Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who is obsessed with sex?

We've heard so many times that the Catholic Church is simply obsessed with sex. It's conventional wisdom.

My two-minute google search turned up ample evidence of the sentiment, including:

"Why is the Catholic Church so obsessed with just about everything sexual?"

"The church's obsession with sex is a cancer that threatens to tear it to pieces."

"[The Catholic Church] is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed."

"The [BCC'sSunday Programme… [asked] the question 'Is the Catholic Church obsessed by sex?'" {To which someone who had watched the show responded: "There's a poll too. 66% thought the church was obsessed with sex."}

This obsession with the Church's supposed obsession makes me scratch my head, for two reasons.

First of all, because I went to mass every Sunday of my life for my first 18 years, and I don't recall ever hearing a homily about sex. Hmmmm….

And secondly, as a political and social observer (and just a regular old citizen!) for the past couple of decades, I do believe it's the "other side" that's obsessed with sex. In fact, it seems to be all they think about and want to talk about. And they want the rest of us to think about it and talk about it, too.

From raunchier and more explicit TV sex to ubiquitous movie sex to infinite internet porn sex to teen and preteen sex and taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood talking to our kids about sex, sex, sex, and non-stop discussions about the goodness of homosexual sex, and sex in the city and sex with housewives and sex in the fast food commercials (my gosh, can't they just advertise the burger?) and full-on sex in music and sex on videos and simulated sex as dancing, and every variation of sex in the hook-up culture, girls and boys gone wild about sex, sex, sex, sex, sex! And even on this blog, we have even had commenters proclaim, quite seriously, that they could not live without sex!

Obsessive? Methinks.

And then we have the Catholic Church, plodding along through human history, saying the same thing about sex that she always has.

The Church, after all, has taught these truths for 2,000 years -- along with all the other moral truths she still holds today. The moral law doesn't change, the virtues don't change, and chastity is simply one of the virtues. It happens to be the one virtue that a sex-obsessed culture does not appreciate, but a virtue nonetheless. Always has been, always will be. Just as marriage is a holy institution established by God. Always has been, always will be. Sex is a privilege of marriage, for the good of the spouses, of the children produced, of the family, and of society. Nothing new here, move along....

But wait, there is something new here, and the secular left can't move along: They want a new sexual paradigm, where anything goes (between "consenting adults", of course!) and there are no moral judgements. The campaign is on, full-swing, to change the very nature, meaning and use of human sexuality. They want to redefine marriage and family to mean things they have never meant before, and they don't want anyone to tell them no. They are so close to their goal that they can taste it, but at least for now, they remain frustrated. Something is keeping them from genital carte blanche.

The one thing standing in their way?

The Church. That's all. No armies, nothing. Just the Church, speaking the same old truths she has spoken for twenty centuries and will speak for twenty centuries more, or until no one is left to hear her. The Catholic Church is the one moral authority who lovingly, carefully, firmly proclaims, whether anyone is listening or not, that sex has a meaning and purpose that cannot be discarded without violating our human dignity.

Despite the utterly predictable, clearly unwavering (and sometimes too-quietly stated) teachings of the Church, her opponents are often violently emotional in their quest to change her mind or silence her voice or run her out of existence. Though they would like to claim an oppressor/victim model here, it's really more like a classic parent/teen showdown. "Give me my way and let me do what I want or I will scream at you and call you obscene names and tell you you are power hungry, irrelevant, out-of-touch, full of sin yourself, and just plain mean!"

And the Church, as a good Mother does, looks on her children with love and concern, even sadness, but stays steadfast, consistent and confident. The rules of life don't change. Truth does not change. Love does not change.

As the sex-obsessed voices get louder and angrier, the Church has tried to raise her voice above the din. She's begun to speak a little more boldly, a little more clearly, stating her case again, in new ways, for a very confused generation. Because responding with love and truth to the prevailing sins of each age is pretty much the Church's job description, and it's what we can expect her to do from now till… well, eternity.

And that's not obsessive, just faithful.


  1. Thankfully we as Church have good answers to the question really being asked in our sex-saturated world... What does it mean to be male and female, and why does my value as a person include my body and soyl? Seems like the folks clamoring for no boundaries do so because they prefer to blur the boundaries which separate us from the animals. I can honor my bodiliness by honoring sex or abstaining and honor the other by receiving the gift of their body instead of using them based solely on urges, whims or instinct.

  2. Our Mother Church really is a mother isn't it!

  3. Amen.

    I especially like the teen/Mother analogy. It truly is JUST like that!

  4. When I became Catholic I thought all the homilies would be about sex. Boy was I disappointed :). Father rarely mentions it!

  5. Thanks, guys!

    You know, I hope, if nothing else, I can get one liberal to admit that the Church really is not "obsessed" with sex. But I won't hold my breath, because after I ran my post about how pro-lifers help the born as much as the unborn, not one liberal conceded the point.

    But at least the truth is out there.

  6. Yeah, brilliant! But you know, it wouldn't sound as good to say the Church is faithful to love.

  7. you know, Mike and I were watching an ABC family show the other day that we got for free from a friend and i have to say, we were both astounded at how often the two younger characters made sexual jokes or references. it was like the writers were shoving it down your throat, it was ridiculous. definitely sex-obsessed.

  8. matchingmoonheads :
    Which show was that?

    I did say that those of whom are pro-life help those whom have been born also, I made the original comment too.

    This is actually the first I have heard of the Church's obsession with sex. I only heard about it being to strict.

    I remember discussing Degrassi as a fifth grader, with other fifth graders, with an adult sitting by us. Now I am thinking, that was kinda young!

    Also, homosexuality on television is not anymore connected to sex then heterosexuality. I cannot think of one show with gays, that shows them having more sex then the rest of the characters.

    To me though, I do not think that it is too much sex. It is our fault. If people were not watching the sex obsessed shows, producers would not make them. Media is responding to the population, not the other way around. They make what people will watch and pay for.

  9. Half of my second paragraph disappeared, the first sentence was, "I think that it is a problem how it is OK for young kids to be watching sex obsessed shows also".

  10. By the end of this you had me pumping my fist in the air, going, Yes! Keep 'em coming. :)

  11. I did say that those of whom are pro-life help those whom have been born also, I made the original comment too.

    Chelsea, yes, you did! I apologize and stand corrected. You were the only one. I have always liked that you are ready to hear different ideas and then adjust your understanding accordingly.

    As for homosexuality, we are now constantly told that it's fine and normal and good. Chelsea, you are too young to realize, but that is something very new, really only in the past 10 to 15 years that it's all over the place, constantly sold as a good, and very opposed to the Christian understanding of sex, and the natural law understanding of sex. Ordered vs. disordered and all.

    If people were not watching the sex obsessed shows, producers would not make them. Media is responding to the population, not the other way around. They make what people will watch and pay for.

    Yes, Chelsea, but in the past, a nation of adults understood that it was our job to watch out for and protect children. Just because people want something that is base and vulgar does not mean that adults in society suddenly abdicate their responsibility to be adults. What if everyone wanted cocaine? Should I hand it out? Or do I have a responsibility to my fellow human beings not to supply them with poison? Or filth?

    The adults who control the airwaves and media and TV, etc., are not so much interested in their responsibility toward children as they are to pushing a sexual agenda and acting like arrested adolescents themselves.

    (By the way, good G-rated movies do very, very well financially, but no one makes them very often. So, it's not all about the money, because if it were, you'd see more G-rated movies; it's very often all about the agenda of the left, which includes a whole lotta sexual license.)

  12. And I don't see it getting any better, unfortunately.

  13. Let's never forget though, that the war on the goodness and holiness of ordered sexuality is not "Church vs. culture." It's "Church vs Satan." Or if you like, "Christ vs. Satan." It's a battle that has already been *won* in terms of eternity... now what we face on earth are the ground skirmishes, as Satan throws a temper tantrum from losing all those years ago and wants to deceive as many people as possible. The postmodern culture is certainly complying with and advancing Satan's agenda, but let's keep in in the forefront of our minds that the Enemy is the same one we've faced since the beginning.

    It's easy to despair, I know. It only seems to get worse and worse. I'm 26 and I shudder to think what the world will be like for my future children someday, decades down the line. But we do need to remember that Jesus is already victorious.

  14. I think the ones responsible for kids, are responsible for kids. Meaning, if you look on Disney channel, everything is perfectly appropriate. The inappropriate shows are on the channels that kids are not expected to watch.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Maggie, well-stated! So true.

    Chelsea, it's hard to believe, and you'll have to trust me on it, that only one generation ago, all the networks, during prime time, were safe for children to watch. Even in the MTV generation (mine), there were family shows on during the "family hours" on ABC, NBC, CBS. Things have really gone downhill.

    Don't you think that adults in society should make sure that the culture is safe for children? Must kids get one little station (which also has gone downhill), when they used to be safe to roam the culture, as it were?

    We've lost so much, and I don't know that teens really realize it. :(

  17. Complete confusion, what are y'all eating?

  18. The original comment I was commenting on, was deleted, so ignore my last comment.

  19. Sorry...I disagree with this statement:

    "The adults who control the airwaves and media and TV, etc., are not so much interested in their responsibility toward children as they are to pushing a sexual agenda and acting like arrested adolescents themselves." I have friends who are producers and sex sells...just like violence. No questions. Yes there are the blockbuster G movies, but that segment gets saturated.

    I agree that we have lost a sense of the "adults of this country" trying to protect the young from toxic media. No sane person could feel this way when you have to go through all sorts of contortions to get your cable to not list the porn channels so your literate kids are kept from reading the sordid titles of shows you do not even subscribe to. It should be hard to get porn...not ridiculously easy for anyone.

    But....I do have my issues with the Catholic Church and their views on sexuality.

    What I see in the media is a total abandonment of DECENCY. Look at all of those "reality shows" where people are applauded for scheming and backstabbing. Young people are encouraged to live in party houses and act like asinine, shallow idiots, parading around their worst selves for the camera, as if it were interesting. Look at the idiocy of "The Bachelor its counterpart. I never found it interesting years ago, and don't now. I must say, I was very happy and surprised to see Simon Cowell leave American Idol, and a sweet boy with a great voice win it all. I loved the top three finishers (and the rocker guy's voice). Gladly, real entertainment and talent still sell.

    So you think there is some kind of coordinated media conspiracy to take down all sexual taboos? I don't give them that much credit. I think it is our freedom of speech laws taken too far.

  20. Chelsea, I'm not sure why she deleted the comment, but she was talking about the Eucharist, which is Jesus Christ, and Whom we receive at every mass:

  21. Mary, you've not been put on the list for the What We Can't Not Know book, and I wish you would. I do believe in the culture war, without doubt, and the entertainment industry is almost entirely on one side of that war.

    I have spoken to men who have been in the industry. One man, who was an attorney for a movie production company, told a Catholic audience that the day he quit was the day he sat in a production meeting and heard the powers that be speak of a need to "push the envelope" and get "more edgy" (as if they weren't already). Indecency is right. It is about virtue, bottom line, and the abandonment of moral norms.

    My source for my thoughts on the "not just about money" thing is Michael Medved, film critic and commentator, who has spoken on his analysis of this issue before. It made sense when he said it, but I will look into it more and maybe do a post or comment on that.

  22. It is not that hard to find appropriate shows for kids, their are plenty. Even ones directed at teens can be pretty mild. Do you think that it should all be "G", all the time?

    Anyway, I do not know how much of a difference it whould make. I watched some adult shows young (I was a Law and Order SVU addict by 7th grade) and yet I turned out fine. And compared to my classmates, pretty conservative.

  23. Chelsea, I'm not blaming only the entertainment industry for the crap that kids are exposed to in an unending stream, but let me ask you: In general, do you think kids/teens are virtuous, or at least strive for a life of virtue? Because I see a lot of messed up teens. Especially sexually. Lots of sad, awful stuff out there. Adults have let kids down, and abdicated their role.

  24. Mary, my thoughts came from Medved's book, Hollywood vs. America.

    One of the reviewers of the book on Amazon makes two points that I wanted to make:

    1. Medved succeeds in refuting the claim that Hollywood product is simply "giving the public what it wants and demands."

    2. Medved succeeds in pointing to some of the patterns in which questionable content has come to pervade most mass media products, even when unnecessary for the effectiveness of the work and when it offends some or most of its potential audience.

    (emphasis mine)

    Hollywood does NOT have to add those gratuitous things to movies (even some kid movies!) to draw the audience. They do it for other reasons, and I believe it's got a lot to do with ideology.

  25. Even with channels like Nick & Disney & Cartoon Network around, being an adult protecting a child requires you to be constantly vigilant about what they are taking in. They may have something age appropriate in a time slot next to something inappropriate (for example, my younger siblings are allowed to watch Spongebob, but not iCarly, which sometimes follows after).

    Also, as a sidenote: what's the deal with the new "tween" shows? I don't like them...I feel like it influences young kids (9-13) to worry about more adult things (clothes, popularity, romance etc.) much too quickly!

    Anyways, back on topic: I do have to admit in reading Catholic blogs & listening to Catholic broadcasts, I have thought to myself "Boy, these Catholics sure do love their sex!" hahaha. But then something struck me -- it wasn't sex they were passionate about, but the truth behind it. When you see a lie about something beautiful, you feel compelled to stand up for the truth, and the Catholics who speak of sex are doing this.

  26. I do not think that teens are virtuous, but then again, why is that the goal. For anyone not Catholic, I think that it is a bit stricter then necessary. Regardless of what you might think, not all teens are having sex. I know plenty whom are not.

    What is "messed up" to you, Leila? I think, a 16 year old whom has good grades, good relationships with her parents and peers, is non-violent, and is a generally good person, whom is having sex is not messed up, is that what you mean?

  27. Chelsea, what I'm saying is that virtue used to be the standard goal and desire for pretty much all folks across all lines, no matter race, socio-economic status, creed, country of origin, etc. Everyone pretty much wanted to raise virtuous kids and have a virtuous society, even if we didn't live up to it.

    In answer to your question, I think it is always messed up when unmarried teens have sex. Unmarried teens have no business having sex. Sex is the most dangerous thing to "play" at. It's not recreation for kids. You may see things very differently in a few years. Maybe not, but I think maybe so.

    Let me ask you: Why do you think most teen girls begin to have sex?

  28. I think that many teenage girls have sex, because they think that it will bring them closer to their boyfriends. Others I know do it, as a kinds of a scandalous thing, to rebel. And others think that everyone else is doing it.

  29. Chelsea, I think you are right. And I think we would both agree that the last two reasons you gave are not good reasons.

    For the first reason: Do you think there are better ways to get close to a boyfriend? And do you think that one a couple starts to have sex, they tend to communicate sexually as their primary "closeness"? (Meaning, they aren't going to discuss their hopes and dreams, or great literature into the night, right?) Also, do you think the girl is left feeling good or bad after she has slept with a guy and then they break up?

    Just some thoughts, no hurry…. I'm going to be on the computer only sporadically tonight, as I'm going to go see a movie in a bit!

  30. Here's a snapshot:

    Just a month ago I met with a teenage girl from my youth group who had lost her virginity last summer (at the young age of 15. She told me she did it because she "never really felt pretty." And this is a girl who is generally responsible with a good head on her shoulders, but she got a distorted view from somewhere...

  31. CL, exactly. I don't think that's uncommon.

    Chelsea, do you think that sex is recreational, like playing cards or talking or sharing common interests? Meaning, can you think of better, more appropriate ways for teens to get to know each other besides going to bed together?

    I'm guessing you see that sex is something different than other ways of getting to know people and getting closer, right?

    Okay, I'm going now… promise! :)

  32. Chelsea and Mary,

    Obviously, not everyone in hollywood is in a concerted effort to destroy values. By concerted effort, I mean they aren't all holding hands and secret meetings in underground bunkers in order to discuss how better to undermine the Catholic Church and the Church's morality. And not all shows have an agenda. I imagine anyone would be hardpressed to find the agenda in bob the builder, for example. There is a definite overriding agenda in hollywood though, to engineer society to be more receptive to certain kinds of behavior and relationships traditionally thought taboo.

    I am scratching my head right now for the name of the guy who is putting out a series of interviews of top hollywood producers and screenwriters, and directors that are very anti-conservative, anti-traditional values, and unabashedly willing to say so. The guy exists, there was an article on him recently, but I can't remember his name.

    Anyway, the majority of hollywood producers and directors are inheritors of the school of thought flowing out of the Frankfurt School. You can say what you want, but social engineering is not a new idea, nor is it an unfamiliar phrase and concept to many who make television programs and popular movies.

    Lastly, as a side note, many of the disney programs are incredibly offensive to me as a man. Men and boys are often portrayed as bumbling awkward imbeciles. Good guys who are sweet and sensitive, but they are no G.I. Joes. They certainly aren't at all like the responsible men I know, grew up around, and who I attempt to model my own manner and life after.

  33. Leila et al,
    I'll get back to you, and about the book, I am currently waiting for the CS Lewis book to show up at my library (loaner library) and have two others to read...not opposed to reading the book....will you read, Finding Darwin's God?

    Also, you said, "Sex is the most dangerous thing to "play" at." If abortion is an option, then potentially "yes", but I think alcohol, and certain drugs, and cars can and are more dangerous. I worry way more about the rise of meth and boys in cars than I do about sex.

  34. Guiseppe, I've heard of the same guy, but I also can't remember his name!...

    Obviously, Leila, I think gay relationships can be "good and fine and normal", as mine has been for a year now, and I can't see it getting disasterous or dangerous or anything like that anytime soon.

    I'll be a liberal who concedes the church isn't obsessed over sex?

    I disagree slightly with your premise. I think the hang up for [liberals] is not that the Church doesn't budge, but that the government doesn't and the Church is helping them not budge. We, or I, don't need the Church to think it's okay for gays to have legal unions or for women to take birth control pills, but I'd hope the government would be okay with the people making those decisions (that is, women should be able to choose to take pills, gvm't should be equal access to gvm't priveleges-ergo genderless marriage).

    To conclude, this song is relevant:

    It's very important to read all the lyrcis (Slow Motion- Third Eye Blind)

  35. Leila, I love your article and completely agree with you. One question: do you think past generations really were more virtuous (or aspired to be) than our current one? I often think that as well, but maybe I just have sentimental glasses on... Could it be that sexual escapades were just as common but were simply hidden away or not discussed, and certainly not flaunted? Records of the time may not have recorded it, you know?

    I suppose that when I get discouraged by the post-modern culture and frightened for my daughter's future, I try to comfort myself by thinking that we, the Church, have always been called to a higher standard than the contemporary mores. Maybe it's always been this hard to go against the norm? Or do you think we have it tougher now?

    And, as tough as it is, how do we stay true and virtuous, teaching our children to do the same, while also engaging and evangelizing the wider culture? I see the temptation to simply "hole up" and protect my little brood...

  36. Okay - you know things are upside down when my children and my students tell me what not to watch or what to listen to because they know I will be offended.

    Yes, society is pushing children to be exposed to much too much way too early. Remember when Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore had twin beds in their bedroom? Or the first time we actually heard a toilet flush on TV (good ol' Archie Bunker)? I'm not saying it has to go back to that - but parents really should monitor what their children are watching and listening to. Most of my students are left to their own devices and (let's face it) too many of them are having sex. Most opt to keep their babies because they want something of their own to love - I would so love to bring Jason and Crystalina Evert to our school!

  37. I once heard a simple answer for assertions such as “the Catholic Church should stay out of our bedrooms!” It goes like this. God created us. All of us. Every part of us. Our sexuality is one of His greatest gifts. Of course His Church is going to have something to say about it!

    As you have so ably demonstrated, sex seems to have become the be-all-end-all obsession of our time. As such, wouldn’t the Church actually be remiss to ignore the subject?

  38. I think that teenagers are not discussing great literature, ever. OK, maybe some exceptions. But discussions over books go mostly like: "OMG, I hate the book that Mr.-- is making us read, it is soooo stupid"

    But all kidding aside, I think that it is the closer ones that are having sex. The more superficial couples tend to just make out on the stairs, then go to class.

    Of course, how would I really know.

  39. A few dozen years ago, what you call the good times" a black person could only be a maid on television. Is that a bad change.

    If my parents monitored what I watched, I am sure I whould be ten times worse, just to get back at them. (For anyone who does not know, I am 17)

  40. Mary,

    I wish I could, but science is not my primary interest, and I can't even read the books I want to read, at least not if I want to keep up with my blog and the eight kids and hubby, ha ha! Maybe Stacy or Giuseppe or Nubby would be the ones. Personally, I want to read the book that Complicated Life recommended, which is Moral Darwinism. Maybe someday! :)

    Zach, thanks for being that liberal who concedes it! And maybe one day you'll even be back in the bosom of the Church? She wants you… ;) Of course, I can't agree that homosexual activity is normal or good. Sorry… that will never be a point of agreement. I haven't written much on it yet, as it seems to be so charged with emotion and issues of "compassion" that people walk on eggshells now. I hate that, because I wish we could all be frank about things. But I do intend to write about it, probably once the house is not full of kids from summer, and when I have some quiet time (ha ha ha) when they are back in school?

    Genderless "marriage" is a complete change of the actual meaning of the word and concept of marriage as it's always been known. My goodness, why usurp the word? Think up a different word, but to toy with the language for political reasons is so abhorrent to me. Not only on this issue, but on others as well. Anyway, you probably saw what I wrote about that, to a gay college friend, here:

  41. Opal, it's a great question. Here's how I see it: Of course, every age has been full of sinners. Sin abounds and there is no new sin. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and we all need a Savior.

    The difference between now and then is that "then" (in the pre-60s) the cultural pressure was to be "good". Today, the cultural pressure is to be bad, nasty, edgy, sexed-up, sinful. Just compare any part of pop culture from the pre-60s or even the '70s to today's pop culture. Look at commercials, look at TV shows, etc. Look even at the way kids dressed. I'm not so ancient that I can't remember twenty years ago, and I can tell you, twenty years ago there was no talk about "men and women are the same", at least not in the hearing of the mainstream world. There was no talk of gay "marriage" -- seriously, that was not a blip on the screen.

    When Roe v. Wade came down, it was presented to a nation of people who were shocked by it. No one thought abortion was a good thing, except for the fringe activists. It was seen as sinful and shameful to shred a child in the womb. Today? Well, people don't blink… and teens think that it must have always been acceptable or at least legal.

    Gosh, when I think of TV shows like The Brady Bunch or Little House on the Prairie or the Waltons, even The Cosby Show, etc., and then compare them to even the stuff on Disney Channel… what a difference, in just the span of two or three decades! Giuseppe, you are right on.

    I remember when I was in grade school, in a public school, I went through my elementary years with a group of thirty or so kids, and everyone lived with their two parents, except one girl who we later figured out was born to a single mom and lived with her mom and grandma. Divorce was not normal at all. And yet yesterday, my ten-year-old son comes to me from his summer school class where he met some new friends at a new school, and said: "Mom, everyone's parents are divorced." Then he told me the sad stories his new friends had told him. My heart fell, and I was sick about it. It's so common now.

    Chelsea, to say that striving for virtue had anything to do with the racism of the past is just wrong. We get rid of what is bad, and we keep what is good. That is what the goal should be. By the way, Lincoln argued the emancipation of slaves based on natural law principles, and the Civil Rights movement was lead by religious groups and Christians. In Martin Luther King, Jr's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail", he quotes Aquinas in defense of the natural law!

    To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

    We have strayed from that, and gone to "positive law". Natural law protects against unjust racial discrimination and protects natural marriage and family.

    The whole letter is well worth reading, by the way. I always wonder, again and again, how come I never learned that our nation's laws, until VERY recently, were based on natural law? I swear, we all were gypped.

  42. That bold part was an actual quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is the whole excerpt:

    One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

    Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

  43. Chelsea, see, if every kid had a classical education and had two-hour Human Letters classes where the Great Books were discussed Socratically, they would talk about great literature, ha ha! Seriously, my kids and their friends talk about Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment like other kids talk about Beyonce (or whomever!). I'm not saying to to brag, because like I said, it's a public school they go to, with every race, creed and political affiliation. But they care about the higher things (truth, goodness, beauty), not the stuff that doesn't last. (I keep repeating the good stuff that I or my kids have experienced, because it still astounds me how easy it is to get kids interested in the higher things if they are simply introduced to them.

    Mary, I think if you combine the emotional and physical toll of sex among teens, you will find the devastation to be much greater than any other calamity they face. Especially for the girls.

  44. **Humane Letters

    Ugh!! I need to stop typing so fast!!!

  45. Giuseppe, I think you are talking about this guy. I wrote a post yesterday about this, but didn't publish it yet.

    It makes me angry.

  46. OK, it's published.

    Leila, remember the Friends episode with the lesbian marriage where the ex-husband and father of a little boy gives away the mother as the bride to another woman while they push the baby in a decorated stroller and a female minister tells everyone this makes God happy?

    No confusion there...

  47. Stacy, exactly! That's the guy.

    I was a little young for the show Friends, though my sisters watched it all the time. That sounds about right for a Friends episode. I doubt many would have appreciated that episode if they had made that episode without the established Friends characters, and the humor which was a known quantity for the show.

    Mary and Chelsea

    Also sex sells because men love to see naked women. That's great, so let's play to men's appetites by belittling women and turning them into a product that has no value outside of the sexual gratification they provide to the consumer. That sure doesn't contribute to date rape, and failed relationships. (<--sarcarsm).

    A burger is burger. You can overindulge and become fat. Cool, why are politician's jumping on the 'eat better' bandwagon? Not because we're objectifying burgers, but because we're obscuring the value of the individual person! Because when you overindulge you risk not having as fulfilled a life as when you eat more balanced.

    We discourage overindulgence in food, what's wrong with discouraging overindulgence in sex? Especially when overindulgence in sex hurts not one but two people, and sometimes more if there are children involved and sex involves more than the father and mother.

    Why should we cater to man's appetite for sex by exploiting women? Why not cater to it by encouraging abstinence till marriage, not living together till marriage, and marriage till death do we part? Besides the fact that a family with a stable marriage is better for society than divorced families, married people have not only have more sex, but better sex as well!

  48. Even Men's Health, an abhorrent magazine in its own right, agrees that marriage is better than the promiscuous, or cohabitating lifestyle.

    By encouraging the sexual exploitation of women, by encouraging promiscuity and the overindulgence of the sexual passions among men, by encouraging casual and transient relationships, or relationships only bedroom deep, we hurt the economy (married men get paid more/better, and thus they can put back more into the economy), kill men (single men have lower life expectancies than married men), endanger men (single men 4 times more likely to endure a violent crime than a married men), and deprive men of good ol' wholesome sex. This is just about men. It says nothing to the emotional destruction it causes in women, the murders it can result in when the pregnancy is inconvenient, and the fact that the porn industry and the oversexualization of pop culture has created the new slavery! The slaver of women for the sake of satiating sexual appetite. You don't need to see the ball and chains to know that pop culture has enslaved women for the sake of exploiting their sexuality, just like blacks were enslaved to exploit their bodies for work.

    Promiscuity is cutting off your nose to spite your face. You are striving to achieve something you can never get. This is why it is better to teach abstinence, and teach about the value of the human person no matter how small, and to not assume that your children, or yourself, is just going to be promiscuous.

    The world was not rosy 80 years ago, but Society's were more stable when marriage was a more valued institution.

    It would be silly to think that TV and movie producers don't attempt to push the envelope even further with social engineering. That would mean they were ignorant and stupid and didn't realize the effects of their media. They aren't stupid, they know what they're doing.

  49. Guiseppe, are you reading Bill Lind?

    Also, you misunderstood me. I don't think it is good to have people so horribly objectified in the media. I think it is bad! But, Leila was saying that the sex in the media was part of a coordinated ideological agenda that was separate from economic interests. I really don't think that is true, but I am willing to read the resources you and she and Stacy provided.

    I think part of what we see today is a more mature media culture informed by more sophisticated psychological science. (mature meaning more savvy). Today, every show and every advertisement out there is dissected by psychologists to the nth degree before airing. Children's shows are subjected to extensive "focus group" testing to see what will hold their interests. Psychologists have learned exactly how to titillate people's interests to get them to watch shows longer so they will be subjected to more advertising. They are paid handsomely for this service.

  50. Guiseppe, where did you get the idea that I don't agree with the following statements you made: "Why not cater to it by encouraging abstinence till marriage, not living together till marriage, and marriage till death do we part..."

    Those are good things!

  51. Guiseppe,
    Just you think it is good that McDonalds and other fast food chains should be sanctioned or prevented legally from selling fattening food?

  52. Mary wrote: "So you think there is some kind of coordinated media conspiracy to take down all sexual taboos? I don't give them that much credit..."

    Please read "The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian. The book explains how the media has changed our culture to view homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and other issues that were once taboo as not only normal but healthy.

  53. Mary, just my two cents on the marketing focus groups...

    I participated with third parties to conduct those things quite a bit in my last year at DuPont and while the savvy does exist in all the "stuff" they do, the foundational premise was poor. One could spin just about any conclusion from the various and goofy "data" collected and from what I saw by some sophisticated and fancy firms, they really were more like kids with new boxes of crayons.

