This Post Is About Sex

How did we get on this topic? We were having a conversation about talking to young women (Mollie’s post here), and persuading them to consider conservatism. One argument was that young women dread conservatives because conservatives are accused of wanting to roll back the Sexual Revolution, but that’s what brought women freedom. Then we got into the elements of the Sexual Revolution, an…

  1. Lord Humungus

    So, sex between a married couple beyond child bearing years is what? Undignified? Sacreligious? Unsacred? I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

  2. Rachel Lu
    C

    Nice post, KC. Just to add…

    Dietrich von Hildebrand says that procreation is the end of sex, while love is the meaning. I love that formulation. I think the CCC does a much poorer job of clarifying this point. 

    In my ethics class, I discuss this by comparing sex and eating. (By the time we get to sex, we’ve already discussed the ethics of eating and drinking.) Like sex, eating has a basic biological function, but, like sex, we elevate it in ways that the beasts cannot do. So, for us, eating is social and emotional and even aesthetic and spiritual. We don’t just eat to keep our bodies “fueled”. Still, we don’t want to lose sight of the basic fact that eating is, fundamentally, the act of putting nutrients into our bodies. All the other layers of meaning are built on that foundation, and even if we value the other stuff more, we still need the foundation.

    Likewise with sex. Fundamentally, it is a procreative activity. It can and should have deeper social/emotional/spiritual meaning for humans, but we keep the elements in balance only when we remain grounded in that basic biological foundation.

  3. Rachel Lu
    C
    Central Scrutinizer: So, sex between a married couple beyond child bearing years is what? Undignified? Sacreligious? Unsacred? I’m afraid you’ve lost me. · 11 minutes ago

    You have to shoot at the target. You don’t have to hit it. 

  4. flownover

    I’m for sex !

    What was the question ?

  5. Lord Humungus
    Rachel L.

    Central Scrutinizer: So, sex between a married couple beyond child bearing years is what? Undignified? Sacreligious? Unsacred? I’m afraid you’ve lost me. · 11 minutes ago

    You have to shoot at the target. You don’t have to hit it.  · 3 minutes ago

    I am not less lost as a result of this answer.

  6. flownover

    That was totally insensitive , and I apologize . 

    Would someone please direct me to the sex therapist ? 

    “Well Reverend, it’s this darned war …….”

  7. Tom Meyer

    Good post KC.  A question about this and Natural Family Planning:

    Is a married couple who use artificial contraception necessarily less “open” to procreation than a similar couple that uses natural Natural Family Planning?  Do they necessarily view it as less sacred?

    On previous posts, it was heavily implied that NFP users definitionally welcome unplanned pregnancies as gifts from God, while those who use the Pill or condoms definitionally view the same situation as getting “cheated.”  One says Que Serra and goes to get a sonogram, the other gets angry and goes to an abortionist.

    Though I’d wager that NFP users are — on average — more likely to have such a positive attitude, I think it’s hubristic to think that it’s the only way to get there, or that it works as well as described.  Some NFP users will be upset and/or angry at an ill-timed pregnancy; some contraception users will accept that they lost a roll of the die quickly and start posting sonograms on Facebook.

  8. dash
    Casey: I like cake. · 6 hours ago

    I aim to preserve the sanctity of cake.  Only unleavened cake is truly authorized between consenting dinner companions.

    Ans don’t get me started on pie.

  9. Schrodinger

    Sex as a stand alone term is too ambiguous. Sex can mean any number of activities as we learned from BJ Clinton.

    Even within the confines of “sex” as sexual intercourse there are a number of different contexts.

    Sex within marriage and without contraception is clearly the Catholic ideal and would be considered sacred from a Biblical viewpoint.

    Sex within marriage with contraception would be problematic for Catholics who adhere to Church doctrines. But, as an expression of love, it could be considered sacred to many Christians.

    Sex outside of marriage and within a premarital or comitted relationship as an expression of love and intimacy would probably not be considered sacred. But, it could be a act of a spiritual nature.

    Casual sex or sex for pleasure without any emotional attachment to one’s partner risks being degrading to one or both participants.

    Sex for money or other material compensation is degrading to both participants.

  10. Lord Humungus

    Sex within a marriage wherein one or both spouses is infertile is ________?

