on sex, purity and avoiding harmful extremes

Being “pure” does not require the complete desexualization of the individual.

It is sad that Christianity became warped by the influence of ancient pagan schools of thought that had a contempt for the flesh and anything related to the flesh.  If one reads the New Testament, one does not find an animosity towards the married state nor towards sex within marriage.  This animosity came later and is not authentically Christian.

 

heart in the open

 

 

As to purity, why are many of us clinging to a perverse, ascetic view that comes down to us from monks in the Middle Ages?  A holier than thou attitude permeates their normative, theoretical view of sexuality that is disconnected from reality.  In this medieval view, to be pure requires no taint of sensuality in one’s life.  This is asceticism.  Yet, what does Christ require? If you read the Gospels, you come to the idea that He calls us to live moral, human lives.

To go further with this inquiry and eventually reach our conclusions, we have to address the role of the Catholic Church as it has purveyed these negative views for centuries and still adheres to these today.  Protestant denominations that broke away from the Catholic Church in the 16th century inherited this rather negative view of sexuality.

note to readers

We are not attacking the Catholic faith which attracts so many converts today in the world and is a beautiful thing.  Neither are we attacking the institutional Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church does much good in the world and we would like to see it become a more effective force for good in the modern world.  We think the Church’s credibility would be enhanced if it were to correct what many see as errors.

The Catholic Church controls its members by controlling their sexuality.  The religious (priests, brothers, and sisters (nuns)) are required to be celibate. The Church controls the religious through the mandatory celibacy.  The married laity is to always order its sexuality to procreation without exception (albeit the wife is only fertile and able to conceive on 2 or 3 days out of each month). The married laity is controlled by controlling their sexuality including extreme limitations on the range of expression of their sexual love for their spouse.  (By the way, priests were officially forbidden to marry in 1141 at the Second Lateran Council. Married men were forbidden to become priests at the Council of Trent 4 centuries later.  Men were marrying in secret and then becoming priests.  After Trent, that was no longer possible.)

Celibacy is an unnatural state.  Think about that.  The monogamous pairing of men and women predates the revealed Abrahamic religions and is biologically based.  Marriage between a man and a woman is the natural state.  When Catholic apologists talk up celibacy, are they not also implying that the married state is somehow less desirable, less good?  Sadly, the thinking of Scholastic Times (the 11th through the 13th centuries) won out.  Monks (ascetics) from the Middle Ages set the tone and we must not question their skewed view of human sexuality.

When it comes to female sexuality, the Catholic Church stumbles and exposes its ignorance.  The mystery of female sexuality is mentioned in some of its writings.  Yet, there really is no mystery here.  Sex hormones travel in the bloodstream of women as these do in men.  The hormones are some of the most powerful mind altering bio-chemicals known.  Women have a sex drive as do men.  There is no need for mystification.

Then there is the “objectification of women” canard used against husbands that want to make love with their wives often and perhaps do not want several children.  But, we may rightly ask, is that even possible in a loving marriage? Are wives objectified through frequent sex with their husbands?  Does the Church ever consider the experiences of married persons when it makes these pronouncements (assertions)?  Is the only value of the wife in married sex her ability to conceive a child?  Is that not an objectification of women in a sense? (We are not being anti-child here.)  Husbands may find this objectification nonsense deeply offensive and with good cause.

The bogey is the sex drive of men.  That damnable sex drive of men.

Frequent sex within marriage without procreation will lead to the spouses becoming selfish.  Yes, that assertion is heard on Catholic Radio programs not infrequently.  By the age people marry in industrial societies, their characters are largely formed. An individual with a giving nature is not likely to become selfish through frequent lovemaking with their spouse.

Back to purity.  Sexual desire and sexual arousal are not lust.  Lust involves covetousness and can lead one to sin.  Taken to a perverse extreme, a single sexual thought may well damn one to eternal fire.  Beware “impure” thoughts.

Sex within marriage is only good when it is in the service of procreation (human reproduction).  The Church’s position is that marriage is “primarily” for the procreation and rearing of children.  (Read its pronouncements.)  A sexual morality that is based exclusively on the protection of procreation soon devolves into a form over substance argument.  All sex must be ordered to procreation even when conception is not possible (i.e. on the infertile days of the month).  The form of sex that must always be adhered to is coitus.  The substance is that on the infertile days it makes no difference whether the couple engages in coitus (intercourse) or oral sex.  No conceptions can occur. The Church then responds that if sex is not ordered to procreation in all instances the Church has no argument against homosexuality.  If the Catholic Church cannot think of another argument against homosexuality that does not mean that there are no other arguments that can be made!  The Church is not all-knowing.  On this blog, we previously addressed the purpose of sexual morality.  (This post is still on the home page and you can scroll down to it.) Marriage, and by extension, families are protected by a proper sexual morality.

