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Sexuality and Christian belief (Was: Homosexuality and the Bible)

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As I understand this, there is evidence to be found in General Revelation that do challenge the morality of gay relationships. This is universal in nature, leading to certain prohibitions in both Hebrew law and in Roman law. I get this. One of the most convincing thoughts I've read recently on the subject is by the philosopher, Roger Scruton, who argues that inherent in the nature of Eros is the attraction to physical and psychological otherness. Heterosexual relationship provides a confrontation with someone other, someone with differences that are absolute from your self that homosexual relationship cannot provide. Scruton writes:

Heterosexual union is imbued with the sense that your partner’s sexual nature is strange to you, a territory into which you intrude without prior knowledge and in which the other and not the self is the only reliable guide. This experience has profound repercussions for our sense of the danger and the mystery of sexual union, and these repercussions are surely part of what people have had in mind in clothing marriage as a sacrament, and the ceremony of marriage as a rite of passage from one form of safety to another. Traditional marriage was not only a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood; nor was it only a way of endorsing and guaranteeing the raising of children. It was also a dramatization of sexual difference. Marriage kept the sexes at such a distance from each other that their coming together became an existential leap, rather than a passing experiment. The intentionality of desire was shaped by this, and even if the shaping was - at some deep level - a cultural and not a human universal, it endowed desire with its intrinsic nuptiality, and marriage with its transformatory goal ... To regard gay marriage as simply another option within the institution is to ignore the fact that an institution shapes the motive for joining it. Marriage has grown around the idea of sexual difference and all that sexual difference means. To make this feature accidental rather than essential is to change marriage beyond recognition.

- Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism, 2006, pg. 101

I'm convinced that this is true. But, at least in the realm of the exercise of political power, I cannot reason my way to this insight necessarily justifying any kind of legal prohibition. And legal prohibition is what answers to the question always seem to lead to.

In the realm of political power (and beyond) this reasoning seems tautological to me.

Reductively, I read:

1)Traditional marriage is the union between a man and a woman.

2) A man and a woman are distinct and 'strange' to one another.

3) Traditional marriage has always entailed that strangeness.

I'm not sure that reformulations of the truth that same-sex marriage is a departure, because it is between people of the same sex are meaningful in debate.

The fact that something has never happened before doesn't inveigh against it. We change, even radically, because it's the right thing to do and resist change when we're certain that it's not (or need more time to resolve our doubts).

My more meditated response is that being gay isn't about sex, in the same way that being straight isn't about sex. It's about so much more. It's about the world that beckons beyond childhood. The milestones of adolescence: crushes, wondering if boys (or girls) like you back, dreaming of someone you can't ever have, holding hands, first kisses. And those of adulthood: sharing a bed, a home, stories and memories and hopes; pets and shopping lists, scary moments and silly jokes and old age. I could go on and on, still my list, my litany, would be incomplete. It all coheres. You can't amputate a person's sexuality without altering the rest of their life. So if you believe that it's sinful to be actively gay, so be it. Only don't be fooled into thinking you can isolate sexual impulses or acts and that what a person convinced of the wrongfulness of their behavior is renouncing is not a lifetime's experience and emotion.

I have yet to hear this and on some level, I need to: Setting Christianity and sociohistorical precedent aside, I know that in certain fundamental ways being gay is like being straight. I know that it is how you feel, from early on, and that there's the same dizzying spectrum of possibility - from lust to devotion, promiscuity to monogamy. I know that hedonism and pedophilia are no more and no less a part of homosexuality than they are of heterosexuality. Ditto, pledging yourselves to each other for life, being a family. I know all that but the Bible tells me clearly and incontrovertibly that sex between two men or two women is a sin and I can't forswear His word.

I think many of the things that you are describing here are true. I think these are truths about human nature - about what makes us human and who God created us to be. In other words, I think you are touching on a little of what the church calls "General Revelation." Theological debate and reforms in the church always seem to be triggered by what believers ultimately find to be an apparent conflict between General Revelation and Special Revelation. The problem is that we don't believe the two can contradict each other. We are open to the possibility of a paradox, but there are fundamentals that I see on both sides here that don't seem to make sense when put together.

I am in no way a Calvinist, so I believe that sin fundamentally requires free choice. You do not choose your own desires. We have good desires and, because we are fallen, we have bad desires. It is not a sin to have wrong desires but to act on them. And yet, for every evil desire, there seems to be a good desire from which the evil was twisted. In other words, there always seems to be a healthy outlet (or good) for any type of desire (or evil). If homosexuality is wrong, then a few of the other sentences in this paragraph have to be wrong too.

I am far out of my depths, but if General Revelation shapes our quest for the truth of Special Revelation, beyond narrow and shallow meaning - if it 's how we read Scripture in accord with God's love (and the discipline and strictness that are manifestations of that love)- then I don't see the conflict.

Or rather, I see conflict in any contortion of General Revelation (e.g., by insisting that gayness can be cured or plucked out, that it's simply an unhealthy predilection or taste; and historically, that the earth is flat and stationary) so as to 'align' it with Special Revelation.

If your belief that homosexual acts (not feelings) are sinful precludes the truth (requires the falsity) of what I wrote above, then I think you're already subordinating divine Word to human intervention. (At the unconscionable price of lynchings and suicides and young people taught to hate and hide themselves.)

It seems to me that fornication, adultery, and worshipping other gods are mortal sins that receive far more Scriptural emphasis. And that to varying degrees and depending on how Christians define them, they are sanctioned within our society. I could have written comparable sentences about a couple who love and cherish each other outside of wedlock or in a second marriage following divorce, or about someone who learns discipline and reverence, love and kindness from the practice of a non-Christian faith. And I don't think orthodoxy would insist these people have evil in their hearts, nor deny that they may be seeking God and finding degrees of beauty and truth, or that the impulses that lead us into an otherwise sinful state are all inherently bad or unnatural? I think that historically, Christianity has been able to maintain the wrongness of an act or the sinfulness of a relationship, without repudiating what is good?

Thank you. Strange thing is, is that its a stance I would in some ways prefer not to take, as, like Justin has mentioned, it is a stance that can be hurtful. But my wife works in an innercity school where pretty much anything goes in the sexual department. From this I can see that it is obvious that a lack of norms in this area is also very hurtful and quite destructive. We're not helping them any when we don't take a stand and give them guidance (in this I don't mean only in the gay aspect). We're also not helping kids who aren't gay but are led to try the lifestyle through social pressure (which is happening now.)

So then it comes back to grace and mercy for those who are living outside of my "norms." I fully realize that they don't think they should be bound to my understandings, and that God loves them where they are at. I also realize that they, so often, are being merciful with Christians, after we have so often been hurtful to them.

:From the little I know, so do I.

