Dale Ahlquist

People who hate Christmas

Dale Ahlquist
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There are people who hate Christmas. I’m not talking about those who hate the music and the merchandising, and certainly not those who make us feel uncomfortable for saying “Merry Christmas” while they don’t mind exploiting our celebration for commercial purposes.

I’m not even talking about the people who hate Christianity in general or Catholicism in particular (for it was this Church that gave us Christ’s Mass on December 25), who loathe the very idea of the Incarnation.

No, I’m referring to those who hate Christmas without even knowing they hate Christmas. What they hate are not the obvious theological implications but the more subtle sociological implications of Christmas. We are, after all, celebrating the birth of a baby in a country where the federal government spends $1 billion on what it calls “reproductive health,” which means contraception, sterilization, and abortion. The Nativity could not be a more contrary celebration in a society that has such a bizarre attitude toward birth, broadly unwelcoming, but often narrowly and violently hateful.

I recently attended a talk by Stephen Mosher of the Population Research Institute, a courageous pro-life organization that fights the prevailing myths of overpopulation not just with refreshing facts but with a much more solid social theory, that is, the idea that babies are a blessing and not a curse in the world. Mr. Mosher asked the probing question, “What are the economic consequences of imposing contraception and sterilization upon third world women?” The U.S. Secretary of State has gone on record as saying that the only way to improve the status of women in the third world is through “reproductive freedom.” In other words, says Mr. Mosher, “our message to these countries is we do not want you to have children, and we will not help you if you do.” He suggests that we call this what it is: cultural imperialism.

But the culture that we are trying export by coercion (ironically calling it freedom) is the culture that is destroying us right here at home. We are literally killing ourselves by believing and enforcing a set of lies. One of those lies is the fallacy of driving down the birth rate in order to jump start the economy. The anti-people policy ignores the argument that children contribute to economic growth because a growing population means more economic activity, not only more work, but more importantly, more creativity. (And Christmas is a perfect example of economic activity based on more, not less children. After all, who do we buy the most presents for?)

Our anti-birth mentality is the result of devoting great energy and resources to a secondary problem while purposely avoiding the primary problem. I happened upon an article in a local paper that painfully illustrates the point. It was a report that Hennepin County, where I live, had just received a $17 million federal grant “to fight teen pregnancy.” I read the article with great interest because I wanted to know exactly how all this money was supposed accomplish this goal. Not surprisingly, the article told me almost nothing. There was, however, one very troubling quote from a County Commissioner: “Preventing teen pregnancies is arguably our most important job in Hennepin County.” Arguably, indeed, except when and where do we get to have this argument?

The report talked a lot about talking, but even then it was implied that “education” or “outreach” was only one aspect of this program. I did a little more research and found, as I feared I would, that much of this money will be used to support “accessible reproductive health services.” Translation: abortion. Also, money would go to “a clinic-based program for reducing sexually transmitted infections.” Somehow, fighting sexually transmitted infections got mixed up with fighting teen pregnancy. Well, perhaps the mix up has to do with the fact that the same technique is used for both: Contraception. The tool of “safe sex.”

And thus we get to the primary problem that we have been avoiding. A society that looks at pregnancy as simply one of the potential, but preventable hazards of having sex, is destined to spend a lot of money setting up a complicated structure that is designed to collapse. It is trying to operate on a philosophy that cannot be sustained because it refuses to deal with the most basic issues. No one is talking about what the purpose of sex is. No one is talking about what the proper context of sex is. They openly talk about “postponing pregnancy till adulthood,” but utterly refuse to discuss “postponing sex till marriage.” We are funding a program that undermines the very purpose of sex. We are officially underwriting immorality in an attempt to deal with the consequences of not supporting normal marriage. We have abandoned the family. We have twisted a natural process inside out. As G.K. Chesterton says, we exalt lust and forbid fertility. 

Could anything be more contrary to this mentality than a celebration which centers around the Virgin Birth?

No wonder Christmas is controversial. No wonder there are no Nativity scenes in front of public buildings. 

Once again Herod is threatened by the birth of a baby.


