The Abomination of Desolation of the Marital Altar

The Eucharist is a participation in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. But then likewise a true wedding is a participation in the Sacrifice at Golgotha.[1] The bed of marriage is properly an altar, where bride and groom offer their lives in a total sacrifice, joining and thereby engendering a new and larger organism.

When Paul says, “I beseech ye, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” [Romans 12:1], he refers to the whole and perfectly general motion of the Christian toward his Savior and Lord, howsoever expressed: whether in priesthood, or martyry, or marriage – or at Mass.

The rites of the altar – the bed, the table, the throne – are the basis of society: “Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.” And, vice versa: where there is no altar, there is no civilization; no cult, no culture; no culture, no polis.

Beneath and beyond all the arguments from natural law, practicality, common sense, physiology, demographics, public health, epidemiology, Christian ethics, the protection of women and children, and so forth, the most basic argument then against unchastity is that the order of being is such that the altar of the marriage bed simply may not be profaned: “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” [Mark 10:9]. Sure, marriage can be profaned, and sex wounded; but while such profanations are possible, they are not permitted. The very structure of reality forbids them, and will punish them.

Profane the altars of a cult, and the cult is mortally wounded. Such is the Abomination of Desolation. As the ancients all well knew, culture ever supervenes upon some cult. Kill the cult, and you kill the culture – the integrated nexus of propositions about reality that informs all its social action, and provides the ontological basis of its notions of moral propriety. Kill a cult and you kill the understanding of the people, leaving them at loose ends, able to resort only to their own personal intellectual resources, incapable of much wisdom; and so you vitiate the order and prudence of their common life. You doom the polis to chaos and eventual dereliction. Unless there be then some radical cure – such as the revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucids who profaned the Temple – the polis then must surely die.

Unless it be subsumed – taken up, ennobled and transfigured in or by a more expansive cult, as paganism was by Christianity – the death of a cult leads to despair, to literal dys-spirit. When a people learn that reality, and ergo their lives, are not after all enchanted and therefore meaningful as their fathers had praught, they lose their vim. It drains out of them like water. When this happened to American Indians, they would sometimes simply sit down and die. If nothing matters, if the old gods are just dead or illusory, and that’s all there is to it, then why try?

Demographic collapse is the natural and inevitable sequela of the disenchantment of the world. The heterodox are not reproducing. It is the orthodox believers of every faith, for whom all the humdrum business and trouble of life is caught up against all odds in a truly ultimate quest for transcendent glory, who are bearing and raising lots and lots of children.

The most basic case then against feminism, the normalization of homosexuality, adultery, etc. on the one hand, and materialism, naturalism, atheism, etc., on the other, is that they profane the altars where the order of the cosmos is spoken, where we hear the Word of the Logos that binds all things together in Wisdom. Profaning the altar and its rites, they profane the Word therein uttered, and repudiate Wisdom. They first disenchant the world, and then undo the life thereof. Who profanes the altars celebrates a cult of death.

Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo: facta est quasi vidua domina gentium: princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!

Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimae ejus in maxillis ejus: non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris ejus: omnes amici ejus spreverunt eam, et facti sunt inimici.

She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.

Migravit Judah propter afflictionem, et multitudinem servitutis: habitavit inter gentes, nec invenit requiem: omnes persecutores ejus apprehenderunt eam inter angustias.

Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

Viae Sion lugent eo quod non sint qui veniant ad solemnitatem: omnes portae ejus destructae: sacerdotes ejus gementes: virgines ejus squalidae, et ipsa oppressa amaritudine.

The ways of Zion mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.

-          The Lamentations of Jeremiah 1:1-4


[1] As all ordered to the same reality and final cause, so are the sacraments each participations or echoes of each other. Thus initiation to the order of marriage is ipso facto initiation to the order of priests who serve in the domestic temple, baptism is initiation to the priesthood of Melchizedek, and when nuns take their vows they wear wedding gowns. The white wedding gown is the white surplice of the priest, of the angel, and of the martyr; the oil of Extreme Unction is not simply the same as the oil of Chrismation, but they are similar.

