Monday, 13 February 2012

The Catholic attitude to sex isn't Catholic enough

Žižek's comments on the Catholic church's attitude to contraception seem particularly appropriate in the light of recent debates in the US. He says that the reason that the Catholic church objects to contraception is that sex just isn't properly human, isn't what it's meant to be, unless it involves at least the possibility of reproduction. Never mind that official teaching somehow thinks it's ok to use the rhythm method (where you only have sex when you think the woman's not ovulating) or if you know full well that either the man or the woman is infertile. Žižek highlights a more fundamental issue. His question is this: isn't it precisely when we have sex for reasons that have nothing to do with making babies that we're most human? Isn't it animals who have sex primarily to reproduce and humans who have sex because they see sex as intrinsically worth having whether there are babies or not?

Traditional Christian theology holds that God didn't need to create; Robert Farrar Capon says that this means that all creation is fundamentally pointless. It is an end in itself. It exists for joy. Every year when the grapes ferment and turn into wine, it's not that God says 'Aw man, that time of year already? I suppose I'd better get brewing...' No, every year, God looks at the grapes ripening on the vines, and says 'That was nice. Do it again.' Wouldn't it be more coherent – no, more Catholic – to take a similar approach to sex? Every [insert frequency according to taste], a woman looks at her husband and thinks 'That was nice. Let's do it again.'


Anonymous said...

I agree, good work Marika!
Sami x

Sami said...

I have had a bit of time to think this through now- and wholeheartedly agree! I think also worth noting is that, being created in the image of God, we have been given the opportunity to create (potentially in a very loving manner)- but if you consider the theology of the Trinity- accepting that "God is love" (1John), then even with sex at its "best" (most united, and intimate and with hieghtened senses), two lovers must only experince a tiny fraction of the ecstatic relationship that exists permenantly and consistantly between each of the trinity members. It is evident from the Bible that the writer of song of songs clearly saw the importance of using a sexualy relationship to enhance and build upon an already existing relationship. And as a picture of the closeness of relationship that God wants with his Church- Christ's bride, it leaves us with a considerable amount to make up for.

It seems clear to me that God wanted us to experience at least some of the intensity of the relationship that exists within the Trinity, and provided us with a means to get that little bit closer.
On top of that- course God wanted us to be able to have a good time- sex was not meant to be a chore so he made it pleasurable. Like a car you never get bored of driving! You're right- we were meant to do it again :) No one wants their lives to be spoiled by a baby- do they..?!

Marika said...

Although if you start drawing that direct connection between sex and the relations of the persons within the Trinity, surely you need to argue that sexual partners are to children as God is to creation: sex doesn't need to make babies any more than the Trinity needs to create; but both babies and creation are a source of great joy and delight?

Sami said...

Absolutely agreed- God does not NEED us as we dont really NEED our children (in terms of our direct survival)- only if we feel the need to carry on our family names do we need children for the purposes of "self" preservation.
Therefore "spilled seed" is not wasted seed- infact it should be considered the opposite! Sex is not just for creating babies then. Although babies do not signify to me a source of joy and delight- just a pain in the arse and slightly repulsive- Good job I'm not God, I may have just neglected humanity!