Monday, July 22, 2013

Reconciling Spirituality and Sexuality


 
Alan and Deb Hirsch have spent most of their lives on the margins, and much of it as ministers with those on the margins. Not for, but among.

They're now working in downtown LA.

They recently presented on the topic of sexuality and spirituality.

Both their experiences and their ministry have given them thoughtful consideration on the topic of sexuality in our society, and especially how it relates to issues of religion and spirituality.

I appreciate their contributions because they do what I think is the key task, to not simply take sides but to offer a constructive re-evaluation of the topic and bring to it a much more holistic approach.

I'm posting this here because this relates to a fair amount of the dust-up with Althouse, she could not seem to conceive of responses that weren't on her binary of stances: you either were a phobic or a philiac.

This talk is from a Christian perspective, which I know a lot of you don't share, but it hits on some of the overlapping themes I read in the earlier forums, so I think it might be of broad interest. 

At the first link, they're offering a 1 day free version of the talk.  It might be easier to offer it here, so I'm posting it for your listening convenience. 

I think it gets going especially at about the 28 minute mark, when Deb Hirsch finally gets into her rhythm. 

The first link also posts some questions at the end which might be interesting to talk about hereabouts. 
  • What ideas or resources have been most helpful for you in thinking through the relationship between spirituality and sexuality?
  •  In what ways has this issue been raised and/or addressed in your context? 
  • If you take the time to listen to the workshop, what stuck out, what questions do you have, where might you want to push back?
I think a big problem in these sorts of conversations is that everyone has feelings and angsty instinctive responses, but its not particularly reflective.  So much in the past it has been either Sex Good or Sex Bad, and that made for easy moral laws and expectations, but we're well past where that's helpful, especially since very few people fit neatly into those categories. 

There's good and bad, but how do we talk about it in a way that doesn't get us called names or limit us to calling others names.  This post isn't about that former dustup, but hopefully is a place we talk more thoughtfully about something that, like it or not, is full of defining and dividing issues in our present society.

106 comments:

Trooper York said...

Sexuality and spirituality is a very interesting subject.

One of the best and most enlightening conversation I ever had in school concerned Jesus's sexuality. The general consensus was that he came down from heaven to experience life as a man. In all it's aspects. Sexuality being one of the major ones.
So it stands to reason that he experienced sex while on earth with the obvious candidate being Mary Magdalene. The priest teaching the course went through all of the many heresies including the one where Jesus had a family that moved to France. A famous book was written about it many years later called "Holy Blood Holy Grail." These speculations have been at the root of so many things including the Matrix movies and "The Da Vinci Code."

This has always interested me.

Of course the discussion devolved into what famous actress looked like Mary. The final vote: Sophia Loren.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Do you have to reconcile spirituality and sexuality? Whenever I hear "spirituality" it is often along the lines of some New Age stuff that Crack is often deriding. Someone says "I am not religious, but I am spiritual..." Which is almost always just sloppy sophism.

Sexuality is part of life. So if you are "spiritual" it should obviously be part of that. What you define as spiritual might vary. Then again, what you might describe as sexual varies a bit too.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Didn't Jesus spend forty days in the desert being tempted by Sophia Lauren?

Trooper York said...

Some people can not rap their head around Jesus's sexuality. Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe it is not for us to contemplate. One point is that if he is sent to us to be an example....well he did not provide an example of living a sexual life that would be approved of by God...except by his words....while he remained celibate.....which is the view that supports the unmarried priesthood of the Catholic Church. I think.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I think it gets going especially at about the 28 minute mark, when Deb Hirsch finally gets into her rhythm.

I don't know that I've ever lasted more than 10 minutes so good for them.

Trooper York said...

I think that Jesus was tempted by Ralph Lauren because he had this really cool robe with a Western vibe.

But Jesus stuck with Tommy Hilfinger.
He is loyal that way.

madawaskan said...

And the devil wears Prada.

Although Dolce & Gabbana would be a better fit.

Mitch H. said...

I don't see how you could reconcile a hypothetical Jesus sexual life - for which there is no canonical scriptural evidence - with the Marian perpetual virginity doctrine, which is both a) necessary to be a Roman Catholic, apparently and b) directly contradicted by numerous gospel references to Jesus's siblings.

In short, it takes much less intellectual and emotional energy to allow Mary a proper and lawful sexual life with Joseph after the virgin birth, than to cobble together an illicit one for the Christ himself out of air and wishcraft.

What, exactly, drove the latter Fathers of the Church to cobble together their skein of distortions of plain text and hypotheticals that resulted in the very married Mother Mary becoming the first nun? Maybe a somewhat inhibited Manichean tendency to view the needs of the flesh as inherently vile and profane? Maybe not - Marian theology was so heavily tied up in reconciling regions devoted to historical mother-goddess worship (with the temple prostitution that often came along with it) that I wager that the perpetual virginity was slathered into orthodox Marian doctrine as a back-stop to keep the concessionary status "Theotokos" from degenerating into actual doctrinal divine status. Thus the paradoxical perpetually virgin mother, to keep out the open promiscuity of mother goddess cults. Not that there aren't jerimaids against temple-sanctioned promiscuity by the bushelful in the Old Testment.

Methadras said...

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Didn't Jesus spend forty days in the desert being tempted by Sophia Lauren?


If I was Jesus I would have given up easily.

rhhardin said...

The missionary position.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

the Marian perpetual virginity doctrine which is both a) necessary to be a Roman Catholic, apparently and b) directly contradicted by numerous gospel references to Jesus's siblings

From my long ago Catholic catechism classes:

I was under the impression that the immaculate conception referred to Mary, who was born without 'original sin'. Not Jesus....Mary. It wasn't that she was a virgin, just that she was immaculate. In fact I believe the New Testament does mention Jesus' brothers and sisters. Whether they were brothers in fact or in relationship (as in a band of brothers)isn't clear.

The idea that Jesus' soul was born in order to accomplish some great works on mankind doesn't mean that he was not a physical man and able to experience the feelings and desires of a man.

I don't have the time to listen to a long seminar. Perhaps someone can summarize?

Chip Ahoy said...

I met Sophia Loren. I sure did. And that makes me special. Thing is, I'm so thick didn't even know it was her. Someone had to tell me, "Oh look, there's Sophia Loren."

"Who?"

"The lady who's glowing."

"The one with the fish?"

"Yes."

Most dignified fish I ever saw. And that's the honest to God truth. And that told me there is hope for the ugliest of men, the key is be totally dignified about it, and that means be impeccably dressed. And I'm not up to that.

creeley23 said...

