The world we live in offers us a different picture of life than the church does. Often the church is called old fashioned because it doesn’t go along with the current trends. It becomes a question of who do we listen to.
I remember coming home for dinner one Sunday afternoon and hearing dad talk about something the church taught. I pointed out to him that it wasn’t what the church taught but he asserted that it was correct because George at the bar said it was. We can be so easily persuaded to accept even the strangest ideas because they are the popular expression of what we want to believe.
I don’t need to go into details about today’s society. We all know Victoria doesn’t have a secret. Popular opinion is if it doesn’t hurt someone, it is OK. Fashions have changed and modesty is not fashionable. Making love is not a sin. Sex is what we use to find a mate, or have a good time. The only thing important is being happy.
The message of chastity speaks against those views of what life is all about. Love is measured in sacrifices not orgasms. How do we live chaste lives in the midst of today’s society?
Remember when fornication, sex outside of marriage, was a sin? That seems like it was a long time ago, in a far off galaxy. To suggest that sex in any form outside of marriage is a sin is met with a belief that those old fashioned ideas are obsolete. To mention that the Bible condemns it has little impact on the discussion.
The commandment “You shall not commit adultery” does not deter people from entering into sexual relationships with people who are married to another. In the past to label someone an adulterer was a serious charge. A person’s reputation was damaged. In high school “The Scarlet Letter” was required reading. Now, it would seem to be badge of honor.
What changed? I think when we started referring to fornication as “making love” we made it sound like something good. I think of those other sins we have covered up with more pleasant sounding names, such as masturbation, which is now “pleasuring myself.” When evil is marketed as something good or normal it is easier to accept it without a sense of guilt.
Doing away with guilt is a contributing factor. If you commit the sin, then you are guilty. When you are guilty you need to go to God and become reconciled. The memory of the guilt helps us not to commit that sin again. But now we suppress our conscience or we re-program it so we don’t feel guilty.
Father Patrick Toner is pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 873-8850.