Opinion

Rethinking Sex: Catholicism, Sex, and Morality

Before I start, I would say that I am pessimistic about the prevalent cultural attitudes toward sex in America, particularly on college campuses. So, what motivated me to write this article? Primarily, a lack of articles in this space (and in Trinity University’s school newspaper) about sexual morality (although we have recently published some good pieces about love, morality, and relationships, which I recommend taking a look at) in general. Is it morally right to have premarital sex? What about gay/lesbian sex? What about using protection during sex? Should sex be seen merely as a means for pleasure?

All interesting questions, and none of which I can provide an answer to in a short article such as this one. However, I do want to discuss the problems with the current sexual climate; I write this article acknowledging that, as a self-identified libertarian and lifelong Catholic, people have a right to do what they please with their lives. But so long as I do not impose my own beliefs on others, I should be free to criticize others’ actions as immoral and wrong. That being said…

Let’s talk about sex.

To start off, I might be the worst possible person to talk about sexual morality. My own church is embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal that has spanned over the past several decades, with a new scandal involving priests and nuns emerging just last week. I unapologetically condemn these incidents and pray to God that the perpetrators are brought to justice. But this is a good springboard to talk about sexual morality, because for far too long, one of the main criticisms of Catholic morality has been the stingy criteria it places on its followers and clergy for having “acceptable” sex (or none at all).

And for that, I want to propose a new (Catholic) approach to thinking about sexual morality, but one that is inclusive enough so that everyone can take something away from it, regardless of religion. Because right now, I believe that we are in a sexual crisis. As traditional gender and sex norms have given way to “explorations” of gender and sexuality, we need to consider whether or not this “shift” has been for the better, that “shift” being the product of the sexual liberation movement spearheaded by feminists and the broader left-wing.

To be clear, I am not looking to “move backwards” or lament about “days gone by.” The only direction we can look now is forward, so that should remove any notion that I want to roll back any genuine progress we have made as a society. But I will point out that problems some might think are isolated are rather part of a larger failure of the sexual liberation movement that happened under multiple waves of feminism and a relativistic approach to gender and sexuality. Those problems range from a 40% out-of-wedlock birth rate (the bulk comprising minority groups) to the rise and growth of the “incel” (short for “involuntary celibate”) subculture.


It goes without saying that sexual freedom can have its consequences, and I do not think the way forward should be paved with irresponsibility.

I do not want to understate the severity of these problems. Children born out of wedlock are much more likely to have social and behavioral impairments, lower education and job prospects, and engage in early sexual activity. These problems are compounded when the child/children live in a single-parent home. It goes without saying that sexual freedom can have its consequences, and I do not think the way forward should be paved with irresponsibility.

On the other hand, the incel community is a hyper-misogynist online subculture whose members have at times engaged in violence in “retaliation” for their lack of sexual fortune, as is the case with Elliot Rodger, Alek Minassian, and Dimitrios Pagourtzis. There are many takeaways from studying this group, but what I understand is that these men feel an entitlement to sex, and if they do not get it, then violent retaliation is justified (which is horrifyingly celebrated within the incel community).

Of course, there are many others problems that I can discuss, like porn, the oversexualization of women, and prostitution, but for the sake of length, I want to answer the burning question in the room: what is the solution? Is there a one-size-fits-all answer to the diverse range of problems we have about sexual morality? As I have said, it is not a culture that encourages having sex with whomever you want, whenever you want. But neither is it an entitlement, where if a man fails to get sex, it is the collective fault of women and that there must be a Marxist “redistribution of women” so everyone gets their “fair share” of sex.

My solution is simple: take on responsibility. Some intellectuals have already been talking about this, so let’s build on their work and apply it to sexual ethics. Teaching people to be responsible for themselves can build self-respect. If you respect yourself, you can respect others. For those inclined to have lots of sex, being responsible will help in foreseeing potential consequences in having so much sex (like having children out of wedlock). For the “sexually challenged,” having more responsibilities can take one’s mind off constantly thinking about sex. Focusing on oneself and one’s talents will surely attract someone’s attention at some point, and people like (and love) a responsible person every now and then.

In the Catholic tradition, the act of sex is the renewal and sign of the sacrament of matrimony, the ultimate expression of giving oneself over to the other. In other words, sex is something to be cherished as gift from God, not something that is to be feared, reduced to a one-liner on a bucket list, or become an entitlement. And I fear if we do not change our attitude toward sex soon, much less have a serious conversation about it, we will continue to suffer the problems that I have outlined in this article, and then some.

Photo by Prayitno. CC BY 2.0. Flickr.

5 comments on “Rethinking Sex: Catholicism, Sex, and Morality

  1. sex is cool dude

    Hi Zachary—came to ask why the “sanctity” and “responsibility” you ask of sexual encounters isn’t a concern of yours in your (literal) last column defending the privacy of Trump’s extra-marital affair? And, while we’re tackling some ugly conservative tendencies, what the aside at “minority group” wedlock birthrates accomplished?

    Like

    • Tyrone Jiminés

      How ’bout that Bill Clinton? He never had extramarital affairs. By the way, “extramarital” is ONE word and doesn’t require a hyphen, you lazy sow. Go back to mommy you guilt-ridden pig.

