Blimey, why can\’t people understand this religion and homosexuality thing?

The Church of England has decreed that gay clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops but only if they are celibate. Is this a long-lost Monty Python sketch?

No, it\’s the entirely natural development of the underlying theology. You most certainly don\’t have to agree with that theology, I don\’t, but you do have to understand it.

Sex outside a heterosexual marriage is immoral. That\’s the founding stone of it all.

There is nothing at all immoral about not wanting to be in a heterosexual marriage. Nor about fancying others of the same sex, your mother, horses or children. The immorality is in acting upon those desires.

Recall, please, this is not Worstall thundering from the pulpit. This is what the Church has been teaching for a thousand years or so.

That Church has split, as we know. The Catholic, Roman, part of it still teaches exactly that. Sex inside a heterosexual marriage is one of God\’s great gifts to mankind. Sex outside it is immoral and sinful.

The Church of England has got into one of its usual muddles and largely says that sex outside marriage isn\’t quite as good as sex inside it in moral terms. But it\’s a valid lifestyle, we\’re all God\’s Little Creatures etc. But here they\’ve not quite managed to let go of that idea that there\’s still something not quite 100% ticketty boo about sex outside that heterosexual marriage. Thus Bishops, those who represent the Church, should be held to stricter standards of morality than the clergy and the laity.

As I say, you don\’t have to agree with any of this. You can most certainly call for either a change in that logic, for new churches with other logics, for a strangling of them all with their own intestines. But if you\’re not willing to expend the effort to understand why these things are done and said then you\’re never going to understand what is being done or said.

The objection is not to gay sex, to homosexuality. It\’s to sex outside marriage which is defined as heterosexual marriage. And for the Romans, a little further than that too. Sex must be open to the possibility of conception for it to be moral as well*. Indeed, there are similarities in certain Judaic and Islamic strands of thought too.

Leading to some fairly wild rulings: a couple, (married of course) one of whom is HIV positive, may indeed use a condom to prevent infection. But only if it has a hole in it: as Il Papa has pointed out, this leaves open the possibility of conception. Anal, oral, whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal to preserve that possibility. Coitus interruptus ditto.

They\’ve had at least a millennium to think all this through. One might (and act as if) their basic precept is wrong in itself, that only sex within marriage with the possibility of conception is moral.

But if you don\’t understand that that is where they\’re coming from you\’re just not going to understand all the rest of it.

*Undoubtedly someone will bring up the aged, post-menopausal. Or the congenitally infertile. At which point that \”possibility\” becomes important. For we\’ve Biblical evidence (somewhere in Genesis….Sarah?) that God can overcome these if he chooses. Again, you don\’t have to believe it. But you should at least try to understand what they do believe.

35 comments on “Blimey, why can\’t people understand this religion and homosexuality thing?

  1. Leading to some fairly wild rulings: a couple, (married of course) one of whom is HIV positive, may indeed use a condom to prevent infection. But only if it has a hole in it: as Il Papa has pointed out, this leaves open the possibility of conception. Anal, oral, whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal to preserve that possibility. Coitus interruptus ditto.

    I would be very interested to see a Catholic source for *any* of these claims.

  2. The reason it’s a problem for the CofE is that the CofE suckles on the teat of the state and has a small but influential say in running that state. Therefore (like those bishops being held to the highest possible standards of sexual behaviour than the hoi polloi) the CofE should be held to the highest possible standards of social behaviour within the state. Which means when the state says no discriminating against gays for being gay, the church doesn’t exempt itself.

  3. The Methodist Church has similar but not identical rulings. This does not discriminate against homosexuals because it states in the Derby Resolution that sex outside marriage is incompatible with being a minister in the Methodist Church. This applies equally to home and heterosexual couples.

    The ability of homosexuals to marry will of course pose some difficulties with this rule…

  4. Except for the fact that the CoE is part of the establishment, it shouldn’t matter to the rest of the public what kind of rules, stupid or otherwise, the church follows.

