Pope’s view on sexuality is 19th century at best

Pope Benedict XVI is in a bit of a bind regarding HIV/AIDS.  He is trying to make the current pandemic fit a world view that no longer exists in the 21st century.  It makes the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church seem totally out of touch with what the people are experiencing.

” ‘You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.’  The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease, as he answered questions submitted in advance by reporters traveling on the plane. His response was presumably also prepared in advance. The Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against artificial contraception. Senior Vatican officials have advocated fidelity in marriage and abstinence from premarital sex as key weapons in the fight against AIDS.”

The difficulty of orthopraxis (right actions)  is that it is created during a specific time and place, it addresses specific needs of that time and it does not always transcend societal trends and circumstances.  The Catholic church’s view on sexuality is that it has one purpose and one purpose only and that is procreation of the species.  There is no other purpose of the behaviors that we call sexual. 

This is the reason why the Catholic Church is against latex barriers/ condom usage because they would inhibit the primary reason to have sexual intercourse.   According to a text written by Jonathan Ned Katz, entitled The Invention of Heterosexuality the term Heterosexual was used in 1892 “associating them with nonprocreative perversion.”  This seems to be the mindset view of the Roman Catholic Church.  This explains why the church is against condom use, defining marriage beyond that of one man and one woman, masturbation and homosexuality. 

There was a time when these praxi could possibly be justified.  The Jewish people in the days of the Hebrew scriptures were a minority population.  Having children was important, not only to carry on their culture but also to increase their chances of survival.  The ordinance  against spilling one’s seed on the ground instead of placing it in the belly of a whore, is therefore an important ordinance.  More important than the adultery of sleeping with a known whore.  Homosexual behaviors also reduced the possibility of increasing one’s tribe. Masturbation did the same.  And polygamy defined marriage for the same reason, it increased the possibility of passing on strong genes to as many children as possible.

The prohibitions of homosexuality in the Hebrew Scriptures had another reason that had little to do with the act of homosexuality itself as it did with abandoning the God of Abraham and participating in the religious cults of the native people whose land the Jews were to possess.   Participating in these religious cults was more of a threat to the identity of the Jewish people. 

The Pope advocates for a moral and responsible attitude towards sex as a means to reduce the spread of HIV.   I agree with the statement however, I do not agree with the mindset that produced such a statement.  In today’s world where the purpose of sexual activity is primarily for pleasure and procreation only as desired calls for a very moral and responsible attitude.  It calls for a healthy respect for the human body.  It calls for a mutuality of love between partners where the partners respect and honor their partners body and boundaries.  And it calls for pre-planning in pregnancy when the world is fast approaching 8 billion people in a world that has difficulty finding the resources to sustain 7 billion. 

Having children in today’s world can potentially be the most irresponsible thing a couple can do when the resources to support that child’s life simply isn’t available for the couple.  I do not believe that if god created sex to be as pleasurable as it is, that she would forbid two people from expressing symbolically the love of god in their sexuality because they chose to use a condom.  That symbol of the love of god made manifest in the sacred union is at the heart of every wedding vow in the Christian tradition. 

The Pope is in a bind because the nature of this pandemic requires absolutely requires from a moral and ethical point of view to reconsider the orthopraxi of the 19th century and earlier and find every possible means to reduce the spread of HIV.  Yes, abstinence before marriage is one possible means.  But it does not remove the threat from the partners of the child who contracted HIV from his or her mother and now is an adult thanks to life saving drugs.  For this person, abstinence before marriage only postpones the potential of spreading the virus. 

Latex barriers are going to be essential after marriage to reduce the possibility of infecting his or her partner.  Wouldn’t it be better for the child to learn a healthy respect for his or her sexual body while growing up so they can be responsible in their expression of sexuality as young adults.  The Pope’s condemnation of condoms also condemns this person for wanting to live a healthy and productive life with a sexual partner.    This is simply an immoral and irresponsible view point given the nature of this pandemic.

More Sex Please, Says Pope

Got your attention?  Sounds implausible that Pope Benedict XVI would ever say this, right?  Well, The following headlines were found in the Daily Telegraph, a British Newspaper, when reporting on the Pope’s annual Curia:  Pope Says Humanity needs ‘saving’ from homosexuality:  The Pope has said that “saving” humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rain forests.”  

Well this sounds more plausible right, because we all know that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin.  The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that marriage is for the sole purpose of procreation (the more sex reference). But the thing is, the Pope did not really say either in his annual Curia. 
In a British journalist’s blog on this story, entitled “More Sex Please, Says Pope”  it is told that no where in the Pope’s Curia is the word homosexual or transsexual behavior even mentioned.  It may be implicit in his Curia because of the Church’s teachings but so could the headline “More Sex Please” be implicit in his talk.    Here is what the Pope actually said where the headlines and the outrageous story came from:

“[The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all. It must also defend the human person against its own destruction. What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected.

“Here it’s a question of faith in creation, in listening to the language of creation, disregard of which would mean self-destruction of the human person and hence destruction of the very work of God. That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator. Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit. Yes, the tropical forests merit our protection, but the human being as a creature merits no less protection – a creature in which a message is written which does not imply a contradiction of our liberty, but the condition for it.”

Now, yes, implicitly one could infer the Pope is talking about homosexuality. He does later affirm the church’s position of marriage as a sacrament between one man and one woman.  But is he really saying what the British Tabloids stated?  Couldn’t he also be speaking about violence that we perpetrate on each other through wars and domestic violence?  Couldn’t he also be talking about various addictions that destroy the human persona?  These could also be implicit in his talk about developing ‘a human ecology’.

At the very least it is a distortion of the Pope’s intent.  The Pope and the Roman Catholic church has said and taught many things that are contrary to Protestants and others’ sensibilities, we do not need to be adding words to him that are not there.  To do so only increases the suffering of the people within the Roman Catholic Church who are sexual minorities.

Now I can argue about his use of the word ‘gender.’  Science is revealing to us that gender is not merely male and female.  One in every 1000 births are born as inter-sex beings.  Their chromosomes are not strictly XX or XY but some other combination resulting sometimes in undefined genitalia at birth or missing aspects of genitalia such as no ovaries or no testes.   Gender is no longer an either / or  male and female.  The Creator Spirit, as the Pope refers to god, made sure of that for some mysterious reason.    To purposely limit our understanding of gender is also to “live against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.” 

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 5:50 pm  Comments (6)  
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