Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thanks to Father Barnes III

My friend Julie read my post about marriage this morning and forwarded me an article that Father Barnes had shared with her. She said she had found it helpful, and I did too.

The article is “Designed for Sex” by J.  Bucziszewski, a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin. It takes my simplistic "13-year-old" argument about our bodies' design a significant step or two further. (Sidebar: I appreciate the comments today, pro and con, from people who took pains to think through and express their understanding of marriage, gender, and sexuality.)

My point this morning was simply that when my father explained to me about homosexuality, when I was 13, my first reaction was, "How does that work? How do the bodies fit together?" This led me to consider that perhaps there was something in the design of our bodies that tells us how we should behave sexually, if, that is, we accept that God designed us.

After offering anecdotal evidence that young people are becoming disenchanted with casual sex ("hooking up") in all of its permutations, that they are "beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists," Professor Bucziszewski bluntly asserts, "The fact is that we aren't designed for hooking up." The professor speaks as a member of my (boomer) generation and wryly notes that, "My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, theirs is paying the price." As the father of two daughters of "their" generation, I raise my level of attention.

It's the next line that takes the argument further: "Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together." That is, while casual sex may be convenient for our bodies, our hearts are engaged, sometimes in spite of ourselves, and casual sex is not convenient for our hearts. In this I hear echoes of Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation (CL), about which I will write the day I am confident I can do it credit. Father Giussani's point, if I understand it correctly, is that the deepest desires of our heart are, yes, part of our design and therefore particularly valid. The deepest of all desires? For the infinite, the "Mystery," God. Which, with wonderful, albeit somewhat circular logic, proves that God exists.

But I digress. And perhaps I waste words. Why not just give you a link to the Buczsizewski article and you can make your own sense of it?

Since it's a long article, here are the professor's four main themes, as laid out on the last page:
  1. "We ought to respect the principles of our sexual design."
  2. "The human sexual powers have a purpose."
  3. "The human design for procreation requires marital and family life."
  4. "The spousal bond has its own structure, which both nourishes and is nourished by these institutions."
Maybe this will help.

The picture shows my beloved Katie, Marian, and Martha jumping for joy over another brilliant post!