Shackled to Fertility?

One of the good things about having the odd troll turn up in the combox is that they give me ideas to blog about. Here’s one: “The Catholic Church’s teachings on sex shackle women to their fertility.”

This is one confused person. He doesn’t seem to understand that sexuality itself is shackled to fertility. That’s what sex is for: making babies. The biology is real simple: that organ goes in there to inseminate the woman so she becomes pregnant. It is obvious that this is what those organs are for just as it’s obvious that a mouth is for eating food and a rectum is for expelling waste. An ear is for hearing and a nose is for smelling.

The choice is obvious: sexual activity is either for recreation of procreation. If it is for procreation, then all the rest of the Catholic stuff follows. If it is for the reproduction of children, then the children need to be born into a secure and happy home. The most secure and happy home is one in which a man and woman live together in a permanent and indissoluble bond of love. It’s all one package.

However, if sexual activity is for recreation not procreation, then the secularists are right and anything goes. If sexual activity is simply a fun past time then you might as well play games with anyone, anywhere and what’s wrong with that? If sexual activity is for recreation then there is no reason why there should be any limits between consenting persons–and that is precisely where our society is headed. Did a Hollywood director shrug and say incest is okay? If sex is no more than a game of tennis–pretty much fun if you have a good partner–then anything goes. If sex has no meaning other than a pleasurable physical spasm, then there is no reason for sexual morality.

The problem is that people know deep down that it does have more meaning. That’s why they’re dis-satisfied with promiscuity. That’s why they go with the same person and enter a ‘relationship’.  That’s why they have broken hearts when the affair ends. They know that sexual activity is supposed to be fruitful.  They know that it is supposed to bring about new life and new love and take the person into a relationship that will be fulfilling and eternal.

Does the Catholic church’s teaching on sexuality “shackle women to fertility”? Yes it does, because it insists that sexuality and procreation are naturally linked, and they cannot be un-linked without doing violence to both fertility and sexuality. Are women so ‘shackled’? Yes, but so are men for the Catholic Church teaches that a man’s sexuality is also linked with fertility. He is supposed to be a Father and a husband. He is no more permitted to separate his sexuality from fertility and responsibility than a woman is.

Does the Catholic Church shackle anyone’s sexuality to their fertility? No. Everyone has free choice. A woman or a man doesn’t have to have their sexuality shackled to anything. They can be totally and utterly free to be their own person and not be troubled by babies and marriage and all those other ‘shackles’ normal people call a ‘family.’

A Catholic who does not want to be shackled to these things can be celibate and therefore totally and utterly free.

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  • John

    And that is why we will soon see pushes to legalize poligamy, incest, bestiality, pedophilia and any other sexually deviant behavior you can think of. Marriage is being turned into just a legal recognition of 2 objects that are having sex with each other. If sex isn’t about reproduction, then it only for recreation.

  • Peter Brown

    @John: which is why our laws about marriage are increasingly incoherent. Government simply hasn’t got a compelling interest in the vast majority of recreational activities; even the ones in which government *does* have a compelling interest (alcohol, drugs) don’t give rise to the elaborate legal framework that we have for marriage.

    Government’s interest in procreation, on the other hand, *is* compelling, and leads to exactly the kinds of commitments that we in fact find in marriage laws not only in the West but in most cultures worldwide.

    None of this is to say that there’s no recreational aspect to sex, of course. It’s unitive as well as procreative. But it’s a very serious fun.

  • Mark Ferris

    Agreed. And as anyone can tell you, even children can enjoy tennis.

  • Confused Catholic Downunder

    Father, this was an interesting post for me to read in light of what is currently happening in my country – New Zealand – right now. The same-sex marriage political juggernaut has recently rolled into town and the quality of the debates I’m sure will be depressingly familiar to you and all our friends in the States.

    It makes sense to me that the question really does boil down to a simple choice – is sex special or isn’t it? (recreation vs procreation). Sadly, the majority in my country seem to believe the later. If they’re right, then their arguments in favour of same sex marriage are correct and it would be unjust to limit marriage to one man and one woman. You’ve made a point that finally let the penny drop for me – if sex is just recreation, then there really isn’t any morality or need for laws or anything like that. (Of course, I’m Catholic and I don’t believe that – or I should put it more firmly: I don’t believe that at all and in fact it is a soul-destroying idea and accounts for the vast social dysfunction in my country).

