Dec 20, 2019, 05:57AM

Church Teaching and Senior-Citizen Sexuality

Paleocon Diary (#202).

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As I mentioned in passing last week, “Harris-style” conservatives, among them Sohrab AhmariAdrian Vermeule, and Rod Dreher, are starting to discuss a very “Harrisian” idea: banning pornography.

Finally. Maybe I should be bitter that the rest of the world has taken so long to “catch up” with an idea I’ve been promulgating for years. But that would be distinctly anti-political, elevating my own vanities above the necessity of political mobilization. So I’ll avoid it. These writers, of magnitudes more influential than me, are well-situated to “make hay” on this important issue. I suspect that the next step will be to engage sympathetic politicians in the cause—men like Missouri’s young Sen. Josh Hawley who are, at the highest levels of our government, leading the effort to reorient conservatism away from the libertarianism that’s defined it for most of the last 40 years.

As fine a development as this is, we should think of it as a mere part of a much greater project: that of establishing a religiously informed vision of the totality of human sexual life.

How, for example, should we Russian Orthodox (to say nothing of those who belong to other denominations) govern ourselves sexually within the bounds of divinely sanctioned matrimony?

The answer to this will, I think, be superficially obvious to most readers: sexual relations within the bounds of matrimony are completely licit. Yet the answer gets less obvious the deeper you go. For example, Russian Orthodoxy frowns, as all small-o orthodox Christian traditions do, on non-procreative sexual relations. Given that I’m in my mid-60s, and that Mother has just turned 70, our relations are non-procreative by definition. Mother has long been post-menopausal, needless to say; but there’s also the fact of the severely decimated sperm population of my own semen. At my age it would be a near impossibility for me to impregnate even one of the fertile, corn-fed Hoosier lasses of 15 or 16 that one sees here in Indiana in passing—at girls’ high-school volleyball games and swim meets, for example.

Yet certainly Mother and I are, as a doctrinal matter, entitled to our sexual pleasures. Aren’t we? I would think so. But it’s a tricky question, and one would like to be sure.

Another question stems from the fact I’ve gestured to above: that even traditional copulation in the basic missionary position is non-procreative at Mother’s and my age. Given that, are we then more or less entitled to branch out into varieties of sexual play that could have nothing of the procreative about them under any circumstances? All things being, after all, equal?

For a while now I’ve inclined towards “more.” In a situation in which procreation is impossible, I’ve told myself, there can be no meaningful moral difference between, say, traditional copulation and, say, anal play.

But with time I’ve found this justification to be less and less satisfying—the sort of exercise in casuistry that I’d be quick to condemn in another man. Recently, I’ve had the strange experience of being seized with deep shame in the middle of some or other exercise in non-traditional sex—while, for example, “locked in” with Mother in a tight “sixty-nine,” whimpering as Mother gummed my perineum. My conscience, needless to say, was telling me that I’d stretched my layman’s interpretation of doctrine too far.

More to come on this important matter in future diary entries. 


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