The Christian tradition is now faced with the reality that pleasure and procreation are two separate purposes of sexuality, and many parts of the Christian Church, especially the Vatican, are baffled and angry. A first step would be to recognize that its traditional views on sexual intercourse were filched from non-Christian sources.Christianity is a complex system with two main strands: Jewish and Greek.
Christianity, whether or not you think it’s true, is a love-poem.
It should not be afraid of love, even when the love seems dangerous and unfamiliar. One of its central liturgical symbols is alcohol: Eucharistic wine, which is both an icon of life and fun and an icon of death and destruction. Its story begins with God creating the world out of his love, and seeing that it is good.
But the Christian love-poem is incomplete without its story of danger embraced and overcome.
God enters flesh and in his infinite love, takes on all the dangers of human suffering and imperfections, but also human dignity and joy. Conservative Christians often mock liberal discussions of Christian love as wishy-washy avoidance of serious moral issues.
The Vatican’s traditional emphasis is that God commands humans to procreate.
Good sex has the potential to produce children; bad sex is everything else.Christian theologians in late second-century Egypt took up the theme: ‘to have sex for any purpose other than to produce children is to violate nature’, said Clement of Alexandria.It does not inspire confidence in Alexandrian judgment on matters sexual that Clement’s successor, Origen, is said to have castrated himself because he regarded his sexual organs as a source of moral danger.However, these views on sex were so influential in the Church that we can call the equation of sex and procreative potential the Alexandrian rule.The rule was repeated with enthusiasm by Thomas Aquinas, who did so much to make the Church of Rome see the world through Aristotle’s eyes.Bad sex includes heterosexual acts involving contraceptives; masturbation; gay sex acts of all sorts.