    Everybody busy being self-important...with little concern for society or the future at large. I doubt it's any different in Hollywood.

  54. Mary, You were just included in the "Mary and Chelsea" because I was too lazy to seperate the discussion of social engineering from the disucssion of everything else. :^P I apologize, I should have addressed each of you individually.

    Am I reading Bill Lind? No. But in the course of professional studies I have read quite a bit of Lind. Lind is an interesting person to be sure, but I am certainly not one of his devotees. You could also have asked, "are you reading Pat Buchanan?" and the answer would be no, I have not read any Pat Buchanan.

    I know both talk about social engineering, and Lind in particular has discussed the Frankfurt school. Just because Lind is rather eccentric does not mean that he's always wrong. Especially when new source material goes a long way to proving true that there is a desire to engineer society's moral sense, and modify its practical and leisure behavior.

  55. Guiseppe noted something that said married couples have better sex. I wonder if anyone has read this study on atheists having better sex?

    Of course, it's the dailymail and they're insufferable when reporting any type of science, but I heard a fair number of good reviews on the study. Take it as you will.

  56. No, I don't, but then again McDonald's isn't trafficking humans. However (comma, pause for effect) McDonald's is required to provide the nutrition (or lack thereof) data of all their foods. Similar to Cigarettes being required to provide warnings of the dangers of smoking.

    Again, cigarettes aren't trafficking humans, neither is McDonald's.

  57. Zach,

    That study sounds like it compares religious people being promiscuous with atheists being promiscuous. Hardly surprising that religious people being promiscuous would feel guilty about it.

    Furthermore it seems the point of the study was to examine the residual effects of guilt on atheists after they were religious but then became atheists.

  58. Whoa...get the kids out of the room before you open Zach's atheist sex link.

    BTW, you can't quantify guilt in the real world.

  59. My school dose have discussions on great literature also, but the discussion usually happen only in class.

    But back to the point, I would rather see more television have single happy teenagers. Many pair them up right away. But it sells. Why on earth should television producers care about anything other then making money.

  60. @ Stacy, sorry about that. I considered finding another think, but I thought that image stuck in a dailymail article was surely appropriate for this post. Leave it to the British!...

  61. Zach....I am NOT saying sex is bad, but it is worth considering that some of the BEST people I know (most moral...deepest thinkers) are sometimes rather tortured and bothered. They tend to let things sink in, they see the shades of gray, they ponder the deep connections...they are not generally the most happy-go-lucky ones. So a life free of guilty feelings does not, in my book, mean you are somehow totally on the right track. is another question entirely to question whether guilt regarding sexual behaviors is warranted or not.

  62. I see that the answer to the money thing was said to be "because it is right". They also need to think about their families, their employee's and have to pay them.

    At the end of the day, we have a choice. And television producers see that.

  63. I think they talk about be sex obsessed as from the standpoint of getting outraged by the expression of sexuality. I think North American culture as a group tends to behave more puritanical. If you have ever done some traveling, like to Europe, you notice that people view sexuality differently, they are more outraged at how much we welcome violence, who's allowed to have guns, how many murders vs. petty thefts are tolerated etc. than by sexual expression. I have been swimming in Europe and nobody gives a second glance and the nude body, save the Americans... I thought that was interesting.. How much of this is culture and how much of this is religion? Didn't the temple of Jerusalem have public baths in the time of Jesus. Didn't one purify their body in water?

  64. (I keep repeating the good stuff that I or my kids have experienced, because it still astounds me how easy it is to get kids interested in the higher things if they are simply introduced to them.

    I had never been do proud of my, at the time 8 year old, son as when my husband was driving him and a few classmates on a fieldtrip and his classmates were asking to listen to Lady Gaga or Beyonce on the radio and my son suggested Ring of Fire. I laughed as my husband described the look of confusion on all the other children's faces.

    He's never listened (and if I can help it, he never will) to Lady Gaga or even Beyonce, but he darn well knows the lyrics to a bunch of Journey. And he sings a long with Hey Jude and Yesterday -Beatles and American Pie -Don Mclean.

  65. St. Timonius,

    At the time of Christ in Jerusalem, men and women would never bathe together, especially not men and women who were not married to each other.

    Yes, European culture is different. Yes, our country is a little more puritanical. With both of these points taken into consideration that doesn't mean the European openness over the nude body (not talking about real art here) on the beach and in the streets is preferable to our desire to keep it clothed. Furthermore, we're not just talking about a naked body, we're talking about depictions of sexual relationships, particularly casual, and cohabitating sexual relationships outside of marriage.

  66. St. T, I get your point, but you are talking about the general public's views or mores. I am talking about charges against the Church as "sex obsessed". I'm speaking not of one country or another, but of the universal Church. That is why the BBC and the British (in a more sexually "free" nation than ours) are saying the same things there that critics of the Church say here.

    Chelsea, did you read this, yet, which Stacy provided:

    Please, please do.

    The left has an agenda. Those who are Christian have known about it and written about it for years, but I don't think the general public has seen it (till interviews like this come out, to confirm everything conservatives already knew).

    I remember writing my newspaper column in the mid-90s, and the conservative public policy groups were exposing how the gay agenda, for example, was playing out. It followed a script. If the first strategies didn't work, they would switch strategies. I don't blame them, but that's how it works. For example, did you know that the first strategy of the homosexual agenda was to degrade and denounce marriage ("We don't need that oppressive, old-fashioned model of marriage to prove the worth of our relationships! We will throw off the necessity of marriage! Marriage is a construct of patriarchy! We don't need a piece of paper to prove our love!") When that didn't work (because marriage is written on our hearts by God, part of the natural law), they thought better of it and decided that they suddenly craved marriage like everyone else, and wanted to be able to have wonderful marriages themselves, as homosexuals, because marriage is (they suddenly saw) "good" and they wanted to have that image of hearth and home. The strategy changed over the years. All with one goal: Normalize gay sex, take the stigma away, acceptance by the general public.

    The media, from TV to Hollywood to music, went right along with it, pushing it to the fore, even before people wanted to hear about it. It's their right to push whatever they want, of course, but let's no lie about the fact that ideology drives it.

    Money had nothing to do with it, as the general public was not clamoring to see more about homosexuality.

  67. Again, cigarettes aren't trafficking humans, neither is McDonald's.

    Giuseppe, thank you for making it so clear. Sometimes I can't find the words and you guys are helping me see it even more clearly. The sexualizing of our culture (mostly at the expense of girls and women) is human trafficking. People used as objects. It's the opposite of love and goodness. Why is it so hard for the secular left to see that using people for our own gratification is not a good?

  68. Then why doesn't the Church take a greater stance against how violence is portrayed on TV and in the American culture. One frontal nude body = R or X rating. OK Fine, that's acceptable, but 50 or 100+ violent acts in "Transformers" type movie and it's PG-13, and the PG-13 was more about the sexual language and humor. That's crazy. If we define open crude sexuality as sin, then why are we so accepting of violence? Why does the sexuality carry more weight? Would you want your sons and daughters shot in the head or violently assaulted or facing a teenage pregnancy or out of wedlock embarrassment? Both are bad, but it does point to a weird sort of obsession, by saying violence is more acceptable.

  69. My friend Deb said this on my facebook:

    I think many people are unaware of the agendas written into tv scripts. I cancelled my cable last year because most shows, even though seeming somewhat harmless, had obvious agenda promoting same sex attraction. NCIS with Mark Harmon was the one show I love that did not have any agendas or sexualization in its episodes. Another show with a strong agenda is Law & Order SVU, very anti-Christian and pro-abortion. Several episodes a year portray pro-lifers as fanatics, as well as Catholics or Evangelicals as fanatics, and push a pro-abortion agenda very strongly. ~~ Deb

    I agree. I doubt the shows put a pro-abortion, pro-gay agenda on TV because the general public was demanding it. Not a money thing. An agenda thing.

  70. St. T, the Church takes a huge stand against violence -- real violence, even! -- in the genocide and brutality that goes on all around the world. But surely you know that.

    In general, the world (both conservative and leftist) understands that violence against other humans is bad. By contrast, we've got entire cultural forces telling all of us (and our young children, too!) that free sex, sex outside of marriage, gay sex, etc. is a positive good.

    Do you see the distinction?

  71. St. T, one more way to think about it: You need to wonder why the left is not indignant about the Church's "obsession" against violence and genocide and unjust war and murder, the way they are indignant about her "obsession" with sex. Really, why aren't they?

  72. Okay, and one more thought! :)

    If violence in art is shown in a moral tale of good vs. evil, I don't have a problem with that. If it is for purposes of showing that violence is a great thing and no big deal and everyone should be doing it, then I have a big problem with that.

    You have one other problem with depictions of sex, and that is for another post, but (even soft core) sexual images affect and stay with the male brain in ways that mildly violent images do not. Would I prefer my child watch porn or violence? I'd prefer neither, but if I had to choose, I'd pick Saving Private Ryan over pornography any day.

  73. That is an interesting comparison. My parents I think whould have preferred sex to violence. And shouldn't they have had the right to make that decision, rather than another group. If they did not want me to watch certain things, and I was not so stubborn, they could have.

  74. Because if it were up to them, I think that they whould have gotten rid of the violence in the shows I watch.

  75. Chelsea, I understand what you are saying (obviously I have a different idea than your parents).

    I just wonder what you mean by "another group" having the right to make that decision, and not your parents, in what to let you watch? I'm not sure what you mean by that.

  76. Leila,
    I don't think you answered St. T's question. I think it is a fair question, as I think violence on television is very accepted by many conservative Christians. Mel Gibson anyone?

  77. I mean that at the moment, there are dozen of channels. So we all have a choice. You can watch Mythbusters, and I can watch Grey's Anatomy. We both have a choice. But if you take away Grey's Anatomy, then only you have a choice. If the Catholic Church were to persuade TV producers to take away Grey's Anatomy, then I whould not have had a choice, only you.

    True for what my parents whould think. They know I am obsessed with the show, and allow it. But if the Catholic Church made the decision that I was not to watch Grey's Anatomy, then they do not have a choice anymore, do they? Are they the ones that are supposed to be my parents.

  78. Yes, but in Saving Private Ryan, couldn't they have cut away in some more of the graphic shots? Why wasn't it an X rating? I still get the idea that it is scary and miserable in war and people do awful things without showing me. The same way that they can say a couple is in love without having to show me what they do when they turn the lights out and put the kids to bed. Why don't mothers sit their kids in front of the TV and say. "See I want you kids to watch this movie called Basic Instinct it can show you what bad relationships are like. Make sure to pay attention to the more graphic and disturbing parts. That's what some people actually do when things get out of balance. I want you to be forewarned against what could happen" It's because the image gets fixed in their minds, Yes!!, but I think the same thing happens with violence!!! I can tell you one thing that happens when people are surrounded by nude bodies, you get very disgusted with it and you are happy to see people wearing cloths and covered again.Yuck! Real bodies are only beautiful for a very short time. You see that it is all non-sense about over-hyping sex and violence in both cultures. Sex is empty without love and violence is just plain empty.

  79. So many people may not know this, but the Catholic Church has its own "rating" system for movies. It's pretty interesting how they rate things and this site might give some insight:

  80. CL - good point about the USCCB's rating system. Hopefully that will help shed some light.

    Chelsea - the Catholic Church isn't trying to legislate or force anyone to take specific shows off the air. It's trying to implore the people in charge of the entertainment industry to be more culturally responsible. And it's evangelizing its faith to the culture at large.

    Leila, what's that phrase you use all the time about how the Church doesn't use force...? It has slipped my mind...

  81. As far as the Catholic church not talking a lot about sex, the priest in my college town does quite a bit of talking about it in the homilies...but then again, most of the attendees are college students, and making the proper decisions about this subject at that point in one's life is absolutely crucial.

    As far as sex in the media...well, sex is an essential part of life, like eating and drinking and breathing. While not everyone has to do it all the time, if every person on this planet were to cease all sexual activity, there would be no more people. Do we have to associate it with everything? No. But for some reason it seems stranger to me to leave out sex from when it makes sense to discuss it or include it--and ignoring it is another form of obsession, perhaps one more dangerous. Granted, I don't think that the approach of today is nearly as bad as in the past. Leaving an explanation of sex and its ramifications (which is still considered "traditional") to the night before the wedding is idiotic; we know that temptation doesn't wait for a wedding ring, and we know that ignorance has rarely stopped someone from doing something stupid. Finding the appropriate happy medium, though, is exceptionally difficult for anyone.

  82. St T,
    I see your point about including the blood and gore when it may be unnecessary. I'd rather not see the violence too. I do think the link I posted above sheds a little light on why the Church rates things the way it does (under negative behavior vs larger content) As far as why it wasn't rated "X"...well, you'll have to ask Hollywood.

    Also, it is scientifically shown that sexual images are burned into the brain in a more permanent way than other images (such as violent ones). But no one here is advocating gratuitous violence or steamy sex scenes; we'd rather have neither!

    First off, if producers took off the show Gray's Anatomy, you would have no choice, but neither would we. We probably just wouldn't care since we would have chosen Mythbusters anyway. Regardless, it is entirely your parents prerogative to allow or not allow you to watch what you watch. Others or the Church may disagree, but they are still your parents.

    But I think you're missing the point here (well, I actually think we're straying from the point of the post, but another point as well). Leila is talking about how the general culture used to try to uphold values in the media, but that has gone astray and instead is replaced with a cultural agenda (as Stacy's post explains). Hopefully you'll read that, because it's from the horse's mouth, as they say (or at least the article I read was, which I think is the same article that is being linked too...haven't looked yet). Whatever your parents choose to expose you to is up to them, but we're talking about the culture in general.

  83. Nicole,
    Leila always says, "The Church doesn't impose, she proposes." :)

  84. I don't think that the approach of today is nearly as bad as in the past.

    Thankfully the way you described the approach of the past isn't the way the Church proposes we deal with sex now. Whew! :)

  85. Ru - that's refreshing to hear that the priest in your college town often talks about sex. I attend a college-campus parish often, and have never heard a homily on sex. Ever.

    You said, "well, sex is an essential part of life, like eating and drinking and breathing."

    Whaaa? So if you don't have sex, just like if you don't eat, drink and breathe, you'll die? So weird how we have so many live priests then! And so weird how I lived for 27 years (until my wedding night) without it!

    "if every person on this planet were to cease all sexual activity, there would be no more people."

    Umm...the Church actually TELLS people to procreate! Within the confines of marriage! Ironically, however, because sex has become mainstream outside of marriage, there are actually 50,000,000 fewer people thanks to abortion. See how that works?

