So is it okay to be obsessed with sex or not?

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.

23 Responses

  1. 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.

    Yes, this is a good argument. No biologist thinks mating behavior is an important thing to study to understand a species. No anthropologist thinks mating behavior is an important thing to study to understand a society. No sociologist is at all interested in who marries whom, who has sex with whom, which children have which parents, or how all this affects society. No psychologist is at all interested in how human beings behave vis a vis mating. No marketing type has any particular interest in how we related to our sexuality. You never see any sex on TV or in movies or on the internet. It’s just us social conservatives always talking and thinking about sex. Everyone else understands that it is unimportant.

    In a way the whole thing is boring, though. Although the Oprah arguments for Cultural Marxism are the only arguments there are, academic types tend to distance themselves from these arguments (while violently affirming their conclusions) at the least pressure.

  2. Pope Francis is a bright guy and probably a very good person, but he does not measure his words, there is just t0o much fuzzy thinking and sloganeering in his statements. Benedict spoke off the cuff quite a bit as well (and suffered for it) but he was sharp as a tack and his opinions were well thought out, even if his choice of words weren’t. I think Popes should get back to having their public statements vetted, there was a good reason for that.
    It is also pretty clear that Francis, a Jesuit, is of Joseph Fuchs school of moral theology, though maybe not so extreme. Fuchs was to Jesuit moral theology what Rahner was to Dogmatic: totally dominant thanks to his position at the Gregorian University, and all Jesuits pretty much had to follow suit. It puts an emphasis on the subjective state of an individual penitent as opposed to the objective nature of sin. The problem of course is that in public preaching people need to be told clearly what is sinful and what isn’t. Subjective concerns are for the confessional, not public remarks.

  3. Sex is always regulated by something. If one removes human regulation, it simply reverts to the default setting, which is harems for the alphas. This is a recurrent theme in utopian movements. First, promise what used to call a “community of wives”; second, listen to all the stupid betas cheer; third, watch the women line up to pay booty calls to the alphas; fourth, watch the betas revolt and the society or commune fall apart.

    Within this large dynamic of collapse, there is also plenty of scope for violent conflict between males competing for females and female fidelity.

    It’s been said before, but what goes on in other people’s bedrooms is of greater public concern than what goes on in any other room in the house. Let them have privacy in their garages, or their laundry rooms, or their man caves. What happens in the bedroom doesn’t stay in the bedroom. You and I pay every day for what people did or failed to do, in their bedrooms, years ago.

  4. Hmm, I wonder whether the Holy Father thinks fornication is an objectively mortal sin. Maybe he agrees with Fr. Hans Urs “Hell is empty” von Balthasar.

  5. “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.”

    Jesus seems to have assumed the opposite since as God he could have fulfilled all material needs through miracles everywhere he went – but one notices he didn’t.

    Based on his reaction to the current state, it’s hard to imagine that Holy Father actually believes Christianity.

  6. “Based on his reaction to the current state, it’s hard to imagine that Holy Father actually believes Christianity.”

    I’m sure he does, in some airy abstract way. He just clearly has contempt for the way Christianity has always and everywhere been lived (at least by Catholics). Like most Catholics, especially the ones of his age and circumstances.

    He’s just such a weird man. It is amazingly boring and bizarre simultaneously to hear him talk. His whole Pontificate has been one boring, tedious chore to be suffered patiently.

  7. So, I notice that everyone agrees that Francis regularly attacks Catholicism, appears not to believe Catholicism, or, at least, “has contempt for the way it has always and everywhere been lived” – i.e., for the Holy Tradition, the essence of Catholic identity.

    Are people aware of the Church’s teaching on the status of one’s membership in the Catholic Church, if he holds views that are consciously contradictory to, let alone contemptuous of, divine and Catholic Faith… especially if this is done in the public forum? Are people aware that numerous saints, including Doctors of the Church and the Relator at the Infallible First Vatican Council, affirmed that the Catholic Church could foresee a man becoming an anti-pope due to his publicly divulged heresies, and that in this case the faithful had a duty to avoid him as an heretic and to acknowledge that he had been deprived of (or had never attained to) the Apostolic See, without any official sentence of the Church being issued?

    If St. Robert Bellarmine, numerous eminent theologians, Bd. Pius IX and the Relator at Vatican I were able to think that just such a situation could arise, I don’t know why so many modern Catholics assume that we must not consider the possibility that such a situation has arisen. It is at this point a certain truth of Catholic doctrine. It would explain a lot… everything, really. The longer we refuse to consider the possibility, which Holy Tradition admits to exist, the more difficult it becomes to address the crisis. In past ages, the laity would long ago have marched on Rome, and these miserable wretches would be lucky if the only thing they lost was the white cassock.

  8. CuiPertinebit: I agree with the sentiment, but I doubt your doctrinal interpretation.

    Popes cannot lose their pontificate automatically: the teaching is more or less that if a pope is a public and unrepentant heretic, the council of bishops can declare him to be a heretic to be avoided by the faithful. This makes him ineligible to continue being pope, so the bishops then further note that he, in the judgement of the Church, is no longer pope. The thought is that this avoids both conciliarism and untrammeled ultramontanism.

    Linked is a rather good discussion.

    http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/1284-can-the-church-depose-an-heretical-pope

  9. @ CuiPertinebit

    I think we are being imprecise. I agree with Bp Fellay, more or less, on this. I think HH is not consciously a heretic. I think it simply does not occur to him as a possibility that he is not Catholic, that his views are in contradiction to the Church’s teachings. It’s not clear to me that he believes it is possible at all to have views which contradict the Church’s teachings. Or maybe he believes his views magically become the Church’s teachings just because they are his views. Who knows, exactly? Like Proph says, he’s a weird dude.

