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How Family Limitation Has Become Fashionable

by Michael Steil

For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck.’ Luke 23:29

“[R]elativism … allowing oneself to be carried away with every wind of doctrine, seems to be the only attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and … only leaves the ‘I’ and its whims as the ultimate measure.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, homily at Mass before the conclave that elected him as Pope Benedict XVI. Emphasis added)

When Our Lady said to the three young children at Fatima, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much,” I have always thought that there must be something more being warned about than mere articles of clothing. After all, wouldn’t Mary be warning us of major evils to come should we continue on our way of sin? And as bad as immodest clothing items may be, there were other far worse evils occurring.

According to the New Oxford Dictionary, the number one definition for “fashion” is “a manner or way of doing.” Fr. J. Boquet of Human Life International concurs when he says, “When we read that the Blessed Mother at Fatima condemned ‘certain fashions,’ we are perhaps too apt only to think of certain fashions in women’s dress. And Our Lady very likely did have this in mind. But the word ‘fashion’ is broader, referring not only to our choice of clothing, but also our behavior. 1

Other travesties were occurring at the time of the visitation of Mary at Fatima—or very shortly would occur—that have had a tremendous impact for the worse for humanity. Events were, in fact, happening around the same time that did portend a very grave significance of the message spoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary about the meaning of the word “fashions.”

As Catholics, we recall that Mary appeared at Fatima in 1917 to warn us of the events going on in Russia, that “Russia would spread its errors throughout the world,” and asking for the Consecration of Russia. This coming at a time when nobody was even much concerned at what was going on in a far-off country that didn’t even rate as a significant player in the Great War of WWI and, in fact, was shortly taken over by internal revolts and riots. So timely, in fact, that the communists were in control by October of 1917—where we get the term— “The October Revolution.”

But as early as 1914 in the U.S., the apostate Catholic, Margaret Sanger, was publishing her newsletter, The Woman Rebel, where she said every woman has, “The Right to be lazy/ The Right to be an unmarried mother/ The Right to destroy/ The Right to create/ The Right to love/ The Right to live.” The masthead of every issue had the words, “No Gods and No Masters.” According to author Marvin Olasky, “Such rebelliousness was the common aspect of the The Woman Rebel, and it regularly praised abortion, contrary to claims that Sanger promoted ‘birth control’ and then only much later—abortion.” 2

Fr. Josiah Trenham further points out: “Since the cultural and revolutionary success of the great antichrist, eugenicist, abortion advocate, fanatic, and contraceptor Margaret Sanger, contraception has become all-pervasive in the West.” He further explains:

Modern man thinks no more seriously about using contraception than taking a Tylenol for a headache. Contraception today has become the unquestionable necessity for modern life to continue as it is. Modern western culture is a contraceptive culture. Contraception is so central to contemporary life, that many moderns simply could not maintain their lifestyle without it. The sacrament of modern contraceptive culture is the pill. 3

But there was another very significant reason, for Sanger’s rebellious stand regarding birth control as stated in The Woman Rebel: “Birth control appeals to the advanced radical because it is calculated to undermine the authority of the Christian churches. I look forward to seeing humanity free someday of the tyranny of Christianity no less than Capitalism.” 4

Author George Grant, being an authority on Sanger, further adds to our knowledge of her harmful influence.

By 1922, Margaret Sanger’s fame and fortune were unshakably secure and she had won

several key legal battles. In addition, she had coordinated an international conference

on birth control, and had gone on a very successful round-the-world lecture tour. Her name was quickly becoming a household word, and one of her numerous books had become an instant bestseller in spite of—or perhaps because of—the tremendous controversy it had caused. 5

In 1925, Margaret hosted an International neo-Malthusian and birth control conference at the time Hotel McAlpin in New York. She expressed alarm that, "The government of the United States deliberately encourages and even makes necessary by its laws the breeding—with a breakneck rapidity—of idiots, defectives, diseased, feeble-minded, and criminal classes. Billions of dollars are expended by our state and federal governments and by private charities and philanthropies for the care, the maintenance, and the perpetration of these classes. Year by year their numbers are mounting. Year by year more money is maintain an increasing race of morons which threatens the very foundations of our civilization."

