With all this discussion of homosexuality could I suggest
that it is high time the Church just laid off the sixth
commandment ‚ preferably for a couple of hundred years.
It has taken a few hundred years to whip ourselves up into
a lather over this particular commandment to the point that
a visiting Martian might think there was only one commandment
in the Decalogue not ten of them!
It is time we gave much higher priority to the first commandment.
When people (in general in the community) believe in the
mystery of God again, we might have half a chance of convincing
them that this architect and creator of all life had a few
other basically common sense things to say about how it
(life) might be best lived.
The Church ought to give itself a medal that it has managed
to so successfully screw up holistic thinking about the
relationships between men and women and turn it into a power
play to such an extent that common sense has flown right
out the door for millions of people across the face of the
earth. Through our own feelings of self-loathing and guilt
we have turned millions of people away from being able to
see their maleness and femaleness in a balanced and holistic
Some people grasp onto rules and worship them as though
they are God Himself. The rules are not God. They are a
means by which we can start to plumb the depths of the Mystery
that is God. It is God who is worshipped not the rules by
which we might reach into the Mystery.
Rather than giving people guilty consciences and great
long lists of thou shalt nots, we need a new list of what
thou shalt do in the spirit with which Christ approached
his work. Instead of giving fear-filled lessons on the negative
sides of sex, why is the Church not leading the world in
showing people how to express their God-given sexuality
and love in the fullest of ways, including positive lessons
about the sexual acts themselves? Yes, there are things
we need to be careful of regarding this at times frighteningly
powerful passion that lives within each of us but, at the
same time, there is much of the Divine and stuff that is
wholesome and good in this most beautiful of the human attributes.
This is not a call to laissez faire attitudes or indifference,
neither is it a call to deny that there is a sixth commandment.
It is call to all of us to get all the commandments into
a much more holistic and balanced perspective.
Undoubtedly part of the legacy we are having to contend
with today was the centuries of ill-thought-through policy
where young men were drafted into the priesthood at a young
age before they had reached sexual and emotional maturity.
In some cultures I have no doubt that many of these men
entered through warped relationships with their mothers.
The whole exercise, if analysed from a psychological or
sociological perspective, was about "pleasing Mummy"
and had little to do with serving neighbour and serving
God. This was not just happening to one or two men it was
happening to tens of thousands across the continents of
the earth. Is it any wonder that the Church thinking on
the ten commandments became unbalanced and almost exclusively
focused on number six? The institutional Church does seem
to have learned the lessons from these misguided recruitment
policies that applied in the past. The recruitment policies
today are far more psychologically sound than they were
in the past. It is going to take us another 200 years to
come to grips with the consequences. We need to keep in
our prayers those millions of men whose lives were unbalanced
through what occurred. Is it any wonder that we have been
having to cope with the abuse scandals that we have been?
Probably the greater wonder is that the majority of men
who went through this regime emerged from it relatively
unscathed and many in fact found some sanctity in what had
been forced upon them, often unthinkingly. Be that as it
may, the legacy on ordinary people has been a blight to
mental and emotional health that has been every bit as mind-numbing
as the worst health plagues of human history. In a sense
they are not responsible for what happened. We all are.
That no particular individual can be held to blame for what
occurred is not a valid argument to be used to suggest that
no damage was done. Similar observations need to be considered
in what happened in the case of young women. Many of them
also paid a heavy price because of this unhealthy infatuation
with the sixth commandment.
The quest of the Church as the agent of God in whatever
she teaches has to always be for balance. Nowhere is this
more so than in her teaching on this most powerful and primeval
force in human nature, our sexuality. To, at one and the
same time, be holding the beauty, majesty and nobleness
of human sexuality and its acts in our hands and minds with
the understanding that any passion, if not nurtured and
loved, also has a darker side that can reap enormous havoc
in our lives both individually and communally.
When we are prepared to admit that we stuffed up, then
we have half a chance that we might be able to lead the
world to a better way to handle the issues of our sexuality
in a far more balanced and ennobling way than the world
in general has been doing as a reaction against our behaviour.
We have to start taking as much blame for the so-called
"sexual revolution" sweeping the world as what
we have been trying to heap on the world at large and on
In my follow-up posts, I would like to flesh out how I
believe the Church might practically go about bringing more
balance into the message she puts forward to the world on
this subject. What I will be arguing is that the practical
solution is to be pulling back and undoing the damage of
the past. In a sense though more has to be written, but
what the writing will be saying is that we (the Church)
have less to say on this subject than we did in the past.
As I wrote above: I suggest that it is high time the Church
just laid off the sixth commandment ‚ preferably for a couple
of hundred years. What I will be putting forward are
the practical ways in which she might "lay off"
the sixth commandment.