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Chesterton and the defense of marriage

Dale Ahlquist
By Dale Ahlquist
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A hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton argued that the greatest danger posed by Big Government is that it undermines the family. It has done this any number of ways, certainly in the obvious form of public education, which has replaced the authority of the family, but also, in many ways the role of the family, the functions of the family.

But now there is a move afoot to get the government to redefine the family, as part of a modern culture that has tried to redefine everything. Words get politicized. Words degenerate. Words and meanings no longer fit each other. The verbal confusion is followed by moral confusion.

The great battle that we are now fighting in this country is the war over the word “marriage.” Unfortunately, we have been losing it for the last two generations. We started losing this war when we were not able to stop the laws that allowed no-fault divorce, or what could be more accurately described as “serial adultery,” the tossing off of an old vow and the rather precarious making of a new one . Chesterton says the only possible result of frivolous divorce will be frivolous marriage.

Chesterton writes very eloquently and extensively about divorce, and exposes its danger to a society. The world promptly ignored his warnings and divorce, which was once a scandal and a shame became something banal and a passing embarrassment. Now an even worse specter has appeared in the land. Could Chesterton have ever imagined that we would be fighting something called same sex marriage?

The answer is Yes.

Chesterton’s references to homosexuality are very subtle, and yet very incisive, as we would expect.

The first references, as one might expect, are to Oscar Wilde, who was very famous when Chesterton was a young man in the 1890’s. Chesterton said that although he himself “never felt the faintest temptation to the particular madness of Wilde,” there is no great virtue in not committing a sin to which you are not tempted. However, it is quite natural to repulsed by such sins. That is the proper reaction to sin.

There is something defiant about the “gay” culture, that revels in what repulses the vast majority of people. But, of course, the word “gay” also has been subject to redefinition, and it seems they could not have chosen a more misleading word. In the book Heretics, Chesterton almost makes a prophecy of the misuse of the word “gay”: He writes of “the very powerful and very desolate philosophy of Oscar Wilde. It is the carpe diem religion; but the carpe diem religion is not the religion of happy people, but of very unhappy people.”

In further discussion of Oscar Wilde and the “decadents,” Chesterton says, again prophetically: “Decadents may like living in a dream which they can alter at any moment to suit themselves, in which they can create causes without creating consequences, in which they can pervert the future or unmake the past. But I think a decent working man of any class, whether he is working at cube roots or cabbage roots, ought to be glad that, as he sows, so shall he surely reap.”

And that is exactly what happened with Oscar Wilde. He reaped what he sowed. Chesterton says that Wilde committed “a monstrous wrong” but suffered “a monstrous revenge.” (He went to jail for sodomy.) “His was a complete life, in that awful sense in which your life and mine are incomplete; since we have not yet paid for our sins. In that sense one might call it a perfect life, as one speaks of a perfect equation; it cancels out. On the one hand we have the healthy horror of the evil; on the other the healthy horror of the punishment.”

But we have lost the sense of healthy horror of evil, and therefore we have done away with the punishment. How did we get to this stage?

Chesterton writes about the “dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions,” of “natural passions becoming unnatural passions” that occurred at the end of both the Greek and Roman civilizations. We are seeing the same thing in the decline of our own civilization. It has happened, says Chesterton, because “the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant.”

Sex is a servant. It has a very natural function : to make babies. Its beauty is incidental to its purpose. This is how Chesterton says it: “We have no particular reason to suppose that a lily was intended to be beautiful; it was intended for the far nobler purpose of producing other lilies.”

As for marriage, Chesterton says: “Marriage is a fact, an actual human relation like that of motherhood, which has certain habits and loyalties, except for a few monstrous cases where it is turned to torture by insanity or sin.”

“Marriage is a fact.” You cannot change its definition, just as you cannot change the definition of motherhood.

In another very subtle reference to homosexual unions, Chesterton says: “Though a proper Noah’s Ark should contain two specimens of every animal, nobody ever proposed that it should contain two Noahs.”

And as for anyone who supports the very idea of homosexual unions, Chesterton has this to say: “People who hold these views are not a minority but a monstrosity. It is simply another example of the modern and morbid weakness to sacrifice the normal to the abnormal.”

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