Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Damage Done to the Human Sexuality as Self-Gift (and therefore the Holiness and Validity of Marriage)


Cardinal Carlo Cafarra asks the following question: ""Theologians, canonists, and pastors are rightly asking about the faith-sacrament relationship of marriage. But there is a more radical problem. Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage? 










Positivism and the De-mystification of Sex:


Roger Scruton

The difficulty with matrimony lived in a culture which is positivistically dominated is its superficiality of an experience that is on the level of the purely sensible and rational. There is no commitment of the self because there is no self, and what we are is merely an individual.
          
  In the realm of sexuality, consider what the reductive epistemology of sexuality to mere facts has does to validity. Roger Scruton writes: “There is a picture of human sexuality that is propagated by the media, by popular culture, and by much sex education in our schools, which tries both to discount the differences between us and the other animals and also to remove every hint of the forbidden, the dangerous, and the sacred. It is a picture that makes no place for shame, save as a lingering disability, and which describes the experience of sex as a kind of bodily sensation. Sexual initiation, according to this picture, means learning to overcome guilt and shame, to put aside our hesitations, and to enjoy what is described in the literature as ‘good sex.’ The function of sex education in schools – and especially in those schools controlled by the state – is to rescue children from the commitments that have been attached to desire by displaying sex as a matter of cost-fee pleasure. Even to describe desire as I have done in the foregoing paragraphs is regarded, by many educationists, as an offense – a way of cluttering the minds of children with unmanageable guilt. Such educationists regard the free play of sexual titillation as a far healthier option than the death-encompassing passions associated with the old conception of erotic love.”[3]

            Scruton offers the kiss as a synecdoche of the whole of pre- and post- modern sex.“When the erotic kiss first became obligatory on the cinema screen, it was construed as a coming together of faces, each fully personalized through dialogue. The two faces had carried the burden of a developing drama, and were inseparable in thought from the individuals whose faces they were. When, in the last seconds of the Hollywood movie, the faces tremblingly approached each other, to be clich├ęd together in a clinch, the characters sank away from us into their mutual desire. This desire was their own affair, a kind of avenue out of the story that took them quickly off the screen and into marriage.
           
 “Pornography is the opposite of that: the face is more or less ignored, and in any case is endowed with no personality and made party to no human dialogue. Only the sexual organs, construed not as agents but as patients, or rather impatient, carry the burden of contact. Sexual organs, unlike faces, can be treated as instruments; they are rival means to the common end of friction, and therefore essentially substitutable. Pornography refocuses desire, not only the other who is desired, but on the sexual act itself, viewed as a meeting of bodies. The intentionality of the sexual act, conceived in this disenchanted way, is radically changed. It ceases to be an expression of interpersonal longing, still less of the desire to hold, to possess, to be filled with love. It becomes a kind of sacrilege – a wiping away of freedom, personality, and transcendence, to reveal the passionless contortions of what is merely flesh. Pornography is therefore functional in relation to a society of uncommitted partnerships. It serves to desecrate and thereby neutralize our sense that the object of desire is made sacred and irreplaceable by our longing. By shifting the focus downwards, from the end to the means, from the subject to the object, pornography diverts sexual feeling away from its normal course which is commitment, and empties it of its existential seriousness.”[4]

   In the light of the above, Cardinal Carlo Cafarra asks: "Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage?" 


"The first dimension of the anthropological question is the following: it is well known that according to Catholic teaching the sacrament of marriage coincides with natural marriage. I think that there can no longer be any theological doubt about the coinciding of the two, even if with and after Duns Scotus - the first to deny it - there has long been discussion in the Latin Church in this regard.

"Now what the Church meant and means by “natural marriage” has been demolished in contemporary culture. If I may put it this way, the “matter” has been removed from the sacrament of marriage.

"Theologians, canonists, and pastors are rightly asking about the faith-sacrament relationship of marriage. But there is a more radical problem. Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage? Attention must certainly be paid to canons 1096 (“For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring”) and 1099. Nevertheless, the “praesumptio iuris" of § 2 of canon 1096 (“This ignorance is not presumed after puberty”) must not be an occasion of disregard for the spiritual condition in which many find themselves with regard to natural marriage.


" - The anthropological question has a second dimension. This consists in the inability to perceive the truth and therefore the preciousness of human sexuality. It seems to me that Augustine described this condition is the most precise way possible: “Submerged and blinded as I was, I was not capable of thinking of the light of truth and of a beauty that was worthy of being loved for its own sake and was not visible to the eyes of the flesh, but within” (Confessions VI 16, 26).

"The Church must ask itself why it has in point of fact ignored the magisterium of Saint John Paul II on human sexuality and love. We must also ask ourselves is this: the Church possesses a great school in which it learns the profound truth of the body-person: the liturgy. How and why has it been unable to draw upon this also with regard to the anthropological question of which we are speaking? To what extend is the Church aware that “gender” theory is a real tsunami that is not aimed primarily at individual behavior but at the total destruction of marriage and the family?

In summary: the second fundamental problem that is raised today for the Christian presentation of marriage is the reconstruction of a theology and philosophy of the body and of sexuality capable of generating a new educational effort in the Church as a whole.

   In the realm of matrimony there is no difference between Christian faith as self-gift and the conjugal act as self-gift. For this reason, if matrimonial consent is not an intentionally total giving of the self, there is no marriage. That is why Cardinal Cafarra raises the question of the withering of the human capacity due to a pornographic and contraceptive culture.

No comments: