Ratum et Consummatum: Refiguring Non-Penetrative Sexual Activity Theologically in Light of Intersex Conditions
Theology and Sexuality
Equinox / Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality
The norms which render penetrative vaginal sex between heterosexuals cosmically different in significance from non-penetrative and nonheterosexual acts of sex are problematic and possibly unjustifiable in light of physical intersex conditions. Roman Catholic Canon Law states a marriage is not consummated until the spouses have performed “in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring.” The paper shows that this is exclusive of those with atypical genital anatomy and represents an inadequate theological understanding of mutual relationship. Obsession with penetrative vaginal sex is echoed by surgeons who perform corrective surgery of children with atypical genitalia, and repeats cultural codes which over-value it. Adrian Thatcher’s theology of betrothal is used to show that a more processive understanding of marriage and consummation is desirable, and that there are robust theological grounds for celebrating some types and occasions of sexual intimacy outside marriage.
Vol. 16 (1), pp. 77 - 93