Paddy O: This is the second spirituality topic you've posted that I can't tell what your point is.

It seems like you want to say something without being so crass as to say it, so you throw out multiple questions instead.

I'm not going to listen to 28+ minutes of an audio download to try to figure this out.

Please, what are you trying to tell us?

bagoh20 said...

I receive these people's insights the same way I do the 70 year old rock groups still performing: I'm glad you still enjoy it, but some things are actually better when done with less experience and wisdom.

Mitch H. said...

I was under the impression that the immaculate conception referred to Mary, who was born without 'original sin'. Not Jesus....Mary. It wasn't that she was a virgin, just that she was immaculate. In fact I believe the New Testament does mention Jesus' brothers and sisters. Whether they were brothers in fact or in relationship (as in a band of brothers)isn't clear.

Yeah, I was raised low-church Methodist, where they don't fuss about catechisms and the doctrinal differences and so forth. But the immaculate conception is a different point of doctrine than the perpetual virginity. "Immaculate conception" has to do with Mary being exempted from original sin, and although I do not recall any actual scriptural basis for the claim, I don't recall anything standing in its way. A sort of Catholic fanon - "fanon" being the term used for fan-fiction writers coming up with a common pseudo-canon to make consistent sense of gaps in the official narrative of the source material.

"Perpetual virginity", on the other hand, holds that Mary did not have carnal relations with her husband Joseph *after* the birth of Jesus, and was virginal throughout her life. It is the fourth Marian doctrine, coming after Mother of God, the Assumption of Mary, and the Immaculate Conception. Of those, I think only "Mother of God" is doctrine among most Protestant low-church sects, and there are some among the very lowest-church who find the full "Mother of God" doctrine dubious, as leading to a necessary intercessorship of the saints.

Mitch H. said...

I find folks' insistence on characterizing the historical Puritans as sexless to be kind of annoying. The actual Puritans themselves seem little short of sex-crazed, which you immediately notice once you start looking at their comparative fertility rates, or even just read the opening of Paradise Lost. The American North is full of people born of families sprung from less than 40,000 Puritan colonists, so many that New England burst at the seams a century after the founding of the Bay Colony, pouring the fruit of their loins across the northern tier like a cataract of Calvinists.

Trooper York said...

I think it all depends on how you see Jesus.

I see Jesus as a regular guy. Not a fancy elitist with an Ivy league degree. A guy who enjoys a beer and a pizza and watching the fights on a Friday night.

I bet he wouldn't turn up his nose at some quality time with Sophia Lauren.

Remember Jesus is love. Just sayn'

Paddy O said...

Creeley, I don't have a point other than curious what others think.

This is a field I spend a lot of time in, but the trouble is that far too often I, and others who talk about such things, are surrounded by people with similar approaches.

There's a lot of different conceptions of sexuality and spirituality here, so I thought it'd be interesting to have comments.

I do probably need to frame these topics more specifically, it's hard to respond to a general theme and much easier to respond to a specific statement or proposal.

Essentially, the main point is that spirituality and sexuality are really tied together, that so often we try to isolate one from the other, but this leaves us compartmentalized. Trying to talk about one without the other, as most discussions seem to do, leaves, in my estimation, a deficient conversation for both.

Michael Haz said...

What's so difficult about this? The rules are all pretty clear, and if you're an observant member of a particular religious community you follow the rules set by that community.

Mostly it's this; God wants us to have abundant sexual joy within a marriage. Cleaving, slaking, and so forth. There's some tinkering around the margins about same sex marriage, but that's more a secular than a religious concern. There's also a theory, and it's just that - a theory - that a "test drive" (premarital sex) while usually proscribed is less sinful than a divorce due to sexual incompatibility.

What is missing from contemporary discussions of marriage is answers to two big questions: Why do you want to marry, and what do you want from your marriage? The answers are often mumbo jumbo like "I want you to complete me" or maybe "I just want to be happy". Those are some big eggs to put into the marriage basket.

Better answers to the first question are "I want t make a lifetime commitment to a husband or wife", and "I want to have the level of character that lets me keep that commitment" and "I want to be part of a community of friends and neighbors who have made and are keeping that commitment".

As for the second question, trust, faith, respect, love, equality are the beginning of good answers.

Spirituality, the non-faith sorta faith, doesn't figure into it. True faith, deeply held religious beliefs most certainly do.

I write this with a sense of humility. My youthful first marriage was a disaster; a mess created by two people who shunned religion and convention as being things only squares and saps fell for. Such faith and wisdom as I have been able to accumulate since those years have brought me to where I am, grace given.

Spirituality and sexuality? Maybe, but only as a brief stop on the path to faith and sexuality.

Your mileage may vary.

Mitchell the Bat said...

There was a joke the other night on a rerun of "The Big Bang Theory."

On the wall of a church was one of those wooden Jesus-on-a-Cross things.

The Indian guy studies it and says something like, "Why is it that none of my gods have six-pack abs?"

I think that was how it went but I was pretty intoxicated by then.

I remember that the Jewish guy said something funny in response but I can't remember what he said.

That must have been when the blackout kicked in.

Paddy O said...

By the by, the post title is just trying to be broad in focus, not suggesting a vague spirituality but that we all have different traditions/assumptions.

There's also the reality that sexuality has had a major impact in religious traditions throughout history. It's there, whether through fertility goddesses, or the promise of post-death sexual rewards, or having a curious amount of rules that don't make sense outside that religious circle.

Sexuality is part of our spirituality, but we process it uniquely depending on our tradition, the approach to our tradition, or lack of tradition.

bagoh20 said...

"I see Jesus as a regular guy. Not a fancy elitist with an Ivy league degree. A guy who enjoys a beer and a pizza and watching the fights on a Friday night."

Did you ever have to hold his hair back while he hurls? But, hey, what are friends for? I would definitely be hitting him up for a favor the next day.

Michael Haz said...

DBQ-The Bible doesn't provide clear answers to many questions about Mary, Joseph and their family. They are part of the story line, but not the big story. Catechism provides some answers, but there are, and always will be gaps that will be filled only by faith.

What we do know is that Mary was caused to become pregnant by act of the Holy Spirit while she was betrothed to, but not yet married to Joseph. An angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take her into his house (the equivalent to marriage) so that she would not bestowed to death,sad the punishment for pregnancy out of wedlock.

We don't know whether there were siblings. We know that Joseph was older and died well before Jesus did, leaving Mary a widow who was entrusted to several apostles Bly Jesus just before he was crucified.