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24 thoughts on “The Abomination of Desolation of the Marital Altar

  1. The most basic case then against feminism, the normalization of homosexuality, adultery, etc. on the one hand, and materialism, naturalism, atheism, etc., on the other, is that they profane the altars where the order of the cosmos is spoken, where we hear the Word of the Logos that binds all things together in Wisdom. Profaning the altar and its rites, they profane the Word therein uttered, and repudiate Wisdom. They first disenchant the world, and then undo the life thereof. Who profanes the altars celebrates a cult of death.

    Oh, very nicely said. And sadly accurate.

    Yesterday I was reading something on a feminist news site, and the graphic on the page showed a field of purple flowers over which was superimposed the words “I ♥ My Local Abortion Provider!” I was astonished by that image.

    It’s one thing to imagine that abortion is some kind of unfortunate, grave necessity; a person with such a belief is supporting a great evil but at least will treat the matter with the appropriate level of seriousness. But I-heart-my-abortion-provider? This is treating a matter that one would expect even liberal, pro-choice people to take seriously as if it were a lighthearted, fun, not-too-serious thing, like getting an ice cream cone or something.

    So this phrase you’ve used, “celebrates a cult of death,” really rings true…they don’t just sadly accept the profaning of the altar (in this case, the result of the marriage bed) with abortion, they actually celebrate it: I ♥ My Local Abortion Provider! I ♥ My Feminist Death Cult! I ♥ Moloch!

  2. I am reminded of Hannah Arendt’s phrase, “the banality of evil.” The banality is the Hallmark-card-like character of the slogan with its use of the “cute” (and rather stupid) ideogram; the evil is what the slogan “hearts,” which in the most neutral description is still a bloody mess.

    If liberalism were, as the late Mr. Auster and numerous others have said, a sacrificial cult, then that would hardly be surprising. Liberalism is a revolt against existence. It must, by its own implacable logic, be a revolt against life, since life is a component of existence. Again, liberalism is nihilism; it implies the impulse to annihilate. Liberals “heart” abortion and they “heart” their local abortion-providers because their deepest premise, that existence must be destroyed, requires them to do so.

  3. Liberalism is a revolt against existence.

    And I guess orthodoxy, or whatever it is you are peddling, is a revolt against truth, since the above is pure bs. Don’t you people have enough actual differences with liberalism? Why the need to make stuff up?

    • Kristor:

      Liberalism is a revolt against existence.

      a.morphous:

      And I guess orthodoxy, or whatever it is you are peddling, is a revolt against truth, since the above is pure bs. Don’t you people have enough actual differences with liberalism? Why the need to make stuff up?

      No, I think the statement is accurate, given what I have observed. Just for example, my husband used to subscribe to Scientific American, and I was looking at Michael Shermer’s column (Mr. Shermer is a liberal atheist proselytizer) in which he reviewed the book “An Earth Without People: A new way to examine humanity’s impact on the environment is to consider how the world would fare if all the people disappeared” by Steve Mirsky. Mirsky invites the reader to contemplate all the wonderful ways in which the earth would be vastly improved if humans just suddenly ceased to exist, and Shermer was clearly enthralled, praising the idea of an earth devoid of humans. In other words…”I ♥ the end of human existence!”

      Also, notice the way feminists don’t just gravely accept abortion but rather celebrate and adore it. I ♥ My Local Abortion Provider!

      • Even more generally, “freedom” and “equality,” the defining ideas of liberalism, are themselves totally negative — the former negating the positive duties that order human life, the latter the categories and institutions that prescribe them. Liberalism has no positive vision of man or the universe or anything, just an infinite series of negations slathered over with slogans and soundbites.

        Most liberals probably don’t believe in rebellion against the order of being in the sense of being consciously aware of and endorsing it as a proposition. But so what? Their beliefs obviously and manifestly tend in this direction. And I’m sure the residents of Dachau got small comfort from the surety that many Nazi Party sympathizers started out with no animus against the Jews at all.

      • Liberals believe in the human spirit. Freedom and equality are key politicalvalues; they are negative in the sense that they discourage the state and other powers from interfering with individual’s ability to seek their own happiness and fulfillment. Freedom and equality are not the ends, but the means.

