Questionable Teachings About Sexual Ethics By Christopher West Theology Of The Body

A major factor in the undermining of Catholic morality for millions in the Church was the impact of the Comprehensive Classroom Sex Education phenomenon. Now, a new problem has emerged for parents and Catholic educators with the emergence of a particular kind of Sex Education being presented by Theology of the Body (TOB) Lecturers and teachers. One of the leading contemporary Lecturers on the Theology of the Body is Christopher West. Though Mr. West’s TOB presentations have been widely applauded, some critics have taken exception to his presentations, finding, for example, his TV programs (geared to teenagers or older students or the young/engaged) crude and vulgar and verbally explicit in dealing with sexual matters. This is hardly in conformity with the seminal Vatican guidelines. There are many other problems, such as the grave matter of his teaching on Sodomy (“There’s nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse”). His critics naturally ask: can one who so mitigates the sin of Sodomy be regarded as a fit sex educator in TOB for Catholics or anyone else? After all, has he not written that “The Pope has a vision of erotic love far more glorious than anything beyond Sigmund Freud, Dr. Ruth or Howard Stein could dream or imagine”? There appears to be a certain confusion in his writing between sexuality and sex, and a tendency to write in the same ambiguous and obfuscatory vein as secular humanist sex educators. There are grounds for believing that West misconstrues the body-soul relationship. He pays much more attention to the body and its sexual desires than to the work of grace in the soul. Christopher West’s TOB does not appear to be a balanced spirituality or even a reverential and chaste presentation of the Pope’s Theology of the Body. West’s TOB reveals serious problematic issues resulting in distortions of an authentic Education in Chastity.

Other serious questions on this topic is the fact that (“if”) the Church is adamant in being against Homosexual sodomy acts. What would give Heterosexual married couples the disgusting right to engage in anal sex as a foreplay preamble to having vaginal intercourse ?
This is not in anyway, shape, or form morally acceptable.

One of my friends actually met Dr. West a while ago, and my friend went to dinner with West and some colleagues. My friend said that West was an odd man. That is all I know of the Good Doctor.

The Church is against sex outside of marriage. In the Church, marriage is between a man and a woman. Homosexuals cannot be married in the Church. Therefore, they cannot have sex.

As to definitions, there is “anal sex”, “anal intercourse” and “anal penetration”. “Anal penetration” does not necessarily equal “anal intercourse”.:rolleyes:

To you it might be disgusting, but to others, it may not be.:shrug:

Um, anal (or any) sex is immoral for same-sex couples for the same reason birth control is immoral: because it dissociates the unitive and procreative acts. Heterosexual (married) couples can engage in anal sex, if they really want to, as long as they allow for the possibility of procreation during, um, the same act. The exact mechanics of such a process are irrelevant, provided procreation is not intentionally rendered impossible or nearly impossible. As long as the unitive and procreative functions of the “marital embrace” are both allowed for, the objective moral requirements are met. Whether it’s disgusting or not has no bearing on the morality of the act.

Christopher West is a good Catholic. If his “teaching” is found to be out of conformity with that of the RCC on any official level, I’m sure he’ll revise it and discontinue teaching the offensive parts. Since this is a public forum, if your goal is to convince people to avoid Mr. West’s teaching, perhaps you should present some concrete evidence of actual wrongdoing on his part, together with links to official Church documents, to prove your case. Strongly worded accusations with no supporting evidence give the impression that you are speaking solely from personal opinion rather than defending the Church against heresy. Also, many people on these forums have a very high opinion of Christopher West, and your blanket dismissal of certain parts of his teaching is disrespectful to those who might disagree with your assessment.

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As to definitions, there is “anal sex”, “anal intercourse” and “anal penetration”. As to definitions, there is “anal sex”, “anal intercourse” and “anal penetration”. “Anal penetration” does not necessarily equal “anal intercourse”.:rolleyes:

To you it might be disgusting, but to others, it may not be.:shrug::rolleyes:
To you it might be disgusting, but to others, it may not be.:shrug:

Where do you or ANY Catholic of enlightened moral conscious get the idea that the holy sacrament of marriage inside the Catholic Church gives married couples the license to practice anal sex ? This is morally unconscionable and seriously sinful.

As to definitions, there is “anal sex”, “anal intercourse” and “anal penetration”. “Anal penetration” does not necessarily equal “anal intercourse”

1 : heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis : coitus
2 : intercourse (as anal or oral intercourse) that does not involve penetration of the vagina by the penis. Not sure how you propose to make a logical argument that anal penetration is not a form of intercourse.

