George Weigel, at National Review, predicts that the culture wars conflict over the left’s determination to breach the wall of separation between church and state is actually going to replace the economy as the central focus of the 2012 election. He could be right.
[A] Senior Vatican Official [reports that at a diplomatic meeting held in preparation for the 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development], a somewhat scruffy Dutch activist got up and announced to all and sundry, â€œLetâ€™s stop fooling around here. What weâ€™re talking about is our right to f*** whoever we want, however we want, whenever we want.â€
The Dutchmanâ€™s formulation may have lacked elegance, but it certainly didnâ€™t lack precision. For that was precisely what was at issue 18 years ago, and it is precisely what is at issue today: Will the sexual revolution, which reduced sex to a recreational activity of no moral consequence, be protected, advanced, and indeed mandated by the coercive powers of the modern state?
There is irony in the fire here, of course. What began as a movement to liberate sexuality from the constraints of moral reason, custom, and law has become a movement determined to use the instruments of law to impose its deconstruction of human sexuality and its moral relativism on all of society. That is what drives those who urged the Obama administration to issue its â€œcontraceptiveâ€ mandate, which is of course an abortifacient and sterilization mandate. That is what drives those who loosed the furies (including such viragos as Senator Barbara Boxer) on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which had had the temerity to suggest that Planned Parenthood actually provide the mammograms Komenâ€™s grants were paying for. Itâ€™s all about Leviathan as enforcer of the sexual revolution.
Anyone who doesnâ€™t understand that â€” from Catholic bishops to upper-class foundation executives with previously immaculate reputations â€” is going to get rolled over by Leviathan. For Leviathan cannot be met at some mythical 50-yard line of â€œaccommodation.â€ Leviathan can only be beaten.
This fierce determination to use Leviathan to make sure that that Dutch INGO delegateâ€™s libidinous desires are requited might be tolerable if its effects were confined to those who want to, well, you know: whoever, whenever, however. But they are not. The sexual revolution distorts everything that gets in its way; and in due course, it will persecute anything that gets in its way. …
The invention of the oral contraceptive was, with the splitting of the atom and the unraveling of the DNA double helix, one of the three world-historical scientific developments of the last century â€” scientific accomplishments that have within themselves the capacity to change culture and history in fundamental ways. By effectively sundering sexual expression from procreation, modern contraceptives have done something their less-effective predecessors were unable to do for millennia: They have created a contraceptive culture that identifies fertility with disease and willful infertility with â€œhealth.â€ Those who celebrate that culture are not interested in compromise: They are interested in having everyone pay for what they want, and in levying serious penalties on those who wonâ€™t truckle to their will. …
At the beginning, the 2012 election was about jobs, jobs, and jobs. The culture wars have now reshaped the race, and the stakes, as Iran may eventually do in another sphere of policy. But what the Komen/Planned Parenthood and HHS-mandate battles ought to have made clear is that 2012 is, domestically, an election about the survival of civil society. Will Leviathan continue to trample the institutions of civil society at the behest of the champions of lifestyle libertinism? Will such institutions as marriage, the family, and the Church be permitted to exist only insofar as they become wards of the state, or simulacra of the state?
That, and nothing less than that, is the question the past several weeks have put before the American people.