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  • Sex Denied

    by Pete Jermann

    contraception and rosary

    The standard Catholic critique of gay sexuality has failed to persuade.  This is due to an insistence on the part of many ecclesiastical authorities to focus narrowly on homosexuality alone rather than present the comprehensive understanding of human sexuality found in official Church teaching. We see the failed results of their approach in Catholics who do not truly understand why gays should be singled out. They either outright disagree with Church teachings or support them only tepidly. We also see this failure in Catholic youth who overwhelming support gay marriage. There truly is no reason to single out gays because those who label themselves gay are no different from those who consider themselves straight.  We are the same people ignoring the same calling.  We arrived at this state by thinking Church teachings on sexuality were divisible, that we could neglect the parts that didn’t work for us and retain those we could hold against others.

    But, I think a close consideration of sexuality will show the teachings of the Church to be seamless and indivisible. If we attack homosexual practices as disordered while ignoring non-marital and contracepted sex we validate those who call us bigots.  What is disordered and unnatural is the same to all. In each case that which is natural is rendered unnatural.  All of these cases render sex sexless, in some way denying the inherent creativity that is the very purpose of sex.  This denial is a denial of our own creation as male and female and its replacement with a man of our own making, a man unsexed and incomplete, self-crippled as both creator and lover.

    Sex that is not sex recognizes no boundaries between gays and heterosexuals. Sodomy is not an act of love. Whether it happens between two men or a man and a woman, sodomy is inherently septic and puts both parties at risk. Fornication is not an act of love. Sex outside of a lifelong, committed marriage denies its life-creating significance, discounting the very life it may create. Contracepted sex is not an act of love. A contracepted marital act denies the full humanity of its participants, divorcing them from the very nature of their male and female selves. Though seemingly disparate sexual activities, sodomy, fornication and contraception are all unnatural or disordered. The moral import of all is the same, an act of love desecrated. The tragedy of all is the same, men and women broken loose from natural moorings defining who they are. The heartache of all is the same, a love that is incomplete.

    I see beauty in Church teachings on human sexuality, but I see something broken in the eerie silence emanating from ecclesiastical authorities, both clerical and lay, on contraception and sexuality. A church that cannot teach the beauty of a sexuality realized in the Trinitarian unity of mother, father and child has nothing to say to the gay community. But, I know that isn’t true. I know the Church has much to say, but it has lost its voice because those who speak don’t see the beauty. This is sad, because if they could see it they could not be silent. Those who won’t speak are joined by the majority of American Catholics who neither see it nor live it. This also is sad, because if they could see it, they would want to live it.

    However, it is the nature of mankind to poke itself in one eye to ensure that it sees only what it wants to see with the other. Such is the case for the overwhelming majority of Catholics in the United States, in both pulpit and pew, who view the Church teaching on sexuality through the one eye that sees rules, rules, rules while the eye that sees love remains scarred and darkened.  To see the love that challenges the homosexual and offers him more is to see the same love that challenges non-marital and contracepted heterosexual sex. The life-changing love we show the gay population is the same love that will change our lives. Bishops, priests and laity cannot simultaneously speak to gay marriage and remain silent about heterosexual relationships that are not truly marriage either, not because they don’t involve love, but because that love is incomplete, and it is the completion of all love that is the Church’s central purpose.

    Contraception is the divide that redefines sexuality and love and separates the two. We cannot see the lie of homosexuality without seeing the lie of contraception, because it is the same lie. Only a man and woman can come together as “one flesh,” where they truly become a single biological entity for the purpose of creating new life. But this only remains true when the marital act is not impeded artificially. Contraception destroys the uniqueness of the marital act and changes its very nature from an act of creation to one of pleasure, power, or some other basic desire. Contraception nullifies marriage because it breaks the bond that unites two unique people into one. Only in that oneness does the concept of marriage even make sense. Once that bond is broken we no longer act as male and female but as persons of no sexual identity where one pairing of sexes makes no more sense than another.  The couplings we incur are no more sex than casting seeds on the Walmart parking lot is horticulture. Though we may still love we have shed our innate ability to love completely as one who is either male or female. Contracepted sex is not an act of love because love always gives completely and always fulfills the other. Contraception diminishes love because it truncates the humanity of its participants. It declares man and woman something undefinable, something other than what they are. Contraception renders the terms homosexual and heterosexual indistinguishable because it renders the act of sex nonsexual. This is how we become bigots for opposing gay marriage. This happens not because gay marriage is right, but because when we abandoned Church teachings on contraception, we abandoned true marriage. Why should we object to gay aspirations simply because those wishing to join the club are attracted to the same sex?

    But to who is this bigotry directed? From a worldly perspective, it is gays we persecute. From the upside down world of Jesus where death is victory and truth is light, both the homosexual and the heterosexual, blinded and groping in darkness, have been persecuted through neglect. A gay person can excuse him or herself for missing a message inadequately taught to those whose lives are considered more mainstream. Rather than light the darkness that now covers human sexuality, many Catholics, both high and low, clerical and lay, have either accepted blindness or judged those blind as unable to bear the light the Church shines. Like lemmings those blinded seem happy running toward the cliff of divorce, abortion, child abuse and broken families. As humans they will take insult at the very idea that they do not see the cliff. Why should anyone think it right to disturb this complacency and needlessly upset the rush to oblivion, particularly when the cost is to be called a fool by those who don’t want to see? But to not speak is to not love. In remaining quiet we miss the entire meaning of Jesus, who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). We miss the love of one labeled a fool and crucified. We no longer see the Church as Christ embodied, called to share His love and endure His persecution. When Christ claimed he came to fulfill the law, it was not a cracking whip he offered but more, more love, more life and more joy. Only when we see that more will we see the love behind the law.

    To see that more is to see the beauty in Church teachings on contraception and human sexuality. It is to see that they are not a reduction of the human experience but a path to its fulfillment. A man can only fully love a woman if he loves her as a woman, a person born for creation. To deny that nature is to neuter a woman, to love her as something she isn’t. A woman can only fully love a man if she loves him as a man, a person also born for creation. To deny that nature is to neuter a man, to love him as something he isn’t. Only as a potential mother and potential father do the terms man and woman, male and female, mean anything at all. Creation is inherent in the love of a man and a woman. In denying the creation we deny not only the love but the full humanity of both man and woman made in God’s image.

    When we deny the creative nature of man and woman we recreate man as a figment of our imagination. No longer are we an image of God (“male and female he created them” [Genesis 1:27]) but an image of our own making. We will build this image on fantasies bounded only by the reach of our desires. We will love men as women and women as men and in any and every combination our minds may compose, because to be a man or woman has no meaning whatever. No longer will a man be a man if he thinks otherwise. No longer will a woman be woman if she thinks it inconvenient. The person we think we love will be a vapor in our mind rather than the reality before us. In seeing men and women as interchangeable, we will fail to see them at all. Fantasy will romance fantasy. As those fantasies fade so will our relationships.

    When we truncate our humanity we will truncate that of our children also. Rather than bonded by blood to mother and father, children will become interchangeable parts in our quest for whatever we pursue in a world full of people denied their humanity. Children will no longer be persons in their own right but will be fetuses to be disposed of or pegs we use to fill holes in our lives. They will not have unique needs but will be there to fulfill our needs as we uproot them and transplant them at our convenience from one family to another or simply leave them behind altogether. When we recreate man in our imagination we will render our lives and our love incomplete, chasing one mirage after another. Contraception is not the liberation of human sexuality but its denial. Beyond it is endless anarchy and meaninglessness.

    If ever we needed a white knight charging on a white horse restoring love and romance to its proper throne that time is now. Yet the knight we need sits in armor rusted with a horse uncombed and underfed. The white knight has grown timid and weak, half believing the dark knight’s rumors that it is she who is the villain stealing joy and bringing darkness to all. Now is the time for the Catholic Church to burnish her armor and groom her steed. Refurbished and remounted she can still bring us tales of love and romance. She can teach us about men who love their wives and women who love their husbands from the first stirrings of adolescence, long before they ever meet. She can teach us about men and women who love completely, withholding nothing from each other. And from that love freely given will be children born into the love of a man and woman who love each other and gift themselves (not as two individuals–but as a “we”) to their children for life. As witnesses of that love these children will not only know the love of a mother and father but, also, the love of husband and wife. In teaching us the completeness of marital love the Church will help us see the beauty of the Trinitarian love that is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Those we label gay and those they love can be forgiven for also wanting the false happiness of a heterosexual world run amok. They can be forgiven for seeing no reason why they should not partake of its perceived pleasures. They can be forgiven for seeing us as bigots, because many of us, seeing gay people as different, erected stop signs for them where we placed none in our own path. We could not see that most of us are no different, that we had fallen for the same lies, that what they truly needed we needed also.  Both the beauty and love in human sexuality lie in its inherent creativity.  We cannot divorce ourselves from that creativity and not change ourselves. Our bishops and our priests need to see that beauty and to call all to it.  The laity needs to see that beauty and make it a part of their lives. Not only at stake is our ability to see ourselves made in the image of God; but, most importantly, our ability to see God Himself dwelling in us.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Pete, one of the best articles I have ever read on the Theology of the Body. A few points, though.

      #1 When you say, “Our bishops and our priests need to see that beauty and to call all to it,” please add “deacons” to the list. There are 12,000 deacons in the US, most of whom have privileges to preach and many head up their parishes’ RCIA and do marriage prep. I have had occasion to preach on contraception in the context of marriage and the call to sexual abstinence outside marriage – whether in a homosexual or heterosexual relationship. Besides being a deacon, I am also a licensed professional counselor and integrate Church teaching into my practice with individuals or couples.
      #2 If there are any bishops who read Crisis (or those closely-connected to the bishop in an official capacity), I would challenge you all to re-print this article for your diocesan website or newspaper. It lays out Church teaching in a compassionate and accurate manner. Are you up for my challenge?
      #3 There is one thing you omit, Pete, from your article and it is this: those who use in vitro fertilization in order to come by a child, also violate the very fundamental principles you lay out here. I once had a Catholic woman in RCIA class who was attending with her 60+ husband who was entering the Church. When it came to my talk about the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality – the unitive and procreative being essentially linked – she asked about in vitro fertilization which her daughter had used to conceive. Although she was not at all happy with this idea of the natural order and God’s plan, she (and all others coming into the Church) were able to see that the Church’s teaching is comprehensive and consistent whether it pertained to contraception – sex without conception or in vitro fertilization – conception without sex. The Church views both as integral to the marital act. Sex for the Church is very important and we need to get it right.

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        Yes, I see deacons playing a critical role.

        I think many celibate priests and bishops feel very uncomfortable addressing marital topics, such as contraception. It isn’t their vocation. Plus, they know they are going to get an earful of “you celibate men don’t know what you’re talking about” from somebody. Most would rather talk about some less-controversial part of the faith.

        On the other hand, lay couples, while well intentioned, often don’t have the theological or pastoral training to accurately present Church teaching and to present it in a way where couples will see it as something positive and realistic.

        Deacons have both the training and the marital experience to present the teaching properly and with credibility as one who has “been there and done that”.

        • Carl

          The “been there and done that” school of training/philosophy is bogus. For example, I wasn’t brought up in a single parent home in poverty to know that this is the single most common cause for poverty! And that this phenomenon is almost entirely a fruit of the sexual revolution—so much for no harm done.

          I never played professional sports, does this mean I no valid points or advice to make? Some of the greatest sports managers never played to game.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            Of course not. The validity of advice does not depend on the adviser.

            But people are more likely to pay attention to your advice if you have experience. Experience does not make one right, but it adds credibility.

            Guy on the internet talking about sports: Who cares? Former pro athlete: Maybe he’s someone I should listen to.

            White guy from the suburbs talking about poverty: Who cares? Someone who grew up poor talking about it: Maybe he’s someone I should listen to.

        • musicacre

          Should those same priests and bishops never talk about the majority of sins, because they have not personally committed them? How ludicrous is this? It IS their vocation to talk about these things, particularly the sin of contraception which was the watershed event for dissent to Catholic teaching in the 20th century. This planned watershed event is explained in detail in Anne Roche-Muggeridge’s book Desolate City. I highly recommend it. My husband had the privilege once, to meet a very humble bishop while at a Billings conference in Australia, who was from Africa. (Actually he was an Arch-Bishop) He actually had lunch with my husband instead of sitting at any head tables. He was there to learn the “method” (NFP) so he could personally teach when he got back home to Ghana. He is now a Cardinal. Was he wrong?

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            C.S. Lewis once wrote about why he did not address certain sins in his writings:

            “Ever since I served as an infantryman in the first world war I have had a great dislike of people who, themselves in ease and safety, issue exhortations to men in the front line. As a result I have a reluctance to say much about temptations to which I myself am not exposed. No man, I suppose, is tempted to every sin. It so happens that the impulse which makes men gamble has been left out of my make-up; and, no doubt, I pay for this by lacking some good impulse of which it is the excess or perversion. I therefore did not feel myself qualified to give advice about permissable and impermissable gambling: if there is any permissable, for I do not claim to know even that. I have also said nothing about birth-control. I am not a woman nor even a married man (Note: Lewis married later in life), nor am I a priest. I did not think it my place to take a firm line about pains, dangers and expenses from which I am protected; having no pastoral office which obliged me to do so.”

            Priests and bishops, of course, DO have a duty to present the faith, however, many are uncomfortable with the issue for the same reasons as Lewis. Likewise, many people have a great dislike of unmarried men talking about birth control for the same reasons that Lewis had a great dislike of men at ease issuing exhortations to the front line.

            My point is simply that deacons are in a much better position to preach about marriage than priests or bishops.

            • musicacre

              He was Protestant; and while his belief system was amazingly close to Catholic, he did not see the crises of contraception looming; G.K. Chesterton did.

    • Jojo

      Wow. Yes. Excellent. Just what I have been saying in my humble little home to those few souls God entrusted to me. Thank you for expressing so well, “connecting the dots”, how we got to where we are. We need to restore what it means to be fully, truly human, male and female, only found in the treasure of Catholic understanding. If only bishops, priests, and lay leaders knew it and enthusiastically expounded on it!

