Derbyshire on sex and the Church

A friend asked me for my thoughts on a National Review article by John Derbyshire on the recent scandals in the Catholic Church.

I very much disagree with the article. First, the author argues that the sexual revolution has made people happier, all in all, because the abolition of reticence makes it easier to fix problems. That seems doubtful—it strikes me that the abolition of reticence is part of the abolition of the essential connection between sex and close human connections. That’s a catastrophe for any number of reasons. On the other hand, the author’s outlook on this as other issues is that human life is a matter of defining problems clearly and then fixing them in line with what you want, brutally if necessary. So it’s not surprising he thinks otherwise.

As to the lack of social support for celibacy he mentions, he’s apparently thinking of the Anglican church, which essentially exists as part of the political community and so must accommodate itself to it. The RC church is not like that. In fact, it seems to me that celibacy is all the more important now that the Church has such a fight on its hands maintaining independence in an all-engulfing media culture. What I think the Church needs to do is support celibacy itself by its institutional attitudes and habits—that is, act as if they’re serious about their own moral doctrine. Which is I think what JP II told the cardinals just recently.

1 thought on “Derbyshire on sex and the Church”

  1. Thanks for the response,
    Thanks for the response, Jim. I was a little disquieted by the piece myself.


Leave a Comment