Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The love that won't shut up, again

The love that dare not speak its name? No, the love that just won't shut up. Back at you by popular demand of the "Spirit of Vatican II, Gene Robinson and Co." Again. So hear this:
"Conjugal sex means self-giving, making one flesh out of two. By contrast, when a man puts the part of himself which represents new life into the cavity of another man which represents decay and expulsion, at the most basic of all possible levels he is saying 'Life, be swallowed in death.' We cannot overwrite such meanings with different ones just because we want to."
J. Budzieszewski, What We Can't Not Know (2003), pp. 86-87. (J. Budziszewski is professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas.)

The fact is, we all know this. Even those of us desparate to evade the hold of its obviousness on us. We know this and a great many other things like it. This fact was once widely recognized. It was unexceptional for St. Thomas Aquinas to declare that the foundational moral principles are "the same for all, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge" (ST, I-II, Q 94, a. 4). That is, the foundational moral principles are not only right for everyone, but at some level known to everyone. But what was once considered unexceptional is now widely considered outrageous. People become angry when one asserts the moral law; and this outrage itself is an amazing fact that calls for explanation. Budziszewski suggests that we are passing through an eerie phase of history in which the things that everyone really knows are treated as unheard-of doctrines, a time in which the elements of common decency are themselves attacked as outrageous indecencies. Sexual purity and piety are considered deviant. To suggest that the sick should not be encouraged to seek death is decried as unfeeling. The moral law has become the very emblem of the immorality of intolerance. Yet this basic moral knowledge haunts us. It is inescapable. We appeal to it even to justify our evasions of it. It's something, Budziszewski would say, which we simply can't not know. This is nothing new, of course. Just read what St. Paul says in Romans about what the Gentiles know 'by nature' but 'suppress' in their wickedness (1:18-32). (Not too politically correct, that. Tut-tut.)


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