      Like

      • soyboy lib cuck #167

        Clinton wasn’t impeached for that, though. He was impeached for perjury in the hearing ABOUT Lewinsky, by a set of Republicans almost identical to the ones that now refuse to take a known Russian asset out of the most powerful political position on Earth because it might backfire on them.
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton

        Also, even if you were correct, it’s still not the same issue. Trump’s lawyer illegally paid that porn star 100k, threatened her into signing an NDA (which, stupidly, Trump somehow never signed himself), and then failed to tell the FEC about the money, which consitutes a very nasty federal crime. This on top of a mountain of other treasonous and illegal things that have happened under his watch.

        Also, grammatically speaking ‘extra-marital’ is perfectly fine.

        Like

  2. seriously dude?

    How’s it going Zach? Just dropping in to let you know that this article is an absolute mess, my guy, and there isn’t a nicer way to put it. Let’s go one piece at a time:

    “To start off, I might be the worst possible person to talk about sexual morality”
    This sentence is a giant flashing red strobe light in the face of everyone who reads this piece; you’re admitting you have no space or requisite knowledge to tackle this issue. At the very least it’s an admission most of your fellow authors have not and will never make.

    “But so long as I do not impose my own beliefs on others, I should be free to criticize others’ actions as immoral and wrong. That being said…”
    Yeeeeeeahhh….. sure. But I don’t think you get what that means in practice. Sure, as a free American you have every right to unload The Tower’s dumpster-fire of words in the collective faces of all your readers without being sent to the gulag. But that’s about where it stops. And sure, someone who commits a violent hate crime ought to face harsher consequences than someone who stands outside Planned Parenthood all day howling and toting a Westboro Baptist picket sign. But to put forward a rhetorical argument of any kind, even one made by guttural howls and vague threats of eternal damnation, is to impose it on others. What you are doing here is actively imposing your worldview on your audience with unimpressive results. “Responsibility” is not just a piss-poor solution to the issue you’ve outlined, it’s an imposition of your beliefs on a situation which, by your own admission, you shouldn’t comment on.

    “My solution is simple: take on responsibility. Some intellectuals have already been talking about this…”
    I’m going to be a little rude here, Zach, because not only did you *not* actually come up with your proposed solution yourself, you directly credit known sexist moron Jordan Peterson, a hack who makes his living preaching TPUSA talking points to gullible teenage boys. I’m not going to expand on this one because I doubt you’ve read this far into the comment, but here’s some sources for everyone else reading:
    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jordan_Peterson#Sexism:_support_for_stricter_gender_roles_and_antifeminism

    Okay, last one I promise:
    “…the act of sex is the renewal and sign of the sacrament of matrimony, the ultimate expression of giving oneself over to the other.”
    I’ll be honest: I really enjoy this sentence because it’s the written equivalent of setting all your other talking points on fire and smashing up the ashes with a sledgehammer. Anyone reading this piece who still isn’t convinced that it’s a mathematical proof of the Infinite Monkey Theorem is going to stop here with all the grace of an F-16 careening into a mountain at twice the speed of sound. Your solution – and even your interpretation of the issue – are deeply, deeply rooted in a belief system that has done more harm to people than can be measured, and like you, I’m not going to elaborate on that point because, well, I just don’t feel like it. Here you are announcing to everyone that you see sex as some kind of creepy religiously-undertoned act only to be undertaken by two college dropouts who get married and fuck twice before one of them goes on deployment for 2 years to shoot “terrorists” and get cheated on while he’s gone.

    Please, by god, have someone who doesn’t recoil in arousal at the sight of an exposed ankle edit the stuff that gets published here, because as it stands The Tower has about as much journalistic merit as an Onion article written by a drunk moose.

    Like

    • Tyrone Jiminés

      I agree with you as a fellow sex-positive progressive, but dumpster fire is two separate words that do not require a hyphen. Maybe you’d learn that if you didn’t major in some useless shit stain degree like sociology at an overpriced daycare for white privileged cum-guzzling leeches on society.

      “two college dropouts who get married and fuck twice before one of them goes on deployment for 2 years to shoot “terrorists” and get cheated on while he’s gone.”

      At least they do more for their country compared to some keyboard justice warrior who takes an hour out of their day to respond to some asshole libertarian’s ramblings on sex. I mean, he definitely gets laid more than you, yet you deride and criticize him for seeing sex as something meaningful rather than superficial. I’m sure you’d be more satisfied if you sat down and realized that all the raucous, depraved sex acts that take place on Trinity’s campus enshrine Trinity’s reputation of stick-up-the-ass progressives who can’t take a joke.

      Zach may be lacking in the physical and mental departments, but at least he has the guts to come on here and show how much of a soylent-filled manlet he is. You’re on here anonymously and act so high and mighty because you’re enlightened after one philosophy class. Hope you like unemployment after you inevitably graduate, have no job lined up, and waste away on mommy and daddy’s dime.

      And don’t claim that your life isn’t the result of the evil white neofascist patriarchy who is controlling your poor victimized life in their grubby hands. You’re the only personal who is responsible for their actions, and you better remember that the next time you get knocked up and claim that it’s a hate crime. #GayPride!

      Liked by 1 person

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