This post only makes sense if you read the preceding one, “What Religion are You” I haven’t found many comrades who share my political and social convictions. Being for a feminist and advocating a consistent-life view is the stumbling block.
I have always been a feminist. Before my mom got sick in 2001, I always attended meetings of the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) with her, even when I was in my anything-but-Catholic church-shopping phase. WOC is dominated by fiercely feminist, brilliant nuns who feel called to the priesthood. Many have Ph.D’s, have run hospitals, been school principals or college deans. They would be the best priests I have ever known.
There is no shortage of priests in the Catholic Church. The cretins in Rome refuse to bow to God’s will and ordain all the women and married men he has called to the priesthood. Many men who left the priesthood to get married and have a family would come back if the church accepted married clergy.
My ethics and politics are shaped by my Catholic education in social justice and our responsibility to the poor. There are many progressive Catholic organizations and publications that are way to the left of the Democratic Party. I have known hundreds of Catholics who are genuinely good people, dedicated to helping people, living out their faith, politically active. Since college and the Vietnam War, I have been a pacifist, always involved in anti-war activism. I am a member of the War Resisters League, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, the Catholic Peace Fellowship. Dorothy Day and the Berrigan Brothers are my heroes. When there was a draft, I counseled young men on conscientious objection through the Catholic Peace Fellowship.
I belong to the consistent-life movement–anti-war, anti-capital punishment, anti-abortion, anti-racism, anti-poverty, anti-euthanasia. I think the church was prescient about the long-term consequences of abortion–a society that increasing devalues children and families. I think abortion is morally wrong, yet support its being legal, at least until quickening. I am appalled at the high percentage of Down’s Syndrome babies aborted after screening reveas their disability. That inevitably undermines support of disability rights.
When I speak about teens, I mean those under 18. I believe in a excellent, comprehensive sex education. Ideally parents would provide it, but schools have to emphasize it because so many parents don’t. Liberals should scream less about abstinence education and more about parental failure to do their jobs. My 4 daughters all recall the condom-on-a -banana demonstration. My four year old wandered in, discovering a challenging new game. (We were willing to purchase bananas for her, but not condoms.) My oldest told me “You talked so much about sex that I don’t even want to think about it until I am 30.” At every sleepover, every sex-ed book in the house mysteriously migrated to the basement with the revelers. I corrupted an entire town:) My kids all reported that they could have taught the school education courses much better than their creepy gym teachers.
Emphasis on love and commitment, not using people, should be an important part of the curriculum. I wish adults would see junior high and high school sex as undesirable. Parents should fight the sexualization and pornification of our culture, in our advertising, media, movies, television. Women are denigrated. The sexualization of little girls is criminal.
So many parents are puritanical about drugs, booze, smoking, high school soda vending machines, pizza or hamburgers in the cafeteria, yet are not confident enough to warn about the physical and emotional damage of premature sexual activity. Most teens are not ready for sex. Teens too ignorant and reckless to protect themselves are particularly unready. Too many girls have sex out of insecurity, not lust, and do not exactly find it ecstatic. Oral sex often seems to be about cocks, not pussies.
I work with teens. Teens without adequate parental sex education are more likely to be sexually active. Teens with parents who don’t have happy, sexually fulfilling marriages are more likely to be sexually active. Parents whose kids can tell them everything are more likely to have kids who wait until college. If you want your daughter to graduate from high school a virgin, demand academic effort and excellence. Valedictorians tend to be virgins; they have enormous self-respect for their bodies as well as their brains.
I think that I, my siblings, my children, my nieces and nephews all had sex in college, mostly, but not entirely, with people they loved and were faithful to. I and my sibs mostly married their college sweetherats; my children and my nieces and nephews mostly married people they met after college. Obviously I haven’t taken a comprehensive survey. Hooking up, friends with benefits, drunk sex with a stranger upset me, because sex, love, and commitment have been inseparable in my life.
Sadly, even tragically, my first marriage ended in divorce after 25 years. It was a happy marriage for 20 years. I will always love my first husband and rejoice he was the father of my children. I have been able to remember all the thousands of good times. I am happy we both found new love and marriage. We tried very hard to save our, through years of marriage counseling, which wasn’t very helpful. We mediated our divorce.
Love is a decison as well as an overwhelming emotion and passion. You can honor the commitment even though love and passion ebb and flow. If you don’t feel your love for your husband or wife any more, try acting loving toward him. Obviously I am not talking about abusive marriages. We saw many of our friends give up when their problems seemed so less serious than ours. There have been remarkably few divorces of affairs in my extended family. I have known dozens of happy marriages, some lasting 50 or 60 years. I have seen spouses taking tender, dedicated care of their demented or chronically ill spouses. I know too many excellent parents to count. Faith, usually Catholicism, has played a vital role in their lives.
My views on abortion do not influence my vote. I am a lifelong Democrat, but believe we need to hold Obama’s feet to the progressive fire. I have always been way to the left of the Democratic Party; some would perceive me as a lifelong 60s radical. My Catholic upbringing shaped that progressivism. I am infuriated when all Christians are dismissed as dogmatic evangelic fundamentalists. Many fundamentalists do not accept Catholics as Christians.