Did he have sex? We don't know, but it's reasonable to think not, because he was the son of God and was following the laws God had set forth.

Trooper York said...

Michael Haz put it beautifully.

Especially the part where you should honor your religions practices. I agree totally. That is why I don't have a problem with the Muslims or the Mormons having multiple partners. I respect their religious freedom. It is not for me or the government to tell them how to manage sex and spirituality.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

the main point is that spirituality and sexuality are really tied together

Our responses to this may vary with our ages. Us older people were raised with a different concept of what marriage and sex is. You get your clues from your parents and the culture you were raised in. Now I'm not a prude by any means, but the outright in your face sexuality in movies and even television today is disconcerting and demeaning.

Of course sex and spirituality are entwined. If you having sex in just the physical contact, devoid of the sense of the spiritual aspect of it, you might as well be an automaton or screwing a robot. An action with as much spirituality or meaning as blowing your nose.

Our culture now seems to be sending the message to the young that you CAN have the physical side and you don't really need all that spiritual stuff. The hook up culture. Free love. Unfortunately, even if the young buy into this theory, deep down, the know that it is wrong and something is missing. They don't know what it is, but it is the spiritual side, the magic of connecting with another person not just on a hook up physical level, but in their soul and letting them into yours too. They feel the emptiness. The unsatisfactory conclusion of a meaningless act. They have been told or shown that they shouldn't feel this way, but they do. And feel guilty or abnormal about wanting to be normal.

That's deep enough for me right now....

:-)

creeley23 said...

Essentially, the main point is that spirituality and sexuality are really tied together, that so often we try to isolate one from the other, but this leaves us compartmentalized.

Paddy: But are spirituality and sexuality tied together? They can be, but must they be?

There are large traditions in the East and West where spirituality is chosen over sexuality, and sexuality may even be renounced.

That's not for me and probably not for most people, but I wouldn't presume it is a mistake or a deficiency.

I'm rather skeptical of all these efforts to make spirituality and sexuality play nice together, at least more so than any other parts of life.

Michael Haz said...

DBQ-Nice.

Trooper York said...

Spirituality is tied together with a lot of things.

Food for instance.

I bet there are as many mentions of food in the Scripture as there is of sex.

What is good food. What is bad food.

The only question I have is this. What is Jesus's stance on trans-fats?

Trooper York said...

I bet he was for them

I bet he likes nothing better than a big cup of black coffee with four sugars and a half dozen Crispy Crème donuts while he reads the paper in the morning.

Methadras said...

Tantra, I believe comes closest to bridging the gap between spirituality and sex. Many books on the subject.

Paddy O said...

Trooper, in a lot of early discussions of sin, some Christian writers tied gluttony and lust very close together. That was why, they argued, in the temptation story, Jesus was tempted by food but not lust. The one is close to the other in theme.

There's definitely as many mentions of food, if not more. Keeping kosher and suchlikes.

Indeed, food is at the heart of Christian liturgy in the eucharist (which was originally a full meal as well as a religious moment). They called it an Agape feast, a love feast. Now, early Christians got in trouble when they were overheard telling friends they were going to a love feast with their brothers and sisters to eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord.

Cannibalistic and incestuous?! They had to clarify a bit more.

DBQ, very nicely put indeed. I think that's more my interest. There's that gap, there's that strong push that we want reality not to have an overlap of those elements (and maybe for a small few there's not an overlap). Then on the religious side, we don't want to talk about sexuality at all, so there's this huge inability to have discussions and then people think there can't be discussions.

So even if there's that emptiness, it's just part of life, and you have Sarah Jessica Parker and her disciples being the cultural voices on the topic.

Trooper York said...

I bet Jesus like a good cigar too.

Wouldn't be funny if you got to heaven and Jesus was exactly like Fidel Castro.

I think about stuff like that sometimes.

Trooper York said...

I mean it could happen.

He might like cigars and baseball and the poor and hot chica's. And pork.

I think he definitely likes pork.

After all he is a New Testament kind of guy.

His Dad not so much.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

DBQ is right, the Immaculate Conception was the conception of Mary, not of Jesus. She was born without original sin.

Mary (according to the Gospels and the Koran) was a virgin when she got pregnant with Jesus. Whether she remained a virgin her entire life is unknown. But the Shakers made some great chairs and they did not have sex...but we have no examples of St. Joseph's carpentry work.

And MH is right, if you are a member of a religious community then you should follow the rules of that community. You may or may not, that is up to you.

creeley23 said...

Then on the religious side, we don't want to talk about sexuality at all, so there's this huge inability to have discussions and then people think there can't be discussions.

That's not what I remember as a Catholic or in my readings of Buddhism or Hinduism or New Age-ism

The religious side may be less likely to reach the same conclusions as the couple photographed above, but that doesn't mean they have an inability to have discussions about sexuality.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Query: Are the Hirsches like this?

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

I am assuming with my comment that St. Joseph, being a righteous man, would not have had sex if Mary remained a virgin. Which would have meant a lot of time focusing on the carpentry stuff.

creeley23 said...

ELB is correct. Mary's virginity is upheld in the Quran.

I'd wager that today more Muslims believe, really believe, in the Virgin Mary than Christians.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There are large traditions in the East and West where spirituality is chosen over sexuality, and sexuality may even be renounced.

This is true, but the person who renounces something, the physical aspect of sexuality, knows what they are renouncing. You have to know that something exists and it has to have some meaning to you for you renounce or forego it. It is like Lent. Giving up marshmallows for Lent when you don't really eat marshmallows is a meaningless gesture.

Another aspect of why sex and spirituality are and should be intertwined: At some point in our lives the physical act of sex may not be physically possible. Due to old age, illness or other reasons, the body won't be able to function. If there was never a spiritual connection between the two or if the act of sex was separate from a spiritual connection a marriage might not continue under those circumstances: when the physical act is divorced from the spiritual.

This is why long term marriages tend to last well into the sunset years. The sex may be gone, but the love or spiritual connection is still there. A strong spiritual bond. And why often in a long term marriage when one spouse dies, the other soon follows. The spiritual bond is so strong that life isn't worth living without the other person.

Paddy O said...

ELB, ha! Yeah, that give the impression.

They're more Australian former hippies than pseudo-sophisticated intellectuals.

creeley23, I guess coming out of an Evangelical background I can only speak of those experiences. Though, I've not really seen a lot of good integration in conversation from other religions.

There's a lot of intellectual discussion or compartmentalization in Europe and North America.

