Last Thursday (10 September), Pope Francis talked about the “divine” nature of good food and loving sex.
He told Italian writer and gourmet Carlo Petrini:
Pleasure derives directly from God, it is neither Catholic, nor Christian, nor anything else. It’s simply divine.
He was also critical of Catholics and Christians who were ‘over – zealous’ in the past in their condemnation of sex and eating.
That’s not to say Pope Francis is suddenly progressive. He still emphasised procreation. Meaning, he stuck to traditional Catholic doctrine.
That aside, does this signal change within the Catholic Church? Does it signal that Catholics and Christians can finally adopting a healthier outlook? I have doubts.
Unfortunately, it’s no secret Christian and Catholic churches have had issues when it comes to sex.
I believe toxic sexual ethics have allowed sexism, homophobia and even child abuse. Married Christians have suffered pain and dysfunction in their sex lives.
Meanwhile, too often, predators have infiltrated the Church. Often, they have climbed up the leadership ladder. They become untouchable. Male victims have been shamed by their sexuality. They wrongly think they may be gay because of the abuse. Obsession about virginity and ‘purity’ in the Protestant Church has left female victims feel dirty and broken.
Is this about to change? Unfortunately, Pope Francis didn’t go into such detail. I suspect not.
Emphasis on procreation
I guess it’s no surprise that Pope Francis mentioned procreation in his speech. Yes, procreation is often a result of sex. It is the goal for some couples.
What about non – procreative sex? What about sex (even in the context of a monogamous straight relationship) just for pleasure? Where does that leave single people? What about acts other than intercourse?
Of course, the marriage – only narrative is exclusionary. Single and LGBTQ+ people need a healthy sexual ethic too. And no, abstinence – only doesn’t work. Literally 99% of the population desire sex. They have physical urges. They have the emotional need for intimacy. These don’t just appear in a heterosexual marriage. This is where the Church has fallen short.
Singles and result of sexual shame
What about people who are single? They have sexual desires, too. Catholic and Protestant churches have been infamous for putting single people in impossible situations. Demonising masturbation and deliberately spreading misinformation about sexuality has had a disastrous effect on countless people.
Anxieties about the ‘dirtiness’ of sex don’t just disappear when someone is married. Both men and women have suffered sexual dysfunctions. Men have been unable to experience erections, while women have suffered severe pain. This can make sex unbearable.
Protestant churches are most associated with purity culture. However, it wouldn’t surprise me that many Catholic couples have faced similar issues. In my view, Catholic teachings around sex have been equally toxic.
Both Catholic and Protestant Churches need a more scientifically accurate view on sexuality. It needs to include married and non – married people.People should have a healthy relationship with their bodies and sexuality. Now that’s ‘divine’.
What do you think about Pope Francis’ statement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.