Category Archives: Sexuality

The Catholic Church Hates Women? (Ordination of Women)

Yesterday I spoke about how some people view the Church as being anti-women, and I focused on their charge that the Church’s ban on birth control was somehow aimed at the oppression of women. In other words, this is a two part article, so if you want to read the first, Click Here.

Moving on, the second great issue for those who hold this view, is that since the Church “refuses” to ordain women to the priesthood, it is clearly sexist, chauvinistic, and morally corrupt.

At first blush, I can see their point. It does strike one as odd doesn’t it, that the Church would decide somehow that women are not fit to the task? I think a dang good answer as to why this is the Church’s teaching is in order, and it better be a really, really good answer. Anything less would seem to prove their point entirely. In fact, I almost wonder if there IS an answer good enough to do this accusation justice. Those opposed to the Church have raised a truly dangerous issue, and we had better not shirk it if we are to keep our dignity not only as religious, but as egalitarian, freedom loving human beings.

Let me spell out their position as I see it, and I must admit, it is not an unfair assessment. It is not just about women having the ability to preside at Sacraments, although that is certainly part of it. It is really about authority. How can the Church completely deny women leadership in the Church? Look at Vatican II, and what you see is a room full of men. Sure, they might have had a few prominent women in the background as advisers, but let’s face it, Vatican II and every council before it has been dominated by men. Every diocese is headed by a man, every parish by a man. Sure you may have women here and there in leadership roles, but they all answer directly to a man.

A couple of hundred years ago, this might have seemed entirely natural, but in the modern world, the Church is the most patriarchal institution in existence. Sure, I know there have been women who have really shaken things up, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, Joan of Arc and Therese of Lisieux come to mind, but in honesty, these women were flashes of femininity in a masculine world. They are by no means the norm.

Holy Spirit guide me, as I am walking on shaky ground.

I cannot pretend to have all the answers here. I cannot even promise that I will give good answers. All I can do is share what I have found to be true, and hope that it all makes sense when put together. I see three main issues with the ordination of women; complementarity, sociology, and divine mandate.

What the heck is complementarity? Is that even a word? Well, let me try to say what I mean. Men and women are different. Well, not just that, I also mean we are the same. That makes no sense, I know, but bear with me. Men and women are equal in dignity, but different in nature or kind. We are totally equal, men are not better then women, and women (excluding my wife) are not better than men. We are completely equal. All of our traits have value that the world cannot live without. We are not however, the same. (surprise, right?)

Let me explain. When my first daughter was born, I was downright jealous. The whole pregnancy I just felt uninvolved. Yes, I helped pick the crib, and painted the nursury till the odd hours of the morning. Yes, I would sit there while my wife was sleeping and feel my baby kick inside her, and would sing her my favorite jazz standards in hopes that she would know my voice. In the end though, it was all her. I had no hormones to help me along, I just felt isolated. I am glad to be a man, but I would have loved to have had that closeness to my child.

It got no better when she was born. My wife loved her immediately, like she knew her. All I could see was a slimy blueish purple thing. I cooed and tickled and held my child all night, but it was never the same as when my wife would hold my child to her breast and feed her. I wanted that, but that’s just not what I am. I’m not a mother. I can’t be, I have other roles I must fill.

I have little doubt that my wife feels the same when I throw my kids in the air, and tickle them till they can’t stand it. When I pick them up and throw them in the pool, she knows that’s just not who she is. That’s my job. I know my wife knows the difference, as she often tells my children, “You just wait till your father gets home!”

We are different, and this difference carries on throughout our lives. We have natural roles we fill, and while they are not the same, they complement each other. Yes, they overlap. I can be nurturing, and she can be firm. I can wash dishes, and she can bring home the bacon. But the biology is ever present.

That brings me to sociology. Most women don’t want to be the leader, it’s not really all that feminine. I can feel you getting your rotten eggs and tomatoes ready to throw at me, but hear me out, I swear it’s true. I’m not saying that women aren’t leaders, they often are in many areas of their lives, but in the end, a woman feels safest and most secure with a man who values her person and opinion in charge.

Again, my marriage. My wife is extremely capable. She doesn’t need me any more than she needs her computer. Sure, it’s nice to have around, but it isn’t necessary. A little extra cash is hardly worth the trouble of putting up with a stinky, hairy man. She can hold a job, take care of the kids, cross stitch a masterpiece and cook dinner all at the same time. A man like me must seem like a useless appendage. Except I’m not. Not only that, but she defers to me. Don’t get me wrong, she makes most of the day to day decisions, but when the going gets tough, she wants me to listen, be the one to make the choice, and take the responsibility. It’s just more comfortable for her.