Linked with what I've said above. I think the way the church (at large) has so often responded to this issue over previous years has hurt allot of people, but it also has (is) hurting itself. We can really make ourselves look like asses at times with our abrasive ways of interacting with the homosexual community and the marriage issue. This isn't helping anybody.

When I quoted from Ricardo Blanco's piece in my post above, I should have ended here:

I'm twenty-six visiting Cuba for the first time. We are having lunch at tía Mima's house when I learn that her son Gilberto set himself on fire at eight years old, and died. I feel an instant kinship with this child, this boy I never met. In a flash, I remember what I meant/felt when I wrote or else: that desperate feeling of wanting to end my life, too; that deep, entrenched sadness that was my childhood.

I think that wish on your part, that you could take a different stance, is far from strange. Because it addresses past betrayals and present suffering, I think it's immensely palliative.

When we talk about hating the sin but loving the sinner, that distinction can soon collapse and I'm acutely conscious I have no right to speak for those it most affects.

I would still like to believe it's essential. I think it inheres in Steven's posts about abortion and remarriage.

If your love for someone is unaltered and undiminished by the commission of what you consider unnegotiably a sin, and you can enact that love without betraying your principles, a kind of detente is reached between the hurt we feel when our choices aren't condoned and our knowledge that love (of God or our fellow beings) imposes obligations on the one who loves. A love like that of Blanco's abuela, predicated on 'if' and 'unless', on changing what can't be changed, is poisoned by its own conditions. (I think that's the false, fingers-crossed-behind-its-back, love Christianity may have offered in the past.) But so is the love that says 'Because I care for you and don't want to hurt you, i will commit theological perjury - and deny, when asked, that what you are doing makes me fear for your soul.'

Edited by Josie

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Pardon the delayed reply.

SDG wrote:

: : "Outwardly" was what all of Christian moral theological development had to go by until a few decades ago.

:

: And before we discovered genetics it was supposed that personhood began at "quickening." Now we understand that one is an individual member of the human family from conception . . .

Well, we've already established, here in this thread, that we *don't* necessarily understand that. So your analogy doesn't make your case the way you seem to think it does.

(Honest question: did pre-20th-century -- or pre-10th-century, or whatever -- Catholic theologians actually talk about the "personhood" of the fetus?)

: . . . and that one does have a sexual or gender identity from conception.

Only if you reduce sexual or gender identity to chromosomes. But that's the very issue we're debating here.

: From the perspective of Christian anthropology, I am inclined to consider sexual identity intrinsic to personhood, and to resist the idea that sexual identity ever really changes.

So a person with, say, male DNA and outer female parts (i.e. people who made a male sexual identity from conception but *changed* outwardly at some stage in their embryonic development) could be eligible for gender-reassignment surgery, from the perspective of Christian anthropology? We could say that they were being restored to their true gendered nature, or something like that?

: Certainly barrenness doesn't invalidate a marriage. But being a man, when your partner is a man, invalidates a marriage. And just because you have female anatomy on the outside, especially if you have male equipment on the inside, doesn't convince me that you are actually a woman, even if it's reasonable for everyone to consider you a woman based on the evidence at hand.

So if a couple that has been "reasonably" married for decades suddenly discovers, via a DNA test (conducted for some completely unrelated reason, like proving that someone who claims to be a relative really is a relative), that the wife has a Y chromosome, you would say that their marriage had been "invalid" all this time? And, in light of this, the husband, if he so chose, would have a ready excuse to annul the marriage in Catholic law? Something about that seems... off, to me.

: : If, however, we are suddenly going to define who is male and who is female on the basis of some chromosomes that were only discovered the day before yesterday... well, I don't see that that is a necessary development, morally or theologically speaking. I can see how it *might* inform or illuminate our approach to *outwardly* intersexed people, but I don't know how useful or helpful it is to all those other cases.

:

: I didn't say it was useful or helpful. smile.png

Fair enough. Let's just stick with "necessary", then. wink.png

: Certainly if the reason the person developed outwardly like a woman has to do with some developmental thing that occurred long after conception, I'm going to want to stick with the premise that you're male or female from conception. Now, if the later developmental ambiguities related to some factor other than the XY chromosomes that was present at conception, I'd be willing to consider whether that might be a factor in determining sexual or gender identity.

Ah, so if the lack of androgen receptors (or whatever) was, itself, due to genetic factors that were there from the beginning, then the presence or absence of a Y chromosome would not, itself, be determinative?

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Ah, so if the lack of androgen receptors (or whatever) was, itself, due to genetic factors that were there from the beginning, then the presence or absence of a Y chromosome would not, itself, be determinative?

Exactly. My main concern is to maintain that a person's sexual identity is what they were conceived as; if there's an ambiguity going back to conception, then there is a definite case for maintaining that, for instance, an XY apparent-female could be actually female.

And, in fact, the little reading-up I've been doing, it looks like this is actually the case. In fact, based on my present understanding of the facts, it seems clear to me that that XY apparent-females are actually female, and can be regarded as having been so from conception.

This condition, I learn, is called Swyer syndrome, and it appears to be connected with defective Y chromosomes — mutations in one or more genes on the Y chromosome that affect the development of sex differentiation. Thus, from conception these individuals lack the Y-chromosome factors to develop male morphology, so there's an in-principle argument that the presence of this sort of defective Y chromosome doesn't necessarily make one male.

The case gets stronger in light of the actual facts of morphology. It seems that from birth a Swyer syndrome child appears outwardly female, though without hormonal therapy she will not spontaneously undergo puberty, develop breasts, etc. The reason is that she has neither ovaries nor testes, but indeterminate gonadal tissue.

She does, however, have fallopian tubes — and a normal uterus. Lacking ovaries, she can't ovulate — but through egg or embryo donation she can often achieve pregnancy and childbirth.

As I've repeatedly indicated earlier, that last point is pretty much a clincher for me. While Catholic moral theology doesn't support egg or embryo donation, the fact that it's possible at all — that she naturally possesses a reproductive tract that can nourish embryonic life to childbirth — is pretty much proof that she's a woman, defective Y chromosome notwithstanding.

I should emphasize that, AFAIK, Rome has not committed itself to any view here, so this is not official Catholic teaching. Rather, it's the anthropological interpretation that makes sense to me in light of Catholic teaching on personhood and sexuality. That said, I strongly suspect that Rome would be inclined to favor the view (which I've acknowledged all along) that a person with a uterus who can bear children (even if she lacks eggs of her own) is a woman.

Now, might there be other cases of individuals with unambiguous, normal XY or XX chromosomes who develop ambiguous morphologies due to purely environmental factors? I don't know. In such cases, I'm going to want to argue that the person is the sex they were at conception, and later environmental factors can't change that.

