The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse

The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse : From St. Paul to Pope John Paul II

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The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse traces the development of the Church's theology of marital sexuality from New Testament times to the present day. The early ecclesial leaders promoted a theology of sexuality based on Stoicism's biological perception that sexual activity was solely for the purpose of reproduction. Only in the early twentieth century did a few theologians begin to move beyond discussing 'the purposes of marital intercourse' to discussing the meaning that the marital act might have for the spouses themselves. With the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), a new and positive view of marital sexuality emerged recognizing the Pauline view that the couple's marital acts express their love for each other along the lines of Christ's love for his church (Ephesians 5). In sum, The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse treats the way in which the Catholic Church has moved away from an attitude of conditional acceptance of marital intercourse on the basis of its utility to recognition that the dynamics of sexual union are both good and holy, not only because that is the way children are conceived, but also because the marital act enhances the love of husband and wife for each other.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 236 pages
  • Lexington Books
  • MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739130897
  • 9780739130896

Review quote

Overall, O.'s history is an accurate and helpful primer on the development of Catholic theologies of marriage and marital intercourse. In the introduction, the author risks sharing his personal discovery of what marriage involves in a candid and entertaining trip through his memories of years of Catholic schooling. That journey culminates in serious philosophical questions that lead intothis scholarly summary of Catholic teaching about marriage and sexuality. Ironically, that scholarly summary follows the author's personal discovery about sexual relationships: recounting negative warnings against or reluctant tolerance of rather than real celebration of God's creation of male and female designed to become one. For the serious reader willing to move through the ages and various experts, this volume provides a comprehensive look at Catholic teaching over many centuries. One can only hopethat the recent statements of John Paul II and the first encyclical of Benedict XVI will begin to move the Catholic teaching toward a more positive appreciation of sexual intimacy in marriage..--Sr Victoria Vondenberger From whence do the teachings of the Church about sex within marriage come? Why does the Catholic Church teach that the only form of sexual intercourse that is morally permissible between husband and wife is that which is open to the possibility of havingchildren? These and other vital questions around the Church's teaching on sexuality have their roots deep within the history of the Church, of western philosophy and the theology that sprang from it. In his book, Robert Obach tackles these and other suchquestions with great thoroughness and insight. Set within the context of his own personal story and the existential questions and contradictions of growing up Catholic in the 1950s, Obach takes the reader on a journey of discovery and understanding. Thisbook represents an important missing piece in our moral thinking about such a core aspect of our personhood as the meaning of our sexuality..--David M. Riley The development of doctrine is a phrase which comes to us from the writings of John Henry Cardinal Newman in the mid-19th century as he described the multifaceted changes in Catholic theology during the past nineteen centuries. Development is also a goodway to talk about the Church's teaching regarding marital sexuality. Dr. Obach shows how the attitudes of early Christian writers and Church Fathers impacted the development of the Catholic Church's teaching on marital sexuality. This book provides us with insights into the consistency of teaching, the how and why of development, and the many ways in which such changes have affected the people in the pews...--Carol Ann Cannon It is said the ?fools rush in where angels fear to tread.? Dr. Obach is no fool, but rather a thorough and competent scholar who offers an excellent overview of the Church's views on sexual intercourse. He is indeed treading valiantly in a ?dangerous? area for theologians, one strewn with casualties. Nonetheless, he proceeds courageously and offers the fascinating story of the evolution and revision of the Church's position on sex. Reading this profoundly interesting account, readers realize that so muchof Christian sexual morality has been based on out-dated literal views of the bible, non-existent science, archaic theological perspectives and the ignoring of human experience. While it is hopeful that in contemporary times the Church has embraced personalistic and love-centered views on sexuality, there still exists an absolutist position linking sex with procreation. Dr. Obach is to be congratulated on making a major contribution with this history of the Church's positions on an area so central to life, but which still today remains moot in sermons and theological writing. Much is to be learned here by every Christian reader.--Brendan Hill This book could not have come at a more opportune time. The Catholic Church, rocked by a loss of credibility in her teaching on marital sexuality, is in urgent need of Obach's incisive blend of history, theology, and personal experience. A must-read for anyone interested in helping the Catholic Church meet the social and cultural challenges of modern life....--Trudy Krisher
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About Robert Obach

Robert Obach is an assistant professor in the Classics Curriculum at Antioch University and teaches philosophy at Sinclair College.
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