Search This Blog

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Ugh Factor: Sodomy in the Marriage Bed?

Several years ago I did a blog post on the morality of sodomy as foreplay that got more attention than anything I've ever done. It was critical of those in the Theology of the Body camp who say sodomy is okay in marriage as "foreplay" as long as the marital act is concluded in the normal way.

Recently, the post got picked up by Ron Conte in A Debate About Marital Foreplay. Ron brings up great points and quotes from Church documents and the saints that were not addressed in the original article. He skewers the idea of some talking heads that ANYTHING is allowed as long as the marital act is concluded in the normal way and the couple agrees on the "foreplay." (Are whips and handcuffs included?)

I recommend the article. Some things are degrading and dehumanizing in whatever context they occur even if the parties agree.


JMJT said...

Granted it is difficult sometimes these days to trace the Church's historical teaching about the topic of foreplay to the marital act, especially since much of this is to be found written in Latin intended to be read only by Clergy. I think one thing to bear in mind is considering things one finds disgusting, is not to invent sins and hold others to our personal feelings when the Church does not forbid something under pain of sin. If someone would wrongly believe us, that the particular act is a mortal sin, then consent to the act, even if only to please their spouse,they would be guilty of sin, and we would be guilty of participation in that sin.

Another factor is that well educated moral theologians sometimes disagree on the permissiveness of certain acts because no official prohibition by the Church exists. In these cases, St. Alphonsus Liguori , moral theologian and Doctor of the Church says that we are free to choose either , and are under no obligation to choose the most strict.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I think Ron makes a convincing case that the Fathers of the Church and Church teachings indicate the sinfulness of the sodomite act whether it ends in orgasm or not.

JMJT said...

I think that Dr.Janet Smith and Dr. Peters are more likely than Ron to know what teachings are magisterial on this topic. I skimmed the Ron article and searched for his bio, re education,which was not that impressive, and I could not find anything about his personal or family data. I have read Jone and I think Ron wrongly accuses others of misreading it. I found only a blank page linked to Ron's teaching promoting natural family planning.I have great respect for Chris West and the good work he has done in promoting chastity before marriage and avoidance of contraception in marriage using Pope St. John Paul's written works.
Smith and Peters have contributed valuable information to understanding the present crisis in the Church with the Episcopate and with Papal documents. I do not think this is a good time to engage them in disputed issues, and attempt discredit them , especially since Liguori has given us light in this regard. Many of the theologians, bishops and cardinals we have now are homosexual and misleading on a number of sexual issues for both homosexuals and heterosexuals and this is not a good time to engage them; not to mention we have a Pope who fosters confusion.

rohrbachs said...

This whole issue was played out years ago in response to Christopher West and his interp of TOB. Good guys: Alice von Hildebrand and Dawn Eden among others. Bad guys: West and Janet Smith among others.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thank you for your comment, JMJT.

Like you, I regard Janet Smith and Ed Peters highly. I don't think disagreeing about an interpretation of moral issues is an attempt to discredit them. Theologians disagree. And entering into a Socratic dialogue to search for truth is one of the greatest uses of our reason. As I read Ron Conte's article, he doesn't primarily depend on his own authority and opinion so his bio is somewhat irrelevant. Which reminds me of a priest who once said the wisest woman he ever met was a charwoman. St. Therese had no formal training as canon lawyer or moral theologian, but she's a Doctor of the Church.

Ron lists eight sources who consider sodomy immoral in the marriage bed including Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand, Fr. Tom Morrow, Fr. Brian Harrison, etc. as well as St. Alphonsus Liguori and several other saints. Perhaps "skimming" the article you missed some important points.

I can't agree that this is the wrong time to bring up these sexual ethics. Part of the problem as I see it in the current sex abuse crisis is exactly what Ron is addressing -- loss of modesty and a sense of human dignity and the focus on illicit pleasure. Wasn't that what all the abusers were doing? Children are being taught now in sex ed about outercourse. Sodomy is one of those "safe" activities that allow one to experience sexual pleasure without pregnancy. Children are being told that anything you do short of sexual intercourse is NOT sex.

One other point from my perspective. I believe sodomy is a violation of the fifth commandment. We teach little girls to wipe from front to back because getting fecal matter into the vagina is a health risk. Sodomy also can tear and do damage to the rectum and cause rectal incontinence, a common problem for homosexuals. How is putting your partner at these risks an act of love?

I taught NFP with my for about twenty years, 15 of them at Providence Hospital in D.C. One of the things we taught the couples was that the uterus is a sterile environment. What does turning the vagina into a toilet do to the sperm that enter that sterile environment?