By convening dozens of like-minded “neo-Malthusian pioneer” from around the world, she was hopeful that together they would be able to circle the wagons, to “develop a new evangelistic strategy," and ultimately to reverse the tide of public opinion and public policy—and thus "to keep alive and carry on the torch of neo-Malthusian truth.

For six days representatives from France, England, Norway, Holland, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, India, South Africa, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and China listened as “experts” delivered papers, made speeches, held workshops, and offered dire prophecies.

By the end of the conference, it was apparent to all of them that unless they took “a course of drastic action the world would face certain eminent disaster.” Many had been involved in some sort of subversive sex-activism for quite some time—each of the participants claimed membership in the International Federation of Neo-Malthusian Leagues and most were leaders in the Eugenics Society. A loose federation of “race hygiene societies” “birth control leagues,” “family planning associations,” and “social Eugenics committees” was formalized. The new federation took a self-consciously presuppositional anti-Christian, anti-family, and anti-choice bent from the start. 6

But a funny thing happened on the way to the eugenicists’ version of heaven on earth: World War II. Especially, that the goals of the eugenicists’ needed to be toned down for a time as Hitler and the Nazis looked with favor on all that was happening in the U.S., and even used a number of their ideas for their own program of “The Final Solution.”

At the same time, there was a fashion that became known as the “flappers,” a term that designated many things about the women of the 1920s. Some definitions of the term may have been used to denote teenage girls in Northern England, or it may even have come from an older word that was used in reference to a prostitute. Flappers were known for the skirt being hiked above the knees.

But also, After World War I, the flapper generally represented a lewd and disreputable woman who consistently flouted the conventions of society at the time of the 1920s. Still, despite the fact that a flapper’s conduct was at the time considered less than respectable, it still helped to redefine the role of women in society at large. The image of the flapper was that of a young woman who frequented jazz clubs at night to dance provocatively, smoke cigarettes, and date men indiscriminately. Other activities they indulged in were driving cars, riding bicycles, and defied Prohibition by openly drinking alcohol. These women also were fond of holding petting parties, where making out and forms of foreplay were popular and also the main event. 7

So here again, we see that fashion was emblematic of a general trend, as opposed to just a manner of dress. The stock market crash of October 1929 effectively marked the end of the Roaring Twenties, an era F. Scott Fitzgerald would later call “the most expensive orgy in history.”

Lynn Dumenil, professor emerita of history at Occidental College and author of The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I, says that of the results of the 1920s, “Changes in the family, the movement toward smaller families, birth control, less restraints in private life”—that these changes were "permanent.”

If I was to be so bold as to try to understand what Mary was expressing, I would say that God would be more sorrowful over those permanent changes.

As an explanation of what is happening, Herbert Schlossberg writes: "After biblical faith wanes, a people can maintain habits of thought and of self-restraint. The ethic remains after the faith that bore it departs. But eventually a generation arises that no longer has the habit, and that is when the behavior changes radically. There is no protection against this in statutes or constitutions, which become scraps of paper when people come to despise the law that stands behind them...." The generation now alive has remained true to many vestiges of the biblical faith. These remnants are the smile of the Cheshire cat, remaining for a time after the disappearance of the entity in which it was incarnated. 8

As further related by John O. Anderson: "One view is that, like the Israelites of Hosea's time, we modern Christians have acquiesced to the pagans. The secular humanists made themselves sound intellectually well-grounded to us; we forsook our biblical moorings. Secular humanism was made to sound convincing and logical, and biblical, and biblical Christianity by contrast was painted as obsolete. Humanism became fashionable. The true gospel of Jesus became passé." (Emphasis added) 9

God will not tolerate our nation's sin, and neither will He tolerate our silence towards it. Our silence is nothing more than a visible sign of our lack of compassion for our neighbor. We must be moved to speak the truth and to speak it now. 10

