Amoris Laetitia 154: Imposing One’s Will Through Sex

amoris laetitia memeRape is out, according to Humanae Vitae, among other sources:

154. We also know that, within marriage itself, sex can become a source of suffering and manipulation. Hence it must be clearly reaffirmed that “a conjugal act imposed on one’s spouse without regard to his or her condition, or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife”.(Humanae Vitae 13)

A humanist perspective:

The acts proper to the sexual union of husband and wife correspond to the nature of sexuality as
willed by God when they take place in “a manner which is truly human”.(Gaudium et Spes 49)

And biblical:

Saint Paul insists: “Let no one transgress and wrong his brother or sister in this matter” (1 Th 4:6). Even though Paul was writing in the context of a patriarchal culture in which women were considered completely subordinate to men, he nonetheless taught that sex must involve communication between the spouses: he brings up the possibility of postponing sexual relations for a period, but “by agreement” (1 Cor 7:5).

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 153: Violence and Manipulation

amoris laetitia memeThis titled topic above will concern us today and for the four sections (to 157) that follow:

153. On the basis of this positive vision of sexuality, we can approach the entire subject with a healthy realism. It is, after all, a fact that sex often becomes depersonalized and unhealthy; as a result, “it becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts”.(Evangelium Vitae  23)

What of the situation in which partners seem satisfied with a mutual selfishness? That seems commonly portrayed in various media. In the thinking of St John Paul and Pope Francis: missed opportunity for deeper communication. Sinful in the eyes of some. I suspect the current pope would see it as a missed opportunity for grace.

Pope Francis identifies some modern attitudes toward sex as being in line with consumerism, waste, and other indulgences of the day:

In our own day, sexuality risks being poisoned by the mentality of “use and discard”. The body of the other is often viewed as an object to be used as long as it offers satisfaction, and rejected once it is no longer appealing.

Including abuse:

Can we really ignore or overlook the continuing forms of domination, arrogance, abuse, sexual perversion and violence that are the product of a warped understanding of sexuality? Or the fact that the dignity of others and our human vocation to love thus end up being less important than an obscure need to “find oneself”?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Corporate Disrespect

wells fargo wagonWells Fargo was about the third or fourth company that held my Kansas City mortgage. If I still lived there, I’d have to explore some way of selling the debt to someone else. Or raising such a ruckus they’d give me the home for free.

Their disrespectful ad got a lot of flame on social media.

A ballerina yesterday. An engineer today.

An actor yesterday. A botanist today.

Apology offered, of course.

Nothing wrong with engineers and botanists, of course. I trained for science as an undergraduate. Some of my best friends were (and are) engineers.

It’s not a hallmark of an advanced civilization to emphasize reason at the expense of the heart. It’s really all over the place–it’s infected the Church significantly, too.

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Amoris Laetitia 152: Gift From God

amoris laetitia memeSex as gift from God:

152. In no way, then, can we consider the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family. Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses. As a passion sublimated by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a “pure, unadulterated affirmation” revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable. In this way, even momentarily, we can feel that “life has turned out good and happy”.(Josef Pieper, Über die Liebe, Munich, 2014, 174. English: On Love, in Faith, Hope, Love, San Francisco, 1997, p. 256.)

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 151: Sex as Language

amoris laetitia memeIn the following section, Pope Francis continues his citation of St John Paul:

151. To those who fear that the training of the passions and of sexuality detracts from the spontaneity of sexual love, Saint John Paul II replied that human persons are “called to full and mature spontaneity in their relationships”, a maturity that “is the gradual fruit of a discernment of the impulses of one’s own heart”.(Catechesis (12 November 1980), 2) This calls for discipline and self-mastery, since every human person “must learn, with perseverance and consistency, the meaning of his or her body”.(Ibid., 4) Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment; it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is taken seriously, in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity. As such, “the human heart comes to participate, so to speak, in another kind of spontaneity”.(Ibid., 5) In this context, the erotic appears as a specifically human manifestation of sexuality. It enables us to discover “the nuptial meaning of the body and the authentic dignity of the gift”.(Ibid., 1) In his catecheses on the theology of the body, Saint John Paul II taught that sexual differentiation not only is “a source of fruitfulness and procreation”, but also possesses “the capacity of expressing love: that love precisely in which the human person becomes a gift”.(Catechesis (16 January 1980), 1) A healthy sexual desire, albeit closely joined to a pursuit of pleasure, always involves a sense of wonder, and for that very reason can humanize the impulses.

What struck me is what was not cited by Pope Francis: the notion that sexual expression is a form of communication, of language between lovers. Not, as our modern culture expects, gratification or entertainment. You readers: are you seeing anything notable here?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 150: The Erotic Dimension of Love

amoris laetitia memeHuman sexuality will preoccupy us for the next few days. Some reminders from our most recent sainted pope:

150. All this brings us to the sexual dimension of marriage. God himself created sexuality, which is a marvelous gift to his creatures. If this gift needs to be cultivated and directed, it is to prevent the “impoverishment of an authentic value”.(John Paul II, Catechesis (22 October 1980), 5) Saint John Paul II rejected the claim that the Church’s teaching is “a negation of the value of human sexuality”, or that the Church simply tolerates sexuality “because it is necessary for procreation”.(Ibid., 3) Sexual desire is not some thing to be looked down upon, and “and there can be no attempt whatsoever to call into question its necessity”.(John Paul II, Catechesis, (24 September 1980), 4)

Toleration of sex for procreation simply reduces human beings in value to breeding stock, and consigns us to the role of animals. Remember to check Amoris Laetitia online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 149: The Distrust of Pleasure

amoris laetitia memeReligion and the denial of emotions are sometimes associated with one another:

149. Some currents of spirituality teach that desire has to be eliminated as a path to liberation from pain. Yet we believe that God loves the enjoyment felt by human beings: he created us and “richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17). Let us be glad when with great love he tells us: “My son, treat yourself well… Do not deprive yourself of a happy day” (Sir 14:11-14). Married couples likewise respond to God’s will when they take up the biblical injunction: “Be joyful in the day of prosperity” (Ec 7:14). What is important is to have the freedom to realize that pleasure can find different expressions at different times of life, in accordance with the needs of mutual love. In this sense, we can appreciate the teachings of some Eastern masters who urge us to expand our consciousness, lest we be imprisoned by one limited experience that can blinker us. This expansion of consciousness is not the denial or destruction of desire so much as its broadening and perfection.

Human affect can certainly be experienced as a strong force. At times it is understandable that a being who takes pride in reason and logic might be alarmed at the impulses that arise when emotions are permitted to run amok. At least in the passages cited above, Jewish and Christian Scriptures do not advocate a complete divorce from our feelings. The conclusion? Put passion to use to broaden one’s experience of love and of God.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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