The Politics of Fornication


By: Paul Murano – March, 2012

A female Georgetown law student testified before Congress last week claiming that she is going through considerable hardship because her Catholic affiliated university does not offer her free contraception to allow her to fornicate with no natural consequences. In response, Nancy Pelosi commiserated, Rush Limbaugh referred to her as “a prostitute”, several of Rush’s sponsors pulled their advertising from his radio show, Barack Obama jumped on the opportunity to sympathize publicly with her, Limbaugh apologized, Ron Paul called this apology insincere and self-motivated, John McCain weighed in criticizing Limbaugh, and the American people were left uncomfortably wondering why the ethical status of their post-modern sacred cow, premarital sex, was being challenged. Yet this dust-up was inevitable. When contraception is brought up, as it has been in this political season with the HHS mandate, its major offspring fornication will be close behind.

For those not familiar with this term, before politically correct forces created the morally-neutral sociological term “premarital sex,” people referred to it as fornication from the Latin word fornicatio, which is transliterated from the Greek word pornea. Pornea speaks of sexual immorality, including premarital sex, incest, adultery, and prostitution, which in pre-modern societies (untainted by the birth control pill) was understood as a perversion of sexual love.

Throughout history there have been generally three categories of women recognized: married woman, virgin, and concubine or prostitute. A sexual relationship outside of marriage never enjoyed a status recognized as upright, moral, or even neutral.

In fact, the words harlot, whore, concubine and prostitute have been used interchangeably to refer to women that give their bodies to men that are not their husbands. Pharmakeia (from which we get our word pharmacy) referred to drugs or potions intended to either impede or kill unborn offspring and was universally condemned as a grave evil. Today we call it contraception.

The reason many people would find these traditional categories insulting today is because we have been conditioned by the underlying falsehoods that have molded a very unique time in human history – a time when affluence, materialism and relativism have combined in an attempt to redefine human nature and the sexes to create a category referred as “being in a relationship.” In effect the “relationship” culture promotes serial monogamy and cheapens marriage by creating a form of pornea or prostitution by legitimizing sex without permanent commitment – not in exchange for money but in exchange for emotional support and a false sense of security. It has left us with a generation that has known no alternative. This kind of compromise of human dignity is now the norm; and when this young woman proudly proclaimed to congress and the world without a bit of shame or embarrassment that she believes tax payers should subsidize her attempt to impede the natural end of her lifestyle of fornication, she became a fair symbol to be criticized.

Rush Limbaugh was right, even though he should not have singled out an individual to label. It is a culture-wide problem of which she is only a symbol.

This woman’s testimony symbolizes how our culture has managed to separate love from commitment and sex from babies with a contraceptive mentality that degrades love, marriage, one’s future spouse, and women, leading to a culture of death. Most importantly it is a symbol of how far our society has come in our disregard for God, who instituted marriage as an expression of human nature in that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

This gift of self, meant to be a total and unique gift between one man and one woman, has been tragically lost in the cultural psyche of two generations blinded by the lies of the sexual revolution.

When Rick Santorum stated he would use the office of the presidency to enlighten and persuade people of the devastating effects of contraception on the individual, family and society – not legislate, but persuade – the media went crazy and labeled him extreme. However, when a woman stands up in front of Congress without shame and demands that her “right” to fornicate and contracept be paid for by a religious institution that teaches both acts to be the matter of mortal sin, the media applauds and celebrates her as heroic. It’s time to take a sober and unselfish look at what we have become over the past four decades and to where it is leading us.

Paul Murano teaches philosophy at North Shore Community College and theology at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen. He is host of Beneath the Surface television show at Burlington Cable Access TV and is co-host of the Paying Attention Radio program. Paul is also chairman of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help center in Burlington and is a singer/songwriter/musician.