Breaking Sex

Break sex and you break man.

If sex stopped working altogether, so that there were no more babies, the whole shooting match would be over. Man qua man depends upon successful sex. If we don’t get sex right, we are doomed.  

It should hardly surprise us then to find that literally everything human depends upon the successful operation of sex – and so is thereby ordered, and thereto. Any aspect of human life that is not somehow directly or indirectly ordered to the support of that success (as, e.g., with the family, the polis, the thede, and all their appurtenances) is at the very least informed by sex (e.g., even ascetic celibacy is what it is only in virtue of, and in respect to, the inherent human orientation and ordination to sex: celibacy is of and about sex). The connection may sometimes be attenuated, but it is always there. Take – oh, take the art of fireplaces, say (I happen to be facing one as I write). Prima facie, fireplaces would seem to have nothing to do with sex. But fireplaces warm the house where the children are raised; they support the success of sex. So masonry and bricks are partly about successful sex.

Take away children, leaving only sex, and almost all the meaning and verve, all the significance and importance, would drain out of life; there would be no point to any of it, really, even for those who never have either sex or children. If the very engine of human life as such were rendered impotent, that life would wholly die, rotted in all its departments. Take away children, and you render sex unsuccessful per se. Prevent its natural consummation and you prevent sex ab initio, and with it all other human things. Frustrate the final success of sex in healthy children themselves grown to reproductive maturity, and you frustrate humanity as such.

Bearing all that in mind, consider now the staggering chutzpah of the social engineers who, in the last 125 years or so, have proposed to fix humanity by breaking sex, and who then went ahead and did it. They broke the operation by which the human species reproduces itself. Considered in the light of its full meaning, the hubris of this undertaking beggars the imagination. It makes Faust seem prudent.

Were they insane, evil, or both? What the hell were they thinking?

Look around, and ponder how many ruined bits of our formerly noble civilization have been depraved by the depravation of sex. Not just marriage, but movies, music, literature, education, you name it. Technology keeps getting better, true; but more and more of it is designed for and devoted to the service of depravation; to the bad economy.

Those of us alive since the 40’s and 50’s remember when the social order was still mostly intact. We can remember when sex worked. There had by then for decades already been much talk among the chattering classes about the need to ditch the old sexual mores. But not much progress had yet been made on that score among hoi polloi. There had been much discussion of what ought to be done, and provisions had been made for its doing, but not much had yet actually been done. Contraception and divorce, for example, had long since been allowed within the pale legally and – what is more important – ecclesially, but when I was a boy in 1965 it was still a rather sickening shock to meet another boy my age whose parents were divorced.

This all changed almost overnight with the Pill. With the Pill, we severed at one stroke the thick ontological connection between sex and its natural end in procreation. We’d been talking about breaking sex for decades, but with the Pill we actually broke it. We had been on a slippery slope for a long time by then – this being the only reason the Pill found a ready market, or was worth developing – but with the Pill, the slope increased dramatically.

It was a sea change, the world turned upside down. In 1965, divorce was horrific, shameful, unthinkable almost. By 1975, my parents had divorced. So had most of the parents of my friends.

With the Pill, the sexual reforms that the intellectuals (they are not called philosophers anymore, or even sophists) had long championed could at last be implemented far and wide, and at low upfront cost. So we reaped the whirlwind, and all around us now, things fall apart.

Yet there are two causes for hope. The first is that, mirabile dictu, those who rejected reproduction are not reproducing themselves, while those who did not are burgeoning. The future belongs to the traditional religious orthodox.

The second is that our bodies are inherently conservative. No one feels quite as good about an epicene man or a mannish woman as they do about a masculine man or a feminine woman. People like babies and kids. No matter what they say, everyone recognizes that perversion is perverse – even the perverse, who delight in its perversity. And this is not difficult to discern: almost everyone still feels normally heterosexual, and likes it that way, and finds the alternatives disgusting as a proposal for the disposition of their own lives. Our bodies as originally given want what tradition hands down to us as right and natural to our condition.

Things could still get a lot worse. Indeed, I expect that they will, since they can, and seem inertially bound that way. But because the success of sex is the forecondition of man, so that man is wired to seek that success, so then will he seek it, and want to seek it, in all that he does. Perversion then, as self-annihilating*, is bound first to destroy its own acolytes, and then to leave in their wake a robust, calcined and hardy remnant of men who would be men, and women who would be women: human beings who want to be human.

So we may reasonably hope that sex may be here and there fixed, and again prosper man and his handiwork. We may hope that little cells and organelles of sanity will survive the general collapse, and will then propagate. But this is to say that there is no need for orthosphereans to despair, and great reason for us to set forth on the noble project of raising a traditional, orthodox family with lots of kids. Nothing else is worth doing if there aren’t some kids around.


*H/T: Thordaddy.

157 thoughts on “Breaking Sex

    • Lack of human reproduction is a problem in certain places. When the total fertility rate goes below 2.1 or so, it’s only a matter of time before the population pyramid goes base over apex. Massive immigration can correct the problem in the short term, but it brings its own problems. The biggest one is that the immigrants won’t like paying taxes to support old geezers to whom they are not related.

      The biggest and most immediate problems with artificial fertility* result from the types of humans we are reproducing. Under natural fertility, there are enough females to go around. Under artificial fertility we get lots of restless bachelors. The male to female ratio is not the only one that is upset under artificial fertility. It also upsets the smart to stupid ratio and the disciplined to impulsive ratio. It also unleashes destabilizing “fertility gaps” between ethnic, religious, and racial segments of a country.

      None of these ratios are improved under artificial fertility because that would be eugenics, and everybody knows eugenics is a bad thing. The problem with this line of reasoning is that, once your society embraces artificial fertility, it has a reproduction policy. It is either eugenic or dysgenic (whether consciously or by default). There’s no third option.

      * I use the phrase “artificial fertility” to denote what Kristor calls “broken sex.” I mean by it the opposite of what demographers call natural fertility.

    • A.morphous:

      Despite the Global Demographic Collapse, you are right to think that plummeting fertility is not a problem for the species. The lack of human reproduction is a problem only for the ideologies that those who choose not to reproduce tend to espouse – liberalism, atheism, and so forth – because it is among their adherents that the Collapse will take the heaviest toll. Liberalism and atheism appear to be maladaptive traits.

      The Global Demographic Collapse will proceed until all those who don’t want children are dead, and only those are left who do. The species will be healthier after this voluntary culling of the unfit by the unfit.

      NB however that the post was not about the Demographic Collapse, but about the grotesque insanity of breaking reproduction: a lethal innovation if ever there was one.

      • “…because it is among their adherents that the collapse will take the heaviest toll.”

        “The species will be healthier after this voluntary culling of the unfit by the unfit.”

        Indeed. They intend it for evil, but God intends it for good.

      • Since you are so numerate, you can look at the statistics for population and then try to convince me that demographic collapse is a problem.

        To your main point, “breaking reproduction” is a really stupid idea. Changing the conditions of reproduction doesn’t “break” it, no more than medical care breaks death, which is another equally ancient and important human activity. Unless you have a very narrow and fragile conception of humanity, which seems to be the case if you base your ideas on the view that 1950s America was some sort of idyll of eternal stability, rather than a period of superficial quiet between two great periods of conflict and change (WWII and the Sixties).

        And if you were really around and aware in the 50s you should know that it was also a period of war (the Cold War) and all those cheery suburban neighborhoods were under threat of instant and total annihilation. So the pill and the sexual revolution might be forgiven, given that people under the threat of death from their own governments should be expected to want to fit in as much joy as they can before the end.

      • Which statistic do you think we ought we to look at? I think we ought to look at Total Fertility Rate, or TFR, since this is tells us where the population is going. Assuming a first world mortality rate, a TFR less that 2.1 means that the population is going out of business. For example, the Italian population, with a TFR of less than 1.5, will return to the size it was in 1600 in just six generations, or 150 years. I am not talking about the population of the territory we call Italy, since that is not a population in the demographic sense.

        There are, of course, many places with a TFR greater than 2.1, some far greater. But since few of these places can feed themselves without assistance from the collapsing populations, I’m afraid they may be headed for a different sort of demographic collapse.

        Reproduction (or sex) can be considered “broken” when it fails to fulfill the function of reproduction (or sex), which is reproducing the population in appropriate numbers and ratios. Death can be considered “broken” when it fails fulfill the function of death, which is to cull the herd. In our post-industrial populations, both of these systems are arguably “broken,” so that we are dying and dysgenic at the same time. Way to go modernity!

        I don’t know what the 1950s and nuclear annihilation have to do with this, but the notion that the sexual revolution was somehow justified by “the bomb” is, as you might put it, “really stupid.” Of course the rationalization was made. I made it myself, back in the day. That’s why we smoked reefer, too. And it’s why we didn’t cut our hair, or get real jobs, or do just about anything else we didn’t feel like doing. I expect that the deadbeats and libertines of eighth century England claimed they were twisted by fear of the Vikings. Later it was the Black Death.

