Tuesday, November 27, 2012
(A Stoic, a Catholic, a Gay Guy and a Woman walked into a bar...)
Sheila: Catullus...I don't understand why you feel ashamed of who you are.
Catullus: I don't. I just don't want Mom to know.
Sheila: But don't you think she needs to accept you as you really are?
Catullus: Mom does not accept people as they really are. (He raises his hand and waves) Isn't that right Lydie?
(Lydia joins them dressed in a beige wool coat and a vaguely medieval dress)
Lydia: Isn't what right?
Germanicus: That Mom doesn't accept people as they are.
Lydia: I know. She totally doesn't. She wouldn't talk to me for years after I got baptized.
Sheila: That's really weird. Why not?
Germanicus: Christianity's a slave religion. It brought down the Empire. It set back civilization for two-thousand years.
Lydia: You don't still believe that?
Germanicus: No, not really. JC's philosophy has some interesting points.
Lydia: Yeah. Okay. We'll take that up another time. So I heard there was a debate. What's the resolution?
Catullus: Be it resolved that certain sexual acts are, by nature, to be morally proscribed.
Lydia: Okay. So I'm pro, and so is Germanicus. Sheila...I'm going to guess is not. Catullus...I don't know what Catullus thinks. I don't think I've ever heard you mention sex.
Catullus: I'm playing devil's advocate, backing Sheila up.
Lydia: Okay. Sounds fun. Let's go.
Germanicus: Well, I suppose we'd better start by bringing you up to speed. (Lydia is treated to a brief play by play, with all of the personal aspects of the argument excised.)
Lydia: So Catullus' argument, tell me if I get this straight, is that if you know someone you love is going to commit a sexual sin if you don't have sex with them, then you should have sex with them so that they don't get HIV?
Catullus: Assuming, of course, that you would want to do so.
Lydia: Right. So what if this person that you love already has HIV? And what if after you have sex, they decide that they don't love you back? Then you're screwed.
Catullus: What if you love them enough that you're willing to assume that risk?
Lydia: Then ask them to marry you.
Sheila: What if they're not willing to get married?
Lydia: Then why should you be willing to have sex? So that they can leave you with an unplanned pregnancy and an STD? No. I don't think so.
Sheila: So you think it's realistic that people are not going to have sex until they're ready to get married? Are you going to go back to marrying kids off when they're thirteen?
Lydia: No. But I thought we were talking about what people should do, not what they do do.
Sheila: So what do you think somebody should do if they're not planning to get married for a while, and it's not realistic that they're not going to have sex.
Lydia: Make it realistic.
Catullus: Practice what? How on earth are you supposed to “practice” not doing something?
Lydia: By, you don't do it for as long as you can, and after you fall down, you go back to not doing it for as long as you can, until you get good at it.
Catullus: But suppose that you're at the end of the line. Suppose you've already done this “for as long as you can” schtick, and now you're deciding how best to fall down?
Lydia: In my experience, when you get to “how best to fall down” there's no deciding involved. If you're still making rational decisions, you can keep going.
Sheila: So your theory is that people should never make reasonable decisions about their sexuality?
Lydia: That's not what I said. I was just saying that Catullus' psychology makes no sense. It assumes that you're not really trying. That you're intending to fail. Which...if you intend to fail, you will.
Germanicus: How about, if you really can't go any longer, masturbate. I know it's gross, and unnatural, but at least it's safe.
Catullus: Lydia's a Catholic, Germanicus. They think that's a mortal sin.
Lydia: Yes. But even with mortal sins, some are worse than others. And if you really can't help it, then it's not a mortal sin.
Catullus: Mmm hmmm. But the sin of fornication is less grevious than the sin of masturbation, at least according to Aquinas. So Germanicus is wrong.
Lydia: Where are you getting that?
Catullus: I looked it up once. I needed to prove that your church's sexual ethics don't make sense. There was a lot riding on it at the time.
Lydia: You mean you Googled it. 'Cause if you read the Summa, you'd know that what you're saying is totally an oversimplification.
Catullus: All right, Lydia. You want something where I actually read the primary source documents, how about the teaching on natural family planning?
Lydia: What about it?
Catullus: It's utter balderdash, that's what. Complete nonsense. Irrational, self-contradicting, utterly arbitrary, and perfectly insane.
Sheila: Besides which, it doesn't work.
Lydia: Okay. Hold back. One at a time. Catullus first.
Catullus: All right. The theory here is that somehow sex is procreative even when it cannot possibly procreate, and that couples can be “open to life” even when they're determined not to let life in.
Lydia: Point one: wrong. The theory is that the acts are of a procreative type.
Catullus: Language games, Lydia. It's nothing but a language game. And a language game of the worst, most sophistical kind. Only a scholastic suffering from severe academentia could possibly believe that a naturally sterile act is “of the procreative type.”
Lydia: But I'm not talking about naturally sterile acts.
Catullus: Lydia, the female body is fertile and barren on a cyclical basis. It is how you are designed by nature, not by artifice or by convention.
Lydia: Duh, obviously. That's why natural family planning is natural.
Catullus: And it is also why sexual acts committed during the infertile period are naturally sterile. Every bit as sterile, by nature, as the “unnatural act.”
Lydia: Catullus, unnatural acts are never procreative. They are by nature closed to life. They cannot produce children. Normal sex can produce children. That's the difference.
Catullus: “Normal” sex during pregnancy cannot produce children any more than a cat can give birth to a mouse.
Lydia: But that's just because of circumstance.
Catullus: It is because of the nature of the female body and of her womb.
Lydia: Yes, but the act --Catullus: Concerns the body. The entire body. In a fairly intimate way.
Lydia: -- is not being intentionally closed to life by either the woman or the man.
Catullus: If two men have sex, neither of them intentionally closes the act to life.
Lydia: But the act is by nature closed to life.
Catullus: So which is it? The act must be procreative by nature, or by intention? Where is this goalpost? It moves each time I shoot.
Lydia: Germanicus, where's the rest of my team here? Hello? Can't you help out?
Germanicus: Sorry, Lydia. He's right. Sex during pregnancy's unnatural. And so is NFP.
(End of Part V)