Although this message by Mr. Anderson was meant for the evangelical community, I believe it just as well applies to us Catholics. "[F]or decades only the liberals made themselves seen and heard. Sadly, the liberal church is nothing more than secular humanism dressed up in clerical robes. To the unwary, it may look and sound like Christianity, but underneath it is as empty as the rest of secularism. The liberal church has abdicated its position on true biblical morality to remain chic and acceptable to the world. They haven't withdrawn from moral battle, they simply haven't engaged in it. (Emphasis added) "As a result of this failure by the true church, secular society has followed through by disallowing the Christian voice. Christians have withdrawn from the scene as the secularists have gladly allowed them out." 11

Sr. Lucia warned Cardinal Caffarra that the “final battle” between God and Satan would be the battle over marriage.12

What could be a greater attack on the family than the widespread use of abortifacient birth control, which is now widely accepted as a fashionable form of family limitation, as well as abortion as a “backup” mechanism should the contraceptive fail, as they ALL will do. In addition, through the efforts of the rabid anti-lifers, for the low sum of $39.99, the expectant mother can now obtain at the neighborhood pharmacy a human pesticide giving her a 95 percent chance to deliver an “unwanted” dead baby if taken within a few days of sexual intercourse. The mother can then go and self-abort herself in the convenience of her own home, thereby making her the sole participant in the killing of her unborn offspring as she is the one who is wielding the killing tools, namely—the death chemicals. Although, technically, it is the same chemical used for the birth control pill—only in larger doses.

Collectively, we as a society have decided that children are no longer a special blessing of God to be loved, cherished, and desired, and so our lives are filled with many entertainments (defined as diversions) to take their place. In addition, many people are very content in lavishing all that love and affection denied to children on pets that can never really return the same in a meaningful way—not in this life—and definitely not in the next!

It must have been a shocking and unimaginable statement for the hearers in Jesus’ time to hear Him say: “For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the breasts that have not given suck.’”

And yet, how can anyone deny that those days are now upon us. May God have mercy on us all.


1. Fr. Boquet also poignantly adds: “What would Our Lady think of the current ‘fashion’ of men to squander hours every week lusting over pornographic images that are utterly degrading to women? Or what about the ‘fashion’ of men to use social media apps to ‘swipe’ to find no-commitment ‘hookups,’ or the fashion of men to cohabitate with their girlfriends, with no intention of ever offering them the commitment and stability of marriage?

“Or what about the ‘fashion’ of school administrators and teachers to teach ‘sex-ed’ classes to mixed classes that include the most obscene and graphic details about sexuality, without any reference to marriage or morality? Or what about the ‘fashion’ of our politicians who support and march in public parades that celebrate nudity and graphic obscenity? Or the ‘fashion’ of parents to bring their children to these parades, utterly destroying their innocence?

“Though it may seem hyperbolic to say, it is provably true that our world is being literally torn apart at the seams by what might be termed a crisis of modesty, or ‘sins of the flesh.’ Families are being torn apart by infidelity; women used, abused and abandoned for entertainment; children viewed as ‘inconveniences’ to be prevented with contraception; babies conceived in loveless, commitment-less relationships, and then aborted; children’s innocence stolen by pornography, and confusion about their sexuality sown at the youngest ages.”

2. Marvin Olasky, Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, Crossway Books, 1992, 246

3. Fr. Josiah Trenham, On CONTRACEPTION: According to the Holy Fathers of the Church. The last line about the “sacrament of modern contraceptive culture is the pill,” is poignantly borne out by knowing that so few Catholic priests will even bring it up, that to do that any priest who in any critical fashion will learn the meaning of the adjectives ‘provocative’ and ‘incendiary’ if he were to even broach the subject of birth control. The entire Protestant world contracepts and many Roman Catholics today ignore Humanae Vitae or attempt to argue that the encyclical was not “infallible.”

4. George Grant, Killer Angel: A Biography of Planned Parenthood's Founder Margaret Sanger, 65

5. ibid. 104

6. ibid. 79-81

8. Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, Thomas Nelson, 1983, 296

9. John O. Anderson, Cry of the Innocents: Abortion and the Race Towards Judgment, 1984, 132

10. ibid. 152

11. ibid. 132-33


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