This is natural femininity. I’m sorry, but you just don’t see this kind of femininity present in female CEOs or world leaders. I’m not saying they are not competent, I’m just saying they are not a fair representation of what the normal, feminine woman is. In fact, you will often see these women dehumanized in the media for this very reason, their femininity is outside normal levels. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t vote for them, I have, and if they are the best candidate, I will again. All I’m saying is that is not the norm. If you need proof, walk into any non-Catholic church, and you will probably see a man as pastor, because that is just comfortable socially. I can think of very few female pastored churches with a sizable congregation, it just isn’t as comfortable for the normal human being.

Let me repeat, I am not saying that women are incompetent, or should stay at home barefoot and pregnant. I am simply saying that natural femininity is fundamentally giving and nurturing, and that is by nature most important in a more private sphere, within a community and most importantly, a family. This is a great thing. We have this really nasty tendency as humans to think that the guy up front is the most important, the one who has the greatest impact on the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The values instilled one on one are always greater than a speech given to many. Men are designed to affect many people in a small way, women are design to affect a few people in a way so massive, that it reaches down through the generations. Femininity may be more behind the scenes, but it’s also way more powerful.

I am getting long winded, forgive me, but I want to do this justice.

Lastly, and most important, we have a divine mandate. We often think that the Church just made up this idea that we should not have women priests, and that is that. We couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Church is stuck with what it is given. Some belief systems can change with the times, the Mormons for example decided that they can no longer have polygamous marriages, so voila, now it is so, and multiple wives are out of the question. For Catholics, we received what we call a “deposit of faith” from the apostles, and those things cannot be changed. Now not all of our practices are part of the deposit of faith, a celibate priesthood is not, for example. The core teachings of Jesus that he taught the apostles are to be held dear though, and at all costs. We can never back down from this wellspring that is our faith. To back down on one singular teaching is to back down on them all, and means complete separation from our roots. Trees without roots are dead, and praise the Lord, we are still alive.

One of these teachings, albeit minor in comparison to something like the Trinity, is the reality of a male priesthood. Jesus was revolutionary towards women. He treated them differently then any man before Him. He treated them with honor and respect at all times, even if the woman He was speaking to was a prostitute or a Samaritan. Christ brought along the first feminist revolution, and it rocked the world. In fact, many of the early churches were houses, funded, and primarily occupied with women. Many of Jesus’ closest and dearest friends were women. His own ministry was entirely funded by woman, and you better believe feeding twelve grown men for three years wasn’t cheap. Heck, the most important woman ever to grace the planet was His own mother. He knew her as no other did, walked by her side, and knew she would not only outlive Him, but would personally mother the entire Church as it grew.

But he did not make any one of them apostles, even His most perfect mother. It was simply not something He decided to do. I don’t know why, I’m not Jesus. I would guess all the reasons I have written above, but I’m not really sure. Maybe he felt women were too holy to be bishops? After all, in His kingdom, “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.” Maybe He was elevating them in some way, I have no idea.

That is however, what He did, and we can’t change that just because times have changed. If He who had the ultimate foresight chose not to do so, then neither can we. All of our reasons pale in comparison to this basic fact.

If Jesus didn’t do it, then we can’t argue.

So we are left with a challenge. In this male run Church Christ gave us, how can we ever bring the feminine perspective to the fore? How can we make sure that the feminine, nurturing, holistic values of women are ever present in our faith and its teaching? Well, I have to openly admit that many leaders in the Church through the centuries have not always met this task well, there is little doubt that the Church is an imperfect, human institution. I will also say that through the grace of the Holy Spirit, it has continued to  make these feminine values a core part of its teaching despite its male structure.

There is a reason that it is called Mother Church!

I have one last thought. There is one woman who can model all of this in a way that is absolutely perfect. The Blessed Virgin was not boastful, never got on a soapbox, never tried to change the world. She did just what she was made for, and that was to teach her Son, to love him, and to support Him throughout His life with her love and her fidelity. All of her life she lived to do one thing, and that was point to her Son. Because of this perfection, she is Mary most Holy, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the one true and perfect thing that God ever made. It is she who is the Queen of Heaven, and Mother of the Church. No one can teach mankind how to love better than a woman, and there is nothing more important to learn. It is not taught best from a pulpit, it is taught best in the loving itself.