Only if you reduce sexual or gender identity to chromosomes. But that's the very issue we're debating here.

"Reducing sexuality or gender identity to chromosomes" sounds to me like "reducing humanity to genetics." Obviously there is more to humanity, and to sexuality, than genetics. Still, the chromosomes are in some way determinative. An entity conceived with a human genome is a human being, and will not grow up to be a giraffe or a Vulcan. Likewise, as far as I know, an entity conceived with normal XX chromosomes is female, and will never be male, whatever hormonal or surgical events may subsequently intervene, and an entity conceived with normal XY chromosomes is male, even if hormonal problems during development result in an outwardly female appearance.

So a person with, say, male DNA and outer female parts (i.e. people who made a male sexual identity from conception but *changed* outwardly at some stage in their embryonic development) could be eligible for gender-reassignment surgery, from the perspective of Christian anthropology? We could say that they were being restored to their true gendered nature, or something like that?
So if a couple that has been "reasonably" married for decades suddenly discovers, via a DNA test (conducted for some completely unrelated reason, like proving that someone who claims to be a relative really is a relative), that the wife has a Y chromosome, you would say that their marriage had been "invalid" all this time? And, in light of this, the husband, if he so chose, would have a ready excuse to annul the marriage in Catholic law?

Both of these consequences do seem to accord with my previous line of thought, though in the case of Swyer syndrome at least I would now be highly skeptical that either is applicable. It seems to me that XY woman with a uterus is clearly a woman; she should not receive therapy, surgical or otherwise, to enable her to assume male characteristics, nor may her husband argue that their marriage is not really valid since she's "really" a man.

However, if there are other conditions where ambiguities in morphology stem not from some genetic mutation or defect present at conception, but purely from later environmental causes, then I'm going to continue to maintain that a person is the sex they were conceived as (with the following caveat).

: And before we discovered genetics it was supposed that personhood began at "quickening." Now we understand that one is an individual member of the human family from conception . . .

Well, we've already established, here in this thread, that we *don't* necessarily understand that. So your analogy doesn't make your case the way you seem to think it does.

On the contrary, while there may be rare cases (such as twinning) in which a unique individual human existence may have come into existence at some point after conception, it is nevertheless the case that a successful conception always marks the beginning of a unique human existence. (I should clarify that by "one" I was referring not to every individual human who is born, but to the newly conceived life itself.) Whether that human being survives to implantation or birth, or whether subsequent uterine events lead to the production of additional person(s), is another question.

(Honest question: did pre-20th-century -- or pre-10th-century, or whatever -- Catholic theologians actually talk about the "personhood" of the fetus?)

Although the concept of personhood was developed in early Christian thought to help make sense of the theology of the Trinity and the Incarnation, personhood as a key concern in anthropology and moral theory is, AFAIK, a pretty modern concern. Older moralists were much more concerned about the humanity of the fetus, though the two concepts essentially imply one another: A human being is a human person, and vice versa.

Edited by SDG

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And I have thought, for example: but what about the spilling of seed?

When I consider a prohibition against a man ejaculating into a woman's mouth &c. it makes as much sense to me as a prohibition against homosexual acts. The same sense. Applied to heterosexual couples, it's circumscriptive rather than annihilating; it removes certain things from the table of intimacy but it doesn't unseat you. Extended to all, it seems theologically defensible and consistent in a way that : 'Gay sex is wrong because God intends sex to be procreative' and then in the fine print 'except of course in all the cases where heteronormative sex is not' doesn't.

Who has the right to remove anything from the table of a monogamous, married couple's intimacy? Where genitalia or mouths "should" go or where ejaculate must be judiciously deposited on threat of the churches harshest condemnation?

The very consideration, not only imposes something foreign to the scriptures themselves, but bullies and annihilates the sacred intimacy between married partners, by provoking emotions that should never exist in the bedroom: fear and guilt. I can think of nothing that destroys holy intimacy more effectively than that. It's another textbook case of making the Narrow Way even more narrow. "Want to enjoy sexual pleasure? Wait! You gotta get married!" OK. No problem. "Want to FINALLY enjoy sex with your spouse? Careful!!! Here's a short list of what God allows in the bedroom." For many of us, this kind of bait and switch religious control is not an abstract proposition-- we suffered through it for years or even decades. So yes, I find these Catholic laws in question, absurd in the extreme.

Of course some people, for whatever reason, feel the need to be controlled with regard to ejaculate, acceptable sex positions and proper orificial engagement in marriage and for them, the more narrow the strictures pertaining to sex the better. This dynamic sometimes sounds a little kinky.

I don't for a second believe that the Creator of the Universe micro-manages marital relations in this manner or that spilling seed with one's spouse constitutes any kind of moral violation in the eyes of heaven. On the contrary, the unrelenting, negative obsession with fluids/ body parts and the desire to control married couple's modes of sexual pleasure, seems to me an utterly human construct.

Edited by Greg P

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And I have thought, for example: but what about the spilling of seed?

When I consider a prohibition against a man ejaculating into a woman's mouth &c. it makes as much sense to me as a prohibition against homosexual acts. The same sense. Applied to heterosexual couples, it's circumscriptive rather than annihilating; it removes certain things from the table of intimacy but it doesn't unseat you. Extended to all, it seems theologically defensible and consistent in a way that : 'Gay sex is wrong because God intends sex to be procreative' and then in the fine print 'except of course in all the cases where heteronormative sex is not' doesn't.

Who has the right to remove anything from the table of a monogamous, married couple's intimacy? Where genitalia or mouths "should" go or where ejaculate must be judiciously deposited on threat of the churches harshest condemnation?

The very consideration, not only imposes something foreign to the scriptures themselves, but bullies and annihilates the sacred intimacy between married partners, by provoking emotions that should never exist in the bedroom: fear and guilt. I can think of nothing that destroys holy intimacy more effectively than that. It's another textbook case of making the Narrow Way even more narrow. "Want to enjoy sexual pleasure? Wait! You gotta get married!" OK. No problem. "Want to FINALLY enjoy sex with your spouse? Careful!!! Here's a short list of what God allows in the bedroom." For many of us, this kind of bait and switch religious control is not an abstract proposition-- we suffered through it for years or even decades. So yes, I find these Catholic laws in question, absurd in the extreme.

Of course some people, for whatever reason, feel the need to be controlled with regard to ejaculate, acceptable sex positions and proper orificial engagement in marriage and for them, the more narrow the strictures pertaining to sex the better. This dynamic sometimes sounds a little kinky.

I don't for a second believe that the Creator of the Universe micro-manages marital relations in this manner or that spilling seed with one's spouse constitutes any kind of moral violation in the eyes of heaven. On the contrary, the unrelenting, negative obsession with fluids/ body parts and the desire to control married couple's modes of sexual pleasure, seems to me an utterly human construct.

