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Will toxic culture in the Church come to an end?

Image of Pope Francis
Image: iStock

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.

 

Categories
Culture

Valentine’s Day – what’s it mean in 2017

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day when lovers declare their love for each other and secret admirers tell their crush how they feel. Well, that’s the common narrative.

Of course, the origin of Valentine’s Day goes way back. There are two commonly stories that are thought to be the origin of Valentine’s Day. One was that the ancient Romans had a festival Lupercalia in which, according to NPR, men sacrificed a goat or dog before beating young women who were looking to find a mate. I’ve read elsewhere over the years that a names were drawn in a ‘lottery’ to determine who would marry whom. This festival was believed to take place between the 13 and 15 of February. Things changed when Catholicism became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire and the festival was dedicated to St. Valentine.

Another common theory is that Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest in the Rome around the fourth century AD. At this time, there was a crackdown on Christian traditions, including marriage. Valentine defied the Emperor, and even when he was arrested and inprisoned, continued to conduct weddings in prison. While in prison, he befriended the daughter of a Roman guard. They exchanged letters (a.k.a. ‘valentines’). It’s alleged that Valentine died on February 14, hence the date. However, the exact identity of the Saint Valentine isn’t known (there is more than one St. Valentine).

 

The romantic aspect of the day also has a long history, with tokens being exchanged by lovers as far back as the Middle Ages. The 1800’s was when Valentine’s Day cards started being sold by retail outlets.

Fast forward 200 or so years and I think you’ll find attitudes toward Valentine’s Day split. Some say it’s too commercial, some use it as a day to show love and appreciation to friends, while others use it to spoil their partners or show interest in a crush. I do get that the day is heavily commercialised and it’s mostly linked with American culture, rather than Australian, but I think the idea of celebrating love – either romantic or platonic – is lovely and sonething that the world could use more of, to be honest.For years, I’ve thought that Valentine’s Day was a great opportunity to show love to people who you may not show it on any given day. For lovers, it may be the push you need to propose to your loved one. You may just want to stay home woth your loved one that night, watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on DVD. Whatever floats your boat.

For some people, it may cause a genuine pain – that you wish you had someone, or maybe a reminder of a past relationship. I won’t say that this is silly or that you shouldn’t feel that way. If Valentine’s Day is one that brings pain, I hope you’ll find comfort in surrounding yourself with the things and people you love and care about.

 

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is like any other day. By that, I mean it’s good for others, sometimes a new opportunity and a day that you can make what you will.

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? How will you spend the day?