In Northumberland County, much ink has been spilled and a plethora of words debated, questioned and deliberated over the fate of a Catholic school teacher who, unmarried, is now pregnant. This apparently was a violation of the morality clause in her teacher’s contract and she was dismissed.
Given the subject is a private Catholic school, certain words were infamously missing: Sixth Commandment, fornication and least of all, shame.
“Have you no shame?” entered the America phrase-book during the Army-McCarthy hearings during the 1950s, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy maintained Communists had infiltrated the federal government. Leftists continue to ride the “McCarthyism” horse accusing Christians and social conservatives of rivaling McCarthy when challenging leftist propaganda head-on.
In today’s America, downplaying traditional Christianity is in vogue, while shame is as outdated as a rotary telephone. Like it or not, we all identify with the feeling of shame, of guilt, when our consciences accuse us of wrongdoing once commonly referred to as sin. But sin is too harsh a word, too antiquated, too guilt-ridden. Contemporary society has diminished the sense of guilt and of shame. Time and secular society has dulled the human conscience to a spoon.
Once upon a time in America, it was actually shameful to declare for welfare. It was shameful to be divorced. It was also understood that people married before having children. It was shameful to be unmarried with children. It was shameful to raise a child without a father. It was shameful not to support one’s children. People knew they were wrong for having sex outside of marriage, once commonly called fornication — another one of those antiquated words with sting that has been nearly exiled from the American lexicon.
Shame has been replaced by narcissism and the celebration of self, and it’s on display every day from the national media to social media. Today, most unmarried, pregnant women have no sense of shame, with many believing they are entitled.
Shame as a social mechanism no longer holds court, so much so that when a pregnant single mom in a parochial school wasn’t allowed to walk in her high school graduation, even some social conservatives balked. A story in the May 20, 2017, edition of the New York Times, “Hailed by Abortion Foes and Punished by Christian School,” has a proverbial ring.
The school’s crime?
Prohibiting a pregnant and unmarried student to walk in her graduation ceremony.
The culture of silence and looking the other way regarding church teaching and tradition on moral issues has permitted huge lapses in faith to fester for decades.
The Sixth Commandment?
Shame and guilt applied judiciously are virtuous and serve as an internal warning system as they protect and uphold human dignity. There will always be a huge disparity between moral teaching and immoral practice, and the two cannot be paralleled.
Why would any school board member go public in order to shame their alma mater for finally taking a much needed stand for the church’s magisterium and morality?
Normalizing illegitimacy encourages more illegitimacy.
In a saner time, you would have never publicized the situation. There was once a healthy and natural sense of shame that included a clear understanding of discretion that would minimize any scandal that may arise.
The church and the education it offers is not to be conformed to the world, but, rather, transform it. This seems to be lost on many.
With such a lack of humility or shame on the national scene — in politics, sports and elsewhere — is it any wonder that folks question the immorality of fornication? The root of their problem is spiritual: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
St. Peter, the first pope taught: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13). Yet, when Peter was ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, he and the apostles responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
There was a time when shame held influence in public and private life, when exposed offenders resigned, hung their heads, or at least, pretended to be mortified.
Violating one’s teachers contract comes with both intended and unintended consequences. Such indiscretions of immorality run counter to church teachings’ and must be applied to all who agree to its constraints, no matter what their gender.
Taking back the culture must start somewhere.
It’s the only way.
(Maresca, a local freelance writer, composes “Talking Points” for each Sunday edition.)