Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just Love - A Catholic Nun Writes Book on Sex

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For Christians with questions about Divorce and Same-Sex Marriage both from a moral (biblical) and ethical (rights-and-justice) point of view, I think this book will come in useful. Titled Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics and written by a Catholic nun and theologian, the book also explores other topical issues on sexuality and marriage. The author, Sister Margaret Farley is a member of the Sisters of Mercy religious order and an emeritus teacher of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School.

Just Love - A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics

Sister Margaret is also a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the major organization for catholic nuns in the US, and which the Vatican has accused of being radical feminists and having separated themselves from Catholic doctrines. This is based on the fact that these group of nuns come out with independent thinking on societal issues and prefer to focus their energy and resources on battling poverty and economic and social injustice.

What I am trying to say is that this book, even though it is written by a nun, does not have the blessings of the Catholic Church. As may be expected, the Vatican is not very happy with the book and have denounced it outright saying it promotes masturbation, homosexuality, and divorce. Their verdict;

In addressing various moral issues, Sr. Farley either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. Such an attitude is in no way justified, even within the ecumenical perspective that she wishes to promote. Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law, choosing instead to argue on the basis of conclusions selected from certain philosophical currents or from her own understanding of "contemporary experience". This approach is not consistent with authentic Catholic theology. [Source]

The author had to clarify that her book "was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching." In her statement in response to the notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, she writes;
Through its historical explorations of general and particular Christian sexual ethical principles, and its consideration of similar principles across many religious traditions, this book offers contemporary interpretations of traditional meanings for the human body, gender, and sexuality. It aims to take account of both traditional and present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources. It takes seriously, also, human experience in the realm of sexuality–experience that can be either affirmative or negative, constructive or destructive. Ultimately, in this book I propose a framework for sexual ethics that uses criteria of justice in evaluating true and faithful sexual relationships and activities. In doing so, I offer not only ideals for human sexual relations, but also some absolute requirements. [Source]

So it all boils down to morals and ethics, two words that can be synonymous sometimes, but are often wildly divergent based on individual experience and beliefs. Morals from Church and the Bible are good, but only when we put them in the context of believing that God is Love, and that Jesus taught to do unto others as we would want to be done to.

This is where ethics diverges from strait-laced morals. This is why I would rather love my neighbor, be they homosexuals or divorcees, than condemn them or their acts. And because I want to explore fully this moral and ethical conundrum, I have put in my order for Just Love.


  1. The Vatican probably really helped sells with that denunciation. I've put it on my Amazon wishlist too. I think clear-headed thinking on these issues from a woman who has devoted herself to God is exactly what we need.

    1. It was because of the notification that I heard about the book. I hope it helps some of us make sense of it all.

  2. Wonders shall never cease. Is she writing out of experience or "Virgin Mary" told her?

    1. Theoretical experience, I guess. She's a professor.


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