  11. Donald Todd

    Sex must include the possibility of causing life.  When people reach the time when the woman is no longer fertile, the other original meaning of sex, that of communicating love, still exists.  If that couple continues to love one another in bed, no contraception is permitted.  We still hear of “unplanned” children occurring in spite of the fact that the woman appears no longer to be fertile.

    It might also be noted that people marry that may (on either part) be sterile.  The fact that one may be sterile does not preclude communicating love or of avoiding conception.  The reasoning remains the same.  They must be communicating love and they must be open to the possibility of life.

  12. Rachel Lu
    C

    Scrutinizer: When a man and woman have sex, that is the type of activity that can lead to a child. It has procreative potential even when the biological conditions aren’t right for that. By contrast, sex between two men or two women can never under any circumstances be procreative, and people who use contraceptives are deliberately tinkering with the activity so as to make it non-procreative. They self-consciously try to un-tether the act from its natural biological function.

  13. Rachel Lu
    C

    Sometimes confusion stems from our understanding of the term “potential”. We’re inclined to evaluate it statistically, when in this case the proper way to see it is in terms of natural kinds and their functions. So, for example, I can meaningfully say that a small shoot that grows from an acorn is a “potential oak tree” even if I know that I’m about to mow it down, thus effectively eliminating any real possibility of that oak coming to be. Likewise, the marital act is naturally procreative even when in statistical terms there is no possibility of a child being produced. NFP users are people who accept the natural potentiality of the act, but manipulate the circumstances to minimize the chance of conception. It’s like the difference between bulimics and people who merely tinker with recipes to try to make them lower calorie, thus enabling themselves to eat more without actually divorcing eating from its natural biological end.

  14. The Mugwump
    Central Scrutinizer: Sex within a marriage wherein one or both spouses is infertile is ________? · 22 minutes ago

    Like shooting blanks.  It makes a lot of noise, but it’s impossible to hit the target.

  15. Ansonia

    KC Mulville, This is an excellent post.

  16. flownover

    As a silly presbyterian republican ( both institutions wavering within my portfolio) I must ask a question of the Catholics in the crowd.

    Is the support of the Church’s position on contraception and abortion so thin that you were nonplussed by the election results within that specific religious category of voters ?

    KC, I am also a big believer in the Charlie Rich theory of life.

    And I personally apologize for the stupid Lumosity ad preceding this oldie but goodie.

    I think personal privacy works on many levels, including the conversations one has with God. 

    (and why do people call him during sex anyway ?)

  17. Duane Oyen

    Based on the title and the rapid move to Main Feed, the on-duty editor is male.

    I do fundamentally disagree with the Catholic teaching about the necessity of procreative capability in a marriage.  People who choose not to procreate are missing out on one of life’s richest pleasures- but I still do not see Scriptural support for the Papal theology on contraception.

  18. katievs
    Tom Meyer: Is a married couple who use artificial contraceptionnecessarily less “open” to procreation than a similar couple that uses natural Natural Family Planning?  

    The point isn’t the psychological openness of the couple at a given moment, it’s whether they respect the integrity of the act itself or not.

    Artificial contraception is human beings acting to interrupt the natural end of sex.  NFP doesn’t do that.  

    I’ve compared it before to bulimia vs. eating less as a weight-loss method.

    The difference between the person who binges then makes herself throw up, so she can have the pleasure of overeating without the consequences of overeating mis-respects her body.  The person who disciplines herself by eating less, respects it.

    The question of which one is more serious about losing weight doesn’t enter in.

    Great post, KC!

  19. PJ

    Disappointing.  I was expecting something much more salacious given the heading.  How do I flag something for not violating the code of conduct?

  20. katievs
    Duane Oyen: Based on the title and the rapid move to Main Feed, the on-duty editor is male.

    I do fundamentally disagree with the Catholic teaching about the necessity of procreative capability in a marriage. 

    Sorry if sound pedantic here, Duane, but “procreative capability” is not a condition for marriage in the Church.  ”Openness to children” is.  

    In other words, there’s no reason that an infertile man or woman can’t get married.  

    A couple who want marriage but deliberately refuse children are a different case.  

    The reason is that in Catholic understanding, marriage is a total self-giving and other-receiving.  Refusing children is tantamount to refusing to give your own fertility and/or a refusal to receive your spouse’s fertility.  It’s a conditional self-giving.

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