I believe that God desires that every man and woman realize that his or her body is a sacred gift, and that sex has meaning. The meaning is so deep, so pure and awesome that it makes sense for it to belong exclusively to marriage.
The union of man and woman is so powerful that it naturally brings forth children, and children have the right to be born into a loving permanent union between spouses. Is it possible to live chastely and abstain from sex until marriage? Can people live modestly? Can we be pure? Is it possible even in our sex-laden culture of today? Is it worth the effort?
The late Pope John Paul II taught extensively about the beauty and meaning of the human body. He affirmed that we are made “to love and be loved”. Will this lofty meaning of love and sex be wasted on our sex-crazed world? The youth did not think so. They came in the millions every year to hear the aged pontiff speak about the deeper meaning of sexuality and of the importance of chastity, purity and modesty.
God created us male and female, in His image and likeness. In other words, it is not enough for us to be all males or all females to reflect His image. God’s world is comprised of both, and we all come from the union of a man and a woman. This mystery is profound. It means that a man and a woman share in the creative power of God Himself. God created in love, and so man and woman also create in love since we were created in His image and likeness.
Thus the home, the family and marriage itself becomes a participation in the very communion that God shares with the world: a communion of love known to Christians as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God. To make the intimate union of man and woman anything less than life giving and unitive is to make sex something it is not.
Because sex is meant to be a loving communion, marriage is also a loving communion, not a “throw away” commodity. Marriage, like sex is life giving, it is not meant only for the good of the spouses, but also to bring forth children into the world. Marriage is a covenant between the spouses and God, a permanent and sacramental bond. Marriage is exclusive – can one give him/herself to another then revoke this gift? To exclude any of these above-mentioned goods in marriage is to make the union of man and woman something less than what God intended.
We all are guilty of ways in which we have undermined in one way or another God’s plan for sex and marriage. Our spiritual traditions – in the form of community, pastoral care, authoritative teaching, and personal prayer – serve to strengthen us, even when we have failed, to better ourselves in the spiritual life. We do not need blame, shame or judgment to get the point. Rather we need to assist, encourage and support one another to think and live well the deep and happy meaning of sex and marriage.
Our body is a gift from God and each of us is called to respect and honor this gift. We are called to use this gift according to God’s plan for love. When we fall short, we should not try to conform the rules to our preferences, or to adopt the low opinion of sex and marriage that our society sometimes promotes. Rather we should conform our own wills to the natural and timeless truth that God, in fact, wrote into our very human nature a loving plan for sex and marriage so that we can live happily in this world and the next.
+Gregory John Mansour
(Reprinted with permission.)