Is the Church obsessed with sex?
Karl Keating says that, rather, it’s the world that is obsessed with sex . . .
The Church has always shared her Master’s holy unpopularity. But never before the “Sexual Revolution” did her (and his) unpopularity center almost exclusively on sex.
In all eras and cultures, fallen man has never been very good at obeying any of God’s commandments. Man has always failed to practice what he preaches. But today he denies the preaching, the ideal itself… but only when it concerns sex.
A cross-section of popular movies and TV will reveal that most other areas of traditional morality are still assumed to be rightful and attainable ideals. But traditional sexual morality is almost always assumed to be unhealthy and unattainable — and the Church is usually portrayed as obsessed with sexual morality.
This obsession with sex is not the Church’s but the world’s — though the world often projects it onto the Church, its critic. We should not expect the Church’s teachings to coincide with “the wisdom of the world” (1 Cor 1:20) in any age or culture, for her teachings do not come from this world but from heaven, not from man but from God.
Man has gone off the track set for him by God, so God’s track has always appeared to fallen man as “a stone that will make men stumble” (1 Pet 2:8), just as Christ himself did. We should expect that. G.K. Chesterton said, “I don’t need a church to tell me I’m wrong where I already know I’m wrong; I need a church to tell me I’m wrong where I think I’m right.”
There are three things we need — holiness, happiness, and health — because there are three levels on which we live: spirit, soul, and body; our relationships with God, with ourselves and others, and with the material world.
Living according to God’s laws makes us holy, happy, and healthy. Violating them makes us unholy, unhappy, and unhealthy. This is as true of sex as of anything else.
First, sexual sin is sin and separates us from God. Second, since God loves us and wants our happiness, disobedience to his plan for us will necessarily bring us unhappiness. Worldly statistics confirm this heavenly logic: Adulterate sexual love brings with it a catalogue of miseries. Divorce, for example, means the destruction of society’s most indispensable foundation, the family, and it will inevitably stamp the same destructive marks on society at large as it already has on its immediate victims, millions of children.
Third, sexual sin has obvious and radical health effects. But the most notable physical effect of the Sexual Revolution is death. The human victims in just one generation of the abortion holocaust in most Western nations already vastly outnumber the victims of all the wars in their history. It’s high time to turn our attention to God’s alternative.
KARL KEATING is the founder of Catholic Answers. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “What Catholics Really Believe: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith” (Ignatius Press, 1995).
Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.
Lust is disordered desire for — or inordinate enjoyment of — sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2337, 2351