Friday, December 12, 2008

Putting The Child First In Sexual Morality

I have spent some of my morning reading pro life posts dealing with death and murder. In one such post, written from a very personal perspective, the author relates three stories. One deals with a jury deliberating execution for a cop killer, one tells of her relationships with a grandmother who died of Alzheimer's, and one of her acquaintance with a 'crack' mother whose child was taken from her by the state. All three examples deal with separation in some way or another. The interesting thing was in the commentary associated with the article. None of the comments deal with the 'crack' mom story or her sick premature infant.

This represents the thing I find really scary about the pro life movement, and the sexual morality of the Church. Where is any concern shown for the fruits of pro creation? It's as if all sexual morality ends with the ejaculation of sperm into a uterus, followed by the birth of said pro creative product. But what about the morality associated with raising that said pro creative product?

I use the term pro creative product, rather than child, because that to me is the Church's attitude toward born children. Once the product is off the assembly line all concern for it stops. It's not the product which counts, it's the assembly line.

This is taken to such lengths, that it becomes more moral to rape a woman than to masturbate. Since patriarchy perceives sperm to be the start of the assembly line, it's proper placement takes precedent. This makes the receiving uterus, or the actual production line, a subordinate player, at the mercy of the fact sperm is in the area.

I find it interesting that there are never any sermons directed at the phenomenon of male abandonment. I suspect that's because the Church places responsibility for the nurturing and raising of the pro creative product a very distant second in the natural morality associated with males. It's their sperm which counts. Complimentarity says this is the way it is. Men don't have breasts.

Women on the other hand, are morally entrained to be completely at the service of the pro creative product. It's their baggage, their breasts, their fruit. This is their prime reason for existence. They are both the production line uterus and the party primarily responsible for the product, and they are morally culpable for failure in any aspect of this system.

But what if the pro creative product was the start, rather than the finish of our sexual morality? We might have developed a very different sexual ethic. We might have decided it is far preferable to masturbate rather than engage in a procreative act when one has no intention of taking on the responsibility of raising the child.

We might have decided that it is morally acceptable to use RU48 after being raped, rather than forcing a woman to take on the life long responsibility of a child she didn't want and will have no father to help her support.

We might have decided it's a much higher moral good to use any means possible to control births rather than have children one can't begin to raise in a way which truly does cherish their existence as something more than pro creative product.

We might have decided that it is better for children to have parents, no matter their configuration, than to limit parenting to one particular version of traditional family.

We might have decided it's far better to tell our pubescent children what exactly all that hormonal raging entails, in terms of responsible use of their nascent sexuality, than 'don't do it'.

We might have decided, based on anatomy, that sex does serve other functions than just procreation. It's also an endorphin rush about bonding, and that rush, even for women, is just as much about external orgasm as it is internal.

We might have had a really really different attitude about actual pro creative sex: It is a far greater evil to engage in heterosexual activity without any intention to raise a child or bond with your partner, than any other form of sexual sin.

I've often wondered if Thomas Aquinas was alive today if he would place sperm at the top of the natural law sexual morality pyramid. It's hard to imagine he would formulate his theology thinking women were 'malformed' males, and that sperm contained complete little humans looking for fertile soil. I've often wondered if he isn't in heaven somewhere totally appalled that his sexual theology hasn't been updated to reflect the knowledge of our reality.

He might even be nauseated, suspecting that his theology is really being used to maintain heterosexual male supremacy in society, and that's the real reason it hasn't been updated.

Given all of the above, I guess I'm not surprised that the 'crack mom' and her baby weren't mentioned in the comments. Except the crack baby is the perfect symbol for everything that's wrong with our current notions of natural law.

It's of no moral consequence that exploitative heterosexuality frequently produces children born into awful circumstances. Circumstances which all too frequently raise antisocial humans who think nothing of killing cops. Apparently pro lifers feel fine with these pro creative products becoming the state's business. Not worth commenting on---until they kill cops, and then it's morally justified to kill them. A sort of state sanctioned late term abortion.

Unfortunately, this 'leave the procreative products for the state to clean up', is happening way too frequently, and will get even worse in this economy. It's way past time to put the live baby at the front of any notions of natural law sexual morality. Way past time. I really think Aquinas would agree.


  1. In fact Colleen, many of us have decided ... that is why so many of the young and middle aged are abandoning the catholic church and the more consevative christian churches.

