|Jesus understood legislating Platonic ideals was an exercise in futility. People evolve and mature into living those ideals. Our Bishops seem to have a different less 'human' understanding--especially when it comes to sex and women.
I have to admit I have found the religious conscience exemption brouhaha over birth control to be utterly fascinating. There have been millions of words written on this topic in the course of the last month. Too many of them utter hysteria, and most of those kinds of words coming from the mouths of Catholic Bishops. I do agree with these bishops on one point, this has now become a battle with serious implications for religious freedom, who gets it, how far it goes, and whether conscience clauses are the domain of the individual or another ill advised extension of individual rights to corporate entities.
What I really hope is the Catholic conversation gets much deeper, goes beyond the religious freedom debate and into the heart of matter. I can not get past the fact that at this moment in time everything uttered by our Catholic leadership is sexually oriented. It doesn't matter if it's the dissembling about the clergy abuse scandal or gay marriage or abortion or now the current birth control debate. The Catholic conversation is about sex. For a while the Liturgical changes took center stage, but inevitably the hierarchical conversation always comes back to sex, and always about sex as it pertains to women and gay men--which really means men who act sexually like women. Rarely, if ever, do we hear anything about sexual morality as it applies to straight men--see the recent Catholic convert and multiple adulterer Newt Gingrich.
All this talk about controlling the sexuality of women and gays sends one incredible message about Catholic spirituality. That message seems to be the if humanity can 'control' their sexual urges they become instantly spiritual. Unfortunately that's not true. Usually humanity becomes emotionally and spiritually stunted because their sexuality never gets integrated into the totality of their person. They are always at war with a very deep and powerful aspect of the human condition. Spiritual peace is very difficult to achieve under this set up--as is any form of real wisdom and maturity.
The even deeper message is that straight men can only become more spiritual by forcing women to be the controlling agent of male sexuality. In heterosexual marriage it's women who have the moral mandate to say "NO", but not the physical or psychological strength to enforce it. Historically this arrangement has worked out terribly for millions and millions of children who weren't wanted or couldn't be supported by either of their biological parents. I know, I work with the 'fruits' of this arrangement every single day. I tire of hearing my clients say they would have been better off aborted or never born. I should probably mention here that my clients are the sickest of the sickest. For the most part they are the mentally ill who have been sexually and physically abused as children, born of addicted or mentally ill mothers, abandoned by their biological parents, and raised in the children's institutional system. They wouldn't recognize real love in their lives unless it was accompanied by a kick in the head. Too many of them were raised Catholic.
Forced sexual discipline is not spirituality, especially when that forced discipline is only directed at one gender. It's just an exercise in male self delusion. Jesus didn't address individual sexual morality except in context of marital infidelity. If there's a message there it isn't about birth control, and it isn't about gay marriage, and it isn't about abortion. It's about marital infidelity and casting stones at 'others'. People don't become saints because they don't engage in sex. They become saints by relating deeply with others and not demanding sexual gratification as an inherent right or without accepting the responsibility for the consequences.
The fundamental flaw in this whole Catholic debate is our sexual morality is being written and 'enforced' exclusively by male celibates who think sexual continence is some how related to 'holiness' and who seem to firmly believe that unless men take vows of chastity on behalf of and under the direction of Holy Mother Church it's up to regular unholy women to set the boundaries on the sexual lives of the less devoted males. It's no wonder real life men and women have utterly rejected Humanae Vitae and roll their eyes at JPII's Theology of the Body. Those two papal teachings might work well in some Platonic world of absolute ideals, but that's not the world lay Catholics actually live in.