Last week after reading yet more news item about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his alledged sexcapades and yet more updates about ongoing sexual abuse and episcopal coverups in the Church, I began to reflect on Jesus of Nazareth and Gospel teaching about sex.

From the Gospels it seems clear to me that sex becomes a problem when power becomes a problem.

The Gospels deal very little with sexual concerns. The Gospels are much more concerned with power issues.

In the Church — practice and teaching — sex becomes a central theme when authority and power escalate in importance.

Clearly Jesus of Nazareth resisted power as a defining characteristic of his life. 

Unlike the Church that evolved after him, sex was not of utmost significance in the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus rejected power for himself in the religious and secular categories of his day.

                     Jesus did not want to be king.

                     He did not take up the sword to defend himself.

                     Jesus told Pontius Pilate he had no interest in the political power of this world.

                    Jesus, as a faith-filled Jewish man, kept a distance from priesthood, wealth, and institutional religious power.

If the Reign of God is deep within us, institutional and ecclesiastical power are not needed. When love is the sign of discipleship, hierarchy slips to marginal importance. And if we are judged by how we treat one another, compassion becomes our lifestyle not dominance.

Jesus understood this in the matter of divorce. In his day, Jewish law and custom defined a married woman as property. Divorce, in Jesus’ day, was an exclusively male prerogative of power over a woman who was juridically the man’s possession.

Matthew and Paul understood the main point Jesus was making. They wrote exceptions into the earlier absolute prohibition of divorce found in Mark.

Adultery in Jesus’ perspective was less a sexual and more a property and power issue.

Today’s Church sees divorce — and marriage! –as an essentially sexual issue. Marriage is not permanent until the couple have sexual relations. A second marriage after divorce is permitted provided there is no rexual relationship in the second marrage!

Perhaps our Church will never  come to grips with its ongoing 

SEX problem until it confronts its

POWER problem.

It is not surprising that the papacy — modeled on the Roman emperor model — tends to use power absolutely and narrowly….and therefore it gives the Church such enept sexual teaching.  And bishops — modeled on little papal emperors — are so inept at dealing with sexual issues.

Maybe we need our own WALL Street type demonstrators…………

5 thoughts on “Power and Sex in the Catholic Church

  1. Your thoughts on Jesus’ lack of striving for power and the gospels are interesting – the rest of your post calls for evidence. You say “Today’s Church sees divorce – and marriage! –as an essentially sexual issue.” Really? According to who? You? I thought the Church saw marriage as a sacrament.

    You say ” It is not surprising that the papacy — modeled on the Roman emperor model” and “And bishops — modeled on little papal emperors”. Really? Again, according to who? Have you read Lumen Gentium? Do you care what is says or is this the Word just according to you John?

    What drivel. What bias! Does the RCC need reform? Sure – show me a church that doesn’t. If you so dislike the RCC why don’t you join a Protestant church – there are plenty around – but it seems you think you have a better plan – like the Wall Street protestors – yea – I’d follow them.

    1. Dave
      Relax…and pay attention to what I wrote and not to what your prejudices lead you to think I wrote.
      In fact I know Lumen Gentium and all Vatcan II documents very well. Very well. Unfotunately the hierarchical gentlemen in Rome repudiate Vatican II because they have probably not read the documents and are so totally ensconced in a nineteenth century Catholic ethos. Pope Benedict’s reform of the reform is simply a very lame excuse for living in the past because he cannot understand — and has no desire to understand — living in the present.
      Thank you for your comment.
      J W Greenleaf

      1. I’m quite relaxed John – perhaps you’re just not used to having anyone outside your clique read your writings.

        Can you say “pot, kettle, black?” I find your post to be extremely prejudiced and lacking any evidence other than your own opinion. And you did just that again in your reply to me. Where is your evidence for any of your statements? What facts to you have for what you’ve said besides some things you’ve seen that don’t match the way you think things should be so you condemn the Church and magisterium? As I said, the Church certainly needs some reforms but to condemn them the way you do is pointless without some meaningful, objectives advice. Let’s go follow the Wall Street protestors – yea, that will help.

        Why don’t you try read what I’ve said and come up with something that’s useful. You have the right to state your opinion but without facts and a spirit of trying to help instead of just condemn you strike me as being p/o’ed about something that you need to resolve with the Church instead of dissing her in your posts.

        Give us some evidence John beyond your own speculations and perhaps I’ll listen to you.

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