Monica Bellucci: Gotta love the unitive
A cool argument, courtesy of Charlotte Woods-Hill:
First, let me set it up:
For the Vatican, couples who are finding it impossible to have children can only resort to treatments and techniques were no donor is used, no spare embryos are created and the means of assisting the infertile couple to have children does not replace sexual intercourse within a marriage. While in some cases the rejection stems from the status of the embryo (within Catholicism the embryo is a person, so the destruction of unused embryos within invitro fertilization is akin to murder) in all cases the rejection is based on the Catholic understanding of the sexual act.
Sex is valid when, within marriage between a man and a woman, it combines two elements: the unitive element, and the procreative element. In a nutshell, sex needs to include a husband and a wife actually engaging in intercourse (the unitive) without contraception and so open to the creation of new life (the procreative). This understanding rules out:
a. donated sperm (violates the unitive - sperm doesn't come from the husband and sex between the couple isn't involved).
b. donated eggs or a surrogate mother (violates the unitive - egg doesn't come from the wife and sex between the couple isn't involved).
c. artificial insemination of the wife with the husband's sperm (violates the unitive - this time wife and husband are included, but no sex between them).
Now let's use artificial insemination to exemplify the argument:
The Vatican opposes artificial insemination because it violates the unity of man and woman within procreation. The problem, however, is that this understanding of procreation is based on the guy's experience of procreation and ignores the girl's. Think about it - the guy is only involved when sex is taking place; for him the unitive and procreative are literally inseparable. To be blunt, he only participates when inside. It's quite different for the girl - for her procreation goes beyond the sexual act - the unity of the bodies - into a nine month process. For the girl, the unity between the unitive and the procreative is just a part of a much longer process which is her own. If one went by the female experience, one of the major arguments against artificial insemination comes unglued.
The upshot: In this at least, Catholic theology is not neutral or mainstream. Instead, to quote Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza
, it's malestream - unwittingly based on the male experience.