      • JM Smith: Great point about broken death.

        Since you are so literate, a.morphous, you will if you review it carefully realize that in my last reply to you I agreed with you that demographic collapse is indeed not a problem for humanity, but only for that subsection of the species that is not reproducing at replacement levels – the atheists and liberals, among others.

        Follow the link in the post I linked for a numerical – or rather, geometrical – presentation of the Collapse already under way throughout the First World, and about to begin in the Second World (Islam) and the Third.

        I do indeed remember the Cold War quite well.

      • Homosexualism doesn’t break sex, medical care doesn’t break death, and you can keep your Dr. if you like your Dr.

        Its all about self annihilation. Amorphous is itching to get things back to normal, i.e. WW2, nuclear holocaust, and trippin’ balls. His scientific program to improve the species goes beyond Dr. Moreau into mad scientist territory. Speeding toward final liberation, “self-annihilation” quoth the Thordaddy.

      • Nine countries in the world possess a total of 15,695 nuclear weapons according to The famous doomsday clock, which is highly arbitrary and subjective, never went away, and is currently set at an ominous level. Like folks living below a dam, we have learned to not think about what might happen. We even call it “unthinkable.” I don’t see much connection with the original post, except an attempt in a comment to disparage the fifties, which had many positive aspects (

        The fifties, which like all decades had its pluses and minuses, is a special object of scorn on the left, almost as an article of religion, because it was the last decade before the sexual revolution with all its costs and consequences including, but not limited to, the flood of pornography, the huge increase in sexually transmitted diseases, the decline in the incidence and permanence of marriage, the feminization of poverty, the increase in the incidence of single-parent families, the decline in the birth rate below the replacement level where the revolution prevails, huge numbers of abortions, the hook-up culture, a rape culture on campus, and a shocking incidence of rape in the military. Kristor is right. We broke it.

    • That’s very typical of you a. morphus. Will you raise the worry of green house gases destroying planet earth next?

      • While a.morphous’s cliched and completely unoriginal 1950’s strawman is just his typical idiocy, he does have a point on other fronts. Malthus was a Christian and his ideas just make logical sense like that of Darwin (Darwin’s ideas prove that faggotry is either a genetic defect or a maladaptive behavior, something a disingenous liberal will never admit).

        We can not sustain the boost in global populations, we’re at 7.22 billion right now. Something has to give.

      • I think it’s a solution. Not a pretty one – as JM Smith has pointed out, the culling in the 2nd and 3rd world is likely to be quite horrible as 1st world people and their money get scarce – but a solution nonetheless.

      • The 1st world won’t be safe from this austerity either. Besides, if we don’t start to do it now, the environment will become so depleted that humanity will completely die out and the only benefactors of the new world will be the worms that feast on the mass of fresh corpses.

      • The First World will definitely not be safe. But I think it is likely to be safer than the Second and Third Worlds, if only because of its greater concentration of First World people and cultures.

        I doubt however that man will end altogether. Man can turn on a dime, in extremis, and accomplish extraordinary things.

    • Musonius Rufus, the Roman Socrates, has been my favorite Western thinker on the question of sexual morality. Sane, rational and not in the least looking for an excuse for sinful indulgence:

      Not the least significant part of the life of luxury and self-indulgence lies also in sexual excess; for example those who lead such a life crave a variety of loves not only lawful but unlawful ones as well, not women alone but also men; sometimes they pursue one love and sometimes another, and not being satisfied with those which are available, pursue those which are rare and inaccessible, and invent shameful intimacies, all of which constitute a grave indictment of manhood. Men who are not wantons or immoral are bound to consider sexual intercourse justified only when it occurs in marriage and is indulged in for the purpose of begetting children, since that is lawful, but unjust and unlawful when it is mere pleasure-seeking, even in marriage. But of all sexual relations those involving adultery are most unlawful, and no more tolerable are those of men with men, because it is a monstrous thing and contrary to nature. But, furthermore, leaving out of consideration adultery, all intercourse with women which is without lawful character is shameful and is practiced from lack of self-restraint.

  1. On children: we are learning the hard way that when you are 37/34, having the first child is hard: not necessarily biologically (we had zero fertility or genetic issues), but all the well-known sleepless nights and the days where nothing you try seems to manage to stop the crying of a 1 year old really take their toll at this age if it is your first. I don’t know how people who had their first children at a younger age but still have new ones at our age manage – perhaps by recruiting the help of the older children.

    I also suspect while our age resulted in no obvious genetic damage, perhaps a child being far too nervous and whiny is something sort of like that; perhaps the very same genes 10 years ago would have resulted in a more easy to handle baby/toddler.

    Also, vagrancy/moving a lot around, living 4-6 hours of driving distance from our parents and relatives, yet being too old-fashioned to hire a baby-sitter, yes, it adds to the difficulty. I suspect the fertile religious conservatives you are talking about are far more rooted in one place and thus have familial / communal help.

    I suspect when everything in a society is set up for childlessness, it takes more than having some healthy desires to have a normal sizes family. It is a bit of swimming upstream like, I guess. I think we will stop at one – I am not really happy about it but we really, really don’t want another first year hell. If only kids could be born at 2-3 years old when they are already “sentient” and understand “tell me what is your problem or stop crying already”… I must say this baby-toddler age is difficult to like and I am really eager for us to transform into a “real child” who understands questions or requests/orders. If we would live in a traditional community her and my mother would help my wife and I would probably largely ignore my children until they walk and talk. I am really not comfortable how in an really isolated, alienated nuclear family in a modern age a father is thrown in an assistant nanny role because there is nobody else around to help the wife with a baby or toddler.

    • I was 42 when my oldest child was born, so I know what you are going through. And our families were thousands of miles away. Our oldest was a very poor sleeper for the first couple of years, although he’s now about as mild as it is possible to be. My wife and I took turns sitting up with him, while the other half was sleeping at the other end of the house. That way we both got a good night’s sleep once every 48 hours. Our second child was easier, and the third slept through the night after only two months. From the sounds of it, odds are that any other children you might have will be easier than this one.

      • We were 28 when our first was born, but JMSmith’s pattern has been the same for us.

        Our 5th is now 6 months old, and she is an absolute dream of a baby. Older kids help practically, and they help by stimulating/entertaining the baby.

    • I agree with JMSmith – it’s likely you wouldn’t have another ‘constant crier’ should you decide to have a second, third, fourth child. You were just lucky enough to have that on:e first.:-) And yes, everyone pitches in in large families, even the older boys.

      • I should really be more careful in the way I use terms and the impression they leave: for the record, I don’t believe in the whole idea that we actually “decide” how many children we’re going to have, as though this is possible aside from God’s sovereignty. That would be, to my mind, like taking God out of the equation which, as I said, I don’t believe is possible. We are blessed with eight children, and I certainly do not think that is because my wife and I made the decision unilaterally to have that many children; at some point we decided, with scriptural and doctrinal guidance, that we would have as many children as God would bless us with.

    • Shenpen:

      Each marginal child is 2/3 as hard as its predecessor, so if you have more it will be lots easier than it was with the first. You and your wife will be able to speak baby better and better. Don’t miss this heaven sent opportunity to immerse yourself in baby world, and see things from your baby’s perspective. It’ll re-enchant your world. And it’s good for your own long term mental health. Do it as a form of zazen. Empty out and just be with your baby, as often as you can during the day.

      At 18 months or so there is a phase change; the toddler is suddenly much more communicative. Nevertheless you should talk to your baby from the beginning as if she understands everything you are saying, because she probably understands a lot more than you think. Explain *everything* to her: “Now Daddy is going to put on your shirt. First we put it over your head …” Don’t baby talk. Use real words. Talk to her reassuringly about whatever is going on. Tone of voice is critical: low, slow, quiet, and calm. If your baby is whiny and anxious, it’s a good bet that part of the reason is she’s picking up on the nervous anxiety of her parents. Important that you know and convey to her that everything is alright, that she is safe, etc., even when you are at your wit’s end. Reassuring her that everything is OK and you’ve got it handled will reassure you, too.

      Also critical: a daily routine that she can fall into comfortably, and household rules. Kids get anxious when they are uncertain what is happening when, and how they ought to act. If they know the rite, they get really into it. Establish limits early, jointly, and stick to them; the baby (and teenager, eventually) will feel and act better. Lots of the behavior adults find hard to bear in kids of any age is just an expression of their attempt to find the behavioral limits. If you make the limits clear to them, they will relax. There won’t be so many battles over the liminal case. And your own paternal authority will seem to them as firmly established as the mountains. It will make them happy.

      If you respond to her every apparent whim, you’ll run yourselves ragged, spoil her, and drive her nuts with anxiety. Routine will help with that: “We’ll do that later, sweetie, right now it’s time for lunch.” “Oh, right,” she’ll say to herself, “of course it is.” Routine will also help her sleep. When she stirs at night, it won’t be to anxious worry; she’ll just say to herself, “Oh, it’s not time to wake up yet, I can go back to sleep.”

