Well, it wasn’t my plan for this series to focus only on Christian religions, but so far I lack the information I need on Judaism and Islam to give them a proper treatment (which is entirely my fault – I need to do more research). So I will finish up this series with a look at Roman Catholicism. In the meantime, if anyone knows of any sources containing explanations by Jewish or Islamic authorities of why premarital sex is “wrong,” please let me know!
So to recap, in Parts 1 and 2 of Sex is great, sex is good I criticized a Methodist minister and a Presbyterian minister, respectively, for saying some awful things about sex and marriage. The views they presented were disparaging, biased, false, and demeaning of human dignity. Such views are especially unacceptable from people who are supposed to provide leadership and counseling to others.
Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church’s views on sex are some of the most demeaning and dehumanizing of them all.
The Church’s teachings on sex and marriage are outlined in detail in two documents, the Educational Guidance in Human Love, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (click for some relevant sections). In these two texts, sex outside of marriage is repeatedly referred to as a selfish, meaningless moral disorder. One that is “gravely contrary” to the dignity of persons.
We are told that “Sexual intercourse, ordained towards procreation, is the maximum expression on the physical level of the communion of love of the married.” However, any other kind of sex is wrong. Selfish. Merely genital. Gay sex, premarital sex, even sex between a married couple using contraception is unacceptable, we are told, in God’s eyes.
This already should be indication that the Catholic Church does not care about what is good, or healthy, or empowering for human beings. They have an incredibly narrow definition of what is acceptable, and they have nothing but the strongest condemnation for those who do not comply. When you consider the fact they are even willing to lie, brazenly and unapologetically, to get their flock to conform, it becomes obvious that the Church is concerned with control, not goodness or decency.
The condemnations the Catholic Church makes about the “wrong kind of sex” are by now familiar territory, but it still needs to be stated exactly why these views are so incredibly false.
There is nothing wrong with “not having sex the way the Church says you can.” There is no shame in feeling good with another person (or with yourself). No guilt, no moral reprobation. Acts that bring pleasure to humans are good things, whether we’re talking about the good feeling of a kiss, a hug, a massage, or sex. The fact that two or more people can reciprocally bring pleasure to each other is even better.
The Church claims that only married sex designed to produce babies can be meaningful. This is utter nonsense. Sex can still be an expression of love or intimacy regardless of whether you’ve signed a contract. Such a thing is not necessary for two people to care about each other’s comfort and pleasure, to take joy in the joy of the other, to bring their full minds and personalities and emotions into the act of lovemaking. Sex doesn’t need marriage to have that!
If you want to believe that your religion or god brings some kind of extra meaning to sex only to couples who are married, then that is your right. But to we humanists, the generosity, the caring, the respect, and the love for the other person are already there. It is a lie to say otherwise, and it is, truly, contrary to the dignity of humans to call such a thing immoral.