Friday, January 2, 2015

Context and Church Teaching

A regular blog reader has emailed me a question about Church teaching on sex, masturbation in particular.  This reader is not Catholic and is reading the Catechism for the first time.

My answer might be of interest to many of you.  He asks what the Church means by the "sexual faculty" and how masturbation fits into that ...

The "sexual faculty" would be reproduction and the expression of unity between spouses.  Hence, the Church teaches that masturbation would be a perversion of the "sexual faculty", and would be an illicit means, even to a moral end, (such as a medical study) ...
But keep something in mind.  The Catechism is not a rule book per se.  It's more than that.  For Catholics understand Divine Revelation always to be in the process of "unpacking", as it were.  Therefore, understanding anything in the Catechism is tied in to understanding everything else, of having "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16) - which we never fully have, but what we can have is a holistic and integrated picture of what it means to be a Christian.  Therefore, the overall understanding that sex is meant to bring a husband and wife together physically, emotionally and spiritually, and to make babies and build families - that's the key, for that fits in to all sorts of things, including the Bridal Feast of the Second Coming of Christ, who comes to His Church as a bridegroom to a purified bride.  Thus, masturbation is obviously a disordered use of sex - and would be in every specific instance, since it is disordered by its very nature - and is opposed to much more than mere procreation.    
But the understanding of what the Church prohibits fits in to the much more awesome truth of what the Church is guiding us to - sanctity, new life in Jesus, re-creation through the sacraments and the Holy Spirit.
So we Catholics really aren't all about knowing all of the minute rules and definitions, but about using those things as boundaries to enable us fully to live the life of Christ now and forever.  The THOU SHALT NOTS exist for the much more awesome THOU MAY.

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