*Warning: The following may contain mature subject matter. Delicacy has never been my strong point, so if you are uncomfortable with or offended by reading about sexuality, proceed with caution.*
When I first started reading about the Catholic Church there were many things that I didn’t like, in particular the teachings on sexuality bothered me. It may sound strange to you, but I was fine with no birth control. My husband and I had already decided not to use any artificial forms of birth control. Natural Law made perfect sense to me in that area, and I was excited to finally find a church that stood for life. I had no problem with the bans on adultery and/or sex before marriage. Both my husband and I were raised in conservative christian homes that taught these qualities and we have reaped immense benefits from being each other’s first and only lover.
Strangely, the teaching that stood out to me was the section on masturbation. It seemed excessive and silly to put restrictions on something that doesn’t harm another person. Plus by extension it put limits on sexuality in married life too, oral sex wasn’t a huge part of our life in the bedroom, but it bothered me that some “higher up” in the church could tell us what we could or could not do in our bedroom. We were married after all, AND we were open to life, so what did it matter if there were a few blow-jobs once in awhile?
I felt like the Church was meddling too much, putting a cramp on my love life and making silly rules for no reason. And how was I supposed to teach my children that masturbation was not OK without making them feel like crap?
Initially I thought that becoming Catholic would mean that we would be stuck having sex missionary style forever and ever amen. However, in my research I found that I had the wrong impression about some things. Other than forbidding birth control, and restricting sexual activity to marriage, the church doesn’t dictate all that much in the bedroom. You are free to be as exploratory and creative as you like, as long as when the husband finishes, he is inside the wife’s vagina. Foreplay, afterglow, positions, it doesn’t matter, but part of being open to life means that you must be united for the final act.
But still, I could not understand why the restrictions were there at all. Until I wrestled with the tough question of Homosexuality.
Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian home, being gay was just about the worst sin there was. Yes we said that we loved the sinner and hated the sin, and yes we said that we thought that heterosexuals sleeping around was “just as bad”. But homosexuals (while never really talked about in all that much detail) were not only sinning by their sexual actions, the fact that they had the same-sex sexual attractions at all was a direct contradiction to everything that Christianity stood for. I remember one time as a teen in a discussion with my Dad, he said that homosexuality was demonically influenced. (Yes, I come from Pentecostal roots, many of them also believe that mental illness or handicap is a demonic affliction) When I asked him about bisexuality, he responded that the only true bisexuals were pagan witches. (At that point I figured I’d better not ask him about my own same-sex attractions.)
The very conservative/extreme side of the protestant churches, teaches that sex is not a good thing and that it is pretty much only for procreation. (This is where you’ll find the Quiver-full movement) So any birth control (including NFP), and any forms of sexual expression that were not procreative were taboo, even for married couples.
But most of the protestant world is fine with birth control. Sex is made for pleasure after all, and kids should only be part of the equation if you want them to be. Anything goes in the bedroom (as long as you’re married of course) except for things like threesomes and pornography.
I was used to the protestant double standard, you could do anything you wanted sexually as long as it was with your spouse, and since Gays weren’t allowed to get married they weren’t allowed to do anything. (Although at any point if they decided to stop their wicked desires and marry someone of the opposite sex they could be free to do anything in the bedroom as well.) We had all kinds of bible verses we could throw around to prove that Gays could not get married and that God did not approve of homosexual activity. But with Sola Scriptura as the foundation of authority the bible verses became less and less convincing. There were all kinds of verses in the bible that we didn’t adhere to today, how could we know that we were interpreting them correctly?