The Sexual Revolution: “You Can Be Whoever You Want to Be; You Can Live However You Want to Live — But You Can’t Do That”

Broken mirrorOne of the hallmarks of the ongoing “sexual revolution” has been that “I can be whoever I want to be; I can live however I want to live” with respect to my sexuality and gender identity. That is, regardless of my biological sex, I am free to live and love and make love to whomever I please, be that boys or girls or both or everyone or not at all. Even if I don’t like biologically being a boy, I am free to be a girl instead. Such personal choices — any such choices — are hailed and praised by my liberal friends as liberated; and that’s the key: liberation from social and even biological constraints and definitions and freedom to be whoever I want to be and live however I want to live. But this “freedom” and “liberation,” I’m finding, only applies one direction: I am not free to be and live as I please if such choices contradict the rhetoric of liberation or constitute what “advocates” would deem “repression”: if, having opposite inclinations, I choose to be heterosexual or “cisgendered.” But I thought you just said I was free to live and choose and define myself?

Last week it was announced in the media that actor Gary Sinise and news personality Bret Baier had withdrawn from speaking at a conference for Legatus, an organization of Catholic businesspeople, because of that group’s “anti-gay” views. Those “anti-gay” views (as few in the mainstream media reported, but the linked Washington Post article did) amounted to alignment with and support for the [Courage](http://couragerc.org) apostolate, a Catholic group that does not condemn people who experience same-sex attraction, or suggest that they can or should seek to change those tendencies, but offers them love, hope, and support in living a celibate lifestyle in accord with the Christian faith — a message that homosexual “advocates” will not brook. In other words, you’re free to be whoever you want to be and live however you want to live — unless you feel same-sex attraction and are unhappy with that.

Today I read another story about how Mount Holyoke College, a women’s liberal arts college in New Hampshire, has cancelled its “traditional” performance of The Vagina Monologues, a play about the liberation of women’s sexuality, because of concerns that it might exclude and offend the “transgendered,” those who “self-identify” as women but have no vaginas at all. A leader of the theatre group stated that the cancellation was due to the “extremely narrow perspective,” “inherently reductionist and exclusive,” that the play offers “on what it means to be a woman” — gender being a “wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions.” In other words, you’re free to be a woman and be liberal in your sexuality, even to celebrate it — until that message runs smack into the reality that not everybody who wants that can have that, or shares the same understanding of it, and your being-who-you-want-to-be in fact oppresses the somebody else’s being-who-he-wants-to-be.

These are just a couple of vignettes in a tableau of cases that is becoming increasingly rich: the common theme being the increasing intolerance of sexual revolutionaries to any contradiction of their message, even to the point of the revolution devouring her own young; even when that intolerance reveals the message’s self-contradiction. So, I’m free now to be who I am want to be and live how I want to live — even if (especially if) that being-who-I-want-to-be and living-how-I-want-to-live contradicts age-old societal norms (e.g. heterosexuality, marriage, monogamy, fidelity) — but as soon as “who I want to be” and “how I want to live” is traditional and acceptable (even to the accepted traditions of twenty years ago, e.g. the sexual liberation of The Vagina Monologues) — then I become anathema.

There is a lot more here that I want to unpack and write and think about. But all of this hits very close to home to me, as somebody who has struggled most of my life with gender identity and sexual issues, who wants nothing more than freedom to live how I want to live — a good, holy, traditional and Christian life. My “liberal” friends have repeatedly scoffed at me, at the very idea that pornography and masturbation could be things that one would find it desirable to have freedom from or temperance in, let alone that they are things one could be addicted to. But if who I want to be is a happily married, heterosexual, cisgendered male, free to make healthy choices and live a life of love for all people — then ought that to be, per their own stated agenda, something they should accept and support?

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Penned

incarceratedDay 48.

There are changes going on in me.

More clearly than I’ve ever discerned it before, I am changing. I know very well that I can never “declare victory” — that this will be a fight I fight for the rest of my life — but more than ever before, I feel a growing distance between me and my addiction.

I’ve been this long before. A little more than a year ago, I went eighty days before falling. But I’m doing something different this time. This time, rather than mere avoidance — a beleaguered footrace, feeling the wolf’s hot breath on my heels — I feel a real separation. The wolf — which in truth, is in me — has been penned.

Or rather, I’ve allowed myself to be penned. I’ve given myself — and I give myself daily — to penance. My incarceration — this separation from the Internet — is not a punishment so much as a protection. And it is a submission — a voluntary act of giving up control, of surrendering myself and laying down my freedom. And yet I haven’t felt such freedom as this in years. Such self-control — the freedom to choose my own thoughts and actions.

And this is how it is in Christ. Jesus said that if we take his yoke upon us, we would find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28–30). In that surrender of ourselves, placing our lives in the hands of a greater Master, we find a lighter burden than ever the world could give. I’ve never truly understood this before now — so bound to another master have I been.

Cancer

medical-wasteSo I just deleted some hundred gigabytes of porn (probably that much — I didn’t count).

At least, what counts as porn for me. What I use as porn. In fact, photos of “models,” who blur the lines between “porn” and “art.”

But the important thing is that it’s gone.

It had been growing like a cancer for the past six or seven months. Even when I quit, I couldn’t bring myself to excise it. And it was always there, malignantly, ready to welcome me back the moment I slipped.

But it’s gone now. Lord, have mercy.

I feel a release. But I still have something I need to get rid of. Something not inherently bad, but nonetheless pathological: quite a stash of photos of pretty girls from Facebook. I am embarrassed to say how many or how much. It serves me no good purpose. It is sick to have it — how could I explain, as a man of God, having such a hoard? It is a constant temptation to fashion evil dolls — which, in fact, is the only real end it has ever served.

It is masturbatory. And even when it’s not, it fulfills the same need the porn does: to feel a sense of intimacy with someone, a connection, even if a false one. And the reason why I can’t delete them is because I do feel connected. I have grown attached to these girls. They are my “friends.”

I managed, after falling two too many times, to extricate myself from the “friendship” of my models. May this release be permanent and forever. May I find release from the rest of this, too, and when I return to this computer again, put an end to these “friendships,” too.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Yokes

Oxen from "The First Harvest"
A crop from “The First Harvest” by Canadian painter J. D. Kelly.

Day Five. A daily Mass and a Rosary do make all the difference. Thank You, Lord, and thank you, Blessed Mother.

At the times when I’ve been at the lowest in my addiction, when I have felt the most out of control, I have had the distinct feeling that my lusts were driving me, not I pursuing my lusts — that I was just a beast of burden, bearing the yoke of my oppression, drawing behind me all the pain and anguish and baggage that was weighing me down, bleating unhappily, but unable to stop.

Other times, when I’ve been most tempted, I have heard the Prince of Lies beckon to me: “Won’t you come back to the yoke? Its embrace is so comforting and inviting and secure. You know you miss its weight; miss the freedom it gives you to pursue your desires. You know you are weary; tired of holding back your passions, tired of standing without relief. Won’t you stop kicking against the goads, obey your flesh, and return to where you belong?” And it has been so inviting. I’ve felt like an obedient dog, returning to his master to have the collar placed back on his neck. It does feel like such a relief to let go; to lay down the fight; to give myself up to my natural inclinations and let the flesh take control.

But Christ offers a yoke also:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The very idea of taking on a yoke is one of submission and subservience: of laying down my self to another’s will. But paradoxically, it is only in taking Christ’s yoke — in becoming His slave — that I find true freedom. It is only in losing myself that I find myself. It is only in taking up my cross and following Him, in submitting to and sharing in His death, that I gain life (Matthew 16:24-28, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12).