[Here is a good version of a layman's evaluation of the much acclaimed Synod of Bishops on matters they have no clue about, namely sex, marriage and divorce. Shree Vargese Pamplanil observes that this attempt on the side of the Pope and his bishops is surely a symtom of their theological constipation and too much botheration about sex. And he rightly asks, what relationship there is to divorse, remarriage and 'the thin wafer made from refined wheat flour which, along with the breakfast of ham, eggs and sausages will eventually end up at its destination, the loo. Why make a mountain out of a molehill whether the stuff can be given to the civil divorced and remarried couples who are aplenty in the Western world and North America.' – Zacharias Nedunkanal, asso. editor, CCV]
Around 270 senile men and 55 sundry others met in a surreal atmosphere and huffed and heaved for three weeks in the name of deliberating on matters concerning Catholic families. Despite spending huge sums of “Peter’s Pence”, what emerged was platitudes which failed to satisfy anybody. As the saying goes, will anything good come out of Rome.
Latest information would indicate that in the so called Catholic countries of Europe, less than 10% of its nominal followers attend their churches on Sundays and receive the thin wafer made from refined wheat flour which, along with the breakfast of ham, eggs and sausages will eventually end up at its destination, the loo. Why make a mountain out of a molehill whether the stuff can be given to the civil divorced and remarried couples who are aplenty in the Western world and North America.
The whole matter boils down to the claim of the Catholic Church that marriage is its exclusive domain. Come what may, rain or shine, murder or mayhem, a marriage conducted by the Church can be dissolved only by a cleric of the same Church, who can undo what his deity had ordained, on the alleged putative delegation of power by the said deity. The Church has ruled that the “primary end of marriage is procreation and education of children; its secondary end is mutual help and the allaying of ‘concupiscence’ ; “sexual intercourse per se is a thing filthy in itself “; “such shameful acts acts are lawful to married people” and the latest 1930 version that “ marriage is a partnership of the whole of life which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and the education of the offspring “. According to Pope Gregory (who had condemned Mary Magdalene as a prostitute) that “although these acts are not sinful in themselves, it is in practice not possible to avoid sin as a result of enjoying them”. The Church prescribed “missionary position” is the only approved manner of sexual union. It would be rather enlightening if the Church would show where Jesus of Nazareth had propounded these diktats. What can we expect from the so called celibates who have long lost their libido and whose sexual experience, if any, would have been illicit and guilt provoking. It is high time that the heads of these “Eminences” are examined by a panel of competent psychiatrists before such synods.
According to Celsus, Roman philosopher, (CE 178) Christians were unintelligent, their religion spread by way of children and stupid women, such naivety made them ready listeners and believers in magic with which Christianity was replete.
What is the background which has made the Church to embrace an obscurantist mindset on human sexuality? Before Emperor Constantine promulgated the Edict of Toleration at the beginning of the fourth century CE, the Christian movement was secretive in nature, their meetings and prayers were practiced in the darkness of the night or at the wee hours of the morning. Hence others looked these people with suspicion. To them Christians were atheists indulging in all sorts of sexual orgies . They were even charged with killing infants and devouring them. Church Father Clement (CE 150-215) says “ Carpocratians, when they gather for feasts, have intercourse where they will and with whom they can; they think wives should be common property”.
“Apologists like Tertullian and Justin Martyr endeavoured to present Christianity in favourable light before the Roman authorities and their religion was one better than the then prevailing pagan religions in order to be tolerated by the Roman State. To achieve this end, the Christians embraced asceticism, sexual restraint, self-control and exemplary moral behaviour. The ethical foundation for this paradigm shift was located in Stoicism, a Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno in early third century BCE which teaches self control, ethical and moral behaviour. To Stoics morality is simply rational action and life according to nature. The moment Paul's version of Christianity metamorphosed into Constantinity, the ruling class including the Church leaders liberated themselves from all moral restraints . The stark reality was that the very same restrictive morality was imposed on the lumpen masses. The ruling clique of Princes of the Church in cohort with Princes in the secular domain while indulging in all sorts of deviant sexual behaviour, restrained the masses from enjoying the sole source of cost free entertainment available to them, namely sex with their spouses branding and denigrating it as the “original sin” and fornication. In all totalitarian regimes, whether it is the Catholic Church or the Communist party, restrictions are imposed on the functioning of a specific organ in the human body as the most effective control mechanism available. In the fictional world of George Orwell’s “1984“ the “Big Brother” permits sex as rarely as the “ renewal of the ration card” and the protagonist man and woman were put through the harshest punishments for their clandestine sex act.
An article “Why Sex is Good for You” by Marcia Kay which appeared in Reader’s Digest a few years ago observes, “name the activity that burns calories, improves circulation, relieves pain, tunes muscles, counters depression, makes you look younger, the answer is SEX. Legal, non-fattening and requiring no membership fee, sex may be what the doctor ordered. Sex, especially regular sexual activity with a caring partner confers emotional and psychological health benefits; a satisfying sex life is rejuvenating in every way. “Regular sexual activity can counter or slow down age-related changes in women”, says therapist Kristina Towill. which gives orgasmic climax to the woman is reported to cure her rheumatic pain and is an excellent skin tonic. Similar medical opinions have appeared in other reputed journals, periodicals and newspapers.
In Christian belief, humanity is in a state of “original sin”. The root of this belief is the “ Fall of Man”, a myth that explains the existence of evil as the result of some primal wrong doing by humanity. It occurs independently in many cultures. The “fall of man” ( Bible ) or “original sin” happened when the serpent tempted Eve to eat the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, later interpreted as carnal knowledge, the first sexual intercourse between Eve and Adam.
In the society of today, sin takes place in oppressive situations, in the exploitation of man by man, in the domination and slavery of people, races, and social classes. Mortal and irremediable sin is the marginalisation and subjugation of the female gender, the most demeaning sexual exploitation of women and the denial of their fundamental rights. Sin does not happen in the joyous encounter between two consenting adults in the their bedrooms. Sin to a faithful and devout Catholic is sex. If you mention sin in the poor countries of Asia or Latin America, they think of society. In a one room hut in a slum of Asia and Latin America, sexual encounter, birth and other intimate activity take place behind a thin cloth curtain. The well fed rotund “eminences, excellencies and beatitudes” who confabulated in Rome had no occasion to smell the dead body of a baby being carried in shoe box through the “barrios “ (slums) of South America.
The issues focused in the Family Synod is more germane to Catholics in Europe and North America. Vatican is forced to confront the difficulty of imposing its discipline in the modern world. In the Western Church – European and American – Catholicism is still about sex. In these regions, sex is driving a wedge between the church leaders and the led. The number of Catholics who fail to live up to the Church’s ideals about sex, marriage and family life is growing all the time. Increasingly they cease to see themselves as failures and conclude instead, that the Church and its teaching are irrelevant to their life.
“Telling us all the sins, we are capable of performing with our sexual organs does not enlighten us about our sexuality. Those who reduce a mystery to a problem are guilty of intellectual perversion”. ( Matthew Fox)
“ The conflict between ethics and sex today is not just a collision between instinct and morality, but a struggle to give an instinct its rightful place in our lives and to recognize in this instinct a power which seeks expression and evidently may not be trifled with and therefore, cannot be made to fit in with our well meaning moral laws. Sexuality is not mere 'instinctuality', it is indisputably a creative power that is not only the basic cause of our individual lives, but a very serious factor in our psychic life as well … our civilization enormously understates the importance of sexuality”. (Carl Jung).
It would appear that the constipation in the innards of the Catholic Church resulting out of excessive and prolonged consumption of human sexuality will persist till its demise in time to come.