What a Useful Word "Taboo" Is!
by Mark Shea
The Catholic faith has always taught that sexual relations between two consenting married heterosexual adult human beings not related already by blood are not just good but sacramental.
We got rid of the Catholic faith and assumed that would just continue as the norm. Then racism got into it and nutty racists developed a nutty theory about "miscegenation" or race mixing that was completely alien to the Christian revelation. In the Tradition, you find concern about only one thing: religious intermarriage. And even that, while discouraged, is not forbidden. Indeed, Paul tells the Corinthians that a believing wife can sanctify her spouse and vice versa. He doesn't tell the believer to dump the unbeliever. And he has no theory at all that believers of different ethnicities (a commonplace in the ancient Mediterranean world) must not swap chromosomes lest they sully some pure breed. It took the 19th century to come up with the claptrap of "scientific racism".
Out of that came some screwy laws against interracial marriage that owe everything to racism and nothing to Christian revelation (though, of course, enterprising Southern Baptists and others were able to comb through the Old Testament to find verses that appeared to justify American chattel slavery. That's the great thing about the Bible apart from the Magisterium: you can use to support any crazy idea you like!)
Those laws were rightly struck down. But they were not struck down on the basis of revelation. Instead, they were struck down on the basis that consent between individuals is the sole criterion of what is good, which is a wildly dangerous and insane idea. What this idea presumed was that societal norms would always be more or less Christian, except in this one little matter. We assumed that mood would do as well as creed in preserving basic human truths. And so we arrived at the point roughly 40 years ago where the prevailing mood was that sexual relations should be between two consenting married heterosexual adult human beings not related already by blood—and we assumed that custom would simply continue.
Then the mood changed. The first thing to be attacked was the notion that marriage was needed to have sex. That's a mere "taboo", we were told. Sex between two heterosexual adult human beings who are not related already by blood was always good and beautiful—because their consent and their consent alone makes it so.
Now we are being assured that another taboo needs to fall. It turns out sex is always just as good and beautiful when it is between two consenting homosexual adult human beings who not related already by blood.
Curiously, having dismissed marriage as a mere taboo in the last generation, the sexual liberationists of today want to institute gay "marriage". The reason for this is not because marriage is no longer a primitive taboo. It's because marriage is a useful tool for gaining gay unions the protection of the state and, if all goes well, the power to persecute those who regard homosex as sinful. In other words, it's about power, not love. Once you gain the cultural victory, you make sure that you consolidate the victory. Tolerance is not enough. All. Must. Approve.
Christianity is rather a sticky wicket on that score with it’s dogged insistence that consent alone does not exhaust our understanding of what constitutes the Good. So the argument in our culture increasing turns on treating the old Christian view of marriage in its entirety as "irrational religious taboo" that is exercising control over the laws of our great secular nation and breaching the great constitutional wall of separation (you know, the one the Constitution never mentions?). So it follows, as the enemies of the Christian conception of marriage demolish their target that more and more of the old Christian conception (which also considers the Common Good) and replace it with the notion that consent is the sole criterion for determining the Good.
If we grant that premise, then the next "taboo" to fall after gay “marriage” will probably concern the qualifier "two". So long as everybody is consenting, then why not celebrate polygamy as well? That's Big Love, doncha know, whereas narrow, crabbed Christianity is all about small love.
After this, comes the whole "not related by blood" thing. That's just a "taboo" too. If a brother and sister truly love each other, what business does cold-hearted society have interfering in a matter of consent between two or more individuals who feel strongly? In the words of one enlightend Briton: "Good on them! This story highlights the absurd and arbitrary moralising taboos that our society likes to construct around sexual relations."
But wait! We're not done! Since consent is the sole criterion for the Good and there is no reference to made at all to the Common Good, it follows that other "taboos" must go too. Who says that sex between consenting adult human beings is all that's good and beautiful? What about sex between consenting human beings whose souls are tragically separated by the accident of mere age differences? NAMBLA makes all the same arguments about consent that all these other people are making. And a culture that already grants the premise that consent between two people who love each other is all that matters is in no position at all to make an argument that NAMBLA is wrong. All it can do is say "Eww!" as it once said to anal sex among gays before such homophobic feelings became a badge of shame.
