The full title of the book is 'Holy Sex: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing Infallible Loving.' The author is Gregory K. Popcak, who has a Ph.D. in "human services" from an online for-profit university: Capella University. Popcak is not a psychologist, but an "Independent Social Worker with Training Supervision Designation" in the state of Ohio [source].
There are several serious moral and theological problems with the book 'Holy Sex'.
1. Gregory Popcak is guilty of formal cooperation with sins of fornication.
See my previous post, Gregory Popcak and the book ‘Holy Sex’ – formal cooperation with the grave sin of fornication. In summary, Popcak admits, in the introduction to 'Holy Sex', that he has used his version of 'theology of the body' to assist unmarried persons (in his practice as a social worker) to obtain more enjoyment from their sins of sex outside of marriage. He calls himself "privileged" to have this role. And yet fornication is a grave sin, and his role is that of formal cooperation with that intrinsically evil and gravely immoral act. As a result, Popcak is unworthy to receive Communion, as he is obstinately persevering in manifest grave sins.
Popcak sees nothing wrong with his work helping unmarried persons enjoy fornication. Therefore, Popcak is unqualified to teach the faithful on the subject of sexual ethics.
2. 'Holy Sex' is sexual ethics without the ethics.
This lack of morality, this absence of ethical concern in the area of sexuality, is essentially the implicit but pervasive theme of the entire book. There is no mention of the three fonts of morality, which is the basis for Catholic moral teaching, and no mention that certain sexual acts are intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral (fornication, unnatural sexual acts, contraception, etc.). The book discusses sex without any concern for the moral teachings of the Faith.
In place of Catholic moral teachings, Popcak proposes the "one rule", which is that the husband deposit the correct bodily fluid in the correct location (i.e. complete an act of natural marital relations) at some point in time. This claim, that all else in the marital bedroom is justified as long as the one rule is followed, has no basis in Catholic moral teaching. It ignores the teaching of the Church on intrinsically evil acts, as well as the basic principles of ethics. It justifies all manner of exceedingly wicked sexual acts, based on the intention to commit one moral act of natural marital relations at some point.
Married Catholic theologians, Alice and Dietrich von Hildebrand, condemn the idea of the "one rule" as well as the use of unnatural sexual acts in the marital bedroom, in this article by Alice.
Alice von Hildebrand: “It is precisely because the marital bed is sacred that one should approach acts within it with enormous reverence. Degrading and perverse sexual behavior — even it is it done by a married couple, who do not practice contraception — should be condemned, as an assault on human dignity. The pornification of marriage should be resisted as vigorously as the pornification of our culture.”
The phrasing "any posture, which sins against this dignity" of human persons is a discrete reference to unnatural sexual acts in the marital bedroom.
3. Popcak approves of unnatural sexual acts in marriage.
At one point in his book, Popcak suggests that the husband put on a condom and use anal penetration as a type of foreplay on his wife. He claims that if the wife climaxes at any time in any way, it is moral. Supposedly, the wife can receive unnatural sexual acts and masturbatory acts, and climax at any time in any way, without regard to any teachings of the Church on sexual ethics, as long as the husband completes the act in the natural manner. And the husband is supposed to stop this immoral activity, take off the condom, and then have natural relations, for the completion of the sexual act. This suggestion is exceedingly wicked, and yet Popcak justifies it as moral. (And so does Janet E. Smith.)
To the contrary, Saint and Doctor of the Church Alphonsus Liguori specifically condemned the use of unnatural sexual acts as foreplay, even if the husband completes the act in the natural manner. And he condemns the use of unnatural sexual acts on the wife to bring her to climax as well. See my post here.
4. Popcak uses every sacred idea and term to describe the physical sexual act
The sexual act is termed "infallible", "incarnational", "revelatory", a "sacrament", "divine" and more. The spouses are termed "infallible lovers" who engage in "infallible loving". Sexual ethics and grave sexual sins are precluded, in Popcak's analysis, because sex has been labeled with all manner of sacred words, usually reserved for God, His Acts, and His Sacraments.
Popcak goes so far as to call God our "Divine Lover" and to claim that God wants the lovers to "hold nothing back" -- which is code for unbridled passion and an abandonment of sexual ethics and of traditional Catholic morality. Popcak uses God and the sacred language of our faith to divinize the physical sexual act and to preclude any sense of morality or sin. And that is extremely wicked. For he not only approves of and encourages unnatural sexual acts in marriage and sex outside of marriage, but he commits the sin of sacrilege by treating grave sexual sins as if they are sacred.
5. The Idolatry of Sex
Elsewhere, Popcak extends this sin of sacrilege by raising the physical sexual act to the level of worship and divinity. This sin is the idolatry of sex.
I don't even want to write out this particular sinful example. See this article: Is the Popcak Catholic?. I will excerpt one example:
The quote that caused the most shock came from 'The Exceptional Seven Percent', where Popcak muses over New Age guru Deepak Chopra's question, "Does God have orgasms?" Popcak concluded, "I, like Chopra, believe the answer is 'Absolutely yes.' My own faith tradition teaches that God is a lover and that the cosmological orgasm physicists refer to as the Big Bang … is the model for human sexuality. Who wouldn't give their eyetooth for a night like that with their beloved?" Popcak's claims are nefarious, slyly insinuating profane ideas about the nature and love of the Holy Trinity.
Truly, Popcak's books are proposing nothing other than the blatant idolatry of sex. God is described in sexual terms. All the most sacred ideas and words of faith and worship are used to describe the physical sexual act. All ethical considerations are swept away by sacrilegious and idolatrous rhetoric. Grave sexual sins in marriage, condemned by Saints Augustine, Aquinas, and Liguori, are not only approved, but treated as if they were divine or a sacrament. There is absolutely nothing Catholic about this book.
6. The approval of this book by various prominent Catholics is appalling
Catholics who provided approving quotes for use in this book include:
* John L. Allen Jr., who works for the National Catholic Reporter
It is particularly disconcerting that a Catholic Bishop would give his unofficial approval (the book has no imprimatur) to a work of sexual immorality and sexual idolatry. But these are the times in which we live. The Bishops sit in their offices, doing the work of administration, and they leave most of the teaching to incompetent and sinful teachers, whose popularity is matched only by the gravity of their errors on faith and morals.
Why is this book so popular among married Catholics? The answer is very simple. Most married Catholics commit grave sins: contraception, unnatural sexual acts in marriage, masturbation, pornography, etc., and they are grateful to anyone who provides them with a way to justify their grave sins. They do not want to experience the humiliation of contrition and repentance. They do not want to live a moral life, due to the difficulties encountered by any Christian who is unwilling to sin. Popcak and West and Smith give sinful unrepentant Catholics a way to continue sinning gravely, while pretending to be on the path of salvation.
Alice von Hildebrand is right. The Church today is witnessing the pornification of marriage. And many Catholic leaders are promoting these grave sins, and are enjoying success and popularity as a result. But that is not the way of Christ.
All these Catholic leaders, teachers, and online commentators, who promote and justify grave sexual sins, especially within the holy Sacrament of Marriage, are guilty of formal cooperation with all of these wicked sins and are guilty of teaching heresy and of gravely harming souls. They will be judged and punished by God.
More Reading: The Catholic Marriage Bed
Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.