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Let’s talk about sex

Jeff Cormier, More Truth

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Preface from the Chancellor:

STM is a Catholic institution of learning, owned by 12 Catholic Churches in our City.   The School exists for one primary purpose – to teach, wrapped in the truths of the Catholic Faith.   I have always believed that one should never “put down” other religions. Such an approach is weak and trite. Yet, at the same time, neither should Catholics feel we have to apologize for what we believe. The Catholic Church has something beautiful to offer the world. And, in its history, has given to the world some of the greatest men and women who have ever lived. Have there been those “others”?   Of course!   But we never judge something by those who don’t live it, but by those who do.

I have asked the Religion Administrator to put together a series of articles on some of the more “debated” and “controversial” issues of our day.   It’s actually a “follow-up” to the catechetical homilies I introduced last year at the STM Masses. It is wrong for the Church to insist and expect her children to live up to her teachings without explaining “why” she teaches them.   And certainly, in a Catholic institution of learning, we are charged to do so all the more.

The series of articles that will appear in this periodical will address issues of sexual morality. Why? Because this is THE moral issue teens struggle with in our culture. The articles are not meant to judge, to condemn, or to put down.   Rather, they are meant primarily to AFFIRM what the Church teaches, to CLARIFY why she teaches them, and to help FORM our students to live the truths of the Gospel and holiness of life.   To those who may argue that such subject matter is a bit too sensitive for our ninth or tenth graders, my answer is that perhaps in years past. But today, even pre-teens are bombarded by images and messages that shout out to them another way. It is never too early to equip and to teach the holier way, the more virtuous way, the way rooted in Gospel values.

In the debate that will no doubt follow, and in the struggles we each have to live up to these truths (Administration, Faculty, Students and Chancellor), we dare to do what we are called to do as a Catholic School –to teach the truths of our Faith with charity and love.   Why? Because we believe that what we have to say to the world brings happiness and fulfillment.

With gratitude to Mr. Jeff Cormier for writing the articles, enjoy the read…and the “conversations” that will no doubt follow.

In His Love, Rev. Michael J. Russo, Chancellor

Let’s Talk About Sex                                          

Mr. Jeff Cormier

In many ways, today’s world is filled with identity crises, especially in regards to human sexuality and sexual identity. Around us we see those identifying themselves as heterosexual, homosexual, trans-gendered, and even trans-racial (Rachel Dolezal) and trans-species! There is a Norwegian woman (Nano) who actually believes she is a cat and was born the wrong species, and someone else in Arizona (Florentin Felix Morin) who identifies as a hippopotamus — seriously! Even though many people rightly feel restricted by some of the shallow gender stereotypes found in our culture, is it a healthy solution to claim that one’s gender no longer has to correspond with his/her biological sex, or that one can actually be born the wrong species? What will the next “trans” category be?

In this world filled with such confusion, it can be difficult for young people to sift through their own emotions and the conflicting voices surrounding them. This also creates new questions regarding sexual morality. For example, if a man identifies himself as a woman, does that mean he may legitimately begin a sexual relationship with another man, and that relationship is now heterosexual on par with every other heterosexual marriage relationship? Is someone’s perception of themselves enough of a moral standard to legitimize any form of genital, sexual expression? How do we dialog with a world so sexually confused, constantly inventing new terms to mask its confusion? Do we affirm any personal desire or “feeling” whatsoever simply because someone happens to be embracing it at the present moment? Similarly, what does one say to the emaciated young anorexic who stands in front of the mirror and sees herself as terribly overweight? Do we agree with her (not “judging” her), affirming her decision simply because its her decision, or are we obligated to try to convince her that her personal judgment is impaired and that she needs help? As a culture, it seems we are longing for the young, innocent, fearless child to come along and remind us of the obvious – the Emperor is naked.

Fortunately, as Catholic Christians, we have been spared from drowning in this constantly changing storm of public moral opinion. Our Church proclaims that there indeed exists a universal moral standard of sexual conduct, established in the beginning by God and woven into the very fabric of human nature. We do not create this standard for ourselves but are called to surrender to it, anchoring ourselves to its stability, or risk being swept away in a flood of moral relativism.

First, it is obvious that any universal moral sexual standard cannot be based on personal desire. Desires come and go, and any behavior whatsoever could be justified on the basis of it being a personal desire, or appealing to “God made me that way” (I saw an interview once with a convicted pedophile who claimed he was innocent because God made him that way – he liked young children). There has got to be a higher standard of sexual morality than simply personal desire, or else there is no universal moral standard at all.

Well what, one may ask, is the universal moral standard by which sexual activity is to be judged? Our Church proclaims it clearly: marriage between one man and one woman is the context for which sex was intended by God and remains the only context for its morally acceptable use[1]. Jesus Himself, quoting Genesis, outlined its essence: “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’”(Mt 19:4-5; Gn 2:24)? God also reminded us through Moses, “Do not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14).

These revelations given to us by God did not suddenly make a bunch of neutral sexual acts immoral. Adultery was always wrong even before that commandment was given through Moses. The standard was established in the beginning, when God made us male and female in His image and likeness and, apart from these revealed reminders, a rational reflection on human nature and the sexual act itself is enough to reveal God’s intent for creating sex. There is a natural sexual complementarity that occurs between man and woman. By looking at the male and female reproductive anatomy, it is clear that men and women are sexually compatible in their physiological design – the female sexual organ is made to receive the male.   Man and woman create an organic unity capable of reproduction and truly becoming one flesh in their sexual dimension. “Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage. The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve the transmission of human life and to build up the bond between husband and wife.”[2]

The Catholic Church claims its moral teaching is not just a matter of sectarian religious opinion that co-exists equally with other opinions, but is rather the true reflection of the natural law established within human nature by God Himself, and later revealed to us by God as an aide to our weakened intellects and consciences. It cannot be set aside without grave harm to individuals and to society.

 

[1] This does not mean that every form of sexual activity between a married couple is moral. More on this later.

[2] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions, #3. See also Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1639-1640.

 

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