    • Objectivetruth

      Excellent article. I like the line “Contraception is not the liberation of human sexuality but its denial.” There is a better way than contraception. We all wish we can find how God speaks to us. Is there a clearer way than in the sexual act? Take a look at a woman’s cycle, would you or I have configured fertility that way? By surrendering to the mystery of God’s plan in the sexual act performed selflessly and naturally, we can “hear” God more clearly, perceive the wonder of the Trinity, and live in peace in knowing we dwell in His Prescence.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      In her 1972 paper, “Contraception and Chastity,” Miss Anscombe expressed this very forcefully:

      “If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here – not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can’t be the mere pattern of bodily behaviour in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all. The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices die hard. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that they are good too. You cannot point to the known fact that Christianity drew people out of the pagan world, always saying no to these things. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition.”

      • Ford Oxaal

        It is certain that Miss Anscombe did not “beat around the bush”. (We want to know more about her in general. You were there. How about penning a first hand account for Crisis regarding this extraordinary Catholic mind?)

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          I shall leave that to a real philosopher!

          • Ford Oxaal

            Harumph. I want first hand vignettes.

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        Quite true, and, for the most part, both sides acknowledge this.

      • Midge

        But of course it is the “mere pattern of bodily behaviour” that makes all the difference. How do you think the AIDS virus managed to spread so quickly? Anal intercourse is brutal and the human body was not made for it; it has to be violently imposed which causes tissue tears that are entry points for disease.

        When religious people won’t use clear, simple, indisputable human biology to make the case, well, what can you say? Theres something wrong with them and thus they lose credibility.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Surely the moral evil of unnatural intercourse in all its forms is that it frustrates the natural finality, which is reproduction.

          • Midge

            The moral evil of erotic asphyxiation and anal sex is that they frustrate reproduction? Is that really Catholic doctrine?

    • reets46

      Beautiful article. Thank you Mr. Jermann. I will copy it and send it to my former Pastor who refused to talk to my husband and I about contraception on three different occasions after 30 years as members of his parish. We found a priest who did listen and then gave the most beautiful homily on abortion and contraception. He asked why we are putting our teenagers on BC instead of calling them to live chastely. We’ve been waiting 35 years to hear such a homily.
      As repentant hippies my husband and I returned to the church about 35 years ago after almost losing our marriage to the sexual revolution. We had come to edge of the abyss when I prayed a Rosary, not knowing if anyone was listening, and told my husband I wanted to give our marriage one more shot and also wanted to go to Mass. He looked at me and told me if there was a God, our whole life would change. I told him not to get too cosmic on me. He was right…
      Soon after our return to the church, we were exposed to Humanae Vitae and our eyes were opened. However, it took many years before I realized how much damage BC was having on the culture at large. I was very pro-life, but it also took me many years to see the bond between BC and abortion as abortion was legalized as the logical back up to failed contraception. It took me many years to see what devastation BC was having on teenagers and to understand the link between our BC and the normalization of homosexual behavior. I realized with astonishment that contraception was at the core of all of these problems. Sometimes I thought I was being too simplistic. This article confirms that I was not.
      It’s all connected and it won’t change until our Bishops and priests understand that connection and begin to protect the sheep from the wolves by fearlessly promoting the full and beautiful Catholic teachings on human sexuality. Until then our children will be lost to the culture of death and our churches will continue to empty.
      When I was a teenager, the sisters used to have a saying, “Modesty is the guardian of chastity.” Our children have asked for bread and we’ve given them a stone…

    • NormChouinard

      “Insistence on the part of many ecclesiastical authorities to focus narrowly on homosexuality”. While I agree with the author’s central thesis, I am not willing to overlook this accusation. I believe it is largely unfounded and am concerned with any unfounded comments on the hierarchy.

      • Augustus

        If anything, Mr. Jermann is giving them too much credit. Not only do bishops and priests not talk about contraception, invitro fertilization, etc., they preach even less about homosexuality so as not to offend fellow clergy and their allies among the cultural elite.

    • AcceptingReality

      Beautifully reasoned and well written article. Confirms and validates for me, on a number of levels, my calling in Christ. Thank you.

    • poetcomic1 .

      In the West, a kind of ‘love’ has replaced sacramental marriage and without sacramental marriage, you will never put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

      • msmischief

        A kind of “love” indeed. A sane person needs the quote because no actual love would gratify itself at the price of inflicting a lingering, painful and invariably fatal disease on the beloved?

        • musicacre

          Mother Teresa’s nuns lovingly and patiently have picked up the pieces of ruined lives -men dying from aids and abandoned – and nursed them with compassion and REAL love until death. Many times. This is compassionate love, as opposed to just passion that makes one person become a tool for another’s pleasure.

    • FernieV

      I can’t understand how such a gifted and clear-sighted writer can call himself a craftman! (nothing against this noble occupation, though!). Thank you for your article.

    • Jambe d’Argent

      I disagree with this article’s drift. When considered from the general metaphysical (and theological) perspective and not just through the Church’s teaching on contraception, homosexuality certainly deserves to be singled out as an emblematic case of satanic inversion. This is because homosexuality in all its aspects is based on imitation: it imitates the natural sexual intercourse, it imitates natural love, it imitates the complementarity between man and woman, etc., etc. Thus it is completely devoid of originality which is a distinguishing mark of any work of Satan, “the ape of God”. For this reason I strongly feel that lumping homosexuality together with contraception, abortion et al. leads to a serious misunderstanding of its paradigmatic character. The other phenomena are just straight transgressions against God’s commandments while homosexuality undermines the very nature of things and it must be discussed separately.

      • Nvalid

        But can it effectively be discussed seperately? What must first be put in place are the basic truths forsaken in these other transgressions. It’s true that homosexuality is graver than contraception, but we cannot stand on one aspect of teaching without clarifying matters that otherwise would make us, as Jermann said, bigots in their eyes. It’s like the arguements made for pro-lifers who would vote Republican, that being truly pro-life includes not just focusing on abortion but also on war, the death penalty, etc. We must gaurd against inconsistency and clarify when people mistake our emphasis for exclusivness.
        I personally love the Church due to its consistency and find it very hard to adequately defend Church teachings on sexuality without giving the full picture. The full picture inevitably comes up, and that’s what the article is emphasizing.
        The consistency presented in Church doctrine is perhaps the most beautiful weapon we have, and we should not hesitate to make it clear.

        • Jambe d’Argent

          “But can it effectively be discussed seperately? What must first be put
          in place are the basic truths forsaken in these other transgressions.”

          I don’t deny the obvious fact that homosexuality shares some of its characteristics with these other transgressions; however, its core is unique.

          “It’s like the arguements [sic] made for pro-lifers who would vote Republican, that being truly pro-life includes not just focusing on abortion but also on war, the death penalty, etc.”

          But isn’t it very much the same attitude as the one you’re recommending here?

          What I am talking about is a possibility that by lumping together homosexuality, abortion, contraception and so on, we will not only overlook the unique features of homosexuality but also will make it somewhat more acceptable. After all, since so many “Catholics” use contraception and homosexuality is in the same category, why not become a Catholic practicing homosexual? In short, I’m worried about the misrepresentation and/or dilution of this particular and very distinct evil.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            The Catechism of the Council of Trent speaks of “The sin of Sodom, or carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage, or lust with a different sex.”

            • Jambe d’Argent

              What’s your point?

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                That the Catechism of Trent did “lump together” homosexual and other sins against nature, regardless of the sex or species of the patient

                • Jambe d’Argent

                  Sorry, I don’t see any of this in the quotation. Regardless of the sex? But it clearly says, “lust with a different sex”. And why should there be any mention of a species? I can only agree that “a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature” suggests also masturbation but this is neither here nor there. You are nitpicking and grasping at straws, sir.
                  Even if the Catechism of Trent says what you wrongly suggest it does, so what? Catechisms are not infallible in every respect. The first version of the CCC implied that homosexuality is inborn; fortunately, this inaccurate statement disappeared from the second edition.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    It says “a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature out of the due use of marriage OR lust with a different sex.

                    The Catechism of Trent obviously tried to embrace the two opinions that Migne alludes to in the Theologiae Cursus Completus – “It is a great question wherein sodomy consists. Some hold it consists in copulation [concubitus] in an improper receptacle [vas]; others in copulation with the improper sex. Both opinions [sentential] are probable.” The learned authors note that “generation requires both the proper [debitum] receptacle and the proper sex.”

                    • Jambe d’Argent

                      Sorry again, I don’t see any connection between the quotes from the CCT and that from Migne. Methinks you’re just trying to show off your theological education but without much rhyme or reason, just by throwing around names and book titles. The sin of pride, you know?

                      • Carol Leeda Crawford

                        Humanae Vitae July 1968 tells the effects if we allow contraception, the most important being the sexual act separated from its primary purpose – pro-creation. God who is good made sexual experience very enjoyable and in Genesis said the two become one flesh.

                        Up until 40 years ago it was seen as wrong to have sex outside marriage by most of society throughout the world.

                        Contraception led to the false assertion: here is freedom to have casual sex without fear of pregnancy. When we look at the demise of the family and all the other prophetic inferences Paul VI made in this document we are shocked to say. It has disintegrated far further than he even imagined. It is now wrong to stand firm on God’s moral teachings without being called a homophobe or hurtful person if you deny same sex relationships or abortion.

                        The desire to copulate is physically present in puberty, and even earlier with the inundation of sexual instruction in images etc the children are subjected to each day. Many children are being wrongly taught that same sex attraction is genetic or normal. St. Paul mentions the behaviour is a sin in more than one place. His reasoning in Romans 1 I believe is very applicable today.

                        I suggest everyone read the book A Matter of Conscience published by Justin Press. I read it through twice when I first bought it. http://www.theinterim.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/ConscienceReview.pdf

                      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                        Migne says that some people define sodomy as copulation in an improper receptacle, whilst others define it as copulation with the improper sex

                        CCT say sodomy includes (1) a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature out of the due use of marriage – which agrees with Migne’s “copulation in an improper receptacle” and (2) lust with a different sex, which agrees with Migne’s “copulation with the improper sex.” Migne is saying “either/or” and CCT is saying “both.”

                        Surely that is straightforward enough.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        And where does all that hairsplitting get us in this particular discussion?

          • Midge

            This is a good article http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=20565 “Mention is seldom, if ever, made of the moral failing on the part of the priest. Sodomy is a mortal sin, and this sin is compounded on the part of the priest because it involves a further violation of his promises of chastity, in addition to the hypocrisy implicit in his acting against his role of moral teacher and helper of souls. Silence on this subject on the part of bishops and religious superiors is baffling to lay Catholics, who naturally wonder whether there is double standard in operation that censures laypeople but excuses clergy, that censures heterosexual but excuses homosexual vice.”

            There are way too many homosexual Catholic priests, bishops and even Cardinals — like the one in Scotland, O’Brien. The Catholic church should address this and Catholic laity should demand they address it. How does a homosexual, a practicing homosexual, get to become a Cardinal???

            I saved this quote from another article on that site because it sums it up nicely: “None of this mess will ever be cleared up until Catholics begin asking these type of questions endlessly and demanding answers.”

            Its a very big mess, the 80% of priest abuse cases being homosexual, the bishops covering it up, the hypocrisy, the lack of accountability, the absurdity of practicing homosexuals being the guardians of Catholic teaching. Treating it as a “delicate” subject is either cowardice or unseriousness.

            • Jambe d’Argent

              I completely agree with you.

              • Midge

                Thanks. But it seems the only thing we really disagree about is whether non-rhythm method contraception is morally wrong?

                • Jambe d’Argent

                  I wouldn’t call it the only thing we disagree about but, yes, from the Catholic perspective any other form of contraception is wrong. Many people (a lot of people, actually) forget that they have to follow the precepts of their religion and not the other way round. Religion is not for the people, people are for the religion. If it weren’t so, religion would have no value whatsoever.

                  • Midge

                    But, doesn’t the Catholic Church also have to follow the precepts of the religion? And the consequence for not doing so is much more severe, the invalidation of church teachings and of the entire church itself at least back to the point where there was a departure from the precepts of the religion?

                    Truly, I do not think any thoughtful Catholic could feel any security that the teachings on contraception are valid when the teachings come from homosexuals. I’m thinking of the “Petrine Doctrine”

                    “Medieval and modern Catholics believed the Archbishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope) was in direct apostolic lineage back to Saint Peter. That means the Archbishop who anointed the Pope had been anointed by others all the way back to Saint Peter. Thus, the Pope inherited the same special authority Saint Peter had.”

                    Cardinals who are in the mortal sin of sodomy vote on the Pope and appoint bishops who commit sodomy and ordain priests who commit sodomy and the whole megillah is unrepented and unaccounted. (And everyone know this — for the Catholic laity there isn’t even the excuse of ignorance.) Cardinals elect the pope. Sinful people living in sin surely cannot be making the right decision about the direct apostolic lineage back to St. Peter.

                    At what point in history was it all invalidated? If one is serious, I don’t think there is any way for the Catholic Church to recover and have moral legitimacy – nor any of the teachings to have legitimacy – without finding that out. It may go back so far in history that an honest person would have to say “Its gone.” All thats left is the material objects.

                    So, as an honest person, one does not know whether the true apostolic lineage from Peter is in place and thus one does not know whether the teachings of the Catholic Church on contraception would have been different (if the true apostolic lineage from Peter was in place).

                    But no one is trying to find out, right? The Catholic Church is at the least complicit (most likely secretly A-OK) with the current idea that homosexuality is just fine and the laity is mostly unserious about the whole thing (religion). Some minority knows its a big problem but they are weak. They are told Jesus SUFFERED, physically suffered, but thats Jesus. Going to the trouble to find whether the true direct apostolic lineage is in place would be a big long pain in the neck for us so we won’t do it.

