Catholic Sexual Ethics

Christopher Lasch: One of Bannon’s Favorite Authors

As Christopher Lasch was an unrepentant man of the left, it is to say the least doubtful that he would much relish being associated with Steve Bannon, the pugnacious and controversial former advisor to President Trump. Yet for good or ill the association is there, because some time ago the CEO of Breitbart identified Lasch’s [...]

The Nashville Statement and Why It Matters to Catholics

Just before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, a group of Evangelicals issued a statement reaffirming the ancient teachings of Christianity about homosexual practice, the definition of marriage, and transgenderism. Calling it “The Nashville Statement,” churchmen from a variety of evangelical traditions drafted a document aimed at catechizing the people of God. Hurricane Harvey quickly overwhelmed this [...]

Sex, Sanity, and Beliefs that ‘Live Loudly’ Within Us

“I do not know any country where, in general, less independence of mind and genuine freedom of discussion reign than in America.”  ∼ Tocqueville, Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville was the great French chronicler of the early United States.  Nearly 200 years ago, he spotted a basic tension in our national character. It’s this:  Americans place [...]

Is the Catholic Church in De Facto Schism?

Why is there confusion in the Catholic Church over Amoris Laetitia, and what consequences does it have for Church unity? I argue here that the confusion is ultimately over two de fide dogmas of Christian faith and that one consequence of the confusion is de facto schism within the Catholic Church. When de fide (“of the faith”) is used in Catholic [...]

Fatima, Marriage, and the Theology of the Body

It has been reported that Sister Lucia of Fatima wrote a letter to Cardinal Caffarra predicting that “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Not long after, Pope John Paul II was in the midst of his famous “Theology of the Body” talks on [...]

Chastity, Communion, Heaven and Hell

Once regarded as a virtue, chastity is now largely considered a fool’s quest. Those perpetrating chastity’s demise depict its death as a victory for life and love. Yet the opposite is true; an unchaste world is one of self-absorption and death. In subordinating the procreational nature of sex to recreational purposes, an unchaste society will [...]

A Defense of the Christian Teaching Against Contraception

Forty-eight years ago this past July, our story reached a dramatic climax. But it began in the dawn of Christianity, with a document called the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (or Didache). Written thirty to fifty years after Christ’s death, it gives the earliest evidence of a Christian condemnation of contraception. For the next 1900 years, it was the [...]

Why Words Matter When It Comes to Homosexuality

We can all agree that gaining understanding is at a premium when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. So what are we to make of (the words) "homosexual" and "gay"? Are these two words alike? Are they synonymous in meaning? Perhaps they are. Then again, there are such differences in people's minds when they [...]

Unnatural is the New Normal

In 1968, Pope Paul VI predicted that the widespread adoption of contraception would effectively sever the procreative and unitive purposes of sex in the popular mind and consequently lead to profound moral and sociological changes (see Humanae Vitae 17). British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe likewise argued that accepting the liceity of contraception would leave no principled [...]

An Alternative to Catholic Sexual Ethics?

The Catholic Church's teachings regarding sexual congress, marriage, and the family are clear and coherent. If you disagree with one or another of them, you place in jeopardy the entire edifice. Fine, say many people who urge us to get with the times as regards—and here you may fill in your preferred form of divorce, [...]

Adults Leave Millennials Clueless About Sex

If you’re in need of some comic relief this week, check out this piece from The Atlantic on “the sexually conservative Millennial.” In it, writer Emma Green sets out to show that Millennials (the generation of Americans presently between 18 and 35) are in fact far less libertine than is widely supposed. They are, in [...]

Is “Sexual Immorality” a Useful Concept?

The expression “sexual immorality” seems overly contentious to people today. To say someone has acted immorally is usually to say he’s acted in a way that’s morally repellent. But most people don’t feel that way about non-standard sexual activity. It’s not fornication, adultery, or sodomy that leaders of thought consider repellent, but the pharisaical judgmentalism [...]

Normality is Not Hatred

Very recently the view that homosexuality is entirely normal has become not only widespread but compulsory in secular public discussion. Leaders of thought tell us the change has been part of a general deepening of moral insight and improvement in the art of living. The older outlook oppressed millions out of fear, bigotry, and ignorance. [...]

On the Sexual Attitudes of Christian Same-Sex Marriage Supporters

As mainline Protestant denominations increasingly accept the ordination of gay clergy and publicly affirm same-sex unions, the sociologist in me wishes to understand what this development means for people in those denominations. I’m not talking about subtle linguistic shifts. While the difference between speaking of marriage as a “civil contract between a woman and a [...]

The Meaning of “Objectively Disordered”

There is widespread misunderstanding about what the Catholic Church teaches with regard to same-sex attraction. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding—which often construes the teaching as “offensive”—tends to isolate men and women who struggle with their sexual identity. They often feel ostracized at a time in their life when they need love from the people of God. This [...]

Protecting Your Child from the Dangers of College Life

A church friend of mine has a daughter going off to college in the fall. When I ran into him recently, I asked how the summertime preparations were going. I expected him to tell me they’d spent an afternoon trying to help her register for classes or a day at Target looking at tiny fridges [...]

Catholic Sexual Ethics: An Unknown Treasure

Every other year I teach a course on Christian sexual ethics. Turns out, 19-year olds are interested in the subject matter, and despite the early-morning schedule the course suffers from remarkably low rates of truancy—and not because of some innate skill of mine, I wager. The class is always enlivening, with arguments crackling back and [...]

Sex Affirmed

 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Cor 13:11) A society that trashes marriage will be a society unable to give up childish ways. Marriage is about growing up, not just [...]

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