        You, on the other hand, are not willing to seek your own happiness as you see fit while allowing your neighbor the same freedom, but insist on a structure of authority that enforces the same values on everyone. You can’t tolerate difference; you feel a need to interfere in the lives of others.

        Nice work fulfilling Godwin’s Law and bringing in the Nazi analogies in a particularly ridiculous way. The Nazis were the quintessential anti-liberals. They had a positive vision of what social values should be and had no qualms about enforcing them with violence. Which side are you on?

      • Liberals believe in the human spirit. Freedom and equality are key politicalvalues; they are negative in the sense that they discourage the state and other powers from interfering with individual’s ability to seek their own happiness and fulfillment. Freedom and equality are not the ends, but the means.

        Exactly. They are means to the destruction of constraints against the “human spirit,” even the ones imposed by reality and the order of being itself. I am glad we are in agreement on this.

        You, on the other hand, are not willing to seek your own happiness as you see fit while allowing your neighbor the same freedom, …

        Of course not, for reasons I just made clear. This vision of “freedom” you’re peddling is psychotic.

        Nice work fulfilling Godwin’s Law and bringing in the Nazi analogies…

        You have nothing useful to say so you retreat behind Internet tropes and feign offense. As usual. What do you get out of this?

        The Nazis were the quintessential anti-liberals.

        Quintessential? As in, Nazism represents the most perfect form of anti-liberalism? It perfectly embodies opposition to everything liberals say they believe?

        If you think that’s true you not only don’t understand Nazism, you don’t even understand liberalism. Which is rather my point.

      • They are means to the destruction of constraints against the “human spirit,” even the ones imposed by reality and the order of being itself.

        Reality has no problem enforcing its constraints; it doesn’t need the help of an authoritarian state. And liberals, being rationalists, do not have any problems with the constraints of reality. Well, to be more precise, liberalism believes in probing and questioning reality’s constraints. Some are eternal, some of them may turn out not to be constraints after all, or constraints that used to hold but no longer do since the state of human knowledge has advanced a bit in the last few millennia. And there may be new constraints that we were simply not aware of before (such as the capacity of the ecosphere to absorb industrial byproducts).

        As in, Nazism represents the most perfect form of anti-liberalism? It perfectly embodies opposition to everything liberals say they believe?

        Pretty much! Naturally the reality of both is more complicated, but as a first-order of approximation I would agree with that.

      • Freedom and equality are key political values; they are negative in the
        sense that they discourage the state and other powers from interfering
        with individual’s ability to seek their own happiness and fulfilment.

        On the contrary, freedom and equality as liberals understand them
        require the state to interfere with the individual’s ability to seek
        their own happiness and fulfilment. Otherwise, the danger is that the
        individual might take their “freedom and equality” in a way that
        violates liberal norms. It is no accident that the liberal state has
        never been bigger or more interfering.

  4. Quoth the Formless One: “Reality has no problem enforcing its constraints; it doesn’t need the help of an authoritarian state.” In the natural order of things the impulse of a people is to reproduce itself across generations through offspring. The ideological impulse of liberalism is to sacrifice offspring to “freedom,” borrowing against any possible future to pay for its indulgent present. The demographic decline of the West, and the coming old-age loneliness of the childless-by-decision (all those feminism-inspired career-women and their emasculate partners), are the direct results of intervention in the natural order of things by the authoritarian-nihilistic state — the one that attacks procreation in the name of a world without people (Mary’s “Mirsky Scenario”), passing out condoms to high-school kids and promoting hedonism under the label of sex education; that promotes the pseudo-ethos of the atomistic, if-it-feels-good-do-it ego; and that encourages — indeed, makes a sacrament of — abortion and contraception. Here at The Orthosphere we call that reality enforcing its constraints. Any abortion-regime is self-extinguishing sooner or later, once the last anti-procreation, pro-abortion fanatic has, “hearting” her abortion-provider, gone to her grave, leaving no offspring. (In the case of the Formless One — he.) Reality inclines implacably to such a conclusion. I.e., liberalism is a suicide cult.

    Proph writes insightfully that liberals “don’t even understand liberalism.” Indeed.