  86. Nicole C: My comment on the cessation of the human species was meant to explain the presence of sex in the media which, by Leila's argument, are sex-obsessed. I personally don't think that anything is significantly more sex-obsessed than anything else (though I admit that the Shakers, with their separate staircases for men and women, were really crazy sex-obsessed if they think that even walking on the same steps as the opposite gender would lead to impure thoughts). It's more how we deal with it, like how a person with a predisposition to alcoholism has, in theory, the choice to not drink at all, drink him/herself into a stupor at every opportunity, or to drink very occasionally. It's hard to do any one of those, but they are still options.

  87. Ru, forgive me if I'm reading things into your statement, I got the impression that if it weren't for sex in the media, everyone wouldn't have the foggiest clue what to do on their wedding night unless they had an awkward "talk" with their parents that morning. Is that right?

    Because that's frankly just silly. I know how that's caricatured (like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, for instance, and it's very funny) but that's not the case. I don't think Leila is saying no one should talk about sex ever, but rather that because parents are the primary educators of their children, it's best for people to learn about sex (and its appropriate context, marriage) from parents and at home, not from MTV. My mom had "the talk" with me when I was nine, but it was far from over. We continued to discuss healthy, God-centered (ie in marriage) sexuality for most of my teen years- not in heavy "sit down and we shall talk about Sex" ways, but in ways that naturally worked into conversations. I wasn't allowed to watch MTV or a lot of other cable, and I was so busy with school I didn't really have time anyway, and I promise, I know what to expect on my wedding night (if God willing that day every comes!) So no, the media isn't essential to teach us about the birds and the bees. Parents, informed by a well-formed moral conscience, working from natural law, should do that.

  88. free sex, sex outside of marriage, gay sex, etc. is a positive good.

    Leila, when you address it this way it makes it sounds like we think all sex is good! Which is certainly to the contrary.

  89. @Maggie, you can't possibly think parents are the best source for sex education?! I go to a math teacher for help on math, I go to a biology teacher for help on biology, I go to a health teacher for information on sex (it'd be a little awkward asking for sex for help. My parents definitely did not as much about sexual health than my health teacher in high school did.

  90. Maggie: that isn't my argument at all. My argument is that media portrays life. Life includes sex. Leaving it out would be leaving out part of life.

    As far as the night-before talk, I'm not saying that people would be sexually clueless. But many of the ramifications of sex are not intuitive in the least. Emotional ties, STI infection (if you don't know to screen your partner for them), and other physical aspects of sex other than the possibility of a baby resulting are things that you have to hear about from other people. NOT talking about these things is just as bad as talking about them constantly, hence my statement about a happy medium.

  91. I go to a math teacher for help on math, I go to a biology teacher for help on biology, I go to a health teacher for information on sex (it'd be a little awkward asking for sex for help

    Given the misunderstandings out there, I'd probably recommend a biology teacher for information on sex over the health teacher. Health teachers are supposed to teach just that Health, and while that includes the health of one's reproductive systems, that does NOT include how-tos, or birth control demonstrations, or discussing the emotional feelings behind sexual activity.

  92. I can't believe anyone would argue that birth control demonstrations wouldn't be an educational aid for someone's sexual health! If someone doesn't know how to use a condom properly, how can they have safe sex? The demonstrations are basically harmless. Knowledge is power, ignorance is slavery.

    Should the biology teacher have the birth control demonstrations then?

    Do we educate our children on the emotions behind other life actions? Barely, unless you consider thats what the arts and humanities are for. But I'm pretty sure any health class touches on the fact that sex can come packaged with a enormous variety of emotions, in a lot of different types of situations. The point of sex ed is to be prepared to know how to educate ourselves, stay safe, and understand the relevant legal system, not to say "this is what sex is and always will be".

  93. I can't help but point out that when sex is engaged in in the proper context (in marriage) than the "pitfalls" that Ru mentions are void.

    The "emotional ties" of sex are meant to bond a man and woman together for life. With two monogamous partners who were chaste outside of marriage, STI's are not an issue. Even if one (or both) partners were not chaste before marriage, if neither of them has been infected, and they are monogamous thereafter, STI's are not an issue.

    So I don't see how talking about sex with your children in a way that emphasizes the proper context for it (marriage), and the importance of chastity, is not good enough. Anyone can look up the statistics of STI rates and the failure methods of all contraception on the internet to share with their children. I'm pretty sure I don't need to be a "health expert" to do that.

    Parents are the best people to talk with their children about sex, chastity and personal responsibility, because parents *should* care more about their child's physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being than anyone else. Also, if there is a good relationship between parent and child, they will be more willing to take what you say at face value.

    Sticking a 14 or 15 year old on the pill and telling her to "be careful" isn't loving her, or serving her, or looking out for her best interests. It's throwing her to the wolves and hoping she makes it out in one piece.

  94. Also...last I checked the Narnia series was some of the highest-grossing and best-selling DVDs out there. So I actually think there are lots of more conservative voices out there in the media.

    One of the shows I HATE is CSI. I think they glorify people belittling others, treating them like worthless non-beings, and mock dead bodies. I think it is one of the most offensive shows on television, and I will never allow my children watch it as teens.

    I think back to your comments Leila on the "gay agenda", and I do think that gays unite to try and get people to accept them. Why is that wrong or surprising? They have been reviled, stoned, beaten, arrested, fired, mocked and shunned for most of the last 200 years.

    I remember when Will and Grace came out, and I thought it was funny but a bit too much with the sexual humor, but no more than Threes Company decades before it, a show about heterosexuals. At the time, I worked with a gay young man who seemed "normal" in every way. He just had a boyfriend. I didn't know many gay people at the time, but I remember thinking, "This guy is honest, smart, caring, funny, hardworking and friendly, why are people so weirded-out by his orientation?" He felt compelled to hide it at work, based on his previous experiences in life, and it felt so wrong. Why is it wrong for gays to say, "We are people too. We are not defective. Please stop hating us" ? Are there gays who are hypersexualized and running around in S&M outfits in the Castro? Yes. Are there heterosexuals doing the same thing everywhere (remember Benny Hill?) Yes. But you all are acting like it is a gay idea to make everything all "sexed-up."

    I think the sexualization of the media is a distinct thing from the appearance of gay characters. Look at the rap stuff on MTV. Look at Christina Aguillera's videos. It's all heteros as far as I can see. A far cry from Ellen.

  95. Leila,

    My only interaction with Catholic is in blog formation, and a lot of the social blogs are ‘sexual’ but that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is catholic’s blaming the problems of the world on sex and abortion and birth control.

    Why are people so messed up sex?
    Why is the economy failing abortion?
    Why are marriages collapsing sex?
    Why are we losing wars sex?
    Why is women unhappy birth control?
    Why are men not sticking around sex?

    I could really love catholic acknowledgement that our problems are a little deeper than that. Through the reading of blogs I get the impression that Catholics think if you just wait until you are married and don’t have an abortion, well your life is set…I don’t think its that simple do you?

    My very liberal parents think TV is too sexualized. As a 22 year old I even think TV is too violent and too sexual. TV, including the shows meant for teenagers sometimes make me freak out, because they make me think I’m not having enough sex. I really wish you would stop blaming the left for everything—sometimes the people making TV shows aren’t hardcore democrats the patron saints of our movement, sometimes they are edgy people who want to be hip and push the envelop and sell naked people, I wish you could acknowledge that instead of subliminally pretending that all Obama supporters rejoice whenever a woman gets nude in film because we are one step closer to fulfilling our dream of eroding your families!

  96. I also feel the need to say something about liberals and marriage. Someone posted links that said married men live longer are happier and have better sex, and all those great things. I am not a liberal messenger but I will say this.

    I think most liberals think marriage is great, no one is trying to destroy marriage, but marriage TAKES WORK. Sometimes you can want to be married and YOU CAN’T FIND the right person. Sometimes you get married and your spouse leaves!

    I know this personally, as someone who has not tried to get married, but has searched for relationships, sometimes they are hard to get. Sometimes you have to be comfortable living life on your own. Sometimes you get married and it doesn’t work. You have to be comfortable living on your own. Telling people there is only one way to do things really ignores the human experience. You have to get married! You have to stay married! You have to have kids! And then you will be happy, is nice if it works…but sometimes it doesn’t and you have to be okay with this option too.

  97. Thanks Mary for the bit on gay people being normal. It's helpful. Most of my friends fall under the queer umbrella, and they're mostly scientists and engineers who "trick" everyone into thinking they're straight. (They're not actively tricking people, but that's what people say when they "discover" our sexuality.)

    Sarah, maybe if we knew kids would stay chaste outside of marriage, that'd be okay. But they won't be--they never HAVE been. There are a lot of influences out in the world, and the most important part, as highlighted by sex ed, is to allow our children to be prepared, knowledgeable, and safe.

    We can't educate our children into thinking the world is a bubble where people only have sex in marriage. You talk about sex like it's designed, and not all students believe in a God. We have to have secular education.

  98. St. T:

    I hate gratuitous violence in movies. Things like the Saw movies or Kill Bill… it's the coarsening of the culture.

    But here again is the big difference between sex and violence: When a normal teen boy sits down to watch Saving Private Ryan, he has absolutely no desire to go and start brutally murdering people. A normal response to it is horror. But, if that same teen boy sat down to watch pornography (or your typical R or above movie), he would have a desire for sex. And so much so that it can easily become addicting. Because the normal response to seeing sex (I'm taking primarily of men seeing sex) is to want to have sex.

    St. T, I don't know for sure, but are you female? I think men might be able to explain better how the visuals of naked women and sex affect men. It's very, very different from how they affect women.

    I highly recommend a book called "For Young Women Only" … it explains to young women (and even old women!) what young men think and how their minds work (VERY, VERY different from women). It made my daughter actually cry. It's stuff we women cannot possibly understand. And yet we need to know.

    Also, please consider the following: The Church is not pro-violence. She is definitely pro-sex (in the right context). Marriage (the only context in which sex is moral) is a sacrament, after all. We love sex, trust me. :)

    The Church certainly is concerned with movie violence, of course (as the bishops' ratings system shows), but again: The fundamental difference is that the media is showing sexual sin and sexual license as a good. And since sex (in its proper context) and sexual desire actually is good, and something we are all drawn to, it doesn't take a lot of temptation or convincing for a teen or young adult to go over that "edge" and be sexually active. Which has not been good for these kids or these young adults or society! But the very message that the filmmakers are trying to get across is: "The idea that sex is for marriage only is RIDICULOUS and only for god-freaks and prigs! Go have fun guys! Go have your orgasm and test out all sorts of different folks! Yee-haw!"

    Unless you are contending that the adults who make these movies are actually promoting abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within marriage? I think you would agree, that has not been the message of Hollywood for decades now.

    Still rambling here, but here's another thought: I can count on two fingers the number of people I have known personally in my lifetime (44 years) who have murdered someone. It's just not that common. But people who have had sex young, had abortions, committed adultery, gotten diseases, been raped, had their hearts and bodies broken by being used, are promiscuous, etc…. well, there are thousands that I have known personally. I don't think we can even begin to understand how damaging the misuse of sex is, because we are so invested in its continuance.

    And, just because premarital sex and all manner of sexual immorality is "part of life", does that mean we need to sell it to our kids as a good thing, or make it explicit on every screen? I've mentioned that chastity is simply one of the virtues, and I should point out that modesty is a virtue, too. Maybe the culture has thrown off chastity, but could we at least bring back modesty, as a courtesy to the innocent?

    Okay, I will hit "post", but I am not sure this coherent… The baby has almost unplugged my computer twice.

  99. I can't believe anyone would argue that birth control demonstrations wouldn't be an educational aid for someone's sexual health! If someone doesn't know how to use a condom properly, how can they have safe sex?

    Zach, why, with the myriad birth control options and free condoms everywhere, are there so many more STDs out there now? I love how sex ed and contraception was supposed to:

    1) strengthen marriages
    2) decrease rates of disease
    3) decrease rates of abortion
    4) decrease rates of child abuse ("every child a wanted child" and all that!)

    The exact opposite has occurred. And yet we keep on pushing this agenda, talking about sexual health! Oy vey.

    Want sexual health? Don't have sex till you are married. Voila! Sexual health. Want to almost ensure you will catch something or mess up your body (and mind)? Have sex early and often, and in ways that are not what our parts were designed for.

    Sorry, it's just the truth.

    Sometimes, looking at this culture committing suicide, it's like we are Alice down the rabbit hole….

    And the devil is laughing. He loves the Culture of Death.

  100. And, I would never say that birth control has anything to do with "health". Birth control is designed for one thing: To interfere with the healthy reproductive system (therefore, it's not about health), or to mitigate nasty consequences of inherently unhealthy sex (therefore giving a false sense of security; not health).

    So, birth control is about "health" in the same way teaching about clean syringes for drug users is about "health". We are sort of missing the true meaning of "health", no?

    Remember, abortion is reproductive "health" too, according to the left and the sexperts. Zach, what's your position on the "health" of abortion?

  101. As for gay people being normal. I know a lot of adulterers, and they are normal, too. I know many, many liars, and they are normal. I know a lot of sinners (everyone!) and we are all pretty much "normal". But there are ordered and disordered ways to use one's genitals. I think even you would agree. Can you tell me what your general principle is for what is a "moral" or "normal" use of one's sexual organs?


  102. Sarah, I'm just now reading what you wrote. THANK YOU! That is exactly right!

  103. Amen. You know what has always puzzled me is that fact that people pick so many bones with the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality. When, in fact, some of the most radical teachings of the Church are ignored. For example, we consume our God--body, blood, soul and divinity. That seems so radical to me compared with the rather tame teachings of the Church on sexuality. Yet no one ever seems to bring that up. I guess they are just too busy being mad about the Church’s teachings on abstinence and contraception.

  104. College student, in the most basic terms:

    God loves human beings
    The Devil hates human beings.

    The quickest way to destroy human beings, is to destroy the family. The family comes to us, human beings come to us, by way of the most powerful, beautiful, most sacred force on earth: The sexual union of a man and a woman.

    If we do not respect the mechanism which creates human life, then we cannot respect human life itself.

    It's really that simple, and I've often called it "the secret of the universe".

    We will stand or fall based on what we believe about sex, marriage, human life.

    That's all.

  105. Sarah: please explain what you just said about sex within the context of marriage to the hundreds of thousands of women who have been infected with STIs or have been the victims of sexual violence by their husbands (I suppose it goes the other way, but the numbers aren't nearly as prevalent). You can hope, you can trust, but you can not guarantee that someone else will follow the rules. Because of this, parents have the responsibility to talk about how sex can go wrong, in or outside of its "proper context." Let's face it, bad things happen when sex is involved (well, bad things happen generally, but that isn't the point). If not to your child, then to his or her friend, or his or her friend's sibling. And it is better that your child hears about it from you BEFORE it happens.

