Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, a member of the Dominican order and an influential Catholic expert in bioethics, has a clear message about those expectations.
It boils down to: Don’t hold your breath.
“The pope was absolutely clear from the start,” Fisher said. “The pastoral goal is to see how we’re going to help people who are hurting. In this way things will change, and hopefully we’ll find some ways to help them.”
“But in the end, we’re not going to say ‘No, God got it wrong’.”
But when you boil this down, the entire point of the idiom is that women should use sex to lure men into marriages they would not otherwise enter. But what woman in her right mind wants to be married to a guy who only married her to gain access to her sex? Because that’s what we’re talking about here! When people say that having sex with a man before marriage will mean he has no reason to marry you, what they are really saying is that men only marry to gain access to sex.
While I think every couple should make their own decision when it comes to sex, I actually think the “he’ll never buy the cow when he can get the milk for free” idiom is a very good argument for having sex before marriage. Despite what sex-obsessed fundamentalist and evangelical Christians may say, marriage is not fundamentally about sex. It is fundamentally about a partnership. When couples believe they have to wait for marriage for sex, they are at risk of their hormones driving them into marriage.
There is another sense in which Francis is doing what he has been doing for a long time. While Francis’ controversial remarks at the colloquium are more pointed than his usual rhetoric regarding gays, they are typical of his rhetoric regarding women.
[…] Read in the context of his history of comments about women, Francis’ colloquium address starts to seem less surprising. It starts to seem less like a concession to conservatives than a sincere affirmation of patriarchal gender roles.
Most striking is Cupich’s admission that gay parents are good and society should evaluate how it can protect all families which, while not endorsing marriage, is a significant shift given his peers’ stated views.
Whether or not Cupich is “America’s Pope Francis” remains to be seen, but what is clear is that his leadership in Chicago signals a new voice in the American church. At the very least, LGBT advocates have a prominent archbishop who says he is ready to listen, willing to dialogue, and seems to be more realistic about what family life really consists of today.