In its latest hit-piece on the Catholic Church, Salon Magazine lays all the blame for 15 modern sexual disorders on the Church, as if somehow an organization founded to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ were responsible for society’s rampant obsession with sex.
Writer Valerie Tarico clearly has a bone to pick with Catholics and Christianity in general, as she lays out what she considers the worst of modern sexual hang-ups and their insidious connections with the Catholic Church. Never mind that statistically Catholics have no more sexual hang-ups than the rest of the population—the Church must be the problem, she insists.
A psychologist and ex-evangelical, Tarico—who has penned other winning pieces such as “Abortion as a Blessing” and “Five Reasons to Suspect Jesus Never Existed”—lists what she considers the worst of contemporary sexual maladies and attributes them all to “an institution that traffics in guilt and redemption.”
Bizarrely, when one compares Tarico’s list of sexual disorders with other lists of contemporary sexual problems, there is remarkably little overlap. In other words, what Tarico proposes as modernity’s worst issues with sex don’t seem to register outside of her own little world.
The first hang-up, for instance, is a mentality that “sex is only for procreation,” which not only perverts Catholic teaching on sex, but also suggests that many people suffer from this “hang-up.” Wisely steering clear of any statistics or academic studies lest they disprove her thesis, Tarico prefers instead to invent the hang-ups she thinks people could or should have, rather than analyze the disorders that actually affect real people.
There are numerous sociological studies, for example, that document the deleterious effects of pornography use on marriages and on sexual satisfaction in general. But rather than blame a pansexualized culture that produces real problems – such as serious negative body image among women, the destruction of interpersonal intimacy, serial sexual betrayal, or the inability for men to achieve arousal Tarico prefers to indulge her own fantasy world wherein all evils begin and end with Christianity.
So Tarico suggests that some of modern civilization’s worst sexual hang-ups are the belief that girls should be virgins when they get married, that sexual self-control is a virtue or that sex is sacred.
Somehow Tarico skips over recognized sexual disorders that afflict huge numbers in contemporary society, such as Dyspareunia, Erectile Dysfunction, Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Gender Identity Disorder, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Sex Addiction, Sexual Masochism and Voyeurism. Reading through the piece, however, one gets the distinct sense that Tarico would blame even these on Christianity if she could.
Tarico also gets in a subtle dig at Catholicism’s condemnation of abortion. She says that the Church tells women that if “a pregnancy test comes back positive at a bad time, accept your lot in life.” The Church is indeed unapologetically pro-life and doesn’t believe in eliminating a child in order to solve a problem, but this belief hardly constitutes a sexual “hang-up.”
Despite all of the errors that pepper Tarico’s screed, the biggest emerges in the very first line, which reads: “The Catholic Church is obsessed with sex.” Because, as a matter of fact it isn’t. This liberal shibboleth has been bandied about so often that people begin to believe it, but it is modern society—and not the Church—that is fixated on sexuality.
A word search through Pope Francis’ thousands of addresses over the last three years reveals just 22 mentions of sex at all, and most of these have to do with reaching out to victims of sex abuse—not lecturing Catholics on sexual morality.
Yet turn on a television set during prime time (let alone a cable channel), and sexual jokes, sexual scenes and sexual innuendos will inevitably appear.
Which leads one to ask whether it is really the Church—rather than the post-sexual-revolution culture—at the source of modernity’s countless sexual ailments.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome