Jesus Christ Is the Only Answer to Our Totalitarian Sexualized Culture


It is not too difficult to demonstrate that today we live within a culture that dictates acceptable sexual views and behavior. In a very real sense, we are immersed in a kind of totalitarian state, a totalitarian sexual culture. Is this too radical a naming? Yet our experience increasingly indicates that to live in our current culture is to walk in an environment of fear, disorientation, and oppression. It is an environment within which an announcement of perennial sexual truth is met with a response of hostility and those who speak the truth are declared enemies of the totalitarian regime. Such is the case in today’s sexual culture. For someone, indeed especially a Catholic, to announce the truth that marriage is exclusively the joining of a man and woman in a sacred willingness to give their lives to each other through the action of God is to be identified as one who is defying the totalitarian sexual culture. Indeed, it is even denounced as a denial of the fundamental right granted to same-sex couples by our national law. As such, the “cultural warriors” are called forth to identify and “dispatch” this enemy.

In this totalitarian sexual culture, co-habitation, adultery, birth control, and abortions are all increasingly seen as entirely acceptable, linked inexorably to individual rights and maturity of personality, and assuaging of wounds suffered through individual histories and relationships. The totalitarian regime will then quickly identify as the enemy the Catholic individual or communities or the entire Church that attempts to proclaim the fundamental truth that sexual intimacy is reserved for those who are married and that life is to be protected from conception until natural death. To be identified as an enemy of a totalitarian culture or regime is to be declared a traitor, a non-respecter of human rights and one who is required to be cleansed of this traitorous position. This “cleansing” is accomplished by activist outcry, cultural incarceration, and isolation, a kind of cultural death.

In a totalitarian state, the strategy is gradually to convince the people of the reasonableness and sensibility of its doctrine. A people are then developed in such a manner as to be totally convinced of its rightness and thereby become increasingly comfortable and at home with the emerging totalitarian culture. This strategy is virtually ageless and is clearly reflected in the Genesis conversations. In our own time, how else to explain the outpouring of enthusiasm at Hitler’s entrance into Vienna in 1938 with thousands on the street, right arms extended in a collective Heil? — a people who only a few short years before had resisted the National Socialist doctrine? Under the current totalitarian sexual culture, Pew Research reports that more than 80% of people asked have been convinced that cohabitation is acceptable. Such an acceptability reflects the emergent belief that cohabitation is simply an expression of the rights of the individuals to follow their own fulfillment. Yet our own culture, only a few short generations ago, embraced a Christian culture that announced the exact opposite of cohabitation through a clear and unambiguous teaching of the beauty of sex within the sacred place of marriage. This adaptation to the totalitarian sexual culture has had the consequential effect of an almost 80% decline in Catholic marriages in the US since 1970.

Two issues, however, mark the sexual culture of our time as distinguished from historical situations. Unlike other totalitarian states, the “dictator” and the geographical extent of our totalitarian sexual culture are not easily identified or recognizable. In the midst of WWII, the faces of Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito were on constant display as the enemy to be conquered. Who does not recognize Josef Stalin’s face? But to whom do we point in this totalitarian sexual culture? It is not simply a confrontation with the LGBTQ+ culture. It is not simply a “battle” between right and left, liberals and conservatives. No, there is a much deeper struggle underway and the face that must be seen and identified is the face of the Antichrist. The immediate difficulty is that the sexual culture scoffs at this identification and denies the very existence of such a dictator. The failure to recognize the existence of a central evil force is exactly the strategy of a modern totalitarian regime because then the enemy is obscured, even denied.

Other totalitarian states dominate specific geographical areas or countries. However, the domain of our totalitarian sexual culture is not national or regional but is universal in its scope. So one cannot simply escape or emigrate or walk away from this totalitarian culture. Such a universality of totalitarianism reveals the seriousness of the battle for the human consciousness. In front of a hidden leader and the boundarylessness of this regime, we immediately face the questions: How do we respond to this state? How do we even begin to speak with this totalitarian sexual culture?

The question is not “what do we do?” but “who do we announce?” The answer to the whole current confusion, confrontation and loss of human sexual dignity and values is to announce Jesus Christ, who is made visible in the Christian culture. This culture is the opposite of the totalitarian sexual culture. In the Christian culture, love prevails, a Christ-love that frees one from the fear of death (Heb 2:15). The battle lines are then clearly drawn: an epic totalitarian sexual culture aligned with the Antichrist at its head against the culture of love aligned within the nature of Jesus Christ. In this confrontation, the announcement of the piercing and penetrating Christian sexual truth is to be expected to be met by howls of outrage and denial of rights. This battle is not about liturgical reforms, altar rails, proper reception of the Eucharist, or the need for sensitivity to those who believe and live differently. It is a battle raging in the deepest regions of the human consciousness. The most profound error of response is to accommodate oneself to this sexual culture. Recall the tragic accommodation of the 1933 Reichskonkordat between the Church and the German Reich, subsequently wept over by Pius XI in “Mit brennender Sorge” only four short years later. No amount of compromise will change the stance of the totalitarian culture.

To enter into a confrontation with this totalitarian sexual culture behind Jesus Christ in the Christian culture is to enter with Pope Emeritus Benedict’s “true love . . . ready to understand but not to approve.” This contemporary battle with adjustment to totalitarianism is fought at the dinner table, in the family, in the diocesan agencies, in public places, schools, theater and art, even from the pulpit, all reflecting the incredible depth of infiltration of the totalitarian culture. But to enter and confront with love is to speak clearly without obfuscation, without individual judgment. Benedict again: “In a totalitarian system one may have saved one’s own skin and perhaps also one’s position, but only at the price of . . . having betrayed one’s conscience and soul.” To align with Christ, to declare allegiance to the teaching of the Church of the Christian culture is to be ready to suffer, to give one’s life for the truth of the true beauty of the sexuality of man and woman. But we should not be misled or go forward with a kind of naivete. Balthasar puts it correctly:

The kingdom of the Antichrist collapses only in the eschaton. Yet those who have not been blinded by it can recognize the contradiction already within history — and may even truly witness the sudden collapse of a thousand-year Reich.

In the final analysis, to be Catholic, individually or ecclesiastically, is to face this totalitarian sexual culture without fear. It is to plead to be released from subservient blindness, to bear the cloak and crown of Jesus’s nature and stand ready to be nailed to the Cross of blasphemy for declaring the truth of what has been revealed and announced through multiple ages. Anything less than this is to fail to live the ultimate Truth, the living of the Word of God, and is then to live a duplicitous personal and ecclesial life which will only lead to destruction of body and soul.

Robert V. Thomann, DMin, PhD About Robert V. Thomann, DMin, PhD

Robert V. Thomann, DMin, PhD, is a married permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ. He and his wife, Joan, minister in the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Ridgewood, NJ. He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Fordham University, a Master’s in Systematic Theology from Seton Hall University, a PhD in Oceanography from New York University, a Master’s in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from NYU, and a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Manhattan College (1956).

He was Assistant Director of Administration for the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark and has taught in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Guam and in the diaconate programs of the Dioceses of Newark and Paterson, New Jersey. Previous assignments include Director of RCIA for his parish for almost two decades. He previously held a position of Associate Director for Deacon Formation for the Archdiocese for seven years. As an environmental engineer and scientist, he taught for thirty years at Manhattan College, where he is currently Professor Emeritus of Environmental Engineering and Science. He was widely published in the field, including a best-selling textbook on Water Quality Modeling. He is an emeritus member of the National Academy of Engineering.

His recent publications include the book A Hemorrhaging Church, Evangelization and the Neocatechumenal Way (Amazon) and papers in Crisis Magazine and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. A new book entitled Environmental Fear or Christian Environmental Love, the Great Environmental Decision is to be released (Amazon) in March 2019.

Comments

  1. Avatar joseph kamweti says:

    we have to take extra care and be strong in faith in order to combat the enemy.an article urging everyone to be vigilant.bravo.

  2. I have watched this essay since the first day of its publication – waiting, I suppose, for someone else to say what is on my heart on this matter. This segment of your essay helps focus my concern:
    “The question is not ‘what do we do?’ but ‘who do we announce?’ The answer to the whole current confusion, confrontation and loss of human sexual dignity and values is to announce Jesus Christ, who is made visible in the Christian culture.”

    Your question begs a further one: “Whose Jesus do we announce? Which ‘Christian culture’ do we try to make visible?” The easy answer, among the readers of this Journal, ought to be of course, “The true Jesus Christ as understood and taught in the Catholic Church!” “The Christian culture lived among the Catholic faithful!” But it is not so easy these days. These are days of troubled confusion in the Church, reaching even to such fundamental matters as these. And the ambiguities and contradictory messages many in the Church are receiving, from the Vatican down to parish pulpits, only deepen the confusion and sadden the faithful.

    A chasm is opening wide in our time, it seems, dividing and separating two irreconcilable foundations, and visions: two “realities”, two “first truths”, separated so radically that there is no compromise. Augustine had it exactly right: there are and have been from the beginning, two cities. His understanding is borne out in history, of course, but these last days are screaming the depth of the truth of it. The nation seems gripped in a futile deadlock; the constitutional premise of good will and compromise seems only a fantasy now. But sorrow of sorrows, these two irreconcilable cities are emerging even within the Church!

    You are right: these times demand fidelity, promise conflict and suffering, require fortitude, call forth true, intense zeal for the holy Truth. The world needs witnesses of the only Jesus who is.

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