Friday, February 24, 2012

The Church's Unloving View of Sex

rom contraception to abortion, from ‘dirty’ thoughts to masturbation, from heterosexual to homosexual sex, from natural insemination to artificially induced pregnancy, and from unmarried cohabitation to marital sex, our Church leadership is obsessed with SEX, and its utterances on the subject are mostly negative and/or exclusive to marital sex.
Curiously, Jesus never talked about sex per se. In fact, the closest he got were references to adultery. Maybe that should tell us something.
It wasn’t until after Jesus died and after the gospels were written that Church leaders began to focus on sex. Since then, centuries of teaching on sex have been based on its appreciation by the early church ‘Fathers,’ especially Augustine. Their teaching derived from the world view of the time, a philosophy that looked at the universe as composed of good and evil. Good was identified with spirit, evil with matter. Sex, having to do with matter, fell into the world of evil. Over the centuries this association of sex with evil evolved to a point where every ‘dirty’ thought, word or action outside of marriage was considered mortally evil and worthy of eternal damnation.
That kind of teaching scared the hell out of many an adolescent, and made their natural probing and experimentations furtive and guilt-filled. The number of teens afflicted with psychological problems because of this repression is probably beyond calculation.

Calls are mounting in our time for a re-evaluation of sexual morality. Sex is good, a choice of the Creator. It builds intimacy and strengthens committed relationships. It fosters longevity and stability in those relationships. It is a servant of what the gospels are all about--love. Is it evil when it is in that service, whether among married or not, whether among straight or gay, whether used for the purpose of procreation from stored semen or ova?          
The argument that men and women should be held hostage to the strictly biological while not recognizing the intellectual, psychological and relational dimensions of sex is short-sighted on the face of it.

A word on obedience, much touted by bishops as high on the list of virtues: There exists a delicate balance between love and obedience. Blind obedience is not a virtue. (Militarily, it is a tactic.) When blind obedience is demanded of adults, history reveals that it has too often been a substitute for competence on the part of the demanding authorities.