Friday, September 04, 2009

"Oh baby! did I image the Trinity for you?"

Lately I've been seeing a lot of this kind of thing

Book encourages prayers before sexual intercourse

and it is making me think there is a good reason why people outside the Faith think we are looney about sex.

Joyful Mysteries as foreplay probably not going to do it for most people.
Silk Vestments and Fishnet Stockings
All kidding aside, in a poignant moment, my mother once admitted concerning marital sex, "I mean I enjoyed it, but I never stopped feeling guilty about it." To which I muttered silently, "Poor dad."


In recent decades, we have heard far more than we used to about the virtue of Chastity as practiced within a marriage -- faithfulness to the spouse, openness to life, and self-sacrificing love between the spouses...We need more role models of Chastity than poor Maria Goretti, or monks who tamed their flesh by wearing hairshirts and refusing to bathe.

Still, I know that I'm not the only person who feels a little . . . squeamish when speakers wax eloquent about the Theology of the Body...

What makes me squirm in my seat is when Catholic writers try to laying really heavy emphasis on the theological realities of marriage -- more emphasis than ordinary human experience will bear. It may well be true, as one Theology of the Body writer likes to emphasize, that in some sense marital intercourse helps both partners to enter into the "inner life of the Holy Trinity." But is that kind of thinking . . . sexy? I'm single, so readers can correct me here, but the last thing I want to hear about on my wedding night is Trinitarian theology. If the Sorrowful Mysteries make lousy foreplay -- sorry, Mom -- the Joyful ones won't do much better.

Or, as the inimitably succinct Kathy once put it to me in an email, what is wrong with this picture: a young woman who, as she was preparing for marriage, was looking around the internet for a pair of flannel bloomers to wear to bed "to preserve his chastity".


Dorothy said...

Er, yes. Seriously wrong. Besides, maybe he was totally into flannel.

Anagnostis said...

I'm thinking of a character in a Tom Sharp novel - a backwoods Calvinist with a wife half his age. Prior to pulling back the sheets, he kneels down and asks the Almighty to "forgive the excesses which I am about to visit on this, the Person of my Wedded Wife"

Zach said...

Hey, it's you guys who have Tobit and the whole "saying grace before consummation" in your OT canon... :)


Unknown said...

When Tobit knelt down to pray he knew that the last guys who married Sarah all died apparently before they could even get their clothes off. Most married couples aren't facing that situation.

Anonymous said...

As a woman who is deliberately married outside the Church and refuses to have babies though she is in a civil marriage, Kathy Shaidle may not be the best commentator on sex either, to be perfectly frank.

Which is not to say we could not do with a bit less yapping about the whole topic.

Does the young woman of flannel bloomers fame even exist?

Finally, even if Catholics are odd about sex (which I doubt, in general) secularists are far more so.

Anonymous said...

Kathy has a normal Catholic sensibility even though she is naughty. - Karen

Anonymous said...

No. I'd dispute that. It is not normal Catholic sensibility to want to take your newly wed husband to a strip joint.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


Kathy is a friend of mine. Everyone has problems, it doesn't mean they can't be funny or make a contribution.

Anonymous said...

Hilary, I enjoy reading Kathy's blog myself, but your remark here was:

it is making me think there is a good reason why people outside the Faith think we are looney about sex

Then you quoted someone else:

in a poignant moment, my mother once admitted concerning marital sex, "I mean I enjoyed it, but I never stopped feeling guilty about it."

Quite apart from the fact that I've long ceased to care what the secularists etc think about my religion or even my co-religionists, I just think this kind of thing is doing the secularists work for them and it's not even rational.

I mean, of all the Catholics I know (and most people I know are Catholic by baptism) - I just don't know *any* who have these kinds of attitudes to sex. They all strike me as pretty normal in that department, so I conclude that the flannelette bloomer girl is an outlier. There is simply no evidence to suggest that Catholics (whether committed or slack) are abnormal sexually.

Hence, I think such posts as these are unnecessary, counterproductive and not particularly funny. Except insofar as people (in general) are odd.

I am not normally inclined to discuss Kathy's problems, but I think I have *some* reason to doubt some of the things she says.

To sum up: I don't believe there is any good reason for people to think Catholics are looney about sex.

Anonymous said...

Louise, did you grow up Catholic? Because if you did, and you didn't see the looniness, you were really lucky.

Some of the "looniness" is just appropriate boundaries that used to be shared by all people at all times, but seem loony to what Hilary calls newfangled people.

Some of it was ascetism, which newfangled people can't understand at all of course.

But some of it was, um, yes, LOONY TOONY BARBAROONY. Now I'd personally rather have that kind of looniness than the newfangled kind because it keeps people from getting diseases and keeps the young people's interest in each other up, and I think the idea that this whole area of life can be conducted on rational principles is way loonier than any flannel bloomers could ever be. But yes, a lot of manners and customs were retained by the nuns and the brothers who were educating the young, and passed on to the girls and boys without adequate instruction in the principles underlying the actions, and "loony" is a pretty accurate word for the result.

Anonymous said...

I did indeed grow up Catholic and whether practicing or not, the majority of Catholics I knew were pretty sane.

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