                    • Jambe d’Argent

                      You are overlooking the most important factor – the objective truth. If Adolf Hitler told you that two plus two equals four, wouldn’t you believe him only because he was Adolf Hitler? As long as they are internally coherent and based on the Holy Scripture (I should add “Tradition” and “Magisterium” but you are obviously questioning these two). the Church’s teaching on contraception is unquestionably valid even if it (partly) comes from homosexuals hiding within the Church. The Church’s (partial) infidelity to the precepts of Catholicism does not invalidate the precepts themselves. This should be glaringly obvious.

                      • Midge

                        You are saying that anyone who is not a Catholic cannot go to heaven. I get that; its what I was told as a child, “The Catholic Church is the one true church.”

                        Catholic laity who follow moral teachings from sinful people who have managed to take over the Catholic Church have no personal responsibility. Controlling the material power of the Catholic Church is all.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        OK, I repeat: if the sinful people who have taken over the Church still maintain the same teaching, the teaching is still valid. If they change the teaching, the Church will be in apostasy. But they haven’t. What’s your problem then?

                      • Midge

                        You don’t feel any responsibility to remove the sinful people?

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        Of course I do but your gripe seems to be that the teaching of the Church has been falsified by them and that’s patently untrue!

                      • Midge

                        birth control pills use a woman’s natural hormones. How do you know that a Church not dominated by homosexuals – for centuries – wouldn’t be OK with that?

                        A church not dominated by homosexual men would have more compassion for women and for married couples and might well have agreed with John Rock that the pill was a more precise method of following the rhythm method (which was only approved by the Catholic Church in 1936 per this article). http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/peopleevents/p_rock.html

                        I dunno, Jambe, the notion that a worldwide cabal of homosexuals hasn’t made a difference in Catholic teaching is a stretch. I’ve known a few homosexuals in my life and they think differently and they are have a basic hostility to normal people. Just a fact. Thats why theres the big gay marriage brouhaha going on for 20 years despite their tiny numbers and the tiny percentage of them who will want a legal commitment. Thats why they are fine with destroying the Boy Scouts – anyone who remains a scout leader has rocks in his head; he is putting himself in enormous danger. Lord knows what open homosexuality will do to the US military. Yeah, I know, it hasn’t hurt the Netherlands to have open homosexuals in the military; what lame rationales they tell us.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        Once again, I agree with your final paragraph but I see no point in engaging into futile speculations along the line “what if”. So far the Magisterium has not been affected by the homosexual circles inside the Church and that’s that.

                      • Midge

                        Then the priests could be performing abortions in their spare time and it wouldn’t matter.

                        In the 1890′s, the Supreme Court said the Constitution permitted “separate but equal” schools. In the 1950′s, the Supreme Court said that separate but equal schools violate the Constitution. Different people on the Supreme Court made the difference.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        With all due respect, Midge, I don’t think there is anything more to be said in this matter, bye!

                      • Bono95

                        The problems you are describing, while they are all too real and all too widespread, are not quite as rampant as you might think, and they are HUMAN problems, NOT CHURCH problems. The Catholic Church is by no means the only institution in the world to have corrupt members. As long as something has a human element, it will also have mistakes and faults. And remember, there are GOOD people in the Church as well as bad people, and it is these good people who prevent the bad ones from doing more harm and who often help them to change their ways.

    • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

      There are a lot of misconceptions (no pun intended) about the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality. The concepts don’t translate well into English, so some careful catechesis is necessary.

      Most people have one of two misunderstandings:

      1. That the Catholic Church teaches that all sex must be “procreative” in that couples can only have sex if they intend to have a baby.

      2. That there is no difference between NFP and contraception, since both intend to avoid pregnancy. Specifically, how can use of the infertile period be “procreative”?

      The answer is that the Church uses a slightly different definition of “procreative” (Latin) than the common English usage. What the Church is getting at is that the marital act itself has inherent objective meaning and that when the couples diminish the act by acting to remove the procreative element, they diminish this inherent meaning. NFP does not change or diminish the act, even if the couple knows conception is biologically impossible on that day. Contraception, no matter how unreliable, does.

      (Note: Issues of family size and proper use of NFP in marriage are related, but separate, issues. Contraception is about the objective moral law, family size is about living the vocation of marriage.)

      The key to Catholic teaching on sexuality is that the sexual act has meaning. The sexual act is sacred. The sexual act in marriage is sacramental. Many Catholics who support the Church’s teaching are uncomfortable with the very real physicality of the Church’s teachings. Anglo-Irish-American culture was very heavily influenced by Puritans and Victorians and we don’t like talking about our bodies or about physical things.

      But without a sense that the physical is good and the physical matters, there is no difference between an ethereal spiritual union of one man and one woman vs. an ethereal spiritual union of two men or two women.

      • Midge

        Thats not going to win any hearts and minds. You’re saying that the same thinking (trying to avoid pregnancy) is OK under this set of mechanical means (abstinence) but wrong under this other set of mechanical means (contraception). People understand intent and the intent is the same.

        Nevermind the ludicrousness of priests, bishops, popes (unmarried men who are supposed to be celibate) giving their opinions on the “meaning” of the sexual act for married people. The ordinary people understand that mentality as elitist and worse, meanspirited and an effort to humiliate them.

        • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

          That is the teaching of the Church. Intent to avoid pregnancy is not the issue, means of avoiding pregnancy is. That the intent to avoid pregnancy is the same with both NFP and contraception is irrelevant.

          The Church explicitly addresses this point in Humanae Vitae 16.

          “Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process. It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.”

          You call priests, bishops, and popes “ludicrous”,”elitist”,”meanspirited”, and out to humiliate married couples. I am married. I have both used contraception and lived by the Church’s teaching. Having lived both ways, I assure you the Church is neither ludicrous, elitist, meanspirited or out to humiliate anyone, but is absolutely correct.

          • Midge

            birth control pills use hormones that occur naturally in a woman’s body. Is it the act of taking a pill that is wrong? I believe the Church is OK with women who have very irregular cycles taking them. Some medications in cancer treatment cause complete infertility. Is it wrong to take them or is only the intent not to become pregnant wrong?

            • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

              It is not the act of taking the pill that is wrong, it is the act of taking a pill for the purposes of making the sexual act non-procreative.

              Fertility is a sign of health. For a healthy (fertile) person to take medicine or have surgery to create a medical disorder (infertility) is disordered.

              It is not wrong to take medicine to treat a medical disorder (including hormone replacement therapy sold as birth control pills) that causes infertility as a side effect. Nevertheless, infertility is a medical disorder. Loss of fertility due to medical treatment is not something trivial, but a significant side effect.

              In this case, the couple has not altered the act of their own choice, but it is a side effect of treatment a pathology of nature. As such, infertility due to medical treatment is morally similar to natural infertility.

            • Bono95

              If a woman is using a contraceptive for an important medical purpose that does not involve pregnancy inhibition, she may take it, but she must NOT intend for it to act contraceptively. The drug may still cause infertility, but she must not use it to knowingly and willingly facilitate that.

            • Deacon Ed Peitler

              It is immoral to be polluting our groundwater with your hormones. Do you have any idea how this is harming the enironment?

            • musicacre

              “…birth control pills use hormones that occur naturally in a woman’s body.” You sound like a commercial for a pharmaceutical company. Have you ever bothered to research where they got the hormones? From horse pee. Not humans. Oh and there are artificial chemical hormones which MIMIC hormones. But they are definitely not the real thing. so….why are women dropping like flies after 10 or 20 years of use? I’m no expert, but a retired vet friend told me that years ago they had a similar drug for cows but they discontinued it because it was causing deaths. I guess women aren’t as important. I’m shocked at the number of mothers I used to know who are dead from bread cancer.

        • Theorist

          Because the worse thing in the world is to be humiliated, not-elite, and the focus of harsh language.

          Right.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          “The reason why people are confused about intention, and why they sometimes think there is no difference between contraceptive intercourse and the use of infertile times to avoid conception, is this: They don’t notice the difference between “intention” when it means the intentionalness of the thing you’re doing – that you’re doing this on purpose – and when it means a further or accompanying intention with which you do the thing. For example, I make a table: that’s an intentional action because I am doing just that on purpose. I have the further intention of, say, earning my living, doing my job by making the table. Contraceptive intercourse and intercourse using infertile times may be alike in respect of further intention, and these further intentions may be good, justified, excellent. This the Pope has noted. .. But contraceptive intercourse is faulted, not on account of this further intention, but because of the kind of intentional action you are doing. The action is not left by you as the kind of act by which life is transmitted, but is purposely rendered infertile, and so changed to another sort of act altogether.” (Contraception & Chastity, G E M Anscombe 1972)

        • musicacre

          Do you ever have opinions on the environment, even though you are not an environmentalist? Do you ever have opinions of how to cook, even though you may not be a pro cook? In the Catholic church we accept that an ordained priest does have some extra graces that aid him in counseling people with all sorts of life’s problems, particularly the institution God created, family. The more priests fall for the lie that one must be a registered sexologist or other “expert” in order to give advice, he is abdicating his responsibilities.

      • Paul McGuire

        And what of all the people who do not believe that the sexual act is a sacrament? The issue I see is that there are many straight non-believers who engage in acts that believers would find problematic (whether it is premarital sex or contraception in marriage) and yet no where do I see the Church attempting to prevent them from doing so or condemning those actions.

        At the same time, now we have gay men and lesbian women (the majority of whom are not practicing members of the church) who want to be able to do many of the same things that their non-believer straight friends do and they are met with criticisms because what they want to do is against the beliefs of the church.

        There is resistance from society because the Church hasn’t condemned the former category publicly very often but now decides to condemn the latter category and resist any attempt to allow society to recognize same-sex relationships. It is precisely because society has already decided to reject the Church’s teachings on sexuality that the attempts to condemn the LGBT equality movement are failing.

        • Midge

          The Catholic church is actually very complicit, on board really, in the modern acceptance of homosexuality. Thats because most of the Catholic clergy is homosexual. Hundreds of US priests have died from AIDS but you are far more likely to find that eulogies from other Catholic clergy praising them than to find anything from the Catholic Church saying they were hypocrites and should not have been entrusted with the moral teaching of the Catholic faithful.

          • John200

            Dear Midge,

            Thank you for, “Most of the Catholic clergy is homosexual.”

            It took you a few comments, but thanks for exposing your basic beliefs. You had me wondering for a while.

            • Midge

              What do you think the percentage is? The homosexual percentage in the entire population is only 2%

              During the Papal Conclave I saw it discussed on CNN and there was no dispute to the figure of 60% that one of the participants alleged.

              • Bono95

                CNN et al. are not Catholic news sources, nor are they sympathetic to any Catholic beliefs or causes. Most if not all of what they say about Catholicism is lies, misconceptions, half-truths, or outright frauds. Take anything you see or hear from them on Catholicism with a barrel of salt (actually, you should probably apply the salt to everything these propaganda machines churn out)

              • Dorothy

                Of course, no one knows for sure, but recently an English Catholic priest estimated that more than half of the clergy are gay.

          • Bono95

            I don’t know. I’ve met a lot of priests in my time, but none were homosexual to my knowledge.

            • Midge

              You probably didn’t ask them or investigate them, right? Its not like homosexuals have a distinguishing physical feature.

              • Marion (Mael Muire)

                The virtue of humility directs Christians to refrain from speculating about the personal struggles, sins, and moral failings of others, unless he or she as a strict OBLIGATION to do so, and has the AUTHORITY to address these in another, or to another’s superior.

                The vice of pride inclines us to inquire into such matters when we have no compelling reason to do so.

                It speaks well of any Catholic to be extremely reticent about making any such idle speculation.

                • Midge

                  How convenient. Enormous homosexual scandal in the Catholic Church for the last 30 years. Billions paid out in settlements. Eight dioceses declared bankruptcy so far in the US. The scanda is worldwide.

                  This is not like somebody broke wind and its good manners to ignore it!

                  Catholics who are not demanding a rooting out of homosexuals in the clergy might well be as complicit as the bishops who moved abusers around the country.

    • Carl

      When I communicate these truths to Catholic friends I get winks and nods that the Church doesn’t really teach this any more.

      From Protestant friends, the response I get is that these truths are ridiculous and false teachings from a false Church. When I mention that we all agreed up until the Lambeth Conference in 1930, I get deer in the headlight looks from them—what’s that? Often then the conversation devolves into, “well God created sex for man and women to enjoy,” then I respond if the reproductive act is secondary to pleasure then the conjugal act is nothing more than a message or handshake and we have no argument against homosexuality. The Bible in Sodom verses condemns it, which I respond the bible condemns Onanism! Then I mention that strictly Biblical arguments will never work when arguing secular politics and that natural law must be argued, and this is usually where I’m accused of being a Papists who wants the Church to dominate world politics…

      Somewhere in there I also mention Humane Vitae and how prophetic the Pope was—falls on deaf ears. Then I mention that since 1962 School prayer has been banned, then contraception normalized, then no fault divorce, then abortion legalized, then porn is free speech, creationism-God is banned, strip clubs free speech, anti-sodomy laws banned, homosexual marriage. Then I ask, “do you really think it will stop here? Really?”

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        As our culture disintegrates, there is a chance – but no guarantee – that people might arrive back at the truth some day. It will entail much pain getting there if they do, but it will be rewarding. All I know that when you look at our culture, society, family relationships, marriages, etc. the world is in a shambles.

        • Carl Albert

          Deacon, I couldn’t agree more “that people may arrive back at the truth some day”. We will be remiss if we are not prepared to welcome them back with love and support. The Church needs our steadfast devotion now more than ever.

        • John200

          Many more people know the truth than practice it. Many just don’t like what they know to be true. It is hard to live according to the truth. It is easier to pretend it is complicated, or something like that.

          “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my words.” John 8:43

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        “To study history is to cease to be Protestant” – Cardinal Newman

      • HigherCalling

        Exactly. The “white knight” mentioned in the article needs a maiden to rescue. The maiden in modern society doesn’t even know she’s being enslaved, and she definitely doesn’t want some backward, medieval white knight on his steed to rescue her. Society doesn’t know (let alone accept) the fact that it is enslaved and needs rescuing. Society is oblivious to its chains. Society is unwilling to even entertain the notion that it’s possible to truly flourish, and that the white knight is only lovingly making her that offer. The maiden’s pride has blinded her to the truth that awaits her. If only she would touch the outstretched hand of the white knight, she would be emancipated. But she doesn’t want it. She mocks it. She rejects it. She hates it. At this point the white knight and his steed can’t do it on their own. They need the help of the King Himself. The maiden will listen to no one else.

