Saturday, October 02, 2010

This isn't hard: Who's right? Janet Smith or Dawn Eden?

Who knows more about sex and theology?

Dr. Janet

Ms. Dawn Eden

I KNOW!  We ALL know it is Ms. Dawn Eden.
“Dr. Smith's assessment reduces my thesis to a critique of a single author and speaker. On the contrary, my thesis demonstrates an overriding concern to critique a certain approach taken by West and his 'disciples' to interpreting recent teachings articulated by the Holy See.”
“In the wake of Vatican II, there were many who asserted that the open windows of the Council enabled a radical break that would bring fresh air inside a stale and fetid Magisterium.”
“It remains my contention,” she added, “that Mr. West and a number of popularizers formed by his catechesis – while intending to be faithful to Holy Mother Church – often use language disconcertingly similar to those propounding what Pope Benedict XVI calls a 'hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.'” - Dawn Eden responds to Smith's attempt to discredit her thesis.
"Consensual actions that culminate in intercourse are morally permissible."
Oh!  If emails could talk!  God bless Dawn Eden!  Anyway - I'm pretty much being facetious here regarding the idea who would know more about sex and theology - based on looks?  Not a mature argument, right?  Maybe even a bit sexist.  But read this ridiculous defense by Dr. Smith for Christopher West's quasi-endorsement of sodomy as an option in heterosexual foreplay:
"I never like to talk about anal sex (sorry, I don’t know a good euphemism).  As one of my friends has observed about my sensitivities regarding sexual matters, "You would censor Shakespeare!" (I would.) But the fact remains that Catholic couples in today’s world have questions about such issues. Many cannot understand why anal sex could possibly be appealing to anyone (include me and, indeed, West in that group), while others seem to find the act attractive. Certainly there isn’t any “Church teaching” about this action at a magisterial level, but few seem to know that there is a tradition of approval of such behavior as foreplay to intercourse (not to be confused with the biblical condemnation of sodomy which replaces intercourse) by orthodox Catholic ethicists. The principle generally invoked is that consensual actions that culminate in intercourse are morally permissible." - Moral Theologian Says Christopher West's Work is 'Completely Sound'
Condescending theories...
"I think it is important to keep in mind who West’s audience is. It is largely the sexually wounded and confused who have been shaped by our promiscuous and licentious culture. People need to think long and hard about the appropriate pedagogy for that group. [...]  For those whose lives are not spent in the academic world, a world in which minutiae can take on epic proportions... we scholars disagree not only with our archenemies but also with our closest and dearest allies."Dr. Smith.


  1. Dr. Janet Smith has done some great work, esp. on contraception and the teachings of the Church on the marriage act.
    That being said.
    Her defense of C. West, in my mind, is crazy.
    I refused to use his material teaching seminarians...I used M. Shivinandan's book ("Crossing the Threshold of Love: A New Vision of Marriage") and the actual texts of JP II; C. West was just too "cute" (then, I didn't know about the perversions he was advocating within married sex...I just had an "instinct"...Holy Spirit; not me!).
    D. Eden is superb; I wish I would have had her writings when I taught TOB.
    Spot on, Mr. Terry!

  2. And sorry: traditional moral theologians forbade any act that would somehow "frustrate" the normal, human act of sexual congress; in other words (blush!) a penis ejaculating within a vagina...
    this whole business of "unnatural sex" (I can't even type the words you did, Mr. Terry,,,my Irish coming out!) is just beyond the pale.WTH??
    Why are we even contemplating, discussing, giving any kind of attention to this? I mean, really?
    In married love, why is this even an issue?

  3. I'm making popcorn. Who wants some?

  4. West's approach is just kitschy in my opinion. I do think I remember reading that Thomas Sánchez and St. Alphonsus Ligurori that consensual acts oriented toward intercourse (manual or oral stimulation) are permissible. In fact, I do not even see how sex can even be enjoyable (especially for the wife) without some sort of "preparation."

    But I don't care how theoretical one gets, I can't see any excuse whatsoever for anal sex. I mean, I guess consensual whipping and beating as foreplay would be permissible in this view also. These kinds of acts (unlike the ones traditionally approved of by moral theologians) seem to be in and of themselves predatory and geared towards domination, not union.

    Of course, then there are those that claim one should try to reduce pleasure as much as possible during sex. In fact, some guy over on Catholic Answers the other day was trying to claim that we should try to cultivate revulsion towards the female body in order to be 'really really' chaste and avoid lust. No doubt he got this idea form some monastic saint somewhere ...

  5. LarryD: I LOVE popcorn!! I'll take some, yeah!!

  6. Obviously I have issues with Smith and her defense of West and attempts to discredit Eden by playing the academic establishment card. I also don't like Smith making excuses for West's shortcomings - esp. as it concerns marital foreplay. If West is not mature/secure enough in his own theology and sexual ethics to come out on the spot when confronted with the issue and condemn such immoral acts as the questions are raised, then he is not mature enough to teach or promulgate a teaching. This entire TOB thing is all a little too slickly manufactured, packaged and marketed, if you ask me. Like I said, concupiscence sells.