    We have had enough of the hypocrisy of the male magisterial leadership. The most recent document of hypocrisy was the recent release of "Dignitas Personae. In the article it was stated that:

    "DP catalogues the consequences of actions derived from a moral framework based on a point of view about personhood"

    I find this to be so very hyprocritical that the magisterial leadership could create such a document while at the same time creating and circulating documents to the bishops telling them how to manipulate the 2008 election, or how to obstruct the pedophile investigations.

    Their continued hypocrisy is proof that they no longer deserve to lead the faithful, proof that they no longer serve Christ or the One True God.

    Todays word is "glimpsa" very appropriate word, as we are now getting a really good "glimpsa" what is really the motivation and the driving force behind the magisterial leadership ... it is a spirit, but it is definitely not the Holy Spirit.

  2. Colleen, I agree so much with what you are saying here. Masturbation would be the right thing to do instead of raping someone. Good Lord! When I read the articles on NCR I wanted to puke! It is just intolerable that they keep this view of sperm as so holy! It is not holy!!!! Sperm is not holy!!! It's just sperm!

    Word: onved - what it means is the "authorities" left their brains on the ved and voke up on ze wrong side ven they vote dignitas personae.

  3. I have to make an addition here because the word is horsitun, which means personae dignitae is a ton of horse s--t!

  4. a confession here. . I am strongly Pro-life and just as strongly Pro-choice. .

    I think you make some really great points in this post. . .for me the entire life vs. choice is so often toxic from both directions. . .

    I loved Dr. Estess post last week about compassion. . .

    I am to the point where i want to take the political wrangling completely out of the debate. .

    .as much as i want babies to live and thrive i can no longer stomach the venomous rancor which often comes form old men well past child raising years denouncing women. . .

    i just dont like their power grubbing hands on mine or my sisters ovaries. . .and i come from a Native tradition where leadership was place in the hands of a Women's Council. . .and they determined who the Chiefs would be to lead the tribe. . .This is a woman's issue. . .

    I believe in reproductive choices for women. . .If the rancor where truly about compassionate care and concern for the least of these i would be all ears. . .but all to often i hear hidden agendas of power. . .and Church wants to count heads not hearts or babies. .head counts mean power. . .

    If ever an issue needed to be taken from the hands of men and a National taskforce of Women to truly deal from heart and integrity for this issue it is now. . .

    one of the main reasons for lack of resolution is because the unborn elects political leaders. . how warped is that?. . . from both directions?. . .

    I also look through my own skewed lens on this one. . .Back in the early 80's i made the agonizing decision to have an abortion. . .I was educated and had spent a number of years in Christian ministry. . .was in a long term relationship with a Seminary graduate. . .we met at Seminary and i left after two years to pursue a Counseling degree. .

    When i became pregnant i was using contraceptives. . .and was also working at a large Agricultural Chemical company in order to put myself through graduate school. . .I prayed and prayed about which direction. . marriage was an a strong option. . .there was no absent father. . .But every time i prayed i heard the same still small voice over and over. . ." This is not to be. . ." So i had an abortion. . .

    It was not done lightly but through tears, and prayers and deep listening. . .

    A week after the abortion i got a call from the clinic and was asked to come back and sign papers because the "tissue sample" was suspicious and they feared incomplete. . .So i agreeded to pathology to be done. . .and they called back and said all was fine for the sample revealed non-viability and the abortion had removed what needed to be removed. .

    I share this story because i did listen and discerned from deep within the still small voice. . .and my listening was validated. . .

    But for years i have felt jabbed and knifed for listening to the Holy Spirit and i did not take a life. . .So my heart goes out to those women and men that have made the choice and i cannot imagine how they must feel. . .and what are the consequences for their lives, hearts, and souls?. . For the decison but even more for the scorn and shame that gets piled on them. . .

    Kinda like Dr. E. said, it is time for us those have gone through to speak the many situations and stories. . .So many that have made the decision for abortions are no longer even childbearing, but still the wounds are open. . . I do not believe they are monsters or murderers. . .

    Another flashback to the decision. . .i was a struggling graduate student and money was tight. . .so i stopped in at a free pregnancy testing center to be tested for pregnancy. . .They took the urine and then placed me in a room and locked the door and proceeded to play a gruesome video of a late term abortion. . .It was so violent i attempted to leave then realized they had locked me me. . .and also realized i had walked into a Pro Life "care" center. . .

    The reason for the non-viability of the fetus i found out three months later. . . When i was hospitalized for over exposure to chemicals from the company i worked for. . .The prominent company had used their own property to dump toxic waste into the ground that was leaking into two large rivers that the property sat beside. . .and i was analyzing those samples under a broken hood system which would of cost 60,000 dollars in captial expenditures. . .so the company never told the workers and did not bother to fix them. . .