      • musicacre

        What you’re also describing, is the modern phenomena of people being historically illiterate. Right now in my community, there is a ferocious debate going on re: the downfall of public schools, mostly because of all the closures due to low birht rates. anyway, one of the proponents (former board member that got fired by the province) of unlimited funding, instead of the per head formal he mentioned the worn -out notion of public school being the level playing field. Haha. Yes, now everyone that attends is equally illiterate.

    • Sophie Sommers

      Mr. Jermann, your article provoked very strong feelings in me, but not the ones you would probably have wanted me to have. When you talked about childless couples (gay or straight), you were talking about people I know and love. My brother is now 70, and he and his wife both decided when they married that they would not have children. They have not regretted their decision, and they’ve had a happy marriage. There can be no doubt that they love each other deeply. And yet your characterization of them is overtly insulting. You call them “disordered and unnatural,” “unsexed and incomplete,” “self-crippled,” “blinded and groping in darkness.” Worst of all, you claim that they are “neutered,” and that he is not a real man, nor she a real woman.

      This is unspeakably outrageous. It’s no wonder to me that Catholics are not persuaded by this kind of talk and that most of them have now become “deaf” to it. How would you feel if I insulted your family members?

      My next-door neighbors are two married gay men, both in their sixties. I love them dearly, and they have always been very kind to me. They are widely respected, and there is no doubt in my mind that they, too, love each other deeply. But again, you’ve insulted them. You say their love is “desecrated,” that they have no “innate ability to love completely,” that their humanity is “truncated,” that they are not real men.

      You speak of blindness, but you are blind to the hurt and the harm that your words cause others.

      You are mistaken about the reasons why the “standard Catholic critique of gay sexuality has failed to persuade,” and—make no mistake—your own critique is fairly standard. It has failed because people have complex lives that cannot be pressed into the mythical moulds that you envision for them. It has failed because you insult and demean those who fail to live up to “your” impossible standards for them. It has failed because the Church’s teachings about homosexuality, contraception, and pre-marital sex are out of touch with reality and nearly everyone recognizes that fact at some level. It has failed because the Church has only one template to offer in an age when people want choices that enable them to adapt to their real-world circumstances, which are almost limitlessly varied. Your one-size-fits-all approach is like a fairy tale, and you’ve made everyone who doesn’t buy into it the wicked witch.

      • Ford Oxaal

        This is a non-rhetorical question: In your view, is there a such thing as sexual immorality?

        • Sophie Sommers

          Of course there is such a thing as sexual immorality, but it is measured by the harms that it produces.

          • http://www.facebook.com/briana.grzybowski.3 Briana Grzybowski

            Surely the 40% of kids born out of wedlock annually in the United States, the 55 million lost to abortion since Roe v Wade, the STD epidemic we have now, the 50% divorce rate, the widespread problem of men and women using each other as instruments for fulfilling appetites, the millions of young people jaded from either getting involved in lustful relationships or seeing these relationships, and the sewer that we call popular culture counts as harms. And these are all harms caused by people NOT living up to Christianity’s teachings about sexuality. Just putting that out there…

            • Sophie Sommers

              Briana, neither my brother and his wife, nor my two gay neighbors, have done any of the things you describe. And yet they stand accused, by the author of this article, for grave failures of conduct and character. If you want to talk about abortion, divorces, or out-of-wedlock births, then do so. But please do not vilify married couples who do not have children. This is inexcusable.

              • http://www.facebook.com/briana.grzybowski.3 Briana Grzybowski

                What the author is saying is that sex and marriage were both meant to be total gifts of self between husband and wife. And once that gift isn’t given, all sorts of sexual and social problems come from it.

                • Dorothy

                  Briana, what sorts of “sexual and social problems” have come
                  from Sophie’s brother’s decision not to have children? Do you think Sophie is lying when she says her brother and his wife and happily married and love each other deeply? Do you think “sexual and social problems” might still arise as a result of their being childless by choice? Her brother is 70, so I assume he has most of his married life behind him. What do you think?

            • Midge

              Thats more of a rant than anything else.

              • http://www.facebook.com/briana.grzybowski.3 Briana Grzybowski

                I wasn’t ranting, mam. Just stating facts.

          • Ford Oxaal

            OK, so it sounds like you don’t believe there is any such thing as an intrinsically disordered act. For example, in the case of bestiality, if both the animal and the human can be demonstrated scientifically to be enjoying themselves, there is nothing wrong with them having a sexual relationship. Is that your position?

            • Midge

              Oy. Bestiality again.

              • Ford Oxaal

                No one is forcing you to discuss sexual immorality. It is on topic. If you don’t like the topic, you should not bother posting. So what do you say? Is the “harm” standard proposed by Sophie valid or not?

                • Midge

                  You are presupposing consensual sexual relations with an animal, right? And comparing that to whatever the childless-by-choice couple do sexually or the homosexual couple do sexually.

                  In neither case do any of us know what they actually do. So, I’d need to know what exactly the sexual conduct you consider intrinsically disordered. You might be thinking of something that both Sophie and I would agree was harmful and thus disordered.

                  • Ford Oxaal

                    I am simply trying to understand if Sophie’s “harm standard” for sexual immorality would exclude bestiality or any number of sexual activities that can be scientifically proven as not harmful. I am in no way tying such behavior with anything else in Sophie’s post. Keep in mind, Mary and Joseph were married and had no children between them, according to Catholic teaching. I come to these boards with an open mind and hope to find higher levels of truth through reasoning with other intelligent beings. I’m not trying to bamboozle anyone into positions I hold, and if you can show your position to be more reasonable, I will gladly change my position.

                    • Midge

                      I don’t think you were being reasonable, Ford, to throw bestiality into the discussion. Sophie was talking about her brother and his wife and her gay neighbors. It was insulting and grotesque for you to ask her something about bestiality.

                      Frankly, you amplified the original point Sophie was making about the original article, that it was disrespectful and demeaning towards people.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        You seem to be implying that bestiality is bad. I’m not making any such value judgment. I am simply applying the “Sophie harm standard” to a sexual practice many find pleasurable. Are you saying that you disagree with the harm standard? Or are you saying you think bestiality is bad? If so, then by what standard?

                      • Midge

                        Are you saying that if someone doesn’t follow the standards of the Catholic Church on sexual practices, that they can have no basis for any standards?

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        No, but so far, the Catholic standard strikes me as most reasonable because it has the concept of intrinsic disorder. For example, if I throw up my food because I like to eat more for pleasure (as was a custom in ancient times), even though that is not harmful per se, nevertheless, because the behavior is counter to its discernible ends (nutrition), it is therefore intrinsically disordered, and cannot lead to happiness and well-being. The harm standard does not seem to provide a solid basis for defining sexual immorality because “harm” is a very squishy concept, although, Sophie may be able to shore that up a bit for us. The danger in a harm standard is that science threatens to dictate. As we all know from history, government by science is a horror show we don’t want to repeat, but one very alluring to Americans.

                      • Midge

                        well. An individual on his/her own could have “the concept of intrinsic disorder,” whether thats the label (on one’s personal ethics) or just “knowing right from wrong.”

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        So this circles back to my original question: is there a such thing as sexual immorality. When you suggest that (1) sexual immorality is in the eye of the beholder, you are suggesting that (2) there is no such thing as sexual immorality — the two are, at a minimum, functionally equivalent propositions.

                      • Midge

                        Sexual immorality being the use of something other than the rhythm method to prevent conception — that is what we are really talking about, right? The same sexual act, though.

                        In the case of the homosexual couple, I don’t know what they are doing. Sophie said they are “in their sixties.” It is entirely possible, IMO, that they are not sexually intimate. That I don’t know. I don’t know if Sophie’s brother and his wife are or have ever been sexually intimate. All I can address is whether I think certain sexual acts are immoral and I’ve said elsewhere on this thread that anal sex and erotic asphyxiation are morally wrong.

                        Normal coital sex being morally wrong UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS? (Caps are just to set that off; I don’t mean to yell at you) No. And truly weird that this instruction is coming to Catholics from homosexuals who seem to be dominating the Catholic Church.

                        I say they dominate the Church because it is obvious. There has been no serious effort to find out what the actual percentage of homosexual priests, bishops, cardinals is and no serious effort to hold them accountable within the Church for the enormous child abuse scandal. One can only conclude that homosexuals must be dominating the Church – i.e., lavender mafia style.

                        And they – homosexuals – are telling married Catholics that coital sexual intimacy can be a moral failing. It is bizarre that normal, heterosexual Catholics accept that.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        “All I can address is whether I think certain sexual acts are immoral” — no reasonable person should care what you or I think unless some standard has been discovered which applies to all. Sophie came up with a standard of harm. When I attacked that standard to see if it really held water, it seemed to crumble, or at least no one articulated a persuasive defense. “Normal coital sex being morally wrong UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS? (Caps
                        are just to set that off; I don’t mean to yell at you) No. ” You offer your opinion with no basis in reason — no concept of principle — no consideration beyond what you, Midge, decree. How is this helpful? And this is the crippling blindness that pervades our society. We cannot have an intelligent, useful discussion of any moral framework on this basis. Meanwhile, the statistics that Briana points out elsewhere on this thread are a SCIENTIFIC DAMNATION of this corrupt and perversely selfish and blindingly ignorant ‘society’. Hey, let’s just put our heads back in the sand and if anybody tries to suggest a fix, let’s “take offense” and feign insult — the major league sport of the self-centered.

                      • Midge

                        Ford,
                        Elsewhere on the thread I’ve made the point (a few times) that its the Catholic laity putting its heads in the sand to the apparently overwhelmingly homosexual Catholic hierarchy who are in charge of the Catholic teachings. That would be a crippling blindness, to entrust your religious faith to sinful people.

                        I don’t think they are entrusting the priests, bishops, cardinals or the pope with their religious faith, actually, just with the material edifice of the Church and the tradition and ceremonies.

                        Catholics are truly on their own whether you will be demanding of yourself to see it or not, Ford. The direct apostolic lineage from Peter is surely, surely questionable with all these homosexuals running the Church, probably for centuries.

                        All we can do is figure it out for ourselves. Sophie has a “harm” standard and respect-for-peoples feelings standard. Briana thinks she has a “scientific” standard. We’re all on our own.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        Well Midge, I wish you the best on your solo journey. Regarding your critique of entrusting your soul to other human beings who are also in need of healing and growing, let’s just say that the mere fact that such an institution has survived with the same creed for two thousand years is proof positive of its divinity. But please understand, when you submit yourself, for example, to confession, the priest acts in persona Christi, not of his own person. But on a personal note, I have yet to get to know a priest who is not one of the most stellar human beings I have ever encountered. They are devoted, knowledgeable, sacrifice their entire lives, etc.

                      • Midge

                        If the priests you’ve known are homosexuals, they are hypocrites but hypocrites can do a good acting job of being oh, so wonderful. They no doubt believe that they do it for the greater good even, though there have been a lot of reports of bragging about what they get away with. If the priest giving you absolution is in a state of sin, is your absolution valid? (Honest question)

                      • Midge

                        If the answer is yes, it makes the Catholic Church look like a big cynical lump of mumbo jumbo. Which may be fine for some, of course.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        yes — this link should have more information: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11618c.htm

                      • Dorothy

                        Ford, did you really write that the Church’s longevity is proof positive of its divinity? No, you couldn’t have. But that’s what I am looking at. Am I the first person who has ever challenged your claim?

                        The odds are at least significantly high that those priests whom you find to be “stellar human beings,” devoted, knowledgeable, self-sacrificing, etc., are homosexuals. So maybe homosexuals aren’t so bad after all, as long as they profess–but perhaps not practice–celibacy?

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        You have raised no challenge. Where is it? What’s wrong with celibacy? What’s wrong with mortifying the flesh? America should take up fasting — have you been to walrus mart lately?

                      • Dorothy

                        Ford, I don’t personally believe that life-long celibacy is psychologically healthy, and I can’t understand why anyone would want to “mortify the flesh.” At my age, I would just like to enjoy a little more flesh, to be quite frank. Mind you, I’m not talking about practices that harm one’s health (e.g., binge eating). I think whatever contributes to physical and psychological health is good as long as it doesn’t debit someone else’s health and well-being. These are of course complicated algorithms, but, hey, who said there was a simple formula for all life’s challenges? Let’s stay flexible, use our wits, and avoid dogma.

                        I thought my challenge (re: the Church’s longevity) was so obvious that it didn’t need pointing out. Longevity is proof of nothing. If you want longevity, visit China.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        Sometimes less is more. Regarding the Church, it is above natural that such an organization exists in an unbroken line from the man by whom time itself is reckoned, with only a few words, and some bread and wine to tie it together *worldwide*. If alien intelligent life came down to the planet, it would find the Catholic Church to be the greatest object of fascination and wonderment.

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_by_country

                      • Bono95

                        You don’t have to completely forego all pleasures to mortify your flesh. Mortification can be achieved simply in giving up for a time something or things that you enjoy (like giving up meat on Fridays, video games during Advent [24 days], or eating between meals during Lent [40 days]), to help you grow closer to God. Yeah, it’s not always fun, but it’s nearly always worth it, it helps to avoid the temptation of pursuing harmful pleasures, and it makes legitimate pleasures more enjoyable. Having a big party once in a while is fun, but doing it every day would be expensive, a lot of work, unhealthy, and the fun would gradually wear off. Very often, a present good’s enjoyment stems in large part from its rarity.

