The Catholic church on sex

August 10, 2013

To paraphrase his own words, reader Sheldon Laskin displays stunning ignorance of the position of the Catholic Church on sex ("Pope's comments on gays are less significant than they appear," Aug. 2).

Yes, the Catholic Church insists that the sexual act is properly an act of love between a man and woman who are married. That part he got right. However, it also teaches that married couples must be open to the possibility of procreation — not that sex is "only for procreation," as Mr. Laskin asserts.

That's a huge distinction appreciated by every married, sexually active Catholic couple who might be sterile or beyond their reproductive years. In fact, Catholics do accept sexuality as one of "the greatest attributes of being human" — again, Mr. Laskin's words — and as a legitimate expression of love between a husband and wife.

However, just as eating is rightly used for nutrition and, when used as such, can be a great joy and pleasure, sex, when engaged in appropriately, is also a wondrous treasure in its proper time and context. In fact, don't we see the appalling physical destruction of food's misuse in the unchecked rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other degenerative disorders?

Likewise, the misuse of sex has led to a blazing trail of cultural destruction in the form of rampant rates of STDs, adultery, broken marriages and out-of-wedlock births. If Mr. Laskin has not noticed these trends, he needs to read The Sun more often.

Believing that sexual activity with anyone under any circumstance is unwise is not the same as "barely tolerating straight sex." Such behavior sounds appealing, but so does diving into a triple-scoop sundae on a full stomach simply because one craves it. Both behaviors lead to negative consequences that can't be ignored.

In standing against such hedonism, the Catholic Church takes a principled position that can't be so lightly dismissed. When Mr. Laskin lampoons the church's position he is not making a reasoned and deliberative argument but simply indulging in an old-fashioned ad hominem attack against the pope and the institution he heads.

Next time he wishes to take issue with a Catholic position, Mr. Laskin should first make sure he understands it. Perhaps the assistance of a Catholic theologian would have been helpful in this regard. Had he done that, I might still have disagreed with Mr. Laskin, but at least I would have respected his point of view.

John Sposato, Pasadena

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