A revolutionary thought is that sex within marriage may just be for intimacy and for love between the spouses.  However, the unitive aspect of sex within marriage is always trumped by the procreative aspect in Church teachings.

Yes, there are boundaries in married sexuality, but these are not so narrow as the Church would have us believe.  We reject the restriction of the range of expression of the sexual love of the spouses to coitus.  We believe that God allows married persons much freedom in the marriage bed.

We need a moral view, a sexual morality, that takes note of and appreciates the collective real world experience of married persons and is rational rather than hysterical about sexuality.  (Nietzsche in his Genealogy of Morals, remarks that the church men have a horror of the senses.  He is correct.  It is not right to make a false god out of sense gratification as the hedonist does. But, going to the opposite extreme does harm to married persons.)

Is the antidote to the destructive extremes of the pagan, hedonist “sexual revolution” of the 1960s adherence to the other extreme of sexual pessimism and hatred of pleasure for sex within marriage?

The Church authorities at times may have been seduced by the pleasure of power.  Is it heresy or apostasy to see abuses of authority in the Church, an institution run by frail, fallible men?

The commandments call men (and women) to freedom from their self-destructive tendencies.  This needs to be kept in mind. We do not need additional prohibitions for the sake of prohibitions.

I would assert that the Catholic Church’s sexual pessimism (people cannot be trusted with sex, no one can really handle sex thus their sex life must be micro managed with many rules/prohibitions), and hatred of pleasure are really only props or justifications for its centuries old power and control trip over married sexuality.

Will the Catholic Church let go of some of its animosity towards sex within marriage?  Sadly, it does not appear likely to do so anytime soon.  Priesthoods are loath to admit error in any organized religion, and are also not willing to give up any power and control they exercise.  Recent apologetics for the Church’s long-held positions attempt to put a positive spin on what is a negative view of sexual love within marriage.  Can you find a single instance where an official Church document uses the term “lovemaking”?  I do not believe so, as I have not come across a single instance.

closing remarks

We need to stop thinking of purity as requiring the exclusion of sex and sexual pleasure from one’s life.

We need a sexual morality that does justice to the dignity of married persons.

Christian marriage bloggers and authors are filling an important need and are helping married couples to a better, and healthier sexual intimacy.  (However, some discernment is still needed by their readers.  Not all of these bloggers are upholding Christian values.  There are a couple of “Christian” marriage blogs that we know of that we would not recommend.)

Our advice to husbands and wives is make yourself sexually available to your spouse.  This is part of your marriage vows to love one another.  A good sexual relationship with your spouse is not the only important ingredient in a happy, successful marriage, but it is a very important factor that ought not be neglected.  Reject any ideas, teachings, etc. that tell you that sexual love within marriage is somehow tainted or looked down upon by God or that sex is only for procreation.

Readers may disagree with us, but be assured that we mean what we say.  We arrived at our conclusions only after many years of study, thought and reflection.  There is hope for the future.  We see many indications that more Christians (including Catholics) are seeking a healthier, more rational and more mature understanding and appreciation of married sexuality.

copyright 2016 – larrysmusings.com

2 thoughts on “on sex, purity and avoiding harmful extremes

  1. Thank you so much for your post. It is very well-written and thought-out. I think the holier-than-thou attitude of the ascetics and priests is such a guilt-inducing tactic for those of us who are livlng out the purpose that God called each and every human being to do: marry, have sex, and have children.
    You are right that this is the natural state of life, and it is the logical position.
    Thus, real purity is not forgoing sex in some “Godly” maneuver, but in ordering our sexuality properly within the confines of a healthy, loving, child-bearing marriage.
    I am saddened to think about those poor young men and women who think that giving up an opportunity to become parents – our highest calling in life – is somehow what God wants….it just goes to show you the irrational parts of any organized religion.

    • Thanks for your comment. The main purpose of sexual love in marriage is to bind the spouses together. Yes, there is a procreative purpose to sex and that is important. But, that is not the only purpose of sex within marriage.

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