Dialogue: Paul, Bible, & Catholicism R Anti-Sex? (Pt. 2)

Dialogue: Paul, Bible, & Catholicism R Anti-Sex? (Pt. 2) February 22, 2020

This is my reply to comments on my blog, underneath the article, Dialogue: Are Paul, the Bible, & Catholicism Against Sex?  Words of anti-theist-type agnostic 90Lew90 (who was dialogue opponent in part 1) will be in blue.

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“Each and every sexual act must be marital, unitive and procreative.”

I looked through my words in our last dialogue and could not find this “quote.” So why do you put these words in quotation marks, and where did you get it from. I think I know, but I’d like to hear you admit your little sleight-of-hand attempt here. Just as before, you don’t really interact with my arguments. You simply preach and repeat; and this is a logical fallacy. It doesn’t prove anything, except that you believe x, and preach it repeatedly. It tells us nothing as to the truth or falsity of x.

Your “quotation” as it stands is plainly false according to Catholic teaching, which holds that we are always to be open to procreation, if it occurs (i.e., don’t contracept and don’t murder an innocent, helpless child that is conceived (planned or not). Pope St. Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968 made it quite clear that spacing and limitation of children is permissible on three grounds: financial, emotional, and health reasons.

This means that it is perfectly in accord with Catholic teaching to plan children and to also plan to deliberately have sex (not desiring a child at this particular time, for good and valid reasons) during infertile times in the wife’s reproductive cycle. Nor does the Church forbid sex between infertile couples, or couples past the age of childbearing.

What it forbids is contraception and being hostile to a life that may come about due to our sexual activities.

Anything else is intrinsically evil and gravely immoral.

I have explained what we consider immoral.

This is not the kind of sex anyone has.

Many millions of observant Catholics have it, and secular polling repeatedly establishes that married couples who are serious about their Christian faith (go to church every week, pray, read the Bible, follow the moral teachings, etc.) are 1) happier in general (as indicated by self-reports and far less divorce), and 2) happier and more fulfilled specifically in the sexual sense.

Who woulda thunk it, huh? Us supposedly killjoy, puritanistic, fuddy-dud, Victorian, dour, anti-pleasure, anti-sex Christians have a considerably happier sex life than our wild, “liberated” so-called “free” friends who follow no particular religious code: and this is borne out by secular scientific social studies (sociology was my major). The empty promise in the sexual revolution was blissful happiness to all who ventured out to be as promiscuous as they could be. Somehow it didn’t work out that way. We knew all along that it wouldn’t. Pope Paul VI predicted virtually every alarming social trend having to do with sex, that we see today.

Even to have sex for pleasure is intrinsically evil and gravely immoral.

Not at all; only when pleasure becomes the sole and ultimate end of sex, while procreation is rejected. God invented the gift of sex and gave it to us to enjoy. He could have made reproduction something like a blood transfusion or a specialized handshake or what not. He could have done anything He wanted to. But He chose to make reproduction and sexuality one of the greatest physical pleasures that human beings can experience.

He did the same with eating. Taste buds have no biological function. They are strictly for pleasure. That’s how God wanted it. He could have not created, for example, colors, and the infinite variety of plants and wildlife, and of human personalities and different appearances (hair and eye color, shapes, etc.). He chose variety: knowing that we would enjoy that. The world is a feast for the senses.

The pleasure arising from sex may be seen as good in itself but incidental to the sex act.

Again, it is good; it’s great. It is one of the dual purposes of sex, but it’s not the very essence of sex, which is openness to life and reproduction / procreation, as its fundamental purpose. Many people have the greatest difficulty distinguishing between “not making something an ultimate or sole end” and “bad through and through.”

If pleasure is sought as the end of sex, it is intrinsically evil and gravely immoral.

Strictly speaking (as explained) yes, but of course there are many infertile times when the sex is primarily (in practice) for pleasure and unity and togetherness.

