Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Purity and "Catholic Porn"

Terry has an interesting discussion about methods of promoting chastity. He cites an article by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand questioning the prudence of some chastity programs which use graphic descriptions of human relations, combined with lurid stories of promiscuous lifestyles. My husband calls it "Catholic porn" because it may become an excuse to talk about sex under the guise of lamenting the evils of fornication. It is as if a bunch of alcoholics at an AA meeting talked about their favorite cocktails the whole time, all the while saying how terrible it is to drink.

The holiness and beauty of intimate marital relations requires that one approaches the topic with modesty and restraint, especially in mixed company. There is a natural modesty which exists between the sexes, and to break down that reserve under the guise of promoting chastity is very dangerous, especially when those who have retained their innocence are present. And how many times, in the very house of God, within the hearing of little children, have certain priests spoken in a graphic manner...too often. Even some lay people, while promoting NFP at Mass, have given more detail than is necessary for children to hear. Or for single people to hear, for that matter....

Purity is a fragile virtue and should never be taken for granted. I view with consternation those who have only lived a chaste life for a few months or a few years lecturing others about how to be chaste. Unless someone has lived a life of intense penance in a monastery, I would prefer not to have them lecture me on purity, until they have twenty or thirty years of chaste living behind them. It is especially inappropriate for unmarried people to be constantly discussing sexuality, even more so when their experience of it is only from books, movies and committing fornication, not from the marriage bed.

Someone who has never experienced the beauty of married love should not be talking to young people about such explicit matters. It is different, however, to receive some guidance from religious and those leading a life of celibacy. Those who have fully embraced celibacy for the kingdom in the religious life have a profound understanding of marriage-- because they ARE married, to Jesus and His Church. They know meaning of true love and commitment. However, in the long run, it is better, in my opinion, for married ladies, preferably mothers, to give explanations to young girls. And the same goes for boys, hearing about marital relations from married men, preferably their fathers. Share

13 comments:

Iosue Andreas said...

Hear, hear!

I'm reminded of Emmanuel Mournier's thoughts on modesty in his book Personalism. He says "the personal life is related by its nature to something secret."

We seem to have lost that. We lost first our sense of guilt and then our sense of shame.

elena maria vidal said...

That is exactly the case, Joshua. We have lost our sense of shame....

Terry Nelson said...

Excellent post Elena - very well stated. Joshue - great comment. This loss of shame in our culture permeates every aspect of life.

elena maria vidal said...

Especially when shamelessness infiltrates the holy place, the sanctuary of the Church-- then we are really in bad shape....

Anonymous said...

josue, you are so right on...there is no sense of the "veiled" nature of such things, total strangers have no qualms telling each other the most intimate things!! in public!! at dinner!!
cordelia

elisa said...

In my senior of high school I heard a wonderful chasity talk from Jason Evert (I may be misspelling his last name) while attending the Mount 2000 retreat at Mt. St. Mary's. It was done in a tasteful manner too.
I can recall two occasions that NFP was presented by couples towards the end of Mass--one at my home parish and the other at the parish that I attended in grad school. Both were kept brief and concise: what it is and about Couple-to-Couple League. In the second occasion the couple stated for more info, please visit our table after Mass.
Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the personal details complete strangers will share with me out of the blue in the grocery line, aisles, etc. It makes me quite uncomfortable.

Ever since shows like Sally Jesse Raphael and Oprah, people assume that anyone and everyone wants to hear about their 'intimate life', divorces, health problems, surgeries, family discord, etc.

I read a great article here. http://www.americandaily.com/article/7701 It discusses this very issue.

I think that this philosophy has bled into our discussion of delicate topics...they are no longer considered private or treated with respect or reverence. And our apparel (or lack thereof) shows this as well.

elena maria vidal said...

True, Cordelia!

Yes, Elisa, I have also been present at talks about chastity and NFP which were tasteful as well as effective.

Margaret, I agree with you completely!

Jennifer F. said...

This makes so much sense. Excellent point. It's hard to believe that there are people out there who would disagree with this (a lot of them).

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, so true, Jennifer. And we must speak what we believe to be true even when we know many will disagree with us. Thanks for your support!

Jennifer F. said...

Just wanted to comment again pass on my husband's reply when I emailed him this link (I don't think he knows how to comment on blogs). :)

"These are excellent points!
What a lucid and clear way of looking at this whole issue...This is really the first time I've seen this explained in this way. What an interesting post."

And then he brought up what a great point it was again at dinner. So just wanted to say...keep up the good work!

Catholic Mom said...

First and foremost this education for teens belongs in the home--parent to child. I have certainly encouraged my teens to attend the Jason Evert presentations as well as a Theology of the Body presentation for teens, but these were to augment the information given to them at home--not to replace it. This sort of education absolutely does not belong in public schools. Truly, anything that could be construed as "Catholic porn" doesn't belong in a group setting. I do believe the Oprah genre of television shows has destroyed the concept of private intimacy.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Catholic Mom, parents must be so vigilant. Sometimes the Oprah style chastity programs are just a means of scandalizing the young.

Jennifer, thank your husband for me. I am so glad that common sense is alive and well on the internet.