On 17 April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a crowd of Catholic educators gathered at the Catholic University of America. After congratulating them on their efforts against a “crisis of faith” and a “crisis of truth,” he went on to tell them why American education was failing.”We observe today a timidity in the face of the category of the good and an aimless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom,” the Pope said, seated in a wooden throne designed by CUA students. “We witness an assumption that every experience is of equal worth and a reluctance to admit imperfection and mistakes. And particularly disturbing is the reduction of the precious and delicate area of education in sexuality to management of ‘risk,’ bereft of any reference to the beauty of conjugal love.”
While these words were primarily intended for Catholic educators across the country, they hold a special meaning for the pro-life movement. They describe, in a beautifully succinct way, what we fight against every day: a sexual culture of lies, misrepresentations and illusions that results in an epidemic of contraception, sterilization, and abortion.
The modern pro-choice movement is the spawn of the “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s, in which a few million angry college students abandoned traditional norms of decency and the marriage bond. In its place they proposed a culture of what they termed “free love,” which turned out to be a euphemism for unbridled lust: sex without responsibility or commitment.
As the world has since seen, sex without responsibility is sex without love. The “free love” of these sexual revolutionaries turned out to be not so free at all, but rather was emotionally and physically destructive on a grand scale.
The sex education establishment denies all this. With typically modern schizophrenia, they aggressively advertise sexuality as a no-strings-attached recreational activity, while at the same time spending all of their time warning against the risks of this behavior. Having never known the wonder of committed, life-giving conjugal love, its adherents are passing on the only knowledge of sexuality that they do know: sex as a momentarily diverting activity with an alarming collection of risks.
Consequently, says Benedict, sex is taught as risk management. The wonder and beauty of conjugal love is reduced to a series of don’ts: Don’t get a sexually transmitted disease, don’t get overly attached to your temporary “partner,” and, above all, don’t get pregnant.
Never mind that these dangers, real and imagined, vanish when sexual activity is relegated to its proper place, i.e., marriage. For the “children of the revolution,” the traditional route is not an option.
They justify their program by claiming that, once children are taught the “safeguards” against sex’s inherent “risks,” they will be free to make “informed decisions” about when and how to engage in sexual activity. This is nonsense. How can children make informed decisions when they are deliberately left uninformed about the positive purpose and true beauty of the sexual act, as well as its rightful place as the consummation of marriage?
The “freeing” of sex from the marriage bond has instead resulted in the opposite of informed choice: There is a pervasive and fundamental ignorance not only of the true purpose of the sexual act, but the true meaning of conjugal love.
Sex education leads, through the treacherous sexual pragmatism of politicians and social “experts,” directly to contraception, sterilization and abortion. If kids must ride their skateboards, they say, then society must mandate helmets and kneepads. In the same way, if they must experiment with sexuality, society will provide them with convenient contraception and abortion. In other words, the “culture of death” — a term coined by Benedict’s monumental predecessor, John Paul II — really began as a culture of lies.
This mentality is easily the greatest boon to the pro-abortion movement. Now that love-making has been robbed of love, the fruits turn into liabilities. Children become symptoms, yet another disease that follows upon “risky sex.” Abortion becomes the antidote, and the new generation flocks to it because they have never known anything else.
Sex education must be replaced by education in marriage and family; love and truth must replace statistics and risks. Children beg for guidance. It is the duty of pro-life teachers to give it to them, and explain to them why true love is never free of commitment — in the best way possible.