Friday, September 21, 2012

Church's sexual morals not just about homosexuality

A common charge against the Catholic Church is that it is anti-gay or bigoted, but the Church's opposition to homosexual activity is incidental in a way. The Church has studied sexuality and determined that it has a purpose and to misuse or thwart this purpose is contrary to nature. This can be arrived at even from a non-religious standpoint.

Everything has a function and a purpose. The lungs allow us to breathe, the hearts pumps blood, our digestive system (including our mouth, esophagus, and stomach) is used to bring nutrition to the body. These purposes are evident from nature and observation. Similarly, our sexuality has a purpose, which is procreation.

The bodily functions listed above not only have a primary purpose, but also have secondary functions. For example, eating not only nourishes the body but can be pleasurable as well. Taking in a deep breath of fresh air is essential for survival, but can also make us feel happy. Again, in a similar way, sexuality is pleasurable, on top of serving a purpose.

It is easy to see in these circumstances that the secondary purpose cannot legitimately be separated from the primary one. For example, it would not be legitimate to eat food and then to purposely vomit it from ones stomach. This would be a misuse of this function. The primary purpose must always be present otherwise it is a distortion of the entire process.

So sexuality must have as one of its purposes procreation. Otherwise, it is an abuse of this function. In this sense, sex must be open to procreation even if that does not occur. Artificial blocks cannot be placed on the process to eliminate that possibility, no more than artificial blocks can be used to prevent nutrition from food.

If a sexual act is open to procreation, this possibility must be dealt with and expanded on. If procreation is possible, a child can result from this action. The responsible thing to do in this case is for the two people who consent to bringing this child into the world to make a commitment to create a loving environment for this potential child. This commitment is known as marriage.

Because of these things, marriage in which the couple is open to procreation, is the only situation in which sex can be permitted. Anything which falls outside this categorization is deemed illegitimate for the reasons listed above. This necessarily prohibits adultery (absence of commitment of marriage), masturbation (misuse of sexuality and pursuit of only secondary purpose), homosexual acts (intrinsically infertile and therefore not fulfilling the primary function of sex), etc.

Conceivably there is an enormous list of possible infractions of proper sexuality, but they all come from not containing the necessary requisites for legitimate sexual expression. They are not each individually condemned for specific reasons necessarily.

As for Natural Family Planning, the primary and secondary conditions are met. The sexual functions are being used legitimately and the people involved are open to life. No artificial barrier is put in place to prevent the normal functioning of the human person. The secondary purpose, of pleasure, can also be fulfilled. Understanding how nature works, and acting in accord with it is perfectly legitimate. As a comparison, let's look at eating again. Eating at night can often cause more weight-gain. Understanding this and choosing to eat in the morning instead would not violate the inherent nature of eating.

I've tried to give an explanation for how the Church approaches sexuality. Surprisingly it is shunned by much of society despite the ever-increasing demand for things which are more natural. These truths can be derived at independently from the Church, but unfortunately rarely are.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Church in Asia

I went to a presentation on Saturday by my friend Dr. Olisa Achike on the topic of the Church in Asia. It was very interesting. Although he was only giving a brief overview, the presentation was not even half done after 2 hours. I would have been happy to stay for the entire presentation but some people were becoming a little restless so we postponed the rest until a later date.

During his speech, Olisa described many of the struggles faced by Christians in many countries, especially predominantly Muslim ones. I remember the plight of Christians in Pakistan as being particularly bad. A minister who I wrote about in a previous blog post, Shahbaz Bhatti, was an advocate for minorities rights in the country. He was assassinated for trying to repeal blasphemy laws which have been used to subjugate Christians and other minorities in the country. Olisa showed the following video, available on Youtube, which features Mr. Bhatti speaking of his willingness to die for his faith. It's very powerful:

Olisa also spoke of the interesting Eastern Catholic rite found in India known as the Syro-Malabar Church. There was another smaller rite called the Syro-Malankara rite. The Syro-Malabar Christians share our theological beliefs, but some of the outward actions have come from Hinduism, such as a special candle holder, certain bells, postures, etc. It's part of the rich diversity of the Church.

Olisa spoke of other parts of Asia as well and provided information about some of the missionaries who went to these lands in the first place. He did a very good job and I look forward to Part II.