Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Theology of the Body, Talk #7: Why does sex have to be reserved only for a man and woman who are married? Why can’t two engaged people who love one another and will eventually be married have sex now? Why can’t two men or two women who love one another have sex or even be married in the eyes of the Church?

Well, as you already know, of course two people who are engaged, or two men or two women, are able to have sex together.  Anyone can choose to “have sex” with someone else and they are usually capable of doing this.  It’s just that the action of sex outside of marriage does harm to the persons involved since it is an action opposite of real love.  Any sex outside of marriage can never be real love.  The fact that this kind of “sex” does harm to persons is the reason it is morally wrong.  It’s important to remember here that God does not want to oppress us humans, control us, or sadden us with this rule.  Instead, he wants to love us, ensure we are loved by others, and God wants to set us free… free to love, and free to be loved justly.  This is why Jesus said, “I am the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31, 32; 14:6; 16:13)  Sex is meant for marriage since that is the only context proper for the expression of this kind of erotic love which gives itself between a man and woman alone, each one completely to the other.  Remember, God is the author of men and women.  He made us, male and female he created us.  He also made marriage, instituting and designing it to be between a man and woman modeling The Marriage of Christ and His Bride the Church which you can read about in Ephesians 5:21-33.  God first established marriage, however, in Gen. 2:24 when He said:  “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one body.”  Jesus reaffirmed that teaching, then elevated it to the dignity of a sacrament in the Gospel (Matthew 19 and Mark 10) when he spelled out the nature of Christian marriage.  In fact, Jesus’ entire Gospel Mission is focused on his deep love for us, his people, the Church.  He calls us his bride!!!  He wants to love us as his spouse.  He wants to give himself and his body to us in love completely even to the point of his death.  At the Last Super remember when Jesus elevated the bread and wine then said: “this is my body, take this… I give it up for you.”  He also said, “this is my blood, I give it up for you.”  That’s what spouses are supposed to do in sex: give up their bodies in a complete self gift of love each for the other.  Like Jesus in the Eucharist, spouses are to hand themselves over completely in love to each other modeling Christ’s love for His own Bride the Church.  Jesus even renounces divorce (Mt. 19; Mk 10) and asserts the “indissolubility” of marriage, which establishes that marriage ends only upon the death of one of the spouses!!!  This kind of love is so great and demanding that the only thing able to end it is death itself.  This hard teaching then ends with Jesus saying, “What God has joined no human being must separate.” (Mk 10:9)  Think about all of these hard teachings about sex and marriage.  What’s the deal?!

Really though, what is the problem with sex outside of God’s design and plan?  Sexual intercourse is the defining element of marital love for the reason that it signifies a complete gift of one spouse to the other with their bodies in love for the best good of the other.  (Please remember what “love” is defined as for us Christians - love is the willing, doing and giving yourself for the best good of the other.  What is the best good of the other anyway?  Isn’t the answer: Heaven itself!  We’re called to help, will, and do everything it takes, giving ourselves in love, for the sake of helping ourselves and others get to heaven.  That is why love is not selfish.  That is why Christ says to us: “if you wish to find yourself, you must loose yourself for my sake. . . Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24-28)  And, since there are different kinds of love such as friendship love, agape love, erotic love, etc… we have to focus on the “complete self gift” that erotic / marital love always demands since it is the only love proper for the “one flesh union” of two persons.)

