Saturday, May 14, 2011


With the building up of emotional tension among our citizenry spawned by the RH Bill and its concomitant issues, it is wise to pause and with a touch of objectivity reconsider the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on sexuality, marriage, and family life.

The Church is very much aware of the position of our culture vis-a-vis the teaching of the Church on sexuality, love, marriage, and family. It reasons out that the Church is too prudish, not up to the standard of the world today; its discipline on sexual relations of man and woman, the call to modest acts and behaviour in sexual matter, the invitation to pure and chaste love, are impractical and ridiculous to the urgent call of the wild. This reaction was already noted some years ago. Pope Benedict XVI, in his first and recent Encyclical Letter “Deus Caritas Est” declared that in France during the Age of the Enlightenment the great philosopher Nietzsche had already made this judgment: “Christianity had poisoned eros.” To elaborate, the philosopher asked these pointed questions: “Doesn’t the Church, with all the commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life? Doesn’t she blow the whistle just when the joy, which is the Creator’s gift, offers in a happiness which is itself a certain foretaste of the divine?” (no.3).

Shallow perceptions of this kind are mirrored in the way our culture treats sexuality. Once the National Geographic magazine came out an issue with a banner story on love and family life. Entitled “The Thing called Love”, it portrays love as a chemical reaction that influences the brain and the whole person of the parties involved. It then proffers the questions: “Does passion necessarily diminish over time? How reliable is romantic love, really, as a means of choosing one’s mate? Can a marriage be good when Eros is replaced with friendship, or even economic partnership, two people bound by bank accounts?” (National Geographic, Lauren Slater, “The Thing Called Love”, February 2006, pp. 32-49). Or, is sex measurable as much as our brain is measurable? is there such a thing as CQ, Compatibility Quotient as we do have for our intelligence (IQ)? The Reader’s digest in one of its 2006 issues suggested that there should be a stable measure for one’s attraction to the other. In this perception, we are made to believe that we are all hard-wired to choose a partner, that is, “that men will go for petite, curvy woman; that women prefer a tall man with a strong jaw line who looks affluent.”

It is within these one-dimensional perceptions that our modern culture insists that sex is casual, morally neutral, not subject to any rule or discipline. It is an in-born right of every individual person to make use of sex, a private entitlement to enjoy anytime he feels the urge to it; a private property to be used according to his desire. Unfortunately such an intimate union of man and woman in sexual act, wanted or unwanted, can result in pregnancy. Is pregnancy part of the deal?

It is at this point that RH Bill comes in and makes that big bang promise that, if made into a law, it guarantees “satisfying and safe sex life” without the burden of getting pregnant. It does so by giving to the citizens of the Philippines free access to all kinds of contraceptives. With this the RH Bill inherently sanctions a life of promiscuity.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes this posture. Sex is not just like anything else. It is not a toy to be played with. It is a sacred gift to be handled with care, to be respected. It speaks of total self giving, total trust, total commitment. In such an intimate sharing of one’s life, the conjugal union cannot admit of any tinge of conditionality. Hence, for a Roman Catholic, sex by its very nature must be linked to marriage that is permanent, exclusive, and open to life.

It is within this context that there is a need for the Christian marriage to be proclaimed again in full vigour. Christian marriage is more than a piece of legislation; more than the union of a male and a female hit by a chemical reaction called love. It is a sacred union. It starts with the free choice of the man and the woman in love, mutually surrendering themselves to each other which they do by entering into marriage whose meaning and values do not depend on them but on God himself. For God is the Author of marriage, delicately endowing it with proper laws and regulations. And due to reality of sin, making him/her prone to the temptations of the flesh and the pride of life that oftentimes sours the relationship between man and woman, God elevated that union into a sacrament. Here the spouses are caught up by the Christ who gives that great promise: “My grace is sufficient for you.”