6. The Invention of Artificial Contraception This is the BIG one. Artificial contraception broke the natural link between the sexual act and procreation, and once sex stopped being about procreation it began to be about recreation. Sexual pleasure became an end in itself, and without the natural link to procreation the necessity and reason for both marriage and life long marriage was no longer obvious.
7. Marriage as Self Fulfillment Since the sexual act was no longer about procreation Marriage soon became a lifestyle of self fulfillment rather than a sacrament of self sacrifice. Instead of being a way to give oneself completely to another person and to a big brood of children, Marriage became a way to have it all–a double income, sex whenever desired, a manageable number of trophy children, the second home, the private education–a way to have it all instead of a way to give all.
8. The Rise of Feminism and Homosexualism – I use these terms to indicate radical activism in the feminist and homosexualist cause. Both of these ideologies deliberately broke the old family model for new understandings of human sexuality and relationships. The widespread acceptance of these ideologies and imposition of these philosophies undermined the conventional family and broke it in many different ways.
9. Poor Catechesis on Sexuality – Before the 1960s the basic teaching about sex was the hermeneutic of fear (for the boys) “Don’t do it. You’ll get the girl into trouble or you’ll get an incurable disease” (for the girls) “Don’t do it. You’ll get pregnant. You’ll get a bad reputation.” After the 1960s this hermeneutic of fear didn’t work. The boys replied, “She won’t get pregnant. She’s on the pill. Clap? They have penicillin.” The girls replied, “I’ll have a bad reputation if I don’t have sex. Pregnant? I’m on the pill and there’s always abortion if that fails.” The poor catechesis suddenly was meaningless, and in the lack of anything better the old prohibitions seemed senseless rules from an old religious book and nothing more.
10. Relativistic Morality With the rise of situation ethics morals were elastic. It all depended on the situation and the motives and the possible outcome. If the action could be seen to be harmful to no one, dangerous to no one and pleasurable to all what could possibly be the point of the prohibitions? Any idea of a revealed moral theology was gone. Any idea of a divinely given moral code seemed suddenly antique and arbitrary. Everyone could do what they pleased as long as they hurt no one and the only law was that of tolerance for all.
As a result of all these factors and more, the family unit is broken very badly and it is difficult to see what can be done about it.
It is impossible to reverse the global, societal shifts that have taken place, and the irony is that the one thing that can help mend the broken ness is the very thing that is broken so badly–the family.
This is where the church can play a role. If we realized the broken ness we might work harder to build stronger church communities where the broken individuals of the broken family might find a welcome and a sense of belonging.
Unfortunately most of our church communities are also broken by many of the same factors that have broken the family.
Nevertheless, by being aware of the problem we can, in our own way, do the best we can to offer hospitality, reach out to those who are isolated and in need, and try to mend the broken hearts and try somehow by building what strong families we can, to show the way to true human love and unity.