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polskieserce

Catholic Church needs a new plan to revive chastity and marriage

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polskieserce    23
polskieserce

I know that most people on this forum are not the most down to earth, but I think we can all agree that the Western world has gone downhill in recent decades when it comes to marriage and chastity.  Most secular people and nominal Christians think that waiting until marriage to have sex is a freak thing that only religious fanatics do.  Marriage, while still accepted by the mainstream, has declined due to premarital sex, divorce, and lack of desire to get married.

The Catholic Church's approach to the decline of chastity and marriage has been evangelization.  The Church has been at it for a while but I don't see any credible evidence that things are getting better.

I have 2 reasons why I'm starting this thread.  The first is that I want to see if there are Catholics who believe this approach has even a 1% chance of working.  Obviously, I'm in the camp that says this particular Church strategy is a failure.  The second reason is to ask why the Church hasn't viewed the decline of marriage and chastity from biology and economics standpoints instead of a moral standpoint.  Most people are not going to wait until marriage to have sex if the average age of marriage is in the late 20s/early 30s.  Most people are not going to preserve their virginity if they think their future partner is unlikely to do the same.  A growing number of people simply don't see the point in getting married.  This article by a rabbi captures part of what I'm saying:

http://observer.com/2014/10/the-decline-and-fall-of-marriage/

If marriage is to make a comeback, there need to be hardcore legal incentives to get married.  People need to be married right after high school if chastity is to make a serious comeback.  Why haven't any clergy members tackled the issue from a down to earth approach?

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little2add    475
little2add

it is not the churches fault that marriage is in decline.  church hasn't changed, people have become self-centered

 

Edited by little2add

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LittleWaySoul    1,009
LittleWaySoul

That seems problematic to me because it undermines the person's ability to grow in virtue by resisting temptation. Perpetually celibate religious are proof that maintaining one's virginity well past high school is very possible. To say otherwise is to, I believe, fall into the trap set by the secular world which says that it is unnatural or impossible to stay chaste past a certain amount of time. This is simply not the case, and the Church expects her faithful to live according to the true standards of self-control which are very attainable with personal effort and God's grace. 

Edited by LittleWaySoul

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Nihil Obstat    9,205
Nihil Obstat

It is all part of the same old problems. The teachings of the Church have to be presented to Catholics in their entirety, no watering down. And Catholics, especially young Catholics, have to be encouraged and sometimes pushed a little bit into living a consciously, intentionally Catholic culture. We are not just Catholics for a couple hours on Sundays.

In my experience, the majority of Catholics do not have strong guidance of this sort. But the ones who do actually follow it.

Like most other issues, this one depends on a revival of Catholicity.

Edited by Nihil Obstat

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EmilyAnn    2,410
EmilyAnn

The "get married right away" attitude is, in my opinion, precisely part of the problem. Get married so you can't be unchaste. Is that really a good reason to get married? It also implies that people are incapable of being chaste so they had better get married quick - we all know that's not true.

We need better sex education. Too often it starts and stops with "wait until marriage because the Church says so". It's hardly shocking that it doesn't work, and leads to a lot of confusion and shame around sex. We need to acknowledge that pre-marital sex isn't just about lust, that sexual feelings are normal and healthy, and teach young people how to respond to those feelings in a healthy way. Simply saying "abstain" and leaving it at that doesn't give people the tools they need to respond to a sex-saturated world.

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Peace    777
Peace
6 hours ago, EmilyAnn said:

Get married so you can't be unchaste. Is that really a good reason to get married?

Heck yeah it is! Paul pretty much says that IMHO.

Quote

8 Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

 

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EmilyAnn    2,410
EmilyAnn
13 hours ago, Peace said:

Heck yeah it is! Paul pretty much says that IMHO.

It's not a good reason to get married on its own. Not everyone is necessarily suited to lifelong chastity (although of course everyone is capable) and people need to find the right path for them. But to say people should get married as soon as possible with the express purpose of avoiding unchaste behaviour is hardly the right attitude.