    One point that troubles me, however: in this debate a number of homosexual couples of have made the claim publicly that they love each other and that they want the state to legally recognise that love (NB. NZ has civil union legislation, so in a sense the state already does recognise them, but for some reason that is deficient). If this claim is true, then surely they must also be accordingly some special significance to their sexual activity. In other words, claiming a unitive aspect, although obviously without the procreative element, above and beyond mere recreation. Either they are lying (which is possible – and evil), misguided (also possible and very sad), or telling the truth.

    It is this last possibility that I think troubles a number of Christians in my country and has lead some of them (certainly Catholics) to support the same sex marriage bill. I myself do not support it (I trust the bishops on this), but this is the one issue that gives me pause for thought. I would be interesting in your comments if you have the time.

    Kind regards,
    Matthew – Confused Catholic Downunder

  • Karen

    So married women should never be able to have jobs? Constant pregnancy makes earning a loving impossible, so married women either don’t ever have sex, which means their husbands don’t either, or those women never earn any money, which means women are helplessly dependent on men to continue eating and living indoors. Is that what you want?

  • vox borealis

    I don’t know, Karen. My wife and I manage to have plenty good sex, and she works, and we’ve had kids, and we manage not to have her pregnant all the time…and not to use artificial means of birth control. Of course, this requires working within the biological constraints of our God-given bodies, and for both of us to show occasional restraint. You know, a little self control.

    But maybe that’s too much to ask of a society for which all-sex-all-the-time is the highest good, apparently.

  • Guillermo Santiago

    Anyone who uses the phrase “shackle women to their fertility” is, in the words of the prophet Bugs Bunny, a MAROOOOOON!

  • Glenn Juday

    These controversies have a way of bringing complete, crystal clarity to the issues being batted back and forth.

    Surpassingly strange that it does not occur to some people that the “sex is for pleasure only” standard is suicidal for a society, for a family line, for the soul of any individual who embraces it. Those who model their lives that way will fairly quickly die out. If we were really vicious we would just let them, rather than try to get them to see the self-destructive nature of their mistake. In that way, an argument/debate on the issue is the very final stage just before destruction, and we owe them at least this last opportunity to reject the darkness of oblivion and reorient toward the light. May God grant us the grace to debate in the right way, and to not be a hindrance to his grace.


  • Lynda

    Love between two persons of the same sex cannot be sexual – the minds and bodies (and spirits) of men and women are clearly only for sexual relationships with someone of the opposite sex. If a person truly loves a person of the same sex, he or she will desire what is best for that other person, and will not engage in perverse sexual acts with him. That is not love, but to use another to satisfy one’s lust. All true love is chaste; many fail at various times to truly love another. We all sin, whatever our particular weakness. However, society ought never recognise sin as a good – it is always bad for the individual and for society. Also, legalising and further, conferring a public status upon, sexual relationships between two persons of the same sex will cause many people to enter into such sinful behaviour, and many more to cooperate with it, than would have otherwise done so.

  • Karen

    Vox Borealis: The Catholic church teaches that 1. wives have to submit to their husbands, and 2. wives owe their husbands the “marriage debt,” which is sex whenever he wants it. I’m glad you are kind to your wife and you two have worked things out for her. I have to note that you have done this entirely by violating the rules of your church, in the form of having a mutual and equal relationship. The Catholic church says you are supposed to be her boss, not her friend and partner.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Karen, what you’ve written is outrageous and wrong. However, I am willing to be corrected. To support your statement please give references to official church documents, otherwise we’ll conclude that you’re just talking through your hat.

  • Al Bergstrazer

    Narcissism tends to be rather blind to consequences of actions.

  • Al Bergstrazer

    The more I hear arguments over same sex marriage, GLBT (or whatever it’s called this week) and anything goes sexuality in general I cannot help but be struck by the thought that promiscuity is the liturgy of the depraved, it is the highest form of how one worships onself. That is the only reason I can fathom that would come close to explaining why people knowingly engage in what is very often self destructive, polarizing behavior and though it is most cases harmful, defend it with such blind fervor (that is often attributed to ‘we’ religious zealots).