    PS. Only the state can be “authoritarian,” by which The Formless One means dictatorial and arbitrary, or wanting what it wants. Reality merely is; it solicits much, but it wants nothing.

    PPS. The males of the Comet Hale-Bopp suicide cult — eco-freaks, anti-procreationists, dualists, and Gnostics — were self-emasculates. The only good thing about their denouement along with their women was that, having no children, they murdered none in the event.

    • @T, Bertonneau — I’m sure you are smart enough to spot the fallacy in something like your statement “Any abortion-regime is self-extinguishing sooner or later…”. [I guess I’m not that smart — what’s the fallacy?] Our present “regime” permits abortion, it does not require it. [It encourages abortion and “hearts” it.] I imagine it’s tough to tell the difference from your perspective, seeing as how you find it necessary to put quotes around the word freedom. [I was quoting you.]

      You people [What do you mean by “you people”?] must not have been on the internet very long, or you would know that the surest sign of conversational desperation is when Nazis or abortion are introduced. [Are Nazism and abortion forbidden topics? Liberals mention them all the time. BTW, I’ve been on the Internet since the founding of Anthropoetics in 1996.] I don’t think it was me who went in that direction. [The word “Nazi” has not appeared in any of my comments.]

      [Comments TFB]

      • I explained the fallacy right there; Proph was the one who brought up the Nazis; and all of liberalism is not responsible for one bumper sticker you might have encountered (and in any case you have distorted what it said; apparently it is impossible for you to engage honestly); and if you want to have a serious discussion, feel free to respond seriously.

  5. You people must not have been on the internet very long, or you would know that the surest sign of conversational desperation is when Nazis or abortion are introduced.

    Actually, the surest sign of conversational desperation is when ad hominem attacks are introduced.

    However, in response I will say that the first time I used the internet (such as it was) was in late spring of 1991, when I was just about to graduate from the University of Michigan. So, I stick my tongue out at your “not on the internet very long” self.

    And in further response, let me add that introducing the topic of abortion was entirely relevant to the original post, given that it is a post about profaning the marital altar by celebrating a cult of death, and abortion is a concrete example of this. Interestingly, whenever anyone notes that abortion involves actual death, liberals begin waving their hands about in a nothing-to-see-here frenzy, which is usually, in my experience, followed by some kind of ad hominem attack in order to distract everyone from that gruesome reality.

    • Abortion involves not just death, of course, but murder—premeditated, calculated, cold-blooded murder. The liberals really can’t deal with that reality.

      • Right, because newborns are known for their propensity to kill their caregivers. Humans weighing less than ten pounds often cause fatalities around them.

        I suggest you look up what “justifiable homicide” means, and then decide whether any of those criteria apply to abortion. Pay particular attention to the part about violence.

      • I thought we were talking about abortion, where did “newborns” come from?

        An embryo or fetus is obviously capable of harming the woman carrying it – happens all the time.

        At any rate, it is your side that considers any clump of fertilized cells to be a full-fledged person. By your own logic, size and power have nothing to do with it.

      • You make my argument for me. Thank you!

        If you don’t like “newborn,” change it to “fetuses.” Same thing holds true.

        Sure, pregnancy changes a woman, but you are arguing “harm.” Again, look at the legal definition of justifiable homicide. How do the changes of pregnancy rise to a level that would justify homicide? Please be specific, so we know exactly what level of “harm” qualifies.

  6. Pingback: Why liberalism is anti-existence. | Sunshine Mary

  7. I think we need to be clear here. We are not talking about liberalism as in the original meaning of the word — those who want liberty and inalienable rights. That goes back to Locke, and before him Hobbes and Puritan Theorists, and is a reaction to the monarchial tyranny of the counter reformation kings.

    We are talking about existentialism, where you choose to take a position and accept no constraints, for you see that there are none. Not nature, not society, and certainly not God. That leads to paganism, and paganism to despair.

    Most of this stuff was covered quite well 60 years ago by Lewis in the Abolition of Man and by Schaeffer in “The God who is there” and “He is there and he is not silent”. I am sure that my learned Catholic colleagues will find some encyclical or five as well, again dating back to the middle of last century (if not before).

    There is nothing new in the position the amorphous one is taking. It’s boring. Next.

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