Also marriage does not equal chastity. If you have problems with chastity then marriage isn't suddenly going to fix your problems.

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truthfinder    1,340
truthfinder
50 minutes ago, EmilyAnn said:

It's not a good reason to get married on its own. Not everyone is necessarily suited to lifelong chastity (although of course everyone is capable) and people need to find the right path for them. But to say people should get married as soon as possible with the express purpose of avoiding unchaste behaviour is hardly the right attitude.

Also marriage does not equal chastity. If you have problems with chastity then marriage isn't suddenly going to fix your problems.

Hang on. We're all called to lifelong chastity.  It's celibacy or continence that is we have to discern. 

And now, more generally, I'm going to put on the historian hat: while I believe there is more acceptability of unchasteness, this does not mean that there is necessarily more in regards to marriage.  The current trend to slightly older marriages is not completely unprecedented. There have been many times where the average marriage age has drifted up into the mid to late twenties. Of course, at this time women were basically kept separated or controlled - they certainly wouldn't be out of the home on their own. But they would often be trying to collect goods and money to put towards their marriage goods.  Men too might be put into an apprenticeship or as a labourer from quite young to again save money. Various places wanted couples to have their own homes (sort of like today) and this would drive up the age of marriage.  Places that encouraged the extended family units, or at least accepted them while the couple was starting off, would of course have lower ages of marriage.

As to fornication - there's been significant work on illegitimacy rates, and it had been steady for centuries.  Although there's been some work on London in regards to how many brides were pregnant on their wedding day (I've seen numbers anywhere from 20-50%). It's still unclear about the motivations - women having sex in the hopes of getting pregnant to ensure they get married, men forcing them into having sex and then community and social pressures ensuring they do get married, or the idea that once engaged, sex was not such a taboo activity because they were getting married anyways.  

So yes, more work needs to be done on ensuring people are chaste and have to tools to remain chaste. I'm not sure 'sex ed' is the answer, but nor is locking your children up until they're marriageable. There's certainly more blatant and unshameful displays of sexuality around us today, but that does not mean there weren't in the past as well. It was in everyone's best interest economically to get married and have children, but I'm not sure we'll see this as a reality again. 

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EmilyAnn    2,410
EmilyAnn
43 minutes ago, truthfinder said:

Hang on. We're all called to lifelong chastity.  It's celibacy or continence that is we have to discern. 

I misspoke - I of course meant lifelong celibacy.

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Spem in alium    3,611
Spem in alium
On 8/22/2016 at 0:56 PM, polskieserce said:

I know that most people on this forum are not the most down to earth, but I think we can all agree that the Western world has gone downhill in recent decades when it comes to marriage and chastity.  Most secular people and nominal Christians think that waiting until marriage to have sex is a freak thing that only religious fanatics do.  Marriage, while still accepted by the mainstream, has declined due to premarital sex, divorce, and lack of desire to get married.

The Catholic Church's approach to the decline of chastity and marriage has been evangelization.  The Church has been at it for a while but I don't see any credible evidence that things are getting better.

I have 2 reasons why I'm starting this thread.  The first is that I want to see if there are Catholics who believe this approach has even a 1% chance of working.  Obviously, I'm in the camp that says this particular Church strategy is a failure.  The second reason is to ask why the Church hasn't viewed the decline of marriage and chastity from biology and economics standpoints instead of a moral standpoint.  Most people are not going to wait until marriage to have sex if the average age of marriage is in the late 20s/early 30s.  Most people are not going to preserve their virginity if they think their future partner is unlikely to do the same.  A growing number of people simply don't see the point in getting married.  This article by a rabbi captures part of what I'm saying:

http://observer.com/2014/10/the-decline-and-fall-of-marriage/

If marriage is to make a comeback, there need to be hardcore legal incentives to get married.  People need to be married right after high school if chastity is to make a serious comeback.  Why haven't any clergy members tackled the issue from a down to earth approach?