  • JoFro

    Karen – 2. wives owe their husbands the “marriage debt,” which is sex whenever he wants it

    I really would like to see the church documents on that! Are you sure you are not confusing Islam with the Catholic Church? There is a rule in Islam where the woman, even if she is in prayer, must give in to her husband’s urges if he demands it at that time. First time I’m hearing that the Church supposedly has the same rules. Would love to see proof of such a rule

  • femi-mom

    impossible shmshossible. pregnancy is a process, a cycle. That cycle includes lots of different limitations but it’s not like we wind up waddling around, eternally 8-months pregnant and never able to do anything. You take a month or two off here and there, when the need arises but many women are quite capable of working durring pregnancy. Depending upon the labor intesity of the job, some can work right up until d-day. Some women find ways of earning a living from home, others find employers who are woman-friendly and won’t fire you over a little leave w/o pay or telecommuting.

    It’s not impossible. And where it is hard, the only real limitation on women comes from a system (economic and government) that keeps failing to address the fact that women get pregnant and need laws/policies in place that protect their ability to work when and how they can. (Rather than shoving free chemical castrations at us and expecting us to act like men in order to earn the same respect men get).

  • vox borealis

    Ah OK, I see I made a mistake by offering a serious response to Karen. It is clear that her operating assumptions are so deeply flawed, and her manifest hostility to the Church so deep, that meaningful discussion is probably fruitless.

    But to reiterate for the record, my wife and I follow completely the teachings of the Catholic Church—we violate no rules. And since we committed ourselves fully to do so, and thus freed ourselves from the shackles of sexual narcissism, our marriage has been infinitely stronger.

  • Will

    “The choice is obvious: sexual activity is either for recreation of procreation. If it is for procreation, then all the rest of the Catholic stuff follows. If it is for the reproduction of children, then the children need to be born into a secure and happy home. The most secure and happy home is one in which a man and woman live together in a permanent and indissoluble bond of love. It’s all one package.”

    My understanding is that the Church teaches that sexual activity can be for both recreation and procreation. Back in the 1960s, there was much Church politics involved before and after the enclyclical In Human Vitae was issued by the pope. Some theologians disagreed with the enclyclical. Many priests and bishops did not preach about the enclyclical. Most still say little. Many married couples wanted, and still want, to limit family size. Artificial birth control and sterilization was/is used by many. Perhaps NFP works fine, but there was little pressure to use it or effort to “sell” it.

  • Gina

    Karen : Right after reading your comment, two women come to my mind. St. Gianna and Blessed Zellie Martin. Both of their lives contradict your understanding of Catholic Church teaching on marriage/ sex/family. Both of them worked and still managed to have beautiful marriages/families. As a Catholic woman, I can tell you I have many friends who work and have children. Not because they are afraid of being helplessly dependent on their husbands. They simply want to contribute with the finances and they want to share their God given talents.
    Being financially dependent on my husband is not so terrible. I simply cannot work outside of the home and do what it is necessary to care for my family. If I am too proud,independent,distrustful to depend on my husband, than how could I depend on God? If we become ill, should we not be able to depend on our spouse,God, health care workers to care for us? It takes humility to trust and depend on God or the people in our lives.
    Feminists from the 60′s who tell women that without birth control they will have babies one after the other, is not really true. We would love a larger family, However having sex doesn’t guarantee that a new life will be formed or that the life will survive. God’s plans and our unique physical capabilities limit how many souls we are blessed with.
    The real shackles come from the lies that the world likes to portray as happiness. Sadly, too many women today are shackled to anti depressents and anti anxiety drugs. Money,independence, cancer causing contraception, career, social life etc… is not living up to the promise of freedom and happiness.

  • Karen

    Casti Connubii: By this same love it is necessary that all the other rights and duties of the marriage state be regulated as the words of the Apostle: “Let the husband render the debt to the wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband,”[28] express not only a law of justice but of charity.

    26. Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that “order of love,” as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.”[29]

    27. This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband’s every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is not customary to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.

    28. Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact .”

    I have even included some of the language moderating the husband’s tyrannical authority, at least in theory. In practice, of course, that is NOT how it really works.