                      • Dorothy

                        The concept of “intrinsic disorder” is, to my mind, much “squishier” than that of harm. If the Church tells us that a behavior is “intrinsically disordered” on the sole basis that it contravenes the Church’s theological and teleological positions, then why should non-Catholics pay attention? On the
                        other hand, if ethicists—and the rest of us—can discern no harm in a behavior, then what justification is there for condemning it? Does a man kissing another man on the lips harm anyone? Does mutual masturbation harm anyone? And yet the Church would tell us that both are “disordered.”

                        As for bestiality, it is impossible to know whether having
                        sex with one’s chickens harms the chickens, so it’s best not to do it (even if one had the desire…). If we knew that it pleasured the chickens and did them no bodily harm, then it could be considered a harmless if bizarre behavior. But we
                        do not know that, so the presumption is that an act of bestiality is a selfish act, and selfishness is a negative. Why throw in an arcane, theologically particular, and totally unscientific standard such as “intrinsic disorder,” which is essentially meaningless to most people in the world?

                        As for your example of bulemia, it is considered a medical
                        disorder for medical reasons. Those reasons are based on the harm principle, not on teleology.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        I like your argument that where harm is not discernible in the act, it is best to put the burden of proof on party desiring the act. For example, if there is doubt a fetus of a certain age constitutes a human being, full rights should be granted that fetus until it is proved not a human being. But if two people consent to a titillating game played to the death, I don’t see how the harm standard would enter the equation, unless you admit neighborhood effects into the harm equation — and now perhaps it becomes massively complex (but would it converge with the intrinsic disorder approach?). In any event, I see the harm approach as academically interesting, but impractical due to the neighborhood effect issue. I would argue the intrinsic disorder approach is less malleable than medical reasoning, which, unlike human nature, changes over time as new technologies are discovered and used/abused, and that it discovers problems earlier than would medical reasoning. For example, even though the example I gave was not bulimia, it could lead to bulimia. The intrinsic disorder approach would flag the behavior before it developed into bulimia. And there are many behaviors which may not be seen as immediately harmful but which may lead to harmful behavior — for example viewing violent pornography may lead to violent acts in real life — and we see this in copycat crimes. Furthermore the harm standard allows exploitation of natural sexual urges — for example advertising which triggers a higher pulse in the reasonable, e.g., male, due to its prurient content. A higher pulse may not constitute physical harm, but constitutes exploitation nevertheless. The intrinsic disorder approach would completely eliminate pornography, the purveying of which, in my view, is a sort of tort offense. Out of time, many thanks for your thoughtful response.

                      • Dorothy

                        Ford, I never said that all harmful acts are immoral. You may have heard of the famous “trolley dilemma,” where a bystander sees a runaway trolley about to plow into a crowd of people, and he throws a switch that will divert the trolley onto a track where it will kill only one man. There are greater harms and lesser ones, and sometimes the choices are extremely difficult. There is no doubt that a fetus is a developing human being, but its mother is a fully developed one whose life may be seriously disrupted by carrying the fetus to term.

                        My point is that there’s no use labeling something as “intrinsically disordered” when there are absolutely no harms involved. To be universally meaningful (which is what I suppose we all hope for) such labels must be grounded in something other than a particular religion’s teleological principles. Most people are consequentialists in their thinking most of the time, whether or not they even aware of it. Courts and legislatures are almost entirely consequentialist in their deliberations. Describing a behavior as “immoral,” or as “intrinsically disordered” for no other reason than that it appears to mismatch uses to purposes is highly arbitrary, regardless of its religious pedigrees.

                        I’d say that you will continue to take big losses in this national debate about homosexuality unless you can build consequentialist arguments that virtually anyone can readily understand. People aren’t stupid. They know that the human body and its parts have many functions, among which are pleasure and intimate bonding. To say that the penis and the vagina have only one “purpose” just doesn’t sell, especially not to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of biology or human evolution.

                        Re: pornography. I don’t believe it’s all bad. So chew on that for a while.

                      • musicacre

                        The “trolley dilemma” and many other imaginary events are carefully engineered into grade school kids’ “ethics” classes under the name of many different high-sounding titles but are designed to make the very inexperienced child feel the stress of making a call that includes taking a life. It was a shameful experiment to expose children to. The lasting consequences of these exercises create not only stress, but the idea of moral neutrality.( the guy who invented these exercise eventually committed suicide) That morality is subjective. And yes, people are stupid if they fail to connect morality not only to their public life, but to the most intimate part of their personal life.

                      • Dorothy

                        Musicacre, your comment is off-topic. I wasn’t talking about the way the trolley dilemma is used in schools. The trolley dilemma is a very real and useful ethical thought experiment that clarifies certain human dilemmas regarding suffering and harm.

                      • musicacre

                        Actually I wasn’t “off-topic”; you mentioned the trolley and I was responding.I was groping for the correct term, it was “situation ethis” and as far as I know it has been cancelled in alot of schools because of the psychological harm it produced. You didn’t get that my overall comment was that morality does have to be connected to actions, as you probably know but won’t admit. Particularly the most intimate parts of one’s life, like sex, one must exercise morality. Only children in the past thought life was a three-ring circus where you eat ice cream all day and have no consequences. That’s a childish, (hedonistic) way to think.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        You didn’t address neighborhood effects. Under your scheme, is it licit for my brother to commit suicide? You failed to give any reason why mismatch is “highly arbitrary”. Nor was there any consideration of religion. We were talking about whether there exists sexual immorality, not homosexuality per se. Nor am I trying to sell anything — but rather discover principle. I don’t care what you believe about pornography — I care what you reason about it — I gave reasons why the purveying of it constitutes an issue.

                      • Dorothy

                        Ford, your question about the “licitness” of suicide doesn’t make sense to me. If a guy commits suicide, it doesn’t matter whether it was “licit” or not. He’s dead. Are you suggesting we should heap scorn on his dead body? Or are you suggesting that God in His Infinite Mercy is going to punish the guy further? I’m afraid I don’t believe in such a God. So I would say the question of whether suicide is moral or immoral is completely irrelevant.

                        Is there such a thing as sexual immorality? Of course there is, but it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It has to do with the way people treat each other in a sexual relationship.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        The question is whether your moral framework would allow for suicide. The argument would be something like it is your life, and you can do what you want with it so long as you don’t physically harm another. If you extended your model to include neighborhood effects (the mental anguish it would cause people who love that person), you might converge with a moral framework that is based on the intrinsic disorder of the act, and would not sanction, e.g., state assisted suicide, in the law.

                      • Dorothy

                        Ford, the father of one of my friends committed suicide because he was very ill and loved his family but didn’t want to be a burden to them. Of course his suicide caused the family mental anguish, as I’m sure he anticipated that it would. But no one judged him for what he did. And it was his life. There comes a point when our lives and bodies just belong to us and we have to make those kinds of decisions. There are no ideal outcomes; there are only better and worse ones.

                        Causing others mental anguish is of course a harm, but the greater harm may lie in not taking an action that will distress them. I know a man who came out to his parents, causing them terrible anguish. In fact, they never got over it. But he did the right thing. Living a lie is immoral and unhealthy. No parent should expect that of their child.

                      • Ford Oxaal

                        OK, so your moral framework allows for assisted suicide, and does not take neighborhood effects into account. It is consistent in that it allows for pornography and bestiality, in cases where no immediate (non-neighborhood effect) harm can be easily discerned. But here is a possible inconsistency: how does it allow for non-rape, non-medical emergency abortion? How does the harm of the physical killing of a developing human outweigh the perceived harm of the mother? Furthermore, at what point would the developing human be guaranteed the right to life?

                      • Deacon Ed Peitler

                        Dorothy, you say, “As for bestiality, it is impossible to know whether having sex with one’s chickens harms the chickens, so it’s best not to do it (even if one had the desire…).”

                        I guess you have never eaten a chicken sandwich since it definitely harmed THAT chicken and it would have been best, according to your reasoning, not to have eaten that sandwich (despite the fact that it might have resulted in intense pleasure on your part).

                        Yikes, no wonder Obama was re-elected!

                      • Dorothy

                        Deacon, I am a vegetarian.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        Ah, I’m glad that we can agree on something. I am also a vegetarian…8)

                  • Deacon Ed Peitler

                    Midge, is it permissable to marry your sister or brother? If not, why not? From whence does that standard emanate?

                    Midge, is it permissable to marry your mother or father? If not, why not? From whence does that standard emanate?

                    Midge, is it permissable, given the likelihood that soon we will be able to clone ourselves, that we would be able to marry the clone of oursleves? If not, why not? From whence does that standard emanate.

                    And so, I ask, is it permissable to marry someone of the same sex?If not, why not? From whence does that standard emanate.

                    • Midge

                      Deacon,

                      If you are thinking that I support same sex marriage, I don’t.

                      I’d keep marriage as the fundamental, material kernel of human society that it is: one man and one woman.

                    • Dorothy

                      Deacon, consanguinous marriages are not legal in this country because of increased risk for transferrance of genetic diseases. I’ve heard that New Mexico allows them only on condition that the couple are past child-bearing age. I really don’t see a problem with that unless there are power issues that might adversely affect a younger individual. I really don’t see much of that on the radar, however. Not many people are interested in marrying sisters, fathers, etc., and I doubt that’s likely to change.
                      Marrying someone of the same sex is not only fine, it’s great if you’re homosexual. Marriage stabilizes people and gets them off the frontiers of vulnerability.

              • Jambe d’Argent

                Why not? There are many similarities between homosexuality and bestiality – both are against nature and both only ape the natural coitus.

                • Dorothy

                  Jambe, imagine two men at a dinner party where there are
                  people of mixed faiths, social backgrounds, educational levels, etc. One of the men discloses to everyone that he is married to his (male) partner of 20 years, and the other announces he regularly has sex with his chickens. Would you react to them both
                  in the same way? If so, do you think you would be alone in doing so? And does it matter to you?

                  • Jambe d’Argent

                    Answers to your questions: 1. Yes. 2. Possibly. 3. No. As St. Augustine of Hippo has said, “Wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it and right is right even if nobody is doing it.” Being a minority of one does not bother me in the least.

                    • Dorothy

                      So, in your opinion, having sex with barn-yard animals is no worse than marrying a person of your own gender. I just wanted to make sure I understood you. Do you also think that homosexual acts should be punishable by law, as acts of bestiality are?

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        Most certainly not worse: the acts are at the same level of personal depravity and equally distant from what’s natural. As to your question about law, do you mean secular law or religious law? To anticipate your answer, I have no interest in secular law which has been for a long time an exercise in make-believe; there is no real justice there. As for religious law, yes, homosexual acts should be punished by excommunication.

                      • Dorothy

                        Jambe, your views about both sexuality and law are certainly extreme, and you are entitled both to them and their consequences. But the author of this article began by lamenting that the Catholic critique of gay sexuality has failed to persuade. That observation is borne out by recent polling data showing that 81% of young people ages 18-29 now support same-sex marriage. Most Catholics now support it as well.

                        My point is that conservative Catholics are rapidly losing traction in this debate because their views are so far from the mainstream as to seem bizarre and incomprehensible. I realize this may not matter to you, but then, why are you here? It seems to me you are drifting farther and farther from any shared understanding of what is normal and decent, and into a zone where only very particular and rarefied ideologies are allowed.

                        I think that if the author of this article wants to understand why the conservative Catholic message is not persuading, then he needs to look no further than some of the comments in this thread. You are all just talking to each other but have no idea how to approach and converse with average Americans in a civil way (without insulting them.) If you don’t notice that ordinary people are backing away from these judgmental rants—or you don’t care—then I think we have identified the problem.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        “My point is that conservative Catholics are rapidly losing traction in this debate because their views are so far from the mainstream as to seem bizarre and incomprehensible.”

                        That’s what the Romans have said about the early Christians. A mass support of an idea does not mean that the idea is right or doomed to extinction – and, as in the case of Christianity, often the opposite happens. How many inhabitants of the Roman Empire in, say, the year 100 could imagine that in the year 395 Christianity would become the sole official religion of the Empire?

                        “It seems to me you are drifting farther and farther from any shared understanding of what is normal and decent, and into a zone where only very particular and rarefied ideologies are allowed.”

                        Such people are later on called precursors, forerunners, even visionaries while the ones who follow the gross delusions of the crowd are deservedly ridiculed or simply forgotten. Remember, the judgments of history are always based on hindsight. Incidentally, how can you call a support of buggery “normal and decent”?

                        “If you don’t notice that ordinary people are backing away from these judgmental rants—or you don’t care—then I think we have identified the problem.”

                        Funny, your phrase “judgmental rant” is in itself a judgmental rant… And I am not bothered at all by belonging to the shrinking remnant of intelligent and discerning individuals – better to die with the noble than live with the scum. In the past, your “ordinary people” supported slavery, eugenics and many other assorted evils until some individuals strarted going against the current and improved the world. If you choose to cast your lot with the mob, that’s your problem.

                      • Dorothy

                        Jambe, in the year 100 CE, Christianity was on the ascendency. But this is 2013, and you are not an early Christian. You are a very late one. You are not a precursor, a forerunner, or even a visionary. You flatter yourself that you belong to a “shrinking remnant of intelligent and discerning individuals” and that the rest of us are scum. Your elitism is symptomatic of the Church’s problem in getting traction on this issue. No one wants to listen to an elitist who describes everyone else as “the mob.” There you have it. But go for it. You’ll just dig yourself in deeper.

                      • Jambe d’Argent

                        Whatever.

              • Theorist

                Oy. Logic again.

          • musicacre

            Even if something does not produce harm, it can be immoral, everyone knows this. Someone cheats on their taxes, people make false insurance claims, etc and all claim these are victim-less. So you’re saying these are morally tolerable things? I know a lot of people are creating their own philosophies on the spot, but these do not stand up to the test of time.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Unfortunately, Sophie, you reason with your emotions. Appeals to ‘feelings’ resonate well in today’s culture. But when people engage their minds, different conclusions are arrived at.

        • Sophie Sommers

          Both my mind and my emotions tell me that insulting and demeaning people who have demonstrated their worth and their love for each other over decades of shared lives is blatantly wrong by any moral measure. I can’t imagine how the Church would have arrived at a point where it tolerates such defamations. And then you are surprised that no one is listening to you.

