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The Church’s “Obsession” with Sex

Jimmy Akin

What if you are challenged with:

“The Church is obsessed with sex—premarital sex, divorce, contraception, homosexuality. Why can’t it shut up about it?”

What is your defense?

The Church isn’t obsessed with sex. Our culture is.

The Church has remained constant in its teachings on sexuality. It proposes the simple and beautiful understanding that God designed humans to express their sexuality in marriage—the lifelong partnership of man and woman, oriented to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.

But our culture has undergone dramatic changes. The last hundred years have seen a huge rise in divorces and unwed motherhood, the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s, widespread use of  contraception, abortion, the explosive growth of pornography due to the Internet, and homosexual “marriage.”

What changed was not the Church, but society, which became obsessed with sex and sexual license.

This would be a good reason for the Church to ramp up its discussion of sex—to speak about the problems of the day and help society find the healing it needs. Yet anyone who attends Catholic services knows one only rarely hears sex discussed from the pulpit. At most, there are only occasional brief comments and allusions.

This suggests the charge of the Church being “obsessed” is due to something else: the uneasy conscience of those taking sexual license.

Proverbs says the guilty “flee when no one pursues” (Prov. 28:1), and that is happening here. Those who engage in sexual sin know they are violating the Christian vision of human sexuality and suppose that in Church there must be constant, thunderous condemnations of what they are doing.

This is not the case. The Church’s message is far broader, but this one area can seem disproportionately emphasized if it is where a person is in conflict with the Christian vision. This creates a risk of missing the Church’s message altogether.

The Church is not interested in telling people “no,” but in helping them find happiness. The truth is that living according to God’s design for human sexuality will let us find long-term happiness in a way that living for momentary pleasures will not. It is from love and concern that the Church proclaims the truth about sexuality.

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Editor’s note: Jimmy Akin’s new book A Daily Defense comprises 365 one-page defenses (plus one for leap year) of typical challenges to the Catholic Faith. These daily doses of apologetics are designed to arm the reader with short-form answers and tips for delving deeper into any particular subject. Through the end of the year, the Catholic Answers blog will run occasional excerpts.

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