In his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI predicted that “a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman.” By “disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium,” the Pope wrote, man would eventually view woman as a being who doesn’t deserve care and affection.
Shockingly, a similar line of thinking was expressed by Alex Williams, a reporter for the New York Times, in a column published on January 13th titled “The End of Courtship.”
Williams’ essay argues that an over-reliance on technology and years of living in a “hook up” culture have so thoroughly muddled the minds of 20-somethings that they no longer know how to navigate the waters of courtship.
Williams says that “instead of dinner-and-a-movie…[young adults] rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other ‘non-dates’ that are leaving [them] confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.” Google and Facebook now accomplish what first dates used to, Williams argues. Unfortunately, many of the relationships young adults experience are mere images of their hook up past, a past they don’t know how to escape.
For an outlet that has been known to tilt to the left (to say the least), the Times’ decision to publish Williams’ essay is remarkable. It belies everything the media and cultural elites stand for. Primarily, the idea that consensual, protected sex is safe and harmless, that birth control and abortion are benign and inconsequential, that intercourse before marriage is generally a positive thing, and that masturbation is a healthy, normal activity.
These are dastardly marshaled claims, of course. Indeed, “safe” sex is anything but safe. In fact, having intercourse with multiple partners typically leaves participants, especially women, emotionally scarred. Birth control pills have also been shown to have negative effects on women, often in the form of reduced fertility rates. Furthermore, alcohol-driven, frequent, premarital sex often leads to unplanned pregnancies, which in this day and age means that a woman gets to make the ostensibly liberating choice of getting an abortion or spend years in poverty as a single parent. And finally, habitual self-gratification has been shown to be closely linked to pornography addictions and stunted social skills with members of the opposite sex.
I believe the goals of the sexual revolution have finally become a reality. As Williams’ essay indicates, men are elevating their profession, the bachelor lifestyle, and other, often times trivial, interests above starting a family. Similarly, women – encouraged by people like Sandra Fluke and organizations like Planned Parenthood – no longer see motherhood or human life as a gift. They see it as an obstacle that must be overcome in order to live a meaningful, successful life. It looks like Pope Paul VI was right all along.