Theology of the Body Thursday #18: RFRA Out-of-context


There has been tons of debate and anger over the last couple weeks about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In defense of this law, some people are trying once again to defend the Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality outside of the context of the overall Catholic view of sex.

In 1971, a Catholic laywoman coined the term “seamless garment” to describe the Catholic defense of life from womb to tomb. I would like to adopt this phrase in regards to our teachings on sex and sexuality. No part of our teachings on sex make any sense outside of the context of the whole. The Catholic defense of sex needs also to be seen in terms of a “seamless garment.”

The Catholic Church is against:

  • artificial contraception
  • abortion
  • homosexual behavior
  • pornography
  • prostitution
  • sexual abuse and rape



Gandhi wasn’t Catholic.


All because the Catholic Church is for love that is:

  • free
  • faithful
  • fruitful
  • total

We all want a lover that loves us freely, that is faithful to us and that gives of themselves totally and accepts us totally. We all want to make our mark on the world. Anyone who has experienced anything like love knows that love cannot keep to itself, it has to spill out into the world to bear fruit. All of these things are timeless desires and experiences of humanity. This definition of love makes sense regardless of where and when you speak these truths. These aspects of love don’t even depend on the Bible or a belief in God in order to ring true.  They are fundamental to human nature.


FDR wasn’t Catholic either.


The Church recognizes that anything, I mean anything, that undermines any of the above four aspects of love is beneath our dignity as God’s children and is, frankly, a sin.

In explaining the Gospel, we need to talk more about what the Church is for rather than what the Church is against. We also need to stop taking the hard teachings out-of-context. Many of these teachings are hard to digest and serving them without the overall sweetness of the Gospel or the reality of human experience makes them completely inedible for many people.



2 thoughts on “Theology of the Body Thursday #18: RFRA Out-of-context

  1. It’s important to add to the “against list” that the Church is rightly, from the starting gun, against ALL SEX that occurs outside the context of Sacramental marriage. The most apparently loving, respectful sex shared by a “committed” – but not married – man and woman, maybe living together as long term monogamous “boyfriend and girlfriend,” is fornication and a mortal sin. 21st Century American culture absolutely does not get that. We’ve fallen so far, morally, that young people who vow to remain chaste until marriage are considered freaks by a culture that views chastity as a form of deviance. But the Church’s opposition to fornication is really a negative view of her true role as champion of marriage, of the holy Sacramental bond that makes two people one flesh for life. Sex outside of that bond can never be free, faithful, fruitful or total, no matter how much the people involved wish to delude themselves regarding “love.” I think the sanctity of marriage is the primary fabric of the seamless garment that makes sense of the Church’s teaching on sex as a whole.

    • Thank you for bringing that glaring omission to my attention. It was completely accidental. I don’t think I could add anything to your thorough treatment of the Church’s teachings on fornication. Thank you for your comment and for sharing this post on Twitter.

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