The child abuse scandals suggest as much. Lots of hush-hush, ignore it sort of behavior, that left lots scarred and churches tarnished. Because they couldn't bring it out to the open and address it forthright. It was icky and so left in the shadows.

Inga said...

Anyone ever try tantric sex? Very spiritual.

Icepick said...

Which is almost always just sloppy sophism.

Isn't sophism supposed to be better when it's sloppy? Or am I thinking of something else?

Bender said...

In all this zeal to make rubbing one's genitals until you get a physiological spasmatic response the greatest and most important thing in the history of the universe only ends up making sex more mundane and banal, rather than raising it up.

Far from being Christian, it is a pretty pagan idea in addition to being one of the tenets of today's secular religion. The pagan "gods" were always whoring around. But the God of Abraham is different. The God of the Trinity is different.

Do the persons of the Trinity have sex? Of course, the idea is absurd.

Bender said...

One of the few things that our modern age is more ignorant of than human sexuality is Catholic teaching, even though knowledge of both are readily available for anyone who bothers to find out.

AllenS said...

The only spirituality story that I know is this one:

Saint Peter is sitting at the Pearly Gates when two guys wearing dark hoodies and sagging pants, arrive.

St. Peter looked out through the Gates and said, "Wait here. I’ll be right back."

St. Peter goes over to God's chambers and tells him who is waiting for entrance.

God says to St. Peter: "How many times do I have to tell you? You can't be judgmental here. This is heaven. All are loved. All are brothers. Go back and let them in!"

St. Peter goes back to the Gates, looks around, and lets out a heavy sigh. He returns to God's chambers and says, “Well, they're gone."

“The guys wearing hoodies?" asked God.

"No. The Pearly Gates."

Bender said...

As for the Blessed Virgin Mary --

When he appears to her, the angel calls her "Full of Grace," as if that were her name. "Full of grace" describes not only who she is, but what she is. And it was the fullness of grace that gave Mary the total freedom, being unimpaired by the errors of sin, to say “yes” to God, in the fullness of her being, at the Annunciation and throughout her life.

Mary was not a mother in spite of her virginity, rather, she is a mother because of her virginity. In her perpetual virginity, she gave the entirety of herself to God, and it was because of the pureness and fullness of that love that Mary’s relationship with God was not only unitive, bringing her into communion with Him, but fruitful, such that a virgin could conceive and bear a Child.

The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and His subsequent Resurrection, being eternal, that is, beyond human time, worked backward so to speak to the very conception of Mary in the womb of her holy mother Anne, so as to preserve her from Original Sin (the Immaculate Conception). And it in like fashion, also worked forward to the end of the Virgin's earthly journey, such that she might immediately know the resurrection of the body, rather than her body having to wait to the end of human time for the resurrection (bodily Assumption into heaven). The bodily assumption of Mary into heaven anticipates the resurrection of the body of all of the faithful into a life full of grace in communion with He who is Love and Truth.

Bender said...

With respect to her perpetual virginity -- Mary gave herself to God completely, in the entirety of her being, soul and body, including her perpetual virginity. At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church, our pure and holy mother of all on earth, truly made in the image and likeness of the Triune God, a loving communion of persons that brings new life.

Mary is the model of love. And through Mary, although so very little is said about him in the Gospels, we can see that her husband Joseph is also a model of love – true love – not the false so-called “love” of feelings and emotions, of merely making himself happy, of satisfying his own wants and desires, but true and complete love, the intense thirsting of purified eros and sacrificial gift of self of agape. The spousal love of Joseph for Mary, and the spousal love of Mary for Joseph, was made complete by their spousal love for God, and it was in that fullness of love that the virginal marriage of Joseph and Mary was both unitive and procreative. (See Bl. John Paul II, Theology of the Body)

The spousal meaning of the human body, male and female, is not merely one of complimentariness, but shows that we are made for relationships that are (a) unitive, which brings about, not simply a partnership, but communion with the other, a mystical transcendental joining with the other such that many become one, and (b) creative, a fruitfulness that is not limited to the biological (sexual), but is transcendent – it was by the love of the Logos that the universe itself was created, and it is by the fruitfulness of love that Jesus transforms death on the Cross into eternal life. In this way, although Mary and Joseph never “consummated” the marriage in the flesh (i.e. sexually), one can say that the marriage was a real marriage, made complete and whole spiritually, in the spirit of love. Their virginal marriage was unitive and fruitful in that very virginity, i.e. in their complete gift of self to God and, therefore, complete gift to each other, intimately receiving the other’s heart into his or her own person in the fullness of love.
______________

Now, I would expect that much of this is over many people's heads. But the point remains that, far from avoiding the subject, the Catholic Church has and does speak often about human sexuality, including promoting it as the great good that it is. Good, that is, to the extent that it is true to what God made it for, which is to say, as an act of the fullnesss of love, a complete gift of self. And not good to the extent that it is contrary to what God intended, which is how most of our modern society uses sex.

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't know about you but, when I'm doing it, "spirituality" ain't on my mind.

And I think, if it's on yours, you're doing it wrong,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Dust Bunny Queen,

Another aspect of why sex and spirituality are and should be intertwined,...

Honey, what you're describing is Love, nothing "spiritual" about it.

My wife was my wife, not my "soul mate"...

Fr Martin Fox said...

Two ideas mentioned here that I want to talk about:

1. The idea of our Lord, in experiencing all things human, having sexual relations.

There are a number of things wrong with this idea.

First is the notion many have that the rationale for our Lord's celibacy is that there's something bad or indecent about our Lord having sex. Not at all.

However, were the Lord to have engaged in sexual activity, he would have done so as faithful Jew. Thus, Jesus married one woman, and raises a family.

But that leads to my second point: the reason for the Lord's celibacy is precisely here: he didn't come to give himself to a single human being--but to give himself the entirety of the human race.

Notice, he kept calling himself the Bridegroom. What "celibate" calls himself a bridegroom? So if he's a bridegroom, who is the bride? And how and when does the marriage take place?

Of course, the marriage began in the incarnation; but it is consummated on the Cross. Note, the Vulgate translates -- what we get in English, "It is finished" -- as, "Consummatum est." On the Cross, Jesus gives everything; he empties himself, and in doing so, gives life.

See how this matches up with the essential life-giving act of marital union? A husband gives himself, and in an ecstatic, self-surrendering, self-emptying act, life is (or can be) conceived.

While with a human husband and wife, life is not always conceived, when our Lord spends himself, there is life. Life in the fullest.

