Friends With Benefits and Robert Barron on the Theology of the Body

Friends With Benefits and Robert Barron on the Theology of the Body August 4, 2011

Please be warned that the first video is not suitable for all audiences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoKigdXnJzU


Brett Salkeld is a doctoral student in theology at Regis College in Toronto. He is a father of two (so far) and husband of one. He is the co-author of How Far Can We Go? A Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating.

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  • Fr. Barron seems far more comfortable in front of the camera than Justin Timberlake.

  • Fr. Barron seems far more comfortable in front of the camera than Justin Timberlake.

  • B

    Perhaps we should be cautious about focusing too intensely on sexual behavior as an indicator of character definition and development. My observation is that most young people are not hedonistic animals obsessed with sex. Their lives are defined much more broadly. The person who engages in sex with another purely for shared pleasure is also the person that may be doing volunteer work to help the poor or care for an aging family member.

    Surely character must be measured on the summation of an individual’s acts. Would a celibate young person who watches TV all day and does nothing for others be likely to become a more moral character than the one who is altruistic and sexually promiscuous?

    The cultural/moral/political pendulums swing wide in America. Youthful sexual behavior may not be that much different now than in the pre 1960’s; we just seem to want to talk about it a lot more.
    What is different from a half decade ago is the freedom that women now have to engage in sex without the consequence of pregnancy. That will not change. Science can’t be undone,

    But neither can male/female nature be undone. What is also different, and I think transitory, is the notion that women can, and want to, be as undiscriminating about their sexual partners as men are. The consequences for women have always been greater. In the 1950’s the sexually active young woman often ended up pregnant and in a bad marriage. Today she can avoid pregnancy and a bad marriage but she may find that sex with frequent multiple partners is not quite the same as it is for men.

    So it is possible that the `hookup culture’ is A) perhaps a bit exaggerated in its degree and significance , and B) not likely to be change the overall character of the male-female relationships over the long term.

    • SJN

      So true, B. There are many young Catholics (I’ve been guilty of this before) who seem to spend so much time avoiding sexual sins that we neglect loving our neighbor. Let us not forget that Jesus barely touched on sexual sins (adultery discussed a couple of times, and lustful thoughts once), but repeated over and over the necessity of caring for the poor and marginalized and treating others well. Also, if we’re spending all of our time avoiding sex, we run the risk of neglecting the central call of the Gospels to love our neighbor. But, if we’re actively caring for other people, we might not have time for sexual sin…

      • brettsalkeld

        I didn’t find that avoiding sexual sin took up lots of time. 😉

        Of course, your final sentence is aware of that dynamic.

  • B

    Perhaps we should be cautious about focusing too intensely on sexual behavior as an indicator of character definition and development. My observation is that most young people are not hedonistic animals obsessed with sex. Their lives are defined much more broadly. The person who engages in sex with another purely for shared pleasure is also the person that may be doing volunteer work to help the poor or care for an aging family member.

    Surely character must be measured on the summation of an individual’s acts. Would a celibate young person who watches TV all day and does nothing for others be likely to become a more moral character than the one who is altruistic and sexually promiscuous?

    The cultural/moral/political pendulums swing wide in America. Youthful sexual behavior may not be that much different now than in the pre 1960’s; we just seem to want to talk about it a lot more.
    What is different from a half decade ago is the freedom that women now have to engage in sex without the consequence of pregnancy. That will not change. Science can’t be undone,

    But neither can male/female nature be undone. What is also different, and I think transitory, is the notion that women can, and want to, be as undiscriminating about their sexual partners as men are. The consequences for women have always been greater. In the 1950’s the sexually active young woman often ended up pregnant and in a bad marriage. Today she can avoid pregnancy and a bad marriage but she may find that sex with frequent multiple partners is not quite the same as it is for men.

    So it is possible that the `hookup culture’ is A) perhaps a bit exaggerated in its degree and significance , and B) not likely to be change the overall character of the male-female relationships over the long term.

