From the editor: September 9, 2015
The Future of Sex After 1984
I have been reading The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality by my friend, the late Fr. Paul M. Quay, S.J., Ph.D., a book he completed in 1984.
Fr. Quay wrote that in the early Roman Empire
virginity or chastity was regarded by the pagans as a touchstone to identify Christians. Those who would not take part in the unchaste actions of their fellows or who preferred virginity to marriage were marked immediately as Christians.
From the earliest days till now, the Church has been firm on these matters. There has been many a difficulty within the church, many a dispute in contention, and many a loss of members because of her firmness on points of sexual morality that the world, by and large, saw as unimportant, as matters of personal preference. So it is today also. The church continues to insist that the entire area of sexual attitudes and behavior is of utmost importance.
The controversy continues. Many today, like David Brooks (as I noted three weeks ago), and some Christian writers quoting him, would insist that public discussion of sex today is counterproductive.
As "a friend and admirer" of social conservatives, Brooks "would just ask them to consider a change in course. Consider putting aside . . . the culture war oriented around the sexual revolution." For, Brooks says, it's "been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex."
Now, some rightly compare the church to a hospital, and argue that we should focus only on healing, and not talk about sex. Just welcome the patients and treat their wounds.
But the Church also lives outside its walls. Asking it not to address the causes of the wounds it must heal is like asking a community to support a hospital—but say nothing about gangs in the neighborhood shooting people, or ignore the nearby toxic waste dump that is making people sick with cancer, or not care about missing gates at a busy railroad crossing that sees frequent injuries and deaths. Just welcome the patients, treat their wounds, yes--but close your blinds?
Some argue that sex is not a public but purely private matter. Fr. Quay pointed out that sex used to be a private affair but has been made public:
the federal government formerly had no function with regard to sexual matters; and even state governments were limited to police powers (e.g., protecting from rape and maintaining public decency). . . . Now, both federal and state governments are deeply involved with sex.
. . . [G]overnmental agencies now seek control in the bedroom not only over our actions but over our thoughts as well. As but one example, the Health Systems Agencies Act (HSAA) . . . has been used also to determine, by means of HSA-mandated state health plans, the ways in which children shall be educated in matters of health—including sex education in accord with Planned Parenthood norms.
Public approval of the private conduct of those who sadly call themselves "gay"—not so private, however, that they do not want public knowledge and acceptance of their activities—has become a basic issue between major political parties.
Fr. Quay wrote this in 1984!
Moreover, the truth is that, even when we talk about it, we are not obsessed with sex, but with love:
The martyrs never regarded chastity as that for which they died. Chastity, simply in itself, was a small thing in their eyes. It was their love for Christ, who wanted them to be chaste, that gave them their determination to be chaste. Their chastity was part of their witness to the Lord. Thus, when the bloody martyrdoms were over, many Christians withdrew to the desert to be witnesses again to Christ and to His love for us; and again, virginity or chaste celibacy was a part of that witness. We ourselves should not be wholly amazed if, someday, chastity might cost us our lives, even as it cost the early Christians theirs. . . .
And all for the love of Christ, who loved us and made us his own through the Cross. Fr. Quay presents the true beauty of human sexuality.
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James