The paradox regarding marriage and sex - private decisions affect everyone!

You can’t get around it. From the time divorce became less stigmatized, then remarriage after divorce, then fornication, then cohabitation, and now the same-sex couples wanting to marry controversy.

For so long we have heard “The Church needs to stay out of the bedroom!” yet what happens to those for whom this is the rallying cry? The results of what happens in the bedroom - children without a stable home (or abortion before they can be born). People trapped in abusive relationships, poverty, addictions - because of poor judgments about when, why, with whom, and without God, people choose to have sexual relations and share a residence without a sanctified commitment. (That’s not the only reason they can get trapped in these problems, but remove the clouded judgments about sex and relationships and try to imagine how the statistics would go way down.)

Somehow, we must evangelize and get across that it is a paradox. That in a legitimate marriage, a sacramental marriage, undertaken only after proper reflection and with a mindset of permanent commitment, the couple is allotted privacy and dignity - because they’ve earned it, because they’re being responsible and acknowledging that if they cut corners, society will know. The evidence will be right out there for all to see.

I’m aware that these are complex ideas to convey and that my writing above is not as precise as I’d like - but I’ll try to become more articulate if this thread takes off, and maybe what I’ve said is enough to get started with . . . I hope so.

Well said…so much so I don’t have anything to add but I agree wholeheartedly.

Thank God we have a Church, the only church left, that will, against everyone’s wishes and as a matter of dogma, give us the bad news about sexual immorality.

Thank you Jesus!

I think it started with the slow acceptance of contraception by other churches in the late 20’s/early 30’s.

I never get tired of asking, “What kind of world would it be if everyone followed the commandment of God, that only people married to each other would have sex?”

Since the pill and recreational sex that came because of it,

  1. sexually transmitted diseases exploded, not only in type but in numbers. Not to mention AIDS.
  2. Abortions exploded, because people having sex had no intentions of actually getting pregnant, nor did they need a stable relationship to engage in recreational sex.
  3. Divorce has exploded because people could have sex with others that were not their spouse.
  4. Young women who were not married and got pregnant were abandoned by the fathers, and became a statistic in single parent families, and live in poverty. Young men found out that they could have sex with young women without consequences, but really young women, their children, and the tax payers are taking care of the tab.

Obeying God’s Commandments regarding sex, marriage and family life is good for the individual, good for the family, and good for the nation. Obeying God’s commandments for sex lays a foundation for *financial *stability. To forsake God’s Commandments for sex means that everyone carries upon their shoulders the consequences, children being the most vulnerable.


I think the cry to “stay out of people’s bedrooms” is the result of people wanting what they want and not being reminded that the transitory excitement and physical pleasure they may receive by engaging in non-marital sexual relationships has unfortunate and long term consequences.

I think too many have the impression that the Church (in fact a number of other Christian denominations) thinks ALL sexual activity, other than for procreation, is discouraged, that sex is inherently bad or sinful. IOW too many people still don’t understand the Church’s teachings on sex, contraception, and abortion. As a former atheist, I always thought the church was just a bunch of old men who had no understanding of this aspect of life. Further our culture, especially during and after the 60s became more and more hedonistic…if it feels good do it! As a result of contraception, and Roe, people took this (very bad) advice.

I always thought contraception was harmless, heck it let us be “free” right? Yes free to be used, to be treated like an object, to be free of understanding how our bodies function, to be free of commitment and to be free of those dreaded creatures known as babies…

What the Church could DO a lot better is educate not only its members but the general public about the basis for these teachings, that it’s not “don’t enjoy life” but that better health, joy and happiness versus excitement and transitory pleasure are yours by adhering to the Church’s teaching.

As a convert, I spent hours and hours in RCIA. I’m now on the RCIA team as well. Virtually NO TIME IS SPENT ON THIS…NONE. Oh there’s the one class on sacramental marriage which is helpful. But it’s hardly enough. It wasn’t until I spent time watching shows on EWTN that I understood the reason for the prohibition of contraception, I learned about the detrimental impact of ABC on marriages and on the woman’s body.

And frankly I’ve NEVER heard a homily on the subject although I am a weekly Mass attendee and have been since I converted in 2005! Occasionally there will be a few sentences on Abortion, usually related to the March for Life or anniversary of Roe. But only through studying the subject do I understand the Consistent Life Ethic. I realize that in Mass you have a mixed audience and probably don’t want to get into a detailed discussion of sexuality, fertility, and the marital embrace. But maybe in adult education, or a book study (Theology of the Body) members of the Church will learn about these important subjects.