    • SJN

      So true, B. There are many young Catholics (I’ve been guilty of this before) who seem to spend so much time avoiding sexual sins that we neglect loving our neighbor. Let us not forget that Jesus barely touched on sexual sins (adultery discussed a couple of times, and lustful thoughts once), but repeated over and over the necessity of caring for the poor and marginalized and treating others well. Also, if we’re spending all of our time avoiding sex, we run the risk of neglecting the central call of the Gospels to love our neighbor. But, if we’re actively caring for other people, we might not have time for sexual sin…

      • brettsalkeld

        I didn’t find that avoiding sexual sin took up lots of time. 😉

        Of course, your final sentence is aware of that dynamic.

  • brettsalkeld

    B,
    My reaction to your comment is two-fold. First of all, I am agreed that concern for sexual sin shouldn’t be so overriding that other issues disappear. From what I’ve heard, this is very often a problem in the confessional. Someone can be so overwrought about their sexual dalliances that they seem blithely unaware of other issues in their lives. And I think Father Barron would agree that we shouldn’t make sex the be all and end all of ethics. He has made dozens and dozens of videos and this is the first one I’ve seen that deals primarily with sexual ethics. He talks about lots of other things more often.

    On the other hand, I would be careful about separating too easily sexual ethics and other ethics. People who are willing to use others sexually are more, rather than less, likely to use others in other ways. Sure you can come up with counter-examples (especially hypothetical ones!) but in general people who are capable of chastity also develop other virtues, and people who are not will develop other vices. Self-control and respect for others span the whole range of ethics and ignoring them in one arena will not increase our odds of developing them in another. The best confessors know that helping people with sexual sin starts with helping them recognize the broad patterns in their lives. Being disciplined in areas like getting physical exercise or doing your homework or eating right can be good places to start.

    Finally, my experience, and I think the experience of most people if they are honest, is that there are very few areas of the ethical life that so profoundly impact your chances for happiness. Sex has a profound impact on the single most important determinant of our happiness, namely, healthy relationships with others. So, while I certainly concur that we must not reduce ethics to sexual ethics, I would warn against pretending that our sexual practice has little impact on who we are and how we live with others. It actually matters immensely.

  • brettsalkeld

    B,
    My reaction to your comment is two-fold. First of all, I am agreed that concern for sexual sin shouldn’t be so overriding that other issues disappear. From what I’ve heard, this is very often a problem in the confessional. Someone can be so overwrought about their sexual dalliances that they seem blithely unaware of other issues in their lives. And I think Father Barron would agree that we shouldn’t make sex the be all and end all of ethics. He has made dozens and dozens of videos and this is the first one I’ve seen that deals primarily with sexual ethics. He talks about lots of other things more often.

    On the other hand, I would be careful about separating too easily sexual ethics and other ethics. People who are willing to use others sexually are more, rather than less, likely to use others in other ways. Sure you can come up with counter-examples (especially hypothetical ones!) but in general people who are capable of chastity also develop other virtues, and people who are not will develop other vices. Self-control and respect for others span the whole range of ethics and ignoring them in one arena will not increase our odds of developing them in another. The best confessors know that helping people with sexual sin starts with helping them recognize the broad patterns in their lives. Being disciplined in areas like getting physical exercise or doing your homework or eating right can be good places to start.

    Finally, my experience, and I think the experience of most people if they are honest, is that there are very few areas of the ethical life that so profoundly impact your chances for happiness. Sex has a profound impact on the single most important determinant of our happiness, namely, healthy relationships with others. So, while I certainly concur that we must not reduce ethics to sexual ethics, I would warn against pretending that our sexual practice has little impact on who we are and how we live with others. It actually matters immensely.

  • Thales

    Self-control and respect for others span the whole range of ethics and ignoring them in one arena will not increase our odds of developing them in another.

    This deserves to be repeated. Well said, Brett! This is the point of Fr. Barron’s video, and I thought he made a compelling argument.

  • Thales

    Self-control and respect for others span the whole range of ethics and ignoring them in one arena will not increase our odds of developing them in another.

    This deserves to be repeated. Well said, Brett! This is the point of Fr. Barron’s video, and I thought he made a compelling argument.