Most Christians, and a lot of non-Christians, are familiar with the story of original sin. Adam and Eve were created. They were told not to eat of that one tree. They did, after being beguiled by the Devil, in the form of a serpent, and boom: the rest of mankind shall suffer the consequences of sin in the world. It’s hard for us to imagine life before the Fall and before sin entered creation.
Even though we are familiar with this part of the story, I think that the consequences part is a bit hazy at times for us. Before the Fall there wasn’t just no sin in the world. There was a harmony that existed in all of creation—between God and man, within man himself, between man and other men, and between man and nature. After sin entered the picture, all of these areas are adversely affected.
Now it is difficult for man to come before God sincerely and honestly. We see in the Bible that after Adam and Eve sinned they hid from God. We do this in countless ways still when we ignore our consciences, when we don’t make time to pray, and when we don’t ‘own up’ to the sins we commit. This leads right into the second effect: man also suffers discord within himself. It’s no longer easy for a man to know himself, to turn to God in his heart, or to choose what is good. Catholics call this concupiscence—when we are inclined to choose evil. All of our days we will toil to choose what is good and what we know is good.
Naturally, man’s relationships with other men suffer as well as a result of sin. We struggle to treat others justly and to be generous. We struggle to listen to others and to believe them. We struggle not to use others for our own ends or to get things we want. As a general rule, now instead of delightfully skipping along the smooth path to the Kingdom together people have become saint makers.*
And finally creation itself is affected by sin. God didn’t intend for there to be natural disasters, cancer, or children born with deformities. There are countless examples we can see in the world itself. And looking at this shows us the real meaning behind St. Paul’s words, “All of creation has been groaning …” Romans 8:22?
Original sin is perhaps the easiest of Catholic doctrines to defend because deep down we know that things aren’t as they ought to be.
But what does this have to do with Catholic Sexpectations?
This means that as Catholics we can expect there to be disharmony in the sexual realm as well. And it could be looked at in the same fourfold manner mentioned above.
Man and God
How many times have you heard the phrase (whether on TV, in jokes, or after a sermon or homily), “Keep your religion out of the bedroom!” Keep God out of the bedroom. Keep God out because we can hardly imagine God being with us while we are doing what we do in the bedroom. We can’t imagine God because God doesn’t have a body. The Catechism tells us that God cannot be defined as male or female. And sex has been so twisted and degraded that it’s hard for us to not be ashamed of sex even though sex is good and holy. Sin affects us in this way—that we separate this and want to hide it from God, the Author of Life and Creator Himself.
Man and Himself
We also struggle on our own, in our own hearts, with lustful thoughts, with objectifying, with disordered desires. There is a great discord within man. Even in the most loving of marriages, there is still the task for each spouse to accept that his sexual desire for the other is still limited by his natural, larger desire for eternal union with Love itself. People struggle with sexual confusion because of past hurts and wounds. Sexual desire is a gift given to man from God. After sin entered the picture, we got confused about how to use this gift given to us. And like with all gifts, if you use a gift improperly it doesn’t function as it is supposed to. This is true for sex as well.
Man and Others
We struggle to treat others as persons. In Love and Responsibility Blessed John Paul II writes that the proper response to a human person is love. And love is willing the highest good for the other; love is treating someone as if they are some one—a separate one, individual person, with a good end for himself apart from yourself. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “All Christian faithful are called to lead a chaste life” (CCC?). Chastity is the virtue that directs our sexual desires towards the good of the person. All of us—priests, singles, married, monks, women, men—are called to live out chastity. We are called to be chaste—not just to be refraining from certain actions or to be abstinent for a certain period of time; we are called to treat other persons with the love that is proper to being a human person.
Man and Nature
I don’t believe there are scientific studies that show that there is a certain same-sex attraction gene, but even if there were, I don’t think that I could honestly be surprised. The disharmony that entered the world after the Fall has effects that will reverberate through the whole history of mankind and while we tend to associate sin with only having spiritual effects, there is no reason why sin doesn’t also affect the physical realm. But as with the examples mentioned earlier, about cancer, natural disasters and being born with deformities, we know these to be unnatural. We don’t say that it’s normal to live without an arm to a child that is born without an arm. We teach them how to live as normally as possible without the proper health and function of the missing arm. The same goes for unnatural sexual tendencies—same sex attractions, sexual confusion, gender disorientation. None of these are natural, even if experienced from very early on in life, and therefore should not be deemed as the standard for a healthy, wholesome life. Calling these things natural, or accepting them as healthy for the human person, doesn’t result in them being any more natural than they are already. All of us are called to be chaste—and for each and every single one of us that will look different. Each of us is given the opportunity to glorify God with our bodies, and for each of us this will look different.**
As Catholics, as Christians, we can expect this. We can also expect the redemption won by the Blood of Christ to cover all aspects of our sexuality. It is only when we expect, and beg and plead, for the redemption won by Christ to wash over our sexuality as well that we can experience the true freedom that is appropriate for the Sons and Daughters of God.
* Saint Maker: that one person that God gave the gift and talent of rubbing you the wrong way consistently to, thereby, making you choose between vice and virtue. Choose wisely and become a saint.
** This topic is massive and will be covered in a future post separately
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