Procreation or Recreation? Which is to be Goal of Sex?


dr. james kottoor(Chicago)

James kottoorThe main question this article poses is : Can LGBT people ever hope to be treated with equality and justice by the hierarchy? The theoretical and doctorinal answer may be ‘NO’ and the pastoral aswer with the vision of God as Mercy unparalleled may be,’Yes’. The wider question is: Which among the many goals of the sexual act is the main: ‘Procreation or recreation?

Francis dropped  a bombshell during an interview on board a plane when he said: “Who am I to judge if a   homosexual approaches God seeking love, compassion and acceptance?” The solid basis for Francis to give that answer was  Jesus’ own conduct with the woman caught in adultery, and whole elderly Jewish pharisaic crowd asking for his permission to be stoned to death. Jesus didn’t look at them in the face but went on with downcast eyes, writing in the sand for the crowd to take a moral stand in their own minds and then finally gave his verdict: “Let the one without sin cast the first stone!” And the crowd melted away, starting with the oldest to the youngest and the Lord (of mercy) said: “I too don’t condemn you, go in peace but sin no more!”

Any one who calls himself a Christian  has to follow this example of Jesus, not  of the ones who claim to be his representative or calls himself the “Alter Christus.” This controversy started with St.Augustine called also the “sinner-saint”,  whose weakness was  sex with all sorts of girls and who, after conversion, reduced all sins to sex related activities. Finally Pope Paul’s encyclical Humanae vitae decreed that any sexual activity which does not have procreation as its primary goal, is sin and is to be condemned.

What of Cattle Class?

Then what about the vast majority of poor mortals for whom “procreation” (copulation) is the only recreation easily awailable?  This applies mainly to the marginalized sections, the “Cattle Class” (the holy peccatori, to use a synodal phrase) who work in the fields under the heat  of the sun and  take one or two pegs of country liquor and go to sleep with family and children because they can’t afford to go for parties in the evenings for pastime. Costly pastimes are for the moneyed people who live in cities. Think also of the rebuke to Pharisees: “Drunkards and prostitutes will go to heaven before you.”

When there was hours of power-cut in New York city some years ago, they conducted a survey after nine months about the number of births in the city  and found there was a fantastic increase, because apparently people did not know what to substitute the recreational parties they  used to go after night fall,  and so went instead to sleep with their wives. The result was the spurt in births. It is as simple as that.

Sex has  more than one end: procreation, recreation, pastime,  bodily and psychological human enrichment etc. Clerical celibates may not understand all that.  That was precisely the reason there was such a revolt and shock after the release of humanae vitae. And now we all know that Pope Paul the VI took that decision ignoring and going against the advice of a 50-member  expert committee appointed to study the issue.

Also think of all the things Cardinal Raymond Burke is preaching in open forum not to be led astray by whatever Pope Francis says because whatever a Pope says should not be taken as the word of God; one has to distinguish between the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of popes  etc. That being the case ordinary sensible people know that sexual act in marriage is there for any of the many legitimate goals which need not be procreation. We shall leave that to celibate experts to discuss ad nauseam: “How many angels can stand on the sharp end of a needle?”


What sex for LGBT?

Now what about gay, LGBT, transgender people for whom also it is sexual attraction to the same sex –  consenting man with man and woman with woman  – that forces them to live like husband and wife for life. Surely their sexual acts can never lead to any procreation. They are called gay-marriages where they are permitted by civil law. Countries that permit such marriage are increasing by leaps and bounds.

If Catholic church experts  cannot agree to the worldwide practice approving gay marriages what convincing reason do they have,  to go it all alone paddling in a lonely canoe? Can they still go on insisting, that it is divinely ordained for some to be gay or transgender, but they should procreate every time they recreate with their homosexual partner? So they are caught in a catch twenty-two bind. They simply have to revise their theology  of sex. They simply have to admit that procreation is only one of the ends of the sexual act.

This scribe was discussing this from the time when Pope Paul VI produced humanae vitae and the great Cardinal Valerian Gracious said in Church in India Seminar: “We have to follow it even if we don’t understand fully the reasons as most bishops including himself were not theologians but canon law loyalists”.  He also found comfort in calling laity in India “Theologially illiterate.” This scribe unwittingly started a big controversy by writing an editorial, “Theologically Illiterate” in the New Leader criticizing the Cardinal,  of course without  naming him,  and saying: “Like the pastor so the people. If the bishops are theologically illiterate what do you expect the laity to be? And quoting Cardinal Suenens of Belgium I had argued that only those with a doctorate in theology, not in canon law, should be appointed as bishops.