  • Irksome1

    If we’re to insist on defining pride along a strictly sexual spectrum, then it seems to me that promiscuity quite obviously can’t be the highest form of how one worships himself. The highest form would have to be masturbation, since that vice thwarts even the attempt to engage another and is the very picture of absolutely insular self-gratification.

  • Karen

    More from the same source: “The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: – physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family.”

    Please note that this particular Pope states that it is a “false teaching” to say that “the rights of husband and wife are equal.” Men count and women are a waste of space.

  • Nathan

    Karen, I’m glad to see you have read Casti Connubii. Please note the Holy Father NOWHERE in any of the language you’ve sited said that women must have sex with their husbands on demand (what you refer to as the “marriage debt”) nor does he say “men count and women are a waste of space”. If you read Casti paragraph 27 (which you quoted above) it clearly teaches that women are NOT to mindlessly obey their husbands as slaves (or even to listen to husbands as minors would be required to listen to parents). You dismiss the Church’s actual teaching by claiming “this is not how it really works” then attack vox borealis for “not following Church teaching” because he IS following the teaching of Casti, the very teaching you claim is dismissible because no one follows it! The Church teaches that men and women are EQUAL in dignity, but have different roles to play in society, the family, and the Church (see CCC 369 and following)

  • Nathan

    The Church does NOT teach that sex can ever be for “just recreation”. Sex has two-purposes, 1) the procreative and 2) the unitive. Neither can be suppressed without sin.
    The Church clearly and consistently has condemned birth control of all sorts as a “grave evil.” Neither dissenting theologians nor the practice of Catholics in this area changes the simple fact that it is against Church teaching. Theologians can be (and have been) wrong. Catholics can (and do) commit mortal sins. The magisterium, however, is free from error.
    Please note the “unitive” end of sex is NOT recreational. It is a deep, physical expression of the reality of the marital convent (two-flesh have become one).
    See CCC2360 and following.

  • Will

    The Pope can be infallible in certain instances. Other than that, the magisterium makes mistakes like the rest of us.

  • Gina

    Karen: your statatement number 26 when properly understood is beautiful and as a modern woman, I love those words. “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.”He is telling husbands that as head of the household they must serve. You stopped too quickly…” Husbands love your wives ,even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” Our husbands must be willing to die for his wife/family as Christ died for his church. Here is more….”Husbands must love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Each one of you should love their wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.” That is not the tyrannical, it is self sacraficing love. There does need to be an “order of love” because the only alternative is disorder/chaos.

  • Nathan

    Nope. The Magisterium is the infallible teaching office of the Church, as such it cannot make mistakes. Many confuse the ability to define a dogma ‘ex cathedra’ by the Pope (an exercise of the Church’s “extraordinary magisterium”) with the, equally infallible, “ordinary magisterium” of the Church. See CCC 888 and following, including “(the) Magisterium’s task (is) to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error… The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops… and, in a particular way to the bishop of Rome…(when they) propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching.”

  • Gina

    Karen number 26 when properly understood are beautiful words. “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.” You stopped to soon.”Husbands, love your wives,even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her…husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.He who loves his wife loves himself.For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as christ does the church….each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.” A husband’s role as head of household is to give his life for his wife/family. He is to serve his wife/family as Christ served his church. That is not tyrannical, it is self sacraficing love. Yes, scripture does call for wives to be subordinate to their husbands, just as Jesus obeyed his father to the point of death. The husbands are not getting the approval to be dominating dictators. They are being held to very high standards and must be willing to serve their wife as Christ loved and served his church, so this entails.. listening, obeying, loving,sacraficing for their wife and family. What you think you understand or what you have been taught is wrong. As far as their being a need for an “order of love”the only alternative to order, is disorder/chaos.

  • Will

    Well, then let us say the popes and bishops make mistakes like the rest of us.

    My first statement is nothing but a summary of history as I see it. You can intrepret it as you want.

  • Jane

    Gina–Those are not the only two possibilities and you know it. (Just as an example remember Nancy Pelosi has 5 kids and a career) And, for the record, I have both children and two–count-em, two–careers. And the most important work I have done is bringing souls into thew world, souls that will live forever. And also for the record, being dependent on another person–one to whom you are married and committed–is far from the worst thing in the world. The be-all and end-all is NOT having a job outside the home.