    I brought lawsuit and because they threw so much money at it, they where able to kill it through time and big money and procedural mess. . .

    the company continues to seep toxic chemicals into the rivers. . . So many lifes are effected. . .When i tried to bring it to the press. . i was told by a really nice woman reporter. . .even though all the documentation is there, the media will not touch a story like this because this company is the strongest Corporate Sponsor in the State. . .The Companty is Bayer Agricultural. . .the one that infected the HIV and hemophiliacs, the one that had a horrible record in India for child labor. and just recently the finger has been placed on them for the bee kill off that threatens the world's food source. . .Because of the damage of the overexposure to my ovaries. . i was not able to bear children. . .

    and isn't it a hoot that no one will touch these guy because they are powerful corporate sponsors of the State. . .Which means they purchase advertising and sponsor Golf tournaments. . .

    And what i have i done for years?. . . but allow the rancor of the abortion debate to burn with it's blame and shame. . . But what must the ones that have truly undergone abortions when they where young and immature feel like?. . .

    In all my years of therapy and continued deep spiritual practice i have not told this story. . .so thanks for listening and allowing a bit of catharsis. . .

  5. Colleen, you demonstrate what is wrong with the Catholic approach to sexual morality in general: it has no room for the voices of mothers.

    It would be a totally different ballgame if mothers helped craft the sexual morality of the church. Not only "celibate" men sitting in studies and thinking about, but not experiencing, these moral challenges. While a woman cooks their food, cleans their house, waits on them.

    You're doing the kind of theology we need in the 21st century to correct the grotesque imbalance in the Catholic church.

  6. Marci I am humbled that you felt free enough to share your story. It's a powerful story.

    So are the parallels between our lives. I understand your difficulties with Bayer Agriculture because I worked for a very large mining company. It seemed to me I spent the last four years of my time with that corporation arguing for workers safety and environemental issues.

    We used to get tested for mercury levels and one time I was called into the office and told mine were 100 times above human tolerance. I started laughing and said, I must glow in the dark then because I should be way past dead. It was a bogus test, but the story serves to demonstrate the ignorance of our management. I left this guy's office shaking my head.

    Anytime we attempted to get press coverage for some of the more egregious problems we were told the same thing, they were too big a state tax payer for the local press to take them on. I was constantly under internal security investigation.

    On the good side of this, I had two very close friends who were high up in security and they always let me know when the heat was on, and I would stay home and keep my mouth shut.

    In the final analysis though, the company did clean it's act up and is considered light years ahead of other mining companies in safety and EPA compliance. I, of course, was laid off and then black balled.

    Now to another similarity. I too had an abortion in grad school, because of the same issues. No money, no stability, a very christian father who also had no job and no prospects. I knew the night I got pregnant and knew I was carrying a female fetus, and like you I shouldn't have been pregnant.

    Because I knew right away, I spent six weeks studying the morality of the issue from all angles before I went in and had the pregnancy confirmed. One night I was in deep meditation and suddenly knew it was OK to abort because this soul would come back. She told me she would. In a very real sense I was given permission.

    The next time I got pregnant I was married and again knew instantly I was pregnant, and again, my husband had no job, no prospects, and wasn't thrilled with becoming a father. even though he too had a previous pregnancy aborted. Except I heard that same voice again and I had no compunction about going through with the pregnancy. I had the daughter I knew I would have, and she has the same empathic characteristics I felt in our 'conceptual' communications.

    These experiences taught me that we don't know shit about soul incarnation, and to assume that souls don't decide about their incarnation or don't have input is hubrous. The whole issue of incarnation and death is way more complicated than the simple black and white answers we've been given.

    It is way past time we had a National Task Force of women to discuss pregnancy which is so intimate to us, and so mysterious to the males who try and control it.

    Finally, I too was struck with Dr. Este's article on adding compassion to this issue. All the rancor has to stop, just like all the gay bashing, because it's generating a horrible energy field in which real people (children) are being really hurt. There's nothing Christ-like about it.

    Finally, I too am very pro life and very pro choice. Pro choice not just for the parents, but also for the being about to enter. They have a voice, and a choice, and it's folly to try to manipulate that voice one way or another--to make them a political football for personal gain. Ultimately it's ignorance at it's worst.

    Thanks for your sharing.

  7. dear colkoch. . .thanks for your reply and sharing. . .my heart is touched. . .we have touched each points in one another's lives. . .