    It’s like feminists asking for women to enter working mens clubs. (I wonder why we don’t see misogynists asking for men to enter the WI.) Its their club, their rules. Their club doesn’t affect me, so why should I ask for them to change their rules because of my beliefs.

    It’ll be fantastic to see the progressives clamour for Muslims to allow homosexuals into Islam once they’ve done their job on Christianity. Though I think I might have to wait a loooooong time as it would cause progressives to start spinning at 10,000RPM as they try and cope with two of their pet ideas conflicting with each other.

  5. Pingback: Blimey, why can t people understand this religion and homosexuality thing?Gay Norfolk

  6. That would be logical – except for the minor problem it does not match up with the facts.

    You describe a very consistent position. And, today, some people in the Anglican Church would agree with you.

    But it is disingenious to state that people who not agree with your interpretation of logic are wrong.

    You say: “This is what the Church has been teaching for a thousand years or so.”

    But it isn’t.

    For virtually all of that period the Church did indeed say that there was something wrong with homosexulaity, whether you acted on it or not. It was sinful.

    Indeed, large portions of the Church still say that.

    Then the Anglican Church said that gay priests (celibate) were OK. That was a change in doctrine – and a very controversial one. But gay, celibate bishops were not OK.

    Now doctrine has (perhaps) changed again: and now gay, celibate bishops are OK. Or at least they are according to some people in the Church – but not according to others.

    One might be right. Or the other might be right.

    Maybe they were right twenty years ago (no gay priests), or last year (gay priests but not bishops) or next year (gay bishops – if one faction wins the vote).

    But it is ludicrous to say this is simple, consistent and unchanging. It is none of those things.

    As for gay marriage we have ruled conclusdively that marriage & religion are wholly separate. A church can have any view they wish on that, which is up to them, but nothing to do with the law or politics.
    We have somewhere between 477 years and 176 years precedent, whether you take Henry (ruling that divorce was OK, regardless of the Church) or legal non-religious civil marriages.

  7. except for the minor problem it does not match up with the facts

    Maybe they were right twenty years ago (no gay priests), or last year (gay priests but not bishops) or next year (gay bishops – if one faction wins the vote).

    There were gay priests in the CofE 20 years ago and gay bishops too. They may have been sinning in their obsession with interior design but …

    It’s probably a shock to you that Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and even the odd Pope have had sex (despite this being against the rules …)

  8. I think Tim is much closer to the truth than Rupert. There is a difficulty with Tim’s nice clean picture of “it’s not the gayness, it’s the sex:” a man who lusts after a woman commits adultery in his heart and all that, but it really has always been the case that mere homosexual desire isn’t considered sinful. A temptation to sin, certainly, but not sinful, unless you allow that desire to become lust.

    And the statement “if men in civil unions can be priests, they can be bishops” should be completely uncontroversial, just like the statement “if women can be priests, they can be bishops”. The controversy arises because a significant fraction of the community doesn’t accept that women can be priests, and is trying to pretend that they aren’t, without undergoing formal schism.

    The first difficulty in the C of E’s approach is the idea that the C of E is really full of gay-but-celibate priests, living in committed one-to-one relationships with other celibate men. Whilst some have explicitly and publicly claimed celibacy (Jeffrey John is probably the most famous example), many others have explicitly said that they will not answer questions about their sexual practices…

    The second difficulty is that the alleged gay-but-celibate priests and their supporters are the same people who are performing and campaigning for blessings of civil unions (and sometimes gay marriage within the church) for people who they know full well are not celibate.

    And here’s the big problem. There is no category of behaviour which is OK for the laity but not OK for the priesthood – that idea just makes no sense. Yes, one should hold the priesthood to a higher standard, and yes, the treatment of errant behaviour doesn’t need to be the same, but the basic question is “is behaviour X OK for a Christian (in the view of the C of E)” and the answer is either yes or no.

    So there are two possible logical positions – either homosexual acts are disordered and sinful, in which case the idea of support and blessing of homosexual sexual relationships is nonsense, or homosexual acts are an acceptable expression of love between two people of the same sex, in which case the church must support and encourage committed gay relationships. The first position is, obviously, the position that the church has traditionally held.