  106. They have been reviled, stoned, beaten, arrested, fired, mocked and shunned for most of the last 200 years.

    Mary, this is horrible, and the Church condemns unjust treatment of any human being, but what does this fact have to do with the question of whether or not homosexual acts are immoral? I'm not seeing the connection.

  107. Wow am I tired of reading the label "culture of death" slung around here and there and everywhere. Zach, do you go out on daily killing sprees? Yeah, I don't either. In fact I think it's time to call the other side the Culture of Authoritarianism! Righteously telling everyone else how, when and where to have sex, what's "normal" as dictated by (of all things) the Bible, and what health services you can and cannot access.

    Leila, good luck telling Heroin addicts to stop cold turkey. In fact, maybe you'd like to be there when they go through withdrawal? I suppose all the studies showing that providing clean needles/equipment and a safe space to drug addicts improves communities is all liberal hogwash too right?

    Kudos to you Zach for venturing over here in the land of the authoritarians!


  108. Ru, I tell my kids everything about sex, and there is not one question I don't or won't answer. No need for secrets, and it's so important that they choose the right path before marriage, and the right spouse. Are there guarantees? Of course not! But if we are going to teach our children to choose their morality based on the lowest common denominator of human behavior, you can be they will fall short of even that. Why do we think so little of people? Thinking that they can only act like animals, or that everyone will fall prey to evil men, no matter how virtuous they are, so why bother?

    Why would we teach that view of things, if we really do believe that we humans were made in the image of of a good and loving God?

  109. Ru, if you would please read the following post, and the one immediately preceding it, from the sex educator:

    I find that it says what I want to say to you in response to your comment. I hope you can see some merit in what we said.

  110. Gwen, I have to laugh, since it's the left that wants to regulate my life, via fines, penalties and jail, in every area except for sex and drugs! :) From what I eat, to how I run a business, to which words are acceptable and not "hateful", to which light bulbs I am allowed to own. Authoritarian indeed. ;)

    The Church proposes, not imposes. I wish I could say that for the Left.

    By the way, can I infer from your analogy that you think people using condoms should be weaned off their sexual habits, like drug addicts? If not, then the analogy doesn't really work from your end, does it?

    I think both illicit drug use and illicit sex are immoral, and my hope would be that folks would live virtuously. Can I force it? Of course not! But I don't condone either scenario. Do you?

  111. And, Miss Gwen, if you think that death only comes from killing sprees, I don't know what to say. Death takes many forms. Spiritual, physical, cultural, et al.

    Even Singer acknowledged the stakes and that John Paul II (who coined the phrase) and he (Singer) were clear about the battle being waged. I can respect him for that. Singer did not scoff at the term "culture of death". He got it.

  112. Now, Gwen, we know that since yours is the only education around this board that hasn't failed that you cannot possibly be misreading all that Leila has posted on natural law apart from the bible.

    Or maybe you've indeed misread some?

  113. Nubby, good point, because I really never use the Bible or Bible quotes with any secular person. Why would I? So you are right... I am not sure what that comment of hers was all about.

  114. College student: I'd like to answer what you touch on, a lot misses the mark, as far as how the Church expounds on the implications you've listed. But I'm traveling right now and haven't the time.

    I will say though, the Church doesn't think all are called to marriage. Some are called to single life and or religious life.

    And no one married would say it's all been a walk in the park. Catholic or not.

  115. Miss Gwen, one more point, and I promise I am not trying to "stick it to you" but only being honest. You said you are not out there on a killing spree, and yet your cultural view led you to provide several hundred dollars to have your friend's daughter (now your godchild?) shredded in her womb. That was your admission. Do you not consider that a death, had the money changed hands and the deed been done?

  116. Oh wow. Lots going on.

    I don't have much of the way in comments about abortion, because I admittedly don't know as much as I wish. I know when abortion isn't provided in a safe context, women take matters into their own hands. That, I know, is not healthy, and it seems to me that the answer to the abortion issue is not on either side of the aisle right now.

    Just like kids take "matters" into their own hands by having sex. It happens. It'll happen if we teach them abstinence-only or a "liberal" sexual education. I'm curious to see if anyone here has seen the musical Spring Awakening?

    Can you tell me what your general principle is for what is a "moral" or "normal" use of one's sexual organs?

    To hit two birds with one stone...

    From what I eat, to how I run a business, to which words are acceptable and not "hateful", to which light bulbs I am allowed to own. Authoritarian indeed. ;)

    I don't think this is what all liberals chime in on. Aside from agreeing that we should be conscious about our word choices, we should promote ideas that promote healthy eating, and we should promote clean energy. How that's done, clearly, I disagree with plenty liberals on.

    And you made it obvious that liberals are libertarian on personal issues. Leila, can we really legislate what happens in the bedroom? Obviously, yes. Rape, murder, abuse all happen in the bathroom. But when two consenting adults have sex, can the justice system impose a penalty on them? You might come up with an exception, but there's a reason it's an exception. Whether it's man-man, woman-woman, or man-woman, if they're consenting, and no one gets hurt, the law has no place saying anything on it. Furthermore, if the law demands equal access, the government has to provide "marriage" to all adult, consenting couples (barring incest). I'm completely pro- ditching the term marriage. It's a religious term. Keep it in the church and out of the law books.

    And has STD rate really gone up, or do we just hear it reported more? Has the data taken into consideration migrations from rural into urban populations, where transmission of a disease will increase naturally?

    To conclude my rambling, we need to construct an education that can serve our diverse population, which includes students of all backgrounds, classes, races, and faiths (or lack thereof). This demands a secular education, and I only point that out because abstinence-only sex ed is suspiciously funded by virtually only religious groups. Kids have sex. Teach them to make safe decisions.

  117. I do not have the stats, but I really don't think there is more child abuse today than years ago. Remember that case of the girl called "Mary Ellen" who in the late 1800's in the US was brought to the humane society because there was NO society for the prevention of cruelty to children.

  118. Mary, this is a quote from a pro-life site, but I think it applies.

    “Although abortion advocates have proposed otherwise, the number of child abuse cases in the United States has actually increased since Roe v Wade, from 167,000 in 1973 to 1.22 million in 1996." Source:

  119. I'm completely pro- ditching the term marriage. It's a religious term. Keep it in the church and out of the law books.

    Zach, I'm with you on that one. The debate over marriage has come down to semantics (because as much as it saddens me, some people will never agree with the theological-biological understanding of marriage prescribed by natural law). If I ran the world (a job I'd never want!) marriage would be only a religious term. Things government cares about, namely things like money and insurance and visitation rights - have little to do with my Catholic (or Christian, or universal-from-natural-law-and-biology) understanding of marriage. So in that situation (me running the world!) civil partnerships would be available to whomever, and those who wanted to be married could toddle off to their church. As long as a church was given explicit rights to deny marriage to couples who did not meets its definition (which for Catholics would include contracepting or cohabitating or divorce-friendly people), I'd have no issue with that. Alas, I don't think that will ever happen. The place I'd draw the line though would be adoption of children, which I believe should only be among married stable spouses (remember, married as Catholics (and many others) see it means opposite sex). But that's a whole other discussion :-)

    My friends Marco and Philip have a civil partnership here in Wisconsin. They have hospital visitation rights, share insurance, and receive the same income tax benfits/filing status that married couples do. I have no problem with that. But as much as I love them (and they are "normal" productive, hardworking and intelligent men), their relationship is not marriage.

    Does that make sense? (keep in my the scenario I just outlined is my own personal idea, and may not fit with others on the blog, nor is it an official teaching.)

  120. Maggie,

    I think the civil privileges, rights, and protections offered to couples under the term "marriage" is all that gay couples now seek.

    I'm also from WI, and am vaguely familiar with the situation (I know go to school in Minneapolis). I understand Walker is trying to fight civil partnership, using the relatively new amendment that bans gay marriage as his defense, even in the face of Obama's exec. order demanding hospitals (most of them...) to recognize gay visitation rights.

  121. OK...I am not gay, but I have thought long and hard about this topic. Leila said: "As for gay people being normal. I know a lot of adulterers, and they are normal, too. I know many, many liars, and they are normal. I know a lot of sinners (everyone!) and we are all pretty much "normal"."

    No...I think adulterers who are not repentant are liars. I think liars who are not repentant are liars and quite sick. I actually don't think people who constantly do bad things and consider them "OK" to be normal.

    This guy I knew was really just trying to be honest with himself and love the person he loved. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be 12 years old and realize that the way you love (romantically and sexually)is different from the majority of the population, and is utterly condemned as a mortal sin by people.

    I understand that the Church asks us to love homosexual people and accept them, but not accept them forming (even life-long committed) sexual relationships. So they are supposed to come "out" and tell everyone that they are celibate and be celibate, and never ever experience sexual pleasure ever (because I am assuming the Church would ask that they not get married to a woman if they were not in love with her)?

    Would the Church allow two gay men to be "in-love" and date and hold each other and be a couple as long as they never had intercourse? I don't can that kind of love be a bad thing?

    Now, some will point out that pedophilia exists(different from hebephila which many many red-blooded heterosexual males would have to admit to in today's world where the thirteen-year-old girl down the street looks sexier than anyone I know). They will say that pedophiles have different sexual orientations than most and why should they be denied their interests? I would say that our entire (Western at least) world-view is predicated on the idea that a child is not equal to an adult in terms of culpability for error and for consent. Thus, we all agree that children cannot give consent to things like "mutual sexual relationships", but two adults can. Furthermore, you would think that long-term gay relationships would seem broken and cause brokenness. I now know two women who have been together for over 15 years and have two children, and they seem.....very normal. It struck me as odd at first, and now, not at all.

    I will admit that homosexual male sex does seem to go against the way the bodies are formed. But...I really don't know much about this. I do not condone the notorious promiscuity of some aspects to the gay culture, and I don't take the excuse that, well, men are promiscuous. I think adultery is lying, and it is always wrong.

    I have boys. If one of them was gay I would be sad for him because I know it would be hard for him, but I would try as I could to help support him in a long-term committed relationship where he could find love. I cannot imagine telling him that he must be alone for his entire life.

  122. Maggie,
    I thought that was pretty well said.

    One question. Do you think what your friends are doing is a Mortal Sin? It is extramarital.

  123. Mary, Eve Tushnet and John Heard are both "out" and also faithful Catholics. Their blogs (though John's is no longer updated) have some great insights on that struggle. A difficult cross to bear, I can't even imagine. But their insights are incredible.

    Also, I'd encourage you to read "Always Our Children" by the US Bishops. It's a pastoral letter to the parents of gay children.

  124. I think because marriage is based on the natural law, it's not a religious issue. (We all, including all civilizations, religions, eras, have understood marriage as fundamental to functioning society; it is the union of man and woman which produces children, who need protection and stability). It's a sociological issue. It's a human issue. And to include homosexual unions under the umbrella of "marriage" is changing the very definition of marriage. I'm totally against it, and the Church is as well.

    In fact, it's one of those non-negotiables:

    In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

    Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

    Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.

    Note that the Pope talks of "natural" and "social". Marriage is written in the natural law. It is a tragedy that we want to call any form of "union" marriage. It just can never be. The law may decree it one day, and the whole world believe it, but marriage, in reality, will never be anything other than what it was intended by our Creator to be. We can redefine everything and anything, but the reality stands.

    Also, Zach, your argument that abortion should be legal because "women will do it anyway" is not logical. Men will always rape, people will always steal, corporations and governments will always raid, and yet you don't argue for legalization of those things?

    Do you know how many women actually "took things into their own hands" before Roe, and do you know how many babies have died since we gave women (to the delight of their irresponsible boyfriends, and their rich abortionists) the "right" to kill their unborn children legally, from conception till birth?

    How can you, a rational man, argue that because people will do something horrible "anyway", and take a life, that we must allow it legally? I will never understand it.

  125. Mary, regarding my gay friends, yes I do. It is mortal sin, just like other friends of mine who are cohabitating (in heterosexual) relationships. Just like other friends of mine who are married in the Church and yet use contraception. Just like I'm in mortal sin if I deliberately skip Mass on Sunday when I'm lazy or grumpy. Just like an ex-boyfriend of mine was in mortal sin when he used porn.

    Mortal sin is mortal sin. It doesn't mean I love those friends any less.

    And yes, they know how I feel. I don't "shove it down their throats" like an angry fundamentalist, but I was invited to their commitment ceremony and I declined to go.

  126. I don't know about that stat JoAnna. It seems totally unreal. I mean, look at the abuse during the Industrial Revolution, or out on the frontier. Check this out:

    Heck, read Dickens. Unless you are saying that in 1973 things had gotten MUCH MUCH better than in the history of the world, and we reached a pinnacle that was decimated by the legalization of contraception. Is that what you are saying?

  127. Maggie....what should they do? Be alone? Never, ever, ever have sexual pleasure again, as long as they should live? As much as I try, I cannot imagine telling that to one of my sons.

  128. Mary, everything you argue that is "clearly understood" by society regarding pedophiles was once also "clearly understood" about homosexuality, too. The APA not too long ago called homosexual orientation a disorder. They are being lobbied hard to take the "disordered" label off of pedophilia, and a few years back they almost did. Don't think it won't happen one day.

    You say that children cannot consent to sex. Why not? Why, if sex is not something somehow "different" and set apart from other acts, can't they consent? If it's like eating ice cream, and if they can't get pregnant, then who cares, right? Why can't they have pleasure, too? What is the harm? Why (and I really want you to answer this) is letting them have sex harmful to them? After all, sex is merely about feeling good. It's about pleasure. That is what the culture now says. It's not about marriage, it's not about making babies. It's about pleasure. So, what is the hangup?

    I'm serious, I really don't get why anyone who believes sex is not for marriage and babies thinks that it's wrong for children on children, or adult on child. Help me out, logically. Not "what everyone thinks", since that can change (and will).

    As for intercourse: Gay men cannot have sexual intercourse. Gay women cannot have sexual intercourse. They can have genital play, but not sexual intercourse. It's anatomically impossible.

    And as for "being alone"… first, I would rather be alone than offend my God and go against my human dignity and risk losing Heaven. God is not some meanie who just doesn't want people to have fun. He wants what is best for us, even when we don't want what is best for ourselves. Holiness and closeness to the Heart of God more than satisfies for any suffering on this earth. I understand that most people don't believe that anymore, since "happiness" is the goal, not sanctity. Anyone should just look at a crucifix and dispel the myth that life is about "happiness". It's not. It's about holiness, goodness, love, sacrifice, humility and obedience unto death. Not pretty, but true. And worth it.

    I always ask (and no one answers)… if I am married to a jerk, and I am lonely and sad and craving intimacy, and I want to be with the man down the street, who is married to a cold woman, am I morally able to go and have an affair with him? And if not why not? Why would you want me to be alone and lonely?

