Catholic marriage and sex ethicist Dr Jack Dominian dies

Catholic psychiatrist and theologian Dr Jack Dominian, who championed a rethink on Christian sexual ethics, has died in the United Kingdom, aged 84.

As early as 1977, Dr Dominian warned against what he called the Catholic Church’s pre-occupation with marital chastity at the expense of other factors in a successful marriage.

In his “Proposals for a New Sexual Ethic”, he argued that the presence of a genuine love between two people – whether they be married or not – validates sex, making it an activity worthy of celebration.

Sexual pleasure, he wrote, must not be trivialised in the eyes of the Church, being one of the “gifts of God to man which can become the springs of joy, pleasure and loving communication”.

Dr Dominian went on to extend the argument in defence of the love between same-sex couples.

To think of sex solely in terms of procreation, he wrote in New Internationalist in 1986, was to deny its “capacity to give life in a more than biological sense”, its role in strengthening a couple’s sexual identity and their sense of commitment to each other.

While Dr Dominian admitted that the teachings of the Bible condemned homosexual practices, he ventured that same-sex marriages would one day be possible, and that couples should receive the support of Church and state.

In all, he published more than 30 books, including “The Definitive Guide to What Makes a Marriage Work” (1995), and “One Like Us: A Psychological Interpretation of Jesus” (1998), which employed modern psychoanalytic theories to explore Christ’s childhood development.

In the latter, Dr Dominian argued that Mary’s nurturing in the early years enabled Jesus to develop the emotional maturity to be fully human and fully divine.

It was part of Jesus’ “psychological genius” that he could handle both natures without becoming a split personality, Dr Dominian theorised.

He also wrote that Jesus was “capable of appreciating female beauty and being aroused by it” and was “no prude”.

But Jesus came to give himself to the whole world, not to an exclusive person, he wrote.

Dr Dominian decided to write “One Like Us” because “Christianity is wrapped up in theological terms which are meaningless to the contemporary world”.

Dr Dominian became critical of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, its hierarchical structure and “the gap between the institutional reality and the community of love Jesus set up”.


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