    What we currently have in the Church of England is a whole load of people who hold the second opinion trying to pretend that they hold something close to the first position, whilst tacitly acting as close to the second position as they can. In words, these people sound pretty similar to some holders of the first opinion, but revealed preferences don’t lie.

  9. “a couple, (married of course) one of whom is HIV positive, may indeed use a condom to prevent infection. But only if it has a hole in it: as Il Papa has pointed out, this leaves open the possibility of conception”

    No, the hole isn’t relevant. The moral argument is if the condom is being used to stop the spread of disease (which is morally good), so that stopping conception is merely an inintended secondary consequence.

  10. “Anal, oral, whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal to preserve that possibility.”

    I’d have to check, but I think shooting in her mouth would still be allowed under Catholic rules so long as it’s merely foreplay, i.e. you’re genuinely going for a vaginal round 2.

  11. Rupert (#6) said “We have somewhere between 477 years and 176 years precedent, whether you take Henry (ruling that divorce was OK, regardless of the Church) or legal non-religious civil marriages”

    214 years.

    Henry VIII didn’t actually divorce; his marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were annulled. OK, he packed the court, imprisoned judges who disagreed with the annulment and broke away from Rome to stop the Pope having jurisdiction, but still annulments (and not ridiculously so, legally).

    The real break between religious and State concepts of marriage was 1698, when the Earl of Macclesfield was divorced by Act of Parliament. That was the first purely civil divorce (in the modern sense of allowing remarriage) without there also being an annulment under ecclesiastical law.

  12. Richard – “I’d have to check, but I think shooting in her mouth would still be allowed under Catholic rules so long as it’s merely foreplay, i.e. you’re genuinely going for a vaginal round 2.”

    Seriously? You seriously think this? I think you would need to check again. Remember this is a Church that was led by a man who said that even looking at your own wife with lust was a form of adultery.

    13 Richard – “Henry VIII didn’t actually divorce; his marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were annulled. OK, he packed the court, imprisoned judges who disagreed with the annulment and broke away from Rome to stop the Pope having jurisdiction, but still annulments (and not ridiculously so, legally).”

    He wanted an annulment. He got divorced. I don’t see that a bunch of lawyers has the power to issue annulments.

  13. Surreptitious Evil – “There were gay priests in the CofE 20 years ago and gay bishops too. They may have been sinning in their obsession with interior design but …”

    How do you know? There may have been. There is no obligation on priests and bishops to be perfect or sinless. There is an obligation on them to uphold the rules and teachings of the Church, in so far as the CoE can be said to have any. This is what has changed. Instead of staying firmly in the cupboard, they are now insisting the rest of us have to change to adapt to their preferred lifestyle. Now it is fine by me if that is what the CoE wants to do. But this salami slice approach to becoming an entirely secular institution is dishonest. They ought to say openly what they want.

    “It’s probably a shock to you that Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and even the odd Pope have had sex (despite this being against the rules …)”

    Again, no requirement that any of these people are perfect or sinless.

  14. How do you know?

    Believe it or not, I actually know people in the real world, not just on blogs …

    Remember this is a Church that was led by a man who said that even looking at your own wife with lust was a form of adultery.

    ? Jesus never led the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he was born and died a Jew. Also, it’s a fairly heterodox interpretation of Matthew 5.27-30 to suggest that it’s your own wife (or concubine or slave girl) that was meant.

  15. 314, Richard?

    “I don’t see that a bunch of lawyers has the power to issue annulments.” Who better?

  16. 14 So Much:

    Let’s not forget that Popes granting annulments to the powerful for well-consummated marriages of long standing was not exactly unusual behaviour at the time. Had Pope Clement VII not been a prisoner of Carlos I of Spain at the time, he’d have probably got his annulment, after suitable gifts were made, of course. But a Pope in the hand is worth an Aunt on the Throne, or something, so no annulment.