Not only is sexuality (i.e. masculinity and femininity) somewhat confused with sex in West’s writings (everyone knows “sex” has reference to sexual activity) but the sexual embrace and the “joy of sex” receive emphasis as the pronounced characteristic of spousal or wedded love. In West’s understanding, love and sex appear so fused that a carnal and sexual element intrudes upon the understanding of “spiritual union,” and it is misleading for West to so stress the sensual side of earthly affection that it appears to be the dominant factor in true human love. Moreover, “We come to see that the sexual embrace, the deep intimate erotic love of husband and wife, as a passage way into deep transforming intimate union with God.”

The conjugal union of Christian spouses is indeed both carnal and spiritual, and indeed reflects the mystery of Christ’s spousal love for His Church, but the heavenly Bridegroom’s love for His Church is spiritual and not carnal involving physical intercourse.

West decries past manuals of moral theology for their prudishness and repression of sexual passion and notes rightly that “negativity for the body and sex is foreign to authentic Christian belief and practice,” but there is found in his writings such an exaltation of “true erotic love” and the joy of sexual love in a manner that ill befits a realistic understanding of the sacrificial love which he admits is demanded of spouses beset by their many trials and difficulties. West himself notes, “Christian marriage is a messy, painful business,” and may involve much suffering (the suffering of the Cross), even as regards the sexual intimacy desired by the spouses. He asked, “The love that never fades or dies…Isn’t this the love that housewives are desperate for?”

It is doubtful, however, that the sexual ecstasy and the fulfillment of sexual desire which he promises couples in the name of Christianity as the natural accompaniment of “the goodness and beauty of sex” will be achieved in those many cases where the force of concupiscence is troubling.

It is difficult to exempt West’s writings from furthering the notion that the supreme expression of marriage is bodily sexual intercourse. To the contrary, the supreme expression of marriage exists in the spiritual union of love and fidelity in the bond which binds the spouses, and that union is to be strengthened in true love through the years while sexual intercourse usually wanes by its very nature. The perfection and continuance of love as couples age results from becoming more deeply mature and spiritual, not from more physical and sensual coupling and culminating in “Sexual Ecstasy” as a way of life.

Too much of West’s approach is hedonistic and tends to mislead people into thinking sexual intercourse is the highest expression of love and an entitlement to “Sexual Ecstasy.” The sexual and erotic element in marriage is given an importance that can be terribly misleading. In West’s TOB there is not that presentation of the Church’s doctrine of love in all reverence and delicacy and appreciation of the supernatural working of God’s grace wherein the natural stresses of the libido in fallen man become subject to a spiritual love and communion of the wedded spouses with Christ and a deeper friendship and companionship between husband and wife.

Masturbation, contraceptive, and oral or anal heterosexual intercourse as well (and to the same degree and for exactly the same reason) as homosexual intercourse are condemned as immoral. This reason is that they are “essentially barren”, and hence “un-natural”, having a “frustrated finality”.

2 Timothy Chapter 4

  4:1. I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom:

  4:2. Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine.

  4:3. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears:

  4:4. And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

  4:5. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.

  An evangelist... a diligent preacher of the gospel.

  4:6. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand.

  4:7. I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith.

  4:8. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

James Chapter 1

  1:1. James, the servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

  1:2. My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations:

  Into divers temptations... The word temptation, in this epistle, is sometimes taken for trials by afflictions or persecutions, as in this place: at other times, it is to be understood, tempting, enticing, or drawing others into sin.

  1:3. Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience

  1:4. And patience hath a perfect work: that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.

  1:5. But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men abundantly and upbraideth not. And it shall be given him.

  1:6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind.

  1:7. Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

  1:8. A double minded man is inconstant in all his ways.

I read through some of chris west’s books because of all the controversy and I must say he doesn’t say anything wrong in any of his books. He seems like a very holy man and I know a lot of people have come to know Jesus better because of him. Some of the things he says can be silly, like comparing the pascal candle to a penis in one of his talks, but he is on the money most of the time. There is simply no good reason for all the bile he is getting from good catholics

Did you read what West even said about anal sex? nowhere in good news about sex and marriage does he come out in support of it

In Good News About Sex and Marriage this is what Christopher 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 ?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse.

Where does West get his moral background and teachings from.
I have read Pope John Paul II (“The Theology of the Body”) cover to cover and nowhere does our former Pope detract by saying acts of sodomy are permitted in sexual foreplay between Catholic heterosexual married couples. So I ask again where does West get his hedonistic thoughts from ?

