The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse: From St. Paul to Pope John Paul IIby Robert Obach
The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse traces the development of the Church's theology of marital sexuality from New Testament times to the present day. The early ecclesial leaders promoted a theology of sexuality based on Stoicism's biological perception that sexual activity was solely for the purpose of reproduction. Only in the early twentieth century did a
The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse traces the development of the Church's theology of marital sexuality from New Testament times to the present day. The early ecclesial leaders promoted a theology of sexuality based on Stoicism's biological perception that sexual activity was solely for the purpose of reproduction. Only in the early twentieth century did a few theologians begin to move beyond discussing "the purposes of marital intercourse" to discussing the meaning that the marital act might have for the spouses themselves. With the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), a new and positive view of marital sexuality emerged recognizing the Pauline view that the couple's marital acts express their love for each other along the lines of Christ's love for his church (Ephesians 5). In sum, The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse treats the way in which the Catholic Church has moved away from an attitude of conditional acceptance of marital intercourse on the basis of its utility to recognition that the dynamics of sexual union are both good and holy, not only because that is the way children are conceived, but also because the marital act enhances the love of husband and wife for each other.
- Lexington Books
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- New Edition
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- 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
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Robert Obach is an assistant professor in the Classics Curriculum at Antioch University and teaches philosophy at Sinclair College.
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This book claims to show the teaching of the Catholic Church on marital intercourse from the time of the Apostles to the modern era. It presents the teaching of the ancient to modern times in such a way as to make it seem that that there is a rupture rather than a continuity. "Nevertheless the Catholic Church has only recently recognized that marital sex mutually pleasurable marital sex good” pg 233 If you followed the author’s narrative that he presents of Church history, you would be forced to reach that conclusion. However, he is wrong and not only is he wrong but he appears to either be ignorant of the full teachings of the Fathers who taught on the nature of the marital bond, or he is intentionally omitting them. One example is when he discusses the dispute between St. Augustine and Bishop Julian (the author does not mention that Julian was a Pelagian heretic condemned by multiple popes and councils.) The author claims that “Augustine was particularly upset with Julian’s claim that a married couple’s sexual desire is acceptable when exercised honestly” pg 58 This is wrong. In St Augustine’s writings, he compares nourishment and generation, he had insisted that sexual pleasure, sought temperately and rationally, is not and cannot be termed concupiscence. De bono con., c. 16, n. 18 (PL 40, 385). That does not stop the author from calling St Augustine the Father of Pelvic Anxiety and claiming that married people “lost” by his writings on marriage (such as the Goods of Marriage). This is only one example but he goes on to cherry pick some of the most pessimistic statements made about married life and sex while omitting any positive remarks that were made during the same time period. In his section on the Medieval Church, he claims “churchmen did not recognize that marital intercourse could express spousal love". That is another false statement, apparently the author has never read LIBER DE QUADRIPARTITA SPECIE NUPTIARUM by Pope Innocent III. Whether the author intended this or not, it seems that there is a subtle suggestion - especially in later chapters - that the teaching of the Church on birth control is out of date and is due to be updated in a similar way as previous “Church teaching” on the nature of the marital act. "It could well be that the pilgrim church's doctrine on marital intercourse could belong more to the realm of development than to the realm of the fullness of divine truth. This author affirms that when it comes to church teaching, there is always a presumption in favor of the magisterium. On the other hand, it is a fact that church doctrine develops. .... theologians conclude that the teaching on artificial contraception is infallible. Other theologians argue that this teaching is not infallible." pg 236 It seems that this book's goal is to show you the most dramatic departure between what the Church has taught against what the Church teaches now. The author says that "(he) wanted to indicate the newer direction which official Catholic teaching is moving" pg 236. Based on his skewed presentation, it would seem that he wants us to move towards allowing artificial contraception. This book could do great damage to people’s faith in the teaching of our Church Fathers and Doctors and the Magisterium, and subsequently what the Church is actually saying today. It could have done great damage to mine had I not checked his sources for myself.