Why does the Catholic Church care about what I do in my bedroom?
October 16, 2014
This is a valid question, and it’s one that gets asked frequently, especially in our sexually schizophrenic culture. On the one hand, we’re super freaked out by the idea of anybody, for any reason, asking anything about our sex lives…let alone having opinions or making judgements on what goes on behind closed doors.
Then again, reality tv. And pornography. And sexual deviance the likes of which the world has probably not seen since the days of ancient Rome.
So we’re both consumed by the idea of sex as something private all while simultaneously flaunting our sexuality in an intensely public manner, making sure the whole world, starting with the stranger on the subway or the unsuspecting fellow parent on the playground, knows precisely how things are going in that department.
Then we’ve got this Church. This 2,000 year old, preposterously behind-the times, headed-up-by-a-celibate-male-hierarchy Church, trying to tell people who are having sex all the ways they shouldn’t be having it.
First off, the whole “celibate male hierarchy argument.” Let’s just put that one to rest, shall we?
Catholic priests are called to a life of celibacy and chastity in imitation of the life of Christ. They give up the great good of sexual expression within the context of a human marriage for the greater good of a spiritual union with Christ, and a fruitful life given in service to the larger Church. So sex is good, and priests surrender this very good thing as a gift to the rest of the Church. A life devoted entirely to Christ, to His Church, and to the proclamation of the gospel.
Some of my closest friends are priests. One of my girlfriends left her job, her friends and family, and her life this past summer to enter a religious order. Their lives are beautiful, fruitful, and deeply meaningful. And they’re never, ever going to have sex! In the year 2014…can you even fathom it?
It’s no small sacrifice, but it yields some beautiful fruit, and as Catholics, we believe that it offers a glimpse of eternal life as “in heaven people are neither married nor given in marriage.” Not because marriage isn’t incredibly good, but because marriage itself is just a preview of eternal life with God who is love.
So, just to recap, sex and marriage = good.
Good enough to have a few rules around it for its – and our – protection.
Catholics are expected to behave a certain way in the bedroom. Namely, to practice faithful, chaste, sacrificial love for our spouse within the exclusive and permanent commitment of marriage.
We’re also expected to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to refrain from committing murder, along with a handful of other commandments.
In other words, there are rules for everything. Not because God hates us, or because sex is shameful, or because we’re hysterically guilty about everything…but because we live in a fallen world that has been redeemed by a loving God.
All relationships have rules. Otherwise they’re just hook ups. And God doesn’t want to hook up with us. He wants to wed Himself to us for eternity.
So the next time someone questions you about the Church’s stance on sex, be sure you’re prepared to explain that actually, there’s no other place on earth where human love is held in such high esteem.