Thanks to Father Barnes III

My friend Julie read my post about marriage this morning and forwarded me an article that Father Barnes had shared with her. She said she had found it helpful, and I did too.

The article is “Designed for Sex” by J.  Bucziszewski, a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin. It takes my simplistic “13-year-old” argument about our bodies’ design a significant step or two further. (Sidebar: I appreciate the comments today, pro and con, from people who took pains to think through and express their understanding of marriage, gender, and sexuality.)

My point this morning was simply that when my father explained to me about homosexuality, when I was 13, my first reaction was, “How does that work? How do the bodies fit together?” This led me to consider that perhaps there was something in the design of our bodies that tells us how we should behave sexually, if, that is, we accept that God designed us.

After offering anecdotal evidence that young people are becoming disenchanted with casual sex (“hooking up”) in all of its permutations, that they are “beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists,” Professor Bucziszewski bluntly asserts, “The fact is that we aren’t designed for hooking up.” The professor speaks as a member of my (boomer) generation and wryly notes that, “My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, theirs is paying the price.” As the father of two daughters of “their” generation, I raise my level of attention.

It’s the next line that takes the argument further: “Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together.” That is, while casual sex may be convenient for our bodies, our hearts are engaged, sometimes in spite of ourselves, and casual sex is not convenient for our hearts. In this I hear echoes of Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation (CL), about which I will write the day I am confident I can do it credit. Father Giussani’s point, if I understand it correctly, is that the deepest desires of our heart are, yes, part of our design and therefore particularly valid. The deepest of all desires? For the infinite, the “Mystery,” God. Which, with wonderful, albeit somewhat circular logic, proves that God exists.

But I digress. And perhaps I waste words. Why not just give you a link to the Buczsizewski article and you can make your own sense of it?

Since it’s a long article, here are the professor’s four main themes, as laid out on the last page:

  1. “We ought to respect the principles of our sexual design.”
  2. “The human sexual powers have a purpose.”
  3. “The human design for procreation requires marital and family life.”
  4. “The spousal bond has its own structure, which both nourishes and is nourished by these institutions.”

Maybe this will help.

The picture shows my beloved Katie, Marian, and Martha jumping for joy over another brilliant post!

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  • This post really makes me want to cry, and I'm so sorry to say that, with your captioned picture and all. :)I have known and loved gay people for the majority of my life now. I'm not quoting scripture or great philosophers or saints, I'm just going with what is in my heart. (And I know, I'm opening myself up to a hearty skewering with that comment.) Is it so odd to think that there might be variation? One of my friends said he knew he was gay since elementary school. I believe him. And I truly dislike the 'love the sinner, hate the sin' stuff. I'm sorry this is so rambling, and so incoherent. When you've known gay people so filled with self-loathing for something they can't help that they've actually considered suicide? I weep for the suggestion that their orientation itself isn't sinful, but they are prohibited from that kind of physical intimacy we all desire and that deepens our relationships.I part ways with the consensus of my church here. Totally. But, let me say I appreciate the tone you take with your posts, as it's kind, thoughtful and quite clearly loving.

  • As a new reader of your blog, let me say that I'm loving it. Your testimonies to the beauty and worth and excitement of life in the true Church are wonderful!I glanced through the comments made about your blog on the Catholic Church's stance on marriage but didn't see a single reference to Pope John Paul II's incredible teaching, The Theology of the Body. JPII spent years teaching the faithful on the true meaning of human sexuality and all human relationships in light of our relationship with the Trinity and our relationship with Christ in particular as His bride, the Church. The depth and relevance of the Theology of the Body constantly astounds me. It is among the most freeing and beautiful teachings I have ever studied. I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who seeks to further undertand and appreciate the beauty of the way we're created as male and female and the purposes behind that creation. John Paul II's writings are quite philosophical and heady, but certainly comprehensible with dedicated effort. As well, a man named Christopher West has made it his mission (and is carrying that mission out very, very effectively) to spread this teaching of our beloved Pope throughout the Church, to reclaim the dignity and right purposes of our human relationships. Any of Mr. West's books on the matter are excellent.God bless your continued life in Him!