At the end of the day, "Eww!" is not an argument. It's an aesthetic judgment. And aesthetic judgments are no basis for a nation's laws, as our media advocates of gay "marriage" remind us every day. So, if we are going to accept the premise that consent alone is all that matters, we will someday have to make room for star-crossed lovers like Mary Kay LaTourneau and Vili Fualaau, who are just two of the victims of lingering religious taboos that continue to impede our progress to complete sexual liberation. All that matters is that they loved one another because consent alone is the sole criterion of the Good!
And yet, even if this barrier of religious taboo is overcome, we still will not have achieved complete liberation. Since consent is all that matters, it must be asked--and indeed is being asked in that light Euro-comic way that says "No Big Deal"—why our narrow Christianity-ridden culture is still so hagridden with anthopocentrism that it is not able to open itself to the splendor of more earth-affirming pagan cultures, which once celebrated sexual union, not merely with members of our own species but with others as well! If we are going to throw out all that repressive Levitical stuff about homosex, why on earth are we allowing it a say in what a man and his dog rather enjoy during their tender moments together?
This all sounds laughable--now. Just as laughable as gay "marriage" sounded when Some Like It Hot was funny because it was preposterous. (Now, of course, this scene could be construed by some highly paid professor of Film Studies and Queer Theory at a major university as veiled hate speech because it suggests, after all, that marrying somebody of your own sex is crazy and absurd.)
The normal response by advocates of gay "marriage" to an essay like this is "That will never happen". The same arguments were made by abortion supporters about euthanasia back in the 70s. But in reality, the only "argument" our present culture has against any of these developments is "Eww!" because we have no conception of what constitutes the Good beyond "consent". Make it the sole criterion for the Good and every one of these arguments is perfectly sound.
But the best part of getting rid of the Judeo-Christian tradition to make room for a secular culture free from all that old mystical religious junk?
Surprise! It turns out that the notion of "consent" as the sole criterion of the Good rests squarely on the purely mystical Judeo-Christian idea that human beings have intrinsic dignity, so that their free choice is sacred!
Eventually, of course, that mystical idea will, like all the others, collide with the culture of death and some bright philosopher somewhere (probably in the employ of a powerful corporation or government during a period of extreme society and economic crisis such as, oh, now for instance) could ask, "What's so sacrosanct about consent? We need to rid ourselves of this taboo about 'losing our freedom' if we are to create a society the can survive!”
Think that’ll never happen? The termites are already at work on the foundation. Here, for instance is useful idiot Steven Pinker, hard at work reminding us that the notion of human dignity is stupid since it is as much a mystical conception as marriage or the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Court Prophets for the Culture of Death don't see anything particularly dignified about trailer trash who spend their wasted lives watching Jerry Springer. “So,” these prophets shall surely ask, “why care if human debris is free? This religious dogma that all people are “created” equal needs to go. We have no Creator. In the words of the famous evolutionist, George Gaylord Simpson, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind." And if Man wants to survive then he has to be fit to do it! Therefore, the state, in a time of economic crisis that is burdening our infrastructure, has every right to keep the reckless and diseased elements of the population from swarming and spawning. I think, like the great visionary Margaret Sanger, that human coupling should be subject to government regulation by the issuance of breeding licenses for the fit and the denial of same for the unfit."
When push comes to shove and the stakes are national survival vs. freedom, history points to the truth that human beings will sell their liberty to the first tyrant that offers them bread. And there are always Great Thinkers around to collect a fat paycheck from some corporate/state complex when press releases need to be written explaining why bulldozing a mound of corpses into a grave is just fine.
Thus does the post-Christian culture of death consume itself.
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Mark P. Shea is a senior editor at www.CatholicExchange.com and a columnist for InsideCatholic.com. Visit his blog at www.markshea.blogspot.com. Copyright © Mark Shea and InsideCatholic.com. All rights reserved.