Monday, September 19, 2005

Is Morality Generational or Innate?

The 22 year old was wholesome looking and a recent Catholic college graduate. He spoke with total confidence and knowledge about this mystery called “life.” He was fully aware, he said, of the difficulties that others may have had but he felt in complete control. He had his life all planned out disregarding the loving advice and concern of his parents and somewhat old fashioned friends. He sat in my office and with unshakeable élan described the blue print of his life. He had a “lover” to whom he was committing himself for life. He just knew that this was it. This was real. This was obviously for ever! As he spoke with typical inexperienced certitude, there was something troublingly “bland” about him with even a slight hint of trance

They met three months prior and were SO comfortable with each other. It was all so different from his awkward and dishonest attempts at heterosexual liaisons. They would be so happy together, traveling, surf boarding and eating at fantastic restaurants. He felt sheer bliss. Idealistic love was available for him. Physical pleasures were only part of his soaring delight. Finally and at last, he was “comfortable” in a relationship, sharing a common love.

The devastation of his parents was insignificant to him. It was regrettable but a mere temporary unpleasantness which would eventually evaporate when they realized how happy he was and how correct his decision was. After all if they really loved him, they would rejoice in his happiness. It would take a little time but with some patience on his part, they would come around to his view and accept his life “partner”. They would get over it. As would his siblings and their children. He was astonished that they thought there was something “bad” about gay living! But, again, after all, they were from another generation while his generation is more liberated and enlightened and which, of course, knows that homosexual love is basically the same as heterosexual love. Values and attitudes change, he said, and he was living in modern times. His parents and others simply have to accept that fact. (Obviously, this unreal infatuation state of being is not limited to the homosexual world. It has been repeated endlessly and historically in the heterosexual world as well.)

His sole reason in meeting with me was to placate his parents who, broken hearted, hoped that I would be able to persuade him to delay his decision. To them living the gay life was unnatural, toxic and sinful. Their profound love for him was the very reason for their suffering—they saw him, their very flesh and blood, seriously considering a self destructive life. For my part, I found a young man totally brainwashed. He would not even consider views different from his own. He was completely closed minded. He spoke only to those who held views similar to his. In his mind, there was no other option. No other way. Hard statistics on the failures of gay unions were brushed aside as irrelevant. Clinical experiences were discounted in the light of the decline in heterosexual marital stability. That he would be excluded from the Eucharist was passed over quickly and easily because his Progressive minded priest mentors had implied that “God understands”---and besides his love for his partner would compensate, should there be any ritual deprivation. The Church, he claimed was not “with the times” and one could confidently anticipate that future thinking would ultimately coincide with his own. Today’s Catholics, if they are current, think for themselves and decide what is right and wrong. They are freed from the priest culture of previous times. So, the thinking goes.

The basic point for him is that notions of right and wrong are generational. His own generation has different values and the older less enlightened one really has to come to terms with the modern realities. There is no such thing as eternal or perennial morality. Everything changes. Shades of Heraclitus and his “everything is in flux” theory. Whatever happened to Parmenides and his theory of permanence? Where is the balance between permanence and change we so ardently desired? Some things never change. Some things do. And there is a gray moral area. Perhaps, it takes maturity and good sense to know the difference and nuance implied in the famous Serenity prayer “Let me know the difference”. The sports writer, Ray Kerrison, once wrote semi-jocosely that when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He reminded His man on earth that these Laws were forever and would not expire in 2005. Some things never change even though adaptation and progress often occur.

Alleged motivations are commonplace with human beings. There is more here than the eye can see. This is not merely intellectual confusion. This is a huge emotional problem which is not solvable by logic or facts. Nor is it easy to face. This young man hungers for something he believes is unavailable to him but which he “illusions” can be gained by perversion. He has to rationalize in order to go ahead with his tragic plan.

However, the superficial and sad approach to life described above is not limited to naïve and inexperienced young people. I have a priest client from “ somewhere” who is 66 years old, is deeply loved by his people and who is profoundly addicted to male “porno” on his computer. His addiction is progressive which factor contributes to the noticeable decline in the spiritual life of his parish. A parish employee who discovered the “secret” by accident, properly and lovingly confronted the priest who instantly denied any knowledge of the origin of these “data”, claiming that some one else must have done it. It was the old Genesis game of “passing the buck.” Some one else is to blame. I am innocent. Meanwhile, the priest is doctrinally orthodox and is the Chaplain for the regional Courage apostolate, a National movement to help homosexual Catholics strive for the mandated virtue of Chastity. He seemed to have two faces, one for the Parish and one for his secret vice.

Further information and data, however, revealed his deep enmeshment in this sick and perverted behavior. He would spend up to five hours engrossed with the “enchantment” even seeking on line membership in some kind of organization giving him access to young males.

In a discussion with his employee, he insisted that there are far more serious affronts to God’s will than mere sexual lapses. It was the tired centuries old game of rationalization. He listed the usual litany of intolerance, racism, social injustice, sexism and homophobia. I have heard so many patients argue that this sexual behavior is necessary to relieve sexual tension. It is not hurting anyone. (Shades of John Donne and his “No man is an island”) It relieves loneliness. It compensates for not having a wife. Everyone is doing it. We are more adult these days and have dropped the old time rigidity. We have new values and deeper understanding of human nature. And endless variations on the theme. The old attempt to ennoble the ignoble by justifying one evil by another.

Yet, way down deep in his soul, he knows that his behavior is evil, that he pollutes his priesthood, and that he betrays his people. He knows he distances himself from his God. Yet, he digs himself deeper and deeper into a vortex of misery. How did this ever happen?

In the beginning, Intellectual seduction. The smart ones talk of “deconstructionism”, that there are no essences, that nothing really is absolute, that everything is relative and so on and so on. Some one holds that it is all right to so behave because…. well, just pick any reason. Anything will do. Little step by little step until, with repeated microbehaviors, one is hooked. It is now necessary to construct some kind of mental mechanism to justify what one really knows to be destructive.

The young 22 year old and the 66 year old are doing the same thing. They have been seduced by the demonic idea that morals change with the times. It is no longer necessary to struggle with inner conflict which no one finds desireable. We note that this is substantially different from Mores. In effect, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI sees this point with great clarity: i.e. the Burning issue of the times is the battle for Objective truth. He knows well, as do those of us of the Great Generation, that Relativism leads to Dachau.

The young man and the priest are terribly important in their own right but an even wider question arises. The survival of civilized living. Only a form of Christianity clear in its own beliefs and its system of authority will have the inner strength to stand up against such alien forces which are attempting to hijack or seduce the world. The two sad illustrations noted above are symptoms of what is brewing. Is there any wonder observant ones are concerned? May St. Michael, the enemy of Lucifer protect us!

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