From time to time on this Blog contributors have considered whether a breach of the Church’s teaching on contraception might lead to the acceptance of a wide range of undesirable sexual practices. This argument is based on recent history which shows that, following the broad acceptance of contraception by secular society, there has been a virtual abandonment of any sexual taboos. The counter argument might be that this would have happened anyway, and that it might have been valuable to demonstrate to society that Catholics could use contraception without abandoning their fundamental moral beliefs.
So what are your fundamental moral beliefs with regard to sexuality? Here are some questions for you to answer, but not out loud. Please consider them before you read any further.
1. If you used pornography for sexual stimulation would you feel ashamed?
2 What percentage of Catholics, do you think, would feel ashamed to do this?
3 If you used contraception would you feel ashamed?
4 What percentage of Catholics, do you think, would feel ashamed to do this?
5 If you had pre-marital sex would you feel ashamed?
6 What percentage of Catholics, do you think,would feel ashamed to do this?
7 If you had extra-marital sex would you feel ashamed?
8 What percentage of Catholics, do you think, would feel ashamed to do this?
Now that you have your private answers please go to Programme Event: “Catholic guilt about sex is a myth” at http://tinyurl.com/bxdg6g9. There you will see the results of a recent survey – together with commentary.
You will notice that the table on this internet page is missing the right hand columns. If you need these, copy and paste the table into a word processor document BUT first make sure that the word processor orientation is landscape.
What is your impression? I must say that I came away with the thought that in fact the general attitude towards sexual morals among Catholics has changed a great deal.
Just take two examples: 3% of the non-religious would feel guilty for using contraception. Catholics report 9%. 48% of the non-religious would feel guilty about extra-marital sex. Catholics report 57%. The results are not identical but the differences are relatively small. If you want to find traditional sexual values you have to look to the Low Churches and Islam to find them.
If this survey was applied again in, say,10 years, do you think that lay Catholic attitudes will have grown closer to secular attitudes, or will there be a recovery of more traditional Catholic attitudes?