  7. Mercury: There is a Dominican (Fr. Nicholas Halligan) who wrote "quite extensively" on this whole matter; and you are long as anything is not abusive, manipulative or disrespectful in the "foreplay" within the marriage act, it is permissible;
    that being said...
    anything that is completely "out of bounds" in making "ejaculation" more than likely to happen without it being in the "proper place" is forbidden...
    ish! Sorry.
    It's only in this insanely immoral, perverted and sexually-out-of-control society that we can even/must speak of such indignities.
    Believe me, I'm no prude.
    But I do respect marital intimacy and the need to be circumspect about these things; it's just NOT RIGHT!!

  8. Larry--I'm having pizza..

    goes good with popcorn.. (and beer)..

    Pass me the bowl (please :)

    On the topic at hand...

    I could see where there would be a problem in a couple when one is more "adventuresome", shall we say, and the other prefers flannel pj's and the lights turned off...add in 10 (more or less) curious rugrats and a baby having to be nursed every couple of hours and I'm sure the demographics become rather interesting..

    Dear God--i HOPE folks aren't going to poor priests in Confession-- My hubby/wife and I do this and this and this--is it a sin?? Poor priests--especially the elderly ones..I'm sure they'd rather deal with Sara losing her temper any day..

    Master's thesis in Engineering mainly deal with getting the equations right :)

    Extra butter please Larry :) (on the popcorn)


  9. And Pope John Paul II's theology on it all is great. But most books on marriage written in the first half of the 20th century aren't bad either, and are not the least bit 'prudish'. I'm thinking of Fulton Sheen, Frank Sheed, Dietrich von Hildebrand, John Hardon, and several others whose orthodoxy and loyalty are unquestionable.

    My point is that the late holy Father did not write this stuff in a vaccuum, and it comes out of a long development that was well underway before him.

  10. Mercury: Bingo!
    Dietrich von Hildebrand's works on marriage, especially the one on Purity is a gem...
    his wife is really promoting the teachings of this great and holy man; along with JPII, they give such a beautiful, dignified and respectful teaching on marital union;
    I'm so sick of all of this paganism and is just garbage!We need to promote the true joy of conjugal union: self-donation in complete love and surrender...this porno is just degrading and a complete departure from authentic married love.
    And by the way, I do NOT feel in any way deprived of sexual pleasure in marriage; I have freely renounced this for the Lord; and I truly desire that married people know the love of God in their self-giving to one another...NCReporter has a "typical" whining, moaning, complaining article (by the former monk R.Sipe) about how Henri Nouewen was suffering from clinical depression over being "alone"...
    yeah, well, tell it to somebody who cares...I've heard enough confessions and dealt with enough married people to know that "loneliness" and frustration ain't the lot of the celibates completely...jerk!

  11. Hahaha. I never understood the wonder of celibacy and the joy it could be until I understood that its the free forsaking of a great good.

    Someone told me once it's like forsaking silver for the sake of gold. I think that's a great context to see the 'higher calling'.

    Unfortunately, reading some Saint and Fathers of the Church it's like giving up rotten wood for the sake of gold. and sometimes this attitude that 'married people are just the ones who ain't good enough for consecrated virginity' is really damaging to both states.

    I've seen someone on Catholic Answers (not a good site if you have scruples) actually say that it would be better if the whole world became consecrated virgins, cause then no more souls would be born and go to hell, which is where this guy dogmatically believes almost everyone goes. He sees the propagation of the race as fodder for hellfire, yielding a tiny tiny tiny amount of the saved, so in his view its better not to reproduce. How sick is that?

  12. The more priests I've read and gotten to know though -- priestly celibacy is a joy and a freedom, not a burden!

    But remember point of view - to me the life of a Carthusian monk is not at all appealing, but for them its joy beyond what I will know in this life.

  13. Sara, LOL!
    "Unfortunately, reading some Saint and Fathers of the Church it's like giving up rotten wood for the sake of gold." Mercury, yeah. I've read some of that, too. I think they're just as wrong as the "anything goes" crowd.
    Seriously, do we need a magisterial teaching to apply common sense? I don't understand why this is even an issue for married people.

  14. I read that Smith is going to write a piece criticizing Alice von Hildebrand's defense of Eden, too. To me, it sounds as if people are defending their egos and affiliations more than they are defending a certain premise. I hope that's not the case.

    Nonetheless, I'm whipping up two more batches of popcorn - one extra butter and the other cheddar cheese - because I think this 'fight' is far from over. And despite my better judgment, I do love a good back-and-forth.

  15. Larry, I'll have some of the cheesy popcorn. Academics love to slug it out, but they always say it's nothing personal (however sometimes personalities enter into it, whether they admit it or not).

  16. All I can say is Chris West knows how to attract the chicks.

    I crack me up.