I think this is right on the money.

I'd add that there is also the issue of unintentional "wet dreams" and such like. Would this really be something to consider a "mortal sin?" That's just adding fear and condemnation, to a shame which came from a misunderstanding of natural human biology, especially in relation to adolescence.

Unless there is some sort of different understanding of this that I'm unaware of.

Edited by Attica

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No time to explain or argue, so I will just bear witness as briefly as I can:

The historic Christian understanding of sexuality, as articulated in Catholic thought, and in particular in the theology of the body — regardless whether it is true or false — is a beautiful, integral, self-consistent whole. It is not a list of do's and don't's. It is rooted in a larger understanding of personhood, of human nature created in God's image, of man as a harmony of body and spirit.

Even if it is false, it is a beautiful, poetic, majestic falsehood, like Christianity itself, like the Incarnation and the Blessed Trinity.

The reductive objections above — snarking about "a short list of what God allows in the bedroom", and queries about whether wet dreams would be mortal sin — I'm sure they're sincerely intended, as much so as Richard Dawkins' carping complaints about why the God of Christianity is so deficient and unsatisfactory. It betrays a massive misunderstanding, a mind immersed in a worldview so far removed from the ideas criticizes that it can't even begin to understand how they work.

Those who make such objections may or may not be willing to learn. But the first step is to recognize that you don't just disagree, you don't understand.

Edited by SDG

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Here's my response. I may not fully understand all of the Catholic teaching of sexuality (I'm not sure), but I think I've got a pretty good understanding of mortal sin, and what it entails. I believe Greg is responding to spiritual abuse that he has observed, and so therefore I'd consider what he is saying to be of value.

SDG said:

:and in particular in the theology of the body — regardless whether it is true or false — is a beautiful, integral, self-consistent whole. It is not a list of do's and don't's. It is rooted in a larger understanding of personhood, of human nature created in God's image, of man as a harmony of body and spirit.

I have no problem with this comment at all. I also think that it is right on the money.

: It betrays a massive misunderstanding, a mind immersed in a worldview so far removed from the ideas criticizes that it can't even begin to understand how they work.

Fair enough. That's why I said "unless there is some sort of different understanding of this then I'm aware of."

But, At the moment I don't consider my response to be illegitimate. Or my questions to be without value.

According to this website, as well as every other Catholic website I looked up, on mortal sins. There is this view.

This sin is called mortal, or deadly, because it deprives the sinner of sanctifying grace, the supernatural life of the soul.

  • Without sanctifying grace, the soul is displeasing to God, unclean, and can never behold Him or be with Him in heaven.
    Without sanctifying grace, the soul is without God; and without God, the devil makes the soul his habitation. "Know thou and see that it is an evil and bitter thing for thee to have left the Lord thy God" (Jer. 2:19).
  • The sinner loses charity towards God and his fellow-men, and by the weakening of his will and the darkening of his intellect, is liable to fall into other mortal sins.
    The devil cries to his subordinates, "God hath forsaken him; pursue him and take him, for there is none to deliver him" (Ps. 70:11).
  • Without sanctifying grace, the soul is truly "dead"; and if an adult dies in that state, he will suffer the torments of the damned.

So. Then under this understanding of mortal sin, then if spilling of seed is a mortal sin, it would naturally put a person in this state. So then that obviously brings a person to the logical question of "what then does this entail"? Right. So then, if that includes something that happens when one is in the bedroom with ones wife, then this opens up the door to some serious questions.

First. This is a pretty drastic action for when one does this. No? It is saying that if a person "spills seed" in the bedroom with his wife that, their soul will be without God, they are forsaken and will end up amongst the "damned."

But certainly the idea of it being a drastic action doesn't mean by any means that it isn't true.

But, then, what about the Christians who are "spilling there seed" who are still very close to God, and where their soul is obviously not without God. They are active in the spirit, close to God, and hearing his voice. It is obvious that such people exist, and they are living their lives without repentance for this (not saying that a person shouldn't live a repentant life in general.)

How can one say that they are without God, when the Spirit of God is so obvious in their lives? So. If this is what a mortal sin entails, then how can this (and other things) be a mortal sin? I mean said people are obviously not under what the consequence of mortal sin is supposed to be.

Also. If they are right with God and the spirit is flowing in their lives, then how can they be amongst the damned? How can a person who has accepted Christ into their heart and is living in the Spirit, with the "guarantee of the spirit" inside them, be one of the damned?

So then this all obviously makes my question about "wet dreams" a legitimate question. But I suppose if a mortal sin entails an intentional rebellion this wouldn't count. So if this is true I apologize for any error I may have had in this regard.

Plus. There's several texts in Hebrews where it says that Christ has taken away our sins "once and for all time."

Plus. Plus. This isn't just theology, but my experience in every area of my life. When ever I sin (harmatia- fall short of the mark), I don't lose grace, rather I receive it. God's grace flows to me when I fail. I live my life in grace. In Romans Paul says that where sin abounds grace superabounds (Romans 5).

I suppose one could argue that this text is talking about "sanctifying grace" in the sense that this superabounding grace is only applied after one has repented of a mortal sin. But this doesn't line up with what Paul said in Hebrews and Ephesians, and it certainly doesn't align with my own life experience, and that of every Christian who I know.

It also specifically doesn't align with the writings in Hebrews. Starting with Hebrews 7: 27

"thereupon for those of the people, for this He does Once for all time."

Next Hebrews 8: 10 - 12

For this is the covenant that I should be covenanting with the House of Israel...... For I shall be propitious to their injustices, And of their sins and their lawlessnesses should I of no circumstance still be reminded.

Hebrews then talks about the blood of the covenant and the sacrifice. where he says in Hebrews. 9: 26 - "Yet now Once, at the conclusion of the ages for the repudiation of sin through his sacrifice is he manifest". (I'd also note that most Bibles correctly translate the word aionos as ages here, instead of eternal, because if something has a conclusion then it obviously can't be eternal - thus in this context the word aionos can't mean eternal.)

The text then goes on to say in Hebrews 10:10 - "By which we are hallowed through the approach present of the body of Christ Once for All Time".

Then says in Hebrews 10: 14 Yet this one when offering One sacrifice for sins is seated to a finality at the right hand of God.....For by one approach present he has perfected to a finality those who are hallowed.

And again in Hebrews 10: 16 - 18 he reiterates.

Now the Holy Spirit having testified to us, for after having declared, "This is the covenant which I shall be covenanting with them.....and of their sin and their lawlessnesses shall I under no circumstance still be reminded.

He the concluded with Hebrews 10: 18 - "Now where there is a pardon of these, there is no longer an approach present concerned with sin".

