Don't blame me, man. I wasn't the first one to put "Pelvic Issues" into a title.
Bishop Robert Barron did it.
See yesterday's Word on Fire Post: DAVE RUBIN, THE PELVIC ISSUES, AND LARRY DAVID.
At least I didn't capitalize the whole thing.
A few days ago Barron came under fire for being decidedly meek about the issue of gay marriage in an interview with openly gay comedian/journalist, Dave Rubin.
The bishop then doubled down with a blogpost and a "clarification" on his Facebook page.
Earlier, I had a bit of fun with that by imagining Barron as a Nazi era priest trying to cozy up to the German authorities.
At Mahound's Paradise, we are nothing if not charitable.
To take a page from Barron, I want to clarify that I wasn't equating Rubin with the authorities. As at least one Catholic blogger remarked, the sympathetic Rubin came off much better than Barron. He almost seemed taken aback that Barron didn't have the courage to defend a controversial Catholic teaching when given every chance.
One senses that the anti-PC Rubin is attracted to or at least curious about the Catholic faith. But who does he get to sell it to him? Bishop PC himself.
Word Slightly Warm.
But I want to make a few serious comments on the claim Barron made to conclude his post:
[T]here is a lot more to Christianity than the “pelvic issues.”
Every Catholic would of course agree. There is a lot more to Catholic teaching (or Barron's preferred "Christianity") than any issue or set of issues.
But I would counter - and here I'm going to try to use less crass terminology than the famous bishop - that issues involving human sexuality are fundamentally important to Catholic doctrine and yes, even evangelization.
That doesn't of course mean obsessing about them or shoving them in people's faces all the time. But one honestly gets the impression that Barron believes that that's what the "old Church" has been doing for the last 2,000 years, at least until the auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles came along. And that's where Barron the puffball is guilty of a kind of slander.
I attend a traditional Catholic church. I have absolutely no doubt that every priest and brother at the church would have been much more forthright in answering the "gay marriage" question than Barron was. At the same time, in the literally hundreds of homilies that I have heard, I don't think the issue has come up more than a few times.
Indeed, the situation is almost the opposite of what Barron wants to imply. One homily that stands out most in my mind is hearing one of the most orthodox and stern priests that I know lecturing the congregation on not being or acting "holier than thou" when others behave immodestly or immorally. The difference between that and the "who am I to judge?" relativism of FrancisChurch is subtle yet important.
But as Father Bart himself might say, I digress.
Reducing issues of sexuality to a sort of footnote to Church teachings is completely counter to the history and philosophy of the Christian message. It's also counter to basic theological logic. God gave us the ability to do one thing or at least participate in doing one thing that only He could previously do - create more people in His image. All questions of human sexuality revolve around that fundamental point. Reducing that to a mere "pelvic issue" is another sort of slander.
It has been claimed that the Church's teachings on sexuality are "beautiful." If you have a hard time wrapping your head around that, you have my sympathy. But let me propose that the claim begins with the insight above. The flip side, of course, is that abusing or corrupting that beauty may have consequences. Virtually every Church Father, saint, priest or philosopher up until the mid-twentieth century believed sexual sin to be among the most potentially damning of the sins. If Barron disagrees (and I think he does), that puts him squarely in opposition to almost all of the people he talks about in his $189.95 10-DVD Catholicism set. Perhaps he thinks he's smarter.
Or perhaps he thinks he's a better evangelist. Tell me again how many net new Catholics they had in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles last year?
No, immigration doesn't count.
I should suggest that the reason the Church's teachings on sexuality seem to be so often on the agenda is because they are among the things most obviously out of sync with the rest of the culture. This was similarly the case with the early Christians, whose views and practices on sexual morality were quite different from those of the Romans and other pagans.
These days you won't find many non-Christians disagreeing with, say, the value of the Golden Rule. I suppose Barron believes that this is why evangelists should emphasize that teaching (among others) as opposed to appearing to "police" what people do in their bedrooms. But as many have noted, the more you water down the message to what other people agree with anyway, the less reason you're giving anyone to think about switching sides. What difference does it make?
Sure, we also have the Resurrection (of Our Lord and also of ourselves). That surely is Good News if anything is. But when do you tell someone that some of whether or not they will be with Christ in Heaven may depend a bit on what they do or don't do in their (or someone else's) bedroom? Do you wait till after they become Catholic? Maybe you should spring it on them the night before confirmation, or tuck it into the fine print of that document we all sign.
Too late. You signed it. Now you're definitely damned if you disagree. At least, before, you could plead ignorance.
Unless of course it never comes to that. Perhaps you'll become a Catholic and no one will ever really insist on these things to you. I wonder whether Barron might not be in favor of continuing to kick the issue down the road, as it were, perhaps indefinitely, way past your confirmation - since "there's a lot more to Christianity." Why let a mere pelvic issue get in the way? Ever?
I can easily imagine someone else we all know saying that very thing. But it wouldn't be charitable to mention his name.