Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Common Misunderstandings



Determined to rescue the sacredness of every sperm from the satirists and the naysayers, The Anchoress offers her services:

I can tell you what my own understanding is, and it may help some who just dismiss the stance of the Church as utter nonsense.
These florid words are the ones that may help:
Our creation is no accident, but the Love of God made manifest, and the “tools” or “materials” that He uses for that creation – committed love and the mysterious and miraculous products of that love – do, simply by their designation as “tools of God” demand a certain respect and recognition, because they are a great deal more than the equivalent of nasal mucous or earwax. They [sperm and ova] are the essentials of human creation, within us but as remote and mysterious as stardust, and therefore they are of staggering value and import. In THAT sense, yes, every sperm is sacred.
It's not clear what "in THAT sense" is doing here; the sense of "every sperm is sacred" under discussion sounds exactly like the one we know from Monty Python, only stripped of mirth and presented in dead earnest. Sperm cells are "essentials" of "human creation" never to be trifled with, and as such carry "staggering" levels of god-imposed significance. In a more properly observant world, priests would deliver last rites to every sperm cell that doesn't fertilize an egg; and given the numbers involved, I suspect this would severely cut back on the time available to rape children, and speaking for myself (not necessarily The Anchoress or her church), I call this a good thing.

I could quibble with "remote and mysterious as stardust," since neither sperm/ova nor stardust are nearly as remote or mysterious as they were when the Catholic Church still had enough sway to stifle science, but the more interesting question is where these weighty assertions lead. In the hands of The Anchoress, they manage to permit sex-for-procreation, and it alone, except when they don't:
every sex act, if it is truly to be respectful of God’s design and creation, must be opened to the possibility of new life ... if they take steps to suppress that possibility, then they have – essentially – excluded God from the act.
It goes without saying that god needs to be included in all sex acts, but The Anchoress helpfully went ahead and said it anyway. Allowing for the possibility of procreation is required of any sex act that god will join, and yet
sooner or later fertility ends, that does not mean sex ends. One of the common misunderstandings is that “the church says sex must always and only be about procreation, and if it’s not possible, then sex is a sin.” This is nonsense. Sex is the gift and privilege of married couples, both pleasurable and procreative. When fertility has come to an end, when the possibility of new life is no longer there, that means the procreation part has ended, not the pleasure.
Oddly, The Anchoress has now attached the words "gift" and "privilege" and even "pleasure" to sex, thereby leaving things far from the earlier twaddle about "essentials" of "human creation" with their "staggering" degrees of god-soaked meaning, and opening the door to the wanton obliteration of sperm cells.

So there you have it: contrary to common misunderstandings, every sperm is sacred except in cases where every sperm is not sacred; non-sinful sex is sex that can lead to procreation except where non-sinful sex is sex that cannot lead to procreation; Catholic teaching on these matters is a sound reflection of clear thinking and genuine authority except where it is a slapdash wreck of absurd superstitions and confused prejudices.

(via Sullivan)

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