  • Nathan

    Hi Will,
    If you mean Popes and Bishops can make mistakes in the conduct of their lives and their personal opinions, even on things theological, then history proves your point (and I gladly assent to the proposition). If, however, you mean they can be wrong on matters concerning faith and morals when publicly teaching (for the Pope) and when publicly teaching when in union with Rome (for the Bishops), then we must part ways for this second instance is the Magisterium (the first is not) and the Magisterium is guaranteed by Christ to never fail and as St Thomas said “credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius; nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.” (“I believe whate’er the Son of God hath told; what the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold”)
    Pax Vobis.

  • Glenn Juday

    It might be helpful to think of it this way: If you have set your mission as a member of the lay faithful to sow discord (1) between the laity and the teaching authority of the Church, (2) discord between men and women regarding expectations of the sacrament of matrimony, (3) discord between husbands and wives who are united in matrimony, and (4) between those who place themselves under the discipline of marriage and the rest of society, is there any wonder your life will be in turmoil, the Church in turmoil, your relationships in turmoil, your society in turmoil?

    It seems to me the basis for the anger and resentment goes well beyond the specifics of a particular logical, proper, helpful, and time-honored teaching of the Church regarding morality in the realm of our sexual natures. Instead, it seems to me to be directed at the notion of self-restraint and self-sacrifice itself.

    The following is the logic of love as taught by Pope John Paul II.
    (1) Self-awareness leads to self-discipline.
    (2) Self-discipline leads to self-control.
    (3) Self-control leads to self-mastery.
    (4) Self-mastery leads to the capacity for self-donation.
    Only then is a human person capable of genuine, mature love.

    The issue under discussion in this thread seems to me to be stepping off the train, as it were, at step 1, not really at step 4.

    Can it really be that this generation does not desire the Church’s mature and wise vision and teaching of love to nurture their lives? Do they really reject the attraction of living in a society built on these principles? That would be more than turmoil. That would be the inky blackness of eternal night that rules existence outside the realm of love the Church ministers to us.

  • Serena

    Natural family planning, which works by respecting, not leveling, the body’s systems, works pretty well for most women, brings couples closer together, is correlated with better parenting and lower divorce, has no side effects, and does absolutely nothing to disrupt any career (except a sex industry career). Oh, and, it’s free.

  • Liz

    I do not disagree. But having just given birth, it is also clear to me that pregnancy, birth and child rearing are huge physical, emotional, mental and financial burdens, particularly on women. As a conservative Catholic pro life woman, I still believe many in the church, particularly male leaders, are perilously dismisive of the toll this takes on our bodies and minds. If we are going to truly be a pro life church we must be there for women… Truly …. From morning sickness to maternity leave in a way that is not patronizing. Sure the churchs message is counter cultural but we catholic women also live and birth in this culture.

  • Matthew the Wayfarer

    wow, such hostilities and the homosexual communities want to have marriage as an option? I may be wrong but it is crazy to me.
    Anyway, Father D., based on all that has been said about marriage and sex, he said she said, as a chaste and celibate male nearing 65 I am glad I never knew love or marriage. Not that I never wanted marriage and family but GOD cursed me with too good looks, too much common sense and a sense of humor no one understood or understands today. Taking the Church’s argument to its logical conclusion, when the wife(female) passes beyond childbearing years she and her husband MUST cease from sexual intercourse because it would only be for pleasure. Maybe that’s the way it was intended when women died during childbirth or their husbands died before them and the women went off to the convents to live out their days serving GOD and the community. If they survived into old age, the women usually rejected the advances of her husband and the husband found a mistress to satisfy his needs and wants. Yes, the church was very wise.

  • Ted Seeber

    I am surprised by the fact that nobody has mentioned what Civil Marriage is- a hangover from Protestant Reformation Era English Common Law that was a *serious attempt to persecute Catholicism*. And given no-fault divorce, I think it still is.

  • Glenn Juday

    The origin and wisdom of what the Church teaches comes from her Divine founder, not from any human, whether apostle (Paul), pope or popes, European culture, or theologian (old or new).