  17. The sex was simply the Cause to the pregnancy Effect. They frowned on the sex outside marriage because any child born was likely to be a (uncalled for) burden on the rest of the (poor, peasant) society.

    They didn’t rant about unmarried mothers because to do so would be shutting the door after the rampant stallion had bolted.
    So they rightly focused on prevention rather consequences.

    As that’s still an issue today, one wonders why homosexual sex even raises an eyebrow. It’s certainly no one’s business except for the participants.

  18. So Much For Subtlety,

    The prohibition on the use of contraception contained in ‘Humanae Vitae’ can be translated in at least two ways, either as ‘the transmission of life’ or ‘the possibility of transmission of life’. I have seen both used.

    Lest one think this to be priest-ridden Romish superstition-mongering, Latin’s ability to offer an almost Thatcherite range of translation options is the reason why the Prince of Wales has been able to say that he would prefer to be known as ‘Defender of Faith’ rather than ‘Defender of The Faith’. No English monarch has ever held the title ‘Defender Of The Faith'; every one since Henry VIII has, in my opinion, adopted the personal title of ‘Fidei Defensor’ given to him, and that title can be validly translated as per both of the options stated above.

    Though some of his more severe critics might consider him to be some kind of tofu-munching Samson in the Temple of the Philistines, that it is highly unlikely that the Church of England will be brought down about its ears by the Prince of Wales preferring to go for the fairtrade, so-called ‘interfaith’ option in any Coronation Oath he might one day take (after all, it’s not going to lead to the monasteries getting their land back, is it?) also suggests to me that the teachings of the Catholic Church contained in ‘Humane Vitae’ are no less valid because they can be translated in subtly different ways; but those among us whose true intent is beating the Papists with sticks always find it a good stick to beat the Papists with. After all, Papists mutter in corners. Henry VIII said so.

    The issue of whether one can don the old rubber sock when it’s got a hole in it, the damnable sock for once sharing an irritating characteristic with the darnable, is a rather thornier one; not quite the effect that their manufacturers have in mind, of course, but an interesting one nonetheless. It was a ‘Nyet’ worthy of Gromyko until Benedict XVI muddied the waters in 2010 by suggesting that johnnies were acceptable for rent boys attempting to turn away from that life as a means of preventing any client being infected with whatever STD it might be possible to catch. This was justified using what the Catholic Church terms ‘double effect’ theology. While not the same thing as the end justifying the means, it can seem that way – my understanding of its true meaning is that is possible for sn intrinsically evil to be capable of producing good. Without ‘double effect’, many Catholic children would be unable to receive their immunisations, as the original strains were produced from the remains of a child who had been subjected to a therapeutic abortion in 1965. In my experience these things matter as much to Catholic parents as to others.

    For what my opinion’s worth, double effect should therefore be used only to justify the broadest principles – a broadsword that Benedict tried to use a scalpel, abd in the process he rendered a teaching that had before been simple to understand but difficult to practice into one that was both difficult to understand and difficult to practice. But that’s water under the bridge, so to speak.

    There is a direct reverse analogy in our civil law, by the way, that of the Human Rights Act – a very useful law to have, although it’s one which should be used like a scalpel but which has been brought into unjustified disrepute by lawyers trying to wield it like a broadsword instead. Oddly enough, those among us who are intent on beating the Papists with sticks don’t find this analogy to be a very useful stick to beat the Papists with.

  19. Well done Tim – it’s nice that someone understands the evangelical position.

    It’s odd in a way. The church says murder is wrong, adultery is wrong, polygamy is wrong (IMHO that’s probably the one of the shakiest biblical ground), stealing is wrong, gambling is wrong, lies are wrong etc etc. No-one outside the church much cares about any of these pronouncements. We (speaking as a practicing evangelical) wouldn’t tollerate a bishop who cohabits with a women he isn’t marred to, or who is a regular at the local bookies and no-one kicks up a fuss. If any of these people wandered into our services, we would lovingly tell them that they are sinners (like everyone is in a least some way), that they should repent, ask God for forgiveness, and attempt not to sin any more.

