Sunday, February 24, 2013

Catholic church's procreation problem

By Frank Moraes

I read this morning over at the Bilerico Project, Top Papal Candidate Blames Child Sex Abuse Scandal on Gays. In it, John Becker quotes Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson as claiming that there are unlikely to be many pedophilia cases in Africa because the culture there just doesn't countenance homosexuality. This is offensive in all kinds of ways, but let me start by naming two of the minor ways. First, I would think that someone from Ghana would not make the American mistake of thinking Africa is one homogeneous entity. Second, it is the most ignorant of people who think that by making homosexuality taboo a society will limit it.

What is most offensive about the comment, of course, is the old canard that pedophiles are homosexual. It turns out that generally what makes one a pedophile is not having developed a mature sex drive. Thus, they aren't interested in adults as sexual objects at all. Of those who do, it seems to be a wash: statistically they are like the rest of the population. Now let us think: what is a good way to stunt someone's sex drive? I can think of one way: dogmatic religious doctrine requiring priests to be celibate.

This got me wondering why Catholics are so anti-gay when in some ways they are fairly enlightened. Only part of it is the Bible, and I think they could get past that. The big anti-gay writings are in the Old Testament. The anti-gay passages in the New Testament were all written by Paul who seems to have had a hard on regarding the issue. In Romans 1:27, he's downright pornographic, "And in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." Jesus, of course, was silent on the subject. And no one at that time could have imagined the nice same-sex couples we have today with their very boring jobs, kids, and music tastes. On this issue, I think the church has to ask, "Are we really going to continue to base our theology of the bigotry of people 2000 years ago?"


The Bible is the least of the problem, however. The church's position on homosexuality is primarily wrapped up in its totally messed up ideas about sex. But in its defense, at least it is consistent. The church claims that the pleasure of sex is only to encourage us to make babies. That's why Catholics can't have condoms or homosexuality. Of course, there are cracks in the philosophical edifice. The biggest is the embrace of the "rhythm method" of birth control. If God hates condoms then he also hates intended non-reproductive sex acts. Also, if God made sex pleasurable to encourage procreation, why did he make oral sex pleasurable? Why did is place the clitoris in its unusual position?[1]

The biggest problems facing the Catholic church come down to its ridiculous idea about sex being only for procreation. If that idea changes, then everything else will fall in line. The problem is that the church has spent so many centuries working out their careful "sex is fun only as a byproduct" philosophy, that they will greatly resist changing it. But they have little choice.
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[1] The clitoris position is unusual from a theological perspective, not a Darwinian perspective. And from a "sex as fun" perspective, especially sex vis-a-vis mastrabation, it is extremely well placed. Now really: only an evil God would design sex organs like than and then say, "Don't touch!"

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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