Not that this was a surprise, but the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to adopt new guidelines this week, attempting to regulate the sexual lives of both heterosexual and homosexual adults.
The guidelines "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination" (yes, that's what it was called) passed 194 to 37. Such "inclinations" said the Bishops are "inherently disordered" and thus same sex sexual activity is sinful. They also voted to take public positions against same sex marriage and adoptions by gay couples.
Heterosexuals were not immune though from new attempts by these celibate men to regulate their sex lives. In a document called "Married Love and the Gift of Life," the Bishops reassert their opposition to contraception, saying it introduces a "false note" into marriage. They do acknowledge in the report that most American Catholics are indeed using contraception.
One Bishop tried but failed to get all the other Bishops to stop offering communion to those who violate these teachings. Instead it will be left up to the individual Bishop.
I find it hard to understand how a church body can vote to pass policies about sexuality that are irrelevant to their congregants. Surely the Catholic Church knows how much their people need help in living their sexual lives with holiness and integrity -- starting with some of their own clergy. Did I miss the guidelines on that?
I thought of this quote from Meister Eckardt nearly a thousand years ago, "How long will grown men and women in this world keep drawing an image of God that makes them sad? It is a lie -- any talk of God that does not comfort you." These new reports fail that test.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
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Uh, Rev. Deb, you didn't miss the guidelines for Catholic clergy regarding their own sexuality -- it's celibacy. They take vows of celibacy and they aren't supposed to break their vows. Which also means they would not be molesting children or anything like that. Those sick, twisted, criminals who infiltrated our clergy (and not just ours, but also clergy of other denominations, scout leadership, the public education system, etc.) were not truly avowed priests, obviously.
ANYway, the point of practicing self control with ones sexual desires is nothing new, so it's not like a bunch of celibate guys sat down and invented all this theology this week. It's always been this way in the Catholic Church, and I pray it always will be. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (if you need to look that up in your Bible, it's in Galations 5). Furthermore, every single culture in the entire world, in the entire history of the world, has demanded that people practice self-control with their sexual desires.
In the Catholic Culture, we understand the nature of sex to be designed by God to be two-fold: unitive between the spouses and procreative. These are marvelous gifts. In the marital act, the two literally become one as husband and wife are joined together bodily and this often (but not always) manifests in the conception of a child. Any woman who truly knows and understands her body will quickly realize that artificial contraception simply is not necessary, even if she and her husband are not in the position to conceive a child. No woman ovulates constantly, and pregancy is only possible during ovulation. So you follow the signs of ovulation that God gave you (there are many; each woman has her own collection of signs to follow) and practice some self-control. Which, remember, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and therefore a chance to exhibit the Grace of God.
Furthermore, we Catholics reckon procreation as a good and holy thing, a chance to participate with God in Creation and mirror His image as Creator. Many in our U.S. culture treat fertility like it's a disease, pregnancy like a crime and children like a nuisance, and it is to their shame, because God gives us these as gifts.
The Catholic understanding of holy sexuality breeds cooperation between spouses, compassion for human life and respect for God's creation. And ALL women should learn and practice NFP, regardless of their thoughts on pregnancy, children and contraception, because NFP is valuable data that frequently helps women detect adverse health conditions (like cervical cancer) early enough to be treated effectively. I've never understood why feminists won't get on the bandwagon with that one. NFP literally saves women's lives with early detection.
I used to think that the Catholic teaching against contraception was stupid. But I have since become convinced that they are right about it (in most circumstances, anyhow), and I was wrong. What changed my mind was hearing Dr. Janet Smith make the case against contraception.
Dr. Smith's lesson opened my eyes. I'm Protestant (Baptist, former UCC), not Catholic, but this CD is for everyone. Anyone with a mind open to the truth can learn from Dr. Smith's careful scholarship and compelling logic.
Click on this link and get a free CD copy of her lesson, entitled "Contraception: Why Not," and learn why those silly old bishops aren't as silly as you think they are:
dave at burtonsys dot com
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