Pope Benedict XVI took another step in articulating his fantasies about human beings this week. In criticizing relationships he doesn’t accept, he fretted:
That which has come to be expressed and understood with the term ‘gender’ effectively results in man’s self-emancipation from nature and from the Creator.
It is necessary to have something like an ecology of man. It is not outdated metaphysics when the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this natural order be respected.
The Church should defend not just the earth, water and air as gifts of Creation that belong to everyone. She should also protect man from destroying himself. The tropical rain forests deserve our protection, yes, but man does not deserve it less.
The Pope is saying that there’s a natural way for the genders to relate, and a natural way to have sex. Any distortion of (allegedly) Divinely-designed heterosexual marriage naturally invites destruction, just as burning the rain forests invites destructive environmental consequences.
The Pope urges us to be aware of the ecology of disastrous sexual behavior, just as we should be aware of disastrous environmental behavior.
OK, let’s talk about this “ecology of man” that he imagines for our sexuality. Exactly what ecology has his church’s rules about sexuality created for people?
Humans like to have sex. They have it in a variety of non-marital ways. In America, for example, almost everyone has sex before they get married. This includes practically every young man and young woman who take a virginity pledge in high school or college.
The church instructs them to feel guilty about this choice, and to steadfastly remain unprepared for it. And so the church is responsible for sexual pain, shame, ignorance, and disease.
People around the world use birth control. In developing countries, the introduction of cheap, legal contraception almost immediately reduces infant mortality, poverty, and illiteracy. The church actively discourages contraception in every country that desperately needs it. And so the church is responsible for unwanted pregnancy, domestic violence, and keeping women unschooled and dependent.
Finally, you masturbate. Almost everyone does. It’s the most life-affirming sexual behavior. It’s the safest way for young people to learn about sex. It teaches people that they can use sex to comfort themselves and to explore the universe.
There’s nothing in the Bible that forbids masturbation. Nevertheless, the church teaches it’s dangerous and that God hates those who do it. Pope Benedict went out of his way to reinforce this anti-life lesson. The resulting guilt has crippled men and women around the globe, damaging the holy marriages the Pope so favors. I wish I had a buck for every human on this earth who feels guilty about masturbating today.
It’s the church—and this Pope—who are cutting down the rain forest of the human psyche. And yes, that’s terribly destructive for the human climate.