Is it really so hard to grasp this? And to see how absurd it would be to suppose that our Lord--in his eternal plan for human salvation--would precede his marriage with a "fling"? Really?

When modern man finds our Lord's approach to sex incomprehensible, consider the possibility that it's not Jesus who is insane.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

If you believe in Jesus being sinless, it is hard to reconcile that with him engaging in sexual relations (without being married).

That said, as a man he certainly would have had sexual desires. Which is an entirely different thing. He even talks about committing adultery in the heart (remember Jimmy Carter in that regard).

So I am deferring to Padre Martin Fox on this one.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

In response to Crack, sometimes the Lord's name is spoken during that act.

Rocketeer said...

Father Fox,

I'm Lutheran.

Sometimes, you almost - almost! - make me consider converting.

I understand these things, but I would really struggle to express them in the way you do. Thanks for writing so clearly and accessibly.

Bender said...

Hey Crack, glad you haven't left for good.

Fr Martin Fox said...

The second point I'd like to comment on is directed to Mitch, about the question of Mary remaining a virgin after the birth of our Lord.

My short answer is, you aren't giving the ancient tradition a fair shake.

By the way, this is shared by Orthodox and other ancient Churches--so it's not merely a "Catholic" thing--it's was the Christian. In fact, many of the Protestant "Reformers" shared the view; it's only relatively recently that the perpetual virginity of Mary was called into question.

But at any rate, the tradition has a good deal to support it, in and out of Scripture. And there are many good reasons for it, although one I will offer, is one I have not seen others offer.

From Scripture:

> Our Lord would have been the eldest son; if there were other siblings, why would the Lord--at the Cross--give Mary to the care of John, son of Zebedee? Mary would be cared for by other siblings.

> If you very carefully examine the names of the folks who are identified as relatives of our Lord--and if you take the view that these "brothers and sisters" were, indeed, siblings, then you have a problem.

In one of the Gospels--I can't recall which--we learn that Mary, Jesus' mother, has a "sister" Mary. Since we are told we must take "brother" and "sister" in the conventional sense regarding Jesus, does not that apply to Mary?

Does it seem probable that the parents of Mary named another girl in their family Mary? Why would they do that?

But if you say, oh no, it's not really her "sister, sister," but a "sister in law" or a cousin--well, then, you're doing what was disallowed with the "brothers and sisters" of Jesus. The rules of interpreting these terms have to be consistent--not self-serving.

Yet there is another problem--and this is a little complicated, but I'll do my best to keep it clear.

If you look at the four Gospels, the accounts of the crucifixion and visits to the tomb give us names of the women who were there. And because they each describe the women somewhat differently, it becomes necessary to reconcile them to some extent. This, by the way, is where we learn of a Mary who is "sister" the Lord's Mother.

But in a parallel account, we learn this Mary has two children: James and Joses. Hmm. Guess what? Those are two names given of the supposed siblings of Jesus!

So--if we accept the latter-day Protestant theory that Mary and Joseph conceived other children after Jesus was born (but conceived by the Holy Spirit, recall), then, in addition to having two "sisters" named Mary, you have the added coincidence of two sets of first cousins with the names James and Joses.

Of course, it's possible. But is it probable? Yet such things must be insisted upon, for one simple reason: because latter-day folks insist, very rigidly, that when Scripture calls some the Lord's "brother" or "sister," it can't possibly be anything less than a strict application of the term. Despite the obvious, common-sense fact that these terms were not then, nor now, only used that way.

Let me make my next point with another comment...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Rockteer--my husband is Lutheran. When he reads about Catholic doctrine, he teeters too.

Do it! Swim the Tiber! : )

Fr Martin Fox said...

Now, let me offer another Scriptural evidence.

Recall when the Archangel came to Mary to announce God's Plan--that she would conceive the Messiah. Recall her response: "how can this be since I have no relations with a man"?

Now, the way people take this--when they argue Mary and Joseph conceived other children--is that Mary is simply saying, how can I be a mother of the Messiah since I have not, and am not at the moment having relations with a man.

But this is very strange.

If an angel visited any faithful woman about to get married--a woman who has remained a virgin till that point--and the angel said, "Rejoice! you will conceive a child"--what would be the natural reaction of a bride-to-be, planning on consummating her marriage in the usual way?

Not Mary's response. The response would be joyful: because for a faithful Jew such as Mary, she would want to conceive children with Joseph. So why would she be troubled? Why say, "how can this be?"

Mary was pure, but she wasn't stupid. She knew that babies happened when men and women got married!

Her response makes perfect sense, however, if she knew that she had not--but also, would never--have sexual relations with a man. And only with that intention never to remain a virgin does her response make sense.

Well, if Mary had--prior to the incarnation--intended to remain a virgin in her marriage with Joseph, then why would the news of God's plan, and her becoming the mother of the Messiah, change that plan?

Fr Martin Fox said...



I can offer what seems to me a very good reason for not doing so; but I ask: why abandon the plan for remaining a virgin at this point? (I'm assuming Joseph knew of the plan, and married Mary under that expectation.)

So here's why I think the vow of perpetual virginity makes sense, especially with Mary being predestined by God's eternal plan to be the Mother of the Messiah. And it amazes me that I've not seen anyone else develop this:

The perpetual virginity of Mary (along with her being free of original sin--and thus actual sin) is the best thing that Mary and Joseph can offer to defend and give credibility to the incredible claim that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit!

Think about it. Joseph and Mary have to go out and say, this isn't Joseph's baby--I know you think so, but he's not. And no, Mary did not have relations with anyone else.

Who thinks people around them all believed this? And didn't gossip and titter?

In fact, in the Gospel of John, where there is a heated exchange between Jesus and a group of Jews who are turning on him, they say of themselves, "we are not children of fornication." Many take that to be a reference to his birth. And we do know that as the Christian message was spread, the story was put about that Mary was guilty of fornication.

Well, of course, there is no absolute way for Mary and Joseph to rebut that slander. But consider this:

If Mary and Joseph conceived no other children--while they might have--and, in addition, if Mary was indeed without sin, then she was, in all other respects, a sterling character.

That does serve, doesn't it, to rebut the claim that she "messed around"? If Joseph and Mary "started early," why stop with Jesus?

Consider this.

This whole thing was God's Plan: and the Plan was, that God asked Mary to be His mother.

Does it not seem more gracious, more courteous--more filial (remember, he gave the 4th Commandment about honoring parents), for him to have so structured this plan as to protect the reputations of Joseph and Mary to the extent he could?