    I'm interested in that answer.

  129. Maggie....what should they do? Be alone? Never, ever, ever have sexual pleasure again, as long as they should live? As much as I try, I cannot imagine telling that to one of my sons.

    Mary, we are so different here, because I would say exactly this to my son. I hope my sons will become priests, and what you describe is exactly that: A sacrifice of sexual activity for a higher good.

    What a witness to the world. Sacrifice is not a dirty word, and true love doesn't always involve sex. In fact, sometimes, love requires giving up one great good (sex/marriage) for another, greater good.

    We humans do not explode and die if we do not have sex. Please watch that priest video again. Goodness, even Buddhist monks are celibate. It's not the end of the world. And with celibacy, God gives great graces.

  130. Mary, one last question (sorry for so many)…

    What do you think is the highest good?

  131. Mary,
    We have to remember that sexual expression isn't a universal right, like the right to live. It's a privilege for those who are married and open to life. (that doesn't mean that people can't exercise free will, etc., and violate that privilege, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a violation. Goes for adultery and cohabitation too). There's a distinction between legal rights and moral rights. Should the government make adultery illegal? Of course not. But just because it's legal/not prohibited doesn't make it morally acceptable.

    And not having sex doesn't mean someone is doomed to be alone or miserable. Lots of people are celibate by choice or circumstance- either because they are 1) religious/priests 2) single, either waiting for a spouse or never expecting to find one 3) same sex attracted or 4) impotent or 5)other factors. I, a single woman, would much rather be having sex and making babies with a husband right now. But I'm not. Sex is a privilege, not my right. You may be quick to reply that I have the hope of fulfilling that desire someday, if it's God's will, whereas a faithful Catholic/Christian gay man or woman does not. That's true. Both Eve and John (linked above- I'd really encourage you to read their stuff) have written about the heavy burden of same-sex attraction and being a celibate, faithful Catholic, but neither of them would claim they live without love. There are many kinds of love, of which eros is just one. Agape, philia, and storge are not all the same kind of love. I might not be immersed in romantic love right now, but I have deep loving relationships with my family and friends, and above all my heavenly Father.

    What would I say if I had a gay son? I would love him with my whole heart, for he would be my beloved child and a beloved child of God. And like all my children, I would hope to raise him to strive for holiness and goodness, which includes the virtue of chastity appropriate to one's state in life.

  132. Zach,
    I agree with Leila on this point about abortion. Read Bernard Nathanson's book about his conversion. He was one of the first abortionists. He talks about how they grossly overstated the numbers of women dying from back-alley abortions etc. I will admit that I am not certain that a 10 week-old fetus is a person, but I think we have to err on the side of thinking thus.

    I have lived longer than you, and I know several people who had abortions, some close to me, and of my deepest regrets in life, perhaps the greatest, are not trying harder (or at all) to stop them. They have been unqualified disasters. As a pregnancy becomes eerie and bizarre that, one minute you are doing a test to find out if you will consider killing the baby, and literally a few days later, you are picking out clothes and thinking of names for what-is-to-be your most cherished baby.

  133. Leila,

    Sorry I need a stat for that claim.

    "They are being lobbied hard to take the "disordered" label off of pedophilia, and a few years back they almost did. Don't think it won't happen one day."

  134. The highest good:

    Seeing and loving the divinity of God in all persons (and preferably all sentient beings) and treating them by the golden rule and never turning away from gaining more awareness of "reality" Truth, Beauty, Connectedness, as it exists in the natural world.

  135. Mary, but you would say loving God above all persons is the greatest good, right? I don't want to put words in your mouth, but just clarifying.

    And, why is "reality" in quotes? And, how do you believe Truth is accessed? (Our feelings can lead us astray, right?)


    As for the APA info, hang on....


    Here's an old article on the bare facts of it. It was years ago, and the outcry was so great (for now) that the APA shelved its proposal. That is sort of funny, because they came up with it in the first place, which means that as we get more "progressive" on sexual issues, it will be revisited. Inevitably, unless we start to view sex in an ordered way again...

  137. I guess I don't follow what this "natural law" business is. I'm a scientist and I understand natural law in the context of that field, but this type of law seems to presume that our actions have meanings in regards to a [fact] that we have souls.

    Is that right? Is there perhaps a primer I could read on this natural law I hear about, and in what ways it is different from scientific natural law and/or religion?

    Because it sounds to me like "Common Sense Rhetoric", but by a different name.

  138. Lelia said, "You say that children cannot consent to sex. Why not? Why, if sex is not something somehow "different" and set apart from other acts, can't they consent? If it's like eating ice cream, and if they can't get pregnant, then who cares, right? "
    I would put sex in the same category as, forced labor for pay, using weapons to hurt or kill (as in war), using their body to earn money (I have trouble with child models, and even with child actors because they cannot give consent).

    Why is sex different than other forms of pleasure? (A GOOD QUESTION!) Well, by definition, when a child is prepubescent, they do not have the hormones running through them that would make them interested in having sex. Now, we have had a conversation about the habits of infants rubbing their penises etc., so obviously, they are feeling something good, but to say that it would be harmless for a mother to masturbate her infant son would condone a strange relationship between the two of them that would lead to objectification of that child by the mother. There aren't too many five year old girls running up to men and trying to (of their own accord) fondle their genitals; they just are not interested in things like that. I also think it is wrong for an adult to confide in a child, deep personal sentiments that should be kept for adults. They would be using the child, even if the child thought it was special to know these "secrets". Their brains are not developed fully, thus they cannot process this information the way an adult can.

  139. Mary, I am just glad you don't think sex is the highest good for a human. Sometimes, mostly with some of the secular folks, I feel like they think it is ("unable to live a good life without it" and all).

    Zach, well, I did that review on What We Can't Not Know but of course that is for believers, or the half-persuaded. Maybe that one is for you? Maybe not?

    The author has a few other books on the natural law, including this one:

    He was an atheist before becoming a Christian (Protestant), then Catholic.

    Also, C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man is about the natural law, though he calls it "tao", which confused people, ha. I would recommend that one, too.

  140. Zach, a pretty good primer (especially in regards to this topic) is here. (ps, I don't mean to always be linking to things... but other people who are far smarter and more eloquent than I are usually better resources than I am!)

  141. Leila said, "Mary, but you would say loving God above all persons is the greatest good, right?"

    Well, I know it may be heretical, but I see God IN all persons (all persons have in the a manifestation of I try to love and increase or foster the God (or "loving potential") in all persons (and perhaps sentient beings...but this is sometimes harder to reconcile...I eat meat and feel bad about it).

  142. Mary, you have thrown me for a loop with the God thing. Let me ask you, do you understand God as separate from creation? Separate from humans? Because if not, then you are definitely in the heretical, ha ha. That wouldn't even be a Christian view, I believe that is pantheism.

    As to what you said about kids. I am right with you on the "latency" period for children. The Church speaks clearly about the need to leave children's innocence intact during the latency period. Each child is a little different as to when they leave that stage, but no on has a right to sexualize a child (which is why Planned Parenthood's agenda in the schools, from Kindergarten up, is so unspeakably abhorrent).

    But still, I don't know if you have quite answered my question. If sex is about pleasure, then if the child experiences pleasure from sexual contact, what is the harm? (Of course, I think there is grave harm, but I hold the Catholic view). In other words, you speak of "using" people. But isn't all sex outside of committed marriage "using people"? Don't adults use people for sex all the time, and we laud that as a culture (see above post)? Aren't we pretty much okay with objectification of people for sex, in this culture? Or, are you personally against sex purely for orgasm and pleasure? (And isn't that what masturbation is, by the way?) I know, that's a lot of questions. I still don't have a clear view as to why it's different from giving a child an ice cream cone? Maybe the adult really loves the child and just wants to see the child happy? Or, is there something about sex that is not simply about pleasure alone?

    Sorry, this is a yucky subject, and I don't want to be more explicit, but I hope I am at least being somewhat clear. I don't fully get why a child (esp. an older one) cannot "consent" to feeling sexual pleasure with another person. Or why that is even a consideration, since (as Planned Parenthood believes) every child is a sexual being and has a right to be sexual (at least with him/herself, and definitely with other children/minors).


  143. Maggie, I like links, too!

    Here is one, Zach, on the natural law, both ancient and in our own nation:

    Remember, both abolition and the Civil Rights movement were based on natural law principles. Explicitly. What we have now is positive law (based on man's feelings at the moment, not based in unchanging truths; positive law is essentially "might makes right". Very dangerous.)

  144. Gotta go but...

    I think God is outside creation but ALSO inside it.

    "But isn't all sex outside of committed marriage "using people"? Don't adults use people for sex all the time, and we laud that as a culture (see above post)?"

    I do not laud that at all. But! I also think it IS possible to not be using someone and have sex outside of marriage. (I was once very tempted to have sex with someone because they were very sad...glad I didn't. but it was not about using them.)
    Per I said before...without porn...I do not really see the problem if it is not obsessive. Who are you using?

  145. I do understand, Mary, that you don't see the problem with masturbation. But, who makes the moral law? It's not you, right?

    Also, I'm not currently using anyone, but I sure have in the past, when I was not committed to someone in marriage. But the question begs another question: Do you equate marriage with fornication? I mean objectively. Not subjectively ("I know horrible married people and wonderful fornicating people"… yes, we all do). I'm talking about the state of unmarried sex vs. the state of married sex. Do you equate them? And if not, why? Is marriage more than "just a piece of paper"? After all, can't people commit to love just fine without marriage? I'm thinking you would say yes.

    I am not sure, still, if you think God exists even without creation (i.e., if creation never existed)? I guess I'm asking if you hold the Christian view?


    And, I look forward to whenever you can get to the questions about kids and consent.

  146. Gwen, where'd you go and why the hit and run all the time? Stick with us. Follow up.

  147. Mary, re: masturbation. It's a misuse of the way our bodies and our sexuality is designed, to be self-giving. Satisfying oneself isn't an act of love, isn't life-giving, isn't offering oneself total and faithfully to another. Since we Catholics (and many others) believe that the body speaks a language that requires no words.

    Sex in its native language (the langue of the body)says, "I give myself to you freely (without coercion, or force, or manipulation) and faithfully (only one person, for life), totally (all of myself is yours, including my fertility, whole body and my hopes and fears and dreams and whole self) and fruitfully (I accept your fertility too, and respect that God designed us compatible for the duel purposes of babies and bonding).

    What does masturbation say? It's not free, because it's not a gift to another. It's not faithful, because it is accompanied with fantasies of someone else (even if they are of one's own spouse, they are in the imagination, not the real person), it's not total (because there is only one party involved, not a mutual gift of self-donation) and it's not fruitful (obviously, no new life can even be a possibility).

    Catholic Answers said it this way, quite succinctly, "Even if the physical benefits to masturbation were substantial, which I doubt, they would not justify the negative results. Masturbation conflicts with the whole purpose of sexuality. The act of sexual intercourse is the physical expression of the marriage vows made at the altar. It is therefore an expression of Christian love, i.e., concern for the other. It is the most complete way of expressing the total self-donation of one person to another. Total means until death. It can’t be total for a week or a couple of years.

    With masturbation there is no self-donation to anybody. It consists of taking pleasure for oneself alone. There is no giving at all. We were created for more than that.

    The Church is not hostile to sex; indeed, nowhere will you find a higher understanding of sexuality than in the Catholic Church. The Church teaches reality. Opinions don’t change reality. Nor will the Church ever attempt to do so. I suggest that you get a copy of Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West."

  148. If married couples who are no long reproductively viable have sex, is it a sin? Surely they do not do it for the supposed intentions of sex! It is certainly for pleasure.

  149. Zach, no not a sin. They have not done anything to change the nature of the act. They are open to life, even if their bodies fail them (infertility) or become too old for procreation.

  150. Zach, the difference is that their inability to conceive is due to menopause, a natural process God designed so that women have an "end" to their childbearing years.

    You are new around here (welcome, by the way! Thanks for your willingness to dialogue civilly), so I'm betting you didn't get to read the Natural Family Planning Post or its follow-up discussions. There, it's discussed in great detail how using the body's natural rhythm of fertility isn't the same as contraception.

    We prize sex so highly because it is the embodiment (the "seal" if you will) on marriage vows. Sex is marriage vows spoken in flesh, without words. When a man and woman apply to be married in the Church, they must fill out a form declaring that they are capable of having sex (ie, someone who is impotent could not be married in the Church). Why? Because sex seals the spoken vows.

    Masturbation can't speak the proper language of sex and love because it's solitary. Similarly, people of the same gender can not have sex (I know that sounds weird, but follow me for a sec) because the male and female bodies are compatible with each other. That doesn't deny that some people feel attracted to those of the same gender.

    The attraction, like all temptation, isn't sinful unless acted upon. I might have an inclination or a temptation to smack an annoying relative upside the head, but if I keep that impulse in check, it's okay. ;-)

  151. Maggie...quickly, your entire premise rests on this: "It's a misuse of the way our bodies and our sexuality is DESIGNED"

    I do not subscribe to Intelligent Design.

    I think the natural laws of physics were designed, but not the resulting biology. I would have to say, that if evolution is true (which the overwhelming evidence seems to indicate), then Intelligent Design can not be true.

    Read....Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller (Christian guy (Zach...he probably wrote one of of your bio texts).

  152. Maggie:
    "With masturbation there is no self-donation to anybody. It consists of taking pleasure for oneself alone. There is no giving at all. We were created for more than that."

    So is eating an ice cream cone, lying in the sun, taking a hot bath etc. All of these things are self-serving, and not required for life.

  153. There is so much going on and I'm arriving late into this conversation that normally I would stay out. But I had to make a comment on this one:

    "I will admit that I am not certain that a 10 week-old fetus is a person, but I think we have to err on the side of thinking thus. "

    I just had my ultrasound yesterday on my 10 week old baby. He (or she) was waving his little arms, kicking his legs, arching his back, and just looking happy. Even the tech said, "a wiggly baby is a happy baby!"

    Believe me, a 10 week old baby is a person. As well as a nine week baby and eight week and so on.

    This will be poorly worded as I'm in a hurry to type this before my kids discovered where I disappeared to:

    I don't know if people that say this haven't had ultrasounds this early into their pregnancy, but if they have and seen what I have seen--a little person wiggling around--then I don't understand what else it will take to convince them that little fetuses (babies) are people too.

  154. I think the natural laws of physics were designed, but not the resulting biology. I would have to say, that if evolution is true (which the overwhelming evidence seems to indicate), then Intelligent Design can not be true.

    You do realize that biology is simply a more complex form of chemistry which is simply a more complex form of physics, so if the natural laws of physics were designed, then so were the natural laws of chemistry and therefore the natural laws of biology. You can't separate the them.