          • John H. Graney

            Well, apparently you are.

          • Jambe d’Argent

            Apparently, Jeffrey Dahmer was a very nice gay man and an excellent neighbor. According to your “reasoning”, this is more important than the fact that he was a depraved serial killer and a cannibal…

            • Dorothy

              Are you saying Sophie’s brother and his wife, and her two neighbors, are like serial killers and cannibals? All because they don’t have children? You like to just keep piling on the insults, don’t you, Jambe? But don’t let me stop you. Your words speak for themselves.

              • Jambe d’Argent

                A very cheap attempt at manipulating my words, Dorothy. One would think that, with your good grammar and large vocabulary, you would be above such crude debating tricks. I’m not going to explain my meaning because I am sure it is clear enough to any honest person.

          • Theorist

            You know what’s also demeaning and insulting?

            If I told you to go *bleep* yourself and indeed, it would hurt no one so you would have no reason to refuse! And yet, to have sex w/yourself, is a meaningless contradiction and that’s what we are getting at. How can sex even be defined as such w/o a man and a woman and the possibility of children?

            I’m sorry to have to riff on you, but let this be a lesson to show greater intellectual clarity on forums of opposing views, instead of talking about feelings and practicality as if the standards for such things were invented yesterday. For crying out loud, my LSD trips have greater depth and philosophical meaning than your posts.

            • Theorist

              Another point comes to mind regarding “emotional reasoning”. If I insult someone who implicitly thinks that there is no reason to prove that the action described therein is bad and insulting, then why should that thing I say even be considered an insult? And if that is true, then why should she consider anything to be insulting? And if nothing is insulting, then why is she now insulted?

              Perhaps the insult lies in the idea that someone is wishing you harm. So is harm the essence of an insult? If it is, then I shall be annoyed and so even this harm would be an insult. But that is unlikely since the universe at large bears no moral responsibility and so no “insult” occurred except metaphorically.

              But if the moral responsibility, the intention, plus a bad word, is the reason for why a thing is an insult, then in every context the expression of a wish that someone receives harm is an insult. And yet let us remember childhood or some other place where someone might call you a “doo-doo head!”. Would we not laugh at such a thing and hardly call it an insult? Oh, you say we would laugh since it does not hurt our feelings. And yet we admitted that hurt has nothing to do with what an insult is. So then do feelings have something to do with it? Yet if there is no intention, how can there be an insult? And since neither intent, nor feelings explain insults, much less then will a combination of the two. Since the question cannot be answered presently, what point is there in bringing up insults, pleasure, pain, etc? These things are likely ridiculous themselves and a waste of time.

            • Midge

              “How can sex even be defined as such w/o a man and a woman and the possibility of children?”

              Did you think President Clinton was truthful when he said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky.”

              • Dorothy

                Well said, Midge. It looks like Theorist has just let a lot of “sinners” off the hook. If they’re not really having sex, then what’s the problem?

                • Theorist

                  It was possible for them to have children was it not?

                  If there were people who were sterile it would still be sex but it would be sex plus an impediment.

                  Homosexuality is more like using a hammer to do a saw’s job: there is no impediment here, so much as there is a total absurdity and impossibility in the thing actually working to accomplish its purpose.

                  In the realm of sex, there is only one way to skin a cat.

          • Pam

            “People who have demonstrated their worth.” Do people have to demonstrate their worth before you find them worthy? How sad. You obviously have many things backwards.

        • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

          True, but emotional reasoning is only part of the problem.

          The real problem is not the reasoning as much as it is reasoning from a faulty premise. Take sound reasoning from a faulty premise and you will get a wildly wrong answer. Garbage in, garbage out.

          Sophie’s post shows a very limited vision of love and sexuality. That makes sense because today’s culture is one of limits. It is one of settling for less and appealing to the lowest common denominator. It is one of accepting and even celebrating mediocrity in order not to offend anyone.

          We see this in that school curricula have been dumbed down to the point that some high schools have over 20 valedictorians, each one with a perfect GPA.

          But if everyone gets a trophy, then trophies have no meaning.

          The Catholic Church’s standards are difficult, yes, but not impossible. They are no “fairy tale” but a positive and realistic option for couples. They are not “out of touch with reality”, but reflect the reality of our sexuality. We are not intended for comfort, we are intended for greatness, as Benedict XVI put it.

          Lowering the standard means settling for less, but you don’t make it easier to run a marathon by shortening the race to 20 miles.

          While perhaps the post could be written more charitably, it does no one any favors to say that something disordered is normal or something deficient is ideal. The Church teaches me what I should aspire to, which is something that is greater than what I currently am. It does not make me a hypocrite to recognize that I frequently fall short of the standard. I would be horribly deceived to pretend that I did not.

          I think that this goes to the real spiritual sickness of our time: The idea that people must be flawless to have value. Since nobody is perfect, society’s “solution” is to lower the bar so that everyone can say that they are, dishonest as this is. Christians can be some of the worst about this, telling believers to prove their faith by being perfect, forgetting the role of God’s grace.

          All of us have inherent value and dignity as human beings. Moral development and sanctity take a lifetime and none of us are there yet.

          • Deacon Ed Peitler

            I could not have explained it better. You have captured the truths involved in this matter. I like, too, your reference to the ‘lowest common denominator.” It has become my shorthand explanation of the trouble we are in as a culture and society.

      • Ben Dunlap

        I may not be reading the end of your comment rightly, but does it seem to you that our age is somehow fundamentally different from the other ages in which the Church has existed for the last couple thousand years?

      • Midge

        I like this comment a lot, Sophie. I wish the author and the Catholic Church would understand that THEY are doing something very wrong in disrespecting people so and thus pushing people away from God.

        Its very strange that an obsession with sexuality and the sexual practices of others seems to blind them to what is really important about spirituality. Sad, really.

        • Dorothy

          Midge, I also appreciated Sophie’s comment and wish she would return and continue the discussion.

      • Theorist

        “This is unspeakably outrageous. It’s no wonder to me that Catholics
        are not persuaded by this kind of talk and that most of them have now
        become “deaf” to it. How would you feel if I insulted your family
        members?”

        He who does not hate his family is not worth of me.

        Ouch, that’s gotta sting!

        Likewise he who doesn’t die to himself (or his family) will not gain life.

        • Dorothy

          Theorist, you are actually suggesting that Sophie should hate her brother and her neighbors? But didn’t Jesus say we should love everyone as we love ourselves? Which one of us is cherry-picking scripture?

          • Carl

            Dorothy, you need to reflect upon Luke 14:26 and Mathew 10:37. Combined them with your quote of Mark 12:31 we get [love the sinner but hate the sin!]

            Answer: you are the one cherry-picking!

            Sophie comments are based on emotionalism and nothing to do with scripture or Church teachings.

            • Dorothy

              So, I take it your answer is that Sophie should hate her brother and her neighbors. Wow. That is not the Christianity I grew up with. But I just ask you to imagine how that sounds to someone on the outside of your bubble. What do ordinary, decent people think when they hear that Catholics expect them to “hate” their childless siblings and their gay neighbors? Odious. Again, the author of this article was wondering why Catholic teaching about gay marriage has so little traction, even with Catholics. Well, there’s your answer. Your teachings are way beyond the pale.

      • Carl

        This comment fails to reach the level of a “preconceived notion looking for an argument,” its factually baseless. Mr. Jermann spends his whole time rightly blaming heterosexuals for being hypocrites for singling out homosexual behavior when “Heterosexual behavior is in shambles.”

        Quite frankly, I’m insulted and feel demeaned that someone would knowingly post against Church teachings on a Catholic Website! :-)

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Living systems are by definition chemical data-processing systems that self-perpetuate (those that do not self-perpetuate, cease to exist).

        Processes that are “adaptive” are those whose output does not inhibit self-perpetuation; such as: territoriality; reproduction; competition; self-amelioration; inter-education; and affiliation into groups.

        It’s not so much that we “must” perpetuate (no choice exists); it’s simply that our system is built upon that principle.

        • Dorothy

          Strange about that, Michael. Homosexuals do not reproduce, and yet they continue to constitute a fairly stable percentage of populations everywhere. Maybe God has some inscrutable purpose in making this happen. Could it be that every society needs men who excel at teaching, care-giving, artistic expression, cuisine, and decorating? Who are we to question God’s plan?

          • Carl

            Dorothy, careful now, I think you need to review the concept of original sin, and how we live in a fallen world. God uses suffering and disorder in order for the greater good to occur, yes, but that was not His plan. Neither did He create evil, wars, and sickness.

            We owe 2% of the human population for the advancement of teaching, care-giving, artistic expression, cuisine, and decorating? That’s really a bigoted comment. And some ethnicity’s are lazy, stupid, dirty, fat? Speed, strength, intelligence, ability to swim, propensities for certain foods, lack of an ability to jump, are based upon a person race?

            I think you’ll find that all ratios and disbursements of talents and disorders throughout history are pretty close and probably cyclical based on man’s fallen nature.

            • Dorothy

              Carl, I thought it was clear that I was teasing you about gay men’s artistic talents, but I guess I should have included a smiley-face. I don’t know whether in fact there are correlations between care-giving an homosexuality. I’ve never researched it.
              I’m afraid your views about our “fallen nature” are not in line with my particular brand of Christianity.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            It merely suggests that either it is not a genetic condition, or that it is a recessive one.

          • Midge

            Dorothy,
            I’m not interested in persecuting homosexuals but they are probably only 2% of humankind and the disproportionate share of attention they are getting is mindboggling. If only we had our public officials and media promoting blood donation and registering with the bone marrow donor registry the way they’ve been promoting gays in the military, gays in the Boy Scouts and gay marriage. If only.

            I have to be honest: I see no honor in the gay promotion. Its narcissistic. It is also totalitarian and meanspirited as they and their allies are so gleeful and triumphal in their current power, calling people “bigots” all the time and trying to get people fired.

            • Dorothy

              Midge, the reason such a small number of homosexuals is getting a disproportionate amount of attention is that they are the friends and family of practically everyone else, and they are now visible. It was “coming out” that did it. There are gays and lesbians in my own family, and you can be sure that I wish them all the best and will work to help them find their place at the table. I love them. I enjoy their company. I want to see them prosper.

              Let’s face it, Midge, there is an enormous amount of anti-gay bigotry in this culture, and GLBTs are calling us on it. Check the definition of bigotry, and then I’ll show you abundant examples of it in this very blog thread. Gays are getting people fired? Catholic hospitals and schools routinely fire gays and lesbians. If you don’t like discrimination, then join those who are trying to get the ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) passed in Congress. It will benefit everyone.

              • givelifeachance2

                “I want to see them prosper” but not AS homosexuals. No more would I want adulterers or murderers to prosper as anything more than the persons they are rather than their disorders.

          • musicacre

            If you’re bringing God into this, remember Jesus told the woman who was caught in a sexual sin to go and sin no more. These are hard teachings, not always easy to follow. Following Jesus’ teachings takes work, self-sacrifice, and recognizing what evil is, even when one falls again. To realize Grace comes form God, and when we are low on it, it is hard to stay away from sin, and after awhile, living away from His presence, not even recognize it for what it is.

    • crakpot

      Jesus Himself warned of all three collectively, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality, in the Eighth Station of the Cross:

      “Weep not for me, women of Jerusalem, but for yourselves and for your children. For the day is coming when they will say, ‘blessed are the barren, the womb that bears no fruit…’”

    • Tony

      Absolutely, it is time for the Church to recover and to proclaim the beauty of the essential nature of sexual congress — and I might add that the poets before our time, both Protestant and Catholic, have much to say in support of her. Spenser, Milton, Tasso, Tennyson, Browning, Hopkins …
      One caveat: Thomas Aquinas distinguishes between what is wrong because it is essentially counter to nature, and what is wrong because of attendant circumstances or because of wrong intentions. I do think we need to maintain those distinctions. It’s not simply to protect the integrity of the church’s teachings regarding all sexual morality, but to protect the young and the weak and the vulnerable, while asserting boldly, for the sake of boys (who in this are particularly vulnerable) especially, that there IS a meaning to masculinity and femininity, and that it is one thing to frustrate the full and proper expression of masculinity, and another thing to warp it. I’m not saying that any particular act of sodomy is more wicked than any particular act of fornication, but that these are different kinds of acts. I say this, too, while agreeing with Anscombe’s reasoning, and while congratulating you for an excellent article.

    • hombre111

      Good, well crafted article, with which I mostly disagree. The Church made her most resounding statement about the value and beauty of sex when she decided to force her ministers to be celibate. I am not talking about those who have felt God’s call to be celibate, and who followed up on that call with prayerful discernment. I am talking about a decision by the medieval Church to make some of her most loyal sons into the victims of ritualized sex abuse, castrating them in reality, if not in fact. As one pope who had been a monk famously said about reforming the clergy: We can reform the priests when we get them out of the arms of their women.” But the final decree was based more on the desire to protect Church property from men who might try to steal some of it for their children. Maybe it made sense in an economy where money was rare and property was the only thing of real value. But that argument lost its force centuries ago.

      If married people would stop and think about it, they would realize that by forcing priests to be celibate, the Church is expressing a profound lack of hope in the Sacrament of Marriage. Somehow, those who are living that sacrament cannot be trusted to exercise a leadership role in the Church, even though there were married priests, bishops, and even a few popes (including St. Peter) for a thousand years.

      And so whatever the hierarchy blind to the unending painful consequences of this act of power has to say about what is joyful and natural about sex is suspect. This is especially true of the “natural law” argument about contraception, which has chosen to reduce a complex reality into biology alone.

      • Uuncle Max

        Your statement ‘As one pope who had been a monk famously said about reforming the clergy: “We can reform the priests when we get them out of the arms of their women”‘

        To whom are you referring – who said it, when did he say it, your source for the quote?