It's one thing to be willing to endure slanders on oneself; quite another to set things up so that your own mother, and foster father, will suffer added slurs that they need not?

It's not "proof"--but it is a rationale. It makes sense to me.

Given that the ancient traditions, and the unanimous conclusion of all the ancient Churches on this subject, given the Scriptures I've cited (more could be cited I think), given the Scriptural complications that are created by the needlessly rigid use of "brother" and "sister," and given the question of credibility...

It makes far more sense to say the "brothers" and "sisters" were near kinsmen--but not children conceived by Mary and Joseph. Mary was a virgin before, during and after.

Trooper York said...

Very well put and illuminating from both Bender and Father Fox who are scholars of the first water.

Me I am simple. A simpleton actually. I never thought for a minute that Jesus sinned with a "quickie" or even that he was married. It is a fun topic to bat around when you are trying to reconcile the divine with normal human experience. That's all.

I do wish I could get Jesus's thoughts about donuts.

I think we are on the same page because otherwise he would not have made them so good.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Trooper:

A simplified version of Aquinas, in line with Genesis: God created all things good, and having within them vast potential for immeasurable more good.

The evil lies not in any thing, but in the choices we make about how we use things.

So, in a nutshell, God is fine with donuts; the problem is gluttony.

Mitch H. said...

In one of the Gospels--I can't recall which--we learn that Mary, Jesus' mother, has a "sister" Mary. Since we are told we must take "brother" and "sister" in the conventional sense regarding Jesus, does not that apply to Mary?

You're thinking of John. Frankly, from the various texts, either there was a Maryam under every fig tree in Palestine, or the accounts are utterly muddled on this account. From the four accounts, either there was Mary Magdalene and two mothers (Matthew: Magdalene, the "Mother of the sons of Zebedee", and "Mary, the mother of James and Joseph") Mary Magdalene and an indeterminate number of mothers (Mark: "and Mary the mother of James the young and of Joses, and Salome", which could refer to multiple mothers of those three, I suppose, although in the context of 16:1 the Mary mentioned almost has to be the sole mother mentioned...) finally, John lists a series of women, indifferently parsed: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." That could be three people, or four.

Nobody seems to be exactly sure who "Clopas" is, although there is some suspicion it's the Cleopas from Luke 24:18, who doesn't seem to have been a committed believer as of the Resurrection, and appears in that verse as a witness. To me, that reads like two different traditions as to the origin of Clopas's family's participation in the Passion, possibly reflecting the Jewish convert/Greek convert conflict which most analysis I've seen of the creation process that lies behind the Matthew/Mark and John gospel narratives.

In short, there's an array of personages at the cross, variously reported by three of the four accepted gospelists, and those accounts are difficult to parse. That still leaves the Galilean accounts, especially Mark 6:3, which is very difficult to parse as saying anything other than "hey, this is a carpenter, member of a big bustling family of brothers and sisters."

And frankly, if you're going to take the tack that these brothers and sisters were Joseph's children from a prior marriage, then where was this small horde of children in the Bethlehem narrative of Luke? Staying with relatives? What about the flight to Egypt? Did Joseph leave his progeny under the care of this hypothetical relative for years?

Michael Haz said...

A simplified version of Aquinas, in line with Genesis: God created all things good, and having within them vast potential for immeasurable more good.

The evil lies not in any thing, but in the choices we make about how we use things.

So, in a nutshell, God is fine with donuts; the problem is gluttony.


Hereafter known as the Donut Encyclical. :-)

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mitch said:

And frankly, if you're going to take the tack that these brothers and sisters were Joseph's children from a prior marriage, then where was this small horde of children in the Bethlehem narrative of Luke? Staying with relatives? What about the flight to Egypt? Did Joseph leave his progeny under the care of this hypothetical relative for years?

I didn't take that tack. There are those who have made that argument, but that wasn't my argument.

I think it's most likely the "brothers and sisters" were cousins, who may well have mingled quite a lot with Jesus growing up.

It fascinates me that people can get so hung up on "brother" and "sister" being taken only in the narrowest sense--when there are so many cases in Scripture, and in various cultures -- including, as I recall, the culture of Our Lord's time -- of the term being used in more broad ways.

Lem said...

Hello, Fr Martin

I want to take this opportunity to welcome you and for me to apologize for mistreating you awhile back. I didn't behave like a good Christian when I accused you of not being who you said you were. I regret my error and will endeavor in the future not to repeat it with anyone else.

Welcome to comments.

Bender said...

There is, of course, the issue of making the translation fit the theology, rather than the theology follow from a more accurate translation.

But the issue of what happened to the older children of Joseph during the trip to Bethlehem and then Egypt (for those who suppose him to have been previously married and widowed with children -- I don't, but some do) raises the more important issue of -- if Jesus had biological brothers and sisters, where were they to take care of Mary after Jesus died?? Why was it necessary to leave her in the care of John?

Mitch H. said...

Well, if Mary had--prior to the incarnation--intended to remain a virgin in her marriage with Joseph, then why would the news of God's plan, and her becoming the mother of the Messiah, change that plan?

Because such an intention would be a clear violation of God's commandment to "be fruitful and multiply"? If somebody could point me to any evidence of first-century Judean vows of virginity, I'd like to see it. Who knows, I'm not particularly familiar with the various Essene practices, maybe there's something there?

But nuns are one thing - brides of Christ and all that. To make your vow to a husband, and then refuse him your conjugal duty, is to break that vow. Is lack of consummation not just grounds for annulment? In fact, I would argue that such denial of the marital bed in the face of a marriage vow is a sin, no matter who you are or what your religious belief may be. I'm pretty sure that the Patriarchs - Jacob, who wrestled with God, Abraham, Moses, etc - bargained with and stood up for their rights before their Lord like the cleverest lawyers before the bar.

Bender said...

A vow of virginity is not a case of denying anyone anything, including any husband's claimed "right" to get sex from his wife. Rather, it is a case of a person giving his or her sexuality to God first before anyone else. And no one, not even a husband, comes before God.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Lem:

No problem. Honestly, I'd forgotten, so that's a good way to keep it.

Bender said...

Speaking of Abraham, et al., we can see that, even with them, one's sexuality belongs to God first, as manifested by God putting the sign of the covenant (circumcision) upon the man's instrument of sex.

madawaskan said...

Father Fox--

I do hope you have changed some of your ideas about why Republicans are anti-abortion.

Palladian said...

This place is a regular popish plot.

Meade said...

I'm a big proponent of free speech but still I hope Mitch isn't arguing for an Everybody Draw Mary Having Sexual Relations Day. Even though I'm pretty sure Marianists don't do fatwas.

