December 29, 2017

In general, I have my reservations about the image of “spiritual warfare,” not because it’s an inherently bad idea but because it too often means importing a kind of fantasy machismo into spirituality. Too many of the people who really like the idea of doing battle against demons haven’t ever actually been in a war, and it’s clear that what they are picturing is something more like being Aragorn, fearlessly charging out and mowing down the servants of the Dark… Read more

December 21, 2017

It’s that time of year again – the annual season of arguing about whether “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a rape anthem or not. I know what you’re all thinking: “Melinda,” you are asking yourselves, “can you relate this question to NFP?” Why yes. Yes I can. The argument in favour of “Baby It’s Cold” is basically an argument that these coy refusals are a way for a woman to get sex in a context where she will be shamed,… Read more

December 13, 2017

Okay, so I’m slowly, painstakingly working on the NFP book — there’s a bunch of personal stuff going on, and also I sprained my ankle and now everything is taking about twice as much energy as usually. So pray for me if you can. In the meantime, I wrote a piece for Aleteia about an experience that I had a number of years ago when I was really having trouble going back to Confession after my miscarriage. It’s something that… Read more

November 28, 2017

One of the most recent developments in the #metoo trend has been the emergence of the #churchtoo hashtag, which invites believers to talk about the specific ways in which Christian culture contributed to their sexual victimization. It’s a moment to stop and reflect on the ways in which the culture within our Churches can make an environment that protects abusers, and that sidelines or even shames those who have been victimized. There are a few trends that run through a… Read more

November 17, 2017

One of the most common frustrations that I hear from Catholics who are recovering from spiritually oppressive forms of the faith is “I was taught never to trust my conscience.” It’s a complaint that I can relate to pretty well: in the circles that I moved in when I first became a Catholic the word ‘conscience’ was often treated as a dirty word – so much so that I was astonished when I finally read what the Catechism had to… Read more

November 7, 2017

Whenever I do a presentation, there is one old and familiar question that I can pretty much be assured of getting in one form or another: “Shouldn’t we use the term ‘same-sex attracted’ instead of a word like ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’.” It comes in slightly different flavours, like in the Q&A from the Webcast that I did for OSV today. But to be honest, the thing that weirds me out is that it is asked so frequently — that among… Read more

November 2, 2017

Why NFP and Why not ABC? I want to approach this in terms of my personal experience first, and then, in the next section, I’ll talk about how that experience relates to broader trends and to the ethical issues surrounding birth control. I’ve written in the past about my frustrations with natural family planning, my repeated failures to actually avoid pregnancy while using it, and the problems that I have with a lot of NFP culture. I’ve written less about… Read more

October 26, 2017

There’s been a lot of talk over the last week or so about the ethics of consent, and there’s a common refrain that I keep seeing in Christian contexts: “this is what comes of seeing consent as the only morally relevant thing in sex. If instead we just stuck to traditional marriage and objective sexual ethics, we wouldn’t be having these problems.” So, I want to point out that throughout a lot of the history of Christendom, giving women away… Read more

October 23, 2017

One of the most frustrating things about discussing rape prevention is that there is often a lot of equivocation going on. We’re told that rape isn’t really related to normal sexual behaviour: studies of convicted rapists show that these men are predators. They’re not ordinary guys who made a mistake, but rather a category of men who get off on holding women in their power. I believe this is probably true of convicted rapists – because the sad truth is… Read more

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