This is not the kind of sex anyone has. Every time you do it, according to the church, you must be trying for a baby.

I already explained above how this is clearly false, and (with just a few moments’ reflection) downright stupid and clueless as well. Nor does the Church require Catholics to have unlimited children. We’re allowed to plan. It’s called Natural Family Planning. We’re not allowed to contracept. I have explained the essential difference between the two things in many papers.

Aquinas bases his sexual ethics on his misconception of nature. While man is allowed special status in creation in almost every other sphere, in sexual matters, Aquinas reduces him to the level of the animals, which he supposes only have sex in order to procreate. We know this is not true of animals, and we know that sex — and sex for pleasure — is of vital importance to healthy human bonding and flourishing. Aquinas not only neglects this view but explicitly rejects it.

I’d have to see what he says. But whatever he teaches, he alone (respected though he is) is not part of the magisterium. In other words, his is not the last word on the topic within Catholicism. So he could quite possibly teach many things that the Church has determined to be false, or incomplete truths. What folks who are actually willing to inquire and understand, should seek out, are the wonderful teachings of Pope St. John Paul II on the theology of the body. This is the highest development of Catholic thought on the topic.

Foreplay is not allowed. “Passionate kissing” is extremely dodgy territory.

Not within a marriage, with the proper understanding of the purpose of sexuality. Foreplay is simply part of sex (read Song of Solomon). What we prohibit is male ejaculation outside of the vagina, and female orgasm completely disconnected from intercourse and possible procreation. And this is because orgasm is made an end in and of itself and separated totally from openness to procreation. This is why homosexual sex is by its very nature gravely disordered.

Aquinas goes so far as to make prescriptions even on the position in which you’re allowed to have sex (the missionary is de rigeur, unless some health ailment precludes it and you can’t procreate unless you do it doggy).

Again, no Catholic is bound to what one man (however eminent) wrote about sexuality in the 13th century.

It is the Catholic notion of sex which is unnatural. The natural law prescriptions about sex are based on a completely ignorant misapprehension of nature.

This is one of your typical broad sweeping assertions with no rational content.

You call these “sensible rules” about sex. On what planet? Certainly not our vastly over-populated one. That much seems certain.

The earth is not overpopulated.

I’m surprised you found that little comment box exchange of ours interesting enough to build a post out of it. It smacks of rather desperate click-bait.

It was an opportunity to reveal the bankruptcy of much of the secular argument against the Catholic Church as regards sex, and that’s why I do dialogues: for their pedagogical value. I’m not just doing this just for fun, or as some sort of pastime (though I do almost always enjoy it). I’m a teacher. This is my life’s work. I will show every time how weak the opposing argument is, when it attempts to trash the Bible, Catholicism, or larger Christianity, and offers nothing remotely as good as an alternative. I’ve never found that to be a difficult task to do. Quite easy, actually . . .

I do hope you’re not as yet in penury, but console yourself with the knowledge that life is supposed to be a bitch. “Offer it up,” as my mother used to say.

Thanks for your concern. I’m doing fine. God has provided our needs, as always. As I always note: we have a great credit score, don’t use credit cards, have no debts except a mortgage, pay all our bills, and take a nice vacation every year. Last year was Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon; two years before that we went to Alaska (9000 mile round trip, by car, from Michigan), etc. So we’re not financially suffering in any real sense of that word.

We’re richer than most people in the world and especially most throughout history. We’re certainly not “rich” by American standards, but that is by our own free choice and a result of our priorities in life. I do include a mild solicitation in many of my articles (see it below) because I provide a service, and deserve to be recompensed for it by people who say they have been aided or helped.

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Related Reading

Sexuality, Gender, Feminism, & Divorce web page

Life Issues: Abortion, Contraception, War, Etc. web page

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Photo credit: brett jordan (6-28-10); how many view the Catholic Church, but it is grossly inaccurate; in fact, not even accurate as to the nature of Puritanism, either [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

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