Palladian said...

Or a popish plotz

madawaskan said...

Father Fox--

To be fair at the time some trolls were hijacking people's identities.

So Lem could be apologizing for confronting someone who did that.

Anyways--


Enough of all that.

Mitch H. said...

A vow of virginity is not a case of denying anyone anything, including any husband's claimed "right" to get sex from his wife.

No-one is saying that a wife owes her husband sex on demand, but ever? Marriage may not be solely for the purposes of procreation, but certainly that business about being made one flesh needs to mean something. To marry without ever intending to consummate the marital bond is to not marry at all.

And no, I don't think that sexuality belongs to God in any way other than the sense that all Creation is his - down that road lies temple prostitution, that idiot Wiccan doctrine of sex being a sacrament and other lesser perversions.

Do nuns and monks give their sexuality to Christ, or do they just sublimate it to the pursuit of other purposes? I suspect y'all would prefer the latter construct, if only that it short-circuits a lot of really silly naughty-nun fantasies.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

I assume St. Joseph knew what he was getting into before he got married to Mary. Free will and all of that. And not too many Jews get most of Italy celebrating their feast day. So he has that going for him too!

Fr Martin Fox said...

I said:

Well, if Mary had--prior to the incarnation--intended to remain a virgin in her marriage with Joseph, then why would the news of God's plan, and her becoming the mother of the Messiah, change that plan?

Mitch said:

Because such an intention would be a clear violation of God's commandment to "be fruitful and multiply"?

Really? Can you point to any passage of Scripture where anyone choosing celibacy was deemed to have sinned by doing so?

It's one thing to point to a Scripture that favors procreating (and there are a lot of them); quite another to say that this means anyone who doesn't, is a sinner. Please cite the evidence for the latter.

If somebody could point me to any evidence of first-century Judean vows of virginity, I'd like to see it.

Who knows, I'm not particularly familiar with the various Essene practices, maybe there's something there?


Indeed there is.

But meanwhile, you have yet to explain Mary's answer to the Archangel.

If Mary was planning to consummate her marriage with Joseph, why would she be so surprised and "troubled" to hear--from God (via his messenger) that she would conceive?

We know why Sarah would reacted with disbelief; she was nearing 90. Hannah, who was barren, but prayed with tears in the temple for a child, wouldn't have reacted as Mary did. Mary's response makes no sense if she planned to consummate her marriage.

How do you explain it?

Eileen Lurker said...

I've gotten as far as Bender's 1st comment, and I see Fr. Fox has come on board down thread, so I'm sure there's lots more good stuff to read on the topic here.

My first reaction to the whole thing is this: Unless you think sexuality is intrinsically opposed to spirituality, what's to reconcile? Seems to me that if you think there is some disparity to overcome, you would have to first assume that there is something evil about sexuality, at least from a spiritual perspective.

I don't buy that.

I think the real line of disparity, where reconciliation probably isn't possible, is more likely between spirituality and worldliness, since they lead to such disparate views of sexuality.

I think most people trip up when they assume spirituality is some kind of wet blanket that robs life of its fun -- when really quite the opposite is true.

Trooper York said...

Thank you father for I have sinned in glutton in regard to donuts.

So I would like you guidance. Is four at a time ok? I usually like six but I can cut down to four to avoid a sin. Unless it is just a venial sin. Then I would have to think about it.

Trooper York said...

Now I don't term that gluttony as six is not all that many at a sitting. A dozen at a time might be your basic gluttons area.

Trooper York said...

Once we clear that up when can proceed to pizza, meatballs, sausage heroes and of course prosciutto balls.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Trooper:

(Smiling.)

I think you know the answer, or can figure it out. I'm not going to give you a number.

Fr Martin Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Ok thank you father.

I will go with my usual answer. Enough to make you fat but not enough to make you puke.

Sausage and pepper heroes tonight!

Meade said...

"If somebody could point me to any evidence of first-century Judean vows of virginity, I'd like to see it."

I would too. Three ways of aquiring a wife according to the Mishnah Kiddushin: money, a contract, and sexual intercourse. Only one of the three conditions was necessary to effect a binding marriage. Sexual intercourse.

Paddy O said...

"a regular popish plot"

And me, a radical protestant, enabled it.

Couple of Prod thoughts. One, we shouldn't forget that NT conversations are really very Jewish, so unless otherwise mentioned those should be the assumptions.

Which means that Jesus being married would have been his assumed state. There's nothing that would have been a problem had that been introduced in the earliest narratives. But it's not, and his not being married is a counter to the prevailing culture, adding a theological problem where there wasn't already one.

Nowadays, when we're more used to unmarried priests, the tendency is to want to hunt down the wife or mistress that Jesus was hiding, as if the Church would have had reason to that.

More succinctly, it wouldn't have been a big deal if Jesus was married, but because the narrative points to him not being married, there's reason to assume that really was the case, and like many devout men of his time there's no reason to assume he was sexually active in other ways. Which isn't a denial of sexuality, it's putting it into a context of a higher vision or passion.

More Protestant of me is my view of Mary. There's a theological reason to argue for her perpetual virginity and it relates to perceptions of sexuality that bear on our topic. Why would Mary need to stay a virgin in theological terms? Because Mary was assumed to be free from taint as well. Sexuality is taint? Even for a presumably married woman?

That this developed in the early church does not mean its not without theological adaptation of the original narrative. It's pointing towards a different view of sexuality than what would have been common in Jewish theology. And, for me at least, there's no reason to add complexity to the greek definitions by expanding what a 'brother' or 'sister' could be. That we also have the significant influence of Jacob (who we call James, even though James is not in the Greek), whose significance comes in part from his close connection to Jesus is another indicator.

I can appreciate and understand the traditional arguments for Mary, but they're not particularly convincing to me. But, again, that's yet another reason why I'm not a Catholic even though I appreciate a lot of Catholic thought and people.

Paddy O said...

That some of the disciples were married is mentioned in asides, as if it's not important. Peter, for instance, was married, as he had a mother-in-law which generally implies a wife.

Paddy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O said...

Eileen, well put.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

The Amish are spiritual too...I mean religious!

Meade said...

Lord knows I'm no theologian or even high priest but this I know:

It's a sin to act all donut holier than thou.

Mitch H. said...

Really? Can you point to any passage of Scripture where anyone choosing celibacy was deemed to have sinned by doing so?

