Objections to Christopher West?

On another discussion board there were some very spirited posts made about Christopher West. Evidently, some people have real problems with his work on the Theology of the Body. I read Good News About Sex and Marriage and bought but haven’t read yet Theology of the Body Explained. The people who are bringing up these objections could be considered right of Traditional.

So for all of you Traditionalists out there, are you familiar with problems regarding Christopher West and/or his treatment of TOB? If so, can you explain them to me?

Please, I know a lot of people enthusiastically recommend CW. There are several threads praising his work and I don’t want to repeat those same ideas. I just want to try to understand where this objection is coming from. Also, do those with a more traditional bent have problems with TOB or just Chris West’s treatment of it?

I had posted that I liked his book “Good news about sex and marriage.” That is the only book I have read, and I don’t know anything about Chris West personally. What he talks about in that book would require quite a bit of self-control and so on, and maybe that is why people don’t agree or don’t want to do what he talks about. I’m interested too why someone would object.

West addresses anal intercourse in his book Good News about Sex and Marriage, but doesn’t clearly say that it is wrong, which it is. He also indicates that engaged people are allowed to do things that people who are simply dating aren’t allowed to engage in, which is also incorrect.

Personally, I don’t have a whole lot against the Theology of Body. I think it’s a bit strange and really boring. There are problems with how His Holiness speaks about Ephesians 5:21f, but overall, I don’t thing there is a solid argument against it. I don’t think H.H. is teaching heresy.

I’ve seen Christopher West live and I came away from that event with a much deeper appreciation for my wife. I have read his book Good New About Sex and Marriage and honestly I am thankful he wrote it. It is not a myth that the church has not really dealt with sexuality in an appropriate way in the past.

The problem with many people is that they have firm beliefs, even if their beliefs are wrong. If they read somthing they don’t agree with based on their wrong beliefs, they tend to talk bad about it. As long as the Holy Father is behind Mr. West that’s good enough for me. I tend to believe that the Holy Father is the leader of our church, not those who spend their whole life complaining about things that don’t suit their tastes.

If there is an objection to Christopher West’s explainations about The Theology of the Body, they may lay in the fact that John Paul 2 wrote the basis of this talk.

Therefore, there may be others who disagree with the Holy Pontiff and thus Christopher West’s interpetation of this work would be disputed too.

The Holy Father speaks for the Church and, of course, there are those who have disputes with The Church.

I found NO problems with this work, and I saw nothing contrary to JP2’s writings.

Go with God!
Edwin

I met Christopher West and his wife. As a Catholic convert, the last hurdle for me was the “whole sex thing”.

CW book and his live presentation were fantastic. Blunt, yes. But I appreciated the honesty.

Mary Beth Bonacci was another author that put all my questions to rest about God’s loving plan for man and woman.

Hey do you have page numbers for the things you have mentioned?

Let me first state that I am a big fan of Christopher West, in general. I will say though that some of his definitions in Good News are not in line with consistent Catholic teaching.

I started reading TOB long before I discovered Christopher West’s interpretation. I finally had to read his “beginner’s” book so I could know if I could recommend it. I frequently do recommend it. BUT, his personal opinion as a theologian is stated in Good News but for some reason many people have accepted it as gospel. (oops I just noticed that pun.) Pope John Paul the Great never said that “anal sex” was moral. It isn’t.

In fact one of the beautiful themes about TOB is that the same rules apply to everyone. Our late Holy Father showed how our bodies are made with a specific design. Everything we do with our bodies is with respect to that design, from praying to celibacy to the marital embrace. The rules are the same and they are written on our very bodies.

Simply said, rectal penetration is a violation of the design. We know from Church teachings that a man’s rectum was not designed to be penetrated. Since the organ is the same on a woman it also is not designed to be penetrated. Same body part, same teaching.

What our late Holy Father taught, but what Christopher West doesn’t emphasize enough, is that there is a specific design and everything we do must be in union with that design. The question isn’t, “What am I allowed to do?” The question is, “What is the design?” The best way to know the design is by better knowing the Designer.

But with that said, I think CW is an awesome speaker and he was very gracious when I met him. I just happen to have a difference of opinion on a few major points. However, I would still always pick him for my team in a “battle of sex!” :smiley:

West addresses anal intercourse in his book Good News about Sex and Marriage, but doesn’t clearly say that it is wrong, which it is.

In *Good News About Sex and Marriage *West has this to say
5.What about anal sex? P93-94

*A husband should never intentionally ejaculate anywhere but in his wife’s vagina. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse. Still, there are some important health and aesthetic considerations that can’t be overlooked. * West then goes on to discuss these health and aesthetic considerations and concludes with

Since anal penetration is in so many ways a parody of vaginal intercourse I’d pose the following question to those who are attracted to it as a form of foreplay: Why not just skip that step with all its health risks and uncleanliness and enjoy the real thing with your spouse as God designed it?

He also indicates that engaged people are allowed to do things that people who are simply dating aren’t allowed to engage in, which is also incorrect.

  1. ** Isn’t there some kind of difference between dating and engaged couples with regard to chastity?**P77

…As Fr Paul Quay suggests in his insightful book The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality: “Those who are engaged, since they are committed to each other, even though not yet fully, have sufficient reason to manifest their love, even by prolonged kissing and embracing … provided, of course, that this leads neither of them into sin [using the other for selfish gratification…]and provided the engagement does not go on forever.”

I’ve generally had a good opinion of him from what little I’ve read, but also from the fact that I know many people have had their lives changed in a good way from reading him or going to a lecture by him.

However, from reading the above passages, it seems as though he may for some enable the attitude of wanting to get as close to the line as possible without crossing it–“what’s the most I can get away with?”–and this is an unhealthy mindset.

