Article Published



Columns | Friday, May 19, 2023

Time to reconnect the dots of sex and reproduction

Archbishop Wenski's column for the May 2023 edition of the Florida Catholic

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In April, the Florida Legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, the Heartbeat Protection Act. While the abortion restrictions in the bill will not go into effect unless the Florida Supreme Court rules to uphold a 15-week abortion ban passed last year, it is hoped that the Court will indeed decide in favor of life and thus this law restricting abortion after six weeks of gestation will go into effect.

This is a big deal — and a step forward even though the bill does contain exceptions to the six-week ban including for rape, incest, or human trafficking. While we pray that one day all abortions are illegal — and unthinkable — this incremental piece of legislation, when it goes into effect, will save tens of thousands of lives. At the same time, increased funding for vital pregnancy and parenting support will help address the essential needs of mothers and families.

 Nevertheless, for the pro-life movement, this is an opportunity to help our fellow Americans to reconnect the dots of sex and reproduction and to offer a more human vision of pregnancy and parenthood.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs vs. Jackson County returned the enactment of laws concerning abortion to the people. People through their elected representatives would decide and not judges legislating from the bench. Abortion policy once believed to be “settled law” is being again debated across the nation with the people in some states passing laws to protect human life — and in other states passing laws that allow the killing of unborn infants to seemingly protect human autonomy.

These “abortion wars” currently raging across the country are uncomfortable and disconcerting, adding another layer to the political and social polarization we are experiencing as a society. Nevertheless, for the pro-life movement, this is an opportunity to help our fellow Americans to reconnect the dots of sex and reproduction and to offer a more human vision of pregnancy and parenthood.

Unless we reconnect those dots — the sexual revolution that began in the ‘60s with the wide availability of contraception — the abortion wars will continue unabated. Before the sexual revolution, sexual responsibility meant acknowledging the consequences of sex and rising to meet them. Afterwards, it meant avoiding these consequences entirely. A courtship culture was transformed into a hookup one. Contraception obliterated the social standard of lifelong commitment to one’s sexual partner and children — and made abortion necessary as a “backstop.”

The root cause driving the demand for abortion is society’s unwillingness to accept — and to anticipate — the natural consequences of sex. Sexual activity outside of commitment resulted — despite the availability of contraception — in increased unintended pregnancies — not to mention reducing women to being simply outlets for men’s sexual release, resulting in the objectifying of women in popular media, pornography, and the dating culture.

Prolifers should focus on the humanity of the unborn child as well as the dignity of motherhood. We need to remind those who argue that abortion is necessary to protect human autonomy that, in the words of John Donne’s famous poem, “no man is an island entire of itself ... Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.” Abortion always results in the death of a human being. It is a “solution” that solves nothing but creates new problems.

Both men and women share a common purpose in life: to love and to be loved. We realize ourselves as human beings by the gift of ourselves. To be human means to live in relationships. These relationships, including sexual relationships, impose duties that must be accepted if we are to live fulfilling lives. In other words, claims to autonomy or self-determination are not absolute: They cannot be divorced from our duties to others.

The “sexual revolution,” in separating the link between sexual activity and procreation, wreaked havoc on relationships between men and women, resulting in the breakup of families and devaluation of the life of the unborn child. It also has changed the view of marriage and the family as the commitment of one man and one woman to a lifelong relationship where children are born and nurtured.

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, at a National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, in the presence of Bill Clinton, then president of the United States: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”  

Comments from readers

Michael - 05/25/2023 09:54 AM
It is with a deep sense of sorrow and concern that I venture to address the tragedy of abortion. However, it is necessary to critique the prevailing discourse often employed by Church leaders, which at times appears reductionist, lacking nuance, and unimaginative. This is a reality that must be acknowledged, as the credibility of the Church's stance on sexual morality has been profoundly undermined by the distressing cases of abuse and subsequent attempts to conceal them. In grappling with the complexity of these issues, we must engage with the diverse perspectives on sexual morality that are found within our faith community and in wider society. It is imperative that we genuinely contemplate the concrete, lived experiences of individuals who confront these profound moral quandaries firsthand. By embarking on a journey of communal learning and growth, we can cultivate a more profound empathy and compassionate understanding of these intricately woven matters. Embracing the essence of the ecclesia discens, the Church as a learning institution, holds the promise of expanding our capacity to address these challenging matters with sensitivity and pastoral wisdom.
Angela Ochoa - 05/25/2023 08:46 AM
Archbishop Wenski, what an extraordinary opportunity to REINFORCE one of the fundamental teachings of our Catholic faith, with regards to the dignity of life and for the gift of sex as God created it-for natural procreation within the sanctity of marriage. Thank you for courageously and truthfully responding to a world increasingly atheist, agnostic and secular. "May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Amen and Amen.
Valli Leone - 05/24/2023 08:00 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, so clearly written and filled with the truths evidenced throughout my 75 years. Hoping for holier generations to come and deliverance from the degrading practices promoted through the “sexual revolution” of the sixties, I will continue to pray for “sexual revelations” that can only come from a knowledge of God‘s plan for mankind. Forgive us, Heavenly Father, for the lies we believed and the sins we have committed. Enlighten our minds and hearts, Holy Spirit. For your truth will set us all free. As Saint Catherine of Siena encouraged us: “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” All hope is not gone, because with God all things are possible! Jesus, impart to us a hunger for obedience to your Word. Set a fire down in our souls that we can’t contain, and we can’t control. Amen. ✝️⚓️💜

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