Why is there no longer a sacrifice concerned with sin, but in context, obviously because sin has already been pardoned and none is needed anymore.

So then in this light there is Hebrews 9: 28

"... Thus Christ also being offered Once for the bearing of the sins of many, will be seen a second time, by those awaiting Him, apart from sin, for salvation through faith."

In the light of what Hebrews has repeatedly stated about sins being taken away once for all time, whereby we are perfected and hallowed to a finality, and God shall by no circumstances still be reminded of them, then this text isn't saying only those who are to be saved are those who are apart from sin.

Rather it is saying that Christ's one time sacrifice has bore our sins, and thus we are awaiting him in a state of being apart from sin (obviously in God's eyes through the covenant - not in our lives), through faith.

Which doesn't align with the concept of mortal sin.

To my understanding mortal sin came from the gospels where Jesus talks about several sins and says that whoever commits these sins wont enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But in another place Christ says that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It's not specifically about the future life, it's about the here and now. Sin blocks us from entering into the fullness of the God life.

One of my better Bibles translates Matthew 3: 2 as " You folks be continuously and progressively changing your thinking - change your perceptions, attitudes, mode of thought and understanding and turn back towards God because the reign of the heavens(the expression and effect of kingdom rule which has its source in the atmospheres) has approached and is now near at hand and is close enough to touch."

So. Here I'm left with the conclusion that mortal sin doesn't align with Romans, Hebrews and Galatians. The supposed effects of mortal sin are not present in those who have supposedly commited it (in fact the opposite), and there's no strong evidence that I can see which conclusively says that the "spilling of seed" is a mortal sin in the first place. There is prohibitations against it, in a certain context, in the Old Testament, but this doesn't necessarily conclude that one would suffer the consequences that mortal sin entails.

One Catholic website that I visted said this. To strengthen our resolution not to commit sin, we should remember also that even a single mortal sin is enough to send us to hell.

But this is fear based. Fear doesn't help us from sinning. LOVE and grace help us from sinning.

As well Jesus came to take away any fear of death. Another quote from Hebrews - 2:15 - 17

.... and might set them free: as many as were through all of life held within slavery by fear of death. For doubtless it (fear of death) is not normally taking hold upon agents, but to the contrary "it is repeatedly taking hold upon Abraham's seed". Wherefore he was obliged to be make like humanity in accord with all things (or concerning everything=in every respect), so the He might become a merciful and faithful chief priest in regard to the things toward God, into the situation to be repeatedly and continuously overshadowing the failures (sins) of the people with a gentle, propitiatiory covering and shelter.

I'm sure some would say that my comments are not consistent with the early church and are therefore not valid. But I think it is consistent with some branches of the early church. It is consistent with Celtic Christianity, and also with the Ethiopian Orthodox branch of Christianity, which was never directly influenced by Rome. I'm not sure about Eastern Orthodoxy's stance on this. Or the other branches of Orthodoxy.

From the Ethiopian Orthodox website.

The Incarnation is first and foremost for the salvation of the world, The salvation of the world means pre-eminently the redemption of the human race. The saving work of God accomplished through the Incarnation is to be appropriated by man, both individually and corporately. It is when this is done with reference to the entire human race that the work of salvation of the world will have been perfected. God Himself is carrying on this work through the Holy Spirit.

In his life and existence man includes both the individual and the corporate dimensions. The saving work accomplished by God in the Incarnation should, therefore, be assimilated and perfected in both these dimensions. It is to carry on this divine work that the Church is founded by God. The incarnate, crucified and risen Christ is in the Church, which is His body on earth, through the Holy Spirit.

The Apostolic Creed which is in use in the Church of Ethiopia has three sections bearing on our discussion in the present context. The first of them insists that“all creatures of God are good and there is nothing to be rejected, and the spirit, the life of the body, is pure and holy in all.” The entire natural realm has been made pure and holy by God and all that is for man’s regular use. The second passage affirms that “marriage is pure, and childbirth is undefiled, because God created Adam and Eve to multiply.” This is a clear statement which shows that in the faith of the Church of Ethiopia, human society is of divine creation, so that the social, economic political and other such ties of man are divinely instituted. In the third passage there is the confession that we “believe in the resurrection of the dead, the righteous and sinners; and in the Day of Judgment when everyone will be recompensed according to his deeds.” This statement affirms the eschatological hope in the Church’s faith.

Putting the three ideas together, we can say that according to the faith of the Church of Ethiopia, the natural realm has been created by God, who has Himself placed man in the world as a member of society. There is a destiny awaiting man, and that is to be attained by him in the risen life in the world to come. In the face of evil and sin in this world of our God has worked out man’s salvation through His incarnate Son, who rose from the dead and lives eternally offering us the assurance of a resurrection that will be ours also. (1)

The eternal and triune God who is beyond time and space has created the world in time and space. He has redeemed the world and continues His work of perfecting the saving act. The salvation was accomplished by God through the suffering, death and resurrection of His incarnate Son and is perfected through His Holy Spirit.

In is this saving work of God that is represented in every celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which is not merely a memorial service to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in it the Church offers itself and the whole-redeemed human race together with the natural realm of earthly existence to the triune God. This is why in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, as also in its various other acts of worship, the Church calls to remembrance the living and the departed sections of the communion of saints. This is done in the context of remembering the saving acts of God, not merely as past events, but as events which happened actually in the realm of history and which signify the continuous work of God for the salvation of the world. The Service of the Holy Eucharist brings to us above all the assurance of the eschatological dimension of the Christian faith.

Edited by Attica

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It betrays a massive misunderstanding, a mind immersed in a worldview so far removed from the ideas criticizes that it can't even begin to understand how they work.

Those who make such objections may or may not be willing to learn. But the first step is to recognize that you don't just disagree, you don't understand.

What a convenient out for your position! It is the height of religious arrogance to imply that any objections to your view of sexuality stem from an unwillingness to "learn" the truth or that somehow your opponents are incapable of comprehending the deep spiritual depths of Catholic teaching on coitus and ejaculate.

I believe Greg is responding to spiritual abuse that he has observed, and so therefore I'd consider what he is saying to be of value.
No. I briefly referenced abuses, but that was beside the point.

Catholic teaching takes issue with sexual arousal and pleasure even within the bounds of Church-ordained marriage between man and woman-- never mind the issue of homosexuality. Embedded in Catholic views of "acceptable" marital sexuality, is a very clear line of caution and fear about arousal outside of procreative sex and "seeking pleasure for its own sake", even with ones spouse. Apparently the boundary between disordered sexual appetites and true marital intimacy is razor thin and one must proceed in this endeavor with the utmost caution.