  17. LarryD: I'll bring the beer...Leinies okay:-)!
    And yes, Terry, you do crack yourself well as a bunch of us here...God luv ya!
    And my word verification is "portin" which is like the word for Irish moonshine, Poonchin (can't remember how to spell it) funny is that!!?

  18. @ Larry D and 3puddytats

    I GOT BEER for ya!

  19. All I can say is Chris West knows how to attract the chicks.

    LOL! Funniest thing I've read all day!

  20. Thanks Larry - I only post hoping to get compliments like that.

  21. I'll skip the popcorn and take peanuts and Guiness Draught.

    With regards to the "anal sex in foreplay", we have to ask whether the husband's "readiness" for such a thing means foreplay has come to an end. If it is no longer foreplay, then what is it, if not sodomy, at that point?

    From what I am seeing, theologians are not in agreement as to what constitutes sodomy.

    As I mentioned in my latest post, I think it would be merciful for the Holy See to step in Even the bishops are in an awkward position. If there is division amongst theologians, philosophers, professors, priests, and laity, then surely there is division among the bishops. But, with Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Rhoades giving it a stamp of approval, I don't think any other bishop is going to publicly diss them. Instead, we might see the West "brand" of ToB being dropped from diocesan curriculums and being replaced by other programs.

  22. Diane: From my study, teaching and understanding of ToB, this "perversion" has absolutely NO PLACE within marital sexual congress.
    I still say, WTH?
    We're talking about a sacramental, holy and life-giving union...where this has entered the discussion is beyond my wildest imaginings...
    God help us...and may SOMEONE intervene in this; it's just satanic, as far as I'm concerned.

  23. I've heard exactly what you have said from other priests.

    Unfortunately, it is not what I'm hearing out of the "Westians".

    I was reading a popular Catholic forum one day about 2-3 years ago when one of the regular Catholic apolgoists fielded such a question about foreplay. His response wasb basically, "Sure, you can do that as long as the act ends in a way that is open to life...". Then he recommended the person to read West's "Good news..." book.

    I couldn't believe what I read. I then made a post in the main forum since we could not respond to the posts answered by staff apologists. In that post, I linked to a brochure on a similar subject written by Fr. Albert Lauer of Presentation Ministries...

    I pointed out that the brochure carried an imprimatur and nihil obstat, and suggested that the apologists ought not present as Catholic teaching, something which is not. Here it is...res ipsa loquitur.

  24. I hit the publish button too quick. Do look over the short brochure, then come back for the rest of the story...

    My post disappeared in a very short time without explanation (typically, you would get a message from the moderator explaining why it was removed along with a warning to not violate whatever it was you violated).

    I sent a message to the moderator for the moral theology section and did not get a response. I thought, perhaps something went wrong and it didn't post. So I put it back up again, and it too disappeared without explanation.

    Thats when I left and began my blog. Actually, this would have made it sometime in mid 2006 since that is when I launched it.

    I have heard similar answers on Catholic radio programs.

    These have since stopped, at least at that forum. They took it private after myself and others complained that 10 year olds could be reading that stuff.

    I suspect they are still pedaling the same, "anything goes" answer, "as long as it ends in a way that is open to life".


  25. I just noticed the line at the top of this blog:

    Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor...
    Plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives at peace with you. Quarrel not with a man without cause, with one who has done you no harm. - Proverbs 3: 28

    It seems to me that some of the Christopher West bashing has gone over the top. Some people are writing about him as if he's the Church's number one enemy. Even if you disagree with some aspects of his approach, please remember your own tag line stated above, and act in that spirit.

  26. Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1871, was the founder of the Redemptorists and one of the church's greatest moral theologians. Professor Smith
    summarizes his views on the issue in question in the following italicized quote:
    For instance, in the 1912 edition of Theologia Moralis, Editio Nova by St. Alphonsus Liguori (written in 1748), we read this question: "Whether a man sins mortally by beginning intercourse in the posterior receptacle (the anus), so as to consummate it afterwards in the appropriate receptacle (the vagina)?" The answer given to that question is: "[Various theologians] deny it is a mortal sin as long as there is no danger of pollution [ejaculation outside of the vagina] because all other touches (as they say), even if sexual, are not gravely illicit among spouses. But it is more generally and truly affirmed [to be a mortal sin] by [various theologians], because coitus itself of this kind (even if without insemination) is true sodomy, although not consummated, just as copulation in the natural vessel of another woman is true fornication, even if insemination does not take place."[1] Liguori supports the view of those who argue that anal penetration as foreplay is a mortal sin. (emphasis added) (

    In his Encyclica Studiorum Ducem, Pope Pius XI presents St. Thomas Aquinas as the church's preeminent theologian. In paragraph 20 of the encyclical the Pope states: " He also composed a substantial moral theology, capable of directing all human acts in accordance with the supernatural last end of man. And as he is, as We have said, the perfect theologian, so he gives infallible rules and precepts of life...." (see
    Father Harrison, in the quote which follows, shows how Aquinas saw this sin of sodomitic foreplay as a
    serious moral violation. Because he explains the matter so well, I quote at length from his article at


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