I’m afraid that I’ve heard more in homilies about recycling and using those squiggley lightbulbs than about life issues. It’s very frustrating.


I do like what I’ve read in this Thread, the sentiment is good, but I think the corrective action is what is too much like what public schools are doing and thus are not doing very well at anything.

I’m saying the Church should teach the Gospel not squiggly light bulbs nor sex education catholic style. Particularly not in the Homily.

I do think there needs to be added instruction, instruction in the home. I think the internet would be a great way for parishes to supplement with materials and provide guidance for parents to teach these Catholic issues of the home in the home. There should be a year by year curriculum suggested and always available that shows in what the average Catholic of every age should have mastery. Parents can make their own decisions on adjusting these to their own child. CCD and parochial Catholic theology education should also bolster this by identifying the issues that parents possibly have missed, but respecting the parents decisions.

In other words not all things are for a class room or Homily. More needs to be done to support families and holding them responsible to bring up their children as well catechized and practicing Catholics.

Good point and it’s why I suggested that maybe some additional training materials or adult education might be helpful. Even in RCIA we have different age groups and can’t really get into the issues of marriage and family. But I wish it were mentioned with references to learn more at your own pace. ETWN and some of the programs on The Catholic Channel have really taught me a great deal about natural family planning, life issues, marriage and divorce.


So are we suggesting breaking down doors and hauling off homosexuals off in handcuffs?

We did that in 1998 and it got us Lawrence V. Texas, and as a result gay sex has decriminalized.

Sodomy laws don’t work, and are archaic and inhumane. Homosexuals and prison just aren’t a good idea anyway.

But the point I’m making we’d be better to promote traditional family and marriage as an alternative to unconstitutional sodomy laws. Elect politicians who are pro-family and pro-religious freedom.

Plus ban same-sex marriage. That will be far enough.

Your very insightful description of your own journey would make a great Catholic blog or book! :compcoff: :thumbsup: Have you ever considered jotting something down? People are often touched by others’ conversion stories.

Even though I’m a cradle Catholic, because I love to read I have tons of books and many are Catholic books. There’s a series that’s used in some RCIA programs that I bought, by Frs. Hayes and Drummey, and I’ve been reading them lately. It’s a good way to gain insights for explaining the Faith to others. Here is a link to them -

and I haven’t had the chance yet to check out Fr. Barron’s Catholicism DVD set. I hear so much good about it. Hoping that one day soon a parish in my area will have a showing of these.

Finally, Ignatius Press and Ascension Press have many good materials that are faithful to the Magisterium and cover a wide range of basic catechesis and current issues topics as well.

Hope this “bookworm monologue” is not too sidetracking for the thread :o I just can’t resist sharing some of my favorites! Also, I’ve had no newer ways of phrasing the original idea since my first post but am thrilled to see people understood and are running with it. Carry on!

Oh boy, I absolutely love that post!

You speak of people who believe that the Church thinks “ALL sexual activity, other than for procreation, is discouraged, that sex is inherently bad or sinful.”

This is such a weird subject. I still recall a Priest speaking to our 7th grade class, telling us explicitly that sex within the confines of marriage is beautiful, wonderful, yada, yada, yada. You can look up Church teachings and find positive thoughts espoused there, too.

Yet, growing up there was still this sense of shame that we (as Catholic school kids) had about the subject, a shame that was not a healthy, normal shame in my opinion but a really unhealthy one. And I think if you look through these forums, you’ll find that kind of view expressed more often than not. I speak of people being very ungenerous to the married couple as far as permitted activity and whatnot, ruling out this and that type of foreplay or sexual position or whatever else, chastising others for even daring to speak of such matters and so on, and we’re not talking about contraception or abortion or infidelity, etc, etc, etc. There’s this large contingent of people that seem rather upset at the idea of people taking pleasure in sex, as if it is a curse from the Devil himself…

I wonder why such views persist. I take that it is partially and I stress partially some kind of inappropriate overreaction to the parts of the culture that embrace fornication, objectification, etc. but in my opinion, that Puritanical view can be almost as bad. Everyone rightfully thinks about the dangers of fornication, objectification, etc. and we cannot stress that enough. But no one really considers the dangers of that Puritanical mindset, which is that there are good Catholic couples out there trying to follow God’s law and by speaking this way you are interfering with them in a way that thwarts the unitive and procreative ends of marital sex - because you are treating sex as a chore, and maybe even worse - a dirty chore - like taking out the garbage!