West has specifically addressed that issue several times in his books. He NEVER has promoted that mindset.

I’m glad–I didn’t think he intends to promote it–but the way he addresses the above two questions at least, it does seem to *enable *(not promote) that mindset by answering that question, rather than saying the question itself is unhealthy (as you say he does elsewhere).

Most of what West teaches is in accord with the teaching of the Church. His theology is not very original. He is good at presenting ideas, but he is not an original thinker.

In my opinion, he errs on certain points of Catholic sexual ethics, in that he approves of certain acts which are intrinsically evil (as other posters have noted above). However, these errors constitute only a small portion of his teaching; he does not emphasize these points.

I object to the claim by West that he is merely presenting the teaching of Pope John Paul II in the theology of the body series of talks. He is teaching in the same area of Catholic thought, but he is not merely re-presenting that same material.

If he isn’t doing original work and he is not re-presenting John Paul II’s work, whose work is he re-presenting?

  1. ** Isn’t there some kind of difference between dating and engaged couples with regard to chastity?**P77

…As Fr Paul Quay suggests in his insightful book The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality: “Those who are engaged, since they are committed to each other, even though not yet fully, have sufficient reason to manifest their love, even by prolonged kissing and embracing … provided, of course, that this leads neither of them into sin [using the other for selfish gratification…]and provided the engagement does not go on forever.”

taken out of the full content of what is in the book. it reads…"As the Catechism states: “Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence… They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love.” Still, it’s right to recognize a degree of intimacy appropriate for engaged couples that isn’t appropriate for those who are merely ‘dating’.
Remember that physical manifestations of affection are meant to be outward signs that express inward realities. There’s an inward reality present in the hearts of the engaged that isn’t present in the hearts of those who are dating. As Fr. Paul Quay suggests in his insightful book, The Chrisitan Meaning of Human Sexuality: "Those who are engaged, since they are committed to each other, even though not yet fully, have sufficient reason to manifest their love, even by prolonged kissing and embracing… provided, of course, that this leads neither of them into sin [using the other for selfish gratification, for examply], provided they do not get themselves violently overwrought [to the point of climax or temptation to masturbate, for example], and provided the engagement does not go on forever.“
His counsel is clearly not given as a license to push the envelope.”
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The book I’m taking quotes from has the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur in it, therefore the book is free from doctrinal or moral error.

Grace and Peace,

Is there a private ‘mens’ forum in which ‘men’ can talk about an orderly sex life? :o

Thank you.

I don’t believe so. Just post a warning in the thread title (“sexually explicit material”), it should be all right. Feel free to post in Moral Theology. It gets a little explicit sometimes.

God Bless

Being an “original thinker” is amongst the least of distinguishing criteria for a good teacher of faith and morals.

In my opinion, he errs on certain points of Catholic sexual ethics, in that he approves of certain acts which are intrinsically evil (as other posters have noted above).

Which “certain acts” are you labelling as intrinsically evil?

I object to the claim by West that he is merely presenting the teaching of Pope John Paul II in the theology of the body series of talks. He is teaching in the same area of Catholic thought, but he is not merely re-presenting that same material.

CW is clear to identify when he is making a statement this is his own personal interpretation/opinion, versus re-presenting/clarifying/explicating the TOB teaching of JPII.

In *Good News About Sex and Marriage *West has this to say
5.What about anal sex? P93-94

*A husband should never intentionally ejaculate anywhere but in his wife’s vagina. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse. Still, there are some important health and aesthetic considerations that can’t be overlooked. *West then goes on to discuss these health and aesthetic considerations and concludes with

Since anal penetration is in so many ways a parody of vaginal intercourse I’d pose the following question to those who are attracted to it as a form of foreplay: Why not just skip that step with all its health risks and uncleanliness and enjoy the real thing with your spouse as God designed it?

what book are you getting this from??? mine doesn’t say this… it says this…

What about anal sex?
Again, a husband should never intentionally ejaculate anywhere but in his wife’s vagina. What, then, are we to say about anal penetration as a form of foreplay to normal intercourse?
Some might conclude based on a legalistic application of the “so long as it leads to intercourse” principle that anything goes when it comes to foreplay. But spouse who truly love each other aren’t looking to get away with as much as possible efore “breaking the rules”. They’re looking to symbolize and renew their marriage commitment as sincerely as possible.
For those who would seek to justify anal penetration as a form of foreplay to intercourse, there are some important considerations that can’t be overlooked. To begin with, the rectum is full of bacteria, which are dangerous to both the male and female reproductive organs. Futhermore, since the anus and rectum are simply not biologically designed to accommodate a penis, penetration can cause temporary or permanent harm.
Aesthetically speaking, such behavior involves contact with human waste, which is tolerated when necessary but not something joyful, beautiful., and pleasing. Marital intimacy is meant to be joyful, beautiful, and pleasing to both spouses. Is it truly loving to subject one’s wife the health risks, not to mention the discomfort or even pain associated with such behavior?
Perhaps in some abstract, objective sense there is nothing to condemn mere penetration of the anus as absolutely and in every case immoral. But subjectively speaking, for all of the above reasons it is very difficult to justify anal penetration as a loving act of foreplay to the marital embrace. It is an act that seems to stem much more from the disorder of lust than from a genuine desire to symbolize and renew the marriage commitment."
sounds to me like he is saying don’t do it that way.

The version of “Good New About Sex and Marriage” I have states the subject of anal sex in the same way as the previous posts which was one of my only objections to a book that I thought was other whys very good. I am glad to hear your words it differently and I am guessing that he probably revised the book a little at some point.
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