      Finally, if you are not sleeping with her, ask yourselves what parents would have done in the Paleolithic. Would they have put their baby in a nice manger for the wolves at the other side of the camp? No they would not. How then are both you and your baby likely to be engineered to sleep with the greatest confidence? With our first we crib trained in a separate nursery, and it was a freaking nightmare; he was a terrified, nervous wreck, and so were we. I’m convinced it scarred him for life. We finally gave that up, and we’d hand him off to each other all night, eventually crashing into bed together at four in the morning. By the time our third came along, we’d thrown out all the baby books and started listening to our own bodies. He slept with us from the beginning. So.much.easier. Mom could nurse by rolling over, barely disturbing her sleep. We both slept better knowing he was there between us. He slept better knowing we were there at either hand. He transitioned directly to his own bed at about 20 months (it was presented as a reward for how big he was getting); for the next couple years he’d climb up between us for the last half of the night.

      PS: there is also something peculiarly delicious about the sleep one gets with one’s baby nestled safely in the gap between mother and father. I’m sure there are pheromones involved; there is a sweet smell to a baby. And there is no balm to compare with a child’s complete trust and love as he nestles up close to his father in sleep. Many were the mornings I awoke to find a soft sleepy terry cloth tummy arrayed right across my face, realized it had been there the last few hours, without disturbing me in the least – and thanked my Father in Heaven.

      • I find it interesting how people seem to always consider this two options: either the baby sleeps alone, or in the parental bedroom. For us the obvious option was my wife moving to sleep in the kid room. We often slept separately before, as I snore, and I figure we spent so much time before living alone that sleeping alone feels not automatically bad, but more like something that has advantages and disadvantages. So this came accross as a really logical option. I would not put the baby in our bed for the fear of suffocating (I don’t consider it safe at all, we could easily turn over and suffocate, the issue is modern beds being too soft of this, people who slept on some wolf pelt did not turn much) and generally speaking snoring and crying does not belong in the same room 🙂 but this worked well. However, I think it would be good if we could get to the point where our daugther can fall asleep alone.

        I do understand responding to every whim leads to spoiling however I think this kind of discipline can come later, when she understands what is going on. Currently I don’t really see the point of saying no as long as it is simply not understood. This is something you can see. You say no to a bigger child and you see some understanding in the form of acceptance or being upset or anything. But when at 1.5 years all you see is sheer confusion, how comes I want something and it does not happen, as long as this social ability is not yet developed to understand it a parent saying no and not a random occurence, so far what would be the point? At this age saying no would be just as much not understood as explaining physics.

      • Not so. At 1.5 most kids understand a ton. The more you speak to them, the more they understand.

        The point of routine and rules is not so much to impose an order on them – although the longer it is delayed, the more this will be needed – as to provide an order that they can grow into. You don’t need to speak to them about it, or obtain their agreement or their understanding. All you have to do is stick to it pretty faithfully. They’ll fall into the rhythm.

        “Responding to every whim” arises naturally when the novice parent, desperate to soothe a newborn and unfamiliar with the subtleties of newborn signaling, tries everything to stop her crying. This pattern persists: “whatever it takes to soothe her” becomes the prevailing policy, without anyone ever deciding that it should be so. I’ve been there!

        There is soothing, and then there is meta-soothing. Scratching the immediately urgent itch provides the former; routine and rules furnish the latter.

      • The “confusion” you’re seeing is probably more related to her trying to discern whether you’re actually serious or if your “no” is just another bluff. I guarantee you she understands a whole lot more at a year-and-a-half than I hear you giving her credit for. Also, I agree with Kristor & Bruce C., when parents roll over on and smother their infant children, it’s usually an indication something isn’t right – this can be alcohol or drug related (not necessarily illegal drug use), and so on and so forth, but it isn’t normal. I get what you’re saying about the “only options”: it’s sort of in the same category as the idea that toddlers have to be protected from injesting harmful chemicals by the use of so called “child-safety latches – a method I’ve flatly refused to employ since day one: who says, for example, that harmful chemicals have to be kept under the kitchen sink within a toddler’s reach? Duh! And besides, taking away their ability to explore also takes away a great opportunity for discipline and parental guidance – after you’ve told them a dozen times, “no, stay out of that cabinet, it will hurt you!” and they continue to ignore your warnings, playing dumb as it were, they will eventually get themselves into the proverbial “hot water” and learn the lesson in the process that “hey, ol’ Dad knows what he’s talking about – he said it would hurt me and it did hurt me; guess he wasn’t trying to limit my freedom for no good reason afterall! This is very useful in the child’s developing a strong trust in his parent’s better judgment. Makes life a lot easier down the road. …

      • My 23 month old just started sleeping on his own bed. I could deal with co-sleeping except he would simply pummel me or my wife with kicks as we sleep. Sometimes he would lift his head up in a dazed half-sleep and drop a headbutt right onto my face, not a pleasant way to be wakened.

      • LOL! I remember that! Tiny heels pushing into the small of my wife’s back, head ramming into the small of mine. I actually came to love that, too, rather the way I like it when the cats rearrange themselves between us throughout the night.

        I experienced only one face plant into my head. My son learned from that experience – which woke him with a painful start, let me tell you – and it never recurred.

    • Yes, you are very much on to something. You’ve had a bunch of responses from men, but nothing from women (so far as I can tell). Well, this is my response as a currently pregnant and/or nursing housewife who has had multiple bad sleepers amongst our awesome kids and who actually spends my offline time with lots of other conservative Christian housewives with family sizes ranging from one to nine.

      It’s more old-fashioned for your wife to have some domestic support, paid if you have no relatives near to hand. It’s bizarrely modern for fathers to sisterwife. These male commenters are essentially suggesting that a man serve the role that normally other women in the community served as the only way to facilitate additional children. What I’ve observed is that it gets you one additional child, two if the couple goes the Irish twins route or has twins first or second. If you as a man don’t want to sisterwife to get 1-2 extra kids, as a woman who is very traditional in outlook, I agree with you. And frankly, so do the women who took that option. Their husbands love children, they are generally good to excellent fathers, that is why they take on burdens of childcare that are unusually high for men to take on (and often still breadwinning too, men do so much for love). But they aren’t having the four or more than many of them still speak of with a wistful look. It’s just not happening. Because it’s not so bad for a father to change a few diapers, but when he is doing 50% or more of the childcare, it’s not natural and he gets sick of it and like you wants to just move on to when the children are reasoning-aged. Whereas we women (even the smarty-smart ones) are more tolerant of extended periods of babydom and toddlerhood.

      Our household has a combination of paid domestic support and relatives more occasionally. And we would without that have but one child because yes, starting later in life is much harder and so exhausting. My latest infant wakes six times a night or more, this is a recurring theme with our infants, contrary to what one of the other commenters said. Sometimes you will get raft after raft of poorly sleeping infants. Ours sleep terribly by adult standards because of massive physical and mental vigor. They hate to sleep because that’s lost exploring their world time. Back when I was 22 and really did do just fine on three hours a night, that would have been completely tolerable. Now I need five or six hours and can’t get it and the agony is terrible, even with friendly neighborhood babysitters to keep the kids on schedule and bring me the latest baby to nurse while I kindasorta catch up on sleep during the day.

      I hope you can have more, but I understand if due to atomicity you restrict your family size. It’s where conservative/traditionalist types fall down a lot, they handwave the problems all this atomicity leads too. It’s not good to choose less fertility explicitly, but it’s also not good to pretend it’s normal/natural/historical/traditional to have husband and wife as the primary caregivers for all the kids they have together.

      • Following your terms, I don’t think any of us has suggested that it’s normal/natural/historical/traditional for husband and wife to be primary caregivers for all the children we have. To reiterate, I’m using your terms *in the sense you use them.* In the other sense – the primary sense – husband and wife are emphatically the primary caregivers of their own offspring!’

        In answer to Shenpen’s original query, I explained that in large families everyone chips in, including the older boys, albeit the girls are more inclined and better suited to ‘mother’ their infant and toddler siblings. Go figure. For the most part they take on these roles naturally and cheerfully. Indeed, in our experience the rare occasion the older siblings balk at these responsibilities is usually traced back to some undue outside liberal influence that they temporarily embrace for some selfish reason or the other. But that’s just the world we live in, and keeps us on our toes.

      • “Their husbands love children, they are generally good to excellent fathers, that is why they take on burdens of childcare that are unusually high for men to take on (and often still breadwinning too, men do so much for love).”

        This is a most refreshing observation. Not that it isn’t true, but that it was observed “aloud.”

    • I must say this baby-toddler age is difficult to like and I am really eager for us to transform into a “real child” who understands questions or requests/orders.

      Ha Ha ha…understanding and OBEYING are very different things.

  2. @Shenpen – Good advice from Kristor – I would just add one medical/ biological point about co-sleeping which I think is reasonably uncontroversial.

