A 'No' to a 'No' is a 'Yes'FATHER ROBERT BARRON
One of the commonest complaints against Catholicism is that it is the religion of "no," especially in regard to the sexual dimension of life.
But on the other hand, there is a "no" which is in service of a "yes," since it represents a "no" to a "no;" it is a double negative that constitutes a positive. Any golf swing coach worth his salt will say "no" much more than he says "yes," precisely because there are a thousand ways to swing a club poorly, but really only one way to swing it properly. So when he says "no," he is negating a series of negatives, trying to move his student onto the narrow path of the right swing. I would suggest that the many "no's" that the church says to imperfect forms of sexual behavior are of this second type.
And so it says "no," obviously, to rape, to sexual abuse, to the sexual manipulation of another. But it also says "no" to sexual expression outside of the context of that mutual and radical self-gift that we call marriage. It says "no," furthermore, to a deliberate and conscious frustration of the procreative dimension of sex. In all of these "no's," the church is fundamentally saying "yes" to sex as a path of love. I realize that many balk at this, arguing that while rape and sexual violence should always be condemned, other forms of sexual expression should be left to the discretion of the individual.
But would we settle for this kind of leniency and mediocrity in any other area of life that we take seriously? For example, someone dedicated to having an excellent golf swing will, of course, accepts correction of his most egregious faults, but he will expect his teacher to press forward, righting relatively minor errors, fine-tuning his swing until he reaches real proficiency. I imagine that he would want his teacher to hold up the example, not of a middle-level, weekend golfer, not even of a star on the junior tour, but of Rory McIlroy and Fred Couples and Jack Nicklaus. The one thing he would not want his coach to say is, "well, now that you've overcome the major problems, just swing any way you want."
Father Robert Barron, "A 'No' to a 'No' is a 'Yes'." Word on Fire (August, 2011).
Reprinted with permission of Father Robert Barron.
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Father Robert Barron is the founder of Word On Fire and is an acclaimed author, theologian and speaker. He is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Fr. Barron is also the creator and host of the groundbreaking, ten-part documentary series called CATHOLICISM (www.CatholismProject.org). Word On Fire (www.WordOnFire.org) programs reach millions of people and have been broadcast on WGN America, EWTN, Relevant Radio and the popular Word on Fire YouTube Channel. Fr. Barron is the author of, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation, Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals, Eucharist (Catholic Spirituality for Adults), Priority of Christ, The: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism, and Word on File: Proclaiming the Power of Christ.
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Copyright © 2011 Father Robert Barron
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