to fund research for an oral contraceptive, he soon reaped the rewards of the newly invented Pill, and monopolized the industry for a short time.


  • ortcutt

    The best thing that could be done to support marriage would be providing a living wage to families. People can’t settle down to married life when they are living from paycheck to paycheck, and finance-related tension is the leading predictor of divorce.

    It’s misplaced to put the burden of the decline of marriage rates on birth-control pills or same-sex marriage. The former allows women to avoid pregnancy until they are financially and emotionally ready to marry. The latter expands the group of people able to marry.

    • Tom Lewis

      You cannot change history because you don’t like the product that was made. Revisionism is another form of denial. It was the pill, that made the difference. There was plenty of work and life was less expensive when the pill was released in the 1960s. The fact that progressive priest promoted it is the evil of grave concern to all of us.

  • anonymous

    Underscores why we pray “forgive us OUR trespasses.” OURS does not mean yours and mine independently and added together–it means we ALL have a share in it. There is none of us free of responsibility. I seem to recall that the remedy Christ prescribed is to remove the log from our own eyes first….

    • Tom Lewis

      If there is no bishops, there will be no priest. If there are no priest, there is no mass. If there is no priest there is no sermons. If there is no priest, there is no confessions. If there is priest promoting the pill there will one day be no more marriage. Being a Catholic and not following the advice of your priest put you at odds with the Church. If you lie about you income and do not confess, then you receive Our Lord unworthily at Communion (not unlike Nancy Pelosi)
      The priest is there to remind you of the Truth, and what it means to live a life of holiness. But if the priest deceives you, how can you know any better than the one who looks after your soul. The fact that we believe that we are a free people in the United States does not make us free from error, if we are not informed from the very Church that helps give us eternal life.

  • avalpert

    Uh, yeah it is all the devil’s work…

  • Will

    “Marriage has been disintegrating in our society for the last forty years…”
    After reading Agatha Christie novels, I always chuckle at comments like this. Her novels had problems with marriage way back in the 1920s.

  • Tom Lewis

    What connection is there between the pill and Vatican II. Any? None? What was Humanae Vitae all about? Not just NFP, but what really was HV all about? It followed Vatican II. When it was issued large number of Jesuits in the United States were against HV. Why? Why would priest promote the pill and not accept the premises of Humanae Vitae written by Paul the VI. Why did so many American priest reject the idea of using the pill rather than accept Humanae Vitae.

    It is one thing to say, Christians made the mistake of taking the pill. Its quite another to say that priest encouraged Catholics to take the pill. Why did this encouragement take place. It did take place, I remember, I was there and priest told my girl friend to take the pill even before marriage. So what responsibility does the priest of the Catholic church have for spreading propaganda about their rejection of Humanae Vitae and the support that Catholic women take the pill back in the 1960′s.

    I believe that the blame for all of these pelvic related problems comes from progressive priest who (considering the number of Homosexual priest today) intended to help change the church into a modernist social institution. Look at Fr. Pfleger of Chicago, he is the perfect example, why hasn’t he been removed – very likely his boss the bishop of Chicago was one of the very priest who promoted the pill back in the 1960-70s.

    The pill, divorce, abortions, homosexuality, same sex marriage – all of these elements are causing the breakdown of the family, and all have been promoted by progressive priest. So what connection is there between the pill and Vatican II. Two of the documents that are part of Vatican II were created by the very same progressive priest who promoted the pill back in the 1960s. Jesuit Fr. John Courtney Murray.

    John Courtney Murray, SJ, was a member of the Society of Jesus and an
    American theologian. He was especially known for his efforts to reconcile
    Catholicism and religious pluralism, and he was instrumental in the formulation
    of many ground-breaking Vatican II (1962-1965) documents – most
    notably Gaudium et Spes [The Church in the Modern World], and Dignitatis
    Humanae [Declaration on Religious Freedom]. He was a friend and colleague of Karol Wojtyla during Vatican II, who eventually became the famous Pope John Paul II.

    Murray became a leading public figure, and his work dealt primarily with the tensions between religion and public life. His best-known book, We
    Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition is
    a collection of his essays regarding these tensions, all of which are centered
    on the separation of church and state, allowing individuals to assume control
    over their own religious beliefs. Murray advocated religious freedom as defined
    and protected by the First Amendment, and he eventually argued that Catholic
    teaching on church/state relations no longer served contemporary society.

    Murray collaborated on a project with Robert Morrison MacIver of Columbia University to assess academic freedom and religious education in American public universities. In light of his increasingly public role, several American bishops consulted Murray on legal issues such as censorship and birth control.

    Last three paragraphs – Taken from the article: Who was John Courtney Murray, S.J.? On the Boston College Website.

  • KB

    While I can respect the opinion of this article, as a married woman, I thank God that I am not bogged down with a dozen children because contraception made it possible for me to have a life, an education, a career, & the kids I DID want. If there was no “PILL”, I would be no more than an uneducated unhappy house wife with a dozen children.

  • QM Barque

    Marriage has fallen, and with it, we see the near end of Christendom. Christians shouldn’t blame gay people for redefining marriage. The redefinition began long before the idea of “gay marriage” ever took hold. It didn’t happen just this week, or last month, or last year, or even a decade ago. It happened (inter alia):

    1. When Christians embraced no-fault divorce.

    2. At the seventh Lambeth Conference when artificial contraceptives were approved by the Anglican communion under certain circumstances.

    3. When Christians embraced Griswold v. Connecticut.

    4. When pro-life Christians fell into consequentialism and supported abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk.

    5. Whenever Christians made use of IVF, had a selective abortion, or supported embryonic stem cell research.

    6. Every time a Christian engaged in sexual activity outside marriage.

    7. Every time a Christian remarried after divorce.

    8. Every time a Christian used artificial contraception.

    9. Christians who oppose the redefinition of marriage MUST stop with the focus on labels, and strategy, and “winning the war”. We’ve lost. It’s over.

    What’s the difference between a contracepting, divorced and remarried straight couple and a SSA “married” couple? Almost nothing. The fact that one sin is more visible than another is not a valid basis for keeping the focus on the visible sin while ignoring the other less visible (and potentially personal) sins. Upping the harsh rhetoric makes ignoring this fact easier than admitting the actual reason for the failure.
    If we feel comfortable condemning same-sex marriage but we would not tell a friend or family member that it’s wrong to get married for a third time, then we need to shut up. It’s hypocrisy and it’s killing our “message”.

    It’s time to save our souls by living as Christians, loving one another, caring for the least of these, speaking the truth in charity when prompted by the Holy Spirit. It’s time to actually live marriage so that our words match our examples. It’s time to stop expecting the civil law to privilege a concept that we fail to uphold in our own actions. The expectation that we should have it both ways is part of what has led to this failure.

    My prayer is not to be the guy who tells people that gay marriage is wrong, but to be the father and husband who — by his hospitality and love — shows people what marriage actually is. If we can’t give them an example, we might as well describe color to the blind.