    The other apostles taught what Paul ended up teaching (not the cartoon version either). No pope launched off on a deviant teaching on human sexuality, family, and morality – either libertine or repressive. Popes were and are bound to teach and develop/refine what their predecessors taught. Even the popes of the worst personal morality never thought of fiddling with the very nature or basis of sexual morality itself. Despite the strong European historical bias in our culture, the ancient Apostolic Churches of the East teach the same on these matters as the dominant Latin Rite Church in America with its Irish, German, Italian, etc. roots. Just because you never heard of ancient Christians outside the West doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Theologians serve the magisterium, they do not define it. Ancient heretics and modernist dissenters add no credibility to their claims no matter their popularity or acceptance in the culture.

    So, the spirit of the times that wishes to redefine marriage, abolish it or make it a meaningless and non-binding social/cultural ghetto , are out of options, at an historical dead end. In intellectual terms, the ideas in such thinking are yesterday’s news, last year’s headlines, the same damned thing from the pagan era of one or two millennia ago. Those ideas are about as stale and dead as ideas can become. But apparently, that’s good enough for the pop infotainment culture of today that serves as the moral guide for so many.

    The Catholic Church is the rebel movement. Those who adhere to the Church are cultural revolutionaries, the ones under fire, the ones outside the libertine and joylessly confused sexual establishment. We are an annoyance, an irritant. But what and who we adhere to will never be defeated, can never be defeated, and no matter how much we are made to suffer we will only grow stronger because of it. Every victory over us will be hollow, temporary, and the occasion for more Divine blessing and assistance.

    Remember, in the end our side wins, not because of us, but because of the Divine power of our founder, Lord and Savior. Arm yourself with that power by aligning your will to His, look for the opportunity to help your neighbor discover the truth and the Truth living in you, and offer every suffering and accomplishment to Him. It will be a twisting, turning, and ultimately fulfilling ride to a glorious eternity.

  • Russell

    I agree with much of what you said, but you are wrong when you say that sex is designed “either for recreation or for procreation,” meaning one OR the other. Your premise is false. God’s purpose for sex is two-fold: It is for BOTH 1) intimacy (not simply “recreation”) between a legally married, loving, heterosexual couple, and 2) for them to produce children. It is not JUST for “making babies,” as you asserted.

    The Catholic Church often blames artificial contraception as a root cause of abortion, homosexuality, “shacking up,” adultery, fornication, pornography, sexually-transmitted diseases (STD’s), etc. Contraception may tie in (indirectly) to some of these sins of immorality, but it does not necessarily lead to them. And just because some people use contraception does not necessarily mean that they do (or approve of) these sinful things just mentioned.

    I see no valid reason why a legally married, loving, responsible and faithful couple should not be allowed to use (non-abortive) contraception every now and then. Although contraceptives are often used by unmarried couples, or used for selfish purposes, not all contraceptive use is wrong. It is not “intrinsically evil,” as the Catholic Church insists. The Catholic Church’s view of contraception is unbiblical, unbalanced and misleading.

    For a more detailed view of why the Catholic Church’s arguments against contraception fail, see these articles:

  • Karen

    Please explain to me how making husbands = Christ is NOT idolatry? The church worships Christ. so wives should worship their husbands?

  • Steve

    Father, you wrote: “It is obvious that this is what those organs are for just as it’s obvious that a mouth is for eating food and a rectum is for expelling waste. An ear is for hearing and a nose is for smelling.”

    Using that same logic, kissing in general is wrong, not to be permitted; and French kissing in particular must mean someone is genuinely a deviant. I’m certainly glad that none of your readers have ever French kissed their spouse. That activity is obviously NOT on the list of what a mouth can properly be used for — at least according to Fr. Longenecker, whose logic is always impeccable.

  • Gina

    Karen, we are all to be like Christ and live as he lived. Sacraficing for others, loving as he loved, obeying God by following His commandments. Jesus showed us the way and according to our state in life we are to follow him. By obeying God’s design of marriage we are glorifying Him, not our husbands.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    The primary use of the organs is for reproduction. The church also acknowledges the unitive aspect of sexual union–by which the pleasure and psychological and spiritual union of two people is accomplished this is also a function of those organs, but this is a secondary function, and if it is enjoyed to the negation of the reproductive, then abuse takes place.

