Catholic blogger Peter Nixon sounds off about sex in Sursum Corda this past Saturday.
Sexuality is the divine fire within us. It is the awareness that we are incomplete, the longing for union that God has placed in our hearts. If received with proper reverence, it becomes a vehicle of grace, something that will lead us to become spiritually whole and life-giving. But if treated casually, sexual energy can be enormously destructive, both to individuals and communities.
I have not heard of sexuality being described as “the divine fire within us.” I agree with Señor Nixon on some points here though. Sexuality, however, is more than engaging in sexual intercourse, it is having gender physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We “have” sex in that sense all the time. Be sure you kids tell that to Sister Mary Francis the next time you see her at school! Nuns love that! Sexuality as gender isn’t the divine fire within us. Longing for Communion with God in Heaven is. Peter Kreet calls it “The hearts deepest longing.” In our sinfulness we substitute such little things in this life for God’s grace and His promise of future Communion in Heaven. Sexual intercourse is one of them.
Sexuality lies very close to the core of our being. To have sex with someone is to give the gift of oneself and to receive the gift of another. It is an act of union. That union cannot be separated without emotional and spiritual consequences. To turn ourselves into people who can have sex without those consequences is to turn ourselves into something less than fully human.
Again, sexuality is not having sexual intercourse. Inside or outside of marriage to have sexual intercourse with someone is not necessarily an act of giving, Just the opposite, it can be a greivously selfish act of taking rather than giving. I’m not talking about rape. In commiting the mortally sinful act of sexual intercourse outside of the convenant of marriage you are involving another person, causing them to sin, alienating yourself and your partner from the presence of sanctifying grace in your soul. What an awful act of taking that is! There is nothing giving about it! How selfish is it to engage in this behavior by ignoring the spiritual consquences! Despite how much you love your partner that love is perverted into something that is against God’s will. You are not giving anything to another person in the act of sex outside the convenant of marriage.
Sexual intercourse within the convenant of marriage may not always be an act of giving either. Though I am not married and never have been, I know that gift can be abused between married couples. Don’t look at the pro and con of contraception for a moment. All the aspects of our sexuality, sexual intercourse included, are a Divine gift. It is a single gift, not separate gifts. Separating the physical, spiritual, emotional, life-giving and life-affirming aspects of this gift is the beginning of sins against purity. When appreciate and understand the magnitude of that single gift, engaging in sexual intercourse can be the palest shadow of the spiritual Communion we hope to have with God in Heaven. Of course the same can be said of said of other interpersonal relationships – one doesn’t have to have sexual intercourse in order to experience a relationship of pure love and understanding.
Regarding homosexuality and homosexuals, I will not judge the depth of love that people can and do have for one another. I believe one has to look at this in terms of the gift of human sexuality and what is meant by love. Two of the Greek words for love must be used in discussing this. Phileo, or brotherly love, is different than eros, or erotic love. Obviously both these feelings are experienced between people of different sexes and the same sex. Looking at the gift of our sexuality in its entirety, eros between same-sex people can be mortally sinful if it is contemplated or acted upon. As in illicit heterosexual intercourse, it is thought to be an expression of love but it is a perversion of our gift of sexuality and contrary to the will of God.
If I’m wrong here on what the Church teaches please let me know. I know everyone has their opinions but I’ve never been one to argue with 4,500 years of recorded history, Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church. If by writing this I have fried your ham and the rest of your lunch meat, just remember you are someone and no one can take that away from you. Except you, that is, if you give in to mortally sinful thoughts and actions and don’t repent!
On side note, English is a crappy language in which to describe some of these topics. I’m reading New Testament Words by William Barclay. This is a look at important Greek words in the NT and their meaning. Scripture scholars please pardon my relative ignorance! The nuances of the Greek language are just amazing. The perspective this gives to Scripture is crucial to understanding it. This makes me ask a troubling question – has human civilization just gotten progressively stupid with regard to how we express ourselves with language? Forget about sex ed and home ec – everyone should learn Greek in school. It would have the additional effect of promoting abstinence. If kids have to take four or five years of Greek in school they will have no time to gather empirical evidence about the birds and the bees!