In the history of the Church, there have been a number of heresies, which have deceived millions and led them on the path to eternal ruin. In order to deal with this ongoing threat, the Church has had to take specific steps to identify and name each heresy, which threatens to distort the integrity of truth proclaimed in the Gospel and sustained through the Magisterium of the Church.
As we prepare for the Synod on Marriage and the Family, it would seem both prudent and wise for our bishops to consider making a decisive break from the shackles imposed on the Second Vatican Council. These chains required that all the Council documents be drafted with a certain hubris and optimism, which would avoid naming, much less clearly condemning, the most serious threats to the eternal salvation of souls confronting the Church in our age. Sadly, for half a century, this taboo has unfortunately been allowed stand, even in the face of horrible atrocities against human life and the degeneration of liturgical discipline - even, at times, to the point of objective desecration. Being decisive may not appear to be nice, but it is essential for the faithful proclamation of the saving truth of the Gospel.
In view of this, it seems that the upcoming synod on marriage and the family will end up being an expensive exercise in futility, if it fails to decisively name and condemn one of the most serious heresies of our age. The heresy I am referring to is the heresy of eroticism. Unlike what many would expect, this heresy goes beyond asserting it that human fulfillment cannot be realized without regular sexual stimulation and gratification. It is especially diabolical in that it defines the sacredness of intimacy in terms of such gratification. Thus, if its premises are accepted without challenge, it would have us embrace the idea that any attempt to discipline erotic desires would be an attempt to deny, or at least to limit, the right of people to seek that "fulfillment" and/or "intimacy", through which they will allegedly find true happiness in their lives.
This heresy is especially pernicious, since it identifies the regular erotic experience of gratification offered through sexual stimulation, either alone or with another, as essential for personal fulfillment. And it goes even further by asserting that, since regular erotic gratification is essential for personal fulfillment, the pursuit of such pleasures cannot be contrary to the will of Christ, Who came so that we could have life, and have it to the full. Thus the true liberators of humanity are allegedly those who are so diligently seeking to expand the parameters of for legitimate sexual gratification beyond the "rigid" boundaries set by traditional Judeo-Christian morality. Thus it ultimately seeks to affirm that any person of any age should have the legal and moral right to pursue such fulfillment at any time - the only caveats being:
1) that such erotic acts be consensual on the part of all persons involved and;
2) that steps be taken to prevent the spread of disease or an unwanted pregnancy.
Another problem with this heresy is that it deceives people into using their sexual drives or sexual orientation as the basis for understanding their self-identity and their dignity as human beings. This is as insane as using one's food preferences as the basis for determining one's dignity as a human being. Yet it is becoming increasingly accepted as a key paradigm for understanding and fulfilling a person's identity as a human being. This is also dangerous, in that it also can lead a person to view other compulsions, drives and even addictions as the standards for self-identity, and thus for determining the way to attain fulfillment in one's life. Authentically human dignity cannot be realized by immersion into hormonal thrills or addictive behaviors.
A third problem with this heresy is that it degrades the appreciation of the sacredness of the marriage covenant. It divorces sexual activity from its natural context of the sacred marriage covenant by asserting that marriage is only one of an ever-increasing options, by which a person can find "healthy sexual fulfillment." Sadly, the legal system in America has largely capitulated to this idea. Our legal system now encourages, and even subsidizes the costs for contraception, abortion, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, "no-fault" divorce, amoral sexual education for children in our schools, out of wedlock motherhood, sex change surgery, homosexual "marriage", etc. - all to appease the ever increasing demands for sexual "freedom". As a result, the heresy of eroticism blocks the path to authentically covenantal intimacy and love, by consigning them to view as intimacy what is actually merely symbiotic or parasitic.
A fourth problem spawned by this heresy is the tendency to view pregnancy as an STD. Since pregnancy stifles one's ability to enjoy unlimited sexual gratification, it does not take too long for people, and their legal system, to view a child in the womb as merely an inconvenient truth, which needs to be ignored. Over the years, the humanity has become quite adept at promoting such ignorance. The sacred dignity of those who are Africans, Hispanics, Jews, Chinese, Irish and numerous other groups has been derided by the use of slanderous racial or ethnic slurs, so as to make it easier to disregard or deny their God-given dignity and to promote their degradation or destruction. In our own time, eroticism demands that we continue this practice in a new way, by asserting that the child in the womb is merely a "fetus". We have thus arrived at a point where those who happen to survive an abortion, are routinely suffocated or left to die on a cold steel table.
This brings to light a fifth problem of this heresy. Eroticism tends to degrade the appreciation of the blessing given to humanity through the children entrusted to our care. It leads people to view and treat child-rearing as either a convenient hobby or pastime (at best) or as a nuisance and burden (at worst). It thus leads them to elect and support leaders, who arrange to set up government programs that relieve parents of these burdens.
For example, Aid to Dependent Children helps men avoid their responsibilities as fathers. Head Start allows mothers to have more free time, as their children are indoctrinated in secularist humanism. HUD provides free or heavily subsidized housing for unmarried mothers. Secularist "family life education" programs in our schools put a positive spin on sexual perversion and promiscuity. HHS is arranging to ensure free and easy access to abortion, contraception and sterilization "services". And now, President Obama is proposing legislation to provide a child-care tax break only for working parents. Stay-at-home mothers or fathers would not be eligible for such a tax deduction.
All this points to another serious problem. When children treated as a commodity, rather than as a sacred trust, how will they be able to develop a healthy and sanctifying sense of self-esteem?
Sadly, with the success of its ever-evolving efforts to promote the disintegration of marriage and of the natural family unit, eroticism has been dramatically successful in crippling the dynamics and deriding the sacred relationships required for a child to develop a healthy and sanctifying sense of self-esteem. Ironically, most people ignore the fact that this is in total contradiction to its promises that contraception would nurture stronger and healthier marriages and that abortion would end both child abuse and child neglect. But the disintegration of our society over the past half century has revealed these promises to be nothing less than the spawn of the Father of Lies himself.
In conclusion , we should note that, close to a century ago, Our Blessed Mother warned us at Fatima that unrepented sins of the flesh (i.e., sexual sins) are a major factor that leads to the degradation and damnation of souls.
Sadly, with the heresy of eroticism reaching pandemic proportions, many in the Church believe that, if we just allow our thinking to evolve, we can arrive at a consensus, which would both accommodate the heretical demands of eroticism and overlook its perversions. But they forget that truth is not determined by consensus. A consensus of the People of God determined that they should build and worship the golden calf at the base of Mt. Sinai.
A consensus of the Jews gathered in the praetorium of Pilate determined that Jesus must be crucified. A consensus of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen determined that Stephen should be stoned to death. Likewise, through the ages, it was by consensus that mobs condemned innocent people to pillaging, torture, rape and murder.
Our modern and more sophisticated mobs, incited by the thrills offered by eroticism, seek to ridicule, slander and ostracize any who dare to question, much less challenge their agenda. Those who insist on respecting the sacredness of marriage or the personhood of pre-born children are thus labeled as "rigid", "judgmental", "conspiracy nuts" or just simply "on the wrong side of history".
And sadly, this is not only happening in our streets and our voting booths, but also in many of our sanctuaries, where even the mention, much less the clear denunciation of this heresy is de facto forbidden.
In light of all this, I pray that the Synod fathers have the courage and faith to boldly identify, name and condemn this heresy - and the initiate a major exorcism of all of its supporting demons. In the Holy Name of Jesus, through fervent prayer and sincere repentance, we can and will be victorious.
Rev. Thomas Collins is a Catholic priest who serves the people of Virginia.