    Human parents are instinctively designed *not* to harm the baby sleeping with you; so it is safe and natural to do so – what is un-natural is putting the baby in a place that is out of sensory-contact with the mother/ parents (e.g. a separate room). Babies instinctively interpret this separation as a danger of having been accidentally lost (e.g. left behind when the group moved on) so they cry out for help.

    Most babies learn to cope with separation during sleep without lasting problems – but it is something that needs adapting-to, the babies have to be ‘trained’ to do it; and some babies are better and quicker than others at adapting. A few babies probably can’t adapt to separation without present and perhaps lasting psychological harm.

    Just because separation of mother and child for much of the day and all of the night is statistically normal in modern life, does not mean it is natural or healthy! It should not surprise us that some babies find this difficult to cope with.

    But that would not apply if you drink alcohol or take sedative drugs or that sort of thing; nor if you have some kind of (rare) sleep pathology – then co-sleeping could be dangerous. The second about sleep pathologies is probably common sense – (e.g. ) but perhaps not everybody would think about the potential dangers of alcohol.

    • Thanks for this, Bruce. Our 7th child is 14 months now and has been much more restless than any of the other children. My wife took our first two or three into bed with us but at some point stopped doing this.

      To Shenpen, I just wanted to say that you somehow manage. I don’t think it’s harder as you get older. We’re going through the same thing as you and we’re 40/39.

  3. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/07/05) | The Reactivity Place

  4. People that were alive then tell me that the 60’s hit middle America (noticeably) around ‘72-’73.

    Before the pill people had condoms (I think the older generation called them “rubbers.”). I don’t know how widespread their use was prior to the 60’s but I have noticed that around the 20’s-30’s there was a significant drop in family size among my ancestors (all sides, Protestants AND the Catholics, WASPs and hillbillies.) They went from a norm of say 8-12 children to a norm of 2 to 5 children.

  5. You seem to long for the day when morality was dictated by shame. For most of the history of humanity sex was not linked with shame as it is under big monotheistic religions of modern times. The pagan romans did not think divorce or contraception was shameful. I don’t think we need shame to uphold morality. To do so is to have a system where people do what they should do grudgingly and half hearted. Would not a better system be one where people acted whole heartedly?

    • I would certainly prefer people respond to their own wrongdoings with feelings of guilt and contrition rather than shame. But I’d rather they respond to their wrongdoings with shame than to respond to them with delight, or with nothing at all. To respond with delight is sociopathy, with nothing at all psychopathy; shame is the response of children and guilt the response of adults. Behaving like children would actually be a step up for modern man.

    • The notion that sex is considered shameful by the monotheisms is false. E.g., one of the mystical vocations of Christianity is to marriage.

      It is not sex as such that is problematic, but illicit sex. And all cultures have sexual proscriptions that distinguish licit from illicit sex. The rejection of such proscriptions is the rejection of that culture of which they are the expression.

      Some cultures are of course deeply problematic, and so they die. Rome, for example, tolerated not only contraception, abortion and divorce, but homosexuality, paederasty, infanticide, slavery, and gladiatorial combat. It was an extremely corrupt and wicked society. So, it was failing. At the height of Roman culture under Augustus, Roman fertility was crashing. Rome was demographically doomed. Her demographic rescue came in the form of Christians and Jews, and from Gothic and German barbarians – most of whom were Christians (albeit Arian).

      The only way to act wholeheartedly is to act good, and know it. To do that, one must know and prefer the good, and abhor the wicked. Where the moral categories built into the ontological structure of reality are muddled – as when the ontological link between sex and pregnancy is broken – this becomes much more difficult for people. Like children searching for the proper limits of behavior, they act out. If the rules are made crystal clear to them, and enforced with rigor, they will relax and stop misbehaving.

      • The notion that sex is considered shameful by the monotheisms is false. E.g., one of the mystical vocations of Christianity is to marriage.


        From John Zmirak

        “One of the most brilliant men in Christian history, Origen, made this mistake and castrated himself. More broadly, for hundreds of years, our monks and theologians had a very hard time seeing how marriage could really be holy – witness the relentless pressure some monastic confessors often put on pious couples to “live as brother and sister.” Pascal would famously call marriage unworthy of Christians, and convince his sister to drop the man she loved. While it’s often the theological left which calls attention to this anti-sexual heritage (which never rose to the level of doctrine), Pope John Paul II alluded to it as the reason he needed to articulate the Theology of the Body.”

      • That celibacy is nobler than marriage does not make marriage ignoble; it does not mean that marriage is *not* one of the mystical vocations of Christianity. Indeed, Christianity *just is* a marriage; the Divine Liturgy is a participation of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, in which the Church in all her members is married to the Logos her bridegroom; and the Bible begins and ends with a marriage; and Christ performed his first miracle at a wedding. Marriage is a sacrament of the Church; its sanctity subsists in its participation in the Church’s marriage to Christ, which is the archetype of all marriages, all vows, indeed all bonds of love, of any sort. As Christ transmuted water into wine at Cana, so does God transmute bride and bridegroom into a new being. In both transactions, it is God at work.

        Religious celibacy is nobler than marriage for the same reason that martyrdom is nobler than mere discipleship: it constitutes a consecration of the whole of life directly to the marriage to God. Celibate life is holier than married life because it is a more complete fulfillment here on Earth of the wedding vows of the Church to her bridegroom. I.e., it is even more like the archetypal marriage than the normal sort of marriage. Nevertheless the normal sort of marriage is indeed very like the archetypal marriage, and a foretaste thereof; so that the Church understands it as a sacrament that consecrates the lives of its participants to God and his operations in history – such as raising up new souls to their own participation in the archetypal marriage.

      • Kristor, your comment was;

        The notion that sex is considered shameful by the monotheisms is false

        It’s a “reframe” to talk about the “hierarchy of nobility” between marriage and the consecrated life when the question at stake is whether Christianity regarded sex as shameful. The fact of the matter is that Christianity has had a real problem. Just like the Chruch has a “preferential option” for the poor, it has and a “preferential prohibition” against sex. Hence JPII’s work on the theology of the body. ( A project which needs further work as it is infected with chivalric notions of love)

        Until Casti Connubii, at least in the Catholic Church, there was doubt amongst many theologians whether conjugal relations during the period of infertility was morally licit. Since intercourse during the infertile period “broke sex”.

      • It’s a “reframe” to talk about the “hierarchy of nobility” between marriage and the consecrated life when the question at stake is whether Christianity regarded sex as shameful. The fact of the matter is that Christianity has had a real problem.

        It seems to me rather that certain *Christians* have had a problem in this respect, while *Christianity herself* has not. Such problems are rather analogous to the oft-noted tendency among some Christians toward a Gnostic hatred of the body. These things do happen, of course. But they are heterodox defects of Christian catechesis or theology, rather than expressions of dogma. As the Church recognizes such problems, she speaks dogmatically to correct them.

        The reality of the hierarchy of nobility, and of the essentially matrimonial character of the Christian motion of worship, are not at all gainsayed by this or that theologian’s worries about whether sex is here or there licit, or not. If the Church was really ashamed of sex, then as JM Smith has pointed out, the cult would have died out exactly like that of the Shakers.

    • If Christianity regarded sex as shameful, children would be a badge of shame. We’d keep them at home, locked in the cellar, and certainly would not range them beside us in the pew every Sunday morning. Christianity is wildly pro-sex, in the scientific sense of the word sex. It is in favor of genital acts that are ordered to procreation (marriage being part of this ordering). And this is precisely why it is anti-perversion, why it opposes genital acts that are not ordered to procreation.

      Shame is simply the psychological pain we suffer when we are subject to social disapproval. Assuming that there are acts that society is right to disapprove, shame itself is altogether neutral. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with shame as such. The only question is whether people are being shamed for acts that deserve to be shamed. In a society that shames only those acts that deserve to be shamed, the virtuous man has nothing to fear from shame–just as that law-abiding man has no need to fear the police in a society of just laws.

      We often hear that sex is a private matter, but this is altogether false. Sexual behavior has vast social consequences, so society has an interest in discouraging (i.e. shaming) behavior that has negative consequences. Another way to say this is that the behavior socializes the costs of the behavior, while keeping the benefits private. This is why bastardy was, until recently, shameful. This is also why voluntary sterility was shameful (involuntary sterility was merely pitiable).

      • If Christianity regarded sex as shameful, children would be a badge of shame.

        Christianity has always regarded the fruit as good. The process of generation, on the other hand, has been morally suspect, especially the pleasure component of it.

      • It is not desire as such, or pleasure, that have earned the Church’s wariness, but rather that inordinate subjection to them, to which we are so vulnerable. She has the same problem with all worldly goods, for as good they all tempt us to idolatry of some sort.

      • The biological urge to engage in sex is not entirely concerned with procreation. In fact I would say it is typically (at least on the conscious level) not concerned with procreation. I would venture to guess that while experiencing an orgasm 99.9% of people are not concerned with procreation at all. To make sex entirely for procreation is to make this normal biological function shameful where shame does not naturally exist. This may work to keep people in line but they exist in a state of angst and misery.

