The Catholic Church’s Misguided Views on Sex May 17, 2009

The Catholic Church’s Misguided Views on Sex

Herb Silverman, the president of the Secular Coalition for America, has a piece on the On Faith blog about the Catholic Church and their misguided views on sex.

You can learn about when and why the Church created its rules about sex.

Celibacy didn’t become Church law until the Second Lateran Council in 1139, when every priest’s marriage was declared invalid and priests were ordered to separate from their wives. This was more about capitalism than spiritualism, since property that used to pass to the priest’s heirs became windfall Church profits.

Then to seal the deal against priestly sexual outlets, the Church prohibited all male masturbation. Pope Pius XI condemned this so-called sin of “onanism” because he misunderstood the biblical story. Onan was supposed to follow the levirate tradition of having sex with his dead brother’s wife to produce a child for his brother’s line, but Onan was punished for premature withdrawal because he wanted to become heir to his brother’s property. So Church law on both celibacy and masturbation involved the trading of sexual pleasure for real estate.

I would think the archaic rules could just as easily be reversed — it worked with Purgatory — But that would require breaking irrational tradition, something the Church has trouble doing.


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  • Red

    I have never understood celibacy. And I surely never understood how a priest could even begin to counsel someone in marriage or sex if they have never been through it themselves.

    That’s like me telling a parent I feel their pain of losing a child when I have never gone through that myself. Duh!

  • FresnoMikey

    Considering how many perversions have arisen from repressing normal sexuality, the usually intelligent Jesuits drop the ball on this one. The empirical/scientific method gives more repetetive proof here as the repressed protestant perverts in the Republican Party have adequated outed themselves in the last few years. The healthy sexuality of New Orleans, Nevada, and most big cities provide us with the relief we need from the anti-sexual madness brought to us by these reliculous nuts.
    Having lived through two devasting wars, the Europeans have learned how to enjoy their lives. Americans can’t see their rat race materialism for what it is – the fear of death, because they do not buy the Sunday heaven and hell bullshit. We will destroy the earth’s atmosphere and ourselves by overpopulating and overproducing CO2.
    Our denial of our sexuality IS related to the cause of our denial of the truth about the eventual death of human life on this planet.
    Why do so few see it? And fewer say anything?

  • River

    I support bringing back Carnival/Lupercalia/other bacchanales for at least the Protestants, and excise the guilt for the Catholics. The Greek and Romans knew enough to let people go loose once in a while. It’s like a state-sanctioned Vegas once or twice a year.

    Or, better yet, just remove the restrictions!

  • I think “incrementalism” is a great strategy. Sometimes, instead of demand people give up their faiths, we just support moves toward a more rational faith. Good article. Thank you.

  • Gabriel

    Surprisinly enough their are some married priests in the Catholic Church today. I read an article on Anglican priests who were married and then converted to Catholicism and became catholic priests. They were able to remain married. As desperate as the Catholic Church is for priests they would be better off allowing priests to be married, to be women and to be gay and married. But I guess the world is better off if they continue to bury their heads in the sand as they slouch their way to obscurity.

  • There are also “Eastern-Rite” Catholics, whose priests are allowed to be married (I once attended a Christmas party at the home of one such). IIUC, the history is that the sect got separated from Rome back before celibacy came in, and when they were reconciled they were allowed to keep the married priesthood.

  • Hi Hemant,

    I think the Catholic Church altered its position on Limbo, not Purgatory. Limbo is the place where the unbaptised, including babies, were meant to go.

    And even reading the Wiki article on Limbo, it seems that they didn’t quite “reverse” their view either, merely to give it more theological consideration…

  • Old Beezle

    Not too surprising. All religion is created to gain gold and power. The fact that the sheep also happen to do good things doesn’t make them any less sheep-like: ready for a fleecing.