CHRISTIAN SEX: A theology of the Body

African family(Programme presented in Catholic Radio, Gulu, on 25 November 2016)

Highlights from St. Pope John Paul II’s document Love and Responsibility

Practiced in Freedom, Love, and Joy –  “Take away from love the fullness of self surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it.” “…if desire is predominant it can deform love between man and woman and rob them both of it.”

Basic Questions as Humans

  1. Who we are ?
  2. Who God is ?
  3. What love is & what it really means ?
  4. What our ultimate destiny is ?
  5. How society and even the universe are ordered ?

 

Sexual Union in God’s Plan

Genesis describes God’s original plan for marriage, including the sexual union of man and woman. With our partner in life we ought to “become one flesh.” It is the key to discovering “the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life.” God built into our very bodies his call to love as he loves. That’s why we’re created male and female, and are built to become “one flesh.”

God Meets us in our Body

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.“ Our bodies are extremely important: it’s how God chose to come and meet us. We call that the Incarnation. By his incarnation he sanctifies our bodies.

God is at heart a communion

Our bodies reveal the core truth about the human person: we are made to give ourselves in love. This intimate, sexual union of man & woman (becoming “one flesh”) is a reflection, a visible sign, of the invisible mystery of God — the deep union and endless self-giving love within the Trinity.

Sex and Fallen World

  • We live in a fallen world. We all see the effects of this every day.
  • Sin affects every aspect of our life.
  • We see it quite strongly in our sexuality.
  • And yet, as Christians, we’ve accepted Christ’s offer to redeem us from the state of sin.

 

Human Sex in need of Redemption

Sex is part of human nature… due to disobedience our human nature was corrupted. Accepting the Redemption in our sexual lives requires work on our part. We are strongly inclined to sin and selfishness in this area. We need to consciously and actively work to overcome these tendencies.

Chastity: Freedom in Love

Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality into your life, whether you’re married (and therefore sexually active with your spouse) or single (and therefore celibate). Chastity involves self-mastery, and is one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. (See Catechism, 2337 – 2359)

Christian sex fulfills your Marriage vows

In Catholic marriage vows, spouses promise each other a marriage that is:

  1. Free, 2. Faithful, 3. Total, exclusive, and permanent, 4. Open to children as God’s gifts

 

Catholic morality is simply saying that this is what sex means. Its true meaning is only found by fulfilling your wedding vows.

Practical matters of Christian sex

The First Principle of Christian sexual morality:

God (also the natural law) has given sex both a unitive and procreative purpose. A well-ordered sexuality keeps both the unitive and procreative aspects together.

The unitive aspects are ordered to increasing the unity of the spouses. They express and deepen their love for one another. The procreative aspects relate to bearing children, the most obvious and fundamental reason for our sexuality.

The second principle follows from the first: Sexual activity must…

  1. Take place within marriage
  2. Be of loving intent and action
  3. Complete in a way that does not refuse the possibility of fertility
  1. Quite specifically, this means that the male’s climax must occur during normal sexual intercourse.

Sex as Loving and Selfless

Is it really a loving act? (That’s the key to the whole thing.) Some acts will be loving for one couple, and not for another. Is there something about the act itself that prevents it from being loving? For example, is it somehow degrading, abusive, dangerous, or obviously selfish?

What things are disordered?

  1. Sex outside of marriage refuses real unity by refusing to give yourself totally to the other. Sex, and responsibility for fertility, is so incredibly important that it demands the total commitment of marriage.
  2. Homosexuality insists on using only the unitive aspects of sexuality (pleasure & intimacy) in a relationship that is inherently sterile. It is literally dis-ordered: it does not follow the proper order of our basic biology.
  3. Contraception refuses fertility. This is also a violation of the vow to give yourself totally — it’s saying, “I’m withholding my fertility from you
  4. Artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization separate fertility from the act of sexual intercourse itself. Whereas contraception desires unity without fertility, artificial fertilization techniques desire fertility outside of the natural act of sexual unity.
  5. Masturbation and pornography insist on sexual pleasure without either unity or fertility.
  6. Polygamy, and adultery refuse fidelity, and the requirement that marriage be total & exclusive.

Human Dignity and Sexuality

  • Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God. (Pope Leo the Great CCCC, 1691) Our sexuality is one of the essential areas to recognize our dignity as men and women who have received a free gift of new life in Christ.

Love: Given and Received

  • “Love is never something ready-made, something merely ‘given’ to man and woman, it is always at the same time a ‘task’ which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’, and what it becomes depends up on the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment.”
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