OK. I'm not going to be cute or flu off on tangents. In this entry, I am going to give you the key to Catholic teaching about sexuality. The key is in what I called the "OTUB" model of sexuality. It is vital that every Catholic know about the model. Why? Because it explains the sometimes bizarre teachings about sexuality that hit the news every once in awhile. And the model's elegance explains why it's so hard for the Church to give it up.
Why is the Church against using condoms to fight AIDS? OTUB.
Why is the Church against gay marriage? OTUB.
Why does the Church oppose birth control methods (like tubal ligation and vasectomy) that do not involve destroying a fertilized egg? OTUB.
So what is OTUB?
OTUB will not be found in any catechism or in any single church document. It can be inferred, however, by viewing the trajectory of teachings that emerge from the Church. Glimpses of OTUB can be found in various church documents, such as John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae. By reading enough church documents, it is possible to detect all the pieces of the puzzle.
It then requires only some wise and discerning invididuals (by which we mean ourselves, naturally) to put them together. Thank you. Thank you very much.
OTUB, the basic model from which all Church teaching on sexuality emerges, boils down to this:
1) The only valid form of sex is penis-vagina sex
2) All sexual acts must take place in the context of marriage
3) All sexual acts must at least be open to the possibility of procreation
Got it? So where does OTUB come from? Well, except for one, the letters themselves do not stand for anything. They are visually representations of the the components of sexuality described above.
The "O" stands for the marital context within which sex takes place.
The "T" and the "U" represent the union of the male and female sexual organs. Sorry, ick!
The "B" (for "baby") represent the openness of the sex act to children.
As I said, everything you need to know about the Catholic approach to sex is in this model. Shall I demonstrate?
Homosexual sex: violates the penis/vagina rule. It also violates the procreation rule, since homosexual sex cannot produce children.
Oral and anal sex: violates the penis/vagina rule -- even for married people! They also violate the procreative rule, for obvious reasons.
Hormonal birth control, tubal ligation and vasectomy: all violate the "open to procreation rule -- again, even for married people!!!
In vitro fertilization: aside from the issue of the destruction of embryos, there is another problem. Since fertilization occurs outside the body, this violates the penis/vagina rule.
By applying the OTUB model, can you figure out why surrogate motherhood and masturbation might be problems?
So that's the OTUB model. The next time you hear a bishop or pope or cardinal talk about sex, see if I'm right. Does the model fit? Does it help to explain the goobledygook you are hearing? Does it now make sense that bishops discuss the emotional, social or physical costs of sexuality only as secondary considerations?
The OTUB model is both a problem and an opportunity for Catholics. A problem because it embroils the Church unnecessarily in ridiculous arguments about sexuality -- arguments that distract it from more pressing concerns. It explains why conservative Catholics rank masturbation as high on the list of sexual sins as abortion and adultery. How can one, maintain some ultra-conervatives, validly differentiate between violations of OTUB? Are not all violations equally heinous?
So where's the opportunity? It lies in the fact that once they know about OTUB, Catholics will realize the source of their Church's problems with sexuality. It's not, as many think, that the Church has a problem with sex. This is the big-family Church, remember? It's that the Church has made OTUB its Golden Calf and dances around it at every opportunity. What the Church needs is another model -- one that recognizes that love is the fundmental determinant of Christian life, that love sacred in all of its forms, that stable relationships are integral to the growth of the partners and the raising of children, that the decision to procreate belongs (to some degree) to the parents, and that the planet is in danger of overconsuming its God-created resources.
After all, even God stopped creating after six days.