Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sex Isn't a Product for Consumption?

Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba, moral theology professor at the San Damaso Theology Department in Madrid, Spain and the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, made a radical statement recently.

He claims that sex is not a product for consumption.1

He even says that there's something special about it.


I quoted, briefly, what will probably be the establishment response to those radical claims, in yesterday's post. (June 7, 2011) I gather that we're supposed to feel "...shame and dismay over the church's role in issues relating to sexual health."2

"Just Say No" - How Naive! How Simplistic! (oh, wait - - - )

'Everybody knows' that we can't possibly expect people to not have sex whenever they get the hots. Folks who say otherwise were, at least in my experience, labeled as "simplistic." Or worse.

The idea that you could tell someone - particularly teens - to "just say no" to sex was at odds with what the establishment wanted to believe.

On the other hand, "just say no" was an anti-smoking and anti-drug slogan aimed at American teens, not all that long ago. 'That's different,' of course.

Looks like I'm not the only one who saw the disconnect between establishment positions on smoking and sex:
"...[Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba] drew an analogy between the pharmaceutical fight against AIDS and the fight against smoking. 'It would be a serious error to confront the health risks from smoking by distributing cigarette holders with filters to die-hard smokers because we think it is impossible for them to quit and therefore we abandon that objective.'...

"...'AIDS is one of those issues that shows how ideologically driven our society has become,' the priest said...."
(CNA (June 7, 2011))

We don't have to have sex?!

I've run into some rather - creative? - versions of what the Catholic Church 'really' teaches. Most of these alternatively-accurate versions either have the Church backing up what the speaker wants to believe: or paints the Church as a big meanie.

I think it's a good idea to learn what the Catholic Church says from the Catholic Church. That attitude forced me to change a few dearly-held assumptions, over the years, and that's another topic.

Here's a short, incomplete, look at what the Church has to say about sex:
  • Sex is good (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2331-2336)
  • Lust is a disorder (Catechism, 2351)
  • Sex is special (Catechism, 2348-2350)
  • Rape is bad (Catechism, 2356)
And yes, I know about the pedophile priests. Moving on.

I found nothing in there about sex being a fair exchange for a dinner and movie; or that human beings can't control physical urges; or any of the other more-or-less contemporary preferences about this basic element of human nature.

Apparently we're seeing a (perhaps grudging) acquiescence to the possibility that the Church might be right about condoms.3

I'd like to believe that's so.

The acquiescence, I mean.

The Church being right about something - that doesn't surprise me. After millennia of dealing with humanity and the Word of God, I think it'd be surprising if we didn't have a clue about what's real, what's not, and what we can expect from people.

And that's yet another topic.

Related posts:
News and views:

1 Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba, AIDS, sex, condoms, and getting a grip:
"Fight against AIDS should combat promiscuity, expert says"
CNA (Catholic News Agency) (June 7, 2011)

"Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba recently argued that AIDS prevention campaigns do not attack the root of the problem because they fail to combat promiscuity. Instead, he added, they focus on promoting condom use....

"...'It is even graver to the extent that information is hidden and the idea is conveyed that the condom is absolutely effective in preventing infection, which is false,' he added....

"...In a society in which sexuality is reduced to a product for consumption and in which there is an abundance of 'technical resources that promise maximum effectiveness with regards to the consequences of sexual acts,' it is easy to dismiss the Church's position....

"...On May 24, Fr. Perez-Soba published an article in L'Osservatore Romano in which he explained that the best option for a married couple in which one of the spouses has AIDS is to live in abstinence, as the use of the condom not only does not provide a solution and also entails an ethical problem.

"In his article, he noted that it is worthwhile to recall that 'although the use of the condom in a single sexual act could have a certain effectiveness in preventing AIDS infection, this does not guarantee absolute security not even in the act in question, and much less, over the entire sexual life of a couple.'

"He also said the use of condom is not advisable because it also poses an ethical problem: 'The sexual act carried out with a condom cannot be considered a fully conjugal act as it has been voluntarily deprived of its intrinsic meanings.' "
2 Excerpt quoted in June 6, 2011 post:
"Where Does Pope Benedict XVI Stand On Condom Use?"
Munesu Benjamin Shoko, NewsTime (May 31, 2011)

"While the world is joining hands to find better ways to curb the spread of the killer HIV/Aids pandemic, the Pope's comments on condom use in 2009 provoked shame and dismay over the church's role in issues relating to sexual health.

"On his journey to Africa in 2009 - where 22,4 million people are reportedly infected with HIV, two- thirds of the world total - the Pope seemed very clear that condom use was the cause of more infections across the globe...."
3 The Catholic Church, AIDS, and relief agencies - after three decades, grudging acquiescence?
"Thirty years after AIDS discovery, appreciation growing for Catholic approach"
David Kerr, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (June 5, 2011)

"The Vatican's representative to the United Nations in Geneva says that 30 years after the discovery of AIDS, international relief agencies and faith-based groups are beginning to show an openness to the Catholic solution for the illness.

" 'We are at the beginning of a convergence in the sense that functionaries of international institutions and organizations and people from faith-based groups are talking across the lines and coming to respect each other a bit more,' Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told CNA....

"...The most significant point of departure between the Catholic Church and many other bodies involved in the fight against AIDS is over the use of condoms as a preventative measure.

"'It has been proven and even documented now that the really effective way is to change your behaviour. And so, this has been our insistence,' Archbishop Tomasi said, stressing the Catholic Church's emphasis on behavioral change over condom-distribution....

"...The report, entitled 'The Catholic Church and the Global AIDS Crisis,' is the work of the American public health expert Matthew Hanley.

"'We are always told that condoms are the best known ‘technical' means for preventing HIV transmission, but we are never told that condom promotion has failed to reverse those most severe African epidemics; behavioral modification, on the other hand, has brought them down,' says Hanley.

"Hanley estimates that six million infections would have been averted in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade if the Catholic approach of fidelity and abstinence had been promoted instead of widespread condom use.

"'That this is not common knowledge should give us pause. Public health leaders may increasingly recognize this reality – but remain, by and large, reluctant to emphasize behavioral approaches to AIDS control over technical solutions.'..."

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