Sexing the Church

Sexing the Church

Gender, Power, and Ethics in Contemporary Catholicism
Aline H. Kalbian
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/14/2005
Format: paper 184 pages, 1 bibliog., 1 index
5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21750-9
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“A wonderful book that gives us a fresh angle of vision on modern Roman Catholic teaching about sex, marriage, gender relationships, and reproduction. After reading Sexing the Church, few will doubt the extent to which Catholic teaching about the law of nature owes no small debt to history and culture.” —Richard B. Miller, Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions

“ . . .Catholic attitudes about women in the priesthood . . . display [a] contradiction between egalitarian and subordinationist views. . . . Women are denied access to the ‘eucharistic’ priesthood because allowing them in would upset the redemptive order. Why is it, then, that imagery from the created order (women as mothers, brides, virgins) is often used to describe the redemptive ‘mystery’ that connects Christ with the Church? Why is the Church ‘sexed’ female? . . . This sexing of the Church is more than just an example of how gender and order work in Catholic morality; it also reveals tensions in the complex patterns of Catholic reasoning about marriage, reproduction, and church authority. In a surprising way, it challenges the order enforced by the Catholic ethics of marriage and reproduction.” —from Chapter One

The regulation of human sexuality in contemporary Catholicism, a topic that monopolizes public conversation about the Catholic Church, is also a central concern of Catholic theological discussions of religious ethics. Aline H. Kalbian traces the history of the connection between moral theology and sexual ethics as it applies to the concern for order in official teachings on marriage, reproduction, and sex. She explores order as it is reflected in the theology of marriage, the 20th-century challenge to that order in the debates on contraception and assisted reproduction, and the way attitudes about gender in Catholicism connect theological and moral order with ecclesiastical order.

Author Bio

Aline H. Kalbian is Assistant Professor of Religion at Florida State University. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Reviews

"Kalbian (Florida State Univ.) explains the meaning behind her provocative title Sexing the Church: it captures the way Catholicism's attitudes about gender (what it means to be male or female) permeate its teachings about sexuality, reproduction, and church authority. Kalbian's study of gender, power, and ethics in contemporary Catholicism hinges upon the twofold meaning of order within Catholic tradition and institutions: order is conformity to God's will and purpose (right order), and it is also the regulation and enforcement of right order by church authorities (giving orders). Kalbian examines Vatican documents from Pius XI onward, illuminating the ways in which both meanings of order come into play in the articulation of official Catholic teachings on marriage, gender, and sexuality. She pays special attention to recent intramural controversies over contraception, new reproductive technologies, same-sex marriage, and sexual abuses perpetrated by priests. Kalbian draws upon the best recent scholarship on Catholic sexuality and ethics. Eschewing Mark Jordon's attitude of hostile suspicion, she embraces a polite suspicion that calls attention to the problems and contradictions in official Catholic teachings and policies and leaves readers with much food for thought. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general reader" —D. Campbell, Colby College , Choice , December 2005

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Order and Sexual Ethics
2. Theology and Marriage
3. Reproduction
4. Gender
5. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index