  155. Hi Maggie you said this

    “Mary, re: masturbation. It's a misuse of the way our bodies and our sexuality is designed, to be self-giving. Satisfying oneself isn't an act of love, isn't life-giving, isn't offering oneself total and faithfully to another. Since we Catholics (and many others) believe that the body speaks a language that requires no words”

    I understand this definition, I respect it and I like it. And I get why our two sides are disagreeing so much. By juxtaposing masturbation with sex you are assuming that sex IS life giving, love giving, and offering yourself completely to another person. If sex is not ALWAYS these things, which it de facto is not, then there is no reason to be against masturbation.

    Perhaps, you think this is an issue of marriage, and pre-marital sex is why sex is no longer intrinsically these things? But do you know any married people who are selfish in bed, who are not open to life, who desire things just for pleasure sake? I am not married and I don’t know a lot of married people, but I imagine, there must be, I don’t assume that something clicks in every person once they get married

    In short, good in theory, but is this maybe too idealistic in practice?

    I am actually not trying to argue here; really I just want to understand.

  156. Mary and College Student, you raise good questions and I do want to answer them, but today I will be super busy all day (it's the end of Vacation Bible School!), so they will have to wait. In the meantime, others are free to chime in with answers.

  157. I don't know, I'm just not convinced by the religious righteousness of conservative Catholics, what annoys me is that some become very conservative *after* getting everything they need in life. They live in a safe McMansion and have more than 4 kids and that's when they start getting conservative and religious and not before. They start believing that everyone should start following a set of strict rules to keep them in the position they are already in and they get really offended by lust that threatens the sanctity of the *their* family *after* they had done the same things in their own immaturity. Some of their marriages have resulted from their own personal lust, (have to get married because they already had sex and don't want be sinners) but *now*, they don't want their children to act with less character like they did. Conservative married Catholics can get all offended at lust because the chance that someone can recognize it in them is extremely reduced, since now it is just them expressing their right to love. And now it is rubber stamped as safe and happy and appropriate. What about vainglory, that is part of the seven deadly sins just like lust? Why doesn't the Church focus on that too, What about avarice? Do you really need a McMansion and two SUV's or can you survive on a lot less and think about the environment so others have more? What about wrath? Are you allowed to get mad at sinners who aren't good, or safe, because they aren't as fortunate as you were? and carry guns around if the step on your property? (that might be greed, pride and wrath all combined) So why focus just on lust conservatives? You don't own and run the world, it belongs to God, and it is his footstool, so get used to being the servant to others in need.

  158. eating an ice cream cone, lying in the sun, taking a hot bath

    Mary, you've hit on it! This is what I am trying to get at, and I'm trying to get you to explain: Is the sexual faculty any different from any of the other pleasures we enjoy? Or are all pleasures equatable? I am thinking from this comparison that you think using the sex organs and eating ice cream are comparable. Yes? No?

    This is so important, and I hope you will hang with me on this line of questioning.


  159. Wow, St. T., I'm sorry for you if those are the kinds of "Catholics" you know. But what you just described is to me, the exact opposite of the orthodox (*key word*) Catholics I know and am friends with. People who in fact are NOT concerned with money and SUVs and mcmansions, but instead with activism and service, and living on little.

    But keep in mind, you're describing people, all of whom are fallen sinners. You can't look at humans you know and say, "Oh, see how they're living? Obviously Catholicism as a religion, is broken." You have to look at the faith, which is perfect, and handed down by God. You can't put your faith in humans or you'll always be disappointed. Always.

    Just to touch on some of the other sins you mention, yes the Church is very outspoken about greed, avarice, vanity, etc. They're the Cardinal sins you'll find in any Catholic prayer book! It's just that no one is trying to legislate on greed, avarice and vanity like they are, say, abortion and homosexual "marriage", so of course the Church is going to be talking about those more in the headline news. But if you would read some Catholic theology blogs (even this one, Leila talks a lot about doctrine and dogma!), read some popes' statements, etc., you'll find that those issues are very much discussed.

  160. And you, being a conservative Catholic are asking them to do a very good thing that is also very difficult to do. Namely "Don't have sex until marriage" So now I ask you. "Go and give ALL, EVERY SINGLE DIME, of your money to the poor" Since avarice is just as dangerous as lust. Mammon before God is just as bad as sex before marriage. I see that there is no difference. Unless you think that your situation is somehow different. If so, then why won't you cut the lustful people that same slack as your greed allows?

  161. College student, I will let Maggie address your great question, but can I just throw in: The Truth is the ideal. That is what we were ultimately made for. We are now in a fallen, broken world, but our goal and purpose is to become holy, to overcome sin and live in imitation of Christ. We strive for what is true, good, beautiful. We can become saints, and it's what we were made for. It may sound weird to the modern ear, but we were made for goodness, not for sin. We are made to live with God for eternity, in perfect Love. It's what every soul craves, and that's why you can respect it.

    True, no one loves perfectly here on earth. We are broken, sinners. But God loves us so. We were made to love Him and others, perfectly. We might not be perfect on this earth, but with His help and grace, we strive for the goodness we were made for.

  162. Wait...are you talking to me, St. T? You don't know me! Or anything about my financial situation, ironically.'s not greed to make a living and provide for your family. We're not called to give away "EVERY SINGLE DIME," as you put it, of our money to the poor. What would that accomplish? Seriously? Then we would be poor and our kids would starve. Does that make sense to you? Nowhere is that in the Bible.

    The Bible tells us to tithe. It even gives us a percentage! So...color me confused.

    PS: Yes, very good things are very difficult to do. You're right. But I'll quote Leila yet again, "The church doesn't impose, she proposes." No one is trying to force anything on anyone. Just evangelizing a better way to live!

  163. St. T, forgive me, but "what the heck??"

    What is that all about? How do you live? What is your situation? Are you perfect? Are you trying to be? Do you live in a shack yet? Do you think that is what God wants, and if so, why don't you start? The Bible also says that you can do all good, but without love, you are nothing. Are you loving us? It sounds like you are hating on us. Where is the love? If you want to speak with love and a teensy bit of respect, then I will tell you about the families I know who are devout in every way, and who live on almost nothing, with big families. These are my friends, and I love them. It seems like there is something going on here that you are not telling us about (which is fine), but that it's very personal for you. I won't pry, but I will tell you that, at least for me, this type of anger is a way to shut down the dialogue before it begins.

    Do you want to talk about the Church's "option for the poor"? Fine. Or her social justice beliefs? Great. There is stuff all over the place and in the Catechism about that. No one helps the poor more than the Church. But I don't think this is really what your comment was all about, because if it were, you would have already given "every last penny" to the poor, and would have looked on us with true love and had the moral authority to question us validly.

    Just because some of us drug our sorry butts out of the swamp of sexual sin (did you read Stacy's story, by the way?) does not make us "self-righteous". It makes us eternally grateful, beyond words, for the grace of God which saved us from the pit. The fact that so many of us have the same sentiment should say something to you.

    Anyway, I am sorry for your pain, but I will let others take over from here.

  164. No one is trying to force anything on anyone. Just evangelizing a better way to live!

    Then how is it that Catholics are consistently a major political force in the fight for union rights? If this was how it is with Catholics, then why do the masses turn out to force restrictions on the way I live? That is, why would it be awful for my partner and I to receive the same legal rights, privileges, and benefits as other couples?

    This is definitely a bit more than just evangelizing.

  165. college student, I have to laugh at what I just wrote you. Not very eloquent, and very redundant, ha ha! So sorry. I just woke up, and I need some breakfast. Why oh why don't I remember to eat and wake up before I start to blog?? :)

  166. Zach, on the issues that are non-negotiable, you are exactly right. We will fight in the public square. Not to "take away" your rights (no one has a "right" to marry someone of the same sex, because that is not marriage), but to preserve the family for society. We aren't jailing you, or proposing to, are we?

    And when it comes to the killing of human beings? You bet we will vote to give all humans the protection of the law. Do you think MLK was right, as a reverend, to fight in the public square, to promote his values?

    Just because we can't and won't force you to convert to our ways doesn't mean we won't be active voters and speak up for truth. I hope you see the difference. Whether or not marriage is preserved in law, you will still have your freedom to engage in sexual activity with your boyfriend. Do you think the Church is proposing laws to jail you for doing so?

    Okay, I really must eat….

  167. Leila, I don't think Catholics are trying to jail people for having homosexual sex (although I HAVE met a few people who do think that's a great idea!).

    However, because of the inability for same-sex couples to receive legal recognition of their relationship, we pay, in many cases, hundreds of thousands more dollars in things like health care. If my partner dies, his family easily has the right to take away our entire property and capital--it's happened to same sex couples who've been together for more than 50 years. If my partner is dying in the hospital, they can turn me away from being with him during his last moments.

    For us, this isn't about the family--it's more basic. It's about just me and him and trying to avoid the emotional, physical, and economic disaster same sex couples continue to encounter. Maybe we're not being thrown in jail, but it's almost condemnation to a living hell.

    (by that, i don't mean to trivialize the experiences of other marginalized groups. my life, certainly, has been privileged by a wonderful family and amazing communities.

  168. Zach, there are legal remedies for this, which can be accomplished without upending marriage. Would you be okay with that?

    (And, I know a few folks who would love to jail Catholics! ;) )

  169. Ah ha, so it is difficult to be good and easy to be defensive and offended, giving away everything that is precious to us is the same as asking a lustful person to forsake sex altogether. Both are acting 'Good'. Just testing to see your reaction. See how easy it is to get mad and judgmental make little nuances and distinctions for ourselves, i.e. the Catechism says 'this' (which is easier than giving it all away and *having to trust God instead of saying we can trust God) Could you put yourself in the shoes of the righteous rich man before Jesus Christ who had followed all the laws and commandments? He asked 'What *more* must I do? Do you remember the answer? What gets in the way of the simple and easy requirements for discipleship? Do you really think anyone here actually comes even close to getting it right? Ha! Not me! Talking about what's good for people is fine, but pointless, unless they begin to sicken of gold and pleasure it is almost impossible to prove to anyone that there is something better than sex and money. King Midas could teach us all a lesson about lust and greed. What is more valuable the human being or their weight in gold? What is more beautiful a young sweet and pure daughter's love or a gold statue?

  170. If my partner dies, his family easily has the right to take away our entire property and capital--it's happened to same sex couples who've been together for more than 50 years. If my partner is dying in the hospital, they can turn me away from being with him during his last moments.

    Leila's right Zach. It's called a Living Will and Power of Attorney. I have been happily married for 11 years and I can still sign a living will giving my grandmother's neighbor's uncle's third cousin's adopted son's daughter permission to make life decisions for me in the event I'm incapable of it. Heck, in this country, I can make my CAT the executor of my estate if I want to.

    As far as health insurance goes, I'm just guessing but if both partners are working, it's going to be cheaper in the long run for both to be on their own policies, whether through work or private individual policies; paying for dependents is astronomical, even if just one extra. My own parents have done this for the last three years.

    As far as taxes go. Considering that heterosexual married couples are the ones that, more often then not, bring children into the world and offer healthy, stable, and relatively happy home lives for said children, then it stands to reason we're the ones who get the advantage in taxes. Because we're creating and raising the next generation of tax-payers - which is, for better or worse, of the utmost importance to the government.

  171. Just of curiosity St. T. How much do you think a family of 7 is bringing in a year?

  172. St. T, if I didn't know better, I would think you are trying to excuse sexual sin?

    When Jesus told the young man to give away all his possessions and follow him, and the man went away sad, it was because he was attached to his things more than God. Jesus knew this about the man. He read right through to his heart. Are you saying that scene negates the severity of sexual sin?

  173. I'm also pretty late to this conversation, but I'll admit, I see much more about sex on Catholic blogs than atheist ones (at least the ones I read), and have often found myself wondering what the obsession with sex is. The Church may not really be obsessed - I'll take your word for it - but it sure comes across like it is. I think what's struck me most is that Catholics seem to mainly define marriage in terms of sex and reproduction, while atheists (I think) tend to emphasize the couple's commitment to one another. I've never quite understood the Church's standpoint from a legal perspective, though - I just looked up my state's marriage laws and the only requirements I can find are that you have to be at least 18, not already married, and you can't be a same-sex couple. Nothing in there about sex or intent to have children. I could theoretically meet a guy tomorrow, decide to get married with no intent to stay together or have kids, and it wouldn't be a problem.

    I'll just briefly comment on a couple of the other things:

    Marriage: I'm all in favor of leaving marriage to religion and having civil unions for everyone - to me, they're just words. Leila, I know you wrote a post a while back about how you absolutely cannot accept changing the definition of the word marriage, but considering what I wrote above about marriage laws, would you be okay with everyone, regardless of gender, being able to get civil unions? I'm baffled as to why our laws allow me to marry any random man I meet on the street, but a committed gay couple can't get married (or civil unioned or whatever you prefer to call it). If it's all about procreation and families, shouldn't that be written into the law?

    Masturbation: I had to laugh a bit at this - this is exactly why Catholics appear to be obsessed with sex. I don't think you'll find too many nonreligious people who would even find this worthy of debate.

    Natural law: I also still don't really understand this (I did read a bit more of What We Can't Not Know, but from what I've read I'm not at all convinced). Wasn't the idea that black people were inferior to whites once something that you "couldn't not know"? There are lots of things that I find patently obvious but you disagree with - why is it that I've deluded myself into believing something contrary to intuition, but you couldn't possibly have?

  174. No I am saying that we are all equally sinners and for one person to point out another's sin is not only hypocritical but is also totally getting it wrong... sin hurts the sinner, its like someone thinking (wrongly) that sewage is safe to drink and then finding someone who is drinking it and getting mad or laughing at them instead of helping them *SEE* that the clean water they thought they were drinking was not clean at all. It is just a mistake, not something that I should smack them in the face or ridicule them for doing. Do you think money and power and sex fix people and make them happy? No. It looks like Bethany has made a choice 7 kids or money. Does that make greed (even in her case) OK? Her argument is that her faith was not in getting money but having children to love, it is confusing that her values would be mixed up in having the money too? Do you really need both to be happy? That's a weird message of bad and good values. It would be like someone saying I'm picking love over lust, that's why I want to marry a supermodel between the age of 18-28. I just couldn't love women who don't have perfect bodies. Huh?

  175. Oops. That may have come across unintentionally racist - I was only trying to make the point that what's "common knowledge" changes over time.

  176. Wasn't the idea that black people were inferior to whites once something that you "couldn't not know"?

    Michelle, not at all!!!

    But interestingly, more to prove our position, these natural law arguments (virtue, marriage, there is a God, etc.) cross all race lines! And all cultures.

    Was MLK wrong to use natural law, or Lincoln?