In order for people to truly live chastity, they first need to understand what it is. The same goes with marriage.

Marrying straight after school is not the answer for me. What problem will that really solve? Just because a person is married young doesn't mean they will remain chaste. Just because a person lives a celibate life does not automatically mean they are chaste. Instead, I think there needs to be more information offered to young people about the meaning of chastity and of marriage from a Catholic standpoint. I went to a Catholic school but we never talked about chastity. I didn't even know what the word meant until I went to university. A few years ago, my university ran sessions on Theology of the Body which attracted a great crowd. Approaches like this seem to be really helpful.

 

23 hours ago, EmilyAnn said:

We need better sex education. Too often it starts and stops with "wait until marriage because the Church says so". It's hardly shocking that it doesn't work, and leads to a lot of confusion and shame around sex. We need to acknowledge that pre-marital sex isn't just about lust, that sexual feelings are normal and healthy, and teach young people how to respond to those feelings in a healthy way. Simply saying "abstain" and leaving it at that doesn't give people the tools they need to respond to a sex-saturated world.

Amen. Proper sex education is so important. 

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Sponsa-Christi    730
Sponsa-Christi

I would still argue that better evangelization is the way to promote chastity. Even though the OP seemed to presume that this has been tried and has already proven to be ineffective, I'm not sure that true, competent, informed evangelization has been very common or widespread. Having worked in the field of religious education, I can say that a lot of textbooks and "mainstream" catechetical materials are very watered-down and don't really teach very much about what the Church actually believes; and a lot of parish catechists and even Directors of Religious Education don't have much of a theology background (which I think is extremely important for adequate evangelization). 

I think that in order to say we've "tried evangelization," there needs to be a cultural shift into offering much more theological "meat" on a parish level at all levels of faith formation. 

Also...this may sound like a shameless plug, but I mean it seriously!...I think doing more to promote the vocation of consecrated virginity would be a help in terms of conveying the importance of chastity on a Church-wide level. Nothing says "we take our own teachings on chastity seriously" like giving support and encouragement to women who freely choose to embrace a life of perpetual virginity! ;) 

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polskieserce    23
polskieserce

Some of the attitudes displayed in this thread are exactly part of the problem.  Most people simply are not uber religious and never will be.  Get that through your heads.  They are not going to wait until their late 20s/early 30s to be sexually active.  The human body craves sex much earlier than that.  The problem with the Catholic Church is that it's trying to force a square peg into a circular hole.  A much more productive approach to acknowledge the way humans are and build institutions around humanity (within Christ's teachings of course).

One way would be to start educating young Catholics about the faith at a young age and give them the option of staying within the Church or leaving.  Those who decide to stay could be allowed to get married once they turn 18 and have a career plan together.  The parents of those children, as well as the Church and state, would work together to sustain those newlywed couples financially until they are able to make it on their own.

Most people who are even slightly open to the idea of religion would only be willing to give the Catholic Church a shot if they see that the Catholic lifestyle is a practical way of doing things.  If onlookers see that devout Catholics are waiting indefinitely to be sexually active, then that will kill any chance of converting them in most cases.

What gets rewarded gets done.  That's how the world works.

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truthfinder    1,340
truthfinder

I think you have a very skewed version of what membership in the church means - are you advocating excommunication for those who do not marry? Because that's what it sounds like. And this in an of itself thus forces the primacy of marriage - which would directly contradict the dogma of the church. 

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polskieserce    23
polskieserce
1 minute ago, truthfinder said:

I think you have a very skewed version of what membership in the church means - are you advocating excommunication for those who do not marry? Because that's what it sounds like. And this in an of itself thus forces the primacy of marriage - which would directly contradict the dogma of the church. 

No, I am not advocating excommunication for not wanting to marry.  I don't see how you came to that conclusion.  I'm saying that the overwhelming majority of people want nothing to do with a religious vocation.  That is a fact.  If you start talking to some marginal Catholics about being a priest or nun and never having sex, most of them will probably be even more turned off to Catholicism than they already were.  The Church is free to remind people that they may be called to a religious vocation or lifelong celibacy.  But the overwhelming majority will want marriage in a timely fashion.