Femininity is very powerful indeed.

The Catholic Church Hates Women? (Understanding Birth Control)

I have the pleasure of spending time with many college age men and women. I have always enjoyed this age group more than any other. I love their inquisitiveness and their idealism. I love that they look so deeply into the meaning of things, searching for lessons they can take forward into their lives.

So when last week, one of these friends of mine came to me to share some dialogue he had been having with a friend of his, I was more than happy to hop in and take a look. His friend seemed to think that the Church was anti-woman. He had responded very well, and I was very proud of him for not backing down against such ignorance. He stood up and did his best to defend himself and the Church we hold dear. May God fill our parishes with such bravery.

There is however the issue of the Church being “anti-woman”, and I thought it might be worth talking about.

After much browsing the internet, that be all end all of information, it seems that for those making this argument, it comes to two main points.

First, there is the issue of birth control. It’s amazing how often this rears it ugly head. Somehow, because the Church thinks pumping a woman’s body full of chemicals so that it will not function naturally is a bad idea, it must be against women. If I said we should pump Chesapeake bay full of chemicals so it couldn’t function naturally, there would be a riot. (I am often amazed at hypocrisy, but never surprised. It is so often the same people who want to save the earth and eat organic that want to keep killing babies and pumping women full of chemicals, messing with their natural feminine hormones. Go figure.)

But let’s get back to topic. Those who hold this position say that birth control liberates women, and the Church by its position against birth control is therefore stifling them. Birth control liberates women? How? Now they can rock it like porn stars? Sleep with every guy on the block? Doesn’t sound all that liberating to me.

Have you ever noticed that it always comes back to sex? We must be able to have sex, and dangit, we need to have as much as we want. Now I’ll be the first to say that sex is a very good thing, but what they call liberating, I call slavery. I can’t believe that I live in what is probably the first generation in history to be surprised that you can have a baby from sex.

Let me draw a parallel. I love food. Put a dab of blue cheese on a steak and I’m in heaven. I also am very fond of watermelon. I can eat a whole one in one sitting, seeds and all. But if you were to say that I could eat a pill that would allow me to eat steak and watermelon all day long, and never gain a pound, I would say you have missed the point. First, chemicals are not the proper response to gluttony. More importantly, why the heck would I want to? It’s way out of the ordinary to want to do nothing but eat all day.

C.S. Lewis put it even better, allow me to paraphrase. Imagine you walked into a town and there was a big show. The whole theater was packed to the brim. So naturally you want to go in to see what all the fuss is about. There on the stage you see a man standing next to a table with a drape over it. Now imagine that he slowly pulls back the cloth to reveal a steaming plate of mashed potatoes. The crowd goes wild! Men are hooting and hollering, women are drooling, this really has everyone’s attention. There are only two conclusions you could draw from this. Either 1) There is a severe famine in town, or 2) these folks have a serious food disorder.

That is exactly what we do. We pull back the curtain to show sexuality, and everyone hoots and hollers, but there is no famine here. In fact, there is more sex going on than ever before. This is just disordered. Sex is great, but it’s not so great as to take over the rest of who and what we are. Yet we use sex to sell everything from tires to soap, and it works.

This is supposed to be liberating women? Thanks to this national disorder, we have more porn than ever before, girls are uploading nude pics online from the comfort of their bathrooms, and women are left emotionally alone as the curtain closes on yet another one night stand. Teen pregnancy is ever on the rise, the single mother is a cultural norm, and children are killed by the millions through abortion. (Birth control didn’t help much there did it?) There is nothing wholesome or good going on here.

In fact, I find it insulting. How this group of people get by, saying they are helping women when they are really dragging them through the mud, is criminal at best.

If you are really looking for quality birth control, I have one time tested method that has only failed once. (and it works for men AND women!)

Abstinence.

The other issue these folks who feel the Church is anti-women get into, and this is the really hot one for them, is the Church’s inability to ordain women to the priesthood. That post can be found here.

 

Marriage Confusion

Fifty years ago this would have been a no-brainer, but today, expect to be hung on a cross if you even suggest homosexual “marriage” is anything but the most perfectly acceptable thing. How has this happened? What has changed in the psyche of man that would account for this massive shift in our way we view relationships? How can I explain the deep seated issues with this idea while still showing compassion towards those who have this problem? Did I already ostracize them by calling it a problem?

