Friday, April 4, 2008

Why can’t the Church stay out of my bedroom (and my liquor cabinet)?

By Tim Hepner
Staff Columnist

The word “crap” was edited out of my column last month, and I appreciate the Cardinal staff’s concern with scandalizing the Saint Mary’s University public. However, this month is going to be even racier: I want to talk about drugs and sex (we’ll leave rock and roll for later).
And the drugs part will be narrowed down to alcohol in particular. “Fun,” you’re thinking, “another lecture.” I know the preconceptions that are brought to this type of discussion, but I’m in absolutely no position to condemn. Instead, I’d like to speak to you as people and to appeal to what makes us human.

Before the 10 p.m. show of Gaslight, I was told that there would be a lot of excitement because many of the people would come to the show drunk and be able to cut loose. This made me wonder: Is there such a great gap between who we are and who we want to be that we have to have some social lubrication to be okay with ourselves? Is there something we’re not admitting to ourselves – that sometimes we’re scared to be human, afraid of our own weakness, or frightened of being left on our own? It’s not just getting drunk, I know. There are other things that we put in to fill that gap, that basic need for intimacy.

The movie “Crash” starts off with one of the characters giving a monologue about “human touch,” saying, “I think that we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other just so we can feel something.” This, I think, is precisely why it’s so hard to be chaste: because we (men and women both) are often so desperate and afraid that we won’t be able to give or receive intimacy that we end up objectifying ourselves or another person. We don’t trust what God says, so we end up with a cheap version of love. But the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex have everything to do with how we are made, and how two people can come together and hold each other up in dignity. It’s about how we can truly satisfy that profound desire for intimacy – spiritual and physical – inside each of us, and let it lead us closer to each other and God. To come into intimate contact with another and lose myself in them while still remaining myself – that’s what I was made for. That’s my nature and that’s how I’ll truly find peace.

This isn’t easy nor is it for the apathetic. So if you are content with a lukewarm imitation of love, then there’s nothing I can tell you. If you don’t sincerely want to live in freedom and be okay with your weaknesses, then I can’t do anything for you. But please know that, despite popular opinion, being Christian means being unafraid of being fully human. And also that seminarians still like to go out for a beer every once in awhile.

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