    For some reason, that’s all fine and dandy till you mention teh gayers. At which point we are ignorant savages who don’t understand how God’s love applies to people who are clearly and unrepentantly ignoring one of God’s rules, and which means that said rule doesn’t really apply any more.

    AFAIK there has never been a ban on celibate gays entering ministry, any more than there is a ban on those tempted to womanise (but who don’t), or who are tempted to steal (but don’t). Quite what the point of a celibate civil partnership is elludes me however – isn’t it just like being good mates flatsharing, but with some extra paperwork…?

  20. Until the Christians learn that real power grows out of the barrel of a gun or bomb or riot this all will remain clever chatter.
    See the rest of the world for getting governments to change their mind.

  21. We (speaking as a practicing evangelical) wouldn’t tollerate a bishop who cohabits with a women he isn’t marred to

    Cohabitation marring bishops quite emphatically … It’s a toll too, too all marred men, not just those of the cloth (or even those of the purple).

  22. Quite what the point of a celibate civil partnership is elludes me however – isn’t it just like being good mates flatsharing, but with some extra paperwork…?

    Next of kin, if you want to be caring.

    Tax-free inheritance, if you want to sully the temple with your money-grubbing ways.

  23. SMFS (#14) said Henry VIII “wanted an annulment. He got divorced.”

    Nope. He wanted an annulment from Rome. He didn’t get it, so he set up his own church, with its own ecclesiastical court, appointed his own archbishop to head it, and they gave him his annulment.

    Caused a few side-effects of course.

    It’s a legally interesting point, and the terminology is confusing (since divorce in the modern sense didn’t exist until much later). But what Henry got was not a termination of his marriage (in modern terminology a divorce) but a ruling from an ecclesiastical court that his marriage was invalid when entered into; in modern terminology an annulment.

    dearieme (#17), thank you. Not sure if my error was in typing or arithmetic.

  24. Surreptitious Evil – “Believe it or not, I actually know people in the real world, not just on blogs …”

    Well perhaps, but do you have pictures?

    “? Jesus never led the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he was born and died a Jew. Also, it’s a fairly heterodox interpretation of Matthew 5.27-30 to suggest that it’s your own wife (or concubine or slave girl) that was meant.”

    Which is to say Catholics think He led and leads the Catholic Church. However if you think it is a bit of a stretch to say Matthew 5.27 means that, perhaps, just perhaps, I was not referring to Matthew 5.27? You might like to see what John Paul II said on the subject.

    18Sam – “Let’s not forget that Popes granting annulments to the powerful for well-consummated marriages of long standing was not exactly unusual behaviour at the time.”

    Total coincidence I am sure.

    19Martin – “The sex was simply the Cause to the pregnancy Effect. They frowned on the sex outside marriage because any child born was likely to be a (uncalled for) burden on the rest of the (poor, peasant) society.”

    Who is they? Christians have very good theological reasons to object to sex outside of marriage. It is a little bit more than this.

    “As that’s still an issue today, one wonders why homosexual sex even raises an eyebrow. It’s certainly no one’s business except for the participants.”

    That is one view. I am not sure it is sustainable. It assumes that sexual acts are private – as they mostly are. However they are not entirely private. As we can see with B&B owners forced to Court for their moral beliefs, and Christians arrested on street corners and gay sex becoming part of the primary school curriculum. It is entirely possible, in theory, to co-exist with all sorts of people. It would be nice if we could with homosexuals too. But the evidence is that we can’t. Either we preserve what is left of our traditional society or we won’t. There really isn’t much of a middle ground.

    20Martin – “The prohibition on the use of contraception contained in ‘Humanae Vitae’ can be translated in at least two ways, either as ‘the transmission of life’ or ‘the possibility of transmission of life’. I have seen both used.”

    Doesn’t matter how it is translated, Benedict did not say that the use of condoms was acceptable with or without a hole in them. Simple as that.

    “Latin’s ability to offer an almost Thatcherite range of translation options is the reason why the Prince of Wales has been able to say that he would prefer to be known as ‘Defender of Faith’ rather than ‘Defender of The Faith’.”