        • hombre111

          The pope was part of the Cluny Reform, which brought a number of monks to the papacy. Just something remembered from long ago in a Church History Class. Another favorite discovery was how the pope (His name was Leo, I think,) put the final nail into the celibacy thing, shortly after Lateran IV. He shut up the gates of Rome, then rounded up the women and children of the priests of Rome and sold them into slavery, mostly to Moslem countries. His delegates went from place to place all over Europe and tried to get bishops and rulers to do the same thing. Wonderful, inspiring news about the birth of the blessed gift of celibacy among secular priests.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        No one forces a priest to be celibate because no one has an RIGHT to be ordained to the priesthood.

        • hombre111

          Of course the Church forces a secular priest to be celibate. A man might clearly discern a priestly vocation, as men did for a thousand years after Christ, that did not include celibacy. But then the hierarchy demanded celibacy if a man was going to make that call from God come true. But now we are finally paying the price, as more and more men do not want to respond to the call if it means denial of a family. So, in my small diocese, there were 107 priests serving 60,00 people in 1979. Now there are 42 priests serving 140,000 people. Almost a third of these men are from Africa or Latin American countries that have their own priest shortages. In other words, as usual, the First World plunders the Third World for its resources.

          • Bono95

            Yes, the Church for the first Christian Millennium allowed married men to be ordained, but it did NOT allow unmarried clergy to marry after they were ordained.

            • hombre111

              And therefore…?

              • Bono95

                And therefore the Church in the past allowed married men to become priests, but it never allowed priests to marry after ordination, so the Church has always encouraged priestly celibacy, even though it did used to allow chaste but non-celibate men to be ordained, and that might have been partly due to the extremely limited number of qualified candidates in the early days of the Church.

          • Deacon Ed Peitler

            Your words strike me as those of an embittered man. I pray that you find peace.

            • hombre111

              Perhaps embittered. But at this late stage of my life, I am honest about all the manipulation and have concluded that forced celibacy is an evil thing because it destroys real freedom. When I look back, I conclude that I was indeed called to a celibate life. But because the step was forced and not discerned (my seminary spent almost zero time discussing celibacy), I had some terrific struggles coming to terms with a decision I had not freely made, with vows that I took seriously, with the emotional and spiritual growth I had not accomplished when I made the vow, and etc.. I have concluded that married people have some of the same struggle. If it was easy, we would not make vows. But honestly, Deacon Ed, looking back, I would do the same thing again, but with the maturity and spirituality in place to begin such a project.

              • Bono95

                I am very sorry to hear that your seminary did not do its duty in informing you and your fellow priests-in-training about the vows of celibacy you would take and what they would mean, but I do not see how your superiors forced you into taking those vows. Surely, you must have known going in that if you became a priest you couldn’t get married. I’ve known that priests can’t marry since I was in kindergarten. Admittedly, I knew nothing of vows of celibacy or just what and how much a man gives up in taking those vows, but I knew that priests can’t marry.

                You’re quite right that forcing someone to do something is wrong, but it really doesn’t sound like your seminary was guilty of coercion. It was negligent, but not coercive.

                • hombre111

                  No seminary forces men into celibacy. They just did not do an adequate job preparing seminarians. It is the Church that does the coercion. Men find a strong call to priesthood, discerned by a lot of thought and prayer. But they cannot follow that call if they are married. This is only in the Latin Rite. I have given some historical stuff to show that the original 11th. century compulsion was based on a lot of bad theology and, most of all, the desire to preserve Church property from priests who might want to steal some of it for their children.

                  Basically, the Church makes a wager: If you want to follow what you have discovered as a call, you will accept celibacy as the price you have to pay. The Church was gambling that they would be willing to give up marriage for the sake of the priesthood. Until about 30 years ago, most priests saw it that way, and accepted.

                  But vocations began to collapse in 1979. Many a young man sees the cost and backs away from priesthood. As I have said before, In my diocese in 1979 there were 107 priests working among 60,000 people. Now we have 42 priests working among at least 140,000. We have pushed vocations in many, many different ways. We have eleven seminarians. This means that, as priests retire or leave, the number is going to go below 40.

              • Deacon Ed Peitler

                After reading your comment, I admit to being in error; I do NOT now think you are embittered. I understand better the circumstances of the situation you were in. However, I prefer to think of celibacy as a GIFT rather than an obligation because that is closer to what the sacrament calls for.

                In my own case as a married man, I could consider the fact that I cannot sleep with any woman other than my wife as something that is “forced” upon me and, as a result, resent those who impose such an obligation upon me. But when I consider my fidelity to only one person as a “gift” that i freely give, the perspective changes. Again, no one told me I HAD to marry my wife; it was something that I chose to do.

                I do respect your honoring the choice you made and remaining faithful to the vow.

                • hombre111

                  Thanks, Ed. I wish you a happy and holy marriage. But one quibble. You say, “I prefer to think of celibacy as a gift rather than an obligation because that is closer to what the sacrament calls for.” But the Sacrament of Orders does not call for celibacy. Priests, bishops, and even some popes were married for a thousand years. Priests in the Eastern Churches united to Rome are still married. Celibacy is part of the definition of a religious vow. As for the secular clergy, it is still described as a promise (not a vow) to remain faithful to the demand of the discipline of the Latin Rite. There are a number of priests in the Latin Rite who are married. They were Protestant ministers, and then ordained in the Church, with their wives and children as witnesses.

          • Midge

            During the Papal conclave there were a lot of TV discussions about the priest shortage. I was surprised to see how openly TV news shows discussed homosexual orientation in the priesthood. The percentage that came up – with no one disputing it – was 60% homosexual orientation. The best anyone would say against that was that most priests really were celibate, even if their orientation was homosexual.

            Anything over 2% (the percentage in the rest of the population) is an important story that needs to be explained, actually. If its just 4%, thats double the norm.

            Why would the percentage of homosexually orientated men in the priesthood be so high or even just higher than normal? Honest question. Homosexually oriented men being the interpreters of Catholic faith in the modern era MUST have an impact on official church teaching. Homosexuals see things through a perspective that is different from heterosexuals in general and contraception stands out like a sore thumb as something they’d see differently.

            If the Church hierarchy wasn’t so homosexual, what might be different? They might have been open to the argument that birth control pills are not unnatural as they use hormones that occur naturally in a woman’s body.

            • hombre111

              You have done a great thing and asked some great questions.

              • Midge

                Thanks. Its pretty obvious that homosexuals would have an inclination to make life tougher for heterosexuals and even take pleasure in sexually humiliating heterosexuals by instructing them when they may or may not have sexual relations within marriage. I can easily imagine homosexuals would look to find a way to cast normal heterosexual sexual relations as sinful, even perverse. Sure they’d get a chuckle out of that.

                Homosexuals are narcissistic (witness the “gay marriage” brouhaha dominating worldwide culture and less than 5% of them would want to marry because they want “open” relationships. They lack empathy for heterosexuals – many refer to heterosexuals as “breeders” even! – and they resent that their own sexual orientation is not considered normative. My own take is that the reason they are so disproportionate in the priesthood is that they are taking refuge there, in a place where they are the norm.

                But it is something every Catholic should think about and need an explanation: WHY are so many priests homosexually oriented? I don’t believe the Catholic Church has ever addressed that question, a very obvious question since it is so widely and uncontroversially known that SO many priests are homosexually oriented.

                • Jambe d’Argent

                  “WHY are so many priests homosexually oriented? I don’t believe the Catholic Church has ever addressed that question, a very obvious question. It is so widely and uncontroversially known that SO many priests are homosexually oriented and that is on the table for TV discussion but not “why.”.”
                  The Church has never addressed this question because it is a wrong question. You’re looking at this problem from the wrong end. It is not that many priests are homosexuals but that many homosexuals become priests. The reasons are obvious: an all-male environment, a hierarchical structure, spiritual power over the lay members (pun unintended) and cool clothes, too…

                  • Midge

                    Do you think the Catholic Church will ever address the prevalence of homosexuality in the hierarchy or that the Catholic laity will ever start to demand it be addressed?

                    People don’t say it out loud but its surely what they are thinking: “I’m going to take what a homosexual says about contraception seriously? No way.”

                    Would it be good for the Catholic Church to have it out in the open or better to just leave things be? It would decimate the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to remove the homosexuals. The alternative is to say that homosexuality is just fine. So the current thinking is to go on with the pretense, which is surely a lie, that although they are homosexually oriented, they are mostly celibate.

                    • Jambe d’Argent

                      “Do you think the Catholic Church will ever address the prevalence of homosexuality in the hierarchy or that the Catholic laity will ever
                      start to demand it be addressed?” Both things are happening already, aren’t they?

                      “People don’t say it out loud but its surely what they are thinking:
                      “I’m going to take what a homosexual says about contraception seriously? No way.”

                      Then such people are not thinking logically. I’ve explained some of the reasons why it is so in another posting, now I just add that homosexuality and contraception have very little in common (only insofar as they are obstacles to natural conception). Would you take seriously what homosexuals say about the theory of evolution? It involves them as much as contraception…

                      • Midge

                        I really do not see the Catholic laity demanding accountability for the prevalence of homosexuality in the clergy. Really do not.

                        Were any bishops or cardinals removed – thrown out, not just moved to Rome like Egan – for the child molestation scandal? And they were moving known recidivist abusers around the country, allowing them to prey on more children.

                        I caught a few minutes of the Al Smith dinner on C-SPAN last year. Theres accountability for ya: The president and his challenger yucking it up with officials of an organization known to have covered up for pedophiles. Wheres the outrage?

                  • Dorothy

                    Jambe, one sure way to discourage homosexuals from entering the priesthood is to require that they be married and have children.
                    Now that gay men no longer have to hide their sexuality and may freely and openly associate and even marry, I predict fewer homosexual men will be attracted to the priesthood. But the problem is that heterosexual men will NOT be attracted to it because of the celibacy requirement. And those empty positions will continue to multiply.
                    Wouldn’t it have been better if homosexuality had always been as normative as it is now? Then homosexual priests and prelates would not have needed to impose the celibacy requirement as a means of reserving the priesthood for gay men. And then the Catholic Church wouldn’t be in this mess.

                    • Midge

                      Dorothy,
                      Its unlikely that homosexuals would want to share the wealth (of the Catholic Church) with married priests.

                • Dorothy

                  Midge, I promised you some examples of bigotry on this very blog thread. Well, look at what you just wrote. You have negatively stereotyped homosexuals. I’m sure there must be SOME homosexuals who would not get a chuckle out of humiliating heterosexuals, and there must be SOME who are no more narcissistic than heterosexuals. There must be SOME who feel empathy for straight people. And you wonder why GLBTs complain about the bigotry expressed by certain Christians?

                • hombre111

                  A close friend of mine who is a homosexual told me this in confidence: He had been struggling with his homosexual tendencies and thought that the priesthood, with its promise of celibacy, would solve the problem. It didn’t. But I believe he does lead a celibate life. He is an eloquent, powerful pastor.

      • Bono95

        Name me 1 man who was castrated before or after taking Holy Orders.

        • Jambe d’Argent

          Abelard – but for different reasons, of course (just answering your question literally…)

          • Bono95

            Who’s Abelard?

            • Jambe d’Argent

              You know what Google is?

              • Bono95

                Yes, and I know that it ain’t the most reliable source for Catholic topics.

                • Jambe d’Argent

                  In this case, you should cross yourself before googling “Abelard”…

      • Bono95

        Was the pope you’re quoting talking about priests who were validly married before being ordained, or was he referring to bad priests who entered into illicit affairs?

        And we’ve gone over this before, it’s better for priests to be celibate for several reasons, none of which have to do with degrading marriage.
        #1 The priestly vocation carries a very small paycheck, one which most likely could not properly support a wife and children, especially if a church has more than 1 resident priest and all or most of them are married and have kids.
        #2 Priests are married to the Church, and their children are the people of their parishes. It would put a lot of extra pressure on priests, who are rightly described as having the world’s most difficult vocation already, for them to have to attend to the needs of both a biological and a spiritual family.
        #3 Not all priests are missionaries, but many get moved to different parishes every few years several times throughout their lives. This would be terribly inconvenient and difficult if priests had to pack up tons of furniture and enroll their kids in new schools every few years.
        #4 The sacrament of Marriage is an extremely holy and beautiful thing, as is Holy Orders, but the pope you mentioned does have a point that even a valid marriage can distract an ordained man from his priestly duties. It’s a classic case of not being able to have a cake and eat it too. Both lifestyles are good and holy in different ways, and both involve sacrifice. A man who marries sacrifices a lot of luxuries, free time, and money to take care of his wife and kids. He also sacrifices the privilege of being able to to say Mass, hear Confessions, give Absolution, and perform marriages. In the same manner, a priest sacrifices his sexual powers and several of his previous liberties.

        It is true that the elevation of Holy Orders in the Middle Ages did lead some individuals to mistakenly view Marriage as low and a sign of moral weakness, but that erroneous position was never held or taught by the Church. And several clerics who were married prior to ordination, like St. Paulinus of Nola, lived in continence afterwards, never again having intercourse with their wives.

        • hombre111

          Thanks, Bono, you said some wise and beautiful things. I think my main points was the freedom destroying evil involved in forced celibacy. For a thousand years, the Church had been doing quite well with married priests. The Orthodox Church continues to do very well.

          A number of arguments had been put forward to justify forcing priests into celibacy: Imitating the Levitical Priesthood of the Old Testament. This was bad exegesis. Thanks to Platonic dualism, the Church separated body from spirit, with the body scorned because of its earthy sexual nature, This is heresy. Bishops and popes who had been monks tried to push their spirituality, including celibacy, onto secular priests. This misunderstands the secular priesthood and the fact that such priests had been married for a thousand years, and continue to be married in Eastern Churches united to Rome. This also makes celibacy a practice peculiar to the Latin Rite, with no moral and spiritual justification beyond “a required discipline.” None of these reasons compelled the hierarchy to impose celibacy. The clincher was purely material: the property of the Church was threatened by priests (especially bishops) who were trying to steal land and give it to their children. It was for the sake of saving property that secular priests were forced to become celibate.