Of course I got brickbats and kicks from my bishop, in Cunnoor on holiday – editor of New Leader never used to take holidays like Francis – even though I respectfully avoided mentioning the name of Gracious who was a great supporter,  promoter and patron of New Leader of that time. What we are coming to is that the discussion which got started so many years ago has not come to a happy conclusion even now, even though Pope Francis himself  was the opening batsman of the team in favour of the  LGBT in this game of cricket.

So to answer the question we started with: Which is to the goal of every sexual act: Procreation or recreation? We may have to say: both or what the players in the game choose. So we  offer all our prayers for our Captain Francis so that he may succeed to steer the bark of Peter to dock it in a storm-free harbour. james kottoor, editor-inchief,ccv.   

Please read below the NCR editorial on sexual ethics!

Time for Dialogue on  Sexual  Ethics!

 NCR Editorial Staff, Aug 9, 2017

The Catholic community should thank Jesuit Fr. James Martin for writing Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.

 Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics have spent years on the margins of our community inviting such dialogue. This book cracks open a new door to opportunities to ask important questions about the inclusion of LGBT Catholics in the church, and those opportunities should be seized.

Martin’s book exhorts church leaders and LGBT Catholics to come together in dialogue. Using the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he calls both sides to treat one another with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” This is good advice, and those in the hierarchy who have made such outreach — Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose, California, to name just two — need our support.

Inescapable in this bridge-building project, however, are deeper questions that cannot go unexamined. Can dialogue be enough to achieve a truly inclusive church? Without a change in the church’s teaching on sex and sexuality, can LGBT people ever hope to be treated with equality and justice by the hierarchy?

We refreshed our website!Drop us a line to tell us what you think. We value your feedback.

There is good precedent for development of the church’s sexual ethics, particularly in the last 50 years. For centuries, Catholic doctrine insisted that procreation was the sole justification for sexual acts and that sexuality was fundamentally disordered. These teachings were questioned and modified in the mid-20th century in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (“On Human Life”). Today, the church recognizes that sex between a man and a woman within the bond of sacramental marriage can be a source of joy and pleasure in both body and spirit.

But the doctrine also maintains that there is an indissoluble connection between the procreative and unitive meaning of the sexual act. Therefore, according to the catechism, all sex acts between married couples must be “ordered per se to the procreation of human life” (2366). This “procreative norm” dates back more than 1,500 years to the time of Augustine, who developed the idea in response to his belief in the sinful, uncontrollable nature of sexual arousal.

Today, the procreative norm is one of the fundamental reasons the church remains opposed to same-sex relationships. But, in reality, this doctrine has far-reaching consequences for all Catholics, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Much is often made about the church’s teaching that same-sex relations are “intrinsically disordered.” But equally harsh language is used for other sexual transgressions of the church’s procreative norm. For example, the catechism declares that every action used to render conception impossible, such as use of contraceptives, is “intrinsically evil” (2370). The catechism also condemns masturbation as an “intrinsically and gravely disordered action” because “the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose” (2352).

As a case in point, see Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s list of Catholics he suggests should not present themselves for holy Communion.

The institutional church’s vocal objections to same-sex marriage often mask the fact that church teaching is fundamentally opposed to sexual acts that a majority of human beings participate in. The church condemns any sex acts — including those engaged in by married couples — that do not respect the procreative norm. Therefore, in reality, few Catholics ever live up to the church’s moral norms governing sexual activity.

As stark as these teachings are, other issues related to sexual relationships remain unclear and underdeveloped, such as the church’s positions on divorce and remarriage, the single life and celibacy.

If bishops like Paprocki were more vocal about their opposition to masturbation, in vitro fertilization or vasectomies as they are in their campaign against same-sex marriage, perhaps more Catholics would realize how urgent the need is to rethink the entirety of the church’s sexual ethics.

We strongly encourage dialogue between laypeople and church leaders regarding all issues in the sexual sphere. But we also recognize that dialogue can have its limits, particularly if those in leadership do not demonstrate an openness to developing the church’s teaching on sex and sexuality.

We call on bishops to continue the work of developing the doctrine of sexuality that began in Vatican II. This work has largely been stalled by the hierarchy’s unwillingness to loosen its rigid interpretation of millennia-old ideas about natural law and the procreation norm.

