[ CathNews Discussion Board ]
    Reclaiming the moral high ground on human sexuality I
    Posted by BrianC on November 12, 2002, 8:00 am

Dear all,

With all this discussion of homosexuality could I suggest that it is high time the Church just laid off the sixth commandment preferably for a couple of hundred years. It has taken a few hundred years to whip ourselves up into a lather over this particular commandment to the point that a visiting Martian might think there was only one commandment in the Decalogue not ten of them!

It is time we gave much higher priority to the first commandment. When people (in general in the community) believe in the mystery of God again, we might have half a chance of convincing them that this architect and creator of all life had a few other basically common sense things to say about how it (life) might be best lived.

The Church ought to give itself a medal that it has managed to so successfully screw up holistic thinking about the relationships between men and women and turn it into a power play to such an extent that common sense has flown right out the door for millions of people across the face of the earth. Through our own feelings of self-loathing and guilt we have turned millions of people away from being able to see their maleness and femaleness in a balanced and holistic way.

Some people grasp onto rules and worship them as though they are God Himself. The rules are not God. They are a means by which we can start to plumb the depths of the Mystery that is God. It is God who is worshipped not the rules by which we might reach into the Mystery.

Rather than giving people guilty consciences and great long lists of thou shalt nots, we need a new list of what thou shalt do in the spirit with which Christ approached his work. Instead of giving fear-filled lessons on the negative sides of sex, why is the Church not leading the world in showing people how to express their God-given sexuality and love in the fullest of ways, including positive lessons about the sexual acts themselves? Yes, there are things we need to be careful of regarding this at times frighteningly powerful passion that lives within each of us but, at the same time, there is much of the Divine and stuff that is wholesome and good in this most beautiful of the human attributes. This is not a call to laissez faire attitudes or indifference, neither is it a call to deny that there is a sixth commandment. It is call to all of us to get all the commandments into a much more holistic and balanced perspective.

Undoubtedly part of the legacy we are having to contend with today was the centuries of ill-thought-through policy where young men were drafted into the priesthood at a young age before they had reached sexual and emotional maturity. In some cultures I have no doubt that many of these men entered through warped relationships with their mothers. The whole exercise, if analysed from a psychological or sociological perspective, was about "pleasing Mummy" and had little to do with serving neighbour and serving God. This was not just happening to one or two men it was happening to tens of thousands across the continents of the earth. Is it any wonder that the Church thinking on the ten commandments became unbalanced and almost exclusively focused on number six? The institutional Church does seem to have learned the lessons from these misguided recruitment policies that applied in the past. The recruitment policies today are far more psychologically sound than they were in the past. It is going to take us another 200 years to come to grips with the consequences. We need to keep in our prayers those millions of men whose lives were unbalanced through what occurred. Is it any wonder that we have been having to cope with the abuse scandals that we have been? Probably the greater wonder is that the majority of men who went through this regime emerged from it relatively unscathed and many in fact found some sanctity in what had been forced upon them, often unthinkingly. Be that as it may, the legacy on ordinary people has been a blight to mental and emotional health that has been every bit as mind-numbing as the worst health plagues of human history. In a sense they are not responsible for what happened. We all are. That no particular individual can be held to blame for what occurred is not a valid argument to be used to suggest that no damage was done. Similar observations need to be considered in what happened in the case of young women. Many of them also paid a heavy price because of this unhealthy infatuation with the sixth commandment.

The quest of the Church as the agent of God in whatever she teaches has to always be for balance. Nowhere is this more so than in her teaching on this most powerful and primeval force in human nature, our sexuality. To, at one and the same time, be holding the beauty, majesty and nobleness of human sexuality and its acts in our hands and minds with the understanding that any passion, if not nurtured and loved, also has a darker side that can reap enormous havoc in our lives both individually and communally.

When we are prepared to admit that we stuffed up, then we have half a chance that we might be able to lead the world to a better way to handle the issues of our sexuality in a far more balanced and ennobling way than the world in general has been doing as a reaction against our behaviour. We have to start taking as much blame for the so-called "sexual revolution" sweeping the world as what we have been trying to heap on the world at large and on the Devil!

In my follow-up posts, I would like to flesh out how I believe the Church might practically go about bringing more balance into the message she puts forward to the world on this subject. What I will be arguing is that the practical solution is to be pulling back and undoing the damage of the past. In a sense though more has to be written, but what the writing will be saying is that we (the Church) have less to say on this subject than we did in the past. As I wrote above: I suggest that it is high time the Church just laid off the sixth commandment preferably for a couple of hundred years. What I will be putting forward are the practical ways in which she might "lay off" the sixth commandment.