          There is only one good reason why priests should be celibate: To follow the celibate Christ as completely as possible. But that is the definition of religious vows, a different story. If a secular priest chooses celibacy, it should be out of free choice, because such a thing is a gift of the Holy Spirit and not something that can be imposed by the raw power of the hierarchy. As Jesus said, “Some people are eunuchs by the hand of men.” I don’t think Jesus was calling that kind of celibacy a blessing. Celibacy has sort of worked in the Church because of the love, sacrifice, and forgiveness of the men who have been forced into this difficult position.

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    • Midge

      I admit I read only the first line of each paragraph because early on I reacted so strongly to the wrongheadedness of this article.

      Regarding the “gay marriage” debate, the only reason a majority seem to now accept “gay marriage” is that any dissenting opinion has been banished and demonized in Orwellian fashion. This may change. The numbers/percentages of homosexuals who marry or contract civil unions in places where it is available to them have been very, very low. This issue has dominated the culture for the entire lives of that 18-29 year old group and they will find out that they have been mugged. Meanwhile, politics is subject to all kinds of winds. Homosexuals have aligned themselves so strongly with Democratic Party partisanship and thus alienated anyone who votes Republican. They will regret it as they have torn to shreds the acceptance and tolerance of a fair chunk of the population, and all for something that is truly irrelevant to them.

      Regarding sexual practices, what the author is missing is that people mostly do not want to hear about these very, very private matters from anyone, let alone a humongous institution like the Catholic Church, especially when the Catholic Church just makes a lot of dull pronouncements because the church is as uncomfortable as any parent when talking about sex and sexuality. Unfortunately, a lot of credibility was lost with the priest scandals but someone should be speaking out against the current media push for anal sex. Watch a season of HBO’s “Girls” – that attitude is that there is something missing if a woman hasn’t engaged in anal sex. Its horrific, truly horrific. But if you want to speak out against that attitude, you’ve got to say the words, not waltz around with words like “sodomy” and “fornication.” You have to say bluntly that this is a harmful, cruel practice. Leave the homosexuals out of it; they’ll do as they like. But try to save women from being subjected to the normalization of it. Who will disagree with that? Take them on. No, we’re going to talk about the “beauty in Church teachings.”

      Regarding contraception, thats truly a lost cause. People do not believe there is anything wrong with limiting family size and nothing, nothing the Catholic church or anyone says will change their opinion. Who is going to pay for your kids to have all the things they want and to go to college if you’ve got 5 of them? Not the Catholic Church. Moreover, the Catholic Church DOES recognize a method of contraception as legitimate, the rhythm method. People can figure out that the only thing the Catholic Church or opponents of contraception are about when they go on that issue is punishing people and making life hard on people.

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        Wow. Do you really believe that having children is a punishment?

        • Midge

          Does contraception weaken the case against erotic asphyxiation or does that stand alone by itself as something really, really bad? Same with anal sex. Millions have died because of it.

          • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

            What do you say if two consenting adults like anal sex? Or erotic asphyxiation? Or any other risky sexual practice? What do you say if the couple understands and accept the risks of such conduct for their enjoyment?

            • Jambe d’Argent

              So “enjoyment” becomes the supreme value – how sad and immature!

              • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

                If you throw out concepts of Natural Law (or otherwise) that the sexual act has a natural purpose that should not be violated, then all that is left is as a basis for sexual ethics is consent and enjoyment.

                • Jambe d’Argent

                  Animals would disagree – and if humans now believe otherwise, it can only mean that they have slunk below the level of animals.

    • JSchae

      Very good article. It’s a crucial point that contraception paved the way for all of this perversion. What the Church needs to do is argue based on the real-world results of the complete dominance of the contraceptive mindset in our Western World today.

      Contraception was supposed to free us all to enjoy sex without the so-called “negative baggage” of children and responsibility. But in fact irresponsible sex has made us warped, jaded and incredibly miserable. The promised payoff just isn’t there.

      The homosexuals are trying to make a religious or political argument over something that is basic anatomy / biology. All we have to point out is the inevitable conclusion that comes with their perversion.

      For they can wipe every traditional Catholic-minded person from the face of the earth, eliminate every last hint that people ever thought in such a way, and their main problem will still be staring them right in the eye: You are going against nature and you WILL suffer the consequences for it.

      We should say the same about contraception as well. And, as the author says, it’s not just the negative effects but the positive things that these misguided people miss out on when they go against the Divine (i.e.,natural) plan for mankind that should be emphasized.

      Well done.

    • Matthew C. Masotti

      Mr Jermann’s essay, though rightly emphasizing the full scope of the Church teaching on sexual morality to which we are called to give witness in every way, contains a serious flaw. Homosexuals are simply people who engage in homosexual activity, not members of some categorical group. However, to a much greater extent than those who ignore Church teaching in other areas, the LGBT “label” is used by those who sexually deviate in these ways to establish a ‘community’ defined by distinctions they consider to be real. Most people who use contraceptives don’t view using them as essential to their nature (they don’t consider themselves ‘contraceptors’), nor do most adulterers think that they are born that way. To be sure, we now find ourselves in a battle of the century over marriage because of a dangerous, and much broader, philosophical turn engendered by the excessive indulgence of the “sexual revolution.” The pressing problem today is a refurbished geneticism, and its potential harm should it become very widely-held. Reversing the trajectory of the sexual revolution is worthy, but the growing acceptance of biological determinism to account for every behavior is beginning to threaten our ability to speak of moral distinctions at all.

      If we abandon our concept the tree, there’s no longer a forest.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Exactly! I cringe every time someone (especially those in the hierarchy of our Catholic Church) speak of “homosexual persons” or “gay persons.” One’s sexual attraction do NOT define personhood nor is personhood derived from it. Personhood is defined as “male” or “female.”

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    • Carol Leeda Crawford

      I encourage everyone to separate the person male or female from their desires and actions. No one is their sexual desires or actions. The term heterosexual was deemed only when we began to allow individuals to identify themselves as being their desires. Another term sexual orientation was imposed to create a sense of norm or objectivity for one to be what they desire. God gave us one gift, free will, the ability to discern and choose. He has called us since the beginning of humanity to align our will with His.
      We act contrary to God’s Will when we use the term Homosexual person. Instead, I encourage all to state the truth in reference to individuals who profess to “BE” their sexual desires. I encourage you not to act on your, sexual attraction to members of your own gender. You are first and foremost a child of God who is called to be obedient to His Will as revealed in His Word, which clearly states: sexual behaviour is only allowed within the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. Every individual with God’s help will be able to choose to follow this moral doctrine. He has given us Free Will to Choose. I pray you choose to be faithful to Him.

      • Paul McGuire

        Do you have sexual attractions to members of your own gender? I ask this because often when someone suggests we should resist those attractions I realize they do not actually have any to resist. A large majority of the population has no need to resist attractions to the same gender because they are only attracted to the opposite gender. For those same people to then say “Oh you gay men who are attracted to other men should just resist that attraction” is silly and disingenuous.

        As my mom likes to say, if someone told her as a young girl that she could not marry a man but had to marry a woman, she would resist it with all her being. In the same way, if someone tells a gay man that he can not marry a man but has to marry a woman, he resists it with all of his being.

        • Guest

          No one is a gay man or woman is my point. As intelligent beings made in the likeness of God – meaning we have reason and the ability to choose to act or not to act. God in His word clearly tells us not to act on same sex attraction. Hence the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding sexual acts between same sex persons. Everyone has to resist temptation or their desire to do something reason tells them is harmful, whether it be to their health, as are almost all sexual acts between two men, or to their soul, God has forbidden them to act. I have friends who choose not to act when they experience same sex desire and others who with God’s help no longer experience the attraction to members of their own gender. The true disingenuous issue is we have supported individuals in identifying themselves as BEING their desires or behaviour and that it is wrong or uncharitable (homophobic a misnomer) to tell them not to act on these feelings. Regarding the example with your mother. No one is telling individuals who are attracted to the same sex person they have to marry. As I said above, I know individuals who experience these attractions that are choosing a call to Chastity. There isn’t anything silly about HIV and don’t try to tell me it isn’t primarily in the men who have sex with men community. Over 80% of all new AIDS cases are men who have sex with men. Personally, I believe with my whole heart I love those who choose to act more than they love themselves. I don’t want them to die or choose the flesh over right relationship with God’s Will.

        • Carol Leeda Crawford

          No one is a gay man or woman is my point. As intelligent beings made in the likeness of God – meaning we have reason and the ability to choose to act or not to act. God in His word clearly tells us not to act on same sex attraction. Hence the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding sexual acts between same sex persons. Everyone has to resist temptation or their desire to do something right reason tells them is harmful, whether it be to their health, as are almost all sexual acts between two men, or to their soul, God has forbidden them to act. I have friends who choose not to act when they experience same sex desire and others who with God’s help no longer experience the attraction to members of their own gender.

          The true disingenuous issue is we have supported individuals in identifying themselves as BEING their desires or behaviour and that it is wrong or uncharitable (homophobic a misnomer) to tell them not to act on these feelings.

          Regarding the example with your mother. No one is telling individuals who are attracted to the same sex person they have to marry. As I said above, I know individuals who experience these attractions that are choosing a call to Chastity.

          Finally, there isn’t anything silly about HIV, and don’t try to tell me it isn’t primarily in the men who have sex with men community. Over 80% of all new AIDS cases are men who have sex with men. Personally, I believe with my whole heart I love those who choose to act more than they love themselves. I don’t want them to die or choose the flesh over right relationship with God’s Will.

          • Paul McGuire

            The way I understand the teachings of the church is that celibacy is a path for those who are called to live that life. To me though, this is another way of talking about asexual people (those who have no feelings towards either sex) and does not apply to gay men. To suggest that an entire group of people are required to either live a life of celibacy or deny their being and enter into a relationship with someone of the opposite sex seems more harmful to me than anything else.

            God calls us to love one another and I believe it is a valid expression of that love when two gay men or even two bisexual men find each other and pair off in a loving relationship. I prayed for a long time when I was making the decision to come out and then to search for a life partner. The message I received from God was clear, he loves and accepts me as a bisexual man, and the man I am with now is the man God wants me to be with. Our relationship has brought me closer to God in many ways and has also done the same for him.

            I recognize that this is not in line with the official teachings of the Catholic Church but I do believe that in time loving same-sex relationships will be recognized in the Church. If I have to take part in a more liberal Christian group in order to have my relationship blessed when the time comes for marriage then that is something I am prepared for.

            • Midge

              Paul,
              As some commenters have pointed out in this thread, and as is the message of the original article, in the view of the Catholic Church, homosexual practice is of a piece with contraception: The Catholic Church looks at both as “unnatural,” – spilling seed, rendering sex useless, etc.

              So, the Catholic Church is really in a bind! I am sure they would absolutely love to say “Gay is OK” The media would be wild with praise. And all the gay priests could be as public as every other gay person.

              I can’t see the Catholic clergy wanting to let married heterosexual couples live their sexual lives uninterfered, though.

            • Carol Leeda Crawford

              You use the term asexual to imply no feeling towards either gender. Most if not all of the people I know who are choosing to live a celibate life would never consider themselves as asexual. They would acknowledge the have chosen either to live a vow of celibacy for God or because either they are divorced, the person of their desire is not available to them or they desire sexual conduct which is contrary to natural law. It seems you have been convinced God will go against what he has deemed as an abomination to him. Leviticus 18 in particular verse 22. Moses spend 40 years in the desert with the Israelites who continually asked God to forgive them only to return to their behaviour. When the Israelites, none of whom left Egypt including Moses entered the promise land, were read the law by Joshua, once more they agreed to follow the law.

              There are as Midge below states men in the priesthood who profess like yourself to be their desires and they and others have convinced themselves God will now condone what He previously condemned. Jesus, was clear when asked about divorce, St. Paul is clear on the cause and effect of same sex behaviour in more than one place in the new testament.

              Paul, you may choose to go against God and participate in a same sex relationship. I encourage you to be honest with yourself, you would be choosing your mother’s response – to resist the truth because it does not validate how you want to act.

            • John200

              Dear Paul,

              To think that God wants you to be with another man is a serious misfortune.
              Think: willed choice, full knowledge, grave matter….

              I urge you to present this comment to a normal man who became a faithful RC priest. One who follows orthodoxy; NOT a “dissenting” priest; not a silver ponytail.

              This is more important than anything in a combox.

            • Dorothy

              Paul, I fully support you in the life you’ve chosen, and I hope you will never be drawn into the kinds of self-recriminations that many of these bloggers would like you to feel. You know that many (even most) Catholics in this country also support you. The Church is changing, however slowly, and you are one of the ones leading that change. Thank you for your efforts. They are truly appreciated as well by many others who see your comments here.

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    • Jambe d’Argent

      Some of my replies seem to have been deleted from this combox. Since I can’t think of any good reason for their deletion, it can only mean that the moderators at Crisis Magazine engage in censorship. If this is so, I consider it utterly hypocritical.

      • Crisiseditor

        I deleted none of your comments. Nor is there any record or evidence of deleted posts in the moderator software. I count twenty six posts on this thread by you. If you think something is missing, contact me and we’ll find out what happened. Posts are rarely deleted as a matter of policy. Feel free to post to your hearts content. But don’t assume wrongdoing when there is none.

        • Jambe d’Argent

          Thank you for your reply. I wasn’t sure about what had happened and that’s why I wrote, “Some of my replies SEEM to have been deleted…” and “IF this is so”. No automatic assumption of wrongdoing was intended. In fact, I am quite sure now that it was a temporary malfunction of Disqus. Just the same, I apologize for raising a false alarm.

    • maria1125

      so true!!!

    • Jeff

      Mr. Jermann, as an orthodox Roman Catholic man carrying the cross of same-sex attraction, I want to thank you for this beautifully written piece. All of us, heterosexual and homosexual, married and single, are called to live chastely. A married heterosexual couple employing artificial barriers to conception depart just as grossly from God’s plan for human sexuality as homosexual couples practicing sodomy. To grant the heterosexual couple a pass while condemning the homosexual couple is not only unfair, but unwise as it allows the heterosexual couple a false sense of security in their place in Paradise.