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CountrySteve21    309
CountrySteve21
11 minutes ago, polskieserce said:

Some of the attitudes displayed in this thread are exactly part of the problem.  Most people simply are not uber religious and never will be.  Get that through your heads.  They are not going to wait until their late 20s/early 30s to be sexually active.  The human body craves sex much earlier than that.  The problem with the Catholic Church is that it's trying to force a square peg into a circular hole.  A much more productive approach to acknowledge the way humans are and build institutions around humanity (within Christ's teachings of course).

One way would be to start educating young Catholics about the faith at a young age and give them the option of staying within the Church or leaving.  Those who decide to stay could be allowed to get married once they turn 18 and have a career plan together.  The parents of those children, as well as the Church and state, would work together to sustain those newlywed couples financially until they are able to make it on their own.

Most people who are even slightly open to the idea of religion would only be willing to give the Catholic Church a shot if they see that the Catholic lifestyle is a practical way of doing things.  If onlookers see that devout Catholics are waiting indefinitely to be sexually active, then that will kill any chance of converting them in most cases.

What gets rewarded gets done.  That's how the world works.

The problem is we would no longer be following Christ's teachings if we did that. Besides why should the Church have to change for people? Our Faith cannot turn into some sort of "popularity contest" in which for the sake of "conversions" we change Truth. I think Sponsa Christi is right about the evangelization; people see virginity as a no and in a negative light. They need to know and see the benefits of it.  Would you consider reading some of the thoughts of St. John Paull II?  http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2TBIND.HTM

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truthfinder    1,340
truthfinder
21 minutes ago, polskieserce said:

No, I am not advocating excommunication for not wanting to marry.  I don't see how you came to that conclusion.  I'm saying that the overwhelming majority of people want nothing to do with a religious vocation.  That is a fact.  If you start talking to some marginal Catholics about being a priest or nun and never having sex, most of them will probably be even more turned off to Catholicism than they already were.  The Church is free to remind people that they may be called to a religious vocation or lifelong celibacy.  But the overwhelming majority will want marriage in a timely fashion.

I apologize; I must of read that into what you wrote. 

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Ice_nine    2,270
Ice_nine

There are so many factors that are affecting sexual mores and marriage practices that are far beyond the power of the church. Increasing isolationism and lack of community, the ubiquity of media, the availability of porn and how this affects neurochemistry and behavior, objectification of people by the media,government, corporations etc, and increasingly mobile society.

There are tons of things. Look I know being lonely and or sexually frustrated esp when you get to an age where it no longer seems tenable feels awful, but kvetching about what the church should be doing about wide societal trends when the church is losing influence in said society will not bring you peace. And I think that's what you need. I think every thread started by you has to do with sex and/or marriage. I think it would benefit you to understand the root cause of your angst and find an appropriate way to deal with that (do you desire an emotional connection with someone? Physical release? A way to perpetuate the family name?) I don't know, that's for you to figure out.

Also, I would suggest you really evaluate yourself and be open to criticism you've found here. I know you said you will not marry a woman if she's not a virgin, or (white?). Fine, you don't need to change your standards, but you could probably benefit from an attitude change. As a woman who fits your supposed criteria, you may want to take my advice. Or not. But it seems like you don't have peace about this and if you can acknowledge that I think you should recognize that YOU also need to change (as opposed to the church or society fixing the problem for you).

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Amppax    2,679
Amppax

Does no one else remember this guy? I had thought he got perma-banned for a thread on (surprise, surprise) this same topic. 

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truthfinder    1,340
truthfinder
50 minutes ago, Amppax said:

Does no one else remember this guy? I had thought he got perma-banned for a thread on (surprise, surprise) this same topic. 

There's a very similar thread over at CAF too right now.

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