      • No one suggested that sex is or ought to be “entirely for procreation.” It has other ends, as the Church has always recognized in marriage. The problem is that, whatever else sex is about, it is definitely and essentially ordered to procreation. Modernity has tried to break this order. That is the problem. As disagreeing with the order of being, it is a grievous error that has led to terrific suffering, which might well have been avoided.

      • So far is the Church from shaming the sexual urge as such, that she has consecrated it as the nisus motivating the consummating act of one of her seven sacraments. The sacrament cannot be completed without it. This is to say, precisely, that the Church regards sex as holy. She regards the sexual urge as an aspect of the soul’s urge toward communion with God. That’s the *main reason* why its depravation is so serious, and so dangerous.

        Thus it is not sex per se that the Church regards as shameful, but rather only its depravation. To profane the altar of marriage is a terrible thing. That depravation is all too common, to be sure; so much so, that we ought prudentially to be extremely careful about the deployment of our sexual nature. But this is true, more or less, of the pursuit and enjoyment of any good.

        You seem really, really fixated on shame. Maybe you should hie yourself to Confession, and get that monkey off your back.

      • The fact that you are now trying to make this argument personal suggests to me that getting the facts straight is not your primary aim. I seem to have touched a nerve in you and I am guessing this has something to do with shame. I don’t know you of course just like you don’t know me. We should not judge each other based on a comment exchange.

      • I’m not judging you. I just can’t help noticing that you keep coming back to how awful it is to shame people, when nothing of the sort has been occurring here. You brought it up; you keep returning to it. I keep saying that the Church shames illicit sex rather than sex per se, and you respond by saying that it is not good to shame people for feeling sexual. I doubt it is the case that you can’t see the distinction I draw. I infer then that rather you won’t. The question then is, why? It seems that you are quite bothered by shame; you can’t let go of it. It seems to be riding you.

        I don’t mean to single you out in re going to Confession. We all ought often to confess, and benefit from doing so. Me, especially.

      • The whole point of the OP was that by breaking sex, contraception breaks much if not all of society. Because society is throughly ordered to the success of sex in attaining its final end in reproduction, frustrating reproduction disorders everything. It ruins the order given in our nature, and like other sins it is therefore a repudiation of the Logos who is the Original of all order. This is to say that it contravenes the Divine Law; that, in other words, it is illicit.

        It is inapt to feel shame over an illicit act performed in innocence of its illiceity. Otherwise, it is not.

      • By nature, the human species reproduces sexually. No sexual reproduction, no man, nor anything of man.

        I am eager to hear your arguments that falsify these statements. What are they?

      • Just because man reproduces sexually does not necessarily mean he cannot engage in sexual behavior not for the purpose of reproduction. He can do both in other words.

        What you argue is akin to saying man should not go into space because he needs oxygen and there is no oxygen in space therefore it is against his nature and shameful.

      • No. What I am saying is akin to saying that man should not go into space without a supply of oxygen. But it goes much deeper than that. What I am saying is more akin to saying that man should not divorce breathing from air.

        I did not suggest – it would be odd to try – that the fact we are built so as to operate in one way means that we cannot operate in any other. Man is certainly capable, for example, of divorcing breathing from air. There is nothing to stop him doing so, by sticking his head underwater and breathing. It’s just that he’ll drown if he does it.

        We certainly can fool with Mother Nature. But when we do, we’re basically screwed.

        I really appreciate your comments, Winston. They furnish an excellent means of fleshing out the Natural Law argument for those who have not heard it.

      • But that is the point. Man can go into space with a supply of oxygen. Just like man can have sex without intending to procreate. It does not mean that the human race will die out. (A) The population is larger now – after the invention of contraception than it was before, and (B) the decline of population growth in developed countries has more to do with economics than it does with contraception. In an agrarian economy another child is a worker and an economic asset, in a modern economy a child is an extra mouth to feed, provide health care for and educate.

      • The supply of oxygen helps the natural end of the lungs, which is respiration. Condoms don’t help the natural end of the genital organs, which is reproduction; they hinder it. You’re allowed to act in a way consistent with your nature (hence why you can have sex with your wife just because you’re attracted to her, provided you’re not contracepting); you generally can’t act in a way contrary to your nature. This is why it’s OK for me to wear glasses to correct my bad vision and not OK for me to gouge out my eyes.


        The study referenced in the link above has found evidence that regular ejaculation may help prevent prostate cancer. Since (I assume you would consider) survival to be a natural function would this not be an argument in favor of masturbation or sex with contraception according to the logic you employed in your previous post?

      • But that is the point. Man can go into space with a supply of oxygen. Just like man can have sex without intending to procreate. It does not mean that the human race will die out.

        I get that that is your point. It misses the point. Sex that forecloses reproduction is like breathing that forecloses respiration. It is not like breathing that is artificially supported so that respiration can transpire where otherwise it would fail of its end. Taking an oxygen supply into space to that breathing can proceed is like lavishing nourishment on a fertile woman under conditions of famine so that sex with her can result in successful reproduction. The oxygen and the nourishment support the natural ends of breathing and sex, respectively. Contraception, on the contrary, frustrates the natural end of sex. It is analogous to forcing a man to breathe water.

        That we can possibly do something without destroying humanity does not mean that it is OK. Viz., murder, torture, theft, and so forth. We do all those things without killing off man himself. That doesn’t make them peachy keen.

        Run a gedanken policy test: take two societies A & B, exactly alike in every respect but one: A allows contraception, B does not. Put them in competition with each other. Which will win? The question answers itself: B will win. This result, which is at bottom mathematically given, should indicate to us that the policy we have tested, contraception, is vicious, wicked: it weakens society.

        Now, we may not conclude from this finding that contraception is wicked solely on account of the fact that it weakens society. The causation runs the other way: contraception weakens society because it is wicked. Its wickedness is given in game theory (this being why the gedanken test worked out as it did) – i.e., it is mathematically demonstrable that contraception is wicked. And that we can show mathematically that contraception is disadvantageous tells us that the wickedness of contraception is built into the structure of reality, of math, and indeed of reason itself. Contraception, that is to say, is inherently wicked, from all eternity. And it is due to this mathematical viciousness of contraception that, when implemented in practice, it has vicious effects: promoting promiscuity, infidelity, divorce, bastardy, sexually transmitted disease, homosexuality and other perversions, and so forth. These deleterious effects of contraception follow upon it because it weakens us *ontologically.* From that basic ontological weakness are derived all the biological, social, and psychological pathologies that spring up on every side when sex is broken.

      • You talk like the people who use contraception use it every time they have sex without exception. This clearly is not the case. People who use contraception may choose to stop using it in order to procreate. Many (perhaps most) do. Many use contraception after they have had the number of children they can afford to support. I don’t see the gedenken test as particularly persuasive. Could it not be argued that the society not using contraception would be impoverished compared to the one using contraception? There are many countries on earth with higher birth rates that I do not think will pose a threat to the US any time soon.

      • No. Run the gedanken policy test on the policy of tolerating murder for a counterexample. Not everyone in either society will murder, but the society that forbids it will prevail.

        “Any time soon:” time scale is not relevant. Run a gedanken test on two societies that differ by only 0.01 in Total Fertility Rate. The society with the lower TFR will vanish as a mathematical certainty. So we can tell that fertility is good, and infertility bad, ceteris paribus.

      • I’m trying to find a source that backs up your claim regarding the .01 difference in fertility rate. If you have something handy I’d appreciate it if you could send it my way. Otherwise I will keep looking.

      • You don’t need a source. It’s math.

        I don’t agree with Kristor that the population with the higher TFR will always prevail, since there are other factors than population in play. But he is correct that a difference of 0.1 in the fertility rate will make a difference. A difference of 0.1 percent in the interest you are paid on your savings account makes a difference, given enough time.

        The crucial point, however, comes when the TFR of a population goes below replacement level (2.1 in modern societies). If you had two populations of the same size, with a TFR of 1.9 and 1.8 respectively, the latter would disappear first, but the former would also disappear.

        Kristor is arguing that for conservative and religious populations in first-world countries will eventually replace liberal and secular populations, because of a higher TRF. It’s not just that their TFR is higher, because if this were below 2.1 it would not matter in the long run. It is because their TFR is above 2.1. Their descendants show up for the future. The descendants of liberals and secularists, not so much.

      • I don’t agree with Kristor that the population with the higher TFR will always prevail, since there are other factors than population in play.

        But remember that in the gedanken policy test we hold all those other factors equal. Only in respect to the policy we are testing do the two societies differ.

      • But the replacement rate changes all the time and is a function of the health of the economy. You guys describe the replacement rate as if it’s static.

      • It’s an *experiment.* in an experiment you control for (ideally all) the factors other than the one you are interested to test. A gedanken experiment is ideal, so we can just say “hold all other things equal” and it is so. Then all we need to do is run the math on the result of variation in the factor we are testing.

        The real world is of course far more complicated. But we can say with certainty that, all else *perfectly equal,* a higher TFR prevails over a lower.

