Don't It Hurt So Good

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For the past week, Project Eye, which is part of the Vibewire vehicle, has been covering the World Catholics Gone Wild Day. Theresa Tram Phuong Nguyen has posted a report on a WYD workshop called "Sexy – Saint or Sinner?"

The workshop, held last Thursday by Francine and Byron Pirola from Magis08, gave tips on being "sexy without being sexually active" and of course "saving oneself" for marriage. After going through the standard description of sex being sacred, a special gift and an intimate expression of the soul, things got a little weird.

According to Nguyen, Francine Pirola told the gathered pilgrims: "Every time a couple makes love they release a hormone in their bodies called oxytocin". All true so far.

She went on, "Oxytocin is released when men and women have an orgasm and it bonds them to each other. It’s one of the reasons why sex outside marriage will always, always hurt – because you’re bonding yourselves to each other, not just temporarily, but biologically there is something happening in your bodies that is going to make it really, really hurt if the bond isn’t carried forward."

Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is correct that oxytocin is released during orgasm and it’s probably not surprising to say that when oxytocin is released, it feels great. It’s also released when women birth naturally and breastfeed – it helps with bonding. Oxytocin is also released, in varying doses, when people have shared experiences (such as six days of World Youth Day) or take drugs such as MDMA.

But "sex outside of marriage always hurts"? Of course this is sometimes true, but not for the reasons the workshop seems to be suggesting.

I wasn’t there but I’m presuming this feeling of hurt is associated with guilt. Guilt that the individual acted on natural compulsions or desires outside of the propositions outlined by the Church. It has nothing to do with science, it’s emotional hoodwinking.

If the Church did want to push this further they should conduct actual research and establish a scientific basis for this. Participants should include heterosexuals in de facto, open, single encounter and polyamorous relationships. Plus homosexual and transgender, and anyone else that finds themselves outside of the heterosexual-and-married paradigm. Instead, according to Nguyen, the workshop used a "prostitutes are miserable" analogy to convince attendees of the validity of this argument.

Perhaps when the Catholic Church stops treating all of its followers as naïve young people it will make greater inroads towards relevance in the 21st Century.

Unless of course they are simply referring to same sex relationships, which are not recognised by the Catholic Church. That must hurt.

New Matilda

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