With regards to the education aspect, here again, I could not agree with you more! The fornicators and pornographers are influencing good Catholic couples, leading them astray. The Puritans are also influencing good Catholic couples, leading them astray. From where I’m standing, the Church is practically silent! Just a few years back, my wife and I went to what many consider to be the best Pre Cana group in our area. Not one word on sex… not a word. Discussion in Catholic high school was minimal, at best. There are no singles groups in any of the dioceses around here, nope, no single groups at all for good Catholic men and women to find others who want to live the right way in this regard. No education, nor support.

Instead, in order to counter years of indoctrination from both the pornographers and the Puritans, one is forced to rely on digging up arcane tomes from the Saints of centuries ago, or if one is super fortunate, then maybe one runs into Christopher West book or something… that is not enough.

It’s tricky to balance proper modesty - and not be titillating - with honesty sufficient to let a person or a couple ask those more graphic questions and get honest answers. Everybody in an RCIA class or marriage prep might be wondering about something of that sort but who is going to be the brave one to raise his/her hand and ask the question? :shrug:

Here on CAF I’ve seen some Q&A that might seem “puritanical” but not that many, and I’ve seen a few that leaned toward the graphic but to me most seem balanced and helpful. But if a couple (engaged or already married) needs specific advice they should probably seek it with a priest in private to get the best advice tailored to their situation.

Sometimes we need to step back and take a look at what the pop culture has put into our minds as far as a standard for comparison. Just because some racy women’s magazine in the supermarket has blaring headlines about “10 secret sex tricks” doesn’t mean a woman should start worrying that her marriage isn’t exciting enough.

I bet a lot of women feel pressured when they know their fiance’ or husband might expect things he’s heard about from other guys in the locker room or wherever that she would find repugnant. Yet she probably wouldn’t want to admit to anyone that she would prefer not to be asked to do those acts. So a little “puritanicalism” might actually protect the women’s dignity. :twocents:

(I know I’m using the word Puritan here in a symbolic way, I mean no disrespect to actual Puritans, if they do exist still.)

Pornographer: this woman should always worry that there isn’t “enough excitement”, it should be causing her constant anxiety.

Puritan: this woman should never worry that there isn’t “enough excitement,” excitement is bad anyway and “spicing it up” is just another way of adding a few more coal’s onto Satan’s fire.

Balanced Catholic: neither of those.

I bet a lot of women feel pressured when they know their fiance’ or husband might expect things he’s heard about from other guys in the locker room or wherever that she would find repugnant. Yet she probably wouldn’t want to admit to anyone that she would prefer not to be asked to do those acts. So a little “puritanicalism” might actually protect the women’s dignity. :twocents:

Many are exposed to the culture of lust and therefore we need Puritanism as a counterbalance? That is exactly what I was decrying.

Maybe what we need as a counterbalance isn’t Puritanism, but proper Church teaching, which reveals that exploring and admiring the body of a spouse is a wonderful thing. :thumbsup:

FWIW, abusive relationships, poverty, addictions, etc. existed well before modern contraception. I have plenty of firsthand accounts of what life used to be like from people born as far back as 1892. Divorce used to frowned upon greatly in the U.S., and combine that with the woman’s place in society, many people stayed in very abusive relationships. The children also had to put up with the abuse.

People are people, and these problems have always existed. I’ll agree that it has become worse due to the overall lack of morals, part of which is modern contraception, but it is nothing new.

We probably are more in agreement than not - it’s probably just a question of semantics. Pornography and Puritanism are words suggesting extreme ends of a continuum. And balance is in the middle, yes, but it also may have more dimensions because it’s more kinds of love put together than just a measuring stick for amount of eroticism, right? You also have your agape and filial love in there. So the layers of meaning and significance expand, ideally, in that middle ground, when there is Christian understanding of love’s meaning.

Which would bring in the respect, so that a spouse would not pressure the other into 1) any truly perverted sexual practice or 2) a practice that might not be perverted but isn’t comfortable for the other. Out of love and unselfishness. I think I’m getting too far off topic with all this so I guess that’s enough explanation . . . :blush:

You’re right, we’re on the same page.

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