    No, that is because he is a pouncy moron who does not understand his proper constitutional role and has a simplistic view of religion – which he has not been noticably good at holding to – that would disgrace a kindergarten teacher.

    “that it is highly unlikely that the Church of England will be brought down about its ears by the Prince of Wales preferring to go for the fairtrade, so-called ‘interfaith’ option in any Coronation Oath he might one day take”

    Of course not. It is committing suicide perfectly well by itself as it is.

    “The issue of whether one can don the old rubber sock when it’s got a hole in it, the damnable sock for once sharing an irritating characteristic with the darnable, is a rather thornier one;”

    Not for observant Catholics because the Pope did not say that. He actually said:

    There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.

    But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanisation of sexuality.

    That is, having sex for money with other people when you have HIV is wrong. Having sex for money with other people when you have HIV and wearing a condom is also wrong, but it does show a glimmer of understanding that what you are doing is wrong.

    I tend to agree he was probably thinking of Michel Foucault’s frequenting Gay bathhouses when HIV positive in what looks like an effort to infect others. Although I assume no money was involved. He is not saying wearing a condom makes it right. Much less one with a hole in it – and HIV would be perfectly transmittable by such a useless condom.

    “This was justified using what the Catholic Church terms ‘double effect’ theology.”

    What possible double effect could there be here? Notice he did not even come close to saying that rent boys can wear condoms. The problem with the Catholic Church is that they refuse to bow down before what every other middle class person thinks. So they have to be bullied and blugeoned into it. Or in this case, the subtle and intelligent point Benedict made has to be dumbed down and propagated as a lie in order to convince the gullible.

    “Without ‘double effect’, many Catholic children would be unable to receive their immunisations, as the original strains were produced from the remains of a child who had been subjected to a therapeutic abortion in 1965.”

    Sorry but what immunisation was produced from an aborted child? And as I understand it, Catholics would be under a total ban to avoid such immunisations. Rightly.

  25. Leading to some fairly wild rulings: a couple, (married of course) one of whom is HIV positive, may indeed use a condom to prevent infection. But only if it has a hole in it: as Il Papa has pointed out, this leaves open the possibility of conception. Anal, oral, whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal to preserve that possibility. Coitus interruptus ditto.

    http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=501557

    “There certainly is much confusion regarding certain behaviors in marriage, as there are certain theologians claiming certain behaviours are O.K.. , such as this particular one. This behaviour is contrary to natural law (even as foreplay) and here is why:

    “The natural law is rooted in design. God, the Supreme Designer, has imprinted a design on all created things–including the human person, both in his spiritual and physical being–a purpose for which each has been created. Thus, with regard to the human person, the Creator has designed the digestive system for nourishing the person, speech for communicating the truth, the mouth to swallow food for nourishment etc. Likewise, the Creator has designed the sexual organs for something, namely, for procreating children and for expressing the personal communion of the spouses.

    “Further, the procreative and unitive dimensions of sexual activity are inseparable; any action of the sexual organisms lacking in these dimensions is wrong. However, an action of the sexual faculties outside of the marital act would be lacking in any procreative dimension and consequently in any unitive dimension; it would be “sexual pleasure…sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2351), i.e. lust. The fact that the spouses may engage in the marital act immediately after they have engaged in this other kind of act does not make these two acts the same action, just as the fact that I make take another footstep immediately after I have taken a previous footstep does make the two footsteps the same action. Therefore, this kind of sexual action in question cannot be justified by saying that it leads to the marital act; it is by nature a separate actionwhose object is gravely immoral.”

  26. I wonder why we don’t see misogynists asking for men to enter the WI.

    I believe they are allowed in. At least, when my mother used to be active in the WI in Wales in the 1980s and 1990s, there were plenty of men who would come and run stalls and flog their produce at the weekly WI market in the town hall.

  27. SMFS (#27), your quote is an anonymous posting on a chatroom run by a lay-owned independent TV company. That’s not exactly the highest authority of the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.