You mean in the Old Testament, since we can hardly back-apply new rules unless we take Bender's backward arrow of grace theory to heart. And I can't think of any vows of celibacy in the Old Testament. Admittedly, I'm not exactly a master of scripture. Hmm, I see in a Catholic apology, it's noted that some of the old prophets, notably Jeremiah were commanded to not take wives. See Jeremiah 16. Which, viewed in context, was part and parcel of a prophesy of destruction and desolation: He was rescinding his commandment of fruitfulness, in the context of casting out the chosen from their promised land. It is *not* a priestly call, but rather part of a malediction.

"If somebody could point me to any evidence of first-century Judean vows of virginity, I'd like to see it. Who knows, I'm not particularly familiar with the various Essene practices, maybe there's something there?"

Indeed there is.


Argh. That's cryptic - but I see the references in the current Wiki page on the Essenes. Are you saying that Mary or Mary's family were Essenes? There's a lot of commonality - esp. John's baptism thing, and the communalism and so forth - but I though this conceit of continuity between the Essenes and the Christians was controversial among believers?

But meanwhile, you have yet to explain Mary's answer to the Archangel. If Mary was planning to consummate her marriage with Joseph, why would she be so surprised and "troubled" to hear--from God (via his messenger) that she would conceive?

On the plain face of the passage, she takes it to mean she's already with child, and thus is shamed before her affianced.

Now, please, if you would explain Matthew 1:25 in a way which is not standing plain meaning on its head, which clearly states in every translation some variant on "didn't consummate their marriage *until* she gave birth to a son".

Bender said...

No-one is saying that a wife owes her husband sex on demand, but ever?

What is sex -- or what should it be? Especially marital sex? Merely satiating base urges? Just recreational f******? Or an act of love?

The answer to all things, including relations between a husband and wife, should be love.

Love does not demand that spouses have sex, although it can be a sign of it. That said, if a person has taken a vow of virginity, then that should be disclosed prior to the marriage, not afterward so that any spouse who does not want a chaste and virginal marriage can go find someone else.

Mitch H. said...

Really? Can you point to any passage of Scripture where anyone choosing celibacy was deemed to have sinned by doing so?

Oh, I can't believe I forgot this: Genesis 38:8-10 -

Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.”
But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.
What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.

Despite the modern construction "onanism", the sin was in refusing to be fruitful, and denying his brother's wife a child. Well, that and refusing a religious duty bound up in family law and fertility. It's certainly a back-assed selfish sort of celibacy, having more in common with those men who get vasectomies without their wife's permission than a true religious vocation, I'll grant you.

William said...

I wouldn't like to be the younger brother of Jesus. Sibling rivalry would be a mortal sin. But, in a metaphoric sense, we are the half brothers of Jesus. We share his mortality and physical pain, but the spirituality of his nature is apprehended rather than shared. It's not part of our DNA the way it is with Jesus.......Yeats said that the god of love has pitched his tent in a place of excrement. That's the way it goes. The most sublime pleasure we can feel in life is to some extent an inelegant and base act. There's something awkward about the union of sensuality and spirituality, but it exists.

Bender said...

About Jesus being married --

He is. He is the Bridegroom. THE Bridegroom. His Holy Spouse is the Church. And by their spousal union, they have children. And the life that these children enjoy is one of eternal life.

Bender said...

Whose DNA does Jesus have?

Mitch H. said...

DNA?

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.

I'd say by imaginative interpretation of scripture that he was a divinely inspired radiation-induced mutation that spontaneously turned an egg into a masculine zygote.

Bender said...

I'd say by imaginative interpretation of scripture that he was a divinely inspired radiation-induced mutation that spontaneously turned an egg into a masculine zygote

So Jesus was never a real human being. More specifically, he never shared our common humanity. He was never one of us.

Bender said...

And if Jesus never shared our humanity, then His Crucifixion and Resurrection were something wholly unique to Him, and not something which applies to us.

Mitch H. said...

So Jesus was never a real human being. More specifically, he never shared our common humanity. He was never one of us.

I don't see how you get that from "spontaneous mutation". As you pointed out implicitly from the original question, where does the Y chromosome come from? Is the grace of God an actual physical sperm? Seems a blasphemous suggestion. Someone else's? Pure Arianism! Was there a metaphysical construct intertwined continuously with Mary's maternal DNA, a genetic golem given motive power by the divine spark? Ludicrous!


It doesn't seem Monophysitical to say that the Christ had a Y chromosome, and it had to come from somewhere. No, Jesus was a man, with the usual complement of chromosomes in the usual arrangement.

So much for the flesh. As for mind and soul and all that - The Son of God who was one person with the Son of Man, two natures, one person - that gets out of science and into the mad mystic world of Mystery.

Come to that, everyone agrees that Christ was tempted - how does a man without the capacity for sin know temptation? And if you say something about Christ not being a man, the gospelist John might want to have words with you, possibly starting with the phrase "Son of Man", and the Church Fathers might again start that muttering about Monophysitism.

Birches said...

I was just thinking this weekend. "Wow, the only thing missing from Comment Home is Father Fox."

Excellent

William said...

Yeats shows us how to wed spirituality with sexuality. He married a medium. The woman shared his interest in the spirit world and could, she claimed, commune with the dead. While under a trance, would be possessed by those spirits who wished to communicate with Yeats. Those spirits would tell Yeats to take afternoon naps and have sex more often with his wife.......So there you have it. In order to wed spirituality and sexuality it's best to find a happy medium. If she's into s & m,you can strike a happy medium.

The Crack Emcee said...

Two things:

1) EBL, figures of speech, popular phrases, etc., don't count, even if their origins are from the time when "spirituality" did. People still say "bless you" when you sneeze, though the idea of you expelling bad spirits never entered their minds. I still yell "Jesus!" when I stub my toe, and I'm an atheist. Doesn't mean a thing beyond "Ouch!"

2) Bender, Father Fox and I are two sides of the same coin, hopefully never far apart in thought, deed, or distance. Plus, Meade's all-new-and-improved obnoxious routine made it so that "please stop" stuff never got fully implemented, so why stay a lurker?

Now, that said - who wants to kick ass?

Bender said...

Sorry Mitch, I didn't read closely enough. I guess the key word there was mutant. Well, interesting idea anyway.

But you would apparently reject the conclusion that since Jesus did not have a human father that the entirety of his body was made from Mary's body, that Jesus, the new Adam, is not bone of the bones, flesh of the flesh of Mary, the new Eve.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mitch:

Seriously, you are claiming Mary was already pregnant, and knew it, before Gabriel came to her? With whom? Who wa the baby?