These replies were formulated to give guidance to Roman Catholics.
1. Are all sexual touches of one’s own body unchaste and sinful?
They are not. ‘Masturbation’, as such sexual touches are usually collectively called, is not a good thing if it becomes a substitute for a real loving relationship, or if we become addicted to it. But from a Christian point of view, we do not need to consider every form of masturbation a sin. Click here!
2. Are we allowed to use contraceptives during intercourse, such as a condom or the pill?
The traditional view said: ‘No!’ This view is still the official moral guidance offered by the Pope and the Congregation for Doctrine. However, the majority of moral theologians and the ordinary practice in most dioceses support the modern view that a responsible use of such contraceptives is allowed. Click here!
3. Does the Church reject homosexuality?
The official Church now recognizes that same gender sexuality is an existing sexual orientation just as heterosexuality between a man and a woman. The Pope and the Congregation for Doctrine in Rome forbid all ‘homosexual acts’ as ‘intrinsically disordered’, and therefore sinful. Modern pastoral theology disagrees with this view, for valid reasons. Click here!
4. May we go against the official teaching of the Pope?
In contemporary issues that are still very much subject to theological study and reflection, the central teaching of authority often lags behind. Individual Catholics may then, for good reasons, follow the advice of trusted scholars and their own consciences. The question of sexuality belongs to the burning issues that have not been fully resolved in the Catholic Church.
The issue of the ordination of women is another example of this. In this context is will be useful to read:
5. What about ‘pornography’?
Looking at images of naked people or of sexual acts is not sinful, unless it degrades sex or leads to violence. It belongs to sexual fantasizing which frequently plays a role in people’s psychology. Click here!
6. At times I can’t help feeling sexually attracted to some people. It even affects me bodily. What can I do about it ?
Sexual attraction is natural. Feelings are in themselves not sinful. Such occurrences should not worry us. It is part of our being fully human.
7. Why do Christians always associate ‘sex’ with ‘sin’?
This is a good question. Many of us have been indoctrinated with negative and moralistic judgements on every aspect of sex. The true Christian doctrine is that sex is a great gift from God, which has a number of functions. Also the feelings of pleasure and affirmation involved in sex are a gift from God. Christians have good reasons to enjoy sex. Click here!
8. Whatever I do, I keep feeling guilty. How can I rid myself of such guilt?
Such tenacious feelings of guilt are often the result of misguided indoctrination by parents, teachers and confessors. You rid yourself of misplaced guilt by acquiring correct knowledge, ignoring the feelings (which is different from suppressing them), adopting good habits and accepting yourself as you are. Click here!
9. My parish priest is old-fashioned. May I follow my own conscience in confession?
Not only you may, you must. Your own conscience is paramount. Therefore, you need not mention in confession what you personally know not to be sinful, even if your confessor does have another view. Ultimately, it is not your confessor but God who judges you and who will judge you at the last judgment. At times this requires inner courage, but it is an important principle. God is not pleased if we confess something as sinful which we know, in our own conscience, not to be so.
It is also useful to know the principle of the ‘opinio probabilis’ in the tradition of the Church. Penitents may follow the opinion of trusted scholars who have good reasons to offer their view. Such a scholarly view is called ‘a probable opinion’ , in the sense of it being ‘a reasonable opinion’, ‘an opinion which could be true’. The Church has always held fast to the principle that penitents do not need to follow the commonly accepted opinion, or the most likely opinion, etc. etc. Penitents may base the decisions they make in their own conscience on such a ‘reasonable opinion’.
10. May a Christian be a naturist?
Certainly. Naturism usually goes hand in hand with high moral standards. The fear of nakedness is a remnant of antiquated sexual views. Click here!
11. To whom can I address other questions?
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