I recently received a notice about a conference dealing with homosexuality and the future of marriage. I did not recognize the named lecturers, so I replied to my source: Who is going to talk about the connection between the acceptance of contraception and the acceptance of sodomy?
In recent discourse about sodomy under the title of “same-sex marriage,” it is common for critics to say that the acceptance of “same-sex marriage” will lead to the destruction of traditional Christian marriage. I have to disagree with them even though we share the same convictions about the immorality of sodomy. It seems to me that the growing societal acceptance (or imposition) of sodomy-as-marriage is more of a sign that modern society and federal judges have already rejected traditional Christian marriage.
Let’s go back a few years. I don’t know when the America anti-sodomy laws were enacted, but it was in 1873 that the Comstock anti-contraception laws were first passed by essentially Protestant state legislatures for a basically Protestant America. It was exactly 100 years ago in the spring of 1914 that Margaret Sanger began her successful campaign to legalize the sale and distribution of contraceptive devices and information. In the national census for 1910, there was one divorce for every eleven marriages, a divorce rate of 9 percent. The “philosophy” of Margaret Sanger was that unlimited sex and very small families would yield great family happiness. With the nearly universal acceptance of Sanger’s ideas, today we have a divorce ratio of 1 divorce for every two marriages, a rate of 50%. If we assume that the divorce rate is an indication of marital unhappiness, we can conclude that a 500 percent increase in the divorce rate indicates a very serious increase in marital unhappiness, just the opposite of Sanger’s predictions.
During the next 15 years there was increasing speculation about contraceptive marriage. The so-called progressives were openly advocating deliberately childless marriages for which they even had a special name—companionate marriage. In brief, within a few short years, the societal acceptance of contraception had led to the destruction of the idea of marriage as a divinely instituted and permanent relationship for having children and raising them in the ways of the Lord.
In 1920, the bishops of the Church of England were faced with this growing debate and reaffirmed the Christian Tradition against marital contraception.
In 1929, secular humanist Walter Lippmann wrote that the progressives were following the logic of birth control, not the logic of human nature.
But in 1930 the Anglican bishops folded and accepted marital contraception, thus earning for themselves the distinction of being the first organized Christian communion to accept contraception. In the course of their debate, the more conservative Anglican bishops warned the others that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy. The history of the Church of England has proved that prediction as all too true. If you want a specific event to mark the start of the sexual revolution, I submit it was the Anglican acceptance of contraception in August 1930.
That was quickly followed by the acceptance of contraception by the Federal Council of Churches in February 1931, which led to the general Protestant acceptance of contraception despite some very strong initial opposition. The introduction of the birth control Pill in 1960 added gasoline to the fire, and the widespread rejection of Humanae Vitae by Catholics starting in 1968 tragically added more fuel to the flames.
Martin Luther was correct when he called the contraceptive sin of Onan a form of sodomy. Further, while every unnatural form of birth control can be called a form of heterosexual sodomy—seeking to make the act just as sterile as homosexual sodomy—some heterosexuals engage in the same anatomical acts as homosexuals as their form of birth control. This acceptance of sodomy by heterosexual couples certainly makes it difficult for them to call “evil” the same sterile acts performed by homosexuals.
In the language of baseball, the acceptance of marital contraception by those who call themselves Christian was strike one against the societal acceptance of Christian marriage.
Strike two against the societal acceptance of Christian marriage was the acceptance of no-fault divorce. Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation on September 5, 1969, making California the first American state to grant no-fault divorces, and by 1985 every state had a no-fault divorce law. As Maggie Gallagher wrote some years ago, in this country, the government won’t let you get married for keeps. Even though both spouses marry with the best intentions and enter a valid, sacramental marriage, if the relationship goes sour and one spouse wants a divorce, there is no legal support for permanence. The one who wants out wins.
To the extent that there is societal acceptance of sodomy as same-sex marriage, that is the third strike against the societal acceptance of the Christian Tradition of marriage as permanent and ordered toward the social purpose of having children as well as the personal hopes of marital happiness. Sodomy has been with us since early biblical times, so why is it having greater acceptance today? I submit that it is because so many of those who call themselves Christian have turned their backs on the demands of Christian married love.
This brings us back to the early years of the Church. From what I can gather, Roman society was as debased as contemporary post-Christian and non-Christian cultures. The witness of our Christian ancestors living chaste and fruitful marriages gradually changed that aspect of the culture. Those Christians who deplore sodomy but practice contraception are inconsistent. They may be simply ignorant and therefore not hypocritical, but they need the same conversion that they are urging on those with same-sex attractions and behaviors.
The renewal of contemporary and future society is truly dependent, once again, on Catholic leaders and the faithful living the Faith to the full.