    Your analogy of using the mouth for kissing is apt. Using the mouth to kiss is a secondary function of the mouth which is permissible. What would be un-natural would be to use the mouth only for kissing and to never use it for eating–which is it’s primary function.

    The fact that such things need to be explained indicates either that your intellect is limited or your logic has been perverted or both.

  • Steve

    Father, I challenged your logic. That is, I questioned whether your logic in this case is truly consistent and coherent. Your original argument was premised on the idea that a body part can only have one legitimate use (see the quotation I used above). You were attempting to suggest that there’s a principle of functionality at play in your rejection of people using their various body parts in ways other than the singular function you set out.

    Yet when I pointed out an obvious flaw in your logic, you resorted to calling names — I must be of low intellect or am relying on “perverted” logic. I’m amazed that this is the best response you were able to make. You are an educated man, a well-read man…and yet you call names when someone challenges the logic you’ve employed. I would have expected better of you.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I did not resort to merely calling names. I gave a well reasoned explanation and simply pointed out that if you need an explanation of things which are so patently clear from nature then you must be weak minded or your reasoning faculties are perverted. I used ‘perverted’ in an objective sense to mean that they have been twisted into being used in an unreasonable way.

    I don’t really know what you are trying to defend or support. If it is anal intercourse between two men, then you have proved my point.

  • Nathaniel

    “This is one confused person. He doesn’t seem to understand that sexuality itself is shackled to fertility. That’s what sex is for: making babies. ”


    “This is one confused person. He doesn’t seem to understand that locomotion is tied to feet. That’s what feet are for. Moving. And that’s why automobiles are an abomination.”


    “This is one confused person. He doesn’t seem to understand that eating itself is shackled to nourishment. That’s what eating is for: Nourishment. And that’s why diet coke is an abomination. ”

    Ever had diet coke?

  • Julie C.

    I must say, I agree with Father on this one! People here are becoming completely irrational trying to defend their point of view, but there is no plausible defense because they are just plain wrong!

  • Guillermo Santiago

    The key is “recreation AND procreation”.

  • Ted Seeber

    The best form of birth control- a special needs child who craves so much cuddling that he won’t leave the parental bed until age 8. And is damn stubborn about it.

    There is a reason that we now know he’ll be 10 before he has a sibling.

  • waywardson

    The key is that NFP “works pretty well for MOST women”.

    For women who are not “MOST women”, NFP can be extremely hard on a marriage. The couple really does feel “shackled to their fertility”.

    Couples in this situation need pastoral guidance. They often help finding a method that works for them or medical help in treating the medical condition that is causing the problems. Sadly, these are often lacking.

    Instead, these couples are getting extremely bad guidance from untrained theologians, no medical support, and judgment instead of mercy for their struggles.

    Nevertheless, I should emphasize that this is a PASTORAL problem, not a DOCTRINAL one. In the future, when we all have medical tricorders and can determine fertility with ease, this will not be an issue.

  • waywardson

    I do agree that many in the Church ARE dismissive of women. But the Church herself is not. As Flannery O’Connor said, if certain Catholics drag around the “dead weight” of sexism, it is their own dead weight, not the Church’s and that “The Church would just as soon canonize a woman as a man and I suppose has done more than any other force in history to free women.”

    The Church does teach that couples with “just reasons” can morally avoid pregnancy and that these reasons may be “very broad”. Deciding to have children or not at a given time is a matter of discernment between the couple and God. Humanae Vitae teaches quite clearly that either one may be part of the couple’s duty to responsible parenthood depending on the circumstances.

    What the Church teaches is important is not just the WHAT but the HOW. The Church teaches that if a couple desires to avoid pregnancy, the proper way to do so is through self-awareness, self-discipline, self-control, and self-mastery. This is what Natural Family Planning is all about. On the other hand, altering the sexual act or altering our bodies so that we do not have to do build these virtues will cause problems in a marriage or in society. This is why the Church is so positive about Natural Family Planning and so negative about contraception. (CCC 2370)

    Yes, some couples struggle with NFP, and this is a serious pastoral problem that is rarely addressed and poorly addressed when it is. But the doctrine is correct.