St John's Q&A

Friday, January 20, 2006

The holiness of sex

Well, the Skins finally lost, and their season is over. Oh well, they did much better than anyone thought. But, still, they could have beaten Seattle. As poorly as their offense played, they missed two easy chances at ten points (the margin of victory) - 1) an interception that we had in our hands and would have been a touchdown, and 2) a missed field goal that pretty much crushed us and killed our late momentum. Well, great teams win those games...some ways to go to be great!

Next year, baby!!
While we heard in this Sunday's second reading, "the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord" (New American Bible), the translation from the New Jerusalem Bible reads, "the body is not for sexual immorality". In 1 Corinthians 6, then, St Paul is speaking specifically against sexual immorality. 'Why is sexual immorality such a big deal for St Paul?' is much like the question that many people ask today, 'Why is sexual immorality such a big deal to the Church?'

Either we will use sex for good, or we will use sex for evil. St Paul is among the first to make this clear and profound distinction. Objectively, sex is a very good thing!! It is a beautiful gift from God, one of the most incredible gifts He's given us. It can be a very holy act, one in which a husband and wife give themselves completely to the other (holiness means "otherness"). The love that each has for the other becomes one love; this is representative of the love that exists between the divine persons of the Trinity. Through sex, then, couples can imitate and participate in the love between Father, Son, and Spirit!

God has intended from the beginning that sex be used for two reasons: 1) union of the spouses ("they become one flesh"- Gen 2:24) and 2) procreation ("be fertile and multiply" -Gen 1:28). He has given us this incredible gift (and made sexual desire our strongest desire) so that a man and a woman might experience intimacy and love on Earth that is a preview of the intimacy and love of Heaven. The holiness and sanctity of sex goes to the very depths of human and divine love if it's used within the context that God intended.

However, misusing this precious gift can be a very unholy act. We are horrified to hear of acts of desecration of the Eucharist, and rightfully so. Well, desecrating the sexual act with immorality is an extremely unholy act, and that's what St Paul is trying to tell us. The sexual act is sacred and is to be treated with great respect and reverence. Any sexual act that does not involve both the one-flesh union of husband and wife and procreation is an immoral and unholy act.

"Or do you not realize that anyone who attaches himself to a prostitute is one body with her" (1 Cor 6:16). Because of the one-flesh union, we should be very careful with whom we become one flesh. If we are one with evil and immorality, we cannot be one with Christ. St Paul is making a plea for Corinthians and us to be one with God, and not evil, through the gift of sex.

Most of the current Church's teaching about human sexuality comes from Pope John Paul II, especially from his book, "Love and Responsibility". In a brief synopsis of the thought of JP II with regard to the holiness of sex, George Weigel writes about the importance of sexual morality: "Sexual morality transforms sex from something that just happens into something that expresses human dignity. Sex that just happens is dehumanized sex. Sex that is the expression of two persons - two freedoms - seeking personal and common goods together is fully human and fully humanizing". - "Witness to Hope", p.142


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