This issue is really hard for me to talk about for two reasons. The first is that I grew up in California, which is probably the homosexual capital of the world. I have been surrounded by the homosexual agenda my whole life, and so it is hard for me to see the issue clearly while I live surrounded by it. The second issue, and the one deeper to my heart, is the fact that I have a close family member who I love and cherish very deeply who is homosexual. If there ever was someone who really has this problem naturally, it is this young man. He is burly, tough, manly, and has never been interested in a girl, ever. He is not a case of social engineering, I promise you. I would never want him to think I had anything but the deepest respect, love, and admiration for him.

But were he to decide to get “married”, I could not go. Do I want to support him? Do I want him to be happy? Don’t I want him to feel love? Of course I do, but I know that he cannot find it there, even if he doesn’t.

Sigh. Let’s start from the beginning.

My issue is not with homosexuality. I don’t care what science says, I know there are some people born this way, as I have watched this happen in my own experience. I cannot say otherwise with a good conscience.

My issue is not with homosexual sex. (Did he just say that?!) Well, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is I don’t feel any differently about homosexual sex than I do about any other sex that happens outside of marriage. I truly feel they are both fundamentally wrong. Do I see homosexuality as unnatural? Yes I certainly do, but then I would have to quanitfy what is natural in everyone’s sex life and I’m just not willing to go there. I think two men having sex is as bad as a man or woman having sex with someone other than their spouse, or having premarital sex. Sex outside of marriage is fundamentally a really bad idea, and can only bring hurt to those involved. I’ll save that post for another day.

My issue is with homosexual “marriage”, and it has two main problems as I see it.

The first is that I see this as a gateway. Right now the issue is with with a same sex couple wanting to spend their lives together as a married couple. It will not stay there, I promise you. If we allow this, the boundary will be pushed further. Soon the issue will be whether or not you can have three person relationships. Then it will be open polygamy. All of this will happen one step at a time. Already the seeds are being sown, we already have had a reality TV show based on a polygamous marriage, and let me tell you, it showed them in the best light possible, getting us ready for the issue.

I hate to even post his in writing, but that is just where it begins. I promise you that NAMBLA (The national man/boy love association) is watching this issue with baited breath, waiting until it’s their turn to challenge the status quo. Think I’m being extreme? You did hear that fifty years ago, where we are at would have been considered extreme, right?

This ever consistent degrading of the family structure will continue if left unchecked. Don’t think this darkness started with homosexuality though, this started in the fifties with divorce. Divorce too used to be an ugly word, and stigmatized by society. Now it is the norm. THE NORM! I think we all know how terrible this has been for families. Homosexual marriage is just the next step down the road to the oblivion of the family.

The second issue I have with homosexual “marriage” has nothing to do with society, it has to do with those who are involved personally. I am called to love every human being on the planet, and that means I must have compassion towards every person, and as homosexuals just happen to be persons, it is important that I look towards their best interests.

Homosexuality is naturally disordered. Not meaning to be crass, but man parts don’t fit with man parts and woman parts don’t fit with woman parts. It’s not rocket science, its just the good old birds and bees. When you want to put your parts elsewhere, it’s simply disordered. I don’t care if you have an intense desire to rub your parts against elbows, walls, or cheese graters, it’s not within the intrinsic order of things. Maybe in our world that so deeply lacks common sense this is not apparent, but nevertheless, it is so. So we have people in this world with a disorder that the world is telling us we should enable, rather than help them deal with. Thank goodness we don’t have this same tactic with alcoholism or people with learning disabilities.

These people need our love and care, and instead we let them wallow in their problems. We all have issues that we need help with, tendencies that we have to keep in check. The answer is not to just let us live out our disorders to their fullness, as that really only hurts us more. The answer is to help us deal with our issues and problems in the most constructive way possible. Homosexuality is just one of many such issues, and needed to be dealt with in a way that will enrich the lives of those involved.

This is especially apparent to me every time I see a gay pride parade. These men and women have been encouraged in their disorder, and what do you see? More disorder. A gay pride parade is always a spectacle with people walking down the streets dressed like some naked form of a disco ball, riding a unicycle and playing an accordion. Funny as a one man show in a circus, truly sad when en masse as a statement of sexuality. The disorder has grown, and instead of creating a warm, family environment, it has created a perpetual Mardi Gras. This is not healthy for them and can only leave them more empty then if they had dealt with the disorder, and come out stronger because of it.