While I consider that to be rather disgusting, I have a copy of Jones’ “Moral Theology”, which was the standard pre-Vatican II moral theology textbook in the seminaries for close to 70 years.

Jones’ pretty much agrees with West.

#757 Jones 18th Edition, copyright and Imprmatur 1961

Absolutley disgusting, yes, unhygenic yes, sinful as West describes it, no.


Anal play as foreplay is not sodomy. Sodomy is ejaculating in a place other than a vagina and this would include mutual masturbation, oral sex, or anal sex. basically anything other than finishing in the proper place would be sodomy.

as for West, he goes on to say in his book that anal penetration with a penis should be avoided because of health risks. Hardly a glowing recommendation for anal penetration (that has a nice rhyme to it) :slight_smile:

It’s no damned wonder that sex sells. Years ago No Catholic would listen to Humanae Vitae. Not even the clergy would entertain this encyclical in fear of Catholics leaving the Church in droves. How often do you hear conservative Catholic theologians discuss the moral propriety of anal sex ? And now we have hordes of Catholics flocking to Christopher West as the great authority on Sexual Ethics so Catholics who are freestyle with their sexual expressions don’t have to wrestle with their moral conscious in the ways they express sexual intercourse because they have a secular Catholic man who proclaims that Anal Sex is perfectly OK. I often wonder what Jesus would do with a whip in his hand like he did in the Synagogue Temple; walking into many Catholic churches and seminaries today.

Did you actually read what he said? He didn’t say it was perfectly ok! He said

  1. Anal penetration of whatever kind has to be part of foreplay - that is the end is vaginal sex with ejaculation.
  2. It could in some ways seem a parody of real sex
  3. there are health issues
  4. There are, for him and many others, aesthetic issues - though it would be difficult to say that is universal.
  5. But it’s not necessarily a sin

It would be similar, i suppose, to a couple who wanted the man to stick his penis in the woman’s ear as foreplay. There might be some issues to think about, but if the end is the procreative act, then it could be ok.
The idea of sodomy, as it talks about it in the Bible, is speaking about something quite different.

See these articles
for theological arguments based on Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium, concerning which acts are moral within marriage.

unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral, regardless of whether or not the act is consummated in sexual climax. The moral object of the act remains the same with or without climax. If not, then we would have to hold, for example, that natural sex outside of marriage, but without climax, is moral; such is not the case. Just as all sexual acts, with or without climax, must be marital, so also all sexual acts, with or without climax, must be unitive and procreative.

Also a prior or subsequent act of natural marital relations does not justify the unnatural non-consumated act. Each act must be moral on its own, as the three fonts of morality apply to that act. It is NEVER the case in morality that one act is justified by another prior or subsequent act.

In the example being discussed in this thread, what if the married couple are interrupted, and their unnatural non-consumated act is not followed by natural relations? Are you saying that the act is justified by the mere intention to engage in natural relations? But the Church teaches that intrinsically evil acts are not justified by intention. (See Veritatis Splendor).

Or if the married couple do engage in natural relations after a non-consumated unnatural sexual act, are you saying that this circumstance whereby one act follows another justifies the former act? But the Church teaches that intrinsically evil acts are not justified by circumstances. (See Veritatis Splendor).

In order to be moral, each and every sexual act must be marital, procreative, and unitive. Unnatural sexual acts within marriage are not procreative and not truly unitive (even if they have a mere physical unity). Another way of saying this is that “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” and that there is an “inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.” (Humanae Vitae, n. 11-12).

Any sexul act that lacks the marital, or the procreative, or the unitive meanings is intrinsically evil and always immoral. It is not sufficient for the act to be only marital, or only procreative (e.g. IVF), or only unitive (e.g. contracepted sex). All three meanings must be present for the sexual act to be moral. Notice that the documents of the Church on this subject NEVER say that sexual climax determines morality; that whole idea is absurd.

A number of theologians have sharply criticized West:
David Schindler
Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

Alice von Hildebrand and Mary Shivanandan

So it is not correct to represent West’s views as the common theological opinion.

For some balance, I recommend the following:

Mr. Akin, Director of Apologetics here at Catholic Answers, rightly points out the following:
Christopher West has a difficult job. As a chastity speaker, he’s got to juggle several things at once:

  1. He’s got a very sensitive subject
  2. On which different audiences have different sensibilities
  3. The audience that most needs his message is very hard to reach
  4. Part of the reason why they’re so hard to reach is that they have a pre-existing stereotype of Christian sexual morality that they think gives them a license to tune out anything a Christian says on the subject
  5. To reach this group you have to effectively batter your way past this anti-Christian prejudice and get them to take you seriously while simultaneously
  6. Not offending the sensibilities of those who already take Christian sexual morality seriously
  7. Some of whom have rigorist views on the topic

That’s a tall order. It is humanly possible to juggle seven things at once, but it’s not easy.