Edited by Greg P

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It betrays a massive misunderstanding, a mind immersed in a worldview so far removed from the ideas criticizes that it can't even begin to understand how they work.

Those who make such objections may or may not be willing to learn. But the first step is to recognize that you don't just disagree, you don't understand.

What a convenient out for your position! It is the height of religious arrogance to imply that any objections to your view of sexuality stem from an unwillingness to "learn" the truth or that somehow your opponents are incapable of comprehending the deep spiritual depths of Catholic teaching on coitus and ejaculate.

I want to tread carefully, cuz I like everyone here...and I am approaching everything from a slightly different position.

But the "you cannot understand unless you believe" is kind of part and parcel to religion... I mean, I have heard it said about a lot more than sexuality. So, it is kind of hard for me to feel like SDG is being arrogant (in a religious sense) about it. I am certainly more sympathetic to Greg's side of the issue...but I find that religion in general have a lot of "convenient outs" that are dependent on blaming the person who questions the faith rather than admitting some things about the faith deserve to be questioned.

As one who no longer believes, I find it so odd that a faith that contends that "the Law" was insufficient has gone forth and continues to try to establish a ridiculously extensive new set of laws and regulations regarding actions and a vague notion of "holiness"... but that is probably another discussion for another time...

Edited by Thom Wade

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What a convenient out for your position!

It's a "convenient out" if I'm trying to shut down discussion — if I'm not willing to explain or defend. I'm not. On the contrary.

It is the height of religious arrogance to imply that any objections to your view of sexuality stem from an unwillingness to "learn" the truth or that somehow your opponents are incapable of comprehending the deep spiritual depths of Catholic teaching on coitus and ejaculate.

On the contrary, I explicitly indicated that this was not the case: "Those who make such objections may or may not be willing to learn." Doesn't that obviously imply a capability of comprehending?

Oh, hm. I think I may see the problem: The sentence immediately before the one I quoted is ambiguous, or at least subtle, so it may be my fault. You might be reading it as "a mind [so] immersed (in a worldview so far removed from the ideas criticizes) that it [i.e., the mind] can't even begin to understand how they work," But I meant "a mind immersed (in a worldview so far removed from the ideas criticizes that it [i.e., the worldview] can't even begin to understand how they work)."

In other words, it's the worldview, not the mind, that my ideas won't fit into. The larger point is that in any substantial debate of ideas, understanding always requires one to be both willing and able to empathically assume or reconstruct an alternate worldview. An atheist who insists on understanding "Christianity" to mean "cringing in fear before a bloodthirsty sky bully and doing what he says out of fear of punishment," and a Christian who insists on understanding "atheism" to mean "suppressing one's conscience in order to assert that existence is meaningless and random and anyone can do whatever they want," can sneer and shout at each other all day long, but you won't have any dialogue. They must each be willing and able to empathically assume or reconstruct one another's worldviews in order to meaningfully debate each other's views.

A former-atheist blogger turned Catholic named Leah Libresco has an interesting project that she calls "Ideological Turing Test." The standard Turing Test, posited by Alan Turing, applies to computers and AI; the test is whether an AI program can converse with humans (via text, say) well enough to pass as human, so that if you were talking to a chatbot and a human, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

The Ideological Turing Test is: If you're a Christian, do you understand atheism well enough to explain and defend it as an atheist would, so that others wouldn't be able to tell whether you are an atheist or a Christian? And vice versa for atheists understanding Christianity.

FWIW, I think I've always implicitly tried to hold myself to this standard in discussion and debate. It's the way I was raised (by my father). It's why I was unsatisfied with what I was taught as a young Evangelical about other religions, from Mormonism to Catholicism, and why I've always made a habit of going to the horse's mouth and trying to understand the other person's point of view until I could explain it to them as well as they explained it to me.

So I think Thom is a little off the mark (and due to that ambiguous sentence above I freely acknowledge the fault for the misunderstanding may be mine) when he reads me as saying "you cannot understand unless you believe." That's not my position here. I think the Catholic understanding of sexuality can be substantially explained for and understood by non-Catholic moderns who are willing to enter empathically into the Catholic worldview — and, equally, a Catholic who seeks to do so must empathically engage the postmodern post-sexual-revolution worldview in order to effectively explain and defend the Catholic view.

In your case, Greg, FWIW, I don't think you're unable. Past experience suggests to me that you're inclined to be unwilling. This particular subject seems to elicit a level of polemical resistance in you, a quickness to debunk what you haven't yet understood. That doesn't mean you can't be gotten to, or won't let down your guard no matter what. But on this subject we seem to start from a position of lowered visors and leveled lances, and that's a poor way to begin a dialogue.

Edited by SDG

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An admission on my part, re. the "unable to comprehend" bit: I find it amusing that the men who framed these official positions for the Church, expounding on all the specifics of sexuality within marriage, have themselves never experienced the joyous symphonies of coital bliss (and all its ancillary movements). I know I've stated this earlier in the thread, but it comes full circle for me on this point. When I read official Catholic positions on "appropriate" forms of sexuality within marriage, with all the overly-pious language about intercourse and religious romanticization of the male orgasm, it's glaringly apparent that the authors have never actually gotten laid.

Edited by Greg P

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Uh huh.

Greg, did you read what I wrote?

Of course, my brother.

In your case, Greg, FWIW, I don't think you're unable. Past experience suggests to me that you're inclined to be unwilling. This particular subject seems to elicit a level of polemical resistance in you, a quickness to debunk what you haven't yet understood. That doesn't mean you can't be gotten to, or won't let down your guard no matter what. But on this subject we seem to start from a position of lowered visors and leveled lances, and that's a poor way to begin a dialogue.

Steven, I know you think the Catholic position on marital sexuality is consistent and beautiful and I can appreciate your conviction to obey those laws. I do not find the ones in question (about ejaculation/male orgasm and forms of sexual pleasure within marriage) beautiful or healthy and my conviction is that they hinder happiness and God-given liberty within the confines of marriage. I believe they are designed to make adherents feel guilty about seeking pleasure in the marriage bed. You can (once again) state that I have a quickness to debunk something I don't understand, but rather than make those kind of subjective statements about my motivations you do better to point out precisely where I have misrepresented the Catholic position.

Edited by Greg P

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And that's your answer? A sneer about celibacy?

I stated it rather humorously (I think), but it's not a sneer. Those men know nothing of sexuality within marriage or even actual romance with another consenting adult. This doesn't mean their opinions are meritless, but let's be blunt-- 1) they aren't offering opinions and 2) they really don't know what they're talking about in the experiential sense and the experiential part is what they attempt to exert authority and control over. I find great irony and humor in that. Edited by Greg P

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Steven, I know you think the Catholic position on marital sexuality is consistent and beautiful and I can appreciate your conviction to obey those laws. I do not find them beautiful or healthy and my conviction is that they hinder happiness and God-given liberty within the confines of marriage. I believe they are designed to make adherents feel guilty about seeking pleasure in the marriage bed. You can (once again) state that I have a quickness to debunk something I don't understand, but rather than make those kind of subjective statements about my motivations you do better to point out precisely where I have misrepresented the Catholic position.