    He is sort of like the hypothetical priest who no longer believes in Transubstantiation but who can nevertheless confect the Eucharist because he continues to believe that he is (and continues to intend, after his demented fashion, to be) doing what the Catholic Church does.

  10. “Pope Francis has made the news again, attacking Catholicism as usual”

    ….

    ….

    …!

    I almost died laughing.

    Wait, what’s he the Pope of then? I’m new to these parts.

  11. @Cui

    You’re going to need to support your grandiose claims about this speculative opinion you hold.

    You’d also need to show where the Holy Father has in fact expressed heresy in the first place.

  12. Paradoxically, I believe we are in a stronger position than we believe ourselves to be. We just need to have the courage to point out what everyone sees, but no one is talking about.

    The wreckage caused by failing to correctly value sexuality has never been clearer. You could make grandiose claims about a sexual utopia in the past, because, for all most people knew, “enlightened” attitudes would do for people what the eternal left said they would.

    Now that it’s all out in the open, the old lies no longer track. People are miserable and they know it; I suspect that’s why binge drinking is so integral to the modern mating process. Heavy self medication has gone from an enhancement to a necessary palliative for distasteful behavior.

    Sun-Tzu says that a counter-attack after an enemy victory has the capability of turning everything around.

  13. @JM Smith – Since this (would be, but inaccurate) biological terminology of ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ males is now so established – it has become vital to understand what the true ‘default’ biological position is for humans.

    I believe that this has definitively been elucidated by the work of Menelaos Apostolou – I find the evidence he provides is overwhelming:

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/the-science-of-sex-most-important.html

    The biological default for humans is not women one of flocking to alpha males, but that female sexual choice is substantially controlled by parental choice of spouse.

    And something along the same lines, albeit not so strong as with women, also applies for men.

    In sum: humans have *not* evolved to be able wisely to choose their mates without over-arching parental guidance; because humans have *not* experienced this degree of personal choice during their evolutionary history – so there has been no significant selection pressure to develop valid mating instincts.

    Our instincts *will* on average, lead us astray – which explains why the only adaptive mating patterns are found in religious groups where mating choice remains under parental (or perhaps religious elders) over-arching authority.

  14. Bruce @ I think we actually agree. Human functionality assumes a certain social and moral environment, and it is only in this environment that human sexual behavior is “natural.” When this environment breaks down, you get what I call the default position. Sexual revolutionaries call this “natural,” but it is really no more natural than the behavior of a stray dog removed from his pack (which may be a human family, of course).

    I know the terms alpha and beta are crude, and closely connected with a demonic discourse, but I think they help us to defend traditional Christian sexual morality. Young men in particular find it very hard to see monogamy working in their favor.

  15. I think there is a legitimate distinction between natural behavior and feral behavior. The behavior of a boy raised by wolves is ‘natural’ only in a very truncated sense: it is in fact unnatural for a boy to be raised by wolves.

    What we are seeing today is not natural behavior – I agree with Bruce that natural human behavior is for parents to at least very strongly influence mate choice, if not outright choose mates.

    What we are seeing today is feral behavior.

  16. @JM – Glad we agree!

    I suspect that the big this that young people, men and women, find difficult is that the proper ‘system’ represents a very real loss of freedom. The idea that we are, and ought to be, free from such things as parental influence is close to being the core moral value nowadays – and to say otherwise induces a kind of aghast incomprehension.

    This is very well expressed by Jerram Barrs in this talk –

    especially 29:30 – what he calls the idol of personal autonomy, the absolute right for me to do whatever I want with myself. Nearly all people regard it as ‘absurd and immoral’ to challenge this belief.

    Of course this is most damaging in relation to God – but it applies to parents as well.

  17. The wreckage caused by failing to correctly value sexuality has never been clearer. Right. The images of modern sexuality are a teenage girl, alone, cutting her thighs with a razor blade; a strong, independent cat lady; and a Japanese guy with his sex doll.

  18. Ugh, trying again.

    The wreckage caused by failing to correctly value sexuality has never been clearer.

    Right. The images of modern sexuality are a teenage girl, alone, cutting her thighs with a razor blade; a strong, independent cat lady; and a Japanese guy with his sex doll.

  19. @Zippy: I disagree. Romulus, Remus, Mowgli, Tarzan and Shanti all behaved better than a fair number of moderns, and it’s an insult to feral children to equate them.

    Now that I think of it, I think I’ve found the next step in our culture’s suicide once purely blaming men for fatherlessness gets stale – wolves are to blame for our societal ills because they’ve abandoned their sacred duty to raise our children for us!

  20. Sorry Peasant, it wasn’t my intention to insult wolves or boys who have been raised by wolves. But I can see how they might have taken offense at my words.

  21. […] in view of the Holy Father’s latest bout of anti-Catholicism, Bonald wonders So is it okay to be obsessed with sex or not? Or is it only OK if you’re on the left side of the Culture […]

  22. […] Is it ok to be obsessed with sex or not? […]

  23. Reblogged this on Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar and commented:
    When the enemy tells you a thing, you can be certain is a lie.
    Only a fool would take flat advice from their enemy.
    r/K explains their reasoning, so anything that detracts from discussions of mating strategies is profitable to them.
    They thrive on contradiction – stay out of my bedroom, except your wallet. It’s a private life between consenting adults who, are you to judge? Let’s stage a Pride parade with BDSM gear in full view of tiny infants. They’re shit-testing us and we assume it’s their stupidity. In this matter, they are quite sharp.

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