        Bearing in mind of course that, as JM Smith points out, a certain minimum TFR – these days, about 2.1 – must be surpassed if a genome is to avert extinction.

        Because modernism feeds back to reproduction in such a way as to bring TFR down to below replacement level, it is a meme that kills its host organism – the family and germline of the modernist. But memes can spread so fast between brains that their lethality kicks in too slowly to prevent their epidemic propagation. Only sub-populations somehow resistant to such memes can hope to withstand them.

      • The replacement rate is a function of the child mortality rate, which is only remotely connected to the modern economy. To stay at replacement level, the average couple must reproduce itself (e.g. 2 children). To make up for whatever children die before reaching sexual maturity and having their own children, the average couple needs to have some more. Under modern conditions, they need to have is 0.1 more. Two hundred years ago it was 3 to 4 more.

        These are all averages, so there can be sterile singles and couples who are childless, but someone else will have to replace them if the population is to remain stable.

        The economy certainly affects fertility rates (the average number of births per female), but it only affects the replacement rate by reducing the child mortality rate. If we were able to get the child mortality rate to zero, we would have a replacement rate with a TFR of 2. But it is absolutely impossible for the TFR to go below that without population collapse.

      • Slumlord and Winstonscrooge @
        To tie this back to Kristor’s original theme, sex is broken when the intended “end” of the sexual act is an orgasm, and not a child. In the same way, eating is broken when the intended “end” of the act is savoring flavor, not ingesting nutrients. There is nothing wrong with tasty food, but there is something wrong with the bulimic who only tastes food. There’s nothing wrong with sexual pleasure, but there is something wrong with the sex fiend who is obsessed with orgasms. He’s the one man on earth who is never sexually satisfied.

      • @JMSmith

        To tie this back to Kristor’s original theme, sex is broken when the intended “end” of the sexual act is an orgasm,

        Well you might want to ask why there is an infertile period in the menstrual cycle. Coitus performed at this time is intrinsically infertile. God designed it that way.

      • Coitus at this time is necessarily infertile, but the intention of coitus performed at this time is not necessarily orgasm without the risk of fertility. A man who hasn’t bothered to confirm that his wife is in the fertile phase of her menstrual cycle is clearly not precisely equivalent to to the Sons of Onan who spill their seed upon the ground. Even if he has bothered to check, he’s still not equivalent if he has at other times allowed sex to serve its natural, biological function. Kristor’s notion of “breaking sex” is to order sex in such a way that it fails to fill its natural function, which is reproduction. The opposite of “breaking sex” is not fertility maximization.

      • Coitus performed at this time is intrinsically infertile.

        Likely infertile, but not intrinsically. It’s sloppiness like this that makes Slumlord’s case unconvincing to me from the get-go.

      • @buckyinky

        Physiology? Try looking it up.
        Furthermore coitus is licit post menopause–and when a woman is pregnant. Guess that’s sloppy as well.

      • There is an “infertile period” during every cycle, but how did my wife get pregnant during this time if it was intrinsically infertile? Your use of the word, and thinking on the matter, is sloppy.

      • @JMSmith

        Coitus at this time is necessarily infertile, but the intention of coitus performed at this time is not necessarily orgasm without the risk of fertility. A man who hasn’t bothered to confirm that his wife is in the fertile phase of her menstrual cycle is clearly not precisely equivalent to to the Sons of Onan who spill their seed upon the ground. Even if he has bothered to check, he’s still not equivalent if he has at other times allowed sex to serve its natural, biological function.

        Or it could be said that if you are not willing to allow for the possibility of a child’s being conceived, you should not engage in that act ordered to the conception of a child. This goes for post-menopausal couples just as surely as it does young newlyweds, and it does not mean that the act ordered toward conception of children is not also ordered toward pleasure and bonding between a couple.

      • My understanding is that it’s the action to frustrate the purpose of sex by separating it from its purpose that creates the Church’s problem with contraception. I’ve read that the original Hebrew in Genesis 38 emphasizes that it’s Onan’s action that angers God.

      • Likewise with your bank account; if the two societies were two individuals making deposits and withdrawals from their bank accounts, the one with the higher TFR is going to outlast the other. As has been said, it’s just math. The individual who exceeds the replacement rate, or deposits more into his account monthly, annually, whatever, will continue to grow his account while his counter-example’s account will deplete and eventually disappear.”

      • When God said be fruitful and multiply He meant to multiply by a number greater than 1 (“increase your numbers.”) Since kids only come in integer numbers that means that Christian couples should multiply by at least 1.5.

      • That’s my contribution: 1.5. It’s now too late, but I think its actually too low. In his remarks on marriage, Jesus makes clear that many will not marry, and in many cases they will be right in not so doing. So the injunction to “multiply” has to apply to a population, not to individuals. That means that parents should aim for a higher number. Of course, it’s one thing to take up the slack for priests, monks and nuns. It’s quite another to take up the slack for self-sterilized narcissists.

      • @bukcyinky

        There is an “infertile period” during every cycle, but how did my wife get pregnant during this time if it was intrinsically infertile? Your use of the word, and thinking on the matter, is sloppy.


        I am assuming that your wife was not post menopausal.

        Let me spell it out to you. A woman is only fertile during part of her menstrual cycle. For the rest of the cycle she is infertile. Sexual acts performed during this time are incapable of causing conception, hence sexual acts during this period of time are “intrinsically” infertile.

        We call it logic over here.

        The fact that you misidentified a fertile period for an infertile one does not take away from the fact that coitus outside of the fertilisation window is intrinsically infertile.

        Sloppy. Very Sloppy.

      • @Slumlord

        We call it logic over here.

        I do understand that if you can think of coitus between a husband and wife during the wife’s infertile period as intrinsically – by its nature – infertile, then it’s logical that this type of coitus is no different in its nature as to fecundity than coitus using a condom or coitus on the pill.

        Yes, I can see why you would call that logic.

      • One way out of this hair splitting is to think of fertile couples rather than fertile acts of sexual intercourse. A fertile couple is “open” to children, but doesn’t strain to maximize the possibility of impregnation in every aspect and moment of their sexual relations. And a fertile couple is one that sustains its marriage and so properly raises its children – child rearing being completion of the sexual act. I think this is analogous to healthy eating. We should all try to eat well in a general way, but we should not be obsessed by a project of perfect nutrition.

      • @JMSmith

        Maybe it ends up being hair-splitting – my end of the discussion is predicated on Slumlord’s response to you back up a ways:

        Well you might want to ask why there is an infertile period in the menstrual cycle. Coitus performed at this time is intrinsically infertile. God designed it that way.

        Which I took to mean that it may be alright for a couple to have intercourse with the only end in mind being an orgasm. If this is his position, then my disagreement with it is not merely hair-splitting or a definitional quibble. And it then has much to do with the understanding of the nature of the marital act and the intrinsic fruitfulness thereof, as opposed to the nature of coitus using a barrier or a chemical to prevent conception, which by its nature works against fruitfulness, and may have as its only end an orgasm.

      • as opposed to the nature of coitus using a barrier or a chemical to prevent conception, which by its nature works against fruitfulness, and may have as its only end an orgasm.

        You’re engaging in what the cognitive scientists call Serial-Associative-Cognition. You’re assuming that just because I can prove that there is a break between coitus and fecundity–as ordained by God- that I’m immediately supporting all forms of contraception. I’m not.

        The fundamental issue at stake here is: Is coitus intrinsically fecund? In other words, barring any “defect” in the system, does a successfully completed coital act always lead to pregnancy? If the answer is yes then situations likes menopause and the infertile periods of the menstrual cycles are “mistakes” made by God. On the other hand, If coitus is only fertile during certain periods of woman’s life, then the notion that the two are intrinsically linked by God is flawed.

        The legitimacy of contraception is a whole other issue.

        Hair splitting is important at times, just like separating sin from the sinner.

      • Does it really follow from the fact that coitus does not always result in reproduction that reproduction is not intrinsically linked to coitus? I can’t see that it does. Not all acorns result in oaks. But acorns are intrinsically ordered to the generation of oaks. Barring outside meddling with natural biological processes, oaks iff acorns; reproduction iff coitus.

      • On the other hand, If coitus is only fertile during certain periods or woman’s life,

        Should be,

        On the other hand, if coitus is only fertile during certain periods of a woman’s life.

        [Kristor writes: Fixed, along with a couple other typos.]

      • @ Kristor

        The fact that the acorn fails to grow into the oak is due to some sort of privation in the generative process; since the teleos of the acorn is to become the oak. Sex has no procreative teleos during the infertile phase of the cycle. It’s failure to be procreative is not due to some deficiency in the act rather, a perfect act, executed at this time cannot be fecund by the design of God.

        The insistence that the two are always intrinsically linked is at odds with empirical evidence.

      • The acorn can fail to achieve its telos for all sorts of reasons other than its defects qua acorn. Oaks produce far more acorns than will ever germinate. This is not a defect of their reproductive process. They generate acorns with such wild extravagance intentionally – i.e., in order to achieve their telos of reproduction. That most acorns are wasted does not mean that for most acorns, germination is not their telos.