Mr. West is talking primarily to young(er) people, and he’s trying to cover very sensitive material in a way that makes the Church’s teachings interesting.

It shouldn’t be surprising that someone as old as Alice Von Hildebrand (she’s 86) takes offense at his language, but whether his theology is askew is less certain.

There are not a few prudish Catholics (as this very thread proves) who wish to impose their own opinions about what is right and wrong on others. There were quite a few Jewish Christians in the early Church who attempted to impose circumcision on Gentile converts, too.

I suspect that if…if…Mr. West’s theology is at odds with Church teaching, he will correct it or be cast aside.

After reading and participating in these forums for about a year now, it is clear to me that there is nearly an all consuming obsession with sex due to all of the behavior specific rules invented by theologians and instituted over the centuries by church authorities. The result is that most catholics either don’t care and live like total heathens… or they are scared to death because they experienced a little sexual pleasure or had an orgasm at the wrong time or place.

To deny or try to contain human sexuality beyond what scripture addresses is asking for trouble. Howard Stern and our modern pornographic culture have it wrong and God will deal with them when the time comes, but Christopher West doesn’t get to decide what is right and wrong in the privacy of my bedroom either.


This article presents a detailed theological argument
citing numerous magisterial documents as well as Sacred Scripture and the writings of various Saints and Doctors of the Church.

Arguments to the contrary usually do not even make a theological argument at all, and when they do, it is not an argument based on Tradition, Scripture, Magsiterium.

Arguments to the contrary never cite Veritatis Splendor, even though the topic is intrinsically evil acts. They also ignore Humanae Vitae and other documents which specifically teach that each and every sexual act must be marital, unitive, and procreative.

Does anyone sincerely believe that Jesus Christ, who taught that to even look at a woman with lust is a serious sin comparable to adultery, would approve of unnatural sexual acts, within the holy Sacrament of Marriage which He established, merely because these acts are not consummated, or are accompanied by other good acts?

{13:4} Honorabile connubium in omnibus, et thorus immaculatus. Fornicatores enim, et adulteros iudicabit Deus.
{13:4} May marriage be honorable in every way, and may the marriage bed be immaculate. For God will judge fornicators and adulterers.


nobody here is arguing that oral sex or mutual masturbation is ok. What Christopher West is talking about is oral or manual stimulation. The difference is that everything takes place within the context of the completed marital act.

If you are correct, it is hard to see how a married couple is even able to have sex without at least touching each other’s genitals and committing the intrinsically evil act of mutual masturbation.

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I fully support everything you have posted here.
It is my belief and understanding that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the sole authority on the teachings of Sexual Ethics. For those who support Christopher West on acts of Sodomy (“Anal Sex”) in foreplay, I have to ask what’s to stop a husband engaging in such a gross act with his consensual wife and depositing his seed where he should not have ? Pure accident in the thralls of sexual passion ? Sorry no excuse for such grave sinful behavior. West’s teachings about sexuality in various Catholic circles and even the secular media is being hailed as a new “Sexual revolution”

West’s appeal to human sexuality is, unique. In seminars, he encouraged attendants to look at their naked bodies in the mirror every day to manage their perception of shame. And in the premier edition of his book, Good News About Sex and Marriage, he states there is nothing “inherently” wrong with anal or oral sex as long as it is foreplay leading to traditional intercourse.

West explains on his web site: The link between John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, Christopher often points out the interesting historical “coincidence” of the work of these two profoundly influential men. In the early 1950s, as Hefner was founding Playboy magazine, Karol Wojtyla began to speak and write about the necessity for Christians to experience a redemption of their bodies and sexuality. In their individual work, both Hefner and John Paul II responded to a puritanical/Manichean approach to sexuality, but they offered completely contrasting solutions to the problem.

West’s teachings will no doubt create more controversy. His Web site sells Books and DVDs, has free audio presentations, pod casts, and directions on how to schedule a speaking engagement. He has sold more than 400,000 books and 600,000 DVDs.

Does Sex Sell ? Sure it does. And Satan has us right were he wants us. Right by the crotch in the seat of our pants. The Blessed Virgin Mary stated at Fatima that more human souls go to eternal damnation in hell through sins of a sexual nature than any other sin.

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