Where have you misrepresented (or misunderstood) the Catholic position? How about if we begin with the fact that in your first, conciliatory sentence above, you end by saying "I can appreciate your conviction to obey those laws," as if the Catholic worldview were a list of "thou shalt not's"?

See, you start out with a singular subject -- "I know you think the Catholic position on marital sexuality is consistent and beautiful" -- but then you quietly shift to a plural subject -- "I do not find them beautiful or healthy." You know I think it is consistent and beautiful, but you don't find them beautiful or healthy. An apples to oranges comparison; from a position, a worldview, to "laws." The moral framework is meaningless outside the larger world of ideas.

How well do you understand those ideas? Suppose you and I were to have a go at the Ideological Turing Test, with me arguing your viewpoint and you arguing mine. How well equipped do you think you would be for that?

I think I could argue your point of view pretty well, or at least a mainstream point of view in your general area of the spectrum. I can even acknowledge the attractiveness of the basic postmodern, post-sexual-revolution worldview in various shapes.

I can appreciate why someone would find it perverse that historic Christianity rejects the satisfaction of homosexual attraction. I can appreciate the explanatory power of a worldview that sees the history in which we are living through, or certain broad trends within that history, as the gradual triumph of enlightenment over ignorance, science over superstition, compassion and understanding over prejudice and fear, equality over discrimination, personal freedom over authoritarian repression, etc.

In certain moods, all this makes sense to me, or to the part of me that seeks to construct and understand worldviews that are not my own. I would feel comfortable arguing this point of view.

Ultimately, though, I find something else more compelling. Why is that? Why do I turn from so apparently liberating a worldview to embrace something that seems to you to be designed to make people feel guilty? Why would anyone find the latter more liberating than the former? Is that something you can appreciate or explain in sympathetic terms, without simply pathologizing me? Is it something you've tried to understand?

I stated it rather humorously (I think), but it's not a sneer. Those men know nothing of sexuality within marriage or even actual romance with another consenting adult. This doesn't mean their opinions are meritless, but let's be blunt-- 1) they aren't offering opinions and 2) they really don't know what they're talking about in the experiential sense and the experiential part is what they attempt to exert authority and control over. I find great irony and humor in that.

I am curious which men and which official statements you're thinking of, where you've encountered these examples of "overly-pious language about intercourse and religious romanticization of male orgasm," etc.

Edited by SDG

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You are wrangling over sentence structure, terminology and a possible grammatical error. If it's a shitty sentence, I'll own that completely. But stop trying to spin that off into an actual "issue"-- it's not, you're wasting time. You're wrangling over how I said something (as if that represents some foundational crack in my reasoning) instead of what is being said. Again, how have I misrepresented or misunderstood the Catholic position on ejaculation/male orgasm and pursuit of alternate forms (besides procreative variety) of sexual pleasure within marriage?

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Greg P said:

:No. I briefly referenced abuses, but that was beside the point.

Ok.

Thom Wade said:

:So, it is kind of hard for me to feel like SDG is being arrogant (in a religious sense) about it.

I don't think he is either.

:I find it so odd that a faith that contends that "the Law" was insufficient has gone forth and continues to try to establish a ridiculously extensive new set of laws and regulations regarding actions and a vague notion of "holiness"... but that is probably another discussion for another time...

I'd say that your on to something here. Much of Christianity has done just that. And I'm not trying to pick a fight with Catholicism on this. I think it's in many (most?) of the branches of Christianity. But it is also related to the questions at hand, I'd say.

:..but I find that religion in general have a lot of "convenient outs" that are dependent on blaming the person who questions the faith rather than admitting some things about the faith deserve to be questioned.

As a person of faith, I also agree with this.

But I think what SDG is saying about worldviews is important. To dialogue it is certainly necessary to try and understand where the person is coming from in regards to worldview. Which, of course, isn't always easy.

Edited by Attica

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I'd say that your on to something here. Much of Christianity has done just that. And I'm not trying to pick a fight with Catholicism on this. I think it's in many (most?) of the branches of Christianity. But it is also related to the questions at hand, I'd say.

To me it it a grand irony that protestantism is chock full of people declaring the Catholic Church wrong and full of rules-and the first thing they start doing is building up all new rules...while still condemning Catholics for their rules and supposed superstitions.

But I think what SDG is saying about worldviews is important. To dialogue it is certainly necessary to try and understand where the person is coming from in regards to worldview. Which, of course, isn't always easy.

I agree.

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You are wrangling over sentence structure, terminology and a possible grammatical error. If it's a shitty sentence, I'll own that completely.

Greg, you didn't make any grammatical errors. You changed the subject from worldview to laws (the singular / plural thing was just a way of emphasizing that). Your comments were grammatically correct but conceptually sloppy.

Again, how have I misrepresented or misunderstood the Catholic position on ejaculation/male orgasm and pursuit of alternate forms (besides procreative variety) of sexual pleasure within marriage?

Your main error is reductionism, with various ancillary errors.

Main error: Instead of engaging a worldview, you reduce everything to "a short list of what God allows," "where genitalia or mouths 'should' go or where ejaculate must be judiciously deposited on threat of the churches harshest condemnation."

Ancillary errors: "Unrelenting, negative obsession with fluids/ body parts" is absurd. "Where genitalia or mouths 'should' go" is absurd. "Harshest condemnations" is absurd.

To repeat a question I asked before: I would like to know what your strange distortions of Catholic teaching are based on, and in particular which celibate framers of official Church teaching you have found guilty of "overly-pious language about intercourse and religious romanticization of the male orgasm."

But I think what SDG is saying about worldviews is important. To dialogue it is certainly necessary to try and understand where the person is coming from in regards to worldview. Which, of course, isn't always easy.

I agree.

Thank you both for making the point.

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Greg, here's another way of putting it:

I said above that I find the historic Christian understanding of sexuality, as articulated in Catholic thought, to be "a beautiful, integral, self-consistent whole." What you are talking about, I don't find "a beautiful, integral, self-consistent whole."

That's because I specifically said it is not a "list of do's and don't's," and you are determined to discuss only lists of do's and don't's. So we are not talking about the same thing.

You seemed to contrast our diverging perspectives on a single topic when you said "I know you think the Catholic position on marital sexuality is consistent and beautiful ... I do not find them beautiful or healthy." But all you really did was express my attitude toward one thing and your attitude toward something else.

