Monday, August 13, 2018

Sex and the (Catholic) Church

Father Raymond J. de Souza used to write for the Toronto SUN, back before that tabloid went full crazy. He now writes for the staid sister to the SUN, the National Post. I've always found him worth reading, even though I've almost never agreed with him: it's clear he thinks his positions through and articulates them from a position of deep faith, which I try to respect when I rebut them.

Today's column irks me. In oh so many ways.

de Souza asserts, as regards contraception, that "what was immoral yesterday could not be morally good tomorrow."

World population, 1968: 3.542 billion
World population, 2018 (est.): 7.632 billion

It has more than doubled, and it's become increasingly clear that Earth is well beyond its carrying capacity, especially if (as we say) we want the Third World to aspire to the living conditions of the First. (That's not going to happen even without the cull I strongly suspect is about to get underway; the delusion that we can just keep pumping infinite resources out of a finite planet has defined our economy for the past century and a half. Growth, growth, growth. There's a word for something that grows while damaging all that's around it. That word is cancer.

No, I am not suggesting that you parents have committed an immoral act by becoming parents. I do believe, however, that the Catholic Church's position that a Catholic woman exists mostly to pump out as many Catholic babies as possible is not just asinine but morally repugnant. Contraception, to me, is a moral imperative.

And then we read this:

The key issue, then as now, was whether sex has an intrinsic meaning, or whether it can have whatever meaning we wish to give it. Can we set aside the long tradition — by no means limited to Christianity alone — that insisted that sex and love, sex and marriage, sex and babies all go together?

This passage is simply breathtaking in its ignorance of history and biology and basic common sense.

Sex and love: Call me a traditionalist, for me these things do go together: I believe myself to be physically incapable of having sex with someone whom I do not love. But even restricting myself to the single solitary "approved" sex within a monogamous  marital relationship that the Church allows -- it doesn't stipulate that sex be loving. And indeed there's a lot of loveless, perfunctory sex, especially in long-term marriages. I don't recall a single case where that kind of sex was prosecuted. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Sex and marriage: You do know the Vatican has a long history of running brothels...even as recently as three years ago. It wouldn't surprise me to learn it still does. So much for sex and marriage.

Sex and babies: oh, this one's too easy. If sex and babies go together, why are there miscarriages? Why are many men impotent, and why are many women unable to conceive or bear a child? And what of sex after menopause? The Catholic wedding service makes no mention of children. Why is that?

Could it be that sex actually does have whatever meaning we give it, and the church -- given its medieval attitude towards women -- especially doesn't like the thought of women 'fornicating'?

deSouza says, in essence, that society is coming apart at the hinges:

Women have been de-coupled from men, either by divorce or never-formed marriages; children de-coupled from parents, especially fathers; and the future de-coupled from the present as the developed world is no longer reproducing itself.

Let me tell you something about divorce. I'm a child of it: I speak from personal authority here.

The Catholic Church used to make it all but impossible for a married couple to divorce. You could get your marriage annulled -- make it didn't happen, in other words, and isn't that a neat sidestep of reality? -- under certain extremely limited conditions, like say if two Catholic people got married outside a Catholic church. That's grounds for annulment, but little trivialities like beating the shit out of your wife (or husband), marital rape, things like that? So sorry, you're stuck with it. Guess you'd better learn to make the best of it. So to the charge that society has decoupled women from men, I say GOOD.
"Never-formed marriages": Again, I am a traditionalist. I believe marriage is an important declaration of a relationship's strength and intent. I also believe that the decision to marry or not to marry is intensely personal, and it doesn't "de-couple" you not to marry. Bear in mind, too, that as far as the church is concerned, a marriage that didn't 'form' inside a Catholic church never formed at all.

Children have been 'de-coupled' from parents, especially fathers, and this is a real and pressing issue that is responsible for a whole lot of despair and its attendant social decay. Children need their parents to take an active role in their lives; kids of single parents are, in fact, more likely to commit crimes.
And while it's true that marriage makes it slightly more difficult for a parent to abandon his or her children, it's still pretty damned easy, given the number of parents that do it.

For this, I  blame something much wider than a pill which grants women sexual autonomy. I blame instead our cult and culture of novelty, of planned obsolescence, of "it's cheaper to throw it away than it is to fix it". That started in the 1920s and has been accelerating ever since; it was only a matter of time before people began to apply it to their relationships.

People are not disposable. Especially young people you helped create.

"The future decoupled from the present as the developed world is no longer reproducing itself". HALLELUJAH for that.

It has been shown that the birthrate in any given country is inversely proportional to the educational level of the average woman in that country. Put more simply: the smarter a woman is, the fewer kids she tends to have. So once again I'm forced to conclude that the Catholic Church is fundamentally misogynist.

You want to talk about the future being decoupled from the present?  Go here and read this. I've deliberately chosen the least threatening article I can find, and even it is frightening. I believe the real world scenario is ever so much worse, myself: we've shown a marked propensity to ignore catastrophe until rich white people are affected by it. I don't see us doing anything meaningful about climate change ever, not when "meaningful" involves "abandoning the historical aberration we've built on stores of ancient sunlight and called 'modern life'".

I am very tired of religious dogma being held up as if it's some kind of virtue. Even most Catholics pick and choose the parts of their faith they're willing to abide. When you can't even get the majority of your adherents onside, you might want to consider shutting up with the lecturing to the wider world. Just saying.

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