        Likewise, many perfectly executed acts of coitus – whether there is a fertile egg involved or not – fail to achieve their telos in germination. That does not mean that the telos of coitus is not germination.

        The requirement of reproduction is the only reason there is such a thing as sex in the first place. Absent a telos of reproduction, sex would not exist at all. And that sure looks to me like an intrinsic telos.

      • “The fundamental issue at stake here is: Is coitus intrinsically fecund?” — Slumlord

        Translation: Is sexual intercourse essentially procreative?

        You seem to being saying, “No… Sexual intercourse is essentially self-annihilating.”

        And I think you are half right

      • @ thordaddy

        You seem to being saying, “No… Sexual intercourse is essentially self-annihilating.”

        How did you infer that from what I said? No really. I mean it. It looks like you’re just making stuff up now.

      • Slumlord…

        IF sexual intercourse IS NOT essentially procreative THEN sexual intercourse MUST BE essentially self-annihilating… Or is there some other mystery essence? I suppose you could say that sexual intercourse was essentially pleasurable, but then such essence really collapses into self-annihilation when push comes to shove.

      • @Kristor
        Likewise, many perfectly executed acts of coitus – whether there is a fertile egg involved or not – fail to achieve their telos in germination. That does not mean that the telos of coitus is not germination
        Whoa there! The question is; why was there a failure of germination. Because if the act is ordered to germination, then the act fails to achieve its teleos through some form of privation. A perfect coital act will always result in fertilization if it is intrinsically ordered to it. The problem here is how we evaluate the “infertile phase of the menstrual cycle” or menopause for that matter. Do these two stay constitute privations with respect to the teleos of coitus?
        If so, then these are “privations” or faults designed by God. I think you can see the theological problems with this. On the other hand, if they’re not privations, then coitus does not have an intrinsic teleos ordered towards reproduction. It’s a logical yes or no.
        Coitus can have a unitive teleos. As far as I see, the primary teleos of coitus is unitive, it’s secondary (periodic) teleology is reproductive.

      • A perfect coital act will always result in fertilization if it is intrinsically ordered to it.

        No. X need not *always* result in y to be ordered toward it. Perfect acorns do not always result in oaks. That a bulimic vomits her lunch does not mean that man’s chewing is not ordered toward nourishment. Nor does her chewing sugarless gum.

      • Perhaps we could say such coital act is not perfect when it is performed during woman’s infertile period. You will not sow grain in winter for obvious reasons yet sowing is always ordered towards its end which is harvest.

      • Good analogy. There’s nothing morally wrong with sowing grain in winter; we are certainly capable of performing the act; and we can perform it perfectly; and there is a certain pleasure in the act itself; and the act confers other benefits (exercise, fresh air, and so forth). Yet it fails to achieve its telos. This does not mean that its telos is not its telos.

      • As far as I see, the primary teleos of coitus is unitive, it’s secondary (periodic) teleology is reproductive.
        If that’s true then the telos of reproduction is to unite the parents.

      • @ Kristor
        I meant ‘perfect’ in the sense slumlord uses it i.e. leading to pregnancy. But I think you are right the act in itself can be perfect or imperfect without special knowledge or intent on the part of the agent.

    • The Roman Republic did in fact think such things where shameful. Virgil even when so far to say (in rather poetic terms) that a widow who remarries is dishonourable because she should remember her first vows. There’s even a special place of dishonour in history for the first Roman to divorce his wife. Seneca the Elder lamented how common divorce had become in his time and how willing women where to leave their husbands for frivolous reasons.

      Those scruples abounded at the rise of the Republic even among pagan Romans.

      By the time the Republic was becoming the Empire divorce was a thing. And the Empire in its zenith was certainly as you describe. In its decline it had even less shame.

      On the whole though I think you really don’t know a lot about actual pagan societies if you think shame wasn’t generally socially important in enforcing mores. Pagans and tribal societies are not much like the ‘neo-pagan’ sub-cultures you’ve probably referenced to get your ideas.

      • On the whole though I think you really don’t know a lot about actual pagan societies if you think shame wasn’t generally socially important in enforcing mores.

        Far be it from me to suggest that I’m an expert on any society – including our own. But then, no one on this thread has suggested that shame was unimportant in any society. I myself have never thought such a thing.

        Throughout the devolution of Rome there were indeed patriots who deplored it. This shows only that the devolution happened, and so that it enjoyed a general and preponderant approval. In our own day, I likewise deplore the pervasive devolution of the West. If it wasn’t happening, there’d be other things to deplore.

      • If Virgil and Seneca the elder complained about divorce does that not suggest that divorce was occurring frequently? Also, do you think Virgil and Seneca the elder represented the actual zeitgeist or perhaps some idealized version of morality?

    • Of course morality has to be enforced by shame. Every side uses shame – the Left no less than the Right. The only difference is what they consider worthy of shaming. It would be great if people did what was correct whole heartedly, but that is simply not our condition.

      • When people shame other people 9 times out of 10 it’s because they were once shamed themselves. It has nothing to do with enforcing morality (as far as the person dispensing shame is concerned) even though it is presented this way.

      • So should we feel ashamed that we make other people feel ashamed? Or would you argue that we ought to do so shamelessly? If we wanted to talk about morality, how would we do so in a way that would not make readers feel ashamed (assuming that we should be ashamed of making anyone feel ashamed)? Why should we feel ashamed of making people feel ashamed?

        Are we fooling ourselves when we discuss morality, in thinking that what we are doing is discussing morality, when really we are only trying to make other people feel ashamed for this or that random thing that has nothing to do with morality? When we argue that x is wrong, are we really just lying about the wrongness of x, and in fact only trying to shame people for some … well, for no good reason, other than that a long time ago we felt ashamed?

        Is there nothing to morality other than utterly baseless shaming – a rough analogy to the deconstructionist assertion that all social relations are nothing but expressions of differentials in power, in capacity to inflict violence? Is there any x which it is *in fact* wrong to do? Are we at all obliged not to do x, if *in fact* it is wrong? Ought we to try to understand whether x is wrong in fact? If it is *in fact* wrong to do x, is it appropriate to feel ashamed of doing x? Why not?

      • I would say this: It is the intent behind the shame that matters. If you are sadistically getting off somehow by making someone else feel ashamed then there is a problem. Many people hide the fact that they enjoy making others feel shame by cloaking their true intentions in the guise of morality. Why do they enjoy making others feel ashamed? Probably because someone once made them feel shame and enjoyed it. This is dishonest and spreads misery. It is also pollutes authentic morality by confusing it with these twisted motivations resulting in people not really knowing what they want or what is truly good.

        If you are going to use shame to enforce morality you should be very sure as to your motivations. If you can honestly look at yourself and say with certainty that you are not trying to make someone feel ashamed because you get off on it then perhaps on some level shame might be acceptable. But even then you run the risk of that person now desiring to shame other people for the wrong reasons and starting a whole new chain.

        There is right and wrong and if someone commits a wrong and is moral he will probably feel ashamed. This is normal. But I would argue that the vast amount of shame in this world is shame experienced not for wrongs committed but because of bad programming resulting from people who got off on making them feel ashamed and their loyalty to those people.

        I believe this describes the motivation of an internet troll. They shame other people for having different political or religious views (for example) not necessarily because they believe in those views but because they take pleasure in it. Would you say this form of shaming is morally acceptable? And if it is not, are you entirely certain this is not what’s going on when society tries to shame people for “moral” offenses?

      • @ Winston

        Sadistically getting off on shaming others is a sin for Christians and, I would assume, a mortal sin for Catholics.

      • Winstonscrooge…

        There is something very odd in both your language and your apparent lack of awareness concerning the DOMINANT “shame” imposed by the anti-Supremacist, ie., he who desires “equality,” on those whom desire objective Supremacy… Er, our Father of Inequality. That side, which seems like your side, does really appear to “get off” (the odd phrasing that signals desire for radical sexual autonomy) when attempting to “shame” the white Supremacist. In your mind, should a white Supremacist feel inherently shameful? And depending on your answer, how does your analysis conclude with the anti-white Supremacist? Was he once shamed by white Supremacy and this is his revenge?

  6. The gist so far: When baristas have no children, only baristas die out. When farmers – including the coffee farmers – have no children, everyone dies out.

    • You may have said this in jest, but you illuminate an actual problem: the Left went from caring about the backbone of the nation (farmers and workers) to caring about the opinions of spoiled bourgeois and degenerate elements.

      The Old Non-Marxist Left could have been a great ally.

  7. Winstonscrooge@
    Is there a particular form of sexual expression, presently shamed, that you believe should not be shamed? Or do you believe no form of sexual expression should be shamed? We can’t really discuss this question until we know what sort of sexual freedom you are asking for. Do you believe shame is always illegitimate as an instrument of social control? How do you identify a specifically “sexual urge”? Are there any personal or social goods that, in your opinion, override the sexual urge and justify sexual repression? Or does the sexual urge always have priority? Can you take a positive position on questions such as these?