Of course, the work has continued outside of the walls of the Vatican, led by Catholic moral theologians who have spent the past four decades developing new frameworks for sexual morality and ethical decision-making based on our evolving understanding of sexuality. Sadly, those who have made the greatest contributions to deepening our understanding of sexual ethics, such as Fr. Charles Curran and Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, have been silenced or had their work condemned by bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

If we truly are living in a new culture of encounter in the church, perhaps it is time for the Vatican to engage these Catholic theologians and ethicists in a constructive dialogue about the fruits of their ethical inquiries. Until the church is willing to engage in a deep re-examination of its doctrine on sexuality and sexual relationships, any dialogue around LGBT inclusion or divorce and remarriage will only be stymied.

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2 Responses

  1. almayasabdam says:

    Verghese Pamplanil continues on Sex for health and wellbeing

    I would like to revisit the article of Dr. Kottoor titled ‘Procreation or Recreation?. Which is the Goal of Sex?. Permit me, once again to congratulate him for bringing the taboo subject to the, generally, prudish ‘cattle class‘. Another person, to my knowledge, who dealt with the subject boldly was the late S. Kappen S J.

    Sex, in our society, is considered a dirty matter to be discussed in hushed tones after carefully looking over the shoulder. It is viewed as a nocturnal aberration solely for producing babies. But many may not realise that the pleasure inherent in the activity is nature’s way of compensating the arduous task of bringing forth the next generation. Every sexual intercourse will not and cannot result in pregnancy. In today’s world the Malthusian Law does not have full play.

    The article of Dr. Kottoor, prompted me to look around for more information. A glance at the Wikipedia has thrown up some interesting and useful information.

    Sexual activity is more than just a recreational activity. Safe sex with a loving partner can be a recipe for happiness. The sexual activity between an understanding couple of any age can bring about instant emotional and physical satisfaction. The emotional and health benefits of sex between two consenting adults have been well documented. They include: stress relief, partner intimacy, healthy libido and a host of other benefits. The general principle is to  “use it or lose it.” Frequent sexual activity accompanied by orgasm enhances the physical well being, especially of women. Sex also boosts the immune system. The activity once or twice a week produces high level of antibodies, which help to fight illness. It protects men and women from heart decease by enhancing the heart rate similar to exercise with the added advantage of balancing oestrogen in women and testosterone for men, the two hormones critical to the heart’s health; lowers blood pressure. Secretion of more oestrogen promotes younger looks, clearer skin and lustrous hair for women. Sexual activity is a often a healthy mix of aerobic and muscle building exercise; orgasm is a natural remedy for pain because, the process releases pain relieving hormones that assuages back and leg pain, headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. Ejaculation lowers the risk of prostrate cancer for men.  Sexual, intercourse strengthens the bladder of women, produces relaxation hormones prolactin and oxytocin immediately after orgasm; enables  restful sleep. Sexual, activity makes the brain work better, enhances analytical skills, relieve anxiety and keep the doctor away.

    Sex in older adults.

    Sex life of evolves as age advances. The body will undergo changes as one gets older; sexual health will also change. But growing older doesn’t mean goodbye to this pleasure giving enjoyable activity. An older person can still have healthy joyous sex life. Sex is an important part of emotional and physical wellbeing in a relation ship. Sexual activity allows bonding and intimacy (closeness) between partners. It enhances physical health by reducing stress and feeling good. It is a reality that after menopause women are generally less inclined to sex, mostly on account of physical discomfort they experience while engaging in intercourse. But understanding couples can find ways and means to overcome the problems. Consulting the doctor is good option.

    Summing up.

    The “Zero Church” through the generations has ensured that the sexual life of the “cattle class“ is controlled cynically. The so called celibates deals with the “ cattle class “ in the matter with vengeance, it seems. It has drilled to the psyche of the “goats“ especially the ewes that sex is a dirty thing to be done in pitch darkness only for the purpose of producing children to serve  the clergy. The disgruntled clerics, ad infinitum, force the ignoramus “cattle” that the   pleasure derived in the sexual activity is viewed by Christ and Perpetually Virgin Mary as mortal sins which would be punished by eternal damnation in Hell accompanied with unimaginable tortures and thus should be avoided at all costs. The post menopause women, egged on by the nuns and clergy are made brainwashed to avoid their husbands like plague. They waste their life by spending as much and time as possible in mumbling or reading meaningless and often ridiculous prayers produced in mass scale mostly by the “ Cash Making Institution, CMI “and attending numerous “novenas” in honour of fictitious saints. The devious and cunning “charismatic rogues” make pots of money by organising retreat jamborees, decease eradication by pseudo miracles and conducting of spurious conventions and prayer meetings of all sorts   and befuddle the “ Cattle Class”. A person with even a modicum of IQ will see through the game, but the “cattle class ‘ can be fooled ever and after. The perusal of the prayers mass produced by the CMI clerics and others of the ilk will make any person with common sense with the feeling of nausea on account of their sheer ridiculousness. But superstitious, ignorant, pardon me, swines will lift their heads only when hit on the head.  

