Sunday, February 10, 2013

Exulted Love

“…the man said, ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’…that is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.” Genesis 2: 23a, 24-25

So often in our culture today, the Church is accused of being prudish. Media outlets, journalists, and other “experts” opine that the Church is against sex, or hung-up about sex, or worst: that the Church hates sex or thinks sex is dirty. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. As we celebrate St. Valentine‘s Day this week, let us be clear about how the Church (and God) views sex.

 God created sex. It’s not like he looked down at Adam and Eve one day and was shocked at what they were doing. Sexual intercourse is God’s design and if you read the Creation Story in the book of Genesis it is very clear that God made everything GOOD. So sex is good. In fact, it is more than good, it is holy.

In sexual intercourse, we (humans) have the ability to join God in His creative powers to create something new that never existed before. Each life conceived in the womb is a miracle because at that moment of conception, something new becomes real that was not there an instant before: a totally unique, never-to-be-repeated, union of body and soul that we call a human person; created in the image and likeness of God. God could have brought new people into the world in any way He could imagine, and yet He chose to bring new life into the world through this means. What a wonder! And so it is obvious that sex is a powerful and beautiful gift that God has shared with us.

But God would not share such an amazing and wonderful gift with us without showing us the proper context in which to use that gift. In fact, something so precious and powerful would be held high with protections and parameters in order to ensure that it is not misused or abused.

Think about it this way: do you own anything you consider a prized possession? Perhaps it’s a piece of expensive jewelry given to you by your grandmother before she passed away or a baseball autographed by a famous player given to you by your father when you were young. How do you care for that item? Do you let that piece of jewelry sit around on the coffee table where it can be stolen, lost or broken by anyone? Do you let your boys go to the park with that baseball for batting practice? Of course not. The jewelry is kept locked in a safe or a special jewelry box and only worn for very special occasions. The baseball is kept locked away or encased in some kind of protective display on a high shelf where it will not be spoiled by curious little ones.

In the same way, God has given the Church parameters and boundaries to share with us about the proper use of the gift of sex: sexual intercourse is reserved for a marriage between one man and one woman. It’s that simple. Sex is so powerful, beautiful and holy that it is reserved for within this protective and fruitful bond. And used in any other way becomes a perversion of the gift with untold consequences. Not because the gift is evil, but because of misuse or abuse of the gift is evil.

Despite what your feelings might be telling you, sex in any form or fashion outside of the parameters God intended for it, is NOT love. Only in marriage can sex be as God intended it to be: total, free, faithful, and fruitful. This is why God created sex within the boundaries of chastity, both inside and outside of marriage. Because God loves us so much and only desires our happiness, the most valuable gifts are treated with the most care, especially sex.

So the next time you read Newsweek, over hear a co-worker at lunch or have a friend or family member tell you that the Catholic Church is against sex, or doesn’t know anything about it, correct them in charity and with the great joy of knowing the Truth.

Dear Jesus, help me to respect myself and others in a way that always treats sex with the value You have placed on it. May all marriages be tangible, concrete examples of the total, free, faithful and fruitful love embodied in the Holy Trinity. Amen.

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