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The Pornographic Double-Bind

Forty-three percent of American men (and 9 percent of women) now report using pornography within the past week. It’s not an adolescent thing, either, as data from the new Relationships in America survey reveals. For men, porn use peaks in their twenties and thirties before beginning to diminish slowly. Indeed, sixty-year-old men are only slightly less likely to have viewed pornography within the past week than men in their twenties and thirties. Continue Reading »

Positive Chastity

Last week at National Review, David French had an article entitled “The Vindication of Christian Sexual Ethics” that takes a welcome turn in the controversies over sexual behavior on college campuses that have erupted in recent months. (See here and here and here for examples of thousands of stories from that last month.) Instead of focusing on incidents of proven and alleged sexual assault, then maintaining or denying “campus rape culture” at work, French speaks of “sexual-revolution values” in general and sets against them Christian values of sobriety, chastity before marriage, and fidelity after. Continue Reading »

Catholicism, Sex, and Marriage

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family issued an interim “relatio” yesterday. This is a document meant to sum up the current state of discussion among the gathered bishops. George Weigel has written a definitive refutation of the media’s spin, which, predictably, interprets every sane (and commonplace) pastoral observation about the need for the Church to welcome sinners and accompany them in their efforts to seek sanctity as a sea change in Catholic teaching on sex and marriage. Continue Reading »

Why Gay Rights Are Not The New Civil Rights

Supporters of same-sex marriage love to make analogies to the African American Civil Rights Movement. Analogies are rhetorical devices that require careful scrutiny. While I do not find the attempt to connect bans on gay marriage to miscegenation laws persuasive, nevertheless there is nothing inherently wrong in trying to find parallels between these two social movements. In that spirit, let me offer my own reflections on what we can learn by comparing them. Continue Reading »

Are Christians Obsessed with Sex?

From time to time a member of the Christian left will admonish the Christian right to stop obsessing about sex. This is a clever move because in addition to undercutting traditional sexual morality it also suggests that those who are concerned with the topic are acting on some secret ulterior . . . . Continue Reading »

Sex after Sin

I’m still thinking about why Genesis connects sexual desire and procreation only after the first disobedience. Both are mentioned before, but not explicitly connected.There is no question that both belong to the goodness of creation. The divine blessing of procreation (“Be fruitful and . . . . Continue Reading »

Justice and Helplessness

I have been trying to understand the justice in God’s speeches in Genesis 3:14-19. For this is the context in which to make sense of the great puzzle I find in his words to the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (3:16). It is, strikingly, the first time . . . . Continue Reading »

The Woman’s Desire

I want to return to the deeply puzzling question: why does Genesis treat the woman’s desire for her man (Gen. 3:16) so differently from the man’s joy in the woman (Gen. 2:23)? Why does the one come after the first disobedience, and the other before—as if a woman’s sexual desire is a . . . . Continue Reading »

The Biblical Logic of Otherness

In previous posts I have been thinking about striking moments early in Genesis that have to do with male and female—familiar moments with little-noticed features that are striking once you see them. Here is another one: the commandment not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is . . . . Continue Reading »

Male and Female

It’s striking—or it should be—that Genesis does not mention “male and female” until it comes to the human creation (1:27). Before that there’s seed bearing fruit and the blessing of procreation, “be fruitful and multiply,” which establishes the sexual reproduction of the beasts of . . . . Continue Reading »

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