    But since you quoted it, here’s another from the same source – a priest this time:

    “Traditionally, the Church teaches that a married couple may engage in oral sex foreplay, but this should always lead to a climax through vaginal sex. Oral sex is not to be used as an alternative to vaginal sex, as a form of birth control.”
    http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=512184&Pg=&Pgnu=&recnu

    Pretty much what Tim said.

    As for “what John Paul II said on the subject”, have you read his writings on the Theology of the Body? Tim’s original claim “whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal” is basically a summary of that.

    Or try this, from Pius XII (not exactly a notorious liberal):
    within marriage “the sexual liberty in agreement together is great … nothing is shameful, if the complete acts – the ones involving ejaculation of the man’s seed – that they engage in are true and real marriage acts.”
    Pius XII, Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, May 19, 1956

  28. Yes, Serf has it – it isn’t “can’t” – as is demonstrated by the comments here from both liberal and traditionalist (as well as a-religious) perspectives.

    It’s “won’t”.

  29. I think Tim hasn’t got it quite right when he speaks of the “possibility of conception”. After all, we know (if we take Matthew and Luke seriously) that any act or none is open to the possibility. The criterion is that the marital act must be “an act which of its kind is apt for generation”.

    It’s not the case that the teaching of the Roman Catholic church on these questions is unchanging. For example, Jesus is reported by Matthew to have said plainly that eunuchs cannot marry, and that was confirmed in the 16th century by the splendidly named Cum Frequenter. But after deep reflection it came to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1977 that Jesus had changed his mind, and eunuchs could get married after all – the proper test is whether a man is potent, not whether he’s fertile.

    However, it’s none of my business what rules voluntary associations may choose to impose on their members.

    So let’s disestablish the Church of England and let it make its own rules.

  30. Richard – “your quote is an anonymous posting on a chatroom run by a lay-owned independent TV company. That’s not exactly the highest authority of the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.”

    It is not anonymous. Nor was I presenting it as from the highest authority of the Catholic Church. But if you insist, how about this one:

    http://www.presentationministries.com/brochures/OralSex.asp

    There is no authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church permitting or forbidding oral sex as part of foreplay preceding normal marital sexual relations. …. The question is: “Is oral sex as foreplay ‘within the limits of just moderation’?” There are reasons to maintain that it is not and is therefore damaging to true marital love. First, oral sex is not natural. It is contrary to natural law.

    And so on. Looking down the bottom I notice it has written on it:

    Nihil obstat: Rev. Robert J. Buschmiller, February 1, 1996
    Imprimatur: † Most Rev. Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 5, 1996

    That is starting to look a little authoritative.

    As for “what John Paul II said on the subject”, have you read his writings on the Theology of the Body? Tim’s original claim “whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal” is basically a summary of that.

    No it bloody well isn’t. You clearly haven’t read a single word of the thing. Find me a single passage that would even hint that PJII’s views were close to this. The Theology of the Body is where he said that a man who looks at his wife with lust is committing adultery.

    “Or try this, from Pius XII (not exactly a notorious liberal):
    within marriage “the sexual liberty in agreement together is great … nothing is shameful, if the complete acts – the ones involving ejaculation of the man’s seed – that they engage in are true and real marriage acts.”
    Pius XII, Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, May 19, 1956″

    I fail to see a single reference to oral sex in that. Or even anything close to a reference to oral sex in that. Or anything that would contradict Pope JPII’s views in the Theology of the Body.

  31. PaulB – “It’s not the case that the teaching of the Roman Catholic church on these questions is unchanging. For example, Jesus is reported by Matthew to have said plainly that eunuchs cannot marry, and that was confirmed in the 16th century by the splendidly named Cum Frequenter. But after deep reflection it came to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1977 that Jesus had changed his mind, and eunuchs could get married after all – the proper test is whether a man is potent, not whether he’s fertile.”

    Eunuchs are hardly potent or fertile. But by all means, please feel free to provide a reference to this change in Catholic theology.

    However, it’s none of my business what rules voluntary associations may choose to impose on their members.

    If only.

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