So for me it is simple. I cannot vote for anything that would continue to degrade the human family. I cannot allow kids to be brought up either in a home where this is considered normal behavior, or where anyone is taught that sickness is health. I cannot vote for further agitating the disorders of otherwise good and healthy people. My job as a human involves the enrichment of mankind, not wholesale abandonment to their vices.

I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to visit Courage, an incredible ministry designed to actually help people with these issues. If you know and love someone who has these issues, and is ready to work towards wholeness, I strongly suggest you send them here.

Crossing the Line

This weekend in our formation classes we had an interesting discussion that I wanted to share. In our psychology course, our professor constantly has us working in small groups, working out different counseling situations, with one of us acting as a therapist, and the other role playing a problem someone might have.

This begged the question, is a deacon meant to be a counselor?

It was astounding how quickly the director of the program jumped up and basically said “Heck no!” The liabilities involved are so tremendous that he wanted to nip that thought right in the bud.

Before I go into my thoughts, he made it absolutely clear that we can listen to people and pray with them, but we are never to give advice. The legal issues are simply to extreme. On a side note, he also said we cannot act as spiritual directors until we take a specific spiritual direction course, which our diocese does not offer.

I will admit I found this rather odd. I would imagine that any priest or deacon with five+ years of spiritual education under their belt would have the ability to give some guidance to the spiritual direction of the flock they have been entrusted with, after all, what is a homily if not spiritual direction? This one seems silly, but it brings me to my main point.

At what time did we as a nation institutionalize good advice?

I find it absolutely ridiculous that a person can be sued for sharing common sense with someone, even when that person instigated the question. “I am sorry, I am not qualified to tell you that you should not beat your children with a stick, let me refer you to a licensed therapist.” What nonsense.

And yet, in this sue happy society, everyone seems to have it out for the Church, and this now includes me. So I wanted to share some of my new rules, effective immediately.

I cannot hug children, but I am allowed to be hugged by children as long as it is in a group setting.

I cannot be alone with anyone, ever. (I hope they exclude my own family!)

I cannot give advice that might have a direct impact on someone’s life, unless that advice is to pray more.

I cannot give people suggestions of things they might change in their lives that might improve their lives.

I cannot tell anyone that I can help them. (It can be confused as “curing” them, which is clinical.)

The list goes on, and seems to grow constantly. While much of it seems silly, I do realize the importance of these new rules, but at the same time, it makes me wonder how I can really be an effective minister of God’s Word. How can I admonish the sinner when I’m not allowed to admonish the sinner? This is tricky business, and I’m going to have to really use my noggin to figure it all out.

Puberty

So my daughter had her birthday today. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel your age like the age of you children. So I can feel as youthful as I please, but the sad truth is, my youngest daughter is eleven. Sheesh.

With eleven come The Changes. Yes, they have already started of course, she’s growing hair in odd places, and her chest is changing shape, but I know what’s in store over the next few years.

First, I must relinquish the phone permanently. With one girl on it all hours of the day already, I can only imagine that I will not be allowed to use it again.

Second, the ladies at the drug store are going to love me to death. I think they get a kick out of the man who drives up in the rain to buy feminine products already, I imagine they’ll think it’s just great when I walk up with them stacked up to my eyeballs. That’s just the picture of masculinity right? A soaked, beaten man trudging through the store with three boxes of tampons, the super duper pack of pads and the mega bottle of Midol? Sounds manly to me, let me tell you. All I need now is a minivan and matching t-shirts. Oh wait, got that already.

Third, the sex talk is immanent. Now I love to give this talk, and I’ve been looking forward to it. I love watching my daughters squirm, and nothing makes them squirm like an uncomfortable conversation. This is going to be awesome. I know this will surprise you, but I’ve actually got a big mouth, I just love to talk. The more serious the topic, the more I am into it. This is going to be a blast.

Fourth, she will start noticing boys here soon. Truth be told, I’m more ready for this than she is, she still thinks they have cooties. This mindset will be all to brief I’m afraid. Too bad she can’t date till she’s 35, cause she’s gonna be a looker.

All in all, amazing changes are in store for me over the next few years, and I’m plum excited to live through them. I have enjoyed every second of their lives, and have never regretted a birthday and wished they could stay young forever. On the contrary, every year they become more interesting, more fun, and a greater blessing.

We cannot help but see God in the setting of the sun. It’s magnificence is simply too awe inspiring to miss. I would argue that the watching of a girl change into a woman beats it hands down. It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

May Christ watch over her all the days of her life.