Wednesday, March 17, 2004

New Evangelization? We need a New Eroticism!

I just read somewhere that the birthrate in Spain is 1.12, the lowest in Europe. This depresses me, not least because Spain would be where I would live if I couldn't be an American. But mostly because it is a sign of a dead culture, one that has lost the inner dynamism that made it great. Europe is dying, because Europeans don't love their heritage enough to transmit it to new Europeans.

What has caused this? Quite clearly, the divorce that has happened within the sexual act itself. The unitive and procreative ends have been sundered. In fact, this estrangement has destroyed both. Contraceptive sex is neither procreative nor unitive, since it is by nature exploitative: I don't love you, all of you, fertility included; no, I just love specific parts of you, and only if those parts don't really function! This destroys the union. The evidence for this is the skyrocketing divorce rate. To paraphrase Fr. Groeschel: if sex were so great, the world would be shining like the sun, since everyone seems to be having lots of sex. Everyone should be happy. But we aren't. We've neutered ourselves. We are a dying people on our way to death.

How can we fix this? I think an essential ingredient would be a recovery of a genuine eroticism. I don't mean the cartoonish type that is common today, full of women with artificially inflated breasts and the hips of ten-year old boys. Such pictures only serve to continue the severance between sex and children. Think of the pictures of women from the past. I suggest you walk through a museum. What do you see? Lots of pictures of beautiful women with children. This is true eroticism, since it presents us with beauty, but beauty that is fruitful. It should be presented in art as such. Just take a look at this knockout--is there anything more attractive than a mother and child?

We needn't be prudes and shy away from talk of sex in art and drama, but we should always be sure to present sex in its essential fullness, which means that we should present lots of mothers, fathers, and babies. We must do everything we can to reconnect sex and life. Our survival depends on it.

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