    As for masturbation, you think sex is mostly for pleasure, and can be a selfish act, and it's not primarily about making babies. That is the crux of sex for you, right? If not, what is it? You are mixing up "sex" "marriage" "procreation" and saying one does not have anything to do with the other. We are saying they are all intrinsically connected. We say when you mess those all around, you get lots of disordered stuff. And we say that everyone used to understand this. Even secular folks.

    If it's all about procreation and families, shouldn't that be written into the law?

    Great question! First, there is no other reason that marriage was established in the first place, except as the bonding of a family, where children would result (sex is for marriage, remember?). It sort of went without saying. "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage"… and all that. Then, when society started to accept that contraception and sterilization (and ultimately abortion) were a great thing, and a way to get the pleasure and ditch the whole "human life" thing, you are right… the paradigm started to change. That is why Protestants, or any Christian who believes in sterilizing sex in marriage, has not much of a leg to stand on when it comes to fighting gay "marriage". Orthodox Catholics realize it, most Protestants (and other Catholics) don't. I have been meaning to write a post on it for a year. Oh, were is the time!!

    Yes, if you throw off procreation as the aim of sex (as Freud said, and Gandhi, and the Church), then gay sex is not a problem. Because sex ceases to be about children. It's all about the orgasm, and pleasure. And yes, then anything is legit. And I do mean anything.

    Of course, the Church will stand firm forever in saying that such a stance is untrue and contrary to love and human dignity.

  177. *Well, what Freud said is that if you stop seeing procreation as the point of sex, that is the very definition of where perversion begins. He didn't say "no problem with gay sex". My point is, if you want to throw out the procreative value of sex, then you have to say that anything we do with our genitals is a-okay.

  178. St. T, I don't say this often, but I have no idea what your point is, or what you are talking about. Sorry, it must be me. If anyone wants to take that, feel free. But I am totally at a loss.

    (Were we smacking people in the face or ridiculing them? And it seems to me we are pointing out sin "in general" (the Bible makes clear that fornication is a grave sin), and our own sins "in particular", no?. And, sin hurts everyone, not just the sinner. And, and, and… but I still have no idea what your point is.)

    By the way, what constitutes sexual sin is very easy to pinpoint, very specific. But what constitutes greed is much more nebulous and subjective.

  179. Zach, would you be satisfied with those concessions and legal privileges that you mentioned? Or, do you really want to have your relationship seen as morally legitimate and equal to a marriage?

  180. Yes, if you throw off procreation as the aim of sex (as Freud said, and Gandhi, and the Church), then gay sex is not a problem. Because sex ceases to be about children. It's all about the orgasm, and pleasure. And yes, then anything is legit. And I do mean anything.

    Exactly! What happens when the 23 year old brother wants to marry his 21 year old consenting sister. I mean, they're both adults, they're both consenting, what harm will do it if sex is not about children/separated from the act of procreation.

    Or the 45 year old widowed mother and her consenting 22 year old son?

    Or the 50 year old widower father and his consenting 24 year old daughter?

  181. Bethany, that's right. That is a logical question. And Miss Gwen, to her credit, and I think one other person on the blog, has agreed that they would not stand in the way of sibling marriage. At least that is consistent...

  182. "By the way, what constitutes sexual sin is very easy to pinpoint, very specific. But what constitutes greed is much more nebulous and subjective."

    No it isn't. Why would you say this?

    So it not a sin to be just a little greedy?

    Lust isn't a sin if I only glanced at a woman for a tiny fraction of second right? It is the same as just a little bit of nebulous greed.

    I am saying that people think lust is worse than greed or wrath or pride etc. But they are all bad, especially when we make excuses. That is the greatest danger.

    I had a Catholic cousin who would ridicule men for how lustful they behaved and then it turned out she got pregnant outside of marriage. That is crazy. This is what happens if we make calling someone a fool OK, when Jesus says it isn't at all. Or if we look at a girl wrong then saying that it isn't the same as adultery or getting mad at someone and saying that it isn't the same as murder.

    Each one of us is bad from what comes from within us, saying that lust is worse than other sins is not correct. It is just as bad as other sins.

    A little greed (anger, pride, sloth, etc) can be very bad, just as bad as a little lust. Why is lust getting all the attention?

  183. St. T, when did the Church ever say that some sins are okay and some sins aren't? Are there different levels of sin? Yes. Venial, mortal. But all sin is wrong, and the Church speaks out against all sin.

    All use of the sexual faculty outside of marriage is mortal sin. Very specific. Because sex is the creator of human life. It stands apart from other sins in that way.

    Glancing at a woman is not necessarily lustful, and if it is done in lust, it may be a venial sin. Depends.

    But I am talking about the USE of the sexual faculty. Sexual activity. Always a grave sin.

    Can serious greed lead to hell? Yes. When did the Church not say so?

    I am still confused about what your "charge" is. Are you making a charge against the Church? Or against me?

    I'm just not sure what your beef is. Are you fighting the Church, or fighting me?

  184. I just see mixed values from Conservative Catholics, some of which would fall under pride, wrath and greed. (i.e. they don't want to drive little cars and want to use guns to be safe through fear and intimidation, live in spacious homes and property instead of just what is necessary and are angry at sinners and completely xenophobic and paranoid). Then they go and get mad at other people for the sins they are doing. Being homosexual, abortion, etc... it looks like these conservative people are being selfish and hypocritical as well to me that's all. They want to fix everyone else, but no one better dare to ask them to step it up a notch themselves... and when someone does point out an injustice in their actions they get very defensive and resort to character assassination, bible thumping and self-righteousness, instead of just saying, yea, I'm bad in other ways like they're bad in certain ways. I will go and fix myself first.

  185. I am saying that people think lust is worse than greed or wrath or pride etc. But they are all bad, especially when we make excuses. That is the greatest danger.

    Actually I contend that there is a reason why Pride is always listed first on the list of the seven deadly sins. All the others can be boiled down to pride, and Pride was the FIRST sin. Satan's sin.

    However, lust gets so much attention, because lust is the sin the secular world tends to ignore as a sin.

  186. ...they don't want to drive little cars and want to use guns...

    Sorry, you lose me at this point. What on earth does this have to do with the mortal sexual sins and the redefining of marriage?

    Catholics can be in a state of grace, and even be holy, even if they don't "drive little cars" and even if they "want to use guns". The Church does not specify a preference in our vehicle ownership (I drive a Suburban, as I have eight children) or whether or not the faithful may own a firearm (I don't own a gun, but have no problem with those who do).

    I am not sure if you are at all clear on Church teaching and what it entails.

    If you think I am trying in any way to imply my own personal holiness, you are wrong. I am way down low on the rung of sanctity (ask my family!). Pretty sure I will not leave this life having gotten past the Purgative stage. That's why I get my butt to mass and confession just as often as I can. I need it!!

    But if you read my reversion story, you know that I am passionate about educating Catholics. We grew up knowing nothing about our Faith, and it's a crying shame. What do you have against evangelizing, and teaching the truths of Christ to a world wearied by sin? It's like a drink of water to a many dying in the desert of thirst. I was so grateful to finally hear it, to know it. I still pinch myself that finally I was told. Why would we withhold teaching or speaking about these Truths? I'm sorry, I just don't get it.

    I think, as for me, I have reached a point of clarity in this exchange. Thanks for the discussion, and anyone else who wants to take this, please feel free. St. T, you are always welcome here.

  187. See, Leila, this is why I can't take natural law at face value - it assumes a God. Also, marriage is not the same across cultures, though I think virtues largely are (since they're supported by evolution). I don't have a problem with MLK or Lincoln using natural law, because I agree with the results of their work and think their arguments are defensible from a nonreligious standpoint (I have yet to understand how natural law can be divorced from religion and still hold true).

    It doesn't really matter what I think sex is for (and I'm certain I've answered that elsewhere, anyway). Sex is an entirely personal thing - debating what's okay for consenting adults/individuals to do with regards to sex is, to me, completely pointless. It's like arguing over whether it's okay for two adults to eat Twinkies and bacon for dinner every night - you can have the best intentions and tell them they'll almost certainly end up having heart attacks, but it's still their decision.

    First, there is no other reason that marriage was established in the first place, except as the bonding of a family, where children would result (sex is for marriage, remember?). It sort of went without saying.
    It also goes without saying that you shouldn't murder, rape, or steal, but we have laws preventing those. I'm really asking this: why, if marriage being about procreation is so important, are you not seeking to enshrine that into law?

  188. Michelle, yes, natural law presupposes some god or gods. To believe in God or gods is written on every heart. That is why you even looked into it, as a thinking, rational being. Your position (no god) is statistically insignificant in the human condition. Thankfully, there are other parts of the natural law that you do accept.

    I'm really asking this: why, if marriage being about procreation is so important, are you not seeking to enshrine that into law?

    Because not every moral law is (or should be) enshrined in civil law. Just like I'm not interested in making masturbation illegal. Does that mean it's moral? Of course not. What is legal and what is moral do not always equate. You know that, right? You may think it's immoral for someone to call people horrible names (me, too!), but do you want to make it illegal? I hope not.

    You know, you said that the whole thing about masturbation being wrong makes you laugh. I'm scratching my head. Why would the idea that sex is for love and life only, and not for selfishness, be such a laughable concept? Isn't it sort of noble? You can disagree, but to laugh? Michelle, you can't be that jaded and cynical at 20, can you?

    Doesn't the idea of virtue hold even a romantic notion for you?

  189. Mary, I still can't get past the idea that you can believe in a God but not one who designed anything. Did he just sort of throw out a bunch of chemicals, and then he was totally shocked, shocked! that a human beings resulted? And that they flukely and unexpectedly had eyes and hands and that they had reproductive organs and capabilities?

    I'm getting more and more the sense that you don't have a Christian theology at all. Where would you say your theology is? What of Christ?

  190. I do think my relationship should be equal to heterosexual relationships in the eye of the law, yes.

    Some people have mentioned, and often do, that gay couples should just take "the usual" legal precautions, such as setting up a will. Most same sex couples do do this, and lots of time it doesn't mean anything. A partner will die, the family will contest the will in court, and the court will question the "legitimacy" of the will, and then award the family members property, leaving the living widow with almost nothing.

    This happens, literally, all the time. Suggesting same sex couples just take the usual legal precautions is like asking black kids to go to a different school. Separate but equal is NOT equal.

    I am a personal fan of the idea of wiping marriage completely from the law books, and instead enacting a sort of "union" bill of rights that incurs the most basic rights, privileges, and protections to civil unions. This would include legal protections (for the hospital/passing away type of business) that should be available, regardless. It wouldn't need to include adoption. Keep that battle for another day.

  191. St. T, so are you saying that no one, no matter what their religious or cultural beliefs, should ever evangelize their values and what they think is the truth? Because whenever a human being professes a belief in something Good, or higher, we're always going to look hypocritical because we're all sinners. Just because we sometimes fail at what we believe in doesn't mean we should just throw it all away and give up and not have values anymore. Should we all just say, "Hey, we're imperfect and going to fail so let's just pretend there's no right and wrong anyway"?

    If you think the Catholics on here are self-righteous, you haven't been here very long! We all admit, very readily, that we are sinners. But we also admit that we believe in the grace of God and His forgiveness. That's what we're preaching.

    I'll echo Leila and just say that the reason the Church is so outspoken about lust as opposed to the other sins (not that she doesn't care about them or ever speak of them) is because the culture is pushing so hard for sexual sins to not be sins anymore. You don't see the entertainment industry, etc. out there saying, "Go out at eat your gluttonous hearts out, teenagers!" But you do see Lust pervading the culture. It's just that that's what is currently at the forefront.

    But again, I'm still pretty confused by your point, if you have one.

  192. Zach, can you give me your working definition of "marriage" (or whatever it is you want everyone to be able to access)?

    Thanks! (And, thanks for admitting that your goals include equal access for gay couples to adopt children.)

  193. Leila, no offense, but I'm much more of a thinking, rational being than I was when I toyed with religion. Thinking, rational beings believe all sorts of things - that doesn't mean they're right.

    I think the thing with marriage is that, the way the laws stand now, there is absolutely no mention of procreation. If this is really the foundation of society, as you say it is, shouldn't an intent to have children be more than just assumed? I really don't see how, from your perspective, an intentionally childless heterosexual marriage is any better than a childless homosexual marriage. Of course, I don't think it should be put into law any more than free speech should be limited, but I don't see why you wouldn't want to add something about procreation to the current legal definition of marriage if that's your main issue with gay marriage.

    Also, could you answer my question about civil unions? I know you wrote a post a while back about how you absolutely cannot accept changing the definition of the word marriage, but considering what I wrote above about marriage laws, would you be okay with everyone, regardless of gender, being able to get civil unions?

    When I said I laughed at the masturbation discussion, it was at the fact that it was even being discussed at all, not at the ideas themselves (which in the context of Catholic views of sex do make sense, I think, though I don't agree). Like I said, other people's sexual choices are no one's business but their own - to me, it's a pointless argument to discuss what is and isn't okay for them to do. If you can make a solid argument against masturbation from a standpoint that would apply to everyone (not just Christians), then discussing it would be understandable. Hope that makes more sense.

  194. Michelle, you think belief in God is irrational, I think atheism is irrational. So there we stand, no offense.

    As far as civil unions: I really have not given the issue much thought. I have no real opinion on it as I sit here today. And that's the honest truth.

    As for the idea of marriage including procreation being put into "a legal definition". I have never given it a thought. The state has a vested interest in defining a marriage as between one man and one woman, but I don't know how it would go about checking the fertility status of each couple, and perhaps monitor their intentions or thoughts? That seems silly. But even the state knows that a marriage needs to be consummated to be valid. Consummation means sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse has the potential for creating life. So, that is all implied in marriage anyway, and if couples don't follow through, then what does the state have to do with that?

    But you see the basics: The state (and every culture) has understood marriage to have some intrinsic connection to sex, which has an intrinsic connection to procreation/children. It's all inherent. Everyone sort of "gets" that (or at least, until recently! We are in an "eerie age" as Dr. B puts it, where we are being asked to prove the obvious, which is impossible). Anyway, that is the whole point of marriage…. sex and children (what other reason would it exist?). That the culture is jettisoning that meaning is very tragic, but it doesn't change the connected nature of marriage, sex, and procreation.

    If you don't get what I'm saying, I'm not sure I can say it any clearer.

    I will ask you what I asked Zach: What is your definition of "marriage" and what is it for? Why did we ever have it in the first place?

  195. Like I said, other people's sexual choices are no one's business but their own - to me, it's a pointless argument to discuss what is and isn't okay for them to do.

    In what other areas of life do you believe that morality is not applicable? Or is it just in the area of sex?


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