Why does the Church meddle in the sexual affairs of others?
Shouldn’t the Church just worry about feeding the homeless and caring for sick people?
Besides, if two people consent to sex, then who is the Church to decide what happens behind closed doors in the bedroom?
Perhaps you have heard these objections, or ones like it levied toward the Catholic Church. How do you respond?
THE CHURCH HAS A VESTED INTEREST IN EVERY PERSON, INCLUDING EVERY CHILD
The Catholic Church cares who has sex, because it cares for the souls of each member of the human race. Sex is a sacred act precisely because it can result in new human life, and it bonds its participants.
The Catholic Church remains in the business of saving souls to Heaven. Every soul.
That means every new human life to come into existence remains a potential citizen of Heaven someday. The Church serves as Christ’s hands and feet here on earth. The Church has His authority (Mt 16:16-19, Mt 18:17, 1 Tim 3:15)in this lifetime to speak on His behalf.
The Church values every human life because each person is created in the image and likeness of God. When one person gets mistreated, it hurts the entire human race.
Mistreatment can come in numerous forms, as we all recognize, including abuse, degradation, or usage. The Church remains the last bastion of hope and love in this world, identifying this maltreatment and calling for abandonment to Christ. Christ promised the Church would survive until His triumphal return (Mt 16:18).
PART OF NATURAL LAW IS TO DO WHAT’S BEST FOR SOCIETY, NOT JUST THE INDIVIDUAL
We each contain an innate desire to live in community. We desire love from others and we find lasting fulfillment, not in selfishness, but in selflessness. We as a human race function better when we all work together in harmony.
However, as fallen human beings, we each hold character flaws that prevent us from always taking the best actions. Sometimes people will do things to harm others. Boundaries must be set on actions.
Anything out of line must be dealt with. This means there must be a penal remedy for actions that hurt others. This has played out in every society in all of human history. Each group sets up a government, whereby certain actions are required and others are forbidden.
Thus, natural law dictates that laws should be constructed to serve the common good, not just the individual.
By definition, this means that certain people’s actions will not be tolerated. Certain acts are discriminated against. For example, thieves are punished. The government takes away their so-called “freedom” to steal, punishing them if they are caught.
Since rules need to be established, the ones that fall into line with natural law are the most common among all societies in all of human existence. Yes, there are exceptions, but by and large, most every society follows the natural law to varying degrees.
For example, in virtually every society murder remains a punishable crime, and is sometimes a capital offense. Every culture in the world recognizes the unique relationship between mother and her child and sets up society to protect and to preserve that relationship. The examples could go on.
WHAT OCCURS IN YOUR BEDROOM
With all this by way of background, let’s briefly look at the claim that people sometimes make that the Catholic Church should have no say so in what happens in someone’s bedroom.
This is a deliberate euphemism for sexual intercourse. These people think that sex is a private act that no one else should be allowed to regulate.
Here are two flaws in that way of thinking.
1) Not everything that can occur inside a bedroom must be moral.
People can do all kinds of immoral actions, even in (or especially in) bedrooms. There is nothing special or off-limits about bedrooms.
Murder remains a crime, no matter the location of the homicide. Just because it may occur in a bedroom does not make it an acceptable act. One can fill out his tax forms on his computer while in his bedroom. If he purposely evades taxes and misreports his earnings, he still commits an offense. His bedroom does not save him from punishment, should he get caught. You get the idea, I hope.
2) Not every sexual act is an entirely private concern, even if it occurs in a bedroom.
For the reasons discussed above, the Church, as well as the government, have a staked interest in the sexual affairs of people. This is largely, but not entirely, because new human persons can result from sex. The Church, as well as the government, even goes so far as to state who can be permitted to have sexual relations with whom.
Why is that? Why should that be permitted?
As for the Church’s interest, see above. As for the government, it recognizes (to varying degrees) that certain actions hurt the common good and so are punishable by law.
For example, viewing child pornography in one’s bedroom remains a grave sin—and an illegal one at that. So too is rape. So too is incest. If left unpunished, these acts would be more common and cause more harm to more individuals, thereby hurting society even worse.
There is nothing special about bedrooms that make all actions to take place there immune from moral scrutiny. Illegal activities can also occur in bedrooms.
In the end, the charge that the Church ought to stay out of the affairs of the bedroom remains a silly argument. Natural law dictates that the sexual act needs to be protected.
What’s your take on this argument?
Can you help to strengthen my argument against it?
Or, do you think you can defeat my argument?
Please share your thoughts below!