Friday, January 27, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex

Why do priests insist on talking about sex?

A friend of mine asked me this a couple days ago.  To be clear, he was not an interested bystander, but a priest himself.  "Why do we do this?" he asked me. "How is this helpful?"

His point was this -- the teaching of the Church on things like premarital sex is clear.  And even today, in this so-calledly secular age, every Catholic kid has already heard the spiel, if not at Church then at home. So, really, what more is there to say? Indeed, my friend posited, as soon as a priest starts talking about sex, you can see people's eyes glaze over and all they hear is Charlie Brown's teacher giving a lecture. Wah wah wah wah wah.

Personally, I think priests should talk about sex more. Not the "here's the rules" lecture that we all know, but an exploration of the deep and real.  How sex can reveal so much about ourselves to ourselves, our willingness to put the one we love first, or lack thereof.  The scary vulnerability, that experience of being seen as you really are, naked both physically and emotionally, a way of being loved that is absolutely unique.  The sacramentality of touch; facing your primal self; even the tedium that sex can become, in its own way so similar to the dryness we sometimes go through in our prayer.

Sex is such a major part of our lives -- one we think about quite a lot if most studies are to be trusted. And yet where can we find spiritual reflection on the things that actually happen in our fantasies and between the sheets?  A good book, TV show or movie, perhaps.  But why not also from the fellow traveler standing at the pulpit?