A Spanish nun, Sister Lucia Caram, recently shocked the Catholic world when she suggested, on TV no less, that sex might not be dirty.
The real point of controversy was her implication that Mary and Joseph might have actually had sex, like normal married couples do.
This striking notion contravenes the official Catholic teaching of the “perpetual virginity of Mary.” This is the papal teaching that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life — she was not just a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus.
According to official teachings of both the Catholic and Orthodox Church Mary was — and is — “Ever Virgin.” This has been an odd teaching and one with no solid biblical grounding. In fact, if anything, the gospels, taken at face value anyway, are pretty clear that Jesus had siblings (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55-56).According to the Guardian article covering this “controversy”:
“I think Mary was in love with Joseph and that they were a normal couple – and having sex is a normal thing,” she told the Chester in Love show, adding: “It’s hard to believe and hard to take in. We’ve ended up with the rules we’ve invented without getting to the true message.”
She explained the position she took on the show thus:
When asked about the Virgin Mary, I said that, as I see it, Mary obviously loved Joseph … I wanted to say that it wouldn’t shock me if she had had a normal couple’s relationship with Joseph, her husband.
This shocked a lot of people, perhaps because there was no opportunity for clarification. But I think that my fidelity to, and love for, the church, the gospel and Jesus’s project are clear – as it the certainty that sex is neither dirty nor something to be condemned, and that marriage and sex are a blessing.
In fact, it was apparently so extremely shocking to some people that she received death threats for any making the suggestion.
Perhaps those making the death threats forgot about the Bible’s prohibitions against murder — and against hate?
While she has insisted that her comments were taken out of context and in a fragmentary way, I have to say it’s encouraging to see people in influential places of religious authority, like Lucia Caram, who self-describes as a “pain-in-the-arse nun,” taking positions that show a willingness to at least think critically about official — and frankly ridiculous — doctrines.