This is an important issue that needs to be discussed and in view of the sexual libertinism of the current age, we as Catholics, need to be very clear about the dignity of the marital act. I think it is exactly the right time to clarify these issues.

Unknown said...

JMJT, thanks for the tip on that NFP page, it's back online now:
My position on marital sexual ethics is much the same as that of Saint Alphonsus Liguori. There are other Saints who have weighed in on this subject, all against any use of the wrong 'vas' for marital relations. And all the present-day priests and theologians I cite have good credentials.

I take issue with the common claim, made by Smith and reiterated by JMJT that "no official prohibition by the Church exists". Pius XII condemned a large portion of what West and others approve in his Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility and Address to Midwives. The Holy See issued a very clear condemnation of marital sodomy (that it must be refused even under grave duress) in Denz. 3634. And the well-known teaching, found in many magisterial documents, is that each and every marital act must be unitive and procreative. So this is not the case of an open question, where the faithful are free to decide. We have magisterial teachings that apply.

JMJT said...

I am not sure in all cases that the sources you site are making a distinction between anal intercourse including ejaculation for the sake of contraception before modern means were introduced, and anal penetration as a form of foreplay. Jone makes a clear distinction and states that the latter is allowed. When these lines are drawn it in no way means that the activity in question is recommended, nor free from health risks, nor accepted in refined circles. It only means no sin is involved, and thus it is important not to hold people to
a prohibition which is not clearly magisterial. This differs from homosexual anal sex because in those cases the partners are not husband and wife which is only possible for heterosexual couples, and needless to say the completed sexual act will not be open to conception.
Anything form of sexual expression between couples of the same sex is sinful as per God.

JMJT said...

"rohrbachs said...
This whole issue was played out years ago in response to Christopher West and his interp of TOB. Good guys: Alice von Hildebrand and Dawn Eden among others. Bad guys: West and Janet Smith among others.

August 17, 2018 at 4:45 PM"

So are you saying that Smith and Peters have now agreed that Alice and Dawn's pronouncement on this is magisterial and binding on all the faithful in the universal Church under pain of sin?

Andrew Nelson said...

Anal and oral sex are not natural, as it is a misuse of something apart from its natural end. It is against modesty and leads to the corrupting of our mind, body and soul.

JMJT said...

I think you need to consult Dr. Janet Smith on the outcome of the debate on the internet that involved Christopher West, Janet Smith and others. I followed it somewhat and if I recall correctly the "good guys" were able to engage a bishop and others who thought this form of foreplay by married couples was not to be permitted. Again if I recall correctly , the "bad guys "
then consulted the Vatican, Probably then still under Pope Benedict XVI, and the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal G,. Muller. The outcome, I believe was that all were reminded that magisterial decisions are not made by one bishop. Note that Cardinal Muller was let go from his position later by Pope Francis after he suddenly and without stating a reason fired the priests working under Cardinal Muller. Note that Pope Francis endorses and promotes pro-homosexual lifestyle clergymen of all ranks. Note that Dr. J. Smith and Dr. Peters have contributed to our understanding of the confusion coming from Rome and other sources in the light of the constant teachings of the Church.

Unknown said...

Wow. What JMJT just explained, about consulting a Bishop and the Vatican is pure fiction. I researched that debate year ago with West, Smith, Dawn Eden, Alice von Hildebrand. I read everything written on it. There was no such consultation with the Vatican.

Also, JMJT's accusation against Pope Francis is false; the holy Pontiff does not endorse or promote a pro-homosexual lifestyle. Francis reiterated a prior decision of the Church that homosexuals are not to be admitted to the seminary.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I certainly can't agree with you about the pope, Ron. He has advanced the homosexual agenda through his confusing statements and mixed messaged. His "who am I to judge" comment has been used by priests with tables at gay pride events. The Nativity at the Vatican last Christmas was a celebration of gays. Sometimes he says orthodox things, but his actions are completely opposite. Actions speak louder than words so we will see what the pope does about the sex abuse scandals. The proof is in the result. I sometimes get the impression that he says orthodox things with a wink and a smile. When the gay community is cheering for the pope I raise my eyebrows.

And then there is the upcoming meeting on the family in Dublin. Any pope doesn't put the kibosh on Fr. James Martin as a speaker is a gay enabler.

JMJT said...