Edited by SDG

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Catholic teaching takes issue with sexual arousal and pleasure even within the bounds of Church-ordained marriage between man and woman-- never mind the issue of homosexuality. Embedded in Catholic views of "acceptable" marital sexuality, is a very clear line of caution and fear about arousal outside of procreative sex and "seeking pleasure for its own sake", even with ones spouse. Apparently the boundary between disordered sexual appetites and true marital intimacy is razor thin and one must proceed in this endeavor with the utmost caution.

I'm not a Catholic, but I regularly read G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, John Henry Newman, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy and Peter Kreeft (among others). I don't get the impression at all that there is any fear exhibited by these writers of sexual desire. Chesterton and Belloc were both very enthusiastic about sexual pleasure within marriage. Newman was criticized by by Charles Kingsley for being effeminate in choosing celibacy, but Newman himself wrote of the deep loss that he felt while committing to celibacy. To me, it makes celibacy both noble and admirable and the fact that it is a sacrifice does not detract from it. The more you read of the best of Catholic thought, I do not think you would find that "seeking pleasure for its own sake" is, in and of itself, really condemned.

As one who no longer believes, I find it so odd that a faith that contends that "the Law" was insufficient has gone forth and continues to try to establish a ridiculously extensive new set of laws and regulations regarding actions and a vague notion of "holiness"... but that is probably another discussion for another time...

Oh, but I think this is very much the same discussion. Rules of behavior are not, from the Christian perspective, suddenly of no value because of the necessity of faith and grace. The idea of holiness and the idea of the moral law are both fundamentally at the heart of the modern debate and discussion about homosexuality. Christianity does not teach that pleasure is an evil. It does teach that the restraint of appetite is the only way to fully cultivate the health of appetite. The discussion becomes even more interesting when religious ideas of behavior begin to interact with the political sphere. This is where the modern church has not fully thought things through, and thus the current diversity of opinion over what is rightly in the realm of positive law. From the theologians that I've read, not all natural law (regarding human behavior) necessarily demands the creation of positive law to enforce such behavior over others.

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Greg, you keep editing your past posts, not just tweaking text (which I do too, pretty perfectionistically) but adding whole paragraphs, making bits of discussion oddly out of order.

To the list of ancillary errors in your attempts to characterize Catholic teaching on sexuality, I submit pretty much this entire paragraph. Show me this in official Catholic teaching, please.

Catholic teaching takes issue with sexual arousal and pleasure even within the bounds of Church-ordained marriage between man and woman-- never mind the issue of homosexuality. Embedded in Catholic views of "acceptable" marital sexuality, is a very clear line of caution and fear about arousal outside of procreative sex and "seeking pleasure for its own sake", even with ones spouse. Apparently the boundary between disordered sexual appetites and true marital intimacy is razor thin and one must proceed in this endeavor with the utmost caution.
Edited by SDG

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J.A.A. Purves said:

:Oh, but I think this is very much the same discussion. Rules of behavior are not, from the Christian perspective, suddenly of no value because of the necessity of faith and grace.

Yeah. I think your right. Dealing with the issue of sexuality all forms of faith, and also secular society realize certain rules of behaviour.

But, I'd also think that "rules of behaviour" is a bit different from the idea of "laws and regulations" that Thom expressed. Christians can often make up lots of these "laws and regulations", and some of them can be awfully wonky.

For example. I have friends who weren't allowed to ride their bikes on Sunday, and heaven forbid watching a movie on a Sunday. These laws and regulations came of course from where the Bible says to keep the Sabbath Holy (as if riding ones bike is an unholy act.)

When I hear things like this I think... but. ... BUt. For the Jews (and very early Christians) the Sabbath was on Saturday. They're looking to that Old Testament text and then making up a bunch of man made laws and regulations about the wrong day.

I've also met Christians who were opposed with the idea of me going to see movies in the movie theatre, because it was against some Christian rule that they'd dreamt up. But it was perfectly fine for them to watch movies at home. Watching movies is great, just so long as it's not in the theatre.

Just a couple of examples. The list goes on and on.

So bringing this back to sexuality, there are obviously some rules of behaviour that apply. But all to often laws are dreamt up that are just kind of nonsensical, and therefore unhealthy. This isn't pointing fingers at Catholocism as much as it is saying that these views are all around.

Edited by Attica

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To the list of ancillary errors in your attempts to characterize Catholic teaching on sexuality, I submit pretty much this entire paragraph. Show me this in official Catholic teaching, please.

Catholic teaching takes issue with sexual arousal and pleasure even within the bounds of Church-ordained marriage between man and woman-- never mind the issue of homosexuality. Embedded in Catholic views of "acceptable" marital sexuality, is a very clear line of caution and fear about arousal outside of procreative sex and "seeking pleasure for its own sake", even with ones spouse. Apparently the boundary between disordered sexual appetites and true marital intimacy is razor thin and one must proceed in this endeavor with the utmost caution.

I really didn't think this would be a point of debate. Assuming that you are much more familiar than I am with these citations, I find this a bit pointless but oh well...

Pope Gregory:

"The married must be admonished to bear in mind that they are united in wedlock for the purpose of procreation, and when theyabandon themselves to "immoderate intercourse," they transfer the occasion of procreation to the service of pleasure. Let them realize that though they do "not" then pass beyond the bonds of wedock, yet in wedlock they exceed its rights. Wherefore, it is necessary that they should efface by frequent prayer what they befoul in the fair form of intercourse by the admixture of pleasure."

I'm looking for the full quote, but here's Pope John Paul II:

"Man can commit this adultery 'in the heart' also with regard to his own wife if he treats her 'only' as an object to satisfy instinct."

Reverend Regis Scanlon repeats a sentiment I have heard and read many times over the years. Whether or not this constitutes an accurate summary of the official Catholic position, I suppose Steven will have to judge.

"Thus the Catholic Church does not condemn the presence of pleasure in marital sexual intercourse, but she does condemn the use of sexual intercourse exclusively for the sake of pleasure."

I do self edit Steven, but only because I am pressed for time and more often than not have to post hastily in short bursts. I always endeavor to edit before comments come, but i can think of one occasion in this thread where I broke that rule. This was state things more precisely to minimize religious runaround, primarily with you because of your perceived penchant for arguing over minutiae and what i perceive as semantics (the "law vs worldview" rabbit trail is a case in point)

Edited by Greg P

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- "Thus the Catholic Church does not condemn the presence of pleasure in marital sexual intercourse, but she does condemn the use of sexual intercourse exclusively for the sake of pleasure."

- For the sake of fairness. This quote might possibly be read as opposing "exclusively for the sake of pleasure" in the sense of using the other person for pleasure, without regards to any relational factors.

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