Please welcome Bill Farrelly to the pages of Catholica. Bill is a former Sydney Morning Herald journalist who, like a lot of us more mature lay Catholics, has a few questions about where the Church seems to be heading these days. His question today is as much directed at God as it is at any hierarchical leaders. Yes, God, why did you have to organise it in this way?
Excuse Me God, Can We Talk About My Libido?
by Bill Farrelly
I must not think about sex!
Strange, it doesn't seem to be working.
Which leads me to the question: why did God make woman so attractive to man? Equally, why did he give men such an incredibly sex drive? Perhaps I am asking the wrong questions. Maybe I should ask: why do men often have such poor self-control and couldn't God have toned down our sex drive a little?
I have speculated elsewhere that Jesus himself, as man, must have been tempted by the flesh of woman — and I stress I am not using temptation in a negative sense nor painting woman as temptress: if the species is to survive we must procreate.
Although we have the freedom to choose how to react to one another, we are in effect programmed by God to want one another (which raises, for me, a problem with the dogma of free will, but let's leave that aside for now). Consequently, in normal circumstances, and where there is no coercion, both sexes want to — and/or agree to — arouse and be aroused.
So, God, why did you do it the way you did it?
I have vivid memories of making love to my wife where, occasionally, the ecstasy was so intense, the communion so beautiful, it was as if I had been given a glimpse of heaven. Dare I say a glimpse of God?
Is that what it is all about? If the answer is yes, why does it happen sometimes and not others? And if God wants us to have such glimpses why would he use an instrument that could be so readily abused?
Which raises yet more questions. Is our hunger for God so intense that we seek to satisfy it in places we ought not?
But I digress.
Cranky with God...
I am cranky with God. Imagine the benefits of not being so sexually obsessed. There would be no pornography industry (driven almost wholely by males and frequently with life-destroying coercion). There might not even be a fashion industry.
The elimination of the former would be perhaps the greatest victory for mankind ever. The elimination of the extremes in the latter — verging also on pornography — would likewise be a victory for morality. (Incidentally, for a "moral" slant on the fashion industry check out the website called Pure Fashion at www.purefashion.com. It's a breath of fresh air.)
God has given us extraordinary powers for good and evil and the freedom to choose. I don't really understand why he has given us the power to do evil; what I do know is that we have the choice (unless we are possessed) to not do evil.
But there is is something that we humans alone are answerable for: the Church — including the Catholic Church I love — has done enormous damage to millions of men and women by effectively putting sex in the same category as sin. By frequently forcing us to suppress (as opposed to control) our God-given desires and instincts, well-meaning clergy have created volcanoes. Is it any wonder that so many have struggled to keep their hunger in check.
I am not arguing for free love. I would prefer that all couples mated with one partner and for life. But I am sure life would have been far less challenging if the Church had treated our sexual beings with the respect that God intended.
I dislike intensely the extremes of cultures that cover women from head to toe. By the same token I believe many women in our so-called civilised society are unneccessarily provocative in their dress and are therefore shirking responsibility to both themselves and to men.
I am not suggesting that such women are "asking for it". I am not suggesting that men "can't help themselves". I am stating what, as a man, I consider to be obvious. I also agree that the clothes women wear are often designed and marketed by men. But women, too, have a choice.
One of the points I am trying to make in this exercise is that men, because God made us this way, are born with an innate desire to mate and that, because the switch is so constantly in the "on" position, we mostly (though not always) don't need excessive persuasion. I exclude from this argument the mutual pleasure exchanged by a husband and wife.
I stress that I am critical only of the fashion extremes, and which, paradoxically, sometimes have the opposite to the desired effect.
An apology: I have not answered the questions I raised at the beginning. More additions for the list I will one day, I hope, discuss with God.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?