    • I believe shame is a poor form of motivation. It typically creates more problems (in the form of maladaptive psychology and behavior) than it solves. It is far more healthy and honest to be motivated out of a whole hearted sense that whatever you’re pursuing is good and right.

      • Any man who is sufficiently motivated by virtue has nothing to fear from shame. Shame only comes into play when personal virtue fails. There are three forms of control in society: self-control (virtue), social control (shame), and legal control (criminalization). Take away shame and any failure of virtue will lead to arrest and legal punishment. And there will be failures of virtue.

      • People are often programmed with shame early in life. Feelings of shame often arise from abusive environments. It is a difficult task to deprogram this later in life. Much easier to maintain a sense of loyalty to this system out of a false sense of virtue even if it leads to a life of misery.

      • See definitions below. I see nothing that supports your notion that shame is not an internalized feeling. In fact the definition specifically states that it is internalized.

        Source :

        1. the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability

        2. a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

        3. conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.:
        to live a life of guilt.

        1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another:
        She was overcome with shame.

        2. susceptibility to this feeling:
        to be without shame.

        3. disgrace; ignominy

        4. a fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret

      • Oh looks like shame and guilt are normal and natural feelings when you dun goofed. Now you can stop crying about all the shaming.

      • You’re pretty determined to get rid of shame when it comes to sex and what not. I mean, you wrote an entire post about it on your blog (“I don’t like it when people make others feel crappy” etc.) and you wrote an entire book on shame and internet trolling – the irony.

    • Winston, are you trying to shame us into embracing your principle that attaching shame to illicit and sinful acts is itself, well, shameful? Indeed, the mother of all shamefulness? You wouldn’t contradict yourself like that now would you? 😉

      As we’ve said, certain kinds of human behavior are shameful, by definition. Under another thread Kristor quotes from Romans ch. 1, which is a virtual laundry list of shameful human behavior. Elsewhere in the Scriptures we find that God *hates* certain forms of human behavior and human tendencies, namely a proud look, a lying tongue, those who sow discord among brethren and so forth. All of this is sinful, thus shameful, behavior by God’s own decree. If it’s shameful behavior to Him who is the author of our being, it certainly ought to be shameful to us.

  8. Winstonscrooge: what is the purpose of sex using contraception if not to prevent pregnancy, thus violating God’s ordinance to be fruitful and multiply? So, yes, sex using conraception is shameful and ought to be treated as such. That said, few of us have avoided this kind of shameful behavior partly because we were not properly catechised in this important doctrine. That doesn’t make it any less illicit, it just means we were acting out of ignorance for a time … and I dare say out of willing ignorance later down the road, which makes it all the more shameful and illicit.

      • You can’t use contraception and multiply except by accident. Intention to avoid multiplying while engaging sex is the sinful, thus the shameful part. All sinful activity is shameful activity by definition.

      • Quite so, Winston, but I haven’t said they do so I don’t think I understand what you’re driving at unless it is that doctrinal disagreement between the various denominations proves that illicit sexual behavior is purely a matter of opinion.

        The Scriptures admonish us to beware of false teachers.

  9. Winstonscrooge @
    If you want to ejaculate into a condom, a handkerchief or a horse’s rump, there is absolutely nothing to stop you in this great Land of Liberty. These acts are all heartily approved by the most powerful men and women in the land, and clearly protected by the highest law of the land. If someone tries to shame you, you can probably sue them and have them fired from their job. You don’t need permission from marginal nobodies at the Orthosphere. Knock yourself out!

    If you are the man in your photo, however, you will be in your own very small way contributing to the extinction of your genetic strain, or breed, or race, or whatever else you might care to call it. Maybe this does’t matter one little bit, but there is no getting around the fact that the extinction has already begun, and that the reason it has begun is because, as Kristor wrote, sex is broken. If agriculture failed to deliver the food we need to survive, we would say agriculture was broken. When sex fails to deliver the children we need to survive (2.1 per female), we should say that sex is broken.

  10. I think this article has it the wrong way around. Sex is broken because Man is broken. A civilization’s natural decline probably includes such depraved degeneracy. That’s we’re seeing these days. Spengler was right.

    • Man may be broken… But he still holds a strong vision of The Perfect Man and THEREFORE what needs to be done to “fix” things.

    • That’s a little too deterministic and fatalistic to seem quite right to me. Man is broken, to be sure; this has been a commonplace of the West for 2,000 years. But he is not altogether broken, not even yet; nor is he powerless, or utterly impotent.

      • “That’s a little too deterministic and fatalistic to seem quite right to me.”

        Both you and Thordaddy are right, but the way I see it, the human race is marred by Original Sin and in the same way we don’t last forever due to this marring (death is a consequence of Original Sin), our civilizations won’t last forever either. There is nothing deterministic about saying that you and everybody in this world will die and I don’t think that there is anything deterministic about saying the same about civilizations. Troy gave birth to Rome and Rome gave birth to the West and in each case depraved degeneracy just occurred towards the end of their civilizations. Same thing with other great civilizations like that of the Greeks or the Egyptians who, towards the end were into things like sodomy, bestiality, transvestism, effeminacy, and even in the case of the Egyptians, necrophilia.

        Ultimately, I am started to think that these things are not the cause of anything but a symptom of a deep spiritual deformation caused by decadence. Aaron D Wolf over at Chronicles mentions how many straights don’t want to speak out against gay “marriage” because they don’t want people criticizing their own sexual behaviors. That seems to be the case.

        Maybe Jesus will want to save the West since it is the first civilization to be born at the foot of the Cross (as opposed to the foot of Mt. Olympus or the World-Tree) but that’s up to Him. He doesn’t seem to care about civilizations and nations as much as souls.

      • Svar…

        But that’s the real uncertainty… It’s not the inevitably of bodily death under scrutiny… The question is one of TOTAL annihilation. Original sin DOES NOT imply total annihilation AND SO those desirous of such an end point have an interest in blurring the distinction between the “wages of sin” (bodily death) and the desire for radical autonomy, particularly, radical sexual autonomy (annihilation of the soul).

      • So the comprehensive scenario looks like this:

        Those desirous of radical sexual autonomy essentially sell mere bodily death (as Final Liberation) in an attempt to obscure the possible total annihilation of the soul WHILE those that reject radical sexual autonomy SHOULD educate the super majority of HOMO-sexuals of this soul-annihilating sexual disorder and its absolute primacy to the mere causal effect of Original Sin and all subsequent individual “wages” as well.

      • Not only does Liberalism AS HOMO-sexual “nature” where homo = same = EXACT SAME = self = self-sexualizing = self-annihilating have tremendous explanatory power, it also DISPENSES with FALSE creation myths concerning a phenomenon THAT MUST HAVE physical origin… Meaning, Liberalism CANNOT have a spiritual (gnostic) or intellectual (enlightenment) origin PER the anti-metaphysics of the PUREST Liberal.

        Liberalism is the desire for self-annihilation via an inward sexual narcissism of the most pathological extreme. Absolutely soul destroying.

      • Furthermore… Liberalism as homosexual “nature” goes head first at Neo’s Reaction and his insipid insistence that Christian sexual morality birthed the homosexual “nature.” The subtle message is clear and it has a millennial stench to it and it goes something like, “The highest standard must give rise to the lowest common denominator.” This line of “logic” stems directly from the “something from nothing” anti-metaphysics held by many in the “dark enlightenment.”

  11. Thank you, Kristor… You are a pleasure to read even when this reader leaves mentally exhausted at one of your fascinatingly mind boggling posts.

  12. It is evident that the demographic collapse is a problem in the countries where it is acting as a genocidal agent. Europe is the best example, where whites are becoming a minority in some of their own capital cities.

    This decline is due in large part to the collapse of organized religion, which in the one sense is a good thing, because it means our enemies are not reproducing themselves and rely completely on indoctrination and recruitment. On the other hand, it is turning the Occident over to immigrants, some of a barbaric character.

    Christians should be working to fix sex amongst our own, not among whites in general, for this would actually aid our enemies. I have an upcoming piece on the birth of a ‘parallel society’ which will address this. Sex under every Traditional religion functions just fine. It is the toxins of Modernity infecting Christianity (in both the Liberal and Fundamentalist sense) that have caused us such demographic ruin.

  13. The belief in the “right” to “love, f$&k, screw” whomever one pleases IS the “highest” belief of Modern Man whether radical leftist or mainstream Christian. This belief held by the super-duper majority completely obliterates the right/left political spectrum. This fundamental belief is the “broken sex.” This belief is desire for radical sexual autonomy. This belief is self-annihilating.

    Clearly, “we” must love the right “thing” or perish absolutely.

  14. Pingback: Contraception, Morality, Conservative Christians and Shame | Winston Scrooge

  15. Pingback: Shame Resulting From Bad Programming and the Compulsion to Defend It | Winston Scrooge

  16. Pingback: Advice to the Next Blogger Stalked by Thordaddy | Winston Scrooge

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