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"All the faithful, both clerical and lay, should be accorded a lawful freedom of research, freedom of thought and freedom of expression."

Gaudium et Spes, no 62.

research area:

Sexual Morality


Lines of research as follows:

the findings are preliminary

3.0 What has been the thrust of modern Catholic scholarship regarding the morality of sex?

FINDING. Catholic scholarship, while trying to correct mistaken notions of the past, is focused on establishing correct Christian norms for sexual behaviour in our own times.

3.1 Where do we find the origins of the traditional Catholic distrust of sex?

FINDING. The roots of Catholic distrust of sex lie in hellenistic and gnostic ideas accepted by Church Fathers and nurtured by medieval theologians.
____________Greek belief that women are physically inferior in procreation.
____________Greek dualism, also affecting the split between man and woman.
____________The Greek myth of Pandora's Box - making sex a punishment inflicted by the gods.
____________Jewish myths about the female demon Lilith.
____________The Gnostic instruction of Poimandres - sex as a tool of the devil.
____________Opposition of spirit and flesh in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.
____________The Manichean doctrine of sex having been created by the goddess of evil.
____________ST AUGUSTINE'S belief that sexual desire is sinful!

3.2 What misconceptions did the traditional Catholic distrust of sex lead to?

FINDING. The distrust of sex affected the whole of people's lives. We expand on some areas here.
____________Excessive church control in people's personal lives.
____________Menstruation was considered to make a woman ritually unclean.
____________At childbirth women were 'purified' before they could enter a church.
____________Masturbation was reckoned to be a 'mortal sin'.
____________Sexual phantasies were indiscriminately condemned as sinful.
____________Medieval belief that devils had intercourse with women, leading to witch hunts.

3.3 What are the implications of the Church's teaching on 'natural law'?

FINDING. The teaching authority continues to support a mistaken philosophical notion of 'natural law' that has serious consequences for certain areas of morality.
____________The traditional notion of 'natural law' does not hold up to scrutiny.
____________It may not be used to forbid the responsible use of contraceptives.
____________It may not be used to condemn sexual relations between gay partners.
____________It was at the root of the belief that women are physically inferior to men.

3.4 Is sex never sinful?

FINDING. Sex in itself is not sinful, but circumstances may make it so. In particular, sex becomes sinful when it involves violence against another person: against his or her human rights, honour, or mental and physical wellbeing.

3.5 How does the correct Christian view of sex change our life?

FINDING. A positive appreciation of the gift of sex affects many aspects of our life. We elaborate on a few.
____________It rids us of unwarranted feelings of guilt.
____________It helps us appreciate that love is a much bigger reality than sex.
____________It sanctions the enjoyment of sex between Christian partners.

3.6 What about nudity?

FINDING. The traditional attitude approaches nudity with apprehension. The right Christian appreciation of the body should liberate us from any false feelings of shame.
____________Fear of nudity has affected Christian belief and practice in the past.
____________This is also clear from representation of the body in Christian art.
____________Not all looking at naked images should be equated with 'pornography'.
____________There is nothing wrong with naturism/nudism in itself.

3.7 How do we Christians know that our bodies are truly 'sacred'?

FINDING. Our bodies were created by God, male and female in his image. Moreover, Jesus Christ shared our body fully, including our sexual drives and our genitals. There is nothing sinful in the human body or its parts.


We welcome any contributions to our lines of inquiry, whether in the form of observations, critiques, submission of new material or the suggestion of other topics for research.


Christian Autonomy and the Church by John Wijngaards, Theological Conference, Newman College, Birmingham 24 June 2000.

"AMRUTHA. What the Pope's man found out about the Law of Nature" by John Wijngaards, Author House 2011.

An adult novel which, in a humorous but thorough manner, explores the concept of Natural Law.

UK edition