06 September, 2005

A missed opportunity... again

What is it with modern Christian clergy and sexuality — especially Catholic clergy — that they either deceive or draw a blank on Christian sexuality, with depressing consistency?

My diocese's newsp— er, glossy news magazine contains a letter to a priest which asks: Did Jesus ever talk about sex?

That's a simple question, right? You'd think it would deserve a simple yes-or-no answer, right?

Wrong. The priest who answered it wrote a long, erudite reply about how God speaks in many ways: through the Holy Spirit who guides the Church, etc. He quoted the catechism and a whole bunch of other things. Theologically speaking, it's good stuff, very thoughtful, and he obviously knows what he's talking about. Nor was he letting the questioner off the hook about the requirements of Christianity on sexuality.

Yet one strains one's eyes in vain to find the simple, yes-or-no answer to the simple, yes-or-no question: Did Jesus ever talk about sex?

His answer should have started with YES: according to the Gospel of Matthew, anyway. Jesus' answer wasn't convenient to modern fashions, either; he took the Jewish law and spiritualized it (which, contrary to current fashion, means that he made it harder, not easier):

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

— Matthew 5.27-31, NAB, NIV, KJV and if you want any other versions or languages, click on the drop-down menu for the last two links

Now, if the goodly priest wants to follow this with his learned theology, then by all means, go ahead! But this non-answer to a simple question irritates me to no end. Our clergy (Catholic and Protestant) abound in them; then they wonder why teenagers — who are quickly bored by a non-answer to their questions — won't attend Sunday services.

Every priest should have been able to answer that question with a solid "YES", because every priest has read that bible verse many, many times before. It occurs every year in the Gospel readings for daily mass. I suppose that a newly-ordained priest from a seminary that didn't require daily mass might be off the hook, but it's still odd.

It brings back memories of the time I was a seminarian. My diocesan brother asked me point-blank at lunch, "Do you really think Jesus gives a f— what I do with my p—?"

He was stunned that I had an affirmative answer, backed up by Scripture. But why shouldn't he have been stunned, when the clergy we have can't deflect one of the most easily deflected lies the enemy has about Christianity and sex?

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