Eric had said:
Your first question was what I meant by saying there is no analogy between modern "consentual sex" and marriage. I said this because your first post had a comment along the lines of "I would agree to such-and-such a statement in the book, provided its in the context of marriage." If you look up "marriage debt" you will see why there is no analogy.The statement you're speaking of, I believe, is:
Obviously my stipulations about the proper and moral context of this initiative differ from that of secular feminism, but within a marital framework, if we truly consider the husband and wife equal in dignity, regardless of whether we're complementarians or egalitarians, is there any good reason not to treat the two as having an equal weight not only in consenting to their bodily union, which the serious thinkers on the subject in the Christian tradition has already taken seriously, but also in initiating it, in asking for that special bodily intimacy?I need to write shorter sentences. I'm going to "trim the fat" a little, but I'm leaving the original there in case I trimmed something essential by mistake. (Please, someone let me know if I trimmed something essential.
[W]ithin a marital framework, if we truly consider the husband and wife equal in dignity [...] is there any good reason not to treat the two as having an equal weight not only in consenting to their bodily union [...] but also in initiating it, in asking for that special bodily intimacy?I am in agreement that the modern notion of consent can't be applied here. Perhaps I spoke hastily or was slightly mis-phrased. What I do maintain is that reading Paul's injunction that a couple not deprive each other except by mutual consent does not imply that persons must, whenever asked, consent, except for the reasons Aquinas lists. Aquinas obviously has some major concerns about concupiscience--concerns with no small reason--but seems to overstate the case. The natural reading of the text seems to me, again, a guy with no Greek lexicon, to indicate that a marriage ought to have a healthy sex life unless there's some reason not to--not that every request must be met unless there's some reason not to. That said, I definitely don't think it's good for 'deprivation' to last longer than a few days without mutual consent; at that point I'd call it borderline; much further and I'd be willing to go as far as sin. I will say I think it's more important that two persons in a marriage have the same understanding of marriage debt, and that this understanding be consistently applied regardless of gender, than that every person who calls themselves Christian or Catholic has that same understanding. That is where I draw the line; if there is still disagreement, we will have to agree to disagree about this.
Now Nick had written, regarding the modern notions of consent:
The modern notion of consent operates in this framework: "You can only *use* me when *I* gain something from that *use*". That's prostitution. Pope Leo XIII called it "legalized concubinage."I actually agree with what Nick is saying about the modern notions of consent; they do seem to (mostly) boil down to a mutual use. I think one big concern of the Yes Means Yes people is to correct hatever imbalances there might be in perceptions of the importance of male vs. female enjoyment of the act itself. That in itself is fine. I should hope the Church doesn't teach that one is more important than the other. And I don't at all think it would be Christian or loving to be unconcerned with how much one's spouse enjoys having sex. As a general pattern it does seem like the ideal presented by the Yes Means Yes crowd veers more in the direction of consenting mostly if not almost only when one is seeking pleasure. I should note that nowhere in the book have I actually read that said--but the overall tone suggests that consensual and pleasure-seeking sex is the ideal. And I sort of agree with them on that, but not really. I'll get back to that.
Nick went on to say:
The Catholic notion of "consent" (so-called) operates in different framework: "Through Charity (in which *I* love God and neighbor selflessly), *I* give myself to *You* in order that *You* grow in holiness and maturity as Spouse." (1 Cor 7, esp v3-5) Now, in a fallen world this is not easy for most of us, but it's a clear ideal, which the One True Church promotes and guards.Yes. This goes along with what CJ had said in his response to Eric:
[S]ex within marriage must be understood [...] active consent, while not getting us all the way there, does reclaim some of that essence. It is an active giving and an active receiving. Yes, there is a marriage debt. But that marriage debt in light of the Christian Gospel is not to be fulfilled in the way we view, say, the ten commandments. These are, in fact, marriage debts owed by Christ's Church, his bride. But she is not to fulfill them because she has to, but because she wants to.I actually agree with this, for certain definitions of "want." Of course forcing someone to go to Mass and take communion against their will would be wrong, but to convince them to will such so even if they didn't particularly desire it would not be. I definitely don't want to do service when I do in the sense of actively desiring it, but I do in the sense that I actively will it. Clearly there is a space in which we can will something, without wanting it in the colloquial sense, though in the sense of going to Mass or making love with our spouses desiring it is certainly the ideal.
So, as I see it, the things that are wrong with the 'modern notion' of consent seem to be:
1) It's tied up too much with seeking of pleasure in a hedonistic sense.
2) It does not, at least not prima facie, allow for consent to a reasonable sexual life with another person in the future.
So the overall tone of YMY, as I said above--and I have said this, and I may be wrong--but to me it suggests that consensual and pleasure-seeking sex is the ideal. And like I said, I sort of agree. I agree if we mean the pleasure of contemplating God, the pleasure of the proper union of spouses, the pleasure of two persons given to each other in Christ. In other words, pleasures that transcend the hedonistic. As for criticism (2), consent seems very much an immediate and for-the-moment thing in modern thought, and there is truth to this; a lack of consent for a sexual act makes it wrong. But in Christian marriage there is a sort of implied consent which does not imply one's consent whenever asked, but more of an agreement not to deprive one's partner of that facet of the relationship; there does seem to be an implicit agreement that one will consent in the future, sometimes, but not all of the time.
So with all of this in mind--here's my moral heirarchy. Here's what I'd call "good, passable, ehn, bad, worse, abhorrent" with respect to different uses or misuses of the 'marriage act'--specifically, here, the act within the Christian context of marriage. I think this does apply more or less to other marriage as well, but I can only claim to speak most fully about what I see as the ideal coming from my perspective as a Catholic.
Good: Husband and wife with a healthy sex life, because they want (desire) to have one.
Passable: The same, but because they want (will) to have one.
Ehn: The same, but just to pay their marriage debt. So, really, probably not as healthy as it could be.
Bad: Either a lack of sex that constitutes "deprivation" on the part of one partner or the other, without mutual consent for prayer. Here's where we cross the line into sin, as we've clearly violated a Scriptural mandate. (Again, I can't know for each couple when this line is crossed.)
Worse: Coercion on the part of one partner or the other under threat of sin.
Abhorrent: Marital rape.
I'm not sure if there's a giant difference between my descriptions for "passable" and "ehn." So I'm not sure exactly how else I'd construct Christian marital consent; obviously this was not a rigorous process for me, and quite frankly I don't know if it's something I want to try and construct with much more rigor unless I find myself breaking into academia and studying Catholic sexual ethics as part of my living. So there it is, for now at least.
Anyway, Hope you all have enjoyed this ride as much as me. Comments as usual are welcome. This will probably be the last Yes Means Yes post for quite awhile.