So, getting back on track here and trying to answer the question: What is the real problem with sex outside of God’s plan and design?  When sexual intercourse happens the body (person) speaks a language to the other body (person) saying: “I give my entire self to you for your best good, even my fertility, even the openness and possibility of children, I give you everything I am . . . literally, even my genetic code, my person.”  The body has a language, we remember.  The feminine is ordered to the masculine and the masculine is ordered to the feminine.  The body of a man makes sense only in light of the body of a woman.  If we look at the meaning of the body, stamped into us as men and women by God our Creator, we find the “spousal meaning of the body.”  The language of sexual intercourse points at a type of self-giving that is proper only when a man and woman are ready to give themselves each to the other completely.  If there is something with-held, then the sex (and this is true even in marriage) becomes non-marital.  And, if sex happens outside of a total life-long commitment, then it is already non-marital.  If sex happens outside of openness to children, then it is non-marital.  If sex is not faithful, then it is non-marital.  Lastly, if sex is not given freely then it is non-marital.  Even if a married couple decides to have sex that is not free, total, faithful or fruitful… it automatically becomes non-marital!!!  Any non-marital sex does harm to the persons involved.  God does not want us to harm one another.  People always gasped when the late Holy Father Pope John Paul II brought this teaching into the light.  He would often say that even married couples can commit adultery with one another if they are not totally, freely, faithfully and fruitfully giving themselves completely to the other in their marriage and in the things that make up their marriage, if their sexual relationship and their bodies withhold this type of giving.  Wow!!!  Think about that one.

The point here is that the language of the body, namely sex, can speak lies.  Sex outside of marriage is a lie for the reason that it is not a total gift of one self for the best good of the other.  Sex between two men or two women is a lie for the reason that it is not total, nor can it be fruitful and open to children, and it’s not faithful since there is nothing to be faithful to.  Sex for an engaged couple who really love each other is also a lie for the reason that it is not a total gift of life-long commitment yet, nor is it faithful for the same reason as above.  All of the above examples are withholding something of the self in an automatically un-loving manner.  So, when it comes to sexual morality you can simply plug in any kind of sexual behavior to the “free, total, faithful and fruitful” test of God’s plan for love and life in order to understand if it’s truly loving or not.  Let’s go through some examples of the sexual love test proper to the erotic order:

Is rape, sexual abuse, sodomy (anal sex) or incest a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of love?  Is masturbation a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of love?  Is pornography a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of love?  Is genital stimulation, heavy petting, foreplay, or oral sex on a date a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of love?  Is sterile, contracepted sex outside of marriage or even within marriage a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of love?  Is any ejaculation outside of the vagina without the bond of marriage, and even within the bond of marriage a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of love?  No.  The answer is no.  (We will come back to that next-to-last issue, the issue of contraception, which in Catholic teaching is where the rubber hits the road.  This issue, the Catholic Church stands against and has since the beginning.  When most of the world supports contracepted marital sex, we do not… let me be clear.  The reason is because it simply does not model or signify Jesus’ free, total, faithful or fruitful gift of love to his spouse the Church.  When a married couple has contracepted sex they withhold their fertility from each other recanting on the promise they made at their wedding which was to “be open to the blessings of children.”  I will give you some personal examples in my life and testimony that affirms this teaching here and in the future.  Alicia and I use the model of Natural Family Planning which always reverences and loves the person providing the ability to give ourselves completely to the other with every act of marital intercourse, sanctifying our marriage bed, and loving as God has created us to love.  Remember, real love is demanding, sacrificial and real love suffers for the beloved.  Only real men and real women can do this.  Christ came to help us be real men and real women.  Soon, we will return to a more extensive talk on the evil of contraception.)

Now, hopefully, something inside of yourself is being “re-ordered” with a new understanding of sex, marriage and love.  God’s plan, stamped into our bodies as male and female, reveals His love to us and helps us to properly love one another.  Do you want to be loved?  Of course you do!  It’s been placed within you from the beginning.  You are created for love.  God has created you to receive his love and to love him in return.  He has created you as a male or as a female.  This love makes us free and happy.  He has created you to receive love from others and give other persons real love.  He wants to keep you from harm and bring you to heaven.  He wants to give you happiness but only you can choose happiness since God has also given you free will.  You do not have to choose God’s plan for love and life.  However, when you do not it automatically brings you and those persons involved to harm whether or not you “feel” like it does.  Many people who are addicted to or participating in non-marital sex can testify to this truth.  All of us can sense within ourselves our deepest desire which is for love.  Thus, God’s plan for sexual love is supposed to be a good, holy desire given to one’s spouse in the proper context of free, total, faithful and fruitful love to help us get to heaven.  Sex, that is, is designed by God to be heavenly, to foreshadow heaven, to point us toward heaven, and eventually bring us to heaven if we love with our bodies as God has created and intended us to love.