    If psychologists and social scientists make an in-depth study of the causes for the prevalence of alcoholism, gambling and running after women of easy virtue among the Nazaranis, the root cause may be found to be the deprival of sex to these  men  by their  clerical poisoned  spouses.  Each and every normal person is in need of joy, pleasure and entertainment. As Dr. Kottoor has rightly pointed, what other enjoyable activity is available to an ordinary guy other than having mutually satisfying sex with the lovable and loved partner close by. One need not go to buy adulterated milk while pure milk is available readily on hand. It is cost effective, need not involve much additional expenditure. But the purveyors of Augustine’s lethal poison of  “Original Sin” in order to amass money for a cushy life will not allow the “cattle” to live peacefully. The clerics who have recourse only to illicit guilt provoking sex on the sly, behaves like a “ dog in the manger”, the canine, unless forced, will not eat the grass or allow the cow to have it.

    The sexual urge, if denied of satisfaction in the normal legitimate way, will result in the unscrupulous criminals preying on innocent, defenceless children and hapless females. In societies where sex is considered a normal activity between consenting persons, one does not see rampant sexual crimes. But who will listen?3

  2. almayasabdam says:

    Varghese Pamplanil wrote: Procreation or Recreation? Which is the goal of SEX?

    This has reference to the captioned article of Dr. Kottoor in Almayasabdam of 10th instant. While the majority of “cattle class” will continue to chew the cud for ages to come, let us hope, that at least a few of them will lift their heads and look around. I would recommend the book “The Naked Ape “by Desmond Morris as a beginner’s guide on the subject. The sequels to it, the “Human Zoo” is also worth reading.

    I have been married for the last 50 years and  from the start took the firm stand that my bed room would be out of bound for the prying eyes of the cassock wearer. I had realised that the Pope would not feed and educate my children and  enable them to lead  life of dignity. I still hold the view that it is ‘quality ‘that matters and not ‘quantity ‘. I deliberately  kept my two sons from the influence of the clergy and their infernal catechism. Whatever moral values they obtained from the Loyola School in Trivandrum was found to be adequate to lead moral life and conduct themselves as decent human beings.  My one son is married to a Bengali girl from Calcutta whom he met at PWC, a civil marriage at which I put my signature as a witness. Their child is not baptised with no ill consequence. I had to cross swords with a few meddlesome upstart “anointed” but awful “vivaradoshies“ to their disadvantage in the matter. Incidentally, I don’t pay tithe or meet the umpteen other monetary demands of the” Zero ‘Church. I have also decided, like Dr. Kottoor and some others with whom I have the good fortune to be aquatinted  with that  the “Zero “ church  is not for me.

    It would take volumes to highlight the extent of the physical and psychological harm inflicted on the lives of many of the” cattle class “  by the odium of the  guilt of  “Original Sin,” to which they are, by  natural inclination and  deposition, are prone to commit quite often. I have only pity for their frenetic  and  desperate attempt to get rid of the cancer of guilt from their psyche. It is all because of  the debauchee, guilt ridden sexual fiend called Augustine’s preposterous proposition  that the sexual encounter between the  mythical Adam’s and Eve’s in the “never ever land of Eden” in defiance of the “killjoy” Jehovah is the root cause of the absurd” Original Sin.” The Church took full advantage of this “devil sent” opportunity to latch on to one organ of the human anatomy and its doings to tether the “cattle class” in perpetual bondage of SIN.

    About the Second Vatican Council deliberations and the notorious ‘Humanae Vitae’ reading the autobiography of Hans Kung, “My Struggle for Freedom” will be an eye opener.  But to the moron “cattle class“ the bull shit from the pulpit and the church bulletins are more than adequate for their prosaic mundane  life.

    Incidentally my “Forbidden Apple & Jossutty” which I sent to CCV may not be to the susceptibilities and tastes of Dr. Kottoor. Make no mistake, it will reach where it is intended.


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