Theology of the body expert Dr. Deborah Savage explained “Humanae Vitae” and the resounding effects of the sexual revolution in an academic lecture in the Gentile Gallery on Oct. 12.
A renowned scholar of philosophical anthropology from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, Savage presented her theory of rethinking the encyclical letter of Pope Paul II in a humorous and thoughtful exposition.
Savage began by calling attention to the 50th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae” this past summer. In light of the half-century milestone, she addressed the mistakes resulting in the “cosmic and tragic drama” that Pope Paul prophesied in 1968.
Savage also explained the theory of complementarity, which states the inseparability of the marital dimension of man and woman. In the words of freshman John Paul Anthony, the listeners “found the presentation to be thought-provoking and insightful.”
Savage used the anecdote of her own firsthand experience with the cultural transformation in the 1970s, “a new kind of slavery” now known as the sexual revolution.
The horrible consequences of this “free love” movement included unwanted pregnancies, abuse, despair and desperation, said Savage, who witnessed many of the women around her give into the sexual advances of young men in her college years, unsure of why to refuse.
This widespread ignorance, Savage determined, is the result of a separation of sexual intimacy from the goal of procreation and the sacramental value of marriage. This contraceptive mentality causes men to feel justified in demanding sexual satisfaction from women, who can no longer find a reason to refuse. The lack of a loving, committed relationship in this short-lived intimacy naturally leads to confusion about relationships in general, explained Savage.
Savage pointed out that, until recently, a woman’s refusal was an instinctive act of self-preservation. It provoked men to question and challenge their impulses, a sign of true maturity and adulthood. However, the sexual revolution and the lack of that vital “no” has resulted in “generations of bitter woman and juvenile men.”
Savage also related the cost of “free love” to the consequences of the original sin. She showed how man and woman have the same guilt but different punishments. Savage stressed the significant role of a woman in procreation, concluding her talk by emphasizing that “human activity should be ordered toward human flourishing.”
“It was very educating,” said freshman Amelia Slemp. “I especially liked that she didn’t just focus on how women were hurt by this; she also focused on the men and how men aren’t the bad guys.”
The next talk in the Friday Academic Lecture Series is “Current Issues in Biblical Archaeology.” It will be held on Friday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. in the Gentile Gallery.