NO Ron Conte, the consultation with the Vatican is not fiction and occurred later so it would not appear with the discussions that took place on the internet but was related to these topics and publications supporting the Eden arguments;
nor is it fiction that orthodox clergy and theologians differ in opinions on the topics in the Chris West debate to this day. Again I am not an advocate of any of the disputed topics, I just believe that the history, based on moral theology books used as guides for priests who hear confessions, written prior to Vatican II and widely used in many countries( evidence of a tradition) agree with the West/Smith side of the debate.

Unknown said...

The argument of JMJT is the same type of argument as Peters and Smith offer: cite other persons who hold a particular opinion. I've looked at many of these sources. The Ford and Kelly citation is incorrect; they don't mention the topic. The other authors just state that it is not sinful, without a theological argument. So JMJT cites Peters/Smith, who cite other authors, who offer no theological basis for their opinion.

The other side of the debate has Saints, magisterial teaching, Biblical teaching, and an analysis of the theological question based on intrinsic evil and the fonts of morality. I have yet to find anyone on Peters/Smith's side who even attempts to offer a theological argument of any substantial depth, or who can refute the theological arguments of Saints Aquinas and Alphonsus, or who can explain how their claims can be reconciled with magisterial teaching to the contrary.

JMJT said...

"The argument of JMJT is the same type of argument as Peters and Smith offer: cite other persons who hold a particular opinion. I've looked at many of these sources. The Ford and Kelly citation is incorrect; they don't mention the topic. The other authors just state that it is not sinful, without a theological argument. So JMJT cites Peters/Smith, who cite other authors, who offer no theological basis for their opinion."

Again I was not involved with Smith and Peters in this argument. I am just relaying that books used in seminaries for as far back as they could trace, are as they stated. As I have said, I have read one of these books Jone,( pre Vat.II) which you misrepresented. Most of these older books are in Latin. Others
People who found a bishop to agree with the Eden side of the argument published and the Smith/Peters side asked for clarification from the Vatican and were told that one bishop does not
have the authority to make such a judgment binding on all the faithful. So it seems this question remains one of those moral situations where Ligouri says people are free to choose either opinion and are not bound to the strictest, and this teaching by Ligouri has been accepted by the Church.

Unknown said...

First, I disagree that Fr. Jone is a reliable source. He says that when a husband and wife engage in sodomy, one is committing a sin, while the other is not. This is a nonsensical statement. Second, ALL the sources you list: Ford and Kelly, Jone, West, etc. are AFTER 1500!!! FIND ONE SOURCE BEFORE 1500 (the first 75% of Catholicism) who agrees with you!!!

Thomas Aquinas clearly says it is the manner of copulation (oral/ anal sex), not just spilling the seed. He explicitly condemns unnatural acts as a MEANS to intercourse (foreplay). “Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to UNDUE MEANS, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.” Thomas Aquinas then says: “Lastly comes the sin of not observing the right manner of copulation, which is more grievous if the abuse regards the "vas" than if it affects the manner of copulation in respect of other circumstances.” Clearly he is against abuses of the “vas,” the type of sex (oral, anal), not just spilling the seed. Saint Alphonsus Liguori explicitly condemn it: “The reason is that this manner of his sexual act (even without climax) is truly sodomy, whether or not it is consummated, just as an act of copulation in the natural orifice of another woman is truly fornication, even if there is no climax.” Also, Saint Jerome implies it is evil, by comparing loving one’s wife too much with a prostitute: but unnatural acts was what was done at the time with prostitutes. SAINT AUGUSTINE CONDEMNS IT, NOT AS SPILLING THE SEED, BUT THE MEMBER NOT BEING USED FOR THAT PURPOSE: “But, when the man shall wish to use the MEMBER of the wife not allowed for this purpose, the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman.” Denzinger, given by the Holy See and which requires assent among the faithful, says a wife cannot participate in sodomy, but can participate in withdraw. Why would a wife not be able to participate in sodomy, if it were not evil from the outset?

Finally, no widely held distinction was made for completion until 1920 in Fr. Jone's book. Evil acts cannot be combined with other acts to become moral, so the only way to allow these acts is to say oral or anal sex are not evil in themselves, and only spilling the seed is wrong (the “one rule”). However, Saint after Saint condemned “sodomy,” and the dictionary definition of sodomy at the time included “oral and anal sex.” This clearly shows that these activities are evil in themselves!!! LASTLY, HOW COULD SAINTS WHO HATED UNNATURAL ACTS ALMOST AS MUCH AS MURDER, POSSIBLY SUPPORT THE SAME BEHAVIOR WHEN UNCOMPLETED!!!