Most modern people don’t think highly enough of sex.
That sounds crazy, but let me explain.
One of my regular readers gets regularly mad at me when I make the analogy between adultery and “gay sex”. Her point is that a sexual orientation is something you just can’t help, and it defines who you are, and it has nothing to do with sin. She rejects the Catholic teaching that a homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered and should be resisted with the virtue of chastity.
But, interestingly, when Facebook friend Mark S. Schmittle posted this comment …
Chastity IS sexuality – the proper expression of sexuality, either in marriage, virginity or celibacy. The peace, joy, and love that result from a chaste life had to explained and promoted as the only true alternative to unchastity which brings tragedy, poverty, chaos, mistrust, and the objectification of human beings as things to satisfy our passions
… she replied …
Gosh Mark – you’re kind of right. I never saw it stated like that before – but you’re right.
So it occurred to me that my blog posts are written to an audience that I assume is well grounded in Catholic moral theology. But maybe it’s a good idea to take a step back and try to explain the sort of stuff I’ve been taking for granted for a long time now, since not all of you are as steeped in this as I am, and explain how only the Catholic Church really gives a damn about sex these days.
First of all, though it’s incredible that it needs to be pointed out to people, sex has a purpose. What could that purpose be? Hmmm. I wonder. Gosh, could it be making babies? And also (considering our emotions and our souls) the expression of a total giving of one person to another?
Most moderns today reject the obvious and blatant purpose of sex. Having been infected with a kind of spiritual Ebola that is more contagious than the real Ebola, modern people have adopted the most bizarre of all bizarre religious beliefs, and one that’s based not only on blind faith, but on a faith that’s devoted to blindness – the belief that there is no such thing as function, purpose, meaning or design anywhere in the universe.
So therefore a penis may go into a butt-hole. No big deal. It’s not designed to go anywhere else, is it? The anus is not designed for defecation, and the penis not designed for urination and procreation. No way. We can make use of our bodies in any way we want. We could even eat through our noses if we wanted to, because the nose is not necessarily made to smell. It could inhale and ingest yogurt and cream cheese, if we wanted it to. Stop being so judgmental!
And if you believe in the sacrifice of reason to blind faith, you can swallow the modern denial of purpose and design. But yet once you’ve made that sacrifice, you are unable to see the obvious fact (which is not even a conclusion, but a simple observation) that any use of the sexual organs outside of their design is “disordered”. “Sin” is simply a disorder – seeking a good in the wrong way or in the wrong amount or under the wrong circumstances. “Sin” is what we call the rebellion against the Order that gives us peace.
But maybe these devotees of the Modern Faith of Purposelessness, if they can’t admit to a biological design can admit to a psychological one. In fact, they do. They push it. They might be reluctant to admit that any kind of sex is OK at any time, but they will argue that sex between two (or more) people who “love” one another is fine, if the sex is an expression of love, even if it involves anal intercourse (though they don’t like to use that term, as it’s clearly not the most ideal expression of “love” and it makes even them a bit squeamish).
But here we must celebrate, at last, a common cause. We admit that sex is not just for making babies, but is also for expressing love – it’s just that the only definition of “love” that makes sense is the definition that has grown out of that event that happened on Calvary 2,000 years ago.
Love is sacrifice: it is the complete and total self-giving of one person for the good of the other. It is an act that involves the full engagement of our entire being – heart, mind, body and soul – and every aspect of our intelligence and will.
The most clear manifestation of love in the world is therefore marriage and the family. Celibacy and devotion to God through consecrated virginity and the priesthood or religious life is another expression of love, but that is the exception. The ordinary and most clear manifestation of love is the lifelong commitment of one spouse to another, a living sacrifice that creates a bunch of kids, arguing siblings, Christmas dinners, annoying in-laws.
And even within the miraculous circle of this everyday thing, the family, chastity is the virtue that prevents sex, even within the confines of marriage, from becoming lust.
Lust is the objectification of one person by another, the use of another person as an object. Lust is the opposite of love. We therefore guard against it with the virtue of chastity not because sex is bad but because it’s good – it’s so good that we must keep it from becoming what we know it always tends to become if we let it – a monster that devours, rather than a gift that gives.
Anyway, this is all a part of the “seamless garment”, the unified teaching of Christ that the Church continues to pass on (sometimes in spite of herself, and in spite of the desires of her bishops, popes and cardinals). There’s much more to be said, such as marriage prefiguring the Second Coming of Christ to His bride the Church, as well as admitting that homosexuals can clearly love one another, and love one another deeply, while recognizing that they can’t express that love in a disordered way, by indulging in an act that degrades them if they abrogate it to themselves for a selfish purpose, when it is made for something other and something greater. But I’ve said enough, and I’m certain that every single thing I said will be misunderstood, so I might as well shut up.
Except to say – only the Catholic Church thinks enough of sex to insist that it can only be the expression of full and sacrificial love between a husband and a wife who have given themselves to one another completely and for life, a gift of body and soul, of flesh and spirit, a gift that makes more life, little babies, new people, a gift that lifts us to our highest plane physically on this earth, a gift that gives a foretaste of the ecstasy that the cross entails.
Only the Catholic Church really cares about sex.