Following Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of the Georgia “heartbeat” bill, Alyssa Milano on Saturday wrote on Twitter: “Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy. JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on.”
While it certainly must not have been her intent, Milano quickly gained some unlikely pro-life allies, including Unplanned actress Ashley Bratcher, who responded, “Thanks for supporting abstinence @Alyssa_Milano, the number one way to prevent unintended pregnancy.”
Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said it well when she wrote, “I’m totally with you, @Alyssa_Milano, on not having sex. But the issue isn’t ‘reproductive rights.’ The issue is reproductive responsibilities & fidelity. No one should have sex until they’re ready to embrace the privilege & responsibility of lifelong commitment & raising a child.”
Meanwhile, Milano’s usual supporters, abortion advocates, were quick to scoff at the “sex strike” suggestion, as if the idea of going without sex seemed too impossible a mission in a world that idolizes hooking up. Milano defended the idea online, writing, “We have the power of choice before pregnancy. I’m going to exercise that choice.”
This unintentional pro-life protest inadvertently revealed a truth pro-lifers already know well: True “choice” does not lie in whether or not to have an abortion, but when and with whom to have sex. It’s an unlikely conclusion for the very actress who recently called for a Hollywood boycott in Georgia because of the state’s pro-life laws. But perhaps it’s not too surprising that she wound up at this point: There’s a major cognitive dissonance in the abortion argument, and after tail-spinning and grasping for truth, she wound up grabbing ahold of just some of it. It’s now our duty as Catholics to help Milano, and others like her, to connect all the dots.
Milano’s “sex strike” acknowledges the scientific reality that sex creates babies and that we can choose to be participants. However, she falls short in advocating for abstinence as some sort of punishment for men. This is not the reason pro-lifers are speaking out to support a “sex strike.” Despite the outrageous stereotype that pro-lifers are anti-sex, the Catholic Church articulates better than anyone the beauty of sexuality. There are many examples, ranging from quotes of great saints to the Catechism, which states: “The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude. Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure.”
The richness of the Church’s teaching on sexuality focuses on abstinence and chastity. While abstinence is simply abstaining from sex, living chastely means integrating the human person with the gift of sexuality in its proper order. As Catholics, we know that sex is good, but it is a gift. We recognize the value and beauty of sex to such a high degree that we dare not tarnish it.
The Church calls us to a higher, more beautiful romance than the one the world offers. The Catechism of the Catholic Church includes St. John Chrysostom’s suggestion that young husbands should say to their wives: “I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us. ... I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.” That is true romance!
The sexual revolution falsely promised fulfillment, but it actually enslaved women and incentivized men to have sex without consequences. However, choosing a life of chastity is a path of true freedom and empowerment for women. It means being free from regret, developing romantic relationships built on respect, learning to harness control over your own body, and being open to the possibility of new life within marriage.
Whether she knows it or not, Alyssa Milano’s “sex strike” is an indication that our culture is hungry for the truth about chastity. Our culture is not satisfied with the cheap and temporary pleasure of casual sex and the burden it places on women. As one powerful woman, St. Teresa of Calcutta, said, “A clean heart is a free heart.” With that inspiration, let us all then be shining examples of the true beauty, joy and freedom that comes with chastity.
Now is the time for a chastity revolution! Pass it on.