by Chris Beneteau
Recently, my wife was speaking to a married friend of ours about natural family planning. As the conversation progressed, the topic of abstinence was discussed. At this point, the friend said something to my wife that was quite eye opening. It went something like this:
"Well you know, there are other ways in which a husband and wife can experience sexual pleasure without having intercourse."
The acquaintance then went on to vaguely describe some of these alternative behaviours. My readers can use their imaginations as to the nature of these alternatives. As my wife relayed this story to me, I have to admit that I was quite surprised, because I had assumed that an NFP couple would fully understand the churchs teaching around sex within marriage. Apparently I was very wrong. Most married Catholics who are faithful to the Churchs teaching on sexuality are aware that the periods of abstinence can be very difficult. We realize, however, that Gods grace is sufficient to get us through these times and that developing self-control will only make our marriages happier in the long run. This was the first time, however, that I had ever encountered an NFP couple who were practicing illicit sexual behaviours within the context of the natural spacing of children.
For obvious reasons, this incident made me think about the sexuality immorality of our culture and the role that Catholics must play to promote and develop a culture of life; one that fosters a respect for the dignity and sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. It made me think that the culture will never change as long as Catholics continue to practice behaviours (willfully or out of ignorance) that the Church has always maintained are intrinsically evil. For example, lets look at the issue of homosexuality or even homosexual marriage. Even the most bare bones apologist like myself can rhyme off a few scripture references condemning homosexual sex acts (Cf. Romans 1:24, 1 Cor. 6:9). I could even demonstrate how homosexuality violates the natural law. The question that springs to mind, however, is this: would it do any good? In a few cases, the answer would surely be yes, but in most cases however, the answer is obviously no.
Why is this the case? Well, the answer is really quite simple. Why should a homosexual want to change their behaviour? After all, most of our society including Catholics, engage in sexual behaviours that, in all honesty, are not much better than the prototypical homosexual sex acts. For example, suppose two homosexual men engage in an act of sodomy while a married Catholic couple, use a barrier method of contraception during sex. Is their behaviour really that much different? Both couples are closed to life and are committing acts that violate Gods law. Arent they both just engaging in acts of mutual masturbation? My point is that homosexuality will continue to be encouraged, promoted and eventually elevated to a position equal to heterosexual marriage if Catholics do not practice what the Church actually teaches.
How do we change the culture that has elevated homosexuality to an almost exalted position in our society? For starters, we have to ensure that young Catholic couples clearly understand what the Church actually teaches. To be brutally blunt about it, it is absolutely essential that young married Catholic couples understand that semen must only be deposited in the vagina. Anywhere else is a violation of Catholic teaching. Contrary to what my acquaintance believes, there are not other ways of sexually stimulating one another during the fertile times of a womans cycle. Stimulation in the form of foreplay is perfectly acceptable as long as its completion is an act of vaginal intercourse that is open to life. This means that all other sex acts outside of this one are strictly prohibited.
It is imperative that faithful Catholics gently correct our wayward brethren, who may, through no fault of their own, be doing things that are homosexual or non-life giving in nature. Faithful Catholics must model the joy of family life and, if possible, be generous in the size of their family. We should also not forget to emphasize the importance of being chaste even in marriage. Encouraging Catholic men to have custody of their eyes is a good place to start.
With all of this in mind, how then should a Catholic apologist approach the issue of homosexuality? Dont get me wrong, I have nothing against citing scripture, tradition and the natural law, I just dont believe that this will carry much weight with your mainstream homosexual. Besides, most homosexuals can access materials that put a more gay friendly spin on homosexuality. While most of the readers of this site, will have undoubtedly read that some so-called Christian scholars actually teach that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for being inhospitable. When faced with this sort of biblical revisionism, what is an apologist to do?
Ultimately, I believe that we can serve homosexual persons much better if we put the spotlight squarely on ourselves. What exactly do I mean by this? When confronted by one of our homosexual brothers or sisters, we have to make it very clear that we do not, for example, tolerate sodomy whether it is committed by homosexuals or heterosexuals. This is but one example, but you can clearly see where I am going with this. Other illicit behaviours such as masturbation and fellacio (oral sodomy) may also get some attention and thus it is imperative that homosexuals understand that there is not one set of rules for them and another set of rules for the rest of us. Sexual hypocrisy is clearly a problem for the church right now and until it is addressed, our society will fall further and further into the abyss of sexual depravity.
Canadas famous "sex educator", Sue Johansson, has said that sodomy is the new taboo that is being broken by the heterosexual community. If this is true then you can be sure that our battles to defend traditional marriage in the media, the legislatures, and the courts will become more and more difficult.
The Catholic Legate
April 20, 2003