Pope Francis has made the news again, attacking Catholicism as usual, this time by saying that we shouldn’t be thinking about sexual morality because there are “greater problems”, namely lack of drinking water, “social injustice”, and the like.
One notices in His Holiness an assumption that material goods are more important than spiritual goods. After all, mortal sexual sin (e.g. contraception, pornography) is nearly ubiquitous, at least in the West. From the point of view of eternal salvation, it’s hard to think of any crisis that could match this. Only the 1% are going to hell for social injustice, right? One might also argue whether regulating sexuality really is such a luxury good. Thinking as an anthropologist, we see that lots of primitive tribes where want is by no means unknown do take the effort to regulate sex. There must be a reason for this. But let that pass.
Let’s take His Holiness at his word. I’d be happy for him to believe it. After all, it wasn’t traditionalists who wanted to have not one but two worldwide synods devoted to sex, and in particular the casuistic questions of which kinds of adultery warrant special treatment and what positive elements may be teased out of homosexual relationships. We’re not the ones who insisted that bishops from countries suffering starvation, draught, or even persecution at the hands of the Mohammedans should haul their asses to Rome for three weeks to discuss the predicament of German divorcees.
This is one of the things about Leftists, especially Leftist Christians, that irritates me. When we talk about sex, it’s a sign of prurience on our part, to be so focused on silly bedroom issues, when the grown-ups are all worried about the economy. When they talk about it, it’s social justice, the most urgent thing in the world, freeing women and gays from cruelest oppression. It’s so important, they’ll threaten to cut aid to third world countries if they don’t bow to our cultural imperialism in these matters. Independent of who’s right, we should all be able to agree that if smashing the patriarchy is a serious stand, defending the patriarchy is also a serious stand. If grownups can be excited about promoting gay marriage, grownups can be excited about fighting gay marriage. If feminists can rejoice that the Pill changed everything, popes (just not this one) can lament that the Pill changed everything. One side is wrong, but both sides are talking about an equally serious issue, because both sides are talking about the same issue.
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