On unitive and procreative sex within context of marriage

Fr Dwight Longenecker, a former Anglican, now Catholic priest (though not part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) has been writing and tweeting on Catholic teachings regarding human sexuality in light of the huge scandal now rocking the Catholic Church in wake of the revelations regarding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

20h20 hours ago

  1. I have a perfect solution to the clergy sex crisis: Sexual activity may only take place between a man and a woman who are validly married. All other sexual activity is a grave sin and is forbidden. What a concept!


In a post today he writes:

If a person is engaged in any sexual activity other than between one man and one woman who are married to one another for life and open to the gift of children, then that sexual activity is a grave sin and could be a mortal sin.

This treats everyone fairly and means one doesn’t need to distinguish between people’s sexual preferences.

A homosexual person? Why bother to say he is “gay”? For that matter why bother about whether he is homosexual? He is just another guy with sexual desires like anybody else. He is winning his struggle to be chaste or he is not.

“Ohh!” I hear homosexuals complain, “but the homosexual person is not allowed to get married and be happy!” That’s not exactly true. Lots of men with homosexual tendencies have married and become very good husbands and fathers and the demand for chastity has helped them do that.

If the person’s homosexuality is so profound that this is impossible, then it is a sadness that they must remain celibate, but many people are faced with the trial of being single and (if they are Christian) therefore celibate. Widows and widowers, people with disabilities, people who have simply never had a boyfriend or girlfriend or never been asked to be married. Many people struggle with the sadness of being unable to be married. Homosexual people are not alone in that trial.

The Catholic Church needs to proclaim this teaching because it is a key to freedom in Christ and human flourishing.  It can’t be done in a moralistic way with the sense that we are responsible for carrying all this out under our own power, pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps, but done in the context of a supernatural God, who in Christ gives us everything we need for life and holiness through His precious promises. (II Peter 1:3)

We have grace through the sacraments; we have the power of the Holy Spirit;  we need to be taught that as we die with Christ we rise with him with a new identity as a son or daughter of God.  We need that taught and imparted by those who have incorporated that new identity.

Back in 2004 or 2005, when Canada was in the midst of the debate over the redefinition of marriage, Douglas Farrow and Dan Cere of McGill University published a book of essays entitled “Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiment.”

The divorce referred to in the title is the divorce of marriage from procreation —that if you remove procreation from the definition of marriage and thus from the concrete reality of the biological family, then marriage becomes a social construct and abstraction.   When the state ceases to recognize the biological reality of the natural family as an institution that precedes the state, and instead redefines it—well, that’s a recipe for totalitarianism, for the state to own us and our children.

I found the arguments convincing.  I was not a Catholic then; I was an evangelical and frankly, the whole issue of contraception was not top of mind.  But at a prayer meeting for Christians on Parliament Hill I had an epiphany.  At the meeting some of us got talking about marriage, as all of us supported retaining the traditional definition of a man and a woman.

A discussion of sexual activity came up, and I mentioned what I was learning in Divorcing Marriage and the importance of not divorcing procreation from marriage.  Then I mused about how heterosexual couples do a lot of the things that homosexual couples do, and maybe the Catholic Church is right in arguing against all forms of sexual activity that are not open to life.  I was thinking out loud, and my ideas were not fully formed at that point.  Maybe sex shouldn’t be divorced from procreation, either!

One of the men present almost recoiled at what I said.  He was a pastor in a local church.  “Everything goes on the marriage bed,” he said.  He continued saying when a couple is married, all their sexual activity becomes sacred.

That was my epiphany.  I realized the Catholic Church was right in its arguments that procreation could not be divorced from sex any more than it could be divorced from marriage.  To argue otherwise, was really to put an unfair burden of chastity on same-sex attracted people that was not placed on heterosexuals and give a pass to heterosexuals as long as they were married.

By the way,  Douglas Farrow, professor of Christian Thought at McGill is a former Anglican now Catholic..


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